Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bags are My Bag... Baby

As much as I like to come across as the atypical female with a distaste for shopping in all of its sundry forms, the truth is... I do have a few weaknesses.

Books, sure. Camping stores, yep. And I can even be coaxed into shopping at the occasional clothing store, so long as it's not too fancy and we keep it quick.

But no matter where I go — and no matter what type of store I'm at — I always find myself drawn to their bag selection.

And, no, I don't mean those cutesy little handbags or those $1,000 purses that women literally crawl over themselves (and others) to get first pick when specialty boutiques open their doors.

I'm talking about bags. Backpacks, hydration packs, day packs, weekend packs, laptop carriers, Camelbaks, messenger bags... seems no matter how many I have, I could always use at least one more for that niche occasion.

For example: I found a rather nice pack for day hikes at REI a month or so ago. It stored 2,500 cu inches but could be cinched in to avoid looking like a behemoth; had a slot for a hydration pack; plenty of pockets; and was — and this is important — a color I liked. It was originally $110, but was marked down to $35... so I had to have it. But it took me about 30 minutes of "thinking about it" to come to this conclusion.

A week later I was at a different outfitting store when I stumbled upon another beautiful pack. This one was also designed for day hikes but — more specifically — in the winter time. It was much like the one I had just acquired in terms of size, shape, price and savings... but it had another nifty little feature: a pocket on the outside made especially for holding snowshoes. I swear to you, I nearly salivated when I realized its purpose.

It took everything in my power to not purchase that bag, too. And now that two more weeks have passed, I'm still not sure I made the right decision. I think of that bag regularly, and wonder if I'll ever see another piece of such beautiful equipment at such a low price.

And when I was gifted a messenger bag yesterday — an extra-small Timbuk2 that's big enough to hold a book and my camera but is still small enough to qualify as a purse — I was eager to dump everything from my current bag and move everything over. It bothers me even now, typing, that I haven't yet had the time to do so.

I'm wholly aware that I have a "problem," if you will. But in trying to determine the cause (as a means for a solution), I also can't help but note how I generally avoid most other material possessions. Sure, I have a lot of books, CDs and DVDs... but I've even stopped adding new ones to my collection with any voracity. And I can't wait to give away a heaping pile of clothes when I move — I'm tired of taking them with me. I turn my mother down every time she tries to "give me something" to decorate my home with (doesn't help that our tastes are so different), and I wish I weren't such a sentimentalist — it'd mean I'd have fewer photo albums to cart around, too.

In which case, I've determined my "problem" to be multi-faceted:

  • Between work and school, it's been over a decade since I've lived at the same place for more than two years. This constant moving creates a sort of distaste for unnecessary possessions.
  • This penchant for asceticism is a direct contrast for my love of literature, music, movies, art, novelty items, etc.
  • There have been times when I've been traveling or hiking when I've found myself in dire need of supplies (like water) when none was available. I now suffer from a compulsion to take every possible "necessity" with me everywhere I go.
  • Likewise, my ascetic longings are contrasted by my need to preserve things: my family's past (scrapbooks); my present (newspaper clippings, etc); mementos; sentimental gifts and so on.
When I consider these four "problems" as a whole, I can't help but note that a "bag," in contrast, has a very functional purpose. It's meant to hold things — to make them easier to move, in bulk, from Point A to Point B.

And for someone like me who takes a book, a camera, paper, a pen, a small first aid kit and all of those usual girly supplies (Kleenex, chapstick, etc.) everywhere she goes... and a bag of some proportion (which co-workers and friends always make fun of — until they need some Excedrin or a finger nail file or whatever) is an absolute necessity.

Couple that with the simple fact that I always seem to be moving... and my neurosis is starting to make sense.

But I may be rationalizing a senseless addiction. Who knows. However you look at, at least one thing is certain:

I need help. And by that I mean: cold, hard cash. Or how else will I ever afford this basic human indulgence?


disgruntled world citizen said...

whatever you do, don't go to and look at the "what's in my bag" group. just don't do it, it will better for you. i promise.

I have the opposite problem. I have two bags that I use regularly. The first is my blue bookbag that I have had for almost 15 years. I guess its you basic shoulder bookbag, canvas. I carry it with me where ever I go. The other bag is my laptop bag. It looks more like a suitcase, but it keeps the ol laptop nice and snug.

My mother keeps telling me that I need a new bag. She has almost gotten me convinced, but I hold fast to the bluebag. I look at bags searching "for the one," but I haven't found one, yet.

I have checked out the timukbuk2 website and have acutally designed a bag there, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay the price for it.

My current weakness is DVDs.

p.s. Happy Birthday

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - Here's a TimbukTip... don't build one online. You can get them about 30% cheaper if you find one pre-made in the stores.

I've always wanted to build one, too, but it's just too expensive. Not that they're "inexpensive" otherwise... but definitely more affordable.

Anonymous said...

Here is my approach to addictions like this: If you can rationalize it AND afford it AND you will use it, go for it.

Wanna see what I did yesterday with MY addition?

And it could be worse. We could be golfers. Those folks are nuts.

And in case you thought I forgot you:

I doubt you would buy one, but what they heck. And why is it they always make the "girly" jerseys pink?

Anonymous said...

Addictions like this are hard! At least it is not alocohol or drugs (much more costly and you have nothing to show for it). I remember this addiction of yours from many many many years back! You had cute LITTLE bags for everything!! Because I have to not be so selfish anymore (not saying that you are!! Do it while you can) My addiction has become bargin shopping not in the fun way like your bargins but at the grocery store. How sad is that!!
Enjoy it it is a healthy addiction and it is fun. You are not hurting anyone.