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"!