The things we keep


Despite the fact that my closets get cleaned out pretty regularly, you still never know what you’ll find in there.

After picking up my wedding dress, I quickly realized my overflowing childhood bedroom didn’t have space for that ginormous garment bag. As I continue to lose weight (now down 14 lbs.!) and go through my wardrobe, I’m realizing that many of the clothes I once loved have become . . . well, less exciting. And baggy. Or old. I need room for new things, so the old things must be redistributed. On a recent weekday night, I began to pull old stuff from my closet and bag up what I no longer need.

It was pretty therapeutic, actually.

One of my recent finds was that ensemble above: a long, wool nightgown featuring Taz the Tasmanian Devil. My “Looney Tunes” phase, circa 1995, was interesting; I still have the miniature Taz backpack I used to sport. I’m thinking my mom picked this little number up for me one Christmas — and it still had the tags.

As I prepare for the married life, I’m sure I’ll have a few breakdowns — and more “look what I found!” posts. As a twenty-something who still lives at home, I have quite the accumulation of materials. I’ve already purged the old ‘NSYNC and Backstreet Boys-emblazoned teen magazines, donated bags and bags of old T-shirts and corduroy pants and other ’90s-era fashion choices . . . and generally brought my room up to the 21st century. My space is, for the most part, pretty tidy — but I have a lot of stuff.

Stuff that will soon buddy up with Spencer’s stuff. And our stuff will just . . . throw a big party.

I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve kept and the things I’ve given away — especially now, being confronted with childhood memorabilia all over again. My old Minnie Mouse sleeping bag; a lopsided globe I won after being named champ of the fifth-grade Geography Bee; old trophies and lamps, Hanson shirts and yearbooks. An entire adolescence in one bedroom. My personal history distilled into . . . objects.

And they’re just objects. I’ve watched enough episodes of “Hoarders” to know these things are just things. But I think it’s safe to say that, you know, the items I’ve kept over the course of 27 years must be the ones with real meaning. These are the belongings I have to make room for in the next phase. Amidst all that will change, this is what I must keep.

Maybe not the Taz shirt.

But everything else.

Everyone has one

The junk drawer.

Everyone has one.

I’ve been thinking about the little things that make up a life — the objects; the collections; the obsessions. Spending the vast majority of my time at work, my office is a literal shrine to Me. It’s filled with my stuff. Things — all these things — I keep “just in case.”

When I was sick last week, I was worried someone would have to sift through my office for all the work-related projects I’m in the middle of completing. On my desk are canisters of pens, highlighters, Post-It notes, red markers; I’m obsessed with office supplies. Scraps of paper line the many surfaces of my L-shaped desk, highlighting appointments I need to make and ideas for columns.

Considering we’re a newspaper, I live in a surprisingly paperless world — but even still, I have a physical “inbox.” In comes the daily mail, to which I add press releases that drift my way or recipes coworkers have shared. I also keep my notebook there — the place I scribble more notes to myself about the new software we’re implementing or tips from my bosses about new sections. My handwriting is everywhere.

But it’s my drawers — these drawers — that are most interesting. Even people who describe themselves as “messy” or “unkempt” have a method to their madness, I know, and I’m no different. Though not a neat freak, everything has a place in my office. My friend Brandon often jokes that he can’t run a finger across the surface without me noticing . . . because I notice everything. And I do.

In addition to a snack drawer (yes, a whole drawer), a drawer for more printed work-related sections and another office supplies space is my junk drawer. It’s the closest within reach, just to the left of my computer.

It’s my secret shame.

Taking one peek into this small, oblong-shaped receptacle is like starting into the eye of a hurricane. We have tiny lotion bottles, anti-bacterial hand soap, quarters for the vending machine. Lip balm in every shade and texture. Pay stubs. Allergy medicine. Mints, gum and Smarties. Extra headphones. Old prescriptions. Birthday cards, love notes and holiday greetings. A lapel pin of indeterminate origin; a pocket-sized 2010 calendar. Extra staples. A small ball of string.

None of these things make much sense to anyone — or anyone but me.

We’re not defined by our possessions. My things don’t define who I am as a person, but they don’t not define me, either. If I surround myself daily with clutter, miscellaneous objects, strange things that seem to do nothing but constrict the space in which I spend so much of my time — professionally, creatively — what will become of me?

I’m not saying I’m going to get rid of the junk drawer; you know, it does serve a purpose.

But I am thinking seriously about weeding out the “tiny things” that seem to fill every nook and cranny of my existence.

It’s spring. And I’m ready to clean.

Etsy Find Fridays: Writerly inspiration

The first thing I can ever remember writing was a poem about rain. I was 6, in the first grade, and I’d just begun to make the connection that letters formed words . . . and words? Well, words formed everything. In the living room on a rainy day, I took a small pink (pink!) notebook and scribbled down a few phrases. Then I proudly showed my handiwork off to my baby sister and parents.

I don’t remember their reactions, but I’m sure they were struck dumb by my brilliance. I mean, rain? Who has ever written a poem about nature’s beauty — or that wet stuff falling from the sky? I was a prodigy. A revolutionary. I was changing the world!


Aside from a stint in the creative writing program in college, I haven’t crafted many poems — but have diversified my subject matter. Twice a week, I write about my life and adventures for the newspapers where I work. Only 450 words and focused on whatever pops into my brain, the columns come easily. It’s like blogging . . . just in print. Where 50,000 people read it.

Sometimes that scares me.

But that’s another blog post.

No, the columns don’t cause me any trouble, friends. Sometimes the stress of trying to be consistently witty is a little daunting, but that’s totally a #firstworldproblem and not something I would ever complain about. (You know, not in public.) I know how lucky I am.

It’s everything else that’s tricky.

The short format of my articles and these here blog posts have ruined me. After failing to complete a novel for National Novel Writing Month for the second year in a row, I’m beginning to worry that I don’t have the stamina to sustain a single plotline over the course of a 200-page manuscript. Am I now only capable of writing short non-fiction? Am I — gasp — A SHORTY?

Well, yes; I’m short (5’2″). But I don’t want to be known only for the little thoughts I scribble down. I do want to finish another novel, and I do want to seek publication for my works. So unless I’m scooped up and asked to pen a hilarious memoir about cupcakes, online dating and pumpkin spice lattes, I need to get my act together. I’d love to be the next Laurie Notaro or Jen Lancaster, but I have to be realistic. I have yet to be informed that someone soiled themselves while reading something I’ve shared, so I have plenty of work to do. And have to get back to pluggin’ away on ye old book.

But first? I need a little inspiration. And leave it to Etsy to deliver it.

What’s in my bag?

Over the years, boyfriends have asked me for things.

Like, you know, a tissue. Or a piece of gum. Perhaps a quarter for a vending machine or a parking meter. Inevitably, I’m distracted with something else — or reading (of course). I usually wave a hand dismissively, barely looking up from my cell phone or novel.

“It’s in my purse,” I’ll say, gesturing to my overflowing handbag nearby. “Just go in and get it.”

Inevitably, the boyfriend’s face will morph into a mask of unmitigated horror. “In your bag?” he’ll squawk. “I’m not going in your bag. That’s your girl stuff.”

While I’m not exactly sure what terrible devices of torture men expect to find in women’s handbags, I will say that I’ve had this exact conversation with at least three different boyfriends — and countless male friends, too. It’s like the purse is a vacuum of embarrassing girly products and they just don’t want any part of it.

And though I’m pleased to know that the men in my life aren’t, you know, wantonly pawing through my personal belongings, it is occasionally annoying to have to hoist myself out of a comfy chair in order to grab my purse and find that sliver of paper or pen they need.

But friends, it’s time to draw back the curtain. The lovely Erica recently asked me to reveal the contents of this, my hulking shoulder-breaker of a handbag . . . and since I love you guys, I’m just going to put it all out there.

Gentlemen, get ready.

1. Cupcake coupon holder — a little pouch I purchased on Etsy (where else?) and use to hold my coupons, gift cards and other random things I use to get stuff cheap or, occasionally, free.
2. A book — Like any steadfast reader, y’all know I don’t leave the house without a novel. At the moment, I’m heavy into Balancing Acts.
3. A pen and a Sharpie — because just having a pen isn’t enough. Sometimes I need to write on strange surfaces like, say, the top of a white styrofoam to-go box from a restaurant.
4. iPod Touch — which also functions as my personal calendar and way to keep in touch with the world! I’m lost without it. And, strangely, really don’t use it to hold any music . . . which is probably why I’m never without No. 6.
5. Cell phone — Have to be able to text, you know.
6. iPod Nano — which holds my music collection. And it’s pink, naturally. I listen to music a lot at work and feel pretty crazy when I accidentally forget it!
7. Lip gloss — I’m never without several different types of beauty products, but this Sephora clear lip gloss is my favorite!
8. Blog business cards — these are the little guys I got last year from Moo and have all my information for this here blog! I also give them out to dates because they give boys a way to contact me . . . but don’t actually have my phone number. Helps me screen out the crazies.
9. Advil
10. Anti-bacterial hand cream
11. Gum and mints
— I’m a freak about mints and chewing gum . . . in that I always have some, and am always popping one or the other. Pretty sure that’s not a bad thing!
12. Face powder — So I’m shiny. What?
13. Tissues
14. Wallet — money and ID are two things I wouldn’t leave home without!
15. Makeup pouch — where the rest of my six varieties of lip gloss are kept! I usually have a hair tie and a few bobby pins in there, too.
16. “Business” pouch — my work business cards, jump drives, a Tide To-Go Pen and other random little things are usually in here.

And what else is in my purse? The very pocket camera I used to take that photo! I don’t ever leave home without my Panasonic Lumix and love taking random shots on my lunch break. Like that one.

Hope this gives you a little more insight into the enigma that is Meg — and, if you’re a dude, that you won’t be quite as freaked out the next time I tell you to get your own piece of gum. Nothing will bite or humiliate you, promise.

Etsy find Fridays: Tie it with a bow

There’s something about a well-placed bow that sets my heart a’ flutterin’! They’re pretty, feminine, funky and fun — a throwback in some ways, sure, but also thoroughly modern. And now that my hair is a wee bit shorter? I’m thinking I need a few. For my tresses.

But they’re everywhere, these bows — and you can put them just about everywhere, too. As my recent Etsy finds will demonstrate . . .

Tiffany blue hair bow by sweetsandhearts, $8

Mini bow necklace by CosmicCreatures, $8

Mini bow necklace by CosmicCreatures, $8

Pink glitter shoe buckle accessory by madebysarika, $10

Pink glitter shoe buckle accessory by madebysarika, $10

Skinny sterling silver forget-me-know bow ring by PaupersBounty, $10.99

A friend in tweed... purse by breagha, $23

Lilly in love... amore -- purse by myTida, $60

I’d prefer not to use an exchange rate, thanks

union_jack_earrings OK, it’s been a while — and you knew it was coming eventually. No, my Anglophilia hasn’t quite abated… I’m just doing a better job of not constantly talking about London! It’s hard to forget about my favorite city when I have friends like The Magnificent Stacy sending me links to stuff that further fuels my obsession. Like, say, these earrings from ASOS, a British online fashion store.

I like looking at things in pounds — mostly because I’m terrible at math, and I sort of, um, “guess-timate” how much items cost without actually figuring it out.

Cue ASOS’s currency exchange function. My adorable Union Jack embroidered stud earrings, which are on sale for £4.25, come out to $7.27 US. Still not bad, not bad at all . . . but I like imagining they’re around $4 better! Meh, I’m going to break down and buy them.

Other British goodies catching my attention right now? Let’s pop over to Etsy, my absolute favorite guilty pleasure, shall we?

Hail Brittania teacup pincushion by KellyHendersonDesign, $22

Hail Brittania teacup pincushion by KellyHendersonDesign, $22

London Skyline, laser cut & etched, hand-painted bracelet by GetPersonalArt, $30

London skyline bracelet by GetPersonalArt, $30

London -- boxed set of 10 notecards by milktoasty, $8

London -- boxed set of 10 notecards by milktoasty, $8

Set of 3 tea time postcards by Lilley, $4

Set of 3 tea time postcards by Lilley, $4

Etsy Find Fridays: Etsy and the Austen addict

It’s Friday again! I’ve had so much fun doing my Etsy collection posts, I’m going to make it a weekly (Friday!) tradition. (Catch my Navy collection and last week’s Anglophile pieces if you’re just tuning in.) If you also love Etsy and collections, feel free to blog about this, too — and leave a comment with your link on this post so we can check it out!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, despite her untimely death nearly 200 years ago, Jane Austen’s legacy is as strong now as it ever was — if not stronger! Think of the countless films based on her six completed novels — all she was able to complete before passing away on July 18, 1817 (my birthday! Well, not in 1817, but you know what I mean). And of the countless merchandise. And the modern books — many of them excellent! — which pick up with her beloved characters where Austen left off, bringing us further stories of our beloved Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Along that vein, I bring you my latest collection of Etsy things to lust over: what I’m affectionately calling The Best in Austen On Etsy! I’m all about the eye candy and I adore Austen . . . so I bring you my favorites!

Pride & Prejudice Bracelet -- Wide Bangle by TheLittleBirdie, $16

Pride & Prejudice Bracelet -- Wide Bangle by TheLittleBirdie, $16

Jane Austen original mixed media collage by LDphotography, $7.99

Jane Austen original mixed media collage card by LDphotography, $7.99


"I Heart Mr. Darcy" button by unresigned, $1.50


Jane Austen Heroine print by skyebluepink, $12

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