LIST #2: Things every girl should own.

I've always been a bit off kilter when it came to items I wanted for christmas and my birthday. When other girls my age were asking for dolls and ponies, I was asking for baseball gloves and flashlights. I thought that by joining girl scouts, they'd teach me how to fish and make a campfire, but all I ever seemed to learn was how much I detested selling cookies. It was never about ribbons and jewelry for me. I'd rather wear a hat and a watch and consider it good. It was never about the smell of perfume, for the smell I loved was the smell of my grandfathers pipe and the sweet smokiness of the tobacco wafting through the air. I also loved the feel of his leather work gloves and how whenever anyone needed anything cut... he was johnny on the spot with his pocket knife. These things, knifes, watches, leather, etc... are what I consider "tools for life": small quality items that may cost a little more up front, but were made to use year after year and last. Things that you should have on you, for whenever the need arises.

These are the things I admired and asked for, but whenever I had to dip my hand into the women's basket at our family holiday gift exchange, I always hated pulling out another scented candle or decorative towel set while my brother pulled out a mini wrench set from the men's basket. I have always been frustrated that these tools, marketed for "sportsmen" were always geared towards the boys. While prissy, fluffy, soft, shiny things, the cheap things of one time usage, made for mere ornamentation, were geared for girls. There was injustice in what was marketed towards females and what was felt appropriate to give boys as gifts.

Sure, I knew I was tomboyish and would rather play with sticks in the woods, building forts and playing ball than make mud pies and barbie houses. I would rather make maps of my imaginary kingdoms and go on treks to the furtherest stretches of my neighborhood to the edge of town.... through the woods, over the streams, past the cow field all the way to the abandoned railroad track. I'd follow it till the brush got to thick, till it got dark and dinner was on the horizon. And standing there, on the cusp of going back to everything I knew.... I'd wonder how far the tracks went, what towns did they pass through, and what other adventures laid beyond? Also, there had to be more girls out there that, just like me... were not satisfied by playing house and sticking close to home with their scented candles and matching towel sets.

So, over the years I've compiled a mental list of essential things that every girl with a hankering for adventure should own. Classic items that will never go out of style, always come in handy, and always make you adequately prepared for any occasion... even if it's just everyday life.

things every girl should have:

a good coat:

It should be a coat that will warm the coldest breeze, keep off a light rain, and be able to ball into a pillow for use on long drives and layovers in airports. As well, it should be versatile and look good whether you're picking up flowers in the city or repairing a fence post at the farm. I personally, am always on the lookout for the perfect coat... which is probably why I own about twenty of them.

a leather belt:

Season after season, pants after pants. Black or brown, they should match your shoes.

a pair of good boots:

Ones that will take a romp in the woods or a jump through a puddle without grimace or doubt of their steadfastness. Black or brown, they should match your belt.

a knife:

If it's a Leatherman all the better as it's one of the most versatile knife combinations out there, but one should have a knife that is large enough it can get the job done, but still small enough that it can fit in your everyday bag (but remember to remove it from your checked luggage at the airport). However, don't leave your knife at home while traveling since it is an essential tool in slicing an apple, cutting some brie, salami, and crusty bread and removing a cork from a bottle of wine during an impromptu casual dinner on a park bench in Copenhagen, Denmark or Bar Harbor Maine.

a flask:

Either kept in the glove box of your car, at your desk or in your pocket during a snowboarding trip... sometimes you just need a little nip.

a flashlight:

Be it a maglite or a headlamp kept in your car, at your desk, or in your bag... be the light when the lights go out.

a bike:

Self reliance at it's best. You can go fast, you can go hard, you can go to the store or across the world. Get where you want to faster than running and without depending on anyone but yourself.

wool blanket:

From cowboys to soldiers to the foot of a cot at summer camp.... a quality wool blanket is one item that is essential from chilly summer evenings to the deepest darkest days of winter. Personally, last year I treated myself to my own little Oregon luxury, my first Pendleton Blanket.

good dress:

Hands down, there is nothing that a girl should have in her travel and adventure bag than a very versatile sexy little black dress. You could find yourself in a country with a dress code, decide to crash someone's wedding or maybe it's just what that night of dancing or candlelit dinner calls for. My go to dress is the Patagonia Morning Glory Halter Dress. Just the right amount of spandex and right amount of sass. Plus, it dries quickly, packs well and comes in a multitude of colors.

good hat:

One that shades the sun and keeps your little noggin warm. Baseball hats are so bland... but if you must you must. Personally, I'd opt for a little bit more style and once again, something that works in the mountains and in the little cafe on the corner. I'm a big fan of coal headwear, its just like leatherman, another cool company straight outta the PDX.

a journal:

Record your thoughts, your plans, your ideas, your sketches, your newspaper clippings, your numbers, your stories, your life. I'm a fan of these little black books by Moleskine, I use their blank books and their planners to chart out my daily life. They also make some pretty cool little city guides that much like the NFT Guides, can help you travel a new urban landscape without looking like a tourist.

a camera:

You can kick it 35mm style with your Pentax k1000, you can go luddite and whip out your Holga, you can switch up your interchangeable lenses on your digital SLR, you can travel small with your iphone or stylish with your Leica (that which I covet). However you do it though, go out and shoot and record your adventures and the world around you. After all, your mom needs to see proof of what you've been up to since you haven't called her in two weeks.

a good watch:

Once again, it's gotta look good with the little black dress, easy to wind as you past through time zones, and take a little water here and there. For my high school graduation my parents got me a Fossil watch and ten years later it still looks as good as the day I tossed my cap into the air.

a good bag:

Indiana Jones had his leather satchel. I have my Timbuk2. In fact, I have my Timbuk2's I like them so much. Small, medium and large they are easy to carry while riding my bike, stuffing into an overhead compartment on a cramped air plane and they are big and durable enough to take the every day rough and tumble and overload of my life. And... as an added plus, they keep my stuff dry. I got my first one back in 2003 and it's still just as durable as it was then. As well, you can be creative and build your own bag. That way, if ever you meet someone with the same bag as you... not only is it a good conversation starter, but you'll know that person is a kindred spirt or just damn plain unoriginal.

a good pen:

I personally can not say enough about each person having their own "pen". One that feels right in your hand, writes the way you want it, doesn't bleed, doesn't run out when you need it most. Seriously ladies, make your mark in the world (and don't do it in purple ink). My personal favorite pen write now is this little pilot number. - nice pun eh?-

good sunglasses:

If it's been a rough night and an even rougher morning, or you just have really sensitive eyes like I do, one item that I am lost without is a good pair of sunglasses. In the winter and in the summer, I am naked and blind without. Personally, I still have yet to find my favorite pair of sunglasses that I can wear for sport and for casual, are polarized and fit my face well... which is another reason, just like a good coat... why I have about ten pairs of them.

good button down shirt:

Whether it's a shirt you stole from your dad, your brother, an ex or just something you picked up along the way... you should have a good button down shirt. Regardless if its a chambray, a plaid, or a stripe... if it's got a collar and sleeves that can be rolled up when getting down to business, it's a good thing to have when a t-shirt just won't cut it.

zippo lighter:

Fire is one of the best gifts you can give someone. Be the light when the lights go out and there are no batteries. A classic zippo also doubles as the perfect thing to have in your back pocket during a rock concert, when you need to light a campfire and when that cute mysterious person outside the coffee shop asks if you have a light. You may not smoke, but that doesn't mean you can't strike up and fuel a good conversation. (As well... don't buy cheap plastic bic lighters. There is no class there.)

a bandanna:

Be it in your back pocket, favorite bag or worn around your neck, a bandanna is one of the most versatile and functional items of anyone's arsenal. Wipe your nose, keep your hair back, stop the bleeding, or clean your glasses.... the possibilities are endless.

a good baseball glove:

Timeless. You can play catch with your grandpa, your dad and your kids. I got my Nokona baseball glove from my grandfather on my 11th birthday. I still use it to this day. It was one of the most memorable times I got exactly the gift I wanted and when I use it, I think of my grandfather.

Next in this list, is "skills that every girl should know". It'll include tying knots, fixing a flat tire, and making a killer omelet. Recently, a book was published that if ever I wrote about book about this kinda subject... it would pretty much be like this book published the other year called The Daring Book for Girls. If ever you were a girl or know of one, who longs for the types of adventures that your neighborhood couldn't provide or skills your family didn't have... you should look into this handy little book. As well, I'm not knocking the Girl Scouts as I spent some great years with them, but I often felt the outdoor skills I wanted to learn were not really taught. I understand this has more to do with the troop you're in rather than GS it'sself... but.... Southern Ohio being what it is, cookie sales and crafts were pretty much the week to week agenda.

Semi related vein: a dream vacation every girl should want to take:

Traveling around New Zealand in a VW Camper Van.

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