Sunday, June 30, 2013


The dust is settling after a fast-paced week that pushed me to my limits.  It was all work, no play and almost no sleep.  Let's add to that no consumption of food of nutritional value.

It's weeks like this one that I absolutely cannot believe that it's possible to be a parent and a biglaw lawyer at the same time, unless you have a very understanding spouse with a flexible, less demanding job and your conscious is not bothered by checking out from parenting for a week (for the record, I'm not necessarily saying that is a terrible thing, my dad did that all the time and I don't begrudge him for it, which was possible because of my Mom).  Having said that, not every week is like last week.  Thank goodness.

So what did it take to have this sort of week?
  • Supporting a partner and two senior associates on the sign and close of an asset sale scheduled to occur over the weekend.  
  • Finishing a 50-state statutory research project, which I worked on alone (I did the case law research a few weeks in advance was focused on cleaning up the statutory research this week).
  • Starting and finishing a diligence project that required review of more than 3,000 documents and drafting of a report (48 hour window; team of four attorneys).
  • On a different matter, preparing a chart summarizing contractual restrictions on a specific issue that was identified during diligence review.
  • Getting a summer associate started on a drafting project for a pro bono client.

I'm not sure if that will sound like a lot of work to a non-lawyer.  Here's how it played out from a practical point of view.  I was at work:
  • Monday: 9am until 2:30am the next day
  • Tuesday: 8am until 3am the next day
  • Wednesday: 8am until 11:35pm (caught the last train home!)
  • Thursday: 7:30am through the night with a 2.5 hour dinner break with the summer associates
  • Friday: Ran home to shower and change clothes about 7:45am and got back to the office at 9:30am, worked until 2am
  • Saturday: 9:30am until 1am
  • Sunday: 9:30am until 2:45pm

When things wrapped up Sunday afternoon, I envisioned going out for a good meal (except for pizza with the summers on Thursday night, I subsisted on Coca-Cola and Starbucks/convenience store food last week... I know... I felt as crappy as that sounds), taking a long bath, and watching a movie downloaded from iTunes.  Instead, I fell asleep sitting on my couch and woke up at 6am Monday morning.

And, somehow, through all of this week I felt like I was never doing quite enough to meet everyone's expectations.  Cannot imagine the pressure I would feel if I had a family at home that I was disappointing as well.

I don't expect the firm's expectations to change.  No matter how much the firm gives lip service to work/life balance, there is no changing the fact that this is the level of service that must be provided when the firm is charging top of the market rates.  This is the job.  I take the view that the question isn't whether the firm should behave differently, the question is whether I should be at the firm.

(Having said all that, we can see that the move to a different office of the firm has delivered the opportunity to get experience.  In spades.  Feast or famine....)

Weeks like this I have to remember that the Sunday prior, I had time for a trip out to Yokohama for dinner with friends.  It's not always like this.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Last night, I hopped on the train for a 50 minute, ¥620, easy ride to Yokohama to meet some friends for dinner at Bill's in the Red Brick Warehouse.  It was nice to experience a change of scenery and great company.  You should have seen the ferris wheel after dark--it was lit up in multi-colored neon. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Goodbye HAB Pasadena!

Yesterday, I got word from Ben that the ballroom studio I'd been going to has closed its Pasadena location, in favor of a location further east--too far east for me to commute to if/when I make it back to LA at the end of my Tokyo assignment.

I was so lucky to find this place when I was trying to find my niche in LA.  I met some great people and had a lot of fun behind those doors.  On a difficult day, I could always look forward to heading to Pasadena to dance.  Here's hoping there's another studio in my future.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Earlier this week, I walked by a bank of vending machines in Tameike-sanno station and stopped dead in my tracks when I realized one of the machines was full of fresh bananas (and packages of dried mangos).

Dole, I have so many questions.  Is the machine refrigerated?  How do you keep the bananas from bruising terribly during the vending process?  How often does an attendant need to visit the machine to make sure none of the bananas are too brown?  How does the convenience store that sells bananas just steps from this machine feel about this?  You realize Japanese people don't snack as they walk around the subway station, right?  Who buys an entire bunch of bananas from a vending machine?

Then I got to thinking about whether I've seen Dole bananas in my local grocery store.  I have not.  Thankfully, I had not seen this commercial either:

Take a moment to soak that in.

But, seriously, while I thought it was strange to run into a banana machine in a subway station, I think this could be genius in schools and workplaces in the US.  Having a fresh fruit machine (maybe add in some whole apples?) option would be a step in the right direction.  I love junk food as much as the next American, but, given equal access, I would pick fresh fruit for a snack at least half the time.

The following video isn't mine and, sadly, the videographer doesn't buy a banana so we don't see the machine in action.  Still, it's interesting to hear his reactions.

Friday, June 14, 2013


It's Saturday and I was at the office all day. Since I am struggling to find something positive to say, I will say nothing and leave you with some pictures from the Ginza line.

This is what it looks like when you just miss the train...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Home Leave (Part 3)

My two-week home leave was over in the blink of an eye.  I saw my family, Ben and some friends, watched my cousin get married, worked three days in our Southern California offices, worked remotely every day, and ate American food.  Sadly, I didn't make it to the beach, the pool or a yoga class.  The list of things I wanted to do was long and the firm and my family's expectations too great.

It felt nothing like a vacation.  It was exhausting and draining.  My heart was full of frustration, resentment and even some anger by the time I boarded my plane back to Japan. I didn't want to leave.

Air Force One was parked outside the terminal the morning I came home.

The most important thing I can do now to make sure I'll be able to make positive changes when I get back to the States is exercise financial discipline.  This means minimizing food expenses and continuing to pay off student loans and save as much as I can.  (Related: last month I reached a financial milestone: my combined 401(k) and IRA balance passed the $100k mark!)

In the meanwhile, I will try not to worry over things I cannot control or change while I'm here.

Four months to go.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Home Leave (Part 2)

One of the best parts of home leave so far has been reuniting with my dogs. I've missed them terribly. Can you believe this little one will be 10 years old in August?

This was right after ~15 hours of waiting to board, flying, clearing customs and locating lost luggage. Little C seemed a stunned to see me at first (as in no tail wagging or barking, just standing completely frozen and staring... it was a bit of a let down to be honest). Since then, she's been like a little shadow, following me everywhere I go and begging to play or be picked up at all times.

The worst part of home leave is that I've been working more than I thought I would be. I've logged time every day of vacation so far and was up until 3am last night. Because there is no T-Mobile reception round these parts, I've been tethered to my laptop, which has made what should have been a few minor inconveniences into a series of major disruptions.

This is the first vacation I've taken since starting at the firm, so there were bound to be some hiccups. My big mistake seems to have been agreeing to provide coverage on a specific day in the middle of my vacation. Unfortunately, this opened the door to lots of little questions or mini assignments from day-to-day. A lack of connectivity has slowed my responsiveness and I feel like I've dissapointed co-workers, as well as family in the process of trying to keep up with work and family obligations, not to mention a year's worth of doctors' appointments squeezed into a week and a half.

Right now I feel drained, discouraged and overwhelmed.