My grandfather would routinely give me presents in a small box. It was hung on the wall of the garage where he and Edythe, my grandma lived. He was retired, and would go out walking around the neighborhood in the morning. He would scavenge the area and pick up random trinkets and tools for me. Often he would get me trading cards for the American Football League. I was never really interested in football dispute this. Since we did not have TV at my house, I would spend Friday night at their house. In the morning I would watch cartoons while Grandma made pancakes or biscuits. In the afternoons we would watch whatever my Grandpa sports on TV, usually baseball or football. I could understand baseball. It had a rule set that I could grock. The play had a long simmering tension, persistently churning forward. The battle between pitcher and batter, outfielders and infielders. The rules and finer points of football always eluded my comprehension.
People, if the are not involved in the construction industry are amazingly impressed when you tell them you are an architect. It’s the arty profession, maybe not quite as altruistic as a doctor, not as boring or slimy as a lawyer, the one people like the character George Costanza want to be; the kind of person someone like Mary would like to be with. Architects may not get nearly the play of doctors and lawyers in movies and TV dramas, but that is probably for the best considering how misrepresented they tend to be.
Most people don’t realize the hardship that being an architect can be. They haven’t been told the tales of the long years of late nights in the studio, years of getting minimal pay during internship, the many long architecture review exams, the grueling dissection of your creations by professors and visiting jurors in university critiques, the even worse clients that imagine that they know what they want and need and how to design it and you’re just there to draw and rubber stamp it.
For all the tedium and repetitiveness of the practice, for all the years worked on projects whose funding disappears before construction, the frustrations of not being to find work during economic hard times (unlike doctors and lawyers), there is something about architect that has seemed to infect my brain like a virus. I remember a point in my second year of the professional program at California College of Arts and Crafts that I realized I was deconstruction and diagramming the partí of buildings in my head as I drove up Guerrero from 16th Street to my tiny apartment on Lily in the Lower Haight. I was in essence never able to look at a building the same way again.
There is also a calm joy or peace I sometimes feel working on a design that can be difficult to equal with other pursuits. I have been able to get it from painting at times, and less frequently with photography or graphic/typographic design. Something about spatial and visual compositions is soothing to me.