Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Evolution of Exercise.

I am learning yoga from an elephant. As I have neither the time nor the resources to take a proper yoga class at the local studio around the corner, I have settled for five minute sessions with Babar, the Elephant King. Every morning I flip through the illustrations and try a new pose, going until I break out into a light sweat before heading off to work. The mornings I wake up with time to spare, that is, which really amounts to maybe once or twice a week, if that. Babar's Yoga for Elephants - you should try it.

My mum likes to tell me to exercise, but what she's really implying is that I'm gaining weight. She says this not as a stage mom or an iron-fisted matriarch, but matter-of-factly, kindly. I think mostly, she's worried that I'm scaring the boys away.

It's been years since I worked out at a gym. I once accompanied my best friend to Club One to use the immaculate showers and to check out firsthand what these widely-referenced "elliptical" machines were. But that's about it.

I do ride bikes, however. Just today, I had the following exchange with my co-worker:
"Hey Houghton! Where you off to?"
"I'm going to Slice and the gym!" she replies, as I ride by, one hand maneuvering my GBike and the other, shoving a double chocolate fudge brownie into my mouth.

As Google promotes this type of active lifestyle and green living, I find that I, too, am evolving in unexpected ways. After ten months at the Googleplex, I have yet to sign up for the gym, although I have given many a tour of it. When I worked for Nissan, I registered the first week of employment only never to return. I like to think I have grown more self-aware.

After all, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. And Steve Jobs is absolutely right. So I have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in my future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Riddle Me This.

I tend to be indecisive about most things. Waiting in line at Chipotle, I'll order a burrito - half chicken, half steak. And when faced with an ice breaker question, I'll give two responses, as various contexts must be considered. But there is one question that I know the answer to. Should you ask me what my favorite movie is, it's simple. I'll say Breakfast at Tiffany's in a heartbeat. Delve a little further and ask me why it was my favorite film, I would have been hard pressed for an answer.

As I'm learning that design is about solving a problem, not just mere aesthetics or decoration, I got to thinking about why I loved this movie so and wanted to highlight the paradox that is Holly Golightly. The girl about town has her wild side and little black dresses (Givenchy, no less) but is, as Paul Varjak aptly puts it: "a girl who can't help anybody, not even herself." She accepts $50 for trips to the powder room from mafiosos, rats, and super rats alike, while maintaining a distance from those who really care about her. She's stuck in a cage she built herself, and a night spent in jail, a failed romance with a Brazilian aristocrat, and the untimely death of her brother Fred aren't enough to jar her out of her mental confines. Her breaking point comes when she throws her no-name Cat out into a rainy New York alley, only to realize that she's formed an attachment to the cat. And if a no-named Cat could find a place in her heart, maybe, just maybe, someone could accept her - hang ups and all.

And so all this I wanted to channel into this poster.

I'm delirious, and I stayed up all night designing it, but I'm done! Here it is:
The city and the cat are technicolor to reflect the format of the original 1961 film. Black and white text to further the paradox. Didot serif font selected for it's curvy y's - reminiscent of a cat's tail. Cat gets center stage as he embodies the core emotional value, serving as the one constant, whereas Holly is here and there and everywhere. And robin's egg blue background to reflect Tiffany's, of course. There's more, but delirium seems to have taken over.

It just occurred to me that I must wake up for work in two hours. Oh my.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ugly Jesus.

I went to visit my friend Dave at his studio the other night, when he reintroduced me to a familiar figure. After walking around his studio and stopping to examine each piece, I then came across a face painted on a small square canvas that had been casually strewn aside.

"Who's that?" I asked. "Santino Rice?"

Now Dave is the kind of guy who can't remember what happened thirty seconds prior. He once called me and the first two minutes of the conversation consisted of him trying to recall whether I had called him or he had called me. He's an artistic soul.

To say that Dave knows pop culture - music notwithstanding - is to say that I am coordinated. Unless it's Yo La Tengo we're talking about, all I'll get is a blank stare. That an homage to Project Runway could lie amidst the rest of his artwork is unthinkable. I should have known.

"That's Ugly Jesus," he replied.

Now, I was thoroughly confused. Dave is a fellow believer, but not cut of the same cloth as the conservative right wing Bible belt Christian that seems to be today's prevailing stereotype. Come to think of it, I don't know very many of those. We probably wouldn't get along.

"Ugly Jesus?"
"Yeah, Ugly Jesus."

Dave simply believes. And so he explained. Explained how he thought Jesus was ugly, of how he was rugged and dirty but charismatic in the unconventional sense - the guy that marches to his own beat and everyone loves him for it - much like San Francisco. Of how in order for him to care for the people that he did, how he couldn't possibly have been a smooth operator.

"Oh, okay," I said, nodding thoughtfully as another painting caught my eye. And I proceeded to ask him about that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I Wish.

When I was young, I wished for many things. I had read this story about a man who caught a leprechaun and was granted three wishes. Being both male and unable to think past his immediate needs, upon minor hunger pains, he wished for a sausage. Furious for having wasted a wish, his wife proceeded to berate him for his stupidity. He then wished the sausage upon her nose. And as his wife's fury descended into pleading at the newfound appendage, he wished the sausage off her nose, unable to tolerate any more of her nagging. And then they shared it as a meal and lived happily ever after.

Something happened today that got me to thinking about some of my childhood desires. I wished to be an Olympic figure skating champion. Sad to say, I never saw the day, and I never even made it to triples. I wished blond haired, blue eyed Vince G. would reciprocate my three-year long first crush. He never did, or so I thought, but he rocked my world for the entirety of the fourth grade.

I wished for a chinchilla upon having petted one at what I now can only presume was an illegal pet shop by the skating rink. And just like my parents repeatedly nixing the puppy idea, they soon laid this one to rest as well in the graveyard of bright-eyed dreams. I wished for glasses, and those I got, only after mock-squinting and lying during my eye exam.

"O.. F, no wait, E, I mean, F.. L.. C? Er.. I think it's another O.."

And to think, I was so pleased with my pink plastic-framed nerd glasses. The prescription lenses were probably what caused my descent into bad vision.

Lastly, I wished for a broken bone. There would be a story:

"Yeah, I must've caught a rut when landing my lutz," I'd say nonchalantly. "The ambulance had to come." I could barely do a toe loop, but it didn't matter.
"That's soooooooooo rad! Did they ring the siren?" This was to be followed by a series of oooohs and aaaahs.

And I, too, wanted a cast that all my friends could sign. I had it all planned out. There would be markers and Sharpies, and I would provide subtle artistic direction on what the best use of space would be. Vince's signature would be front and center, of course. And there would also be flowers, Sanrio characters, and thoughtful messages. Well, as thought-filled as is possible for a fifth grader. And for all those reasons, I so badly wanted a hairline fracture.

Today, after a series of x-rays and years of unrequited longing, that dream came true.