You know summer's over when your local drugstore's shelf of tanning oil, cheap beach chairs and cans of questionably poisonous bug spray is replaced with September's must-have items: school supplies.
Sadly, plenty of kids (or their parents) don't seem to be experiencing the joy we did. There's big back-to-school spending happening, of course, to the tune of $630.36 for the average American family, according to the National Retail Federation. But much of that money now goes to "electronics," including flash drives and even iPads (when they're not already supplied by the schools themselves).
Those aren't the kind of school supplies that filled our childhood backpacks. It was all about pencils and Trapper Keepers — or today, "Blunt Bitch" pencils and books that hide flasks. Treat yourself to some schools supplies this year, something just inappropriate and nostalgic enough to get you through that PowerPoint for next week's client presentation.
Sometimes you need to call it like you see it. Doing so passive-aggressively in the office is even better (even though it's worse, but oh well). This Easter-egg colored set of Blunt Bitch pencils ($5, etsy.com) is perfect for "lending" to your frenemy who's eyeing your promotion, or if you merely want to let everyone know who's in the room taking notes.
Long nights in the office coming up? Free idea: Bring in some really good booze and stash away in a pretty desk accent that looks straight out of Anthropologie. The Jane Austen Novel and Flask by Bender Bound ($95, Gilt.com) is the kind of back-to-school book we really need — and one we might have been more inclined to enjoy as high schoolers.
You know that a vintage rotary phone, "hipster" though it may be, would look so good in your apartment, yet it's utterly impractical to use or even find these days. The Jonathan Adler Smartphone Dock ($48, JonathanAdler.com) solves that problem, as well as the aesthetic conundrum of too many damn cords. Use it to stow your iPhone 5 or 6 when you're not group-texting your friends (or, you know, working).
Just because we're not packing our backpacks for sixth grade doesn't mean we can't carry pencil cases. And just because it's not yet noon doesn't mean we aren't seriously hankering for lunch. So thank goodness for this Pita Pencil Case ($25, etsy.com) — which we'd probably consider eating once that 11 a.m. hunger strikes.
Great news: You're an adult now, so being a geek is cool. Spock would agree that in order to live long and prosper, one must always keep their papers in order. Star Trek paper clips ($20, thinkgeek.com) will keep all your documents (you know, those that are still printed out) in order in flashy silver and gold. Your uncool third-grade self can rejoice.
Sometimes we just get stuck. Like, can't get a word out onto our computer screens, even for the shortest email. Now, there's something to look at (punch? throw?) when the words won't come: a Writer's Block notebook, ($13, Penguin Random House). With hundreds of blank pages, you've got plenty of places to jot down random thoughts — or just stare at blankly, since you're a grown-up now and no one expects you to write things by hand.
Before noon, we're completely reliant on staying caffeinated to get shit done. When the coffee machine is broken or that Starbucks line is too long, rely on the Things I'll Forget to Remember Keyboard Notepad ($12, Knock Knock). Designed to fit along the bottom of your computer's keyboard, you can write down exactly what you promised your boss you'd do instead of it occurring to you long after noon.
Now that emojis have infiltrated pretty much everything (including URLs), they might as well make their way to actual paper. We have a feeling using the Emoji Sticker Sheet Set ($12, Urban Outfitters), which comes with 18 sheets, will make you about as cool as using Sanrio stickers was back in second grade. In other words, very, very cool.
If you didn't have your composition notebooks in the '90s, you might as well have not have showed up on the first day, to say nothing of Trapper Keepers. What else would you use to stow notes to your friends? Thank goodness we can put our "notebooks" in a Composition Book Case ($30, Kensington) now to keep the memories alive. Plus, you know, our iPad screens from shattering.
If 8-year-old you swore by PB&J, 20-something you swears by sushi (it's like an SAT analogy). So when 5 p.m. rolls around and you're obsessively checking your email to confirm those dinner plans, it would be appropriate to have some maki on your desk, in the form of Maki Tack Set ($8, Urban Outfitters). Eight-year-old you wouldn't get it, but that's just fine.
Correction: Aug. 28, 2015
A previous version of this story misstated the price of the Jonathan Adler Smartphone Dock. The phone stand costs $48, not $8.