My Stuff Doesn’t Lie, But I Wish It Would

11 Jul

I’ve always enjoyed magazine and newspaper profiles of influential people that include really personal stuff like, “what’s on your nightstand?” or “what’s in your handbag?”

I am not influential (other than with my two small children) so no one has ever asked me those questions. But like most people, my nightstand and handbag say a lot about the phase of life I am in.

Let’s rewind 15 years. It’s 1996 and I am 24 – two years out of college. If someone had looked on my nightstand, they would have been sooo impressed. They would have found copies of The New Yorker, the local paper, a fashion magazine or two, the Sunday New York Times and whatever novel I was currently reading. Oh, and there may have been some historical or nonfiction works that I knew I should read, but probably wouldn’t.

Now for the purse. My handbag would not have had a cell phone (I was a late adopter), but was likely to contain a small, tidy, makeup bag with new cosmetics, a few reporters’ notebooks, my wallet, some tissues and breath mints in a shiny tin.

Today, the scene is different. My nightstand screams “middle aged lady with limited interests.” I confess, I subscribe to Good Housekeeping, Red Book (hey, it was only $5 for a whole year) and the modern middle aged lady magazine, Real Simple (it has cool photography, and masquerades as a hip publication, but is really Good Housekeeping 2.0). There are stacks of InStyle, but most haven’t been opened. (I keep subscribing to it to impress my stylish babysitters … and someday I might want to know what to wear to a garden wedding or a beach club). The glossies I am most likely to read are Parents and Parenting, although I can’t imagine there is anything left for me to learn about the terrible twos, potty training and getting picky eaters to like vegetables.

I remember being at a friend’s house a few years ago and seeing a copy of Ladies Home Journal on her coffee table. I said: “You mean they still print that? And you actually read it?” I couldn’t really imagine a time in my life that I would be interested in a magazine with articles on the best ways to slice melons and fold fitted sheets. Now I want that information much more than “Get the look: Selena Gomez – Her Signature Side Pony(tail).” (Seriously, what grown woman wears a side ponytail … oh yeah, Selena is not a grown woman … but that was a headline in July’s In Style).

Don’t expect me to blog about the best picks for book clubs or beach reads. Material written in bullet-point format is what works best for my bedtime reading now (and the end of the day is the only time I have the luxury of reading). Of course it wasn’t always that way. Reading fiction was for many years my favorite and most constant hobby, and I never understood people who would rather watch TV than read. About five years ago – before my first son was born – a friend of mine with two small children said that she had given up reading. She thought she would start again when her youngest was 10. She was half joking, but evens so, I couldn’t imagine not reading. Even after my first son was born I continued to read – burning through Eat, Love Pray while pumping breast milk (the logistics were challenging, but it was worth it.) Then the second child came along, and by my bedtime, the best I could do was skim the headlines of the Wall Street Journal and then drift off to sleep until the nightly 3 a.m. wake up howl from the nursery. I got out of the habit of reading. Now I don’t even have a list of things I want to read. Sadly, the last book I read was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which was AWFUL in my opinion) while bedridden with strep throat at a friend’s wedding in Colorado last September .. the book belonged to a friend I was staying with … I didn’t even bring a book on the trip.  But there’s hope, my husband bought me a used copy of the Guseppe di Lampedusa’s classic, The Leopard, which is taking up real estate on the night stand, but hasn’t been read … at least it’s there.

My handbag does not reveal a life of glamour, power and intellectual pursuits. For that matter, it doesn’t even reveal of lifestyle of order and cleanliness. It reveals a frenzied life where many items disappear into the dark void of my handbag, not to see the light of day until September when I purge the summer purse and transfer stuff to the cold weather bag.

Two nights ago I dumped out my bag  on the guest bed (which resulted in needing to pull out the dust buster to suck up all of the Scooby Snacks crumbs that spilled out) to see what stuff I was carrying around with me.

So here are the contents: My faux skin wallet from Target. Sadly this wallet replaced a half moon shaped Fendi wallet that I bought in Rome on a family vacation. (That wallet met a sad end when I dumped it off of my tray and into a garbage can at a fast food restaurant while stumbling through the day in a post-second baby, sleep-deprived haze. Yes, my credit cards, debit card, driver’s license, health insurance cards, grocery store rewards card and cash were all inside.)

Other items in my bag: a plastic rocket ship; a toy car (a supporting character from Cars, I don’t know his name); a pair of my athletic socks; a pair of children’s socks; a pouch with two diapers; two elastic hair bands, one blue and one brown; a pack of Wet Ones; a piece of purple candy in a clear wrapper; a peppermint not in a wrapper with hair stuck to it; my hair brush with enough hair to make a wig for a cancer patient; my makeup bag; two pads of Post-it notes, one blue and one pink; a few pens and mechanical pencils; a business card for a financial planner I met with 18 months ago (although the bag is only three months old … hmmmm?); a pack of tissues and a few crumpled used tissues; two packs of Welch’s fruit snacks; one pack of Cars fruit snacks, a whole apple; pack of crushed Saltines; and a Ziploc freezer bag that once contained all of the food. During the day my bag would contain my Blackberry, but at home I carry it with me from room-to-room like a Linus blanket.

So how would one sum up what’s on my bedside table and in my bag:


In search of .. solving the mysteries of child rearing and domestic science?

I robbed the waiting room at my OB/Gyn’s?


Always prepared, but never organized?

A hoarder on the go?

Planning to flee the country on a long flight while wearing sandals and after skipping lunch?

My stuff tells the truth about me. I may want you to think I am a have-it-all mom, organizing play dates via my smart phone, feeding my kids organic snacks, and reading Reckless Endangerment, but my stuff tells you otherwise. And I can embrace the truth. So excuse me while I go slice melons and put them in a Ziploc for my purse. (Cross your fingers that the bag doesn’t leak.)


4 Responses to “My Stuff Doesn’t Lie, But I Wish It Would”

  1. Marcie July 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Fun post, Kathleen! I can relate–especially to the demise of my reading habits. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • 40countdown July 12, 2011 at 12:17 am #

      Hey Marcie ~ Thanks so much for reading my blog! Glad you can related to the demise of my reading habits (well said). I did a google search today for NYT best sellers and somehow ended up on a week from 2005. I didn’t know it was an old list, and I was so excited that I had read most of the stuff on the list. Then I thought … wow, I can’t believe Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is still a best seller. That’s when I saw the date. When I checked this week’s best sellers list, I didn’t even recognize the titles.

  2. Jennifer Venable July 12, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Spot on observations, Kathleen — down to the dust buster needed for the crumbs in your purse! Hilarious! I usually find chewed gum wrapped up (often only partially) in paper in my purse along with random shopping lists and a deck of playing cards — not sure what that says about me … And as far as reading, at least I get to read your great blog! Keep it coming!

    • 40countdown July 12, 2011 at 1:45 am #

      I often find old shopping lists in my bag too, but usually nothing as interesting as a deck of cards! If you have a poker emergency, you are ready! Thanks so much for making the time to read and comment on my blog!

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