Monday, December 22, 2008

For a pessamist I'm surprisingly optimistic...

I just read back over this for the first time in a while. And I see that I left this on an extremely negative note. So for anyone who was wondering if I had jumped off the nearest cliff in response to my little rant; I’m here. For the rest of you who didn’t care either way.. I’m still here. Despite the massive credit crunch that is now overshadowing most of the world, and in particular the American Financial Industry. Oh what a fine time to be working in a bank.

Suffice to say, I now have more to worry about than whether I like my job or not. Which luckily for me has now taken an upturn. My original manager has gone on sick leave and I have been moved to another department, which is completely different to what I was doing before hand. I find myself constantly busy, which is awesome, and it seems to have affected my confidence. I now love coming to work! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I seriously do enjoy it now compared to before, and the days are just flying past. I seem to have lost the knack of arriving promptly at 8.10 am with the drawing in of the chilly and dark mornings, so I am rolling up just before 9 now, but I am staying till 5.30, so I still can’t be told that I am slacking. But all in all, I am enjoying being in work these days, and it certainly has given me a different perspective.

Being busy keeps me occupied and it builds my confidence when I can juggle various different tasks at once and still manage to keep on top of things. I think this is what I needed all along, but hey, good things come to those who wait!

Other than work, I don’t suppose I have been up to too much.

November came and went almost without registering really. I went to see a Knicks game at Madison Square Gardens for a friend’s birthday, which was really good. The next day, I went to see the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace (loved it!) and then went ice-skating in Central Park with some mates. So I guess I have done the quintessential New York Christmassy thing now. Which is pleasing. What was less pleasing, and more painful, was falling face first onto the ice in front of this guy I had just met and was trying to impress. I think that did the trick. Whacked my knees off the ice and then slid out for a few feet, ensuring that my clothes were soaked. Which is a little chilly when you are on the ice. Luckily it was a unseasonably warm day and I didn’t end up with pneumonia. But my ego took a battering anyway. Right after we left, the rain started on, so we ended up at a friend’s flat to take shelter, ordering take out and watching movies in borrowed clothes until we dried out! Had so much fun that day though. Just a shame I seem to have messed up my knee again!

Not to self: Avoid Ikea boat trips and Ice Skating!! :)

Thanksgiving was the next big thing. I decided not to take any holidays and save them for Christmas instead. We were given the Thursday off, so I went into Manhattan to try and see the Macy’s Parade. Got there a little late and missed most of it, mainly due to being so short that I had issues trying to see over people’s heads to actually see the parade, even though the floats are huge!! Grumble. Managed to get some pictures, so it wasn’t a total loss. Had some lunch at a diner just off 34th street with some mates afterwards before they headed up to the Poconoe’s to stay in a cabin for the weekend. I went home, changed and headed to Brooklyn to have dinner. A new friend from my volunteer group invited me over to Williamsburgh, so we ended up having a fabulous time there. Lots of turkey, mulled wine and silly party games afterwards. Had to leave a little bit early as I had to be in work the next morning, which was a little difficult considering the amount of mulled wine I had managed to consume without noticing. Whoops.

My new manager let us leave work at 1pm the next day, so I went for lunch with a colleague on Manahattan before heading home. Ever the cool one, I managed to fall asleep for a few hours when I got in. Clearly having red meat and a beer at lunchtime can knock me for six. Sigh. Had a quiet weekend, got some much-needed sleep and attempted to catch up on my novel writing. Which was going particularly poorly. Have a new idea now so it has picked up a little! That’s not to say it is actually any good though!!

Once December hit, I realized that it was actually approaching Christmas and I had better do something about it. Put together some Christmas shopping one Saturday (Times Square and Macy’s on a Saturday, not to be underestimated!!!) and then managed to post it the next Monday. Cost me $40 to post a parcel home to my old work! I also organized some presents for my family, got them posted, and relied on good old Play.com and Snapfish for the rest of it!! At least they are getting something!! I also made a ton of Christmas cards, so they are in the post and sorted. So now I can sit back and only have to worry about getting my roommate something! Which I have a week to worry about!

My friend is coming out for 2 weeks over the Christmas period, which I absolutely cannot wait for. She will be here on Monday night, and I have managed to get some time off work to spend with her. So Christmas day will be spent in another flat, eating and getting boozy (don’t tell mum) and then we have booked Bryant Park Grill for New Year’s Eve. Cannae wait!!!

And now I have looked out the window and the big snow strorm that was promised has finally hit! Which may put the kibosh on the Christmas party I was supposed to go to in Brooklyn tonight. Hmmm…

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Inadequacy


This is a horrible feeling. Sitting at my desk at work, experiencing a feeling of utter dread. It’s not a rational fear. Not at all. It’s a feeling I have created myself, and I hate myself for it. I’m afraid of being in work. I’m afraid of making myself look incompetent. I’m afraid of making myself look more incompetent than I already have. I’m afraid of being asked to do something that I can’t. I’m afraid of pissing someone senior off. I’m afraid of my phone ringing. I’m afraid of a question I don’t have the answer for. I’m afraid of answering the wrong thing, again. I’m afraid of leaving my desk incase the phone rings and they think I’m slacking because I’m not there. I’m afraid of taking my full lunch hour. I’m afraid of what they think of me. I’m afraid of being me.

Now at 23 years old, and having already spent a year in a multinational corporation when I was 19, along with 3 years in a customer facing role, dealing with all sorts of abuse, I shouldn’t be afraid. And yet here I am. Why is this, you ask? Intimidation. But not intentionally. I am not the most confident person in the world. I rarely exhibit my true self unless I am familiar with someone and I sense that they are not going to run away screaming. This happens rarely, as they tend to do it frequently. If I feel comfortable around people then I can let some of my personality out, and I become more confident in my duties, my thinking and myself. However, if I don’t feel confident, then it’s game over. I can’t regain it.

This is the situation here. Through a cultural difference I am struggling to display the skills and abilities that got me this job in the first place. I am competent, I am capable, and yet I have still to prove this to anyone in the office. Joining a new place of work is never easy, learning all the ropes is never easy, replacing a well loved employee is never easy and integrating yourself into a well established team dynamic is never easy. Joining a new place of work within 2 weeks notice is not easy, learning the ropes within 2 days handover is extremely difficult, replacing a fantastic, dedicated and loved employee is damn near impossible and integrating into the team is still a work in progress. This is not to say that there has not been an attempt on either side. I was welcomed to the team and allowances were made for me in the first few months. Working alongside another established team member was difficult as I tried to learn my duties without full instructions, and without encroaching on his standing in the team. I was the newbie, understood, but I wanted to be able to take over some of the tasks earlier on to get an understanding of them. This never really worked out.

Attempting to read people’s personalities and judge their moods is a bad habit of mine. I overreact and read into things too much. I will adjust my own attitude to match those of others if I think the situation calls for it. I spend my time trying to work out if the task I just carried out was actually acceptable or whether the person is just busy and doesn’t have time to react to me. I scurry up to desks and timidly ask if there is anything else I can do, so desperate to impress and show off what they haven’t seen yet. It’s not working. I screw up. Mistake after mistake after mistake. Lightning never strikes twice right? Wrong. I’m clearly wearing an electricity conductor, and am too slow to realize it. This just angers them. And quite rightly so. It should do. Hiring a candidate, turning down other possibly fantastic people in favor of me should pay off for them. I thought it would. I hung up the phone after my interview and felt confident. I went straight back to work, instructing my team on what needed done that day with regards to the window display. I reeled off to my manager all the tasks I had completed already that morning, and I took the Area manager on a tour through my customer service plan, which incidentally was the clincher for my acquiring this new role. So the question I put to you is as follows; why aren’t I performing to the same standard in this role?

Again. Intimidation. The cultural difference between the UK and the US in a corporate role is startling. Or maybe it is just my interpretation of it. Regardless. Personality is reined in here and a very reserved approach is adopted, masking people’s true personas. It is understandable to a certain degree. There is a time and place for professionalism, and the office is certainly one of them, but the degree to which this is maintained feels uncomfortably strict. Sitting in my cubicle, the occasional muted sounds of muffled conversations punctuate the silence that permeates the floor. Cloistered away in this cube, I am hidden from view, just as others are hidden from me. It is easy to forget that someone is even in the office when you can’t see him or her. Emails are the common use of communication, even when the person sits only feet away from you, making conversation even more limited and the silence even more profound. I don’t like it. Coming from an environment of open plan offices and latterly a face-to-face customer role, being hidden away doesn’t suit my personality. I may be a shy person to start with, but I think I thrive on interaction and communication. My original ideal of an office based managerial role is starting to lose its rose-tinted appeal. I have now begun to consider the opposite extreme. Something I hadn’t planned or studied for, and is likely to disappoint my parents.

I want to be successful. I look at immediate colleagues of the same age and background at myself and marvel at their ability to move up the ladder while I am still stewing at intern level. When I make mistakes, I remember that the telling off is coming from someone who is my own age and has accomplished so much more in the same time, and it smarts. This is my own doing, and I accept that. The plan was to complete this year and in the process rack up the experience, the skills and the capabilities, leading me to be in the same position as my colleague upon my return home. It is now six months in and my performance evaluation is saying otherwise. It felt like a kick to the gut when I received it, and yet I wasn’t expecting any different. This was a new experience for me as I have never had a negative review at work. True my first management level review at my last job was less impressive than the one 6 months before, but I was moving into a more senior position and I was grappling with the management issues. This soon improved and I became comfortable, gaining praise from the same people who offered me the constructive criticism earlier on. I got better. Something I seem to be incapable of doing here.

Reading back over this, it appears that I am on a blaming my colleagues for my poor performance and that I hold them accountable. Not so. They have been nothing but welcoming and accommodating to me as well as being supportive in recognition that I am living miles away from home and family as well as trying to fit into a new job. I am aware that I have a far less pressurized job than many interns have, in fact far less pressurized than I have already dealt with in the past, and yet I appear to be unable to cope. My attention to detail wavers and then dies miserably, my usual foresight eludes me and I wander straight into disaster, my quick thinking never quite revs out of neutral. The blame is purely on me, and I can’t quite figure out why. My only idea is that this environment is just not conducive for me. For all my ramblings about wanting to be a qualified professional and running a company, maybe the corporate world is just not for me. Maybe all the power suits and classy heels are just window dressing. Or perhaps I just don’t suit this particular department in this particular company at this particular time. Which is disappointing for me, and sure as hell is disappointing for the people who hired me. I don’t want to let them down; in fact, there is another thing I am afraid of. Letting them down and making them feel that they wasted their time with me. I can’t quite judge their perceptions, but my overriding feeling tells me that they are already at that point.

I received an impromptu, unofficial performance review from a fellow intern before their leave-taking that really shook me to my core. Identifying points in time where I thought I was starting to excel but in reality I was beginning to dig a hole for myself, letting me know passing comments about my performance that were less than favorable and warning me that to carry on down this path would ultimately lead to failure or in worst case, removal from my position. Having been relatively blind to all this before, the overwhelming urge to both break down into tears and also argue all the points he made, were first and foremost in my mind. Sensing that, he let me know that he was only doing this as a benefit to myself and that by becoming self-defensive I was only making things worse. I was appreciative of the insights, and even though I was devastated by his portrayal of me, as seen through my seniors’ eyes, I understood that it was for my own good. Naturally being unable to quickly complete a simple task given to me that afternoon by my supervisor sent me into tearful meltdown and caused her to question what on earth was wrong with me. I declined to explain, as I just wanted to forget the incident. Calling home that night made me feel like I had fallen short again of the targets I had set myself. Having to call my parents three thousand miles away to sniffle out my story made me want to scream. I thought I was past this; I should be past this. For a while things recovered my confidence resumed, but I feel like I am back to square one again. Especially after receiving my review.

I have come to the conclusion that maybe all my grand plans about moving to America to work may not come to fruition after all. I may just be more suited to the British work atmosphere. I recently attended an interview for a position upon returning home, and immediately clicked with my interviewer. The relief I felt at being able to discuss issues on a professional level, and yet still have a certain je ne sais qoi about it that made it entirely comfortable, was immense. I don't know if I am just the type of person that doesn’t conform easily, perhaps that is something that I will need to work on. Either that or have a big bowl of confidence flakes before I come to work in the morning.


This may seem to be my usual pessimism coming through again, especially after such a promising start, but I honestly don’t know how to shake it this time. Funny how writing everything down always makes me feel better, and yet I can say all the things that I am otherwise too afraid to say out loud to people. I have the opportunity of a lifetime here, and I had intended to make the most of it. Outside of work I love it, I love everything about New York, but on Friday’s I run screaming from the office. I want it to change, and I know that the only person who is capable of making that happen is me, so I guess I had better get a start on it. I guess I need a swift kick up the butt before this whole thing comes back to bite me on it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Confessions of a disgruntled jeweller...part 2

"Do you stock wedding rings?"

"Yes we do. Would you like to see some out the window?"

- Much trying on , umming and decisions later -

"Now let's work out your size..Ok you are a size J, it's pretty small, but according to the system we can order if for you in only 4 days!"

"Order? We are getting married tomorrow. Do you not keep it in stock?"

"No, we only keep one of each ring in stock, and we have to order the rest in, especially in that small a size."

"That's ridiculous! Call yourselves a jeweller! Were never coming back in here again!"

*stalks off*

"Thank you!! Have a nice day to you too sir!!"

*Runs in back of store*

"What does he think this is?? A warehouse? If we had every single ring in this store in every size then we would be the size of fricking Macro!! And need a gazillion security guards!! He's crazy!! Why do they do this to me?? Aaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!"

*Takes in startled expressions of colleagues*

"Ok, I'm done. Sorry."

"Good morning sir, can I help you look for something in particular?"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jeely Piece Song

If you've ever watched The Singing Kettle, you'll remember this yin!

****

I'm a skyscraper wean, I live on the nineteenth flair,
An' I'm no gaun oot tae play ony mair,'
Cause since we moved tae Gracemount I'm wasting away,'
Cause I'm getting one less meal everyday.

Chorus

Oh, yae cannae fling pieces oot a twenty storey flat,
Seven hundred hungry weans 'ill testify tae that,
If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,
The odds against it reaching earth are ninety-nine tae wan.

On the first day ma maw flung oot a daud o' Hovis broon,
It came skytin' oot the widae and went up instead o' doon,
Noo every twenty-seven hoors it comes back intae sight,
'Cause my piece went intae orbit and became a satellite.

Chorus

On the second day ma maw flung me oot a piece again,
It went an' hit the pilot of a fast low flying plane,
He scraped it aff his goggles, shouting through the intercom'
"The Portybelly Reds have got me wi' a breid an' jeely bomb".

Chorus

On the third day ma maw thought she'd try another throw,
The Salvation Army band was standin' doon below,
"Onward Christian Soldiers" was the piece they should have played,
But the oompah man was playing on ma piece and marmalade.

Chorus

So we've wrote away tae Oxfam tae try an' get some aid,
An' a' the weans in Gracemount have formed a piece brigade,
We're gonnae march on the City Chambers demanding civil rights,
Like nae mair hooses ower piece-flinging heights.

Chorus

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

21 reasons to date a horseback rider...

1) We have 4 speeds and many positions
2) We wear tight pants and tall boots
3) We love getting dirty
4) We know how to ride our mounts
5)We perform well with animals
6) We like to be in control
7) We’ll ride it for hours
8) We know how to handle a big girth
9) We get off easy
10) We're always on top
11) We like it rough
12) We have our legs spread all day long
13) We love using whips
14) Straddling is our natural position
15) We don't mind being bucked around
16) Event riders do it for three days
17) We can ride standing or sitting
18) We wear leather chaps everyday
19) We think the fast ones are the most fun
20) We're used to having hands between our legs
21) If we fall off we get back on and ride harder

P.S. Have you seen the posting trot???!!!

I'm feeling a little bit in pain from my riding lesson the other day, my body hates me after not having to use those muscles for 5 months. So I was looking for something to make me feel better!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Confessions of a disguntled ex jeweller..

"Good morning sir. Can I help you look for anything at all?"

"Yes, the one in the window."

"Not a problem, would you mind pointing it out for me?"

"It's the one in the window."

"The what one sir? Is it a necklace..?"

"No! It's a ring."

"Ok, do you know what type it is? Would you mind pointing it out?"

"It's the one at £1750"

"Ok, but we have a lot of rings at that price. Is it yellow or white gold?"

"Yellow."

"I don't mean to be rude sir, but it would be easier if we could just go outside and point it out."

"Oh for goodness sake. THAT ONE!"

"Ah! Well for starters, that's a pair of earrings and secondly, they are £3500. Would you like me to help you look for a ring instead?"

"Oh I can't be bothered with this!"

*stalks off*

"Have a nice day to you too sir!!"



Tosser...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Flatmates!

So I have new flatmates. I don’t think words can describe how happy I am to have new flatmates.

The last 4 months have been particularly painful due to various personality and cultural clashes, and the atmosphere in the flat has been awful. Coming home at night and disappearing straight into my room was not the kind of experience I had been hoping for when I joined the internship programme. We took numerous steps to try and resolve this, but nothing was working.

But now! Wooha!! The offending flatmate has left and we have some new blood! Our new R.A V is a friend of ours and was happily welcomed to casa Ilinga and J. The following week, the new intern intake arrived and we got 2 more guys to live with us. The flat is now happily full and the change in atmosphere is amazing. There were actually people coming to visit us on Sunday night for dinner, and they hung around afterwards too. This is a phenomenon unknown to this flat!

I spent last night slouching on the sofa watching Top Gear on BBC America, with one of the new guys. Have so missed Top Gear. But it was so nice just to be sitting with like-minded people and not feel uncomfortable.

Plus I shuffled into the kitchen for some breakfast on Monday morning and found on of them washing up the dishes. I could have hugged him.

Love it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Overheard:

Girl 1 (on phone): “ I am going to beat yo ass! You always fuck up! I wanted you here! To spend time with me! This happened last weekend too! I wanted you here and you fucked up! The other day I wanted you to spend time with me and you fucked up. And now you are doing it again! What are you? A fuck up?”

Girl 2: *Snigger*, “I like that”.

Girl 1: “Hello? Hello?”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crunch time..

There are times in your life when you are coasting along, thinking everything is hunky dory, when in reality, there are the great big swirling rapids of shit creek raging on beneath you and the first you are aware of it is when someone unexpected dunks you in headfirst. I think I am still struggling to catch my breath, let alone think about sinking or swimming.

I thought I was doing pretty well at work. Not brilliantly, that’s for sure, but decently for 5 months in anyway. Apparently not so. I have been giving them cause for concern. I have been acting unprofessionally; I have been making consistent mistakes. Now a lot of what I have been told came completely out of the blue for me. Especially regarding the unprofessional issue. I have been told the time it refers to. The Summer Intern was in the company and we were having a laugh together, nothing outrageous, just some subtle fun. But apparently it’s not how it’s done in the American workplace.

I have to say, this is one thing that I don’t like about this cultural exchange. The difference in the mannerisms and attitudes at work is highly diverse. To be seen as anything other than conscientious and understated in the workplace is almost a death knell for your career. I understand that things will be carried out differently in all countries, but I feel the emphasis on ‘extreme’ professionalism is going a bit too far.

No doubt that this observation suggests that I am far from ready to participate in the corporate world. I moved from an extremely open, communicative organisation to one where it almost seems taboo to connect at times. For all the ‘reach out’ and ‘touch base’ that is recommended, people don’t seem to be doing a lot of it. I can sit in my cubicle for an entire day, and no one will utter a word. I feel like I am harassing my supervisor if I go up to her desk to check in on some work.

This is not to say that I dislike my co-workers, far from it, I actually get on very well with them. My manager intimidates me due to my lack of experience, she is a very nice woman who treats us well, it’s just that I have to conquer the small quake of fear I get when I am called into her office. Another nugget of information I was offered was that the workplace was not the environment to make friends with your co-workers. They were just that. Don’t get chummy, don’t let your guard down, remember that they could be the key to your success. Now, while I admit that part of that may be true, I don’t like the fact that you have to keep the people you work with for 8 hours a day at arms length. But this again may be the Brit in me coming out. I just don’t understand it. I feel awkward if I try to act formally to someone that I know fairly well, it almost feels like you are being rude! So it seems that this is an issue that I will have to work carefully on.
The last thing I wanted was to be labelled ‘unprofessional’ when I have been praised in other employment for being efficient, proactive and ambitious. Gahhh!

Since receiving this bombshell, I have been attempting to raise my game. Now that I am the last remaining intern, all the duties fall to me, which I love. I now have more control over what happens, and I have all the information, rather than having to ask what parts haven’t been completed. In the last week I have been feeling slightly more confident and have been taking projects into my own hands, rather than waiting for them to come and find me. This means I don’t get caught on the hop anymore. I’ve also managed to limit my BBC News intake to 20 minutes a day!

The most upsetting thing about all these points is that it didn’t come from any of my managers. So I can’t even imagine the thoughts directed at my performance that they must be mulling over. And my 6-month review is coming up in 3 weeks.

I’ll get my coat shall I?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sod's law

Explain to me why it is that when you really want to call someone, there seems to be a thousand things blocking your path?? I really have this overwhelming ‘want my mommy’ feeling and I have no way of contacting her that doesn’t cost me or her a fortune. I would have called her from work, but I wanted to talk about work stuff and I didn’t want other people overhearing me, and now that I am home and am trying Skype, my internet access decides to deny me. Argh!! Sniff…


**follow up** They just called me on my cell. Half an hours griping and it only cost me $4!! Woop!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Home or Away... it's still Ikea

Globalization within companies just makes things creepy. I went to Ikea today. And I might as well have never left Glasgow. It was identical in almost every way. Even down to the bickering children at the checkout, although instead of "Micheala! Chantarelle!! Gonna put that doon or i'm gonna skelp the pair of youze and your no gettin a Maccy D's!!" it was "Brad! Amy! Get your butt over here!" although both delivered with walrus-like volume.

I decided to do the little visit to the never ending labyrinth not realising that 'little' visit meant 'heinously long squelchy and almost almost crippling' schlep. Garrr. It all started off so well.. oh wait... not it didn't.

Woke up at 10.46 and remembered I was supposed to meet my domesticated-outing partner at 11. Good start. Various false starts later, I met J, a fellow scot at Wall Street and we dawdled down to Peir 11 to board the free water taxi provided to take you to the store in Brooklyn. Boarded, after a little mishap on the gangplank where I managed to walk with a significant wobble, and prompt the guy to ask if I was drunk. NO! The ground is moving!! bah..


Soon enough the Big Blue warehouse loomed into view. I felt like I could have walked around with my eyes shut, it was so identical to my local store. After a hearty wander, an equally hearty lunch stop looking out of the window at the grey and murky skyline and the rain beginning to toss down, (ah I'm really home!!!) we completed our purchases and ventured back out into the now torrential storm that was beginning. And so began the adventure.


Leaving the flooded parking lot was one thing, joining the queue for the water taxi against the umbrella-eating gale was slightly worse, but boarding the boat was another challenge all together for me apparently. Going up the gangplank was fine, fighting the sideways rain, balancing my body sized Ikea bag and trying to shelter J under my umbrella at the same time as walking down the slope towards the doorway. That is the last thing I remember before my feet went from under me and I graciously slammed onto the deck. The pain from the knee that had just bent backwards wiped out any embarrassment I felt that the deckhand was hauling me up by my arms while J scrambled for my umbrella.


I hobbled into the boat and slumped in a seat while the pain took over. When the boat docked back on Manhattan, J and I had to disembark into a typhoon. Due to my intense concentration in walking along the gangplank, it meant I was more exposed to the elements. My entire right side was drenched in seconds. Once J and I reached the bridge, I could wring out my top. We struggled on towards Wall Street and attempted to walk back to the PATH station. That didn't go so well. 10 minutes and 2 major soakings as we crossed an avenue later, we hailed a cab. At least he stopped for us. So we gave him a nice tip.


We stood on the PATH platform and wrung out our clothes to the amusement of fellow passengers. We stumbled home looking like drowned rats so I could ice my knee and elicit sympathy from my roommate.

On the plus side I have a nice new wok for only $7....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Where were you when you met your first public transport pervert?

Yeah. It happened. I feel violated. All though, I suppose, thankfully not physically.

On Friday I was making my way uptown to the Met for a tour that constitutes part of my coursework. I stepped off the subway into the 3rd circle of hell that is the 53rd and Lexington stop, dodged my way around the milling commuters, leaking, rotting ceilings and the incomprehensible directions to the 1st circle of hell that was the 6 line. Oh. my. gawd. The heat almost knocked me out before the crowded passengers did. Immediately I felt the makeup that I had just touched up before I left work start to shift across my face and down my neck. ICK!!

I managed to squeeze onto the nearest car and ended up crushed up against the door with people crammed in all around me. The guy in front of me seemed apologetic when he bumped into me and I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he wasn't close enough to a railing to be holding on. But after the 2nd stop and the fact that he turned round to face me and continued to bounce off me even when the train wasn't wasn't lurching was enough to convince me that he was a PERVERT!!!

Hence the next time the train stopped I bolted from the carriage and changed to the next one. And revelled in the fact that I actually had no one in my face for the rest of the journey.


I suppose I should feel lucky that I managed to go almost 5 months before I encountered the ickiness that is the subway weirdo's but I think it's safe to say I would be happy to go another 5 before I met another.


urgh.... I'm away for another shower....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Play it again DJ...

It's amazing how one little song can transport you miles or years away.

I'm standing on the subway platform, trying to erase the day's fogginess with my iPod, when suddenly a BoyZone song fills my ears. The saccharine sweet lyrics of 'Ben' trickle through the headphones and cloud my memory with images.

Now as someone who freely admits to being one of their biggest fans ever back in the day, I am still embarrassed to admit that I occasionally add them onto my playlist. I graduated directly from BoyZone to Green Day, and pretended to immediately wipe out my past musical leanings. I am aware that everyone has an incriminating back catalog that they don't own up to, but recently with Take That becoming acceptable again, and BoyZone failing to, I like to sweep my fondness for them under the rug. At least I can say that I was never a Steps fan! (5, 6, 7, 8!!!)

But hearing this song completely transports me back to 1998, when I went to my first ever concert (that wasn't the Singing Kettle) where I screamed my little pre-pubescent lungs out at the 5 Irish lads on stage, before realising they were actually the warm up band. None other than the current kings of ballads, Westlife! (Yes, it was that long ago)I'm quite happy to say that I never transferred my allegiance!!

It was so long ago, that the first two BZ albums I owned were on cassette, which was mercifully the first sign that I was moving on from my Jason Donovan phase (lets not go there), and then onto the heady joy of getting the final album on a newfangled CD. I ebayed for the 1st and 2nd albums on CD, and now am only on the hunt for the first one. The great thing about iPod's is that you can add the cringe worthy songs to your playlists and bop away in secrecy without having a big CD case to showcase your nerd-dom to all and sundry. Back when I had my car I would sneak on the disc and warble along to my heart's content all along the motorways. Sadly I imagine I would attract a wee bit of attention on the subway if I attempted that!

I do dread the thought of someone flipping through my playlists or sharing an earphone with me, only to find that after the rocking Kasabian track is the teeny-bopper voice of Stephen Gately (who incidentally broke my young heart!), that I feel would completely shatter any level of street cred I may have amassed. Which reminds me... I'd better go remove that Dolly Parton.....

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Uggo...

I know everyone has those fat days. But I seem to be having a fat millennial...

OK so that might be a slight exaggeration, but I can't seem to get a handle on my weight. Of course I know exactly what the problem is.
Me.

If I could just stop eating. If I could just force myself to do more exercise and stop being such a lazy arsed git, then maybe, just maybe I could lose a couple of pounds. I know that once I am at the weight that I want, then I will be determined to stabilise it, and will work at it. Problem being, is that I want a quick fix. I want to be skinny, NOW! I don't want to have to wait a few months to shed the excess blubber, I want it to happen instantaneously and for the sylph like self that I know (hope) is hiding under there to emerge. But oh yeah... this is the real world isn't it? Damn..



Thing is, I used to be skinny, or for an all too brief period I was anyway. I was the picturesque chubby child, rosy cheeks, Shirley Temple hair do and perma smile. Or if you want a more accurate description, a shrunken Michelin man with electro-shock hair and smiling cos I was blissfully ignorant about it. Alas that carried right on through most of my childhood. Chunky child becomes chunky teenager. Then one day it changed. I developed a digestive condition (slight, but through a phobia of vomiting, overblown) and started to scale back on my diet. I barely ate at all, and if I did, it was mainly crap. Lo and behold, the weight started to melt off. I ended up at 7st 4lbs. I was ecstatic that I had finally done it, and it was unintentional! I was now a UK size 8, and loved my skinny self. However, I failed to see how I really looked.




I am a well built lassie, sad but true. My mum says that I have my Great Granny G's build, which she then went on to describe, 'like a barrel', (gee thanks Mum). Broad shoulders and pronounced rib cage (thanks Dad), all of which do not sit well with a stick like lower body. I looked like a coat hanger. My cheekbones were sticking through my skin and my wrists could have been snapped like a twig. Oblivious to all this, I carried on the diet, desperate to keep this figure, which I had finally been 'blessed' with. Looking back on pictures now, I cringe a little. I look terribly scrawny and ill in most of them. A Christmas Dance photo makes me look horrific (and yes the hair had a lot to do with it), and even though I had fitted into my size 8 New Look dress with ease, I now wish I looked a little healthier.


I gradually began to put the weight back on. After all I was only 16 during this time, so it was unlikely that I would continue to be able to maintain it without proper exercise. Especially since I was now entering 6th year and Gym class was no longer mandatory, but free periods and the multiple trips to the 'vendies' for Yorkie bars were. The addition of a boyfriend into my life at that time probably didn't help either. I was introduced to Chinese take-aways, large bags of kettle chips with creamy dips and lazy Sundays spent watching movies and snarfling junk food. Since he was a skinny guy in his own right, with a seemingly continous inability to put on weight, even when eating a whole bar of Lindt a day, he stayed the same size, while I began to balloon. It started to become noticeable when I discovered that I no longer looked cute while wearing his clothes. They fitted me, or in the case of his jeans, wouldn't do up.

I would like to say here, that he was a size 28in waist, and I actually was built with hips, so I try not to feel to bad about that, but aren't Gf's supposed to look adorable in their guy's over-sized shirt? Hah. Not this one. To his credit, he never mentioned it, but he never cut down on the snacks either. After 5 years the temptation to snack along side him hadn't diminished.


By the time it ended, I was a size 14. I had lost weight in time for a summer holiday to Florida, running 2 miles every 2nd day, and was feeling fabulous for the first time in a while. Sadly, the gorgeous food soon put paid to that. By the end of the relationship I felt pudgy and extremely unattractive. However the resulting stress from the breakup caused me to lose half a stone in a month, and I ended up hovering around 10st for a while. The joy of actually finding my waist for the first time in months was amazing!!


But here I am. I thought I had gotten as heavy as I was going to get before I came to the States, although that was underestimating the power of my greed in the land of plentiful portions. Most of the clothes I brought out with me are now feeling a wee bit on the tight side, and I don't feel attractive in anything. I look in the mirror and see the gelatinous slab of pasty flesh that is masquerading as my face and want to rip it off. I prod at the pudgy belly that is slowly competing with my chest for the 'most prominent body part' award. I pinch the wobbly thighs that never seem to lose their curves. I curse the heat that has caused my ankles and calves to look indistinguishable. I look in the mirror and think "This is your fault. You could have stopped this. You can still stop this. Get off your lazy ass and do something about it!!" I don't even want to look stick thin anymore. I'm over that. I would quite happily be curvy, as long as I wasn't bloated. Lose the wobble on my upper arms, trim down the podge on my belly, firm up my thighs, lose the excess chins, generally cut a slice off of most of me.



I have joined a gym. I attend in sporadic bursts of energy, before deciding that I am too exhausted to go after work, or on a Sunday morning, and lie on the sofa instead, nibbling on tortillas. I have attempted to cook healthily, but the lure of the cookie still calls to me at 3.30 at my desk.



Excuses, excuses. I didn't go to the gym this morning because it was such a sunny day. I went and laid out by the front instead. And then cursed myself at how unattractive and lumpy I was in my shorts and halter top compared to the lean bronzed bikinied girls feet away from me.


So who's fault is that now then, eh??

Friday, August 29, 2008

Be careful what you wish for...

It’s amazing how fickle the human id can be. Are we inherently greedy? Always wanting what we can’t have? Arms outstretched, fingers grazing the shiny specter of ‘what we can’t have’. And then for some of us, the lottery jackpot of life is won. The sparkly tempting jewel that has hung enticingly in front of you, encompassing all that is different to your hum-drum everyday life, slides neatly into your sticky paws.

All is wonderful, you gloat, you enjoy, you look back on the life that was once yours and you wonder how you ever managed. Then suddenly, it loses the sheen. The inner child whines out that it doesn’t want the new and sparkly anymore. It wants the worn familiarity of old. Logic attempts to overrule, arguing that the inner child should be grateful for this exciting opportunity and if it doesn’t shut up it’s gonnae get a skelp. But like any disobedient child, the inner wean keeps whinging.

Ok, so maybe you have now grasped the idea that I may be a tad homesick. Or a lot. And yes, I should stop whining. For how long have I said that I want to come to the states to live? Oh…how about since ever? Yeah. Which is why I feel like I am being an ungratelful little kid, but saying that I now want to go home. Not leave NY completely, just go home for a visit.

I seem to have an overwhelming urge to get into my wee car and pootle about the back roads to Kilmacolm or Bridge of Weir, trying to see if I am brave enough to take the corners at more than 10mph. I want to be able to drive down to the Esplanade and buy myself an ice cream from the wee shop. Braehead for some reason is calling out to me. Considering I have spent almost 5 years of the last 6 of my working life in there, you would think that I would be quite glad to get oot of there! But the id doesn’t seem to comprehend that. Stupid inner child.

As well as the cravings for the random places, like the Tesco superstore in Port Glasgow (why?) or even Asda in Linwood…(I am sensing a theme with the shops here – buying things is my vice, and food is always a bonus… I think a therapist would have a field day with me), but it is mainly the people I am craving. Me mum, dad, gran & grandpa, family who I used to see on a semi regular basis. But not having seen any of them for 4 months is quite hard. Ok so I have had my Wee Brother out for a visit, and that was brilliant, and Souxie and MacV came out too, which merely made me feel like I had transplanted Glasgow into NY and causing me no end of grief when they departed, eased the longing for a short while, but it's now back at full power.


I think I just want to go home for a few days, just to re-charge my Scottish self and re-connect with everything at home. Reassure myself that I have not changed that much, but at the same time changed enough. Does that make any sense?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's August already!

The beginning of the following week was busy again, some projects to finish. Had a Public Speaking lecture during the week to prepare us for the presentations we gave this Wednesday. I actually really enjoyed the lecture; the presenter was clearly doing his job properly and made it interesting to listen to. Got home around 9pm and went to bed by 10.30. First time since I got here, but felt so much better for it the next day! I continued on this theme for the rest of the week, although I managed to intersperse trips to the gym in-between. On the Thursday I started watching CSI on one of the wee screens on the cross trainer, so even though I had already done 30 min on that, I soon got engrossed and kept on it till the end. An hour and half later I limped off the machine and into the showers. I'm sure it did me the world of good, but oowwww!! I am now seeing the point in these wee telly's. Must keep that in mind.
Friday I hit the mall before going to bed early again as I had an excursion planned for the Saturday morning.

At 6am my alarm went off, and I dragged myself out of bed in an attempt not to wake Miss J. However, she had come home around 4 and from what I can gather, was completely unconscious. I received a text later in the day, saying that she had woken around 1, seen my empty, made, bed and thought she was late for work! lol. Anyway.

I was heading into Brooklyn to start my induction onto a volunteer programme that I had found on the Internet. Called 'Seaside Riding' it is a volunteer group that helps autistic and disabled children to ride every weekend. I had been searching for something horsy to do for a while, so this seemed perfect. Unfortunate to get there for 9am, I needed to get the PATH at 6.53am(which was late and almost ruined all my planning!), catch the 2 subway from Times Sq at 7.33am and then get a cab from the end of the line in Brooklyn to the stables in Jamaica Bay. As I said before, the PATH was late, forcing me to hotfoot it from 33rd to 42nd street just in time to hop on the subway.

Read for about an hour until I got to the end of the line. Turned out I had reached the wrong end of an avenue, and I should have gotten a different train to a different area. Never mind. It's 8.30am and I am standing on a street corner in Brooklyn looking aimlessly about for a cab. Finally nabbed one by darting across the street and jumping in after 15 min of not seeing a single flash of yellow. In the end, it cost me close to $18 inc tip to get to where I wanted to go. Grrr. Usually there is a pick up service run by the stables, but it wasn't on that day. Anyway.

Got there, met the leader of the group. Watched the instructional video, lost all concentration as I watched the fittest cowboy I have ever seen wander past in full length leather chaps (must do some more investigation into him the next time I am down!), and then was taken out to meet the horses.

There are 2 horses on the programme, Babalouie and FunTime. Both are gorgeous, if a little bit cheeky. I got to lead them out to exercise, lunge and then help groom them. There were no riding lessons for the kids that day, so it was mainly focused on the horses. The stables are a little bit shabby compared to what I am used to at Ingliston, but I really don't care. I get to be around horses again!!! :) :) :)

It sounds so weird, but the minute you walk into a barn and smell them, it just feels like you are home. Of course the group leader started questioning me about my stables at home, and then I started to get a little upset, because I realised how much I miss it (haven't been riding in 3 months!). Naturally blamed my hayfever on the resulting sniffles and red eye... I then had to laugh when she asked me if I knew a lady called Maren who runs a horse sanctuary in Scotland. I asked her where abouts and she just looked at me. I had to explain that it is a fairly big country and she replied 'well it looks awfully small on the map!'. Which I suppose is true compared to the US!!

Ok, back to the horses. I am so excited about getting involved in this programme, mainly because I get to be around the horses, and also because it will be great to 'give back' (oh look I am picking up Americanisms already), plus it will look great on the CV! I plan to volunteer on Sunday afternoons from about 12.30, as I can then have a bit of a lie in, and still get to Brooklyn at a reasonable hour. Turns out that after volunteering for 12 hours, you get a free trail ride! So since I plan to spend most of my afternoon there, as it is a bit of a trek for only a few hours, then I should rack them up fairly quickly! Awesome!!

I think this has given me something to look forward to during the week now, as I had been making a couple of mistakes at work, and I was starting to feel a bit down again. The need to go home was coming back to me, and it's nice to have something familiar to keep me focused again. Plus it would be nice to make some friends outwith the intern group. Not that they aren't great, just would be nice to extend the social circle a tad. So we will see where that takes me! The programme starts in September so I have a few more weekends to goof off and have some lie ins!

It is now the 15th and it's Friday night, I got to leave work early, so i came home with the intention of doing a little laundry before going out tonight. But I haven't been home the last few nights so this is the first chance i have had to get on this and actually update anything. It was Mr D's birthday this week, so on Wednesday after my public speaking class (dazzled them with my diamond speech again, handy that...) a few of us went to The Frying Pan for a couple of drinks. The bar turned out to be on an old docked ship down on Chelsea Piers off 23rd street. Quite unusual, but it was nice. Sadly the sun had set by the time we got there, but the views over the water of the night skyline were gorgeous. We could look right across at Jersey and see our apartments! :) We ended up staying for a few hours, up on the top deck and had a good laugh. It was nice seeing a wider variety of people for a change.

I did struggle a bit getting up for work the next morning as I didn't get home till quarter to one. Blah. On the Thur, which was actually his birthday, a few of us went to see RENT on Broadway. The show is coming to a close on the 7th Sept after a 12 yr run, so it was packed. I had read up on the plot before we got there, but even then it was quite complex. Having never been to see anything more sophisticated than Joseph at the Edinburgh Playhouse about 10 years ago, I was quite excited to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out to be very very good. The actors had amazing voices and the ability to perform the entire show on one set was fabulous. I now want to rent the DVD so I can pick up on all the bits that I missed.

Afterwards we went to 'The Ginger Man' pub which served 'real ale' according to Mr D, who misses his local. We met his new girlfriend that night, who is lovely, and we all sat and had a natter until midnight when we caught the PATH back home.. Again this morning was fun. Urgh.

So here I am again. It's another Friday, although I hope to make this weekend a little more interesting and will stop my backward slide into hermitsville again. Bad bad habit. I've just been so tired lately!

On the plus side, mum told me today it is only 8 weeks til they come out!! :D woot! Can't wait. Need to start making a plan of where to take them.

I have just looked out the window and noticed that the rain is chucking it down again.. and I just heard a crack of thunder. Oh that's going to make tonight fun! Times Square in the rain.. what could be more pleasurable than being poked in the eye by ten thousand brollies?? Argh!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Long Time No Write..

Ok, so it has been a little while since I have written anything, but to be fair, I have either been incredibly busy or incredibly dull. And sadly most of the busy occurred during work and the dull occurred during my own time. Nice to see I haven't changed much.

After Wee Brother left, I took the weekend to myself, as Miss J was away in Philly, and just enjoyed doing nothing. Which wasn't the smartest move, as I had to clean the bedroom and bathroom for the inspections, as well as the rest of the flat as my other 2 housemates never do it, and finish writing my American history essays for the following week. But you know me; I have to be in the right creative mood. Which is usually last minute panic.

Therefore, I spent most of Saturday in bed, rousing myself to watch some TV, have a shower and then fall back asleep again. I eventually got motivated enough to get dressed and take a wander down by the water front to read a book, which was quite nice actually. Some Jamie Cullum on the iPod, some trashy fiction to whizz through and a nice blended iced lemonade from Starbucks. I stayed there for an hour or so, before I slouched back to the apartment to make some dinner. Saturday night was equally interesting, as I spent it in front of the TV watching BBC America and then a That 70's Show marathon until about 2am. Sunday was again spent slouching about in the morning. I managed a trip to the mall, before returning and attempting to make a start on my 3 essays, but only succeeded in updating my info section on Facebook. Sigh. Had dinner and finally swept and mopped our bedroom floor before Jill got home. Bed soon after.


Work was busy throughout the next week, but brought a nice treat in the middle. Our summer intern was on her final week with us (not the treat!!) and as a farewell, our manager took us all out for lunch to Tao. The restaurant was beautiful, and the food was utterly amazing.
For those mildly interested in what we ate, see below, if your not.. skip it!


My manager decided to order a variety of starters for us to share along with the set menu the other 4 of us had ordered..

so we had;

Chicken satay with peanut sauce - mmmmmmmmm
Crab cakes with sweet chili sauce - actually not bad
Lobster wontons - didn’t eat
Kobe beef sashimi - essentially raw beef. I tried a bit. No likey
Spicy edame beans - food of choice for Posh spice, not bad. Minus my faux paux of eating the shell...whoops
Duck spring rolls - mmmmmmmmm
Deep fried King Prawn - didn’t eat

Think that was it !


I then had the ginger soy glazed salmon with udon noodles - amazing... I ended up having some to carry out .
Summer Intern had the chicken pad Thai -- very nice
Mr L and Supervisor K had Kobe beef
Ms Manager had the Kobe steak - you have never had steak in your life until you try this.. It was unbelievable!!

Then dessert ;

Summer Intern and I had tangerine sorbet with fresh fruit
Mr L had a chocolate parfait
Supervisor K had a banana bread pudding

To be clear, Summer Intern, Sup K, Mr L and I all ordered from the set lunch menu (for restaurant week here,) so it was $24.07 for 3 courses. On its own, my salmon was $26!! And then Anne just ordered all the rest of the food cos she just did. Ssssoooooooooooo goood. I think it came to $500 in total, including drinks!! And she bought us it!! The set price menu meal I could afford on my own, and I think it was very reasonable, but I think if you were dining generally, you would have to watch the menu. They had miso sea bass at $34 a plate! But then when you translate it back into pounds it is so cheap!! I had to take some of the salmon home, and instead of the usual routine of handing you a polystyrene box and telling you to do it yourself, they bring it back in a little plastic box and give you a branded bag to carry out, rope handles and all!! And the place is gorgeous inside!! No pics though, forgot. I will need to go back there again. Maybe once I have saved up tho... :)

Apparently it is a big celebrity hot spot, but we didn't see anyone while we were there. Ended up getting back to the office around 5.30 and then finishing off some stuff until 7pm.

I spent the next couple of nights working late at the office finishing off my essays, there we go, last minute panic as usual. I think I ended up emailing them to my tutor just after 12am on the Sat morning. But at least they were done. Of course, that wasn't the end of it. Noooo. We all had been placed into groups to perform a role-play on a historical event. Mine was the Secession of the Southern States, and I was Abraham Lincoln. I really wanted to do Government Surveillance, but no one else did, so that was me told.


We had engineered a debate and attempted to rehearse it a few times, but as you all know, I am useless at speaking in public, especially on a topic that I am not entirely familiar on. So the nerves were taking over. To make it even more enjoyable, the Role-play started at 9am on the Saturday morning in Manhattan, so we needed to be there for 8.30. Which is earlier than I get into work on a weekday. *grumble*


We were second to perform, so there wasn’t much time to get over the butterflies. A lot of people had gotten right into the roles and had even brought costumes and wigs, whereas we were just relying on our characterization. In the end, I think it went ok, I would have liked it to be a lot better, but at least it was over and I think we passed at least. So never mind.

Miss J, 2 others and I all went down to the food court in Grand Central Station afterwards for some lunch. Ended up in a diner called Juniors, which was really good. We started talking to the waiter as he mentioned the tourists that came in here all the time. We proudly informed him that we were, infact, not tourists, but Manhattenites.. of the Jersey variety..... 10 minutes later he comes back with 2 heuuuuge slabs of cheesecake on the house for us, as he loved the fact that he had gotten to serve some 'locals' !! Awesome!! It was fabulous, so we left him a big tip. I am a 'local' . hehehe....


Miss J and I headed back to Jersey afterwards, where she took a nap with the intention of going out later, and I headed to Target to get some supplies for dinner. I had intended to make some Margarita chicken for dinner, and the chicken was already marinating in the fridge in a big tub of Margarita mix from the previous night, but I wanted to grill it rather than stir-fry, so I set out to look for a grill pan. I got a bit of a shock when the only one I could find came to $50!! NO way! So I text mum in a fit of pique and she suggested looking at the George Foreman Grills instead....hmmmm. 10 points to mother. I ended up buying a mini grill, big enough for 2 breasts of chicken for only $14.99. Bargain! I carted this home and asked Miss J to guess what I had bought. I was greeted with a wary 'whhaaaat??' as I usually come home with the weirdest ideas. I proudly showed her my purchase and I got a 'yyaaaaaaaay!! We can make toasted sandwiches!!!'. lol. Happy then.

Later on, I grilled the chicken, Miss J made some rice and refried beans and we had tortillas with a black bean dip. Niiiice. Our second home cooked meal in 3 months! Not good. Will need to make more of a habit of this! Miss J went out for the evening, and since I was falling asleep over dinner, (hey I had 3 courses to organise that week, involving 7.45am starts, I'm a little tired!) I stayed in and ordered some new posters for our room before heading to bed. I think I went to the gym on Sunday, and I have no other recollection of anything. We possibly went to the supermarket. Again, scintillating stuff there.

Oh yes, I remember.. we went to the supermarket and then came home to reheated chicken, watched Wedding Crashers and then I did the ironing. There. That made it slightly more interesting right? No? hah....


And that was that. Bet you wish you could get back those few minutes of your life eh?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Work - Old versus the New

Have you ever had one of those days when you start to doubt yourself and then everything starts to snowball after it? Everything is constantly changing, tilting, whirling, and once you think you have gotten a handle on something, someone throws you a curve ball and you lose your grip. I find I tend to live my life like that, one day puttering along in neutral before finding myself suddenly in 5th gear and careening into the chicane.

The problem is, once I think that I have become comfortable in my routine, quietly confident, assured, it is only a matter of time before the cracks start to show and then it will all come tumbling down around my ears. It takes me a while before I start to become familiar with a job, and longer before I start to be able to feel like other people have faith in my ability.

In my last position, I was there for two and a half years. By the end of it, I felt comfortable. I had moved up one full level within a year and was on the cusp of a second before I left. True, it had taken a lot of encouragement and training before I found myself capable of taking the leadership role I had been given and attempting to excel at it, but I was there. I stumbled more times than I can count, but my colleagues and superiors picked me back up again and pushed me further along the path. The constant expectation of failing followed me throughout the first six months of my promotion, so apparent was it, that I was asked why I always seemed to view things through fog-tinted glasses.

Eventually the cloud lifted from my outlook and I started to embrace my role. I still fretted over little things, taking on too much, refusing to delegate, but in the end I think these things helped develop my strengths in the workplace and perhaps started to shrink my weaknesses. By the end of my 2nd year, I had settled into an easy rhythm. I knew my stuff. Technical problems? I could usually solve them. Order issues? Give it to me. Customer aggravation? Well…I didn’t really have a choice there. Links removed from a watch? Give me 20 minutes. Repair bookings? Getting there. Product knowledge? Jet 1 qualified baby.

All these little things added up to being one big thing. Ability. Knowledge. Confidence. Ok, 3 big things. I was left in charge of a 2.5 million pound store most nights. I handled the revenue, the high-value stock, and the figures at the close, the cleaning and the alarm. From part-time to full-time, I was suddenly completely involved. I left my shift 2 hours after I was supposed to because I couldn’t let go of whatever I was caught up with and had to be told to leave. I left my shift telling the manager what needed to be done that night. (Which isn’t big or clever, don’t do it!) I refused to leave after a 13-hour shift without completing the window stock, and making him do it with me. I started at 6 and finished at 4. I guess involved might be an understatement.

But on the whole I was happy. Sure, I may have complained every other minute about how much I hated my job, but isn’t that part of the drill? And I did, to a certain extent. I hated the hours, the wages, the abuse from the general public, and the tension when things were rough. But I loved the knowledge, the product, my colleagues, the buzz and the fact that finally I had hit the ground running.


Christmas is always a nightmare; yet somehow I managed to survive three of them, two as a member of management, go-to-gal for all and sundry, first stop for chaos. I recall complaining bitterly about it, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back I see how much I actually loved it and how much I miss it now. The laughs, the stress, the highs and the lows. Sure, I still struggled with a few things, but my superiors were always willing to help me take that next step, making sure I didn’t slide back a few on the way. If I needed help, I learnt to ask, and they always answered.

I think I miss the comfort of knowing my job. I hate being the new girl, and yet here I am again. A new company, a new boss, a whole new set of duties lay out before me, waiting to be memorized and become automatic. Sadly I am only 3 months in, and starting cold in this position is a lot harder than being given my window keys on the second day and being told to sell. My lowly position can affect even the highest person with a simple mistake, something I have already achieved, and I strive not to accomplish again.


The problem is, once you make one mistake big enough to be noticed, then others start coming to light and before you know it you are rolling down the hill in that snowball. The only way to stop it is to either suddenly gain a miraculous grasp on your tasks or get your head down and show them that you really are trying. This is something I think I will struggle with. In less than a month I will lose the only other equal I have in the office, with a year’s worth of knowledge and information stored away in his brain. Then it will just be me.

Crash and burn or impress? I guess we’ll see.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A wee bit of scottish humour..

Boab and Tam, a pair o' weegies, are in the pub.
Boab says tae Tam - 'Hey ho, whitdayaethinkomanewshoes'
Tam says 'fair gallus right enough but how come ye've no finished tying yer laces.'
'Naw naw' says Boab, ''I'm following the instruction oan ra bottom'
'Whits that?' says Tam,
Boab lifts his shoe to show him "Taiwan"

______________________________
A Scotsman walking through a field, sees a man drinking water from a pool with his hand.
The Scotsman man shouts ' Awa ye feel hoor thatâs full Oâ coos Sharn'
(Don't drink the water, it's full of cow s ** t.)
The man shouts back 'I'm English, Speak English, I don't understand you'.
The Scotsman man shouts back 'Use both hands, you'll get more in.'
_______________________________

The local train stopped at a station long enough for the passengers to stretch their legs.Sniffing the pure, clean air with appreciation, a passenger said to the guard: ‘Invigorating, isn’t it?’
No,’ he replied. ‘Inverurie.’
________________________________



Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, is being shown around a Glasgow hospital. Towards the end of the visit, he is shown into a ward with a number people with no obvious signs of injury or disease.

He goes to greet the first patient and he replies:"Fair fa' your honest sonsie face, Great chieftain e' the puddin' race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm; Weel are ye wordy o' a grace as lang's my arm."

Tony, being somewhat confused (very easily done) goes to the next patient and greets him. He replies: "Some hae meat, and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it, but we hae meat and can eat, and sae the Lord be thankit."

The third starts rattling off as follows: "Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, wi bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an chase thee, wi murdering prattle!"

Tony turns to the doctor accompanying him and asks what sort of ward is this. A mental ward? "No," replies the doctor, "It's the Burns unit."

_____________________________________________
Two negatives make a positive but only in Scotland do two positives make a negative -
"Aye right."
________________________________________

A Glasgow woman goes to the dentist and settles down in the chair."Comfy?" asks the dentist."Govan," she replies.

________________________________________

You know your Scottish when....

You can say drunk in a thousand ways, here's just a few: badgered, bladdered, bleezin', blootered, hawf-cut, cabbaged, guttered, hammered, lashed, leathered, mangled, minced, rubbered, wellied, reekin', banjaxed, stocious, mingin', pished as a fart etc..


You see crazy placenames. For example: Kilmahog, Buckie, Auchenshuggle, Auchtermuchty, Alves, Ballachulish, Ecclefechan, Kirkcudbright and Lairig Grhu. Loch Lochy and Loch Oich also deserves a mention. But best of all: Loch Drunkie.. . . .

You can tell where another Scot is from by their accent. E.g.
Weegie: "
Awright pal, gonnae gies a wee swatch oa yur Record, cheers, magic pal"
Fifer: "Aye, that wifie is getting it oan wi a laddie fae the butchers"
Dundonian: "Twa bridies, a plen ane in an ingin ane an a"
Aberdonian:
"Furryboots are ye fae?, fair few quines in the night eh?"
Invernesian: "Ah-ee, Right Enufff! "How's you keeeeeepeeeen?". . . . . . . .
You are mentally prepared on bus/train for some neds to start blasting shit happy hardcore tunes from their little mobiles "Boom, Boom, (chipmunk) "When I was young and life was so wonderful (Boom) (Boom)". ....

You know ye cannae fling pieces oot a twenty storey flat, seven hundred hungry weans'll testify, to that. If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan, the odds against it reaching earth are ninety-nine tae wan. .

You watch Scotland lose and take it on the chin, applaud the world champions and move on with a wee drinkie and a sense of perspective rather than the English approach of getting yir arse skelped by a tiny team then greeting like a bunch of weans for weeks all over the TV.

You can properly pronounce the following:
Kirkcaldy, St.Enoch, Sauchiehall, Auchinairn and AwFurF*cksSake....


:)

I miss home!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Little brother visits the Big Apple

I ended up having a 3 day grace period from my last guests to my next one. My wee brother was coming out to stay with me on the Thursday after Souxie and MacV left. I was completely knackered after having about zero sleep over the weekend and then a really busy week at work in between. Lots of courses being run this week, so I was up at 6 most mornings and leaving NJ for 7am to be in the City for 7.45. Big week, as all the new hires for our graduate programs were starting this week, and we had to organize the Orientation programme for them. This consisted of 2 breakfasts, a speaker session, 2 training courses and a Cocktail Reception. Lots of preparation and lifting and carrying involved in this one.

For the Orientation, we made up 3 ring binders as welcome packs for all the new TA’s (Technical Analysts), OA’s (Operation Analysts) and MA’s (Masters Associates) who would be attending. This meant printing off all the information for 17 binders, making the cover page and spine and then stuffing them ready for Tuesday morning. Oh, and also making up name tags for them all. Tuesday went fine, it was the prep for Wednesday that was the killer. There was a speaker session consisting of 9 speakers from varying levels within the company coming to present to the New Hires. This meant that we had 9 presentations to print out, along with the agenda’s and other information to go in the binder packs. But this time there were 50 folders to make up. So that meant that after spending all day at another building at Lexington Avenue, I had to travel back to Long Island City and help make up the binders that Mr L and Summer Intern had spent most of the day preparing. I got back to the office at about 4pm and by 7.20 we had finished stuffing all the binders.

Mr L and I then loaded them into boxes and carried them downstairs to where we had a car waiting. When I say car, it’s like a taxi just a business version, so you get a black sedan. We were driven back into Manhattan where we were then faced with trying to get 5 boxes up to the 14th floor when the elevators were out of commission. Argh!! 20 minutes later, and a slight panic where I thought Mr L had gotten stuck in the lift; we made it up to the conference centre and deposited our goods. By this point it was 8.30. Home time!!

Back in early the next day for the session. We had some more last minute binders to stuff and then we helped ourselves to some of the breakfast that was laid out for the New Hires. After it was kicked off successfully, I headed back into Long Island to sort out some things in the office while the other 2 stayed at the venue to make sure everything was running smoothly. I came back in for lunch, nothing like a free lunch to a penny pinching student!, and then headed back out again. Only one stop on the subway, so it wasn’t bad. Spent the day making up name tags for the following evening’s cocktail reception and finishing off some invoices and evaluations from previous classes. I left work at about 7.30 and headed straight home. I was supposed to go to see a gig with Miss N, Ani DeFranco, but due to working later and feeling like I could barely stand up, I had to give it a miss. Sorry Miss N!

I arrived home at just after 8, and went straight upstairs. I remember getting changed out my work clothes and intending to go make some dinner, but after that things go a bit hazy. Apparently Miss J came home at 10.30 to find me asleep on the bed, fully clothed and still wearing my flip-flops! She had to wake me and tell me to get ready for bed. Which I did after looking blearily around me for a while and wondering what the heck had happened.

I had been very kindly given the following day off, so I slept in till about 10am before showering and then plonking myself in front of the TV with breakfast. Started getting ready for Wee Brother arriving, and then set off for the airport to collect him. No glamorous welcome here I am afraid. PATH train to Newark Penn Station, then public bus to airport. And the same home. Which means that it only cost $1.75 for PATH and $1.35 for bus, compared to the $50 it would cost for a cab. I am a skint student here, and he will be soon too, so I felt like this was the best option!!

Collected him safely enough and took him back to Newport. Our first stop was Target to get an airbed, as I hadn’t had time to go collect one in the last few days. Airbed, some food (as I knew he would eat me out of house and home pretty quickly) and a stop at the little Pizza Hut in the store as we were both starving at the point. Dumped all shopping back at the flat, took him on a tour of Newport and let him see the view from down at the water front before wandering round to the Morton Williams Supermarket and getting some more things to eat. He had his 12 pack of Mountain Dew and was already happy!

Once we got back home, I unpacked the 2nd bag that Wee Brother was carrying with him. All my stuff!!! Mum had packed most of my summer clothes into a second duffel bag for him to bring out to me, So now I have more shoes, tops, skirts and underwear!! woohoo!! I won’t need to go shopping for months now! Brilliant! The evening was a quiet one as I stood and did all of last weeks ironing along with all my new stuff, as he watched tv and then we both went to bed reasonably early.


Friday morning I decided to do the Midtown tour with him. We went out for breakfast near 14th street and then walked towards the MetLife building to Grand Central. Went in, took some photos, walked back towards Bryant Park, into Times Square, visited some of the shops, had some lunch, walked down to East 47th street to see the YMCA that I stayed in (ahhh nostalgia…), walked along 2nd avenue and waited in the lobby at work for my work mates to finish. We all went to a pub along the way for some dinner and drinks. Unfortunately since they had come straight from work they were all looking very smart, while Wee Brother and I had been walking about in the heat all day and looked like something the cat dragged in. Niiice. Still, was a fun evening and my manager actually paid for it all, which was really nice of her, even though she wasn’t there. Afterwards, Wee Brother and I took a walk around Times Square to let him see it all lit up, before heading home to Newport. Watched some TV with Miss J and then went to bed.


Saturday was supposed to be an early start, but I was so tired I found it difficult to get moving. All 3 of us decided that we were going to go to Coney Island since it was a blisteringly hot day. We left NJ at about 11.30 and got to Brooklyn at around 1 I think. Found ourselves a nice spot in the sand near the shoreline and planked our towels down. Miss J hadn’t been to Coney before, so she wanted to go down into the water as soon as we got there. Left Wee Brother with the towels and went in for, again was supposed to be a paddle but ended up, a swim. Came back out and lay down to dry off. Enjoyed the next couple of hours, just laying out, reading a magazine and eating some Pringles. After we packed up, Wee Brother and I were going to go on the Cyclone rollercoaster, but the queue was horrendous by that point, and we had to get back to prepare for the party we were having that night, so we gave it a miss. Which is a shame because I think he would really have loved it! When we got in, he went back out for a run around the waterfront at Newport, informing me that he did 8 laps of the front and then ran up all 27 flights of stairs to get home. Craaaazy boy.


My roomie had decided to host a ‘Potato Party’ in our flat that night. The premise being, that you had to bring along some dish that was made from potatoes. Only one person actually followed the rules and brought along a dish that she had cooked herself. Everyone else either brought a bag of crisps or nothing. Although 'Nauld did bring a bottle of vodka! Ingenious.


After a bit of a slow start, people started turning up. Some had intended going out afterwards, but by the time we realized it was after 11, noone could be bothered going anywhere. In the end, some of the guys, Miss J and I all started playing Bullsh*t at the table, which descended into a complete farce. Especially when 'Nauld got so drunk he told us he was putting down six 4’s! Eventually we all migrated outside to the private courtyard between the TJ and JM buildings and continued to have a drink out there. Miss J went upstairs and got Mr O’s guitar, so we were all listening to him play and before attempting to sing along. In the end we all just sat and listened. The party came to an abrupt end when the sprinklers decided to turn themselves on at about 3.30am, causing us to bound up from the grass and stagger to the shelter of the tables. Thanks to Mr N daring Miss J and I to run through them, and us being drunk enough to do it, we ended up a little bit soaked!! Miss J then had an ‘discussion’ with the doorman about the other doorman lying to her about recycling….before we went to bed.

Woke up at about 12.30 on Sunday and didn’t feel all that good, so I was a little bit grouchy towards Wee Brother most of that morning. Mainly when he had the audacity to ask for some of my Eggo waffles (Which admittedly he paid half for) when I was trying to make them for myself. Sorry bruv.



We took the train into Rockefeller and then (very slowly and quietly) had a walk about the plaza area. From there we walked to 5th Avenue and attempted to go into the Abercrombie and Fitch store to get him some aftershave. There was a queue outside it! Since when do you queue to get into a store? So we left it and went into the World of Disney instead! Got some presents for people and generally had a nosey about at all the cool stuff. How come they don’t make all of the tshirts in big sizes?? I want them!! Stomach soon alerted me that it was getting close to dinnertime, so we took the train back home and got dressed for dinner.

Went with Miss J to Chili’s down the street from us. We all had ribs, which were absolutely delicious. Had a half rack with Brown Sugar Chile rub and some Margarita Chicken, which I ended up taking home with me for dinner the next night! Miss J had the same, but with steak and Wee Brother had a whole rack, plus a gigantic chocolate dessert. Managed to avoid the rain coming on as we got home later.



Monday we headed straight to 5th Avenue and attempted A&F again. Still a queue! Walked up to the entrance to Central Park instead and went into F.A.O. Schwarz toy store! Awesome store! Lots of toys and sweeties!!! Wooot! I did come across the ‘Poofy Pop’, which was intriguing, but ended up just being a long Flump curled up on a stick. Let down! The upstairs part of the store was all giant cuddly toys and dolls by the gazillion. On the way back down I took some photos of the huge dinosaur stuffed animals that were set out in a Jurassic Park style layout. Our next stop was the Apple store next door, which is set into the ground. It is actually quite cool inside, but we weren’t buying anything, although I saw a really cool graphics tablet for editing photos, so we didn’t stay long. Picked up lunch in the Café Metro that I had visited with Souxie and we took that to Central Park to eat.

By this point the temperature was fairly rising, so after passing Abercrombie and noticing the queue had reduced enough for us to pop in and get his aftershave, we took the subway to World Trade Centre to let him see Ground Zero. I think he was fairly moved by what he saw, and I think I seemed a bit unconcerned to him. But I have seen this sight quite a few times now, and even though I was shocked when I first saw it, I don’t seem to have much reaction now, but I sat and let him go look.

On to Century 21 to let him do some shopping, which he made good use of. Managed to pick up some hoodies for about $14 to take to Sweden with him, along with a couple of t-shirts. I then packed him onto the PATH train back to Newport while I headed back uptown to meet my role-play group for my tutorial class. Since we had done almost no research and have had no practice so far, it didn’t go that well, although it wasn’t that bad either. Afterwards Mr D and I went into Times Square to do some last minute shopping for his brief return home on Tuesday. I love wandering Times Square at night, so it ended up being a really fun night. Got home and found Wee Brother had been to the mall and bought some more things. Again, everyone gets to go shopping but me!!! Sat up and faffed on the computer and spoke to Miss J when she rolled in at 1.30 after seeing Batman at the Imax.

Tuesday we decided to try Top of The Rock, which is the observatory deck at the top of Rockefeller Centre. Open air (well through glass anyway!) views 360 degrees around Manhattan. The view was amazing; it was just a shame that it was so smoggy that day compared to the others. We climbed the 3 different levels and took about a gazillion pictures, including the cheesy set up one of us sitting on the girder with NY backdrop behind us.. that’ll keep Granny happy anyway!! Next up was Empire State, although only to do the SkyRide on the 2nd floor rather than the observatory. $35 a head to get in and the ride only lasted about 10 minutes. It was quite good, but not worth the entrance fee. It was basically a moving seated platform that you watched a birdseye view of NY from and was narrated by Kevin Bacon.. woo!! Lunch in subway afterwards and then a wander around Macy’s and Old Navy before going home. I went to Target to print off some photos for work, while Colin went on another run.

It was back to work for me on Wednesday, and a whole 40 emails and voicemails to catch up on, so I was in for twenty to 9 and stayed till twenty to 7. Wee Brother had been on one of the bus tours all day and visited almost every part of Manhattan and all its boroughs too. We met in Times Square and he took me to Planet Hollywood for dinner, the generous wee soul that he is. Actually it was pretty nice of him, and I did say thank you :). I always find that Planet Hollywood is overrated when you go in, and it was pretty much the same as it was the last time we were there 7 years ago. I think I prefer the Hard Rock Café, having been to the ones in Miami, Paris and Orlando. Just need to do the NY one now. Still, had a pretty tasty BBQ cheeseburger that was scoffed in record time, after the ‘blow your head off’ Buffalo wings that we had to start. Phew…. These were hot!


Back at work again on Thursday, while Wee Brother stayed in Newport and just visited the mall and walked about before his flight. Sadly I was unable to get anymore time off to take him, so I left him my keys, which he left in the flat (the door locks when you shut it) and took himself off to the airport. I got home at 7pm to find that the wee lad has left a card for all my flatmates saying thank you. When I open up my drawer to retrieve my keys, i find another card from him to me thanking me for the last couple of days and a dvd for me. awwww!! Finally hear from him to tell me that he is at the gate and ready to board the plane. He will land at Amsterdam for a couple of hours before heading back to Glasgow. Then he has 3 weeks left before he moves to Sweden for a year on his eschange term at uni. I can see mum having a few issues now that the house is finally empty for the first time ever!! I can see my emails from her getting more frequent!!


On the whole It has been a exhausting, busy few weeks, but it was so nice to see people from home. Although I will admit I am happy to be back to my routine and having some time to myself again! Who'd have thunk it?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Glasvegas in New York!!

All that previous excitement over, it's back to work on Thursday. On Friday I have a half-day as 2 of my best friends are arriving in New York!! Wooooot! I head off at about 2pm to Times Square to get them in their hotel. I am advised that they are staying in the Sheraton, but some planning monkey decided to put two Sheratons across the road from one another and not advise me about that fact. Souxie ends up having to come and get me after I wait in the wrong one for 20 minutes. I guess I realised just how much I missed my friends when I saw her come in the door. We immediately did the hug thing and then we both started crying. Hug, few words, hug, few words, hug, hug, hug, and then sniffle. I'm sure the people in the lobby were extremely amused by this girly display of affection. lol. Hey it's been 3 months since I've seen my best friend! Give a girl a break!

We wander across the road to the correct hotel to meet MacV and Mr J who has come down from Rhode Island for the weekend. Hugs for them too. And a handshake for Mr J's friend who is there too. MacV is slightly manlier and doesn't do the sniffle hug thing when we meet. Which is a good thing, as I probably shouldn't be set off again. All of us decide to go have something to eat, and then Souxie and I end up going back to her hotel room so she can have a shower while the boys have lunch. Girlie chats in the room, then down to meet them again. All 5 of us head off to 14th street to find a few bars to have a welcome drink. Find somewhere inside and air-conditioned to have our frozen margaritas. Very nice. Sadly for Souxie, having fasted for an entire day due to getting over a stomach bug, they were a little strong. Cue much giggling and hilarity.


We go to another bar that Mr J knows, 'The Lamb and Slaughter' which is a little dark and has lots of were-wolvey type paraphernalia adorning the walls. That might get a little creepy when you are really pished and it's dark inside and out. Lol. Decide that we are hungry and have some food. Afterwards we have a walk down to Second Ave in an attempt to find one of his favorite bars. Can't find it. In the mean time, we stop for a slice in a particularly good Pizza place that has actual chicken slices on the pizza. Snarfle our way through them and go back on the hunt. From what i can remember we ended up in a Red Sox bar for a pitcher and Mr J tries to get us to have a shot of whisky each. He ends up having at least 3 of them as Souxie and I do the 'bleaugh' thing. :)

By this time, jet lag is starting to severely hit Souxie and MacV so we decide to get a taxi home and leave MrJ and friend to it. I get dropped off at Herald Sq en route and make my way to Newport and let them sleep. Saturday morning, I am up and out by at 9 and head to Times Square to meet them. Much frustration, as most of my trains aren't running and I end up sweltering in the subway station waiting for them to turn up. Arrive at hotel and text message comes through advising that they are actually on 14th street having breakfast and do I want to join them? Argh!! Would have saved the subway fiasco!! Never mind.

They soon arrive and then we hit 5th Ave for some serious shopping. Or they do. I just observe and lament my lack of cash monies. Abercrombie and Fitch was the first requested stop and having never been in before I was a little bit agog. And a little bit out of place in my non-preppy outfit. Mind you, the amount of out of work models that were staffing the place soon took your mind off it! MMmmmmm :) After some serious shopping in there, we have some lunch and then some wanderings about 5th and Park avenue, before heading to 34th St to look for some new camera's. Sadly the store is closed, as it is the Sabbath :) This causes much disappointment, and so means that Macy’s needs to be the next stop. We park MacV in Starbucks with his laptop and Souxie and I head upstairs to look at the clothes.

Slightly distracted by the sheer amount presented to us, we get rather carried away and forget all about MacV...Whoops! A text message announcing that he is bored and wants to move on prompts us to stop trying on everything in sight and attempt to find him. By the time we do, he has already found and bought a camera from the Electronics section and is now wanting to look for some clothes. We split up again, he hits GAP and a few others, while we go to Forever 21, Aldo’s, American Eagle and then drag ourselves back to another Starbucks to meet him.


If I remember correctly, we had had enough by this point, and were getting rather hungry. Back to Times Square and to the hotel where we dump the bags and walked to Ruby Foo’s for dinner.
Awesome restaurant! Chinese/Thai fusion place where all the meals are shared. You can order starters, sushi platters and then usual entrees like Peking Duck, Szechuan Chicken and other yummy dishes. You are supposed to just dive in with the chopsticks and take what you can wrestle from your dining partners. I have to say, Sushi aside (as I don’t like it), the meal was delicious. Very impressed with it. Nice shout from Souxie there. Might also be a good place to take the parents so they can buy me dinner sometime!!


Meet up with Mr J and his friend afterwards with the intention of saying goodbye as he was off to catch his bus back to Rhode Island. Have a coffee in Starbucks, had a hug and then we walk back to the hotel to get changed for going out.


3 of us fight over the shower in the room, and upon emerging I hear that Mr J has called. He missed his bus and is now looking for somewhere to crash for the night. So it looks like it is going to be a crowded room tonight as I also have the intention of crashing! In the end, all of us showered and changed, we take a cab to Ludlow with the intention of visiting CakeShop again. Unfortunately, we soon discover that it is gay night. Souxie and I get distracted by the rather cute topless guitar player and only then notice the fully grown man in the sailor suit behind him…. This rather gives it away. Meet up with some interns outside with the idea of going to Annexe to do some dancing, but most have other plans.

So in the end, the 4 of us go to a bar that Mr J knows, A2 (bordering on the edge of Alphabet City) and have some drinks and random photo taking there. By about 2.30 the jetlag is starting to tell on the other two, so we make a move to go home. Hitting Duane Reid for some water, cookies and sweeties, Souxie and I totter along the street and gawp at the lights before entering the hotel. Mr J and I sneak in by pretending that we are just visiting, while MacV orders some extra blankets and pillows with the pretence that he and Souxie are just really cold!

Organised chaos next, as again we all fight over the bathroom and then decide where we are going to sleep. Since MacV and Souxie paid for the bed, it only seems fair *Grumble* that they get that, so Mr J and I are on the floor with the extra blankets and pillows. We all crash out pretty quickly without noticing if anyone snores. Next morning, surprisingly without any noticeable joint pain from the floor, we pack up and shuffle our way out to get some breakfast. End up down near NYU in a wee café where the girlies do French toast and Omelets. Mr J finally decides to leave us for real this time. Lots of hugs and then he strolls off seemingly unaffected while Souxie and I wave furiously behind him.

Next plans are to get me a new camera. So back to the store we go. End up with a Nikon 8megapixel in a snazzy shade of plum. Very happy! Awesome zoom, better scenic settings and a 2G-memory card, all for under $200! I can tell that I am going to become a little bit snap happy in the coming days! Newport is the next stop, so they can see where I live. We dump all the shopping in my apartment, give them a tour, and introduce them to Miss J, who has just woken up due to a particularly heavy one the night before! A tour down by the water front to see the view, photos, photos, photos, and then onto the mall for some more shopping. We arrive back at my apartment laden with bags and cause Miss J’s eyes to pop out her head!

MacV very kindly offers to check over my computer while he is there and manages to install about a gazillion updates that I had been neglecting to do. Needless to say it is now working brilliantly! Thank you!!! Also play with camera on various settings and steal all of his photo’s from the weekend.

Gather belongings and are soon City bound. We have plans to eat at Houston’s steakhouse, which is situated in the Citicorp centre, but by the time we are ready it is already 10.30pm, and of course once we walk there and arrive they are no longer serving. We cab it back, and end up eating in TGI’s in Times Square at about 11pm. Not quite as classy as intended, but it is food!! I pick up all my junk from their hotel room, including quite a lot of clothes that Souxie brought over for me from home and are too big for her. The ‘donate to your fat friend’ fund is gratefully accepting all contributions!!

Struggle onto PATH train at about 1am, hindered by the massive carrier bags that I have. Swipe my PATH card, beeps to let me in, get stuck in the turnstile due to bags, barrier then locks and then I am now locked out for 20 minutes owing to ‘swindling-prevention’ system that the cards have. Need to buy a one-way ticket. Stand in queue to pay my $1.75 ticket, manage to get through the gates this time and hop on train. Attempt not to fall asleep on train and crash into bed upon return. Shattered!!

Sadly it is up and at ‘em early the next morning. Need to get ready for work, but first am meeting MacV and Souxie for breakfast somewhere on Lexington Ave. Have a nice healthy brekkie of watermelon and corn muffin, whilst drooling at their egg and bacon bap with pain au chocolat… hmph. We subway it to Long Island City and I show them my building. At this point I start babbling utter gibberish because I know I have to say goodbye and I am trying desperately not to burst into tears. Souxie knows this and just looks at me. MacV gives me a hug and is all sympathetic until I pull away and he notices that I got lipstick on his brand new shirt…whoops. Alas I cannot be apologetic enough as Souxie and I have already started crying. We do a replay of the hug, hug, sniffle, and hug thing of earlier, but this time it is worse. I walk them over to the subway stop and we soon start again.

I guess I didn’t realize just how much I missed my friends until that moment. I know that I have started to be homesick recently and I was getting a little down for a bit, but at this point it really hit me just how much I had been craving the familiarity and closeness of my mates. There is no one else in the world who understands me as much as Souxie does, and there are no others else that put up with me as much as the two of them, and of course Mr S, who still needs to come out! It was just so nice just being able to be completely me, and not worry about people finding me weird or a loser or whatever. These guys already know I am all of the above and they deal with it anyway, so I don’t need to watch myself. Plus without all their encouragement I wouldn’t be here in New York either. So it felt really good being able to show them what I do everyday and that I have settled in and made friends here. Despite all of that, there still feels like a part of me is missing most of the time. As much as I have made friends here and they are brilliant people, they still aren’t quite the same. I can’t quote one of our films or TV shows and have them answer me back in kind (Azzabajjaan!) or have a crazy episode without totally weirding them out. But then I don’t think I would want to be able to, because then that takes away from the uniqueness of what I have with the same group I have been friends with for the last 10 years. And it means that the next time they visit me, it will be just as much fun.

It took us about 10 minutes to actually say goodbye, mainly entertaining the security guards and passing pedestrians in the process. Both of us were in real tears and at one point when I had walked away, I saw her crying against MacV so I went tearing back again. Eventually MacV stepped in, turned us back to back, made us say goodbye, pushed me off in the direction of my building and took her down to the subway. As I walked away I turned round and a wee man on the street told me that I had just missed them waving at me. Sniff!! I trudged up to my office and crept into my cubicle to have another cry. At this point, Mr L (intern I work with) pops his head over and asks if I’m ok. This just leads to ‘yup’ sniff….’Mmmy fffffriendsss have jjjjust lllleft!!’ sniff sniff etc.. he looks like he wishes he hadn’t asked, and disappears back into his own cubicle.

I end up being immersed in work all day, but get set off again at my class that evening when I realized they would be at the airport and someone asked me what was up. Argh.

In the end I had an amazing time with them, and I wish it hadn’t been so short. Hopefully there will be more visits and with Mr S in tow too!! But I am so glad that they came out to see me and I got to show them what this year is going to be like for me. Susan told me that she was proud of me, but I want to live up to that and show her that I made the most of being here and that I have moved on from being the mouse that I was before. Fingers crossed for that transformation!! I guess I will have to see how that one develops, so stay tuned!