Monday, December 9, 2019

Melancholy, Macbeth, Mordecai and Me.

The effects of my relatively minor hand surgery have weighed on me more heavily than I would have imagined. I am not in a great deal of pain, but when I type, which is what I do for a living, I feel awkward and tentative. 

Because my hands are midway between my heart and my head, they are an outlet for each. What I think and what I feel, it's expressed through my hands.

After nearly 40 years as a copywriter, from my earliest days writing catalog copy for the Montgomery Ward catalog, to today, nominally near the tippy-top of a vaunted ad agency, I have essentially been on deadline.

My world view is simple. There's work to be done and it's better to do it than to talk about doing it. This blog is a good example of that. I hit my deadlines.

Having had to "produce" for so many years, I've come to realize that I usually get pretty close when I write something out. And I'd rather talk about work that's on a piece of paper than to speculate about all the dark alleys we could chase down and loose threads we could pull at.

So usually when there's something to be done, I do it quickly. I do it on the assumption that I can get 80% of the way there. And then let the assembled and exalted doyens on the agency and client sides (and often, their spouses) improve my work to their satisfaction, usually up to the 60% level. 

I usually have my 80% draft done in about an hour. The improvement process to get things to 60% usually takes a couple of weeks.

All that's to say, I feel cramped right now. Maybe it's the post-surgical lethargy in my left hand. Maybe it's some bullshit--recurring bullshit that angers me to no end at work. Maybe it's having circled yet again around the sun. Sunday was my 62nd.

Also, I'll be lachrymous here, when my birthday rolls around, I miss my dead sister Nancy. She died back in 2007 in a motorcycle crash just one avenue over from my office on 12th, and up a few blocks on 52nd Street. As I get older, and as I stare down another year of little meaning, I miss her more and more. Some losses remain losses.

I also miss my daughters. They have flown the coop and seldom have time for me anymore. Maybe I did a better job giving them wings than roots. In the end, you can't really complain about that. I'd rather see them soar than see nearly anything else.

I, too, in the words of the former Soviet Union, am a rootless cosmopolitan. Though I am deeply entwined with Manhattan and its environs down to its granite schist. I live and work now fewer than eight miles from where I was born so long ago when the world was still filmed in black and white, the way I like it. But I left my parents' harrowing home at 17 and never ventured back.

Work is a family, of course or of a sort. But in today's ad world, even the best families seem more Addams in orientation than Ozzie and Harriet. There's a bit of Tolstoy I could trot out here. But this is an ad blog, and I don't want to get too far above my pay grade. Even if it does seem, at times, that Banquo's ghost roams the hallways of today's Advertising House of Atreus. Literary allusions aside, that ain't a good thing.

So, I'm feeling melancholy. Pained in my glove-hand, and more than a trifle pained in life. It is too much with me sometimes and it is too much with me as I write this three fingered. Like, I suppose, the Hall-of-Famer Mordecai Brown who pitched with just three fingers on his right hand, and took home 239 wins for all that.

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