What’s in the bag?

One of the sexist stereotypes about women is that their purses contain everything short of the kitchen sink. I can’t support that. I’ve known women who walk out of their home without anymore more than their keys and their debit card. I’ve also known women who can’t conceive of leaving their houses without a sack big enough to carry a corgi full of random stuff.

And then there’s my backpack.

I often feel self conscious about bringing my backpack with me everywhere I go because a) I know so many people who don’t need to bring half their household items with them when they go out and b) I grew up with the above sexist attitude surrounding me and constantly worried how men would judge me.

I’m slightly less concerned with point “b” these days, but it still colors my self doubt. But one thing is certain: Any time I leave home without my backpack I end up wishing I had it with me. As inconvenient and slightly embarrassing as it’s presence can be, it does hold a lot of useful things.

This whole thing was sparked by a simple question I saw somewhere in my social media stream: what do you have in your backpack?
In mine I currently have:

  • Two notebooks. One is nearly full and I hate running out of paper in mid sentence. Once I switch over to the new notebook I’ll file the filled one away on my bookshelf.
  • My tablet. I use this primarily to read books. It doesn’t have a data plan and only works through wifi. Its case folds into a stand that allows me to read while eating. I was always warned that if I ate while eating I would always want to eat while reading. I’ve found the opposite to be true. If I’m eating alone it’s impossible for me to eat without something to read.
  • One large-ish cotton napkin, tucked into the bottom. It serves as backup for the handkerchief I keep in my pocket. It also serves as backup napkin. Mostly, however, I’ve kept one in the bottom of my backpack to absorb any accidental spills I have in there. It has served me well in the past to protect my tablet and my notebook(s).
  • Spare keys. My backpack has a key ring attached to the inside of one of the pockets. It detaches with one of those ubiquitous backpack clips. It also means I always have an extra set of house keys available. I’ve kept it in my backpack ever since that one day I actually managed to lose a set of keys somewhere between work and home. A friend had to drive in from out of town to let me into my home. Now I have the spare set and a friend within walking distance with another extra set.
  • Flashlight. This has helped me effect motorcycle and car repairs in the middle of the night. It also allows me to walk down my back alley at night without tripping in the many, MANY pot holes we have back there. I have no idea why our alley is unlit, but it’s like a post apocalyptic landscape back there.
  • My multi-tool. I have a Leatherman that folds out into a large pair of pliers, among a dozen or so other tools. It has served me really well for years. I should get a replacement, though, as a couple of the tools are damaged or missing. But I’ve used it so often I always keep it with me. It was particularly handy when I worked in shipping.
  • Assorted pens. Mostly bic. I try to keep one good pen in my shirt pocket at all time, but I sometimes forget. Or sometimes that pen will run dry. Or go missing. So I keep a handful of backups in the backpack.
  • Pencil, eraser, and sharpener. This is for gaming. You do a lot of erasing and re-writing in gaming.
  • My glass case with my glasses. Ever since I lost my most treasured pair of glasses out of my coat pocket I have become much more mindful of keeping my current set in something less open. Man I miss those glasses. The frames were such a perfect fit, and I wore them for so long, that my temples gradually wore away the enamel on the inside of the arms.
  • Small pack of “get out of hell” cards. I give them out to people who’re having a bad day. Sometimes I’ll leave them in random locations for people to find.
  • One pencil case that does not contain any pens or pencils. Instead it contains a number of small, useful items that would get lost in the backpack if I didn’t keep them in the pencil case. In it I have:
    • Antihistamines and Dristan. I’m allergic to, well, life in general. These keep me breathing.
    • Assorted bandaids. I’m clumsy.
    • Eyeglass cleaning fluid
    • Lip balm

Other things I might have depending on my mood:

  • Pipe, tobacco, lighter, and cleaning implements
  • Thermos of water
  • A random selection of food
  • Dice
  • Laptop and various attachments

I’m hard on my backpacks. The one I currently have is only about three years old and the straps are starting to come detached at the shoulder. I’ll probably have to invest in another one soon.

So, yeah… if it’s a given stereotype that women keep massive bags full of stuff on their person, then I guess I’m just one of the girls. Otherwise I’m a nerd turtle who keeps half his house on his back in case he needs it.

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