Jan 28, 2012


Those who know me know that I have a few major addictions. One less, since I quit smoking, but quite a lot remain. Shoes, of course. And pasta. And nutella. And US TV series.

The latter has gotten much worse since I moved to Switzerland. Must have something to do with spending all my free time by myself and the weather being miserable. Which means that I have now moved past the stage where I've caught up on all the latest seasons of all my favourite shows, and into the stage where I'm just grabbing random DVDs off the shelf in the hope that it will turn out to be something I like.

My latest obsession: The Closer. Never mind the fact that I've been crazy about Kyra Sedgwick since I saw her in Singles a long, long time ago (everybody our age needs to go back and see that movie, by the way). This show is brilliant. And I have finally found myself a role model.

A no-longer-so-young woman who prioritises her career. Check.
Who deals with insubordinate subordinates all day. Check.
Who, despite all her best intentions and desire to do the right thing, manages to piss off everyone she works with. Check.
Who lives in constant fear of disappointing her parents. Check.
Who cries at work one minute then bites someone's head off the next. Check.
Who is single and not so convinced she really wants to have kids. Check.

And despite all that, she is awesome.

But honestly, tell me.
Is it weird that my role model is a homicide detective?
Is it weirder that my role model is a homicide detective on TV?

There are, of course, a few key differences between Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and Little Res.

Key difference #1: The accent. It makes all the put-downs sound better. I bet you my team would like me more if I said y'all.
Key difference #2: She has a gun.
Key difference #3: She lives in Los Angeles. Where it's sunny.
Key difference #4: She can eat junk food all day and never get fat.
Key difference #5: She actually loves her job.

But we do wear the same glasses.

Jan 21, 2012

Python Hug

So my senior team member quit on me this week. One year to the day from when he started. He's leaving to take a job at CoolCo, which I suppose is, by definition, cooler than CoolCo Sub. But there's no promotion and he's taking a pay cut. It seems like the only thing better about that job than the one he has now is the absence of, well, me.

I don't blame him, really. I haven't quite taken to this management thing. I may have an MBA from one of the best schools in the world but remain severely deficient in the management skills department. I am demanding, impatient, overly emotional - and I hate not being liked. All of which are combining to make me feel like a big fat failure.

And now I need to start hiring all over again. People are tripping over themselves to come work for CoolCo Sub - so much so that I wonder if they even read the job description. But all I want to do is take them by the shoulders and shake them, warn them against working for me, because I'm only going to make them miserable and desperate to leave. But I can't do that, obviously. Instead I have to lie. Tell them this is a great job and I'm a wonderful boss and that they will live happily ever after.


The upside of all this is I get to troll job sites for work.  And once in a while, find an entertaining gem to share with my dear readers. These are my top 3 favourite job descriptions this week:

1. Senior email strategy specialist: I'm thinking man in a three piece suit, dark room without windows, clicking a black pen, scanning the faces of his team before pronouncing : "Alright. We're dropping the 'Dear'. And using Helvetica. Go."

2. Cyberlawyer: This job must be fun. Create your own avatar kind of fun. I want mine to wear Ally McBeal skirts and cat-eye glasses and pace Second Life courtrooms shouting "I want the truth!" And then be able to handle it.

3. Senior python developer: I swear to God I didn't make this one up. I couldn't have, trust me. Senior python developer? I was almost tempted to send an application in just for the fun (but then I found out what it really meant and the whole mental image was ruined.) But I won't spoil the fun for you, my darlings. Enjoy.

Jan 12, 2012

Bull's eye

Targeted advertising. It's all the rage now. But have you ever stopped and really looked at what ads are specifically aimed at you? And have you ever considered what that might mean about who you are as a person?

Of course you haven't. Because you probably have better things to do in your life, and I'm sure you have a nice, healthy self-esteem that doesn't rely on advertisers to define who you are.

But I have. Obviously.

The ads on facebook for me today are all in German and exhort me to a) buy new warm clothes for the winter; b) book a vacation to Thailand; and c) get some Botox.

So, according to the Big All-Knowing Brother of Targeted Advertising who watches my every move, I am freezing my buttocks in Switzerland (true), desperately in need of some r&r (true) and getting old (ummm, I guess that's true as well).

That sums it up pretty perfectly.

But, dear advertisers, you won't catch me that easily. I've just gone and layered on a nice anti-aging face mask, plugged in the electric hot water bottle and flicked open my guide to Bali.

So there.

Jan 7, 2012

Baby steps

You know how they say "old habits die hard"? Well, first of all, who actually said that? How do these so-called truisms come into being in the first place? Surely they can't all be the work of Benjamin Franklin? Has Bill Bryson not written a book about this yet?

Anyways, I digress. Old habits die hard. So say some people. I say, that's hogwash. (Speaking of hogwash, that is totally making my top-ten-favourite-words-of-all-time list.)

Old habits die like every plant I've ever owned. Instantaneously. And are even harder to resuscitate. Picking up an old habit is just like riding a bike. Ever gotten back on a bike after years off the saddle? It's uncomfortable. It's wobbly. And after five minutes in on-coming traffic you're going to wish you'd stuck to the subway.

Same thing goes for running. Eating vegetables. Doing sit-ups every morning. Sitting down face-to-face (finger-to-key?) with your keyboard and trying to blog about something. It may have been something you used to do without thinking, but come back to it after a long, lonely Siberian winter and it's going to feel like you never typed an interesting sentence in your life.

This week I spent my tram rides to and from work desperately trying to think of something to blog about. There had to be something. Anything. I can't fold after one week into the new year. Come on! Think! You know how to do this!

But it turns out I can't remember. So I will have to learn all over again. The same way I will have to re-learn how to be patient, how to show kindness, how to laugh when things go wrong, how to have a little faith.

Please bear with me. I'll do better next time.

Jan 2, 2012

What I really need

I broke my own rule and actually made New Year's resolutions this year. And not just one or two, but a long, detailed list of them, with KPIs and measurement tools... (apparently one year is enough to make you a consultant forever).

I'll spare you the oh-so-cliché resolutions about exercising more and eating less (I am a girl, after all). The important one for present purposes is that I did resolve to come back to blogging. And you, dear readers, are going to make me stick to it. (Should that even still be a plural? Could there possibly be more than one person that still checks these pages after all this time?)

So, to get us started, and to catch up on lost time, I'm going to attempt the traditional year in review. You'll have to bear with me if the memories are fuzzy, though - I seem to have repressed most of 2011.

I'm in Switzerland. I remember that much. It's cold. I'm miserable. I'm already starting to wonder what on earth I'm doing here, and I just got here. I've also just become a feudal lord. I mean, a boss. An actual boss, that hired people and now has to give them work and get them motivated and keep them from screwing up and give them feedback and take it very, very personally whenever they do something wrong or think I'm the world's biggest bitch. I think I may not be cut out for this.

Finally, a little sunshine in my life. In the form of Brazil with Houston Hottie, and sand and ocean and music and nice food and caipirinhas. Never mind that I've become so stressed and high-strung that I can't really enjoy it. Or that I've doubled in size in the past six months. After Brazil I head to Johannesburg for work and never make it out of the hotel. But at least I'm not in the office. This is a bad sign.

Things start looking up for a bit. First of all, because summer comes to Switzerland in May (before promptly disappearing, never to be seen again). Because I start building a very small group of girlfriends with whom I can enjoy drinks by the lake on balmy evenings. Because I have the crazy idea that one of these days I'm going to get a handle on all this people management stuff. Ignorance is bliss.

The beginning of a very ugly downward spiral. I start fighting with everyone at work, in particular my boss. Thank goodness for my one work ally (and very first real friend in Switzerland). I start emptying jars of Nutella. I stop enjoying anything.

The one week break by myself in the South of France doesn't help. Things are only getting worse. After the boss, I now start doing battle with one, then both members of my team. And I hire someone else, as if it's a good idea to subject yet another person to my foul moods and bad temper. The wider politics at work keep poisoning everything. And I am completely incapable of handling any of it, much less myself. I run away to New York to try to remember what sane me was like.

So this is how rock bottom feels. God, it hurts. And not just me, but everyone around me. I feel sick. And pathetic. And angry. But you know what, I think it really does work like they say. Once your feet touch the bottom, you can kick your sad, quivering, suddenly overweight, insomniac self back up.

So here's what I want to say: Screw you, 2011. Bring on round two.