Aug 31, 2009

The Nine Lives of Little Miss Piggy

It's the last day of August, 2009.

I'm recovering well from my little bout with H1N1, thank god, and after two days of supreme crankiness and feeling like I'd been repeatedly bashed over the head with a baseball bat (hence, the crankiness), I'm relaxing by the pool in the south of France.

One year ago today, I was in Paris, packing my satchel for my first day as a BM consultant.

Two years ago today, I was in Fontainebleau trying to understand the Swedish textile market of the 1960s and wondering how I was ever going to survive Finance and Accounting and still find the time to pick up my next crazy theme party outfit. (Speaking of which, I'm going to an INSEAD wedding in a few weeks where we have all been asked to wear pink. The craziness never stops.)

Three years ago today, I was in London, crafting headache-inducing arguments which managed to intertwine tenets of Shari'a, Texan and international investment law all at the same time (because clearly those all have so much in common. Who needs international peacekeepers, when for the right fee highly-paid lawyers will happily prove that Israelis, Palestinians, the Taleban and Rush Limbaugh in fact all agree?)

The question is, what on earth will I be doing one year from now?

Aug 29, 2009

And this little piggy went...

You won't believe it.

Three months.

Three months I survived working in London.

And on the morning of my departure, on day one of what feels like a seriously well-deserved vacation, what do I wake up with?


That's right.

I've got the swine...

Which means this post is now being written from my bed back in Paris, where I sit in semi-delirium completely incapable of sleep despite an early morning departure for the south of France tomorrow.

I don't think I've ever been so dehydrated in my life. Or more inclined to rail against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." You bet it's outrageous. It's a downright disgrace.

But I'm under strict instructions not to write any depressing blog posts and to "keep it light." I also need to prevent the parentals from panicking and calling in the CDC.

So, dehydration, burning throat and unbelievably sore... everything... be damned, I will take it on the chin and keep smiling as my nose turns progressively more snout-like and my skin takes on a pinkish hue.


Aug 27, 2009

It's time

The curtain will be coming down on Res' Summer of Fun in London in less than 48hrs. It's only been one little season (and to be honest, it wasn't even much of a "summer") but it feels somehow momentous. Like I should be standing back and taking stock.

Hmmm... Things still a bit blurry from over here, maybe I need to stand further back.

So here are the lessons I think I've learned:
  • When a very large sphere the approximate size and shape of the planet collapses onto your head, it is a good idea to let other people help you out.
  • If you're too stubborn to figure that out on your own, severe illness and the menace of impending death can help.
  • Re-prioritizing does not mean the last 10 years of your life have been a massive waste of time.
  • Not re-prioritizing means the next 10 years probably will be.
  • Friends are the bomb. Really.
  • Friends who stick around when even you can't stand the sight of yourself particularly so.
  • A Cadillac is not just a shiny, over-sized, gas-guzzling American car, but also an instrument of torture.
  • Said instrument of torture gives you really nice abs. Eventually.
  • Taking a chance on someone can be fun.
  • But never trust anyone with your clothes.
  • Making an effort to be healthy pays off.
  • But good food and good wine are allowed. And the odd margarita.
  • Jude Law is an excellent actor.
  • And yes, also hot. That does not make me shallow.
  • Worrying about what people think of you when you're dancing along to your ipod in the street will turn your hair grey.
  • Chances are they think you're cool.

Aug 25, 2009

It's not easy being green...

(courtesy of WE photostudio)

Saving the planet is all the rage these days. But what's a girl to do once she's bought the Prius, filled the pantry with an impressive collection of re-usable shopping totes from every supermarket chain known to man and switched the jacuzzi over to solar power?
The answer is simple. Go back to the basics. Try eco-dating.
Men, much like plastics, are re-usable. Especially if it's been a while and you can't really remember the first time around anyway. And just think about all that time and energy saved not having to trawl through entirely unsuitable prospects at the latest chi-chi club in South Ken. I mean, who has that kind of time after 30?
True, eco-dating won't do much for reducing your carbon footprint. But it will keep that little black book from flowing over.
Editor's note: Thanks to M for providing much-needed posting ideas in the midst of the Great Summer Writer's Block of '09

Aug 19, 2009

There are just some days when...

Possibly the best silly news story in living memory.

In fact, it's so good, I have to include a few choice morsels here:

Man Hurt Himself To 'Avoid Work'

Fiscal depute Jim Craigen said: "He was making his way to work and didn't really much fancy going. He therefore removed a razor from his pocket and repeatedly dragged it down his face. He also picked up a boulder and struck it off his head and repeatedly hit himself on the head and body."

And the punchline:

After the case, Reid said: "Looking back, I should have just phoned work and asked them for the day off."


What I did on my summer holiday

My fans (all two of them) have of late expressed their disappointment at my failure to regularly upload some witty, cutting remarks on the state of consulting, London weather and my fed-up-ness with men. What, you think blog posts grow on trees?! You think it's easy to find some new, clever way to say my job basically consists of writing "leverage" in different colours on slides, it's raining in London (although strangely, not today) and, well, I'm fed up with men?

Well, it's not, OK?! Sometimes, I have writer's block. Like now.

But since the children must be fed their greens, here's "what I did on my summer holiday", in bullet points, à la consultanese:
  • I haven't had a summer holiday yet
  • I have, however, had a couple weekends away
  • First, I went to Lake Garda in Italy (insert schematic representation of lake surrounded by mountains)
  • This allowed me to spend some quality time with former INSEAD classmates (insert INSEAD logo and think-cell chart on value of networking)
  • They are both consultants too
  • One of them jumped in the lake with his blackberry (pause for dramatic effect)
  • Last weekend, I went home to the South of France
  • I spent two days with family and friends
  • I ate well, and slept, and saw the sun
  • I was happy (ERROR MESSAGE: Powerpoint is unable to process)
  • Next steps...

And in other news, it appears that when faced with the possible end of the world as we know it, Americans vote based on height. Oh good. Nothing to worry about, then.

Aug 12, 2009

How'm'I doin'?

When I was a lawyer, we had performance reviews. Sometimes. When the partners could be bothered. And they typically went somewhere along the lines of: "You're billing 30% above the 2400hr target. That's decent enough. You still have a job. Do better next year, though."

Consulting therefore came as a bit of a shock. Here, feedback is the maître mot. Of course, there are the bi-annual reviews, and the end-of-project evaluations. But there are also the weekly team "how can we be better" sessions, the extra bonus-round one-on-one "tell me what's wrong with me" sob-fests and my personal favourite, the "immediate feedback". Yes, in consulting, yelling at a team-member who has just screwed up and cost you hours of work and condemned you to a late-night dinner of plastic-tasting sushi under painful neon lights is not called "bitching", it's "feedback". As in: "Hey, here's some immediate feedback. You're a dummass and I hope you get fired. We cool?" I love it.

What they don't tell you is you can get completely hooked on feedback. You start craving more and more of it until, like a junkie strung up on heroin, you are completely incapable of functioning without it.

And so, in my weekly 7am pilates session, I now find myself harassing my poor instructor like a needy 3 yr-old: "Is my navel getting closer to my spine? How about now? And is my ribcage soft enough? What about my horizon? Am I stretching my horizon in the right direction through my knees? Tatiana? Hello?"

Aug 7, 2009


Houston Hottie is right, of course, there are lots of fun things to do in London when it's raining (like I said, just pretend it's November and you'll be fine). In particular, London has a fabulous theater scene, which can be enjoyed rain or shine. And that's lucky, seeing as four girls-about-town had to make their way to and from the Wyndham last night in a downpour of Noah-esque proportions.

The ensuing damage to our collective footwear was worth it, though, as we sat through the 3+ hours of Hamlet in a trance, progressively falling in love from our seats in the 4th row. Now, I've always loved Hamlet (I remember that beat-up paperback copy I found under a chair at summer-camp when I was 10 and, not realizing I was still a bit young for near-suicidal, tormented young men, read the whole way through). But to be honest, I was mostly pretending to go see Hamlet so I could drool over Jude Law.

And yet, within minutes, I was so mesmerized I forgot to drool. Jude's performance is magnificent, matched only by the imposing set and creative lighting-work. My fellow swooners were surprised, but I always knew you had it in you, Jude (wink). (Sadly, the performances of a couple other cast members left a little to be desired, which was only made more starkly obvious by the fact that, as Hottie put it, "once Jude left the stage it was as if someone had turned the lights off.")

So, deluge notwithstanding, a very good night out.
Still, I must admit I'm hopping around the office with glee this morning (well, not right now, obviously, it would be hard to type) as I count down the hours until a lovely little airplane airlifts me out of here and off to sunny Italy for the weekend! Sunshine, here I come!

Aug 4, 2009


Some of you may know that, in a previous incarnation, I actually lived in London. Including over a couple summers. Summer has always been my favourite time to be in London (and England generally), just because there are so many fun and wonderful things to do here. And once again, my generosity of spirit has led me to share them with you now (in no specific order).

Fun and wonderful things to do when in London during the summer:
  • Have a pub lunch at one of those long wooden tables on the sidewalk
  • Take tennis lessons in Hyde Park
  • Go running in Hyde Park, or Battersea Park, or Regent's Park, or... (you get the idea)
  • Have a picnic in one of above-mentioned parks
  • Pay a quid to sit in an uncomfortable beach chair in one of the parks (there's a bit of a "park theme" here...)
  • Go see some outdoor theatre or opera or concert
  • Stroll along the Thames
  • Head up to Cambridge and go punting
  • Go walking in Richmond
  • Drink Pimms
  • Stand in the middle of the street with a pint of lager (apparently that's considered acceptable behaviour here...)
  • Laugh at the funny English people with bare midriffs and painful-looking sunburns

Fun and wonderful things to do when in London during the summer and it rains every damn day:

  • Pretend it's November
  • Get the hell out of London
  • That's it.

Aug 3, 2009


It's one of those (many) funny things about me that, no matter how well-traveled and adventurous I feel I am, no matter how highly I rate novelty in my life, the familiar has always had a very powerful draw. So much so that I worry I may be boring.

Which explains why I am sitting in a corporate flat only a few blocks away from my old apartment. Why I still have brunch at PJs 5 years later. Why I know that bit of King's Road and the section around the Bibendum like the back of my hand, but can't tell my Charlotte Street from Hoxton Square. Why it's entirely possible for me to have a crush on someone for 10 years running.

And why tonight I'm heading out to my absolute favourite restaurant in London, L'Etranger on Gloucester Road. To which I have already been half a dozen times (once I even got the sommelier's number...) And where I already know what I will order (the foie gras, the lamb and aubergine, and the chocolate trio) because I've ordered it practically every other time I've been there.

Is there something wrong with me? Does it come with age?

Well, never mind. Even if it is some kind of premature form of senility, it comes with glamorous Texan company and small fireworks for my tastebuds, so I'll take it.