12/11/09

You'll deal.

One thing that never fails to amaze me is Cliff's unshakeable faith in my abilities. There is simply nothing that has crossed our paths that [he thinks] is beyond my ken. I'm not sure how that ended up happening, but I'm guessing it started when we had to answer some court summons.

"But I'm not a lawyer!" I wailed in protest. "So? All the forms and procedures are out there. Let's research it."

And research it we did, unravelling the complex layers of jargon and smoke-and-mirrors that's so integral to the legal system plodding along as it does. It took some serious time, but it was priceless knowledge we gleaned along the way. No, someone can't bully you into doing things because they said so. There are strict methods that must be followed to the letter before they can enforce anything on you. Yes, they are a prodigious, ponderous corporation with a phalanx of lawyers. Yes, they have lots of money and power. Yes, those lawyers float through those courtrooms like so many graceful dancers in a ballet, and you flop about like the uncoordinated archetypal awkward adolescent.

BUT!

That does not mean that there's a reason to let them win by intimidating you. Read the instructions carefully, and methodically build your case, piece by piece. Chances are that even though those lawyers are paid well, and have been doing this for years, they missed something. And when they miss something, you snap and take advantage of it. We got one case thrown out because the idiot didn't serve us properly. When the landlord tried to punt us onto the street and hired a big scary firm that specialised in this sort of thing, we combed their breif, and found so many elementary mistakes that we were both laughing fit to burst in short order.

Those initial weeks of research were scary, but we both learned a lot about The Sytem. We learned, most important of all, that although the process is built to intimidate, it's your choice to make whether or not to be intimidated. We choose not to be.

It happened again when it came to overhauling the website. My idea of doing a website is to open up a text document, and tweak the html until it's where I want it, previewing it in a couple of browsers, and then uploading the thing to the server. Rinse, lather, repeat. When doing the menu or flyers, or pretty much any other print publication, I'm very comfortable with fiddling around with settings in Illustrator, InDesign, or (and I tend not to choose this option very much) Word or TextEdit. I'm even comfortable with Publisher in a pinch!

Unfortunately, when it comes to web design, I'm not so comfortable. I designed both the Sacred Chow website and the blog page myself. I spent a long time on the main website, because we get quite a few hits per day. However, if you want an idea as to what the old site looked like when I got my hands on it, take a look here. Yeah.

You had to scroll into infinity, and the colours were bright and cartoony. AND you had to download the menu in PDF. It was something else. He pretty much put the design in my hands, and asked me to tweak it to my liking. I gutted it. Again, even though it took me a while to learn the process of designing it properly, it was a learning experience, and I wouldn't mind overhauling it again, if need be.

I guess it works both ways. There is no recipe that I think him incapable of. Sometimes he likes to have a little back-and-forth to tweak it to our needs, but by and large, even seemingly outrageous requests ("Cliff! There's someone on the phone who wants a gluten free, sugar free cake, and she wants chocolate in there too." "Sure thing, Dino.") seem easy when I run them by his brain. I can tell you right now that I wasn't the one who made that vegan challah happen. That was all Boss Man.

Yes, there are times when he feels tired, or unmotivated, and that's when I'll rally his resources with a, "Well, let's get it done anyway. I'll give you a hand if you want," and then don an apron, hat, and a pair of gloves, and get cracking. When something seems out of reach, all we have to do is talk it over a bit before he's ready to go, and face the challenge.

I guess that's why I've grown so much as a person since moving to New York. I'm in an environment where I'm challenged all the time. It's never a question of /if/ I can do something, but rather /when/. It taught me that if I just have a little patience, read the instructions, and do things methodically, I'll get to the end goal eventually, and learn a bunch along the way.
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