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When I was growing up, I never understood why my mother liked buying purses.
Loved it, even. She told me once that these bags were like an investment of sorts and that it was different from my father’s proclivity for collecting (read: hoarding) records, tapes, and other curios.
I see the irony now, as someone who owns—regardless if it was by choice or by accident—a lot of tote bags. Bags are useful. Bags carry things. I enjoy the use of “secure the bag” whenever an actor joins the cast of Knives Out 2. In a hypothetical zombie apocalypse; the first thing I’d look for is a backpack, another type of bag, so I could subsequently carry all of the weapons, food, and clothes I would look for next. I think about Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction often. In it, she says:
If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again — if to do that is human, if that’s what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.
It’s perfectly human to want to carry things with you. There’s this one monologue Jeff (Joel McHale) gives on Community about how life is just a container for all this weird stuff and then one day, the container is gone. Stories, novels specifically in LeGuin’s case, are containers for feelings, experiences, ideas, or catharsis.
It’s perfectly human to be a container of things in itself. I think we hold a lot of things inside us, perhaps one too many. Especially over the last two years, most of the world’s population has been carrying around a lot of grief and anger. But what can you do? Sometimes bags break, and sometimes you need to make room for other things in the bag. Either the bag breaks or your back does, it’s about finding the middle ground so you can carry the weight or ask someone to help you carry it. Is this metaphor working? Is it too vague? Is my writing still veiled in some pretentious need to understand the things I can’t contain?
I haven’t been able to contain my finger’s impulse to click “Add To Cart” every time I spot something on Tokopedia that I think I like. Something that I don’t even need, but have tricked myself into thinking I absolutely need it. It’s silly to be shopping right now. I think shopping for myself is silly only because I’ve never had enough money to do it without feeling Buyer’s Remorse immediately after.
I saw this really cute lime green jelly bag from a collaboration between Lazy Oaf and Melissa the other day. It looks a little small, could probably hold the same things my fanny pack can and maybe a book. I’m one of those people that wear a fanny pack over their chest, could you tell I went to an Arts uni? This jelly bag had long straps and a little white daisy on the front. It looked like something out of an episode of Totally Spies! or the short-lived, animated Bratz series. There’s a pair of jelly sandals matching the bag in the collection. And it’s just sitting there in my cart. Sitting there, in my mental box of potentially irresponsible purchases, among things I may procure next month or the month after if the Stock Gods look upon me favourably.
A virtual shopping cart is a container for your wants and desires or your needs and pseudo-needs. It varies per shopping cart. I remember this one day where a Glossier half-price promo code made the rounds. Everyone and their mothers entered the code and rejoiced at the discounted prices, the whispers of a Glossier Comrade somewhere in our midst. But, much to everyone’s chagrin, Big Glossy caught on and the code was retired, leaving orders incomplete or cancelled. I couldn’t participate, Glossier doesn’t ship to Indonesia. And at the moment, I’m glad they don’t. Disposable income and Glossier are a very hazardous combination for me. When I was in London, I consistently dedicated most of my paycheck to my specific Haloscope shade, and then rent. It was what was it when I was at Uni, not too long ago, I might add.
I keep thinking back why brands like Glossier, Fenty Beauty, or Milk Makeup appealed to me so much. I think it wasn’t just the easy applicators, or the fact that most of my Instagram ads were pushing them real hard, or the underlying Cool Girl Monologue stench on them. It was probably the packaging. The celebrity co-signs and endorsements. The word of mouth. The marketing. The container.
The container is what drew me in. That shit looked cool in my hands and looked cool in my bag! You can’t blame 19-year-old me for being susceptible to good marketing! My journey into allegedly low-maintenance skincare and make-up began, but at the cost of, well, my first taste of adulthood income. Capitalism, you not-so-sneaky bitch, you! How dare you!
I’m still a loyal Glossier user, finishing whatever I got left in my stash as I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. But it’s actually taking a lot out of me to refrain from putting a coveted Glossier item in my Tokopedia cart, the acquisition of said item into my borders are just as dubious as my intentions. The Tokopedia and GoJek merger concerns me. I hope the drivers are compensated adequately. But with these big corpos, we can only hope, right? Accountabillity has never really been their bag. How much I want to buy bags of my own, just like my mother, concerns me. Learning that I might have a taste for designer bags concerns me.
Reflecting on why I bought all that make-up and skincare, which thankfully worked out well for my face anyway, wasn’t just a young person on the prescipise of self-discovery (if you can even call it that), it’s someone that was concerned about the relationship between material possessions and status and was to ashamed to admit it. “Imagine no possessions” is a stupid fucking line but imagine if people weren’t so fatally driven to defend their “private property” and capital. Imagine if we didn’t feel so tied—if I didn’t feel so tied—to what was ours or what isn’t ours yet.
Aspirational materialism is still a big thing I’m still struggling with. Why would owning a certain designer bag I saw Steven Yeun wear once at a Gucci event make me feel like more of an adult? Is it because I’ve seen Harry Styles carry one around in a shade of turquoise? Is it because it’s a good size for me, a person dependent on their an e-reader and therefore has to carry it everywhere? I don’t need it, there are better things to spend on and save for, and luxury makes my politics’ skin crawl, so why am I still thinking about it?
I think I’m still working towards accepting where I am, as I am, as an existence that is just as valid a container as any preconcieved notions I had on what being “a real person” would look like. Or what being a “real person” would feel like. I’m working on this container of mine so I can discern what to carry, what to unload, and what I need help with carrying. It’s the only one I’ve got after all.
The Oscar Isaacification of One Ethan Hawke
It’s Wednesday, and on Wednesdays by some miracle there are always Moon Knight updates abound. This specific one I have replayed over and over, and not for the reasons you’d think.
Alright, it’s definitely for the reasons that you’d think. I kept trying to make out what Ethan Hawke is saying to no avail, because there are others in frame competing for my attention. What are they talking about? Who would they be talking about? Are they talking shit about someone, and if so, will it be on deuxmoi within the week?
I love that they train together. I love that it looks like two best friends supporting each other. Encouraging each other. Going the distance together without a hint of competition. Even if there was competition, the other would concede and it would go around in an endless cycle of Disney Sitcom Gag humility. Hawke and Isaac are engaging with one another. Interested in what the other has to say, even during strenous exercise. Hawke even said the only reason he’s taken on Moon Knight in the first place is because he thinks Oscar Isaac is one of the most exciting working actors right now. So true, Ethan Hawke! Maybe I should cut Boyhood some slack after all! (I won’t.)
Once again the allure of celebrity friendships/co-worker relationships are absolutely getting my goat. I have missed Oscar Isaac dearly. His other friend just kept embarrassing me.
That’s all for this week!
Free Palestine. A free Palestine in our lifetime. InshaAllah.