Sunday, February 15, 2009


Yesterday was Valentine's Day and marked my third year as a bona fide "Bridget Jones Singleton" - complete with reluctant scrutiny over my Body Mass Index, cigarettes and alcohol consumption monitoring and occasional parental disapproval.

I have always despised Valentine's day, even when I was one half of a happy couple for 10 years - the crowded restaurants, heart shaped balloons and corny cards were never my thing. But negotiating the rose-tinted cliches of Valentine's day as a single girl is another matter all together and it is an art that I seem to have finally perfected with a little help from my friends.

After grabbing a bite to eat early in order to avoid the pre-set menus and hordes of couples, my girlfriends and I went to see "He's not that into you" at the Loews cinema on 11th and 3rd. The film was as mediocre as I expected it to be (I hate chick flicks) but at least was not as one-sided as I feared it might be in the fact that there were instances of "she's" not that into you as well, which Libs, Marie & I identified with as much as the other way around. What I did like however was the atmosphere in the movie theater. It was clearly filled with disillusioned New York single girls and the unrealistic Hollywood romantic moments were received with loud caustic comments - much to my delight. For example, when Ben Affleck's character produced an engagement ring after swearing he would never get married, someone shouted "yeah ... right!?" and the audience burst into hysterical laughter. We finished the evening in "winebar", a cosy, brick-walled, candle lit bar in the East Village, sharing more laughs over a great cheese platter and an excellent bottle of Malbec.

I sometimes feel that your love life is like a scorecard and you actually need to go through a number of experiences in order to appreciate or even just recognize true love when it finally comes along. Like many of my girlfriends, I seem to have exhausted all the scenarios over the years - the "he's not into you", the "she's not into you" and the horribly confusing "it's complicated", as well as every other shades of grey in between.

Of course, being single is not always easy and it certainly was a shock to me as I have never been single before in my entire adult life. But I am actually grateful for this experience and I know it is something that I have to live through and enjoy, if only because I would have never otherwise experienced all of the above scenarios and therefore missed out on some invaluable life lessons.

There are things I miss from being in a stable, meaningful relationship (although topping the list is having someone helping me change the bed covers - my most hated household chore!) but joke aside, being in a committed relationship is fantastic. I hope I will have that again some day. But in the mean time, I see no point in pining for it and putting my life on hold while waiting for my "knight in shining armor" to magically appear ... there are far too many things I want to do and achieve by myself before that and I'm only getting started.

So here is to another year of filling up my scorecard!


When an impending global economic crisis started to be discussed last Summer, I was firmly in denial about its potential magnitude and impact on my life.

My state of oblivion rapidly changed by the Autumn, when the company I work for announced a 10% reduction of its workforce and I had the horrendous experience of having to let one of my team members go and watch some of my friends lose their jobs. Since then, there is hardly a week passing by at work without yet another alarmist communication from our executive team about new cost cutting measures, salary cuts or how incredibly challenging the current economic environment is.

Adverts on TV have noticeably changed in their tone and nature too in the past few months - from an increasing deluge of commercials about financial security, credit control and retail sales, to even more overt references to our precarious situation like the new ad from Hundai where consumers are encouraged to buy a new model with the guarantee that Hundai will take the car back if they lose their income within a year of purchase.

The bleakness has also spread to the streets of Manhattan. I realized a couple of weeks ago while walking around my neighbourhood that a few restaurants are now either closed or closing and that "For Rent" signs seem to adorn every other shop windows. On Tuesday this week, when Marie & I had planned to grab a couple of drinks at a local wine bar after our gym workout, we were surprised to see that it had closed early. It seems that a lot of establishments throughout the City are doing the same these days. The NY mag even wrote an article about it here.

In these circumstances, it can sometimes be hard to keep a positive outlook on the future. I like to think that I have dealt with a high amount of uncertainty, doubt and risk in the last two years of my personal life but I don't think that anything has prepared me enough for the road ahead and the challenges of 2009. This year will be a test of strength, resilience and adaptability for me and many people.

Will I lose my job? If I do, or decide to leave of my own accord, the chances of getting a visa are now null and I will be forced to move back to London jobless and with a sense of unfinished "New York business" ... The thing is that I love taking risks and yet I hate uncertainty. I crave and actively seek out adventure but secretly yearn for safety. I love surprises but I hate not being in control of my destiny. A constant state of dichotomy shared by many I am sure.

At least even if my New York adventure is cut short, it will be with the knowledge that I lived it to its fullest. It hasn't always been as easy, fun or even as glamourous as it may have appeared on this blog, but it has been incredibly intense and life-forming. I never do anything by half and this has been no exception.

The thing about not being in control however is that you have no choice but surrender yourself to fate - for better or for worse. So for now, I am enjoying each day as it comes and relishing every new memory that this fantastic City is helping me create.