FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: What Are Your Back To School Impulse Buys?

Hello and welcome to this weekly forum where we talk about whatever you want, but with a prompt in case you’re shy.

This week, I just finished my first Monday-Friday week of school and man, am I tired. Even though I’m only in class on Tuesday and Wednesday, something about knowing there were classes everyday this week made me feel more tired. I. Am. Beat.

But we are NOT here to talk about being tired, because one of my Daily Shine texts was like “don’t focus on what makes you stressed” and I was like “okay….?” But I’m giving it a try. What we are here to talk about is this:

Any of my 90s babies remember this commercial??? From kindergarten through my first year of grad school I was 100% giving off that dad energy. My back to school shopping energy is a little more subdued now, but I still go overboard. I have literally stopped using notebooks (iPad life) and I still buy at least three new ones each school year! I love VERY specific pens and buy them in bulk. I also love planners. Yes, very on brand for an Autostraddle writer and a Virgo rising, I know. But y’all I have no less than 3 planners at once. Why? Why not!

When I was young, I think I loved new school supplies because everything felt new at the start of a school year. The air was colder, the natural life around me was changing, and I felt like I got to become whoever I wanted to be at the start of every school year. Now, it feels a bit more hedonistic, a bit more “it’s still 98º everyday, the world is ending, I can’t believe I’m expected to write a dissertation, the least I can do is buy a new supplies.” It be like that sometimes, as the kids say.

So, what are your impulse buys when there’s a new school year/start of something new? What hedonistic pursuits make you feel alive in ways you sometimes think you maybe forgot to do as an adult?

Alternatively: tell me about your week, your puppies and kitties, your housing co-op, your new hobbies, that radio show you love, or literally anything else that you want. I want to hear from you! Also, I think you’re great/hope you feel loved/love your cool sense of style. Okay let’s go! Happy weekend!

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. PENS! All the pens. I need some fine point for my agendas and then some ball point for when I need to take notes FAST (which definitely does not work well with a fine point pen). And they must be colorful. I color code my notes as I take them, so I need usually at least 5 colors, if not more. (Pink is my #1 pen color).

  2. Post-it notes. And those little plastic bookmarks that stick to the page and come in rainbow colors.
    I tend to use post-its to write my daily to-do lists to keep myself from getting overwhelmed. If it can’t fit on a 3 x 3 paper, then it can wait until tomorrow.

  3. I’ve been pretty good so far. My grad classes are online, so I don’t need much. I have a fancy planner, but I got that last Christmas. I did just buy my son a red notebook, so I can help him painstakingly recreate Journal #3 from Gravity Falls, because I was (and probably still am) that exact kind of dork as a kid.

    I do tend to keep around nice pens and 8 thousand varieties of post-it notes.

    My bigger issue right now is not buying all the spoopy stuff and flannel!

  4. This week has been… interesting.

    By interesting I mean local politics here have been absolute H E L L. I have seen some things this week in NC politics that I honestly did not even think possible. It has been a ride, and I am honestly concerned things might turn to rioting at this rate.

    In terms of impulse buys, I don’t believe I’ve gotten anything this week, my big impulse buy was earlier this summer when I drunk pre-ordered the Catherine remake for the PS4. I love the game dearly… but honestly the number of transphobic cliches worked into the game is concerning. It’s been fun, I am a sucker for the puzzles but y e a h .

    In happier news though a Philipino foodtruck has started popping up in the apartment complex next to mine, so twice now I’ve taken a short hike up the hill to get some truly amazing spicy chicken adobo. Honestly I think the local foodtrucks are one of the few things that make life worth living here.

      • There are some truly wonderful food trucks around here. There was this one Cuban food truck that showed up once, family owned, and they made these papa rellena that were so good I could have cried. I almost prefer eating at the food trucks around here than actual restaurants they are so good!

    • it’s required when you sign your queer contract that you buy at least two sparkly things every year, so it’s all good.

  5. I do remember that ad. For me, I kind of liked back to school shopping, because I liked looking at all the weird mobile devices; like, the b&w display Palm devices that could turn into a phone or those Windows CE devices w/color display that looked like a jack pocketable laptop. I thought it was very cool and wanted one. This was 99-02 era. My parents bought me a budget model one year for back to school & were showing off all my friends the neat things I can do, like connect it to my first cell-phone w/ the included cable to browse the web. It was slower than dial-up and used call minutes. I also used it as many teens do, store porn pics(max was like 15 cause it has less storage than every smartwatch made in the last decade). These days back to school isn’t a thing for me as a working adult. Just means I may save on pens for work.

    How’s everyone’s week going? It’s been a long week for me as I’ve been the only one at work, which sounds rough, but because who is in office it’s also been my slowest week ever. I need customers cause I’ve spent way too much time browsing Amazon and eBay, so far haven’t bought anything, but the week is not over yet. lol I also had someone on bumble ask me am I bi, cookie, or lesbian, but the app wouldn’t let me reply(I think she was banned?). I really want to know what she meant by cookie. Is that like a new term I am not familiar with? So odd.

    Spent my Sunday outdoors and I kind of want people to stop staring at me while biking. Like, have you never seen a person outdoors on a bike feeling great about the purple lipstick they have on? Ugh. View I had on my ride.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

  6. It’s only an impulse buy if you never use it and you can’t use it if you lost it so yes I guess the ergonomic grips have been a back-to-school impluse buy.
    I’d buy 2 each of a different kind, use one to bits…and lose the rest of them then find them again in August having fused in the heat of summer >_>

    Still sad about the galaxy pattern (before “galaxy pattern” was a thing) looking one that got fused to that boring staid blue one.

    I lust over those long wide ruled post-it notes even if I have a pack of 2 at home I haven’t finished because they’re so useful. No more wasting precious looseleaf paper on short lists and I can pop them inside a note book or a recipe book.

    Not only do I remember that commercial I offer one in kind

    Holy shit I almost forgot my mother, my virgo af, business lady mother buys the most ridiculous or adorable planners and folders she can find for her record keeping needs.
    I’m talking glitter, metallics, neon patterns, puppies, kittens, bunnies and fluffy lil duckies.
    The folders are end of Back-to-School season purchases, planners end of New Years sales.
    She likes to point out it’s harder too lose things with bright colors and easier to enlist help finding a specific item if the description is unmistakable but she’s not fooling anybody.

  7. My impulse buys are sakura micron pens, fancy notebooks/journals, and then planner stickers especially gay and/or Latina ones from etsy shops.

  8. I love school/office supplies. I remember a favorite gift from childhood: a friend’s dad gave each of us kids a shoebox FULL of office supplies – all the grown up stuff like those rotating band number stamps and a stamp pad and binder clips and butterfly clips and all of the things. It was AWESOME.

    The only recent purchases have been the Hobonichi planners for 2020. And like a pen here and there in search of the PERFECT PEN. Somehow I always wind up back with the basic Bic Crystal.

  9. How I know I’m now a boring adult: last week I walked all the way round the new stationary shop full of cool stuff and restrained myself from buying any of it because I don’t need any of it and shouldn’t be spending the money. Bleh. Loads of it was Harry Potter themed too!

    That said, the card shop sells pens for charity and they’re really nice pens to write with so I always buy one or two when I’m in there. The cashiers are clearly used to people saying no so it’s always nice to surprise them with an enthusiastic “yes please!” when they start their spiel. I really do not miss the days of retail upselling myself so I like knowing that I’ve hopefully helped keep a supervisor off that person’s back about the number they’ve sold whilst also getting my favourite pens.

      • No, the stationary store was fantastic! Being a responsible adult was the boring bit, I don’t like having to use the words “you don’t need it, you’re not buying it” on myself instead of having a Proper Adult use them on me :(

  10. I just drove home from a week in Vegas. There’s a cute little stationary store in the Chinatown mall I always go to because it has the cute shit I need. It’s not the least bit school related, but hey I bought a pen and some little note books and planners and kawaii stickers. Also went to Alternate Reality Comics; they have a whole shelf of queer and trans books! I got Grease Bats finally, Transcat, the Pervert, We’re Still Here, and some Love & Rockets. Then I hit up The Black Room and got a slapper made from an old fire hose that I’m very excited about. I ate repeatedly at Pancho’s vegan tacos. I also bummed around a music store and a game shop. So I had fun even if the intended purpose of the trip was a bust.

  11. Rainbow packs of note cubes, post-its and post-it flags, rainbow pen packs, cute notebooks, a new cute animal-themed lunch bag every so often.

    It’s been years since I was in school, yet I pore over the back-to-school-supply circulars/store displays as lovingly now as I did then.

  12. Journals/notebooks and pens, I recently got very into fountain pens and keep buying cool cheap ones on eBay because I…have no impulse control.
    On the plus side I’m doing very well on my resolution to get through law school without paying for my own highlighters (thank you, LexisNexis and Westlaw reps)

  13. I was asked to help with a genealogy project and I have found somethings.
    One of my grandmother’s brothers lied on his draft card (aged himself up). In 1940 census the very Italian surname is very misspelled and I’m wondering why.

    On my dad’s side I found the death certificate of a unnamed female stillborn, quality archival image of it. The form made me kinda sad, all those life details the corner had to put a line through.
    Then I found a census record of daughter that lived, she was 20 and named after one those biblical miracle birth figures.

  14. I’m on a linguistics mailing list, and it often sends out recently published papers. One journal caught my eye, and on closer inspection, I found there was an article published called ““Girl-on-girl culture”: Constructing normative identities in a corpus of sex advice for queer women” ( Reading the abstract, it turns out to be a study done about Autostraddle itself! I didn’t read the whole thing because it’s long, but it was definitely interesting. Funnily enough, one of the citations is for Gaby Dunn.

  15. I buy a shit ton of stuff every year, get to uni or w/e new job and realise I hate writing manually – one note is all I need. But yassss to “re-inventing” yourself that’s like the reason why I start anything in life.

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