Seventy is NOT just a number!

My recent gut reaction to a tweet expressing a sense of not belonging as a writer, be it by birth, nationality, domicile, language, themes, yes, and even cliché usage —I can´t tell a cliché from a Chiclet, a phrase published in my mini story “Chiclet Alert” before flash was all the rage—triggered a twitterconvo with a writing mate in the Antipodes about what we can and do as writers, our projects and I guess, our approaches to what success is for us personally. It´s not always what you think, Alfie.

So let me respool a couple of weeks to my 70thbirthday. I am still working part-time with my Schubis (my way of expressing the mouthful of Schul- und Bildungswissenschafter, which seems to have stuck since first uttered in 2009) and we celebrate Schubi birdys. But I am the woman who has everything, so please let this one go by. Just a card will do, I said. Cripes, 70 is just a number!

I must admit I was a bit miffed that Dr Gugu didn´t want to take me to eat oysters —although he had been indulging me the week before with an Algarve oyster/golf stay to toast our 50 years together
—and instead insisted on lunch in our new local Gasthaus of the unpronounceable name.

We were ushered to the non-smoking room (in Austria, the government only follows EU directives when it suits and still allows smoking in restaurants if they have a separate room or say they are a smoking restaurant, but that´s politics, and I´m not allowed to…) and surprise! All my wonderful Schubis were there, and their kids and partners, and my boss, who is also wonderful. And there I was, scruffy, but happy. We had a wonderful meal—I had Schnitzel, had to after a week of mariscos, and Sachertorte, and then I was gifted the most beautiful book in the world: Thinking Outside the Box.

And there were readings. All present, and some unable to make it, had written contributions in English and German—stories, poems, essays—on our time together, “how I met my (den) mother”, and on more serious matters with a few lines acknowledging my understanding. Forgive the cliché, but I was blown away. I was moved, and I am and always will feel honoured by the works in this book, the cover illustrated by my dear friend, Sharon Ratheiser (she of the artwork on my Insta). The whole thing was witnessed via wotsappvideo by our daughter and son-in-law in Sydney.

What a day! What a gift! Crikey, looks like I may have done something write after all. Greatful!

As I said in my thank you speechlet, despite all the good times I´d experienced in my other working life, these last ten years had been the best. Maybe it was because I didn´t have a “career” any more, had nothing to prove, just enjoyed sharing, learning and hanging out with bright and funny minds. No strings.

A week later I took off with two of my Schubis for an education conference in Toronto, but that is another story.

So until then, onwards, where there´ll be plans and projects and another adventure.

Ps. Any spelling mistakes are deliberate, cos that´s the fun of words. And for some great stuff on words, do check out this TED talk by Sarah Salway, “godmother” of my Chiclet story.

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