Thursday, 30 September 2010

Oh, snap!

In planning a wedding with my partner across the ocean I have come across a huge variety of wedding blogs, catering to different styles and niches of wedding. Most of my favourites display gorgeous images of wonderfully diverse people and all their different wedding celebrations:

Offbeat Bride has been my favourite though, because they have a private 'no drama' ning site for all sorts of offbeat brides (and grooms) in fully-fledged wedding planning mode. While Mr and are decidedly 'offbeat lite' we are also a transatlantic couple, and there's a group on the ning site specifically devoted to us 'geographically challenged' couples and that has been a great resource and constant source of support.

Many of these blogs show couples who opt to have engagement photo shoots to announce their wedding, and to get the opportunity to practice in front of a camera before the big day so they don't end up looking back on awkward family photos in years to come. We didn't do this (it's not wholly practical when we have limited time together and spend most of our spare money on flights) but we are in the habit of capturing the few precious moments we get with each other. When we were on our recent trip over to NY and PA, my mum half-joked that we needed plenty of photos to show immigration one day and gleefully snapped us at every chance throughout the trip. But indeed, photos of our relationship across time can form part of the requirement to provide immigration with "Evidence of a Bonafide Marriage - relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union".

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Just back from a threefold trip across the ocean:

1. To see my fiance.
2. So my mum could meet his mom.
3. To get fabric for the dresses.

Success on all three!

1. Fiance surprised me by visiting me in NY for the few days we were there before heading to his parents' place. Extra days with my beau!
2. I think everyone had a lovely time. My aunt came along for the ride as well, and all of us, along with my fiance's aunt, had fun mini-golfing, going for dinner, drinking tea and eating cake.
3. Fabric purchased for my dress, and two of the bridesmaid dresses. My maid of honour is my sister-in-law-to-be and she'll be making her own dress because she's a talented art school type.

Here's the fabric for my dress!

That's his kilt, the one he'll be wearing on the day (it's muted Mackay tartan), plus the fabric I chose for my two junior bridesmaids (the blue one).

I'd already chosen the pattern for the dress, although it's being heavily altered, and I never had a desire to visit any bridal shops to try on dresses. I only wanted to try on one dress, my own, but it didn't exist.

I'd always wanted my mum to make my dress because she's a brilliant seamstress and she made her own wedding dress, and she was really honoured when I asked her to do mine too. She's a huge fan of Project Runway so our first stop was Mood Fabrics. We had so much in the garment district of NY wrapping me up in all sorts of beige silks like a betrothed Egyptian mummy:

That's my aunt helping.

Unfortunately Mood didn't have quite what we wanted, but we found a treasure trove of fantastic silks in every colour just a few blocks away.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Manual Labour

I had a funny moment while I was sitting in my driving instructor's car early one morning. I was being instructed on pedestrian crossing protocol. I misnamed a "Pegasus" crossing as a "Unicorn" crossing, which was rather cute of me. But that wasn't the funny moment.

Another learner driver had pulled up behind me and parked on the side of the road. In the rear view mirror I caught a glimpse of someone and made a wry smile - it kind of felt like I'd seen an ex-boyfriend in fortuitous circumstances. But then, when I break it down, my old driving instructor was a bit like a stereotypical bad boyfriend.

First, his company website was totally flashy, but not very user-friendly. Good looking but no substance.

Second, he constantly turned up to appointments late with no excuse or explanation.

Third, he never explained important information to me. He'd basically tell me to "drive" - and then stop me and tell me each time I did something wrong rather than show me how to do something and talk me through it as I practiced.

Fourth, he got into the habit of undermining me and putting me down -the cherry on the cake was when he said I might as well just give up and get a bus pass.

Fifth, he promised he would call and never did. He decided I should just learn automatic because manual was getting me nowhere. He said he'd call about getting a lesson in an automatic. He didn't.

So what does any self -respecting girl do when she's in a destructive relationship? She moves on of course. I cut my losses (hours of stressful driving, hundreds of pounds, months of getting worse at driving) and found someone better. And my current instructor is contrary in every way. I picked him according to his basic, unimpressive website, reasoning that a non-flashy website would mean a better instructor, and I was right.

I remember saying I didn't want to be negative on this blog, but I thought it was worth mentioning mr bad driving man. For a girl who's got as much going for her as I do, I'm often not as forthright as I should be, sometimes to a fault. It's fairly well known: My fiancé's the hawk and I'm the dove.

I did a first aid certificate recently for work and they said I was great, but didn't come off too confidently, even though I should have done. They told me to be louder, which sums it up.

So I was almost distracted by wanting to stare down mr bad driving man in the rear view mirror, but I was interrupted. A drunken guy approached our car and started slurring vexatiously through my open driver's window. He held a pink plastic wine glass like it was a glass of brandy and hugged a bottle of cider in the other arm. Mr good driving instructor warned sternly that he'd call the police, and by the time the drunk had tottered off, the other learner car had moved on.

And so have I. Ha. Look at me now mr bad driving man.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Employ Kyle

Opinion is divided about unusual resumes/CVs/job applications - does a "wacky" or creative stunt ever catch an employer's attention in the correct way? Can they be substantiated with a strong, relevant work history?

I suppose it depends on the employer. Those questions are not for me to answer; I'm not hiring anyone.

But here's one success story, so maybe there are cases where dogged determination and an eye-catching stunt can highlight a jobseekers's positive qualities. For example, if you can create a media storm and you're looking for a PR job, or you're a web designer with a beautiful paperless URL CV, or you're interested in politics and have the gumption to ask a top politician for work experience, or an actress who "quits her job in style" and starts an internet meme, then creativity and guts are a valid and commendable combination.

But what if you're not quite sure where you want to go next? How do you stand out then?

Graduate Kyle Clarke is having a go at creating a buzz about his business credentials with a full-blown web tender for his skills. He's created a campaign called EmployKyle, where potential employers can 'bid' for his services, and after the month's deadline he'll go with what he calls the 'best' offer. The flashy website is, of course, also accompanied by a live Twitter account, which he's using to approach employers, network and promote his campaign.

Interestingly, he's also fairly candid about not quite knowing what he wants to do or what his 'dream job' might be.

Like I said, I'm not an employer so I can't predict how this open sincerity will play out, but if his slick website and undoubtedly clever wording plays into enthusiastic and dogged determination for seeking employment, then it may well garner some good results for him. The Guardian seems to have picked up on his story, which turned out well for fellow tweeter jambothejourno. Best of luck Kyle.

If anyone's been inspired by the examples of creative job hunting/attention-seeking linked here, then you'll need to keep on thinking outside-the-A4-sheet. I reckon these ideas only work once (remember the genius million dollar home page?) if they work at all - but you've gotta have guts to try, and sometimes employers kinda like that.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The 365

It was a year since I bid a teary farewell to my boyfriend as he returned to vaster shores, handed in my dissertation and was treated to a cup of tea and a bag full of biscuits from my flatmate, packed up six years' accumulation of books, notes, and memorabilia from my days as a student officer, and moved back home.

It's natural then, for me to be looking back on the past year and what I've achieved or not achieved. I told my beau a couple of weeks ago about my fear that I haven't "achieved enough" in the past year. I think at the time I was feeling blighted by my commute and the fact I still can't drive. There are limitations to living in a remote steading with no public transport - for one, it means planning social activities meticulously. On the plus side, all the walking I do negates a need for an expensive gym membership.

I have achieved what I had set out in little baby steps, which is great to report. I am, in my instructor's words "an excellent driver" so hopefully it won't be long before I am a legal driver too. The nights are rapidly getting dark!

So my aim for the next year is to keep on moving forward, learning and progressing. Reaching and achieving. I want to pass my test, take another language class, and volunteer again.

I could describe the last several months as an extended summer period. I'm off to the USA again for a week, but when I get back it's definitely time to hit the gas and step things up a gear, so to say.