1) Paper towels: Because you never know. I used two of these during today's lunch in order to protect myself from a questionable discoloration on the stoop where I hunkered down to eat my salad. I used to carry around wet-naps but then kept "saving" them for when I "really" needed them, and then, at age 32, realized I had literally been carrying around the same three since college.
2) Multiple random flyers: I feel like standing on a street corner trying to give Manhattanites yet another piece of crap must be a pretty lousy job, and if I were doing it I'd just throw them all in the trash and lie about it. However, there are many people who are more conscientious than I am, so I'll do my part and take the flyer when they hand it to me, stick it in my purse, and not throw it out until I wonder why the hell my bag is so cluttered, which will probably be in November.
3) Small flip mirror: I got this as a free gift with purchase from Clinique in, like, 1996. It's dirty, probably because I never used my wet-naps to clean it.
4) Three Goody "bobby slides": Okay, listen up, people—bobby pins are stupid. They're good for pitting cherries, and terrible in your hair. They fall out! They make funny ridges! But not these. These will stay put all day, and they don't leave weird imprints on your hair, and you can buy them in different colors to better blend in with your hair color, and if you tell me where I can buy them in bulk I'll buy you a sandwich.
5) Tattered bag of cosmetics: Okay, so here's where the goodies are, I guess? Two lip pencils and two tubes of lipstick (I am a believer in the Lipstick Corollary), one eyeliner/eyebrow pencil, Wet 'n' Wild face powder, some magic gel blush I got in Amsterdam that is colorless until you put it on and then makes you look rosy, mascara, a concealer pen that Maybelline gave everyone on the CosmoGirl staff in 2007 and that I still have, tinted sunscreen moisturizer, and a box of spare contact lenses. Cloudy, battered bag by Ziploc.
6) Contact lens solution: Soon to be gone, thanks to most excellent reader comments!
7) Spin Pins: I never use these! Why are they in my bag? I don't know!
8) Relations in Public by Erving Goffman: I get a perverse thrill out of reading about "temporary stalls" of "personal space" when there's someone sitting on my lap on the Q train.
9) Steno pad pilfered from the office: It's like being on the high school newspaper all over again!
10) Caffeine pills: The offices at one of my clients started charging $1 for those K-cups to use in their coffee machine, which seems like a goddamned crime to me, right? I mean, the conquistadors gave indigenous workers in the silver mines free cocaine. Sure, it was the raw unrefined stuff, but if those Spanish overlords recognized the value of giving exploited workers tools to make them more productive, there's no reason every midtown office shouldn't do the same. This is why China will win, or maybe India. Anyway, caffeine pills! Terrible idea, really.
11) Chanel sunglasses: One of the few Truly Fabulous things I own, and in fact the only designer item I own. My eyes are light-sensitive, I have a big face that can carry a big pair of sunglasses with panache, and I admit I just feel amazing whenever I pull out the quilted case and put them on. I will wear these until I am 74, which brings their cost down to $8.12 per annum.
12) Snacks: Another quart-sized Ziploc bag, this time containing exactly 11 emergency almonds and a half-eaten box of raisins that I am assured by the source will be good until February 23, 2012, at which point I will throw them out and replace them with a new half-eaten box of raisins.
13) Four pantiliners (panty liners?): I'll take this opportunity to tell each and every one of you that the IUD is the best and most underused form of birth control ever made, except prayer. I'm baby-proofed until 2014, people! And I don't have to do a thing about it! It hurt like hell to get it in, but for seven years of freedom I'm willing to go through the discomfort, and will happily do it again when the time comes. But! Spotting. So, pantiliners.
14) Crumpled wrapper of Nature's Valley Oats & Honey granola bar: Totally the best on-the-go snack, and as far as the wrapper, no litterbug I! Now, you would think that I'm carrying 11 almonds and half a box of raisins so that I wouldn't have to buy granola bars from vendors in the subway, wouldn't you? I move in mysterious ways.
15) Crystal Light singles: See #10. They make a Crystal Light with caffeine now! It's called "Focus." The aspartame will kill me eventually, but I don't really need to be here for that long anyway, thanks to my IUD.
16) Wallet, phone, keys: Bo-ring! Though I will take a moment to pump Queen Bee Creations, which made my wallet and purse. I still get tons of compliments on my purse but will do Queen Bee the courtesy of sparing you a photograph of it, since I haven't yet replaced it despite its cracked straps. But Queen Bee makes adorable stuff! (And it's also a dead giveaway that I spent significant time in the Pacific Northwest.)
SO WHAT'S IN YOUR BAG?