My handbag seems to get bigger as I get older and need more gadgets at my fingertips. Every time I want to do some heavy “editing” and weeding out of unnecessary items, I put twice the amount back into the bag. Heavy bags can be dangerous to an architect’s sense of balance. Once when I was climbing a ladder to get up on a roof, entertaining a roof change, my bag suddenly swung the opposite way and almost took me off the ladder in mid air. I shudder at the thought of my obituary headline: “Killer bag sideswipes owner, leading her to death”, so I told myself to simplify down to the essentials and came to my must haves.
First and foremost is my tape measure. It cannot be of any kind. Certainly it cannot be the ones you get for free at builder’s shows. Mine has to be a Stanley 30 ft long Leverlock that stays open without having to push the tab. This is a crucial detail because when I measure a space, it leaves my finger free from having to lock the tape blade and let the tape be in all kinds of positions to fit in tight spaces, nooks and crannies.
This no longer in production tape is known among seasoned builders. I used to carry a bag that has a side pocket that’s open – quite a convenient home for the tape measure. There was a contractor who was so familiar with my belongings that he took the liberty of taking the tape out of my bag himself when we were in the middle of a conversation needing the tape measure. I thought that was really cool when the contractor opted to use my tape instead of his. Beware of architects and builders, we too are proud of our tools.
Speaking of measuring, my second most important tool is my scale. Each architect has his or her own favorite scale. Lots of guys like the flat scale. I just happen to like the triangular scale. They do make a pocket size triangular scale for those who prefer the flat scale only because of the fit. When I was taking the architectural licensing exam, I even made sure I had a 1/16″ = 1′-0″ scale which made it easy for me to zoom through plans at that scale. Little things made a big difference in those days when the design exam was a 12 hour ordeal.
My eyeglasses and sunglasses. We now must protect our eyes as they are not what they used to be.
My cell phone… In the early days of cell phones, a contractor offered to buy me a pink cell phone when he found out I have not caught up with the latest technology. I panicked at the thought of sporting a girlie pink cell phone while trying to make it in a predoninantly male profession. I got myself a steel grey cell phone the next day. Now, I can’t operate without it.
My camera. I like my little Canon S90 point and shoot camera. It is not too big and goes with me everywhere.
My calendar. Most people like their i phones. I am stubbornly stuck in the age of dinosaurs and pre i phones but I found that Letts calendars could still allow me to keep my appointments in style.
Personal items: lipstick, perfume, mirror, kleenex, hand sanitizer etc… things we women would feel most inconvenienced without.
My vitamins: I run around so much, I don’t always remember to take those important daily vitamins. Best to have them with me. I tend to go with the easiest to swallow or the chewable kind. “Pill popping” has never quite worked for me.
My dream bag: the Birkin bag even if it’s too extravagant to bring to a job site. Who said I couldn’t dream big?
My list is getting long so I should jump to the last but not least item: a good luck charm given by a friend. I put it where I most likely would stumble upon it while combing through the deep end of my many compartments handbag. It reminds me of how much faith my friends have in me in tackling the many challenges I am about to face. It’s like having your friends with you every minute of the day. Aren’t friends great? They think of the smallest things and make the biggest impact.
Photos via: Dolce and Gabbana, Sony Ericsson, Wired.com, Hermes, Cartier, The Green News, The White Turtle, Herbs and Heirlooms, Crystal-Cure, Diva Village.