Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What if nothing was ever really lost?

That eBay commercial where the little kid loses his boat, the boat gets washed out to sea, then fished out by Generic Asian Fisherman, who puts it on eBay, where Grown-up Who Used to be The Little Kid finds it makes me cry. Every time I see it.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m spending the holidays with Finbar and his family in the City of Light. I actually drove up on the 22nd through a disgusting ice and snow storm that dragged the 3 ½ hour drive out to nearly 7 hours. I would have waited another day, but Finbar had planned an anniversary surprise for the 23rd and 24th and I certainly didn’t want to mess that up. He took me up to Niagara Falls where we stayed in a hotel with a view of the falls and an in-suite Jacuzzi. There was Scharffen-Berger chocolate and champagne, gambling at the new casino, and a pumpkin crème brulee to cap the evening. Then we got up early on the 24th so that we could soak in the Jacuzzi all morning while listening to the NPR Christmas Eve broadcast. I love David Sedaris. And after all that, I felt happy and relaxed for the first time in weeks. This is why I love Finbar. He may not be big on romance, but he takes care of me when I need it.

We drove back to the City of Light just in time to miss a snow storm. Everyone was already there except Elijah, and the house was full of good smells. Finbar and I went to Mass with his parents, which turned out to be a profoundly disappointing experience for me. I grew up in a very religious home—my parents are born again Christian. The current status of my own faith is somewhat in crisis, which is fodder for another philosophical meandering post on another day. Nonetheless, I always look forward to Christmas services. It’s so full of hope and happiness, much more so than the Easter services (which is kind of strange, when you think about the basis of Christianity). People are in a good mood. The words of Luke, telling the story of the Nativity are so beautiful: “Fear not, for behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people.” (Of course, in my mind, I always hear the voice of Linus reciting them, but that detracts nothing from the poignancy of the moment, as I find that part of A Charlie Brown Christmas to be so moving it makes me cry.) And I LOVE Christmas music. Not cheesy crap like “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree”, but glorious, joyous carols like “Joy to the World” and melancholy, stirring carols like “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

Christmas Eve Mass at St. Conspicuous Consumption Church of the Holy Designer Sweaters (coincidentally enough, the largest RCC in The City of Light) was none of these things. There were no Christmas carols. None. Zero, Zilch, Nada, Keine. I couldn’t believe it. How, in the name of all that is good, can you have Christmas Eve Mass without the carols?? The church was full of obnoxious children and their pissed-off parents, who were only in church to fulfill their obligation as Catholics or something. I’ve never seen a crankier congregation. The priest did not read any of the Christmas story from either of the Gospels or even really talk about it. Instead, he asked the precious little children what they thought they were going to get for Christmas—and the little angels shouted out (I only wish I were making this up) things like “A laptop!”, “A cellphone with text message capabilities!”, “A Playstation 2!”. Who gives their young children gifts like this for Christmas?

Back at the ranch that night, we ate and drank like fools. It was a little strange, since Finbar’s dad couldn’t drink and Sam (who never drinks) drank like champagne was going out of style. There was a fire crackling merrily away in the fireplace and the snow was coming down in think sheets of white. We bickered over the choice of music (if you can call Mariah Carey vs. Harry Connick, Jr. a choice), opened Christmas crackers, and exchanged our little gifts. Every year, Finbar’s mom buys us all a toy, usually the same toy for each of us, as a little gift. This year, it was wands from “Alivan’s Fine Wandmakers”. Each of the wands had been chosen to match our personalities. Mine is made of yew, which is associated with both death and rebirth and carried the warning “The user of this wand must be extremely careful of it’s innate destructive workings”. Finbar’s mom was thrilled with her Gryffindor scarf (I finally finished it the day before I left for The City of Light and it will be a very long time before I knit another. I am so sick of scarlet and gold yarn!) and we all spent a long time pointing our wands and pretending to hex each other (did I mention that we were several bottles into the champagne by then?).

The next morning, we all struggled out of bed after Finbar’s parents turned on the Mariah Carey Christmas Crap, I mean “song”, and pounded on our doors. At least no bagpipes were involved. We ate breakfast and opened gifts together. Now, here we come to the part where I was a Very Evil Katze. A little background:

Finbar is the oldest of three. Sam is the youngest. In between Finbar and Sam—who are intelligent, motivated, and funny—comes Billy—who is the biggest sack of crap masquerading as a human being that I have ever met. He’s a compulsive liar, he steals, he’s lazy, he’s rude, and he’s personally repulsive. But his parents see none of this. No, I don’t understand it, but there you have it. Now, I love the rest of Finbar’s family as though they were my own, which for all intents and purposes, they are. So to keep the peace, I’ve never excluded Billy from my gift giving before. It’s the only obligation gift I give, and I look at it not as a gift for Billy, but as a gift to Finbar’s parents. At first, they were even real gifts. But year after year went by where Billy not only didn’t get me even a token gift in return, but couldn’t even say thank you. How hard is it to just say thanks? I don’t actually care about not getting a gift from him, but I do care that he never even says thank you.

So I eventually drifted to the Dark Side, taking Finbar with me. When shopping for Billy, the object of the game is to spend the least amount of money while purchasing the gift that Billy will hate the most, but that still looks like you tried to pick out a special gift for him. One year, I bought it at the Dollar Store. Another year, I regifted a free book. This year, I finally reached such a point of revulsion for Billy that I couldn’t even be bothered to buy a joke gift for him. As I’ve told most of you before, I don’t do obligation gifts as a general rule. I give gifts because I enjoy it, because I want to show people how much they mean to me, because I’m thankful for the richness of the friendships we share. Not because I “have to”. Anyway, I jokingly told Julio that I was even going to buy a gift for Elijah, just to make it as pointed as possible that I was not getting Billy a gift. But this is a violation of my gift giving policy, so I decided not to do it.

However, I found out once I got to The City of Light that Elijah had gotten gifts for me. Normally, I wouldn’t rush out and get a gift for someone just for that reason, but this is the first real Christmas he’d had since he was a small child (family issues that aren’t my business to divulge, even under pseudonym). I didn’t want to be the cause of any blight on his day, so I bought him a small gift as a gesture. Which did not escape Billy’s notice—he cried to momma later about how we (Finbar and I) didn’t get him anything. The punch line of this story is that for the very first time in the eight Christmases I’ve spent with his family, Billy got all of us a gift.

The rest of the day was a blur of food and drink. We watched Scrooged, as tradition demands, which always spawns a lot of impressions of the Ghost of Christmas Present, and drank a very excellent bottle of South African cabernet (Kanonkop, 1998, if anyone’s interested).

And that was Christmas. I hope you were all as lucky as I to spend the holiday with loved ones, basking in the reflected glow of joy.


I offer prayers for all those affected by the tsunami and for the countries affected. Please give if you can.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Blogging From The Blast

9:43 a.m.: The first mimosas are poured into LaPresidente's craptacular light-up plastic champagne flutes. Classy.

10:20- 10:41 a.m.: general abuse of Comrade Verne. Topics covered include his lack of respect for the students, his (lack of) intellect, and his genitaila.

10:53 a.m.: LaPresidente says "I love the fact that I'm washing down my pills that say 'Do Not Comsume Alcohol While Taking' with a mimosa."
Ted replies, "They just mean not every time."

10:59 a.m. Round #2 is poured.

11:02 a.m.: LaPresidente models new shoe acquisitions. No voguing takes place.

11:06 a.m. LaPresidente drops the F-Bomb. She rationalizes not contributing to the Jar because that F-Bomb was not an actual curse, it was a modifier.

11:17 a.m.: Q & A on the hallucinoginic properties of sweetroot. Descriptions include the phrase "Thousands of little pills of stick deodorant".

11:21 a.m. The phrase "Sweet Dami Ass" is uttered. I am forbidden to blog about it.

11:28- 11:40 a.m.: Everyone here has lived in another country where English is not spoken. We exchange stories of accidental ingestion of "gross" foodstuff attributed to poor understanding of the local language.

11:45 a.m.:Round # 3 is poured. I learn that Mad Dog is a shot guy.

11:51 a.m.: The ethics of stealing your neighbor's un-password-protected wireless internet are discussed.

11:53 a.m.: Finbar calls to see if the stripper has arrived.

11:58 a.m.: Ted calls out to the kitchen to make sure that the person running the blender knows that he doens't need to have his daquiri served in a sperm glass.

12:01 a.m.:Gender discrimination in the distribution of super powers (re: Marvel Comics) is debated. Women superheroes totally get the shaft.

12:06 p.m.: LaPresidente and I simultaneously break into the theme song from "Jem".

12:07 p.m.: "He-Man didn't have any nipples."
"He-Man had lots of issues."

12:09 p.m.: You know this is a gathering of law students-- we've started discussing the phrasing necessary in a will if a mother raises her daughter's child as her own with no official adoption and the application of constructive adoption.

12:25 p.m.: Conversation wanders to skunks. No, I don't know how. These daquiris are really good.

12:33 p.m.: The wifi debate resumes. Masshole posits that it's just recompense for the fact that they are invading your airspace with signals that could, for all we know, be causing brain cancer.

12:38 p.m. What constitute cruel and unusal punishment? We're pretty sure that solitary confinement is cruel, but not unusal; pulling out someone's toenails is both cruel and unusual.

12:40 p.m.:LaPresidente confuses the words "deface" and "defecate". Considering that it was in regards to Comrade Verne, this is not a problem.

12;41 p.m. I notice that there's a comment on the blog. The group sends a shout-out to Luneray.

1:11 p.m.: "Sooooo... Louis XV was Bill Clinton and Nero was the current George Bush!"

1:22 p.m. Mad Dog learns that we're blogging events. He demands that I blog about it.

1:23 p.m.: The story of how Professor White farted on Dami gets retold for the millionth time. It's still funny.

1:34 p.m.: Mad Dog is summoned by the in-laws and leaves.

1:40 p.m.Greta arrives, sans financée

1:49 p.m. Round #4 is poured.

2:08 p.m. A moratorium on political discussion is called ("Let's talk about math or something."). General railing on Comrade Verne is still allowed.

2:12 p.m. "That's my friend Dan at the urinal with the red dress and the white t-shirt." *points to picture*

2:58 p.m.: LaPresidente is officially cut off.

2:59 p.m.- 3:36 p.m. Very Serious Discussion about mediation as an alternative to the adult criminal justice system for some non-violent first time defenders. LaPresidente pokes holes in the whole thing. She demands that I blog that she made good points (which she did).

3:37 p.m. The discussion veers off to "Yankees Suck!!!" with a suddenness that left me breathless.

4:21 p.m.:"So then I came back inside and everyone was freaking out because I went out in the alley with the guy who had a gun--"
"And was dealing crack?"
"Yeah. -- but he was never anything but hospitable to me."

4:26 p.m.: LaPresidente just hauled out the Old Skool NES, complete with Duck Hunt and guns.

5:06 p.m.:First casualty of the day: Masshole breaks a wine glass while washing up and cuts his finger. No major arteries are severed, so it's all good.

5:58 p.m.: Some one switches to Zelda. As the theme music starts, Ted announces "This is the saddest song in the history of the world."

6:00 p.m.: LaPresidente points out that we've been here for nine hours and no one's eaten anything but chips, muffins, shrimp cocktail, and crackers. We're going to order pizza. Ted ponders "Why isn't there a pizza restaurant named 'Pippi Longstocking'?" Silence falls. Why would anyone start a pizza restaurant and name it 'Pippi Longstocking'?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

They Must Have Been Smoking Crack

I picked up Comrade Verne's exam yesterday and promptly felt a need to look up his home address and floorplan on the County Assessor's website for purposes of engaging in terroristic activity.

Why, oh why, must he suck so much?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

What the?

This is exactly the reaction I had when I received the exam for Professor Marian's class. I seriously thought that my brain was going to leak out of my ears. The basic gist of the exam was "So...tell me about the EU". But it was couched in terms like "transformational effects of supranational legal institutions". I hate that kind of pseudointellectual babble.

I basically vomited the entirety of the contents of my outline onto the page. It was nonsense, but really, so was her exam.

And so all that's left is International Law and Svensk. I'm taking a short breather today to gather what's left of my wits. Tomorrow, I'll spend the morning trying to make the apartment semi-habitable before Finbar arrives. Then I will go to school and pick up the take-home exam for Comrade Verne's class-- which word on the street says is manageable and not too stressing. Tomorrow evening, I will probably get together with War, Death, and the Naughty Nurse for a little Christmas happiness. Then I will spend Saturday swearing and calling the wrath of angels down on Comrade Verne's fuzzy little pinhead. Sunday night I will probably be repeating that process. Somewhere in between, I will be writing an essay entitled "Min bästa julminne" as my Svensk take home exam. All of it must be turned in by 9 am Monday morning.

By 10:00, I plan to be most of the way to intoxicated. We'll be having a celebratory mimosa bash at LaPresidente's place. I. Can't. Wait.



It's like the planets of obsession have collided!

Burning hatred of Jim Carrey notwithstanding, I think I will pay to see the Lemony Snicket movie in the Real Theater (as opposed to the Cheap Theater or waiting for it to come out on video). The books are very charming and written in exactly the style of the little quote above. It's just over-the-top enough, tempered with just enough sarcasm for bite.

Bad Jokes That Make You Laugh Anyway, Part Three

Q: Why was six afraid of seven?
A: Because seven ate nine.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Life of Pie

First, I was worried about burglars. Then I get a call from LaPresidente, telling me that she was mugged.

But this is not a tale of woe. This is a tale of arse-kicking and pie.

Actually, this whole thing started without LaPresidente's involvement. I was talking to Julio Friday evening after my Evidence exam. In the course of the conversation, I announced that I wanted a chocolate-chip cookie and a chocolate ice cream cone, neither of which I had in the house. Casting around for a viable option, I considered cheesecake, raw cookie dough (any flavor acceptable, barring those causing anaphylactic shock upon ingestion), and then settled on pie. Blackberry pie. Or possibly Concord Grape pie. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost sight of the viability part of the whole thing, and I was too lazy after the stress of the exam to bother going out to the store.

Saturday, I decided to give in, since I had to go to Tarjhay to pick up pictures anyway and I needed a break from my Conflicts of Law exam. But before I got around to it, I called LaPresidente for a chat. Now, LaPresidente has a Very Special Relationship with pie. So, of course, I shared my pie fantasy with her. The response was "Do you hear that sound? That's me putting on my pants right now to go buy pie. Do you hear that? That's the front door to my apartment closing."

I went to Tarjhay (where I did not get my pictures, which is a rant for another day), then to the grocery, where I bought lots of junk food and a large frozen blackberry pie (nothing was available in the fresh bakery). All of this took the better part of two hours, 45 minutes of which were spent waiting for the mentally retarded cashier to finish checking the one customer in front of me out. The kid was trying really hard, but he was really struggling. The only reason why I didn't change lines was that I didn't want to hurt his feelings, and it wasn't like I had anywhere pressing to be, so...

I get home and the light on my machine is blinking, which surprises me, as I'd already talked to Julio and Finbar and everyone else knew not to call me this weekend. It's LaPresidente, and the message mysteriously says "Call me so I can tell you about something that happened at Horribly Overpriced Chain Store."

It turns out that she was mugged at the very ghetto filiale of the HOCS that is close to her apartment. This HOCS is so ghetto that they have rent-a-cops 24-7. It's so ghetto that I personally would go out of my way to never shop there. This sets me apart from many of my classmates-- LaPresidente is not the first eprson I've heard of getting mugged around there. The rent-a-cops, as this story will illustrate, are largely for show.

She first noticed the very large "gentleman" as she was paying for her purchases. He was trying to read her PIN number, which she promptly blocked with her body. She walked out to the parking lot and put the pie on the passenger seat of the car, then started to walk around to the driver's side. That's when she noticed the self-same "gentleman" coming toward her. He demanded money.

Now, the script, the advice fron Those In The Know, and common sense says to just give the guy the money. But no... not LaPresidente. She told him "no". He persisted, advancing on her. She told him to get away from her before she hit him. Now, let me just tell you a little about LaPresidente. She's beautiful. She has lovely curly hair and beautiful eyes. Her make-up is always impeccable and her clothes are to die for-- even when she's wearing a "Georgetown Law" sweatshirt and PJ pants. I'm sure this "gentleman" was snorting with laughter inside at her threat. So he did what any thug worth his salt would do, and advanced further.

LaPresidente said *"You picked the wrong [rhymes with itch] to [rhymes with duck] with" and hauled off and punched the [rhymes with other lucker] right in the eye. He vamoosed.

That's when the rent-a-cop decided he might want to get involved. He wandered over, asking if he should call the police. LaPresidente says "Get out of my way. I'm going home to eat my pie."

* message edited for those reading at work

Misplaced Priorities

I'm sure I'll take some flames for this, but this has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Don't get me wrong: I understand that a wedding ring is more than just a ring, it's a symbol, etc, etc. I get it, really I do. I can totally understand the emotional attachment to the ring, not taking the ring off ever, and so on.

But in the end, it's still an object, which can be replaced. Your finger, on the other hand, won't grow back. If my (hypothetical) husband chose to cut off his finger instead of his wedding ring, I wouldn't be "honored", I would be horrified that he would place so much value on an object. Take the pieces of the ring and bring them home! They can be remelted and formed, they could be turned into another piece of jewelry, you can keep them in a box as a memento or an heirloom. There are so very many other options.

And when it comes down to it, the destruction of the symbol does not equal the destruction of the thing. How many people in any given year drop their ring down a drain and cannot retreive it? I'm pretty certain that they don't have a higher rate of divorce than those who never lose their wedding rings.

And the really nasty part of me takes mental note of the high rate of divorce among those who marry young and among military families and thinks "How much is he going to regret this when they get divorced in a few years?"

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Decline of Civilization

Advertising for prescription drugs is bad enough. It’s unnecessary, it convinces people that they need drugs that they probably don’t, and it contributes to the high cost of drugs in this country so that people who actually do need the drugs can’t afford to buy them. But apparently, this is not the lowest of the low for medical advertising.

I have just seen a commercial for a surgery. Knee-replacement surgery performed by Company X. Not Dr. X or Dr. X’s Office. Company X. Which is also a manufacturer of consumer products. This seems so fundamentally wrong that I can’t even articulate it.


I came home from IKEA Saturday afternoon to find a large orange notice taped to my (that is, the apartment building’s) front door. It was from the local police department, advising us that a rash of burglaries had occurred on the neighboring streets in the last two weeks and that on Friday evening, a man was observed going door-to-door on my street, trying doors, peering into windows, checking to see if the windows were locked... you know: casing the joint. The police were called and responded but he was gone by the time they got there. The notice included a description of the man and the car he was driving and the numbers of the local precinct to report any suspicious activity.

I feel very unsafe all of a sudden, which is ludicrous because I know that crime is not unknown to my neighborhood (or any other neighborhood, for that matter) and I already try to use common sense in my daily life. My doors are always locked, I pay attention to what’s happening on the street around me, I have my keys out and ready when I’m walking up to the door, I always push the building door shut behind me to make sure that no one slips in, and so on. And the first thing I thought was, Man, I wish Finbar was here, as though the burglar(s) somehow wouldn’t dare break in if Finbar was around. I hate feeling like this.

Do men feel this vulnerable when they live alone? Do they worry when they walk home at night alone? Sometimes I think that they don’t really ever even think about these kinds of things. I know I’ve had more than one conversation where the men present scoffed at the precautionary measures and concerns that the women present voiced in this regard. They think we’re paranoid or maybe just plain nuts. The women think we’re being cautious and using common sense.

When I lived in Hamburg, I lived in a semi-sketchy part of town. My host family there had built a home in one of the suburbs fairly far out from town, but still within the city limits. When they built their home, it was very bucolic—near a large cemetery, on the shores of a small lake, lots of trees and only a 15 or 20 minute drive to get to the nearest farms. However, in the 70’s, the German government built a very large high-rise public housing complex literally on the next street over. When these buildings were built, they were part of a revolutionary social service reform. The buildings are arranged in “neighborhoods”, there used to be green spaces in between (long since reclaimed by more building and general neglect), there are shops, the bus lines are accessible... in short, it was going to de-stigmatize public housing, re-integrate the poor into the social fabric of the country, and take the slum aspect out of public housing. However, by the time I moved there in the early 90’s, the dream had long since been deferred. It wasn’t exactly a slum, but it was kind of seedy in some areas, there was lots of graffiti, and most of the residents of the neighborhood were foreign-born or the children of immigrants. I have no desire to get into the issues of immigration and integration in modern-day Germany. You could write a multi-volume set of books on the subject. For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, suffice It for purposes of this blog entry to say that for the most part, immigrants are not integrated into German culture and even the third- and fourth-generation are often not integrated and not considered citizens of Germany. This leads to all kinds of tension and resentment.

Anyway, even with the fact that I lived in a neighborhood with more crime than average and populated by immigrants with a reason to be angry and resentful of their German neighbors, my host family felt no hesitation to walk around the neighborhood after dark or to let me do the same. I would take the bus to go out here or there and then come back, often very late at night, and walk the three blocks from the stop to the house alone. This frightened me very much at first. My heart would beat furiously, I would start at the slightest noise, and I carried my keys in my fist (ready to be used as a weapon, dontcha know). This amused my slightly-younger host sister to no end. It took months to get used to the idea that it was more or less safe for a young woman to walk around in the second largest city in Germany alone at night.

I don’t exactly let fear rule my life. I come and go as I please, I do all kinds of things alone, and I’ve lived alone for years and years. But I avoid certain neighborhoods and I don’t exactly walk around the streets of Our City at midnight. I try to use common sense and trust my instincts. Nonetheless, I have a fear of the possibility that I could end up as one of the victims in an episode of Forensics Files, discussed ad nauseum (under the name “Sheila”) in Professor Feedback’s class.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Maybe I Should Take Up Yoga

Do you hear the sounds of teeth gnashing? That’s me, preparing for exams. I seriously hate my life for the two weeks of exams every semester. How on earth am I supposed to prepare for this crap?? How? Tell me! How??

One small (but very heavy) stone was lifted from my shoulders, though. I got Professor Marian’s exam moved so that I no longer have two exams on the same day with no break in between. And the bonus is that the make-up exam will be held in the second half of the second week, which spreads the burden out a little more evenly for me, thank God.

I am, however, seriously freaked out about Professor Marian’s exam. She put last year’s exam on reserve and it was the epitome of NOT HELPFUL. In fact, it should be framed and hung in some sort of hall of fame for Unhelpful Study Aids. The exam was one question (to be written about for a three hour exam!) and was about five lines long. It basically said “What is the difference between civil law systems and common law systems?”. It made me want to hunt her down and punch her face in.

I am vacillating between extreme panic and extreme apathy with Comrade Verne’s exam (and someday, when the pain of being a student in one of his classes for two very long semesters worth of propaganda and self-aggrandization has faded, I will blog about him). I got a decent/ pretty good grade in his class last year, but I also had a very large amount of supplemental study material available to me, which does not exist for the subject I am about to be tested on.

Professor Feedback’s material is fairly straightforward and I’m only a little worried about the fact that it has to be memorized. I’ll be spending 1-2 hours every day the next four days just reading and rereading the list of rules and applications. And I will promply forget all but the most basic concepts within 12 hours of finishing the exam, just like I did after the class he taught last year.

Professor MacPherson’s exam is not high on my list of priorities. I believe I already mentioned the fact that he announced that he’s an easy grader and probably won’t give many grades below a B. I’ve got a decent study aid to work from and he’s a notoriously lazy exam writer, so it should work out OK. I’ll gladly take a B.

Then we have the one exam about which I am nervous. I’ve not written about the professor except in passing yet. I like her a lot and I’ll take another course with her next semester. But damn, she’s tough. And she’s a notoriously difficult exam writer. It’s a take home exam for which I have basically two days. I’ll pick it up on Friday at 5 pm and must return it Monday by 9 am. And I hear tell that you will need every single minute of the time allotted. It’s very complicated material in some ways (lots of grey areas) and she’s a stickler for the details. But I think I’ll be OK with it. I think a B is a realistic expectation for this class, maybe even a B+ if I do well.

And of course, Swedish, but I don’t get credit for it, so it doesn’t matter (except for my pride) what grade I get. Plus I am far and away the best student in the course (and modest, too!), so whatever, right?


Robbing the Cradle

Waaaaay back when I first started this blogging stuff, I mentioned in passing the fact that the professor’s offices ring the library and that some of them are really, really loud.

Today, I was sitting at a table on the 5th floor, back in one of the corners. I needed the outlet to plug in my laptop to recharge the battery while I searched online for cheap texts for Spring Semester. One professor held a long and very, very loud conference with a confused 1L explaining the concept of detrimental reliance. Irritating for so very many reasons, including the inability to concentrate on your own work due to the noise, the rudeness of the fact that he was doing this with his door wide open instead of shutting it like a normal person, and the fact that it made me remember last year’s exams, when I was able to actually prepare and study material for the exams instead of quietly panicking over the lack of material that seems like it could appear on the exam.

But then, another professor took a phone call, also with his door open. I wasn’t’ really paying attention at first, except to look over at Death and roll my eyes at the noise. But then I heard the phrase “I got married on Saturday” come out of his mouth. This professor is middle-aged... very middle-aged. So this naturally caught my interest. “Yeah, we’ve been together eight years... thanks, thanks... she’s 13 years younger than I am and (something about his daughter that got lost in mine and Death’s laughter)... “

Seriously! If I were dating someone thirteen years younger than I, he wouldn’t even be able to drive yet! And if I were going to announce this in a phone call that would very definitely be overheard by students that I very possibly might have in class, I WOULD SHUT MY DOOR to cut down on the eavesdropping factor!!

But then, I’m not a law professor.

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Feliz Cumpleaños a LaPresidente

Feliz Cumpleaños a ti, chica! Jag är so jätte glad, att du är min vänn. Für dein neues Lebensjahr wünsche ich dir mehr Liebe als ein einziges Herz halten kann, mehr Freude als es im Himmel gibt, und mehr Buntstifte als Office Max im ganzen Jahr liefert.

Now *that's* a multilingual birthday!

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Wheels on the Bus

I drove to the nearest Park and Ride today so that I could catch a bus to go to Professor MacPherson’s last-minute review session/ make-up class. I drive to the same Park and Ride every day. It’s only three minutes from my apartment, and if they ever fix the tunnel, it would be a five minute walk. I park there and catch one of the main bus lines into town for classes. I could also get a bus that stops directly in front of the house, but it comes every 40 minutes and the busses on the main line come every 15-20 minutes. I choose the convenience of the Park and Ride for now. When it gets warm again, I’ll probably switch to the other bus. Or I may start taking another bus that would require me to walk three blocks over to catch it, but runs every 20 minutes and runs much later in the evening than the other two. The main line bus takes about 18 minutes to get to school, the bus in front of my apartment takes about 25 or so, and the bus three blocks away takes about 20 minutes. Lots of good options, which is a pleasant change.

So anyway, I waited in the shelter for maybe five minutes before the bus came. I got on along with two other women. There were two women already on the bus. This, too, is a pleasant change from the ride I take on days when I have to be in early. Those mornings, my bus ride coincides with the big commuter rush. I end up parking all the way at the back corner of the parking lot, have to walk a good five minutes to the stop, and then you have to shove to the front of the line if you want to have any hope at all of getting a seat. Some mornings, you can be the first person on at that stop and you’d still be out of luck. Most days it gets so crowded that people cram in the aisles all the way to the back of the bus and even the people sitting down end up with other peoples’ backpacks and briefcases banging into their shoulders. Some days it’s bad enough that the driver has to stop letting people on before we’re even halfway to school (which is where most of the people on the bus are heading), and some poor people have to stand at the stop and watch the bus breeze by. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s the most convenient line to get home in the evening, so I put up with the morning stress.

The six of us were scattered around the bus, reading magazines, looking out the windows, reviewing notes for class. The driver stopped at the next stop and picked up one or two additional passengers. I barely even registered this. The next thing I knew, the bus was stopping at the side of the road in front of one of the Port Authority garages. The driver got on the Voice of God mike and advised us that we needed to disembark and switch to the bus in front of us. Sure enough, there was another bus with our route number at the berm just ahead. We gathered our belongings and marched along the narrow walkway to the new bus. The new bus pulled away, drove maybe 100 feet or so, then the driver turned into the entrance to the Port Authority garage. I started to wonder just what was going on. The driver was speaking softly into the CB, presumably communicating with the dispatch office, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. We stopped halfway up the driveway and sat there for several minutes. I started to worry that I might be late for the stupid review session/ make-up class.

Then the driver started the bus again. He pulled forward, then turned and stopped the bus in front of a line of garages. He was still taking into the CB, but had not yet made any sort of announcement to the passengers. Now, maybe I’m just picky or paranoid or something, but I would think that it would be appropriate to let your passengers know what is happening before you deviate from the normal route, especially if you’re planning to leave the public roadway. So we sat there for a minute, then he got on the Voice of God mike again and announced that we would need to get on (yet) another bus. We all filed off the bus and onto another that pulled up a few moments later. Thankfully, this one made it all the way in to school without further issue. Unfortunately, I was 15 minutes late for class. But then, seeing as Professor MacPherson has never given a useful lecture yet, it wasn't such a tragedy.

Ways to Annoy The Cat, Vol.1

Wait for the cat to join you on the couch. When the cat gets good and comfortable, it will probably make sure that one paw is touching some part of your body, for example, your leg. Let the paw stay there for a few seconds, then shift your body ever so slightly so that your body is no longer in direct contact with the paw. Be careful not to move too much, as this will simply cause the cat to jump up and run away. Ideally, you'll have less than an inch between paw and skin. The cat will adjust accordingly. Wait 30 seconds or so, then adjust again. Repeat until cat gets too annoyed to be in your company and stalks off, swishing its tail. Laugh evilly.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

This is a Test

Oh, dear god, exams are almost here.

Last year, I was fairly freaked out at this time. I was worried about regurgitating the volume of information we’d spent the semester cramming into our brains. I was worried that I didn’t understand enough about torts. I was worried that I would forget to show up for an exam.

This semester I am extremely freaked out because I can’t figure out how to study for most of my classes. This is because we didn’t do anything all semester, so I can’t for the life of me figure out what on earth we could possibly write a four hour exam about. I am sick to my stomach thinking about it. I have six exams total. Swedish is the only one I’m not worried about at all. It’s a take-home and I won’t even bother to study for it. International Law and Conflicts of Law are both take-home exams. Conflicts is the only class that I have that I’m worried about for a normal reason. It was a difficult course (at least for me). In fact, it was a continuation of the course in which I got my worst grade. Plus the professor is tough. Good, but tough.

Evidence is a wild card. It’s also the only closed book exam. Professor Feedback decided that our bar passage rate was insufficient on the criminal law questions a few years back and has since made all of his exams closed book. This seems blatantly unfair and stupid to me. If you ever hire a lawyer who tells you the answer to a legal question without first looking up the statutes and caselaw, you a) need to fire him and b) should sue him for malpractice. Can anyone out there justify the fact that I am in the process of memorizing a whole mess of Federal Rules of Evidence (including the rule number) and applicable case law?

The other very sucky thing about the exams this semester is that I have two exams back to back. There is no real break in between, either. That means that I’ll be going from 9 am until 4:30 pm without stopping, for meals, for rest, for mental health. I want to puke just thinking about it. If only I could have the schedule from last year. I didn’t look at exam schedules when scheduling courses because I really didn’t have the luxury of choosing courses based on the convenience of the exams. Now I kind of regret it.

Just get me through the next three weeks. That’s all I ask.