Archive for July, 2018

Alone With My Thoughts

July 11, 2018

IMG_8924Ten years is way too long a life for a blog. Eleven? Sheesh, I gotta shut up already.

This was a place Shop Boy could vent frustrations as a dragged-to-it-by-his-heels letterpress printer and mark triumphs, silly errors and inspirations — just … get it all out by writing. For a while, maybe I entertained some people, maybe even educated a few (which is kind of funny to me).

My in-laws long read the posts, or had me do dramatic readings around the dinner table or over the phone. My material’s better on the computer screen, believe me, but they seemed to enjoy it. A couple of my sisters and my brother read it occasionally too. Writing it helped fill time during my years as a commuter to Washington, DC. When I think back on how and when I wrote it (three-plus posts a week for a good bit), Dr. Seuss comes to mind: Did you write it in a car? Did you write it in a bar? Did you write it on a bus? Did you write it among us?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Cocktail napkins were my regular canvas, but that’s a story for another time and maybe another blog. (There was a time during Picasso’s life when he was reduced to painting on scrap paper, the equivalent of a discarded shopping bag. So, whatever, right?)

This blog has seen Typecast Press through a print shop move, an astoundingly hard process physically and emotionally. It has watched Mary go through the process of saving the Globe Poster collection, helping install it at the Maryland Institute College of Art along with our favorite-est big kid Allison Fisher (now Globe coordinator) and “Professor” Bob Cicero (Globe’s former owner) and then … somehow beginning to say goodbye to that amazing, excruciating, all-encompassing, Typecast-killing chapter of her life. (Mary still insists Joan of Arc got off easy, if that gives you an idea.)

Meanwhile, my alter ego has seen me through a painful layoff from what still looks to be my final job as a journalist. I’ve at least hinted at that episode, but I’ll share again the conversation with Mary from that day (one more she spent overwhelmed with worry and details at icy Globe headquarters in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood).

Shop Boy (as Steve): “Mary, I just got laid off.”

Mary (as herself): “Great! How soon can you get here?”

Two hours later, I was a full-time Friend of Globe. It’s only recently that I’ve truly had time to grieve about that layoff, so that’s good, right? One day we might recover financially. I’ve been employed at a real, paying job for a number of years.

The best thing about being Shop Boy on demand is that it freed me from being me. Not to get too deep on you, but streams of depression and blood from life’s various wounds have dripped onto the screen pages (and cocktail napkins) behind this sea of words from time to time. Alcohol too, sure. I hope none of that has soaked through until now. And I’ll not mention it again.

I’ve said enough, as has this blog. All but the sturdiest souls (thank you) long ago stopped reading. The blog stats tell me that I am basically alone. I’ve heard that zero daily readership is a trend in the wrong direction. We’ve had highs and lows there. Life happens, and the posts got fewer and farther between. Still, flat-lining is no shame. I’m proud of what we had … we just don’t have it anymore.

Mary and Shop Boy? We’re good and getting better. She’s hell-bent on her comeback with Typecast Press. And I’ll be damned if she doesn’t succeed in rebooting the business.

We’ve got a new website in the works … has been for a half-dozen years, in fact. (Please ignore the rolling of Shop Boy’s eyes here.) The photos are even prettier than the ones up there now. Our samples have gotten a ton more photogenic. You’ll want to hire Mary just looking at them. Swear. My writing will be part of that reboot. A new blog? Maybe. But something different.

I said before, this whole letterpress thing wasn’t my idea. I have been guilty — at one time or another — of wishing Mary would take the easy route and go teach at MICA with Globe. The Steve part has struggled with how much Mary needs me to believe, to care, to contribute, to sweat, to hurt, to worry. I’ve faltered, I’ve doubted, I’ve complained and I’ve failed from time to time. Still, I hope this Shop Boy experiment has shown that I do care and believe (and sweat, hurt and worry too).

You want perfection? You got the wrong guy, pal. You want somebody who’s maybe got a little storm cloud over his head at 4 a.m. but is still getting the grommets perfectly centered on those cards/tags we need for later this morning? Look me up. (Wait, give me a couple of days. Rough week at the shop.)

For now, though. goodbye.