Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28, 2008

This day was really sloooow and uneventful. It's too bad, because there is only one May 28, 2008 in my lifetime (and for everyone else on the Gregorian calendar). Just so I remember this day forever, here's what happened today. 

7:30 a.m. - woke up. Opened laptop. Read Philippine Star and Financial Times on line. Checked Gmail.

9:00 a.m. - left for work on the shuttle bus. Ate breakfast at Deli-O at the Jardine House basement (smoked salmon, egg whites, croissant and mushrooms). Bought grande Cafe Latte at Starbucks. Fought for space on elevator to 31st floor.

9:45 a.m. - saw grammatical error on facility agreement draft sent to big brother boss ("BBB") last night. Corrected grammatical error, ran comparison program and e-mailed it to BBB. BBB arrives, opens e-mail and asks, "Why did you send me two drafts?"

10:00 a.m. - e-mailed Indonesian lawyers about Indonesian condition precedent documents. 

10:05 a.m. - answered personal e-mails. Read "Jezebel" and "Gawker".

10:54 a.m. - started this blog entry.

11:00 a.m. - read warrant term sheet for share-backed financing project. Listened to short lecture by BBB on why "Tranche B" is preferred term for syndicated loan over "Facility B". Read "Perez Hilton".

12:00 p.m. - e-mails to New York law firm to follow-up Slavenbourg registration of Gibraltar note assignment. Googled "Slavenbourg registration".

12:10 p.m. - BBB closes our office door and talked to his potential future employer on the phone.

12:30 p.m. - lunch with JQ at Grappa's. Had lobster bisque and scallops, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula salad. Fun talking with JQ about her on-going wedding preparations (she's Buddhist and getting married to a Catholic, in a Catholic cathedral. Chinese style reception).

2:00 p.m. - read LMA practice notes.

3:30 p.m. - took a break from reading practice notes. Browsed profiles on Facebook. Went back to reading practice notes.

4:30 p.m. - ate grapes.

5:00 p.m. - BBB tells me to start reviewing real estate financing documents for a project "that is highly likely to go nowhere". (Sub-text: Absolutely no rush for you to read these.) Read "The Economist" on-line. 

6:28 p.m. - received e-mail from client inquiring about documents for a deal that ended 6 months ago. Answered client with basic placeholder response, "I'll check our files and I'll revert to you tomorrow." (Sub-text: You could have e-mailed earlier when I was looking for stuff to do)

6:30 p.m. - shut down computer, walked to IFC, bought toiletries, had glasses fixed, bought groceries.

7:00 p.m. - in line at ATM and saw J. who asked how I was doing. Told her to read my blog tomorrow (Hi J.!)

7:30 p.m. - rode shuttle bus home. Talked to L. on the phone, who said he won't make it to dinner.

8:00 p.m. - grilled 2 small lamb chops, made mediterranean salad, toasted pita bread. 

8:30 p.m. - ate while watching Anthony Bourdain (he was in Charleston)

9:30 p.m. - watched "Shopaholics" on BBC. Read new e-mails on blackberry (Tomorrow won't be as boring as today. Yay!)

10:30 p.m. - L. is home! (His day was obviously not as uneventful as mine)

It's 11:00 p.m., and as usual, I'll read the New York Times, Slate and Salon until midnight. I'll read my novel (Guerillas by V.S. Naipaul) until 2:00 a.m. Then I'll go to sleep.

And so goes another day in the life.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Make Me a Michelada!

My post-graduate education in New York did not solely center upon law and finance; a large(r) part of it concerned my inculcation into the fine art of food and beverages. Given I was living below the poverty line at that time, my culinary experiences were usually centered on curious sausages and developing country cuisine I could sample cheaply in Queens, as well as curious cocktails I could get at some random party where there were pretzels, lots of drink, and lots of other stuff as well.

One cocktail that I could never forget was the Michelada. Prior to my alcoholic enlightenment, I was a strictly new world red/vodka tonic type of girl, and the height of exoticism would be an amaretto sour. However, Bacchus had other plans for me. On one cold winter night, a Mexican friend lured me into a little dive somewhere on the Upper West ("I'll let you taste REAL Mexican food so you can stop eating those ridiculous burritos!) (N.B. Burritos are not found anywhere in Mexico!) and taught me how to eat Mole and really really spicy enchiladas. Great meal, but the highlight of the night was the Michelada - a nice tall glass of Corona with limes, chiles, salt and other happy stuff. After that night, I was smitten. This was my cocktail of choice.

Soon after, I had to move out of New York in order work and get out of poverty. Sadly, Singapore and (much later) Hong Kong did not have any Mexican food other than the Tex-Mex kind, nor did they have cocktails other than the usual bar kinds.  And then I bought a magazine that had a recipe for Micheladas.
I made it just before I started writing this blog. Above is the finished product, together with the ingredients. Que bien!

Come over to Hong Kong you guys. I'll whip up some Micheladas and you can tell me how it is the best drink ever.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Negotiator

I attended a negotiation seminar today. As with other training seminars, I tried to keep a low profile - I can usually sit through these things for hours on end without saying anything, as I am, by nature, hard-core anti-social. 

I should have realized, being a NEGOTIATION seminar, I might be expected to speak and, well, practice negotiating. Which is exactly what happened. I had to talk - and talk a lot. So much for an effortless legit 8 non-billable hours.

What all this talking helped me realize was, no matter how much of a push-over I think I am, I can actually be a mean girl when it comes to bargaining. In one of the exercises, one girl said I got what I wanted because I lied (gasp!), when in truth I was just bluffing a little (I think). 

Lesson for today: Hooray! I can be a bi-atch!



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Can't resist.

And since we're posting song graphs:

More here.


Blur in pictures

The Painted Veil

Girls, I bawled my eyes out on this one.

 
And it's not because Edward Norton no longer looks the way he did in American History X.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Almost Eleven Months Married

A lot of people have been asking me how married life has been. This is a complex question, and while I may give the normal and expected replies ("It's been great", "We've been happy"), we all know we live in the real world, and marriage makes both of you face the real world together. And that, I guess, is how married life is  - you experience the real world separately, but in the end you need to need to process, react and continue on together. 

When L. and I got married we made major changes to our lives in order to be together and to have some normalcy - we both started new jobs (he took a break from his PhD writing to work in a law firm and I had to switch law firms) and we both moved to a new country (he moved from Connecticut, I moved from Singapore). Sacrifices were made, but it all worked out. A large part of the bliss that came with the big move to Hong Kong was the fact that we hardly knew anyone here, meaning we only had each other to keep company. The lack of family around made choosing and decorating an apartment, doing household chores, and learning how to cook truly took us inside each other's personalities and character. 

L. and I have settled into a simple and comfortable routine which makes us both happy, the highlights of which involve a home-cooked meal, a bottle (or two) of wine, our apartment and our very comfortable couch. There are also the weekly dinner dates and holidays abroad. 

And so this is how married life been after almost eleven months: We continue to love being in each other's company and we continue on together.






Saturday, May 17, 2008

Autofiction


I finished reading "Autofiction" by Hitomi Kanehara a few hours ago.

This was a good read. It's told from the first person point of view (hence, "auto(biographical) fiction"), and goes from the present day to backwards in time.  It's about a successful author in her early twenties whose emotionally instability is manifested most disturbingly in her constant need to feel loved. Because the story is told backwards, you discover why she is the way she is. And if you google the author, her similarity with the book's narrator is uncanny, and you wonder if she's playing a trick on us all by calling her book "Autofiction".

I've read a couple of Japanese authors (meaning born and bred in Japan, so Ishiguro is excluded), and all of them, in addition to the weird/gritty/violent character of the narrations, seem to talk about freeing repression and breaking free of convention. But maybe I haven't read enough Japanese authors.


I drank too much last night

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Diffident

I am diffident. Or so said my boss, during my annual evaluation session, which was done today. 

Evaluation sessions have to be the most awkward of social situations possible. You have your bosses in front of you, and you have to endure an hour or so of criticism (usually constructive and good-natured) while trying very hard not to shout back (for some), to cry (for others) or to turn beet red from the embarrassment of having so many people talk about no one else but you, in front of you, non-stop (for me).

I was quite happy with my evaluation: I have "grown very much", I am "a joy to work with", "eager", "confident", "hard-working", "adaptable" and "intelligent". As expected, there were the criticisms (which I don't mind, really):  I need "to do more deals to properly develop the skill set", be "more proactive and assertive" and "think of how to grow the business."  

What caught me off-guard was however a remark by big boss, who said that I am (insert British accent here) "quite diffident". He said that people thought I was "very quiet and reserved", and that I needed to speak out more and let myself be heard. To help cure this, big boss suggested I give a presentation to the rest of the department on English finance law versus New York finance law (You can imagine my immediate panic. Lecturing to a room full of lawyers with profiles as varied as the United Nations General Assembly! Gaaah.) 

Never thought of myself as quiet, but maybe I am. J., who I had lunch with, suggested that maybe its an East vs. West thing - I am one of the few real Asians in the department (the other Asians were born and raised in the West) and everyone else is used to speaking their mind.
But then again, maybe its just me.

I'm going to practice not being diffident. I am me, hear me roar.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back to the Gym

I pay a large sum every month to a glitzy gym that allows me to go, at any time, to any two of their branches in Hong Kong to work out. The large sum also allows me to attend yoga classes in any of their five specialty studios scattered across Hong Kong island as often as I want. 

Given an automatic charge to my credit card every month and a myriad of fitness options to choose from, I still found myself at the gym two days in a week at most. After seeing this month's credit card bill and doing as much math as my lawyer brain could take, I realized that I was paying the equivalent of a pair of shoes every time I went to the gym. I knew I needed to take action, go the gym more frequently, and spread the cost to bring it down to the equivalent of something that wouldn't feel as painful, like a t-shirt. A really plain t-shirt.

Day 1 of my renewed enthusiasm for the gym was today. I shut down my work computer at exactly 7:20 p.m. and made it to the 7:35 p.m. "Power Hour" spinning class. The class was being taught by an investment banker who apparently also had time to teach a spinning class. I pumped, I wheezed, I gasped, and I almost fainted.

I think I can forego buying a few more shoes.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Movie Day

When I was living in New York and in Singapore, I would go and watch movies alone when I had some free time and no one to spend it with. I never did that back home in Manila, since there was always someone to go watch a movie with and, well, it didn't feel very safe. 

Today is a holiday, and L. unfortunately had to go to work. I had to hang out in Central in order to make a dash for the office if an e-mail requiring me to go to work came (it never did). After reading a book, I decided I should try and see if there were any free seats to a movie. There were, and I was able to watch two movies, in succession, alone: "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "Iron Man".

The movies were good - one rekindled my girl-crush on Natalie Portman and the other rekindled my high school crush on Robert Downey, Jr. I also enjoyed popcorn with one movie, chips and dip with the other movie, both served with tall diet pepsi. (L., now you know why I could only eat a spring roll after.)

The most important thing to take away from this day? Batman's got nothing on Ironman!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chinese food

L.'s parents are here in Hong Kong to visit, and we've been eating a lot of Chinese food lately. Of course, "Chinese food" is a loose term, and it would be more correct to say that we had Pekingese food last night, and Cantonese food this morning.

What is real Chinese food? Given the marked differences in cuisine which each region of China has to offer, calling all these cuisines  "Chinese" seems to be as incorrect as calling all "noodles" "spaghetti".  Here's a quick tour of how I experienced "Chinese" food in the different countries where I've lived:

The Philippines


















Ahh. Lumpiang Shanghai and Pancit Canton. I think Chinese food Philippine-style is a bit on the salty/sour side, which suits my palate perfectly. Forgive my uncouthness, but I fervently believe that one of the best foods ever invented by mankind is Lucky Me instant pancit canton chili-mansi.

New York,U.S.A.

















Chinese food helped me survive with my poor graduate student income in New York. It was also the closest thing to Filipino food in Morningside Heights (well, there was the Thai restaurant, but that's another blog). General Tso's chicken and whatever else came in that little box  = salvation!

Singapore


















One of the best things about living in Singapore is that you get great food for really cheap. Also, the combination of Chinese food with that other great cuisine, Indian, made me a very happy person. Chicken Rice and Fish Head Curry! Yay!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Four Queens

Finished reading "Four Queens" by Nancy Goldstone last night.




It's about four sisters from the thirteenth century who epitomized marrying well. One became queen of France, one became queen of England, one became queen of Germany and one became queen of Rome. Not bad.

Pretty good basic read if you're interested in thirteenth century Europe. My take on this book: its not really about the Four Queens, but is instead about the men they married and the other important people around them. Too bad women couldn't really do anything significant in government those days (or at least, whatever they did was hardly documented). But I suppose making the Four Queens the unifying element to the novel, and intimating history from their perspective, makes for an interesting narration.

Funny gossip I took away from this book: it appears that Marguerite, the wife of Louis IX of France (who was later canonized as a saint), was having an affair with Louis IX's biographer, a knight called Joinville. The saint knew, but it looks like he didn't care and kept himself busy organizing crusades.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What I do

Check out this list at McSweeney's that couldn't be truer. 

I relate to every single one, but my favorite is "Cutting and Pasting II: Plural to Singular".

Afternoons in the office

It's another slow day at work. I'm waiting for: (x) offices in Luxembourg and the Ukraine to open; (y) Mauritius counsel to come back from lunch; and (z) Cyprus counsel to finish her phone call. As soon as I'm done talking to them I need to revise an agreement and then my day should be done. But then again, I may have shot myself in the foot and gotten all laywer forces in the cosmos to give me more work by writing that down.

****

Given my peculiar background, I am a bit older than my peers here in the office. In soldier terms, I think I've done several tours of duty, as compared to this being their first or second. Yes, belaboring that point further - we're first and second year marines, and I've done time in the navy, in the army and in the air force before joining the marines. They've always started out as marines, and trained in Annapolis. I went to (name local jurisdiction here) Military Academy, joined the army, the navy and the air force, and then to Annapolis for special training.

****

Idle talk. I think I named my blog correctly.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Early morning thoughts

I woke up this morning before my alarm went off. As haziness turned to clarity I began remembering the different things I had to do today, and I felt my anxiety rising:

"I need to get hold of that Indian counsel before noon. But he's on holiday. I wonder if he'll hate me for calling him up. Do I even have his mobile number? He wouldn't check his balckberry too often if he's on vacation."

"The guy I get work from will be sent on secondment. Who will I report to while he's away? Hope I don't get assigned to grumpy partner and scary partner."

"L.'s parents are arriving tomorrow. I have extra towels, toiletries, bottles of water. Anything else?"

"What will I do in Amsterdam if we do decide to move there?"

And so on and so forth, until my alarm rings (I hit on snooze) and my alarm rings again.

Good morning world!

The best TV show ever!

The best TV show ever is Deadwood.



Thanks to whoever thought of selling TV series in DVD format. I got into this show pretty late (about two years after the entire series ended) and I think it will go down in entertainment history as a classic.

The characters are well-developed, the script is extremely well-written, the set looks authentically gritty and I love the pseudo-history of it all.

It's too bad the show got cancelled (the third season was obviously made to transition into the fourth). There have been many really good TV shows these past few years (e.g., The Wire, Friday Night Lights, The Sopranos) but nothing quite gripped me as much as Deadwood. I finished all three seasons in two weeks (thanks for slowing down, US economy!) and I want to swear like Al Swearangen but I might sound like I have Tourette's Syndrome. Also, a colleague of mine is beginning to look like Mr. Wu.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hello Blog World!

Hello big blog world!

At this moment, it seems like a good idea to give the public a sanitized glimpse into my brain. It also seems like a good idea to give anyone who would care a single narrative about anything that may be significant, interesting or amusing (at least to me). It also seems like a good idea to try to pass time creatively.

So here I am - thirty one years old, newly married, Philippine lawyer, New York lawyer, working in Hong Kong, book lover, film enthusiast, egg hater, aspiring cook, introverted (except when inebriated), history fanatic, dreaming to do good.

And of course, wondering what to say.