Be Good-at-Organizers

Axel grabbed onto my backpack as I fumbled with my purse organizer. There was someone waiting behind us, and I had to pull the organizer out of the backpack, then open the organizer, then open my wallet, and take out and insert my ATM card. As soon as I was done with the card, I’d need to repeat the process in reverse.

Upon exiting the ATM, Axel asked me, ‘What is going on with this thing?” shaking the mid-size black zipped bag as I shoved the card back into my wallet, completing Step 1 of getting everything put away. 

“I asked for it for my birthday!” I explained. “It was on Oprah’s Favorite Things list.” 

He didn’t look convinced.

“I change bags a lot. Sometimes I use my purse and sometimes I use Little L’s diaper bag. Or I take my backpack to work. And it’s hard to remember to grab everything. So it’s nice to have my wallet and sunglasses and chapstick all in one place.”

The issue, though, on this particular day, wasn’t the organizer itself. Or my organization. The biggest issue was that the organizer was so large that I had to zip it up and place it sideways in my backpack. This meant that in order to access it, I had to pull it OUT of the bag. 

“It looks like you’re carrying around a men’s shaving kit,” Axel said. And actually, it did.

But Oprah’s organizer was sure to help me avoid arriving at work without the key to my classroom or at a happy hour having to ask a friend to pay for me.

I had opened the package on my birthday morning in the presence of Megan, who was visiting from Portland, and Little L. Even though I knew what was in the package, I couldn’t wait to pull it out and let them witness me getting organized! 

It’s hard to say who was more enthralled by the in-organizer light feature, Little L or Megan. I don’t blame either of them. It is pretty cool.

I put all of my items in it immediately and began using it in time to go out for birthday brunch.

The next morning when I was finalizing my bags for our family-friend trip up North, I simply grabbed the organizer from the front hall closet and put it in Little L’s diaper bag! I was organized and ready to go, just like the pages of O Magazine had promised I would be!

But when we pulled into Subway for a quick lunch that I was planning to treat for, I discovered that my organizer was missing one essential item: my wallet.

“Umm, I guess lunch isn’t on me,” I explained as we piled out of the car. Even more problematic than my lack of generosity was that I was about to embark on a trip without my wallet.

But never fear. My brother, who we’ll call David, and his partner, who we’ll call Ami, were going to be joining us later in the week and would be going to my place to get my car to drive up in. 

“Can you grab my wallet when you’re there? I must have left it in my gold backpack after brunch,” I texted them.

Dare I say I felt a little… disorganized?

On Wednesday night, David called just as about we were all heading out to dinner. “We can’t find your wallet,” he said, somewhat frantically. “It’s not in the gold backpack. Ami also checked your pink purse and your red backpack.”

“What about the little boxes in the entryway? Or else last time I couldn’t find it, it had fallen down in the shoes in the shoe rack.”

“We’ll look,” he said. “I’ll text you if we find it.”

“I’ll also call Red Stag,” I said. By this time we were walking into the restaurant – everyone had entered except me. 

Red Stag, where I had brunched just a few days prior, did not have the wallet. Uh-oh.

I walked into the restaurant, ready to try to enjoy my evening. I was worried though.

“Did you have it at brunch on your birthday?” Megan asked.

“I did.”

“You know,” I said. “I wonder if it could be in the organizer. It wasn’t in the main compartment, but…”

I hadn’t brought the organizer with to dinner, even though Megan and I wanted to treat. I’d told her I’d chip in if I ever found my wallet. 

It was looking like maybe I was about to get  a(nother) free meal.

We got back to the cabin we were staying at, and I removed my own shoes and Little L’s. Megan ran upstairs and returned to the living room holding the purse organizer.

“Do you want to look?” she asked. 

“You check,” I told her. 

I’m not saying this happened, but wouldn’t it have been cool if she had used the in-organizer light to illuminate the bag as she scoured it? 

It didn’t take more than two seconds. She pulled open a zipper inside the main compartment and — surprise! — there was my wallet!!

A lot of dancing, shouting, and cajoling ensued. And later an apology to Ami and David for their wasted time and efforts. “We ransacked your apartment,” Ami said. And for that, I was grateful — and very much hoped they had cleaned up afterwards.

The purse organizer continues to bug Axel. As I head back to work this week, I’ve started thinking about how I can put my work keys and headphones in there too. But how will I get my headphones out of the organizer that’s housed in the backpack while I’m walking to work? 

My friend Nellie shows her purse organization system in response to my bit about the organizer. I have gotten a lot of mileage out of talking about the organizer.

Although I may not be used to all its nooks and crannies and I may have chosen a too-large size and I know I will have to stop on my way to work to pull the headphones out, I stand by my organizer. Best of all is the light. On more that one occasion as we sat at a restaurant trying to keep Little L entertained in her highchair, I’ve pulled the organizer from her diaper bag, grabbed emptied it, and handed it to her. She zips and unzips it and turns the light on and off. Much like Megan’s initial reaction to the organizer.

I know you’re wondering — what do I do with my bottle of pills, my wallet, my headphones, my chapstick, and my sunglasses when I empty the organizer?

I just toss them in whatever bag I have on hand, and somehow, I always manage to find them later.

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