Monday, 10 January 2011

The Illusionist

So I hope you had a lovely weekend. It was bitter cold in New York so for the most part I favoured hibernating in my apartment, although I did get out to see The Illusionist at the Landmark Sunshine on Houston St and because I chose sleep over my usual 8.15am total body conditioning class I decided I would get some exercise and walk down.

4-miles in the snow*!!

Let's just say here and now that I am an idiot, although to be fair it wasn't snowing when I set out and was a relatively balmy 32F according to NY1. As I headed down I realised I would be passing Stuyvesant Town and decided to call Megan, who lives there, to see if she had any interest in joining me for the film. Our conversation went something like this....

Me: Mnh mnh mnh mnh mnhist?
Megan: I'm sorry I think you were breaking up, I didn't catch what you said
Me: I wasn't breaking up, my face had frozen and I was temporarily incapable of speech. I was asking if you wanted to see The Illusionist at 5.10pm?
Megan: Oh I just got in from running errands, it's too cold to go out again, but thanks for asking

The woman had sense. Anyway the movie is beautifully animated although I have to say I found the ending slightly depressing so not exactly the thing to lift me out of the January doldrums.

*Admittedly very light snow, but snow all the same.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I've Only Got One Pair Of Hands

So how's the first week back at work going? I'll admit I have found it REALLY tough, I could have done with returning for a partial week, I really wanted the week to end yesterday and I'm already feeling the stress bubble up which I am trying my best to quell, but it's not easy to keep it together and stay calm in the face of idiocy, especially as I haven't slept well the past couple of nights. I'm still off the booze though - 7 days now - and even though I REALLY REALLY wanted a glass of wine last night I resisted. Yeah me!!

This week at work I've spent a good amount of my time getting to grips with all the items on my team's to do list and created a big Gantt chart in MS project so that I can track what's due, what's coming up and the amount of overlap we have on projects. It seemed like a good idea to put it together on Monday, the idea being that I will carry it around in my notebook and then when I'm in meetings with account people and they try to cajole my team into doing more work I can whip it out and show them how busy we are and force them to re-prioritize other projects. Essentially it's a tool to get us out of being overworked since I find that more often than not account teams will come to my team with a new, urgent project with an intensive deadline when the team are already busy with other deliverables. Fine, I understand, but what grates on me is that the account teams who are pushing these urgent projects on us don't seem to realize that if they drop a new urgent project on us then the deadlines for other tasks have to shift. Seems only fair right? Unfortunately the account teams don't seem to grasp the fact that there is a finite amount of resources available, so I receive these quizzical looks as to why we can't deliver the original projects within the previously agreed timeframe.

Um...expect us to work 24 hours a day much?

I especially love it when they say, "oh but don't you have someone else available to continue with XYZ while so-and-so works on the urgent project?" To which I always want to respond "yes meet my imaginary employee John. John spends his day twiddling his thumbs with his feet propped up on his desk while receiving the exact same salary as everyone else, but without being subject to the usual agency rules of having to bill 80%+ of his hours on projects, because John's sole purpose in life is to hang around waiting to work on the projects that you seem incapable of prioritizing."

Of course I don't say anything of the sort I just smile through gritted teeth and inform them that it's not possible to hand the work to someone else, because everyone is busy so then they'll waste half an hour trying to coerce me into delivering everything they want at which point it's an exercise in suppressing my irritation with them for wasting my time with such nonsense, I mean hellooooo, it's called account management, so call me frivolous for making the suggestion, but perhaps you could, MANAGE the account and push back on the client's unrealistic expectations instead of just parroting their requests back to me. Seriously the client may as well just call my team directly for. Grrrrr!!!!

For the record my entire team is over 120% billable, not sufficiently over to allow me to hire another person, unless there's another team that also needs half a person, but enough to make them extremely busy, especially when you factor in all the non-billable stuff that's expected of us like admin, training etc. When you think about the fact that we bill based on a 40hour work week 120% booked means a minimum 48-hours on client stuff then factor in having to do timesheets, attending status meetings, etc and you're looking at 50-60-hours minimum pretty normal for New York I suppose, but not so good for work/life balance.

It didn't take long for 2011 to stress me out did it? Do I sound like a right old moaning Minnie? I suppose I should be thankful for my job, but the expectation of the working week is already getting to me. I need to find someway to keep this in check. For now I am just thankful I've been able to resist managing my stress with wine in so far.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Attention Shoe Lovers!!

So I meant to post the photos of this sculpture that's currently on display (permanent?) on the second floor (3rd floor US) of Selfridges Department Store in London along with the pics of the sculptures on display at Marble Arch, since Miles and I saw this on the same day, but it slipped my mind, but better late than never. Can you guess what the piece is made of??

No guesses????

Does this view of the heel help at all??

Yes, it's PANS!!! Pretty cool eh!! The piece is the work of artist Joana Vasconcelos. I've never come across her work before, but I love this, although I do think it would have been more fitting to install the piece in Selfridges' new - well relatively, it opened in September 2010 - Shoe Galleries on the same floor instead of among contemporary apparel, or would that have been too obvious and corny???

Apparently Selfridges' Shoe Galleries is the world's largest shoe department with 35,000 square feet dedicated to shoes!!! Phew, be still my beating heart!!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy 2011 My Lovelies

Best wishes for the coming year and all that.

So how has 2011 been for you so far? Mine has been distinctly sober to date owing to a pact I've made with my old school pal Liz to give up the boozing for a full month - Liz, Kirstie and I had rather a large night over Christmas and I think my liver deserves a break. Two days down, 29 to go. Keep your fingers crossed I improve on last year's effort and make it beyond January 9th this time, I'm also hoping it will help me shed some of the holiday weight I've acquired, because quite honestly I feel like a big pudding at the moment, so I'm going to be one of those new years' resolution people clogging up the gym. I've haven't dared to step on the scale yet, but I feel uncomfortably puffed up and my jeans are on the snug side, so something needs to be done, although on the plus side some of the excess weight appears to have gone to my boobs since on my annual M&S lingerie binge over Christmas I discovered I've gone up a cup size. Silver linings!!

So tonight I am trying not to let the prospect of returning to working my fingers to the bone at the coal-face of advertising tomorrow drag me down too much after all it will be lovely to my colleagues, but I'm not looking forward to having to get through a full week after two weeks off, usually I prefer to ease myself back into it by only working 2-3 days, but I'm sure I'll pull through. That being said I'm making a second resolution to achieve more work/life balance in 2011 and not feel so guilty if I leave before everyone else, because let's face it, I start a good 2 hours earlier than most of my colleagues and as a result work longer hours even if I do leave at 6pm.

Anyway I have some ironing to do - everyone is amazed when I tell them I still iron. Very few people do apparently, but what can I say, I don't like to be creased - but here's a cheeky song from The Vaccines, who are hotly tipped to be big in 2011. Enjoy!!