The Tool is Not The Art

Sitting in my inbox is an invitation to join a professional association. For the tidy sum of 130 Euros (about $188 USD) I get membership, subscription to a magazine, access to networking, and as a special gift, I get a Moleskine notebook.

The ad copy reads “synonymous with quality, travel, imagination and personal identity, this notebook is a perfect companion – wherever you find inspiration or a new idea.

Even the webpage for Moleskine refers to their product as “legendary notebooks,” noting that Hemingway, Van Gogh and Matisse all used Moleskines for their creative endeavors.

I think it’s generally agreed that the Moleskine notebook is the gold standard for artists and intellectuals and such…


So why do I have *such* a mental block about using these particular notebooks? I mean, I use a LOT of different notebooks in the course of my day, but something about the Moleskine brand itself makes me want to rebel and shout and say “No, no, no! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”

I want to buy a dollar store composition book and write the greatest tome that ever existed. I wish to make my 9×6 Mead college ruled notebook the new, best standard! Hell, I can create wonderful poetry on torn piece of brown paper bag!



I guess I bristle at the marketing-driven hipster idea that 1) you aren’t a real artist unless you use a Moleskine and 2) by having a Moleskine, that makes automatically makes you an artist.

Plus, they are freaking expensive. A 5×8, 240 page Moleskine is almost $10 on Amazon. And you can’t even angstily tear out a page because of the way its bound, the whole thing gets all jacked up if you rip a page out.

A Mead 5-Star 9×6 college ruled notebook with 180 pages is about $6.00 from Staples. Less if you pick up a bunch on sale. Rip pages out to your heart’s content.

Much more starving artist credibility, if you ask me.

I know, I know. The answer to all of this is, “Then don’t use Moleskines, Crazy Ass (<- my original Indian name)" Ok, by this point are you wondering just what's the point of this blog post? Yeah, me too. I guess the fight went out of me after I typed all those capitalized letters. Oh no wait, no, I got it: The artist makes the tools work. The tools don't make the artist work. If ya wanna use a Moleskine, use a Moleskine. You still have to put pen to paper and make it art.

I love how four years of writing this blog really starts to show the themes that run inside of me. While choosing tags for this post, I was surprised to find that “office supplies” has already been used as a tag. Call me (not) unpredictable…..

Time To Update The Rules

So you know this whole schoolyard game called roshambo, also known as rock-paper-scissors?

Yeah. I played it on the schoolyard. Years ago there was a lively night in Las Cruces where a drunk cowboy accused my best friend of cheating at rock-paper-scissors. She wasn’t cheating, he was just so drunk that his reflexes were slow, and she could see what was coming.

Plus, he kept throwing rock. Nothing else. Just rock. Sorta hard to sort out that strategy.

But that’s history. Let’s get current.

Recently in my internet wanderings, I read someone’s blog post discussing how maybe rock and paper and scissors aren’t the best choices in this game.

I wish I could recall where I read this so I could give credit. It was a quick piece, but for some reason the points stayed with me.

Ok, so basic rules, as we all know:

Rock beats scissors since rock smashes scissors. Good, ok, I’m on board.

Scissors beats paper since scissors cuts paper. Ok, yup.

Paper beats rock, because paper covers rock.

: cue the sound of squealing brakes :

What now? Paper covers rock and thus renders it ineffective?

Not so sure about that. I’m onboard with broken scissors and cut paper, but the logic doesn’t follow to paper covered rock.

I’m pretty gall damn sure that if I cover a rock with a piece of paper then huck that rock offa someone’s dome, it’s STILL going to cause damage. Paper has done *nothing* to render the rock useless or ineffective.

All I know is that in the heat of the battle I’m taking rock or scissors with me because no sissy piece of paper is going to save my hide! I need something with some heft!

This game has been flawed for YEARS!

So I propose some alternates. How about rock-scissors-machete?

Rock beats scissors since rock can smash the scissors.

Machete beats rock because a super sharp machete can either deflect the rock or maybe cut it?

Then scissors beats machete? Ok, this idea is starting to break down. Maybe scissors can cut the handle covering off machete thus leaving it very slippery?

No? Ok.

Let’s try again.

Rock-scissors-plastic explosives?

Rock smashes scissors.

Scissors cuts up plastic explosives, thus making it less powerful.

Plastic explosives blows the bejeebus out of rock.

See. That works. And it makes a lot more logical sense. We can even keep the hand gestures the same. A flat slab of plastic explosives could look kinda like paper. It really works!

Wow, I’m brilliant. A certified GENIUS! (or simply certified).

Image from Wikimedia and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This week’s Theme Thursday was posted a day early, so I dove in. This week’s theme is “paper.”

Asked and Answered

It’s a hot summer afternoon and the late day sun is baking the concrete and the asphalt and the children in the backyard.

Even the grass is hot under bare feet as the mercury climbs over one hundred degrees and the town swelters.

From somewhere over the Sandias, a mass of clouds, not there ten minutes ago, begins to move and swirl and pick up momentum.

Blackening like a fresh bruise, the clouds grow darker and more imposing right in front of your eyes.

Before moisture is wrung loose, the clouds must announce their presence with all the showmanship of a meteorological Liberace.

Gaudy lightening forks across the sky, splitting into tongues, lapping out for opposite minded currents.

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four….

An Earth shattering crack shakes the house on its frame and the thunder sounds like the hand of God is ripping the sky asunder.

The cloud’s fireworks rage on, putting on a dry show while pent up demand for the rain grows stronger.

We’re all waiting in anticipation for what Mother Nature has to offer. In the desert, her moisture offerings don’t always make it all the way to the ground before evaporating.

The maddening effect of 7% humidity.

The wailing wind rushes through the streets lifting corners of shingles and twirling tree tops like green haired Troll dolls and rattling every window.

Howling in its intensity, the wind takes patio tables and trash cans and everything not nailed down and turns it on end. Over end. Over end.

Dogs stop howling and begin whimpering, begging to come in.

Children who were brave enough to face the lightening and thunder now race inside as pea sized hailstones on the force of the wind are pile driven into sun burnt skin.

“Ow!” they shout and race for cover.

After the showy display of hard frozen pebbles, the storm is ready to give up its cargo.

Rain, big heavy drops begin falling. No, not lightly first and then harder. Nuance won’t do.

The skies open up and the angels pour buckets out of the clouds and oh holy sh*t is the rain pouring down.

For ten minutes the world is coming apart and you hope the roof holds the walls hold the windows hold and “oh please don’t let that be a tornado.”

And then as quickly as it started, it’s done. The boiling clouds move on, intent on playing out their performance in another town another state another day.

The skies turn blue and the sun picks up where it left off, blazing down on the world below. Quickly, the wet ground starts to warm up.

Ozone lingers in the air and the drying rain gives off a smell of wet, hot concrete and moist earth.

The odor is fresh, clean, pure, natural.

Once frightened children begin to creep outside to play in the last hours of the daylight savings time white hot summer sun that soon enough gives over to pinks and oranges. Stars begin to peek through the sky….

And all of this is meant to answer the one simple question:

“For me, the smell of childhood is…”

Image found over at Visit her site, she’s got some amazing storm photographs.

Apologies to defenders of good grammar. After spending all day writing under someone else’s rules and word count restrictions, a rule breaking stream of consciousness felt *really* good.

And Then I Get Out Of The Wayback Machine

I got a little down this past weekend. It might have been coming off one of the busiest weeks in recent memory. Twelve hour work days can bring a girl down.

It could have been the emails flying around about the upcoming memorial for my friend. It hurts my heart.

Perhaps it was simply about the dark gray skies and soaking rain that laid down like a cold, wet blanket over the Bay Area.

Yeah. It was all of that. But there’s one more.

Back in February, when I was visiting my Fair New Mexico, my best good friend told me some really good news.

“Friend, there’s a Lake Valley coming up! Joe Delk got the permits!”

Well, this made me grin so hard, the sides of my mouth met around the back of my head.

Ah Lake Valley. Now there’s a memory.

The town of Lake Valley, once a booming silver mine, is now a ghost town. Out there in the middle of gosh darn nowhere (a little to the left of I-25, a little to the right of Silver City), there are a few buildings still standing.

One of them is an old schoolhouse. For a lot of years, cowboys, ranchers, locals and college kids got together at that Lake Valley schoolhouse for a good old-fashioned country dance.

When I say a lot of years, I mean my best friend’s grandma remembers coming out to Lake Valley to dance, and she and I do too.

People came from miles around to tailgate, share beer and stories, and dance on the uneven wood boards of that rickety old schoolhouse.

The last Lake Valley dance happened back in the late eighties. The BLM has taken over the land and buildings and it’s been mighty hard to get in there ever since.

But to hear that Joe Delk, leader of local band The Delks, had somehow persuaded the BLM to go along? Well hell, I bought my ticket PDQ. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

March 19th was when it was set to go down.

About a week before I started packing my bags, I got the news. Sadly, it was not to be. Evidently the BLM wanted a whole lot of restrictions that just wouldn’t work. So Joe cancelled the dance.

When I heard the news, I felt low.

And so…on this past rainy Saturday, I looked out my window and I texted my best friend. “This would have been Lake Valley weekend.”

“Yeah,” she replied. Then she sighed.

And I sighed.

But it was not to be.

I guess Lake Valley gets to live on only in our memories.

Maybe I should write a story about it one day. It’s a intriguing bit of New Mexico history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Ah well. Monday rolled around and the rain came down and work was waiting and I stepped out of the wayback machine and back into my life.

But somewhere in my dreams, I scoot across the uneven floors, careful not to trip on a nail, while the band plays “Put Your Little Foot”…..and we dance.

That’s the schoolhouse. Now imagine it at night. Very dark out there…

Photo from Jimmy Emerson‘s Flickr photostream.

I Need Some Cheek Salve

Yeah, so I’ve talked a lot here on the blog about my job and working with folks around the globe. I am having a lot of fun and getting pretty gosh darn smart about the different cultures in the regions where I’m working.

But there’s one thing I’m having a LOT of trouble with.

It’s the kiss-cheek greeting thing.

The Euro folks seem to favor this method, and it’s not one cheek, but both. Shake hands, smooch one side, smooch the other side.

Suddenly, I become VERY rigid when I see these supplier reps coming in for a landing on my face. Gah!

Just this week, we had a VERY large meeting where there were, I kid you not, eight people who flew in from London for a meeting. I greeted them in the lobby and had to kiss-kiss all eight of these sumnabitches.

I don’t even know all of them. Hell, I don’t even LIKE most the ones I do know.

But they all stood in line to smooch-smooch me.

Then…when the two hour meeting was over, it was time to leave, and they all lined up to smooch-smooch me on the way out.

I felt a little…mauled…by the time the day was through.

Might I add that I was the only girl in the room of eight external people and five coworkers. There was no kissy-kissy between the guys. No, I got the brunt of the moist greetings.

Damnit! I’m an American! We like a little bit of space in our greetings! Also, I’m no good at the kiss-kiss. I never know where to land the thing. Do just sort of kiss the air? Or do I actually place it? And what if, horror of horrors, I miss and land it wrong?

I did accidentally bump noses with one of the dudes. Is that bad form?

All that aside, it just seems…wrong…to get to get that intimate with a freaking supplier. They aren’t my friends! They aren’t in my confidence! THEY ARE SUPPLIERS and therefore need to be treated at arm’s length to be sure they remember their boundaries.

Then again, maybe this is all a negotiation tactic to throw me off my game. Ooh, if I think about it that way, this kissy-kissy crap seems diabolical.

Mostly it just makes me uncomfortable.