Between two stools

This evening I filled out a market research survey for a magazine that I have – until recently – subscribed to.  As part of my on-going mission to simplify my life, I’ve let the subscription lapse but the allure of a prize draw for completing the survey encouraged me to enter (I’ve already planned how to use the winnings should I be lucky; am in an outfit panic having been asked to step in as someone’s ‘plus one’ in August).

The survey was quite open about their efforts to attract advertisers; the questions were about watches & jewellery.  I own a fair few watches & a lot of jewellery (albeit all of the costume variety!) so I thought it’d be simple enough to complete.  Au contraire!  I struggled to answer many of the questions according to the categories laid out & found myself entering ‘other’ over & over.  My dream watch, for example, wasn’t Rolex or Breitling or Patek Phillipe; it’s a 1920s cocktail watch – & there was no appropriate category for this. 

Post-survey, I went to the pub with two friends.  The conversation – as is often the case in their company – turned to music.  They humour me by answering my questions about who bands are, what music they play & so on, but I never get any nearer to knowing what they’re on about.  The music they like is off the beaten track.  The music I like isn’t exactly in the current hit parade.  Even so, n’er the twain shall meet. 

Not quite fitting in with other people’s categories; not really able to tick any of the boxes provided.  Sometimes a life of one’s own can seem like a life alone.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I hope.

A magic penny, or life lessons from pink lipstick

A magic penny, or life lessons from pink lipstick || raeritchie.com

Love is like a magic penny, the old song says – if you give it away then you end up having more.

In this case, love should be substituted for ‘pink lipstick’.

I had a pink lipstick that haunted me.  Earlier in the year, I became somewhat obsessed with the need to buy a pink lipstick.

I was convinced it was the ‘must have’ to hold my entire sense of style & well-being together. 

In a hurried & harried moment in a well-known high street chemist, I chose one.  Before I left the store, I knew I had made a poor choice – too shiny, too pearlescent, just all wrong.  The unused tube sat in a drawer, mocking me with a sense of waste every time I looked at it – waste & that sense that sense of annoyance at myself for putting so much faith & hope into a lipstick.

One tube of coloured fat was never going to give me what I was hoping for from it. 

So to car boot it went!  I decided the only way to exorcise the ill-fated purchase was to sell it.

Yesterday was its day of judgement, where it sat along with several other lipsticks & glosses waiting to be picked by the public (the others were all free gifts so none had the same turbulent history; theirs was a happy departure from the make-up drawer).

Other lipsticks & glosses were picked up & taken away by happy new owners.

The evil pink one stayed put, as if mocking me: ‘Ha ha you’ll have to take me home, haunted forever by the failed hopes & dreams I represent’. 

Then a young girl came along.  She fingered the tube.  She twisted it up & down.  She looked at the two others left alongside it.  This was my chance to be rid of it!  ’20p each’, I said, hoping that the low price would convince her to take them.  Damn, I thought as she ran off.  I should have just given them to her.

Then I noticed she had stopped by her mum at the next stall.  Ooo, she’s turning round!  She came running back, clutching a little coin purse.  Her eyes lit up: they hadn’t sold in the intervening 20 seconds!

Excitedly she began rummaging in the purse, like a contestant on the Crystal Maze with only 5 seconds left to diffuse the circuit & get out the room.

50p was found & handed to me with great ceremony, a sense of significance that indicated that this was going to be the first of many lip-related purchases in her life.

But she needed 10p more.  The rummaging began again.  She couldn’t find it.  It was there somewhere, her furrowed brow said.

‘Don’t worry’, I said.  ‘It’s 20p each or all 3 for 50p’.  The girl barely stopped to thank me before skipping off with her new purchases.  I didn’t mind; to see my nemesis making someone else so happy was all the reward I needed.

If she’d have hung around, I would have probably tried to warn her that the lipstick would only disappoint her, that she shouldn’t put her dreams into tubes of coloured fat & pots of coloured paint. 

But that would have been churlish, quashing the joy of a young girl who can’t wait to be grown up.  I felt the same when I got my first ever make-up – a used-up pink blusher from Miss Selfridge, given to me by an older cousin.

The memory of that blusher had long faded; seeing the girl with my lipstick brought it back as fresh as if it were yesterday.

My cousin’s gift to me; mine to the girl; I couldn’t help but think that pink make-up is like love & the magic penny.

Today I decided to clear out the rest of my lipsticks.  In among the pile was an old tube that I didn’t recognise.  Inside was, of course, a gorgeous shade of pink – exactly what I’d been looking for all along.

Treasure Hunt: a happy Saturday learning to let go and just be

Today I woke up to a big blank space.  I had no dates (platonic, romantic or any variations thereof), no firm commitments & as I have taken the last couple of days as holiday, no desire to do chores or anything else vaguely ‘useful’.  So what to do?  Such a swathe of free time always seems intimidating.  My first urge is to make arrangements, have a ‘plan’, fill the time with some kind of busy-ness.  Slowly, though, I’m learning – learning to just ‘be’, to let life carry me along, to not always try to control everything.  And slowly, I am understanding the effects of this.  Instead of hunting for treasure, I simply find it – as if it’s been there all along.  It probably is there all along, I just can’t always see it properly.

I resisted the urge to plan & control by doing nothing to start with.  The morning was spent reading in bed.  It was heaven & felt extremely decadent in the simplest way (especially when tea & biscuits were added to the mix).

The post then arrived.  I feel that I should probably over-come my excitement at the (almost) daily arrival of post, but I love it.  And today, it did not let me down.  A thank you card from one of my nephews, including a photograph of him in the scarf I knitted for his birthday.  A voucher from Virgin trains, recompense for a delayed journey.  A history journal, including an hilarious book review by someone I know.  A general sense of satisfaction at the treasure that had arrived on my door mat.

A shower followed.  A bottle of Chanel no5 shower gel in the bathroom cabinet caught my eye – a generous gift from a lovely friend, normally reserved for ‘special’ occasions.  Haha, no such reserve today!  Ah the bliss at smelling so fabulous for no reason other than it is a day ending in y!  By this point, the day was surpassing its ordinary appearance & becoming a feast of small indulgences.

A spring fayre at a chapel in the village followed.  The sense of community among the motley assortment of attendees was warming, especially when a lady to whom I’d given some wool at Easter showed me the results: some tiny clothes, knitted for still-born babies at the local hospital.  I managed to not cry (quite an achievement!).  A whole host of goodies (including two clutch bags & two gifts for others) found their way into my bag.  For less than a fiver, I’d given & received, although the choice of two cakes with my cup of tea was an error – confronted with a madeleine & a jam tart, I couldn’t chose between them so continued the theme of decadence & ate both, then promptly felt a bit sick!

Early evening has seen a friend stop in for a cup of tea; always welcome, especially when plans for forthcoming adventures take shape.  It’s now 7pm & I don’t know what the evening will bring.  I’ve still no plans, still no date of any description (an hour with Simon Cowell doesn’t count!).  But whatever the next few hours may hold, I will go to bed knowing that I am rich in treasure.

First day nerves…

Months in gestation, a morning in creating, and now I’ve been hit with writer’s block – or maybe it’s nerves – when it comes to my first ‘proper’ post.  It’s like the anti-climax after a fun weekend or the return from holiday, with an added dose of self-doubt: why am I doing this?  Is it just some huge exercise in ego?!  Will I have anything of interest to say?!  It’s that so-familiar sense of self-consciousness; the fear that by exposing oneself & one’s desires, you’ll be ridiculed or thought strange (what if people think I’m odd?  Or worse – boring?!).

But creating a blog is a yearning I’ve had for some time & unless I try I shall never know.  It maybe abandoned after a week or a month.  Or it may prove a useful outlet on my journey.

As I’m plagued with such fears, my neice & nephew arrive in my room to laugh & laugh at the blackbird bathing in the garden before boinging (is that a word?!) furiously on my bed – with me joining in, only to pop a button off my cotton housedress through my enthusiasm.  And suddenly I am reassured: I have plenty to say.  I may not have found the meaning of life yet, but all is well with the world.