The weather in New York this year was indeed like a moody woman. Spring was unusually hot, the beginning of summer unusually cold and rainy. Much to my woe, the weather swing and the overkill of VACC have negated any effort to train for an early summer marathon, like I did last year. A fall marathon also seems out of the question, as law school looms in the horizon. I've always wanted to run Miami in January, but the crisp memory of training in the New York winter immediately deterred my faint spark of motivation. On a good note, I found out that the Hash Harriers have chapters in both Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi! For those of you who are not familiar, the Hashs proudly call themselves "a drinking group with a running problem." Their runs, often organized as a treasure hunt with cryptic marks on trees and whatnots, always end in clashing beer bottles at a local bar. A coworker has many times lobbied me to join, but I never went in New York, simply because I was not that much into drinking, let along drinking right after a run. The Hashs' operations in Viet Nam however seem very interesting. Since the cities are unsurprisingly too crowded and polluted, they often take runners out to the countryside, about an hour away by bus, where Hashers are free to roam on paddy fields under the flawless blue sky. I know instantly that I will absolutely love to join. For those of you in Ha Noi this summer, check out their website: They meet every Sat at 2PM at the American Club on Hai Ba Trung Street.

And yes, you heard me right, I will be spending summer 2010 in Ha Noi, where I left 9 years ago and last visited 5 years ago. An amazing opportunity somewhat fell into my lap a few weeks ago: I will be one of the first interns with McKinsey & Company in Ha Noi. I'm not quite sure what the project and the team will be like yet, but nonetheless can barely contain my excitement. Next week will be my last time (knock on wood!) analyzing crazy auction rate securities at NERA, and that alone is a reason to celebrate. The great summer internship is only dampened by two inconveniences: first, my family is in Ho Chi Minh City, so I would have to fly back almost every weekend to visit. My grandparents for sure would not be amused by me living and roaming Ha Noi alone, though the fact that I will be staying with a trusted friend's family, working for a trusted firm, and working with a friend whose family they have met, should provide enough security. Second, I sadly will have to leave Muggy alone in New York for 10 weeks, spanning over our move to a new apartment in Columbus Circle. We were both quite bumped about the long distance. Mugg was supportive, and I am extremely grateful for that. Depending on his job, he might be able to make a trip to visit China this summer, when either I will join him and his family, or he will drop by Viet Nam for a tour. Yuko was also interested in coming, so we're trying to work out a Japan - Viet Nam trip, which turns out to be quite tough since tickets all ran out so I couldn't book a stop over, and the internship won't leave much time for travel afterwards. Regardless, it is gonna be a over-the-top full summer. On the way back, I will land in New York on August 24; and law school orientation starts on Aug 25. Now, the books I've read all recommended settling in at least a week before school starts to get a feel of the land. I know that the summer schedule will leave me tired and jetlag for the first days of law school, but orientation goes on for a whole week, so hopefully by the time classes start I will have regained my energy.

Talking about law school, the final decision is NYU School of Law, where I will be entering as a Mitchell Jacobson Law & Business scholar on full-tuition scholarship. That means I turned down the equally generous Darrow from Michigan, and the prospect of an UN externship at Columbia. I never expected to be in love with NYU (I live uptown and run in the park - the unmarked Columbia's territory, after all), but the wonderful professors who administer the Jacobson totally melted my heart. Not to mention the sparkling-eyed students whom I met at the Jacobson reception, whose enthusiasm for the greater good and positive experience at the law school and genuine happiness left me quite speechless. Since I insist on staying near Central Park - the center of calmness, Mugg and I decided to move down 10 blocks to Columbus Circle, where we both can take advantage of the express train that should get us to Washington Square and the World Trade Center in less than 20 minutes and half an hour, respectively. It has not yet dawned on me, but I get visibly more and more excited for law school each day. The only problem is that there is no way I could finish the summer reading load as planned, given the new internship which supposedly runs from 8AM - 7PM each day, excluding weekends. Reading however is a great excuse for lingering forever at Ha Noi's numerous, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, where black drops of caffein drop at the slowest possible speed down to a glass shiny with condensed milk. Hmm, I can already imagine many hours wasted there, under the shade of a towering tree, consuming unhealthy amount of coffee, dosing in legal doctrines.

The first book on the list is "Getting to Maybe", written by two law professors, who liken reasoning in exams as "forks in the roads." Given its ambiguity, the road to law presents confused and nervous law students with many 'forks', to which a good student should point out yet choose the most likely one to elaborate upon. As such, the law is the opposite of a definite answer. Instead of trying to get to a definite conclusion like yes or no, students should strive to "getting to maybe" - where 'maybe' with its flexibility and gray shade might be the best solution. This summer, to me, was like a fork in the road. I pondered for a long time if I should stay put at NERA, collect my half-year bonus, be happy with Mugg, train for a fall marathon. Or I could attempt to work for the first time at home, in a city that has changed so much that I will most definitely become a stranger both in work culture as well as habit. Ha Noi in my hazy memory was a dusty one, where I paddled my bicycle daily in sweat on a six-laned highway parallel to the train track, packed with trucks and motorbikes. And dust from used bookstores, where I spent many afternoon and entire breakfast budget on classic novels of knights and secret corridors in the Louvre. Ha Noi was a great city for childhood. How that I am grown, I wonder if there is a place for me there. Just in 10 days, I will get an answer.

Today, I made Mugg's favorite sha jia mien, a Chinese noodle dish that I learned from his mom, while he pored over a pile of CFA books. We had dinner together, fed each other sweet black cherries, and watched our favorite sitcom According to Jim. The daily routine seemed such treasure moments, now that my departure date is approaching. We often found ourselves looking at each other, repeating an assuring statement, "It is only 10 weeks, and we will speak everyday." 10 weeks indeed can go be very fast...

The gypsy song returns to my head:

It's time to wake up
It's time to go
Hey little darling, pack your suitcase
I'm gonna find you another world...

Indeed, it's time to wakeup. And to start packing.
1 Response
  1. Son Says:

    Surely I'm not the first one to make this comment, but you, m'am, have a way with words. Heartwarming way, to be exact.

    Sounds like it'll be a most exciting summer. Changes abound, (cue Obama) changes we can believe in.

    Hash Harriers.. duly noted.