I can’t imagine how much energy I’ve expended, over the years, ensuring that my stamps were placed on their respective envelopes right side up. The only reason I became fully conscious of my behavior is because I recently affixed a stamp to an envelope sideways, and then spent the better part of a minute peeling it back off, as careful not to spoil the adhesive as an archaeologist dusting an ancient skull with her toothbrush.
Realizing the ridiculousness of my situation was not unlike having a lucid dream: “Hold on,” I thought. “None of this is real. Everything I know is but a construct, my actions determined more by institutionalized rote than by conscious desire.”
True or not, ever since that day, being around stamps makes me feel reckless. Now I never put stamps on right side up. How could I ever go back? It would feel like a forfeiture. Sometimes my stamps are not even properly within the confines of the “affix stamp here” box at all. I have twenty some odd years of blind conformism bottled up inside me, and something has to give.
In fact, I feel that I may soon escalate my practice into more ritualistic experiments, wherein I subject my stamps to all manners of unspeakable influences, involving everything from X-acto knives to hydrofluoric acid to–possibly–laser beams. Perhaps it’s true that this all expends more of my energy than being a philatelia drone ever did. But I’d also posit that the satisfaction of gleeful triumph is worth far more than 37 damned cents.