How to Make Love to Your War Bag ~ Reb MacRath


So far I haven't heard P-51 Mustangs or Spitfires roar overhead or seen aerial bombs oh-so-glad to go off...but I can say my own war's on the way. I'll explain. 

On August 2, I'll leave Seattle, Washington, by train, bound for my new place in Tucson, Arizona. The apartment is unfurnished, my personal effects arriving in increments--by movers, mail, and UPS. The absolute essentials I must bring with me by train since I need to hit the ground running when the war begins in Tucson: hunting for a job and continuing my WIP.

I've been anything but idle, carefully packing boxes and bags for the movers and mail. I've even set up an advance Tucson delivery address for furnishings from Amazon. A collapsible desk will await me. But till now I felt buffaloed by the vast conundrum: How, with my life in such chaos can I access all my immediate needs--easily and quickly? From flash drives to sun protection shirts, from Moleskines for my WIP to Tucson maps and travel docs, from my ID to my favorite blackjack and spare lead for mechanical pencils...I'll need what I need when I need it without any fussing about.

Not a suitcase or duffel bag or attaché case.  Not a backpack. No, no, no. And no again. To my way of thinking, I was off to war. War of a peculiar order. War against inertia, aging, enslavement to habit, fear, and all belittlement. Now, as an older soldier, perhaps what I need to do is fight an older sort of war. What that meant, I couldn't say. But my thoughts turned to furlough bags. I had an image in mind from old war films, soldiers on furlough or off the front with longish-looking totes. But my Google searches confused and confounded me. 

This older soldier in this older war didn't need a messenger or laundry bag. My bag must be  spacious, rugged, and infinitely organizable. My search went on. If furlough bag has come to mean damned near any type of bag, then I need to restore it to its older sense. My furlough bag must be my War Bag. Days later, I Google-stumbled (Googlumbled?) onto a wonderful site that showed me the bag of my dreams.

The rugged cotton canvas has leather trim and brass hardware and zippers. Dimensions: 23" x 11" x 14" with plenty of pockets, both inside and out. The real deal, purchased at the PX by WWIISoldier. (See below for website. And also note that they have UK stock.)

From the day it arrived, my quest felt both fortified and purified. No soldier in that ancient war could have owned such a bag without feeling driven to pack it with care. Naturally, since I'll have no microwave or dishware when I arrive, I bought a good mess kit on eBay:

Now each day I try to polish and perfect the packing before I leave for Tucson to fight  Steven Pressfield's The War of Art anew. And with that thought let's turn to you. Whether you're moving or planning a trip, changing jobs or taking a well-earned sabbatical, bring your own War Bag along. Let the spirit of that bag, and the care with which you've packed it, invigorate you and strengthen your faith. The right bag can help make all the difference. Let each ingredient of yours have your six in your own private war: whether it's a Bible, a treasured book, a photograph, a square of your favorite chocolate, a flask of the best whiskey, or a nightstick for good luck.


This is my report.

Here's the website I mentioned above:


Welcome to MacRathWorld, if you like premium blends of mystery, action, and suspense. From Caesar's Rome to Seattle today, the twists fly at the speed of night. If you're unfamiliar with my work, I recommend starting with the new Seattle BOP mysteries. Here's the link to my AuthorPage on Amazon for a detailed look at the variety of 'rides' in my amusement park.


Ruth Leigh said…
As always, Reb, a cracking title and a thought-provoking blog. I love your analogy! And your careful research into just the right bag. Most of us obsess over notebooks, but you are a breed apart. And I mean that as a compliment.
Reb MacRath said…
Ruth, thanks for the compliment. This post was special to me because the bag is already playing such a critical part in my move-in-progress. The more tense I grow about the move, the more care I put into the packing. Clearly, what I need to do is bring along one of your books.

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