January 30, 2007

I Have Arrived

If you had asked me a six months ago where I was in my career I would have said – midcareer, meaning that I was at a plateau that is a bit frustrating. Midcareer doesn’t mean that you’re stuck but that’s certainly how I felt. What options were open to me, did I have to be in the arts, did I need to be an Executive Director to be successful?

During the summer I was a Research Fellow with Americans for the Arts with a focus on midcareer leadership development. I conducted a national study amongst self-identified midcareer professionals to determine what their greatest challenges and opportunities were in continuing their career in the field of nonprofit arts administration. What I discovered was that the leadership pipeline is underdeveloped. Yet now I think that you have to open it for yourself - which doesn't necessarily mean starting a business. Just having a good hard look at your goal and the possible options.

I’m not sure if it is different here in the UK but I feel that I’ve been pulled through that pipeline. My current position, as Business Development Manager is a post in which I am a key player in the senior management team. My work is self-guided because I have the expertise to know how to progress and positively impact the company. All my skills are being fully utlised and I am learning new ones every day, including leadership, mentorship, coaching and advising.

I applied to pursue a PhD in arts and culture leadership here in the UK and was accepted into the program. But at the same time I didn’t feel 100% inspired to move forward. This past weekend I took an intro to coaching course to explore if corporate and executive coaching would be of interest. I learned helpful skills and methodologies but again, I’m not feeling the push to move in that direction.

After a good talk with Simone I realized that I have arrived. I no longer feel midcareer. I have valuable expertise that I can further develop through reading and perhaps a training course here and there. My toolkit is already really quite well developed. Heck, I could teach some of those courses and have in the past.

Now to have some fun and enjoy living in Europe!

January 25, 2007


For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to coordinate with a package delivery service that had a mystery item for me from the States. Today, after much coordinating, the package and I have made contact. To my surprise it was a care package, much like the ones I hoped for when I was in sleep-away-camp, from my friends Dee-Dee and Owain in Maine. The box was filled with all kinds of New England goodies.

At first I was frustrated that Dee-Dee had paid for this box to get to me in a timely fashion. We’re not sure who’s time it was fashioned after but it was supposed to get to me. But then I rejoiced in the box’s adventures across the Atlantic. Did it come by sea or air? In the spirit of London’s customer service this package has spent many a day in various trucks taking it to Notting Hill and then at the post office outlet nestled in a variety store across from Kings Cross train station on Caledonia Road. People put away life savings for these kinds of holidays.

Here is a photo of my desk at work with the bag of kettle corn popcorn above my bookcase, the white chocolate lobster hanging on the wall and a photo of Dee-Dee and Owain’s dog Owen hanging on the cube wall. I actually don’t work in a cube it just looks that way. Well, now my cube-like-but-not-a-cube workspace is all cheered up with bits of my New England.

January 24, 2007

Let it Snow!

This morning we woke up to the beauty of snow! It has been probably more than 16 years since I've lived in a city that is cold enough to make snow. So beautiful and peaceful.

Here are shots from our front and back balconies.

Prunes Are Heavy Hitters

Note to self: Don’t eat prunes prior to a Board meeting.

So I have this issue about eating before I step out the door. You never know when you’ll have or won’t have your next meal. That’s what I always think. So, I eat something, hungry or not. The same seems to be true for late night meetings. Okay, not that late but after work hours. Today I was invited to attend my first board meeting at work. It started at 6pm and usually I’m home at that time eating something – you know – to break the anxiety of going home on the tube and not having dinner ready. Well, the only thing I had in my desk was a package of prunes. I ate three.

During the Board meeting my stomach let out a small growl. I’m sure only the people on either side of me heard it. I stared at the plate of beige cookies on the table and thought, “don’t eat those, they make you sick.” I held out. But my stomach rebelled. Suddenly it let out a huge internal farting growl sound. The man next to me was speaking but I interrupted him with “oh my god!” as I covered my stomach with my hands and bent over. How un-British of me. I immediately reached for one of those horrible cookies and ate it as fast as I could. It had no flavor and barely any texture but it was a distraction from my stomach or for my stomach. There must be Murphy's Law for prunes because they never seem to work when you need them and then they are heavy hitters when you don't.

January 20, 2007

Bournemouth Beach

I went on a one-day business trip this week to Bournemouth which is in the south west of England, a two hour train journey from London.

Reminded me a bit of the California coastline. Maybe I'm just California dreaming.

Founding Brotherly Love

It took me two weeks but I read and enjoyed The Hornet’s Nest by US President Jimmy Carter. Promoted as the first piece of fiction by an American President (I guess that excludes on-the-job fiction of some of our favorite leaders) the novel explores the US Revolutionary War in the southern states. This was my first understanding of the war which seems to have been left out of my primary school education curriculum.

The story starts slow but ultimately is well written and the perfect reading for daily train commutes. The only part that at first gave me the creeps was the sex scenes. I’m sorry but I can’t see Jimmy Carter writing them. Also, gay undertones of some of the characters was another surprise. Talk about brotherly love.

Bottoms Up

This past week's storm was intense and hit London hard. Walking to the tube Friday morning I passed this tree which had fallen over the wall and onto the train tracks.

Now we have sunshine and blue skys - calm after the storm.

January 17, 2007

Hairy Prawns Photo

Thank you to David for sending me this image of the Hairy Prawns at Yo Sushi!

It is the left page, center item in the pink circle. I can feel a hairball collecting.

Yack, yack, yack - here comes a hot classic. Will someone pick it up for me?

January 16, 2007

Yo Sushi!

I have a new favorite restaurant and it has the subtle name of Yo Sushi! There are something like eight locations in London and I’ve eaten at four of them in the past month.

Being frugal I love coupons and Yo Sushi has the mother-of-all coupons valid January 15-31 – half price on any item off the belt. The belt you ask? This is the truly classic sushi experience of the food moving along a conveyer belt in front of you so that you can be tempted and taunted by every delectable item. Please don’t think about how long some of the less popular or more exotic items have been on the belt – you already have to suspend your sushi disbelief to eat raw fish.

The other interesting challenge that again plays into my cheapness/frugality is that every item is in a little circular dish with a plastic globe top. The dishes are color coded for different prices. Oh yes, what can be the yummiest, cheapest thing you can find? Or, why not splurge and get the most exotic expensive item that is hot out of the fryer. That’s what I did last night with Hairy Prawns. Why on earth would anyone be excited to eat a hairball with a shrimp in the middle? Well, I had two. It turned into a love-hate attraction-repulsion kind of thing. Perhaps I’m over the hair in the food trauma I’ve had since my brother made us brownies on Passover and somehow managed to get a GIANT hairball in the batter. Okay, the trauma has returned.

I wish I had photos of the dishes but the website is flash and I can’t download any. Visit their menu and turn the pages to Tempura. You’ll see the dish on the left side of the page.

Caugh, Caugh, Meow.

Spam Spam Spam Spam

To celebrate Stephen’s birthday we had an evening out at the theatre. Only high brow drama for us – Spamalot! If you love Monty Python the Holy Grail and you are not a fan of musical theatre you will love this production. It has all your favorite scenes, lots of new tunes, a few classics and great sets. Plus, they’ve added a real female character (not one of those men in drag) The Lady of the Lake. She makes the show.

Although Monty Python has English origins there are a few scenes that depend on the Broadway production’s audience since it launched and still plays in NYC. The second act includes an entire production around needing a Jew to be successful on in London's West End theatre. No one laughed in London. New Yorkers would have been in hysterics.

The sets are highlighted with many of the classic animations from the film version. Plus, there are dancing girls, confetti falling from the ceiling, sales of Spam sandwiches in the aisles and ice cream at intermission.

This is a great way to celebrate any birthday, especially if you are looking for something different. Now to start planning for next year.

January 10, 2007

Miracle Crockery

Since all our belongings are in storage in Houston our kitchen is minimal here in London. Despite this we’ve done a great job of accumulating spices, oils and vinegars since both Stephen and I love to cook. This weekend we splurged on a Le Creulset casserole dish – something we don’t have in Houston. I am now officially addicted.

Stephen inaugurated the pot with venison casserole or what I would call a stew. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Tonight I made my famous chili and again it melts in your mouth. Well, it would be melt-in-your-mouth except that it is super spicy because I can't seem to find non-firey chili powder, so it actually burns in your mouth. But still very tender.

Public Eyes Watching You

Walking past the Paddington Library today I noticed this man sitting in the window reading a magazine. I laughed out loud when I realised he was reading a "girly" magazine. Hopefully small children or someone like his wife, mother-in-law or priest didn't walk past and notice. Actually, he is well disguised in that hat. I'm sure he was reading the articles and not looking at the photos.

I can just imagine that he went out, purchased this magazine while well disguised in his snow-flake hat and casually walked over to the library. He then sat down, took out the magazine and started reading. Or, it is a rather liberal library perhaps they have a pornography section.

How about the two red banners that say CRIME in front of him. Nice placement.

[Note: I am not faking the British spelling tendencies. They've actually become part of my vocabulary. In the blog I tend to move between English and British English, which is of course the Queen's English. I suppose I am writing in Bringlish.]

January 8, 2007

Reality of TV

I just want you to know that I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to give up my latest craze – reality tv shows. No, it isn’t the same as gossip blogs. Okay, but it isn’t a New Year’s resolution so I’m not breaking any promises.

Here are my favorites.

Dog the Bounty Hunter – I can’t get enough of Dog and his with Beth as well as the rest of the gang. They pray before busting any criminals and he always lectures the captured on how they need to change their lives. I’m not religious but there is something heartwarming about his passion for reform. Let’s not point out that he is currently sitting in a cell in a Mexican prison. Those giant super hero muscles, crazy blonde, blow dried big hair, Beth’s boom boom boobs and all the tattoos. Visual overload.

American Chopper – the boys of Orange County Chopper are close to my heat. I think it is the family dynamic that I can watch for episode up on episode. There are some similarities to Dog’s gang. First Paul Sr. is ginormous like Dog – with the blond hair, big muscles, tatts and of even a handlebar mustache. His relationship with sons Paulie and Mikey is painful to watch and endlessly humorous. Plus, they have that Hudson Valley New York accent that reminds me of home.

Myth Busters – I’ve burned out a bit on this one but can always find interest in their location which is Alameda California – just next door to Oakland.

Celebrity Big Brother – this is an obsession and now I understand why. Somehow we started watching this past Saturday night and it is an instant addiction – the crack of bad TV. One of the cable channels shows the program live 24 hours a day. Nothing happens and it is totally boring but somehow reassuring to know that you can watch their bizarre situation. Plus, it has my first TV love Dirk Benedict formerly of Battlestar Gallactica and the A Team. He is best know as The Face. It is so reassuring to hear his American accent. Unfortunately Germaine Jackson is also on the show, demonstrating his American accent and typical Jackson bizarre lifestyle.

Okay, I’m working on some evening activities that do not involve TV and the internet. We do go to museums and other cultural activities every week so hold your judgement!

Fantastic Photo Blog

Check out this fantastic newsy and art photo blog on msnbc http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/. Okay, I admit I was on their gossip page when I found it - but see how I'm branching out and looking into other parts of their website?

If you are looking for photographic inspiration this is a fantastic blog to visit. Plus, there are comments from photographers and editors helping you understand how and why the photo was taken.

January 6, 2007

To Market! To Market!

Borough Market located on the south side of the Thames just past the London Bridge is one of Europe’s oldest markets. Stephen has been eager for us to visit since he knows I love Farmers’ Markets. So today we trekked to the mother of all Farmers’ Markets. Stephen tells me that there has been a market on this spot since Roman times.

Specializing in gourmet foods, fresh meets, poultry and fish, as well as plenty of produce and bakery items, the market is a place to meet every dietary vision - from fully vegan to fresh from the hunt.

Highlights included:
--Fresh chocolate truffles exploding from wooden bowls
--Hot ginger, honey, lemon “cider”
--Pheasant not-yet-plucked (and bunnies too)
--Wild Boar sausages
--Brownies the size of books
--Cheeses in full rounds

It was super crowded even though it was raining like the Dickens today. But this did get me a super deal on Tofu since the guy wasn't getting his regular crowd.

The line drawing picture is from the Wikipedia page on Borough Market.
Photos by me today.

The Heat is On

Great news! The boiler is fixed. Now I know what it feels like to come home to a warm, quiet flat. It is so cozy in here.

So, what was the problem? It appears that our techs drilled the hole for the pipes from outside to inside – with the pipes already in installed. This means that a thick gunky mess developed in the pipes as the brick powder collected. I need to believe that it was their effort to ensure that our flat not get too dusty. But, the repair men this time around told us that the gunk was inside too – all over the pump.

Now it is fixed and we are so happy. At 6.30am the heat starts and the bedroom warms up. What a concept!

January 1, 2007

Eyes Wide Shut

For Chanukah this year I thought that experiential gifts would be fun for my dad and during folks’ visit to London. What better way to see London than on the London Eye? As you know I’ve promised to try and get over my fear of very high tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Ferris Wheels) and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity.

In preparation for the ride, or flight as they call it, on the Eye I took a test trip on my own last week. After all, wouldn’t it be better to freak out with a bunch of strangers than with my family? Ah yes, you can see I have intimacy issues with that logic. Well, as the capsule doors closed I had the perfect opportunity to get intimate with a bunch of people who were really just trying to have a nice excursion on their vacation. I will forever be known in some countries as “the woman who freaked out on our vacation.”

The moment those doors closed I knew I had made a mistake. This wasn’t for me. I didn’t scream but I did look like a person being put in prison who was trying to alert the authorities to their error as the doors shut. Holly Freaking Goodness I would have to spend the next 30-35 minutes enclosed in a capsule as we viewed London from the world’s highest observation deck.

So, I traveled with my eyes shut, which seemed to help me suspend my disbelief. I have a very powerful imagination and this became a theatre of the mind. If I can’t see it, I’m not really there. The only bit that this logic didn’t help was when we went over the top and the wind jostled our little capsule.

As we traveled I took photos with my digital camera. With my eyes closed I wasn’t able to compose my shots or even know if I was hitting the correct buttons. But, it did distract me during the ride. Here are some of the results.

When exited the ride I reached into my pocket pulling out some beige comfort food item I had purchased from the farmers’ market that morning. When I was young my nickname was Cakeface because one day on the school bus I shoved an entire piece of cake into my mouth. Well, Cakeface lives again.

Needless to say I didn’t ride the Eye on New Year’s Eve with Stephen and my folks. They had a lovely trip and returned with many great photographs. I told them repeatedly how impressed I was with their bravery.

As 2006 came to a close we switched on the TV to watch the fireworks shoot off of the Eye. The spectacular ten minute show was fully appreciated by Stephen and my folks who had been on the Eye just nine hours earlier. At least this time my eyes were open.

The Alphabet Game

Two New Year's Eves running Stephen and I have been with my folks and now have started a kind of tradition in the form of a game. It began last year in Santa Fe with my Aunt and Uncle. There were six of us and each picked out letters of the alphabet from a bag. We then went to a grocery store and had to each present dishes/food items for dinner that began with our letters. The fun was in guessing the letters as we gazed out over our eclectic New Year's Eve dinner.

This year the game took a twist and went digital. Again we picked our letters and this time we each used our digital camera to photograph objects, scenes or items that illustrated our letters. The images were taken over three days during our exploration of London. Here are two of mine. Take a guess.

Clues for the first letter...

Clues for the second letter...

Answers below...

The answers are... Y for Yellow and then S for Shadow.