Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Fool & Her Money: Cronut Edition

I frequently read in the media that New York is in the grip of a Cronut frenzy, seemingly the bastard offspring of a croissant and a doughnut; a concoction dreamed up in the twisted brain of pastry mastermind Dominique Ansel.

Lines form before 5am at his Spring St bakery which opens at 8am.  Recently Huffington Post blogger, Andy Campbell, posted this photo of the Cronut queue to his Twitter.

Demand has been so high that cronuts have been limited to 2 per person.  I find all of this to be completely mind boggling, but then I hate doughnuts, so as far as I'm concerned the cronut is a good croissant ruined.

Anywayyyyy this afternoon I was chatting with one of our Account Planners and she told me that yesterday one of the Asst. Account Execs lined up for cronuts to bring them in for a client meeting.  At 5am she was the 10th person in line and said that the first 3 people in the queue looked as if they were homeless.  As it got close to opening time there were at least 200 people waiting. The homeless guys went to the back of the line in turn and sold their places for $300 a piece.  Apparently one woman bought all 3 spots, which netted her a total 6 cronuts for $900!!


I'm told Dominique Ansel charges $5 per cronut!!

Fair play to the homeless guys!!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Blurred Lines With Puppets

Much as I enjoy the song - at least when I don't pay too much attention to those spurious lyrics, "You know you want it?", I don't thanks, get the f**k away from me - the video is just tired. I mean seriously, using naked women to promote your product. How original. Pht!! This version below, which a friend sent to me today, is soooooo much better!!!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Paris: A Few More Photos From Day 2

I woke up at 5.30am on my second day in Paris, which surprised me, because usually when I am in the UK visiting family the time difference makes it hard to get up before 10am.  Melissa was awake about an hour later and we readied ourselves to head for breakfast at Bread & Roses at 7 Rue De Fleurus/62 Rue Madame.
After sating ourselves with coffee and croissants we walked the 2.5miles to the St Paul Metro station to join with a Paris Walks tour of the Marais.

We arrived about half an hour too early for the tour so we killed time by pottering around the Place Des Vosges - the oldest planned square in Paris, built by Henri IV between 1605-1612 on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles, a former royal estate - and the Carnavalet Museum; a free museum dedicated to the history of Paris.

Place Des Vosges

At 10am on Saturday morning the square was very peaceful, but when we returned at the end of the tour, around noon, it was full of French families enjoying picnics with many an open bottle of champagne.  "I like how the French picnic," said Melissa.

The picnics explained the proliferation of hugely fat pigeons, like these two enjoying a morning shower in one of the fountains.

As pigeons go they were quite photogenic in the Place Des Vosges

One of the first stops on the tour was the Hôtel de Beauvais former home of Catherine Bellier, wife of Pierre de Beauvais, who was a lady in waiting to Anne of Austria.  Apparently Catherine and Anne were very close with Catherine administering the Queen Mother her colonics.  Yikes!!!  A 38-year old Catherine was also rumored to have shown Anne's son, the 14 year old Louis XIV, a very good time - at Anne's request - by providing him with a practical demonstration of the facts of life.  Louis and Anne were lovers for 2-years after which time she was awarded an estate and a pension by the dowager Queen Anne, using the money to commission architect Antoine Le Pautre to design and build the Hôtel de Beauvais in 1657.  Today the building is used as an administrative court. 
Hotel de Beauvais, 68 rue Francois-Miron, Paris

One of the benefits of the Paris Walks tour, led by Oriel, is that we got to go inside the courtyard.  The home was built on the site of a 13th Century mansion, which Catherine had knocked down, although she left the cellars intact for the servants. Nice of her eh!!  The facade of the building is in the French Baroque style, the name given to French architecture during the reigns of Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV (1610-1774).

Despite not being blessed in the looks department Catherine was purportedly not short of lovers, it being fashionable at the time to imitate the king, and she was very much in demand in the bedroom department, counting the Archbishop de Sens, Henri-Louis de Gondrin, among her lovers.  This carved stone figure, or grotesque, in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Beauvais is supposedly of Catherine.

According to Leonard Pitt in "Walks Through Lost Paris:A journey into the heart of historic Paris," Catherine grew ugly and heavy as she aged, although never lost her strong sexual appetite but was reduced to paying for sexual favors.  When her husband died in 1674 she was saddled with huge debts and became a pauper.  In the end she lived destitute at the Hôtel de Beauvais as merely a renter. 

Catherine wasn't the only notable resident of the townhouse.  In 1763, when the building was in the possession of the Bavarian Ambassador he was visited by Mr. Leopold Mozart and family, including a 7-year old Wolfgang.  During his stay the young prodigy performed for the royal family at Versailles.

Further along the Rue Francois-Miron at the corner of the tiny, pedestrian only, Rue Cloche Percé stand wood framed houses whose construction dates back to the 14th Century.  The pitched roofs allow rainwater to drain down the sides of the buildings. The wooden frames of these buildings meant they were a serious fire risk with fires jumping quickly from building to building and in 1607 Henri IV ordered the buildings to be covered with plaster of Paris to prevent the spread of fire.

11 & 13, rue Francois Miron
"I'm told it's now a swingers club" said our guide, Oriel.  A quick look at Google confirms that the building at number 13 does indeed now house the Au Pluriel Club, which describes itself as "Adult swingers Club in the 4th district of Paris."  Enter at your own risk. 

After a quick tour around a Saturday market we made our way to the Church of St Gervais et St Protais, one of the oldest churches in Paris whose existence in this location is mentioned as early as the 4th century.  The present church building is in the Gothic style and was begun in 1474 and completed in 1578.  Since 1975 the church has been the headquarters of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem, who are devoted to monastic life within an urban context with most of it's members working part-time jobs.

The Church of St Gervais et St Protais

At the back of the church are a number of misericords, also known as a mercy seat, a small wooden shelf used for support when having to stand for long periods, since prayers in the early medieval church were said standing with uplifted hands. The old or infirm could use crutches or, as time went on, a misericordia, which literally means "act of mercy". According to our guide, Oriel, the seats in St Gervais et St Protais were used by the priests and would typically be shielded from the view of the standing parishioners by a rood screen, an ornate partition between the chancel and the nave, so that they wouldn't be able to see the priests having a break.  The seats could be turned up to  expose a small shelf underneath which could be leaned against.  They were often beautifully carved with detailed scenes, despite being hidden underneath the seats.

Misericords in the church of St Gervais et St Protais
The church at St Gervais et St Protais has 21 mid-16th century misericords (dating from 1556) and 21 from the early 17th century.  Most Parisian churches had their carvings removed and burnt during the fuel shortage that resulted from the siege of Paris (1870-1871).

A woman cavorts with a fool. Supposedly a damning indictment of women, but women more often than not cavort with men so....I'm just saying!!

The next stop on the tour was the Shoah Memorial.  According to TripAdvisor the memorial "opened in 2005 as a bridge between contemporaries of the Holocaust and those who have not experienced it" and also houses the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation (YSC) founded during the Second World War to gather documentary evidence of the destruction of European Jews.   

Outside the museum is "le mur des justes", a wall of names of those who helped the Jews in France during World War II.  Apparently the wall is featured in the fictional film Sarah's Key, an adaptation of the book by Tatiana de Rosnay, which follows an American journalist's present-day investigation into the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942. Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise also tells a story of being a Jew in Nazi occupied France. 

I'm going to end this here as I feel it's getting lengthy, but I'll continue reporting on the tour in a day or two, but below is the tour route so far, beginning on the far right at the St Paul Metro station.

Tour of Le Marais, Paris

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Paris: A few photos from Day 1

One of my favorite things about my recent trip to Paris was the way the street cafes make absolutely no pretense about blatantly facilitating people watching.  I wish New York cafes would take note.

On our first day we covered about 6 miles as the crow flies.  I felt as if we walked much further, but all in all not bad considering we were sleep deprived after taking the red eye from New York. 

I suspect we realistically walked a couple of miles more than that as we got lost once - took a wrong turn out of Jardin Du Luxembourg and ended up back in the vicinity of our Montparnasse hotel instead of by the Seine - and retrod our ground a few times.  We didn't really have a destination in mind, beyond our curiosity concerning the Paris Plages, or beaches, and my curiosity about a public pool on a barge in the Seine named for Josephine Baker.

Photo by Alexandrealari

It wasn't the most picturesque route, although initially it did take us past Notre Dame.

Before all that though we headed for Montparnasse Tower, which is a great spot for taking in an amazing view of Paris that includes the Eiffel Tower.

During our walk we saw this amazing public art on the quai d'austerlitz.  Apparently it's the work of street artist IDEM who was looking to give the impression of a giant over flowing paint pot.

After crossing the Pont de Bercy we walked up the Qual de la Rapee to Avenue Ledru Rollin and headed to Le Bistrot du Peintre for an early dinner, which I'd read about in Eloisa James's Paris In Love.  I think I ordered badly. I was a bit over faced by the circular cake of salmon in fromage frais topped with layers of smoked salmon served with a side salad.  Not that it was bad, not in the least; it was just too much salmon for me, but Melissa loved her dish of roast chicken on a bed of ratatouille.

We took the metro back to the hotel after dinner and I was snoozing by 8pm, 2pm New York time.  Come to think of it we never did see Paris Plages!!

Monday, 24 June 2013

I'm not thinking of returning to online dating...

...but if I were the story I heard from Michelle in Pilates class tonight really wouldn't help.

"I knew he might be a little weird from our phone conversation," she told me "but I thought 'what the hell, give him a chance', so I went to dinner with him on Saturday night."


"It didn't go well.  Right off the bat he told me I was asking him weird questions."

"Like what?"

"How was your day?"

Apparently he was also really paranoid and thought everyone was talking about them.  "That woman at the next table is talking about your hair," he told her.

"I was 18-inches from the woman at the next table.  If she'd been talking about me I would have known," said Michelle.  "After that he told me that a woman at the other end of the bar kept staring at me.  He also complained that he didn't like the restaurant, which HE chose."

After they'd finished their meal she excused herself to go to the bathroom 

"The waiter kept giving me sympathy eyes, I couldn't wait to get out of there.  I was relieved to see that he'd asked for the check when I walked back to the table."

"How were the bathrooms?" he asked.

"Fine," she shrugged "okay I guess."

"Did you poop?" 

Apparently she just stared at him.  

"Did he think he was being funny?" I asked her.  She'd told me earlier that he was in finance, so I was picturing the overgrown adolescent type who doesn't fraternize with too many women on a day to day basis.

"Nooooooooooooo!!!  He was deadly serious."

Lordy lordy!!  Who asks someone that?  This is what's out there ladies.  At least she has a story out of it!!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Why hello there!!

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Paris I've been doing my usual research, largely restaurant and bar focused research - you can keep The Louvre, I want to experience Paris as a Parisienne - but I've also read a couple of memoirs by American authors who have recently lived there.  The first book I read was Rosecrans Baldwin's "Paris, I love you, but you're bringing me down", which was an enjoyable read, especially when I realized part-way through that the advertising agency where he worked as a copywriter was an agency where I'd also spent a part of my career.  I read Rosecrans' book partly as research and partly as a deterrent to the possibility of me arriving in Paris and deciding never to leave.  I've always been a huge Francophile and when I initially moved to New York I thought I'd be here for a year or two at the max, and after that I'd move to either San Francisco or, more likely, Paris.  That was where my head was in 2000, but in 2 weeks I'll celebrate my 13th anniversary of moving to New York.  Still, despite being very settled in New York, I've never quite given up on the idea of living in Paris at some point in my life, even if it's just for a short while, but not just yet.  I thought from the title of Rosecrans' book, his memoir would serve to diminish my rose tinted fantasy and mitigate the risk of my deciding never to come back.  It didn't change my rosy view of the city.  I think only actually living in Paris could do that, but I do believe that the risk of me deciding never to return to New York on this particular trip is considerably reduced.

After that I started Eloisa James' "Paris in love: a memoir," a fun read which is essentially a collection of Twitter and Facebook posts she wrote while living there.  Eloisa James' memoir is where I first heard mention of Dalloyau Patisserie......I think I'm in love.

On the website, below the description of the cake, is written "Pour votre santé, pratiquez une activité physique régulière."  For your health, practice regular physical activity :-)  

It's all about balance people!!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Dipping a toe in Wales

Urk!!!  I cannot believe I fly to Paris next week!!!  I haven't even started to think about what I am going to pack which is most unlike me. I've usually made a preliminary list at least 2 weeks in advance, but this time I haven't got a clue what's appropriate having lost the ability to dress for Summer in Northern Europe.  I only know how to dress for Summer in sticky, hot, humid, stinky New York - can you tell Summer is my least favorite season in NYC?  I'm sorry, but it smells of hot garbage and dog urine, it really isn't the most pleasant season in the city.  Melissa and I will only be in Paris for a couple of days, after that we take the Eurostar to London for 2 days, followed by a day in Wales - as is Melissa's want - and then onto Yorkshire to see my family.

"Wales??" Exclaimed my mother in a tone people usually employ when they find out about a rat infestation.  "Why does Melissa want to go to Wales?" 

It should be noted that my parents do not consider a vacation to be worth taking if it does not include a guaranteed daily temperature of at least 80F and a golden sandy beach.

"Mother, Wales is chock full of natural beauty.  Have you seen the Brecon Beacons?"


Actually the primary reason Melissa wants to go to Wales is to check it off her list of countries to get her closer to membership of the Traveler's Century Club.  She's well on her way with a country tally somewhere in the mid-60s.  Mine - and note that among the majority of my friends I am considered well traveled - is a piffling 25 or thereabouts.  

I had nothing against visiting Wales, afterall Tenby was the site of many a happy childhood vacation, however I wasn't exactly filled with joy at spending hours on a train to get there, but then research led me to Abergavenny, a market town in Monmouthshire that's a mere 6-miles from the English border*.  Not only is Abergavenny only 2 and a half hours from London it also boasts a boutique hotel and not one, but two Michelin starred restaurants.  Abergavenney sounds like my kind of market town.

*"Not Welsh enough" claimed Debs' Welsh born husband.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A New Crush

I went out for dinner a couple of Fridays ago with one of the junior account girls that I get along well with, Maria. We went to the meatball shop on Greenwich Avenue which was nice, although not as amazing as I was hoping it would be giving how mad everyone seems to be for their meatballs.  I thought the chicken ones were very good, but the beef ones were quite ordinary and too densely packed with meat for my liking.   We had a very nice evening though and since Maria also lives on the Upper East Side we walked over to Union Square to catch the train together and then walked around the UES for a bit chatting until she had to head off and meet her boyfriend at Pinkberry for frozen yogurt. 
En route to Pinkberry, we passed a guy who gave me a bit of a hard stare.  I nudged Maria and told her that I would have put money on the fact that it was the same guy I'd endured a less than pleasant date with about a year or so earlier.  As a result the conversation turned to general chit chat about dating and out of nowhere Maria blurted "You should date Mike McCormick."

Honestly it was so out of the blue it took my brain a few seconds to work out what she'd said.  Mike McCormick is an Executive Creative Director that was hired by the agency with great fanfare late last year.  "Where did that come from?" I asked

"I have SUCH a crush on him.  You should date him for me.  He's single."  It should be noted that she isn't single and has the cutest boyfriend ever, but boyfriend withstanding she went on to tell me that all the junior account girls have a massive thing for Mike and get really nervous when they have to talk to him about work.

"He barely remembers my name, but he's sooooo....." she mooned

It was with fresh eyes that I looked at Mike McCormick on the following Monday and!!  At least that day!!  He's one of those people I go back and forth on dependent on what he's wearing.  He's a silver fox no doubt, about the same age as me - cough almost 42 cough - but about a foot taller and broad shouldered enough to wear a checkered lumberjack style shirt with aplomb.  It makes him look useful, like he could put up shelves that would actually stay up.  I suspect that's probably false advertising given my experience of the average New York man's ability at home improvement type activities, but still he looks the part....sigh!!
I emailed my friend Deesha in Kansas City to tell her about my new potential work distraction to which she responded as follows:
From: Deesha
Sent: 21 May 2013 18:12:20
To: Fish
 I'm all aflutter over MM myself..mmmmm :)

You're right, He looks soo masculine but yet warm/homey. Like a sexy dad (someone else's obviously). 

Totally crush worthy. Is he single for sure?
From:    Fish
Sent:    21 May 2013 18:29:52
To:     Deesha

Ha ha that's hilarious.  He does look like someone who would give you a good hug right?  He's a very solid looking man, strong without being too muscular.  I bet he could give you the kind of hug that would make you feel, for a moment at least, like everything is right with the world.  No pressure Mike, I'm not expecting too much from your hugs ;-)

Apparently he is single.  The reason I know this is because in February - I remember because it was her birthday - I coerced a colleague into letting me buy her a celebratory drink at the wine bar across the street from the office.  When we arrived I noticed a man and a woman sat across from us at the bar  They were sat at a respectable distance from each other initially, but as copious amounts of wine was consumed they became closer and closer and closer.  It was very clear from their body language that they were interested in each other.  I pointed them out to my colleague and told her I recognized the man from the agency and suspected it was Mike McCormick - I'd never worked with him, but I knew OF him given the fanfare around his hiring.  I also knew where this guy sat, so the next morning I checked the name on the office door and yup...Mike McCormick.  A few days later his name came up in conversation at a meeting with account and I relayed the goss that I'd seen him getting very close with a woman I also thought might be from the agency.

Kate: Ooooh tell us more, what did she look like
Me: Quite short, about my height, sort of blonde, mid length hair
Kate: That sounds like Kathryn K, was it her?
Me: I know the name, but I don't know what she looks like. I also don't know what the status of either one of them is, so I don't want to get anyone in trouble
Kate: She's the director of creative talent.  It's okay if it's her, they are both single

Shows me a photo of Kathryn K on Facebook

Me: I think we have a winner

Who knows he could be dating Kathryn now, but let's pretend he's available. I need some positivity after my experiences with Arnold
F x

I'd still take the Creative Cutie over him given the choice, but he's not a bad back up crush and makes coming into work all the more pleasant.  I put on mascara today and flipped out my hair only to discover that Mike McCormick is in the Caribbean this week.  I'm sure he's vacationing with his Nanna ;-)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Arnold has left the building!!

My employee drama of the last 2 months suddenly resolved itself in early May with the abrupt departure of Arnold, the employee who was causing me strife.  On Monday he emailed me to say that he was out sick; on Tuesday morning he sent an email to my manager and HR which said "I’m writing in order to indicate that I’d like to officially resign as soon as possible and to also apologize for the abruptness and any inconvenience it may cause."  My manager forwarded the email to me around 10am and then stopped by to talk to me about the news.  About an hour after I saw the email Arnold was gone.  And good riddance.

Arnold joined the team in mid-February, his hiring championed by our head of department who, for some unusual reason, had interviewed him before anyone else on the team had seen him.  The department head loved him.  "He has a spark that I like," he said.  "He doesn't have much experience, but he's eager to learn.  Why don't you meet him and see what you think."  Three of us - the other team lead and I plus our manager - met him and all agreed that he seemed like a good fit.  Admittedly he was entry level and we were ideally looking for someone with at least a year of experience, but he was older than most entry level candidates, having been studying for a PhD, and had a couple of 3month freelance stints in Advertising Agencies under his belt; he wasn't completely naive to the agency world and with a dearth of other good candidates we decided to take a chance and make him an offer.  

All seemed to go well initially, however after a couple of months it became clear that he either wasn't capable of doing the job or just didn't care enough to make an effort, I'm not 100% sure which.  Obviously as an entry level employee I knew he'd require more training than someone with some experience, but I wasn't prepared for was how much I'd have to correct him on the basics of spelling, grammar and addition.  His work was rife with spelling mistakes - trafic, awarness, Febrary - are examples that were repeated throughout his commentary of the first report he sent to me to review. It was so bad I did actually wonder if he had some condition, like dyslexia or something, but apparently not.  Overall his work was incredibly sloppy, but when I tried to give him feedback he wouldn't take it into account and the same old shit would come back to me 2 or 3 times.  I'm not even talking about feedback on how to do his job of actually analyzing client data, but on basic presentation.  I was spending so much time giving him feedback that it was a waste of time employing him, because it would have been quicker for me to do the work myself.  In hindsight I honestly think he believed that my only job was to oversee the team's work.  He didn't seem to realize that I had my own work to do and that he'd been hired to remove some of the burden on me, not add to it.

He'd been employed with the agency for just shy of two months when I became frustrated with him after a report - a report I'd gone over with him in painstaking detail twice before - came back to me to review for a 4th time and still included basic mistakes that had not been corrected from the first 3 rounds of feedback.  Admittedly I was a little sharp with him when I told him he should print out all the feedback he'd been given and go through it line by line and ensure all the corrections had been made before sending the report to me for review, but given the circumstances he got off lightly.  Do you know what he did...he went to HR and complained about me.  That's right, HE complained about ME!!  

I spoke with my manager about the situation.  He was aware of my frustration about the continued poor quality of Arnold's work, but advised me to be gentle.    "I don't know why he felt his first call should be to go to HR instead of talking to me, but he's clearly very sensitive to criticism.  We just need to ensure we are sympathetic to that." 

Arnold and I called a truce and went back to our business. I was as nice as pie.  No seriously I was.  It didn't make a blind bit of difference.  Two weeks later he was back at HR for a second time claiming both Chris - my other direct report who is the most mellow person you could meet - and I were being abusive to him.  This time he claimed that I'd told him to come in on the weekend and arranged to meet him at 10am on Sunday, but then did not turn up.  

I did no such thing. 

We'd been working late on the Friday on a report that was already significantly delayed, due to Arnold's inability to care about deadlines and manage multiple client deliverables, when we came across yet another issue around 6pm.  I told him that we might have to come in over the weekend, but over the next couple of hours we made more progress than I anticipated.  I asked him to email me some data so that I could review it at home over the weekend and on my way out of the office just after 8pm I said I would email him to let him know if I needed him to come in.  Pondering work the next day I realized that I could easily resolve the issues myself by working for a few hours at home on Sunday.  As a result I didn't sign on to my work email email until Sunday lunchtime, which is when I saw an email he'd sent at 8.30pm on Friday saying he would be coming in at 10am on Sunday and that he'd see me at the office.

Crap!!  I immediately called him to let him know he'd misunderstood and that I'd just seen his email.  I left a message to that effect when he did not pick up his mobile.

By Monday he'd emailed HR with his claims of abuse and at 10am I got a call from my head of department.  "Hi darling, I'm sat here with Arnold who is upset because he claims you arranged to meet him in the office this weekend and then didn't show up."

I explained what had actually happened.

"Okay.  Could you just come over to my office and the three of us can sort this out."

In the department head's office Arnold continued with his claims of my abusive behavior, our department head asked him to give him an example.

"She just is," he sputtered, "I have evidence to back it up."

"So, tell me how she's abusive, give me an example."

"I wrote down a few things from the anti-harassment training." He rifled through his notebook and started spouting legalese he'd copied down.

"Arnold, that's not evidence of her being abusive, you're just reading excerpts from the training. Can you give me an example of something she actually did.  These are serious claims."

"The data will speak for itself."

"I agree, but can you give me an example."

And so it went in circles for a few minutes. He then burst out with "You don't know what it's like for me, this is my last chance, I'm almost bankrupt."

It was at this point that I saw from department head's expression that he went from hearing Arnold out to thinking "oh shit, this guy is crazy."

We wrapped up the meeting shortly after that and I went to speak to my manager.  A few moments later the department head joined us in my manager's office and sat down heavily in a chair. "Guys, I f&@ked up.  I was the one that pushed to hire him, this one's on me.  I spoke to HR, they want to meet with you," he said to me "but don't worry, I explained the situation to them."

The head of HR wanted to know exactly what he said about being bankrupt and asked me to give feedback on him as an employee. I explained the issues with his work and she wondered aloud if the company was being set up to be sued.  "I'll be honest," she said "he seems to be out to get you, but we can't fire him now that he's complained, it looks like retaliation.  The best we can do is try and move him to another team."

That was about 3 weeks ago and in the weeks since then I did my best to be pleasant, but kept all contact to business only and put everything in writing as much as I could.  My manager promised that if we were successful in an upcoming new business pitch he'd transfer me to manage the new account and Arnold would be out of my hair.  As for Arnold, well he acted like nothing had happened and he'd walk around whistling as happy as Larry.  I do think he sensed that I was a bit more distant from him, because he started catching up to me if we were en route to the same meeting - something he never did before - and we'd exchange a 'hey' and then walk in silence to the conference room.  I think it bothered him a bit that I didn't make any smalltalk, but there was no way I was going to say anything that could be twisted against me in any way or put me at risk of a lawsuit.  On Friday before he resigned I ran into him at the lift as I was leaving for the day along with another woman Lindsay that I know.  The lift was packed with workers from other offices in the building and Lindsay and I chatted about our weekend plans.  I told her I was running late to meet a friend in midtown when Arnold piped up out of the blue "I'm rushing to get to a friend's memorial service."

"Oh," said Lindsay who I don't believe he'd ever met.  "I'm sorry."  She stared at him for a second and then resumed chatting to me. 


He bolted in the opposite direction as soon as we got to the ground floor and the following Monday he called in sick and on Tuesday he resigned.  By 11am on Tuesday he was gone, without bothering to give the customary 2 weeks' notice.  It was as if the last 2 months had all been a horrible dream. I couldn't quite believe my luck.

In the days since his departure I was in a bunch of meetings and had to let people know that Arnold no longer worked at the company. In one of my client team meetings it came out that he'd gone to HR about me twice and alleged that Chris and I were abusive to him. "Oh I wouldn't worry about that, as long as you have it all written down you have nothing to worry about." said the Account Director. "Someone once went to HR and claimed I threw a chair at them."

"And did you?" asked the media planner, because with this particular Account Director, you just never know.  Anything can happen. At the office holiday party he stripped to the waist and hit the dance floor exuberantly and alone to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You"  

"No I did not."

"It was a stool," said the Account Manager laughing

"No it was not, I have never thrown furniture at anyone, but I did have a melt down and throw toilet rolls at the cleaning lady."

"You did what?"

"I threw toilet rolls at the cleaning lady.  I did!!" he exclaimed to our raised eyebrows. 

"Seriously, I was having a melt down and she was trying to come in to clean the bathroom so to stop her I started taking the toilet rolls off her cart and throwing them at her."

"Did SHE report you?"

"No, we were fine, we hugged it out, but she wouldn't be able to report me anyway, she works for the building not the Agency, so it wouldn't have been an issue."

Well okay then.  I'll say one thing, it's never dull!!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


So yesterday I ran to the gym to a 45minute total body conditioning class.  It was over by 7.15pm and as I left I decided I was too tired to walk the 5miles home as I'd considered and would instead take the subway home.  I ran down to the L train platform and was fortunate enough to get straight onto a train that departed a few seconds after I boarded.  Nice!!  At Union Square where I transfer to go uptown I spied a 6 train from the concourse and rushed down the stairs thinking I would never make it, and triumphantly boarded and even got a seat next to a nice quiet man who was reading his book and keeping his elbows to himself.    Swwweeeeeeeeeeeeettttt!!!!
When I got off the train at 77th St and walked uptown towards my apartment it was a lovely evening and there was an abundance of attractive and well muscled blokes out jogging and wearing somewhat revealing outfits - you know those wife beater tanks with the really big armholes that show off their arms and lat muscles?  Hey I may have formed an unfavorable opinion of men of late what with some of their recent antics - more on this in a later post - but I'm not dead.  
Truth be told though, my day felt a little *too* good to be true and I was on alert for the other shoe to drop, however it was all fine.  I made it to my apartment without getting mashed by an errant cab or delivery guy cycling in the wrong direction nor did I fall through any precariously secured basement doors and when I got home I was even greeted by not one, but two checks for monies owed, one for $75 repaying me for the antibiotics I'd paid for out of my own pocket; the other was repayment of surf locker dues from one of my board locker buddies.  "Wow, I thought, between Arnold resigning (more on this in an upcoming post too) and having unheard of luck with the subway, getting to ogle some cute men and getting back money I'm owed sooner than I expected I am having a really good day."
Little did I know that payback was just a few hours away.  I got an absolute soaking on the way to meet Amanda for breakfast this morning to talk about the possibility of her coming to work at the agency as replacement for Arnold.  Admittedly NY1 had forecast heavy showers, but it wasn't so bad when I left at 7.30am this morning.  Sure it was raining, but it wasn't bouncing off the road or anything.  Nothing that an umbrella couldn't cope with.  Ha, I was so naive.  I was meeting Amanda at the Pain Quotidien on 7th Avenue between 17th & 18th Streets and decided that instead of taking 4, 5 to Union Square and then taking the L train one stop to 6th Avenue, I would get off the train at Union Square and walk to exit the north side of the subway station which would bring me out on E 17th St.  From there I would just walk the few avenue blocks over to 7th Avenue.  
Sounds like a reasonable plan right?  
That is except when I got to the north side exit the rain started coming down in Biblical proportions prompting the guy handing out the free Metro paper by the steps to the street to blurt out "Oh holy God" as thunder clapped overhead and water crashed down the stairs.
"Oh it's fine," I thought, "it's probably one of those heavy New York showers that's over in a minute, I'll be okay."  Ha!!  When I finally arrived at Pain Quotidien I looked not unlike this... hair was soaking, my jeans were sodden, my supposedly waterproof coat had soaked through so the back of my cardigan was drenched and my coat literally dripped water.  After we'd been sat for an hour I got up to leave and there was literally a puddle beneath me and when I got to the office I had to remove and wring out my socks. Thank God I commute to work in my sneakers and keep my heels in the office and was able to put on a dry pair.  I dried out after a couple of hours, but when I first arrived my plan was to pick up my laptop and cab it home and work in pajamas for the day huddled against a radiator.  I was very conscious about my hair being a straggly mess and after letting it drip dry for 15 minutes I finger combed it and anxiously asked Amanda how it looked.  The response I got was most unexpected.
"It's quite sexy," she said as I stared at her stunned.  Drowned rat I expected, but sexy???  Never.  "It looks like you've just got out of the shower" she said.
"I'll take it...and you're hired!!" ha ha!!
Of course now after it had dried it didn't look so good, but the comment did cheer me up in the moment.  

When I left to go home my supposedly waterproof outdoor sneakers were still wet.  I sucked it up, but it was like wearing a couple of soggy sponges on my feet.  Ugh!!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I saw the Zero Dark Thirty movie this weekend.  Amazing!!  I was telling my mother that I'd seen it when we had our weekly chat today.

"Do you know the film I mean?" I asked her, "It's the one about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden."

"Oh yes" she said "do they find him?"

That's my mother.  Finger firmly on the pulse of current events ;-)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Big mistake!!

I made a huge mistake this morning, do you know what I did?  I stepped on my scales is what.  Ugh!!  "Maybe it won't be as bad as I think it's going to be," I optimistically mused before I did the deed.  I'd been eating very healthily for a week and I'm back to exercising 6 days a week after 2 weeks off so I was stupidly hopeful it would have made a dent in my Christmas poundage.  Sadly the number on the scale was far worse than I expected!!  I'm not going to give any specific details, but let's just say it's 3lbs heavier than the weight I was when I visited Deesha the week after Thanksgiving - which was already 4lbs heavier than I wanted to be - and I am a whopping 15lbs heavier than I was when I last dared to wear a bikini, circa 2004, or the year that I accidentally lost 5lbs.  

Yes, accidentally!!  

The very idea seems completely out of the realm of possibility now, but at the time I was taking Pilates classes - although only 3 a week which is fewer than I take now - and going to salsa classes twice a week and while I was exercising a good amount I don't think exercise was the key, I think it had a lot more to do with the fact that I was out of an evening and didn't really have time to eat a more robust dinner, so for a year my dinner 2-3 times a week consisted of a cereal bar and the occasional slice of toast when I got home from class.  I didn't even own a scale and judged my weight by how my clothes fit.  At the time I was quite obsessed with Theory trousers and used to hit their sample sales at every available opportunity, I still have a few pairs of size 0 trousers that I can't bear to part with, but when I hold them up they look ridiculously small, like I've accidentally stumbled across a child's wardrobe.

I really can't imagine myself 15lbs lighter than I am now, as while I'm not exactly thrilled with my current weight I'm still comfortably a US size 2 - albeit a vanity size 2, equivalent to a UK size 8, although I'm also only 5ft 1, so fluctuations in my weight, even by a single dress size, are more apparent than I feel they would be on someone of a naturally larger frame - so the thought of losing 15lbs seems excessive.  7lbs maybe, but not 15, it feels unrealistically thin to me now, still my weight is bothering me at the moment and it would be nice to feel comfortable wearing a bikini again come summer, so I'm trying to do something about it.  I read in an Real Simple magazine at the dentist last week that the average American puts on 8lbs over Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I'm in good company.  I was commiserating with a work colleague this morning who claims she is 19lbs heavier now than she was this time last year.  We were both wondering whether it was old age catching up with us, which is an upsetting prospect as that would mean there's probably very little I can do about it.  I wouldn't mind if I was generally larger all over, but still in shape, but I'm not, it's all gone to my belly and my ham hock arms.  I looked down this morning when I was in the shower and I had to tilt my head to the side to see my toes.  Anyway I'm trying not to stress about it too much and just let eating more salads, vegetables, cutting down on alcohol and exercising regularly take it's course and hopefully in a month my jeans will feel less like they are trying to cut me in half.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

I think...

...that the fitness instructor who taught the 8am total body conditioning class this morning spent her holidays thinking up new ways to torture us!!  

Good God, I am sore.  Her class has always been one of the tougher ones I've taken - she does so many damn reps, at least 48 of anything - but today she excelled herself by re-ordering the routine - those 144 one legged squats she typically has us do off the step, 72 per leg, at the start of the class weren't quite so easy when moved to the end of the session - and throwing in a few new surprises, like the weighted side lunge with a core twist to work not only our inner thighs, but also our abs.  I'm acquainted with a few of the class regulars and this morning we frequently turned to each other to silently express our discomfort.  The end of class stretches never felt so good, although it didn't help that I'd also committed myself to taking a 10.30am Pilates class.  Yeowwwwwwwww!!!!

Love love love...

...Tom Odell...And he's playing at Pianos on the LES on Thursday January 24th for the bargain ticket price of $8.  Whoo hoo, I am sooooo going.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Friday night in NYC

Friday!!  Hurrah!!!  To say I'm pleased to see the back of this week is an understatement.  I've been lacking motivation these first few days back at the office in 2013 - happy new year by the way - it's just soooooo very hard to be there instead of laying on my parents sofa nibbling chocolates from Bon Bon while watching classic BBC drama series on TV.  At least everyone else I work with seems to feel the same way and it's not just me.  Unfortunately I do have to go into the office on Sunday to catch up on a few things, since I really haven't got as far as I'd hoped with an analysis I'm working on that's due on Tuesday.  It's partly due to my own struggle to get back into the swing of things, but a bigger reason is that I've lost some of the time I was expecting to have to focus on the analysis as I needed to work with my fellow team lead to come up a contingency plan for the department's upcoming workload after a member of her team resigned on Wednesday.  The resignation wasn't exactly unexpected, but transitioning the work across the existing team is a burden we could all do without since the team is already understaffed.  My colleague was already looking for someone to join her team but had been struggling to recruit the right person because our head of department continually vetoed perfectly good candidates who he claimed didn't have the right personality.  "I want someone who has a spark," he explained after expressing his reservations about a candidate that three of the four of us thought was perfect for the role.  Now we're in a hole and at risk of missing deadlines he's pretty much ready to offer a job to the next two candidates that walk through the door. In the meantime my colleague is having to borrow resources from my team, which means everyone is taking on additional work plus the two of us are interviewing as many candidates as we can which is taking time away from working on my client deliverables, hence the primary reason I need to go in on Sunday.  I was hoping to go in early this morning to get a head start, but I realized late yesterday that I had a 9am appointment for a teeth cleaning which put the mockers on the notion of getting to the office by 7am.

My resolution not to drink - at least mid week, let's be reasonable now - also took a hit last night as Deesha, my good friend who moved to Kansas City this summer, was in town last night and wanted to get a few people together, most of whom I haven't seen since I lost my previous job early last year.  Now much as I enjoy the company of the people who were going to be out I really wasn't in the mood for socializing last night since I'm still sort of on UK time, so I get tired pretty early at the moment, I'm exhausted from the work week and after the festive indulgences - we're big on the wine in my family - I really just needed a break, but after a lot of umming and ahhhing I coerced myself into going out and it was a fun evening, but of course I did not stick to soda water with a hint of lime, oh no, I excelled myself, I had 4 glasses of wine!!!  FOUR!!!!  Weirdly I don't feel horrible today at all, so clearly I built up a tolerance over Christmas.  "Ah whatever," I thought at the time, "it's just a one off, I'll just avoid alcohol this weekend instead", an easy enough proposition I assumed as the friend I was most likely to have made plans had to go out of town to attend the funeral of an elderly aunt, however when I got home Kim - who I surf with - had emailed to say there was a surf meetup happy hour on Friday and was I interested.  Ugh, I really wasn't, coming home after work and collapse in a heap on my sofa and eat healthy nutritious food while catching up on the shows on my DVR held massive appeal, however I like Kim a lot and since ours is a fairly recent friendship I was also keen to maintain the momentum we have going so against my better judgement I decided to accept her invitation, but I cannot tell you how happy I was when I got into work after my dental appointment and she'd emailed me to say that the surf meetup happy hour was cancelled!!  Yessssssssssss!!!

I'm going to totally sound like a grandma for saying this, but I'm so looking forward to going to bed at 9pm tonight and getting a good night's sleep before I'm up at 7am tomorrow for an early weights class.  Party on eh!!