Saturday, February 26, 2011

parental advice

I've always found it suspect that everyone I know over 60 is on Lipitor. It's also shady that grapefruit is off-limits when taking Lipitor. Big Macs are fine, but lay off of the grapefruit. My mom somehow discovered that the price for the 100 mg. tablets is the same as the price for the 50 mg. ones. She got herself a pill cutter and has saved herself a dollar a day by hacking the big ones in half. I casually mentioned to her that dad had come to visit and refused the grapefruit I'd proudly remembered to get for his breakfast. My parents, Susie and Peter, had a horrible 5-year divorce after a 30-year marriage. She would have let him rot in hell, but she couldn't bear the thought that he was over-paying a pharmaceutical company. Breaking a year-long silence, she called to relay her pill-chopping genius. A friend's husband has just been put on Lipitor. I told her about Lipitor-halving, and she laughed at me. She's definitely not a New Englander.

Growing up, my dad didn't have too many words of wisdom for me, but two tidbits of Peter knowledge have served me well. The first was: "If you're interviewing with a woman, put your hair up. If it's a man, wear your hair down." Last week the Philadelphia Convention Center hosted the Buyers Market of American Craft. It's been the basis for my business. Buyers come from all over the country. Craftspeople show prototypes and gallery owners place orders. I leave the show with a list of pottery to make from March to October knowing full well that re-orders will carry me through the holidays and into the following year. Before I had children I had a brain that could organize the logistics of such a list. I no longer possess that brain. For the past 3 years I have not gotten a booth at the convention center. Instead, I've invited buyers to my studio to pick work from my shelves. The lure is that there will be no discrepancy between what they pick and what I send them; they can also see how pieces look together. The demographic break down of my visitors was: 2 gay men, 3 straight husbands, and 16 women. I wore my hair up. I sold a lot of pottery.

It's both anxiety-producing and extremely gratifying when gallery owners get so swept up in the glamour of my ghetto studio that they buy work I find hideous. They dig stuff out I've tried to hide and rhapsodize about it. Sometimes I'm bellowing at them about the flaws I see in the pieces. They look at each other and shrug.

The second tidbit from Peter Kinder is: NEVER tell people things are going well. When your mother and I were divorcing I was the most popular guy in town! They ate up Susie's return to her high school sweetheart. They revelled in the collapse of my business. People loved it! It was difficult picturing my dad regaling the hapless plumber with stories about the divorce, but he likes to entertain, and he had to get HIS side out there. I have to admit; I follow his advice. Obviously too much information is my modus operendi. I was telling buyers that I no longer live in the loft upstairs because of the human poo I'd find on the stoop and I'd lit scented candles to cover up the marijuana smell from the pot heads upstairs and last week dog piss was raining down into my studio in 3 different places because they had 3 pit bulls up there. People do laugh-awkwardly as they look up at the ceiling.

I also have Susie to thank for my success last week. I wrote an e-mail to buyers right before the show saying that I'd come get them downtown and taxi them to my studio and back. I wrote, "My mom is coming to mind the kids, and I'll use her car, so you won't emerge from my "taxi" smelling like sour milk with a lolly pop stuck to your bum." It worked. I also channelled Susie when I got pulled over. I was dropping one buyer off and picking up another. I was late, so I'd taken an illegal left turn off of Market Street. I have a clean driving record, and I did not have time to get a ticket, AND, I'd left my driver's license in the studio. Susie NEVER got a ticket, and she was pulled over plenty of times. Remembering my mom's license plates I pleaded with my best Susie smile, "Officer, I am SO SORRY! I'm from Massachusetts! I didn't have any idea how to get where I need to go without taking that turn. I won't do it again!" He told me it would have been a $120 ticket and 3 points on my license and that I should be more careful.

Thank God I'd let my hair down as I'd left Rittenhouse Square.
One of Steel's ceramic creations

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