I love big bags. A normally frugal person when it comes to buying clothes, I lose all sense of proportion when it comes to a nice cavernous bag that will hold everything I toss in and beg for more.

I’ve never understood how my friends can meet me for a movie carrying only a wallet…or a stylish little bag slung over the shoulder, so flat that it can’t possibly even contain a wallet. Don’t they need…well…everything with them?

I think of my bags as a kind of Boy Scout strategy; I’m always prepared. I might need any of this stuff at any moment. So here’s what’s typically in my bag (this is one of my favorite bags, a Longchamp I bought in Paris):IMG_0944

1) Kindle eBook reader. I’ve got 45 books loaded on there. You never know when you’ll get a minute to read, right?

2) Little yellow bag. It holds my earphones (for listening to music on the iPhone, listening to books on the Kindle, and using on airplanes in place of the horrible things the airlines provide), bottle of Zantac (a person could get indigestion at any moment), some Compeed blister pads (ditto about blisters), packs of gum.

3) Green lipstick case. A couple of lipsticks, a pot of lip balm, a few extra pens (pens do run out of ink, you know.)

4) Red camera case. Now that I blog and write a newsletter about Paris, I take pictures constantly.

5) Pack of Kleenex. Actually, this is a representative pack. There are usually at least three or four in my bag. Besides the obvious sneeze protection, very useful if you suddenly find yourself peeing in the woods. Not that I do, but I could.

6) Green glasses case. Can’t read without my glasses.

7) Passport. My passport is always on me. I’m just waiting for somebody to say, “Let’s go to Barcelona right now.” So far, nobody has. (See “Always Prepared,” above.) But I also much prefer using my passport going through airport security. You can stick your boarding pass and bag check tag in it. Makes a nice little package you’re not likely to lose going through the line. It’s too easy to drop a driver’s license.

8) Red sunglasses case. I always anticipate sunshine, don’t you? (I cannot figure out how this annoying little face appeared in my blog in place of the numeral 8, but I can’t make it go away.)

9) Wallet. Duh. This is a beautiful one my friend Mark gave me last year.

10) iPhone. I never loved a cellphone till I got this puppy. Email at a touch? Check. Entire phone and email directory? Check. Instant map of exactly where I am now? Check. App for translating this paragraph into French? Check. Unlike any other cellphone I’ve ever owned, I actually leave this one on.

11) Keys. Two keys for the front door, one for the apartment building garage door. Car key. Basement storage locker key (not that I ever go there). And all those little dangly things like gym entrance card, Safeway card, library card. (Okay, now that I have my Kindle I never go to the library anymore, but I could.)

12) Pen. One of many. (See 3 above.)

13. Little orange journal for taking notes. Sometimes you’ve just got to grab the thought as it comes. Yes, I could do it on my iPhone, but I don’t type so well with my thumbs.

14. Purple umbrella. Never know when it’s going to rain.

15. Compass on a red lanyard. You come up from a subway in a part of a city you don’t know well, and the compass is your best friend. I have actually navigated the twisting, never-parallel streets of Venice from one end to the other with my compass. Works way better than a map.

16) Missing: an Apple iPad. I lust for one, but I’m waiting for the next generation. Might replace the little orange journal and the Kindle. Might.

It all feels necessary to me. What’s in your handbag that you can’t live without?