The Purse Exercise

As an unrepentant carrier of large (not over-size, rather just-the-right-size) bags, I have over the years been questioned and gently teased (sometimes with a hint of exasperation), as to what items are so important that I had to squirrel them away in the portable black hole I lug along on my shoulder.

Since I once described my purse to Noah as a microcosm of the person who owns it (he has been using the appellation ever since), today I will list for you the contents of the purse I used today. I see this as a variation of the burning house exercise, where you list what you would take from your house were it set on fire. The burning house exercise is meant as a indicate of the type of individual you are; I am of the opinion that a purse can tell you the same thing about a woman, in more succinct terms.

For the record, we’re talking about a navy blue fabric shoulder bag, it is around 1.5″ by 0.5″ by 1″ (a foot and a half by half a foot at its base, and around a foot tall). The bottom and straps are a right brown colour and have a crocodile-like pattern on them.

It is one of maybe six or seven bags that I own, and the youngest of my collection.

I plucked it off a wall brimming with purses, bags, clutches and knapsacks in the Topshop of Oxford St., London, England in July. (The store, and the street, were even more packed with people than the wall with bags).

Upon leaving the house this morning, the bag contained the following items:

  • Wallet of the black, Fullum & Holt variety, won in a raffle at  Girls’ Action Foundation event last year. If you want to delve further into my identity, beyond the purse, try the wallet;
  • Notebook, brown moleskin cover, with creamy thick pages to write on. My dad gave me a stack of them for Christmas, since they are delectable to write on;
  • Orange folder with velcro closure and back pocket, 8 1/2 x 11. In it, I shove all the papers that some profs still insist on handing out. If I don’t, I manage to promptly lose them;
  • A dog-eared and crinkled copy of this week’s Economist. The headline: Everything to play for. Below it, a grip’n’grin shot of Obama and Romney (grip’n’grin being a term I learnt in today’s photojournalism class, meaning the traditional politician’s shake-your-hand-and-smile photo op);
  • A fist-sized metal tea container, half empty, with a sticker that at one point indicated its contents were Breakfast Tea from Fortnum & Mason. The sticker has been worn down from its coming into contact with the bottom of my purse for a number of months;
  • Clothing: a black pyjama shirt, a grey, knee-length, stretchy skirt, a pair of underwear, sheer pantyhose with a run in them;
  • A white Bic notepad, line, with four words written on it;
  • Degree “Expert Protection” anti-perspirant. This is honestly the first time I have read the label in full. The English half reads: 24h Motion Sense | Motion Activated Freshness | Cotton Fresh | Anti-perspirant;
  • A pen I borrowed from the Corinthia hotel in London and have not had the occasion to return;
  • A stick of Tide To Go;
  • A Burberry glasses case containing my old glasses (the new ones are on my nose);
  • Another pen, this time from the “Fondation TD des amis de L’Environnement”;
  • A pack of Excel peppermint gum which until six seconds ago had one stick of gum left in it;
  • A pack of Advil Cold and Sinus. The six daytime pills have all been used. The three nighttime pills remain;
  • A piece of paper divided into nine smaller squares, used to play alphabet-bingo in last Saturday’s German class at the Goethe Institut;
  • In one inside pocket, a Personnelle pink lip gloss and another pen;
  • In a pocket on the other side of the purse, a metal fork, Maybelline Great Lash mascara, L’Oreal True Match correcter, Maybelline black liquid eyeliner;
  • Finally, a copy of Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, its cover a little less yellow from its time spent in the bag.

This is a day where I packed light.  What do the contents of my bag say about me? (Apart that I have pen kleptomania.)

– Girl Friday

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