Friday, September 28, 2012

On Notice

I terminated my lease today.  It was difficult because it makes the move to Japan seem very real, but I won't miss this apartment too much.  It never seemed like home.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taking a Haircut

Because of Yom Kippur, there was nothing going on at the office today (until the sun went down).  I took the opportunity to pop across the street for a haircut during my lunch break.

I'm not picky about my hair so I don't have a regular salon or hairdresser, but the girl who was available at noon did a great job.  She took off four or five inches of length and then blew it out.  I did it because I think it will be really difficult for me to get my hair cut in Japan (not being able to speak Japanese and all), but the masses appear to approve--there were lots of compliments today and even some hooting and hollering from the general (albeit probably drunk) public as I walked back to the office.

It made me realize that the last time I wore my hair down on a work day was sometime in May--four months ago!?!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Land of the Rising Sun

This maybe has become a reality.  When a midlevel in my group gave his notice earlier this week, I thought my group might make a move to keep me here.  Didn't happen.  So now I'm sitting here overwhelmed and, well, scared at the thought of moving to Tokyo for a year.

"You can do anything for a year."

"It's an adventure."

"You'll get great experience."

It's what everyone is saying and what I'm trying to remind myself of the million times a day that I start losing my cool.  To try to make the process more manageable, I made a to do list a few weeks ago and started chipping away at it.  Dentist appointment, check.  Well-woman visit, check.  Eye doctor visit, check.  Credit card with no international transaction fees, check.  But there are so many other big items to tackle.

It would help if the firm would give me a start date.  That would make it easier to plan to terminate my lease or sell my car.  But some things won't get easier.  Every time I look at C&B, my eight and nine year old dogs, I feel heartbroken about leaving them with my family for a year and wonder if they'll still be here when I get back.  I wonder the same about my grandparents.  I feel a sense of hopelessness about my own personal life and whether I'll ever start my own family.  Why can't I get Ben to talk about this?  Why isn't he ready to get engaged so that I can turn this relocation down?  I feel frustrated that this is what it takes to get enough work to develop as a junior member of my practice group at the firm.

I've been there before.  I know that there are nice people in the office.  I know that there's good work.  I know the office building can withstand an exceptional earthquake.  I made it through a month there in 2011.  But I'm worried about keeping up that pace for an entire year.  What will it do to my health?  What will it do to my relationships?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Trails

My last couple of weekends have been all about quality time with the family.  I just got back from Palm Springs and spent the previous Saturday on a six-mile hike in Crystal Cove State Park where I was treated to views like this one:

Hello, Pacific Ocean!
I know it's the first day of fall, but that's hard to believe given that I spent my last two weekends in 100+ heat.  The stupidity of a six mile hike on a 100+ day is not lost on me, but it's one of my favorite OC trails.  I've been wanting to spend a day at Crystal Cove since I moved back to California, so I was determined to get out there before I'm (probably) exported to Japan.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Do I have them?  Do I need them?  Is there some point where, even in this economy, you stop being thankful for a particular job?  If I have to leave the country, my family, my friends, and little C&B behind for a year, is that too much?  If my answer is no, where do I draw the line?  This is what's been keeping me up late at night this week.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Student Loan Interest

In talking with some of the older associates at my firm, I've been surprised by how much student loan interest rates have crept up in such a short period of time. The highest interest rate among my student loans is 8.5%. What about you guys?

Monday, September 10, 2012


Late last week, I was asked to provide the documents necessary to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility--the first step towards obtaining a Japanese work visa.  Nothing is set in stone, but I am preparing for an extended absence from the U.S.  This means that I've set up appointments with my doctors, cancelled subscriptions, applied for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, dusted off my Rosetta Stone CDs, and started mentally preparing for leaving my dogs in my family's safekeeping for a year (this last one has resulted in tears and nightmares).

On a happier note, I now have an excuse to burn through my pre-paid pilates and dance lessons.  I started my weekend with a pilates session.  Next, I had an hour-long latin lesson where we worked on an open cha cha routine ("open" means choreography that includes steps that are not included in the DVIDA syllabus).  Then, I had a two-hour lesson with a different teacher where I was taught American Smooth basics ("American Smooth" includes the following dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot, and viennese waltz).  Finally, I went home for some quality time with the dogs and tried a new-to-me recipe for pecan tarts.  And that was just Saturday!

Pecan Tarts from America's Test Kitchen's Cooking for Two 2010 Edition

I have a long to-do list that includes terminating my lease, possibly selling my car, and moving my belongings into storage.  If you can think of other housekeeping items I should tackle before leaving to live abroad, please chime in!  Like I said, nothing is set in stone, but I've learned to be prepared once the firm begins discussing these sorts of changes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day Back

As of last Friday, the last day of my secondment, I was on target to make my hours for the year thanks to the busy secondment and the fact that secondment hours count, as "legal service" hours, towards my billable requirement.

*huge sigh of relief*

I _really_ want to make my hours this year.  By way of background, during my first year, Beach City office's lack of deal flow and decision to work-starve the most junior associates wrecked havoc on my hours such that there was no hope, even after volunteering to transfer offices, to make my hours for the year.  The firm used this as a reason to hold me back from advancing with my salary class at the end of last year.  The written record of my end-of-year evaluation clearly stated that the partners assumed responsibility for the lack of work (and I appreciate that), but I was still frustrated.

I want to make my hours so that I can advance with my salary class.  More so, I want to make my hours because I want the practical experience that is necessary to advance my skill set.  Accordingly, about a week ago, I sent an email out to the group reminding them of my imminent return, which I hoped would help reduce the downtime during my transition back to the firm.

On my first day back, I walked the halls, said hello, discussed my experience in-house, and asked for work.  It appears that there is nothing for me to do except for a non-billable database project.  Don't get me wrong, I will do that database project with a smile on my face, but I am more than concerned that there isn't a single billable project that requires a junior associate in my group (I am the only junior associate in the group) at this moment and in the foreseeable future.

If you've been following along here for some time, you may be wondering why I keep writing what is essentially the same we-don't-have-enough-work post, without taking action.  I considered transferring offices a drastic and aggressive, but necessary way to address the problem.  When that attempted solution fell flat, I considered accepting the secondment as a way to fill my time and broaden my experience (mission accomplished).  I've said yes to every assignment and even brought in a client... I'm not sure what else I can do within the firm at this point.

So I will continue to walk the halls and ask for work, and start considering external solutions to the problem.