Monday, July 28, 2008

Little brother visits the Big Apple

I ended up having a 3 day grace period from my last guests to my next one. My wee brother was coming out to stay with me on the Thursday after Souxie and MacV left. I was completely knackered after having about zero sleep over the weekend and then a really busy week at work in between. Lots of courses being run this week, so I was up at 6 most mornings and leaving NJ for 7am to be in the City for 7.45. Big week, as all the new hires for our graduate programs were starting this week, and we had to organize the Orientation programme for them. This consisted of 2 breakfasts, a speaker session, 2 training courses and a Cocktail Reception. Lots of preparation and lifting and carrying involved in this one.

For the Orientation, we made up 3 ring binders as welcome packs for all the new TA’s (Technical Analysts), OA’s (Operation Analysts) and MA’s (Masters Associates) who would be attending. This meant printing off all the information for 17 binders, making the cover page and spine and then stuffing them ready for Tuesday morning. Oh, and also making up name tags for them all. Tuesday went fine, it was the prep for Wednesday that was the killer. There was a speaker session consisting of 9 speakers from varying levels within the company coming to present to the New Hires. This meant that we had 9 presentations to print out, along with the agenda’s and other information to go in the binder packs. But this time there were 50 folders to make up. So that meant that after spending all day at another building at Lexington Avenue, I had to travel back to Long Island City and help make up the binders that Mr L and Summer Intern had spent most of the day preparing. I got back to the office at about 4pm and by 7.20 we had finished stuffing all the binders.

Mr L and I then loaded them into boxes and carried them downstairs to where we had a car waiting. When I say car, it’s like a taxi just a business version, so you get a black sedan. We were driven back into Manhattan where we were then faced with trying to get 5 boxes up to the 14th floor when the elevators were out of commission. Argh!! 20 minutes later, and a slight panic where I thought Mr L had gotten stuck in the lift; we made it up to the conference centre and deposited our goods. By this point it was 8.30. Home time!!

Back in early the next day for the session. We had some more last minute binders to stuff and then we helped ourselves to some of the breakfast that was laid out for the New Hires. After it was kicked off successfully, I headed back into Long Island to sort out some things in the office while the other 2 stayed at the venue to make sure everything was running smoothly. I came back in for lunch, nothing like a free lunch to a penny pinching student!, and then headed back out again. Only one stop on the subway, so it wasn’t bad. Spent the day making up name tags for the following evening’s cocktail reception and finishing off some invoices and evaluations from previous classes. I left work at about 7.30 and headed straight home. I was supposed to go to see a gig with Miss N, Ani DeFranco, but due to working later and feeling like I could barely stand up, I had to give it a miss. Sorry Miss N!

I arrived home at just after 8, and went straight upstairs. I remember getting changed out my work clothes and intending to go make some dinner, but after that things go a bit hazy. Apparently Miss J came home at 10.30 to find me asleep on the bed, fully clothed and still wearing my flip-flops! She had to wake me and tell me to get ready for bed. Which I did after looking blearily around me for a while and wondering what the heck had happened.

I had been very kindly given the following day off, so I slept in till about 10am before showering and then plonking myself in front of the TV with breakfast. Started getting ready for Wee Brother arriving, and then set off for the airport to collect him. No glamorous welcome here I am afraid. PATH train to Newark Penn Station, then public bus to airport. And the same home. Which means that it only cost $1.75 for PATH and $1.35 for bus, compared to the $50 it would cost for a cab. I am a skint student here, and he will be soon too, so I felt like this was the best option!!

Collected him safely enough and took him back to Newport. Our first stop was Target to get an airbed, as I hadn’t had time to go collect one in the last few days. Airbed, some food (as I knew he would eat me out of house and home pretty quickly) and a stop at the little Pizza Hut in the store as we were both starving at the point. Dumped all shopping back at the flat, took him on a tour of Newport and let him see the view from down at the water front before wandering round to the Morton Williams Supermarket and getting some more things to eat. He had his 12 pack of Mountain Dew and was already happy!

Once we got back home, I unpacked the 2nd bag that Wee Brother was carrying with him. All my stuff!!! Mum had packed most of my summer clothes into a second duffel bag for him to bring out to me, So now I have more shoes, tops, skirts and underwear!! woohoo!! I won’t need to go shopping for months now! Brilliant! The evening was a quiet one as I stood and did all of last weeks ironing along with all my new stuff, as he watched tv and then we both went to bed reasonably early.

Friday morning I decided to do the Midtown tour with him. We went out for breakfast near 14th street and then walked towards the MetLife building to Grand Central. Went in, took some photos, walked back towards Bryant Park, into Times Square, visited some of the shops, had some lunch, walked down to East 47th street to see the YMCA that I stayed in (ahhh nostalgia…), walked along 2nd avenue and waited in the lobby at work for my work mates to finish. We all went to a pub along the way for some dinner and drinks. Unfortunately since they had come straight from work they were all looking very smart, while Wee Brother and I had been walking about in the heat all day and looked like something the cat dragged in. Niiice. Still, was a fun evening and my manager actually paid for it all, which was really nice of her, even though she wasn’t there. Afterwards, Wee Brother and I took a walk around Times Square to let him see it all lit up, before heading home to Newport. Watched some TV with Miss J and then went to bed.

Saturday was supposed to be an early start, but I was so tired I found it difficult to get moving. All 3 of us decided that we were going to go to Coney Island since it was a blisteringly hot day. We left NJ at about 11.30 and got to Brooklyn at around 1 I think. Found ourselves a nice spot in the sand near the shoreline and planked our towels down. Miss J hadn’t been to Coney before, so she wanted to go down into the water as soon as we got there. Left Wee Brother with the towels and went in for, again was supposed to be a paddle but ended up, a swim. Came back out and lay down to dry off. Enjoyed the next couple of hours, just laying out, reading a magazine and eating some Pringles. After we packed up, Wee Brother and I were going to go on the Cyclone rollercoaster, but the queue was horrendous by that point, and we had to get back to prepare for the party we were having that night, so we gave it a miss. Which is a shame because I think he would really have loved it! When we got in, he went back out for a run around the waterfront at Newport, informing me that he did 8 laps of the front and then ran up all 27 flights of stairs to get home. Craaaazy boy.

My roomie had decided to host a ‘Potato Party’ in our flat that night. The premise being, that you had to bring along some dish that was made from potatoes. Only one person actually followed the rules and brought along a dish that she had cooked herself. Everyone else either brought a bag of crisps or nothing. Although 'Nauld did bring a bottle of vodka! Ingenious.

After a bit of a slow start, people started turning up. Some had intended going out afterwards, but by the time we realized it was after 11, noone could be bothered going anywhere. In the end, some of the guys, Miss J and I all started playing Bullsh*t at the table, which descended into a complete farce. Especially when 'Nauld got so drunk he told us he was putting down six 4’s! Eventually we all migrated outside to the private courtyard between the TJ and JM buildings and continued to have a drink out there. Miss J went upstairs and got Mr O’s guitar, so we were all listening to him play and before attempting to sing along. In the end we all just sat and listened. The party came to an abrupt end when the sprinklers decided to turn themselves on at about 3.30am, causing us to bound up from the grass and stagger to the shelter of the tables. Thanks to Mr N daring Miss J and I to run through them, and us being drunk enough to do it, we ended up a little bit soaked!! Miss J then had an ‘discussion’ with the doorman about the other doorman lying to her about recycling….before we went to bed.

Woke up at about 12.30 on Sunday and didn’t feel all that good, so I was a little bit grouchy towards Wee Brother most of that morning. Mainly when he had the audacity to ask for some of my Eggo waffles (Which admittedly he paid half for) when I was trying to make them for myself. Sorry bruv.

We took the train into Rockefeller and then (very slowly and quietly) had a walk about the plaza area. From there we walked to 5th Avenue and attempted to go into the Abercrombie and Fitch store to get him some aftershave. There was a queue outside it! Since when do you queue to get into a store? So we left it and went into the World of Disney instead! Got some presents for people and generally had a nosey about at all the cool stuff. How come they don’t make all of the tshirts in big sizes?? I want them!! Stomach soon alerted me that it was getting close to dinnertime, so we took the train back home and got dressed for dinner.

Went with Miss J to Chili’s down the street from us. We all had ribs, which were absolutely delicious. Had a half rack with Brown Sugar Chile rub and some Margarita Chicken, which I ended up taking home with me for dinner the next night! Miss J had the same, but with steak and Wee Brother had a whole rack, plus a gigantic chocolate dessert. Managed to avoid the rain coming on as we got home later.

Monday we headed straight to 5th Avenue and attempted A&F again. Still a queue! Walked up to the entrance to Central Park instead and went into F.A.O. Schwarz toy store! Awesome store! Lots of toys and sweeties!!! Wooot! I did come across the ‘Poofy Pop’, which was intriguing, but ended up just being a long Flump curled up on a stick. Let down! The upstairs part of the store was all giant cuddly toys and dolls by the gazillion. On the way back down I took some photos of the huge dinosaur stuffed animals that were set out in a Jurassic Park style layout. Our next stop was the Apple store next door, which is set into the ground. It is actually quite cool inside, but we weren’t buying anything, although I saw a really cool graphics tablet for editing photos, so we didn’t stay long. Picked up lunch in the Café Metro that I had visited with Souxie and we took that to Central Park to eat.

By this point the temperature was fairly rising, so after passing Abercrombie and noticing the queue had reduced enough for us to pop in and get his aftershave, we took the subway to World Trade Centre to let him see Ground Zero. I think he was fairly moved by what he saw, and I think I seemed a bit unconcerned to him. But I have seen this sight quite a few times now, and even though I was shocked when I first saw it, I don’t seem to have much reaction now, but I sat and let him go look.

On to Century 21 to let him do some shopping, which he made good use of. Managed to pick up some hoodies for about $14 to take to Sweden with him, along with a couple of t-shirts. I then packed him onto the PATH train back to Newport while I headed back uptown to meet my role-play group for my tutorial class. Since we had done almost no research and have had no practice so far, it didn’t go that well, although it wasn’t that bad either. Afterwards Mr D and I went into Times Square to do some last minute shopping for his brief return home on Tuesday. I love wandering Times Square at night, so it ended up being a really fun night. Got home and found Wee Brother had been to the mall and bought some more things. Again, everyone gets to go shopping but me!!! Sat up and faffed on the computer and spoke to Miss J when she rolled in at 1.30 after seeing Batman at the Imax.

Tuesday we decided to try Top of The Rock, which is the observatory deck at the top of Rockefeller Centre. Open air (well through glass anyway!) views 360 degrees around Manhattan. The view was amazing; it was just a shame that it was so smoggy that day compared to the others. We climbed the 3 different levels and took about a gazillion pictures, including the cheesy set up one of us sitting on the girder with NY backdrop behind us.. that’ll keep Granny happy anyway!! Next up was Empire State, although only to do the SkyRide on the 2nd floor rather than the observatory. $35 a head to get in and the ride only lasted about 10 minutes. It was quite good, but not worth the entrance fee. It was basically a moving seated platform that you watched a birdseye view of NY from and was narrated by Kevin Bacon.. woo!! Lunch in subway afterwards and then a wander around Macy’s and Old Navy before going home. I went to Target to print off some photos for work, while Colin went on another run.

It was back to work for me on Wednesday, and a whole 40 emails and voicemails to catch up on, so I was in for twenty to 9 and stayed till twenty to 7. Wee Brother had been on one of the bus tours all day and visited almost every part of Manhattan and all its boroughs too. We met in Times Square and he took me to Planet Hollywood for dinner, the generous wee soul that he is. Actually it was pretty nice of him, and I did say thank you :). I always find that Planet Hollywood is overrated when you go in, and it was pretty much the same as it was the last time we were there 7 years ago. I think I prefer the Hard Rock Café, having been to the ones in Miami, Paris and Orlando. Just need to do the NY one now. Still, had a pretty tasty BBQ cheeseburger that was scoffed in record time, after the ‘blow your head off’ Buffalo wings that we had to start. Phew…. These were hot!

Back at work again on Thursday, while Wee Brother stayed in Newport and just visited the mall and walked about before his flight. Sadly I was unable to get anymore time off to take him, so I left him my keys, which he left in the flat (the door locks when you shut it) and took himself off to the airport. I got home at 7pm to find that the wee lad has left a card for all my flatmates saying thank you. When I open up my drawer to retrieve my keys, i find another card from him to me thanking me for the last couple of days and a dvd for me. awwww!! Finally hear from him to tell me that he is at the gate and ready to board the plane. He will land at Amsterdam for a couple of hours before heading back to Glasgow. Then he has 3 weeks left before he moves to Sweden for a year on his eschange term at uni. I can see mum having a few issues now that the house is finally empty for the first time ever!! I can see my emails from her getting more frequent!!

On the whole It has been a exhausting, busy few weeks, but it was so nice to see people from home. Although I will admit I am happy to be back to my routine and having some time to myself again! Who'd have thunk it?

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