Streamline and Drag

Many years ago (24, to be precise) Maestro Frank Salazar taught me a lesson. Well, the six years that he mentored me were stuffed with lessons, but I can only handle them one-at-a-time these days.

When I first met him in 1986, Frank's house was kind of tired looking. The house itself was fabulous, perched high on the Ventura riviera overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but the interior hadn't been decorated since the 1970s. Green and yellow shag carpeting, sagging open-weave drapes, some lackluster color on the walls, heavy art. It was shocking. I think I worked there with him only a handful of times before it was redecorated...

One afternoon I showed up as I always did when he called me to work, and I hardly recognized the rooms I walked into. The carpet had been pulled up to reveal beautiful hardwood floors, the drapes had been taken down to reveal a gorgeous wall of glass beyond which lay an outdoor, enclosed patio full of mature plants, flowering vines, and a slate walkway. The walls had been painted a soft white and pot lights had been installed to spotlight lighter pieces of his extensive art collection. In the center of the room sat a tan, suede sofa and a heavy glass coffee table, two sleek leather chairs whose wood arms had been polished until they felt like peach skin, and beneath this lay a thick Persian rug. Here's a picture of his son Phil's bluegrass band jamming there. Doesn't do it much justice. Sorry. That's Phil, playing fiddle.

Anyway, when I commented on the changes, Frank said to me, "When you get my age, you want to streamline everything. Material and mental things begin to drag you down and you feel the compulsion to lighten up." Frank was then the age that I am now. Yeah, I know. It twists my brain, too.

Since the turn of the new year I've started having urges to streamline. Cut the fat. Chop the deadwood. Defrag the old hard drive. Whatever you want to call it. I've already begun. Some things that were sentimental for me for decades have lost their hold on me. That antique "brothel" lamp, certain wall pictures and chotchkies, even my beloved monster speakers that have traveled with me since 1974. If we move to Englandor whereverI'll have no trouble letting go of a lot of stuff that only a few years ago were so very necessary to my happiness.

With me, it starts in the mind. I need to declutter there first, so I made a huge decision and decided to change Alla Breve Design to just Alla Breve Books. Last year I merged them, but this year one of them has to go, and web design, after all, isn't my first, or even second, love. I spent today revamping the website. This decision has been a huge relief, but the greatest satisfaction came when, on my computer, I zipped up all of my client website files and moved them to storage. Ah! My computer felt better for it too.

Last year I took on a number of blogs, both for myself and other people, and some of those are being cut as well. I just don't have the time or the motivation to keep diversifying my energies. I'm streamlining and reducing the drag.