About eight years ago, I found this bag at Danier. I love the pebbled texture, the pockets, and the zippers, which give this otherwise conservative doctor’s duffle a rocker-chic vibe. The buckles on either side can be left open for maximum storage, which means, they’re always open. I call this my Evelina bag because of an experience I had in a washroom at L.A.X. Applying lip-balm at a mirror, I was surrounded, suddenly, by a pair of beautiful women, impeccably clothed and coiffed. Standing there in my ripped jeans and tee, oily-haired and hung-over from my first-ever girls-get-away post-kids, I felt out of my element. So, I was surprised when they began to compliment me on my bag, asking where I’d managed to find “the sister to the Chloe Paddington,” but “without that annoying padlock!” Apparently, I was carrying a streamlined knockoff of a hot designer purse. When they returned to their own gossip, walking back with me towards the gate, I realized that these women weren’t the fashion editors or stylists I had supposed, but well-paid escorts on their way back to Toronto from a weekend in L.A. So, I found myself identifying with 18th-century novelist, Fanny Burney’s, Evelina. Lost in the dark in London’s Marleybone Gardens, Evelina is escorted back to her friends by two very savvy prostitutes. In my case, though, there wasn’t really any excessive rouge or outlandish frippery to make these modern women, once scrutinized under the lights, any different from the rest of the jet-set with whom they travelled. Now, according to Purse Blog, the Chloe Paddington has had something of a renaissance! I’m starting to wonder if I will have any more Evelina days….
1. I’m trying to memorize Bach’s Italian Concerto and the first three Messiaen Preludes. Sometimes, I tote them around with me for a quick study. To fit the music into the bag, I roll it up and secure it with one of my daughter’s sparkly ribbon hair ties. The pencil was a freebee from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
2. I’ve been using a hot pink pocket agenda not as a planner but as a micro-journal, documenting my exercise, daily accomplishments, if any, a sudden idea for a poem or a story, and the little things the kids or others might have said or done which have made me truly happy. I mark my place inside with a ticket from a Cyndi Lauper concert.
3. I’ve been storing my earbuds around a champagne cork, a souvenir from my 40th birthday in February! Of course, on balance, if you travel with earbuds, you also travel with hot pink ear plugs. Bobby pins, bobby pins, too!
4. My sunglasses have a spring-green interior and a bit of sparkle hidden in the tops of the frames.
5. My phone, cards, cash, transit pass, children’s tickets, and home-made mini-photo-book all fit inside this Christmas gift of a burgundy-pink Coach wristlet.
6. This spotted leather pouch holds far too many “essentials”: a travel bottle of Neutrogena Sesame Oil; Brambleberry Rose Lip Balm; a hand cream tester; a travel jar of Cocoa Butter Body Butter; Mac Hot Tahiti lipstick; Flowerbomb perfume rollerball; Benefit They’re Real! Mascara; a pill-case full of Advil; and Anis de Flavigny Violet Drops.
7. No more baby wipes! Not even a tissue! This vintage lily-of-the-valley handkerchief was a wedding gift from the ever-inspiring Amy of Viva Vintage Clothing. The monogrammed “C” hankie belonged to my paternal grandmother, Vita.
8. The old Coach kitty-cat keychain serves as a reminder of our tabby, Van Winkle, who only ever cowled to the chorus of Billy Jean’s Not My Lover. The animal-print keys were cut at Royal Home Hardware in Cabbagetown.
9. Since I’ve set The Week in Radio, my novel-in-progress, during the week of the Canadian Opera Company’s first full production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, I’ve been poring over the English National Opera ‘s Wagner Opera Guides, such as this Die Walküre.
10. In one kitschy golden notebook, with a pretty-ugly pen, I’ve started sketching out the novel’s final scenes.