Apr 30, 2009

Res and the City

I'm here! I'm finally here, in this wonderful "alternate home" of mine, New York.

I landed shortly after noon, and then proceeded to make the horrendous mistake of using SuperShuttle, which meant I arrived at my hotel over three hours later. That and the early onset of travel-exhaustion turned me into Little Miss Blue, my thoughts running something like "sure, it's fun and adventurous and liberating to be a single woman travelling by herself, but one of these days I'd like to go on a vacation with someone for a change." And of course the super-sized wet-room shower (I just love American hotel showers) was so obviously made to be shared. What is it about trans-atlantic travels that deludes us into thinking we will somehow leave our old sorrows behind? I should know better by now.

Never mind. It's illegal to be blue on vacation, especially on vacation in New York, so I decided to take my sorry behind out of the hotel and off for a walk (and as many double shot lattes as my bladder would allow). Most hotels in Manhattan are concentrated in the Midtown area, but not being much of a fan of skyscrapers I've chosen to try out the Thompson Lower East Side hotel, perched on Allen Street about two blocks shy of gentrification.

And this very clever choice of mine meant that my stroll took me through Soho, up to Bleecker (lots of bitter-sweet memories there), around NYU to Washington Square Park, and back. I was tempted to do a second, wider loop through Chinatown and Tribeca but despite the three coffees I was simply too tired to keep going. Will just have to save it for tomorrow, after my spa appointment and coffee with a very old friend and her very new baby.

For novelty's sake, I'll try to keep posting from NY over the next few days and provide you with a "virtual" tour. And if any of you, dear readers, are in/from NY and want to share some recommendations, I'd be much obliged!

Apr 19, 2009

The young'uns are worth a read too...

Just a quick note to incite those of you who haven't done it already to check out the newest INSEAD bloggers, and my personal favourite: Mrs MBA at Rant and Ramble. Her latest post "Why I write" strikes a chord...

Pour resumer...

Springtime is all about flowers blossoming, birds chirping, wardrobe replenishing (yes, especially that) and also - CV updating. After much procrastination, I decided that looking for a new job (for whenever the hiring freezes finally melt) would be a lot easier if I had an updated resumé sous le coude. And so a drizzly Sunday afternoon was filled with CV fun, such as finding "action words" to start bullet points with and innovative ways to say "I'm really good at aligning boxes on a powerpoint slide."

I decided to stick with the "skill set" CV most of us adopted at INSEAD, which works particularly well if you've done very different things in your career, and are applying to do yet another completely different thing. Filling in the law firm jobs sections was relatively pain-free (mostly thanks to the fact that I had already gone through the process last year and therefore didn't need to do much other than the odd nip and tuck). But the BM section... now, that was a real brainteaser.

Honestly, it's not that I haven't learned anything at BM, no matter what I might say when I'm on a whinge binge. I've noticed, particularly over the last month or so, that I'm not quite the same person I was when I started. I clearly have developed new reflexes and thought processes that I would have been incapable of a year ago, never mind three years ago when I was still a lawyer through and through. No, the problem isn't that nothing's been learnt; the problem is that "consulting skills" are unbelievably difficult (for me) to explain. I can only seem to define them by what they aren't. You don't learn anything about steel production, or asset management, or luxury distribution, or whatever else you're pontificating about that day. You don't learn how to do anything that, in theory, your clients couldn't do themselves, like defend a billion-dollar lawsuit or repair faulty plumbing. But you do learn something. And it is useful, I think (hope). Maybe it's more like a sixth sense - but I can't really put that down on my CV (skill: I see dead people?!)...

Besides creating my CV (on Excel, I really am becoming a consultant) I spent the rest of the weekend wallowing. I didn't go to the gym, I didn't go out, I didn't clean the apartment. I just stayed in bed, cried my eyes out, and wondered whether all this chest pain was a sign of an impending heart attack. But I'm still standing so I guess it just means that getting your heart broken does actually physically hurt your heart. I'd forgotten. Wallowing may not be either productive or pleasant, but it is one of those things you just need to go through to get it out of your system. My hope is the good old system will be spic and span and entirely rid of all evil residue by the time I go to my friend's wedding in London this weekend and then jet of to New York.

Happiness minus 5 days and counting.

Apr 9, 2009

My own private Madoff

Until recently, the common expectation was that if you did your research, used your head and invested in something, you'd get a return. Times have changed. These days, you think everything through, you take advice, you follow all the rules and do exactly what you're supposed to do, and you get screwed. This is the new world order.

As you've probably gathered from past posts, I'm not entirely thrilled with my job so far. In fact, to be honest, I don't really know why on earth I bother getting up in the morning anymore. But I do. Because that's what I was taught: do the right thing, invest your time, your energy, your heart, your health, your sanity, whatever it takes, and you will eventually reap the rewards.


I had an interesting conversation with my boss last night. Due to an unfortunate alignment of the stars having to do with ex-boyfriends, ex-cats, new medication, long hours and very rude clients, I ended up breaking apart at the seams in the hallway of the office and getting dragged into a one-hour sob-fest with a well-intentioned partner. And what he told me has given me some real food for thought. In a nutshell, he said it was perfectly normal for me to be feeling miserable in my job. He also said I was unlikely to feel any happier about it... ever. Nonetheless, he recommends that I stick it out for at least another 18 months because "it will all be worth it in the end." Ah yes, the "return on investment" promise.

So what are 18 months of misery worth? How should I price my well-being over that period? And what kind of pay-off would make that investment worth it? Money? Prestige? Pride? Who knows...

Somehow, my life is slowly starting to resemble one of Bartolome's case studies. And that is not a good thing.

Apr 4, 2009

I'm jammin'

People who know me will tell you that I'm not much of a gym girl. Mostly because I'm a lazy cow who can always think of better things to do than exercise (and yes, watching old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 dubbed in French counts). Also, I don't like gyms. They're invariably smelly and people look ugly in them and the lighting doesn't do me any favours and honestly, having to shower in front of loads of naked girls may be your fantasy, but it's not mine.

Nonetheless, exercise must be had, especially when one is: a) quitting smoking, and b) stuffing one's face with disgusting sandwiches and butter-filled pastries all day in a depressing team room.

So, as I have previously noted in these pages, I have joined a gym. And it's not so bad, really. I mean sure, it's filled with gay men and girls who look like they could beat me up with their pinkie finger, and it's more "dive bar grunge" than "health spa chic", but it's right next to my flat (meaning I can shower at home) and the classes are fantastic.

I tested my first class today: Body Jam. Probably the best exercise I've had in a very long time (ok, that's not saying much, but still it's really good exercise). And it's essentially a dance class, which makes it much more palatable for exercise-phobes like myself. During one hour, the teacher mixes up hip-hop, salsa, Bob Fosse-esque cabaret, etc. and makes sure you never, ever stop moving. I was having an absolutely fabulous time until we had to turn to face the mirrors, and I realized that instead of the ultimate hip-hop babe I thought I was, I looked like a Park Avenue princess who took a wrong turn on her way to ballet...

Whatever. I'm cool on the inside.