Friday, February 02, 2007

New York, New York

Sunday, 1/21/07

Well, I’m back in New York. I love this city! I mean, it’s New York—arguably the center of the world. Sure, it’s kind of dirty…and it’s loud…and it’s crazy and seems to revolve around nightlife…and none of those is anything I’m crazy about, but it’s still New York, and it's got everything you want in a city. And it’s got celebrities. And I’m always on the lookout for celebrities. I haven’t been that successful, but maybe we’ll get lucky this week. (We didn’t get lucky, by the way.)

I left this morning on the 10:20 flight out of DFW. We got all the way from Kyle’s house to the airport in about 30 minutes. I wish the traffic were like that every morning. It takes me 45 minutes to drive to Atmos, which is where I’ll be for the next few months. That’s less time than it takes me to get to the KPMG building downtown, but I have to drive the whole way. I do have an idea of how I can make the most of that hour and a half each day, though, so it should be bearable. Anyway, my flight left on time and actually arrived at La Guardia an hour early. We had to wait on the runway for 40 minutes, though, because there wasn’t a gate ready for us. I got my bags and got to the hotel at 3:30 EST. We’re staying that the Inter-Continental The Barclay on E. 48th Street in Midtown. It’s very nice. My roommate isn’t here yet, and I don’t know her, but I hope she’s nice. I’m not as familiar with this area of Manhattan. Most of my time here two summers ago was spent in Uptown or Downtown or western or more central Midtown. However, it’s just one block over to 5th Avenue and a short walk to Times Square and Central Park, so that’s cool. The Waldorf Astoria is right across the street.

So I got to the hotel at 3:30. The next person to get here from Dallas didn’t get here until about 7:00, so I walked around Rockefeller Plaza and Times Square then went up to Columbia and took some pictures. I met up with Gregg later and we went and got some dinner then walked around Times Square some more. My roommate got to the hotel at about 11:30. She’s from the L.A. office. She and her friend from L.A. hadn’t had dinner, so we showed them the way to Times Square so they could get something to eat. I’m a little tired of Times Square now!

Monday, 1/22/07

By the time we got back to the hotel last night, unpacked, and showered, it was pretty late. We didn’t get to sleep until about 2 am. Then, we got up and went back out at 7 am to take advantage of our morning. KPMG stuff didn’t start until 1:30, but we had to be back by 12 to register. We started the day by riding the subway down to South Ferry to take some pictures of the Statue of Liberty then walked through the Financial District and up Wall Street. We went to see how things are progressing at Ground Zero. It has to feel really special for those people who are involved in the construction of the new WTC and memorial. We walked up through Greenwich Village and to City Hall and the court house. I felt like Casey Novak walking down the L&O court house steps. Then, we took the subway to Union Square and ate lunch at the Chat ‘n’ Chew, which is the popular southern cooking restaurant that I enjoyed when I was here in 2004. They have the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted, as well as some excellent sweet potato fries.

Monday - Friday

KPMG stuff started at 1:30 with a general session on Monday. There are a lot of really nice new hires here, so it’s been fun to get to know them. We’re in class pretty much all day – from 8:30 to 5:30 – then we have evening events that last until about 9 or 10. We went out Monday and Tuesday night. Monday night, KPMG took us out to eat at a trendy bistro called Rue 57 (on 57th street, of course), and Tuesday night, several of us went to Serendipity 3 and had frozen hot chocolate. It was cold, but it was delicious! Wednesday, they made us do this team-building exercise which I really didn’t care for. This company came in from Chicago and divided us into groups and had us make 60 second digital films about KPMG. My group did not work well together, and the emphasis of team-building got lost almost immediately. There was a lot of arguing, and in the end, we ended up with a film that’s funniest moment came when a hotel maid unknowingly (or knowingly and nonchalantly) wandered through the end of one of our shots. The other groups actually came up with some very clever, funny films. My group spent too much time fighting that we never really came up with a concept and ended up just filming a pointless sixty seconds. I have to say I was very annoyed. First of all, you all know how introverted I am, and after two full days of being around sixty new college graduates, the last people I wanted to be around were college graduates. I was exhausted and easily agitated, and I clearly didn’t have the same sense of humor as most of the people in my group, so I ended up just giving in and watching it all go on. I will say that I got to know most of the people in my group better before the end of the week, and they are all very likeable. I even shared a cab back to the airport with my co-director (we didn’t see eye-to-anything during the shoot), and we got along very well. I think we were just all a little tired of each other and the hotel, and we had some very opinionated people in our group. I don’t think it was the best exercise for team-building, though…team-breaking maybe. We built better relationships when we were just sitting in the lobby talking or splitting up in groups to explore the city.

Thursday was the only night we had free to do whatever we wanted, so I started out with a group of 16 people planning on going ice-skating in Central Park. This was the ONE thing I wanted to do while I was in NY because I love ice-skating and it’s THE thing you do in NY in the winter. Unfortunately, I seem to have strained my knee or something, and the walking and the cold weather really agitated it. By Thursday, it was pretty painful and unstable, so I had to skip out on the ice-skating. Our group broke up, and I led those that didn’t want to skate to Little Italy to eat Italian food at a tiny little Italian restaurant called Sal’s. It was very good, and it was very welcome after four days of a total of three meal combinations served across eight meals, and two of the meals included fish, which I do NOT like. I’ve never been more thankful for pasta!

Friday came and we wrapped up our courses and said goodbye. I made some really good friends throughout the week, and I hope I get the chance to work with some of them on an engagement, or at least to see them again at some point. Many of them are coming to the March session of Advisory University which happens to be in Dallas, so we can have a reunion and talk about our first two months of work.

It was a good week in NYC, but I was certainly glad to get home. Friday was the coldest day in NY in two years, so Dallas was sounding good, although Dallas is unusually cold now, too, and my thought is that if you have to be cold, you might as well be cold somewhere other than Dallas where the cold weather creates an enchanting atmosphere. Also, I was quite ready to be done with spending every hour of the day with a group of sixty people. No offense intended to the other new hires, but I can only handle that for so long before I just want to be entirely alone. It’s just the way I am.

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