Monday, February 09, 2009

Finding Inspiration

I try to keep the posts on this blog as creative as possible, but it’s hard to ignore that the majority of my day/week is spent away from my creative setting. I think it’s necessary for me (maybe not for you) to address the non-creative, completely anti-inspirational other part of my daily life and then to realize how inspiration can be found anywhere.

I work at one of the largest HR consulting firms in the WORLD. It’s a very serious place, with lots of serious people, and we deal with serious money. So you can see that this is SERIOUS stuff. It can get pretty stifling at times. That’s why my creative outlets are so important to me. Not everyone has the luxury of being a full-time craftista. Maybe there are some of you out there that can empathize with my situation, maybe not. If not, here’s a look at a work day in the life of me. Please indulge me as I lament...

Getting Up
First, it’s DARK when I get up (nothing new) but now it’s COLD too. This is new to my system. Living most of my life below the Mason-Dixon Line has proven to be a debilitating factor for me here. It wouldn’t be such an issue if I just jumped into my roasty-toasty car and drove to work, but I have a bit of a commute on the public transit to get to my office downtown.

Getting Dressed
Next, I have to figure out how to wear the most layers of clothes without overtly looking like the crazy-southern-fried-hot-house-flower that I really am. On the coldest days, I have ended up wearing a tank top, long underwear top, long sleeve cotton t-shirt, wool sweater, long sweater coat, wool socks, leg warmers, wool pants, and tall woolly boots. Of course, that is just what’s under the wool coat, wool scarf, wool hat, and wool gloves. Overkill? I think not. You can always take the layers off, but once you’re frozen, that’s it for the rest of the day!

The Commute
Then, I step out of the house and choke on the frozen fog that has settled in our valley, walk half a mile to the MAX station, hop on the train (whenever it decides to show up), ride for 45 minutes, get off downtown, walk another 1/2 mile to the office, up the elevator to the 11th floor, enter my beloved cubicle (kidding) where I spend the next 8+ hours staring at a computer screen and being very serious. Then I turn around at the end of the day and do it in reverse, hoping it won’t rain/snow on me or that the train won’t get delayed (I’ve waited in the rain for over an hour on several occasions.)

Getting Home
Finally, once I get home, I strip off the layers upon layers of wool and jump directly into my jammies, put on two fresh pairs of socks (house shoes just don't cut it), have a beer and think of all the crafty things that I’m too tired to do.

I know, you’re thinking “You wanted it. You chose to live where you do and you chose to live the life that you do.” I’ll give you that. I’m not complaining, even if it sounds like it, I’m really not. There are so many things about my daily routine that I am thankful for and find inspiration in.

MUSIC. Specifically, Talking Heads during the commute. I put on my trusty mp3 player (not iPod, not really interested in tricked-out technology for mucho $$$ when the cheap version meets my needs just fine) and I listen to “And She Was” by Talking Heads. This song really gets me to steppin to and from the J-O-B and puts me in a good mood.

Once I’m at work, I have a giant playlist on my computer that gets me through the day, ranging from Bob Marley, Tori Amos, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Stan Getz to Sublime, Radiohead, Temple of the Dog, Stone Temple Pilots, The Verve, and Rage Against the Machine. There are SO many more, but I think this is a representative cross section. Listening to music while I work lets my mind ponder and wonder about the not-so-serious things in life.

BOOKS. Specifically, Tom Robbins when I have a feeling of heightened awareness, curiosity, or lightheartedness. (Jack, Jan or Joan) Kerouac when I want to dream about living without consequence or direction. I also find solace in their descriptions of the “road” that we all seem to share. Steinbeck when I want to embrace fine literature and the allegories that he magically creates. In general, I’ll try out any author or book, but I do prefer to read prose. I just finished Anna Karenina and it was so good, I dreamed in Russian aristocracy for weeks. I cherish the time I spend taking public transportation and not driving. I get to have some prep/recovery time instead of going mad in traffic (and paying tons to park).

Today, I was reading “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins for the millionth time and the intro is fabulous. I must share:


The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes,their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip...

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.

In Europe there is grown widely a large beet they call the mangel-wurzel. Perhaps it is mangel-wurzel that we see in Rasputin. Certainly there is mangel-wurzel in the music of Wagner, although it is another composer whose name begins, B-e-e-t-----.

Of course, there are white beets, beets that ooze sugar water instead of blood, but it is the red beet with which we are concerned; the variety that blushes and swells like a hemorrhoid, a hemorrhoid for which there is no cure. (Actually, there is one remedy: commission a potter to make you a ceramic asshole--and when you aren’t sitting on it, you can use it as a bowl for borscht.)

An old Ukrainian proverb warns, “A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.”

That is a risk we have to take.

So now when I get home, I think “I’m beet” and just laugh a little on the inside and know that it’s all about seeking out and finding inspiration, whether it is creative inspiration or just inspiration to keep on keepin on.

What inspires you?

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