2013

I fucking hate New Year’s resolutions.  I have for years.  They just remind me of the ten or so consecutive Januaries where I whole-heartedly resolved to quit smoking.  And a decade’s worth of forgetting said resolution within a week or two.  I finally did give up smoking – almost ten years ago now.  It was the middle of summer in New York City and had absolutely fuck-all to do with the changing of a calendar year.  Why did I do it, after years of failure?  Because I bloody well felt like it.  I finally wanted to.  No “should.”  Not “have to.”

So I find it rather ironic that, given my distain for this dumb-ass annual tradition, that I’ve actually been giving resolutions some thought this year.  Most of them are work-related, but there you go.  Here’s where my head is at with them, at present:

RESOLUTION #1:  I WANT TO MAKE THE ATELIER MORE FUN.  We are constantly working under the gun, so the shop can be a pretty freakin’ stressful place of the best of days – particularly when we’re approaching deadlines or have a multitude of shows on the go.  This stress level is never going to change, given the nature of the work.  I get that.  However, I’d like to find ways to make it a tad more enjoyable for those around me.  Especially in 2013.  I’m thinking it’s going to be a pretty intense year…

RESOLUTION #2:  I WANT TO LIMIT MY TECHNOLOGY TIME.  The internet is an invaluable tool to my business.  I couldn’t run an international operation without it.  It’s what allows this little shoemaker in Toronto Canada (of all places….) to play on the world stage (literally…).  However, some days I do find it is a bit of a drain on the creative juices, if that makes sense – especially when I’m interrupting the creative process in order to deal with emails, or worse yet, things financial.  I fucking hate that.  I’m actually writing this during a week long of pretty much full technological hiatus.  We’re talking actual-pencil-to-actual-paper sort of shit.  I’ve taken a photo (see above) for any who are skeptical.  Or for any of you too young to know what a paper and pencil are.  Writing away, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the snow fall from a cabin in the middle of fucking nowhere.  You (or at the very least, “I”) forget how inspiring it is to unplug every once in a while.  I totally love technology, but sometimes it has a time and a place.  And neither are here or now.  Technology at every waking moment and every where you look can get a bit much, don’t you find?

RESOLUTION #3:  I WANT TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT I THINK AND TO LET THAT BE ENOUGH.  I spend far too much time fretting and fussing about things after they leave my atelier.  As a general rule of the business – except for the odd thoughtful exception – you tend to only hear back about things when there’s a problem.  Therefore, one could naturally assume that silence is indeed golden and if you hear absolutely nothing, well then all is good, right?  I’m far too insecure for that sort of shit, I’m afraid.  But I am working on it…  I was working on a pretty big gig this past summer and was really concerned about how little feedback I was receiving.  I naturally assumed that my work was complete shit and I was never going to be hired by any of these people again.  Fortunately, I learned recently that this was not the case.  They were just really busy….  But thinking back, I was really pleased with the work I was able to turn around for them, especially on such short notice.  At the end of the day, that should be enough for me.  But alas…

RESOLUTION #4:  I WANT TO TAKE WEEKENDS OFF WHEN I CAN.  There is always so much to do in the shop.  If it’s not making shoes, it’s rearranging things or putting up shelves or tuning up a finicky piece of antiquated machinery.  Long ago, Saturday became just another day of the work week.  I don’t mind so much, really – it’s all part of running a reasonably successful business, and I should be thankful for that, really.  And I do enjoy having the shop to myself on a Saturday morning.  But in 2012, the game changed.  Considerably.  I was out of town way more than usual.  And we started working on some pretty exciting projects that naturally came with ridiculously short deadlines.  The result, I ended up working a lot of seven day weeks in order to make deadlines and those are fucking hard to bounce back from.  I ain’t as young as I once was, after all.  The pace sure as hell isn’t going to lessen in 2013 (he says with a touch of optimism) nor are any of the deadlines likely to get any more lenient.  So, the trick will be to convince myself that those shelves aren’t really that important.  They can go up another day and I can take the damn Saturday off when I can….

RESOLUTION #5:  I AM GOING TO KEEP PUSHING MYSELF AND MY LIMITS.  I’ve designed and overseen the construction of well over 5000 pair of shoes since starting my business.  And in my 13 (or is it 14?…) year career as a shoemaker.  I’ve probably made around 1000 pair start-to-finish myself.  And you know what?  I’ve never made a pair of shoes that I was completely happy with.  Ever.  That is less to do with my abilities as a shoemaker, quite frankly, and more to do with having really high expectations of myself.  I push myself hard and care be pretty unforgiving of my own faults, but damnit…I’ve seen how that has transformed my work in a really positive way.  I often get asked about how I deal with competition in my field.  The simple answer is:  I don’t.  I do my work to the best of my abilities and others can judge for themselves if they want to use me or somebody else.  I know where I stand.  And I figure, on those odd instances where I’m out doing myself and my own expectations, well then I’m already out doing everybody else…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I just re-read these resolutions and for the most part, they have nothing to do with a new year being upon us.  #1 and 2 have been things I’ve been steadily working on since this past summer.  #3 has been a more recent endeavour, but I’ve been at it for months as well.  #4 is my modern day equivalent to “this year I’m going to stop smoking” – it’s something I always say, I just need to realize that I actually want to do it as well.  And #5….that’s the easiest of all.  That’s just who I am.

And now my hand is literally cramping up from all this bloody graphite-to-paper nonsense.  Time for another coffee and to watch some more snow fall.  I’m sure the internet isn’t missing me this morning.  Nor is it going anywhere this week.

Oh yeah….and Happy New Year…

 

 

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