“Hey, these are good. They’re better than I thought they’d be.”
“What were you thinking they’d be?”
“Well, you know …”
… Since we were away for Thanksgiving, we finally thawed out the turkey and made a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed potatoes. I told J I could bring cranberry sauce, home made. He said “sure!”.
So, after dinner, he admitted he sort of shrugged initially at the idea of my making cranberries.
“So, you were just humoring me and my cranberries?”
“Um, well, cranberries aren’t usually the most exciting part of Thanksgiving dinner, after all”.
“Oh, I see … Well, you hadn’t had MY cranberries…”
“Well, no. Besides, you seemed pretty excited about making ‘em. So I figured …”
“… that you’d just humor me? Uh hum.”
“… that you wanted to contribute something …”
"But, they’re really good. You know, like they add an unexpected "
"… ‘zest’ ?”
Yeah, there’s that whole bit of adding something new to ( = ‘messing with’) a traditional dinner, especially when what people normally eat is some jelly that comes out of a can. How exciting could cranberry sauce be, really?
… This same week, I started work on a new project and sent my resume to a colleague. He emails me back and comments, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know you were a designer, too. Hm, interesting. Very impressive.”
And I think, “Yup. One of those strangely well-kept secrets, I s’pose.”
Okay, so I’m not in the habit of smacking people over the head with my credentials. Designers are typically so cool, so flashy, so hip; I’m much more demure. When you’re that understated, you tend to run the risk of being mislabeled; at worst, overlooked, I guess. Most people aren’t sure what to expect until they take the time to stop and look.
You’re going to get on my case about not aggressively marketing myself. Well, you know, there are flashy design jobs that are really cool and hip, and the lead designer people, they’re looking for really assertive, flashy designers. I’m not looking for flashy designy work. My skill is creating really clever little design solutions for problems so damn pervasive that people just overlook and work around them. A lot of other designers don’t share my enthusiasm for my pet causes; no, they’re not glamorous, and they’re not for cool, young, hip people. The people stuck in the middle, who need that better solution, they just work around it...
I like to think there’s a zen moment of recognition, where people go, “Oh, hey …” associated with most of the work I do, and then you know this new solution really fits, doing its thing like it was meant to do it all along. It makes life better, without screaming out for attention. If the product is meant for you, you spend more time with it and really appreciate the little details, the attention. If you don’t use it, you’d give it no more than a cursory glance to begin with. [shrug
So where was I going with this?
Oh, well, you know cranberries. You slice ‘em up, lining up your cuts with the ridges from the can. Not so complicated, not so exciting.
Well, think again.
The cranberries I make, they’re fresh. And I add honey, so they’re sweet. And pears. And lemon juice and zest; that adds a real zing. You have to let them sit for a few days in the fridge to let all the flavors mix and soak in. These cranberries; they’re not going to just sit there passively on your palate - - they’re going to make you take notice. But, you have to take the time to get a serving, give them a chance. They’re yummy.
“I’m not going to win, no matter what else I say, huh?”
“No, that’s okay, honey.”
“But they’re good. What’s in ‘em?”
“Pears, lemon zest, honey ...”
“Mmm, honey ..”
“… and love.”