Let me start off by saying I love Fatima to death. We met on my first day at NERA, at 5pm on the dot. "Hi mamma," she said in crisp Spanish accent, pushed the giant green tub by my cube to dump in my trash and recycling bins. "You new?" She nodded at me with a mischievous and patronizing air of a senior to a freshman. "Yes," I timidly replied. "No worry, I take care of you," she patted me on my back.

True to her words, Fatima takes the best care of me and my messy cube, as she does to everyone in the office. No matter how late I stayed, she circled the office twice or even three times to make sure all trash bins were empty the next morning - a deed I didn't fully appreciate until she left for a week-long vacation in Ecuador. Her substitute was not as dedicated, and being greeted by the faint smell of yesterday leftover was quite unpleasant.

Fatima has nicknames for everyone in the office. She refers to the Big Boss as "my best friend", and my Japanese Boss Charming as "tall Chinese guy." On Halloween, Boss Charming's girlfriend stopped by the office dressing up as a stewardess. Fatima promptly informed the next day, "Chinese guy's girlfriend, muncho pretty!"

I especially admire Fatima for her big bright smile, every time I see her, at 5pm on the dot. It's no question that she works hard - on weekday at MMC office from 4pm to midnight, all weekend at the Sheraton hotel. Apparently she also contracted with certain electricity suppliers, as one day she insisted on me switching electricity provider to save 7% on my bill.

One cold winter afternoon, as the sun hastily collected its purple rays, Fatima proudly told me, "Yesterday my son's birthday. I took him to Olives Garden in New Jersey, Manhattan too expensive. I buy him Armani Exchange jacket, $275. My son 19 year-old!" Her excited voice touched me, and I wanted to get up and give her a hug. But she might think it's weird. So instead, I offered the tiramisu I had ordered for dinner, "That's great Fatima. Would you like a dessert?" She did a graceful curtsy, "Thanks mamma!" 
In a fit of aspiration, I signed up for the Feb 2009 LSATs and went on a spending spree for Powerscore bibles and official LSAT tests. As a true NERoid, I drew up multi-tab spreadsheets to track my performance, saved all missed questions and reviewed them with Muggy at the end of each week. To my great annoyance (and beaming pride), Mugg proved much better than I on logical reasoning sections - unsurprisingly, as he often rambled on the beauty and linear regression of logic. I, on the other hand, was invariably left with a giant headache and no less giant frustration.

Based on the numerous law school admission predictions available (my favorite is, I would have a chance at the top 20 schools if I score at least a 172 on the LSAT. To have a decent chance, however, I'd need something around 175 - which usually gives room for missing max 5 questions out of 100, or an average of 1 question per section. Not impossible, but very hard to achieve within 35 minutes.

There are less than 2 months left, and a lot of work to do.

It was the end of  July, year 2007, smacked in the middle of summer. Somehow I remembered New York was particularly chilly. 

"Let's take a break" I messaged Mugg over NERA's internal chat system (basically IM, and off record, hence our preferred  mean of communication). This, of course, happened long before we started dating, back when Mugg and I were just two lost college grads eager to start our first job. We sat on opposite ends of a flat office, divided into even cubicles, one identical to the next. We frequented each other often for light-hearted laughter - Mugg over my silly comments, and I over his guaranteed one-lined sarcasm on even the happiest observations of the day.

"Fine. I can spare your whimsical head five minutes."

We met up downstairs. I had previously been complaining to Mugg about the waste of sunshine, as we were practically in the office from sun up to sun down, minus the two minutes of fresh air walking from apartments to subways. In this case, the grass was truly greener outside the office. 

"We can chase some sunshine down for you", he shrugged non-chalantly, striding towards Times Square where the sun had peaked through white clouds and shone brightly down the green roof of the classic Irish bar Connolly's.

We stood in the bright sunlight for a minute, in silence. I was impressed, incredulous that Mugg was capable of uttering a phrase so non-cynical. "Got enough vitamin D?" He asked after a few more seconds, impatient to return to messy hedge funds' transactions. "Just a little bit more," I pleaded, but resignedly inched my feet back to where we had come from, the towering black marble 1166 Avenue of the Americas.

"We should take more breaks," I almost sounded like begging.

"Maybe." He almost answered too fast.