Friday, April 29, 2005

Jack must be rolling in his grave

"People want government to help them. That's what government's all about."
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), "Real Time with Bill Maher," 4/29/05

Actual quote.

I usually don't watch Bill Maher, mostly because he's an arrogant, sexist SOB. But I'm procrastinating on a 20-page paper I owe my crim law professor from the fall, which means I'm not going out and having fun tonight, and America's Next Top Model is over for the evening. So HBO it is. I'm only halfway paying attention when I overhear this quote. Sen. Schumer was contrasting the Democrats to the Republicans (favorably, surprise, surprise), and pointing out that while Republicans fare better on the "complicated" issues (the clear implication of this being that Republicans excel at spin and obfuscation), Democrats are good at talking to the people and finding out what's really important to them re: health care, education and welfare, etc., etc. That's when he made this outrageous quote.

I don't like to box myself in as "conservative" or "liberal," though when pressed, I'll say I'm conservative. Still, I understand the importance and value of having certain government programs that aid those who can't afford to help themselves, much as I hate how this eats into my paycheck. I think there are huge problems with the way that it's run (I despise bureaucracy in any form), but my distaste shouldn't be viewed as a condemnation of the idea of government aid. Given that, though, I would think that, all other things equal, people would (should?) want to survive on their own rather than depend on someone else or something else for their survival. And I say this as a lazy person. I swear to God I'm lazy. As a testament to this, I'm still in my pajamas and have only written a page and a half of my aforementioned paper (it's nominally due today -- there is about an hour and a half left in "today"). Other than that, today I have watched TV, IM'd friends and checked the mail. That's pretty much how all my weekends look, except that sometimes I also go out to eat/barhop/club/etc. So I'm definitely lazy. But I'm also (paradoxically?) independent. If my laziness threatened my independence I suspect I would find a way to overcome the laziness, rather than give up the independence.

So my long-winded point is this: I think my independence is a highly American trait. Independence is valued in this country, and I think that's a good thing. Sure, there's plenty of room for the valid argument that Americans are overworked, but that's different from saying they don't want to support themselves. In other words, America is about taking care of yourself. It's about making something of yourself. It's not about looking at the government, holding your hand out and tapping your foot. It's not about the government supporting you. It's not about the government "helping" you.

JFK, the patron saint of modern Democrats, got this. He famously got it. It's not about sitting around waiting for the government to help you. It's about work. It's about independence. It's about patriotism. It's about what you can do for your country.

I hope Sen. Schumer remembers that.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

And the winner is...

So tonight my school has a talent competition it's calling Law School Idol. They even did a cool photoshop thing with the American Idol logo so it says "Law School Idol" (this actually does impress me, as I'm completely inept with computers). A friend and I are going to sing in this talent show. Actually, I should say, she's going to sing, and I'm going to smile and make noise. I can't sing. Which is really going to put a dent in my pop star career. Good thing I'll have that law degree as a fallback.

So we're thinking about doing the fabulous Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine." My friend called Michael and now she's talking about all the cool props/costume stuff she'll have. Man, I should've thought of that. I don't have any cool Paul McCartner props, though I'm thinking of asking a cute friend to play arm candy. Meanwhile, she's talking about a silver glove and black wig and fake nose... she's gonna have so much more fun than me.

Well, at least I got to sing at the Oscars.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The revolution is coming!

Just because they're small doesn't mean they aren't diabolical. I wonder if this should serve as more or less reason to want to buy a chihuahua? I mean, they're just so cuuuuuuuuuute. I have no problems with cute communists.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Is this possible??

Yes, I have work to do. So what.

It's much more fun to shop for bar trip deals. And I think I found a GREAT one -- New York (where I'll be visiting a friend) to London to Tokyo and back, for just over $1500. The only thing is, I've never flown this airline. Does anyone know anything about Virgin Atlantic? is my new favorite website.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

The last gasp

It seems lately that all of my friends are enjoying the fine cuisine at Charlie Trotter's. The other day JCA took her mentor out for a celebratory meal. Another friend was treated to a fancy birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago (you see, this is why I need a boyfriend). The summer before I started law school I worked as a waitress at a nice (not Charlie Trotter-nice, but still a good bet for a fancy evening) restaurant. Before I left, the head chef stressed to me that I must eat at Charlie Trotter's before leaving Chicago. "It's crazy expensive," he explained, "but it's worth it. That was the best meal I ate in my life. His food makes mine look like puppy chow." I promised to make the effort.

Now, nearly three years later I realize I haven't made good on that promise. My parents are flying out for my graduation (awww) so the other day I suggested to my mom that Charlie Trotter's might be a nice place for a graduation dinner (this has the added benefit of co-opting my dad into treating. Score!). She promised to try to convince my dad.

So tonight I thought, for fun, I'd take a look at the website. I went first to general information, which recommended that you make reservations ten to twelve weeks in advance for weekends. Wow, I thought, that's a lot of time. I calculated forward to graduation weekend to figure out how close I would be cutting it if I made reservations next week, and then it hit me: graduation is less than ten weeks away! In less than three months, I will be a law school graduate. With any luck, a few months after that I can call myself a legitimate California lawyer. Wow. Life can really creep up on you.

Now, instead of thinking sobering thoughts, I think I'll watch Saturday Night Live.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Come back!!

Tuesday was such a good day.

I was wearing new clothes I had just bought during my weekend shopping spree, the weather was sunny and gorgeous, and I was just overall in a good mood.

Yesterday, I woke up and I could tell right away it wasn't good. My convertible apartment faces east, so I can tell immediately what kind of a day it is. Yesterday wasn't a nice day. It was gray and gloomy and foggy. Even though I've lived here for nearly three years, the Colorado girl in me still doesn't quite grasp the weather here. In Colorado, it can be gloomy and warm. Here, it's only warm if it's nice and sunny. And even sunny doesn't necessarily mean warm. Foolishly optimistic, I dressed a bit warmer, but wore flip-flops to school. Bad idea, I realized when I reached my parking garage and felt the breeze on my feet. But, no big deal -- I have parking right behind the law school so it's only a short walk from my car to the building.

So I pull my car into the law school parking lot. It's mid-afternoon so it's pretty full, which means a longer walk to the building -- but still not bad. After circling for a few minutes, though, the sickening realization dawns on me: there are no spots left. This is unprecedented, and legally impossible. The culprit was obvious to me: someone had parked in my spot!

I don't have an actual assigned spot, of course, but I have a guaranteed spot in that the parking office doesn't (or at least, it isn't supposed to) give out more permits than there are spaces. I have a permit (one I had to wait two years to have the privilege of paying for, since only 3Ls are eligible for the coveted close-up spots), so theoretically I have a spot somewhere in the lot. But not today. Fuming, I raced out of the parking lot to search for street parking. I found some that was fortunately not too far away, but I was taken aback at having had to search for it. I stormed into the law school and shared the news with the first person unlucky enough to be in my path: JCA. "When did you get here?" I demanded. She was confused -- whether it was because of my attitude or the irrelevance of my question, who knows. "Um, I just had lunch with a friend," she said. "When did you get back?" She shrugged, "I dunno. Not long ago." "Did you find parking?" The friend had driven, so JCA hadn't had to deal with the insult and inconvenience of a pilfered space. "I just got here," I growled, "and there were no parking spots! I had to park across the street!" Moved by my plight, she compassionately offered me a ride to my car after class.

My complaining drew a crowd of friendly and likely frightened individuals, whom I quizzed for the number of the parking office. One of them smartly suggested I call the switchboard. Oh, duh. When I got through to the parking office I explained to them what had happened. The woman on the line promised to alert the parking ticket-givers of the situation. Ha! Much as I hate parking tickets on principle, my frozen toes cried out for retribution. And thus, I likely spread my unhappiness. Selfish, perhaps, but the bad weather had put me in a foul mood, particularly following as it did such blissfully perfect weather of a mere 24 hours earlier.

Today was not much better, though it was at least sunny. I checked's forecast for the next ten days. Alas, Chicago cannot expect to break 60 for over a week. Sigh... I miss miniskirt weather. Hurry up, summer!

Life in the pretend lane

Oh, to erase bits of knowledge I'd rather not have.

Two of my friends have been kind enough (or perhaps cruel enough?) to alert me to the fact that two of my grades from the last term have been turned in and are now available online.

Back in college, I used to actually look forward to getting grades. I did well in college, and my professors all (or mostly all) knew and liked me. Grades weren't the sort of thing that struck terror into my heart.

My first set of law school grades were a little scarier. I readily admit to being a nervous person in general. I remember talking to a third-year law student the night before our grades were due to be revealed. Let me preface this by saying that I came to law school, like many, with the highest of high hopes, fully expecting to get straight As and make Law Review and be thrown scads of job and clerkship offers. But I'm no dummy; I fully understood that most law students also expect this, and most are disappointed. So while I didn't doubt my competence, I was a bit wary of having it subjectively weighed against roughly 90 other highly intelligent persons'. The student I spoke to, most likely trying to reassure me, shrugged off my trepidation. "Everyone gets Bs," he said, "It's not a big deal. No one really cares about that stuff, anyway."

This was precisely what I didn't want to hear. No!! my mind screamed, I'm not like the others! I'm not happy with a B! *I* care about that stuff! I tried to shake off what he had told me and remind myself that, as of that point, I was a clean slate. I had studied and prepared well for the exams, I had done the reading, I had gone to class, I had left the exams feeling pretty good. But his words echoed in my mind as I tossed and turned that evening, unable to find the mental peace to lull me into dreamland.

The next day in my school mailfolder there was a utilitarian ivory envelope bearing my full name on a preprinted sticker. My hands shook as I started to open it. No, I thought, not here. I ducked into the ladies' room and locked myself into a stall in an effort to pretend I had some privacy. I opened the envelope and unfolded the piece of paper that I had managed to make myself believe bore the definitive denouement of my entire life's work up to that point. And there the numbers were, cold and objective, without regard for their effects on my future or self-esteem.

They were... not half-bad. Not quite automatic Law Review-caliber, but at the same time nothing to sneeze at.

Shaken, I drove myself home. The whole experience had left me a bit numb. I got home, started to dial my mom's number, and then stopped. I glanced at the paper again and began to sob. Perhaps it was the sheer weight of it all, the relief of all the tension I'd been holding onto. Or perhaps it was genuine disappointment that I hadn't managed to reach the top of the class. Either way, I sat at my desk and I had a good cry.

Eventually, I got used to receiving disappointing grades. Hell, I got used to all sorts of disappointing outcomes (en pointe: my numerous unsuccessful attempts to join the Purgatory Crew as a write-on member of Law Review, or my stolen moot court victory, which quite honestly still smarts a bit). And yet, as many undeserved or even deserved misfortunes as I've dealt with, I still dread the latest blow, the new cap on my litany of personal failures.

This isn't to say there has been nothing good from law school. On the contrary, I'm going to quite miss it. I've learned a great deal and I think I'll make a great attorney. And I've been fortunate enough to procure for myself gainful employment after graduation, something not all law students can attest to. I don't think myself ungrateful; I realize that I'm better off than the vast majority of my peers.

Still, it's difficult for intelligent and ambitious people to have to settle for someplace in the middle of the pack, even when the pack is a damn good one. And with each report card, denial becomes a harder and harder place in which to live. I accept that I'm not a straight-A student. I accept that I won't get Order of the Coif. But that voice is still there inside of me, that tiny little fighter who screams Don't give up! Don't quit! You can still be the best! She's been getting more and more chinks in her armor the last few years. And, try as I might to be practical, I still admire her Quixotic quest for perfection. Which is why I hate facing reality, facing the fact that I can't protect her from the latest dose of tough love, law school-style.

I suppose I'll have to look at my grades eventually. But not today. Today she gets to chase windmills.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Of Outlet Shopping

I'm not one of "those girls."

You know the type. The word "shopping" can drive them to paroxyms of glee, frightening any Y chromosome unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. Even though this is a stereotypical "girl" trait, there are actually plenty of girls who don't particularly care about shopping. Take me, for example. Sure, I enjoy a nice walk and window shopping as much as the next conflicted Type A who's had too much of life in the fast lane and needs a load off for a bit. But when I shop, I think I'm usually pretty utilitarian about it. If I don't want anything in particular, I can amble, but if I'm looking for something I look for it, find it and buy it (or don't find it), and leave. Shiny displays and such never really catch my eye.

But I hosted a friend this week who's a real shopper. That's fine; I'm a 3L (third-year law student) so doing work doesn't really matter to me. So I had a weekend to kill. Day One involved walking over to Michigan Avenue to browse the fun expensive stores (in fairness, there are a few reasonable ones). I didn't buy anything but I had a lot of fun. Day Two was the big shopping day. We hopped into my car and made the trek down to the Lighthouse Outlet Mall in Michigan City, IN. They have over 100 outlet stores. Again, keep in mind, I'm not a big shopper. I don't tend to buy things when I'm not planning to. On the way up, my friend asked if I was looking for anything in particular. Not really, I told her. She smiled. "That means you're probably going to find something. That's always how it happens."

Turns out, my friend was right.

She picked almost all of the stores we went into, but I'm the one who ended up buying something at nearly every single one. I couldn't help it. The deals were incredible! And the clothes were so cute. The highlight of the day came, I think, at the end. I was purchasing an armful of shirts and dresses. The sales clerk held up one of the dresses I was buying. "This is sooo cute," she breathed, "and the best part is, they have this exact same dress, same brand and everything, at Carson's for fifty dollars." I had just paid $12 for it.

I've never been a shopper. But as I sit in class wearing my new Rue 21 t-shirt/cami combo (six dollars) and my new Guess miniskirt (twenty-one dollars), I wonder if maybe I should change that.

Um. After I pay off my credit card.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Like riding a bike

So this week I returned, after a lengthy absence, to pilates and yoga classes at my building's gym. I've been fairly good about getting back into exercising after making it a sort of quasi-New Year's Resolution of sorts. And this week I finally returned to the group classes, which I actually find much more enjoyable/bearable than other forms of exercise.

By way of background, since slacking on my yoga/pilates discipline I've felt far less in shape than when I was doing both regularly. I've felt like my posture, balance and flexibility have all suffered. Yet somehow in classes this week it was almost as though I'd never left. I can't quite stretch or bend as far as I used to, but I had no trouble doing most of the exercises. Almost as though my muscles had somehow maintained their fitness in spite of the fact that I was doing absolutely nothing to maintain them. It struck me as strange but, hey, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The great thing is, that makes me even more motivated to keep going to classes. If I'm this good now...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Taxes are finally done. I managed to remember to buy a new printer cartridge after class today, so I was able to print out everything I needed. Of course, then I put everything in envelopes and sealed and stamped them, after which I remembered that I hadn't made copies of anything (maybe the copies thing isn't a big deal to some people, but my very smart mom made sure to drill into our heads that having a copy of everything in writing was the best way to keep yourself from getting screwed over. Man, was this lawyer thing in the cards or what?). So I'll just send it in without copies. Hopefully this won't spell the doom of me.

Is there an award for the most retarded tax calculation method? Because I nominate California's system. I mean, just. What?

Yet another reason to check myself into rehab

Do you think there's any chance I could finagle a room near Joaquin Phoenix's? I could even try to learn to cook vegan so we could eat together. Sigh...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Anyone have a working VCR to unload?

My typical Tuesday night presents a dilemma. Do I watch Scrubs and The Office, NBC's dual showcases of sardonic hilarity and clever interpersonal musings, or House, Fox's gripping new medical drama featuring moral quandaries and gorgeous, gorgeous men?

Those of you lucky and tech-friendly enough to own TiVo (or a similar DVR) are surely shaking your heads and clucking your tongues in pity. I know; TiVo, Playstation 2, flat-screen TV, and decent speakers -- these devices are all on my Best Buy shopping list as soon as I begin earning a decent salary (and, ironically, losing any time to enjoy them). Thus far I've managed to survive armed with only a basic TV I've owned since high school and my similarly aged DVD player and VCR. And cable, of course. Last fall, my VCR, much to my despair, gave up the ghost. Or, more pointedly, she fell into a persistent vegetative state. She can still play tapes, but seems to lack the capacity to record new things. And my DVD player, obviously, doesn't record. And so I'm stuck, like a typical family in the early 80s, with an economist lurking, unwelcome, on my shoulder. The opportunity cost of watching Scrubs and The Office is, not only the completion of work that I ought to complete, but also this week's chance to drool over Robert Sean Leonard and puzzle over a frightening medical mystery.

And until I bite the bullet and pony up for a new VCR (unlikely, given my eccentric and utterly unsensible (insensible?) spending choices), my Tuesday nights will remain, sadly, unfulfilled in one way or another. That is, until I discover the secret to time travel. But, sadly, I think it likely that my good Lord has decided, in his wisdom, that 24 hours in the day is quite enough for me. And NBC and Fox, sadly, have apparently decided that the shows falling in this time slot are substitutes, rather than complements. Someone needs to park an economist on their shoulders.

Is this a valid excuse?

I just reviewed my federal tax return and was planning to e-file, but my tax program warns me that some states require that federal and state returns be filed simultaneously, in which case I can't e-file, since I can only do federal for free. And I'll be damned if I'm paying to have the government repay my interest-free loan to it. Helpfully, the program declines to tell me if California is one of these finnicky states.

So I went online to print out the tax return form for California. Unfortunately, my print cartridge is completely out of juice. Those things run out so fast. So it looks like I can't finish my taxes tonight. I'll have to remember to pick up a new cartridge tomorrow. This means my exciting plans for the evening will have to be changed. I suppose I should finish my bar application instead. The fun never stops!

Random thought for the day...

I don't believe I've ever seen a white person pulled over on Lake Shore Drive. I can't help but wonder, selfishly, does this mean I can speed with impunity? Is all my caution for naught? Then again, I do have a red car.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor common sense...

I'm not a fan of the U.S. Postal Service.

The latest irritation came this morning, when I went to send a letter overnight (my one-ounce letter, incidentally, cost almost fourteen dollars to send. But that's besides the point). After filling out my express mail envelope, I walked up to the front to send it. The woman weighed my letter and announced the total, and I handed her my credit card. "Debit or credit?" Credit, I informed her. She turned the card over to look at the backside, which says "PLEASE SEE ID." I get asked maybe 35% of the time, but I figure better safe than sorry. She looks at me with a tired -- almost irritated -- face and says, "I can't take this card." I look puzzled. "It has to be signed," she explains. I vaguely remember this from a similarly frustrating visit to the Post Office a while back, during which visit I had, upon the clerk's request, signed the back of my credit card. You can't see it very well, however. I pointed out on the card where I had signed it before and she glared at me. "You can't make me see things I don't see," she growled. Ohh-kay. Didn't realize I was insulting her. I try again: "Well, I have my I.D. I'm happy to show you my I.D.," I offer, pulling my driver's license out of my wallet. She shakes her head. "Doesn't matter," she says. "That's not the issue." She does not, however, answer the question she's just begged: what, precisely, is the issue?

"If you want to use it like a debit card, I can take it like a debit card." I ask what she means. Rather than explaining, she repeats that I can use it like a debit card. I furrow my brow in what I hope looks like innocent confusion. I'm greeted by a condescending sigh. "If you have, like a PIN number or something, you can use it like a debit." I try to think if I can remember my PIN, but I'm not sure if I can. I don't want to use my actual debit card or the little bit of cash that I have, so I try to think of what else I can do. Finally the clerk volunteers, "I can try to find a Sharpee and you can sign it." Now I'm irritated. "I'm happy to sign it," I say as politely as I can, "but I really think this is ridiculous." She shrugs and spends the next five minutes milling about behind the counter, trying to find a marker. She's unsuccessful. Finally, she hands me her pen. "You can try this," she shrugs. It mostly does the trick, though my signature isn't really legible (of course, most people's wouldn't, being superimposed over large block letters saying "PLEASE SEE ID"). She looks at it suspiciously and runs it through the credit card machine. "I need to see your I.D." she announces. Not that my identity is, apparently, what matters here.

So apparently it's a policy of the Postal Service to require that all credit cards actually be signed. They claim that credit card companies require this (though no other retailer I've patronized has ever required that the card actually be signed, as long as I have an I.D.). In my mind, it would make much more sense to require an I.D. for all credit card transactions. Signatures rub off, and they can be forged. I.D.s are a lot harder to fake for credit card transactions. But, hey, why worry about a rule making sense when we can instead arbitrarily enforce it to make someone's day more difficult? At least we can rest easy knowing that bureaucrats live inefficient, well-paid lives. And that we're lucky to have our mail arrive in one piece, let alone on time. If they'll take our credit cards.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Quite unhappy with Blogger

Or perhaps I'm unhappy with my school's tenuous wireless access. Either way. I just spent a half an hour composing a brilliantly witty post, only to have the internet devour it. Sigh.

So instead I'll just offer a link to an instructive dance video.

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