Posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken
I was sitting under my favorite tree in Maine and gazing around the campground where we spend as many days each summer as we can manage. Our site is on the main roadway through the woods among the sites and near the bathrooms (good), the laundry (even better) and the septic dump station (not so good).
What does that have to do with writing? Funny you should ask. Our little trailer (just big enough for one person, or, if they're really really good friends, or married, two people) has been at the Poland Spring Campground for several seasons. PSCG is owned by Tami Wight and her husband; Tami is the author of The Three Grumpies and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Four years ago Tami and I created the Camp'n'Schmooze, a group of kids' writers meeting twice a year for critiques and, well, schmoozing. After our first trip there, we parked our new trailer there and have no plans to move it. The campground has proven a great place to concentrate on writing projects without all that home stuff getting in the way.
So I was sitting there last week, trying to concentrate on the long-overdue cancer book, but I was also keeping an eye on the folks wandering around, envious that they really were on vacation. And I noticed something peculiar. Some of the women were carrying their purses with them.
I mean, why? I hate purses. They're heavy, they slide down my arm at the worst possible moment (meaning, my hot tea spills), and no matter what I'm looking for, it's in a different zip section and I can't find it. And that goes double for wallets: credit cards, debit cards, library cards from four libraries in two states, receipts for tax deductions, "frequent flyer" cards from various stores and transportation companies, lots of coins but mostly pennies, and the occasional dollar bill or so. And there is never a pencil or pen when I need one.
I have discovered what men knew all along: pockets are great. If I can slide my license, a few bucks, and the car keys into a pocket, I can often completely avoid taking along a purse at all. When we vacation, I can condense the "must haves" down into a small zippered leather case. The idea of toting my purse everywhere I go, including around the campground, is horrifying. I unlock the trailer, dump my purse, and don't pick it up again until it's time to leave.
Confession time: I have nightmares about losing my purse or wallet. Really. I wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming that I had to tear the place apart looking for my purse. I'm sure there's a Major Psychological Explanation for that, but truthfully, I don't want to hear it. As it is, I hate having to keep track of my purse while I'm shopping or travelling or whatever.
Besides, no matter how much junk I'm carrying around, I don't have what I need. In mystery fiction, the heroine has hair spray to disable a punk, a hairpin to pick a lock, a gun, a flashlight...you name it. Me, I am more likely to come up with the cap to a lipstick, a dry pen, wadded tissues (used? who knows?). Why bother?
So even I was surprised when one of my souvenirs from a Malice Domestic convention a few years ago was a purse. Since the slogan for Malice is "not everybody's cup of tea," allusions (illusions?) abound. I have taken home lots of tea, tea cups, china tea pots, and lovely tea cosies. Still, I was not able to control myself when I spotted the teapot-shaped purse. It sits in the reference room, holding a display of mystery postcards, flyers and bookmarks.
It's a real attention-getter, right there on the windowsill next to the cactus I killed--by underwatering it.
The best part is, I don't have to carry it anywhere.