A little light reading (or: confessions of a bag lady)

A while ago I went to meet a fellow copy writer to discuss the possibility of working together with her on a big project. (The project fell through, by the way, because the client in question had decided to focus on more urgent matters of internal restructuring – this is a euphemism for “We’d really like to hire you, but we need to downsize first.”) She asked me to bring with me my portfolio, samples of my writing. Now, I’ve been writing for a long time but the fact of the matter is that a lot of the pieces I have written have never seen the light of day. At first this was because I was too nervous about showing them, after that – and prior to this blog – it was because I was a bit stumped as to where to find a forum to display my scribblings. The point I’m, very slowly, getting at is that I was quite surprised to find that I had produced a decent size and varied body of work, ranging from blog posts for organizations to informative articles on various subjects to promotional documents for various clients to short articles on light, fun topics.
My writing style has changed and the content of the pieces I write has certainly altered and, I suppose, matured. Keeping that in mind, I decided to publish one of the articles I came across while putting together my portfolio. I wrote this article more than five years ago, and it is a pretty superficial piece about, ahem, finding the perfect bag (which I still haven’t managed to do; the considerations in my article still hold true!). But it does show a lighter side to my writing that I don’t really show much anymore, largely because these days I am focused much more on issues that require a more serious approach and style. Evolution, a natural process.
Still, for old times’ sake, I present to you “Bag Lady”, by my younger self. Enjoy!

Bag Lady (2006)

If there is one universal truth, it is that women will always have something to complain about in their men, and likewise the other way around. One of my husband’s pet peeves is my collection of handbags. “Why do you have so many? You can only use one at a time! Why do you need to carry so much around with you anyway? Surely you must find it really annoying to re-pack all that stuff into another tote all the time? Do you really need another brown purse?” And so on, and so forth…
Sadly, I would have to say, speaking objectively, that he is right. Why do I have – and need – so many handbags? Why, when I have a rich variety of colors, sizes and styles, can I always think of at least ten reasons to buy yet another one? I think it’s an addiction, to be honest.
Yet, I do like every single one of my baggies; they each have their own personality! And I do find a use for each and every one of the bags that I have, though I should say that, frankly, the tiny fashion ones in pink and navy can go. Or maybe not.
The thing is, whichever size bag I choose, I find a way to fill it. Does the content of my purse grow with the size of my purse? Do I buy bigger bags because I need to carry around more, or do I carry around more because my purse can handle the volume?
I think perhaps the best way to tackle the last question is to analyze the content of my current – near A4-size – purse:
►  a wallet containing car papers, my driver’s license and my passport
►  a wallet containing money, passes and credit cards
►  my keys
►  my PDA
►  my cell phone

Those were the essentials. Now for the optional items:
►  my i-Pod Mini (the presence of 
which in my purse is non- 
negotiable)
►  my sunglasses (arguably not 
optional at all, as they might be 
necessary for driving)
►  handy-wipes (you never know what 
you’ll have to handle)
►  breath mints and Brush Aways (no 
elucidation necessary)
►  paracetamol (I get headaches)
►  Duratears (my eye-doctor claims I 
don’t blink enough)
►  Band-aid spray (I’m a klutz)
►  lipstick and chapstick (my lips dry 
easily and I might unexpectedly need to at least try to look presentable)
►  hand lotion (dry skin, what can I say)
►  a small purse containing a portable USB-stick, a pocket knife and a Mag-lite
►  2 magazines and a pocket book (I never know which I’ll feel like reading, and I might get held up somewhere – this way I’ll get though my back reading faster)
Well, looking at the second list, you can see why I would require a sizeable purse. Could I imagine leaving one or more of the items in my non-essentials list out?
Not really. At most, I think I would force myself to take only one of the three magazines/books with me instead of all three. And maybe the lipstick can go as well. But the chapstick, the handy-wipes, the hand lotion, the band-aid spray, the paracetamol, the Duratears, the breath mints, the sunglasses, the pocket knife, the Mag-lite, the USB-stick and the i-Pod are staying!
The main reason for my lugging all these things around with me wherever I go is that I have a firm belief that one day, they will all come in useful. For instance: I will be trapped in an elevator somewhere because of a small short in the panel with all the buttons, and my Mag-lite and pocket knife combo will save the day. Or I will unexpectedly have to perform some magnificently important function somewhere, and after quick-brushing my teeth, followed by taking a breath mint, and putting on some hand lotion, before sitting down and calmly and elegantly reading my magazine/book, I will successfully steal the show. Or something similar, you get the idea.
I should conclude, then, that my bag- fetish has more to do with my own neurosis of over-preparedness than with the desire to follow fashion whims. I suppose to a certain extent, that is a good thing. Yet I still feel inexplicably compelled to keep an eye out for more bags: more spacious, more elegant, and in lots of different colors too! Would this cease, I wonder, if I found a bag that had everything I required: the space to carry all my things with me without having to cram everything in or calculate down to the millimeter where to put my sunglasses in relation to my wallet? I think – though my husband would no doubt disagree with me – that it would, actually. Although I would then like said Wonderbag in all possible colors, and in the sizes small, medium, large and extra- large; and that would still mean that I would have to spend time and effort packing and re-packing bags a lot of the time.
Sadly, there is no such Wonderbag for me. And, since the Wonderbag will likely not be designed yet for the next hundred years or so, I could maybe try to occasionally convince myself that I don’t need everything I usually take with me all the time.
And so it’s back to the beginning, although at least now I can happily say that there is a good reason for my having so many different bags: different bags rise to different occasions (and, what’s more, to different moods!). Besides, aside from packing and repacking my different bags, I like the feeling of a new beginning that I get when I take out another purse for another day. In the end, then, I am afraid that I will have to tell my lovely – and very patient – husband that it is unlikely that I will ever stop shopping for purses. I will try, however, not to buy every one that I like.

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