On Life and Love

3:25 per Envelope

I had one task last night: get sender and recipient addresses onto 35-ish non-standard envelopes. This turned into an exhausting, stressful 2-hour task.

My initial thought was to hand write them for a personal touch, but then Greg (or I? Are we blurring?) reminded me that we should be able to print them. …And there went an hour and a half of my evening.

The envelopes were an unusual size–about 4.125 inches by 8.125 inches–and my printer just couldn’t figure it out. I could set a custom size in Word and in the printer settings, but it didn’t seem to matter a fig. Gutters, margins, nothing was behaving right and stuff was all cut off. What’s the point of having a fancy printer if it doesn’t do fancy things?

I was on my last usage of the evaluation copy of MS Word that came with my netbook, so I couldn’t easily close and open documents to retry the mail merge, and I’d be damned if I tried to do the whole thing again in OpenOffice. I spent 45 minutes alone reformatting addresses from the master guest list into a mail mergeable form.

I feel like there’s a teaching moment here. A grumpy, sleep deprived one, but here it is:

Here’s how to format a United States address:

House# Road Name Apt ##
Campus Mailbox ##/Rural Route
City, State, Zip

Some parts are optional. The capitalization kinda isn’t. I’d probably throw away an envelope that had “666 bugaboo ln clt, nc 00000” in one line on the front of it, even if it was from a beloved friend. I smell a phishing in the making.

And yes, that’s where I live. The devil’s house on Bugaboo Lane. Come visit, my pretty.

So 45 minutes of reformatting names and addresses, removing gr,at,u,it,ous commas, and asking myself “Who has 3 kids? Seriously? Oh wait, my older sister,” and I had an Excel spreadsheet that Word could use as a data source.

I only had about 50 envelopes, so I was reprinting again and again on the same ones to try to conserve them. The printer wrinkled the envelopes, too, which was fugly and then they were curled and blah and blah.

So I’m sitting on the floor of our unoccupied guest room–said emptiness being a sequence of stories that would make for hi-larious blog posts, truly–with my netbook, a stack of envelopes, and two repeatedly expelled cats. By the end of the hour and a half, Greg and I are about to grind our teeth to bits trying to be polite about the whole thing, but I finally have a passable setup for the envelope.

But the envelopes wrinkle a lot. And curl even more.

Plus, the envelope just looks bare and nekkid with the little type on it, especially in the pretty Antipasto font.

Screw it. I’m hand writing them.

More teeth-grinding politeness about it not-having-to-be-but-it-can-be a family endeavor, and Greg and I assembly line the whole shebang so that recipients will see his handwriting in one area and mine in another. Well, not “so that”. That just happens to be the cute end result. The “so that” was the blissfully short 20 minutes it took.

Afterwards, we went for milkshakes and watched the very disappointing Season 2 finale of Eureka. If today weren’t Friday, I’d have made it a Friday anyway.


  • Andrew Geiger

    Looks like a lesson I’ve learned at work: computers are awesome for any problem of scale – but not all problems are of sufficient scale. A thousand? Sure. Ten? Nah. But a few dozen? That one’s always on the edge of the divide. Equally a hassle in either case. It would take less time to do it by hand, but you’d have to do it by hand. This is the future, we should be above that, right?

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to use your story as an example for when it’s appropriate to do it by hand. (Though advocating non-automation may just confuse my coworkers.)

  • Imani

    I got your save the date card today. It’s adorable! I love the angry cat.