Sunday, April 10, 2016

I've Got Something in My Pocket...

The first time stitches popped on my backpack, I was hauling it onto my shoulder in an airplane, having just landed in Germany for 10.5 months of dissertation research. It was stuffed full of laptop, camera, cords, snacks, and goodness-knows-what-else, and a few of the stitches on one shoulder strap snapped. Wow, that was fast, I thought to myself. This brand had been recommended to me because of its sturdy design.

Since then I have reinforced the straps numerous times, and for at least a year only one zipper on the main compartment still caught the teeth of the zip. My parents had offered to buy me a professional bag for my PhD graduation, but I told them I wouldn't need to haul my laptop or books around with me while on the wards as a third- and fourth-year student. Then the other zipper lost its catch last week, and I realized it was time to bid "adieu" after almost six years of companionship.

These are some of the things I found while cleaning out its many pockets: the dish towel I used as a shock absorber in the bottom of the laptop compartment. 0.7-mm pencil lead for the clicky pencils I almost never use any more. My trusty little USB key named "Handymann," with the remains of a green flower sticker I begged off my landlady's 6-year-old daughter in Dresden, to mark which way was up. The clasp back of a stick pin.

The card reads "Paradigm Pioneer ~ Shift Happens" from friend and former pastor Howard O. Nash. I think he would be pleased by some of the shifts in social attitudes that have happened the last couple of years, but he would have had a regular conniption fit at current presidential election cycle. The pink pin "I [triangle] equality" is from Lambda Legal, the country's largest and oldest legal organization working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS.

A friend in Germany bought me the hand mirror with a peacock on the back at Schloss Moritzburg in Saxony. The collapsible hairbrush is also from Germany (no special associations there). Finally, the beautiful business-card holder with a Gustav Klimt design in mother-of-pearl is was my parents ended up getting me for my PhD graduation. I always get compliments on it when I pull it out at conferences or an interview.

That's it for this week. Nothing deep. I just wanted to share these little bits of my history that I've been literally carrying around with me. Some of them have been transferred into my new (old) backpack that I am using again, others have been tucked into my desk. I'm sure that there will be some different objects the next time I need a new bag.

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