The dreaded winter has made its way back to New York, and cast a depressing drizzle onto the pitch black marble wall of 1166 Avenue of the Americas. Esther walked by my cube everyday, peered out at the gray sky, and sadly declared that the next time we saw a sunny day would be next April - half a year from now!

To echo the weather, I was in a gray lousy mood. With the election closing in, Mary and I have actively talked for Barack: we have been making calls to swing states, hoping to sway voters. We convened on Monday in an empty conference room during lunch hour to call Pennsylvania. People on my calling list were, as a statement of fact, old. I talked to more than a dozen of 80 something crowd, who were exceptionally grumpy - due to the freezing rain or maybe because I had interrupted their afternoon nap? Usually I love older people and love how they remind me of a long future ahead, but the oldies in Penn state sucessfully lauched me a very very grumpy early-20's crisis. Ack.

To the least of my expectations, waking up early has put such a strain on me and Mugg. We have always been night-owls, staying up till 3am on a workday to blast guitar hero then crawling in to work at 10 (that's a particular thing I love about NERA). Our schedule, however, grew apart as I now woke up at 6am and went running, effectively waking Mugg up with my shuffling on his old squeaky wooden floor. He still went to bed at 3am, meaning that I would get no sleep from my new bedtime of midnight till 3 due to his loud baseball games and shuffling. As a result we were both haggard, cranky, and complaining that we didn't get enough attention from each other the next day.

Ack ack.

I'm glad that October is soon over, so soon I can cross off exciting activities that nonetheless have crowded out the more important things on my priority list. With winter blasting in, chances are I won't ever mutter enough motivation to run outside at the break of dawn, so that should solve our early rise vs. night owl problem.

As for Mugg, he promised to go running with me once a week at night, in exchange for a late late night of guitar hero and cuddling in the next morning. There are still much conflict of interest we have to work on, but I'm glad there's a compromise to be made.

I can't wait for November.

Another thing I love about the Wonderland Trail, how the road is long but definite. I only have to put one step at a time after the next, and after days and nights we will eventually reach the finish line (assuming maps are good and bears are full). The road of life, in the past 22 years, has been similar - long but definite: by high school I know I will go to college, by college I know I need internships and jobs. But now, supposedly well-equipped ex-post 22 times 365 times 24 times 3600 times infinite moments of wisdom, the road suddenly erupts into, in my mind, a convergence of land, water and sky. Or, in boring words, a convergence of possibilities. I could do pretty much anything now, unconstraint, free spirited (that was always the goal anyway, no?) Few thoughts that have entered my mind include (a) law school - that's a big yes yes but "a good time" for it is still ambiguous; (b) development studies program in Sweden - now that's enticing; (c) joining a dance troop and samba my way through rio - hmm nope, just a dream, I detest those carnival outfits.

By default of course I could stay at NERA, move up along the ladder and work the system. Funny enough, in the much warned cold corporate world, I've found warmth and love tugged in backup books, court briefs and the very impersonal, un-private white cubicles. And I'd like to think that my presence has made work a bit more tolerable for Mugg, Boss Charming, Esther, Craig, Jay, big Trang, as they have completely colored my world. So there is hope after all, of human interaction rising above silly quabble of stock frauds and messy hedge fund transactions. Like the dementor, I live for that, hunting restlessly for leftover hope in gloomy New York.

One sunny day in September, as we were visiting Berkeley, Mugg gasped at the revelation that I could not do a cartwheel. He promptly took off his shoes, dragged me to a stretch of green grass in front of Bloat Hall (the law school!) and tried desperately to flip my hips over my head. It turned out, I had no balance whatsoever, and could not sustain my body inversion for as little as a split second in the air. We had a grand time nonetheless, and I'd never felt more free spirited despite the fact that I was doing nothing more than hurting my butt.

So I guess the next step is exactly what it is, a tiny little inch, some time unrecognizable.

It was the most exhilarating feeling I've felt in a long time. The last mile of the 100-mile Wonderland Trail, as we had been warned, proved the longest. We were practically running, pressing our blistered feet and tired knees up and down hill, dusty and sweaty backpacks bouncing. It was September 12, 2008. We finally made it back to civilization after 10 days in the wild. It was, by far, the most physically arduous thing I've done in life. We hiked through snow, forest, mud, dessert, meadows; drank the freshest ice-cold water from rivers; slept under the stars; swam in lakes. Life was simple: we went to bed when sun set, wake up at sunrise. Biggest worry of the day included a nice spot to filter water, a flat ground to pitch tent, a bear pole to hang up our food. The first day proved the hardest for me physically, while mentally I was freaked out the last day - Mugg had a fever and almost didn't make it out. Thanks goodness he gathered enough will power to finish the trail. We hugged each other tight at the finish line. The trail has made us true companions.

The best spill-over effect of all, the hike has launched my body into a thirst of activities. Once getting used to hiking an average of 10 miles a day with a 45-lb load, my muscles screamed and itched in New York for something more rigorous than samba dancing classes. Before I knew it, I signed up for a half marathon and started running 4 times a week at 6am. At Mugg's dismay, I soon became a morning person and even sooner discovered my addiction to running. The half marathon is tomorrow in Staten Island, so I really should be going to sleep right about now.

I'm incredibly grateful for this twist of attitude, that I've somehow managed to become athletic which I always aspired but feared to be. I hope to complete the half marathon in 2 hours injury-free (much thanks of course to Yuko my running buddy).

2 more things to note:

1. My samba class is marching in the New York Halloween Parade, accompanied by the live band Samba Manhattan ( So come check us out on Halloween if you are in New York! The parade will start at 7pm-ish on Spring Street and 6th Avenue. We'll be having weekly rehearsal Thurs night out on the Westside Highway around 8pm - just follow the beat of drums and come join us on some hot samba steps!

2. I'm contemplating signing for a full marathon in Jan or Feb 2009 - leaving 3-4 months for training. Possibly the ING Miami Marathon in late Jan. My dream: to run a marathon on the Great Wall in China one day ( - maybe this May?

I'd like to dedicate this first long run to the Alchemist and what it has taught me:

"If you want something bad enough, the universe conspires to help you";

"You must understand that love never keep a man from pursuing his destiny. If he does, it's because it wasn't true love."