Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stash Away, Stash Away

Reed Krakoff. 'Tis the season. 

I have this thing about bags. You know, those things designed to carry your things. Funny thing: the more things I have, the more I lust for The One. Perfect. Bag.  That one elusive object of desire I have yet to define. 

And so I carry on, as carry on I must. 

Bag lust.

Our mothers called them purses.  Pocketbooks.  Back in the cash-and-carry day when ladies kept white gloves in tote, along with bright red lipsticks and those things called coin purses to stash spare change inside their, uh, purses.  

Handbags -- considered by Sigmund Freud to represent female genitalia in the language of dreams -- used to be little more than a stylish essential, a well planned investment one could carry for years, if not for a lifetime.  My old trusty Coach a case in point. 

Vintage Coach

I don’t get it

How did the ordinary handbag slip into the status stratosphere?  The term It Bag was coined in the 90s with the inexplicably explosive growth of the handbag market in high fashion.  Logos became emblems, badges of shopping honor worn by the hip, the chic and the most fashion-forward of consumers.  Designers competed for those customers, young and old around the world, to produce that One, Single Sensational iconic design to be celebrated by the press, or better yet to be seen on the Red Carpet. 

Go figure  

They were oversized, strappy, and frankly kinda schleppy, but among the more successful individual designs created during this time were the Paddington by ChloĆ©, @$1540 retail, now a "bargain" on ebay at $899; the Motorcycle by Balenciaga, @$1750 retail, “pre-owned" on at $1145; and the Alexa  by Mulberry, a rather baggy looking thing  still hanging around Harrods in London or on$1650.  

Other creators of coveted bags that rose through the ranks: Chanel (forever Chanel), Bottega Veneta, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Burberry,  and the ubiquitous Louis Vuitton. All still carry on today in department stores, duty-free shops in airports and in knock-offs found and sold on the web. 

If the appeal of the IT Bag is on the wane, sorry, I’m a bit out of step, still hunting for The One.  Rarely do I walk through a department store without a pawing through a handbag or two on display.  Is it the supple leather, the shiny new hardware, the strappy sensual curve thrown over the shoulder?  What is it that I find so seductive, so promising and yet so impossibly stupid about a handbag with a price equivalent to twice the median weekly earnings for full-time working women in America?

Get real real.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: WTFC,  “Go shop at Target, honey.  Buy yourself a Burlington. Whatever. Get a life!"


In “virtual reality,”my favorite place to shop for bags is online. Here I can lay to waste my leisure time, browse with the best, visit the swankiest sites, hit “Add to Bag,”  then quietly, discretely move to the next page, credit card safely out of reach.

The black hole theory

What feeds this obsession? What could possibly be missing in my life that compels me so to shop without purchase?  Go figure. 

On a day to day basis, I carry a serviceable if not lovely black shoulder bag of fine (enough) leather. Trouble with a basic black bag, things get lost. Hunting through those deep dark recesses and crevices of its multiple pockets, I need a flashlight to find car keys, cell phone, that red lipstick and oh, yes, that occassional stray black glove.    

And so my virtual shopping obsession has yet to staunch my desire for IT.  I hold the flame still burning for The Mother of All Bags.  

Oh, how I carry on. 

My latest jag for bags is the designer Reed Krakoff.  Not the most expensive designer on the block, but no slouch, even so for a slouchy hobo kinda bag. 

In search of the perfect evening bag, an accessory for a wedding, I was smitten  by a small leather woven box with a clever little knot clasp.  Ah yes, The Knot!  Perfectly tied and true.  A clutch known in better circles as a classic Botttega Veneta. A collector's item, a handbag of heirloom quality.  Tempting as a BV may be, there’s no way I could spend that much for a bag designed to hold nothing more than a compact and credit card. 

Vintage Bottega Veneta Circa Whoknows

Chanel? A little stodgy quilted affair on a chain?  That too, out of the question!  

Another designer bag that’s gotten under my skin is Chloe. My niece(-in -law) just came back from Vegas with a Chloe.  Nice winnings.  Good for her!  There but for the grace . . . but anyway . . . so it goes with bag envy. 


Handbags aren’t the only category of bags that appeal to me. Unfortunately. There are camera bags -- bags with specific requirements:  to have and to hold multiple lenses, batteries, memory cards,  just what you “need.” 

There’s the laptop bag, with it’s little accessory bag, now supplanted by the iPad case. 

The things we carry.  So much baggage.

And don’t get me started on luggage.  I’ve never met a Tumi I didn’t love. There’s the day tripper, a weekender, a voyager, the sojourner, the wanderlust bag, not to mention the packing cubes and clever bag-in-the-bag organizers.

Bag lady that I am,  I’ve now spread the bag bug to my husband!  Like codependents we have encouraged our bag habits. And now at last, in his inimitable competitive style, my dear husband (the love of my life?)  has found The One.  A bag I would never imagine we’d need.  The Bag to End All Bags.  A bag worthy of a Dr. Seuss book, if only Theodore, himself,  were with us still to write it.  

Behold:  the Biknd Helium Bicycle Travel Case

A bag for a bike!  You know:  the thing most people ordinarily ride on two wheels?  
Who’d imagine a bag so clever as to carry a bike?  
The Helium. Only 24 pounds. Big enough for a human stowaway, albeit somewhat dismembered.  Tough ballistics nylon on the outside, comfy, cozy pockets and sleeves on the inside.  And no,  it’s not filled with helium. The case comes with inflatable pneumatic padding.  And its own pump. Just 70 poofs per side and it's ready to fly. 
Utilitarian Biknd design that it is,  the Helium offers storage for not only for two, but four wheels. (“Go ahead,” the copy invites, "Take your aero wheels and your lightweight wheels for the days when you'll be high in the mountains.) How high in the mountains?  
Oh, the places we'll go with this. Bags packed.  Jingle bells. . . all the way. 

Photos: Bagged, borrowed and stolen off the Web
(Thanks, SuperStock, Tumi, Chloe, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Saks, Reed Krakoff, Coach and Target. )

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Old Dog, Wise Soul

Photo of the Day

5:00 in the morning.  Up and at’em, hands poised over the keyboard at this early hour, on the pretext that this is my habit. Writing.  

I would just as soon roll over, settle back undercover, into the familiar warm depression and tangle of bedding.  Close eyes and let sleep take over until sunrise. Another two hours to rest.  

But no. No rest for the weary, sleepy, happy, dopey or grumpy, as they say. Seems it’s off to work I go, tapping on keys. “Beating the daylights out” (wondering where that expression comes from), readying myself for the drive uptown later this morning. . . headed to another desk in the office where I’m employed, the place I will spend the entire day in the same posture, the same activity as now, tapping away at a keyboard. Writing.  


This is what I do. I have no wish to do otherwise today. I like my work, I am deeply habituated to it. I have no plans to retire, though the age looms and there will be decisions to make and a transition to navigate.  Soon.  Sooner or later.  Not now.  

Moments ago I opened an email from my brother-in-law, announcing his retirement. A short plat planner for the city of Seattle, he’s been working that one gig for thirty-five years, or something like that.  He’s had no other job to my knowledge. One place, all those years. Steady work. Steady worker. Working right up and through the holidays, retiring with lunch at noon on December 31 with many Happy new years ahead. 

Steady.  I would say that describes my work-style, as well.  I have worked nonstop since the summer I graduated from college.  

How many jobs have I had? 

Never counted.  Let’s see: a dozen or so: 

Four short “apprenticeships” as a copywriter and art director of sorts in retail, working in-house at department stores (good for the development of a fashion sense and shopping discounts) 

Two short passages and two long journeys home as a writer and creative director in ad agencies. (Had my fun.)

A seven-year stint as a public relations writer for a non profit org. Good, serious hard work.  

Four years of smoke, mirrors and alchemy as an exhibit developer for a science museum, until it closed its doors a year ago.  (No worries, the museum is reopening after Christmas.)

One year as a web content developer, writing and editing a monthly newsletter. 

Seems I’m an old dog. Still learning new tricks. Still running in the park, well, figuratively speaking.    

If you’ve ever owned a dog, one you’ve raised as a pup, groomed and nurtured as “one of your own” dear members of the family, then you know, it takes many dog years to cultivate that mutual unconditional love which can exist between species, human and canine.  

Old dogs are the best.  

Long-time employment ain’t so bad either. 

The pace of my new job is supposedly slower - a three-day work week gives me time and space to roam, to write, to pick up a camera and play.  Old working dog that I am, I’m loyal, tenacious. Throw me a bone, I’ll chew on it for days. Still working with a purpose, on the short leash of people to reach and deadlines to meet.  Sit. Stay. 

I laugh when I think of my past work-lives.  Bad dog!  Running-crazy dog.  Bitch. Ad show dog, Barking at strangers. Chewing up the furniture. Tearing up newspapers. Working in advertising, I had my run.  I had my pups. I won some medals.  

What irony: I’m a far better dog, an older but wiser writer now than I ever was back then, in the day.  

Old dogs.  Dang, if they don’t just keep getting better!  

About the dog in the photo: he’s not my pooch. I just caught his eye and he stayed to chat with me as I poked my hand and camera through his gate during a walk down his street in Lincoln Park, Chicago.  Photo taken September 2012.  

Thanks for walking by. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Digital Playpen: Out of Site, Out of Mind

What's Up on the Desktop?

Promiscuous with my words, eclectic in my interests and tastes, I maintain a digital presence far too wide and unwieldy on the web.  

The effect has been a cumulative and disturbing bogging down of my attention;  an increasing disability to keep up any sense of participation in the various “communities” which I have “joined” so enthusiastically  at one time or another. 

To enumerate the sites where I have left my identity, maintained, if not curated profiles, and invested precious time, I am struck dumfounded by the actual count:

Let’s see:  

There’s Blogger: this is my mainstay, the blogspot where I began on a dare from a friend four years ago. There we started a writers’ collective we called Artist’s Wayfarers. (Too cute!) There we giddily blogged for the very novelty of the act, until we all ran dry.  Still scribbling, dismayed to lose the company of my friends on AW, I set out on my own to (a site from which I still launch all my posts).  Wild turtle crossing.  I own the domain, have yet to turn it into my own dot-com. That’s another story.

Open Salon: three years ago, I dropped into Open Salon by happenstance, after reading a rant from  book editor, Laura Miller, on the absurdity of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) On OS - as insiders call it, I discovered a chummy and chatty (sometimes deliciously catty) company of writers of all stripe.  Here I suddenly found I had “readers” with a running commentary, a social media site at its best. Here I had a community of “virtual friends” - though I’ve never met a single one of them in person. We entertained one another with with an endless supply of advice, accolades, opinions, recipes, photography, poetry and bouts of tribal wisdom. Our writing was sometimes rewarded with an “Editor’s Pick” that extended our audience to the Big Salon, a pet name for Salon Magazine, a site I have followed for years. 

Sadly, OS appears to be in shambles of late. Navigation is painstakingly slow, spammers are rampant, my “virtual buddies” are abandoning ship, fleeing to a new site called Our Salon.

Slow to rile, I’m sticking with Open Salon for now because I have hope that it’s not going down. (Please say it’s so.)

Our Salon: this one’s new to me. A robust site with lots of functionality (is that even a word)? Our Salon is “busy busy” as the most recent email from the site describes, listing the new tabs and drop down menus, all designed to ‘simplify my online experience.’ The site literally chirps, cheerfully indicating members online - a feature that compels me to hit the mute on the computer. Plenty of  “sharing opportunities” with Facebook Twitter and Pinterest, all good social media tactics make the site downright friendly . . . but a little too busy-busy for my tastes. Anyway, on I go, and here I am.  

Food52: this is a drop-dead gorgeous food site, arguably the best spot for food on the web. “Because if you cook, you’ll make others happy, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.” I remain in awe of founding editors, Amanda and Merrill - the heart, soul and brains behind this site. Lots of humor, beautiful photography and genius recipes. Then there’s the “crowd-sourcing" aspect of the site.  Cooks, pros and amateurs alike, are invited to post and maintain recipes and to jump into a biweekly recipe contests. Proud to say I've earned a “Community Pick” or two.  Below are results from the test kitchen for my Crab Mac, with photography a lot more polished than the photos I submitted. Fun stuff. 

LinkedIn:  I don’t spend a lot of time here, but it’s an invaluable spot for keeping track of colleagues, companies, jobs lost and found, gossip.  It’s astonishing how much useful information just flows into my email box on a daily basis just keeping pace on Linkedin. 

Facebook: Ugh. I resisted this one for a long time.  Now as a web content developer for a nonprofit, I’m now obliged to partake.  

Twitter: I was an early adopter, have been on Twitter before I had any idea what I was doing on the site. Truth be told, I still haven’t a clue, but sure enough, I have followers.

Smug Mug: A fine place to upload, store and share photos. Got a zillion reasons to use the site as it easily works with the Lightroom software on my computer. 

National Geographic: MyShots  My camera skills aren’t much, but I compensate with a good eye, a love of interesting faces and spaces, and the chutzpah to shoot strangers on the street.  I get lucky sometimes.  Just started posting my favorite shots on the site, for nothing more than the sheer pleasure of seeing my stuff under the National Geographic banner.

Library Thing: a great place to catalog a book collection.   Unfortunately I can’t and so I haven’t kept up 

Noting Books: another great place to track and document what you’ve read - with short reviews. As much as I (want to) read,  I have a bit of catching up to do on the site.   This is where I spend most of my time: my day job, writing and editing the community online pub, powered by the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. 
Visit if you dare. . . for articles on for every taste, from old Detroit to young startups  from urban gardens to Yeshivas kindergartens, from Eastern market tours to missions to Israel. 

That's it.  At least that's all I admit to following. My top 12 sites. And my 1000 words and pictures for the day.  Appalling!  Where does the time go?  

So, where do you live online?  What are you doing here?  And geeesh, isn’t it about time to get up and stretch, take a break, take a breather, go outside, enjoy the rest of your day, whatever is left of it?

Photos: Vhenoch
James Ransom: Food52
Thanks for stopping by