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Part One of a New Series: The Things We Carry with Us

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

It’s interesting to me what we consider important enough to keep in our backpacks and bags. What are our motivations? How much of it is superstitious–or even talismanic? Where does our subconscious think we’re going? What are we preparing for–and what are we prepared for?

I like inanimate objects that tell stories and what we choose to carry with us can tell us who we are, our sum and measure. (It can also be totally meaningless. Depends on the case.)

For the first part in a new series here at the Asthmatic Kitty Sidebar, this is my travel bag. It’s an old mini Samsonite, one strap, dark blue fake leather, about a foot and a half tall and a foot wide. I have no idea where it came from but I know I didn’t buy it in a store.

If you look close enough you’ll see “ADAM GNADE” written in all-caps Sharpie and, closer still, a drawing of a charm for warding off demons that I found in a book on symbology.

This bag has been all over the country, coast to coast. It’s been on a lot of train trips and a lot of tours and it has crossed a lot of borders.

Here’s what’s inside…

Copy of The New Yorker (latest issue, from subscription)

Composition notebook with “Property of GLENN DANZIG” written on it in all-caps

Pentacle hardback writing notebook

American Scholar Steno Book notebook, green tint, gregg-ruled

Slingshot organizer with “ADAM GNADE” sticker left over from tour merch box

Paperback copy of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Card-stock Dutch Boy paint sample (saved because the color is inexplicably called “Go Away”)

No-name tape walkman with headphones (bought at truckstop in Utah)

Two Will Oldham mix cassettes made for me by Dan Bryant and Connor Kirkwood the night I left Portland

Postcard from my grandparents in La Selva Beach

Unused bar of Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soap (lavender)

Knife with a sailing ship on the handle (bought at Texas roadstop, first US tour)

Unused postcard with Dusty Springfield on the front

Various scraps of paper, notes to self, half piece of paper with unfinished song lyrics–song title, “The Wild Homesick”

Create, Scheme, Remember notebook (made by 1984 Press) used for writing down dialog for stories

Wallet, camouflage, canvas, Velcro with Microcosm Publishing company credit card, three BOA debit cards, Dillion’s Plus Shopper’s Card card, AAA card, expired California driver’s license, keys to storage space in Portland, key to Hard 50 farmhouse, unknown gold key, Chinese money (yi yuan), fortune cookie fortune reading, “Keep your courage up and it will keep you up.”

Battery charger with two AA batteries

Two-prong-to-three-prong plug adapter

Various stolen pens (Ramada Hotel, Hampton Inn, Greyhound/NW Trailways)

Small temperature gauge

Small, round compact mirror (merch from the band The Locust) given away by the band at Locust show/film premier of John Waters’ Cecil B. Demented, Hillcrest Landmark Theater, San Diego

Gloves (gray cotton with skull print)

US passport

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com