Minnesota State Fair Prep—#9: Don’t Make the Fair about Work

August 23, 2009


Above: a practice wild turkey sketch from my journal (there is a flock along the road where I ride my bike in the  mornings—10, silly adolescent birds; I sketched this on my return). The journal is one I made using old Folio paper, which is delightful to work on in any medium. The sketch is made with Stabilo Tones. I’m still seeking that softer look and experimenting.

The other day a friend called me and said she probably wasn’t going to go to the Fair. Of course I gasped. She is also self-employed, and as is true for all self-employed people, she has to work when the work is there and when the work isn’t there she has to work at bringing the work in. But there is also a point where everyone has to have a life, and everyone has to find that point for themselves. (And I’m all about bossing my friends to that point of discovery.)

I could tell she was also a little annoyed that I was so giddy about the Fair. She had serious stuff to discuss. One of her clients had sent in pages and pages of tabular material in a Microsoft Word document. “Oh Fuck,” was all I could say when she dropped that bombshell on me, then a dramatic pause, “Oh Fuck.” (If you were a self-employed graphic designer who had experienced this just once you would know what a pain it is to extract such data—better to start over.)

So whether or not she was annoyed or overwhelmed or exhausted, it doesn’t really matter, point is, many of my friends are getting a bit edgy around me as I slide down into the vortex of Fair preparation, and, with only days remaining, become truly Fair focused. The thing is they have Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. I have Remembrance Day and the Fair. Get the picture?

Perhaps if I had access to a farm year round I wouldn’t be quite so Fair focused (I’m still disappointed that talks with Dodge Nature Center to arrange for an all-access barn pass came to nothing—but it’s their loss of a tremendous booster…imagine if I were blogging about them, year round, with one tenth the joy I feel about the Fair!); but I don’t—though there is news on the horizon that a local friend is going to raise chickens—my heart races!

In the meantime, I have the Fair. I just want to say the amount of attention I give it is unusual. I realize that. But I also want to say that it isn’t necessary to give it that much attention. Especially if giving in to the planning and scheduling will cause overwhelm.

After my friend and I had discussed the job from hell, my friend started telling me that OK, maybe she could find some time to go to the Fair—but she would have to get a book ready and think about paper and what she was going to take… “Whoa,” I said. “Since you’re already so buried in work, don’t make the Fair about work.”

I went on to urge her not to spend any time planning. And I’ll tell you what I told her because you can’t have any excuses for not going:

1. Just Do It (Nike is right about that).
2. Just grab a journal that you’re working in—one with a bunch of empty pages.
3. Pack a couple pens that you love.
4. Make a two-hour window in your day and go and have fun sketching.
5. Have a treat as you walk out of the Fair on your way to the car or bus.

Why? because going is the important thing. I think that people read about the plans I make and the preparation I undergo and throw up their hands and say “She’s crazy, I can’t do that!” But do I say that when you spend 3 full days decorating a Christmas tree that will be up for about two weeks? Or you spend 4 days preparing a 12-course Thanksgiving Day meal? Or sew an elaborate Johnny-Depp-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean Halloween costume?

We all spend our time on different things. Just because you don’t focus on something doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy it. Folks like me who focus on the Fair are able to provide you with tips and ideas should you decide to go to the Fair, just as other folks could give you tree trimming advice, recipes, or sewing tips. (And believe me, I have friends who do all that stuff and the tips are great—you never know when you might need those insights, and you can apply them to other things in life.)

What you need to come away with from my on-going discussion of Fair Preparation is the basic goal: get out to the Fair and sketch. Even if it is only for a couple of hours—as long as it takes to go to a movie. In fact, going to the Fair is very much like going to the movies, except that it is totally interactive, in sensuround, with Odorama (or whatever John Waters called it).

The best things in life are like that—all around you. The Fair is, like so much else in life, both real and a metaphor for life. 

Do not let the idea that you have to prepare become an excuse for non-attendance, “I didn’t have time…” Believe me, in the short time the Fair is in town you have time. Even if you are self-employed. Even if your client just sent you several pages of tabular material in a Microsoft Word document. Fuck, what where they thinking.

Seems to me now is exactly the time you want to grab that journal and pen and get over to the Fair to take a breather. Starting August 27 you’ll be able to do exactly that. No excuses.

    • Donna
    • August 23, 2009

    You go girl, whatever makes you happy! I wish you much fun at your fair and lots of chickens with cute personalities.

    • Roz
    • August 23, 2009

    Caitlin, thanks for your comment. It sounds like you got past that negative attitude he was projecting on you and I’m so glad for you.

    You’re totally right, the cost will be met some how. This is what I mean when I talk about choices. I give up certain things so that I can do other things that are important to me.

    I’m grateful that the same things that matter to me: personal fulfillment, exploration, constant discovery and learning, are important to my partner. And the things that don’t matter to me and which I consider superficial don’t matter to him either.

    I hope you are having a great time working out how you are spending your 24 hours each day!

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