Saturday, January 29, 2005

Picture of my dog

Posted by Hello

I miss my dog

So, since it turns out that I may have to move out of my apartment in a couple months, I've been thinking about where I would live if that happened. And then I thought about how fun it would be to find an apartment where I could have a dog. I have a dog back home (thirteenth birthday present; she lives with my parents) and I miss her terribly. I tease my mom that the only reason I visit them is so I can see my dog.

I've always been a dog person kind of by default, because I'm horribly allergic to cats. But I'm glad I'm a dog person. They're so loyal and selfless and unabashedly devoted to their owners (please don't do the PC thing and chide me for calling them "owners"...). There's something so endearing about that -- kind of like a part of myself I lost somewhere, that unjaded, optimistic part of me that isn't afraid to love. Dogs are the reflection of everything good about humans, minus our superior grooming habits.

So I was browsing websites for animal shelters and other pet adoption services, and I came upon this article about a dog in a shelter. I know sometimes they euthanize these dogs, but it's so heart-wrenching to actually think about it. I'm literally crying as I write this. I think for the same reason I'm such a dog fan, it breaks my heart to read about anything bad happening to dogs. I mean, it hurts in a way that it doesn't hurt to read about human tragedy. I don't think that means that I don't value human life, but there's something so wrong about an innocent, loving creature who's never hurt a soul being subjected to trauma or cruelty. If you're looking for a sure-fire way to make me tear up, any day of the week, tell me a story about a dog getting hurt.

I miss my dog. Maybe I'll make a weekend trip home next month. And maybe I really will find myself a sheltered dog in need of a home. Lord knows, they all deserve good ones.

Behold the Power of Cheese

This month is killing me. Really killing me.

I'm taking more credits than I ought to be allowed to take, which means bare attendance is about all I've been able to muster so far (though even this is actually admirable for a third-year law student). I'm running two active on-campus organizations and I'm significantly involved in about four or five others. Add to that the pressure of impending graduation and -- horror -- beginning to study for the California Bar, and you've got yourself one stressed-out person. Plus, last night I found out that my apartment building is being converted into privately-owned conominiums, which gives me a few months to find a new place to live (if I can find a place where I can live for the whole two summer months that I'll actually be in Chicago).

So I decided to give myself a break last night. My mind-reading friend jca IM'd me asking if I'd had dinner yet. I hadn't, of course, so we opted for a fancy downtown wine restaurant, Bin 36. If you're in the Chicago area, I *highly* recommend it.

We'd had a rough week, so we spoiled ourselves. Wine flights, cheese flights, fondue, pastries with truffle oil, pumpkin ravioli. Even though after everything I ate last night I know I'll never be hungry again, I'm salivating just remembering it.

The thing about really, really good food and wine is that it kind of puts everything in perspective. It's been a long year for me and hasn't gone exactly the way I'd planned. But sitting there with my friend, glass of Syrah in hand, decadant gruyere fondue in front of us, for a few short moments the universe felt peaceful and manageable. All the stress and anxiety melted away, and it didn't even occur to me to worry about the reading I must catch up on, or the paper I need to write this weekend. I think I forgot about it somewhere between the rabbit-truffle strudel and the orange-espresso chocolate cremeux.

I think it's moments like this that keep us going through the hard times. Americans -- and, I think, especially graduate students -- face so much internal and external pressure to achieve the most, work the hardest, do the best, that we often forget to allow ourselves, failures and all, to enjoy the smaller things in life. We'd probably all be a lot happier and more relaxed if we occasionally treated ourselves to some bleu cheese and cabernet. No wonder the French act so damn superior.

Monday, January 24, 2005

My miserable day

I made it. I survived the most miserable day of the year.

Supposedly, January 24 (statistically speaking) is the worst day of the year. Well, I have happy news. If today was as bad as it gets, I am in for a good year. Here's an overview of some of the things that happened today:

I actually got up early and managed to do some reading before class (some, mind you, not all)

I got an email containing positive feedback on a paper I wrote for one of my classes!

My team in the Law School's trivia contest won today's match

When I was sitting in the student lounge today, at least six people came to my table just to randomly chat with me, which, given my unpopularity complex, was a very good thing in spite of the fact that it kept me from getting caught up in my classes

I'm trying to arrange plans for an event Wednesday night and Everything is Falling Into Place

I *dominated* the discussion in one of my classes (in a good way!)

I had dinner with a FEDERAL APPELLATE JUDGE (and some classmates)

He. Rode. In. My. Car.

Thank God for miserable days!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Voice of The American People

Back when Craig Kilborn still hosted the Late Late Show, he made a really funny (imho) suggestion about filling out our census forms.

"Did you all get your census forms? I have an idea. You know where it says race? Let's all check 'Eskimo' and see what happens."

Snarky jokes aside, there's something mildly frightening about the idea that statistics could be the basis of important policy decisions. Yes, yes, I've taken statistics classes and I know why and how (or, at least, I have old class notes that tell me why and how) a small sampling can actually serve as a remarkably good indicator of larger overall trends in society. But what if people lie? Or what if they're just plain dumb?

Here's what made me think about this: I am one of the newest members of the exclusive Gallup Poll Panel. I didn't do anything special to get this honor; I was simply sitting at home one night and answered the phone when Gallup called. Although I could pretend I was hard at work, I was really just watching TV, so I agreed to answer their survey questions. There were only like four of them, and when they finished with the survey they asked me the standard household data questions (Married or single? Rent or own? Employed/unemployed/student? Etc.). When I finished with that, the guy said, "oh, wow." Needless to say, I was intrigued. He explained that the computer system had randomly selected me to be a member of the Gallup Poll Panel, which would mean responding to their surveys a couple of times a month. At first I was hesitant -- my Myers-Briggs tells me I'm cautious by nature -- but the guy assured me that this was an exclusive and important club. Far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to be exclusive and important. So I accepted and was promised a packet in the mail that I would be asked to fill out and return, after which time I would officially be a part of the Panel and I could start telling Gallup what The American People think.

So today I was filling out the survey, which is pretty basic and multiple-choice. I knew I had reason to be nervous for our country when I got to the second question.

2. What is your marital status?
  • Single
  • Married
  • Separated
  • Divorced
  • Widowed
  • Don't know

Now, I'm a pretty open-minded person. At first, it kind of made me want to laugh that someone might actually *not know* whether or not he or she was or had ever been married. But then I thought of that episode of Friends where Ross was supposed to get a divorce from Rachel, but he was still in love with her so he didn't, but he never told her because he didn't want to make her mad. So I guess Rachel wouldn't have known whether she was married. So I read on:

4. Are you the adult in this household who is the primary decision-maker for making major purchase decisions?

  • I am the primary decision-maker
  • Another adult in the household is the primary decision-maker
  • I equally share the responsibility for making major purchase decisions
  • Don't know

This one I found a little bit more troubling. You would think you would know if you're supposed to ask permission before buying something. At the very least, you *really* ought to know who it is who's making the money, and whether that person is okay with you buying things with his or her money. But I guess this is one of those things that married couples fight about a lot -- so I *suppose* I could see someone not really knowing if he or she had the right to make major purchasing decisions, or to what extent, or whether the other person is the one who *really* holds the purse strings. Or maybe you just don't want to admit the truth. Reading on:

11. Do you run a business out of your household?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know

Now. I'm assuming here that Gallup isn't particularly concerned about how you would classify your major sources of income on your tax return. I can understand how that question would trip anyone up. Like, even a tax attorney. But the basic question of whether you run a business out of your household seems, to me, a pretty simple one. If you're doing something in your home that directly makes you money, and you're not telecommuting, then you're running a business. Right? Maybe I'm just too black and white about things. I think this next question was my favorite:

18. Do you currently have any of the following pets? (Mark all that apply)

  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Gerbil/mouse/rat/ferret/hamster
  • Bird
  • Fish
  • Reptile
  • Horse
  • Don't know

I mean, come on. Vermin don't count as pets. You would know if you had a *pet*.

Fortunately, I did know the correct answer to each of these questions. I haven't felt that way since I started law school. So, Gallup's done one good thing so far: it's restored my faith in myself. On the other hand, it's also made me a little worried about everyone else. But fear not, my friends -- The Voice of The American People is being joined by yours truly. I'll try to make you proud.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

And you thought the issue was money...

In case you're looking for a reason not to take a cruise, how about this? Talk about seasickness.

New Year's Resolutions

I've never been a big New Year's Resolution-kind of person.

I always hated it when people went around the table at a New Year's Eve party and made everyone say their resolutions. I always tried to think up something smart and sincere-sounding that would impress people (because, as a narcissistic teenager, sucking up was my forte). Usually it was something along the lines of, I want to be a better person, I want to be more responsible, I want to be more considerate of the needs of others. I probably kind of meant it. But something like that doesn't make a very good resolution because, really, how do you follow through on something like that? I mean, what would your daily to-do list look like?

Friday, January 7th
1. Read for class
2. Do laundry
3. Get groceries
4. Apologize to everyone I've ever wronged
5. Vacuum

Most people resolve to do things like exercise or quit smoking. I'm only a social smoker and I don't care enough about it either way to make it into a whole resolution. So this year I decided that I was going to try to exercise. Not even because I necessarily want to lose a bunch of weight (and I know I don't *need* to -- though thanks to the skinny, youth-obsessed media "want" and "need" are different here), but for a little bit last year I was in really good shape and it would be cool to feel that way again.

So I decided I'd start exercising once I got back to Chicago (I was visiting my parents over the holidays). And of course, as soon as I get back, I get sick. For two weeks. So I would set my alarm to wake me up early in the morning, and my throat would hurt so much I couldn't realistically make myself go to the gym. I'm really not a morning exerciser anyway. In the morning I'm cold and tired, my muscles are tighter, I feel like I just don't get as much out of the workout. But I'm always at school in the afternoon, and often into the evening (if it's not a debate, it's a rehearsal for the Law School Musical -- yes, we have a musical -- or a wine tasting. Yeah, I know. Boo friggin' hoo). So mornings it will have to be. Yet, here it is, almost the end of January, and I *still* haven't gotten to the gym.

This morning, I changed that. Granted, I woke up about three hours later than I had planned, and spent some time chatting with a girlfriend before finally going, but I actually made it to the gym! For a whole thirty minutes. When I limped back up to my apartment half an hour later I was a little saddened by how miserably out of shape I've gotten. But, hey, at least it's a start.

And on the plus side, since I've waited so long to get back to the gym, I've missed the New Year's Resolution crowd. I'm sure they've all totally quit by now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Teddy Bears in law school

I have a law professor I really love. He taught two of my first-year law classes, and I fell in love with him within a week. I think it had something to do with the way he reacted when one of my classmates came to class without having finished the reading for the day. For those of you who aren't in law school, the first year is one of those harrowing, intimidating experiences that are the stuff of sheer legend. As veterans share tall tales of in-class horror, the first year takes on an almost mythical quality. One of the very first things any soon-to-be law student worth her salt learns is that you can't blow off the reading like you did in college. There's no friendly first-day introduction to the course, where the professor lets you out after fifteen minutes and a song and dance about the course material. No, sir. It's work, work, work from Day One. A first-year law student's biggest nightmare -- apart from something horrific like failing a class -- is being made to look like an idiot in class. To do so opens you up to the mockery of your classmates and, far worse, the disdain of your professors. Common sense dictates, then, that one should never come to class unprepared. Yet that's precisely what this unfortunate classmate of mine did on this day.

"Mr. R., what did you think of Cardozo's opinion in MacPherson v. Buick? How does it fit with the other cases we've talked about?"
There was an uncomfortable silence as we listened to poor Mr. R. shuffle through his materials to find the case. Finally, he spoke -- I swear I could hear him blushing.
"I'm so sorry, Professor -- as you were talking I just realized that I read the wrong material for class today... I haven't read this case."
And thus, the barrier was broken. The first person we'd ever seen come to class unprepared. The tension in the room was thick as we waited, breath baited, for the Professor's response. Finally, the Professor gave him a mock-stern look and said, "Aw, then you're a terrible person." A joke! The class exhaled the nervous laughter it had been holding in. The Professor smiled, explained the holding of the case, and then gave the much-relieved Mr. R. a chance to redeem himself by trying to explain how that holding was possible following the other cases we'd discussed.

That, my friends, is what we call Class.

Eventually, this professor ended up giving me my first (and only, thus far -- knock on wood) C. That one was tough to take. Particularly since I'd thought I did really well on the exam. So I sent him an email telling him my grade and asking if I could come talk to him about the exam. His response began, "Ouch. Sorry about your grade." How cool is that? This was far from the cold, austere professor students prepare for by reading books like 1L or watching movies like The Paper Chase. It turned out I deserved the low grade, but he did very kindly note that he was surprised I hadn't done well on the exam, since he could tell from class that I was smart. With me: awwwwww.

This year I have class with him again, and I remember why I like him so much. After class today, two of my friends and I were standing near our seats, talking -- don't ask me why -- about pap smears. As the rest of our classmates shuffled out, we lowered our voices more and more to compensate for the lessening buzz of other people's conversations, until we were nearly whispering. We started to head for the door, where our professor was still collecting his books from the front of the room. He'd noticed us whispering before we left. "You don't want to know!" we explained as we approached him. He laughed and said "I saw three of my favorite students standing up there talking conspiratorially, so I was just a little curious."

"Awww," my friend giggled. "I bet you say that to all the girls."

Maybe that's true, but I'm feeling nice to myself today, so I'll take it at face value.

Thanks, Professor Teddy Bear. You're one of my favorites, too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

My first blog


I set up this blog while I was home for Christmas break, which was almost a month ago now. When I didn't post anything then, I thought I'd post something on New Year's Day. You know, New Year, New Blog. But that didn't happen either. Partly because I was hungover and partly because I couldn't think of anything to say.

So I figured, what the hell. I'll write something now when it's not particularly important whether I write or not. Plus, I'm awake now with not much else to do. I just finished writing a paper that shouldn't have been a huge deal but was for some reason (may have had something to do with the fact that I still haven't finished reading the material it's supposed to be based on). To congratulate myself I'm drinking Jim Beam. I don't really have anything else to do right now (at least, nothing that positively can't wait), I'm not going to bed until I've finished my drink, and I've been wanting to start this blog for a while so... here it is!

I'm not sure what this blog will be yet. I heard some people talking about blogs the other day. One of them was dismissing the "online journal" type of blog, where people write whatever pops into their heads. Hmm. So far mine looks a little like that. Maybe I should make my blog about law school? It's already in the title (and, hell, partly in my fake blog name). But would this imply that my life is all about law school? Then again, is that really so far from the truth?

All right, I'll spare you too much more of my bourbon-soaked early-morning ramblings. For now, I'll leave you with this. I will probably write a lot about law school, mostly because when you're in law school, it does kind of tend to swallow up your life a little bit. I'll also write about random things that trouble me or occur to me to say, some of which may actually be non-law related. My promise to you is that I won't write anything that I don't find hilariously clever. Or, okay, anything that isn't at least mildly amusing or that otherwise appeals to me. I promise that doesn't mean "anything." Oh, and I don't make very many grammar mistakes. I hate reading stuff with grammatical errors.

Cheers. Thanks for stopping by.