Starry, Starry Suitcase, Smelly, Smelly Dogs

It’s the night before take-off and all through the house is stuff I still have to do.

Among other things, I’m packing again, and since I’m going to be gone awhile, I needed a bigger suitcase. And since I am a seasoned traveler, I knew that I wanted one with four wheels (two wheels are so five minutes ago) which meant I had a choice of black. If you’ve ever tried to pick up a black suitcase at baggage claim, you know what a hassle it is. Everybody packs a basic black. Sometimes people put tape on them or fancy colored luggage tags–I know somebody who put a florescent green luggage tag on his and thought he was living on the edge–but I’m used to red flowered luggage that’s so bright that the check-in people say, “What great luggage!” I know, I’m a whore for attention.

But now I have this big black suitcase. It has four wheels and it’s really light and it came with all kinds of bags and things inside, and I like it a lot, but it’s plain black. So I got it home and stared at it, and it stared back, and I thought about painting pink hearts on it to match the red luggage but I am so not a pink heart kind of person. Then I thought about painting spirals on it and realized it would look like upholstery. Then I thought about putting Mare’s butterflies all over it and realized that I’d get tired of those real soon. Then I thought about doing a checkerboard pattern, but you know I’d get off plumb somewhere and it’d look like bad op art.

So I went with freehand stars. They’re cheerful and I like them and they don’t have to match each other. I’m pretty sure the check-in people are not going to say, “What great luggage” since I did the stars in silver Sharpie, not the most high-end application, but by damn I can find it at baggage claim. I think it’s brilliant, but I have to tell you, it was really hard doing the first star. I kept thinking, “I’m drawing on a suitcase, that can’t be right.” This from a woman who painted her television blue and orange, but that was an old television and this is a new suitcase. Okay, it’s a new suitcase that cost $99 at T.J.Maxx, we’re not vandalizing designer luggage, but still I hesitated. Once I started, though, it was great. My starry suitcase, the only one like it in the world. So I’m putting that on my to-do list for the future: Paint More Luggage.

And while I was doing the stars, I thought, I’m going to Australia and New Zealand. It hadn’t hit home before, I’ve had so many deadlines and so much stuff happening–three books out this summer so far and a fourth in two weeks–and then there was the trip to NYC and some career convulsions, so it wasn’t until I was sitting there drawing stars that I thought, “I’m really going.” So that’s another thing on the list: Slow Down and Pay More Attention to How Good Your Life Is.

Then I picked up dog food and new dog collars because everybody here is getting a bath so the dogsitter can stand them. Lucy’s collar has daisies on it that will immediately become filthy but it was so cute I don’t care.

And then I finished the handouts that were supposed to be in Australia and New Zealand the second week in July and e-mailed them to Anne Gracie and Joanne Graves, two women with the patience of saints.

After which I looked for my glasses only to discover them fifteen minutes later. On my face.

Now I’m down to:

Sweep the TV room where the dogs mutilated a bag of potato chips Bernie counter surfed for them.

Get the books off the couch and the floor in the living room so the dogsitter can sit down without breaking a leg.

Go upstairs and dust the guest room so Krissie can nap after her ungodly 4:30 AM flight to Cincy before we both get on the plane at 5.

Find my hose. You’re supposed to wear hose on a plane to keep from stroking out, and I know I have some. I just haven’t worn any for so many years that they’re probably defunct by now.

Finish the laundry so I have clean underwear. I understand the people Down Under are very open minded but I think clean underwear is probably a must.

Clean the bedroom. It’s pretty much clean, I just need to move the old dog beds out (new dog beds! new collars! they’re going to be very suspicious) and get all the books off the bed so the dogsitter can get some sleep without anything falling on her.

Pack the cord for my laptop. Yes, I have an adapter for Australia and New Zealand. I’m disorganized but I know where the power for my Mac is at all times.

Clean the kitchen. It’s basically clean, I just have to get all the books off the kitchen table so the dogsitter can eat sitting down.

Bathe all three dogs because it’s time. I’m saving that for last because after that, I’m going to collapse. And I have to leave here at eight AM tomorrow to get Krissie, so no sleeping in.

I know there’s something I’m missing. And since it’s quarter to eleven at night, it was probably not a good idea to take that hour to put the silver stars on my suitcase. Not to mention I didn’t get any of the real work done, like work on AKMG so I can finish it by January (there’s a hope), or refill the dog and cat feeders and water bottles or . . .

Maybe I’ll stay up all night and sleep on the plane. Secure in the knowledge that when I land, I will be able to find my black suitcase. It was a good thing to put those stars on today. See? (No, that’s not a fur rug in the corner, that’s Bernie who refused to move.)


Nothing but good times ahead in Australia and New Zealand. How cool is that?

54 thoughts on “Starry, Starry Suitcase, Smelly, Smelly Dogs

  1. Well, she was an art major and she is Jennifer Crusie. Now you know everyone is going to draw stars on their luggage. National’s next year is going to be fun. No one is going to find their luggage in baggage claim.

  2. Well, I’m a silver (and copper and gold) Sharpie gal myself, and I’ll decorate anything, so I say, you go, Miz Jen.

    As I was reading your essay, I thought: the dogsitter needs to work harder and Jenny needs to rest a bit.

    I am thrilled for you, and I am so glad you’re noticing the good times.

  3. My black can never find it rolling duffle also got the marker treatment- multi-colored metallic markers with odd patterns that are more doodle than anything else on the piece that goes around the zippered flap- I have blue swrilies, purple hatch marks, gold moons, silver squiggles, and green flowers- not quite, but almost, like a box of Lucky Charms

  4. Wow, those stars are so well done! Fantastic idea! You know that if you ever get sick of writing or want a break you can make a living selling decorated luggage. I’d pay extra for a bag like that. (Maybe you could paint murals on them like Tilda with people’s pets in the corner so they don’t miss them too much…just kidding).
    I’m so excited that you’re coming to Australia! I can’t wait to see an entry on your blog titled: “On the road: Brisbane”. Have a wonderful trip.

  5. Totally cool. One question. Where are you going put all of the books you will collect in Aus? New suitcase?
    Have a fab time and enjoy. LOL Ray-Anne

  6. I love the suitcase! I think you should mass produce and market them (which, of course, then defeats the purpose — you would no longer have the only starry suitcase… but still…)

    I’m dying to go to Australia. Pack me in your new suitcase? Please?

  7. Great suitcase!

    I’ve been contemplating painting my own TV for a while now. Any tips? What kind of paint did you use, and how did you apply it? How’d you keep it from getting inside and mucking up the electronics?

    Have a great trip!

  8. When I get to that point in packing for a trip, I always remember that there are stores where I’m going. (Unless there aren’t, but I rarely go to those places.) In those stores, they sell underwear that’s not only clean, but never worn. Plus pantyhose. Also, shopping in a store in a foreign country with foreign currency is a kick.

    But I tend to make myself crazy before a trip. Sounds like I’m the only one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Jenny, go buy some thigh-highs or something. I think I’d rather have a stroke than wear something around my waist for a 12 hour plane trip.

  10. See, now, that’s such a good idea that I think I’ll sharpie silver stars on MY black suitcases… but then your evil plan of having the only silver-starred suitcase in the world will be foiled. Foiled, I tell you.

  11. Wow, I’m impressed. I couldn’t draw stars that nice with a stencil. Seriously, you better hope there won’t be any luggage designers on this trip because one look at your suitcase and they’ll be bringing out a new line.

    Hope you got some sleep and that Krissie’s flight was on time. Looking forward to hearing about Australia.

  12. I used fabric paint to put mountains and clouds on mine. Still thinking about rhinestone rain….

    Blog LOTS about Australia and New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to go and vicarious may be my best chance.

  13. Love the luggage! I would have never thought of decorating with Sharpie but it looks really good!

    Have a great time Down Under!

  14. Oh that’s awesome! You know you just started a trend. Good thing I can drive to SF for National… (insert bad pun about stars in eyes and being dropped on toes here).

    Party like a rock star Down Under!

    (ok, so am powerless before the bad pun)

  15. Your luggage is the COOLEST. I’m going to be watching for it now on every flight I take…

    Anything but stars like those are so yesterday.

    Have a great trip (and speaking as a doctor, you can skip the hose if you do calf exercises every hour or so… contract and relax, contract and relax, maybe 50 times, then do circles with your ankles while you hold your legs as straight as the flippin’ seats will let them go. I prefer that route… you’ll have trimmer legs, and no binding at the waist.)

  16. I bought “Person Shorter than I” a new suitcase for his travels this summer. (The kid is eleven & sees more of airport security than I do.) The first thing upon getting it home, I wrote his last name & Boy Scout Troop number in huge with a brand new silver sharpie marker … I was thinking of adding the fleur dis li but ran out of time with getting this and or that done prior to shipping him off.

    Next month we are going to SF for his school break & I will be purchasing my own new suitcase for the trip. I was thinking of a flower garden on mine, maybe a line of bright pink-ish gerbera daisys in a row ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Ms Jenny, enjoy your trip.

    Make lots of posts on what going on downunder.

    Cool luggage.

  18. Yay! I’m in New Zealand and I’m going to see Jenny and her designer luggage in person. Well, maybe not the luggage, and hopefully not the underwear, though at least we’ll know it’s clean – but definitely Jenny.

  19. Um, those stars? Are perfect. How did I expect anything less? Oh yeah, because you downplayed โ€™em so well in your description. Wowee, Ms. Crusie! Have a great trip.

  20. Have fun in Oz and NZ! Take lots of pictures to post, so we can enjoy it too. I love the design on the luggage. Great idea!

  21. Oh Jenny, it’s fabulous! And we already know you love luggage that is Cheerful and On Wheels, so it must have been a strain to buy Black.

    All the check-in people will be very admiring, I’m sure.

  22. I hope you guys are good at sleeping on planes. You have some long air time ahead of you. Have a great time and just enjoy.

  23. Color me part of the “I-can’t-believe-you-did-that-freehand” group. I’m jealous. And impressed.
    I decorated my suitcase in a freehand five-year-old-child style, which at least had the merit of resulting in a suitcase that no one else would ever willingly claim as their own.
    Have fun! Be sure to consume those tim tams in your jim jams. I understand that’s the approved method of consumption.

  24. LOVE the starry luggage! and it will stand out … at least for this trip.
    On one trip I took, I got the incredibly ugly fluorescent green tags, thinking THAT would make my plain black bags stand out. Until at the luggage carousel I started seeing a bunch of bags coming out with ugly green tags – there was a school group traveling together who’d had the same idea. sigh. Now I’ve gone to really big hot pink tags, which I haven’t seen duplicated … yet.

  25. Way cool luggage!

    As for trip (and as one who just returned from a half-cruise to Alaska): Passport!

    Have fun, Jenny.
    So you at NJRW

  26. Jenny, I just love you. I want to be the kind of person who suddenly decides to take a Silver sharpie to my luggage (it looks great, btw) instead of the person always rushing up to the bags on the carousel trying to decide which personality-free black suitcase happens to be mine. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time in Australia/NZ!

  27. Wonderful! It might not occur to me to modify luggage (I’ve got one that’s bright blue, left over from HS graduation present – my parents are subtle people; one that’s tapestry and one boring black duffle that I a) carry on and b) tie a bow around to keep the handles from flopping), but I know it wouldn’t turn out nearly so nice if I did. But now the idea has been planted, maybe my boring black duffle can grow a nice tree…

  28. Have a great trip, Jenny. I’m sure that Downundergal and group will assist with that.

    Cool stars! Looks great

    Blog often so that we can live vicariously!

    Take care…

  29. The suitcase is splendid. And since you will not be flying British Airways, you have a good chance that it will even reach your destination…
    Oz is great: you will love it. I haven’t been to NZ, but I am sure it is great, too. Have a lovely time.

  30. Oh, wow, Jenny. Love the new design for And the trick wallpaper. Mollie has outdone herself … again.

  31. I came here to tell you what McB has already so eloquently stated. Awesome site. And Mollie just sneaks it in there on us!
    Oh, Wow is right!

  32. I sense a whole new line of logos standing in line at the jump ramp.

    Green and black T-shirts with cherries on the epaulettes.


  33. Jenny – I, too, always think of hour long projects to do about seven hours before I leave for a long trip. Usually, I still have about three hours of essential prep work to do for the trip. I’m a big believer in the “you can sleep on the plane” school of thought. Plus any task but the task at hand seems fun by comparison.

    Love the suitcase. I couldn’t draw that with two months of art school.

  34. THAT is fabulous! Jenny, if you read comments this old, will you please report at the end of the trip how the stars stood up? (-: It looks like a great craft project for my kids — next time we go back to the States, I’ll let them paint their bags — with silver sharpies. I wonder if any of the other colors could stand up to black? I don’t know if the kids would go for neon, and I don’t know if sharpie makes neon green or not.

    (-: Sorry for rambling, but that’s an inspiring piece of luggage!

  35. The stars stood up. Krissie just took it home with her and left me her Pig to decorate.

    And now I’m dying to see what you all did. Except the last comment here was two years ago so I’m sitting here alone in the dark talking to myself.


  36. Sigh. One of these days you’ll realize that you’re never talking to yourself at Argh Ink. There’s always someone (lots of someones) listening.

    And, you’re making me want to go buy a new suitcase I can paint. Well, you and the fact that our old suitcases are beginning to fall apart. Which isn’t so bad, since they’re roughly 13 years old and were also around $99 at TJ Maxx.

  37. I think it’s just the two of us, Jenifer, and may I say, great avatar.

    T.J.Maxx. They had an orange set with four wheels that Krissie lusted after. Go now.

  38. If Krissie is lusting after the orange set at T.J. Maxx, maybe she’ll buy that and you can put Pig out to pasture, or wherever retired pigs go to — roost? But if she did that, you’d miss out on all the fun you’d have decorating it. Never mind.

  39. Hi Jenny,
    I have been amusing myself reading all the old post and lo and behold here you are, what a surprise. I enjoy all the posts and all the comments, I sometimes wish I could come to one of your conferences just to listen. Lots of Luck
    formerly Nanaimo Gran

  40. And people are -still- reading comments.
    First time I’ve regretted not buying basic black luggage. I want to decorate mine but last time I bought very busy pink and black which I love but I think the self done stars are even better.

    I’ve been reading Crusie books for about six years(Love Them) but I didn’t find the blog until much more recently. These days I check for new first, reading old if no new. Or sometimes when I’m down, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through more than two without at least smiling no matter how unhappy.

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