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“they really need to upgrade their font.” (merely-a-thought monday]

font

it runs in the family.  we are font-picky.   truth, we are font-obsessive.

when My Girl was younger and we would make a trip to the library, she would scan along the shelves.  with scorn she would scoff at titles – not because of the title, but because of the font used on the spine.  “it can’t be any good if they didn’t pay any attention to the font they used,” she’d dismissively roll her eyes.

i am known to go on and on about fonts.  d can tell you.  i am consistently surprised at how little regard is given to the chosen font in the delivery of a message – a title – a branding.  i am often heard saying, “what were they thinking?”  and when d can’t relate i text or show 20; i know he will join me in my rant.

we were recently walking in downtown chicago through the neighborhoods heading north with My Boy.  we passed by a barnes & noble.  glancing over, he derisively declared, “they really need to upgrade their font.”  i started laughing when i saw d’s face; i know he was thinking i’m surrounded by them, these font-fussy folks.  i couldn’t be prouder.

you have to admit though.  you have, at least a time or two, noticed a font and either thought, “wow! i love the way that looks!” or “yuck.  that doesn’t fit at all.”  you have been on a website where the front page boasts six or seven different fonts, all different colors, no continuity, no crispness.  yuck.  it’s a mishmash for your eyes and makes you quickly lose interest, likely the opposite of what the site was trying to encourage.

take the title in the image above.  a gift, it is literally the title of a book on one of my shelves.  offering no opinion on the book itself, i just want to say that based on the font for the title merry thoughts i never would have purchased it.  i mean, look at it!  does that look merry to you??  it looks more like a halloween font than any kind of merry font. is it sarcastic font?  is it tongue-in-cheek font?  hardly.  that font would have stopped me.  boom!  no purchase.   what were they thinking?

serifs. sans serif.  the kerning, the capitalization or lack thereof.  the use of punctuation. the color of the font.  overuse of italics.  bold style vs regular.  the amount of clean space.  etc. etc. etc.  all of it.  it all counts.

i love design.  inspired from years and years of watching and listening and learning and probably asking too many questions, sitting over the shoulders of 20 and justine as they worked on album covers and posters and such, i now love working on designing recognition around font or a certain ‘look’, fresh ideas for brands or organizations that seem dated or tired or just boring.  there is no shortage.  look around.  so many graphics.  so little attention to detail.  what are they thinking?

we are never bored driving across town, across the state, across the country.  there i am, in our giant-sign-laden-land, gesturing and ranting, pointing out the billboards with design-police diatribes.  “they really need to upgrade their font!” i announce.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“don’t try to get it over with.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dont try to get it over with

a dime.  if i had a dime for every time i heard, “is this you?” as i answered the phone i would possibly be a rich girl.  i am a rich girl, nevertheless, simply because of the utterance of those words.  a dime for every lifeline.

in the craziest time of life, when i was reeling, hearing the voice of my dear friend scordskiii on the phone was a lifesaver.  it was a crazy time of life for him as well, profoundly devastating.  but we weren’t alone in our individual fires.  they raged about us and we each held the other safe, just away from the flames.  were i to have gotten that era over with as-fast-as-possible i would have missed it, this symbiotic exchange of breathing-together, of MAKING-it-through not getting-through-it.  conversations of laughter, singing, telling stories, pondering, arguing points, more laughter.  hours upon hours while he drove in some other part of the country and i sat up all night keeping him company or i drove way-far-away from where he was and he talked me through what i most needed to process at the time.  or we just sat still, in our own corner of the world, talking.  really really talking.  hours of review, of planning, of sorting, of truth, of fear, of ranting.  and laughter.  i have no idea what i would have done without him.  and, despite the pain and the fallout and the ash that (still) remains after the smoldering fire was finally doused, i am grateful to the universe for making me walk through it.  for making me be present.  for not keeping me from the lessons, for giving me reasons to not try to get it over with.  it was an extraordinary time.  the lifeline he extended to me is a thread that will never be broken.  despite his ensuing here-gone-here-gone-ness, his presence will always be a part of what has woven into what looks like me, what is me.

the fire.  who are the people who will stand in the fire with you, will stand still with you, will unconditionally love you, will be your guardian, your buoy, your champion, your lifeline?  how many dimes would you have by now?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“make hundreds.” [merely-a-thought monday]

make hundreds

when he said, “make hundreds”, he wasn’t referring to blogposts.  my sweet poppo was for-sure-analog and didn’t really even know what a blog was.  he was sending me off to school or work, calling after me to “make hundreds”, a tad bit of pressure for an A+ seeking student but taken with a bit of a grain of salt because my poppo said it with great love.  today starts the one-hundredth week of our blogposts in the melange and daddy-o would be impressed.  it’s one hundred weeks, after all.

clearly, in just a few short weeks it will be two full years.  two years that we have sat next to each other and written a post that was inspired by the same image, the same quote, the same painting or piece of music.  it has been a profound experience.  we have written on the raft with dogdog and babycat curled up next to us, on the beach, in the high mountains, in hotels and airbnbs, in coffeehouses, in relatives’ homes, in the noise of a city, in the quiet on island.  whether or not others are reading my words, i look forward to every single day of writing and am stunned to think that i probably have more in the way of written word now than songs.  is that possible?  (even at a mere 500 words a post it is somewhere around 250,000 words, about 3-4 novels worth.)  it is the best stuff of sitting up in the maple tree outside my growing-up-house on long island for hours on end, writing, writing, writing.

we sit at the starting gate with our inspiration of the day and then, without looking at what the other is writing, we expound on what we see or feel or think.  it’s ‘he said, she said.’  we’ve often thought about, and might just follow through, capturing them into a journal where the same image or quote could stimulate a third person’s writing.  a ‘he said, she said, you said’ book. having a prompt is the juicy stuff that makes it absolute fun.

my posts are often stories, emotional – perhaps poetic – glimpses into our life. david’s are more esoteric, more complex.  a friend of ours said she can tell the difference without even looking.  goodness!  i’m sure that is true.  when we share our writing with each other, reading aloud, i often wonder about the value of what i’ve said.  like recording an album, these are words ‘put out there’ for all to see and you and i both know that judgement is alive and well.  but i always bravely try to remember what our point is.

we wanted a place to put a variety-pack of endeavors, a place that our conglomerate artistries could live under some kind of umbrella.  that umbrella became our‘studio melange’ and we found we could offer our individual work (paintings and music) in addition to our cartoons (earlier on, the melange included chicken marsala and flawed cartoon) as well as the quotes we jotted down each week and the images i recorded on camera that we found pertinent or thought-provoking.  about a year along the line we changed the melange and added ‘merely-a-thought monday’ and ‘not-so-flawed wednesday’ in lieu of our cartoons.

if you pare our melange down you will find one overwhelming similarity.  hundreds upon hundreds of moments.  moments captured, moments written down, moments to remember, moments we’d sometimes rather forget, moments of confusion, moments of regret, moments of incredulousness, moments of fear, moments of scary honesty, moments of challenge, moments of pushing back, moments of questioning, moments of indescribable joy and moments of deep sorrow.  all of them moments of life, a reminder to grasp onto them and hold on dearly.  for that is what we have.  the ability to make moments.  the ability to make moments count.

make hundreds.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“where you stand depends on where you sit.” [merely-a-thought monday]

where you stand

there is a moment when the sun is going down that the ball of fire on the horizon disappears.  official sunset.  but the light lingers in the sky and the color stuns.   it is seemingly a grey area between day and night.  you can call it either – “it is still day,” you can say.  “it is now night,” you might relent.  it depends on where you sit and when we are hiking in the woods and still have a couple miles to go we prefer to think of it as ‘still day’.

it’s all a matter of perspective.  the eyes through which you view all that around you.  the shoes in which you stand as you look out on all that is happening.  are you on one side or the other?  are you bipartisan-ly, so to speak, looking at life?  john avlon recently said, “where you stand depends on where you sit” and i couldn’t agree more.

opinion is a personal matter.  indeed.  free as we profess (or is it purport?) to be, we are all entitled to our opinions.  on everything from food preferences to healthcare in our country, from clothing styles to immigration policies, from decor in our homes to gun control or the lack thereof, from coffee brands to what we individually choose to call a divine universal power and how we lift that divinity up, from places to live to how we feel about blatantly incentivizing people to stay under earning limits…it is all a personal matter.

and yet, it becomes not personal when we are unable to view others’ opinions without demoralizing them, without a listening ear, without educating ourselves before being reactionary and spurting out inaccuracies.  when we turn a blind eye to what befalls others.  when what is best for us supersedes what is best for all.  when riches – in its first definition:  wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means or funds – is not meant for the populace.

it becomes not personal when we fail to realize, allow for, negotiate that where we stand – truly does – depend on where we sit.

right now as the sun sets on 2019 it is still day.  or has night come?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“it’s hard to keep things simple.” [merely-a-thought monday]

keep things simple

less is more.  enough is enough.  say no.  simplify.

we are all bombarded.  two days before christmas and we wonder if we did enough, bought enough, wrapped enough, entertained enough, baked enough, decorated enough.  we are surrounded by images – piles of presents under ornate christmas trees, horse-drawn sleighs on currier and ives backroads, families gathered at tables merrily chatting, churches full with congregations happily singing and the bells in the belfry ringing.  the kind of images that nag you into thinking, “more.  i must do more.”

the other evening, gathered around bowls of homemade hot thai soup, 20 said, “it’s hard to keep things simple.”  the three of us share some profound times of conversation, of life’s changes and choices, of simple togetherness.  he talked about soup and wine and chocolate and conversation, of appreciating each other’s company.

the catalogs arriving in the mail and the ads in the paper and the online streaming advertising all pander to the indulgence of our insecurity.  of not enough.  how do we respond and say no?

it’s hard to avoid.  it feels like we have to say yes to everything.  or we don’t quite measure up.  we search for meaning.  in things.  we are searching outside of ourselves.  holding ourselves to some sort of external standard of holiday-completeness.

how do we seek more centeredness?  more connectedness?  more moments held in the stillness of awe?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY 

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“you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dream

i found a note the other day, tucked inside a book.  it was a jotting-down-of-a-memory and was a quote from The Boy.  he was five and he said, “look at how i can snap (my fingers).  at 5 years old!!  i could become a snap teacher and teach everyone how to snap!”  never too young to dream.

jen is zealous.  she is reallyyyy zealous.  i don’t think i have known anyone who is as zealous a learner as jen.  it is invigorating and inspiring to be around someone who embraces all she does not know with questions and a hope for understanding, as opposed to resistance or suspicion.  she actively seeks out ways to learn the new, the unknown, wholeheartedly jumping in and swimming.  she knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

pantene recently ran a new video series.  it’s referencing the holidays and in it transgender people talk about what it’s like to go home.  it’s breathtakingly sad the number of LGBTQ women and men who are not welcomed at home because someone cannot learn, ask questions, try to understand.  instead, resistance and suspicion and a whole lot of judgement fiercely reign and the dream of being all together celebrating is devastatingly dashed.  squelching another’s dreams is not the ultimate job of our job as humankind.

yesterday i conducted a christmas cantata.  ahead of time, i had, for hours and hours on end, researched songs to find the pieces i felt would resonate with people, the pieces that would be generously bestowing of spirit and not off-putting.  i looked for the language i thought would tug at their hearts and remind them of the light, the miracle of the season.  when one song didn’t quite fit for me after i had chosen it, i wrote a new one.   they were labeled ‘contemporary’ songs, with melodies, rhythm, chords, years of copyright differing from the hymns in the hymnals.  over thirty people participated:  a choir, a ukulele band, a worship band, a violinist, a violist.  the result was truly beautiful, the message clear and the music gorgeous.  our little church – a church that proudly purports to be reconciling and all-embracing – had moments truly holy in that service.

h is 93.  every week at rehearsal he is ready and willing to learn something.  he is steeped in traditional – after all, he is 93, his year of copyright long ago.  and yet, those new melodies, harmony, challenging rhythms he has learned to sing have brought a freshness of life to him.  never too old to dream.  he knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

but back to yesterday.  i remain unfulfilled in one way.  because the sad part about yesterday?  all the work and time that these dedicated volunteers had put into this cantata – with my careful choices based on over thirty years as a minister of music – was not seen by the first service folks.  the word ‘contemporary’ made it unfathomable for that service to host without complaint, relegating it only to the second service.  the spirit of camaraderie, the support of the efforts of others in their own church, the truly beautiful music that was made was lost on this first service.  i try to understand their dedication to traditional music, to choice, and i heartedly honor it in selecting music for every other week of the church year.  but i fail to understand their unwillingness to even try to embrace something else, something ‘new’.  i fail to understand any reinforcement of ‘different’, of divisiveness. especially as simply one day and a festive community celebration of the holiday.  especially when churches are constantly looking for relevancy and vitality is one of the necessary ingredients.  they do not know what they missed.  closing off.  what they are missing.

jen and h would like each other.  they both openly embrace new.  they both openly embrace others.  they both dream dreams, happily engaging in life, snapping.  what a gift to be around.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“i forgive you.” [merely-a-thought monday]

i forgive you

frank made sure to bring us the dvd.  our favorite of the hallmark christmas movies, a season for miracles was scheduled for tv viewing at a time we were not available.   and he knows.  frank knows how much we love this movie during this season.  we, i have to admit, spend just a little bit of time watching hallmark christmas movies, despite their obvious indulgence to happy-endings-aficionados.  a season for miracles is such a story, but there are these lovely lines spoken by patty duke toward the end, that inevitable-anticipated-yet-yearned-for end.  she wisely advises one of the stars of the movie, giving him something to consider,  “i forgive you.  there’s a lot of power in those three words.  they can change the world.”

yesterday i sang these lyrics, “all these pieces broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole.  empty handed but not forsaken.  i’ve been set free, i’ve been set free.” (broken vessels – j. houston, j. myrin)

in true cliche, i would, indeed, say we are all broken by pieces we need to forgive, things for which we need forgiveness.  we carry these burdens like heavy luggage, dragging them day by day, place to place.  nary a moment goes by without our minds summoning up a reason to be dismayed or disgusted with someone, disappointed in ourselves.  we are not free.

is it pollyanna-ish to believe that the world would be changed if forgiveness were paramount?  is it an irrational, unreachable panacea for all the divisiveness and turmoil?  is there just too much purity – too much hallmark – in those words, in that kind of peace-seeking?

if you could, who would share the third seat in a room with you and forgiveness?  with whom would you seek forgiveness from?  who would you forgive?

is it better to be mended and empty-handed than holding-on-tightly-burdened with sharp, broken pieces that pierce your heart?  where is your free?

it is a season for miracles.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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