Project Life 365 – Day 51 – In My Bag

Anyone who knows me knows that I am anti-purse.

Look, I’m not trying to upset anyone here. I have no problem with other people carrying purses. And if it’s someone’s prerogative to drop a couple hundred dollars on a designer handbag to go with a certain outfit, who am I to judge? But for me personally, it’s just not happening. I just don’t like purses. Period. End of story.

That being said, I’m not opposed to carrying a backpack, or even a shoulder or messenger bag. What’s the difference, you ask? Well, in the simplest terms, I guess it all boils down to rhinestones..

See, here’s the deal…I’ve never been a girly girl. I don’t need to carry around a dozen beauty products. I don’t like carrying a large wallet or billfold. I don’t feel compelled to schlep half-used bottles of nail polish, miniature packets of Kleenex, or other assorted odds and ends. No beads, no bling, no rhinestones, no glittery, overly embroidered or bedazzled designer labels, please.

When I travel anywhere, all I really require is a notebook, a couple pens, my phone, my ID, and my camera. And, if I know I’m going to have some extra time to kill, a book or two to read. So, give me something sturdy, something sleek, something that matches my style and holds what I need.

And if that something is handmade in America and has a lifetime guarantee, I’m doubly impressed.

If you’ve never checked out Copper River Bags, I highly reccommend them. This beautiful bag, and all the things I carry in it, have a very long future ahead of us.


365 Project – Day 233 – The Death of the Pen

Many moons ago, when I was just beginning my educational career, we spent a lot of time practicing our penmanship. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, was a formidable woman, with a head of curly reddish-orange hair and a habit of standing over me and my classmates and making us nervous as we carefully copied letters and printed words in our handwriting and penmanship workbooks.

In spite of the anxiety caused by Mrs. Smith’s looming presence, I fell hopelessly in love with writing.

There’s just something about holding the notebook in my hand. There’s something about flipping open the cover and thumbing through to find an blank page, and seeing those empty white spaces trapped between the rigid blue lines. There’s something about the way the pen fits between my fingers, something about pressing the tip against the page and watching the words form beneath it like a sculpture emerging from a block of stone.

My brain works differently when I sit down to compose my thoughts using a pen and paper, and I’d wager a guess that the same is true for anyone. Handwriting forces you to slow down, to think, to form your thoughts and your words more carefully. It can even help you remember things, which is why I also take notes by hand instead of typing them during a class or a lecture.  Give me a choice between the keyboard and the pen, and I will choose the pen every time.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love computers. Hell, I’m sitting here typing up this blog right now. But when time allows, I much prefer to handwrite everything before typing up the final draft. Call me silly and old fashioned if you want, but handwriting is one of those things that keeps me sane. I’ve been known to handwrite dozens of drafts when I’m working on an essay or a story, crossing words out, adding sentences, making notes and sometimes even doodling in the margins, and then setting each draft aside as I write up the latest.

I pity the poor soul who will be cleaning out my file cabinet when I die.

I think it is a shame that handwriting is slowly dying in favor of typing and texting and instant messaging. Things like spelling, grammar and punctuation are languishing. Creativity and imagination are being stifled. And penmanship? Trying to decipher the handwriting of anyone under the age of 20 these days is like trying to decipher a meaningful sentence in a bowl of soggy Alpha-Bits cereal.

Many people believe that it won’t be long before things like pens and paper will be completely obsolete. Perhaps they will even disappear from the face of the earth altogether, like floppy disks and public pay phones. One day here, the next day gone.

There are dozens of things that have gone the way of the dodo in my lifetime, and I can’t say that I was really sad to see any of them go. Okay, so maybe at first I was a little peeved with CD’s and DVD’s replaced cassette and video tapes. After all, I had amassed quite a collection and was suddenly faced with the burden of replacing them all after my last tape deck and VCR finally crapped out on me during college. But the impending demise of good old fashioned handwriting? Now that has me on edge.

See, I’ve never been completely comfortable in front of a computer. Sure, I like to surf the internet and catch up with my friends on Facebook, and I’ve even been known to hammer out a last minute essay or two and then sprint to class so I can turn it in on time. But even so, the computer will always play second fiddle to my notebook and pen. And I sincerely hope and pray that it will be the same for my daughter, and that she will continue the good fight against the death of the pen. After all, it is the only thing that has ever been mightier than the sword.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all of the other hand writers out there. No matter what, I hope you’ll keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

365 Project – Day 216 – Why So Serious?

It wasn’t so very long ago that I used to be able to get a lot of stuff done in a very short amount of time. I mean, when particularly motivated, I could tidy up of the house, cook meals, run errands, write, spend some time chatting with friends either on the phone or on Facebook, do a little reading, and even find time to watch a movie or play some video games–all within a 24-hour period. Give me an entire weekend, and I just might be able figure out time travel or find a cure for cancer.

When you have kids though, time management is one of those things that changes drastically. Suddenly, something as simple as running to the Post Office to buy stamps begins to resemble a scene from Mission:Impossible, only instead of guns and gadgets and hidden surveillance equipment, you arm yourself with toys and sippy cups and an assortment of bite-sized snack foods.

The funny thing about having a toddler though, is that sometimes just staying home ends up being far more adventurous than trying to go out anywhere. Toddlers are into everything, all the time, without stopping or standing still or giving you a break, even for a minute. Hell, some days I feel like I deserve a medal just for finding a way to take a shower with Cadence in the house. It has gotten to the point lately that I have to bribe her into sitting in her high chair (where I can lock her in) so I can shower without having to worry that she is going to climb on top of the refrigerator or manage to demolish the house in my absence.

Usually, if I give her some paper and a pen or some crayons, I have about 6 minutes of free time before she begins to demand release. And even there, in the confines of her high chair, it’s amazing what a toddler can accomplish when you’re not looking…

When I got out of the shower and I saw this, I asked, “Cadence, were you chewing on the pen?”

She just stared at me.

“Cadence,” I said again. “Did you put the pen in your mouth?”

Still no answer.

“Cadence, were you drawing?”

She nods.

“Cadence, did you chew on the pen.”

Annoyed at my persistence she shakes her head violently back and forth. Then she grabs the paper, crushing it in her hands.

“Nah!” she hollers. “Nah! Nah!”

Translation = No. No. No.

Hmmm…I don’t think I believe her.

“Cadence,” I say, pointing to the big black glob of ink at the corner of her mouth. “What’s this?” Did you chew on the pen?”

She looks up and smiles sweetly. I bite my lip to keep from smiling back at her. I furrow my brows and put on my best stern face.

“Cadence LaRue,” I say, staring her down. “Were you naughty? Did you chew on your pen?”

Finally realizing that she has been caught in the act, Cadence does what toddlers do best–she turns on the charm, knowing that the only way out without getting in a whole heap of trouble is to remind Momma just how adorable she is. So, she puckers up her lips and asks for a kiss.

Damn. That face is like kryptonite–it works every time.

“You know kid,” I say, as I shake my head and scrub the ink from her cheek with a wet washcloth. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

Today’s 365 Project is dedicated to the kiddos who keep us on our toes and keep us laughing through the chaos. Some days, all you can do is just hang on and enjoy the ride.

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