Note to self: Use more Post-Its
By Suzanne Strazza
Michele: Oh, okay. Um, I invented Post-Its.
Romy: Actually, I thought of them completely by myself. I mean, all Michele did was say: “What about making them yellow?”
I’d like to thank Romy and Michele’s brilliant minds (or whomever the idea really belonged to) for their contribution, not only to humanity, but to my sanity.
Post-Its are convenient, alluring and one of those inventions that actually work exactly as they are supposed to. You can put them absolutely anywhere.
The plethora of colors and sizes and cute little shapes gives way to even more admirable perfection – there is a Post-It for every occasion; one to meet each and every one of your note-worthy needs.
I have a friend who vehemently hates the things. He refuses to use one. If you give him something with a Post-It note attached, the note will appear back on your desk with the unspoken double message, “Reuse this,” and “Don’t ever send me one of these again.”
I tried to jump on his “Post-Its are bad” bandwagon, particularly at the office, but Post-Its have a place in my life; they serve a purpose that is so important that nothing else will do. So at home, in my personal life, I embrace the brilliance.
What, you wonder, could possibly be so important that only this one single item will do?
Notes to Self. Duh.
My world, my life as a writer, is filled with tiny scraps of paper that contain words – sometimes making sense, others…not so much.
These shreds contain thoughts, emotions, ideas. They are the physical manifestation of the constant noise in my brain. Sometimes I know that if I fail to put something in writing, either I will forget the brilliance or, worse, my head will literally explode.
Scraps are literally everywhere: my car, my purse, my bedside table, my kitchen counter, the bottom of my running bag, the pockets of every jacket – scrunched right in there with dirty handkerchiefs, every book I have ever read, my journal, my glasses case, the bottom of the washing machine, bathroom sink, jewelry box, and my favorites. . . paper CD envelopes.
I have designated several boxes in my world for holding these scraps – proof of my fleeting moments of wisdom and deep insight. I also have a box for my eating-disorder obsessions – but those are quite separate.
To-do lists are also discreet entities, but just as important. I love a scrap of paper upon which there is a line through every item. Although I rarely save those since the gratification they provide is only immediate and never long-lasting.
But for to-do lists and genius-on-paper moments, Post-Its aren’t really necessary, especially if they are just going to end up in a box on my dresser or on the floor of my car.
Where Post-It’s have no competition is in the world of Personal Reminders.
So there’s the shit that I obsess about – like food – that if I put it in writing, I can forget. Then there are the thoughts and ideas that take up so much space in my head that I have to scribble out in order to make more room up there.
And then, there are the things that for some reason, I need to be reminded of over and over and over.
That’s where the Post-Its come in.
Those tidy little yellow squares of self-adhesive paper were quite the novelty when they first arrived. Now, the yellow seems dull and industrial. So thank the powers that be who revamped Michele’s color scheme. But the perfection of the invention is still with us.
So what qualifies for a Post-It?
Occasionally, vary rarely, true affirmations – those Louise Hay-like ditties that are supposed to reinforce your wonderfulness.
“You are smart, beautiful and worthy.”
Yeah, whatever, I already know that. It’s the subtler ones with which I need help.
“You are bigger than this.”
“Hold no loyalty to those feelings.”
“Not worth your tears.”
More often than not, though, I need reminders to not do something stupid. I require a voice of reason in moments of fuzzy thinking.
“Don’t do it.”
“You will regret it.”
“Does it need to be said or do you just need to say it?”
“Neediness is unbecoming.”
Or more to the point…”NO”
I try to make these as general as possible. The original thought might stem from a specific situation that is right in my face, but given how I run my life (and my emotions) there are some universal truths that apply to many aspects of my world, so one message usually serves to waylay many a potentially stupid action on my part.
“Don’t do it,” could certainly mean don’t quit your job just yet; the $100 in your savings isn’t actually enough to travel the world. Or it could mean, don’t pick up the phone and call the boy even though he’s really cute. It could also mean, don’t give a piece of your mind where it isn’t wanted unless you want it right back in your face.
And while the random scraps live any and everywhere, the Post-Its have only a few sacred places to reside.
First, I never use yellow anymore. I have a four-pack of bright turquoise, deep purple, fresh salmon and Strazza green. I use them sparingly – saved for the most important of Notes to Self, and therefore, when written upon, they stand out, catch the eye. Then, they are placed in high-traffic, ultimately visible locales.
The Moroccan mirror in my bedroom. While I rarely actually look at myself in the mirror, I do look at it everyday for the fond memories that it brings. Therefore, great place for a sanity check.
Bathroom mirror? Always a good one. But the notes that go there, I know, are really things I just need to see for a day or two, because once I take a shower and steam up the room, the note and the thought are gone.
Sometimes I will cover the speedometer in my car – that’s usually for urgent messages. Once in a blue moon, something goes on my computer at work, but then I am inviting the world (or at least my co-workers) into my drain-circling.
If something is important enough to write in my journal, then it actually gets written on the page in real ink often several pages away from where I currently am so that I can be reminded later when I’ve just forgotten the oh-so-important thing.
If something is just a simple reminder that life is good, it gets printed in Comic Sans MS and ends up on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door or stuck inside one of my go-to books or, like the poem my friend wrote about a lover helping to open the mason jars, it hangs in my pantry.
Again, not Post-It material.
The other qualifier for something to make it on to a Post-It versus a scrap in the box or in the journal or in the bathroom vanity or all over a CD, is, is this something that I will need forever or is it situationally specific?
Everyone has their own “Normal”; some people’s are more normal than others’. Some are a bit more socially acceptable or at least understandable, while others are more unique to the individual.
This note thing, the scraps and the secret thoughts and the uplifts and warnings – all totally within my normal and it all makes perfect sense to me. While someone who does not live in my head might wonder, “Is this journal material or coat-closet-door fodder, or should it be on the Moroccan mirror? And how the hell do you decide?” the answer is likely a no-brainer (pun intended) to me.
“Well, duh, obviously this is only a scrap in the box.”
Or, “Salmon, black sharpie, speedometer.” Is it a sign of my brilliance? My abundant creativity? My overflowing genius?
Or, and actually, please don’t answer this, is this hard evidence of my Crazy?
Suzanne Strazza is an award-winning writer in Mancos, Colo.