Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

I recently gave my students a writing exercise in which they are to take inventory of the contents of a small space (a wallet, a purse, a gym locker, a desk drawer, a kitchen drawer, or perhaps their car or glove compartment) in order to see what the contents say about them. Likewise, the idea is to consider what people might miss or NOT KNOW about you if they relied only on the objects.

I'm going to try my best to complete the assignments along with my students. For this exercise, I'll use my purse contents. The purse itself is a beautiful black leather purse my boyfriend gave me for Christmas. He knows I like girly things, and I think it's quite special that he entered into testosterone-deficient atmospheres where such items are sold. I can only imagine the discomfort his big macho self felt when ensconced in purses and perfumes and jewelry.

This purse has two outer side compartments. Additionally, there's more storage on the inside of the purse in one zippered compartment. There are also three "pouch" areas sewn into one side where you can place glasses, a phone etc.

Outside compartment #1, I found the following:
*a Christmas card I was supposed to send to a swap partner (in a Ziploc bag and with postage sticking to the Ziploc bag)
*another Ziploc bag filled with ATCs I made
* two ATC's made by Shawna (for which I still owe her two ATC's in trade)
* Seven self-adhesive foam thingies that I saved from the garbage during a crafting session with my friend, Shanda's little girls. They were making foam gingerbread men. They used the little circles for buttons on the gingerbread mens' bellies. I saw them as something to repurpose. I thought i could stick them to a base, paint each rectangle with a different color paint or ink and use the resulting print as interesting background for art projects.

Outside compartment #2, I found the following:
* Three pens (a Sharpie Ultra-Fine Point, a blue Uni-Ball, and a Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine in black)
* a package of Eclipse spearmint gum with 6 pieces left
* checks , starting with #2001. It should be noted that I rarely use checks (who does?) but chose to order them. I ordered them via phone. They sent the checks to my previous address, so they never came to me. Thus, this caused panic when the checks never arrived. It caused worry as to where they where sent, who had them, if anyone used them, etc. So, long story short, the whole series was cancelled and reported stolen and a whole new batch had to be made and sent. I haven't used one since the whole drama unfolded.
*silk mittens I bought at the Moscow co-op which were to expensive but I'd coveted them every winter and had recently lost my gloves, so I bought them on impulse. Alas, I suppose my punishment was that I didn't try them on (who tries on mittens?), and they are really sloppy, can't feel my hands kind of big. I've only worn them once as a result. I wonder if I could shrink them. I wonder if I could sew them in....but I'm afraid to try.
*a Moleskine notepad in which I tracked my sales for farmer's market this past summer, in which I write recipes, in which I make lists of books I'd like to read, movies I'd like to see and CD's I'd like to have. Additionally, the notebook contains notes for my first visit to Natalie and concert information on Michael Franti concerts this summer.

Inside Zippered Compartment contains:
* a jar of pistachio golden shea butter by that I bought at the Women's Work craft fair.
*Lancome Juicy Tube lip gloss
*Revlon Color-Stay Ultimate Lipcolor in Platinum Petal
*eye glasses
* Mucinex pills
*two bottles of Warfarin (2 mg and 10 mg, since I am supposed to alternate taking 12 mg one day and 14 mg the next)
* a barette

In the compartment with three compartments, I have one black bandana belonging to my boyfriend, which I used to tie around my hair prior to Christmas, which I keep intending to give back (sorry honey!)

Finally, in the far reaches of the purse, in the dark, cavernous maw, I found the following:
*one wallet (the contents of which would merit another separate inventory and posting, perhaps...or perhaps not)
*4 Tampons
*1 apple
*1 bag Halls Triple Action soothing cough drops in cherry
*1 bottle Tussin DM Cough and Chest formula (this is contraband, as I'm not supposed to use anything other than Mucinex and a Nettipot to fight my cold, which is currently in its third week)
*a strip of gradebook paper, on which I've written the prompts for an online PAD Poem-a-Day challenge (for which I never wrote a single poem)
*a notepad (with magnetic closure) given to me for Christmas which reads: "The problem with doing nothing is you don't know when you're done." I got it on Monday, and I've yet to write in it.
*an orange notebook with turquoise elastic cord closure which apparently was a free gift with the purchase of REAL SIMPLE magazine. I bought it at Goodwill for 49 cents. I also got this one on Monday, and I've yet to write in it.
*a set of monogram sticky notes that I found in the dollar bin at Michael's. I've lived for 35 years without seeing a use for sticky notes, and suddenly I decided, apparently, that I would need to leave notes everywhere.
* a black and white photo of a family of 4 that I rescued out of the Staple's recycle bin. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I didn't feel like it should be destroyed.

If I look at the contents in a positive light, I'd say that I'm a woman of many passions. My mind teems with ideas the likes of which require multiple pens and notebooks. I never stop thinking about art: creating it, trading it, selling it.

If you had only to look at the contents, you might suppose that I am the luckiest girl in the world with a boyfriend who treats me like a princess because I am a beautiful smelling goddess, with nary a rough patch on my body and pouty lips that cause car wrecks.

But obviously, things in my world aren't as smooth as my skin. I'm less a goddess and more a pale-faced, pale-lipped sickie and a pill popper whose boyfriend deserves a medal of honor for his sweetness and patience. I was hospitalized at the end of August, where they found a blood clot which they blamed on my oral contraceptives. As such, I was taken off birth control and placed on bloodthinners in two forms: shots administered to stomach fat and pills. My life has changed drastically. In addition to incurring 2 ER visits sans health insurance, I am now ruled by regular office visits to make sure my blood is just right (kind of the Goldilocks and the 3 Bears things: so hard, too soft, just right). It gets thinned. It gets too thin. They thicken it. They experiment. And the Warfarin is poison. It's dangerous and touchy. I have to avoid foods with high levels of Vitamin K. Everything has vitamin K. I'm not supposed to drink, though I occasionally do. It's changed my heating and cooling system. My circulation is bad, so my feet and hands get cold easily, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend who knows too well the feel of ice against his skin at moments when he's seeking heat.

And most recently, Warfarin has compromised my immune system. More accurately, I got sick Christmas Eve, and I've been fighting the good battle since then to get rid of a cold that I would normally be rid of instantly. Normally, I'd either go to the doctor and get a prescription or get an over-the-counter cold medicine. I no longer have that luxury, as everything reacts poorly with Warfarin. Thus, when I felt I was going to die from this sickness and called my doctor for help, she "prescribed" Mucinex and a Netti Pot.

So I eat apples to keep the doctor away. I two-fist the cough drops. I nurse the cough drops and drink the cough syrup in secret like the bum on the street corner with his forty in a brown bag.
The bum description isn't just for dramatic effect either. I feel down on my luck in terms of health, and I use the illness and lack of energy as my excuse for not finishing things. I am a dreamer. I have high aspirations and best of intentions, but the contents of my purse say that I don't often follow through on the things that matter most to me. Empy notebooks are useless. Pen collections are useless. If I want to write, I have to write. Period. The same is true of my commitment to art. If I want to have a business, I need to be more regimented. I need a daily art practice. Though farmer's market is not until May, I need to work NOW on building up inventory. I need to produce things leisurely rather than stressing myself right before deadlines.

All this would discourage me, except the purse reminds me daily that these things are possible. It says I am loved. It says I've got the tools and supplies to do what I want to do. I've got the skills. Now I need to make the time and stop making excuses and START.


  1. This is inspirational- I think I might go do the same with my purse, just in my journal. Good exercise. =)

  2. What a great post Wendy. I sure hope you get better SOON!

  3. I hope you'll feel better real soon, and I need to do an inspection of my purse soon....Prince Charming says I carry half my world in there....

  4. Love this post. I have a writer's group and may use this exercise at some point. It's a good one! I hope you are feeling better.

  5. What a journey - I am glad you have your bag full of love.. I hope at some point the cough stops and the medicine can go back in the cupboard..and you are 'doing it' already! (and with your usual flourish of humility and creativity)..Jae