Monday, August 24, 2009


I used to post inspirations. Maybe I should start again - a way to get myself back into the mindset that, above all, to create exciting things, you have to be excited about things...

Check this out:

Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rolling with the Punches...

It was only 6 hours. Less than a full day of work. But, I was exhausted as I walked back into my colleague’s office after the first day of our charette. 24 kids really sap the energy out of you.

That I would assist in a project dealing with kids surprises most of my friends. Mainly because, well, I am not what you’d consider a kid kind of guy. At least, that’s what people would say if you asked them about me.

But there I was, floating around my ghost life, planning a project with kids in mind. What did we want them to get out of the project? How could we achieve that? What am I doing here?

Variations of that last question have preoccupied me a lot lately. What am I doing here? What am I doing teaching kids about the design process? What am I doing with a respirator over my face and lacquer dust accumulating on my jeans? What am I doing on painters stilts? What am I doing with this 60 lb jackhammer jammed against my hip?

It’s August. In a month, I will have officially left my office life for one year. The steadfastness of that routine, the 9 to 6 (or well, 8 or 9 or 10), the desk where I kept my papers, the co-workers who I lunched with – all of that has also turned into a ghost world, one that goes on without me in it. The life I thought I would return to in a few short months? That door has now closed.

So, when I received that call from my old colleague, pondering my interest in a trip back east, what else could I do but say yes? I had nothing planned beyond the completion of my parent’s home, and her proposed dates were well past that benchmark. And, given our past experiences working with each other, this small project would be diverting if nothing else.

Teaching kids brings back ideas and lessons that fade against the grind of conference calls, redlines, deadlines and bosses. Reminders of why you thought this was a profession you wanted to be apart of. In the confines of our temporary studio, Idealism trumped cynicism. Imagination trumped practicality. Why can’t an empty lot become an area for outdoor play and worship? Why can’t abandoned railroad tracks become the foundation for a local amusement park? In the end, our exercises were about exploring the richness of possibilities, in hopes of igniting the interests of our young participants. Getting wild and outrageous ideas on paper, in models and with words reassured us that we had at least made headway.

For two weeks, I found relief in knowing what I was doing. Unlike this past year, where my days have been spent feeling pretty incompetent, for two weeks I was suddenly the “expert”. That’s a good feeling.

Limbo is cool for a little while, but I still haven’t quite found comfort in rolling with the punches, which I guess this entire past year has been about. Yet, while not necessarily loving life in the unknown, I find myself less and less inclined for a return to the way things were. I look back on this past year with a sense revelation. As though I might be close to a breakthrough. To what, that remains to be answered. But it seems close enough to imagine and dream. To ignore reality and think of possibilities once again.