Today I had an epiphany.

While a former teenage version of myself was obsessed with one day becoming one of the seven strangers on MTV’s The Real World, there’s another piece of classic MTV reality programming real estate that I would be much more likely to be featured on today. That show would be called True Life: I’m Addicted to Office Supplies!

Office supplies, print supplies, packing supplies, school supplies… No matter how you might label it, I’ve grown to be quite obsessed with my little home office. I don’t know where to pinpoint the start of this bad habit, but I know that my older sister has the same bad habit. I’m thinking it must be something in how we were raised or the environment in which we were raised. Because that’s too close to just be a coincidence, right? In a way, it feels a little like my love of writing, blogging, and maybe even technology in general might have stemmed from the major love of pens and notebooks. Ink and paper and all the accessories that go with it are just too much fun! Even in the digital form, I’m practically head over heels in love with my Evernote app! And quite frankly, this just wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t try sharing it with all of you.

Initially my plan was to give you all a tour of my home bedroom office. But since that has quite a bit to cover, it would probably be better suited in a video or some other medium. Instead, I thought that I would answer a burning question that some people have asked me before in person. You see, I always carry a messenger bag with me everywhere that I go. And seeing as I’m not a woman, most people wouldn’t really presume that it was a “purse” (though some have snidely referred it as a man-purse or “murse” before). Naturally, some have asked, “What’s in the bag?”

The answer: A lot! Join me as I empty it out below.

The Bag

Berchirly Vintage Military Men’s Canvas Messenger Bag

The bag itself is one of my favorite things in the entire world. It is the extra large Berchirly Vintage Military Men’s Canvas Messenger Bag in Army Green. I had received an Amazon gift card from my father during Christmas that I used to purchase the bag, which wound up replacing a different bag that I’d used for the same purpose but had started falling apart. This thing is way more durable with the straps and patches reinforcing the canvas. I even carried my huge math textbook to and from school one week in it alongside everything else listed in this post! It’s also obviously very stylish and I feel more distinctive than most other messenger bags on the market.

The bag has one large main compartment, two side pockets that open and close via metal buckles, two bigger front pouches that snap close, and a small inner pocket on the inside just inside the main compartment that zips. Needless to say, it comfortably fits everything that I need it to, including multiple electronics, writing utensils, and other school and work supplies!

The only regret that I have in choosing this particular bag is that the composition of the straps and patches on the bottom corners and strap are real cow leather. I bought the bag when I was still exploring my options about extending my compassionate shopping habits beyond food and hadn’t really thought much about these smaller pieces being made from animal products. If your lifestyle allows for such materials though, it’s a wonderful bag to own!

Main Compartment

The main compartment is the large area that most everything in the bag gets dropped down into. It usually includes…

Acer Chromebook 14 in Aluminum

Acer Chromebook 14 in Aluminum

My laptop died about a year ago. The screen stopped working and there’s no audio playback unless you’ve got headphones plugged in. I eventually stopped trying to even bother with it. Truth be told, I kind of feel like laptops are a little bit of a hassle anyway. Having to find a place to set it up and plug it in and connect to everything before you can even get started working with it grates on my nerves. I don’t need to be seen as one of those smug people working from Starbucks. I would almost always much rather just sit down at a desktop computer and simply power it up. So instead of simply replacing my laptop, I purchased the pretty stellar desktop rig that I do a majority of my work and play here at home with. And with the exception of my phone and tablets, I honestly thought that I had washed my hands clean of the whole portable computer nonsense.

Things changed in that department though when I enrolled in school this winter. Just trying to remember my assignments or simply jotting them down in my paper agenda wasn’t going to cut it. But I didn’t really want to shell out a crazy wad of cash for a brand new laptop that I was just going to hate, either. Instead, I decided to go the route of the Chromebook and bought the Acer Chromebook 14 in Aluminum. And I’m so glad that I did! This little machine can do nearly everything that a college student or small business owner would need it to without consuming nearly as much power. The device itself is incredibly lightweight (some reviews even compare it to being built like a Mac!) and the battery life is insane! It reaches full power after only a few minutes of being plugged in and drains that battery life surprisingly slowly. I’ve opened the Chromebook after an entire day of leaving it in my bag only to find that it still had a fair bit of juice left to use in the battery! There’s no way that a full-blown laptop running on Windows could accomplish that same feat!

And on top of that, for purchasing said Chromebook, Google gave me an extra 100 GB per month of Google Drive cloud storage space. What more could I ask for as a Google fanboy?!

Kindle Fire 7″

Though I don’t read much for fun anymore, it would almost certainly be digital if I were to start up a new book. I also have a 10.1″ LG Android tablet that I use for general tablet use while at home but I’ve still always felt like I needed an eReader. So when it comes to bookstores and their proprietary tablets, Amazon won me over. The Kindle Fire was my very first tablet and I still carry one with me today. It mostly just gets used to listen to music on Pandora or my Prime account while I’m working at the office anymore. But you know those people who carry an old, worn-out copy of their favorite book with them everywhere as a kind of security blanket? That’s how my Kindle feels in a way… Only it turns out it’s several copies instead of just one.

Though the Kindle Fire is an excellent entry-level tablet, it would be amazing for anyone if they would simply run on a full version of Android instead of their own patched-up version of it. Once I can fully access Google apps on my Kindle, I just might make a return to using it full-time!

Punctuate 2017 Weekly Planner with Cat Graphics & BookFactory Journal in Green

Punctuate 2017 Weekly Planner with Cat Graphics

I picked up my agenda/planner that I use for basically my entire life during a trip to Barnes & Noble with a friend. She was actually the one who found and selected the Punctuate 2017 Weekly Planner for me with cat graphics on the cover. She knows all about my love and affection for animals, my two beloved cats especially. I also knew myself that buying a planner was a good idea before this semester even began. Although I try to stay pretty organized with my Google Calendar and Evernote, adding academics into the mix was going to make things way more hectic. Writing it all down is always a solid back-up plan so that’s what I try to do, even though it unfortunately sometimes suffers from weeks of neglect. A friend of mine on Facebook recently made me aware of an entire sub-culture of people on the internet who are practically addicted to their planners. I didn’t know about the existence of such communities beforehand! Due to said occasional neglect, I’m guessing that I can’t really count myself among their ranks just yet, but my planner does have entire packs of academic-themed stickers to go along with it if that wins me any points among the planner elite!

I’ve also more recently been trying to get back into the habit of keeping a pen and paper journal. I’ve purchased several (since they typically don’t feel like they contain very many pages) but honestly my favorite that I carry around with me is the simplest and most unassuming: the BookFactory Journal in Green. You can find BookFactory journals on Amazon in a variety of colors if you want to buy one or more of your own.

Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Hydration is important but I have a lot of trouble being satisfied with most water bottles. I used to buy cheap plastic water bottles but found that the water often tasted like plastic afterwards, too. I’ve bought athletic squeezy water bottles and water bottles with Britta filters built into them when trying to be healthy. They wound up making too much noise or would leak in my bag if it were sitting at the wrong angle. Then I finally picked up a couple of these fiz-brand insulated double-walled stainless steel bottles during a grocery store trip to Kroger.

Here’s what I love about them: They are stainless steel so they’re easy to clean but hard to damage. The caps screw on and off tightly and there’s just an opening underneath. They’re insulated so they keep your beverage hot or cold for a long time. And that’s it! There’s no special spouts, filters, straws, additional openings, mixer balls, flavor infusers, or whatever else that essentially destroys the functionality and purpose of it for me. Thanks to a friend at work, I have a larger-sized one to get me through the long workdays and my 17-ounce fiz bottle to keep me hydrated at home!


The main compartment features other non-mentionables such as school notebooks and folders, copies of newspapers or magazines that I’m reading at the moment, maybe a book or two during the rare moments that I’ve gone to physical copies.

Internal Pocket

The zip-up pocket on the inside of the bag contains only three items…

Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator

A gift from my dad before the semester started. Scientific calculators are the only additional help we’re allowed to use on quizzes and exams in my math class. Since math is my absolute worst subject, you better believe that I knew I had to get my hands on one! The instructor recommended the TI-30X IIS calculator from Texas Instruments, so that’s exactly the model that I picked out. Even though I really only keep it handy for my class, it’s always helpful to have around in case any of my other digital devices decide to die on me at an inopportune moment!

Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone in Gold & Samsung Earbuds

Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone in Gold

Admittedly, my Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone is usually on my physical person more often than it is sitting in my bag. Anytime that I don’t have available pockets or I need to put my phone away during work or school, this inside pocket is usually where it winds up since it’s also where the Samsung earbuds that came with the phone are also always stored. Since it’s obviously considered “top of the line” in smartphones at the moment (until the S8 comes out like tomorrow!), it’s also needless to say that it’s perhaps my favorite phone that I’ve ever owned. Prior to picking up the S7, I had been a huge fan of LG’s phones. I’d rocked the LG G3 phone for years and had almost no problems with it until it completely decided to stop connecting to any WiFi connection. My Sprint associate wound up persuading me to join Team Samsung after I realized that the form factor the G5 was trying to rock really wasn’t my style.

My only disappointment with the phone is that I was basically forced to take the platinum gold color since all the other variants were sold out at the time of my upgrade. Thankfully it’s not something some cleverly designed phone cases can’t cover up for me!

Foster Grant Reading Glasses

Because I’m getting old but my eye doctor doesn’t think I need 24/7 prescription lenses yet. Booyah! These go with me everywhere because I’m practically always reading something either on the page or on a screen. A micro-fiber cleaning cloth is also in this pocket in case of smudges. Said cloth also works well on device screens!

I also have a cheap (and surprisingly far more comfortable) pair from the dollar store that I just use here at home.

Front Pouches

These are the two front pouches that snap closed. They contain:

Yoobi Mini-Supply Kit

This Yoobi Mini-Supply Kit is a tiny kit that I picked up a couple of years ago at Target. It came in a blue plastic case and contains a miniature-sized tape dispenser, pencil sharpener, stapler, staple remover, hole punch, and scissors. I’ve hardly ever had reason to use these items, but since they are so tiny and adorable, they work well in a pinch. They’re also much easier to transport with you everywhere than a full-sized stapler or hole punch might be. The manufacturer even describes the product as a “first aid office kit.” That it is.


Work and school ID cards are located in a front pouch for easy access as well.

Digital Voice Recorder

Picked this up at Walmart back when Almost Epic was still the tentative title of a podcast my nephew and I were planning to do. It never saw much other use, but it might in the event that I need to start recording college lectures. I’m not sure of the exact model to link to for anyone to purchase it, but it is from Sony and it works very well.

Charging Cables

Universal USB cables to charge things like my phone and Kindle and the charging cable for my Chromebook are both located in a front pouch along with a car adapter for the USB cords!

Side Pockets

The side pockets that close with buckles contain only:

Writing Utensils

PaperMate InkJoy Ballpoint Pens

Not just any writing utensils though. I’m very particular about my pens. Right now, I’m loving solely on PaperMate InkJoy ballpoint pens. I have them both with caps and clickers in all different colors, but the clickers in black, blue, and red are all that are in my bag. I’m also a fan of InkJoy’s clicker gel pens and Pilot G-2 gel pens, but I try not to use them for work or school business since gel ink smears terribly if you don’t give it ample time to dry. I also tote around a few PaperMate ComfortMate mechanical pencils and Sharpie highlighters for when pencil or highlighting needs to be done!

Why do I love InkJoy pens so much? Unlike most other pens — ballpoint pens especially! — InkJoy pens seem to write smoother, last longer, and look better than most other inexpensive pen brands that I’ve tried. I’m sure there are way more expensive and prestigious brands of pens out there that a true pen aficionado could own. But within my means and my lifestyle, PaperMate is all that I really need in my desk drawers and in my bag.


And that pretty much sums up everything that goes with me every day! Think I’m missing something? Did I inspire you to add something you maybe forgot in your own bag? Let me know in the comments below or in the discussion forums now!


Author: Joseph Black

According to Wikipedia, I discovered magnesium and carbon dioxide, so that's something.

3 Replies to “Out of the Bag

  1. Bad habit? No, no, no, Honey Pie Squishy Face, I prefer to think of my love of office supplies as a passion.

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