Note: Stamping Destroyed My Life is fiction. It sometimes includes the name of real stampers (or names so close as to be recognizable), but only with prior permission of those kind souls. Even when I use real names, the details of those characters are not real. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. In other words, this is a farce. Enjoy!
Press Release Announcing the Publication of Stamping Destroyed My Life.
Stamping Destroyed My Life: The Prologue
Chapter One: "It's Kind of Magical"
Chapter Two: A Match Made in Heaven
As I drove home from the workshop I got more and more excited, wondering when I could get together with some of the women I met, and when my package of stamping stuff would come. I'll wait a day or two and then call one of the women who gave me her number and set up lunch. Golly gambamba, this is so fun. Can't wait to tell John all about it. He'll be excited too!
My husband is a very nice guy. We met at work. I had hoped to follow in Woodward and Bernstein's steps and write for the Washington Post. That's why I moved to DC after graduating from college with a journalism degree. However, apparently I wasn't the only one with that idea -- the Post didn't respond to my repeated job applications. So I thought I'd impress them with my moxie and went in unannounced and just started singing this really cool song I wrote about DC and Nixon and the Post and all that. I didn't work, but the good news was that the Post dropped all charges after I wrote an apology.
I did manage to get a job as an administrative assistant at the now defunct Washington Star. John worked in the Star's legal department and we bumped into each other in the cafeteria. One look at his plate full of macaroni and cheese and I knew I had found my soul mate. Bing, bang, boom, and I was walking down the aisle at St. Matthew's Cathedral and we were married.
I kept working, even after Buffy was born a few years later. However, it made no sense to keep working after Garrett was born -- day care was more than my take home pay. So, John and I decided that I would stay home. No figuring out who would stay home if anyone got sick. Dinner on time. House in order. It worked. We were happy. But it wasn't perfect. John often worked at night, and I wanted to talk to an adult once in a while. I just wanted a little more fun.
Stamping was the first thing since the thing we didn't discuss that was fun. I loved the idea of doing something artsy that didn't require the ability to draw. I could just see all four of us wearing matching t-shirts on the 4th of July. What 15 year old girl wouldn't want to attend a parade with her parents and little brother in matching outfits? And then there were the other women. Lunches, coffee, exchanging recipes. I could feel it. And Gina rocked. I knew that our families would become close.
I pulled my minivan into the garage, turned off the engine and sat there. My heart grew heavy. I had to cancel the order. It was over six. hundred. dollars. What was I thinking?
On the other hand, this wasn't going to be like the thing we didn't discuss. Yes, it had spun out of control. I bought a sewing machine and fabric, thinking that I would make Buffy and me some cute mother-daughter outfits, just like my Mom had made us. And then I bought more fabric and an even better sewing machine because I couldn't quite figure out the first one. And then the quilting patterns and silk threads and bobbins and needles and the filling. Well, if you are going to do something, do it right, so I got a big quilt frame.
Well, the big quilt frame and the sewing machine and all the fabric looked funny just sitting in an extra bedroom, so I had some cabinets custom built and the room looked so pretty! And I joined a quilting club and even went on a quilting cruise. Except for the fact that I never sewed or made a quilt, it was great!
Stamping is different than quilting -- you don't have to know how to sew or draw. You don't have to know a thing! Anyone could stamp. And it wasn't going to take up an entire room. You used the stamps and ink over and over and created things that people loved! The cards wouldn't sit around collecting dust.
Nevertheless, I walked in the house, put my Vera Bradley bag on the kitchen counter, and decided to cancel the order. As I walked into the former sewing room turned John's office, he looked up from some paperwork he was reviewing and smiled. "How was the party?
"Fine," I said, slightly shrugging my shoulders.
"What's wrong?", he said, as he put down his work.
I sat down and told him that I spent way too much and now regretted it.
"I think I just got caught up. The stuff is awesome and the ladies are really nice. We had an awesome bacon dip and I got the recipe. I won a smiley face stamp and some Berrylicious ink. Two of the women gave me their phone numbers to get together. And I met a woman who can get Buffy and Garrett into We are Ivy and You're Not ... I fell in love with what I saw and went crazy."
John looked at me and asked, "How crazy?"
"Over 600 dollars crazy. I'm going to call Gina tomorrow and cancel the order." And I meant it. I swear on my kids' lives that at that moment in time I was planning on canceling the order, giving up the fireflies in the backyard with Gina and her family, and walking away from the whole stamping thing.
"Who's Gina?", he asked.
"Gina is the woman I met at Craft Stuffing this morning. She's the one who is a demonstrator for this stamping company. She is super nice, and I just felt a connection with her. But I don't want to spend this much. I'll call her in the morning and cancel or I won't be able to sleep."
A few seconds passed. John turned to me.
"Don't. Don't cancel. $600 is a crazy amount of money. And I admit when you first said it, I thought you were nuts. It almost sounded like the other thing. But this is as happy as I've seen you in a while. Just do it. Enjoy yourself."
Then John added, laughing, "Just don't make a habit of it, ok?"
I was stunned.
I gulped. "Really?," I asked.
John looked me in the eye and said, "Yes, really. Come here, you goof ball."
I scooted over.
He wrapped his arms around me. "Don't you know how much I love you?"
"Oh John you are the best! I know it is a lot but I am getting everything I need all at once. Oh, and I'm going to host a workshop. That means that I'll get free stuff. It won't cost us a thing to host. Plus I can cut back on a few things around here to make up for it. And really, I won't have to ever buy a greeting card again."
I kissed him, stood up, and started pacing. "I am so excited!! You are the best. I'll never forget this."
"Good," John said. "I like seeing you happy."
Gina called the next day. We chatted for a few moments about last night's workshop, and she suggested a few dates for me to host my own workshop. I didn't think it would happen that fast. But Gina explained, "schedule it now even if it is a few weeks away. People need advance notice."
Gina explained my duties as a host.
"I have some invitations I'll give you to send. Invite every woman you know --neighbors, the crossing guard, friends, relatives, teachers, the secretary at school, anyone who works for your husband. Everyone. Plan on about a 90% acceptance rate. Everyone loves to be asked to these parties. And the more you invite, the more fun it will be, and the more free stuff you'll earn. It only takes a few big orders to give you a great workshop."
"How do I get free stuff?"
"Well, if your workshop total is $1000 or over, you'll get free shipping on your own next order, plus a free exclusive stamp set valued at $24.95 only available to hosts with large workshops. But the best part is, that for every $100 sold at the workshop, you get a $10 credit towards anything in the catty."
Hmm, so Francie got $60 credit just based on my $600 purchase and she didn't have to do a thing to earn it.
Then Gina mentioned, "M, I was looking over your order sheet from last night and noticed that you didn't order a black ink pad. You HAVE to have a black ink pad. It's $3.95. Shall I add it to the order?"
Ugh. All the concerns I had yesterday came flooding back.
"Gina,", I said, "the thing is, $600 is way more than I had planned to spend. I was actually thinking of removing some items from the order, not adding to the order."
Gina was silent for a moment and then she said, "Absolutely. I don't want you buying anything you can't afford. Would you like some suggestions on what to remove?"
What?? I didn't want Gina to think we couldn't afford the order. Of course we could.
"Oh we can afford it. It just seems excessive."
"That's fine. Like I said, I can help you remove some items."
I could hear Gina distancing herself from me. The husbands hadn't even met each other and already it's over. Fly away fireflies. Ugh, why did I use the word "excessive?" I insulted her.
"You know what," I replied. "Let's just add the black ink! What's a few more dollars?"
"You're sure?," Gina asked.
"Yes, Gina, let's do it!"
"Good," Gina exclaimed. "You won't regret it!"
Next: Chapter Four