Thursday, 26 August 2010

Back In a Fortnight or Thereabouts

I am so packed!!! Well except for make up and toiletries that is, but that's no big deal. I did it last night and my new rolling duffel bag fits everything in it with ease. Hurrah!! Admittedly it is relatively large, much bigger than I was anticipating, but it's not insane and I can still pick it up relatively easily. It's nothing like the time I went to Buenos Aires for 6 days with 3 girlfriends back in 2004 and one of the women brought TWO large suitcases. For six days!!! Two suitcases!!! Two!!! Her smallest suitcase was bigger than the one suitcase I was taking and when we arrived at the hotel - I loved that hotel, highly recommended if you are BA bound - and she opened her cases it was full of stuff straight from the dry cleaners complete with wire hangers and plastic coverings. Bananas!!

I'm travelling relatively lightly when you consider I do have my sleeping bag and self inflating sleeping mat in there. I know, what was I thinking with the sleeping mat, but it was only $20 and even though mats are provided - a fact I discovered post self inflating mat purchase - a little voice in the back of my mind keeps chanting "bed bugs, bed bugs" at me. Seriously you can't go a day in New York without hearing some news story about a bed bug infestation, even the Empire State Building had 'em, so admittedly I am slightly paranoid, but...shudder!! Anyway this being the case I'm taking my own sleeping bag and mattress pad instead of renting them. They take up a bit more space obviously, but both are very light, especially the mattress pad which is much lighter than my yoga mat, but of a comparable size.

So I'm all set, my mail's on hold, my out of office is enabled at work, Debs is going to keep an eye on my place while I am away, water the plants and all that gubbins, so I'm outta here!!!


I'll be back online in a couple of weeks with photos and tales from my trip. I've decided against posting while I am out there as after reading this very interesting article from the NY Times yesterday I've realised I need a break from technology. I'm so fried, my brain is definitely feeling deprived of nature and down time right now, so this vacation has come at the perfect time.

See you in a few!!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Getting Shit Done!!

I realized today that my insurance policy for my Peru trip was in Melissa's name even though my credit card had been charged. Duh!!! After checking in with Melissa to make sure her insurance policy wasn't in my name - it wasn't - I called the Canadian based tour company to rectify the situation and have them email me an updated policy and let's just say that if the tour guide on our trip is as fake cheery as Greg who I just spoke to on the phone I will not be held responsible for my actions.

I felt like such a be-atch, but I'm incredibly busy just now, I'm already working 12+hours days, I'm scrambling to get things done before I leave. Is it asking too much to have a polite, efficient and professional conversation about my policy and get it sorted? Admittedly it didn't take *too* long, however I did have to endure Greg whooping it up for 15minutes.

"Alrighty, so what's your name?" he said with such fake enthusiasm, that if I wasn't so cynical I'd think I was the best conversation to happen to him all day.

I spelled out my last name assuming he was looking it up on the computer

"Is that your first name or your last name?"

"My last name."

"Oh I meant your first name, but I like the way you go right to your last name. What's your first name?"

I gave him my first name

"So, are you from the UK or North America?"

"I'm in the US"

"The good ol' US of A huh? I've been there once it was just okay"

Just okay? Charming. Good for you Greg!!

"So you're leaving for Peru in a few days?"

"That's right."

"You must be really excited about your trip right?"

Um...I will be once I know that my insurance coverage is in place.

"Greg do you need my insurance policy number?" I asked.

"Oh yes, that would be useful."


Seriously I felt like saying "Listen Greg, I don't mean to sound rude, but I'm extremely busy at work here in New York just now and the last thing I needed was to take time out of my day to call you about rectifying a mistake you guys made with my insurance policy, but that's the situation, I accept that, so now I just want to spend 5minutes getting that sorted out so that I can get on with my day. I'm sure you're a lovely guy, but quite honestly I just don't care how your day is going just like you don't really care about how my day is going, so let's drop the pretense that we are buddies. If you could just take my details, revise my policy and email a copy back to me that would be fantastic. Do you think you could do that for me Greg?"

I am such a New Yorker!!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Pondering the packing!!

How was your weekend? Did you have a good one? Other than brunch with Deesha today at Braeburn in the village - just okay, the food was kind of bland, but maybe I made a bad choice - I've been consumed by cleaning my apartment - how on earth does it get so untidy when I'm rarely here? - and packing for Peru. I was supposed to see H - as in OK Cupid H, we are going the friends route for the time being - for dinner, but he got caught up doing Brooklyn stuff and to be honest that was fine by me since it was disgustingly humid out for most of the weekend. Right now we have a corker of a rainstorm going on. Seriously it's bouncing off the roads and set to continue into tomorrow morning so I'm already thinking it will be a taxi to work for me tomorrow morning. I need to get in early anyway, so it's just as well.

Trip wise I'm getting ohhhh so excited now that it's only a few days away, but packing is giving me a headache. Why is it that no matter how prepared I feel for a trip I always end up having to order something critical at the last minute? For Chile and Iceland I ended up ordering boxes and boxes of walking shoes from Zappos. For this trip it's the rolling duffel bag I purchased from this weekend - it should arrive Tuesday - in the hope that I'll only need to take one bag after Liz at work reminded me on Friday that you can't have anything loose attached to checked baggage - duh, what was I thinking assuming that I could attach the self inflating mattress pad I'd bought to the outside of my bag - and I realized the backpack she loaned me wasn't going to cut it.


Typical!! I was congratulating myself for being so organized in advance too, although I think no matter how much time I have there will always be something. If, by some weird freak of nature, I ever decide to get married I should never ever ever plan a wedding, I would be a total Bridezilla I am sure of it.

I stress horribly when it comes to packing, I just hate to overpack, or under-pack for that matter. Right now I have all my stuff laid out on the bed in the spare room, sorted in complete outfits including undies - nothing that's in danger of giving me a wedgie as I am hiking the Inca Trail. Seriously you have to consider these type of things, comfort is everything when you travel.

It doesn't look like a huge amount does it, but I'm pretty sure it's more than enough. Well of course it is, realistically I know have an outfit for everyday plus a pair of sweatpants (a recommended inclusion by the tour company for some reason), a couple of extra t-shirts and the ugly thunder-thigh promoting convertible Northface pants that I bought cheap and have kept 'just in case'...check 'em out

Below is a photo of me with relatively normal looking thighs, if a little knock knee'd looking. Seriously, is that how my legs look to other people? Good Lord!! The camera adds 10lbs, the camera adds 10lbs!!

And pair of Northface pants later and Thunder Thighs is born.

Not pretty!! Hideous in fact. Still, convertible pants may come in handy and since they were only $40 I decided not to bother returning them as petite hiking pants are few and far between, but take my word for it, these petite REI pants are infinitely more flattering and I may well be washing and wearing them over and over. Yup, even going up a mountain I am somewhat vain!! Well, you never know, there could be some good eye candy in our tour group - she says hopefully ;-)

Phew....I need to stop stressing and think about carrying all this crap. Besides I have my Tide hand wash sachets just in case, although I am wondering about opportunities for doing laundry while there. I was reading the itinerary this weekend and we seem to be permanently on the go. At this rate I shall be rigging up a washing line on the boat when we sail across Lake Titicaca ;-)

I'm also wondering whether I need to take a warmer coat with me given the temperatures drop to 39F overnight. I have a thin waterproof jacket, but I am thinking I might need something slightly more substantial, so I am pondering one of the fleece lined jackets I have, despite the fact that I have layers and layers of clothing available to me.


I'll see what I can fit into the bag when it arrives!!

Friday, 20 August 2010


It would be putting it mildly to say work has been a bit stressful this week. Well, it's always a bit stressful, but this week I've felt really overwhelmed by it which is not so good. At least I am not hungover like the rest of my client team this morning, although I'm probably annoyingly smug since I stuck to non-alcoholic berry martini's - fruit puree essentially, I am sticking to my hydrate-to-better-deal-with-altitude-in-Peru plan - at our "we-got-a-great-review-from-our-client" celebration at Cibar last night where a good many flaming suffering bastards (a flaming floater of Bacardi 151, light and dark rums & exotic Polynesian juices) were quaffed. After trying to hold one too many incoherent conversations with my fabulous colleagues I couldn't help but wonder "is this how I am when I drink? Perhaps I will stop." It's really not pretty when you are the sober one.

Oddly I find that I quite often enjoy these busy times, because when I get everything done and out the door I feel exhilarated, like superwoman, and I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes with it - which may explain why I stick around, maybe I am addicted to that exhilarated feeling - however occasionally - like this week - I feel that things are spiralling out of control. Even as I am taking a break to type this my brain is saying "stop blogging, just stop it, get back to work", but a break will do me good. To be honest it's not the actual work, but other factors that tip me over the edge, like dealing with HR as I try and recruit someone to replace the junior team member who left for another agency last month. I found someone I wanted to make an offer to quite quickly, but frustratingly HR and finance dragged their feet on the approval for two weeks. I finally got approval from the CFO (why do I have to approval for a replacement when the scopes are all signed and in place?) on Wednesday, but they still haven't managed to catch up with the candidate to extend her an offer - she and I have been in touch via email so that I can push things internally - so in the meantime my team are getting burned out doing the work of 4 people. Ugh!! I'm also worried that despite the candidate's enthusiasm to join my team she may still turn down the offer so I'm still interviewing people, but HR aren't exactly setting up interviews with suitable people for the junior position I have open. One was a college graduate with a strong interest in literature (not even close to being relevant to what we do) and the other was a PhD who already had several years' work experience!!

Um...hello...pre-screen much?

Added to the HR and finance irritations I have to deal with my former client, J____, who is now working at another advertising agency in New York in a team - run by my former head of department no less (we are an incestuous bunch) - trying to pilfer one of my team members. This is despite the fact that he's working for an agency that has the same parent company as the one I work at and he is therefore subject to the same non-compete clauses regarding staff. He tried to sneakily circumvent this by calling A___ - who used to work here, but who got laid off and ended up working with J____ at the client organization - and had A___ call my team member to see if he had any interest in working for J____. Naughty naughty!! Fortunately my team member thought this more amusing than tempting - J____ was a very high maintenance client who liked things to be done just so - and so told me about them approaching him. I'm sure J____ thinks he's being very sneaky and clever, so part of me feels like calling him out on it on his Facebook wall or something, but of course I won't.

I am also slowly but surely mastering the art of delegation - although sometimes I have to step in as while my guys are brilliant in general, they do have an occasional tendency to forget the small things, like yesterday morning when one of them arrived 5minutes late for the conference call he was leading. I wouldn't mind but he only lives 8 blocks from the office, is it too much to ask that he gets in 10mins before the call and gets organized? Later yesterday afternoon my other direct report and I were heading out for a meeting with the media agency on 7th Avenue and as I was getting my stuff together I asked him if he had the exact address and cross-street and of course he hadn't thought to look it up. Hmmmm!! Good job I was on the ball or we'd have been randomly pacing the Garment District eh. I need to get them out of this "Fish will know where we are going" and "Fish will dial in if I'm not there" mentality because Fish is tiring of it. Fish is STRESSED OUT so step it up boys!!! The humidity isn't helping my mood any either - I'm also PMSing is it obvious? - as it seems to be extra hot and smelly in New York this year. I feel like Summer started back in May and hasn't let up since. We've had something like 5 heatwaves. I was just looking online to see if it's been one of the hottest summers on record and while I couldn't find anything on that I did find an article from 31Jul2009 in the
New York Times that said we didn't have a single 90degree day in June or July in 2009. Clearly that be-atch Mother Nature was saving them all up for this year, although apparently last year New Yorkers "recalibrated their threshold for heat complaints....85 is [was] the new 95."

This year it's definitely hit the 90s on a regular basis and consequently I've found myself doing an awful lot of fantasizing about San Francisco's autumnal climate. The thought of being out at
Crissy Field with a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge to my left and being buffeted by the crisp clean Pacific Ocean air seems downright blissful right now!!

I've been pondering a move to San Francisco a lot lately, and although it's not something I think I will do anytime in the near future - too scary to think of the upheaval of moving I need to build up to it - I am thinking that maybe in a year or so I'll go for it. It's daunting to think about, but my mind keeps going back to the idea, so I continue to consider the pros and cons of moving. On paper there seem to be a lot more cons than pros to be honest, but at the end of the day my gut is telling me that I need a change from living in New York and all the stress that goes along with it - it's been over 10 years after all - plus there's a bunch of other people I know - like my good friend Megan who is originally from California, although Pasadena not San Francisco - who are considering a similar move, so that would make it a lot easier. I also learned from the Department Head the other week that after you've been with the company for 10years you get a sabbatical.

"A paid sabbatical?" I asked

"Yes, yes, it's paid."

Hmmmmmmmm!!! Definitely something to take advantage of, especially since I am only 6months off my 10year anniversary with the company, although I need to check the facts with HR first since Department Head is very good at sounding convincing even when he doesn't have all the facts to hand - I guess that's why he's the Department Head eh ;-) - and it may be that there's a seniority clause in there or something that disqualifies me, but definitely worth exploring. If it does turn out to be true I'm pondering the possibility of taking a short term let in San Francisco and living by the Bay for a month to see if I like it, although spending a month there while still getting paid and not actually having to go into the office every day wouldn't exactly be the most realistic taste of the west coast life style now would it?

"You'd never want to come back," said Megan

That's true, I probably wouldn't. If I do go for that option I'd have to keep in mind that in reality I'd still be a wage slave. Anyway that's at some point in the future, but for now I'm settling for a long weekend out there with my a buddy from work in November.

Funnily enough I am not dreaming of being on top of Machu Picchu - merely
elected as one of the new 7 wonders of the world in 2007!! Meh!! - which is where I will be very soon. I'm sure it will be very impressive when I am there, but right now I have no context, whereas I know exactly what it's like to be at Crissy Field. Melissa and I are Peru bound in just under a week. We fly overnight into Lima arriving at the hideously early time of 6.40am and have a day in the city before joining our tour group on our second day in Peru. After Lima we fly to the high altitude Puno region where it's all about rest and relaxation for the first day in order to acclimate before we set sail across Lake Titicaca (Childish, but I can't help but enjoy an internal smirk at the name!!) to visit the floating islands of Uros, then onto Cusco, through the Sacred Valley of The Incas before starting the 4 day hike up the Inca Trail, camping en route, to "spectacular Machu Picchu". read that correctly, I did write CAMPING!!! It's not exactly me is it? I mean, I'm the same person that struggled to live without a hairdryer for the two days I spent at Miles' central London bachelor pad a few years ago - Bless him, he's since purchased a hairdryer for me to use while there since my US one doesn't work well with the travel adaptor without sounding like it's about to explode - so 4 days camping with limited shower facilities and potentially having to poop behind a bush.....hmmmmmm!!! After the Inca Trail we have 1.5 days in Cusco, where I shall no doubt spend an inordinate amount of time scrubbing myself clean, before hot footing it back to New York.

I'm going to have a trial pack of my backpack this weekend and keep my fingers crossed that I don't have to make any emergency purchases at
Eastern Mountain Sports.

Have a good one!!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Summer Streets

It was the second Saturday of Summer Streets today, one of 3 Saturdays in August when the city temporarily closes Park Avenue and connecting streets to vehicular traffic between Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park and opens it up to the people, although cyclists seem to primarily be the ones taking advantage. Bikeandroll offers free bike rental and this year Macro Sea have provided 3 'dumpster pools' where you can cool off on a first come first served basis.

In theory I love the practice...well cyclists don't see to be the most considerate people in the world in my experience of previous Summer Streets events - this is the 3rd year it's taken place - since despite being on two wheels many of them seem to assume they have the rights of both pedestrians and vehicles, so if the light is in their favor they'll go and if the light is in favor of pedestrians trying to cross to the other side of Park Avenue they'll still go.

Now I'm sure it's only a small few who give the all the other cyclists a bad reputation, but it seems to be my misfortune that I come across these small few more often than not - probably because I walk through Central Park so often on my way to work - and for the most part I'd rather take my chances with the cabs and the accompanying exhaust fumes than the demons in lycra, so I'll admit I groaned when I realized Summer Streets was in progress as I walked down to my eyebrow waxing appointment at Harmony on 43rd St.

Fortunately this year the NYPD seemed to have their shit together and I was able to easily cross Park Avenue at one of the designated crossing points while the police - and perhaps volunteers - used hand held traffic signals to control the flow, so this year I was able to enjoy the unusual site of Park Avenue taken over by cyclists, rollerbladers, runners and walkers without fear of losing a limb.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Ahhhh the weekend!!!


Not that I know what I am so relieved about since it's not like I don't have work to do, however it will be nice to sleep in and the weather is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous with a high of a mere 81F on Saturday with low humidity. It was certainly a nice day for a walk home through Central Park tonight, made all the better by a random encounter with a colleague who was heading up to roadrunners by the Guggenheim to register for a weekend race, so we had a very pleasant walk up to the UES together.

This is looking like one of the nicest weekends we've had in a while which I'm thrilled about good, because I'm going to be out and about running errands all day tomorrow. I'm not the biggest fan of New York in the summer, in fact it's my least favourite season, it's hot, it's sticky and let's be honest here it smells. It's completely rancid; a charming scent I can only describe as hot garbage with notes of dried dog urine. Ack!!

Beyond all the errands - filling my prescriptions for my Peru trip, buying water purification tablets (apparently I need them, does Duane Reade sell these does anyone know?), picking up dry shampoo from Sephora - I understand there are limited shower facilities* on the Inca Trail, but I still plan to make an effort, dropping off my Winter Coat for re-lining before I need it again in a few months, returning a pair of jeans to Anthropologie, having my eyebrows waxed - they are heading for Denis Healey territory right now - and hitting the Gap Cardholder Event - 40% off man!! - popping by the gym and going into the office to work on Sunday I'm planning on having a low key one. Well, as much as I can anyway with all that to do. It seems like rather a lot now that I've written it down, but we'll see.

I was invited to a birthday celebration at The Half King in Chelsea, but I respectfully declined, since I question my ability to stay on (off?) the wagon among such company. Lovely lovely lovely people, but between you, me and the garden wall, a total bunch of drink pushers. You know the sort...

"What do you mean you're only drinking soda with lime? Because of the altitude in Peru? Oh altitude schmaltitude, you can have one drink, it is X's birthday after all. Go on, have a drink. Goooooo onnnnnnn!!!!"

The problem I have is that once I've had one drink, a second or third seems like such a good idea, so I think I'm safer not indulging at all right now.

One thing I won't be doing this weekend is darkening the door of any cinema showing Eat, Pray, Love. Seriously I would rather go and see The Expendables, even RottenTomatoes agrees judging it to be less rotten than EPL. Admittedly I never read the book although it came highly recommended among many of my friends, so any opinion I have is thoroughly uninformed, but it just carries too much of the stench of a 'self help guide' for my liking. I'm too no-nonesense forthright northerner for any of that gubbins. I'm from mining stock for goodness sake!! Besides, I have the 'eat' part down cold. In fact this evening I've been busy researching good food places to potentially check out for a weekend in San Francisco I'm planning in November with a friend from work.

So far I've come up with...

...Zero Zero - a pizza restaurant, a foodstuff I can take or leave, but I've heard it's worth a visit for the cocktails - NOPA - I'd hoped to go here last time, but it didn't quite happen, so we'll see if we make it this time, Commonwealth, Anchor & Hope and Outerlands. This one is actually a repeat visit, but I absolutely loved this place when I was last in San Francisco, and this is the only place I definitely want to stop by. I think my friend will love it too. Oh and I wouldn't mind popping my head around the door of a North Beach souffle place I saw on the TV show Real Cities, but if you have recommendations...feel free to send them my way.

My friend's husband thinks there's a good chance we'll run into Javier Bardem since when women vacation alone together that's apparently what happens, at least that was the case in Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona and Eat, Pray, Love. In that case perhaps Melissa and I will run into him on Machu Picchu, although I suspect he'll probably be quite busy rolling around in bed with Penelope Cruz.

*Personally I was hoping for one of these, but ahh well.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bureaucracy Fun!!

Finance are dragging their feet on approving us making an offer to the woman my team and I interviewed on Monday.

So much for snapping her up!!

What irritates the hell out of me is that I am recruiting for a position that was vacated by someone else. It's not like the client revenue isn't all signed off and in place to pay for this person's salary, but for some reason I still have to put a business case together to recruit a replacement, send that to HR who send it to finance, who mull it over, come back with questions and then finally an offer goes out and the candidate is all....oooohhh sorry, I accepted another position!!


My manager Ryan is on the case. Upward delegation is the name of the game for this one. I know he is not too happy about all the bureaucracy either, he's about ready to open up a can of whoop ass on finance and HR. We have at least 4 open positions at the moment and the hiring process is just painfully slow!! Meanwhile those of us on the team are spread thin trying to cover at least some of the work, but we're essentially losing money by not having enough people and overworking the people we do have, which puts us in jeopardy of losing them if they become burned out.

Ugh, management, it's exhausting!!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Too Much Commiserating, Celebrating & Consorting

Ugh, I've had way too many false starts on my plan to achieve optimal hydration by not drinking before I go to Peru. I need to start hibernating because socially it is not so easy as you'd least not for someone with willpower as feeble as mine.

...First there were all leaving parties for colleagues moving on to new roles, then came the OK Cupid dates where the social grease of alcohol was more often than not a necessity if the dates were going to last more than 30minutes and not be filled with awkward pauses and finally came the celebrations: last night's baby shower for the Big Cheese's and his wife - and who am I to turn down a glass or 3 of delicious and complementary Pedro Ximenez white wine, especially when it's a celebration for the my boss's boss, it could have been career sabotaging to say no; Debs' low key hen party celebrations - she got married in Vegas this past weekend, Elvis was naturally in attendance; the omigod-Debs-got-married post-nuptial congratulatory soiree and then next week's "we got an amazing review from our client, let's have cocktails, because we can't top this so it's all downhill from here" celebration!!

Aaaaaaeeeeeiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Make it stop!!

Admittedly I was feeling slightly worse for wear this morning and by 11.45am I'd eaten a fig and hazelnut scone from Amy's Bread, a small egg white frittata with a small side of home fries from the cafeteria, the ham and Roquefort roll that I made at home this morning and a grande skim latte. Oh dear!!

Who ate all the pies!!

Okay this is it!! For the next two weeks I am an alcohol free zone.


No, honestly I'm not going to be drinking!! It's going to be all soda water and lime for me from here on out.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Having A Good Day

Admittedly it is only 8.22am, so there's still time for the shit to hit the fan, but for now I am enjoying the moment.

The reason for my good humour is that finally....

...I slept!!!

A solid 6.5hours too!!

It feels so good to have shrugged off the insomnia, at least temporarily.

Imagine...some people feel as good as this ALL THE TIME!!!

The lucky B's!!!

Yesterday I also interviewed someone I really liked for the vacant position in my team. I really hope she accepts!! My team are so overworked at the moment covering all the extra work and I am mega stressed out making sure everything is sorted before my vacation. We really need someone good who can just jump in a get started. I had the guys on my team interview her too and my boss, Ryan, and they all loved her, so I want to snap her up before someone else does.

Fingers crossed!!!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Putting A Hold On The Frog Kissing

Had a second date with H from OKC on Saturday night, we saw Sundance award winner, Winter's Bone, a cheery coming of age tale of a 17 year old girl searching for her bail skipping, crystal meth producing father - who charmingly put up the family home as collateral for his bail - among the toothless criminal element of the Missouri Ozarks, so that she can keep a roof over the head of her 6 and 12year old siblings and her mentally subnormal mother for whom she is the primary care giver.

It was a pip!!

Actually it's a good movie if you are into that sort of thing. Did I enjoy it? Kind of. Did I appreciate it? Absolutely.

As for H, well he's a nice guy, but...

Meh...I'm just not feeling it!! I didn't have a bad time at all, but I just can't see anything coming of it, there's no spark, no banter, but he's an interesting person, so...should I see him again? Could something develop down the line? Maybe, but don't hold your breath. I'm undecided whether to take it further since it kind of feels like I am leading him down the romantic garden path unless I say something first. Admittedly I did spend the entire length of Winter's Bone hoping that he wouldn't do one of those big yawn moves and put an arm around my shoulder, so I suppose that tells me all I need to know. I was kind of hoping he had the same platonic feelings, but we stopped by a bar after the film for a couple of drinks - so much for that teetotal lifestyle I'm supposed to be pursuing - and there was some touching on his part, a hand on my knee here, a pat on the arm there and then he rested his elbow on the bar and propped up his head and told me how much of an Anglophile he is and how attractive he found me.

I tell you, it's a terrible burden being irresistible to men!! ;-)

I also met another guy N last night in the bar of a restaurant just off Washington Square personality. It was kind of a painful date and I was wondering whether I would get through even 30 minutes of it, but then my friend Mr. Pinot Noir came to the rescue and I managed to string the evening out for 90minutes. There were a lot of awkward pauses though and he is just not into...well let's be honest!! He likes to run, cycle, read economics books and the NY Times, shop for clothes and that's about it. Admittedly he doesn't earn a huge amount, but even if he had all the money in the world I didn't get the impression he would live his life much differently.

"So do you ever travel?" I asked

"Not really no. Almost never," he said, responding in such a way that I just knew he didn't have the least comprehension into the whole joy of travelling. He seems quite content with never moving from his little corner of Prospect Heights, whereas I'm currently feeling a little bit boxed in by the entire city of New York. We sooooooo weren't compatible, his lifestyle would suffocate me, and I suspected the date was probably as awkward for him as it was for me.

"So this was nice, I'd like to see you again if you are interested," he said after we finished our second drink.


That threw me for a loop I can tell you. I wonder if he was just being polite, because I don't have the slightest notion as to how he could have possibly had a good time. I sent him the "I had a nice time but..." email this morning and then went onto Ok Cupid and disabled my account, at least for the time being. I am really not loving the online dating thing in the least right now. I just don't want be in a relationship enough to put myself through all the frog kissing crap and I have more than enough on my mind with work - I was up from 2am-6am on Saturday morning because I couldn't seem to quell the work thoughts from buzzing around my head. I'm also finding that I am drinking more frequently than I would like and I want to cut back on the wine and coffee for the next two weeks to be optimally hydrated for my Peru trip. I reckon the altitude may well kick my arse, so I want to be as healthy as I can be to cope with it.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Need. Bouncy. Songs!!

I am so so so so so very tired today. Not only did I not get myself off to bed early enough, but I didn't sleep so well either and woke at 5.30am. Damn humidity. New York is back to summer soupiness after a few days respite. Now you see this is usually where a glass of wine or 3 starts to seem like a marvellous idea, because no matter how hot it is outside a few glasses of wine will knock me right out and I'll sleep for a solid 6 or 7hours.


Unfortunately I'm not so partial to feeling slightly hungover in work the next day, it does absolutely nothing for my productivity, but then insomnia doesn't help much either. Getting through today is going to be all about the coffee and bouncy, high energy songs. A glimpse at the Creative Cutie playing ping pong would help too. I haven't seen him this week, but his buddies have been down to play twice a day some days.

Anyway Bubbles by Biffy Clyro is one of the songs that perks me up a little on days like today. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Dead Armed: Prepping for Peru & Online Dates

Just home from a long day at the office to this email from my British friend Nigel, a comrade on the frontline of internet dating.
Subject: Had a date this evening.

I was so bored I thought I was going to fall off my seat and snooze on the floor. Onto the next. Fortunately, I kept it to just meeting for a coffee. An hour and a half wasn't too bad to suffer in the hope of something good. Besides, it made me appreciate being single. See, there's always a silver lining.

Looking forward to your next date tale.

Nigel absolutely LOVES it that I'm now on OkCupid and has been emailing me regularly with his own romantic updates. He's been on Match for years without much luck, but he entertains me with great stories. He's pure thrilled that I can finally reciprocate with some of my own and is keen to encourage me to keep at it since he knows all too well that I am an internet dating flight risk. He also loves the insight into the approach the other men take to online dating. Essentially I'm Nigel's source for competitive intelligence.

As for being a flight risk...well admittedly there's barely a day goes by when I don't think about taking down my profile, but I'm forcing myself to give it a proper go. Truth be told though I generally find the whole dating experience just makes me want to embrace spinsterhood. Finding someone is a nice idea, but it's not the be all and end all of my existence and I don't have it in me to compromise on just anyone. I've never been the type of woman who bounced from one boyfriend to the next, I've always taken my relationships quite seriously, so if a guy has stood no chance of becoming Mr. Right then no thank you. I've never had much truck with dating Mr. Right-Now just to have a man on your arm, he has to be special, otherwise I'm fine on my own thank you very much. I suppose I'm kind of old fashioned in that I take marriage very seriously. If I marry I don't plan on divorcing - it's a fight to the death as far as I'm concerned - so I think it's good to be choosy. I want the whole package, looks and repartee - the money thing is further down the list for me of requirements for me, since I can afford to live reasonably well on my own, but I do appreciate a man with a quick wit. Essentially I am holding out for Chris Isaak. He has the looks, the personality and he's away touring for longish stretches at a time so I would get my much needed alone time without him getting under my feet. He's perfect for me, and I think that eventually he'll come around to my way of thinking. Everything comes to she who waits ;-)

What??? It could totally happen!!

Ahem...clearly I am somewhat fixated after seeing him in concert again the other week.

Anyway until Chris comes to his senses I shall be interviewing other men for the vacant position of love interest. I'm meeting OKC Pre-Date #1, H, for a movie this weekend. I'm not sure which day yet, since he wants to go hiking on one of the days and has been waiting to see how the weather is forecast to turn out. It's no skin off my nose as I am either going to be working or running errands for my Peru trip. I had a Typhoid jab today and am nursing a dead arm now as a result. It totally put the mockers on my plan to hit the gym and take a body conditioning class after work. I cringe at the thought of even attempting a bicep curl or shoulder press in my current state, since my left arm's pretty much a noodle.

When I called the doctor's office on Monday to make an appointment they told me to check my needs on this website and then call them back and let them know the immunizations I needed. Oh right...I'll just do your job for you then shall I? Perhaps this is normal, but I was a bit taken aback as I was expecting a more consultative experience. Whatever anyway I am sure they would have just looked at the website and checked the same information, so no big deal and the doctor was very nice and seemed to be very well informed as it turned out, so it was all good.

I'm not heading to any Peruvian parts which require immunization from Malaria of Yellow Fever so I crossed those off the list, but I did need to see about Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Obviously I got the Typhoid jab - not covered by my health insurance so that was $117 thank you very much - and a blood test to see if I'll need the Hepatitis shots. I wasn't sure if I was already immune since I had to get a bunch of things done for my Green Card application a few years back, but I haven't the foggiest as to what I'm up to date with beyond Tetanus.

I also left with 2 prescriptions, one for an antibiotic (Cipro) just in case I am stricken with a bout of travellers tummy - check the list of foods
this website tells you to avoid: water in all forms, fruit, vegetables, any dairy that might contain unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked fish or meat (no famed Peruvian ceviche for me then) or fish that may contain poisonous biotoxins like snapper, grouper and sea bass!!! So pretty much everything then. It would have been quicker to list what I CAN eat. I plan to be cautious anyway since the last thing you need when you're spending 4days up a mountain with limited bathroom facilities is a touch of the trots.

I also got a prescription for altitude sickness pills (Diamox) which I need to take 24 hours prior to starting the ascent upto Machu Picchu. Apparently the pills are not necessary for Cusco even though the city is at a high altitude.

"You'll acclimatize to Cusco, you just need the pills for climbing the mountain," the doctor told me.

Good to know!!

The whole visit cost me a not insubstantial $212 since they also charged me a $75 travel clinic fee and my usual $20 co-pay. I suspect I will need to return for the Hepatitis A & B immunizations although I think they said they were covered by my insurance. I certainly hope so, because when I signed the agreement for the Typhoid jab I saw the series of 3 Twinrix jabs - 3 jabs - the doctor recommended cost a hefty $216. Phew!! It never even occurred to me when I booked this trip that I would potentially be on the hook for over $400 worth of inoculations!!

Since I couldn't follow through on my weight training plan I stayed late at the office to work on a training course I am developing for the department and then squeezed in some exercise by walking the 3.5 miles home via Bed Bath & Beyond to buy some bits for my trip. Quite a lot of bits as it turned out since I practically cleared them out of travel sized goodies. Well not really, but I spent $65.83 can you believe - 4days up a mountain with no conveniences=lots and lots and lots of wipes. I got quite carried away but thankfully stopped short at a one size fits all transparent rain poncho. Can you imagine? Admittedly I did seriously consider it - $3.99 man - but sanity prevailed in the nick of time.

Anyway I was talking about dating before I got distracted by my vacation - I am just sooooo excited, I expect I'm even more of a nightmare to work with than I usually am - so a movie with H this weekend which should be good. I have to say he won some brownie points by suggesting three independent movies he's interested in seeing. Indie movie = good!!! I did like that he didn't just randomly pick a commercial movie, but actually put some thought into it and also checked in to see what I thought. He also told me which cinema each movie was playing at, so clearly indicative of a man capable of using the internet unlike last Sunday's date, J. Speaking of whom, he sent me a note today to say he had a good time last week and even though I'm not interested in anything romantic between us - he kind of put me on the spot at the end of our date, so I was truthful - he said he is interested in being friends, so there's a turn up for the books. I'd hang out with him again, so that's all good. Other love interest possibilities so far include G who writes me witty notes, so scores high on banter, but has only just got around to suggesting we meet for a drink after weeks of emailing, so I was beginning to think he was going to end up as my pen pal. There's the restaurant manager, red flag red flag my ex - AKA Gobshite - managed a restaurant and restaurant people have horrible schedules, but hey, you never know, and someone who's name escapes me, but who is interested in meeting for a drink, so lots of options, just not so much time.

I also received this note with the subject line "I...." and then the following content...

...think you're absolutely adorable. And I'd like to get to know you better.

Who am I?

Hmm....I was born in England, have lived in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Los Angeles and now NYC. I work in NYC as well.

After discovering the cure for cancer, I climbed Mt. Everest (without supplemental oxygen), studied with the Dalai Lama, and dated (briefly) Cindy Crawford.

My career as a Yankees third baseman was going nowhere, and rather than accept the grant from the Salk Institute, I went to work at a television
network in New York.

And you?

Please write back because it would put a smile on my face.
Now while there's nothing wrong with the note per se - it shows a sense of humor - I definitely get the impression it's a message he's copied and pasted and sent to a ton of women, since there is nothing in there that's the least bit personal to me, so that's an OKCupid fail in my book. I mean c'mon, at least PRETEND you've read my profile by referencing it in some small way!!

I'm so annoyed with myself today!!

I bought a bottle of wine on the way home from Pilates last night!!!

I pretty much drank two thirds of it before pouring the last third down the sink!!


Bad bad bad bad Fish!!!

I don't know why I did it, I'd actually given up drinking recently in an effort to be optimally hydrated for my upcoming trip to Peru - I've heard that being hydrated helps with the altitude sickness, so I've been trying to ween myself off my addiction to coffee too. Not so easy!! - and I'd been feeling really good without it. So good in fact that I've been considering making a long term commitment to a teetotal lifestyle. Unfortunately last night my feet seemed to decide all for themselves that they needed a glass of Chardonnay and I made a sharp left into Yorkshire Wines & Spirits after I got off the crosstown bus on the way home from the gym.


I've probably undone all the good work I did in Pilates class!!


I'm irritated with myself because for one I'm generally pretty healthy about what I eat. I'm one of those people that, for the most part, is naturally inclined towards salmon salads with leafy greens or fresh fruit with yogurt, but I am bad when it comes to wine and while I think the occasional glass or two is fine...two thirds of a bottle??? On a Tuesday night??? So not good for me. I worry that I am on the road to becoming my aunt, the third of my Dad's 4 elder sisters - 4 older sisters, can you imagine the torment? Three of my Dad's sisters are short heavyset types. They are sturdy, bosomy women who look like they were made for corralling large broods of children - I have 13 cousins - however the 4th sister is physically very different from the others being more slender and petite.

Just like myself in fact. My sister and I definitely get our physical characteristics from my father's side of the family, we certainly don't have our mother's chest I can tell you that for nothing. The woman is a 38DD, whereas I am a significantly less well endowed, but acceptable, 34B. My sister on the other hand....two peas on an ironing board!! She wouldn't know an under-wired bra if it jumped up and bit her!! Don't feel too bad for her though because along with my father's chest she also got the long, incredibly blond, hair and easily tanning skin. Seriously my sister looks like the poster child for the state of California, whereas with my pale English complexion and dark hair I look more the poster child for the state of Transylvania!!

Anyway back to my aunt who along with looking just like me is also a recovering alcoholic, who at the peak of her addiction was more than capable of downing half a bottle of Cognac a day - I cheapskate brandy for her. My family doesn't have cheap tastes when it comes to our drug of choice - and well, doesn't alcoholism run in families??

I worry that she is my future!!

I suppose when it comes down to it I am using alcohol to deal with the stress I am under at the moment, but of course Chardonnay doesn't make the stress go away, it just makes me not care about it temporarily.

I also sleep after I've had a drink, which is the biggest benefit since I tend to suffer with insomnia. I have problems quieting my mind when I am stressed out. Still...alcohol is not the answer.

I need a better way of dealing with all the crap!!

Monday, 2 August 2010

I had my second first date with an OkCupid guy yesterday...

...or should that be second first pre-date since they are not really dates at this stage are they? They are more exploratory meetings to see whether you'd want to go on an actual first date with the person. Anyway this weekend's pre-date was native New Yorker J who is 42 and divorced and lives in Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan.

Nice guy, but......well I just wasn't feeling the vibe. Of course it didn't help much that he was sporting a massive lip zit on our outing. There's nothing more off putting than a big lip zit when you are contemplating whether you could ever imagine snogging a guy a few dates down the line. Of course, had he looked like Chris Isaak I am sure I wouldn't have let anything so shallow as a little lip zit bother me, so I did try to overlook it and remind myself that it was a temporary facial blemish, but even then....I just couldn't see it happening between us. He'd also made zero effort on the sartorial front, which seems to be a common theme with the OkCupid men. Not that I expect someone to be suited and booted, but wearing something a bit nicer than the t-shirt it looks like your dog has been using for a blanket would be appreciated.

Not that I didn't have a nice time. J was relatively easy enough to talk - a few awkward pauses in conversation, but generally fine - but not especially dynamic. There was no banter and I find banter is definitely a plus for me on dates and pre-dates. I kind dynamism might not be his strong suit though from the way he was when we were trying to arrange our date and he made me do all the legwork in choosing where to meet.

"As long as it's on the west side I am fine with wherever you want to go" he said. My mother does that to me all the time and it can drive me crazy "I'm easy going" she'll say, why don't we just go where you want to go", putting all the pressure on me to come up with a place. Then when I do pick somewhere she'll be all "this is fine, but I really wouldn't have minded going to that place in Central Park."

"The Loeb Boathouse?"

"Is that the one by the lake? Yes that one."

"Why didn't you just say so in the first place?"

"Well, I didn't want to be a bother and you know me, I'm easy going."

Easy going my arse!! Anyway I suppose it's not J's fault that he reminded me of my mother, but that was the upshot of the situation and I honestly don't mind making a suggestion of where to meet, but I'd like it to be a two way street. Ideally I would have preferred it if he'd at least attempted to do some research given he was the one who suggested we meet in the first place, however he didn't seem like he knew the city very well despite his native status, a fact he seemed bizarrely proud of.

Nevertheless he seemed to enjoy my suggestion of 202 in Chelsea Market and he did buy me brunch which I thought was very nice of him. I always feel that on a pre-date there shouldn't be any obligation for the guy to be paying, although I know a lot of women expect that in New York. Being English I find I have a different attitude in that I am fine with paying my way on a date - I am all for equality - but I think that's a factor of how things were when I was growing up, since it was pretty common for dates to split the bill and I still feel that I should be contributing, so I offer, but I don't get belligerent about it if the guy insists. I don't think I caused too big a dent in his wallet though, since I ended up having the cheapest thing on the menu - $11 for the hammy-cheesy-eggy sandwich which was very nice, I'd definitely have it again - while he tucked into the full English breakfast they serve there. We took a brief walk on the Highline afterwards before we went out separate ways at the subway station on 8th Avenue and 14th street. I'm 99.9% sure I won't see him again.

After wards I headed home to catch up on some work - it never ends!!!!! I brought my laptop home this weekend to work on a few bits and pieces and had plans to crunch a data file I pulled from my clients' database via the laptop we have in the office that connects into their system. I'd FTP'd it to myself before leaving the building for monthly team drinks on Friday - one of those occasions I have to go to, because I am the holder of the credit card and the powers that be shout us the first drink which someone senior has to expense, although I really wasn't in the mood for anything other than collapsing in a heap on the sofa - however frustratingly as I settled in to get started I discovered that the file I'd sent to myself was empty, which was weird because I checked it on the client laptop before I left. I ended up working on the training course I'm going to be running for the team next quarter, which was kind of annoying as data crunching takes a lot less brain power than developing training materials and I could have achieved a lot while still keeping half an eye on the telly and kind of having some semblance of a Sunday evening, but instead I had to focus and now here I am again, back in frigging work and re-FTPing the data to myself. Work just never seems to end at the moment.