• I’m a Super-Cool Person, and Here’s. What’s. In. My. BAG!

    by  • November 20, 2017 • You are probably sorry you asked • 3 Comments

    I mean, it’s not like I use the same bag every day. I’m telling you this so you’ll know not to pay attention to that random receipt for $19.28 at Shopper’s Drug Mart. It’s just the credit-card one too. You can’t even tell what I bought.

    Anyway, that’s not why you’re looking in my bag, right? What you really want to know is, how can I be super-cool like you? How do you do the magic you do?

    Well, I don’t know either. But I can answer a question I think we all agree is close enough: what can I put in my own purse or backpack so that we are carrying the exact same thing?

    I’m pretty sure that carrying all this stuff around is what led to my success. Or maybe it’s being the kind of person who’d think to carry some of this stuff? Ooh, I don’t know. Maybe you’d better not look at what I have in my bag. What if, once you peek, you lose your only chance to be the kind of person who thought of this themselves, which is what I am, which is what you want to be?

    No? Well, that’s a relief. Otherwise, how am I going to get a percentage of the profits from these Amazon links?

    Now let’s see… Here’s a little box of waterproof matches I got from Mountain Equipment Co-op. That helps me write, because what if I was stuck outside in the middle of Canadian winter, and I needed to be warm? Totes could start a fire. In the middle of downtown Toronto. Which is where I work. So I am never actually more than a few steps from a heated building, plus our winters lately have been pretty mild. But if the power went out, and we were all trapped inside for long enough for the heat to dissipate, I could definitely probably light a campfire just like in Guides. Success.

    Oh, and this? Well, this Swiss Army knife that I got in Switzerland is really good for cutting the plastic tag-holders off of new clothes when I can’t wait until I get home. Also: keeps me sharp (ahaha, pun INTENDED). Gives the old memory a workout whenever I’m planning to take my bag on a flight.

    This mini-stapler is pretty useful too, although I’ve never used it myself. Mainly I use it by letting other people use it, because it can’t staple enough papers together to be useful to me, and I provide most of my professorial feedback online anyway. But students sometimes ask for it! Which helps me teach them to, you know, not plan in advance and ask your instructor when you forget the details.

    I do carry a lot of pens. I mean, most of my bags have little pen-pockets in the front section, so I put my less favourite black Bic Atlantis in those. Also, a mechanical pencil, in case I need to do elementary-school math. My favourite pens, which are, uh, black Bic soft feel mediums, I clip to my notebooks to make them easier to lose when they fall off or burrow all the way down the coil binding.

    Say, that’s another thing in my bag: notebooks. If I weren’t carrying a notebook at all times, I wouldn’t have something to think of fleetingly when I come up with a good idea and promise myself I’ll write it down when I next get a break. And then never write it down in. Because by the time I have a chance, I’m already home and can just revise the MS I was thinking about. Anyway, right now I have a Moleskine and a Field Notes from Fiancé’s Lootcrate last year and also a big Mead Five Star.

    (Hey, this brand-dropping is pretty fun!)

    Someone told me to always carry Tide pens, in case I drop some food on my clothing. Because I do carry Tide pens, I also carry several zip-top baggies for everything cloth/paper, because at least one of those little buggers leaked all over everything in my bag — I mean, my everyday carry. The dang stain-remover stained everything. Juvenal was right: who washes the washmen????

    Finally, I carry, like, a whole bunch of what-if-I-get-my-period stuff. Because we people with uteruses have to be prepared at all times. Nothing quite like getting a cramp on a random morning and thinking, “It shouldn’t be… but is it? Probably not… but what if it is, and in the middle of the day I teach for six hours in a row too?” Because, just in case you’re a person with a penis or otherwise haven’t experienced it before, menstruation is involuntary and, apart from the influence of certain medications and the existence of certain fortunate individuals, only occasionally lives up to its name in being strictly periodical. Should everyone carry these if they want to be like me? Probably.

    You should probably pack some Kleenex and lip chap like me too, for appearance’s sake. Maybe ibuprofen? I divvy mine up in those little tins you get from David’s Tea sampler packs. (Feel free to marvel here at my ingenuity and hope that it rubs off on you if you copy me. Really, though, all you need to do is feel guilty at throwing away any non-plastic-wrap/cardboard container, and you’ll find a slick use for it eventually. LIFEHACK.)

    Anyway, I think we’ve gone through some pretty top-rate tips for success. You’ve got plenty of little things to go purchase, I’ve been able to spend at least an hour goofing off instead of doing anything productive, and neither of us will have to do anything actually related to our creative passions for at least another few minutes. You see? Your life is better already!


    I write SFF, young adult, and middle grade fiction, and I’ve been known to knock off a play here and there. I’m represented by Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary, Inc. Stick around – who knows what might happen?


    3 Responses to I’m a Super-Cool Person, and Here’s. What’s. In. My. BAG!

    1. November 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      I think the better translation of Juvenal is “Who cleans up after the custodians…” (if custodiate were a word in English meaning to do a custodian’s work then “Who custodiates the custodians” would be a more ideal version).

      I always carry two pens with me (in case 1 runs out) and some paper, but I keep them in my pockets which is why I favour cargo pants. I also try to keep tissues in my pockets in case of emergency and a canvas/nylon/polyester reusable bag folded up into a small wedge. I also have a stapler remover on my key chain (it is an odd one that is shaped more like a letter opener or the like and has a hole for being put on a key chain, it is not as effective as one of those alligator jobs still I saw it in the stationary store and had to try). I also have a standard wallet and a change purse. Plus I need to have subway tokens my MP3 player, earbuds, some cards, some mints and a USB stick in my belt pouch and a holstered phone. I also carry a Presto smartcard for transit in a lanyard around my neck.

      In edition to my overflowing pockets etc.my backpack gets stuffed with whatever I think I might need including maps of the area, transit schedules, phone charger and so on. More writing material etc. As I decide I need more stuff I add to this until the weight gets too much and I try to economize. For a while I had swtiched to a slightly lighter load by not taking my laptop with me everywhere, but lately I have been doing that again, plus the charger, cables and dongles that go with my laptop…

      I don’t carry fancy notebooks with me usually simple pads of paper or cheap notebooks from charity mail. I do keep a journal in a fancy notebook, (for a period I used moleskin) writing with a trusty fountain pen.

      • November 21, 2017 at 10:43 pm

        You are much fancier than I am with a fountain pen! (And probably have better penmanship) :) Though, based on my luck with Tide pens, I’m pretty sure that I’d spill ink over everything…

        • November 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

          My penmanship is pretty awful, but I can indulge in some basic calligraphy if I slow down. I don’t carry my fountain pens with me, I for everyday stuff I just use ballpoint. I used to carry a multitool/knife with me everywhere but I kept it on a belt loop that wore out and I have yet to bother to fix it.

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