Areas of Unrest
8 December 2000 - My Life As a Kangaroo
QOTD: "It is never helpful to fight prejudice with anger." - Nigel Henry
Reading: Deborah Woodworth, A Simple Shaker Murder
Listening to: Enya, The Memory of Trees
There's been an interesting thread on Three Way Action regarding what people carry in their purses. While I replied there, I thought it would be interesting to expand on it here.
To start with, I tend to use the term "pocketbook" instead of "purse" because, as any good New Yorker knows, a purse is a little thing that goes inside the larger pocketbook, which can be either a handbag or a shoulderbag or a clutch, though one is unlikely to use a clutch for day to day use. It's sort of like the distinction between a ship and a boat. It's also an entirely bizarre term, though I suppose you could argue that it typically contains pockets and could be used to carry the information one might have in her book. (Note that I have no idea what the actual etymology is. And that the term is one that I think is nearly unique to New York.)
Anyway, after a lot of years of experimentation and frustration, I've settled on a style of bag made by LeSportsac. Unlike my mother, I have no interest in switching bags to match what I'm wearing. I did do that for years - a brown shoulderbag with my initials on it for everyday, a tan tote that had room for my leotard and tights on dance class days, a straw number for summertime and so on. Now, I stick to my boring navy shoulderbag, except for times I need to dress up. For those events, I switch my keys and wallet to one of several clutches - a multicolored leather one my grandfather made, a round metallic gold one which used to be a shoulderbag but I broke the strap long ago, a navy satin envelope, a black patent leather one, or a beaded bag that my grandmother crocheted in the 1920's. The latter is special, but too fragile to use for all but the most important occasions.
I should note that the navy pocketbook I use is the fourth one I've had in the same style. The first was black, which was nicely neutral. But at least two other women in my immediate circle of friends at the time had the same bag and we were always wasting time sorting out whose was whose at parties. So the next one I got was a bright red, with white polka dots. The only problem with that was that the polka dots tended to show dirt faster than the red fabric. Then came my favorite ever - a tropical print, in purple and green with leaves and parrots and the like. I'd actually looked for something similar when it wore out, but all I could find in the right style was the navy.
What I like so much about the style is that it has a lot of pockets, all of which close with zippers for security. Also, the shoulder strap is wide enough and is adjustable in length. It's lightweight and sturdy, but it's the pockets that make all the difference.
The back has a long zippered pocket which I use for tampons (and a pad or two) and tissues. The pocket in front of that holds my organizer, several pens, the pocket edition of my company phone directory (useful for calling people when traveling), and a folding brush and comb that I bought in a Seattle drugstore in 1985 when I went for a job interview and forgot to pack a hairbrush. Most of the pens are from various hotels and, sad to say, most of them are well chewed on. I also tend to break the caps and lose the little plug thingies at the ends by playing with them. There's also one yellow pencil and a red pen, neither of which are chewed on at all. When I know I'm going to be going shopping, I stick my coupon folder in this pocket, too.
The coupon folder is a small blue accordion folder with several pockets. Coupons are divided into the following categories, from back to front:
As for the organizer, I'd be hopelessly lost without it. The leather is getting a bit worn and the pen holder, in particular, is crumbling to bits. It's a Rolodex Model Number 400 Personal Organizer, according to the lettering stamped on the inside cover. The inside cover also has slots for two pads of post-it notes and I've been meaning to replace the note pads in there for months. I should note that Rolodex stopped making these organizers some years ago, but it doesn't matter since I use pages from a combination of companies - mostly Day Runner, Day Timer and Filofax. The personal information page is filled out largely to provide my phone number in case I lost the organizer and to list my mother's phone number in the event of an emergency. Then comes a monthly calendar (two pages per month) section, which has all too much black ink on the pages. That's followed by the address book section. Next is the "Notes" section, which has:
Then there's the one page a day calendar section. I keep two months worth at a time there. The expenses section follows that and I try to write down everything I spend and reconcile it with my budget once a week. I'm better at that than I am at using the shopping list section behind that. I had good intentions for the Miscellaneous section, too, filling it with things like a page to list movies to rent and books to read, a chart of how to do the Heimlich maneuver, a map of world time zones, and a page of phases of the moon for the past two years. Don't ask me why I ever thought it would be handy to be able to look up the phases of the moon. The one truly useful thing in this section is a series of pages of directions to various people's houses. The directions to Angela's include the phrase "Then you are driving on the road of the ranch. At this point, you may sing the theme song from Bonanza." Angela wrote that, but I copied it over because I thought it was clever.
Which brings me to the Travel section. That starts with itinerary pages, which I use only for relatively brief personal trips. There are some folding "travellers checklist" pages that are intended to be a sort of packing list. I have no idea why I keep them since I'm unlikely ever to make a packing list that includes a tenth of the items on it. Actually, since it's a Filofax page and, hence, British, I can't even identify a goodly number of the items on the list. For example, I have no idea what on earth a "sun-top" (listed under "clothing" might be). And I certainly hope I don't ever need to own undergarments that would have such an ungainly name as "camiknickers." The medical section leaves me similarly clueless, as I try to figure out what "embrocation" might be and hope I don't ever need it. (Oddly, the same medical section fails to list two items I consider really important for travel, unless "stomach remedy" is intended to include oral rehydration salts and anti-diarrhea tablets like immodium.) And I'm certainly not going to attempt to imagine what sort of travel one might do that would call for carrying "fuses (spare)" and "darts / board." On a more useful note, I have a list of airline and hotel chain toll-free numbers. And a lot of maps:
Which moves me forward to another pocket. This one has a pocket within it, too, which I use for receipts from ATMs and credit card charges. I also tend to accumulate fortunes from fortune cookies there. Within the main compartment, I keep most of my life essentials. There's my checkbook, for example. The current checkbook is dark blue leather, but I still miss one I had that was a medium blue with my name stamped on it in gold. By the way, my checks are light blue, with a dark blue faux lapis strip and silver foil edging.
Then there are card cases. I keep my own business cards in a small plastic case, the front of which is decorated with bits of purple, green and gold foil and a mask of comedy. I carry cards I use infrequently in a maroon case with two pockets per page. This has stuff like my dental insurance card, my voter's registration card, various hotel frequent stay and airline frequent flier cards, an almost full "buy 12 and get the 13th free" card from HEAR Music, my REI membership card, and a plastic car key on a card. It also has "The Hug Me Card," which has a temperature sensitive pad to tell you how many times to hug me. And a plastic card with an intensely annoying optical illusion on it.
My money lives in the red with white polka dot nylon purse that came with a previous pocketbook. I should just put the money in my wallet, but I got out of that habit when I had a moderately disfunctional wallet. (Which I had for over a decade because it wasn't so disfunctional that I would get rid of it before it fell apart.) My current wallet is a dark green one from Eagle Creek and it holds my "driver" license (I just noticed that California identifies it that way, instead of using the possessive) in a see-through pocket. The three most accessible slots have credit cards (my heavily used Alaska Air Visa card and a rarely used Mastercard) and the ATM card for my checking account. In a pocket behind them are my medical insurance card (Kaiser), my AAA card, my United Premier card in case I need to show it for early boarding, and my Blockbuster video card. The final pocket in my wallet has my personal and corporate American Express cards, the ATM card for my credit union account, my Hostelling International life membership card, and a card directing that in the event of my death, I release my remains for burial to the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society). I really should put my money in the wallet instead of a separate purse, but old habits die hard. By the way, one of the best things about this wallet is that it closes with velcro. As a person with tightwad tendencies, I have to like a wallet that screams when it's opened.
There are two zippered pockets on the front of my bag. The one on the right has my badges for two contractor locations. The Boulder badge gets heavy use; the Sunnyvale one will probably expire before I use it again. Hmmm, I just looked at it and it expired over a month ago. I also have a BART ticket and a Washington Metro ticket in there. Both San Francisco and D.C. are cities that I get to often enough that I don't worry about having money left on transit tickets. The pocket on the left is where I keep my badge for my own workplace, my car key (on a separate key ring) and my key case. The latter has individual hooks for keys, but is crowded enough that most hooks have two keys. The keys on it are (from left to right):
If you ever want to watch me go completely insane, just put something in the wrong compartment of my pocketbook. That's the downside of being compulsively organized. I expect to be able to find things without looking for them and if I can't, I panic.
Copyright 2000 Miriam H. Nadel
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