Saturday, June 20, 2009

Creative Struggle

They sit right above my head, over my desk, mocking me. Boxes of beads, in colors chosen solely by my whims. Gorgeous findings that I've amassed from trips to bead stores now long gone.

But I just can't create.

Part of it is that I know it will just open the door to wanting more.

"This necklace would be just perfect if I could intersperse some bronze bicones here. But I only have copper, which would ruin it. Maybe I'll go to that store while I'm doing errands..."

And the next thing you know, I've spent way more than I've intended.

Sure, I've challenged myself to make something -- anything -- out of just the materials I have on hand.

But that nagging voice in the back of my head often wins out: "Just another five little 6 mm silver Bali cubes, and this could be awesome!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Made with Love

Today, I bought a scarf. On sale, at a chain store. With a coupon. Plus an added discount. A genuine bargain.

The store clerk carefully matched up each edge, smoothing it down into a neat square, before sheathing it in a sheet of tissue paper into which he'd folded a smart pleat down the center.

"Thank you for wrapping that so nicely!" I said, as he slipped it into the mini shopping bag.

"Well, it's silk, it deserves a little love," he replied.

Don't a lot of things?

In France, I'd marveled at the array of packets and parcels into which the store clerks arranged my purchases--both large and small. There was value in taking care.

Aren't most work-related tasks worth doing with at least a little love?

Over lunch one day, a friend looked down at his sandwich ruefully, the smoked turkey flapping half-outside the whole grain bread, more lettuce scattered on the tray than on the bread.

"Some days, they're made with love, some days they aren't," he summed up.

This from a guy who readily admitted that most days, food was little more than fuel for his high-octane workouts.

But people do notice these things. And it all goes into what makes a shopping or eating experience worthwhile.

Care is what sets great companies--and star workers--apart from the rest.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Traveling Light

It's been a while since I traveled for work regularly. But when I did, I invested in a TravelPro wheel-aboard bag. Those things wear like iron, but they look like everything else: black cordura, blah-blah-blah.

I'll be breaking out the bag soon for an upcoming trip, with three days of business casualwear in that single bag, with laptop on the side. It'll be an exercise in squishtastic packing, but I think I can do it.

Check a bag? Pfft. No.

Not after sitting for two days of a three-day conference beside a bevvy of belles whose luggage took a trip to chillier climes (Chicago) while they cooled their heels in Atlanta, trying to make jeans and jogging suits look quasi-professional with the help of the jewelry they'd stowed in their carry-ons.

Lesson learned: pack light and take your luggage on board. And if you can't, make sure the outfit you're wearing on the flight is comfortable while minimally passing as professional.

Admittedly, I wear way too many pairs of shoes when away -- out of necessity. Plus, I normally schlep along a serious hair dryer whenever I travel because hotel models are seldom adequate. Oh, and did I mention my obsession with hair products?

This is going to take a while.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Take Eames

You know, that Eames couple was onto something. There's much to be said for remaining true to oneself in one's work.

Another idea I admire is giving yourself the freedom to experiment, but make it good. Don't settle for just "OK" because that's not part of who you are. (That requires really knowing who you are. Which you should. But that's another whole post.)

In the meantime, don't lose sight of the forest while you're busy picking bark off the trees, as it were.

Having a point of view helps one's judgment. Because you can say "no, that's not right," with authority and rigor.

To me, all these attributes result from flow--that rare instance when mind, body and spirit are in perfect harmony with what one is doing. Where you are doing exactly what you should be doing at a given moment.

At points when I'm creating something I'm really proud of, I totally experience this.

What about you?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Grace Issue 48: TGIF

  1. Boy, the week after a holiday week is long-long-long, isn't it? Friday's been in my sights since Monday morning, seeming oh-so far off until, lo! Here it is! Huzzah!
  2. Knowing I wouldn't have to cook dinner tonight gave me a bounce in my step.
  3. The fact that Mr. Spandrel picked up the pizza we'd planned was an even bigger treat.
  4. Trying the country vegetable pizza and finding it to be mouth-wateringly delicious - way beyond expectations - added to that celebratory, "hey-the-weekend's-here" feeling.
  5. We get pizza from a neighborhood joint where, when I arrive for pickup, they yell out, "I'm ready for you, baby!" when I walk in. And that makes me laugh out loud each time.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Yes, I am twittering. It is more an experiment than anything else. Very few of my offline friends use Twitter (I think? Set me straight!), so I'm anxious to see how many of the other bloggers I follow find value in it.

Just like anything online, it can quickly take over your life and make your eyes glaze over.

I am vowing not to post what I ate for lunch; my blog is guilty enough of that atrocity, as it is.

Are you on Twitter yet? Why or why not? Take my poll - see upper-right corner.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Writers

When I was a teenager, I got hold of a copy of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I think my Mom had recommended it. Anyway, I was so thrilled with Salinger's style, that informal way he had of writing a sentence that made you part of that moment in time he'd captured.

I literally spent the day with Salinger; as I recall, I sat down to read the book and didn't get up until I was finished.

It's like I made that moment in time -- captured by Catcher in the Rye -- part of my own moment in time.

As a kid, I read books voraciously. Routinely, I checked out of the library as many books as our local branch allowed - I think it was 10 books. Each night I read late into the night, until my Mom would yell upstairs to turn out my bedroom light.

Never one to read by flashlight, I went through a phase where I simply kept my light on all night because I often stayed up to read so late into the evening, that I'd drift in and out of sleep. Without the light, if I woke up, I'd feel disoriented. Bad habit that took years to break.

Jonathan Franzen's writing piques the same mental salivary glands that Salinger's Catcher in the Rye did for me way back when. I can't get enough of it, and with every sentence another frame of of that fictional world is built in my mind. I love that feeling.

Franzen's got a short story in The New Yorker this week and when I spotted it in the table of contents, I let out a silent "yipeee!" Just like I do when I see something by David Sedaris or Patricia Marx, or even Steve Martin appear on that page.

Check out the Franzen story and let me know what you think. Go ahead. Comment at will!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Aubergine. Oh'-ber-zheen.

How l love that word - from its pronunciation to the color it represents.

(Although I am not crazy about eggplant, which is what it translates to in English.)

A dark, almost-black purple, it's mysterious and deep, with more character than other dark colors.