Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Improper Poll: Evolution of The Purse

I just switched purses…which means I cleaned out the old one. I had to announce this because it is, in fact, that big a deal.

When I got my first purse in junior high, I had nothing to put in it. So I stuffed it with tissues the way I’d heard some girls stuffed their bras. (Which I never did, by the way—only because I can think of too many potential disasters created by tissues-gone-awry.  And let's face it, I just seem to attract that type of disaster.)

In high school and college, The Purse became a place of sanctuary. Mysterious things may or may not have hung out in there, but I wasn’t willing to let anyone else see it. Except my female friends, of course, because theirs were just as bad.

When I had children, my stuff disappeared and the children’s took over. The Purse morphed into a diaper bag. It was huge—a mini suitcase, really—and contained all of the provisions necessary to sustain a toddler for one day while preventing as many tantrums as possible. It contained clothing items and snacks and toys. The only thing I carried for myself was money, and even then I can remember forgetting my checkbook once because I was so concerned with loading in emergency backup Nuk-Nuks. I still remember flailing madly in my purse with one hand as I drove because one of my children needed a tissue NOW—and it turned out that the emergency was that Barbie was cold and needed a blanket.

Now I’m embarrassed to admit that The Purse is becoming a traveling pharmacy. Granted, I’ve been sick lately, but I have medications to manage almost any imaginable illness, discomfort, upset, or eruption. I have glasses that make up for the fact that I can’t see close up and ones that help me see farther away. I have little note pads for jotting what I can’t remember, because, although my phone probably has an app for that, I'd have to mess with finding my glasses in order to see it.

But weirdest of all is the pens. I can never find a pen. I will dig, flail, and rattle around—nothing. Yet…guess how many pens I found? Just guess! Five? Ten?! NO!! FIFTEEN pens I found in there. I found them in crevices, under flaps, and in pouches I didn’t even realize were in there. I’d find some and think it was a lot and then discover another hidden cache of them. It was like a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat—impossibly large numbers of rabbits that just keep going and going. There were disposable pens and rhinestone ones and flowered ones and cheap and expensive pens and ones that attach somehow and little ones designed just for purses.

So I dumped all fifteen into the new purse where they magically submerged and disappeared, only to reappear the next time I switch purses.

What weird things do you carry with you?


  1. A lady I dated couldn't deal with cleaning out her purses. So when a purse filled up or started to fall apart, she just positioned it on a shelf to the right of the last purse she retired. When we stopped dating she had 10 purses up there.

  2. Tom, am so glad that I am not quite first in line to be showcased on "Hoarders!" I worried my empty purse collection (see photo) was bad enough.

  3. I can't stop laughing. I bought a purse today too and I found FIVE pens in my purse, and enough contaminated tissues to stuff a bra, not that you'd want to. What is it with purses? I think I found my blog topic, too. Thanks for the laughs, nice comment on my blog and memories of those Nuks.

  4. Well, I've never been a mother, but I've been a hands-on aunt for a lot of years, so I've carried a lot of kid-stuff in my purses.
    I loved your "Barbie needed a blanket"!
    I can't say what weird things I carry in my purse, but I just hope no one ever sees in there.
    I never find lost pens. My purses always eat them.
    I have a big blue tote box with a masking-tape label that says "purses" however. When we travel, I seem to buy hats, and big fabric bags I can use as persons when necessary. Like today. I was out for the first time in a long time because I've had a horrible cold, so I took a large fabric bag containing a box of Kleenex, my wallet, my keys, and a plastic bag in which to put used Kleenex.
    Life can be such fun sometimes.

  5. Oops. Use as purses. Not use as persons. Athough they are sometimes my only companion.

  6. My poor purse is over ten years old. The handles are cracked, and white stuffing is leaking out. I've switched to new purses, but always come back to my trusty brown one. I like her insides. I can't organize my paraphernalia in the new ones.

    I have a movie purse that is just for keys, cell phone (on vibrate, of course) notepad, ONE pen, a book or magazine, tissues, Butter Buds, and candy that I sneak in for my kids. And perhaps for me, too.

    The oddest thing in my purse is directions to and from Tan-Tar-A. I am directionally challenged. The shortest way there from Backroads involves many numbered and lettered roads. So I have to write them down in the opposite direction to get myself home. Let the record show that I have not been to Tan-Tar-A for six years now. But I hang on to that lifeline just in case my school should send me back there for a conference.

  7. This resonates with me. My youngest child is now thirty but I still haven't broken the habit of carrying 'just in case' items. I keep trying to work myself towards a smaller bag but end up cramming in the emergency stuff just the same.

  8. Hi Tammy,
    I'm a admitted pursaholic. I can't shake the habit of hanging on to my old purses. I have a huge rubbermaid tub full of old purses, although in December I gave a couple away.
    Oh, I keep pens, coupons, and assorted valuables (can't call it junk) in my purse, and I always buy one big enough to hold a book.

  9. What clutters my purse most these days is receipts. Dozens of them. It's the curse of one who has stopped using cash and started using a debit card.

    Critter Alley

  10. Your post reminds me of a column I wrote (when I was a contributor at Sanity Central) titled "Personal Purse Phylogeny." Women's purses really do morph over the years. I have a lot of pens, too--not as many as you do! I pulled eight out of my purse a few days ago, and a bunch of dog-eared index cards that have seen better days. *sigh* Maybe it's a writer thing. Probably the weirdest thing in my purse is a measuring tape. You'd be amazed how often that baby comes in handy.

  11. There's a joke among my sisters - that the older one should be on the Let's Make a Deal show - no matter what he would want you to dig out of your purse, she'd have it. Seriously. I try to avoid purses, if I can.


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