I wanted to reach out to let you know about some changes happening at Love on a Bike this year. But before I get into that, I'd like to extend a massive thank you to all of you who made it out to my event in December- the shop is looking a little bare but in some ways that's a wonderful sight! There's just that massive/tiny ball of panic about replenishing everything quickly but other than that, it feels so so good!
I'm sure many of you noticed the cancellation of regular opening hours about two years ago now. The major cause for that was Bisbis being diagnosed with renal failure in January 2017. Following an extremely confusing and emotionally exhausting few months I found an amazing vet. Since then, for the most part, Bisbis has been doing much better than I ever thought possible.
Renal failure is a chronic (ultimately degenerative) condition which is sadly somewhat common in cats. During most stages the disease is extremely manageable and with the proper diet and care your pet can go on to have an amazing quality of life. Bisbis is somewhere between stages 3 & 4. He requires visits to the vet every third day, and with a week being made up of seven days that means every week the days shift, like a Cat Lunar Calendar. Gregorian Calendar, what's that? We go by the Basboosian Calendar!
(I am perfectly happy to come across as a doting cat lady in this post.)
Anyway, sometimes Bisbis has to go in outside of these scheduled appointments. Despite not being a cat myself, sometimes I too need to go to doctor appointments or run a bunch of other errands that end up taking forever because why is traffic so bad all the time? When I was 12 the population of Jordan was 4.5 million, now that's the population of Amman alone. Is mid-30s the age where you start to reminisce about the days when traffic wasn't so bad? I find that it's a very hot topic in life at the moment.
Back to the story of the last two years. The first half of 2017 was spent feeling hopeless, then I found an amazing vet and Bisbis was getting better. Things were looking up! So, I tried to bring some order back to the shop opening hours but inevitably emergencies would arise and I would have to leave to deal. Gradually I took down opening hours and started posting requests that people get in touch before making the trip to the love.
Few ever did, resulting in many showing up to find the shop closed. People would call me upset, I would attempt to explain and apologize and implore to please next time call in advance. Instead people would message on social media. Being busy with work and away from the internet I would often miss their messages until late at night. People would get more annoyed, I would get more frustrated with the ridiculous number of apps and sites (a dozen?) I'm expected to check for messages, which honestly just isn't a reasonable thing to do. Repeat this cycle for two years and here we are.
Many people have been incredibly kind and generous in understanding the situation I'm in and I'm eternally grateful for that. Many of you have pets of your own and know the love and bond you have with the little floofs. I've run into so many of you at the vet. On the other hand, some of you have suggested I put him down. So, you know, like many parts of life it's a mixed bag.
Some of you might be wondering, if I'm constantly at the vet why can I go off and paint murals then? Well, because murals are scheduled in such a way that I just need to finish work by a certain deadline, how I get that done is on me to figure out. There's a flexibility there that running a shop with strict daily opening hours doesn't offer. Last year was incredible and miserable for that reason, I worked most Fridays of the year, all the public holidays, and had virtually no breaks between projects. I was always making up for lost time.
But look at the prettiness! You can find more photos of each project by checking out my feed on Instagram.
Time-lapse of part of my mural at Farah Hospital, 2018. For more time-lapse videos check out my youtube channel
Despite so many of you being so understanding, This situation just isn't sustainable. I need to make changes in order to keep going in the way I need to for Bisbis and the way I want to for the shop. I also need breaks every now and then. Not having a single day off for months is not normal or sustainable. There's this common misconception that if you do what you love, it's not really work. But of course it is! Work is work. Beloved or not is a different matter. I love art and it's my job. I'm also a human being and we all need a break. No matter how much they loved their job, a lawyer or a banker would never be expected to go without a break. People in creative fields and the self-employed shouldn't be viewed any differently.
The shop opened about 12 years ago, and for the first decade I had regular opening hours and rarely took time off. Two years ago life changed and instead of continuing to make myself miserable and causing frustration all around it's about time I adapt and adjust to my current circumstances. Solidifying changes and creating clarity wouldn't make things worse, but they could make things better.
As far as you're concerned the change is mostly a mental shift: instead of thinking of Love on a Bike as a shop that should have regular weeklong opening hours please reclassify it in your head as my private studio that I open up to the public a couple of weekends a month. What's been lacking these past two years isn't my drive to create nor is it the demand for my work (thank you so much for that!) but it's any sort of structure that allows the two to meet in a positive way.
I want to continue to create things with clay and paint because it's what I've always wanted to do and I want to be able to take care of my cat because I love him. I want to be able to open my shop because I'd like to continue making a living doing this and I want to share what I do with those of you interested in seeing it. Every now and then I would like to paint murals. I want to do those things without causing people frustration or constantly having to apologize. The only way I can make all that happen is by closing shop, creating in solitude, having time to do the life admin stuff without it piling up in the background until it's a monster crushing me in silence, go say hi to the vet every two days, and two weekends a month open up the shop for visitors.
So for January the plan is to open on the first and third weekends of the month:
- January 4th & 5th
- January 18th & 19th
Opening hours for February will be posted on my website and social media by the end of January. But the tentative plan is also to open on the first and third weekends of the month, but the hours for February should be longer.
Every now and then I'll send out an email with updates but mostly I'll just make that information readily available for you to find in this section of my website. The idea is to open on two weekends every month, days when customers always preferred to visit anyway. Most people have Fridays and/or Saturdays off- opening on those days is meant to substitute quantity with convenience. Prior to this I almost never opened on Fridays, so I hope this is a welcomed development.
If any emergency is going to affect these hours I will make sure to post about it on instagram and on here in advance (make sure to bookmark this page if you're not keen on social media). Please check it and don't just show up at the shop on random days that aren't listed. The shop will not be open to visitors outside of these hours.
You can always get in touch with me by calling or texting 079-643-3311. I don't check messages on any social media platform, but you can email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also contact me via the contact page on this website by following this link.
Finally, thank you so much for ever supporting Love on a Bike, even if it was only one time a decade ago. All mountains are made up of tiny bits.
Coming fresh from the Christmas rush the shop is a little empty but I have lots of new ideas I'm really excited to start working on. I hope what this post lacks in concision (it's a real word, I checked) it makes up for in clarity. Two years of confusion just needed to come to an end.
Happy new year!