Saturday, September 28, 2013


This week, I subbed in for another associate who has been stretched too thin for way too long. The result was a few all-nighters. We sent out our deliverable in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I (unintentionally) slept all day on Saturday and woke up just in time to catch this sunset.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Killing Time

Today was the Autumn Equinox, a holiday in Japan.  Because work is slow, I was able to enjoy the free day.  I woke up around 6am--the happy result of some effort I've put into adjusting my sleep schedule.  This gave me time to do a cardio kickboxing DVD, wash some dishes and straighten up before housekeeping arrived.  I took my Kindle down to the courtyard and read for a couple of hours and then took off for a walk around town.

I started by walking through Roppongi to Tokyo Midtown.  This is a walk I used to take every weekend so that I could visit a pet store that has poodle and chihuahua puppies that remind me of C&B.  A few months ago, the store closed down and I stopped making the walk.  Today, I wanted to see what had become of the space and found that the store hadn't closed down after all; it had been remodeled!

Tokyo Midtown
Next, I hopped on the train to Ginza, where the main road is roped off and pedestrians can walk through the middle of the streets.  I passed the Apple store, which wasn't as crowded as I would have thought given the recent iPhone 5c/5s release.  It turns out that this is because the crowd was at Softbank instead.  (Softbank is a Japanese telecommunications company that you may have heard of as a result of their recent acquisition of Sprint.)

Apple Store in Ginza
I walked all the way up and down the main street.  Some stores were running Silver Week promotions.  There were a fair number of tourists out and about--mostly Chinese.

There were also a lot of folks shopping with their dogs.  I saw a Shibu Inu and many Yorkies and Poodles.  The Shibu Inu's dignity remained intact, but the Yorkies and Poodles were wearing an array of outfits--t-shirts, dresses, hats and even a pair of pajamas.  I also noticed a litter of kittens wearing scarves and perched on top of a street sign.  It's not clear how they had gotten there, but they had attracted a huge crowd--everyone was jostling to take a picture of them.

Diorama-syle map of the Yamaha building
Even after a year in Tokyo, I find it a bit sad to be surrounded by people all day without having a single interaction with another human being.  Some of you may have noticed that I deleted a recent post that I wrote when I was feeling particularly low.  (In retrospect, that post was better suited to a personal journal than a blog, so I've removed it.)  Of the numerous concerns I had in mind when I wrote that entry, I think the post at this link provides a composed expression of the one that's actually worth noting in a public space.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sin Den

Last weekend, after surviving the worst of Tokyo's muggy summer, I finally got a haircut.  I went to Sin Den in Shibuya on the recommendation of a coworker.

The salon was tough to find (take that with a grain of salt as I don't have access to GPS at the moment).  It's tucked back into a residential neighborhood, which is what made me feel I must be lost even when I was on the right path.  They speak English well and it's clear that they have a lot of experience with caucasian hair--the salon was full of expat clientele while I was there.  Pricing is consistent with what I would expect in LA.

I had about ten inches in length shorn off, making my hair is the shortest it has been since my senior year of high school!  I wish I had done this at the beginning of summer, not the end, but I'm glad to have found a place worth recommending.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Double Bind

Ben and I recently had a falling out, which has given me pause for reflection.

I would like, very much, to get married and start a family.  This is something I've wanted and been open to doing since I was 24.  I've been in a handful of serious relationships that have gone on for at least two years, but none of these men have asked me to marry them.

The reasons these relationships have not worked out have been varied.  However, one feeling that all of these guys seem to have shared is that they couldn't tolerate the idea of settling down with someone who wouldn't be able to be highly deferential.  They weren't open to relocation.  They weren't open to the idea of a girlfriend or wife who would work long hours.  They couldn't see why I wouldn't want to take a 50% paycut to relocate to their choice of town as soon as possible.  Even when I told them I didn't want to have the sort of job I currently have in the long-term, they couldn't (or didn't want to?) think creatively about a future family life.  [ETA: Maybe they just didn't believe me based on my behavior.]

I'm responsible for my decision to stay in long-term relationships with guys who were not open to being true partners.  I think this happened because I am open to and interested in the idea of being a full-time mom.  I wasn't prioritizing selection of guys who were going to be supportive of a wife with a demanding job, even though I was clearly headed down that path, because (if I'm being completely honest) I didn't want to have a demanding job outside the home in the long-term.

There are consequences.  I spent my most precious years dating these guys.  Now, I can see fine lines on my face and bags under my eyes, and feel like I don't have strong cards to play with.  I do believe that I have a nice personality and am interesting to talk to.  I know that I'm financially responsible and well-educated.  But it doesn't feel like those qualities matter (especially in Southern California).  I'm 32, but I already feel invisible to men my age.

One of the core problems is that I don't have the time: the time to spend on doing what it takes (and I don't really know what it takes or where to go) to cross paths with single guys who are about my age; or the time to look my best.  I cannot remember the last time I was asked on or went on a date.  I often seriously think that I need to quit my job in order to have any hope of finding a partner.

I recognize that I am failing in my personal life, but I'm not sure what to do and I'm running out of time to figure it out.

As you can probably tell, I am having an especially low moment.  I go back and forth between the thoughts I express in this post and focusing entirely on my job (because I have at least some control over that aspect of my life).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

When a Partner Steps into your Office and Closes the Door

Last week, on a particularly slow day, a partner walked into my office and shut the door.  Uh oh.  That always makes me nervous.  It makes me afraid that I'm about to get fired, but my past experience has taught me that what it really means is that the firm is about to throw me a curveball.

This time, the firm wants to know if I'll stay in Japan for an additional year to work in a client's office.  There are obvious personal challenges related to extending my stay in Japan for another year, but there's a lot to be gained by spending a year in-house.  In dramatic contrast to the very American environment in my firm's office in Tokyo, this secondment would immerse me in Japanese business culture in what is considered to be a very conservative company.  Plus, it's a year of in-house experience.

There are some practical perks.  My compensation wouldn't change, but my work hours would be very humane (as in 9-5:30p most days), and I wouldn't carry a blackberry (an arrangement that is the answer to many a biglaw associate's prayers).  The secondment would also get me through my entire fourth year at the firm.

I've been thinking about how this secondment could fit into my long-term professional plans.  In the long term, I would like to "be the client" as a GC at a large company with cross-border business.  In "retirement" I'd like to be a business law professor in a MBA program and sit on a board or two.  I don't see myself staying at the firm because of (i) the extremely unpredictable schedule, (ii) the absence of female M&A partners, and (iii) my interest in being closer to business strategy and the implementation of the legal advice.  I think the secondment would help me collect skills and experience that would make me a more compelling (or, if nothing else, a more unique) candidate for the types of positions I'll need to reach my long-term goals.

I am weary of the fact that firms sometimes use secondments as a way of showing associates the door.  However, the last three associates to complete this secondment seem to be considered "star associates" among their respective classes.  Of course, their great reputations were forged before the secondment and not as a result of it.  Having said that, the secondment doesn't seem to be an outplacement mechanism.

Financially, this would mean another year of free rent and COLA.  My entire student loan balance would be paid off before the end of the secondment.

Almost seems like a slam dunk.

Personally, I miss my country, my culture, my family and friends.  It's not easy to try to maintain those relationships from the other side of the world and certain of those relationships will probably be lost if I were to choose to stay.  I also want to say something about how this might cost me the opportunity to get married or have kids, but you guys have heard all that before and know that it's something I'm always worried about.

It's been a lot to think about.  There were a lot of sleepless nights this week.

I can practically hear Sheryl Sandburg screaming at me to Lean In.