Well, not to worry: I didn’t. I ended up staying in New York until right before Christmas, but I had enough ties to last me. And by the end I had the distinction of being called the best-dressed person in the NFL’s offices by at least one executive. Given the somewhat macho culture of the institution, I might have worried that the observation wasn’t meant to be complimentary — but by then I’d also been given a nickname (“JJ”) and included (against my better judgment) in various midnight games of “tossing the pigskin” through the all-glass corridors, so I figured I was okay.
After getting back from New York, I dove head-first into another intense set of negotiations for a different client. We were simultaneously negotiating about eight different tv/cable deals that all had a hard deadline of midnight on January 31. It was pretty brutal. I basically worked every waking minute of the day — I’d roll out of bed in the morning around 7am or so, and then work at my kitchen table until 2 or 3 or 4am. I stayed at home to avoid losing time to commuting (and making myself presentable) and I soon got super stir-crazy — only every time I left the apartment to get a sandwich or walk around the block, I inevitably got 47 emails and voicemails wondering where I was and why was I not available every second of the day?
Fortunately, we paused long enough that I didn’t need to work on Christmas Day. Instead, I got up early and met some friends at the Jewish Community Center downtown DC. We had signed up for a service project, where we prepared and served lunch to a bunch of people at a shelter in Alexandria. It was my first time volunteering through the JCC, and I had a great time. I was the first of the team to show up, so by default I became the team captain. Next thing I know, I’m running the show and giving directions and being interviewed by reporters who wanted to know all about the Jewish tradition of serving on Christmas (talk about awkward!! fortunately she got distracted by some adorable children before she discovered that I wasn’t, in fact, Jewish!). The service project was by no means difficult (though the logistics of boiling 16 pounds of spaghetti are trickier than you might think), and the other volunteers were friendly and eager to be there.
After that, I spent the rest of Christmas Day at a dinner part with some friends from church. I made a chocolate cake, bacon-wrapped sausages, and basalmic-roasted root vegetables as my contribution to the pot-luck spread. It was a much needed break from the crush of work.
But it was only a temporary break: work picked up bright and early the next day and continued uninterrupted until about 8pm on New Year’s Eve, when we finally got to a handshake deal with the last and biggest (and most intractable) of the cable companies that we were negotiating with. Given that we technically had until midnight to reach the deal, I was kind of surprised that we finished so early! But I didn’t complain. Instead, I took a nap, shaved off my two-weeks’ beard and dressed up for a fancy New Year’s cocktail party that some friends of mine were hosting. I got there in time to meet the other guests, play a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, and then ring in the new year.
Like Christmas, New Year’s was only a temporary break. The “handshake” deal that we’d struck on New Year’s Eve still needed to be finalized, and then all the work for other clients that had taken a back seat during the prior month needed to be addressed in short order — all of which has been keeping me plenty busy.
But as of today I feel that I’ve finally gotten things under control. The big year-end deals are done; the backlog has been processed and shipped out to clients/counterparties for review. And for the first time in a long time I feel completely entitled to leave all of my “to dos” until Monday, devoting my afternoon instead to making plans with friends, buying plane tickets for upcoming vacation, and looking forward to a completely work-free weekend. Finally, I feel like I can say, “Happy New Year!”