Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Lurching Drunkenly Towards Bethlehem

Mom's business partner shows up after a two-month sojourn in his home country. He carries with him a pretty acetate portfolio containing the company's profile data and I am... speechless.

I wish I could say it was because the profile and ad inserts were so good they blew me away. They aren't. Given access to more money than Mom will want to release for design collaterals, any of our local cut-rate ad and design guys could do them better. My brief stints freelancing for Hinge and with Bald Man Media have made print layout flaws and no-nos easier for me to spot, and I have to be grateful to Danice, Russel and DarDar for that (even if I'll probably never work with them again thanks to the comlications arising from my familial duties).

I was speechless because I was shocked at my own inability to think outside the box concerning the same protfolio, which I was tasked in part to design. I could have done the same thing better on a really bad day. I'm asking myself just what the hell happened and the answers are coming up as I type.

1. In the first place, I didn't want to do it. (My problem: I'm a know-it-all maverick) I viewed the whole project as an onerous half-baked task handed down to me by a many-headed boss whose heads kept giving me conflicting instructions through a tactless intermediary because they couldn't agree on exactly what they wanted. (Company's problem: Vision and Goals.)

2. It was bad enough that the company bigwigs couldn't pinpoint exactly what they wanted. But that damned language barrier made things worse. (Common problem: Language) By the time instructions filtered down to me, they were... screwy.

I wound up designing a half-assed three-page pamphlet (not a portfolio) that depended on a lot of Freehand-generated gradients for its look.

This is exactly why I'm focusing on learning as many foreign languages as it'll take to hurdle the damned language barrier as fast as I can.

The company cannot, to be slightly sacrilageous, give birth to the Financial Savior if it can't make its way to Bethlehem without lurching drunkenly off course.

3. I was limited by my... I'm calling it my "Third World View" for lack of any better label. I cannot think out of everyone else's "box" because my own conceptual box was too limited by third world economics. All my life I've specialized in stopgaps, improvising solutions to publishing problems because I've never had the right tools, materials and training. (Many of the people I know in design picked up their software expertise on the fly.)

While it's great at showing up know-it-all foreigners who think they can blithely operate in any environment, it is fatal for me. I can't afford to be a know-it-all Third World rustic who postures vainly on the strength of his limited knowledge (which costs money, but that's another journal entry).

Maybe there is something to participating in the Great Filipino Diaspora. It's just too bad I'm too old to get on the bandwagon.


Anyway, I need to restructure my own goals given that the number of my optimal productive years are, to use a kind word, dwindling.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Shades of Michael Jackson

I’m in love with a fourteen-year-old. Which is to say-- by way of disclaimer-- that I am only fascinated by one, and not that I am utterly subject to the compulsions that currently define Michael Jackson and R. Kelly in the public eye.

Actually, there are two very cute fourteen-year-olds in my Japanese language class (Watakushi no Nihongo no kurasu ni totemo kawaii juuyonsai no onna no ko ga imasu.*) and they have done much to add to my interest in the class itself. My own questionable adult status forces me to interact with people closer to my chronological age. I thus find it refreshing to be the butt of a fourteen-year-old’s in-class jokes.

Asahiko-chan pinches hard, and that’s how you tell that she’s accepted your presence in her personal universe as unthreatening. She also calls you kuya-- or ate depending on your gender-- and asks you for grammatical help when sensei isn’t looking. Asahiko’s father is Japanese; apparently, he is flying his family to Japan. The Japanese language class is just some way of giving Asahiko something to do for the summer while her visa gets processed. I haven’t asked her if she really wants to go: while I have given some thought to the eventual difficulties of her adjustment to life in Japan, the question is moot.

I am resolved to give her something before she goes to Japan. She likes Card Captor Sakura, so maybe a drawing will do nicely.

I am interested in Arjane-chan primarily because of her eyes and the structure of her face. I like her nose, even if I normally find noses like hers protruding a little too far. I also like her spunk (she wants to work abroad, and is quite willing to forgo boys to do so) though I privately wish she would stay in the country to help fix the mess her parents’ parents’ generation helped make of it. Her drive and her willingness to undergo the inconvenience of night classes put me to shame. I hope with all my heart that she slips under the collective radar of every screwed-up schoolboy looking for love or a good lay. She doesn’t need the kind of crap I used to put girls through in my younger days.

I’ve never been a father; with my way of screwing up important deals, I wouldn’t want to be one. But I’ve always known that in a perfect world, I’d be honored to realize the desire to raise children-- daughters, preferably. I’m also cursed with having a teaching aptitude and absolutely no credentials. My inner child longs for playmates old and new. As much as I love kids my age, my heart will always hold a special place for children.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Have Bridge, Will Burn

"Have _____, will ______" is a word pattern in American English that means "If you have _______, then we'll do something about it." The phrase is most familiar to me when the words are "Have Bridge Will Burn."

Yes folks, Dex the Flake has struck again. The long and short of my latest gaffe is that people were depending on me and I let them down in a big way.

In the old days, I would have formally concluded my business with them. Then I would have walked away, never to trouble them again. In the same vein, if a friend had let me down --say on matters of money-- I would still have consorted with him, but I would never rely on him on anything to do with money again. If a friend stabbed me in the back, I would simply never be seen with him again-- I'd find another place to haunt, maybe.

But what worked so well with various acquaintances isn't going to work so well here. There are only so many places a man can disappear to, only so many times a man can flush his history down the toilet before he gets too tired to move away or start over. I have too much riding on the more-or-less recent friendships I've made to just drop everything and let "bygones be bygones." There is a world of wealth left for me to learn from the people I've betrayed and to look for new teachers would set my progress back by years if not defeat the purpose of my self-development.

I cannot even stay comfortably in the retreat house of madness or the watershed of self-pity. There is just too much to do and too damned little time to do it in.

I'm sick of saying I'm sorry. They deserve better from me. But here I am, at it again.