The importance of the right purse

anne cline

There’s a scene in a movie that I can’t place (maybe you can help me here). An older woman dumps out the purse of a younger woman. The younger woman is hoping to become the older woman’s mentee or perhaps employee. The older/more experienced woman says, “If I had found wrappers in your purse, I would have sent you home.”

I try to never have empty wrappers in my bag.

Every once in while, I re-read Laura Goode’s article Stay Gold on The Rumpus. In it, Goode eulogizes her twenties and writes, “I will tell you that I have lived them like an endless conversation, like a depth charge, like a rapprochement or discord with the self, like the way you dance alone with your roommate in her bedroom or yours, like one big sensory buffet, like whole-body-shaking laughter and notebooks, notebooks, notebooks.”

In my early twenties, I tried to destroy myself. When I stopped trying to destroy myself, I thought I knew who I was and who I wanted to be.

So it surprised me when I recently decided that I needed to have a purse.

It surprised me that I wanted this purse to say, “I am a woman.”

My purses must be able to fit a book. Now they must fit at least two books. They must hold my water bottle. They must have a cross body strap in addition to handles that can also be pulled to the shoulder. The purse must say how graceful I am. They must help me look older. They must fit my lunch. They must fit the bag I keep inside all of my bags with all of the loose ends. Band-aids, Chapstick, nail clippers, ibuprofen, floss. The list goes on.

It was brought to my attention that I have many purses. And indeed, I have more purses than pairs of shoes. Totes, clutches…the kinds of purses exceed my knowledge. One for every occasion; however, I have always found it disconcerting that each purse says something different. I have never been able to settle into one “kind” of purse and have always felt that this inability represents my inability to define myself. I am somewhere in between the tom-boy and the simple girl that does not know how to dress herself.

God Emperor of Dune: Frank Herbert

god emperor of duneI have Dune fatigue, it is official. My desire to read is equally fueled by Herbert’s ability to catch a reader and by simply wanting to find out what will happen. Is it accurate to merit a book by your need to finish the book? Can your obsessive need to find out what happens override the quality of the story?

Yes, I think so. How else can you explain soap operas and those evening teen dramas? Roswell and Gilmore Girls. And perhaps, Dune. The Dune world is losing my interest. I’m driven by a need to know people and the people are second place to the evolution of the human species. That’s not really interesting to me. I have been reading at a crazy pace, so at the very least I’ll take some time off before deciding to read the fifth book.

Children of Dune: Frank Herbert

dune three

I realized that I don’t like the godly point of view of some of these books because I’m just as bored as the prescient characters. Herbert has me fooled! By the time of this writing I am more than halfway done with book four. Dune and Children of Dune seem quite alike whereas Dune Messiah and God Emperor of Dune are similar in style to me.

But perhaps all of this is due to the physical books I purchased — their designs and shape follow this formula of mine.

Children of Dune brought me back into the layered plots and unknowns of book one. I was excited that Ghanima was female, but was disappointed that she fell aside as Herbert kept the reader with Leto II. At least, Jessica was back to beguile us with her plots and her grace.

I am starting to wonder why Herbert jumps so much time from one book to the next. Did he know his life was too short to go into the depths that he wanted? Why couldn’t we have more time with the characters? Alas, maybe I will become fanatical enough to read the books by his son+writer person.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: J.K. Rowling


I am still waiting for Harry Potter to grow up, and I’m a bit dismayed that he may go through is own young-man-mope. Rowling’s writing is still perfectly aimed at the youngsters. While I breeze through the summaries of the previous volume, I dream of who is going to fall in love with whom, etc. The Prisoner of Azkaban includes a slightly more complicated plot. Harry begins to learn that people are not completely good nor bad — and maybe he needs to put time into strengthening his relationships with his friends.

The Plot Against America: Philip Roth

book cover image with title and stamp with swastika


I’m not sure why I thought this might be an uplifting book; however, I needed something that was at least different from the serialized books I have been piling through. No wizards or planets other than earth was my requirement.

So I read my way into a Hitler-sympathetic America. I watched a Jewish family in New York disintegrate through the eyes of their youngest child (Philip Roth). The adults around Roth fall apart. Older siblings, parents, and relatives slowly emerge to be the flawed human beings they always were.

Roth watches, imagines, and dramatizes the world around him. It is terrifying to watch and made even more terrifying because of the truth Roth weaves into this unbelievable world. Elect a Nazi-sympathizer in order to avoid war and keep the comforts of American life? Elect someone who says what you want to hear so that your life does not change and life is easy?


Dune Messiah: Frank Herbert

image of hardback cover with author photo torn out

I ended up with a battered copy of Dune Messiah because I will always purchase the book with the personal note or other lively characteristic. This particular copy was missing a vital part of its dust jacket. I can only hope that a devout fan has that picture tacked next to their bed or writing desk.

There was no glossary to lure me into knowing more than the characters. This second volume of the Dune series captured my attention, I finished it in two days, yet I felt like it was missing something vital. Maybe I am reading too many series at one time (the count is only at two, and a third is under consideration), maybe the passion that was lacking was Paul’s passion.

Indeed, Paul is filled with foreboding and even loses his eyes, though not his sight. Eventually, I realized that he wasn’t going to make it through this book and the series would live on without him. I’m not sure how I feel about this concept, that I am supposed to be more attached to a family line and a planet than one single character. A difference between Dune and Harry Potter. Maybe a difference between science fiction and young adult fiction.

The world of Dune continues to evolved and Paul becomes a Messiah as the title indicates. A circle is complete and now we will enter the new lush world of Dune and learn of Paul’s godly children, and I can only hope that Jessica makes a cameo.