It all started innocently enough. A friend invited me over to her friend's house for a party. "It'll be fun," she said. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to. I'll even pay for you this time."
I figured, "What could be the harm? A few hours with some nice women chatting and putting our photos into albums. How could that hurt?"
I was so innocent back then. So carefree and naive.
I resisted at first. I didn't have a lot of money to spare on hobbies since we'd just bought a new house. I made up excuses. "I'm not that kind of person..." I told my friend, "you know, the crafty kind. I'm not artistic at all."
"No worries," said the chipper
dealer Consultant, "Anyone can do it. Come on, what are you afraid of? It's fun. I think you'll like it."
I started thinking about my adorable little nephew, born only a few months earlier. I knew his mom was too tired to make a baby album for him. I rationalized that it was my duty as Aunt to do it, right? I mean, how else was that kid going to grow up knowing what his first bath was like? Or his first tooth? Or when he was potty trained? My mom always says, "No pictures, no memories" like she gearing up for the North Koreans to brainwash her and steal her memories.
I was weak and I caved to the peer pressure. I drank the paper-cutting, photo-cropping Kool-aid.
Initially, I bought the small sized album and the smallest kit they had and timidly took it home. I stayed up all night finishing my project, using all the pictures we had taken of my nephew the day he was born, the ones my brother sent me, and some from my mom. It was cool. It was relaxing. It was a rush. Everyone I showed it to oohed and ahhed like I'd just recreated the Sistine Chapel using silly putty and sidewalk chalk. I liked feeling crafty.
After the success of my first project, I found more and more things to scrapbook. Our honeymoon trip around the world. My mom's life story for her 60th birthday. I spent 2 days and nights before my mother-in-law's funeral making a tribute album to honor her life. Good times and bad. Scrapbooking became an emotional outlet and a kind of creative high for me.
At first, I did it out in the open, in front of my husband. He got tired of the mess on the dining room table, so I took it on the road and met up with different scrapbookers at their houses. We held clandestine meetings called "crops" all over the Bay Area. My husband called it "The Cult". I drove from Palo Alto to Fremont to Los Gatos to San Bruno to meet in dining rooms, garages and basements with other fanatics. Some of the women even had their own separate cropping studios. This was the equivalent of having your own crystal meth lab in your garage.
I went to an annual Croptoberfest that was held at a local card club. Walking past bleary-eyed black jack players, I recognized that look in their eyes, the one that said, "Just one more hand..."
We scrappers said, "Just one more page...I'll be done in just one more page..." as we cut and pasted photos of our kids into top-quality strap-hinge bound albums into the wee hours of the night. One woman told me that she was looking at a friend's photo album and she found a little cellophane bag inside containing a brownish dot. When she asked what it was, the friend replied, "My baby's first booger!" We were pretty far gone, but not that far.
Creating all these scrapbooks meant buying more product. My husband started questioning me.
"Who is this Judy that you keep writing checks to?" he asked.
I pretended it was a new hairdresser and not my Creative Memories Consultant. He eyed my haircut suspiciously. I started paying in cash so he wouldn't catch on to how much I was spending.
Eventually, I signed up to be a consultant so I could get the product wholesale. That's how bad it got. I was no longer just an addict, now I was a dealer, the scum that gets everyone else hooked. I didn't care, as long as I had my daily fix of adorable acid-free bunny stickers, scalloped-edged scissors, and heart-shaped paper punchers.
Acid-free, lignan-free, archival-quality. These three became my Trinity. I worshipped at their altar.
Then, we had a baby, and my addiction grew worse as he got cuter. I reasoned that if I didn't make a two-page spread of his every waking moment, Baby Alexander would think we didn't love him. I mean, all the other cool moms were doing it. I secretly wished I was a Mormon, so I could move to Utah, the Scrapbooking Capital of the World.
Eventually, I scrapped about 2,000 photos, but didn't make a dent in the 11 million in shoeboxes and archival quality bins full of photos, under the bed, in the closet. The more I scrapbooked, the more pictures I took. It was a vicious cycle.
I finally hit bottom when I realized I had a complete album of my son's second birthday party. A whole 30 page album, people! The Elmo theme of the party running through like a not-so-subtle leitmotif of furry red monsters. I confess, I set up the party with the idea that "this would make a cute page..." and forced his little friends to line up so I could have a cute page topper that said, "Elmo's Friends" on it. I cut out Elmo's head freehand and punched huge white and black circles for his eyes. Not just a couple of pages, an entire book of every child, every adult, every blade of grass in the park that day. I soon realized that we would be taking Alex to college with a duffel bag full of Old Navy clothes and U-Haul full of scrapbooks memorializing his every waking hour on the planet.
I realized then that I needed to back away from the die cuts and get a life. I quit being a dealer. I sold all my excess supplies at a fraction of the cost. I hung up my paper punchers and put away my chalking pad. I took a break.
I'm now what you might call a "recreational scrapbooker." I only do it once in a while, mainly to see my other addict friends and socialize. I'm not completely cured, because my damn kid just keeps getting cuter and demanding that I photograph all that cuteness.
So, I think I've gotten it under control, and am taking things one day at time. I asked my Higher Power for strength to accept the things I cannot change (the fact that I probably won't live long enough to scrapbook all the photos I have) and change the things I cannot accept (the fact that I really don't need another tin of chartreuse metal eyelets, no matter how cheap they are). I am working on the serenity part.
Just about the time I decided to go cold turkey on the scrapbooking, I discovered blogging. Given the amount of time I've spent online lately, I'm beginning to think that scrapbooking is the gateway drug to blogging.