Monthly Archives: May 2005

polaroids of the post-grad life

it’s been eleven days since i moved out of my East Campus dorm at Columbia, and i must say, i do miss it quite a bit. even the feeling of overdue papers and dingy dorm room seem desirable than this state of flux when i’m not quite sure what the next few months hold for me. all i can do is think and act incrementally, hoping the resulting whole takes the shape of a period in my life i can look back on and not regret as having been those few wasteful months after college and before work. snapshots from the life in the past eleven days:

favorite home dish: kimchi jigae with pork ribs

currently reading: When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

disappointment: not catching any fish on the camping trip to Bass River State Park; but had lots of fun memorial day weekend with mung, kayle, jay j., twins, reggie, and wook

countdown: just two more days until the end of my stay at the NFL; received a Cross watch as a going-away gift

missing: various people, butler reading room, checking mail in lerner, Starbucks daily, M2M, the long ass walk to and from EC

hate: the annoying commute from Edison to NYC, especially during rush hour; can’t wait to move into 420 W 42nd St. on June 15th – highrise, baby

wonder: should i have traveled and gone away for a few weeks/a month? what am i missing out on and will i come to regret it?

foodie: rosa mexicano, carnegie deli, le madeleine, casa mono, john street bar & grill

promises: operation get-in-shape, make a short film, write a story, learn finance, be nicer to people

forgettable moment: being yelled at by mom in front of wook (weaksauce)

misc.: blue jun choi for edison mayor signs on front lawns, romantic scenes in star wars (and how they suck hardcore), repeat drives to PA along route 1 (and that flowery big house destination)

i went for the montage effect. you can imagine each one as an image and then the corresponding word written over it in some contrasting color. well, i can’t say i feel satisfied, but at this point, i can’t say i’m discontented either. the end-of-may cocktail? two parts uncertainty, two parts nostalgia, and a dash of happiness. don’t forget the mint leaf.

chewing on a hundred days

“do you know what a hundred days is?” my grandmother asked me. “it’s three months and almost ten days.” i was amused that my grandmother was still sharp with her numbers. in her hand, she held a small dish with what appeared to be brown nuts with sesame oil poured over them.

“eat this. it’s gingko that’s been fermented for a hundred days. it’ll make your coughing stop,” she told me. i instantly recalled the bitter, foul taste of raw gingko and shook my head.

“come on. you can do it. just eat it quickly. you had a bad cough when you were a hundred days old, so this will cure it,” she said, putting the small dish up to my face. she even had a toothpick in hand so i could pick the gingko and eat it without getting my fingers messy.

i hesitated for a bit and looked around my room. i spotted some pieces of chocolate – those variety hershey’s chocolates like Mr. Goodbar and Krackel – sitting on my desk. “ok, i’ll eat it, but only because i’m an awesome grandson,” i told her. i took the dish from her and she left my room momentarily to put away my dirty laundry. i picked the gingko – five pieces – and put them one by one into my mouth. i chewed and swallowed all of them as quickly as possible and reached for a Mr. Goodbar, hoping to neutralize the bitter taste. it worked out well and i didn’t feel too bad about eating the gingko. when she came back my grandmother was very pleased.

“you already ate it all? my, you are so wonderful!” she told me. she said that my cough would go away in no time and continued to adore me for my willingness to eat the gingko. i am not sure how the hundred day gingko really works, but for me, it’s sort of like a “faith-based” medicine that seems to work its magic as long as i believe there is a remote chance it can be effective. plus, a temporary bitter taste in the mouth is a small price to pay for an overly grateful grandmother.

lunch break meditations

so i sit here, in my cubicle on the 15th floor of the National Football League office in midtown manhattan, not quite believing that days like this, when i bring up lunch from the huddle cafe to eat at my desk while surfing the internet, are numbered. i wasn’t feeling too well in the stomach the past two days, so i decided to be cautious today and got myself wild mushroom brisket soup, a piece of hard bread, some fresh mozarella with tomatoes and roasted peppers, and a piece of pan roasted salmon with strawberry salsa. at $6.17 for all this, and a tall starbucks coffee included, i don’t know where else in new york you can find as good a deal for such gourmet foods.

since handing in my final paper of my undergraduate career last thursday – a 12-pager for my chinese cinema class (I wrote it on Blue Kite, an excellent movie) – i’ve been bracing myself for the next chapter of my life (I know, how cliche) and i can only wonder what the transition will be like. to work long hours, to have no more papers or lectures (to fall asleep in), to no longer be a part of a campus (if i ever was), and to have the added responsibilites of living outside a pre-furnished, pre-managed college environment. hunting for apartments has been my most time-consuming task. i’ve seen apartments in chelsea, financial district and upper east side so far. i’ll have to check out murray hill and midtown west today.

yesterday i finally finished reading Barbarians at the Gate which chronicles the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco eventually won by the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. in reading about the true life drama behind the scenes and the notion of managing the biggest deal in the history of business not only made me excited about working in finance but also made me question what the whole point of it was. the authors of the book do make the point that this whole LBO craze was an invention of Wall Street which, in the end, had nothing to do with the business of selling tobacco or cookies, which was how the company had made all its money in the first place. it really made me think about the business i am getting into – a place where you try to shift perceptions and profit from the visible difference, charging lucrative fees along the way. but of course, there is no need to exaggerate. financial services exist because companies have demonstrated need for restructuring debt or finding ways to fund new investments. it’s just that every once in a while, the market tends to allow for some questionable maneuvers that warrants criticism, regulation, and even punishment. i do feel good about writing that 25-page paper on investment banking during the Great Depression last semester.

i’m not quite sure how well i’ll use my time in the next month and a half. i hope to be industrious and productive, but that is always just wishful thinking at best. i keep having pleasant thoughts about playing basketball at Hidden Park again with my high school buddies. a few days ago, i wondered why i didn’t have the same male support group at Columbia as i had in high school. i realized that i hardly played the amount of sports here and whenever i did, it was with random people. i guess athletic activity is one of the most effective ways of bonding with people, and i am a bit regretful that i missed out on it during college. but hopefully a great deal of ball awaits when i return to edison next week.

i need to run to broad street now to check out an apartment. i doubt we’ll get this place because it is a bit out of the way, but it sounds like a good deal so who knows. it’s too bad none of us – me, warren, and rich – work at goldman sachs because this place would be an ideal location for it. i hope my j.crew shoes – the pair i bought last week after throwing up on my other black pair of shoes – doesn’t bother me too much. it’s one size too big, but i stuffed a piece of napkin on the back heel to prevent it from rubbing against the skin. i know – i am resourceful.