The very first thing you notice about New York is the smell. The moment I stepped out from the subway last night, getting my first real glimpse of America, I was struck by how good everything smelt. Being quite hungry after hours on a plane/in an airport, I was immediately lured away from the appeal of bed by the promise of food that turned out to just be the many hot dog stands that line the streets.
By day, the smell does not abate. If you’re even the least bit hungry, New York promises to make that worse. It’s just lucky that everything about the hot dog stands looks so dodgy that I’m immediately turned away despite knowing that sooner or later, I will crack.
The other major thing that jumped out at me after spending a day walking the city was how aggressive everyone is. In Melbourne somebody might beep their horn here and there if they’re in a bad mood. Here it’s practically a national sport; you can’t walk up the street without aggressive beeping and yelling from just about every passing car. Plus, every few metres you’ll pass a loud argument of some sort. There are a lot of feelings around these parts.
I ended up doing a bit of a whirlwind tour of the city today; after my meeting at the Emmys headquarters I wandered up through Central Park where I watched squirrels attempt to violently kill each other before making my way down to Time Square, accidently seeing the Empire State Building on the way and ticking that off my list.
Times Square, as anyone who’s been there can attest, is a strange place. Someone asked me tonight if I found it ‘horrifying or fascinating’ and those two extremes are just about the only words I can apply to it. Tourists, garish lights, towering advertisements and different shops and theatres fighting for attention fill the area. Honestly, I had to leave to avoid having a mini breakdown in response to all the different things vying for my attention.
Things have moved so quickly that I really didn’t feel ready for the cocktail party that was the official opener for the International Emmys Festival, and that feeling did not change as I arrived. The party was hosted at a swanky venue by the French Embassy, and basically I was surrounded by lots and lots of very important people as I drank lots of wine and tried to seem like a relatively respectable representative of Australia. Luckily, everyone there was so lovely that I was very quickly put at ease. I had plenty of great conversations with all sorts of people, ranging from the big bosses of the International Emmys to documentarians to former CBS bigwigs to the peoples responsible for selling French Television to foreign distributors. I walked in terrified, I walked out energised and excited about the rest of the weekend. I never once felt out of place there; it was such a warm, friendly, welcoming environment. I collected many business cards and gave out many more and left feeling well and truly networked. And this is only the first event of many over the next few days.
Look, to be honest my trip didn’t get off to a great start and I woke up this morning feeling a bit down about everything and like I was one step behind where I needed to be. But tonight changed that and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few days. Even if that ends up being food poisoning from one of the hot dogs I just know I’m about to step out to devour, it doesn’t really matter because at this moment I’m so excited and energised about just being here, and the big stuff is all still to come. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just about the best place to be.
Writing words about writing words.