MSP: The Packing List

Dear Internet,
I am a notorious over packer. (And I blame this on having been a Girl Scout – I am prepared for EVERYTHING.)
For our honeymoon in 2010, TheHusband and I travelled to Europe for nearly three weeks. After researching and planning, we purchased a lime green clamshell three piece luggage set with intent to take the two largest pieces with us. In addition, we each had our own messenger bag and I had a purse. We did laundry in the bathtub of our hotel room in Brussels half way through our trip as we had planned. We hardly bought any souvenirs. I think a Swatch, a few tshirts,  a hat.
At Amsterdam airport, we were charged $150 USD for having overweight luggage. “Can you pack some things somewhere else?”, the airline person said helpfully. No. No, we couldn’t. Our messenger bags were bulging, our luggage was bulging. What in the sweet name of Satan happened?
In the spring of 2012, I flew to England, solo, for a few weeks to visit friends and see some concerts. In an attempt to not repeat the honeymoon incident, I tried to pack as sparingly as possible. I was bringing over items for friends, which I anticipated was going to be weighty, but I didn’t anticipate coming back with even half the number of items that filled that space.
Weight of my suitcase going TO England: 67lbs. Weight coming BACK from England: 71lbs.
This does not include my purse OR my tote bag filled with enough electronic gadgets and gewgaws to entertain a small nation.
Once arriving in England, I had to schlep my shit on the Tube from Heathrow to center of London, then to the south east of London where Karen lived (and so to apparently do dragons). When it was time to leave for Alice and Jon’s, I schlepped all my shit solo again to King’s Cross to catch the train up to Biggleswade, except a wheel had broken on the bag. When they met me at the train station, poor Jon almost killed himself carrying my crap to their car. No matter how much I thought I was paring down, I could never get my luggage light enough with only useable content.
Overweight surcharge when I left England for those 71lbs? £125 or about $190 USD.
And it wasn’t just plane trips, but any kind of trip. A train trip to Chicago in 2012 for two conferences I was attending that were right after the other, almost had me in tears at the Amtrak station. My duffle bag was over 60lbs, plus my tote bag, plus my purse. I had bought so much shit at the second conference, I almost bought a second duffle to drag all my treasures home but my clever repacking saved me.
While trains do not have weight limits or luggage limits, travelling solo with a 60lb duffle bag, plus a jammed tote bag, and a purse is just as frustrating. Even more so when the luggage areas in the train are filled with other people’s possessions or you’re blocking traffic getting up to the second floor because you can’t physically carry everything at once and you’re relying on the kindness of strangers to help you. (Thank you kind strangers.)
After my final trip last year, I decided I had enough. I was no longer going to pay outrageous luggage surcharge fees, or find myself in a situation where I couldn’t handle my own bags because they were so heavy.
While I was laid up last summer, I became obsessed with the idea of traveling with less. And found a sub-culture based on the idea of packing less and creating packing lists that catered to just about anyone.
While the curation of a list varies from person to person, there seems to be agreement on two things:

  1. The gear should be light weight and multifunctional
  2. Items should have multiple purposes

I decided I had a new goal: Next time an opportunity arose where I needed to travel, regardless of by plane/train/automobile, I was going to do it with a carry on and a messenger bag.  That was it. No excuses.
Towards the end of 2012, early 2013, my conference dance card was beginning to fill up. Starting March 1 and ending July 2, I would be attending seven conferences and speaking at four of them. Some of them were one day affairs or held locally, so there would be no need to pack, but the remainder would require travel either by plane/train/automobile.
This was perfect.
I asked around on the social sphere what did people use for travel? The number one response was: Tom Bihn. After spending hours of reading packing lists on the Tom Bihn site and the internets, I knew I found my bag.
Since all but one of our combined luggage pieces (purchased together and what we had before we got married) had fallen apart or were in the process of falling apart, TheHusband  and I were in the market for new luggage. He was intrigued by my research and reviews, so for Valentine’s Day he bought me the Aeronaut in Aubergine/Wasabi with the Absolute Shoulder Strap. The idea being if the bag was as impressive in person as on the site, we’d pick up accessories and pieces as needed later on.
The bag was incredibly impressive in person. The Absolute Shoulder Strap worked with TheHusband’s 6’6 frame comfortably, the backpack straps also were comfortable over his 52″ chest and shoulders and could be adjusted to fit my measly 5’11” frame. There was a lot of thought to the organization of the bag, such as the generous central area bookend by two external, fairly large pockets. Overall, it is very well constructed and designed.
A few weeks later, I bought the Imago in Plum/Olive, 3D Clear Organizer Cube in Azalea, large Packing Cube, and the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag in Wasabi.
Here was my thought: The Aeronaut would be the one piece of luggage, with clothing organized by the large Packing Cube. The 3D Clear Organizer would act as the container for TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. Instead of carrying a purse and a messenger bag, I would use the Imago as the messenger bag and use the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag as a packing cube until I got to my destination. Then I would  use the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag as a daytime bag since I can dump all my smaller items from the messenger bag into it. For night time events, I have a clutch, that is very thin and flat, I always bring with me so I was covered for purse needs.
On Tuesday I fly to Minneapolis for Library Technology Conference and return home on Thursday night. I need to sort out clothes for Tuesday as the travel day, plus the two days for the conference, and maybe an extra outfit. Plus pajama jams and other clothing accouterments, then add in toiletries and sundries.
Below is the Aeronaut and the Imago, fully packed for Tuesday’s trip.  Weight of the Aeronaut: 15.2lbs. Weight of the Imago: 9.7lbs. (Weight of the pug: 20lbs, but she’s not coming.)

Duffle: 15.2lbs Messenger Bag: 9.7lbs
The Aeronaut and Imago. And a pug.

Now the fun part! Let’s unpack the Aeronaut and see what’s inside!
Aeronaut packing list

  1. Packing cube with two pairs of pants, a tunic, leggings
  2. Bra (I’ll be wearing one and bringing one.)
  3. Doc Martens, which are my dressy shoe (One of the few pairs I can fit into post-surgery)
  4. Two t-shirts, pair of yoga pants, and a long sleeve t-shirt
  5. Belt, glasses in case, curling iron
  6. Drugs, toothbrush in case, prescription receipts for said drugs
  7. 3D Clear Organizer filled with non-liquid toiletry sundries (According the site, the 3D Clear Organizer was built specifically for 3-1-1 but I could not get the same amount of items from a quart bag into the Organizer.)
  8. Loofah in a plastic bag, lady time essentials in the drawstring bag
  9. Plaid pencil case, teal clutch, assorted Air adaptors
  10. Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, that will hold four pairs of panties, three pairs of socks, a scarf, and a tank (and the aforementioned belt)
  11. Pug paw.

Over to the Imago:
Imago Packing List

  1. Macbook Air in case
  2. iPad 2 in case
  3. Business card holder, Epipen, plus “What to do if Lisa has an allergic reaction to LONG LIST OF ALLERGENS” from my allergist.
  4. Quart bag of liquids! All your usual sundries here.
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Makeup bag and bag of Lactaid/benadryl. The TSA’s stance on the website about makeup is vague, so instead of using precious quart bag space, it’s in its own bag as it always is. I only use mascara, gloss, and liquid eyeliner so it’s not like there is a lot. The makeup bag also has Tylenol, glass cleaner, and few other sundries.
  7. iPhone/Pad USB cable with wall wart, ear buds, work ID badge
  8. Moleskin
  9. Wallet
  10. Two pens, two liquid pencils, stylus for the iItems, ratty nail file, even rattier hair pick
  11. Pug making her move.

Total weight of both pieces: Roughly 30lbs.
And I still have room for another complete outfit or two in the Aeronaut.
Missing from pictures: Phone (used to take said pictures), strap for the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, charger for my Air, coat (I’ll be wearing it on the airplane), hat/gloves (see coat), boots (see coat). Granola bars. Small jewelry bag (I leave off all my rings/earrings/necklaces until after I get through security).
On Tuesday, I’m wearing a tunic, tank, leggings, and a cardigan that goes with all my other outfits.  I have a pants outfit and a tunic outfit planned for Wednesday and Thursday. I also packed an extra pair of pants and two t-shirts so if I’m not feeling something, I’ve got options.
I had planned on wearing dress boots that went with everything and only bringing that one pair of footwear, but I can’t fit into them post-surgery. As snow is on the horizon, I’m wearing my green Hunters on the plane and packed my Docs as the dress shoe since they have foot traction. The Hunters work with both tunic outfits and pants outfits.
As much as I love my plaid pencil case, I’ll probably leave it home and only take the few pens/pencils. I’ll probably also leave behind my sunglass case.
I’m bringing the Air and the iPad as the conference is requiring us to bring our own equipment for presentation (the Air). The iPad is going to be the reading/gaming/entertainment machine with better battery life.
My goal is to do a packing list entry for every trip to see what changes from trip to trip. But if I can pull this off, you have no idea how pleased as punch I will with myself.

The “To:Be” Project: An Intro

Manneken Pis, Brussels, May 2010

I’m currently ensconced in northern Michigan, in an area known as cherry countr y, prepping for an interview I have tomorrow. This prepping may or may not include spending 15 minutes cursing while I rolled my hair in soft curlers this evening, but alas, there will be no images to support that statement.1 A couple of years ago, in talking with my friend Rakesh, I asked how he got to be involved with so many different hobbies and seemingly master of them all. He said that he picks one new thing a year to learn. Simple, yet brilliant. I personally am far too “in like” with so many things that while it is okay with having these multitude of interests, I’m scatterbrained all over the place. I can talk smack about a lot of shit, but in essence, I’m mistress of none. And this got me thinking.
Orange chocolate balls. Heh.

In the last couple of years, I’ve started cultivating a few hobbies to see what I thought of them – cooking and knitting were but a few. The more I started working on these hobbies, the better I (obviouly) got. It started back in 2006, when attempting to impress TheEx, I made from scratch a Dark Chocolate Flourless Torte. What surprised me the most about this was that for someone whose idea of cooking was take-out and prior baking experience was box cake mix, the torte turned out to be a huge success. There is something about baking that makes me incredibly happy and most of all, a sense of accomplishment, “I MADE THIS!” kind of thing. Last holiday season I gave out baked goods that were also all made from scratch (not a boxed item in sight or KitchenAid mixer in sight!2) to various and sundry people.
Doctor Who iTardis iphone/ipod cozy, v1.1.

But I digress.
I then realise what I wanted to be, really, when I grow up, is a Renaissance woman. A punk rock Martha Stewart who can not only can her own goods,  speak several languages, keeps bees, put together and tear apart a car, herd pugs, play a musical instrument (well!) and at the end of the day, can out geek them all. So like Rakesh, I choose one new thing a year, master it and then learn the next new thing and this is how the “To: Be” project was born. These “things” can vary wildly from baking, knitting, learning a new language, writing a novel, or fulfilling a long held desires like taking race car driving lessons and ultimately, race cars.
Thus, a trend you may have noticed here as of late is that there has been loads of posts that have been popping up with titles like “To: Travel” or “To: Consume” or “To: Something.” These posts serve to not only chart my progress on these things that figure largely in my landscape but also to show off my accomplishments and also my failures. I mention this as in the last few weeks there has been a influx of new readers to The Lisa Chronicles, much stemming from search engines, mailing list discussions, and link backs to posts on the So, You Want to be a Librarian/Archivist?. While I have several posts in drafts format that need to be posted on that very topic, The Lisa Chronicles, is not just about the librarianship/archives world. There are many fine blogs and websites out there whose sole purpose is to cover just the librarianating/archiving world, I’m just not one of them.
I am stressing this point because I’ve received a number of emails from lovely readers who keep asking when I’m writing more on the So, You Want to be a Librarian/Archivist? topic, which I am and will be, but that is not the main focus of this site. All posts chronicling The To: Be Project will be sorted out from the main herd and available in the header at the top of the page for easier access. And now that I’m out of tea, I bid you a good night.

1. Seriously, my hair isn’t even THAT long (a titch past shoulders) but it is thick. I swear to Nigel that these hair curler maker people think the average woman has 10 hairs on her head. Tomorrow should have interesting results.
2. Justin and I currently live in 600 sqft apartment and our kitchen is galley style, 6′ long and 3′ wide. So, no KitchenAid mixer until we move and yes, I used every available desk/table space during the 2-3 day bought of baking.

To: Travel – Honeymoon, Part I: Paris (May 12-16, 2010)

“Foreign’s where they gabble at you in heathen lingo and eat foreign muck and worship, you know, objects.” – Granny Weatherwax, from Witches Abroad
One of the projects this summer was to finally get our honeymoon pictures online, which began to prove itself to be a daunting task as we had nearly 1000 images taken over our 2.5 week honeymoon. Justin and I shifted between being the paparazzi which explains why you’ll find shots of beautiful architecture (him) mixed with trash found on the street (me).
We arrived in Paris on the morning of the 12th and left the afternoon of the 16th, which gave a scant few days to get the gist of the city. We were totally okay with this as I had been to Paris before so our goal was to eat, drink and museum hop rather then float around the tourist traps.1 I wrote a summary of our time in Paris while on the Thayls train to Brussels, but what has kept with us is not so much as seeing the great pieces of art and architecture, but the beginnings of a dear friendship with Jon and Alice, who came from UK for their own mini-break to visit us in Paris. So much so, Alice2 and I have already started plotting a take-over of Dublin next fall, which hopefully Justin and I will get to do.
I’ve spent the last few days sorting, cleaning up and organizing the photos up into Flickr and are organized below by general collection, city and by tag of interest. Justin, Alice and Jon all pop in and out of photos, with my promises to Justin that I would only upload photos including him if absolutely necessary. This is why you’ll tend to see the back of my husband or as an accessory to the photo rather than the focal point.
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips (all trips)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam (Honeymoon) (all)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16 (all)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Eiffel Tower
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Louvre3
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Arc de Triomphe
1. We “did” the Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe and such, but we cruised by and took pictures rather than shell out tens of Euros and hours of our time queuing to get INTO the sites. And oh yeah, French National Guard with machine guns patrolling the sites also turned us off from hanging about longer than necessary.
2. I have a HUGE girl crush on Alice, who is not only a geek but she’s also beyond creative. I love her jewelry, Snapdragon Beads, and totally pimp her out when I can because she does just simply amazing work.
3. Anyone who has museum hopped with me knows that as an art history student, I’ll cut a bish if I see someone taking photos in a museum with their flash on. Thus, all interior shots of the Louvre were taken with the flash off and the color and tone corrected in post processing via Photoshop.

Everyone should have a god and Byron is mine: new blog headers

Rome 2005, praying to ye master, Lord Byron
Rome 2005, praying to ye master, Lord Byron

Just a short note that I’ve changed the headers on the blog, which are rotating by the way, to images from my international travels. So far I’ve jumped the pond to Spain/France (2004), Rome (2005), Edinburgh/Highlands (2006), Reading/London/SW England (2008), Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam (2010). Flipping through the images always makes me long for the nights and beer in Scotland, the warmth and food in Italy and the people watching in Barcelona.
In serious, non-pretentious fucktwattery what does actually occur in my brain is how badly I need to learn how to use my cameras. Many of the pics from Rome (2005) are almost worthless for anything except for viewing on the web as the pixelation is so poor, printing and extensive editing are out. Our honeymoon pictures (Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam (2010)) are an interesting case study because we’ve got plenty of room for fudging about since we shot the images in raw format but not having trained on our beast of a camera before leaving leaves some pretty poor images as well. But that will soon be rectified as I’ve been learning how to use the damned camera, though several months too late. It also doesn’t help that we found out, after we came back, that the OEM lens is pretty poor. The goal right now is to get a better handle on using our camera.
I finally found the images from my Spain/France (2004) trip and will be working on those along with my honeymoon photos at some point in the near future. I just recently uploaded the last of the photos my UK (2008) trip, so I’m obviously not in a huge hurry.
If you hold down shift + reload, the header should rotate through seven different header images: Two from Paris, one from Rome, three from Scotland and one ‘henged image. If you’re interested in what I have uploaded from my trips thus far, you can find all of my (and our) trips on Flickr.

culture shock

Chris and I had a conversation the other day on our own perspective of what the Midwest meant to us. Chris grew up in tiny hamlets (population of several thousand), while I criss-crossed from Port Huron to Toronto. It was with that conversation that I realised that my own perception of the Midwest, and the world in general, was not what I thought it should or could be. Because I had lived and visited extensively to several metro areas while still a child, I understood a better sense of my gypsy-like lifestyle more so than I did ever before. That alone was perhaps one of the greatest realisations of myself that I have had in current history.
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.
When I had move to the Bay Area in 1997, one of my friends there notated as we walked down Telegraph Rd. in Berkeley — that I seemed to fit in. This chameleon like trait has been a curse, I thought, since high school when I meshed from social group to social group. And I think that is why I don’t feel so intimidated being in a different country. Sure, the culture is different and the people are different but in the end, we really are all just the same. I could see myself living here, just as I could see myself living in Barcelona or in the South of France (I’m not terribly crazy about Paris but perhaps if I had spent more time in the city, that too would have changed). I feel confident that I could go anywhere in the world and blend in, without having too much of a terrible difficulty getting around. Perhaps I should just accept my fate that I am a world citizen, not a citizen of a particular country or city.

at the airport

One of the great things about being a geek is the capability of having technology with you on the go. However if I was more of a geek, I’d be sitting here on wireless dialup account instead of, well, not.
The Grand Rapids International airport (GRR) is strange in many ways. First off, the security measures here surpass those of even Dulles (IAD) in Washington. My brother had said to me when he was flying out of GRR to IAD to come visit me last summer about the trials and tribulations he had to go through with security when he was waiting for his flight. I didn’t believe him. How could I? For a metro area of several hundred thousand people, many don’t seem to leave, and it would seem difficult to comprehend the idea that the security at GRR would surpass that of IAD.
I feel more and more out of place when I talk about my travels when in my own mind, I do not do more than go where I want. In my own eyes, the world is so large and I’ve seen so little, it’s hard to distinguish from what is “well traveled” to what is not. I guess it does sound a bit exotic to say I’ve lived in San Francisco, Washington DC, and Toronto and then come back here to good old GRap as the locals call it. Why would I want to come back?
There was a girl I had worked with at the cawfee shop who had said that her world consisted of Kent County and that was it. She had no desire to travel beyond her “bubble” as she called it. She wanted to get married, have babies, and be a mommy. She was all of 18. She had no desire to see the world or explore outside of her bubble. There are those I know who have traveled outside their boundaries physically and could not comprehend what they saw. I mean that here they are, traveling around the state, country or internationally, and disliked it.
Personally, I don’t know what it is. Is it the restlessness that I feel? Which I automatically think that is really screaming of my own lack of commitment. Can I feel comfortable to one day settle down in one place and be happy or even just content? It is difficult for me to say. The Geography of Michigan class that I’m taking currently shows just how diverse Michigan is, at least from a geographical point of view. There is so much to see and do here (as shocking as that may be when taking into heart my thoughts on Michigan and the Midwest in general), that I feel overwhelmed. I haven’t even been any farther than Traverse City and have yet been to the Upper Peninsula, and for being a “local,” to me that is disgraceful.
Because my trip plans for Europe have fallen through, I had been thinking of renting a cottage up in the UP for a week. Just me. The dogs. My laptop and pray-fully, no internet connection. I have found that the more I live alone, the more I like it. I’m more of private person and now I wonder if I will ever really be happy being with someone in a relationship. I think about that part quite a bit, that my own happiness is coming from within, but yet even at that stage, I would never feel comfortable being with someone else. Things like having a family do equate into this, but I do not ever really see someone else as being by side. I’ve honestly thought that if I was not married or in a committed relationship by the time, I was 35, I would end up having IVF kids. Keth and I joke about that now, but the more I look at it, the more I realize just how much of the truth it may be. I’m not scared of this idea, I guess I’ve always thought that it would be better to raise a child alone than in a relationship where it was abusive, and the issue is that it’s becoming clear with my own relationship choices that abuse is all I know. That is not to say that all the relationships I’ve been were abusive, but it all goes back to Alan and when I had for a brief moment in time the “perfect” relationship in my eyes only to have it blown up in my face – all because he had cheated on me.
Danny says I carry extra guilt left over from my Catholic upbringing, and I’m not quite sure that is true. I can see why he would think that but I’m tired of feeling like I have these rigid set of morals and ideas only to find the world shifts too much into the grey pattern area. Most of it conflicting. Like I do consider emotional cheating to be cheating. I cannot abide by the fact that if you are in a relationship that you would have the audacity of wanting to be with someone else. Oh, I know it’s human relations to look and admire attractive people, that’s fine, but when it becomes something else and ends up being more than a fantasy, then it becomes dangerous. Why get married or be with someone if you don’t, truthfully, want to be with them? That’s never made sense to me and those who know me the best would know the agony I went through prior the separation with Paul. It made me numb. I felt nothing other than I did not want to be here and I had to leave and I could never communicate to those just how difficult it was TO leave. The one thing I did resent was the common ideology that if you are not happy, then just leave, that I could pick up and go and no one seemed to take into account that they only knew my side of the story or even better, they knew only what I would tell them. They did not walk in my shoes and they did not seem to understand when I tried to make the situation clear.
I have this sinking suspicion I’ll always be a solitary person, and that discovery has hurt more than anything else. Not that being solitary is bad, but simply that not having someone by my side would hurt. I’ve dreamed of being with someone, this ‘being’ if you will, that would compliment me as I would compliment them. True wuv. So now, I wonder if I feel disillusioned simply because of past experiences or what the deal is. Hope is there, it’s a small flame, and it’s becoming smaller. In the end, I’m tired of a society that is cruel and malicious and I just wish people were nicer to each other, but that wish doesn’t seem to want to work out.
Keth says, maybe I’m looking too hard? She said to me when I was lamenting about this to her fairly recently and I can see why she would say that. If you’ve searched for “something” for over 30 years, it’s very easy to get discouraged but it’s difficult to keep up hope. It’s difficult to feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know there are many difficulties that I have sustained in my life that have bucked the system. I’ve left high school and went back and got my GED. I went to college, only to leave and come back many years later. Things that professionals say are the hardest to do, I’ve done. Yet I feel no satisfaction from these accomplishments.
($Deity save me from ignorant people. Please. A girl in my Geography of Michigan class asked if we had to know the bedrock type. Hello. Geography. Pay ATTENTION! Another woman compared the term ‘outwash’ (the left over silt from glacier movement) to the leftover drippings of Guinness. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.)