The past four weeks i have been working towards an important post on Friday. The idea for each weeks post i got the week before. When i had posted Friday’s post the idea popped in my mind. The same goes for this post. Last Thursday, lying in bed, the idea came to me. Of course. So simple. The story of my life.
I have told parts of this story before. Here, on this website. To my old friends, years ago. Parts. I never told the complete truth. Hiding away from it. Ashamed perhaps. Not believing it. Not a full 100%. Thinking, i am a normal woman. With a normal life. Running away from it. But still. A memory that never faded.
That Saturday, 8 February 1986, the day i drew these six images in the evening, i still remember parts of it. I remember i started on a A3 size water colour drawing book. I had divided the paper into eight parts with pencil. I started to draw. With a wooden drawing pen en ink. No pencil sketch first. Straight in with the ink. Water colour paint to fill in with colour.
I was still studying Industrial Design at the Technical University Delft. I had water colour lessons there, for presentation drawing. I loved it.
The first two drawings have faded from my mind. But the last six would stay with me. I remember staring at them when i was finished. Silent. A bit stunned. I don’t remember when i made the seventh one, the one with the text.
Here’s a verse for nothing
To the way the world will be
Now we’re apart and alone
Mustn’t be unhappy
When you remember
Lovers never lose each other
Such a lot to be learned
The final chorus of the song A Little Knowledge from Scritti Politti.
The next day i made the box to fit in the drawings.
That Tuesday, i went through records in Haddock, a record store in the centre. I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was. Songs to Remember, from Scritti Politti. Their first album. I bought it. Happy i drove back home on my bicycle. And yes, i loved it. When i heard the last song “The Sweetest Girl”, for some reason, i threw the I Ching. I got 13. T’ung Jên / Fellowship with Men with a changing line on the fifth place.
Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in the inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
I remember sitting on the ground, in front of a seat, reading these lines.
I knew for sure. This was true.
I also knew there was nothing i could do. Nothing i wanted to do.
The rest of that week is vague. I was completely overthrown by these drawings and that weird premonition. I gave away my drawings, the next week or so. I knew i had to give them away. So i gave them to a close friend, Iris.
She gave them back to me, a month or so later. I stared at the drawings when i was in her home. I didn’t ask for them back. But that is what she did.
When i applied for art school in July that year, i didn’t bring these drawings with me. I was further along, of course. Into Giacometti at that time. I thought about these drawings on the application day. Lucky for me i didn’t need them. I got in all the same.
Life goes on. Friends come and go.
In the 90s i gave away the drawings once more. Another close friend. But she gave them back, after a month or so. This time i saved the drawings in my sitting room. To wait.
In 1996 or 1997 i met Erika Chang online. She had made a website about Scritti Politti, “the Archeology of the Frivolous”. We got into a email conversation. She was the one who told me about superbad.com. We met in London two or three times.
And then in January 2006 news of a Scritti gig came by on the Yahoo scritti group. In a pub in London, under the name Double G and the Traitorous Three. I didn’t say a word to Green. I watched.
I did talk with friends beforehand. The thought of giving the drawings to Green did pop up. But they gave me the advice that it would not be any good. I agreed.
Time does seem to go faster when you grow older. The past seventeen years seem to have flown away. I do remember them. But it is like, your life reaches a plateau. You work. You have a few friends. And another year is gone. Wham.
The sudden sledgehammer moment in October 2014 will stay with me. It did upset my life. I was awake and confused for months, years even. Talkative. Looking out. Seeing and thinking all sorts of things. Some right, some wrong. And i started working again. On lfs.nl. I felt it. The quiet time was over. Back into gear.
Looking back on the previous eight years, it made me sad. I saw myself struggling with it. Playing World of Warcraft. Making semblances of friends, at a distance. I wanted to work, but nothing came to mind. Nothing. I saw myself grow quieter. Forgetting what i used to do. Simply living on. Day by day. Watching television series. Most i downloaded through tvtorrents.com – now offline.
I don’t know where the sledgehammer moment came from. Well, apart from the most obvious answer.
The past week i have been thinking about this post. Ideas popped inside my head. Whole paragraphs i thought beforehand. In the end, it comes down to this single point.
I have thought so many things, my entire life. And yes, most things i have kept to myself. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Like i said, i am a normal woman with a normal life. Then again, to me, i am not normal. I am rather special. I know all the ins and outs of my mind. All the ins and outs of my fantasies. My deep night imaginations. My wishes. My dreams.
I never really understood the latest work i made in art school. Making self portraits seemed a bit narcissistic. A bit self absorbed. I still did it. But it was hard to continue making self portraits after i graduated. So i tried other things. Which didn’t work.
Only a few years later, when i started working online, i looked back at these self portraits. The earliest photo i used in Selfportrait on 10 July 1997. Another photo i used in Watching myself on 16 July. Then another one on 17 July, a big picture in Watch me. The titles of these works made sense to me then. They still do now.
For years i rarely made any photos of myself. Most failed. The ones i made in 2010 were OK. I picked one and used it as a profile picture on several websites. Only the last years i have been making more good photos of myself. I am happy with them. I am older, yes. But i still like the way i look. I am no stranger to a bit of vanity.
It is late in the evening now. A washing machine is on upstairs with the neighbours. Centrifuging. Sounds form the outside drift in. People talking. Birds whistling. Cars driving.
I wrote a piece called An empty life a few months ago. It was not my choice to have my life still this empty. But it happened. Not that i feel unhappy. Not at all. The last two and a half years i feel truly happy. Joyous. Active. Open. Working again on lfs.nl and later ellenpronk.com is the most important reason for that. Especially the work i do on ellenpronk.com makes me feel good. The walks. The gardening since last year. My videos. The singing. The food i cook.
I love this place. I love thinking about new posts to make. This week i enjoyed making the summer borshch, reading aloud Allerleirauh, making a walk to the garden the Enk. I love it to do all these things. They make my life special.
These stories which have filled up my life, they have stayed with me. I treasured them. All by myself. Stories are important. Their structure makes sense to us. A beginning, a middle, an end. The beginning is usually sudden, unexpected. Something happens outside of the normal course of events. The middle is the boring bit. A long time of work. Repetition. A slow change. The end is equally sudden. But with more preparation. A grand finish. Kaboom!
In our lives these structures are everywhere. People fall in love. People have children. Children leave the house. People grow old. This is all part of a story structure.
I like my personal stories. I have one main one. And many minor ones.
Giving the drawings to Green Gartside last year in London is a memory i will treasure for the rest of my life. It makes me truly happy. Looking back on it, i don’t know where i found the courage to do this. But i did it.
And then of course, my life moved on. The garden came into view only two months after it. A whole new bunch of people connected with that. Now this fills my life for half. The rest is mostly for this website.
And then there is this world. Grrrr.
Well, this post is not for that. That is a whole other issue.
I am living my own life. As much as i can. Money is an issue. I don’t have lots of it. I’m behind paying my bills. But i am not giving up. No sir.
There is something i want to say. Something i want to make clear. We all live here on this world. For better or for worse. We are all responsible for our own lives. And our children, until they are grown-up. We pick what we want to do. If we don’t, the world will pick something for us. Usually not to our liking.
This work i do here is extremely important to me. I try to make it easy. Easy to read. Easy to watch. With purpose. I like to communicate. So it makes no sense to make things difficult.
I know art is not the best environment for me. It is still in my past, but it is not where i see myself grow. So it is hard. What i can call myself is a blogger, an occasional vlogger, a still not too good singer with some potential, a video-clip maker, a gardener, a cooker and a walker. I love this.
There is no end to our lives until the day we die. Each day is new. Each day you wake up and you should think of what is the best thing to do. To make things a little bit better. Me, at fifty three years old, i still feel young.
I’m telling you this.
Shall we begin?
DAENERYS TARGARYEN Game of Thrones S07 E01