Fear of Authenticity

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Christmas morning – Authentic dog and snow

“If I brought my authentic self to work, I’d be fired.” This was the most authentic thing I said in the 2.5 hour long discussion my employer held on the new corporate values. My authentic self is quick-tempered, opinionated, potty-mouthed, and arrogant. These are not highly prized attributes for an underling and certainly, during a corporate group-think values session, I was not about to expose my true self. Continue reading

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Bespoke

In 1981, I owned two pairs of corduroy pants, four hand-knit sweaters made by my mother, a pair of Adidas running shoes with a loose heel that slapped my foot as I walked, and two dresses I sewed using material found in remnant bins of fabric stores. That year, I shifted my job hunt from the careers section of the Ottawa Citizen to the classifieds. An English Literature degree had not guaranteed entry into any work I aspired to and I needed a job. I borrowed a jacket, a blouse, and a pair of shoes that blistered my baby toes for interviews. I landed a job as a secretary with the Canadian Construction Association. At 24, my real education began. Continue reading

For sale: red dress

RedDress

Vintage. Size 8. Worn three times in 1992.

The reason
I wore the dress for the first time at a Meeting Planners International (Ottawa Chapter) Gala. I won “Planner of the Year”, for which I received a plaque. Now when I hear the word plaque I think gum disease and heart attack but back then it meant achievement. I was good at a job that, among other things, demanded good feet. Back then when scouting a location for a 1200 delegate conference and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, I walked every inch of too many hotel function rooms and concrete floored trade show halls – in stilettos. I tromped service corridors and loading bays. I hoofed the cobblestone streets of old Montreal surrounding the Montreal Convention Centre. I pounded the paved cruise ship docks beside the Vancouver Convention Centre and marched up and down Halifax’s hills to and from the harbour and up to the Citadel because back then there was no Google Earth or Mapquest to help situate the convention site within a city. I had to see it for myself. In stilletos. Because. Fashion. Continue reading

For the love of pineapple

“Leftovers in the dining room,” the email announces.

All 200 employees scurry down the stairs to the dining hall to scoop up remains of the catered lunch left behind by the visiting big wigs.

I pick through an enormous bowl of fruit salad and scoop lumps of pineapple, a couple of blackberries, a spoonful of blueberries, some raspberry mush into a container. I take every juicy chunk of pineapple and leave the tepid scalloped potatoes and cold ham with curling edges to those who seek comfort in stodge. I turn my back on the date squares and chocolate macaroons and return to my desk coddling a plastic container brimming with bright, wet fruit. Continue reading

Where I’ve been

RainforestFalls

Not Niagara Falls

May 28 – Niagara Falls, Ontario
The meeting starts at 8:00 a.m. and I arrive at 7:00 to make sure the internet connection works, put out the name plates for the attendees, distribute expense claims, test the conference phone. With everything ready to go, I stroll outside. At 7:30 on Sunday morning the town is quiet. I saunter along the path following the lip of the Niagara River gorge to find fog and mist obscuring both the river and the Canadian falls. Continue reading

Worth the risk

All day, I sat in a windowless meeting room in the basement of a hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia and listened to very important people talk about very important things. Immediately before the meeting my bowels had erupted, protesting as they often do to the change in input when I travel. I also forgot my acid reflux meds at home in Ottawa. And so the day began.
Continue reading

Elementary

Lopsided, I lug my tote bag and clomp into the change room of the community swimming pool half an hour late – because of work. The lane swim began at 11:30. I like to get there for the start,  be the first one to break the surface of the water, make the first wave, set the pace. I tiptoe through the heat-fogged room in winter boots, careful not to slip on the slick floors. I love the smell of chlorine at high noon. I’m in my element. Continue reading

Performance appraisal 2017

christmascookies

Will work for cookies.

 

Pat stamps fast tracks –
tap tap taps.
Baas assays Pat’s annals,
yack yack yacks,
alarms Pat. Nay ‘scape.
Can’t sass. Facts am facts.

Pat drafts a brash plan,
charts tasks, basks –
ha ha ha – all’s grand and
all that. At last, Baas marks
Pat A1 – nay spat – pays scant.
Alas, tax man grabs all back.