Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Issue 1: My California adventure begins!

Getting to San Francisco went off without a hitch. The adventure begins with picking up the rental car. I am the proud (temporary) owner of a Chevrolet Aveo. Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. I spent the weekend in Foster City (at my best friend’s fiance’s condo.) Kit (the fiance in question) drove down to visit Pat (the best friend in question), so I had the house to myself. Anyone who knows how anti-social I really am can appreciate how perfect that time to myself was, especially after my taxing last week in DC.

Some of you received slightly delirious phone calls from me on Saturday. I decided to take a mini-roadtrip to Half Moon Bay, felt ambitious and kept driving down Rt. 1. I spent an afternoon on the beach listening to the waves, reading, and just watching: the wet-suited surfers (the water’s still very cold), the beach volleyball game, the kids running down to the water and screaming when the water hit their toes, the big dog paddling around. (If you have a dog of a certain size, you should be required to take it to the beach – they just look so happy. Oh – and bandanas should be mandatory too – so damn cute!) I stayed long enough for most of the people to leave and had the beach to myself.

The Pacific is always a spiritual experience for me – here, in Malaysia, etc. I’m not sure why I respond to it so much more strongly than the Atlantic. Maybe familiarity really does breed contempt. Here, I feel like I’m curling my toes over the very edge of America. Hopefully, I will get some beach time weekly or nearly weekly while I’m out here. I left the beach and drove further south to Santa Cruz. Along the way, I bought the best cherries of my life. I think Saturday was just about a perfect day.

I moved into my place in Palo Alto on Sunday. Thankfully, moving wasn’t a real ordeal as I only brought two suitcases here. My roommate, Michele, is a Stanford law student summering at a firm in Palo Alto. She’s been enormously helpful in helping me find my feet. I’ve lived by myself since college, so I was a little worried about sharing space, but she’s wonderful. I love the condo too – it’s set up like mine in Falls Church – 2 floors, 2 master bedrooms upstairs. It’s even a little better, maybe – each bedroom has a little balcony. From mine, I have a view of the flourishing trumpet vines that have insinuated themselves throughout the lattice-work lining the walkways on my level, and the level below. The flowers are in bloom, so it’s really. The condo is set back from the street, but the complex has storefronts along the road. Here are some of the businesses: Palo Alto School of Hypnotherapy, Bay Area Biofeedback, Acupuncture Clinic, and Integrated Healing Arts. I love California!

On another note, I’m falling in love. Actually, I think I’m in love already. No, you’re right – it’s too soon, it’s probably just infatuation. I had a pretty serious crush before I ever left DC (buy me chocolates and I’m yours, especially if you have the good sense to do so during exams.) I’ve only been at The Firm two days, but it’s been dreamy. The "training" opened up with a video of one of the hiring partners describing the summer program by putting on a bunch of hats (all of which he found lying around his office): a fancy-going-to-the-horse-races hat (about being wined and dined), a chef hat (for the cooking class we will take at a partner’s house), etc. etc. The office head described what they are looking for in hiring as "seriousness of purpose, goofiness of heart." Goofiness! Could this place be more me??

We had a big happy hour at the end of the day where everyone really knew a lot about us. One of the first-year associates let it slip: you know in action movies, they have that sequence where everyone sits around a big table in the war room and they flash up a grainy photo taken on the sly, and then someone talks about the spy in question: where they were born, what their M.O is, etc. etc.? Apparently, the firm did that with the summer associate class. The firm held meetings where our "mugshots" were blown up and the audience was briefed on the highlights of our resume, interviews, etc. Kinda creepy, and yet kinda flattering? Maybe that’s just me.

Our office has two buildings right next to each other. About 3 weeks ago, a number of people moved from one building to the other. Somehow, I ended up in the office leader’s old office. Not to worry – I am sharing it with someone, but it’s a HUGE corner office. Mike, my officemate, goes to Georgetown and lives in Clarendon. How weird is it to have come all the way across the country to share an office with him? Speaking of sharing – so far, I really like the other summer associates. They are a personable, friendly bunch and very quick to laugh. (And I’m not the only smartass!) My mentors are wonderful too. Theresa, my associate mentor, interviewed me in October, and Heidi, my partner mentor, I’m just getting to know. I went out to lunch with them today and the conversation turned to Brad Pitt’s "heiney" (not my term), so I’d say we feel pretty comfortable with each other. I’m so comfortable, in fact, that I’m hoping to have them over to my place for dinner some time soon. I thought mentors were chosen based on practice areas and interests, but, according to Theresa, they are chosen based on personality! I’d like to think that I’m a little bit harder to read – but from the time I’ve spent with my mentors, it seems that the Rebecca, the recruitment coordinator, has a pretty good sense of who I am.

I know I’m gushing, and I’m sorry. I get my first work assignment tomorrow afternoon, and I’m sure the honeymoon will be over.

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