Friday, 25 May 2012

Working too hard, vacationing, dating & buying my first surfboard!!

Ohhhh, where does the time go.  I started this blog post way back on April 24th and now here I am more than an entire month later and it's been languishing untouched in my drafts folder.  Here come the excuses....

...What can I say, it's been crazy with the new job as we are so short staffed, so days working from 7.30am to 10pm have not exactly been uncommon, so by the time I get home I am so not in the mood to sit down at a computer.  Hopefully more reasonable hours are on the horizon though as we've finally got approval to hire another equivalent to me plus two junior people so fingers crossed we find people soon.  My boss actually interviewed a former colleague and friend of mine, Sarah, on Monday and they both really liked each other - I felt like a matchmaker as I facilitated them meeting and then they both emailed me their positive impressions of the other ha ha.  She is currently employed by another company within the same network, so apparently there are a few rules governing that transition, but I'm hoping it can be worked out, since she would be able to take over as the lead on one of the two large clients we have because I really struggle to devote time to as the other large agency client sucks up all my time.  I also interviewed another guy, Dan, for the position yesterday - I was a last minute switch for my boss, who was supposed to interview him, but got sucked into a meeting he couldn't get out of.  Anyway Dan happened to have worked with a former colleague and friend of mine from the UK who is a bit of an industry big shot these days.  It's a small world eh!!  Dan was perfectly pleasant, but I didn't get the most positive vibe about him being a good fit for the position, he felt a little too junior to me, but then I don't want to come across as being biased towards Sarah - I'd really rather keep my distance from this whole hiring thing when a friend of mine is in the running if the truth be told - so despite some misgivings I recommended he come in again and to meet my boss, however I followed up with the Big Shot to see if he had any feedback he could share and he echoed my feeling that Dan was a nice guy, but not the most strategic and on the couple of occasions he'd asked him for stuff to support new business pitches he hadn't followed through with the right information and Big Shot had ended up doing the work himself.  Hmmmm!!  I'm going to sit on this information and see what my boss thinks after meeting him.  Sarah is coming in on Wednesday to meet a bunch of other folks at the agency, so I'm hoping she'll wow them and they'll make an offer.

Anyway other than the crazy volume of work it's all going well at the new agency and I feel pretty settled despite the fact that today sees me complete just 12-weeks of working there - and one of those weeks was spent on a surfing vacation in Nicaragua.  Seriously I feel like I've worked there a LOT longer, I even have an office crush, a creative of course, I do love my creative boys, who I noticed because he checked me out a few times and I thought he was very sweet and artsy looking.  A perusal of the company intranet revealed that he's actually an Executive Vice President, Group Creative Director.  Holla, an EVP GCD!!!  I'm aiming high with my crush this time ha ha!!  He sits down the hall from me in a shared office and I've noticed he hasn't been around for a few days, knowing my luck he's probably vacationing with his wife!!  Work-wise it's a bit different to previous roles as it's mostly digital, so good for broadening my experience in that arena and I have to say it's nice working in a smaller organization again.  It's about a third of the size of the previous agency I worked at and I just never really appreciated just how many layers of bureaucracy there were until I left.  Even though I was pushed out rather than jumped I am soooooo glad it happened, because I had a serious case of the comfort factor and I probably wouldn't have left had someone not put a boot to my arse.
I've actually been in touch with a bunch of my former colleagues, including my former team, and people are not happy at the old place, in fact one of my former team has already left and started a new job and the friend of mine who was put in charge of my team, recently resigned to take a position elsewhere, although the last I heard from her she said she was having some visa transition issues and was ready to turn down the offer, but I'm not sure whether that was a heat of the moment comment or whether she really intends to turn it down.  I know she hasn't been happy at the old agency since the reorganization that occurred after my departure as she's never really wanted to manage a team and refers to the guy who became her direct manager, as "a total douche."  It's funny actually because this guy was an Associate Director when I worked there and was rapidly promoted to Director due to all the new business work he did - an employee who worked on a successful new business pitch was always valued at a much higher premium than an employee who was effective at retaining high paying clients, which is where my skill-set lies - and has since been promoted to Senior Director and put in charge of a large portion of the team by the Head of Dept., despite the fact that he'd only ever managed one junior employee.  Apparently the Head of Dept. had some issue with too many people reporting into him, so by putting The Douche between him and the team he's managed to reduce his direct reports from an overwhelming 5 to a more manageable 3.  

Five was too many?????  Seriously!!!  Man up for God's sake!!

I've also been told that Head of Dept. doesn't so much as wipe his own arse without first running the decision by The Douche and that everything is now run by consensus.  A former member of my team told me that the pair of them are so close that he sometimes imagines drawing a heart around them ha ha!!  I actually liked The Douche when I worked there, he mostly kept himself to himself, but when he did come out for drinks he was always a good laugh, so it's weird to hear numerous people I respect, whose opinion I trust, and who I know thought well of him 6-12 months ago, now describe him so negatively.  From what I'm hearing he seems to have undergone such a personality shift that it's almost as if he's incurred a serious head injury that's affected his personality, like that straight Welsh rugby player who broke his neck, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma - a seriously bad day - and woke up as a gay man, quit his banking job and became a hairdresser - naturally the Daily Mail has all the deets - except in The Douche's case he got promoted, went to bed and woke up an arsehole.

In other news I was in Nicaragua in mid-April for a learn to surf week, a trip I originally planned to take with Megan, but which I ended up taking alone after we had a falling out when she told me that she was "distancing herself" from me while I was going through the stress of losing my job, because she found me hard to deal with.


When I reminded her that during her time of stress 6-12-months earlier - she called off her wedding with her fiance - that I'd put a roof over her head for two months when she was between apartments she responded that she had paid me rent.


Uh-huh, I beg to bloody differ!!

Now she did write me a cheque for $1,000 when she left, however this was not something that was discussed upfront, nor was it something I expected, instead it was a cheque she left for me when she moved out, a gesture I appreciated after 2-months of having her as a house guest and while $1000 sounds like a decent amount of money the rent on my apartment is $1950, the gas and electricity amount to $70 per month and the internet/cable is $140, so $2,160 per month or $4,320 for 2-months, which is significantly more than $1000.  Not that I didn't appreciate the $1000, but it was a nice gesture, not rent. if she wants to throw in my face that she paid me rent then she needs to double the cheque she wrote.

Anyway that all happened in February and after being told that she was "distancing herself" I really haven't been in the mood to reach out and restore the friendship because I don't think it's salvageable for me.  I mean it's one thing to be ignorant of the fact that someone you consider a friend is not going to be there for you during the tough times, it's quite another matter for them to tell you flat out that they won't be there for you.  There's really no coming back from that for me, so although I occasionally miss certain aspects of the friendship, I'm very much of the opinion "what's the point?"  I just don't see the point in being friends with someone who I know won't support me during the occasional tough time. I've since run into her at Pilates class and things were perfectly cordial, but I really wasn't interested in having a longer conversation.

The upshot of our little skirmish is that I flew to Nicaragua alone and spent a week as the only woman, and only beginner, at surf camp.  I was like the camp little sister.  It was an amazing trip, although in hindsight I think I would have felt more at home going to one of the all female surf camps I was so keen to avoid when I was researching the trip.  I always feel like all female surf camps give off a certain new age self-discovery vibe that I'm really not down with - I think it's all the yoga classes - although weigh that against a bunch of blokes who talked incessantly of getting "barreled" and the joys of spear fishing and I would have gladly traded that for some hippy dippy chat with a bunch of women looking for the meaning of life.  Admittedly that quick summary a little unfair to the boys I spent the week with, as they were fantastic and being the only beginner among guys - mostly from California - who'd surfed for a decade or more meant that I didn't have to get up at 4am everyday to beat the crowds to a break named Freight Trains - so called because if you are caught in the 'impact zone' (where the waves are breaking) then it's like being hit by a freight train*  and I received one-on-one surf tuition twice a day at the beach break 200yards from the house, however I suppose when weighing up the lesser of two evils I am a girls' girl and I would have been more comfortable had there been more women and more beginners among the group.  I think I would have appreciated advice from female surf instructors.  Next time I'll know better.  I'll also know to pack copious amounts of insect repellent since I got eaten alive by the little buggers.  I had so many that when I started this post a month ago that I tallied my bites:

2 on my face
4 on my left arm
3 on my right arm
10 on my back
1 on my left leg
2 on my right leg
2 on my left foot
9 on my right foot

WTF!! 33 mosquito bites!!  The week after I got back I was so sleepy at work - most likely from the shock at not spending several hours a day swinging about in a hammock - that there were moments when I was convinced I was succumbing to malaria.  This was after overhearing one of the surf guides tell someone at the camp that the issue with malaria is that it's hard to diagnose because if you are infected you just feel tired all the time.  Clearly malaria was why I was feeling so damn exhausted!!  What is it they say in statistics, correlation is NOT causality ha ha!!  Obviously my malaria turned out to be a touch of hypochondria, although more than a month later I still have a few remaining scars, thanks to some overly long nails and a habit of scratching myself in my sleep at the time I was bitten, they're fading though, so hopefully they'll be all gone in time for summer.

It was a good trip anyway, such a change from my usual vacation - which I typically spend zooming around some urban locale - as there really wasn't a whole lot to do other than sleep for 9-hours a day, surf in the morning, lie around and read my book for a few hours, play with the puppy - or rather stop him from nipping at my ankles; that dog seriously needed a chew toy - surf again in the afternoon, read my book some more, have dinner, chit chat to the guys, go to bed at 8.30pm and then do it all again the next day.  It was such a departure my world that when I got back to New York I felt as if I'd been away for much longer than a week and it surprised me that no major changes had occurred to my surroundings while I was out of the country.  I would look at the construction site for the 2nd Avenue subway at the end of my block and feel disbelief that it still wasn't finished.  The MTA is saying 2016 if you can believe it, pht!! 

Andrew from Santa Monica surfing Freight Trains.  I had a fantastic view from the boat!!

Deano, the camp pup, a Rottweiler mix.  Hopefully he'll get over those ankle biting tendencies before he gets much bigger. 
The view to the left from the upstairs veranda

The view to the right.  The beaches were deserted.  Northern Nicaraguans weren't really into swimming or surfing, so I usually had the beach to myself

Sammy, the camp piggie.  That's the surf camp in the background.

Frankie the surf camp deer.  Gorgeous, but very skittish.  The camp animals were named for the Rat Pack

After a week of sleeping an average of 9 hours a night it was ironic that when I got back to my lovely comfy bed in New York I couldn't sleep for the first few nights.  I felt like I was floating on a surfboard.  It was such an odd sensation that I couldn't relax and fall asleep.  It also hurt to sleep in my usual position of lying on my left side owing to a huge bruise on the upper outside of my left thigh - I think from being hit by the board.  I always find it weird when I have these massive bruises and absolutely no idea how I got them, but I'd place money that it was from the surf board - and bruises on my hips, knees and ribs from surfing in nothing more than a rash guard and board shorts.  Tropical locations are all well and good, but there's something to be said for the protective properties of a wetsuit.  I also a bruise on my right eyebrow where I'd caught the edge of the board as one of the instructors and I were trying to get through some rough waves and it shot back.  Fortunately he was holding onto the board so it could have been much worse, but still it hurt.  Seriously between the insect bites and the bruises I was a mess.  Remind me why I surf again ha ha!!  If I were a horse I would have been put out of my misery.  When I finally did fall asleep that first night back it was only to be awakened by the sound of a woman laughing loudly and I recall wondering, as I rose from my slumber, who was out on the beach in front of the house at that time of night.  I felt very disoriented when I opened my eyes and realized I wasn't at surf camp in Nicaragua anymore, and that it was just a bunch of noisy drunken idiots stumbling out of the bar around the corner at 3am.  Harumph!!!  

Anyway I am working from home today awaiting delivery of my new surfboard from San Diego!!  Whoooo hoooo!!!  I've been thinking of buying one for a while and solicited the advice of lots of surf instructors to narrow down the right board for an intermediate beginner, however there's a lot more to buying a surf board than you might imagine, so I've been procrastinating a bit trying to make the best decision.  For starters how long should it be?  Now as a beginner I need something that's longer - I started on a 9-ft soft-top foam board - because they are easier for catching waves and easier to balance on, but as you improve as a surfer you tend to go for a shorter board, so it's a balance between getting one that's long enough without being too long that I'll want to trade it in after a couple of years.  In Nicaragua I was on an 8' long 2 3/4" thick fiber glass board made by Portland based company Seaside that was 21 3/4" at the widest point in the center and the guys there told me that 8' was probably a bit too long for me and that they would recommend a board no shorter than 7', but no longer than 7'6" and no wider than the Seaside and with a rounded nose and tail.  Frank on the other hand - who runs the surf school in New York - recommended no less than an 8' board, however Kat, a 5'4" female instructor who works for Frank, said that 7'6" was probably a good size for me.  Essentially the shorter you go the more you have to think about the overall buoyancy of the board - or maybe it's density, it's something I didn't pay proper attention to in physics class anyway - so if you go shorter you might want to go for something that's wider, but then I'm 5' 1" and relatively small hipped, so I don't want a board that's so wide it's like sitting on a fat pony while I'm out there sat on my board watching for a decent wave.  "19-20 inches wide is probably good for you" Kat advised, "but I wouldn't go less than 18-inches wide or less than 2.5-inches thick."

Phew, it was a lot to take in.  Thankfully I wrote everything down!!  The other thing I needed to consider was whether I wanted a board made from fiber glass or epoxy.  I have to say that having used a fiber glass board in Nicaragua and then an epoxy board when I returned to New York I much preferred the fiber glass.  I'm no expert having only ever tried 2 boards, but the epoxy board is much, for want of a better word, floatier and I didn't like the feeling quite as much, but the benefit of epoxy boards is that they are harder to damage than fiber glass ones and I can live with the overly floaty feeling over the cost/energy of having to repair a board.  In the end it was a bit of an impulse buy as last week Rob - a guy I was dating - forwarded me an email from the San Diego based company, Degree33, where he purchased his board - which he loves - with details of their pre-Memorial day sale: 10% off all boards with a free leash and wax thrown in.  The email arrived at a point where I was just over the week and a gratuitous impulse purchase was just the thing to lift my mood so I threw caution to the wind and bought a 7'6" x 21 3/4" x 2 5/8" Degree33 Stepping Stone funboard for the bargain price of $360.  It's actually not a bad deal when you factor in that most new surfboards cost upwards of $400 and leashes cost $20+ plus if I bought a surfboard in NYC I'd have the hassle of having to take it home on the subway, so for $459 I get a surfboard plus leash and wax delivered to my door.  See how easily I've justified my costly impulse purchase ;-)

Did you also notice how casually I tossed in all the surfboard chat that I've been dating someone?  Or should I say *was* dating someone, Rob, a Texan surfer boy of Mexican heritage. It's kind of fizzled now, although neither of us has actually come out and said that it's pretty much done - communication clearly being one of the strong points of our relationship, ahem - but we had lunch last week and we were clearly in 'let's be friends' territory - leaving the path clear for the cute EVP GCD ha ha, I should be so lucky - but it's all good, it's been amicable and I don't have to stress out about running into him when I go surfing in Rockaway!! NEXT!! 

Anyway it's 10am and I suppose I should be working. Despite the 14+ hour days I've put in on numerous occasions I always feel guilty when I slack off, it's a short day today though, the agency closes at 2pm for the Memorial Day holiday and a lot of people took time off so I imagine the agency is very quiet today.

*I can only hope that there is a certain amount of hyperbole at play when surfers name their breaks because I really don't like the thought that they are being literal when they give reef breaks names like 'meat grinders.'  What sane person would want to surf that?  When I think of that name I keep visualizing that bit in the Pink Floyd video for The Wall where the kids are fed through a meat grinder.  Despite being a cartoon that video made me squeamish as an 8-year old!! 


Amel said...

WOW!!! Nicaragua, eh? There's so much info in your post that I don't know where to start commenting ha ha...

First of all, SORRY to hear about what happened with Megan. :-(

Secondly, I LOVE the pics, most esp. the deer pic. You captured it in such a way that it just popped right out of the screen. My goodness!!! I think I'm gonna nick it just for my own use - it's like a feast for my eyes. Can I do that?

Thirdly, HAVE FUN with your new board. Can't wait to see a pic of it! :-D

Gee...33 mosquito bites? Ouch ouch and OUCH!!!

And GOOD LUCK on getting more members to your new workplace. Hope they're capable and they'll make everything run more smoothly so that you all can go back home earlier!

Last but not least, have a LOVELY weekend! :-D

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Amel, you're so sweet to come back and read my blog. I know there is a lot of information here, it's only when I wrote it down that I realized I should have made it two posts, but I was on a roll ;-)

You can totally nick the photo of Frankie the deer, I can email it to you if you'd like a proper copy.

Still waiting for the board to be delivered - grrrrr UPS are 2 hours behind schedule now - but I'll definitely post a photo when it arrives.

Have a fantastic weekend yourself :-)

Kitty said...

So much news!!! And all pretty good, I must say. The photos from Nicaragua are gorgeous. Oh, lucky you.

I can't imagine getting a surfboard in the mail, haha. Very cool!

welcome back and have a fantastic weekend, fish!
It's so humid, isn't it?

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

Thanks for stopping by. It is humid today, is it wrong that I am hiding out at home cleaning my apartment instead of getting out in the sunshine ;-)

Given all the problems I am having with UPS I am finding it hard to imagine getting a surfboard in the mail too.

Have a fantastic weekend!!