I felt bad dashing out of the office early on a busy Friday night, but gosh I was so glad that the hellish November weeks are over! Muggy and I are heading to Miami, where we will be spending Thanksgiving with his mom - an awesome cook and lovely lady whose cozy house and big, open kitchen I've come to love.

Miami still awes me with its sense of space. Every night, Mugg and I take a walk along the surburban neighborhood of Pembroke, whose concentric circles of houses interlaced into a sort of maze. We'd walk for hours, talk about our future, stop to observe a cute wandering cat, chase each other through the high neatly trimmed trees lining down the road. It feels funny to be in surburbia.

On Thanksgiving night, we joined a party with another Chinese family at their house. The husband is an amazing cook. My eyes grew in bewilderment as he glided his big, iron chef knife across the cutboard, twirled home-grown vegetables into neat stacks and molded pearl-white buns. I sat with the parents, listening amorously to their tales of the early days in the US, while Mugg engaged in a Wii battle with the family's kids, a 6-year-old and a teenager. The Chinese lady nudged me with her elbow, "Your boyfriend is so playful!" Mugg's mom nodded, "He grew up a good kid." I suddenly felt warm from the inside out. It has been too long since I last rocked in a comfortable chair, listened to small talk, and stuffed my tummy with a delicious family dinner.

The next day, we went to South Beach, where the warm sunlight and light breeze immediately knocked us into a long nap on the sand. I woke up dazed, staring straight into the immensely open sky above, and blanked out for a full minute before remembering that I was still on Earth. It's the oddest feeling to realize that - oh right, I'm human.

At midnight, we went with Mugg's friend to catch the first show of Ninja Assassin - a bloody, anime-esque action saga that features very real six packs from, guess who, the girly Korean singer Bi/Rain. Albeit the (always) unnecessary Hollywood violence, I was pretty amused, especially when an Europol agent snidely commented that "This guy [Bi] looks more like he belongs to a boyband than in a ninja club" - right before being slashed in two, of course.

At 3am, as the battles wore off the screen, we walked through the empty arches of the Miami mall and drove home. I rolled down the window, so the wind blew my hair into a mess and scattered Gun N' Roses "Take me down to paradise city, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty..." along the highway. The smell of the night was intoxicated.

"Why is the sky blue?" I turned to Mugg, "Just imagine if it were some odd colors - like bad-cheese yellow."

"It's the way molecules in the air reflecting light. It just happens to be in a spectrum that our eyes can see. And it just happens to be in the blue range of the spectrum."

Seriously, it is but a stroke of random luck that the molecules float around in the right way, so that I get the mood-lifting joy each time I look at the sky?

I took a deep breath and held tight to Mugg's hand, floored with gratitude. Oasis came on the radio. And I suddenly felt like I could live forever.
Seriously, all I want for this Christmas, and next year, and the next ten years to come, is a JR1.

For 0L-wanna-be-1L, "JR1" has suddenly become the holy grail of our life-long quests. The famous "JR" is Josh Rubenstein, the brand new Dean of Admission at Harvard Law and a graduate of class of 2006. Being paid to research, I quickly found out that he had worked briefly on the Hill prior to HLS, and joined Bain for 3 years upon obtaining the JD. So this guy, in my guess, is probably in his early 30's. Is it not scary, that someone so young holds entirely in his hands the power to guide my career, life, and happiness?

JR1 is the phone interview made by the Dean, a prequisite for a follow-up acceptance call (coined the "JR2"). While a JR1 doesn't guarantee a JR2, the absence of one decidedly leads to a rejection/waitlist. Words on the streets are about 1,000 applicants out of 7,000-8,000 files were offered a JR1. And of these 1,000, about 750-850 were admitted. Since late October, the online 0L have shrunken to a bunch of neurotic, nervous wrecks as the first JR1 trickled out. Based on last year's statistics, JR2 will start coming out the few days before Thanksgiving for those who have had their JR1.

My endless wait, and the agony of each minute during such wait, has knotted my mind in a frenzy. Thanksgiving is coming in a few days. I'm hoping that the Miami sunshine and the delicious home-cooked meals of Muggy's mom will ease my sore disappointment. But oh I know it is gonna hurt, long and throbbing even after decisions have all rolled out next spring.

To quickly summarize the season's yield so far:
- Acceptances: Duke (giant envelop), Georgetown (tiny envelop), UMichigan (a big package with an USB and hand-written note from the Dean complimenting my work at NERA)
- Schools who have rolled out acceptances but haven't made decisions on my file: UCLA, UVirginia, Berkeley
- Schools I still not complete: Northwestern (pending interview), Stanford (oh Dean Reese, will you ever fax my form?), Yale (if I ever muster enough wit to write the infamous 250-words essay)
- Endless wait: NYU, Columbia, BU, UPenn, Cornell, Harvard

When I was a kid, I thrived at reading. I was that kid who picked the thickest book on the shelf, who pored through the classic novels (The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, White Fang etc) before hitting puberty. I pretty much spent all my allowances renting books at the many used bookstores around Hanoi. Do you remember those, with musty smell and stacks of uneven volumes protruding from their fading shelves? The novels I read were published in the early 20th century, on yellowish paper so thin that there were always holes on them, and bind together with thread. I would buy book covers and neatly wrapped them up to preserve their fragile spines. Books were my great friends; they were magical, joyous, and never failed to transport me to their magical worlds.

In high school, I moved on to more serious subject matters: race (Mark Twain's books on Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are a must for a New Orleans education), death (Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury - so far still the hardest book I've ever read), love (A Streetcar Named Desire, another Southern favorite). The literature influence of Ben Franklin High made me more somber, sadder, I guess a necessary rite of passage to teenage-hood and growing up. I did enjoy tremendously English classes, and absolutely loved creative writing classes where I got to relive the long lost dream of being a writer through silly poems and rambling prose. Sadly, it was probably the last time I read for the pure joy of reading.

College was different - I was enamored with political science theories and disillusioned by economics promises, so subsequently I was devoted to Hobbes, Malanczuk, Waltz and half-hearted towards Hull, Scholes, Fama. Reading slowly drifted away from being whimsical and creative; it was the bread and butter of my liberal arts education - to dissect the hypothesis, spot the argument, question the data, propose alternatives. By senior year, I was necked deep in theses and reading for fun had sounded as ancient as the ice age.

Post-college, I dwelled immediately into court documents, litigation trends and analyst reports breeze at NERA. My attempt to read fiction stumbled on a wall, as evident by the one year it took to finish Dostoyevsky's The Idiot (granted, The Idiot is next to The Sound and The Fury in the difficulty scale). I was horrified that I had forgotten how to read. But before I could do anything, there was the LSAT to study for. As I started subscribing to the Economists and the NewYorker in preparation for the test, surprisingly I found it - the lost joy of reading I had left behind years ago in Hanoi's old bookstores. Not from the monetary policy section of the Economists - please - but from the weekly beautiful Fiction of the New Yorker. It was both nostalgic and comforting.

Now that the threat/dream of law school is closing in, I know that this is my last chance to catch up on the forever growing pillars of literature. Once 1L falls on my head with its monstrous reading load, I will probably have to take another three years of refuge. So on top of the law reading list, the candidates for this summer are:
- Kurt Vonnegut. I always wanted to read him but somehow never got to. Shame!
- The brothers Karamazov. I bought it with the Idiot at a small cozy shop in East Village, but shy away from the time commitment.
- Milan Kundera. My favorite after Dumas. When I was in Prague, I read several of his books, including the infamous Unbearable Lightness of Being, but there are still many good ones to explore.
- A confederacy of Dunces. A gift from a high school friend, Kat. A Putlizer-winning satire on the beloved New Orleans life.

I probably will get some of these books on audio, now that I decide to sign up for a second marathon in March. It will be nice to have a running company again :-)