What’s In My Bag?

img_8014Every now and then, when the brain machine is not turning out blog ideas, and I’m stuck in one of the inevitable holding patterns that is the writer’s life, I find myself looking for ideas for blog posts. Of the lists of blog writing prompts I have read through, I rarely find ones I actually want to pursue–after all, the problem with prompts is that they often force a story or a message where there is none. That’s not always a bad thing, but sometimes it can be hell on natural inspiration.

Still, this was one of the fun ones. Here’s a list of what you can find in my bag, my essentials for a day out of the house, and why.

  1. My headphones. I’d like to share a truth with you that is somewhat personal. I don’t like to be alone in my own head. When I’m spinning out threads of a story, or thinking about a pointed topic, the space in my head isn’t all that bad. However, when my thoughts are roaming without direction, and anything can come to the forefront, it often turns out to be something I do not want there. Because of this, I like to keep music around at all times–because, if my brain is focused on music, at least it’s focused on something. Plus, music has the bonus of helping me brainstorm. So it all comes back around.
  2. A cleansing towelette, hand sanitizer, band aids. I have a hyperactive eight-year-old son. I think that more than explains that, although those things would be good to possess for just me, as well. But I can’t claim to have been that responsible pre-Logan.
  3. My migraine pills. I’ve been suffering from migraines for as long as I can remember. At their worst, I would get three crushing headaches a week. Though preventative medication, taken daily, has mostly kept this issue under control and brought the average number of migraines I have down from 3/week to 3/month, I still keep my breakthrough/rescue medication with me daily. As a matter of fact, I just took one now, since today’s rain has my head misbehaving. Taking one of these as soon as I start feeling pain is the difference between an hour of discomfort, and a full day under the covers avoiding the light. They are a necessity.
  4. My phone. I grew up in an age where payphones were on every other block, and if you needed to reach someone who wasn’t home, you either called and left a message, or you beeped them. Even so, I have definitely become that person who is hyper-attached to my phone, and I’m on it all day. I rarely, if ever, use it for its actual phone function. Mostly I text and email. My handy little gadget provides me with a way to reach others and to be reachable, so I can always be working, since a person who divides her time the way I do needs that. It also provides me with games so I can relax and be silly, and access to social media so I can market and connect. All necessary gadgets for any working woman these days, but especially for a writer.
  5. My iPad. While the iPad serves somewhat as a backup to my phone functions, it also has one thing my phone doesn’t–ample screen space for reading. So, that’s what I mostly use it for, which means I need it at all times, because I’m always reading. Also, in times of long car rides or long restaurant waits, it’s nice to have a few games to fall back on.
  6. A Magazine. In case of long stretches without a recharging station for my electronics, I always try to have something manual with me to read.
  7. A snack. I always have something with me, in case I get super hungry. Sometimes all that’s around are unhealthy options. Sometimes there’s nowhere to buy anything. It’s good to have a quick, easy, neat, and healthy snack with you, so I’ll usual pack a granola bar.
  8. Pepper Spray. Because I live in Bronx, NY and nobody better f*&$% with me.
  9. 3 different pens. You never know when you’ll need to write something down…and you never know when your pen will run out of ink.
  10. A small notebook. Same.
  11. Wallet and Keys. Because duh.
  12. Work ID on its awesome retractable belt clip.
  13. My special necklace. This year, on the first day of summer camp, Logan made me a beaded necklace. Our previous school year was spectacularly explosive, and we discovered that our son’s questionable behavior did not involve a need for discipline, but was actually because he was suffering from a combination of ADHD, anxiety, and depression. A large trigger for his anxiety involved any situation where either me or Ismael weren’t around. After a year like that, when your son makes you a necklace and says it’s a way to communicate with you and to know you are always connected, you keep it with you. Everywhere you go. I like to think it helps out some.img_8015-1


It’s funny. When I started this challenge, I thought it was a fun, silly little exercise, but it’s amazing how much you can tell about me from the contents of my purse. Almost all of the pieces of the puzzle are represented here in one form or another.

Now it’s your turn. Come on, play along with me. What do you carry along with you that tells us the most about you? Let me know in the comments.

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Tech Girl Sans Tech

This one deserves hashtags of the #firstworldproblems variety written all over it. Be prepared for some whining and know this, please: I am not this materialistic about anything but gadgets. But I need my damn gadgets. Everybody has something. 

It all started with a blinking folder with an exclamation point and a trip to the Apple Store. Oh Crap. My laptop was dead…

Apparently, Macbook Airs purchased between June 2012 and June 2013 (mine was a Christmas/Birthday gift to myself in 2012) had the potential for a flash drive failure. In my case, that failure was triggered by an OS update. The problem was happening to so many computers, that the replacement flash drive was on backorder, meaning I would be without my computer for up to one month.

Me: Is there any way we can get it running? At least for now? I’m a writer. This is a part of my livelihood.

Mac Genius (who was very nice and deserved much better than me): No, I’m sorry. Your flash drive is fried. I couldn’t even get it to run the diagnostic. *winces* When was the last time you backed up?

Me: About 20 days ago. Plus, most of my stuff is available in the cloud somewhere. But still, I need my laptop to do work on.

Mac Genius: I’m sorry. We will try to get your computer running as quickly as possible.

(Coincidentally, that ended up being the exact amount of time she quoted up front.)

Me: Do you guys rent out laptops or iPads or something? I mean, how is a person supposed to operate without a computer for a month?

(This is not fictional, though it does read like satire. I actually said this. And you should picture me with tears in my eyes. I’m very ashamed of myself.)

Mac Genius: (chuckling sympathetically) Not a bad idea. I should tell my bosses that one.

(Yes, my friend. You should.)

I’m aware of how much this makes me look like a spoiled brat, but I was genuinely freaked. You see, I have this issue with patterns. I’ve never bothered to have this diagnosed, but I have orders by which I do things and they are according to lists and when something goes wrong and I have to deviate from the order I get very, very anxious. (Anxiety disorder? OCD? Armchair therapists, get to work!)

The important thing is not what disorder I suffer from. It’s that my lists were on that computer. My computer, which was gone for a month.

I was having a full-blown freak out.

But….

…I survived!  And here’s how!

1) Lunch breaks on the cloud: Thank God for my job. I was able to get a quick view of where I was on each of my projects so I could keep working the old fashioned way.

2) A pad and a pen: Holy crap! For an entire month, my hands felt like they were going to fall off. But I kept writing! Revising old work was a bit more of a problem.

3) The cloud and the internet: Thanks to my obsessive need to post my son’s every move on Facebook, I lost no pictures. Thanks to doing all of my writing on the cloud and backing up to my computer and external hard drive often, I lost no writing at all.

4) Not throwing away ALL old things: I don’t like to keep stuff because I have a real life fear of becoming a hoarder (it runs in the family) and I already tend to keep a lot of things I don’t really need. But a half dead laptop ended up being a treasure at this time. Ismael took an old computer of his (not a Mac. WELP!) and wiped its memory clean, reinstalled its operating system, and had it doing its best work possible. Of course, its best possible work involved buggy internet connections, restarting itself three times a day for seemingly no reason at all, and a sticky ‘N’ key, but it was something.

5) Deep breaths: Yes, the lists were gone until my computer came back home. But I remembered most of it and what I couldn’t didn’t deserve my anxiety because they weren’t important enough to remember, right? But mental issues are not logical and this one took a lot of work and psyching myself out all over the place, but I pulled it off. And promptly, upon the return of my computer, I backed up all of my lists on the cloud and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

So, what did I learn from my time as Carrie from Sex and the City post-’Sad Mac’? I learned that, should the premise of Revolution ever come to pass and we all lose our technology, I will be the crazy person in the corner drooling in a cup. I should be upset about that, but that didn’t stop me from smooching my laptop when it was returned and ignoring all of the weird looks from the people at the Apple Store.

By now, you’re probably trying not to laugh at me, but you should stop.  Go ahead, laugh.  I deserve it.

Anyone been there before?  Please share below. 

Note: This weekend, I will be attending the Writer’s Digest Conference here in NYC. Anyone else attending? Let me know! We can meet up! Tomorrow also happens to be my beloved son’s fifth birthday. Since this blog is all about my attempts to balance my writing and the rest of my life, expect a blog post on the 15th about how I managed to balance a writer’s conference, a pitch slam, a family get together, and a kid’s birthday party, all in one weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it. I’m also going to try to live tweet from the conference, so keep your eyes peeled! And keep your fingers crossed for me – I’ll be pitching my novel to agents.

Until next time! 🙂