Rumour has it

I am famished and brutally tired but not particularly angry or unhappy about it. Frustration with the European way of doing things notwithstanding, this trip hasn’t been so bad. I didn’t get as sick as I used to even though my stomach and my face are swollen twice over thanks to ridiculous levels of sodium and olive oil in everything. Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some jamon serrano or chorizo iberico and I love membrillo con queso and let’s not forget that mornings are immensely more pleasant after drinking bitter, strong spanish coffee with creamy, fresh milk – it’s the redundant oil in things that are hitherto healthy is what gets me. A plate of grilled vegetables comes dripping in oil and salted to the nines. Onion soup? here’s a recipe for high blood pressure.
Nonetheless somehow this trip to Madrid has been a lot less grueling than previous ones. For one it dawned on me (as well as on my colleagues) that we’ve been here 3 years – 3 long, sometimes painful, sometimes gratifying years – Bunny’s relationship and mine were casualties but the rest were safe. And for what it’s worth, I am sure as hell smarter today than I was three years ago.

For two, it was reassuring to be told repeatedly that I wouldn’t be laid off because just two days ago, a shit load of people were fired from the new york office. Rumours had been flying around and noone was confirming anything until after the fact. Actually, while I cannot guarantee that I won’t totally lose my shit if I were laid off tomorrow, I am a little less scared of the possibility.

For three, some parts of the training seriously rocked – especially this one guest lecture, delivered in Spanish (and I didn’t need a translator, hurrah for comprehension! not so much though for being able to speak without sounding like either a retard or a phone sex operator which incidentally happens to have cropped up as an amazing alternative career choice). So yes, this speaker was amazing and many of us struggled to fight back tears – it was that powerful. Granted he used anecdotal evidence and some of the stories may have been known to us but his style and his unfaltering optimism was not something to take lightly. At one point he said that we are only here to do two things – to love and to create. Now that is something, isn’t it? Because if all we should be doing is those two things, then surely it renders futile efforts we put in other areas. For a fraction of a millisecond I didn’t feel all too bitter about the fact that he who shall not be named now has a brand new superfantastic highpaying job in Singapore (never mind the claim that he was resolute about leaving Singapore for good this year and starting a family and living closer to his parents, no fuck em, convenient lies). And no, I am not stalking him or anything, it is my misfortune that we live in a world that is sometimes a bit too connected for our own wellbeing. Just last week, someone gave me immense displeasure by mentioning, for no reason, that I should consider job opportunities in Singapore because my wretched ex travels a lot and the likelihood of running into him was low. Thanks very much for that – you are about as useful as an icemaker in the tundra.

For four, I got some visibility with a senior guy in my division and he was cordial. Let’s face it, it is a shitty environment to be looking for jobs (again) and one can but keep trying, insisting. He literally told me about the layoffs expected but I tried to stay positive without coming off as cavalier. Remember what Emily Dickinson said about hope? It sings.

For five, for those of you keeping track, shopping in Madrid turned out quite well and the undeservedly high european prices seemed a little less horrible against the sad exchange rate. Zara was great and I picked up some rather avant – garde pieces including an exaggerated peplum skirt. I also went to cortefeil and found a sleek suit from their high-end line Pedro del Hierro. I loved Uterque (sp?), the new really high-end line from (their shoes are gorgeous, definitely better than zara’s own offering)  though I didn’t have the enthusiasm to buy anything after having already spent 300 euro in an hour. I am sad to report that Mango has gone to cheapsville by way of tacky – ugly clothes made of cheap materials in ugly colours and priced indecently. What a crying shame. At Barajas airport, I spent a good deal on ham, cheese, saffron and wine. Can’t wait to share the loot with the girls.

In fact, I can’t wait to go back to hong sweet kong.


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