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I participated in MIT’s aditl project (capture a typical day in photographs) yesterday. I thought I might wake up early to get some nice sunrise-over-the-charles shots from my window.

What actually happened was that I woke up 30 minutes late for my 11:30AM class and decided not to go. You can’t get more realistic than that.

A few shots:

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what i see in the morning. bleary eyed, in bed, 5 minutes longer.

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out the door

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kinda gloom

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i run into jason on my way to stata, who kindly provides me with the notes i missed from that morning class

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lunch date with cecily @ sebastians!

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there is so. much. construction. on campus

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chaplin, film class

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grabbing a book from hayden

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delivery

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planning meeting for senior toast

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a lonely berry

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on my way to pm recitation

Sometimes, I really do love it here and never want to leave (this place, or this stage?).

In trying to synthesize my experiences this summer,  it’s hard to not notice certain parallels…

  • You have an army of tireless, well-groomed matchmakers willing to solicit suitors, schedule outings, cost-benefit analyze all your most viable options, and sacrifice their own personal relationships to make sure that every detail of your dating process proceeds flawlessly.
  • Taking discussions “to the next level” includes a binding agreement to stop entertaining offers from competing bidders and players.
  • Merger premiums: Really good assets command (deserve?) a premium.
  • Distressed sales: If you’re desperate, you’ll sell to anyone.
  • Sure the CEO is important, but you have to please all the shareholders (friends, family, pets, etc.—every effort should be made to avoid a hostile takeover).
  • Any assumptions that exist going into the relationship are made transparent by a rational, well organized slide deck that both sides agree to.
  • You talk about—and model out—action plans to anticipate upside, downside, and other off-chance scenarios in advance.
  • You call upon painstakingly detailed models of your current standalone lives to make a merged projection for many future years, ensuring a snug fit into perpetuity.
  • You do months—years! of due diligence to make sure there are no nasty secrets, including spending several weeks at the other party’s home with free reign over all significant files and artifacts.
  • Everybody wins, or there’s no deal.
  • You try to maximize post-merger synergies and goodwill, both operationally and financially.
  • Even though you’ve thought of everything, there are always surprises (that your matchmakers will smooth out at 9AM on a Saturday morning) to keep things interesting.

I guess summer is the time when overworked, red-eyed college students are released from our ivory towers to…”freedom”. The freedom (burden) of having many weeks of self-scheduled time to hopefully jam pack with experiences and contemplation on what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives (kudos if you’ve already figured it out, or realized that you don’t need to) away from the convenient distractions of classes and exams. Maybe helped along with some beachy lounging, moments of unadulterated bliss, and sangria here and there.

But when you’re working 14+ hour days as an analyst, you and your fellow disillusioned coworker may one day realize (via witty email exchange!) that Google can speed things up in more than just work related situations.

Google (“what to do with my life”) –> I’m Feeling Lucky

Surprisingly good article? Or maybe just hits a little too close to home. Am usually not a big fan of self-help books (“I don’t need any help!”), but may pick this one up…

PS- Am currently watching the MJ memorial on TV in my hotel room. Quite touching, actually (ooh, Kobe is there) and great performances. He may have been slightly insane, but when it comes to what to do with your life? be yourself? live to your heart’s desires, and don’t tone it down not even a little? MJ got it right.

oxford comma – vampire weekend
relax, take it easy – mika
knock knock – lenka*
bittersweet poetry – kanye west ft. john mayer
sky – joshua radin ft. ingrid michaelson
raindrops – regina spektor
stolen – dashboard confessional
ocean wide – the afters
ghost in your mind – black lab
wait for the world’s greatest – norwegian recycling
don’t trust me – 3oh!3
you don’t know me – ben folds ft. regina spektor
stars and boulevards – augustana
clarinet concerto in A major – mozart ( my college audition piece! ha.)
andante, piano concerto 21 – mozart
chasing cars (cover) – natasha bedingfield
nothing lasts forever – maroon 5
coppertone – the academy is
fake tales of san francisco – arctic monkeys

It’s so beautiful today…I want to hug the world.

* god, I’ve listened to this song like 80 times this week. My hall is probably really annoyed.

Our flight to the Philippines was supposed to be a 24-hour whirlwind of Boston –> Chicago –> Tokyo –> Manila, but this is what we saw upon afternoon landing in Tokyo:

runway crash

The unfortunate runway accident meant our flight was canceled until tentatively the next day, forcing us to rearrange a rather jam-packed itinerary of meetings and workshops in Manila. To make the best of it, we decided to take the bus into the city instead of staying at an airport hotel. The trip from Narita into Tokyo ended up being surprisingly far — approximately 90 minutes by bus.

We ended up booking a room at the fancy-yet-pompously-westernized Westin Tokyo, near Ebisu Garden Palace. (I would suggest checking out Hotel Nikko in SF if you are looking for a beautiful Japanese-style hotel) Ebisu is a nice but sleepy little neighborhood, so my first impressions of Tokyo were slightly underwhelming (where were the bustling avenues, esoteric street fashions, and Judge Bobs that I endearingly associated with Japan over the summer? )  .

Our resident documentary filmmaker Nicole left us to have dinner with a friend, so Leo, Zack + I got a restaurant recommendation from the concierge and set off for a late dinner. We never ended up finding the recommended place, but instead decided to pop into this rather authentic looking restaurant that turned out to be a worthy selection–the food was so-so, but boy what a festive atmosphere! We were seated next to this gigantic 30 + party of Japanese businesspeople chilling out together after work.  The room would occasionally break out into synchronized clapping patterns and rounds of congratulatory “hoy!s” as we ate. I don’t think I have ever seen an American business unit be so carefree and lovey together. Perhaps the corporate world here is too focused on short-term career goals and conservative propriety to develop these kinds of boisterous, sake-filled business relationships en masse.

jolly corporate function!

jolly corporate function!

After dinner, Zack and I tried to maximize our 16 hours in Japan by exploring the city at night. An ice-bar that we had hoped to visit was closed for reconstruction (they give you a parka while you drink in an igloo-like environment!), so we once again asked our adorable concierge to go off the record and recommend some truly hip places that he himself would go to.  We took the subway into bustly Shibuya district with a very vague idea of what we were looking for, and just walked around aimlessly down main streets and side streets. It was nice–Tokyo is a city that really shows off at night. I was surprised by the number of people coming home from work on the subway at 11PM—the subway station felt like the same sea of suits you would see at Government Center around 7PM.

tokyo street at night

tokyo street at night

We wandered through a neighborhood of affordable love motels…

a bargain for love

a bargain for love

great room selections!

great room selections!

classy

classy

…and after some cryptic instructions to go down the street and take a “left-right”, found the place our concierge directed us to– a dungeon-themed bar ( called “The Lockup” ).  Excepting the japanese hipsters milling outside, the entrance to this place was an eery descent into dark passages and spooky noises. Very haunted-house-esque, I think I screamed a few times, haha. The bar was just closing as we got there (it was a Monday night), so we moved on. It does seem like a cool place to hang out though–will definitely have to come back the next time I’m in Tokyo.

we thought the concierge said "rock-up"..

we thought the concierge said "rock-up"..

dungeon style booths

dungeon style booths

thoughtfully neon

thoughtfully neon

I was in dire need of some sake by this point. Fortunately we were able to pick up a wasted American expat named Cedric, who took us to his favorite place, the Gaspanic! for drinks. It was quite empty (again, Monday night…), and unfortunately seemed to cater to a more touristy crowd. We shared the space with some Euro-looking hipsters and a sketchy boy canoodling with his girlfriend. Overall, recommended if you have a longing for clubs blasting Chris Brown + Akon, not recommended if you are looking for good sake or to feel like you are partying in Japan.

a SUPER cup of sake

a SUPER cup of sake

Cedric, keeping his LA roots alive

Cedric, keeping his LA roots alive

We then took a cab to Roppongi Hills / Mori Tower to try and get a better view of the city, but everything had long been closed. Even so, I really appreciated the calmness of the urban space and the solitude of being there afterhours–I’m beginning to think that 3AM sightseeing is the best way to get an intimate feel for any place.

Afterwards, an amused cabdriver took us to the well-guarded Imperial Palace for a nighttime jaunt around the moats, and we called it a night at 5AM, just in time for our 6AM wake up call.

Overall, a wonderful introduction to Tokyo + the country of Japan, though I am wistful that we missed the cherry blossoms. Next time!

click to enlarge!

businessworld

I thought I was making good progress on my budgeting goals since the last post. Since I’ve been back in Boston, I’ve been taking the T more, resisting shopping urges, getting free food at work. Then I stumbled upon the blog of this MIT freshman, who only spent $757 all last semester. Including food. I had to reread that three times before I could comprehend it. I know I’m not particularly frugal, but compared to that I feel like Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. I think I’ve already spent her entire semester budget in the past month, if you count a LV wristlet that I caved on and bought my last day in China (duty free!).

Seeing as sorority dues alone are $500 a semester,  it is not very realistic for me to try and adopt her spending plan. But it is amazing how thrifty people can be (my parents would kill me if they found out that people like this exist. and attend the same school as me.). Or am I just way out of touch, and expenses of sub-$1000 per semester are actually the norm? I expected more people to comment on her amazing thriftiness in the comments, but no one brought it up. Gulp. I need to try harder.

I don’t know how it happened, but I think spent over $3000 this semester on random incidentals. This for the most part does not even include tech cash and food (which my parents graciously take care of). There are some big ticket purchases (sorority dues, giant shopping trips), but it’s mostly just random $10-$20 expenses here or there–stuff that I don’t even think about, and in hindsight, can’t even remember.

I’ve never been someone who has tightly kept track of my money. As immature as it sounds, looking through my expenses usually makes me sad, so I just don’t do it. I log into my online bank account maybe once a month (so infrequently that they go through the long authentication process with me every time because they can’t recognize my computer -_-). At this point, everything I buy is stuff that I “want”. I have a fair amount saved up for a college student, a sad little 401K account, and I don’t have any credit card debt. However, I will have to look into taking out loans for grad school soon, because I don’t want my parents to have to pay my tuition after I finish undergrad. Perhaps now is a good time to start thinking more recessionary, and start managing my financial life.

Do you have any good techniques for budgeting? Is there anything I should be doing to be a more financially responsible person?