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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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I'd like to think that the storm and the aftermath hasn't changed me, but I know it has. I guess I mean mostly in my ways of thinking, and attitudes. I'd hate to think that this has made me "pessimistic"... I'd prefer to think that I am remembering my Boy Scout days and simply being "Prepared."

Case in point, my bag. I've endured a bit of teasing of late over the "Man Purse" I've had at my side ever since we returned to Mississippi. Indiana Jones and Chewbacca notwithstanding, people seem to think that one's "manliness" is somehow compromised by having any sort of bag or satchel into which one might put things.

I, however, have decided that I'm OK with this, and I thought, for argument's sake, that I'd tell you what I happen to have in it. My main thought in packing it is, "If the roof caved in, what would you want to have with you?" (Granted, I may just be paranoid now, and I've never expected a roof to cave in, but I never expected my house to get up and go away either.)

So, a here's list, in no particular order: Beef jerky (suitably cowboy-ish nutrition that doesn't need refrigeration), sunblock, mini flashlight, extra batteries, box of raisins, umbrella, two packs of Kleenex, hand sanitizer, bottle of water, bottle of Gatorade, Swiss Army knife, snakebite kit, two packs of trail mix, two sets of guitar strings, alcohol, Miles Davis CD "Kind of Blue," Dizzy Gillespie CD "Greatest Hits" (just in case, when the roof caves in, there's still an undamaged CD player), some cough drops, and a tie ... just in case I have to meet with the queen or somebody on short notice.

I realize that some folks may find this silly, and some might recognize this overwhelming need to prepare for further mishap and disaster as some of the byproducts of post traumatic stress disorder, or it may just be my mother's genetic "Perpetual Preparedness" kicking in, but as I've told Heather many times lately, I'm not ready to go buy an all camouflage wardrobe and join the militia, but my "Survivalist" instinct is really kicking in these days.

John Wayne may have never carried a purse, but I guarantee you, he would've had some of this same stuff in his horses saddlebags. Yippee Kai Yay!

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Thank you for this great entry. Since our house burned a couple of years ago I have learned what I really want with me (besides my husband). I panic when I can't find something about the house that I would want if I had to run "for the hills". The night the house burned we grabbed the dogs and cats and put them in the car, the only other thing I could get was my purse, phone book and cell phone. For weeks I kept these three things in sight at all times. Now I have never been one to talk on the cell phone or any phone too long at a time but it sure was a comfort to have those numbers of close friends and family. So the pets and purse (the contents there in) are things I have to have. Oh, and my lip gloss. Since this storm I have learned patience is very impt. and that continuing to live in this rental house because the house we were rebuilding was totalled by wind and water - well, this little cottage is like a fortress now. Good luck to you and all of the people that have been so badly hurt.

After reading some coment i have been so happy because their talk about the situation of the house and they say Without having all materials wich we want in our house nothing can,t go front
Then my solution is this only our father can resolve whatever things we want.

Steve, don't feel bad about the "man purse". My dad didn't care about how he looked, and he had MANY man purses with him at his disposal. He chose which one to carry based on what he needed that didn't fit in his pockets. It was quite a scavenger hunt to go through those bags after he died! He had everything but the kitchen sink there. I call it a product of Italians surviving the Depression.....so I don't think your situation is unusual; just resourceful!

I feel the "man purse" is a good idea, for everyone. Being prepared and having important things at hand can only help in emergency and not so critical situations. Since my wife had a stroke and got well enough to go out again, she cannot always carry her 'pocket book' in her left (weak) hand while using the cane with her right. I often find myself carrying her pocket book. This doesn't bother me but I always think, if I had my own "man purse" I could not only carry her items but some of my own personal things. The funny thing is I have not yet developed the courage to get my own "man purse" (I'm thinking along the lines of a messanger bag) although I don't feel uncomfortable carrying my wife's purse.

Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe John Wayne didn't have a purse but Thomas Jefferson did! If people continue to laugh about your "man purse" you can tell them that in the eighteenth century most men carried some type of purse - they would have been called haversacks back then - to store their personal items while traveling on horseback. You are just continuing a tradition that your great, great grandfather practiced. I for one, am all for seeing this tradition return, especially when my husband keeps asking me to put his cell, wallet etc... in my purse! God bless and
good luck with all that lies ahead of you.

I carry a backpack, probably because I carry more "stuff" than will fit in a "Murse" (Man purse) - Do yourselves a favor - go over to www.equipped.org, and go to the forums - it is all about this kid of preparedness (standard disclaimer - I have no affiliation except as someone who reads the forums)

My dad carried a "man purse" for years (I am 50, that gives you an idea on how far ahead of his time he was). And my husband has carried a bag since I met him. So, don't let it get to you! ....Oh, and most men do actually have purses ... their wive's!

Now I guess I get it. My boyfriend carries a man purse all the time, and I always make fun of him for it. He tried to explain it to me, but I just thought it was funny. Now there really isn't any humor in it.

I have carried a "MAN PURSE" for years it use to be a fanny pack for my smokes cell ect however in later years i have outgrown it now it has become a laptop case with every thing i feel i need or will need over the course of a day and its contents change to suit my day .I dont let peoples comments bother me as what i have carried in it has saved my but more than once.So let them laugh

Since todays topic is "Man Purses" I'd like to add my two(and a half sense...)to this (w)hole issue; briefly, of course.
Man(Wo-Man...)pur...sues self survival when he,she it, encounters(first hand) natural and man-made disasters--like the Hurricane Katrina Disaster. If a man should have a purse of materials needed for his survival from the elements he would become a turtle.
Living with such creature comforts on ones back leaves little to the imagination as to what it is to have a home to return back to at your liesure.
If in the search for any answers to remedy those concerns--affected by this current issue of preparedness--and a man having to have a purse to pack such necessaries as "extra batteries for one's favorite CD's" one might learn that the true lesson here is to be prepared for the favoritism in government service that turned X-FEMA Director Micheal Brown into a common household name in the nation. In the October 3rd, 2005 issue of Time Magazine we find the news article titled "How many more Mike Browns are out there?" Put into the context of your own ManPurse weblog it continues to offend my uncommon sense of logic to turn a blind eye to the Presidential Politics that are making this nation of theirs(The entrenched faction of public service officials and their own support constituancy of wealthy business Pro's)...reduce America into their own private source of even more wealth and security for them and theirs while the GAP citizens falter.
This is a nation obligated to well settled cases of Constitutional magnatude. Issues which by law are not to be capriciously affected by these political bipartisan bickerings confusing the nation.
If this Katrina Hurricane issue has taught me anything at all it has been this one simple lesson: How many Micheal Browns are... there out here?
It use to be that we were served by government that respected the one man, one vote principle of law. (The electorial college has done away with such a reasonable notion of established rule.) This current rolling conspiracy passing itself off as "representative government of the democratic republic of America" has a long way to go before I will trust it to represent me(or my children)in our own participation of this supposedly service oriented government. I can only feel for these US Troops placed in harms way to perpetuate unsound self-interest and selfishness.
From my own point of view I still believe that a coupe de tat occurred in America when George W. Bush stole the Presidential election from Al Gore (and believe me I didn't trust that side of the American political representation any more then than this one.)in the 2000 election, then again in 2004.
Back to this "Man-Purse issue." Our country is no longer the property of the general average person--The GAP citizenry, as my research has coined us to be. If this CIA backed/connected Presidency is any part of the historically proud America that our textbooks claim it to be, I'll be amazed when the concerned and vigilant GAP public finally realizes that we have all been fleeced out of massive amounts of common public resources in the name of the 14th Amendment to the American Constitution and ideology My vote represents to Our... America.
This whole issue of want and(true)need breaks down to understanding poverty and wealth as a whole. The gap between people has gotton so wide with all this political side-stepping over where's the money gone, that it is almost comical. If this issue of homelessness and basic survival wasn't so prevailant in todays society even a simple guy like me wouldn't see what poverty has been allowed to become. F_ _ k man, what is it going to take to wake up the human in human-being?
So getting back to the current topic of your blog...Is it ManPurse? Or is it Man purs-ue-ing equitability? True function in all life is sensing harm and its long term effects on the rest of us. It is not okay to gather so much wealth and property that your endeavor creates a new un-natural Grand Canyon of dispare for everyone else just hungering for a dry warm place to call Home. Remember Home?

Thank You.
Quinn the Eskimo KeenTana signing off from the Artic of understanding.

Whew! Samuel KeenTana says he's from Oregon but his rants sound more extra-planetary to me... Don't know WHAT he's talking about! I thought the topic was carrying a "man-purse"! To THAT topic, and Steven, I say that carrying what you MIGHT need can change to what you DO need in the blink of an eye. We have no hurricanes here in California, but every once in a while an earthquake comes to town. And we have some pretty tough fire seasons. For those occasions, all of my vehicles, my office and a special Rubbermaid trash can at home contain all of the following for myself and (at home) for each member of my family: Three days food and water, water purification tablets, walking shoes, advanced first aid kit, change of clothes, poncho, windbreaker, flashlight, extra batteries, radio, rope, Swiss Army Knife, money, waterproof matches, compass and whistle. On my person I always carry at least a flashlight, knife and cellphone. Although it's unlikely I would find myself in the true wilderness after a major earthquake, it is very likely I would not be home. So having these supplies within easy reach in my car and office ease my mind significantly when contemplating a long walk home if the freeways are blocked. (I've seen collapsed freeways due to earthquakes in both San Francisco and Los Angeles just in the last 15 years or so.) I also have taken the time to get certified in CPR and advanced first aid. If that sounds too much like a boy scout, thanks for the complement. Steven, you call it carrying a "man-purse", I call it being prepared. Good for you.

My father used to carry a lot of stuff with him everywhere he went. Reading glasses, cigarettes, denture cream, pills, all sorts of junk was piled on the car seat next to him. One year for Christmas I gave him a small duffle bag to put the stuff in. He never left without it.

Like the Californian, I went thru the last earthquake (6.9) in Seattle in 2001, and ran outside with nothing. I lived in a loft in a brick building in the historic district of Pioneer Square where the most damage was, and that thing *shook*! After that I kept a large daypack hanging next to my door, because an earthquake gives no warning and I might have to grab it on my way out the door. I periodically swapped out the things that would go bad in it over time, but I'd add: prescription meds (in original container), aspirin (you're more likely to get injured or have a headache rather than need cough drops), a book, crosswords (these can be cut out of newspapers to save space), pens and a memo pad, a waterproof marker (you may need to make a sign), a couple of plastic grocery bags, a lighter, extra keys to your home and car, a copy of your drivers license, insurance card, medical info, credit card number, vital phone numbers and cash in a ziploc bag, earplugs (you might end up in a shelter and need to sleep), Benedryl (for a cold or to make you sleep) drink mixes, salted nuts, plastic utensils, some string and an orange danger flag or a few colorful balloons so you can get someone's attention if you're stuck somewhere, and wrap things like sneakers (with socks stuffed inside) and a small umbrella (for rain or shade)with bungee cords to the outside because bungees can be useful too.

I think a man purse is fine.These days so much goes almost nothing is considered strange.Men wear make-up (rock groups,actors,guys with alternitive lifestyles) So what is wrong with a man purse?I see nothing wrong with a guy carring a purse.I mean how much can you really fit in a wallet(you can't even fit your keys in there).

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