to be a secretary
When I was little, I used to love it when, in Egyptian movies, the heroine would receive a letter. I would scurry in my seat in anticipation of what would happen next. First she’d tear the envelope open, with passion, then she’d unfold the letter, with passion (the crinkle oh my GOD), and lastly she’d read the letter with passion. Sometimes she’d even rip or crumble up the letter. With passion. Her manicured hands, her glossy lips, her teary eyes. They all went so well with the things she did with her letter.
So in keeping with the spirit of both vintage movies and Secretary, I thought: why not prompt visitors to write their own letters? This piece, entitled write.fold.enclose.lick.stack was a last minute addition to the exhibition. It consisted of three notepads, three stacks of envelopes and two pens. Guests were invited to do what the title suggested. And I’m glad to say that because many paid attention and obliged, I’m one happy bunny right now, surrounded by all these letters. And because of that, I would hire each and every one of them as my personal secretary.
Secretary #1: Mai Al-Nakib. Ms. Al-Nakib started her letter on the third line. Margins were respected. She wrote in all-caps. She folded her paper initially into three segments and kept it symmetrical by folding once more on either side. She included the date.
Secretary #2: Abdulla Ramahi. Mr. Ramahi addressed me as Mrs. which is fine because I am a mom. He excluded both h’s from my name which I actually prefer to when people leave out the last h. As for Palestine, I’ll always care for it. Mr. Ramahi included his Instagram account so feel free to follow him.
Secretary #3: Fatma Abdulsalam. Ms. Abdulsalam has used some light expletives which is OK. She used the word ‘marvelous’ which I was hoping someone would use to describe me. In fact, I wrote that somewhere in one of my ledgers. She included a happy face in her sign off and two loves.
Secretary #4: Deena ‘Machina’ Qabazard. Ms. Qabazard used the yellow paper. She has written her letter in graphic novel style and has ignored all margins. Her folding is willy nilly and some of her letters are backwards. And she started with ‘Ahemm’. Working with her should be interesting.
Secretary #5: Shareefa Abdulsalam. Ms. Abdulsalam addressed me as G. I like that. Some very special people called me G. She has folded her paper into eight slightly askew segments. She has also included a happy face.
Secretary #6: Frederick Wilcott. Mr. Wilcott has started his letter on the first line. He respected his margins and has written in all-caps. Very neat, very consistent. And his T’s are conjoined.
Secretary #7: Hamad Al Saab. Mr. Al Saab used paper from the neighboring installation. Which is OK and secretly encouraged. He has folded his letter into four segments. I’m not sure his chart makes sense, but we can work on that.
Secretary #8: Fatima Alzahraa Ahmad Abodoma. Ms. Abodoma has included a superlative in her opening. Her letter is gentle. She closes it With Love.
Secretary #9: Lubna Saif Abbas. Ms. Saif Abbas’ writing slants to the left. She is left-handed. Neat, unusual, barely legible, beautiful. She has included the day, date and location. She also mentioned my beloved blog Raw Epistle, now defunct because of our terrible postal service.
Secretary #10: Camilla. Ms. Camilla drew her pet hamster Magali. She folded her letter into three equal segments. She ignored the lines completely.
Secretary #11: Deema Alghunaim. Ms. Alghunaim wrote a wonderful letter in Arabic. My favorite line: I write as single and I write as a plural, because I do not know how many I am. Believe me, it sounds tons times better in Arabic. She included location and date. She wrote on the yellow paper. The letter is folded into six unequal parts.
Secretaries #12 & #13: Ghala Al Mudhaf & Yasmine Magnoli Bocchi. Ms. Al Mudhaf and Ms. Bocchi used blue and black to write. It seems that one girl signed off for both so we must work on that. One of them drew a smiley face heart and arrow. Only one margin was respected. The Hello is very friendly and keeps things casual.
Secretary #14: Jana Alnaqeeb. Ms. Alnaqeeb wrote to her son Khaldoun, my nephew. It is either a letter of good tidings, a note of warning or a simple reminder that she will wait until he’s 18 to get him a mobile. If mobiles still exist then. She closes her letter with a formal Regards, offset by a loving heart and the phrase ‘Your mom’.
Secretary #15: Laila Al-hamad. Ms. Al-hamad included a lovely story about her teacher Ms. Al Qabandi in her letter. She wrote in cursive and only once ignored the left margin. She included the date on the top right-hand corner and closed her letter with two kisses. She folded her letter into teeny tiny segments. Hers was the most difficult letter to re-fold.