One of my co-workers, Dancer, used to see us stressing as we rushed to hit a deadline and she'd ask, "Are you winning?"
For one brief shining moment, I am! Our big client got us the creative direction and show themes the Thursday before I started working again (back in March). On Monday the 23rd, I started my work life again with a phone call between me and the client-side creative director. He wanted to be the first responder as I worked on sketches and developed the designs. Last year another company ended up designing the on-site experience and I was stuck just doing production work. This year they gave me one page with colors, graphic elements and let me go ahead with the show design.
For the past two weeks I worked from home and just cranked out solutions. I put together a packet showing what the outside of the building would look like, what the inside big hall would have in it, created signage templates and even created my very first Flash banner (for an online ad). The client-side creative guy told me last week to cc him on things, but he no longer needed to be the approver.
I still have a ton to design and the on-site walkthrough still needs to be approved by the upper-level execs, but thus far, everything has been given the OK.
It's been a long time since I've enjoyed my job, mostly cause I've been doing politics more than design work, and (strange, but true) I became a designer because I LIKE designing things! It just confirms that the next step for me is to go back to a smaller boutique agency or start my own thing. I'm not cut-out for big, corporate clients.
Though it's nice to know I can play the game and win, even if I don't love the process.