Gibby Shelter

Driving home from school yesterday the eldest Blandings boy said somewhat out of the blue, “I’m thinking since I like math I will either be an architect or an engineer.”  Architect, hooray, engineer, hmmm.

The middle responded, “I thought you were going to be a movie critic.”  “Oh, yeah, I’m going to be a movie critic at night.”  I chimed in, “I could be wrong on this, but I think movie critics have some kind of training.  A degree.  Work experience.  Something.  You can’t just be a movie critic.”

The middle, again, “I’m going to be one of those guys on cooking shows who says if stuff is good or not.”  “What?”  “Yeah, you don’t have to go to college for that.”  He doesn’t want to go to college, you see, as word has leaked that you have to leave home to do so.  “Actually, a lot of those guys, most, have been to culinary school.  Which would be awesome.”

“Then I’m going to go to culinary school for just one day and learn to make really excellent cookies.  Then I can be the cookie judge.”

“I,” declared the youngest looking out the window resolutely, “am going to be a night watchman.  At the Nelson.”

Really, who am I to judge?  I went to school to learn to boss people around behind the scenes of television new shows and have spent the last thirteen years honing my skills at crocodile stuffing and macaw manufacturing.  I have seen enough school productions to qualify for critical review, though I generally share these insights only with friends in the parking lot.

Some of us get side-tracked.  Take T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings.  He went to architectural school and wound up hawking knock-off chairs uptown.  Oh, and he was also a critic.

All images of Robsjohn-Gibbings’s designs from House & Garden, June, 1991; photography not credited.

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29 thoughts on “Gibby Shelter

  1. Fascinating to read about T H Robsjohn-Giddings. I know you boys will turn out just great no matter what career path they choose!

    Art By Karena

  2. Ah, Robsjohn-Gibbings. Be still my heart. Love everything he did…the Hollywood Regency stuff, the Arabian Nights stuff…and oh, those Klismos chairs—the ones the Greeks would have designed if they had his eye.

    I found "Goodbye Mr. Chippendale" on the shelves of our village library at a young age…devoured it…it was destiny. Great post, as always.

  3. My biggest accomplishment in life will be to help my Lucy find the right passion and job to make her heart sing daily. I've had both, a fabulous career without passion (b/f int. des.) and a life devoted to my passion now w/ int. des. It makes all the difference in your life. And there will be little or no input on my part because I only think she will know. I'm just going to be the tour guide to help her get there. Sounds like you are doing the same. Aren't kids hilarious? They come out with the "best lines" a day could have. Love it! Hope you are well.

  4. It all sounds great- just don't tell them they may still be figuring it out at 50! here's to 2nd careers, and if I were going to be a chef it would def. be a cookie one.

  5. An architect, a chef, and a curator, you and Mr. B could be SO set.

    Also, what I wouldn't give to be a fly on the dashboard during carpool.

  6. Good morning –
    My children are roughly the same as as yours and we have been having the same discussions here. After career day a few weeks ago, my oldest, who's 14, came home and told me he was either going into the army, going to be a fireman or a vet. All these completely out of the blue and none of them really in his strength zone….interesting. My middle one is still so happy being 12, that he doesn't think past tomorrow and my youngest, who's nine, says maybe she wants to be a graphic designer or fashion designer (she made her own awesome business cards online last week). Love to hear what they're thinking/dreaming….great post.

  7. The comment about your son not wanting to leave home for college made me smile as it reminded me of our daughter who dissolved into tears upon finding that out. She is now in art school in London and wants to stay there forever – it's amazing what a few years can do!

  8. Some amazing things can happen when we deviate off path. It's typically the road we take that builds character – not the final destination. Though if the final destination get you a chef, an architect and a critic in the family, I think the Blandings family will be quite set!

  9. I'm supremely in love with everything that Robsjohn-Gibbings created… what an amazing talent. I love the way you told this story.

  10. Well engineers work better hours and get paid more than architects -so it's not a total loss! ha
    Architect – be prepared to not hear from him for 5-6 years while he is in school!

  11. Loved this….my daughter, who is 19 and in her first year of college wanted to go as far away as possible and major in neuroscience. She went across the country(now wants to be closer – she thinks) and now doesn't know about the "science thing". She called yesterday and said she wanted to be a "personal assistant"! Yes, we are paying for private liberal arts college.

    I have a degree in Fashion Design, my husband is a construction/development exec….he cringed when she said she wanted to be an architect, I thought it was great!

    Your conversation sounded great….they have aspirations and fun ones at that!

  12. Yes, those car conversations–so much is learned while simply listening. I do miss the car capsules of time when outside distractions are suspended and the most valuable insights into a young passenger's state of mind is revealed. Love the not wanting to leave home point in life. As for Robsjohn-Gibbings, the dining room!!!!!!!!

  13. As my sons are now engaged in the college pursuit, one states he wants to go as far away (from said parents) and the other just wants to be far enough to come home often. Funny, how we are programmed to do what is meant, and the wandering road or journey of life can meander us each to where we belong.

  14. I love the unstoppable and no boundaries look on life kids have. I sure don't want to be the one to put up walls for my daughter. She might need to meet your boys – she is 8 – her plan: be a fashion designer, a Vet and have 5 babies. all at one time. wondering how she'll pull off the "5 babies at one time" then she told me I could be their nanny! he he he I love the relationship you have with the boys – so great!

  15. What a bit of deliciousness. I bet if dissected every skill you learned in school, it's still there. You are still directing chaos in action on a deadline. And you have survived to report about it. Enjoy these days. You are making magic.

  16. At the ripe age of 74 and the professional accomplishment of being a research scientist I can say that I have carried out my Mother's unmet needs. And as I say that I can support that idea by further stating that if one were to poll their immediate friends carefully one might come to the same conclusion. That said as an introduction, no, one does not specifically push one's children into a professional choice. One speaks of delights, interests, and ambitions that one has met or not met successfully. and – perhaps – one's children find their direction from that. And that is a good thing. You and I have both seen the ravages of children's live who never find their calling in the world, a world of uncountable choices but no yard stick with which to measure those choices. Ann

  17. "as word has leaked that you have to leave home to do so…"

    When you write, we all feel as though we are in the seat somehow nearby and simply overhear the most magical conversations.

    A cookie judge: could there be a profession more excellent than this? Those Blandings boys have their mother's knack for inspired thoughts (and ways to express them).

  18. I know I'd love your kids- they sound so great. My 14 year old decided several years ago to be a day student at a samll liberal arts college 30 minutes from home so he wouldn't have to leave us. Now he has one foot firmly planted at our alma mater, our large state university 2 1/2 hours away. We miss the old days {your very poignant words about your eldest at Christmas touched my husband and me}. Our 12 year old is going with her brother and our 9 year old wants to stay home with Mama. Suits me fine!

  19. I got a kick out of this–especially like the idea of being a guy on a cooking show who says if stuff is good or not. Sounds like a good gig to me!

    I've had similar conversations with my kids over the years about what they want to do when they grow up. Last week my 7-year old told me she's going to start a blog when she grows up and call it "Hooked on Dogs." 🙂

  20. You made me laugh loud and remember a dear girlfriend's son: after first grade ended he was so happy because he thought school was over for good…well he is now an architect in Rome! Your posts are always amazing. Ciao.

  21. FYI: I had one of my younger relatives to dinner recently. He's in his early thirties, and graduated with BA in economics and engineering. He subsequently got two additional degrees in engineering-related subjects. He now directs corporate acquisitions for one of the largest technology-based companies in the world. (Hence the casual, "I spent a billion dollars on new acquisitions last year.")

    I fully expect that in another eight to ten years, he'll be a venture capitalist making a serious fortune.

    Meanwhile, three of his cousins are impecunious architects, with no great talent or originality, trapped in jobs that seemed, I'm sure, tasteful at the time. (And not one of them, Mrs. Blandings, is about to build anyone's dream house.)

    So consider…

  22. this is some kind of a reoccuring theme, lately, the "wanted to be", "was" an architect but ended up in an area of interior design. I've heard this from so many really accomplished photographers, designers etc.

  23. We all get sidetracked. I recall wanting to add …. let's see… gentleman jewel thief, spy, foreign service officer, commando and seaplane pilot, to my juvenile resumé.

  24. Did Alice Waters go to school to learn how to start a revolution in food? I think we succeed if we are lucky enough to figure out what we love and then get paid to do it. But we rarely start out there. One day one of my editors said "you should write a column." As I was the graphic designer on staff, I gave him one of those "are you crazy looks?" And then proceeded to write a newspaper column for 28 years (with a Masters in textile design). And I do believe you only need to love movies and watch a million, to be a critic (of course, good writing helps).

  25. What I'm doing now is far removed from what I graduated in. My direction in life changed in one second on one day. I tell all our boys to keep their minds & their options open. It can lead you down some pretty awesome pathways, if you are prepared to take that quantum leap of faith. The 3 Blandings boys seem to have a lovely level of confidence & self-belief, all will be fine.
    Millie ^_^

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