Some of you know, and some didn't until now, but today -- October 24th -- is my birthday, so I'm going to enjoy the luxury of a little bit of plain talk and a touch of fun. (Only a "little bit", because I'm English, and we don't do things to excess, you see.) I'm too quiet as it is, and I spend way too much time alone, so it's more than ok for me to say what I think once in a while. This is it!
First off, today is NOT the big five-oh: it's the four-nine, as in seven times seven, an important number in many religious and spiritual traditions. It's said that a 49th birthday marks the end of a complete life cycle (seven times seven, or a complete journey through the chakras) and the entry into a new one. Well... if that's the case I'm all for it. A new life sounds like just what I've been needing, or at the very least a decent altering job on this one. Yes indeed. On a scale from one (sadly wanting) to ten (fantastic), and taking the (too) few highs and (way too) many lows and losses into account, the old one rates below five. That's sad (that's an example of typically English understatement).
Pimp my life
So, for my birthday, between this one and the next, I want a new life. Well... maybe we shouldn't get overly radical--let's say I want some help to pimp this one. But I can't do it alone, folks. Everyone has always thought Susan could do everything on her own and then fix their stuff too. If only they knew what Susan thinks about that... Well, this time it's everyone else's turn. I'm going to say what I want and the Universe and its helpers can start delivering right away. A lot of the new has to do with people, so let's start with them.
I have, if you like, a few job spaces open in my life. Here they are. The order of presentation is not significant.:
- One (or more) "every girl should have one" best friend(s): male, intelligent, educated, well-mannered, may be gay (has many advantages), should be able to cook, all else negotiable.
- One (or more) "every Artangel should have one" playmate(s) for face-to-face arty parties, Bollywood nights, girl talk, swapping books, setting the world right, and so forth. Ideally, at least one should be English. (You may not be aware how hard it is to be a foreigner all the time and to constantly have to explain everything or risk being culturally misunderstood... ESPECIALLY because I speak the language and look like everyone else.)
- One (only) life partner (used is fine): male, intelligent, educated, well-mannered, openly caring, ABSOLUTELY NOT gay, more or less functional on all levels. Should be able to cook (alone or together), talk (with me, not at me), read (owns more than one book), discuss politics, history, religion, computers, you name it... The lyrics at the end of this link provide a very (very) basic description of what I have in mind. Change "she" to "he" as you read, of course. Let's get together and talk about the rest. (And when you find out what you're getting...)
Try this lovely quotation for orientation, too: The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind. (Katherine Mansfield)
Got the direction? Good...
- One dog: large, friendly, intelligent, well-behaved, affectionate (order negotiable). Must love long walks in natural surroundings and... me, of course. Tip: the dog might currently be living with one of the above.
There is more, but I won't get greedy. Now to the other changes I want. I want:
- A good, decent job, as in one that gives me the scope and freedom to use my interests, experience, and qualifications and in doing so provide others with useful skills, knowledge, and some enjoyment, too. I'm actively working on this, and I have a proposal ready to roll next Tuesday. Pray that it works out. I have a plan B, too (and a B/1, B/2, etc.), but plan A is best. If the Universe has something better up its sleeve (which is what the positive thinking brigade always claims), it should manifest it now, thank you very much. I've run out of patience.
Contrary to common wisdom, love and creativity do not flourish in adversity, financial or otherwise. I want to earn enough money for me (and my life partner -- see above and my/our family) to be able to live comfortably. My/our lifestyle does not need to be ostentatious, but it should be free of existential anxiety. I want to experience deep job satisfaction -- including sufficient money to live from and some to spare -- that flows into all areas of my life and enriches it for all involved.
- A house... preferably free-standing... preferably out in the country. I'm sick of living in flats (apartments). I'm fed up of listening to neighbours fighting or, or ... , or playing Rammstein and co. at a volume designed to wake the dead. I'm beginning to understand why normal people can run amok and smash things to bits.
- I want a garden, because I have a deep need to plant some things that will grow. It has nothing to do with money. I want to grow a few vegetables for the taste and so I can surprise children with spaghetti squash, start-to-finish pumpkin soup, and fresh raspberries. And I want to grow flowers, because they are good for the senses and for the soul. (My partner will understand completely when I use words like "soul" and say things like this.)
Ok. That's enough for now. Onward to the rest of the fun.
Artangel's Birthday Honours List
Every year, as part of her birthday celebrations, the Queen of England compiles an honours list to acknowledge various people's works. As part of my personal ongoing Eccentricity Development Project (EDP), I've decided I shall do the same. So here we go (sometimes with pictures!):
The Postman - The Daily Friendliness Award
Just in case you haven't heard the postman story , here it is: Until February this year I lived in Berlin, which, like most big cities is loud, aggressive, and anonymous. For example, I bought my bread at the same small bakery for ten years, but if they acknowledge my presence at all, the salesgirls still looked at me as if they'd never seen me before. Imagine my surprise, then, when I finally escaped from hell (Berlin), moved here, and on day two the postman greeted me by name as we passed each other on the stairs.
My postie cracks me up when he comes to the door to hand me my packages. He presents them to me: first he tells me which country they come from (German senders are almost always bills and other boring... with exceptions, of course), and then he tells me who the sender is, and only then does he hand them over. From time to time I tell him what's in the packages, or I show him something that arrived on an earlier occasion. He likes that. In the meantime, many of the ladies who send me mail have taken to decorating the packages and envelopes beautifully, not for my pleasure, but so the postman has something nice to look at.
Dirk - The Enduring Hobby Award
I picked up this (purely platonic) little hobby a few years ago when we were still in multimedia and doing what we thought we'd be doing for years to come and earning good money by doing so. How wrong can you get?
These days Dirk lives about as far away from civilisation as you can get without falling off the map. He shares his life with a small flock of Indian runner ducks. The ducks have names. Dirk could almost be considered eccentrically English on this point. (That was a compliment, Dirk.) His current life ambition is to own a gardening empire.
We don't see each other very often (and not at all since February), but when we do, he's a wonderful companion for "normal" things like walking a borrowed dog and cooking together and eating good ice cream.
Fred - The Good Neighbour Award
He also has "sources", not the least of which is the one that occasionally provides us all with piles of fresh fruit, most of which is organic. Imagine: no money to speak of, but we all eat the best fruit available. Sometimes the fruit comes in daunting quantities, so I started making jam again for the first time in about twenty years. I've been having great fun doing it and am getting quite adventurous now, branching out into marmalade and chutney. I give most of the goodies to family and neighbours, so everyone wins.
Kimberley - The Cool Companion Award
Ladies: get yourselves an eight-year-old granddaughter each; they have to be the coolest thing since computers. Eight is a wonderful age: they can ride bikes for miles (with grandma) and do interesting art projects with a fair degree of skill (she's busy making a paper doll with her own face on it as I write this), dress up in a real sari and dance along to Bollywood films (like grandma), watch TV till midnight (with grandma) and read a while before putting out the light (she's a bookaholic, like...). At eight, they're still convinced they can do and be anything they could ever want to be. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could hold onto that feeling forever... Best of all, they are genuinely thankful to know that not all adults are boring (like their parents and teachers).
Diane - The Hands Across the World Award
If you follow my Bicycle Bliss blog you'll know I keep it mainly for Diane. Diane and I have known each other for quite a number of years now. She's been my friend and confidante through ups and downs, including the death of my soul companion four years ago. Having had someone one like that in her own life, she knew what it meant.
On a more mundane note, Diane finds the coolest websites and shares them with me. She delights me with details of her visits to various places, shops, and museums. I photographed the wrapped up Reichstag a few years ago. Last year Diane photographed Christo's Gates for me and sent me a swatch of the orange fabric from which the flags were made. If you ever want to go to New York, let me know, and I'll ask Diane to tell you useful things, like where to eat real Chinese in Chinatown for a couple of dollars, or when the best street art markets are, or other things you'll want to know.
I can think of a lot of things I'd like to do together with Diane, but most of all I wish we could don flowing skirts and extravagant hats decorated with fruit and feathers and net veils and ride the carousel in Central Park. What a wonderful sight we would be....
Diane also sends me books she's read. I've just finished reading "The Secret Life of Bees", by Sue Monk Kidd, which she sent this summer. It's going to be my personal book of the year. It was so, so beautiful. There were places and images in the book that took my breath away.
Michael K. and kids - The Thank You For Making Me Smile Award
This award almost ended up being addressed to "the man without a name". As luck would have it, I learned yesterday that his name is Michael. He also comes with a side act of two little boys, one of whom will probably grow up to be a journalist or quizmaster. Anyway...
Some people don't know the good they do, but they should. A few weeks ago I encountered Michael (I'm choosing my words: we encountered each other, but we don't know each other), and he's someone I think is amazing. I know three and a half things about him, and each of them makes the fact that he does what he does and that he makes people feel good, or at least better--and that he can make ME smile--more and more amazing. Thank you.