I would absolutely read a well-researched think piece on the cultural significance of the tote bag, because I can personally only offer speculation.
Just a fraction of a lifetime’s collection.
During the recent boozefest convention T and I attended, he chided me about all the schwag I grabbed. We’ve been set on keeping clutter to a minimum, so naturally one would assume bringing in superfluous freebies would be frowned upon.
But I love a tote. I love the concept of a re-usable bag that is also kind of disposable. Like, you probably didn’t pay for it, so if you need to leave it behind because you’ve all decided to go out for drinks after the potluck and you don’t trust your host to return it, it’s no big D. Furthermore, though I usually dislike the idea of wearing a company’s logo on my person when I’ve paid them for the clothing already, the free advertising of freebie totes offers two bonuses: promoting the brand of the product/organization you ostensibly support and promoting one’s own status as someone who supports said brand/organization. It seems petty, but sometimes carrying the right Planned Parenthood or New Yorker tote bag can say more about you to would-be accosters than any of the words you might speak yourself.
I recently pulled out all the tote bags in my house. See photo above. Here are how they rank, based on quality, design and sentimental value, from least favorite to best best.
I would start with how much I dislike end-of-year roundups of things, but that belies how much time I spend reading them. I like to be reminded of things periodically, like slightly out-of-date fashions and mildly memorable pop songs, just to reassure me that time is passing at the same rate as usual and not in a Van Winkle-esque jump/cut.
But I really hate ranking things. Having to assign a better/worse value to a group of items gives me anxiety, as I’ll never know if I’ll feel differently about it later. So here’s an incomplete list of things from life in 2015, micro and macro, good and bad, in no particular order, without explanation.
domestic and international terror
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
Pendleton wool shirts
Cascade Barrel House, Portland, OR
Blood, Bones, and Butter
The Painted Bunting
Girl at War
a silver tabby kitten
a Hora like a mosh pit
Serial and Gimlet
the Boston Globe
yeasts and molds
the restaurants of Lima, Peru
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
a life size cardboard cutout of Bryan Cranston
the Grand Canyon
thousands of hand-carved ice balls
Sleater Kinney’s No Cities to Love
Pok Pok LA
a 12-hour farewell
used kitchen appliances
health insurance hikes
avoiding presidential campaign news, but still, the Bern