Saturday, December 1, 2012

There's a mouse about the house

When my brother and I were little, my parents read us an interactive book called "There's a mouse about the house!" by Richard Fowler.  It had a little mouse that slipped through slits in the pages, "moving from room to room".  It was actually a really cool book.  If only the reality of having mice were as cute as that book...

I have found four mice in my apartment since I have lived here.  Two dead, two alive.  Jordan Rippy, my friend and the previous tenant in this apartment never saw one.  Life is indeed not fair.

I realized that something afoot when I began to smell something really horrible in the apartment.  I don't really keep food or trash in the house, so I knew it wasn't something I did.

I also began to see these HUGE flies in my apartment; I believe they were a symptom of the mice problem.  Killing those flies was a pretty cool deal.  Sometimes I killed them with my bare hands, swatting in a matrix-like fashion.  Other times I killed them with a fly-swatter that amazingly turned into a Lightsaber.  Everything went into slow motion.  In those moments, I was Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Then I would see the dead flies on the keys of my piano and reality would set back in - there was still an unidentified smell in my apartment.

The smell intensified and eventually got so bad that I could not rest until I found its source.

The epicenter of the olfactory abomination was a dead mouse in a glue trap under my kitchen sink.  It looked like it had taken a mob hit, a gunshot wound straight to the head.

I removed the mouse and replaced the glue trap.  A one-time thing, I thought.  But no.

A few weeks later, I smelled the same smell, and I knew another mouse was among us.  One was.  Under the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen.  It was right before my mom came to visit.  She hates mice.  I thought she might cancel her trip if I told her, so I didn't mention it.

I told my landlord about all of this.  Her solution was to send me a device that emits a high frequency that repels mice.  She is a vegetarian and doesn't want the mice to die.  To that, I say, she doesn't have to eat the mice.

That device doesn't work, I learned, when one morning during my mom's visit (I'll write about that in a future post), I was going to leave to go get theatre tickets while she stayed to clean.  Before I left, I did one last mouse check to make her feel comfortable.

That's when I found the third one.

I told my mom, "gosh, it's crazy that I've seen three."

"THREE!" she said.

Right, remember I hadn't told her about the second one.  The cat was out of the bag.  Actually, the cat was nowhere to be found because if he were out of the bag, then I probably would not be seeing any mice.

I found the fourth mouse alive a few weeks later, right before Thanksgiving. It was in the loft of my apartment, "upstairs".

I finally called an exterminator to diagnose and fix the problem. His name is Roger, and he's from Jamaica. He determined that the mice were coming in through a hole upstairs between the wall and my air conditioning unit. So he plugged that hole with some steel wool. I haven't seen any mice or smelled any dead ones since then.

Anyway, it's been really funny, and I hope that humor has come across here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where New Yorkers Buy Christmas Trees

Have you ever wondered where New Yorkers buy their Christmas Trees?

You and I would go to a huge tent to buy our trees or maybe go cut them down at a Christmas tree farm, but in the great New York tradition of comical convenience, New York City folks buy them from Christmas Tree stands just down the block.

Last night, after taking the picture attached below, I went up to the operator of the stand to make sure it was alright with her that I took the picture.  She said it was alright, and I explained why I took the picture:  I wondered where New Yorkers bought Christmas trees and wanted to share the picture with people at home.  Her name is Brooke, and we agreed that I would buy a tree from her if I decided to buy one for my apartment.  She and her husband have set up their shop in my neighborhood for the Christmas tree selling season; they came all the way from California to sell trees.

I saw Brooke again yesterday evening as I was walking home from work.  We had a nice conversation a couple of blocks away from her establishment.  I'm glad she remembered me, and I'm looking forward to passing by her in the coming weeks.

Brooke's Christmas Tree Stand at the corner of 84th Street and Broadway
in the Upper West Side, just two blocks from my apartment.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time with teachers

When the Baylor Graduate Accounting Program took its annual trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, the faculty sponsors and I spent some time together on one of their free evenings.

Charles Davis, Gia Chevis, and Tim Thomasson were the faculty sponsors on this year's trip.  We went to dinner at Heartland Brewery, a Times Square favorite of mine (mostly because it brews its own root beer, but they never put quite enough ice in it; it's remarkable how consistently low the ice level is).

We had the chance to catch up on life at Baylor, and they asked me about my time in New York.  After dinner, we got a cup of coffee at Starbucks (actually, we got multiple cups of coffee; we didn't all share one cup of coffee) and walked around Times Square.  That evening was a great time of fellowship.  It was nice to get a taste of Baylor.

I remember being a student on the same trip last fall.  I was a candidate for the researcher position in New York, and the trip was one week before my office visit.  I remember hoping that I would get to visit with the Baylor folks if I were selected for the researcher position, so this time with my teachers was really special.

Before we parted ways, we took this picture to remember our evening - and to put on the blog.
From my left, Charles Davis, Gia Chevis, and Tim Thomasson.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Old Friend Comes to Town

One of my good friends from high school, Sarah Redding, visited New York City a few weeks ago, and I got to see her while she was here.

Actually, Sarah is planning to move to the Brooklyn soon (or she might already have) to start a new job.

We had brunch at Jeffrey's Grocery in the West Village a few Saturdays ago.

Sarah and Scott.
We served as the Boerne High School
drum majors back in the day.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shabbat Shalom

Rebecca Ann Sasdlk;jfa (again, not her last name; we are just avoiding her dad getting a Google Alert) is going through a conversion to Orthodox Judaism.  

Rebecca's faith and her religious practices are of great interest to me and to the other researchers, and she is always willing and happy to share with us.  

Orthodox Jews observe the Jewish Sabbath, or "Shabbat" from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday evening.  During that time, they do not perform tasks that are associated with the construction of the Tabernacle (e.g. starting a fire (using electricity)).  

On two occasions, Rebecca has hosted the researchers in her home for Friday night Shabbat dinner.  Those two nights have been some of the most fun and fulfilling evenings of my time here in New York so far.  She prepares a wonderful meal, and we all eat and have a great time of fellowship, playing games and visiting about the week.  

The phrase "Shabbat Shalom" is customary to say as a greeting once Shabbat has come.  I usually say it way more frequently than is probably appropriate (the first time I usually say it is on Friday morning, about nine hours before Shabbat.  But it's always respectful and in the "spirit of Shabbat."  

From all the researchers, we thank you, Rebecca, for inviting us into your home, into your life, and into your faith.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Long Island Labor Day

On Labor Day weekend, the researchers had an incredible opportunity:  to go yachting off the coast of New York's Long Island.

Mary Katharine's dad, John Farnell, in his capacity as the general manager of the Marine Max, a boat dealer and broker, in New York, has access to very large and very awesome yachts.  In his capacity has a gracious and awesome man, he invited the researchers to go yachting.

On the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, Will, Mary Katharine, Caitlin, and I took the Long Island Rail Road to Lindenhurst, New York and met Mr. Farnell for our trip.

We embarked from the Marine Max marina into what I think was the Great South Bay.  We rode around, got off at beach and touched the Atlantic Ocean (the first time for me), ate on the yacht, celebrated Mary Katharine's birthday, and enjoyed the perfect weather.

We are all grateful for for that unique experience.  Thank you, Mr. Farnell.

Relaxing on the yacht.  From left to right:  Will, Mary Katharine, Caitlin, and Scott.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My new friend, Anne

In order to cool down after my late afternoon runs in Riverside Park down by the Hudson River, I usually exit the park and walk around the streets of the Upper West Side.  I never walk to same path twice and never have a plan about which path I am going to take.  I am convinced that the Lord leads me into those paths for specific reasons - like meeting my new friend, Anne.

Tonight after my run, I was walking around with my headphones in, and I came to the corner of 89th and Broadway.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an older lady flagging me down.  I stopped and greeted her. She asked me to help her across 89th street because "all of the curbs are beaten to shreds" (which is true, none of the curbs/ramps are in good shape).  She took my arm, and we began to walk.  

We crossed the street, and she said that she would just hold onto the scaffolding from that point on, but I insisted that I walk her all the way home (it was only one block more, not out of my way, and the scaffolding was going to end halfway down the block which would not have been good for her).  

So we continued to walk and I began to get to know this amazing, storied lady named Anne.  After asking me about my profession, she told me that she is a musician by profession; she plays the violin, viola, and all of the keyboard instruments.  She spent 15 years as the principal violist for the Frank Sinatra Orchestra and traveled all over the world with him.  They were friends! She was a player in the New York Philharmonic and was a family friend of Leonard Bernstein (whom she affectionately called "Lenny" as I'm sure his friends did).  She has played on the Tonight Show with Jack Parr and has played on David Letterman's show.  She knew those guys personally.  

When Anne gets bored, she looks at words and makes anagrams from them.  She once made 29 words from the word "philharmonic" in her head with no pencil or paper.  She recalled a time when one particular conductor she worked with conducted Mahler, "It was so boring; he had no heart for it.  Some people would dig their toes into the ground to keep from falling asleep.  I just did anagrams."

"I did my work, did my homework, I've traveled all over the world.  You know the only place I haven't been, the one place?  The North Pole, but I figure I can just go to Macy's to see Santa Clause" she said.  Anne is very witty and charming, and she "doesn't like old people."  She said, "I don't want to need help because I don't want to annoy people as much as they annoy me!"  She was awesome and hysterical.  

I took her all the way to the door of her building where her doorman helped her inside.  She said, "Well you know where I live and you're in the neighborhood, so if you ever want to stop by, just ask for Anne."  I said I would, and I think I will.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

If I were a non-author reader of this blog, then I would assume one of two things about my most recent one month-long publication sabbatical:  1) that my time in New York hasn't warranted any blog posts (i.e. it has been uneventful, "nothing to write home about" or 2) that my time in New York has warranted so many blog posts that I haven't had time to write them.  Thank goodness for both you and me, #2 is the truer of the hypothetical choices.  Indeed, my time here is exceeding my expectations in every way, and I am sorry that I have been lazy in communicating that to you.

If you could be in my work area every week (we call it the "bullpen", where the researchers sit), then you would sense the pressure that I feel to blog.  And I'm sure that if I were closer geographically to my Texas friends, I would feel a similar pressure.  Or maybe everyone is just messing with me.  I am finally responding to that pressure, whether real or imagined.

You probably heard about Hurricane Sandy.  Thank you to everyone who thought of, prayed for, and contacted us that were affected by the storm.  Most people in uptown Manhattan (where I live) were fortunate to never lose power.  Folks in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens were not as fortunate and have realized great loss as a result of the storm (i.e. homes, cars, and even lives).  In fact, thousands of New Yorkers are still without power, not to mention millions of other people all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States.

In anticipation of the storm's approach, we stayed home and worked from our apartments on Monday.  As the storm approached, commuting to work became dangerous as the winds intensified.  Walking was the only possible mode of transportation:  the New York City subway system shut down on Sunday night (that's how I get to work).  It moves 8.5 million people every day.

During my lunch hour on Monday, I walked down to the banks of the Hudson River in Riverside Park to see the water.  To my surprise, many other people had the same idea, playing down by the water, unaware of the damage that would soon be done.  It reminded me of the men playing hockey with the iceberg ice on the forward deck of Titanic.

The parks were technically closed, but thousands of people, including me, ignored the police tape that read "police line do not cross" to seek the adventure of being a part of this storm.  At one point, a police car pulled up near the water and began to shout through his speaker "the park is closed!  Everyone must leave now!"  As I passed that police officer, I intended to continue walking, thinking that it was a recording whose advice I did not need to heed.  I was wrong.  "The park is closed!  Everyone must leave now!  Yes, you, sir!  You in the shorts!  Turn now and leave the park now!"  It was a real officer.  I couldn't ignore him.

I lost cable/internet/phone on Monday night and stayed home on Tuesday as well.  The researchers were back in the office on Wednesday.  Some subway and bus service was restored on Thursday.  This city is resilient, but normalcy will still take several weeks, maybe months, to return.  I am very fortunate; nothing bad happened to me.  But there are millions of others for whom that is not the case.  Pray for them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Homecoming

I woke up this morning to watch the Baylor Homecoming Parade, the largest collegiate Homecoming parade in the country, part of the Homecoming celebration that started it all back in 1909.

Seeing the Baylor Family at Homecoming, at its finest, was a very happy thing for this expatriated Texan.  I wish I could have been there - to sing last night at Singspiration, to feel the heat of the bonfire, to watch the parade pass by, to sit with my family at the game against Kansas, to sense the community, the tradition, the Family.

Thanks to the Baylor Chamber of Commerce for the hard work they did, to everyone else who had a hand in Homecoming, to Lori and John for hosting the parade telecast, to everyone who made me feel like I was in Waco this weekend.  I appreciate it very much.

Happy Homecoming.  See you next year.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm a REE-surch-er

Since I introduced two of my researcher colleagues in July, four other researchers have started in the professional practice group at Ernst & Young.

Mary Katharine Farnell works on the income statement matters team, is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and attended the University of Florida.  Oh, and she was a Florida Tri Delt.  

Jessica Marek works on the audit team, is from Valparaiso, Indiana, and attended the University of Indiana.  

Lawrence Lin works on the financial instruments team, is from Seattle, Washington, and attended the University of Washington for undergraduate school and the University of Notre Dame for graduate school.  

Finally, Rebecca Anne Sasdlk;jfa works on the financial services industry team, is from Short Hills, New Jersey, and attended Boston University.

Rebecca's last name isn't really "Sasdlk;fja".  But her dad created a "Google Alert" that notifies him every time her full name is published on the Internet.  So she asked me not to type her last name.  Did you know there was such a thing as a "Google Alert"?  

The four of them plus Caitlin Kirio, Will Geeslin (whom I already introduced to you), and I make up the group of eight professional practice researchers.  It's a great group, and I really enjoying working with them.  We sometimes joke about calling ourselves ri-surch-ers instead of ree-surch-ers.  But I promise it's only a joke.  We all say "ree-surch".  We don't take ourselves seriously enough to say "ri-surch", and I'm not sure I ever want to take myself seriously enough to say it that way.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good people - Ana

I encounter so many great folks in New York City.  Many of them I see and visit with only for a few moments, but oftentimes their impact is great.

I am dedicating this series of blog posts called "Good people" to the good people I meet here in the city with whom I interact only for a few minutes.  (The members of the hotel staff about whom I have already written in a previous post are absolutely good people and would be placed in this post if I had not previously written about them).

The people I meet and develop close relationships here are not eligible for mention in this series.  But they are, of course, good people too.

Here is one to start:

Ana - Ana was the housekeeper that cleaned my room at the Courtyard Marriott.  One Saturday morning, I ate breakfast downstairs but decided to stay in the hotel for the morning.  When I returned to my room, Ana was already at work.  I didn't want to interrupt her, but I also had nowhere else to go.  So we just started to visit.  She has three kids who live with her in the Bronx.  She is very proud of them and even showed me pictures.  She is Dominican, and we bonded over my ability to speak a little bit of Spanish and over my trip to the Dominican Republic in 2010.  She was a great picture of a supportive, hardworking mother who loves her children.  She was kind, welcoming, and gracious to me - even though she didn't have to be.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

One in 39 million

A few weeks ago as I was walking from Five Times Square to the TKTS booth to buy theatre tickets, I ran into my dear friend, Emily Smith, and her mother and sister.  They had arrived that afternoon  for a summer vacation and were walking around the area waiting for their hotel to be ready.  It was such a blessing to see Emily and to meet her mom and sister.  Emily is a fellow Baylor Chamberman is also the girlfriend of one of my Baylor roommates and pledge brother, Stephen Montellano.

According to Travel+Leisure, Times Square is the most visited tourist attraction in the world and is visited by more than 39 million people every year.  During my year in New York, Emily will probably be the only random familiar face I see in Times Square.  She is also one of the brightest, kindest, and most special people I know.  In both ways, she is one in 39 million.

Emily and I stopped for a picture in "The Crossroads of the World", Times Square.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

You never know when you'll make new friends

While I moved to the city on July 5, I didn't move into my new apartment until July 27.  Where did I live in the meantime, you ask?  I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on 40th Street and Broadway in Times Square.

The folks at the hotel always made me feel special - they knew me by name and always greeted me with a warm "welcome back" whenever I returned.  I was closest with the nightshift team because I had more time to visit with them in the evening, and on my last night there, we took a picture to commemorate our special bond.

I gave them this blog address so that they could see this picture, and I spoke to Lucy on the phone as I was writing this post.  So, Ada, Lucy, Rene, and Brian, I miss you and hope you are doing well.

They demonstrated an awesome example of how to be gracious and kind to everyone.  Always happy and smiling, these folks made my stay in that hotel great!

Another funny thing happened while I was behind the front desk (which, by the way, is as cool as I always thought it would be).  A man from Arkansas started talking to me as if I were a hotel employee.  Not surprising.  I greeted him as though that was the case.  He asked me if I got a hotel management degree from Baylor, and I promptly told him that I was just a visitor at the front desk.  It was funny.  I promise.

Here's that picture:

Ada, Lucy,  and Rene stopped for a picture with me behind the front desk of my temporary hotel.  Biran, the bellman was not at work that day, so he is not in the picture.  They are great folks, true professionals, and I'm glad to know them.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

the apartment

Last month, I moved into my apartment in Manhattan's Upper West Side.  It is a studio on the first floor of a post-war condominium building between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue - very close to Riverside Park and the Hudson River.

My awesome mom and my talented cousin, Kambree, traveled all the way to New York City to decorate the apartment for me.

When I first walked into the apartment and got the place cool, the cool air, fresh paint, and some other magical quality made it smell and feel like the basement of the SUB in New Student Programs in the summertime.  Now that was a nice feeling on my first day there!

Here are some pictures of it that I think you will enjoy.

An aerial view from the ladder to the loft area.  
The doorways on either side of that bookshelf lead to the bathroom (left) and to the kitchen (right).  
On the brick wall, you can see my framed copy of President Brooks' Message to the Senior Class of 1931 and a 1836 map of the Republic of Texas.  My piano is in the left hand corner of the picture; I play hymns everyday.  

Stay with me

In the past month, I took an unintentional break from writing blog posts, but that hiatus will end soon.

I plan to write about my adventures from the last month in the coming days.  

Stay with me.  My posts will be shorter and more frequent.  

Sic 'Em Bears.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Only for now

As I begin to realize that the ones I love are no longer so accessible, I also begin to place greater importance on spending quality time with those people when I can.  For that reason, it was important that my best friend, Dakota, come to the city on my second weekend here – even if only for a short twelve hours.  

He is living in Washington, D.C. this summer to complete an internship with new student orientation at George Mason University, already fulfilling his calling as a professional in student life.  Dakota and I met when we were students at Baylor Line Camp; when he marries Shannon next summer, I will be his best man. 

He arrived late on Friday night (and ultimately had to leave early on Sunday morning, so we only had about twelve hours of usable time), but we did not let that slow us down.  He, Jordan Rippy, and I ate breakfast at Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side – that restaurant is a favorite for out-of-town guests (listen to me talking like I have been here long enough to have had enough guests to say that…). 

After purchasing our theatre tickets downtown at the South Street Seaport, we traversed uptown and rented bikes in Central Park.  Riding around the Central Park Loop was scenic, fun, and challenging.  The natural terrain of Manhattan Island is not the flat, gridded land that has been developed over the last few centuries.  Indeed, the natural terrain is hilly, wooded and can be found in the park.  The roads are closed to vehicle traffic on the weekends which makes biking a (mostly) safe and carefree exercise. 

Jordan, me, and Dakota with with our bikes by our sides and the Bethesda Fountain in the background

A map of Central Park
The "Central Park Loop" is the curved path that "circumscribes" the majority of the park's land.
It is 6.1 miles long, and we considered it worth every mile and every minute.  

When it seemed like the excitement  from the breakfast and the afternoon in the park could not be topped, it was.  The moment we had all been waiting for came at eight o’clock when Avenue Q began.  I had built up the show to Dakota and Jordan and felt invested in their experience.  I wanted it to live up to the hype.  It did.  They loved it.  The clip below of the opening number will give you a taste of its wit, humor, and smart (but perhaps not of its wild inappropriateness).  We all enjoyed the show and considered it time well spent. 

The Avenue Q finale is called “For Now” and discusses how life is mostly temporary.  And it is.  But friendship and our relationships with one another are permanent.  My friendship with Dakota is no different, even if his short trip to New York City was “only for now”. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

1,000 words, anyone?

I am trying to liven up the blog with some visual aids.  Here are some pictures that you will enjoy.  I would have included them in earlier posts if I had been thinking.  Moving forward, I hope to include pictures in the posts themselves (as I did in my most recent post).  Thanks for reading (looking)!
My view from the cab as I travel to the city for the first time - to stay
You can see the Empire State Building in the left-center of the picture.  
A picture of my Brooklyn Tabernacle bulletin taken on the platform of the R train  on the morning of my first Sunday in New York City

Dr. Reed and me at Chevy's, the Mexican food restaurant that she suggested
after knowing that it would remind me of home
What's that on top of that NYC Taxi?  It is an advertisement for "Dallas", the new TNT series which is actually continuation of the hit  1978 TV soap opera of the same name.  There is nothing like a TV ad to make you remember Texas.  

It’s a job… It’s work… NO! It’s a career!!! (and/or Superman!!!)

I can remember when the start of my career was far, far away – so far away that I had not begun to consider it – further away than the Statue of Liberty was when Fabrizio joked to Jack about being able to see it in Titanic

Now I ascend twenty-one floors and work at Five Times Square every day – overlooking the “Crossroads of the World”, working for one of the world’s four largest accountancy firms. 
The view from my desk on the 21st floor of Five Times Square.  

 My first days back at Ernst & Young have been extraordinary.  A day going by without learning is impossible, and that’s the way – uh huh, uh huh – I like it.  The department has graciously welcomed my new colleagues and me.  We, like sponges, soak it in, but we don’t have enough absorbency (send more sponges!).  

The nameplate on my cube.  As you can see, it says, "Scott Neumann".  

I need to give you more information about the department: 

The Department of Professional Practice is the national group charged with knowing everything about accounting and its implications for the firm and for our clients.  Senior managers, called “residents”, are on three-year-long rotations here.  They specialize in specific accounting subjects and industries, publish the equivalent of academic books and papers related to those areas, and consult with audit teams all over the world on technical accounting matters.  Partners, some here permanently and some temporarily, do the same. 

I am obviously neither one of those things.  I am one of seven level-one staff members, called “researchers”, responsible for responding to requests for examples of public filings and for supporting the department in its other endeavors.  The department is divided into seven topical teams to which each of the seven researchers has been assigned.  I am on the generalist team which covers leases, comprehensive income, discontinued operations, accounting changes, oil and gas, and many others.  Even in my brief time here, I have been exposed to the depth and complexity of the accounting standard setting process and to the intellectual curiosity and understanding that surrounds it.  (Seeing a missed call from the Financial Accounting Standards Board was just plain cool.) 

(A missed call from Norwalk, CT, location of the headquarters of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.  Seeing that number between two calls from my mom was funny, cool, and surreal.  Also, "ICE" stands for "in case of an emergency.)

Three out of seven researches have started, including me.  Will Geeslin is from Peachtree City, Georgia, is a graduate of Auburn University, and is working on the business combinations team.  Caitlin Kirio is from Honolulu, Hawaii, is a graduate of the University of Southern California, and is working on the SEC Regulatory Matters team (that is, the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Southeastern Conference).  We have enjoyed working together and are looking forward to a great year.  The four other researchers are starting in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile, the researchers from last year are rotating out.  They have been a tremendous help to Will, Caitlin, and me in becoming acclimated to our respective roles.  We owe them! 

The view of Times Square from my desk on the 21st floor  at Five Times Square
The "N" there is the "N" in "Ernst".  

The view of Five Times Square from the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway
My windows are to the left of the "N" in "Ernst".  

The global nature of this department is striking (and strikingly awesome!).  Not only do I work with folks from all over the United States, I have found myself shoulder-to-shoulder with folks from all over the world:  our global exchange intern is from Quebec City and a capital markets resident is from Tel Aviv, Israel.  I am a few miles from my days at Baylor Line Camp in 2007 when I met non-Texans for the first time, and that is a good thing. 

Being at Ernst & Young isn’t just a job or work.  It is the start of a career about which I am excited and uncertain.  Excited for the possibilities yet uncertain about the direction to which the Lord will lead me.  Through it all though, “I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so / Wherever He leads I’ll go.”  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcomed by Familiar Faces

After my first week of classes as a freshman at Baylor, my cousin, Trent, stopped in Waco on his way back to Dallas to have lunch with me.  Even after a meaningful experience at Welcome Week and an encouraging first week of class, I can remember the importance of having a familiar face in Waco in the midst of the unfamiliarity (yet excitement) of my first days in college.  

In the greater unfamiliarity (yet perhaps only matched excitement) of beginning my time in New York City, I also found great meaning and importance in being welcomed by familiar faces during my first days in the city.  

One of those faces materialized immediately.  My dear friend, Jordan Rippy, and one of her colleagues at Ernst &Young invited me to dinner on my first night in the city.  I arrived at my hotel on Thursday at around seven o'clock; within the hour, I was with friends.   We ate at The Breslin, a hotel and dining room famous for its lamb burgers.  With a sort of Scottish hipster atmosphere, The Breslin did not disappoint.  Our waitress was surely an aspiring actress - emotive and gregarious.  I think the Guinness Book of World Records was also present to observe her attempt to set the world record for the most number of times a waitress calls the guests "darlings" in one night.  I suspect she was successful in setting the record.  

On Friday evening, after a full afternoon of ironing (my work clothes were wrinkled from the trip; I could not help thinking of John Travolta saying "I left my iron on" in his Baltimore accent as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray".),  Cole, my last-year Baylor roommate and great friend, came to the city for the weekend.  He is living in Stamford, Connecticut this summer to complete an internship with an investment banking firm.  

Cole and I ate at S'Mac (standing for "Sarita's Mac and Cheese"), a restaurant in East Village that serves only macaroni and cheese.  The good folks there served us the wrong size portions making it look like we were more ambitious than we really were.  We met a couple of aggies there; it is always nice to see folks from our proud conference.  Oh wait.  

On Saturday, we at breakfast with Jordan on the Upper West Side at a restaurant called "Good Enough to Eat" to gear up for our busy day.  We went to the flagship Apple Store at Central Park South and 5th Avenue, the flagship, five-level Brooks Brothers at 44th and Madison, and Peanut Butter & Co. in Greenwich Village, followed by a trip to the South Street Seaport to pick up our theatre tickets.  

At Peanut Butter & Co., we visited with a lady, Karen, and her nephew, Ryan, about the city.  I explained that I had just moved here for a year, and she took a great interest in me.  We had an engaging conversation.  She was very knowledgable about New York (she lived here when she was my age) and told me that I need to spend time at the skyscraper museum downtown and in the Battery Park area.  She challenged me to "seek and find the real treasures of the city and get passed the tourist stuff".  I will surely do as she told me.  

After our interaction with Karen and with others like her that day, Cole and I both commented about how open New Yorkers are - when you open up to them.  I was and am encouraged by that openness and look forward to taking advantage of it this year.  

On Sunday, we visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle to see the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  We felt incredibly welcomed by that congregation and had a unique, worshipful experience.  They are giving a free concert this Sunday afternoon; I will be there!  Before Cole departed for Connecticut, we saw "Memphis", a Broadway show about the early days of rock 'n roll and the relationships that surrounded it.  The show was amazing.  I am always excited to go to the theatre, and as I go more and more often, I am exceedingly impressed by the professionalism exhibited in the shows.  It is what keeps me going back!

Monday was my first day at Ernst & Young, but I will publish a second post about my first work week.  I will now fast forward to dinner that night.  My dear friend and beloved Baylor professor, Dr. Marlene Reed, was visiting the city with her daughter, Dr. Rochelle Brunson, another beloved Baylor professor, and granddaughter, Blair.  Dr. Reed selflessly took time out of her family's visit to have dinner with me.  She is thoughtful:  after reading my first blog posting about missing Mexican food, she suggested that we eat at a good Mexican food restaurant in Times Square.  We had a wonderful time of fellowship.  Speaking of being exceedingly impressed, Dr. Reed and her husband, Bill, are two of the most prolific people I have ever met.  Dr. Reed is one of the wisest and best people I know.  Her acts of friendship to me over the years mean the world.  

Just like my cousin's visit to Waco during my first week at Baylor, I will never forget these familiar faces that welcomed me to this place.  I will always be grateful for them and the part they played in my first days in the city.  They are a reminder of my life in Texas and of all the people whom I love most.  They are a reminder of true friendship.  They are a reminder that none of it is going away.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Formatting woes

When I posted the first entry, the "Blogger" didn't respect my paragraph break choices. Unfortunately, the meter with which I wrote the post did not come across appropriately. So, don't think that I can't use paragraphs! I can, but the "Blogger" can't. We can put a man on the moon, but I can't create paragraphs. That's too bad.

Stories from my first weekend in the city will come soon...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Expatriated Texan

Howdy, Folks! This is Scott Neumann. Welcome to "The Expatriated Texan"! (¡Hola Amigos! Este es Escott Nuevohombre. ¡Bienvenidos al "Tejano Expatriado"!). I am, of course, channeling Big Tex, your friend and mine and the mascot of the State Fair of Texas since 1952, both in my syntax and in my bilingualism. There are 82 days until the State Fair. 

I will never forget my first day in Dr. Trish Nunley's business law course in graduate school. When we discussed incorporation, Dr. Nunley explained that a corporation is considered "domestic" in the state in which it incorporates and "foreign" in states in which it operates but is not incorporated. She summed up the conversation by saying, "You're domestic in Texas; you're foreign in any other state." I could not agree more - both for corporations and for myself. 

An expatriate is a person who voluntarily lives outside of his or her home country or culture. In New York City, I am obviously living in a different culture. Without the intense availability of great Tex Mex and with the constant sensory overload that I experience from the sights and smells of the city, how could I forget it? But, I would also suggest that my life is (or will be) so amazingly different - that is, I am so far from Texas in every way - that I am indeed living in a different country. John Steinbeck would agree: “Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. And there's an opening convey of generalities. A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner.” Well said, Steinbeck. I expected nothing less. 

A good friend of mine once told me that I am one of two people he knows who should never live outside of the State of Texas. I used to think the same thing. But, the opportunity that I have been afforded here was too rich to pass - even if I have to expatriate myself for a little while. 

Ernst & Young, a global accounting firm, recruited me from Baylor to work in its Dallas office; however, through a series of nominations and interviews, I was selected to begin my career at E&Y in the New York City office as a research fellow in the department of professional practice. I am, in a way, on loan from the Dallas office for a limited period of time (approximately one year) after which I will return to Dallas and continue my career. E&Y is an active professional community and a prestigious firm. I am incredibly fortunate and blessed to be in this position. I am grateful for this opportunity and proud to be associated with E&Y. 

I intend to provide you with a look into my life in New York City as "The Expatriated Texan". Not only is this medium a perfect one through which to share with you, it is also a convenient way to chronicle my experience here for myself with more vigor and purpose than a personal journal. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you. 

Welcome to "The Expatriated Texan"!