Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Coach Bag Chronicle

Today was spent jotting small, random notes (mostly snippets of dialog between Claire and MarLo), transferring other random notes into my binder, and reading about Finite State Automata in my Cog Sci text book. I really need to take a trip up to B-Town to research, but Big Red, my older-than-me truck, may not be up to the task. I shall wait until the weather cools in the fall and maybe make a weekend jaunt and try to catch an opera one evening. This plan may be deferred by the state of my finances. There's always wiggle room in the budget for couch-surfing, though. And I might even camp out in a nearby park, if need be, make my excursion into an urban hike, just walk the length and breadth of the campus and soak in the feel. That's what I'm needing now. Later, I'll make my approaches to some official university types and see if I can instill enough confidence in the Project to warrant cooperation if not collaboration. Or I might go all out and rent a car, book a hotel room, write official letters to department heads to see if I can beg a guided tour.

I keep expecting that one of these days I'll just fall into it and get some incredible amount of writing accomplished. Like an entire bolus of tandem chapters will spring from my head like Athena emerging fully-armed and fully-formed from the head of Zeus. (Did I just draw a comparison between myself and Zeus? The ego needs a check, clearly.) Perhaps I'm trying to force too much productivity. My best writing always occurs in its own good time. I've been working on one poem for over two years now! It's brilliant (if I do say so myself) but it may never get finished at this rate. I've decided to let it percolate indefinitely. I'm worried that if I hold myself up to too high a standard, that I'll get discouraged. I have two models in mind when I debate this topic internally. Kostova and Meyers. Meyers wrote Twilight in 3 months, reportedly. Kostove wrote The Historian in no less than a decade. Interesting that these are both vampire books and that I don't necessarily have any undue fascinating with fantasy.

And now, the Coach Bag Chronicle:

It should be noted that I've dug up my old Coach satchel from where I stashed it years ago under my bed, an inglorious refuge for such a fine specimen of American craftsmanship. I retired it sometime in 2003 when I gave up on trying to take college courses and work full time and hid it away lest it guilt me by its presence. But I have a new dream now, one worthy of the solid partnership of my trusty old tote. So I've resurrected my magnificent satchel and filled it with my research materials and writing tools. It's a gorgeous thing, my satchel. It's old. I haven't been able to find out how old, but I discovered it in about 2001 under a rack of beaten-up backpacks at the Unique Thrift Store in the West End of Louisville. It looked roughed up, like a prize fighter ten rounds into a fight; but it was sturdy, being made entirely out of leather. I decided to buy it as I needed a more professional-looking tote to serve me at college in Minnesota. At the register I was informed it was priced at a whopping $12 when all the other backpacks were around $5. I almost didn't buy it. It was missing its shoulder strap, after all, and looked like it had already had a full life. I was such a poor college kid! But I thought, well, a new backpack would cost a little more than that, and I didn't care to browse through the whole rack of backpacks again. Besides, this bag 'spoke to me' on a level having little or nothing to do with retail. So I shelled out the cash and have never regretted it.

I promptly replaced the missing shoulder strap with a broken leather belt that almost, but not quite, matches the tanning. Somehow, at some point in time, I became aware of the Coach brand and discovered the registration number stamped into an inside pocket of my satchel. The fact that I had a valuable item was illuminated. Once, at a house party, a rather vogue young woman offered to trade me her brand new Coach bag (that she had recently bought for upwards of $300) for my old bag. Even though it has none of the desirable Coach emblems on its exterior, she said it had "street cred". I declined, but she was right on. The two aforementioned characteristics are nearly my favorite things about my bag. I don't care much about it's intrinsic material value, though. I love my bag for it's substance, for what it means to me and how well it has served me during my most difficult challenges. It's scuffed and soft in all the right places without loosing any of its rugged durability. It's all COW and BRASS and those two things are somehow very solid and American. It smells like a saddle, and when you rub your fingertips on the unlined suede inside, it feels almost like stroking a kitten ears. When I sling it over my shoulder, I feel empowered and look, well...writerly. It's exactly the sort of thing any professor on the planet would be proud to lug to class every day. I feel an attachment to it that is likely akin to the love a musician has for his battered sax case.

So I'm relying on my old stalwart bag to help me through this new project. I owe it this much for stuffing it unceremoniously under my bed for so many years!

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