June 30, 2008

I love wrath.

June 26, 2008

Monday, conference call at 6 am. By 7 pm, I was ready to pass out. Went for a video dance class i.e. dance like you are on MTV. When I'm busy, working out is the highlight of my day.

Tuesday, I&R call to finalize our advocacy training event in August. Lynne Johnson from the foundation will be presenting so there is not much to do in addition to event promotion.

Wednesday, talked to Carl about our trip to Lake George with Zoey. We are leaving Montreal Friday morning and he says that he will cook dinner on Thursday night, even though he can only easy mushy veggie right now.

Thursday, spent three hours reading Skip Beat, my fav currently running manga, even though I have tonnes of work to do.

Economist: It is not in banks' interests to send their borrowers to the wall, of course, but their ability to be flexible is more limited because of the credit crunch. Higher financing costs on the interbank market make it harder for them to be accommodating to customers. And untapped loan commitments to corporate customers continue to crowd out space on banks' balance-sheets. Bankers report that corporate customers, who know a good thing when they see it, are not interested in refinancing. Lenient loan terms will soften default rates among companies, which are nevertheless expected to rise sharply, but the cost may well be even more abrupt tightening in consumer lending.

Banks have been successful at raising capital so far, although that will get harder the more often the begging bowl comes around. But for the first time since the crunch began, you might just prefer to be the boss of an investment bank rather than a commercial one.

redefining defined contribution: By 2015, the DC market will transform from an asset accumulation and record keeping business to a broad platform for providing all the products and services that participants need to ensure that lifetime retirement savings and security. These include asset accumulation products, a wide range of personal advice models, transition planning from work to retirement, and retiree lifetime income solutions.

June 21, 2008

Thursday, morning conference call + evening conference call, so I sneaked out of the office at noon for some exercise.

Friday, Philip volunteered to cook the pasta (high fibre high protein of course) since he is a quarter Italian. I made chicken sausage + olive + pine nuts + artichoke + spinach. For dessert, we had Italian for Beginners by Lone Scherfig. First the teacher's desk in a classroom. Then a fold up bed in an alley in Venice. Impressive indeed.

Saturday AM, boxing class with Jenny.

Saturday PM, the Waterloo gang does BBQ at Presidential Towers + champagne at Rebar + Martini Park for Tracy.

June 19, 2008

Return of the King: Insurers are in the business of managing long-term risk and return; the nature of their product demands that they think in decades as well as quarters. They count on investors also taking the long view, committing capital for the long-term to support value creation and potentially waiting years to collect the reward. But shareholders are becoming wary. The result is demands for accelerated and more substantial returns of cash.

Economist: “He's quiet but very effective,” says Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, who worked alongside Mr Willumstad at Citi. “You get the truth with him. There's no political agenda.”

Some think that, like Citi, AIG has become too complex for anyone to run. Candidates for divestment could include part or all of the consumer-finance, capital markets, aircraft-leasing or fund-management businesses—though the last of these fits well with AIG's insurance operations.

Like the wealth managers at banks such as UBS and Merrill Lynch, AIG's actuaries are seething that their relatively healthy business is subsidising huge losses in the smaller financial-products group.

June 17, 2008

WSJournal: To combat these risks, he recommends creating a "retirement collar" -- sacrificing some potential gains in your portfolio in exchange for protection from losses. Traditionally, "put" and "call" options are used for this purpose. That strategy, though, "comes at a high cost of complexity and option fees," Prof. Milevsky says. "Also, you certainly don't want to try this yourself at home unless words like 'volatility skew' mean something to you."

As such, he advises using one of three alternatives to create the same sort of downside protection. Two are insurance products that generate income: a variable annuity with guaranteed living benefits, and longevity insurance. The third is called a managed-payout fund, a product marketed by large mutual-fund companies.

Vendy: Not sure how any of the products described address inflation.

WSJournal: "You have to give it to Communists. They glorified the suffering of the oppressed. And that includes women," says Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who specializes in Chinese sports. "Besides China, no other nation gives equal financial support and media attention to women's sports. That's why China can challenge the U.S. in medals -- it treats men and women equally," says Ms. Brownell.

June 16, 2008

Today, Sam convinced me to tell Ken that I'm leaving. I told Sam twelve days ago. I told Jenny eleven days ago. We opened the bottle of twenty year port that Sam gave us. She cried. I wanted to cry.

June 15, 2008

Friday, dinner with Jim at Kaze. In addition to spectecular sashimi: the turnip + bonito broth savory; the plum, ohba + cucumber roll commanding; the asparagus pudding crisply creamy.

Jim: How do you know that you are making the right decision?
Vendy: It's the right decision if I believe it's the right decision.

I always considered myself bad at making big personal decisions. However, it seems that I always know what I want the moment I arrive at the fork.

Saturday, Philip and I filled our plates with lemongrass chicken, stop light peppers + brown rice. Of course, dinner and wine were followed by a food-themed foreign film, Delicatessen de Caro et Jeunet. A most beautiful duet for cello and singing saw.

Sunday, woke up at sunrise. A watercolor pretty enough to make a silk blouse. Boxing class to destress, jab jab jab.

June 14, 2008

Economist: Analysts have been scratching their heads at some of the recent moves. “If we told you that the Dow fell by 400 points one Friday after the largest rise in the unemployment rate in nearly three decades, would you buy or sell two-year Treasury notes?” asks William O'Donnell, a strategist at UBS. The usual response would be to buy, but investors sold. Expectations of higher short-term interest rates trumped the safe-haven appeal of the bonds.

TorontoStar: Newly granted powers handed down by the province have made the job of Toronto mayor among the most powerful political positions in the country. The mayor is in charge of 2.6 million people, has the power to levy taxes, name a de facto cabinet and oversee an economic engine second to none in Canada. It's arguable that the mayor's job is akin to being a premier.

June 13, 2008

Tuesday, grant presentation at the foundation. I am stepping down from the steering commitee as of end of the month and was presented with a certificate of appreciation. Yay.

Wednesday, saw Mostly Martha at Philip's place; he lives in a Mies van der Rohe building. We also cooked Salmon in fish sauce and rolled brown rice in nori. His roomie (Northwestern MD/PhD) watched TV while talking to his wife in California. I cannot help but wonder how oil prices will affect long distance relationships.

Friday, talking about quotes on credit default swaps at work.
Vendy: I still cannot believe the whole Lehman situation.
Mike: I was working at Lehman when LTCM went down.
Thirty years from now, at the end of my illustrious career, I am sure I will look back and shrug.

June 12, 2008

WSJournal: Ms. Callan, speaking more clearly and revealing more financial data than most Wall Street CFOs, several times had to eat her words.

In spite of her assertions about its capital strength, Lehman raised $12 billion of new capital between February and the end of May, and this week issued a stunning denouement by saying it is raising $6 billion of new equity and will likely report a second-quarter loss of about $2.8 billion -- the first loss since it went public in 1994.

Ms. Callan blamed the loss on hedges that went awry on Lehman's real-estate portfolios and additional write-downs in the value of its real estate, loan and securities holdings.

Vendy: What I find interesting, even more interesting than hedge ineffectiveness, are the user comments on her dress code.

June 10, 2008

Wanna visit the new Daniel Libeskind piece in the heart San Francisco, Contemporary Jewish Museum. Although, believe it or not, I have yet to visit his extention of the ROM.

NYTimes: “Honey, you know, I’ve been thinking. Why don’t we do it for the next 365 days in a row?”

June 9, 2008

Friday, dinner with Philip at ThaliaSpice. Loved the Banana Blossom Salad. Loved the Roti Canai. Loved, loved the chocolate cake + coconut ice cream.

Saturday, Croquet ref at Karen's event Whack It! Croquet 2008 Eat, Drink, Play. I was such a pro people were scared of me.

Sunday, met up with Fred at Starbucks to chat about career development, among other things. Last week, I deleted my MBA spreadsheet which outlined all the experiences and skills that I would like to collect before applying. Don't worry, I have not lost the will to live. There are many more spreadsheets in that folder.

When I started at Milliman, MBA prep was a two year plan. As I learned, I realized that there is so much more to learn and it became a three year plan. Now, I no longer feel compelled. I love learning about the financial services industry but do I want to spend two years of my life surrounded by people who are trying their darnest to work for an ibank, and they don't even know why? No, money is never the real reason.

June 6, 2008

Economist: One possibility is to limit the sort of overnight funding in repo markets that caused Bear such distress. Don Kohn, the Fed's vice-chairman, has proposed that investment banks be forced to cut such funding in favour of longer-term, more expensive finance, reducing both their incentive to jack up leverage and the risk of liquidity draining away in the blink of an eye.

Times may get harder in derivatives, too. Pressure is growing for more regulation in the booming credit-default-swap market, and for more trading to move to exchanges. This would eat into the margins of dealers who arrange bilateral trades, mostly American investment banks. In a sign of changes to come, this week InterContinental Exchange bought Creditex, a credit-derivatives broker, for $625m.

June 5, 2008

Thursday, met with Lillian to discuss my verbal business cards. It is important to be brief and focus on what, not how. The purpose is to engage someone's interest so that they will ask you how. She also suggests making a list of questions and statements that others might pose which provide natural entry points to something that you would like to discuss.

net-a-porter has its own magazine. It's like Vogue with "Add to Shopping Bag" button.

erm For Ratings Of Nonfinancial Corporations

Just as the introduction of ERM for a company is unlikely to radically change extant decision-making processes, we do not see ERM analysis radically altering our existing credit rating opinions. Its value will be incremental in most cases, negligible in a few, and eye-opening in some others. We expect that ERM analysis will drive some rating and outlook changes, but not before we have been able to benchmark companies against each other and over time.

June 4, 2008

Finally got around to read the special report on international banking.

Economist: A rush to the doors by risk traders was to blame for the freeze in liquidity across asset classes; had more investors behaved like risk absorbers, things would not have been so bad. But being a risk absorber is more difficult in a world where fair-value accounting requires many long-term investors to recognise falling prices, and where high leverage can force even patient investors to liquidate positions.

Bringing down the cost of capital need not mean mispricing risk.

Old-fashioned mortgage lending is like a marriage: both bank and borrower have an incentive to make things work. Securitisation, at least in this market, was more orgiastic, involving lots of participants and more fleeting relationships. (Alright, my favorite Economist quote in 2008, so far.)

Fortunately, life need not be so complicated. Plain-vanilla mortgage-backed securities are less highly engineered and offer many of the same advantages as their more complex cousins. At a time when everyone will be more careful about risk assessment, simpler products impose lower costs of credit analysis on end-users, which in turn makes them less expensive sources of funding. “If investors have to do the due diligence, a bigger discount will be applied to opacity,” says Mike Poulos of Oliver Wyman, a consultancy.

But the cost of diversity is a degree of fuzziness about the quality of each individual credit.

Oddly, in the long term much of this is rather good news for banks—or at least for retail and universal institutions. As the quality of credit analysis becomes more important, strong brands built on lending expertise should end up winning more business, whether as originators or arrangers.

Securitisation may have given this boom and bust its own distinctive flavour, but the core ingredients are drearily familiar: over-eager lending, careless investing and a widespread failure of risk management.

Economist: The overall culture of the organisation matters as much as the experience of its top brass, particularly when it comes to risk management. At Goldman Sachs, for example, people are routinely rotated between control functions and business functions so that each has an equal cachet, and problems are discussed by a broad range of insiders.

Are banks particularly susceptible to failures of governance? The short answer is yes, partly because of what banks do. “They are opaque and their business is to take risk,” says Stijn Claessens of the International Monetary Fund. “That makes them harder for shareholders to govern.” (Um, what about insurance?)

Many banks also seem to be poor at nurturing talented managers. Weeding out the poorest traders now could also mean getting rid of the best future managers. Headhunters say it is very unusual for people to be both great traders and great managers.

Economist: VAR typically estimates how bad things could get using data from the preceding three or four years, so it gets more sanguine the longer things go smoothly. Yet common sense suggests that the risk of a blow-up will increase, not diminish, the farther away one gets from the last one. In other words, VAR is programmed to instil complacency. Moreover, it acts as yet another amplifier when trouble does hit. Episodes of volatility send VAR spiking upwards, which triggers moves to sell, creating further volatility.

“Risk management is about the stuff you don't know that you don't know,” says Till Guldimann, one of the original architects of VAR. (Someone stole my opening line for my next presentation >.<)

Another area of concern is basis risk, the risk that a hedging strategy will not be precisely correlated with the underlying investment. Shorting the ABX index, a benchmark for subprime mortgage-backed securities, has been a popular hedging strategy, but the value of an index cannot be a perfect match for the value of highly engineered structured credit. Many institutions are still reporting net rather than gross exposure, and confidence in the safety of hedges has sagged.

June 3, 2008

Tuesday, Philip (tentative appearance; awaiting approval from agent) and I saw Reprise at Landmark Theatre. All those childhood dreams of becoming a tortured writer living in Paris are finally fulfilled, somewhat. Cannot remember the last time I utterly indulged in superficial intellectuality. Maybe the spring of 2005, in search of A Moveable Feast?

Philip insists that he met Kari as a little boy,
having joined the parade of the wrong school.

I want to believe that.

Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?

Afterwards, really, really good cider at Duke of Perth. Visiting Florence. Road trip to Montreal. Only, only child.

P.S. I'm special because I read the Economist cover to cover with sticky notes and underlines.

June 2, 2008

WSJournal: There are two main approaches to the payout funds: one aims to grow the money put into the funds but eventually exhausts it by a designated date; the other aims to expand or at least keep the principal intact, while also paying out income.

NYTimes: Some insurance companies reject applications from women who have given birth by Caesarean section or include provisions limiting when C-sections will be covered. C-sections cost, on average, $2,700 more than a vaginal birth. It is an expense insurers would rather avoid.

June 1, 2008

Saturday morning, spent 210 minutes watching Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham with Brish. Shahrukh Khan + Kajol make such a cute couple. Yes, it's cute to argue constantly.

Saturday night, first post-CJ excursion to iO. Not only was "Cupid Has A Heart On" hilarious, the performers are such talented singers. Brooklyn Brown Ale with nice coffee notes. Afterwards, at Bar Louie Wrigley, inadvertently participated in relationship talk until 2 am.

Sunday afternoon, dim sum at Phoenix with the ever expanding Waterloo crowd. Afterwards, Tracy, Mi Nah, Jenny and I dressed up for our viewing of Sex and the City. It's all very expected but pulled at my heart strings nevertheless. Especially the scene where Miranda crosses the Brooklyn Bridge with her list of pros and cons, wonders whether Steve's list of cons is longer than pros, yet bravely walks on. With so many bridges to cross, I cannot help but wonder, does it really matter whether you meet exactly half way?

May 30, 2008

Wednesday, top rope climbing with Jenny.

Jenny: Oh, I see 17 holds.
Vendy: Oh, oh, I see 18 holds.
Tom: Um, there are 19 holds.

Thursday, huge taxi line at Laguadia at midnight. Stayed at Millennium Hilton with panoramic view of ground zero. Funny how some things have a huge presence when they are not even there anymore. People too.

Friday, stayed at Château Brish with complementary mint shisha. Met up with Zoey for midnight frozen margaritas at Mad Dog & Beans. End of the night, Brish waves down a car for Zoey.

Me: How did you know it was for hire?
Brish: By looking at it.
Lesson of the Day: Every Lincoln Town Car on Manhatten is for hire.

May 29, 2008

Emily Gould: I think most people who maintain blogs are doing it for some of the same reasons I do: they like the idea that there’s a place where a record of their existence is kept — a house with an always-open door where people who are looking for you can check on you, compare notes with you and tell you what they think of you. Sometimes that house is messy, sometimes horrifyingly so. In real life, we wouldn’t invite any passing stranger into these situations, but the remove of the Internet makes it seem O.K.

My best friend, Ruth, lived a hemisphere away in New Zealand, and though we sent each other epic e-mail messages and talked on the phone, I still felt unmoored in the way you can only feel after a breakup, as if you’re the last living speaker of some dying language.

But now I was burned out and directionless, and without an audience, I lost the narrative thread.

May 28, 2008

You have to click the link below. The photo is hilarious. Love the cast-iron architecture but what's with the empty glass?

Julia Allison: I actually wished that instead of ending the series with her taking a call from Big, they had finished with her walking down the street alone, strutting in her fabulous shoes, smiling, happy to be home in New York, her city. Finally at peace - and most of all, happy to be herself again.

Vendy: I felt that way the first time I saw the last episode, right after I turned twenty-one. However, after reading seven habits, I really believe that to change the world, one relationship at a time, you have to be willing to change. If the highlight of my early twenties is finding who I am, I hope that of my late twenties is losing enough of myself to become part of something larger than myself. I have to say, if your goal in life is to not grow up, New York is the place to be.

P.S. I got a #C71585 Shelli Segal frock for the movie.

May 27, 2008

Monday, memorial day long weekend. Huuuge espresso sundae with Jim at Pick Me Up Cafe. The veggie benedict is also amazing. He's already sun burnt and it's only the beginning of the sailing season. Apparently, it's weird to see me not being, like, YAY.

Tuesday morning, feeling super-duper-"writing myself a lover letter"-"gonna revolutionize the delivery of financial services to the masses" YAY. Cleaned kitchen, washed and dried laundry, ran four miles against strong wind, cooked breakfast of pork + spinach + egg before early morning conference call with European client. Yes, 9 am is early morning in Vendyland.

Vendyland is not for the Faint of Heart. Tuesday afternoon, I&R conference call to discuss the gathering of member bios. I suggested reaching out to people we know first because when you let people know that they are special and you are counting on them, they tend to get things done. The rest of the committee was horrified: "What if the others feel left out?" Definitely one of those moments when I realized that there is an entirely different window to the universe.

May 25, 2008

Thursday, met up with Owen at the new Sushi X on Diversey. Loved the ginger salad and yellow jacket roll. At Landmark Theatre, we saw the visitor. The subdued emotionality of the older actors (Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass) was full of grace. I think the only way to be alive is to be engaged in the lives of others.

Sunday, played ping pong with Ken in the conference room. We are both in the office preparing for presentations. A little later, chatted with Durgesh about his plans to move back into his parents' house in September. Physical distances do not always correspond with emotional ones.

NYTimes: 270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison

FinTimes: Allianz and Commerzbank have joined forces with a view to a possible bid for Deutsche Postbank, the country’s largest retail bank, potentially kick-starting the long-awaited reshaping of Germany’s fragmented financial industry.

May 21, 2008

Saturday morning, flight to Toronto. Huge line for baggage check-in, so I proceeded to zip-lock all my liquids. Boarded flight with seconds to spare. Finally read Q4 analyst call summaries for major players on the plane. Gotta make better use of internal resources. Mum + Dad picked me up at the airport. Eat Eat Eat Breathe.

Sunday, Science Center with Stephen. In the foyer, the most amazing transforming mobile installation.

Monday, backyard yoga with mum, ninja style.

Wednesday morning, two hours at US customs to renew TN visa. Missed 8 am flight. Was lucky enough to get on the 10 am flight. Lots of people missing international flights. So happy that I do not work at the airport; the stress level is comparable to a trading floor.

Wednesday afternoon, Milliman excursion to CME/BOT to learn about Swapstream, the latest technology against potential rogue traders. Observed the closing of the commodity markets. Yup, definitely more tranquil than air travel.

May 19, 2008

ERM: More Important, But Still No Panacea

For more than a decade, ERM's tools and skills and the structure ERM imparts have helped companies and their managements identify, select, and mitigate a range of cross-functional and aggregated risks. ERM has evolved into a valuable tool that helps inform and direct management decisions. It can help managements to evaluate financial performance, improve product design and pricing, and guide strategic decision making. Sound ERM practices can also help firms optimize their returns for the level of risk they take. And over the past few years, ERM has even become an analytical tool that can help financial and ratings analysts better understand connections among a firm's various risks.

May 16, 2008

Thursday, rock climbing with Jenny. She's a natural.

I haven't written about the earthquake because I cannot find the words, so let me borrow a sentence or two from the NYTimes.

When parents arrived most of the building had collapsed.

They frantically pulled away bricks and chunks of concrete with their bare hands.

On the other hand ...

The United States and its close European allies had considered requesting United Nations authorization for a relief mission even without approval of the military authorities in Myanmar. But they dropped the plan after it became clear that China would veto any Security Council resolution calling for “humanitarian intervention” in Myanmar.

May 15, 2008

Economist: MORTGAGE craters, ropy disclosure, bloated costs, a newish boss desperately trying to stop the haemorrhaging amid calls for radical surgery, even a break-up. Citigroup? Aptly though this describes America's biggest bank, it could just as easily apply to its biggest insurer, AIG.

Barbara Walters: “Asking the right questions has always been less important than listening to the answers”.

May 14, 2008

I received an email from Vikram Pandit: "My commitment is to work tirelessly around the world and around the clock to deliver outstanding value and service as we continue to earn your trust."

Maybe it's time to take all my money out.

Citi names Deborah Hopkins chief innovation officer. In 2000, Fortune magazine named her the second most powerful woman in American business.

Jenny: Are you fertilizing your bonsai?
Me: Oh no!
Lifesaver: A newly purchased house plant normally will have been well nourished at the nursery or greenhouse and will not need fertilizer for at least 3 months.

May 13, 2008

Tuesday, attended an event entitled Empowering Asian American Voters. I was mainly motivated by the fact that it was organized by Sheeba and it turned out wonderfully. Naisy Dolar spoke about her experience running for alderman. Her field organizer Eric Salcedo was hilarious: we think we are white. Maybe I'm just not comfortable with the idea of racial/ethnic politics, but I prefer to see it as those with access to quality education (which take place at home as well as in school) and those who don't.

An article regarding TD's lending standards in Western Canada (it assumes dramatically lower prices than now exist) somehow acquired the title of Commodity prices too pumped. People have no appreciation for conservative lending practices.

May 11, 2008

Sunday, caught Iron Man with Owen at Davis, right off the Western stop. It was a good time but I can't say that I appreciated the treatment of female characters; who in her right mind would put up with that kind of behaviour? Conversation over coffee drifted to music, to theatre, to film, then inevitably to X's. After the breakup, he says that he spent a lot of time listening to Sea Change. People who wear their sadness comfortably always take me by surprise.

May 10, 2008

Friday, random walk through a book store. Apparently, this month is poetry month. On the one hand, we have the best of Naruda; on the other, Charles Bukowski. Guess which one I picked?

In the evening, Jenny and I cooked salmon and little bits of chicken.

Roomie: I read on your blog that you broke up
Me: Yeah
Roomie: But you seem to be doing okay
Me: Yeah
John Mayer: Cuz he's gone gone gone gone gone

Saturday, first visit to rock gym in ten days due to work/travel. Instead of top rope, the class focused on bouldering and let's just say I sucked. Will get my ass back there tomorrow to practice switching/matching my feet as well as making better use of weird hand holds.

Oliver Wyman Announces Strategic Alliance with Kiva

May 8, 2008

Thursday, after chatting about work/life balance with a consultant who recently moved to Chicago from London, I decided to read Vault's guide to consulting after all and stumbled across a piece of good advice: make a list of people you hope to keep in touch with and pick up the phone every time your flight gets delayed.

Find the upside, eh?

Economist: A little late, good risk managers are in demand.

Economist: Was it true, asked the Library of Congress, that Mr Selig had really written one book on Thomas Carew, a 17th-century love poet, and another on economic incentives for pollution control? Yes, confessed Mr Selig, pointing out “the underlying continuity, since both books were essentially concerned with nocturnal emissions”.

May 7, 2008

Wednesday, lunch with Marisol at Tokyo Lunch Box. We shared some thoughts on what directions we think YWLC should take. Right now, there are four committees and it's a bit overwhelming. Over the summer, we may transition to two to encourage collaboration. Also, I think having a special person reaching out to new members to see how their ideas fit with our current agenda would add a lot of value.

After work, met up with Owen at Fox & Obel for a quick dinner and half a bottle of cab, because they ran out of shiraz. I know, eh? Afterwards, we caught Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It's about "a composer for television with dreams of writing a Dracula puppet musical--being a functioning adult who falls apart, cries, schemes, stalks, endures petty indignation after petty indignation, and must put himself back together again". Anybody that needs to get over somebody must see this. Mila Kunis' mock Dracula act is too cute. Owen thought one of the actors looked like this Maui guy he went to school with, so we enjoyed the music while scanning the closing credits. The feeling of an empty theatre is somehow amazing.

May 6, 2008

Monday, met up with Dan for a little bit of bowling at Seven Ten Lounge. Apparently, I still can't bowl, but neither can Obama: Obama did improve, nearly getting a strike in one frame, and in the seventh, picking up a spare, giving him a score of 37.

Tuesday, decided to redeem the massage gift certificate CJ got me for my birthday. Since he is a big supporter of small business, I was not surprised that it was run by a single proprietor. The owner is a very sweet woman. She kept repeating that she told my boyfriend that she would take really good care of me. Even as she relieved me of physical stress, she intensified my emotional strain and I didn't feel so good for the rest of the day.

In the evening, we conducted a very focused I&R call and Lindsay offered a lot of great ideas for our upcoming newsletter. Afterwards, instead of rock climbing, I spent the evening on the phone with Stephen and Brish. Actually, I am proud of myself for reaching out to old friends, instead of seeking exciting new distractions.

May 4, 2008

Saturday, brunch with Durgesh at Smörgås Chef before the City (the capitalization is supposed to be funny) officially woke up. Yummy salmon omlette accompanied by lovely ambiance inside and out ... and Brish and Durgesh could not stop talking about trading. Sigh.

In the evening, back in Chicago, Denise and I chatted at the kitchen bar at Avenues. Sometimes, fine dining is more stressful than work e.g. is that a watercolor technique or something in my food? But, at Avenues, everyone had a great sense of humour. Dipping into English pea made me feel like a little kid participating in fine art. Lamb with Yogurt, Tangerine, Mint blossoms was rich and refreshing, as was the asparagus soup. Curtis Duffy, who arrived only a few weeks ago, is really good looking. (Why can't I seem find a picture of him online?) After he told us that he has friends in Toronto, Denise tried to persuade him to make a move. As we wrapped up our evening, notes of jazz echoed in the Lobby of the Peninsula.

Sunday, lazy afternoon in Wicker Park. Lunch at 2KF (the fish taco was simple and satisfying). Dinner at Hot Chocolate (pate, salmon, asparagus, spinach followed by pineapple and of course chocolate # 1). A community class at Nature Yoga Sanctuary was bookended by visits to Paper Doll and Renegade Handmade because everybody needs a pocket ninja (master of the stealth hug) and breakup bandages (when the going gets tough, tough gets going).

May 2, 2008

Thursday, arrived in New York. As the car drove away, I realized that I left my luggage in the trunk. Brish chasing the car and retrieving my luggage is definitely the highlight of the evening. Late night snack at 2 Gold, apparently the only late night spot around Wall Street. I shared my sob stories over the tender grilled calamari and crunchy veggie wrap. He shared his under the lights of Brooklyn Bridge. As Carrie would say, "When will waiting for "the one"... be done?" As much as I want to believe that I have a dramatic love life, it's simply incomparable. Me thinks I can create a variation of Sex and the City from the perspective of the less fair sex by interviewing Brish.

Friday, met up with Steven Chen at the View, because the best way to stick your head into the cloud on an overcast day is to have a drink at a revolving roof top restaurant. We discussed the choices that lead to ordinary lives versus extraordinary lives. Would anyone that desires an ordinary life choose to live in New York City? On the other hand, in the City, even people ordinarily extraordinary seem so ordinary. Afterwards, we did a tour of the E&Y office at 5x2.

I met up with William at E&Y and walked over to La Mediterranée. Can't believe we have known each other for eight years. Zoey joined us at nine pm after surviving another stressful day as a consultant. She walked me over to Vig 27 but refused to join Brish for a drink. It's supposed to be full of hot brown girls but we couldn't find any, so we headed over to SoHo instead.

An internal Bank of America e-mail asking some BofA analysts to estimate their current workload capacities recently made its rounds on the Web.

0% - completely swamped and expect to be here until at least 3 am for next several days.

25% - pretty swamped and getting home after midnight for next several days.

50% - staying fairly busy but still getting home between 10pm and midnight.

75% - going home before 10pm.