Friday, August 11, 2006

Just a Little Satisfaction

Designing by committee--a graphic designer's thorn. You get an assignment, a direction, a feel for the book that needs a cover, the creative juice seeps out through the pores. Ah, a lovely job. Or is it?

After enough people have had at it, have had their say about what they think the color should be, or the font, or the image, or the title, or whether or not the background needs a texture, and should that texture be leather or wood or paint or "patina" from the bucket of acid that I have just thrown onto the mess to demonstrate my complete frustration...after enough people have given their input, it's no longer your joyfilled project that has given you satisfaction down to the roots of your need to create something useful. It has become the hangnail that can't be pulled or trimmed for fear of pain but is left to be ripped off later when you're not looking.

So, where, then, is the satisfaction?

Yesterday, at the end of the work day, when I had both hands full of hangnails, I packed up my horn and rushed off to band practice. I play horn in a community band--a monster of a group with 80 members, 80 members who sit on a hot stage without even a fan for comfort, 80 members who sweat for two and a half hours over Italian music for this weekend's festival. Approximately a dozen of those 80 are trumpet players, and two or three of those dozen are screachers--hotdogs who compete to see how loud and fast and startling their next notes can be. And those two or three sit directly behind me. What was that you just said? Have I become a bit hearing impaired? I'm afraid so.

This two and a half hours sitting with 80 musicians with the eardrum-splitting trumpet licks rattling in my head is the antidote to all ills. It is the nailclipper that promises painfree removel. But last night, it's dosage wasn't enough to counteract the job waiting for me on my computer.

As we all packed up the stage to load the truck for Saturday's concert, I handed music stands to the guy who was stacking them in the rack. One by one, here you go. But darn that last stand--the desk wasn't quite stable enough on the pole, and it flopped just enough to smack him right on the head. A good friend of mine, though, and he was at least tolerant, even through my robust laughter and half-hearted apology. I say "half-hearted" because for some reason--some reason possibly rooted in the bowels of human aggression--I found a little relief in smacking my fellow man in the head. Just a little.

On home, to greet the monster, the hang nail. On home to half a bottle of wine that would at least make me not care that each finger was throbbing from a single loose strand of vulnerable flesh. Poor fingers. I stopped after two full glasses of Reisling because no matter how much I injested, the job was still there.

Finally, head on the pillow, quiet house, children all in their beds...satisfaction. Not because the hangnails will have healed by morning or because the committee wouldn't likely rip them down to the quick another day, but because in the total of all that the day had provided for me, those hangnails weren't all that important. Those hangnails could be treated one at a time with manageable doses of effort and some surgical precision. Here's to another day at the computer, and an Italian band concert that will satisfy from the first note to the final stinger.

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