February 5, 2016: Another piece I started and never finished for — reasons? I can’t finish it as I have no idea where my brain was going when I was writing it.
When I got back from Rome in 2005, I wrote the following:
I’ve always talked about the fact that there are two Lisas — one that harbors the home and hearth fantasy while the other sees herself as jet setting across the globe. It’s difficult to reconcile the two, finding a place where I fit in without feeling claustrophobic. Someone once said that my own pre-determined destinies would only come true if I let them — as I had often remarked that I was going to end up being the old hag at the end of a bar, wearing my faux fur and jewels while slugging back vodkas and chain smoking, while regaling of all my love affairs with men that got progressively younger. On the other hand, there is the aging Lisa bouncing my grandchildren on my knee while regaling of all my adventures around the world.
At the Caffe Accademica, near the Piazza di Spagna, inside the putrid smelling bathrooms, graffiti was written by women from all over the world. I had wished I had a pen with me, to leave my mark on that bathroom wall, to note that “Lisa was here.” Who we are but memories that we create with others and memories that we create within ourselves.
Life is about ambience and adventure. Even when we got detoured from the metro the other day, our walk to Termini through Chinatown was an adventure. Our getting lost was an adventure. Life is nothing more than a series of getting lost from location to location and hoping to hell you can find your way back. It’s not just about the tourist sites and the souvenirs collected on your travels, but the impressions that you impart and take with you as you go. I wish that I had the photography training to capture the images of the people as we walked, because I wanted to remember the look of the lovers who were snogging besides us the restaurant or the old couple who walked happily down Via ottavio towards the Vatican, hand in hand.
Here is a list of things I think about when I’m at the airport (which seems to be a lot lately), in no particular order:
♥ “Can you walk any slower?”
♥ “Wow, that’s a lot of people heading to Beijing!”
♥ “Ooooh. They have my Icelandic water.”
♥ “For the love of the gods, can you at least bathe once in awhile?”
♥ “The walk side of the people mover is not for you to stand on and chit chat with your friends!”
♥ “If your son doesn’t stop pulling the paper towels out of the holder and leaving a trail a mile deep across the bathroom, I will personally smack him.”
♥ “Incredibly, I don’t think 12 people are riding in first class on a plane that only has six first class seats.”
♥ “I wonder why my purse keeps riding my shirt up my back?”
♥ “I’ve been walking around with toilet paper on my shoe and no one told me?”
♥ “They want HOW MUCH for a pair of ear buds?”
♥ “I cannot believe I just paid $6 for a small bag of trail mix.”
♥ “May the gods forgive me for buying a lemonade at Chick-fi-La.”
♥ “Why does the TSA keep rooting through my bag?”
♥ “Oh no, you just did not bring your huge ass roller bag and tried to claim it as a carry on. Oh, you did. :(”
♥ *sneezing fit* “Fuck you very much lady with too much perfume on.”
♥ “At least one person is going to find me attractive.”
♥ “Statistically, there are psychopaths and sociopaths (functioning or otherwise) floating around this airport. *looks side to side*”
♥ Upon seeing an obvious couple, “I wonder, on average, how many times they have sex?”
♥ *thinks about various sexual positions said couple gets into. giggles.*
♥ *wonders how many people are falling in love at that very moment.*
♥ *wonders how many people are breaking up.”
♥ *wonders how her cats are doing in Neko Atsume; sims in Sim Freeplay, and animals in Animal Crossing or any game she is currently playing.*
♥ “Why in the gods name is my connector in another terminal!”
♥ “I wonder if anyone will notice if I escape to Paris?”
♥ “Would it have killed you to say, ‘Excuse me.’ when bumping into my shoulder as you slither down the aisle?”
♥ “Man, I rock at solitaire.”
♥ “I need to wax my eyebrows and my ‘stache.”
♥ “Damn! Forgot my traveling lemon!”
♥ *Gets choked up, every time, when going through Arrivals as she is sure it’s just like Love Actually.*
And that’s just the beginning. Happy travels.
P.S. And c’mon now, I know you’ve thought about at least half of these at one time or another.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a packing post; but much of that has to do because most of my latest flights have required me to check in baggage, which is no fun for a packing post.
As some of you may know, I was set to travel to Toronto for #teamharpy business but the trip got cancelled at the last minute so I decided to take a mini-break for a few days. Yes, I’m not revealing where.
With that in mind, it was optimal to pack carry on rather than check baggage, so behold gentlemen!
In addition to my solid shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, I’ve also purchased a LUSH solid face cleanser and I’m packing solid coconut oil for my face as well. No matter where I travel in the EST, it is cold and super dry, hence the need for solid coconut oil.
I also swapped out my beloved charging brick for a Jackery one as the old brick kept dying every few charges. So far the new one has held up for almost a year (compared to a few months with the old brand).
On this trip I’m not packing toothpaste or a loofah as I will be using the ones where I’m staying. But I do have travel toothpaste ready if I require another trip! While I’m bringing one of my favorite clutches to act as a wallet, I’m also bringing one of my Coach bags that is crossbody nylon to use for everyday out and abootness. That is packed flat in the bottom of my bag. Additionally, I shoved socks into my dress boots and as par usual, everything is rolled tight.
LUSH solid shampoo
LUSH solid body soap
LUSH solid lotion
LUSH solid face cleanser
Rickshaw Medium Zero Messenger bag in Performance Tweed
As much as I love my pencil bag, I’ve noticed I don’t use all the pens, pencils, etc that is in it so I purchased a Space Invaders pen bandolier to go around my journal and this has been one of the best purchases ever.
I always seem to get hungry when I travel and spend gobs of money at airports on cashews, so I decided to pack my own.
I will be at place that has laundry available, but without the need for laundry, I can go seven days on the current list and closer to two weeks if I just wash my underwear, bras, and socks. Not too shabby for not being in the game for awhile.
In April, I took a whirlwind three day trip to Oakland, CA for a job interview. It was pretty brutal as I had to leave early on a Sunday, arrive mid-day California time. Spent all day Monday (about eight hours) in the interview, and then flew back out ungodly early on Tuesday morning. Though I got home at a reasonable hour on that Tuesday, I went almost immediately to bed and slept nearly 10 hours before waking up at 6AM the following day to get ready for work.
I typically take a day off when I’m doing so much travelling between time zones but as I could not afford to the time off, my early to bed helped a lot with the jet lag (mental note: Pick up melatonin). I ended up getting sick a few weeks later from all the travelling and weather changes, so small victories!
This trip was pretty light since I only needed clothes for two solid days, plus my travel clothes, and the available accountermonts. I was able to over pack with ease this time since my needs were so small, and I wanted options for my interview outfit. The gods were smiling on me as I was able to put together five complete outfits, and accountermonts, with room to spare.
The Gear / Gadgets / Geegaws
Rickshaw Medium Zero Messenger bag in Performance Tweed
As people seem to really enjoy the packing list posts, in addition the list of geegaws and gadgets of the stuff I use, you may be interested in also the following sites I use for inspiration:
StyleBook – iOS app that allows you to catalog your closet and put together outfits.
Outfit Posts – The blog and Pinterest boards of this site is amazing! MK puts together incredibly diverse “one suitcase” infographics that blow my mind away. Not only are the clothes from her own closet, but she also breaks them down by season.
INTO MIND – A very, very minimalistic guide to overall living, the concentration is on quality over quantity. She also has a complete series on wardrobe diagnostics (which I haven’t used yet, but I want to) and other wonderful guides to being chic without spending a fortune. There is also the accompanying Pinterest.
It’s been a crazy lately, and that’s putting it mildly. Tomorrow morning I head to my third trip in a month and I feel like I’m becoming such an old pro at this packing thing that is getting slightly ridiculous.
I must catch you up on where I’ve been!
In late March, I went to the Code4Lib conference in Raleigh, NC which was turned out to be pretty awesome. The conference itself was intense and I learned a lot AND met a lot of great people. I’m so enamoured of the community! I was co-running an all day pre-conference, which meant I had a lot more stuff, namely swag for 30 people, to haul in addition just my self and toiletries.
I was in RDU for five days/four nights with sketchy weather. The day before I flew in, it was 76 degrees and sunny. My entire stay, it was mid-50s and rainy.
Behold my packing prowess:
Since I’ve been fine tuning the packing process in the last few years, I thought it might be helpful to see what gear / gadgets / geegaws I’ve been using to help with the minimalist packing aesthetic: Gear / Gadgets / Geegaws
Rickshaw Medium Zero Messenger bag in Performance Tweed
The big AHA moment is realising that by converting as much of my toiletries to solids, such as shampoo/body soap/lotion, it does NOT need to go into ye olde quart bag, which is brilliant. Also, the Travel Smart Travel Bottle Set was a great investment because it allows me to take my favorite products such as hair manipulator, face lotions, and other products in travel sizes. It may have been a bit pricey, but we do not have a Container Store near me and I was having a hard time finding the jars and bottles in the sizes I wanted individually.
The New Trent iCarrier 12000mAh Portable Dual USB Port External Battery Charger/Power Pack has also been great investment since it will charge my iDevices simultaneously, which is a boon for long flights. I’ve been so in love with this product, I’ve bought it as gifts for friends and family.
In addition to the above, I also packed with me:
Tom Bihn bag:
30 brown bags (for swag)
Nearly full gallon bag of pens/stickers/etc (swag)
Since I’m recreating this a month later, I’m sure I’m missing a few things, but this is the gist of the packing. And the best part? I could have made my clothes last for longer than a week AND since I was carrying of swag that I was going to hand out to people, my bag was going to be emptier coming back. SCORE!
View of Edinburgh from the castle, 2006
I am feeling out of sorts today primarily due to the bloodwolves have started sniffing around House Rabey, coupled with work pressure as this is the last week before the end of the semester. I have also been doing a lot of writing for work and profesh related things, so I need a break from looking at a computer screen for awhile. I thought instead of writing, I’d offer up more images from my grand adventures across the seas. As always, you can find more at this collection on Flickr. Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Barcelona, 2004 Basildon Park (Netherfield in Pride and Prejudice 2005), England, 2008. Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Italy, 2005. Paris, May 2010 Pimp your kot!, Brussels 2010 “Do you have the balls to wear it?”, Edinburgh 2006
My impersonation of dramatic monologue, Trevi Fountain, Rome, 2005.
TheHusband and I opted to head out to dinner when we got out of work Wednesday night (“Jesus Lisa! Why must every outing turn into a trip to Target?”). Over our plates of meat (after our trip to Target AND Staples), we ended up having a good discussion on writing. He says this compulsion of mine to over share my self-absorption is cheapening my talent (“You’re not writing for meaning, you’re writing to fill the space”), which lead into a conversation about what writing means as a whole, what it means to me and what I want it to represent. TheHusband is obsessed with CBC’s Writers and Company podcast which he uses as his basis for everything and anything when it comes to writing. So he judges me, fairly or not, to the quality of those who came before me but on a much grander scale. TARDIS! No, just a police info box, Royal Mile, Edinburgh 2006.
Unfair? It is my carrot to succeed. If HE thinks I can be as good as this person, then the world can grovel at my feet.
There are times when I am feeling choked upon the ground, unable to get out what it is I want to say in the manner that I need to say it. I’ve noticed the more stable I am feeling mentally, the less forthcoming the muse is. My purest power is when I’m manic, so it is a shame I cannot turn this disease on and off like a switch because if I could, I would make my life a whole lot easier. Stonehenge, 2008.
Trying to balance my own mental disability without drugs while living a full life while then attempting to use said broken brain for MOAR work is exhausting. And taxing. But especially exhausting. But I feel, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, as this is my life line and I cannot let go.
I do agree that not every day is like sunshine and rainbows around here, but my argument is neither is life. To wish for everything to be perfection is ludicrous. I live and thrive in the chaos and uncertainty of what exists here in this space. But I know not everyone is in agreement, but it should be remembered I am here for me and not for them. The fact you are reading this is a delicious bonus. Corfe Castle, Dorset, England, 2008.
As work is wrapping down for the semester before winter break, I’ve decided to make the next few days image heavy from pictures of my various romps around Europe while I get sorted on some kind of schedule and process for writing. A few days ago, I gave TheHusband a few short stories to edit which I heard some grumping about how much work said editing was going to take because the stories were that bad. It’s hard to swallow the imperfections, I want to believe everything is as it should be and just call it experimental. Rather, I will re-read the pieces, guffaw at the obvious problems and fix them.
In the interim, enjoy your trip to Scotland, France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. One of the many roads into the Red Light District, Amsterdam, 5 AM. May 2010. Pelgrom Bar, Antwerp is a pub/bar/restaurant located in a medieval cellar in the Old City. The entire ambiance was fabulous as the entire place was lit by candles. May 2010. Hamish, the hairy coo. Highlands, Scotland, 2006. Practical uses for a bidet while in Rome. 2005. Marseille, 2004 Trinity College, Cambridge, England 2012.
I hopscotched my way from Monterey back to Grand Rapids more smoothly than a baby’s bottom, which surprised and delighted me as my past experiences with United have been awful. They have totally picked up their customer service, planning, and execution of getting people on their way which now puts them back in the front for airlines when I go looking for flights.
After TheHusband picked me up late Thursday afternoon, we had an early dinner and then went right home. Not long after I had unpacked and gotten settled from the trip, I slept for nearly 14 hour straight with no breaks even to pee. I was that fucking tired. Some of the people I met at IL were coming down with various and sundry colds and sniffles, so I’m hoping I shook enough of that nastiness out while sleeping, drinking Vitamin C to help (and also helps with potential cases of scurvy), and congratulating myself for having the foresight to take the day after I came home off from work.
For this trip, I was smart enough to grab pictures of my bags once I got to the hotel, before unpacking, and what the bomb explosion looked like after I had unzipped. Exhibits below:
Tom Bihn bag:
(1) dress boots
1 (2) scarf
(1) leather jacket
1 pair of leggings
1 pair of Jammie bottoms
1 jean jacket
1 ice bag
1 pair of sunglasses
1 pair of glasses
1 brick for Mac Air
2 (3) bras
2 tank tops
2 (3) pairs of pants
3 pairs of tights
6 (7) pairs of socks
7 (8) pairs of underwater
8 (9) tshirts
(Not seen.) Rickshaw bag:
BBC History magazine
The Whale Road (book)
Clutch with money
Portable recharger brick
Quart bag with toiletries
Pouch with miscellany
And I’m sure after all is said and done, I’m missing a few items.
There is a couple of key things when packing minimally: Roll everything, bring items that can be worn multiple times, pack as many solid toiletries as possible, and bring as much neutrals as you can stomach.
I was in Monterey for 6 days/5 nights, but ended up with enough clothes for over a week AND I had at least two clean outfits left when I came home. There were a couple of things I didn’t think about when I packed, such as while wearing my dress boots to Monterey, there may be a chance I didn’t want to wear them coming home, which ate into my luggage space. Packing a leather jacket, a jean jacket, a hoodie, and several cardigans seems like overkill, and also eats space, which could be consolidated by getting one neutral jacket that will work for just about all weather types. I also packed more layers with the outwear because not one weather site was consistent with the constant changes of weather happening while I was going to be there.
Could I have done better? Always can do better. The brilliancy of bringing solid shampoos, body lotions, and body soaps opened up ton of space in my quart bag. Plus I wasn’t feeling cheated out of my toiletries. My clothing choices could have been streamlined more by quite a bit and if I didn’t have this burning desire to dress like a Lifesavers roll every day, it would be a lot easier.
But considering a similar trip taken 18 months ago to a similar place with similar weather had me lugging around a 50lb+ checked bag with all of MUST HAVES, this is bloody brilliant.
I’ve been remiss in keeping up with my packing lists for various travels this summer and for that, I apologize. As I’m flying to a conference in California this week, it seemed like a good idea to get you updated on how my minimalist packing project is going. I’m pretty pleased on my accomplishment so far as I can make it work for a weeks worth of clothes solo in the Tom Bihn Aeronaut. The goal is to get it to two weeks.
In April, I went to Indianapolis by car and Chicago by train, both for conferences. In June I was back in Chicago for another conference (travel by train) and earlier this month, TheHusband and I went away for a long weekend to Chicago (also by train). Whether alone or packing for two, my Tom Bihn Aeronaut has been a damned champ! While we had splurged for the extra duty cross body strap, I found that I really liked the backpack straps when I’m flying about stations and terminals. I keep the cross body strap inside the bag just in case.
The one change I did make was swapping out the Tom Bihn Imago with a Rickshaw Medium Zero messenger bag. I needed something slightly bigger and with inside pockets. Luckily for me, Rickshaw had a 50% off flash sale on the Zero so I splurged on getting the coveted bag along with two modular zipper pockets. I was also able to get, at no extra cost, a longer cross body strap (I need something roughly 50″ or longer due to my tallness; most cross body bags run between 42-46″). I love this bag to pieces!
When TheHusband and I went to Chicago a few weeks ago, we were gone for four days/three nights. I packed the Aeronaut for both of us, and I also brought my Rickshaw bag to hold electronics, books, etc as well as a purse for me.
Here’s what I was able to get into the Aeronaut (this does not include what we we were wearing on our person):
Three pairs of jeans (two for me, one for TheHusband)
Two hoodies (one for me, one for TheHusband)
Four pairs of underwear each
2 pairs of socks (me)
One pair of shoes (me)
Pajama bottoms (me)
Button down (me)
Eight t-shirts (roughly half for each)
When all was said and done, we had enough clothes between the two of us to mix/match for five or six days and with toiletries to boot. Back when I had long hair, the number of actual toiletries to bring was significantly less than what I carry with me now, which of course makes packing problematic when flying. For my trip to California, I bought solid shampoo, body soap, and lotion to open up some space in my quart bag. It never dawned on me to go solids for a lot of my beauty care, which is actually pretty brilliant since they do not count towards the 3-1-1 rule.
My biggest problem with toiletries is getting the right bottles/jars for the job as sometimes the products marked for travel are too bulky. For example, my regular sized bottle of make-up remover is 2 liquid oz while not technically travel sized is under the 3 oz rule, but I’ll use maybe 1/4 of an oz during the course of one week, so why drag the entire, ill shaped bottle with me? Same with body lotions and other goops. As we don’t have a Container Store in my vicinity, I searched through dollar stores, Target, and other like stores for purchasing various sized travel bottles and jars in small quantity for my trips. As I couldn’t find anything under 3 liquid ozs or at least a variety of sizes under 3 ozs, I went to the internets and found this: a travel bottle and jar set. As I require a lot of goops, creams, and potions to maintain the lifestyle I’m currently living, getting this set will allow me to get more bang out of my space. Experiments with using only one type of lotion for everything or going without something has proven I don’t do well when missing beloved items.
In the accouterments area, I took my Air and my iPad on my most recent trip to Chicago, along with my 3DS, phone, journal, pen case, and a paper book. I also carried a purse with me which proved to be more hindrance than useful, and resorted to using a favorite clutch everywhere we went. The Air was overkill as I had thought I would be getting some work done at the hotel or on the train, but circumstances were not in my favor that weekend. While as a to-go machine, my iPad (along with its leather keyboard case) is pretty durable for doing some work but there are some things that do not translate well and that mainly has to do with how a lot of cloud services and websites handle rendering for a mobile device, even if it has a 10″ screen. But again, as I’ve done for other trips, I tend to over pack in this area with the thought I’ll do X,Y,Z and either do not make time for it or forget to do it or something else.
I’ll be doing a run through pack before my trip on Saturday, and I’ll report back on how that goes.
When I wrote up my packing list for my trip to MSP, I was surprised to find many others were also into minimalist packing. In 2014, either TheHusband and I or myself and a few girlfriends, are planning a trip to UK/EU for a few weeks. These packing run throughs are perfect practice to prep for those trip(s) as I never ever want to have a 67lb bag snapping at my ankles again. Notes from MSP
When I flew to MSP on the morning of March 19th, Grand Rapids was being kissed by a blizzard. This changed my shoe options as originally I was going to go with a pair of wellies and pack my Docs in the carry on. Instead, I busted out the winter boots I had just bought for next year and wore those instead. The catch with the winter boots is they require me to sit down and untie several rows to slip off whereas I could just slip the wellies off while standing with little trouble. I walked around in my socks quite a bit for this trips.
However, getting through TSA was awesome! Flying through GRR has the big advantage of short TSA lines and easy drop off/pick up. Even with the swapping of wellies to snow boots, I merely used five bins to unpack my laptop, iPad, boots, belt, coat, and bags to push through the scanner. From drop off to gate was completed in under 10 minutes. The bag fit perfectly in the overhead compartment and the messenger slide with ease under the seat before takeoff and could be easily reachable after.
Upon arrival to MSP, not having to pick up luggage at the luggage carousel when we landed was startling at first because this is what I was so used to doing. After getting over myself in a few seconds, I was out of the airport and into a cab in short order.
Here are additional thoughts on the process:
The 3D Organizer Cube was not quite big enough to host all the items that fit into a quart plastic bag. TheHusband kept insisting that as the cube is wider and has more depth (plus it was designed with TSA in mind for the 3-1-1 purpose), it should hold the exact same amount as the quart plastic bag I grabbed from our kitchen and measured. He was wrong. I opted then to use the 3D Organizer Cube to hold random toiletries such as tissue, wipes, and eyebrow scissors and kept the quart bag for the pure liquids, such as shampoo, body soap, conditioner and etc.
Make up bag was carried in my messenger bag, such as it was my purse for the trip and there was no qualms either in MSP or GRR going through TSA. But I’ve heard make up is hit or miss depending on what airport and TSA agent you get. Your mileage may vary.
What to put in the quart bag became the question of the ages and didn’t leave me with a lot of options for mixing, primarily with the fact I use three separate lotions (face, hand, body) and could only take one. I opted for body, which didn’t work well for my face. I need to reconfigure this bag.
Pete unrecommended the often told recommendation of scouting out local places to go to buy toiletries when you arrive rather than packing them up. And I have to say, I agree. In the US, hotels typically have shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and lotion in the rooms easily available.
The Packing Cube Shoulder Bag was a great idea to use as a smaller purse, while doubling as a packing cube, but I never got around to using it as a bag. I did like the idea of using it for unmentionables for packing which then the cube could be re-used to store dirty laundry.
I left my wallet behind and put my cards and cash in the teal clutch, which worked great and was less bulky (and streamlined two items into one). This was also helpful when going out in the evening, I only had to grab the clutch and go. I also left behind the sunglasses, since it was not going to be particularly sunny in MSP and this saved space as well.
I packed two journals (one for personal, one for work) and my pencil-case. I <3 my pencil-case but I only needed a few pens, pencils, and my good fountain pen and sharpie or two and a flash drive. Leaving the case behind would free up more space. I could also leave one of the journals behind.
I like the messenger bag quite a bit and some of the smaller pockets on the outside were perfect for packing up small cords, ear buds, and other small items. For some reason, I really miss the fact there is a giant zipped inside pocket. Now granted, this area would be where I would put the smaller things just mentioned but I like having a large zipped pocket to keep things safe(r).
Should have brought a paper book with me, which I’ll do next time. While the flight is short, much of the time was spent with no electronics in effect for take off and landing, and I should have brought a book with me. I picked one up at MSP airport on my way out-of-town and now will be packing a book with me with all travel.
It took a single flight for me to fall in love with the new to me concept of traveling minimally. Overall, I feel this was super successful experiment.