THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #175

LOVE:

Gold and White Antique Porcelain:

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I do not come from a place of wealth. Don’t get me wrong, my life hasn’t been a slum, but I’ve only rarely known the comfort of not thinking about money. I feel it would be marvelous to just pop in a shop, love something, and buy it with the knowledge that the bank accounts would back it up. That’s how I feel in Egypt, and perhaps that’s added to my ridiculous love for that nation. I am the king of Luxor when I’m in town. Joan Rivers felt this same love for comfortable finances, and she loved to surround herself with things that showed her how far she had come. She wanted to recreate Versailles and Imperial Russia. She would buy Fabergé eggs and place settings in the hundreds. She would call up Sotheby’s and buy all the French antiques. She wanted to keep all those things she never was supposed to have around her. It showed her how she forced her life to be the one she always dreamed it to be. I completely understand her motivation. It’s glorious to have something nice that you’ve worked for, something that rises above your station in life. My aesthetic is not as grand as Joan’s, but I too, appreciate fine things. So whenever I go into an antique shop or even Goodwill, I like to pick up any fine gold and white porcelain pieces. They make me feel rich and entitled, and I live for a macaron on a fine bone plate with scalloped gold filigree. I feel so rich. So rich. This weekend, which was a wondrously long one with three whole days dedicated to living my best life, I found several pieces to add to my collection. I found a teacup and dessert plate with a gorgeous calligraphic P on it in gold at Goodwill. It was a bit pricey for Goodwill, but that only means that it was $4. I should have bought every piece. This morning, I served myself a croissant on it, and I felt like a sheikh. At a local antique store the next day, I happened on a number of gold accented espresso cups, and I just had to make them mine. So, for the minutes I’m enjoying those treats, I’m not me. I’m a different version of myself. One with the world in my hand and money in my pocket. Someday I’ll get there, I have always known that I will, but until then, I’ll luxuriate with my secondhand porcelain.

Checking Out Bicycles:

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Libraries can be peculiar places. As a youth, I never thought it strange that you could check out cake pans. It seemed normal and convenient that you could choose what kind of cake design for your birthday, bake it up, wash it, and return it. I have since learned that this is not at all a common practice. As an old man, I’ve been in a number of libraries around the world and almost always marvel at what an undervalued resource they often are. I’m quite excited about my trip to New York City next month. If I have time, I want to get a temporary card at the New York Public Library and sit at one of the reading desks and flip through antique volumes of Egyptological matters in French, German, and English. It’ll be the nicest time and it will be absolutely free. That’s the remarkable thing about libraries. You never have to pay for anything. Well, the local library here has done something strange, and now you can check out bicycles. Isn’t that wild? The weather was wonderful after work yesterday, and a friend and I wanted to go biking. My bike is a travesty that falls apart more often than it stays together, and it was about fifteen miles away, so that was not happening. Then I remembered that my sister, Jessica, a librarian, had mentioned that you could get bikes at the library and that nobody was checking them out. This intrigued me mightily, so I went over to the library and discovered it to be true. After flipping through a pamphlet and proving my identity with a driver’s license, a beautiful pewter bike was mine for the rest of the afternoon. They even provided a helmet and a free water bottle emblazoned with my name. Is this grant money? How is this possible? Marveling at the unexpected convenience, I had the best time biking for nearly ten miles on the local trails — a permit was included, too! — and enjoying the bicycle. It was a really quality bike, and way better than the junk I have back home. It had hand brakes and different speeds and a golden bell and a mirror and a light. And a basket! It was such fun. And it cost me nothing. Go check out a bicycle, reader. Live your best life.

Goodwill Fashion:

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Look, dear reader, I never thought that I would be one of those people who buy used clothing. I always assumed that one way or the other, I would have money enough to buy my outfits at nice shops, even if they weren’t my beloved Saint-Laurent. If I had the finances, I would wear nothing but Saint-Laurent. Hedi Slimane’s designs were the epitome of my style. And I wanted nothing more than to look like Harry Styles in 2015 when he wandered around West Hollywood in loose-fitting floral tops, skintight jeans, and camel colored suede boots. I do all of that now, and I really couldn’t be more pleased, but maintaining this look is not easy or cheap. It’s very expensive to buy shirts that look like they were made out of the fabric of old couches. It shouldn’t be that much money. So, in desperation to maintain my aesthetic, I started going to Goodwill and other charity shops. The men’s clothing was the definition of tragic. Everything was hideous. Men’s fashion has historically been dreadful. But, my eyes wandered over to the lady’s department, and I had an epiphany. If you dig and dig, you can find shirts that are more gender neutral, and if you buy them big enough, they will fit your shoulders just right. AND, so many people assume anything remotely floral is a women’s shirt, so you find a number of men’s shirts in the lady’s section. The first thing I found that I loved with all my heart was a faux silk shirt that is really part of a pajama set. I changed the buttons and immediately it looked like something that came out of a nice shop. I have now done this with a number of pieces. The pajama department is particularly generous to gentlemen who want to be a bit more daring in their style. The last visit I made resulted in several new lovely pieces including a leopard print top that I’m obsessed with. It costs next to nothing. I can absolutely afford next to nothing. Get to Goodwill, reader, find your new look. Live your best life. Don’t spend all your money on one shirt when you could have ten!

HATE:

The Rapidity of Life:

New Life

Life, as everybody who is close to death says, is fast. All of a sudden it’s over. Don’t worry, reader, I don’t have any anticipation of ever dying. I still firmly believe that there will be medical immortality of some kind in my lifetime. And if I have to die, I don’t plan to kick the bucket for a good eighty years at a minimum. I want to live forever because there is so much to do. I don’t understand the youth of today who joke about not minding dying. They seem to be overwhelmed by living. I’ve never been like that, I’ve always been so appreciative of all there is in the world. I’ve lately been coming to terms with the fact that I might never get to accomplish everything I intend to. I’m going to school to be a teacher right now, and I know I’ll get that done and I’ll do it. And I know that I will become an Egyptologist before the grave claims me, there’s nothing that will stop me from that. It’s just that there is so much more to me than two careers. I want to be a writer. I want to be a Hollywood producer like Sylvia Browne told me to be. I want to be a fencer and a trained actor and a fashion designer and an architect. I want to be a real estate mogul. I want to design and manage luxury vacation apartments. I want to host documentaries that showcase all the things I love in the world around me. I want to study every religion. I want to be a neurobiologist. I want to be a painter. I want to be a linguist. There’s so much. Recently, I have had a burning desire to be a primatologist and study bonobos. I don’t know why exactly, but I feel incredibly drawn to that. I want to do everything. And I want to go everywhere. But a century on the planet isn’t nearly enough, not even enough to get started. I’ve been flitting about the world on my own since I was nineteen, and in those eight years, I have fallen so madly in love with our planet. I never want to leave it. Even if the afterlife is real, I’m not that interested, I want to stay here. I want to climb the pyramids in Central America and see Antarctica and go on a safari and spend a month in a hut on the edge of the Kalahari. I just don’t want to die. I really don’t. This post was so silly and random, but I feel a great regret that overwhelms me on occasion that I will never be all I want to be. I will always be an unfinished version of me.

Inability to Claim French Citizenship:

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Readers, I just heard the absolutely most delicious piece of information. It was suggested that under French law, any person who is a citizen of any French territory, either owned now or in the past, is eligible to become a citizen of France. You all know what that means? Have you ever seen Iowa’s flag? It’s the French flag with a bird on it. Iowa was once part of the Louisiana territory, which the United States legally procured from France. I was born on French ground, reader! Like all good things, it is simply too good to be true. This was theoretically a possibility until 2006, even though it doesn’t appear that anybody actually made an effort to file a citizenship claim on this idea. I would have been happy to try! Unfortunately, it just won’t happen since the laws were changed. Can you imagine it, reader, me? A French citizen? With my beautiful French passport and all that jazz. I’d saunter through the EU passport control, wink at my once-fellow Americans, and live my best life. Too bad. I’d love to be French. I already am most days. I suppose I’ll have to manage it the old fashioned way. I’ll have to marry a Frenchman. Though with my luck in love, it is much likelier that I will get an advanced degree from a French university and acquire citizenship that way. Then, after many years of work and tears, I will saunter through the EU passport control, wink at my once-fellow Americans, and live my best life. Too bad about not being French just being born here, though. That would have been quite a dream come true.

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