Alice … truly in Wonderland
One of the very best parties I’ve EVER been to, was a 40th birthday party thrown my fearless, fabulous friend - Pamela Smith. There was an Alice in Wonderland theme … and from the wine served in tea cups, to the “drink me” bevvies at the door and the amazing costumes & dancers … well, it was a spectacular spectacle.
A lot has changed since that night, but the love of friends endures, and every single time I see or read any Alice in Wonderland snippets I think of Pam, and her unwavering, enduring and contagious commitment to having fun, and making sure her friends do too.
I’d never heard of Karmann Ghias until my friend Mona Mok pulled up to my door in the one she’d just bought. On a whim. It was a beautiful, quirky, stylish car with something extra … just like Mona herself … and ever since then, whenever I spy a Karmann Ghia (which doesn’t happen nearly enough), I think of her.
Mona has been looking after me for 20 years, though she’d probably say it’s been the other way around. She’s a friend who knows what to say & when to say it. She drove me to the airport & gave me a boost, when I left my life and embarked on my grad school trauma (I mean triumph!). She’s the friend who took for me drinks to say what no-one else would, when I was so deep into a start-up that I couldn’t see clearly anymore. She is wise and kind, and I always feel a surge of strength when a Karmann Ghia drives by and reminds me of her.
For years I worked with a smart, stylish, uncannily insightful woman named Cindy Oxenbury. We talked/Skyped/emailed dozens of times a day, and in every one of those exchanges I learned something. Something important.
It is an amazing gift, to work with someone you see eye-to-eye with, and learn from, every day. There was one thing we didn’t see eye-to-eye on though. The ampersand. And oh I do love ampersands. I like them visually, and I guess I also like the bit of informality they bring to a good document title. But Cindy was ruthless with ampersands … deleting them from my documents willy nilly. I always accepted the edits, sighed and smiled, because I knew they shouldn’t really be there. But the great thing is that now, every time I put an ampersand into a document (which I do daily), I think of Cindy and smile.
We probably all remember the first time we saw a CD player. For me it was at Bill Traynor’s house, when we were in Grade 10. I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of great guy friends over the years, but Bill was the first. He’d just spent the summer in Toronto and returned to our small town with the unthinkable … music you didn’t have to rewind.
I can’t remember how much Bill spent on that CD player, but it was enough to make our friends accuse him of being a gullible, fad-following, over-payer. A teenager, in other words. They said CDs wouldn’t last. Not me though. I was too busy listening to his crystal clear, static-free, beautiful music.
Now I think of Bill each time I see the bins full of CDs in my attic, or find one in a drawer and wish I still had a CD player I could play it on. I remember that sometimes crazy new things become commonplace in an instant. Thinking of Bill and his CD player reminds me to be grateful to the people who buy cool new things. The early adopters. The Bills.
Every time I drive by a blue VW camper van - which is daily in Seattle - I think of Juli Douglas, who was one of the very first people I met when I moved here. Juli and her lovely boys just moved to San Francisco, and we miss them. We met in the playground & loved all the play dates we shared in the 4 years since.
Blue vans remind me to talk to strangers in playgrounds.
Not many women can pull off pigtails, but Denise Shortt can … and every time I see saucy, cute, braided pigtails on anyone over the age of 15, they make me think of Denise. We met via email nearly 20 years ago, and became fast virtual - and later F2F - friends, teaming up on projects, staying out too late, trying to change the world. I don’t see Denise enough these days, but a smile crosses my lips each time I see braids sauntering down the street & take a minute to think of her!
It’s strange to me that Liquid Paper still exists, but on the rare occasion that I see a bottle tucked inside a desk drawer, it reminds me of my cousin Matt Morrison-Clark, who used it to label slugs when he was at university. He named & labeled them, he said, so that he’d know if there were new ones arriving or just repeat visitors each day.
I think I was about 15 … in Scotland for my Grandma’s 80th birthday … when Matt was telling us this story. He was - I thought - overwhelmingly stylish with his strappy leather bracelets flapping around as he regaled us with stories from his (slug inhabited) university home.
Aside from introducing me to Liquid Paper, this was also the day that I firmly decided that I couldn’t WAIT to go to university. So, thanks Matt … for inspiring my education, and for making Liquid Paper entertaining as well as (mildly) useful.
Every time I shave my legs, I think about the day 30 years ago, when Fiona Palmer & I were lying on the bow of her boat, and I tried to ever so subtly (?) move my legs over hers, to find out if she was shaving. She was a few years older than me, and knew exactly what I was up to, of course. I remember feeling flustered that she knew what I was doing … but I also remember how smooth her legs felt. And how grown up she seemed.
The next day I tried it for myself, not realizing that this exciting and clear indication of maturity would become routine so quickly. Still – now when I pull out my razor, I’m glad that it makes me think about boating with Fiona as pre-teens. Our smooth, silky, strong legs supported us through hours & hours of waterskiing back then.
About 10 years ago a small group of friends & I rented a boat, and spent a few hours aimlessly booting around the islands off the coast of Vancouver. Sang Park was on that boat, and ever since … whenever I see a chopped of pile of carrot sticks I think of him. This isn’t because of his unrivalled snack & picnic making abiliites. Which he does have. The guy is an amazing cook. It’s because, at some point during our time on the water, he tried to feed carrot sticks to seals. And it made me laugh. And ever since then, carrot sticks have cracked me up a little.
I love sushi. Because it’s delicious, but also because it reminds me of a lovely soul who crossed my path 20 years ago. Jason Martin introduced me to sushi long before he started launching companies. We had lunch, and I struggled with my chopsticks and bit into my first salmon nigiri. 20 years later, every time I take my kids out for sushi and watch them pulling miniature plates from the conveyor-belt, I think of Jason and am glad to have known him.
That lunch, apart from being my introduction to sushi, was also one of the first “what if” moments of my adult life. Which makes it extra fun to think about.