Tuesday, February 19, 2008

exhale...

Yesterday was the close of the Philadelphia Rosen show, and with the help of my best friend from high school, Melissa, we shut that baby down and escaped in exactly an hour after close and bolted to the nearest bar where we could get fancy girl drinks and food. And catch up. I only have the privilege of seeing Missy about once a year, if that.

So I know you all are dying for a report on the show. I'll start by saying I have no regrets, but it was a bit disappointing. I took enough orders to make it worth it and met some people who could become amazing clients, but I was hoping for more. I guess I always am.

And it was just a long haul. My first task upon flying to JFK was to get my booth tables and displays out of storage from my friend's place in New Jersey, where they have been sitting since I last did the New York Gift shows, and transport them to Philadelphia. Renting a car one-way was unbelievably expensive, so I figured out a way to take the train with all my stuff. I want you to picture this for a moment: Short girl (me) pushing along a large baby blue hard luggage case (nicknamed "the vending machine" by my husband) stuffed to the gills with clothing, shoes, and pottery; also dragging a luggage rack strapped with 2 six-foot folding tables and wood display boxes, track lighting, a very delicate set of posters rolled up in a cardboard tube, and finally an extremely heavy computer bag slung over my shoulders, rolling through the train terminal. I looked absolutely ridiculous. I looked like a Sherpa, except Sherpas are way cooler. A red cap helped escort me and my baggage to check-in, and as we were walking along he gave me a sidelong glance and asked, “Are these all display units?” “Yup,” I said. “Your boss should be shot for sending you out with all of this stuff” he said. I gave him my biggest smile, “You’re looking right at her”.

Linda, of Little Flower Designs, was on hand at the 30th Street Station in Philly to transport me and my stuff to the Penn Convention Center nearby. We arrived at my booth where the rest of my pottery was already waiting, having been freighted through with Exhibitor Services the previous week. We set up the curtains, tables, and displays, then cracked open my bins to start unloading my pots. I noticed right away something was broken, and I was like, "Hmmm... darn". Coincidentally, or maybe not, it was the infamous leaf platter, and the thought ran through my head that maybe that piece is cursed. As I started going through the bin, I saw that actually a few things were broken. And then Linda said, "Um, there is some broken stuff in here, too". My heart started dropping as we unloaded more, and the extent of the damage became clear: None of my four dogwood cake stands had survived, along with many items that had been chipped, squashed, and completely pulverized. And when I say pulverized, I mean some of the shards were powder. In the end I lost fully two bins of work. I spent thousands of dollars to be at this wholesale show, and I didn't have some of my best samples.

I have shipped a lot of work to a lot of shows, and this had never happened to me before. It took every ounce of of me to decide right at that moment that what was done, was done. The pots were broken and there was no way to get them back. I had to live with it with full acceptance. I called Exhibitor Services and we had a discussion about the damage to my pottery, and then Linda and I finished setting up, putting aside the pots that could be repaired with glue, and she drove me out to where I was staying with a friend's mother. The next day I brought back what I managed to fix, bought a bunch of flowers to artfully disguise the cracks and chips, and in the end I don't think my sales were impacted at all by the loss of some of my samples. I will post some pictures of the booth when I get home in five more days.

I wanted to share this experience with you because I think that it is important to recognize that we choose how to react to situations of adversity. I think most people would have freaked out in this situation and that would have been a perfectly normal and understandable reaction. But, freaking out drains my energy and puts me in a negative space of helplessness and rage, and I think that's true for most people. I fail at this practice of acceptance all the time, but I also have successes. My husband, Andrew, is a fabulous role model for this behavior and I have learned so much from him in the past 14 years. I think it's important for me to role model this for other people whenever possible because anybody can learn how to deal with hardship in a mode of acceptance. Now these are broken pots, right? Not an organ transplant or a broken back, so I don't want anyone to think I'm up on a high horse and babbling about how we must accept what is. I have a very wonderful life and I must say that broken pots are among the worst things that happen to me in an average week, but I know that this is not true for many people. I hope I can help people with the everyday injustices and bullshit... that's all.

6 comments:

  1. wow. all i can say is that i don't think you're up on a high horse blabbling at all. what else could you do? have a melt-down and suffer from hives and acid reflux and dermatitis and sleepless nights? stress is not worth the discomfort and disfigurement! but really? wow...

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  2. jtclay1:03 AM

    you're amazing whitney. exhibitor services should cover all your damages AND get you a great massage!

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  3. Shirley Y.4:26 PM

    I love your blog. Your posts are always so thoughtful and honest. Plus, sometimes you are so funny, like George Costanza from Seinfeld (in a good way).

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  4. Yaaay Whitney! Your story is an inspiration- broken pots are horrible, they are dispiriting and un-natural. Good on you for letting go. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. My heart just stopped when I read about broken pots... I would have been quite shocked. Amazing that you can accept it and move on! You are clearly a good role model :)

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