How (not) to leave a tip for your office cleaning staff!

May 24, 2010

I used to laugh at those stories about girls in the 1970s needing pliers to do up their jeans – not anymore! Turns out there’s a reason why fashion’s perennial pariah, pleats, were welcomed back as the prodigal pants of the 80s. The hippies thought they’d put an end to war too, but then along came 9/11 and the skinny jean trend, and we’re right back in the dark ages.

There I was, wedged into a cramped stall in our office washroom, enmeshed in an epic struggle with two stonewashed denim sausage casings – the kind of jeans you have to peel rather than pull. They’d been almost bearable when I’d ratcheted them on in the morning, but by our 4:27pm duel, my thighs had set stiff like a couple of cement filled foundation tubes. Ever been so claustrophobic you started fantasizing about jerry-rigging some primitive form of culotte out of old recycling bags and packing tape?

I’d just flushed (sorry TMI), and was jumping up and down, heaving on the waistband, when an odd thing happened. One quarter, one dime, and two pennies, popped free of my front pocket and dropped into the – still flushing – toilet. I watched the water swirl, then settle, leaving my small collection of coins adrift in the bottom of the bowl. I ask you this… What, pray tell, is the etiquette in this sort of situation?

I made an executive decision; I left a tip. I thought of sticking a post-it on the seat to explain, but what would I really say? That I my pants were too tight? That I think another woman’s dignity can be bought for a measly 37 cents? The office cleaning woman and I wear the clothes of different cultures, and now my jeans have driven another wedge between us. It’s no wonder the hippies were wrong about war – just think of all those stems and seeds they left for the rest of the world to clean up.


How to toy with your position in the hierarchy of the universe

August 6, 2009

It was a standoff in the park. The man stood firm, arms crossed, waiting.  His dog sat ten feet away with an orange, freshly fetched Frisbee clamped tight in his jaws. Neither would budge, each waiting for the other to  submit and take that first step forward.

I put my stroll on hold to watch what would happen next. After an incredibly long and awkward ten seconds, the dog made the first move. He crossed the grass and dropped the Frisbee at his master’s feet, then sat back on his haunches and thumped his tail on the ground with what I took to be obvious relief. With his position in the universe reaffirmed, the dog was free to once again relax into his role of loved and dutiful pet.

Here’s a game I play to toy with my own position in the hierarchy of the universe…

As a woman, not to mention a blonde (which has its advantages, don’t get me wrong), I’ve noticed that certain middle aged men, especially those wearing expensive suits, expect me to give them right of way when we’re walking towards each other on the same track lane of sidewalk or hallway. A few years ago I realized I was, unconsciously, nearly always shifting, albeit subtley, to give them room.

Well, not any more. I walk straight and strong without giving an inch. What happens? Most of the time they realize it’s not worth playing chicken with a girl whose gait suddenly has more in common with John Cena than Audry Hepburn. When they do take the risk, and it’s always the ones who (you just know) trim their nose hair at least twice a week, what happens next is inevitable (and oh so gratifying). I lower my shoulder, in classic football style, and drive right through. I never look back; that would imply I was concerned, or even (the horror!),  somewhat apologetic.

I’m fully aware that it’s only a matter of time before this ‘inocent’ game blows up in my face. Is it worth it? Yes! I do it out of solemn responsibility to my sex, to let the world know that times have changed and the old hierarchy is dead. Of course, it’s a whole lot of fun too~wink. Now if only there was a way to break my husband’s monopoly over the remote control. All I can say is never underestimate the power of a healthy bodycheck.

How to capture a personality in a portrait

July 3, 2009

The two portraits below are of the same subject. The first uses setting, composition, and lighting to convey the subject’s personality. She is a quirky artistic type with hippie, as opposed to hipster, sensibilities and a great, snarky sense of humor. Photography is an excellent medium for portraiture because the subject can be directly involved in communicating how she/he sees herself/himself to the world. However, as in personality testing, this can also be a limitation. Honesty can easily become clouded by preconception.

The second portrait is a drawing of the same subject dancing. It was executed quickly, solely from memory. Both she and I were startled by the resulting resemblance. “Creepy,” she called it. And yes, the attitude and posture was eerily spot on. It’s a big risk to allow yourself to be seen through someone else’s eyes, and the results may surprise you, creepy or not. I invite you to try this exercise with someone you know. In our age of careful personal branding, there is an urgent need for the honesty of a pen, some colouring pencils, and a personal connection only art can prove.

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words...

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words…

...and sometimes a drawing can say a million more

…and sometimes a drawing can say so many more

How to air-dry your clothes faster with this simple hanger trick

June 4, 2009
All it takes are two metal hangers and a twist of tape!

All it takes are two metal hangers and a twist of tape!

It was an emergency laundry situation. I had just gotten to work and realized I’d packed a less-than-spotless shirt for an evening event (50s party – long story). Washing it in the bathroom sink was no problem, but I needed a way to dry it in record time. Let’s cut to the physics…

More air circulation = Faster water evaporation

To create an air pocket between opposing layers of fabric, I bent two hangers (see photo) so that the horizontal hook of one hanger latched into the straight neck of the other. The resulting design was stabilized by the two lower V-shaped bends, which were secured with a twist of scotch tape into a bracing X shape. The new form successfully let air circulate freely throughout the garment, which was perfectly dry by my afternoon break. For some inexplicable reason, none of my co-workers seemed overly impressed. Sometimes, dear readers, there are things worth getting called “weird” for. And for this minstrel designer, being clean and dry is at the top of that list!

Side view

Side view

Top view

Top view

How to bring a sense of awe into your office (with this DIY meditation retreat)

May 15, 2009
Stack empty Xerox paper-roll boxes according to the diagram below...
Bring the wonder of Stonehenge to your job with ‘Officehenge’!
Diagram of Stonehenge

Stack your empty Xerox boxes to match the Stonehenge diagram.

For when you're having a busy day...

Perfect for when you’re having a busy day at work…

...this coworker re-centers herself.

…this coworker re-centers herself.

But if you really want a Stonehenge that’ll
make all your worries disappear… CLICK HERE


(Source of Stonehenge diagram)

Revolutionary Way To Post An INTERACTIVE Resume Online

May 13, 2009

You need every edge in this difficult economy, and first impressions are everything. I discovered this revolutionary way of connecting with employers while I was setting up my wordpress blog two years ago.  This will guarantee prospective employers the most comprehensive introduction to your qualifications, when compared to your competition’s antiquated plain-text resumes.

Step One: Title one of your wordpress pages “Interactive Resume” and paste in your resume, with proper formatting and a picture. Now here’s the fun part…

Step Two: This is your chance to showcase your proudest achievements by using the “link” function, so your readers can click through to everything from pictures of your school and work projects, your previous employer’s website, your blog, samples of articles you’ve written, pictures and write-ups from volunteer work, all the way to… (the possibilities are endless).

Step Three:
Link to your new interactive resume whenever you apply online (ie: Workopolis, Monster, Mediajobsearchcanada). Remember to write strategic blog posts to draw wordpress readers from your field, because you never know who will bring you your next big opportunity.

It’s time to start aggressively exploring how we can use the internet to give us an edge in our “real” lives. You’re welcome to use this interactive resume technique in your next job search. So go ahead, get creative! Good luck!

How to make fantastically unique birthday cards

September 24, 2008
Start with this inspiration...

Start with this inspiration...

Start by finding an image off the net that makes you think about that special someone. Print the image onto the lower left corner of a piece of cardstock, don’t forget to add a caption on the right. I used “the magic is what you dream outside the picture”, but you can try “beyond the borders”, “outside the box” or your own variation. Fold and cut the card, then begin to extend the picture with pencil crayons. Let your creativity run wild as you get further away from the photo. Have fun!

...print it on cardstock and add a smidgen of text plus pencil crayon magic to create this Birthday card
…print it on cardstock and add a smidgen of text plus pencil crayon magic to create your own “outside the box” Birthday card

(flower photo source)