Sunday, August 31, 2008


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.

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.