The dangers of chance encounters with venture capitalists in Vietnamese noodle houses

October 26, 2010

Business lunch?

Life can be so random. During a solo noodle lunch earlier this fall, I got caught engineering something odd, yet eminently practical, out of a bent wire condiment caddy and a Robert Ludlum paperback. My audience, an Über groomed businessman two tables over, was endlessly amused. I went on to tell him about a similar invention of mine involving corrugated plastic. His face went bright red with excitement at the ludicrously low material cost per unit. Plans were made, and I spent the next month perfecting and prototyping my design. Long story short, I found out the fellow’s company had filed for bankruptcy under some extremely shady circumstances – a mere two weeks after our meeting!

A corrugated cascade

This summer’s blog hiatus taught me many things about life (a subject I still know embarrassingly little about), the above fiasco being only one of countless adventures. In our over-documented lives, we have little opportunity to go off the radar and explore our deeper selves without an audience. What with Facebook and cellphones, blogs and Twitter, we risk sacrificing these precious spirit quests in favour of availability, so easily misconstrued as accountability. I come back to you rested, dear readers, and inspired. I have passed the 200 page mark on my most recent novel project, and am pursuing a patent on my corrugated design independently, on my own terms. But more importantly, these few undocumented months have awakened me to certain inexpressible truths about love and the need for honesty when it comes to honouring our deepest selves.

“Are you OK?” my husband asked, when I told him about the bankruptcy.

I sighed. “Yah. But it’s weird, I’m not half as upset as I thought I’d be.”

As he wrapped his strong bear arms around me, and I lost myself in the warmth of his hug, I knew why.

(soup pic source)


Burning The Ugly Pants: Join a 2010 personal style makeover (Update IV)

April 23, 2010

Yesterday's blazer experiment

How do you engage with the world? Our clothing plays a major role in communicating the nature of our engagement with both society and ourselves. Generally, those who dress ‘fashionably’ have the most to gain from being perceived as ‘plugged in’ to their culture (ie: Vogue interns), while ‘style’ is more an expression of a person’s confident engagement with self (Vogue’s Grace Coddington). It’s no coincidence that the most successful people (according to our culture’s standards) exhibit a combination of both (ie: Michelle Obama).

Yesterday’s outfit was a preliminary experiment in engagement. Which is to say, I wore a blazer around downtown Calgary. Sure, I still had on my jeans and Nike baseball cap, but by replacing my hoodie with a fitted brown velvet blazer, the look was entirely transformed. Not only did I immediately become more conscious of my posture in the structured jacket, but there was also a marked increase in public attention (from both men and women). I felt suddenly more conspicuous, and at the same time, somehow more involved with my streetmates. It was as if they wanted to recognize me as one of their business-class clan, which, of course, would open the door to my being judged by their standards. It was an odd feeling, and I’m not sure yet if I’m open to living it daily. I’ve always relished my role as an observer, especially being a writer, but there’s a power in setting yourself up as an equal – a power that must be explored…

Need to catch up on this Saving Cymbria blog serial?


Burning The Ugly Pants: Join a 2010 personal style makeover (Part Five)

April 20, 2010

How would you define your personal style? Stop what you’re doing and take a peek in your closet… 

My wardrobe... "Self Imposed Utilitarianism"

 

“Self Imposed Utilitarianism,” was how I described my current style status to a ‘Funky Eclectic’ friend recently. “Why?” she asked, with obvious concern. I mooned on about the after-effects of high school uniforms and about never understanding why Goths and Emos are always so eager for public abuse. 

Truly, I’ve never been able to muster much sympathy for people who expect humanity to throw eons of intrinsic human nature to the wind just because little Gregory wants to ‘express’ himself. If you look different – you get treated different… not rocket science here people. Why fight a basic survival principle? Of course, running screaming from it hasn’t gotten me very far either. 

I’ve always lived my rebellion on the inside, keeping its gestation safe from outside assault. Before my adult uniform of jeans plus solid-colored top, my plaid kilt and white oxford shirt kept the fashion pressure to a minimum in high school and let me blend into a wide variety of peer groups without ever having to label myself. In an interesting aside: my marks shot up a full 10% when I switched from skirt to navy dress pants in grade twelve. It remains a mystery whether this was because my teachers assumed that I was suddenly, spontaneously, more credible, or simply because I happen to be someone who learns better with warm knees. We’ll never know…  

I did, however, let loose for school dances in wild fringed party dresses of my own (not so Catholic school girl) design. I’m still shocked the chaperones never kicked me out! Ah yes, no one ever suspects the band geek in gold lamé… but really, as everyone knows, we’ve got the glass slipper market cornered! And so, pour moi, up to now, fashion has always been about the occasion, about picking the day/night’s character and maxing it out. But what about day to day? Now that I’ve comfortably defined my own character, I’m certainly not about to condemn her to a lifetime of Self Imposed Utilitarianism – the horror! 

Need to catch up on this Saving Cymbria blog serial? 

Note: I made this sketch as a handy, albeit excessively nerdy, shopping aid – Stay tuned.


Burning The Ugly Pants: Join a 2010 personal style makeover (Part Three)

March 26, 2010

The early 20th century factory workers who painted phosphorescent numbers on clocks were a creative bunch. They used to paint their teeth with their radioactive pigments, then take turns in the broom closet scaring each other with glowing Cheshire grins. This was all good times until their teeth honeycombed, rotted, and fell out. Why does a glowing smile always have to cost so much? 

Price-wise, I started ahead of the game, buying my Crest Whitestrips on sale at 1/2 price. I didn’t even get charged for the emergency trip to the orthodontist after running into “complications” on day two. But what, I ask, is the flat rate exchange for a person’s dignity? 

I can handle ‘slucking’ back my saliva every 15 seconds – not a big deal. Answering the phone, “Good morning, Matrix Geoservices,” without being able to pronounce the letter M, is workable. A lisp never got anyone fired – at least not legally. However, when the owner of the company you work for gives you an important plot to fold for an important client, and you go and drool all over it, well, then we might have a bit of a problem. 

There I was, a perfectly competent, mature 27 year old, staring in horror at the silver-dollar sized dollop of drool centered smack dab in the middle of the front page. I watched, paralyzed, as the ever-expanding circumference of saliva spread across data worth millions of dollars. Luckily, you don’t need an M to swear. I took evasive action with my sleeve and dabbed and blew and pressed and blew and flattened and blew until I’d done all I could do. I left the folded plot in my boss’s office and hoped for the best. 

Miracle of miracles, he didn’t notice. Or maybe he did, but found other blame for the defect. Really – unless one of my dear readers rats me out – who would suspect an employee of such monumental regression? I kept my secret, as I’m sure you would too. There are some things that are just too hard to explain to middle-aged, male geophysicist – whether you have a working M or not!  

And so the makeover continues. All I’ve lost is my dignity and a small slice of flesh that’s been acid-burned off the front of my gums. Small price to pay for beauty? Let’s find out…

Need to catch up on this Saving Cymbria blog serial?

(image source)


Burning The Ugly Pants: Join a 2010 personal style makeover (Part One)

February 5, 2010

The Before...

We live in a blank canvas world. Social conventions, notions of class, and even the dictates of fashion are becoming increasingly flexible. Such freedom can leave one floundering when it comes to communicating (or even defining) one’s identity. Who are we without structure? What happens when a society disconnects from its own history and traditions? 

We are becoming a surface people, all sound bites and profile pics, status updates and 140 character tweets. I’ve rebelled against this new framework from the start (although, I suppose you did just catch me blogging~wink). I’ve tried my best to dive down under the surface chaos – a life lived in ripples is a raw deal if you ask me – and explore the cool, still world under the waves. But, as you can see from the pic above, it’s bloody well time to come up for some air! 

There is a boon to all this surface talk. For the first in history, we have the unique opportunity to have our projections believed. If the world is so intent on taking us at face value, why not play the game? But on our terms. I’m not talking about plastic surgery and piles of makeup, but more about establishing a personal style that projects our strengths and ambitions. It’s about Focus.  

I invite you to join me in a 2010 personal style makeover. To tell you the truth, I’m actually quite nervous about this project. Will I have have the guts to follow it through? What about maintenance? Can I do it inexpensively? And, of course, the question all women ask themselves before embarking such journeys… Will it really make a difference? 

Let’s find out!

CLICK HERE to read more of this Saving Cymbria blog serial


DIY Summer Fashion Series: imagine/sketch/create (part two) – Studies for a blue jersey dress

June 30, 2009
Fashion sketches - Studies for a blue jersey dress

Cymbria Fashion Sketches - Studies for a blue jersey dress to wear on a romantic dinner in Banff, Alberta

Like to take a peek at part one?


Making a statement on the golf course…

June 19, 2009
Design sketch for pink plaid, vintage style, golf pants

Design sketch for pink plaid, vintage style, golf pants

I’ve been looking for ways to improve my golf game that don’t involve setting up camp on David Leadbetter’s front lawn. These pants just might do the trick. They should have sufficient flair to take my shot making (or at least my mood in the face of a four putt) to the next level. You wouldn’t believe how much lower I shoot whenever (and my apologizes to Gloria Steinem) I add a skort to my swing routine. These pants could take me all the way to the LPGA!  

But then again, instead, what would happen if I spent all those hours it would take me to create the pattern, source the fabric, and sew everything together, at the driving range? Hmmm, tough choice (I know, Gloria, I know- sigh).