At last, I’ve had my appraisal!!

Well, this had to be one of the most awkward 3 hours of my life. Yup, 3 hours. Why so long? Well, this is what you get when you work for so many people and they have an ongoing  internal “power struggle”. I have 2 co-CEO, 2 co-Chairman, 4 Executive Directors and let’s not forget the 2 founders. Since everybody’s scattered around the world, it was part live and part video-conference in our biggest meeting room. 10 people going through my achievements and failures over the past years. 20 eyes looking at my every moves. That’s intimidating. Not to mention that some of them are based abroad, so we had to take into account the time zone difference. I’ve got to tip my hat to the ones based in the US and in Asia for either getting us at the crack of dawn or staying up really late. But it was weird, as in really weird.

It wasn’t bad, intimidating at most, but I got to air some of my worries about my work load, and training that I need. As I had to justify my worries about my work load, I had to give an exact breakdown of what I do and for whom. Which led to some awkward things. Nothing beats a director throwing a mini-fit because you do this and that for another director but don’t do that for them (not out of malice, they’ve never asked for me to do these things!), so basically whatever I did for one and didn’t do for the others, I’m not expected to do it for all of them – talk about shooting oneself on the foot! – I also had to remind them that I was also office manager and such, and explained what it meant. I did talk about my assistant and how we could work more efficiently.

So yeah, that was great. Then again, part of the reason why it lasted so long is because it took everybody a good 40min to just settle. From those getting into the video-conference late, and the fact that they never really all get to see each other at the same time more than twice a year, they felt they ought to catch up a bit and talk about golf and their latest handicap (that part of their chat went well over my head…).

What was the bottom line of this appraisal? Well, truth be told, I didn’t get much out of it. Am I getting a pay rise? Well d’oh, of course not. Am I getting a change in my role? No. Am I getting more support? Nope, I already have 1 assistant, why would I want more help? So what is changing? Not much other than I’m getting more stuff to do.

So yay, I had my appraisal. We’re good for another year.

the loneliness of the long term dieter

I love food. I love all food. Well, I love almost all food. I really can’t stomach sea food and most fishy fish and I’m  a tad too delicate for fastfood. But these aside, I love food. Always have, and quite possibly always will.

This is a great thing, but also a curse. A great thing as it’s never been an ordeal for me to find something enjoyable on any menu, in any country. Plus I was raised with one of these motto “you cannot say you don’t like this if you haven’t tried it”. Along with “children in Africa would be happy to eat this” – ah the guilt of having food when so many children are starving in Africa was a card often played for me to finish my greens. But again I digress.

I love food. I love sweet as much as I eat savoury. I’d pass on spicy food though. Although it’s a crazy thing, I love and hate spicy food equally. I like the buzz of feeling the spicy food and I hate the feeling of molten lava going down my digestive tract. I eat when I’m hungry, obviously. But I also eat when I’m frustrated, stressed, bored, happy… I sometimes feel like a bottomless walking stomach.

This isn’t great.

I’m not morbidly obese, but I’m no skinny minnie either. I do try to control my cravings, I’m usually good 3 out of 4 weeks, there’s that one week when if anybody tried to stop me from hitting the maltesers, cheese, cakes, M&M’s etc. they take a chance of being annihilated. PMS can really multiply my strength all the while reduce my rational thinking.

But this aside, I try to exercise, and if I over indulge, I’ll aim to walk longer/faster, do some more exercises and such. Getting fit to get into my wedding dress was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had to be so focus, following a meal plan, going to the gym every single day. well 5 days out of 7. That’s good going. I even stopped eating dessert and chocolate.

I just wonder why do I have to go through this to have what is considered normal body shape/clothes size, when some people are just effortlessly trim.

It’s frustrating. I’ve read about some studies explaining the skinny genes thing. Well, I’m not only big boned (I have x-rays to prove it, I have a big bone structure) but I definitely have inherited some fat genes. I believe I have already mentioned my bum being big enough to have its own postcode. Actually, my bum isn’t that big these days. It’s mostly my hips.

It’s agonising. The crappy part is that I’ll work out, live on rabbit food with a decent intake of protein, hit the gym every other day, be super active everyday, and still I’ll put on 2lbs. And everywhere I look, TV, magazines, posters around the city, in the street, all I see is skinny girls drinking starbucks Frappucinos with cream on top. Do you know when it was the last time I got cream on top of my frappuccino? heck, do you know when I last drank a frappuccino? It’s so long ago I can’t even remember it.

I’m just pissed off because I know I’m not the only one going through this, my best friends are going through the same crap, the same cycle. We spend more time crying in the fitting rooms than most, always going for the low fat, small portion stuff, counting calories, following a weight watcher diet here, or the fasting diet. Ok maybe we don’t go as far as crying in fitting rooms, but you know… It’s tough when you find “your” size, but try it on, and it doesn’t fit because it’s Italian sizing, or Chinese or whatever.

But feeling the way I or we do, if hardly ever mentioned anywhere. I see everywhere all about being skinny, being tall, being trim, being toned, about being perfect. But we’re not. Who can raise their hand and say, hands on heart, I’m perfect. and that perfection doesn’t come from photoshop, living in the gym, counting calories and making me sick after I’ve eaten. What is even perfection?

When I was a kid, being perfect was wearing a tiara and being able to make some fancy moves with a lightsabre that would make Yoda proud. Being perfect was having great grades, and not ruining my Sunday’s clothes within the hour of wearing them.

When I was a teenager, I don’t think I really thought about being perfect, I was far too much into getting good grades, going to uni and all that.

When I became an adult, I guess the living on my own away from the protective bubble my parents created, I became more aware of what society considered as ‘perfection’. I was still obsessed with my grades heh. But I started paying attention to fashion, make up, trends, magazines. And that’s when it really hit me that my big bones were never going to be my allies. Neither are big patterns, moo-moo, synthetic fabrics and fake fur. But hey, you live and you learn.

I know I am not perfect, and it’s ok. I know that getting skinny isn’t the key to my happiness. I am happy. I’ve achieved a fair amount of things thank to my quest to academic perfection and the balance I’ve somehow sort of found between who I am and who I’d like to be.

But there’s always that part of that wonders, would things be better if I looked more like those girls in the magazines? Would I have a better job? It’s a well known fact that pretty girls always get the job, the promotions and such.

small bracket: when I got the job, I found out that it was a close call between myself, short, brunette, plump, but smart and able to do this job AND a blonde, skinny, with big boobs, but not as qualified as myself. The PA I was replacing used all her persuasive skills to sway the balance in my favour for that job. They did offer a different position to Blondie. She lasted 1 months, went on holidays and never came back.

So yeah, I do try my best to look smart, try to find closed that create the illusion that my waist is somewhat smaller. I sort of think that unless I don’t try to become smaller, say a couple of dress sizes smaller, just to see of that would change anything, if that would make me happier.

So there, tomorrow I’m going to start it all over again, like I did before the wedding. Will  I succeed? I don’t know. But I’ll try. My motivation isn’t so much about getting into a dress, but more preparing myself for a bigger role in my life. Say, the next chapter of my life. But that’s another post.

I just wish people could over look the shell we inhabit, and not judge one another about whether or not we look perfect according to the latest perfection’s standard. I wish Fashion was such a dictatorship. Yes I use a strong word, but it’s true. Try to find  clothes that will fit you perfectly outside the UK size 10, clothes that won’t cling to your belly, be too tight around your thighs, won’t make you lose your dignity if you lift your arms or bend over OR make you look frumpy, like a granny. You tend to have to make a choice between comfort and style when you’re a size 12 and up. You never get the same choices of clothes, patterns, fabric even. I’ll have you know that by 18th century standards I’d be perfect.

So yeah, here’s to the start of protein shakes for breakfast and dinner, salad for lunch, plentiful of water, apple and carrot batons for snacks, more exercises, and lets see what happens.

And this is a lonely path. Nobody wants to be around you when you eat healthy, and trust me, you don’t want to be around people when you eat salad and they have a burrito! It’s lonely because it’s hard to explain why I put myself through this. It’s lonely because if my other half joins in, he loses weight like magic, it falls off him without much efforts. To lose 1lb he just need to eat one less piece of toast a day. To lose 1lb, I need to go on the protein shake, stop all sweets and cakes, hit the gym like my life depend on it. He’ll lose it in a day, I’ll lose it in 2 weeks.

and it’s lonely because nobody admits to it. Everybody go through this, but who openly discuss it? Who? I have only one friend, we acts as each other motivator, who knows my weight, my ups and downs and vice versa. Would you admit how much you weight? Wouldn’t you fear that by doing so, you’ll place yourself in one of those position which would make it easy for other people to judge you? to redefine you, no by who you are, your achievement etc, but by how you don’t comply with the norm?

I would be a big fat liar if I was to say that I can openly tell you about my weight. I’m not quite there yet. I don’t wish to be defined by my age, I don’t wish to be defined by my nationality, I don’t wish to be defined by my job, and I sure don’t want to be defined by my weight. I already feel judged by the salespeople in shops, their judgemental glares say more than words what they think of me trying on such and such items.

I really do wish though, that someone would come forward and tell me what their thoughts are. Whether they agree or disagree with my views. That’d be handy.

In the meantime I’m going to enjoy a most refreshing glass of water with a slice of lime – oooh check me! – and then I’ll get clothes ready for the week ahead.

Barbecue

Victory! We’ve had our first barbecue ever! Obviously the weather turned sour the moment husband lit up the coals. Fortunately it was more a little drizzle than a full blown shower, so not only we managed to grilled 6 sausages, we also managed to do 2 lamb & peas burgers. Huzzah!

I made some potato salad, and a lovely sweet potatoes & parsnip mash. We had various salad and home made guacamole.

For pudding its Strawberries & Cherries.

Happy Sunday!

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Gardening

I’ve finally got my wi-fi back woohoo! And so to celebrate, I decided that it was time to tidy up the front garden while my other half got what we’d need for a barbecue, starting with buying a barbecue thingy.

I’ve sorted out the bedding, planting an almost neat row of lavender plants and I got a lovely terracotta planter to put on the window sill with 2 different type of lavender plants already in bloom.

We picked lavender because we both love lavender, it smells like summer, it’s pretty and it’s bees friendly.

We love bees. Bees however are a very endangered specie, there aren’t a as many bees these days as there should be. I am fond of bees because without them, you don’t get pretty flowers and honey. I love honey. I love flowers. So I’m trying to do my bit to help out the bees.

As Sod’s law would have it, the sooner I was done with my gardening fun & husband ready to get on with the barbecue, it started raining…

Typical!

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No Internet/Wi-Fi At home

Well technically, I should have Internet and Wi-Fi working a treat at home, except that I don’t. Why? I wonder. I have been with Virgin Media for quite a few years, and over the past few months, it’s been pants. My bill has gone up, I used to pay around £35 a month for TV, Phone and internet/Wi-Fi, and I’ve had 2 rises in costs almost back to back, now it’s about £55 a month. You’d be allowed to think that “if you pay more, surely, you get an even better service” except that I don’t.

I’ve been in touch with their customer service quite a few time, and I’ve finally have an engineer booked to come at home at the end of the week. Trying to get them to understand that it’s not convenient was pretty tough. Indeed, here’s the vicious circle I’m in:

to justify being at home in order to wait for an engineer to come fix my internet, I need to be able to work from home. To work from home, I must be able to use the internet. No internet = no work done. If I can’t work, then I’m on annual leave. Do I really want to take a day of annual leave for this?? well, to be frankly honest, no, I don’t. I’ve already wasted enough money paying for a service I don’t get, and having extra costs because I’ve had to rely on 3G a lot more on my phone. 

So I haven’t been on the net much from home, thus not posting, because quite frankly I didn’t want to get another whooping mobile phone bill because of the internet.

I would like to say that this almost “self inflicted home internet ban” has been beneficial, as in I’ve somehow reconnected with friends (haven’t, they’re all currently abroad on holidays or by the sea side because of this heat wave), rediscovered old hobbies such as knitting (haven’t got the patience for this, and it’s too hot to fiddle with wool), or even caught up with my house chores (well, I try to do them everyday anyways, so barre the ironing -and who wants to iron clothes in this weather?!?!- I haven’t done much). For as much as I would like to say this, well, it hasn’t. 

I have found myself more isolated and less productive than when it works. That’s bad isn’t it?

Mind you, the only way for me to stay connected with family and friends is through the internet as everybody leaves abroad or outside London. And for as much as I’d like to just hop on a plane or Eurostar and go see them, it’s a tad too expensive and not quite something you can do after-work and expect to be home for dinner. 

My husband was meant to try his new “remote office” thing to show his boss that he could work from home and still be as productive and such. No chance of doing that! We have a little home office at home (by that I mean we have a little desk with a couple of electric plugs and a comfortable enough chair in the corner of the living room) which is right by a window, so you get lots of natural light, it’s quiet, it’s lovely. Except that it’s useless if you can’t have any connectivity at home.

I usually not that fussed about whether I and my husband can work from home or not, but in this weather, when commuting is really painful, the heat in some of the tube line is simply unbearable, the trains are delayed, the A/C in the office is non-existent (for me anyway), working from home is something that can fix all that. Beside, I know for a fact that each time I’ve worked from home, I’ve done more work than when in the office, because the phone doesn’t ring as often, and I don’t end up being sent on crazy errands for my bosses, like taking their watches to be serviced in Harrods or sorting out their wives’s birthday/anniversary gifts in Selfridges. 

So yeah, not having the internet/wi-fi at home sucks. Not to mention that we haven’t been able to book our next flights to Dublin to see his family, nor have we been able to book the Eurostar for our next trip to Paris to see mine – booking those on mobile phones using 3G is not fun. It crashes. A lot. 

/rant over.

 

I do wonder how did our forefathers managed work in the office, relying on faxes and phones only. I wonder how it would have been going through a full day in the office without checking the news during their lunch break, or going through silly dancing cats webpages in the evening. Maybe they were able to switch off from work the moment they left their building. I mean I don’t recall my dad checking his work stuff at home, I don’t recall my dad getting work related calls in the evening, weekends or bank holidays, I don’t recall my dad being expected to keep an eye on projects during the weekend or when he was on annual leave. Can’t say that for my mum though, as part of many medical workers, annual leaves were never taken for granted because if another nurse was sick, she’d be called back to cover for them. But still.

I wonder.

Tuesday’s long way away to the weekend!

Today’s got to be one if the longest day in the office EVER. It’s super hot, by super hot I mean it feels like I’m working from a blacksmith’s workshop, right by the forge.

It really blows (or rather it doesn’t) to be dat in the one part of the office sans aircon.

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I popped in to this place in the West End. You can get 2 desserts for 1. I like that. Especially when they do churros & tarta de Limón! I’m sold. Fact that they do mojito and margarita like I do orange juice (that’s my speciality) is an added bonus. NOT THAT I WAS DRINKING ON MY LUNCH BREAK…

On second thought maybe if I had drank a couple of mojito I’d not find this afternoon soooooooo long. I just can’t focus when my body’s too hot. I call it, the Dave’s Syndrome – to know more about this disease, check out Black Books season 2, episode 2 “fever”. It’ll all make sense then.

Right, I’d better focus on building an old fashioned hand held fan.