This past Wednesday was my last day in New York. While I spent most of the day finalizing everything for the next day’s cross-country move, I gave myself a break in the evening so that I could squeeze in some final, fun activities in the city.
First up was an event hosted by the Hudson Union Society, a group that brings in distinguished speakers from all walks of life (e.g., sports, politics, entertainment). I had received a discounted membership through a long-ago sale on Gilt City, and now I would be going to my first (and only–whoops!) of the organization’s events.
This event was a good one: Katie Couric would be interviewing former head of ABC News David Westin on his new book, Exit Interview. I have to admit, I had no idea who David Westin was when I signed up to attend–for me, the draw was 100% Katie Couric. I have watched her for almost as long as I can remember, and I admire her drive and success in journalism. I had no doubt that seeing her in person would be awesome.
Fortunately, I was right. Katie is truly someone who I would befriend in real life. When someone asked her about a news event that had happened in the last day, Katie admitted ignorance but gave an amazing excuse–she had just flown in from London that day after having interviewed the Queen. Oh, Katie, the life you lead. She tossed off a bunch of funny one-liners throughout the interview. More importantly, even though she and David are friends, Katie did not pull her punches on the difficult questions. Katie asked David about his biggest regret from his time heading up ABC news (his response: not pursuing more aggressively the question of weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the second Iraq War); on a more humorous note, after admitting her jealously of his coup, Katie asked David, “Why would you do a two-hour special [on Monica Lewinsky] other than as a shameless ratings ploy?” Comedy gold! David replied that he did not remember, and continued, after prodding from Katie, by admitting that his answer, though seemingly Clinton-esque, was genuine. Hilarious.
David Westin, though I did not know him beforehand, was great, too. He started his career as a lawyer (shout-out to lawyers!) and discussed the difficulties he initially had with people not taking him as seriously due to his lack of a journalism background. He also stated that, initially, the ABC News job was a demotion from his previous job at ABC, but he knew that it was the right opportunity for him. This definitely gave me food for thought as I continue to build my own career.
David covered a wide variety of topics, from sexism (i.e., the unhealthy focus on the supposed “catfight” between Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, while any rivalry between the male anchors was ignored), to his difficult decision to proceed with a special on Princess Di when she passed (as formerly, only heads of state and a pope had received a special), to covering the Iraq an Afghanistan wars, to the Bush Administration’s aggressive tactics to kill certain news coverage, to enforcing ABC’s ban on flag pins in the wake of 9/11, to the sadness of dealing with his close friend Bob Woodruff’s injuries and David’s delight in Bob’s recovery, to his “darkest days” (which involved allowing Leonardo DiCaprio to interview President Clinton, resulting in a ribbing from Clinton at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner–ouch). The interview was riveting and definitely made me excited to read his book, which all attendees received and which David signed for us after the program. All in all, I’m glad that I went. My pictures of the event weren’t that great (as evidenced above), but you’re in luck–you can check out more photos here.
After that, as I headed towards Grand Central to catch the subway home, I remembered something: there was a Baked by Melissa store nearby! As I have said previously, there is a special place in my heart for Baked by Melissa’s mini-cupcakes. What could be a more fitting last taste of the city? Nothing! After a few minutes of wandering, I found the store, ordered six mini-cupcakes, and headed out. Since I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, I was starving, so I polished off the baked goods even before I made it to the subway. Solid. Thank you, Melissa!
After I got home, one of my best friends came over for one last session of girl-talk. We spent hours talking about everything, from our professional lives to our personal lives to everything in between. At one point, our talk was interrupted by loud sounds coming from outside. As that day was the beginning of Fleet Week, there were celebratory fireworks over the Hudson River, and the windows from my living room gave us a great view. As the fireworks continued, I took one last, bittersweet look out at the city before finishing up with my friend, hugging her goodbye, and turning in for the night. Next stop: San Francisco.