Wednesday, June 11, 2008

City by the Bay

Hello all, this is Ari guest-blogging on Marilyfe from my small but beautiful hotel room at The Palace in San Francisco. It's a beautiful old hotel that was built in 1875, and reminds me a bit of The Willard in DC. Near the lobby is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen, which I understand has been dubbed one of the most beautiful rooms in the world. Decide for yourself:

As some of you know, I claim some of the credit for the original creation of this blog, so I'm excited to see that it has started to gather a small, but loyal readership. The blog itself can have up to 100 contributors, so I strongly encourage anyone else out there in Mariland to step up to the plate and fill us all in on what you're up to at any given moment, or any other random musings you might have.

So I'd been working on pulling together a big presentation for the last week and a half or so for our team to give at a meeting with several of the law firms involved in a mammoth antitrust suit. Last Friday evening, as we were putting the finishing touches on the PowerPoint, my bosses Neal and Dan made the decision that it would be a good idea for me to join them along with my colleague Tom, so I immediately set out making travel arrangements to arrive in SF on Monday afternoon, with the meeting set to take place all day Tuesday, and then to return on Wednesday. BTW--the four of us make up what is currently the entire company besides our Office Manager, Janice.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, considering that I had committed to be in Philly this past weekend to help out with the arrangements for the event at MBIEE. Needless to say it was pulled off without a hitch and enjoyed by all who attended--despite the family drama of my grandmother Evelyn being checked into Abington Hospital with pneumonia Saturday night. I'll leave it to my mom to fill you in on the details.

So after a late Sunday night return to DC and some adept packing (I've become quite the expert these last few years), I set out on the Metro to National Airport Monday morning. Standing in the TSA line, as I was trying to consolidate all personal electronic and metal containing objects into my bag--for reasons still unclear to me (I was never good at Physics)--it suddenly flew out of my hands and several feet into the air, landing laptop edge-first on the stone floor. It may seem like I'm exaggerating, but it landed with such force that the zipper pull on the front pocket of the bag broke off, and the woman in front of me yelped in fear. After passing security and composing myself I rushed to my gate to sit down and THANK GOD everything still worked despite an unsightly dent to the casing...

Two flights packed like a sardine and a disappointing but productive working lunch in the Phoenix airport later, I was in a familiar place--flying over the beautiful Bay Area on approach to SFO. It's been an arduous two years of exile for me since I moved back east, and I found myself thinking back wistfully on the days when a picturesque landing at SFO or San Jose left me with a certain degree of pride and satisfaction that this was where I called home.

To make matters worse, after days of roasting in 90+ degree/90%+ humidity in Philly and DC, I stepped out into one of those stereotypical cloudless, 75 degree-with-a-slight-cool-breeze California days. I remember the first time my parents came to visit me out in CA, when we stepped outside into the short-term parking lot at SFO, my mother remarked about how the air smelled and tasted better. For the first time in my life, I smelled and tasted the difference myself.

Since it was about 4PM, and I wasn't meeting my colleagues for dinner until 7:30, I decided to take advantage of the BART line they extended out to SFO and had a nice ride to the Financial District.

Dinner was at Tadich Grill, apparently the oldest restaurant in the city (est. 1849). The service was "eh" and the food was OK. I think some of the waiters have been working there since it opened. We "circled the wagons" and discussed some last minute updates before I headed back exhausted and fell asleep around 11PM.

To make a long story short (too late), our meeting went wonderfully. The four of us played off each other perfectly without stepping on each other. This rarely happens, as each of us is generally accustomed to being the smartest person in the room. :)

I got the opportunity to lead a few segments of the day, and to be a major contributor to the general discourse. It sounds stupid, but it feels good to be under 30 and to sit at a conference table with senior partners from several huge international law firms while they listen intently, ask intelligent questions, and commend you on your work. It was a great affirmation of my decision to leave the law firm "support staff" environment and move into the consulting field.

Dan and Neal both pulled me aside at various points of the day to let me know how happy they were that I joined them (both for the meeting and in general). I get the impression (as does Tom) that they are both pleasantly surprised at what I've been able to bring to the table for the company--and I'm trying not to take their surprise too personally. :)

I had emailed my old boss from WSGR, Matt, who is now with another big SF firm to see if he was free to catch up over dinner, but he emailed me back to say he had already made other plans. He mentioned, though, that he had read my latest article in Law Technology News, and was pretty impressed with the content. Since it had to do with Lit Support/Legal Assistant management issues, he had forwarded it on to his own firm management for them to read.

Dan immediately left to do some work at a client site in Finland over the next few days, and the three of us met shortly later to have a delicious dinner at The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. Tom and I saw Neal off in a cab to SFO for his red-eye home, and then I took Tom on what I dubbed a "death march" tour of a few choice places in SF. We walked through the Financial District up to Chinatown, down part of Grant Street through to North Beach, then back around the north side of Telegraph Hill back out to The Embarcadero to Pier 39. Things got a bit too touristy for both of us as we started approaching Fisherman's Wharf, so we immediately hopped in a cab back to the Hyatt, where he's staying and caught the end of Game 4 of the NBA Finals over a couple of bottles of Pacifico Clara (my favorite Mexican beer).

With a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction, I headed back up Market Street to the Palace to sit back, relax and blog a bit. Tomorrow it's back to DC (First Class this time!). We've got the next 3 weeks to put together a fairly significant piece for the case, so things could get a little crazy. But seriously--my work life has been a bit crazy for years now and everything always seems to work out better than fine.


Anonymous said...

Don't get too comfortable. Your nieces have gotten very used to having you close by!

Marilyn said...

Your parents, too, hope you will put up with our terrible weather at least for a while because we love having you close by also. Perhaps if life goes really well for you, you will be able to realize your dream of having small places to stay all over the world.

Reading your blog, which came in right after I finished writing mine, was so much better than the usual litany of Q&A about "How was the flight/hotel/meeting?" "Where and what did you eat, etc.” I followed all your links and found more answers than I knew I had and more than we can usually cover in a normal phone conversation, and with photos, no less.

I also like that you tied in with my theme of whirlwind, which is really a nice way of saying tornado. Pecos Bill rode a whirlwind, but nobody rides a tornado.

sabasenders said...

You heard your mom and sister. I am officially adding my vote. Its to wonderful having you guys withing driving distance.

Unknown said...

Hi guys
Reading your blogs lets me be part of your life from far away. It's a great way to keep up what is happening. Ari, Israel is nicer but hot and humid. We are looking at a Hamsin next week.So when are you coming over?
Regards to all.
Your cousin