Monday, September 20, 2010

Almost Perfect... But Not Quite

Back when my Dad was a sign painter, he would painstakingly layout the lettering for his signs. Everything would be measured and centered just ever so. He would load up his palette with paint, swipe the brush back and forth through it until it was just wet enough. I was always in awe at the way he could pull a line with a brush. He would outline the letters, then fill them in, and not a drop of paint was ever out of place. Inevitably, he'd get to the last few letters of whatever he was working on, and my Mom (who did his bookkeeping part time), would walk by and somewhat timidly say something like, "Uh, Harold, "Permision" is actually spelled with two S's..." Cue my Dad tossing the brush down. Cue the lesson in creative cursing.

I am ignominiously proud to say that, not only did I inherit my Dad's artistic abilities, but I also inherited his ability to royally screw up a project. Because, like Dad, when I put my mind to something, it's all or nothin', Baby! Oh, and I'm here to say that those lessons in creative cursing weren't for naught. I'm good at that too... particularly when I screw up.

It's funny, kind of, I can forgive anyone else pretty much anything. Step on my toe, break my favorite dish, dent my car. It's okay, shit happens. No big deal. Don't sweat it. What's done is done. Really, I don't get bent at all. But when I'm the one who screws up? I have a really tough time forgiving myself. I'm much harder on myself than anyone else could ever be - probably because I wouldn't put up with that kind of crap from anyone else.

See... I messed up a card order. It was a big order for 75 cards, all saying the same thing. Yes, I'm smart enough to run a proof by the customer. I did that. Then I had to reformat the wording so it would print better. In doing so, I inadvertently typed in the wrong street name. Then, in complete oblivion, I printed out all 75, proceeded to stamp all 75 with multiple stamps and various colored inks, and even filled in each little dragonfly wing with glitter... 600 wings, all told. Oh, but wait! That's not all!! I even shipped the buggers, express mail, overnight.

When the package still hadn't been received after two days, I checked the tracking. Only to find out that it had been sent back to the Seattle hub because the address wasn't good. How could that be?! I immediately called the customer, told him what had happened, and said, "Isn't this your address?!" He said, "Uh, no. We live on (let's just say) Lavender Street, not Freesia Street."

Creative cursing ensues. Lots of it.

The customer laughed it off, saying, "Hey, shit happens. Don't sweat it." Steve, seeing my distress, hugged me and said, "It'll be okay, Honey. Stuff like this happens." I, on the other hand, internally ranted at myself and worked myself into a funk to the point that Steve actually called me, jokingly (albeit his timing was neither good nor wise), "Bummer Barb." That's it. Nobody calls me Bummer Barb. Time for an attitude adjustment. Mine, not his.

I went outside and breathed deep - the scent of the rain was delicious. I reminded myself that I'm not perfect and nobody, including myself, should expect perfection out of me. Duh. I asked myself the questions that I always ask when things go awry, "Is this the worst thing in the world to ever happen?" Nope. "Is it fixable?" Yep. "What needs to be done?" Redo the damned things, no way around it. "Am I loved and lovable?" Uhhuh.

So, yesterday, fueled with the tasty pancakes that Steve makes, I headed up to the studio and cranked out another 75 cards. It took me most of the day. Of course, this time I went for overkill and proofread them 4 times. I'm not stupid. It wasn't what I wanted for a Sunday afternoon, but it had to be done. Lesson learned. Of course, lesson number one is proofread. Walk away. Proofread again. Lesson number two is, I make other people unhappy when I don't forgive myself. Lesson three? Shit happens. Let it go.

And the creative cursing? Yeah, I'm keeping that lesson too. Comes in handy and chances are good that I'll need it again. The wonderful poet, Shel Silverstein, said, "Almost perfect... but not quite." My Dad said, "You'd bitch if you were hung with a new rope."

Poetry by Shel Silverstein

"Almost perfect... but not quite."
Those were the words of Mary Hume
At her seventh birthday party,
Looking 'round the ribboned room.
"This tablecloth is pink not white--
Almost perfect... but not quite."

"Almost perfect... but not quite."
Those were the words of grown-up Mary
Talking about her handsome beau,
The one she wasn't gonna marry.
"Squeezes me a bit too tight--
Almost perfect... but not quite."

"Almost perfect... but not quite."
Those were the words of ol' Miss Hume
Teaching in the seventh grade,
Grading papers in the gloom
Late at night up in her room.
"They never cross their t's just right--
Almost perfect... but not quite."

Ninety-eight the day she died
Complainin' 'bout the spotless floor.
People shook their heads and sighed,
"Guess that she'll like heaven more."
Up went her soul on feathered wings,
Out the door, up out of sight.
Another voice from heaven came--
"Almost perfect... but not quite."


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  2. We are our own worst judges, aren't we... Remind me to tell you about the HUUUGE blood drive I co-ordinated, with letters to the press, TV & radio spots, etc., stating that "drive is open to the public" NUMEROUS times through out the ads. Proofed that news release I don't know how many times, and yet still left out the "l" in public...

  3. Shit does indeed happen. i can't believe you had to redo them all! But you got it done and your attitude about the whole thing is great, better than mine may have been.

  4. Oh, Cyndi... you just made my day! That is hilarious (and so like something I would do!).

    Jess, I actually kinda channeled you. I hope you don't mind, but I visualized you helping me and listening to music and chatting while we worked on them. It helped. Congratulations! You are now one of my Muses!!

  5. Wha....? Really? You hope i don't MIND? i am honored to be one of your muses! Awesome.

  6. Did I ever mention my first TWO attempts at creating the city Calendar of Events?

    The first time I spelled CALENDAR OF EVENTS on the cover in all caps-- a move which prevents spell-check from catching typos... like me spelling the primary facking word c-a-l-e-n-d-A-r with an E instead of an A(can you say 5,000 professionally printed copies? I knew you could).

    The NEXT one I was allowed to create had a one-digit error in a phone number-- not fatal, except that instead of being the number for the box office of one of the local arenas, it was now a man's PRIVATE, UNLISTED home number... We told him we'd already shipped out at least half of the 5,000 copies by the time he called, so after he threatened to sue us for invasion of privacy, I got to spend several thrilling evenings hand-correcting the phone number.

    Paranoid about editing? You betcha ~

    Understand your frustration? Ditto ~


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