Friday, September 30, 2005

Things I Am Really Geeked About

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that the trailer for the new Harry Potter movie was shown at our showing of The Corpse Bride. It. Looks. So. Awesome. I cannot wait for November 18th! Too bad I won’t have access to the flask we used for the last movie premiere (“Pumpkin juice” makes it all so much better atmospherically, and also helps prevent the murder of some of the more obnoxious children.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Call For Help

Oh, Internet, do any of you know someone at Bard College? A friend of mine is looking for some assistance getting a book signed by a professor there (it's a present for someone) and none of us here in Our Fair City know anyone at that fine institute of higher learning.

Law Students on the Lam

The stress of seventeen credit hours a piece was finally getting to us in a big way. After a major outburst that scared small children and 1Ls, War, Famine, and I staged an impromptu Fall Break yesterday, skipping our respective afternoon classes to hang out in the sunshine and go see a movie. It was a very good idea.

We saw The Corpse Bride in a nearly empty early afternoon theater. For once, the theater was not set at sub-Arctic temperatures, there were no obnoxious children, no loud teenagers. The movie was very sweet in a wry sort of way. The plot is fairly pedestrian: boy and girl are the subject of an arranged marriage neither particularly wants, then they meet and fall in love at first sight, but due to some otherworldly influence get separated and we watch them try to make their ways back to each other. But it gets the delicious Tim Burton treatment of luscious atmosphere and off-kilter humor that’s a mix of the subtle and the slapstick. Think Edward Scissorhands, where the whole neighborhood is a parody of itself. I wouldn’t say that it was a great movie or run out and tell people “Oh, you have to see this movie!”, but it was worth paying to see in the theater.


Big Words Don't Make You Smart

As irritating as Professor Marx is most of the time, he does have his moments. For example, a girl in our class just tried to use a bigger word than really necessary to show off how very, very smart she is, but she used it incorrectly and he called her out on it.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In Good Company

I also took the new political test on Jill's blog and landed in the same political area as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Plus, I'm 100% Quaker. I feel a sudden need to become a political activist burning with righteous anger.


42% Dangerous

Inspired by Jill (yet again!), and in honor of Banned Books Week, I'd like to look at the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Challenged Books. For the record, I have read 42 of the books and 28 of them are currently on my bookshelf at home. As you may have guessed, the ones in bold are the ones I've read and commentary follows.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Why on earth is this book challenged? Because the main character says "Damn" once or twice? Because a child dies? I mean, really, you'd think this would be a darling of the conservative family values set, given that the whole theme is about the value of family and the fragility of life.

10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I've heard this book has been challenged because it "celebrates infanticide". And every time I hear that, I want to hold the moron whose mouth the words are coming out of down and force them to read the book over and over until they understand what is written on the page AND the subtext, which amounts to: following the rules blindly can lead you to do something horrible, so horrible that you'd never believe yourself capable of it if you had to name it for what it is.

15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

Again, I'm not sure on what basis anyone could possibly ban this book. It's practically a bible of rural family values and an incredibly touching story, too. In fact, this ranks right up with "Where the Red Fern Grows" on my list of books that I must have a box of Kleenex to read.

18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Katherine Paterson apparently ranks right up with Judy Blume on the "Moron Parents Hate My Books" list. Unlike Judy Blume, she doesn't talk about sex in semi-explicit and matter-of-fact terms, so I'm not sure why she gets the Religious Right's panties in a knot. I own this book in English and Spanish and I can't figure out why it should be a problem for its intended audience in either language.

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

I remember reading that this book was extremely controversial in an exhibit of Maurice Sendak's work last spring. (And if that traveling exhibit comes to your home town, you should absolutely go and see it. Maurice Sendak was a genius.)

26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl

Mention witchcraft and you MUST be advocating a conversion to Satanism!

28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry

Whaaaaat? Why? There's no cussing (unless maybe someone says damn once or something). Anastasia lives in a two parent nuclear family with a stay at home mom. She doesn't talk about sex or use racial epithets.

30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume

I remember you had to get a permission slip to read this book at our school library. My mom checked it out, read it, then rolled her eyes and signed the permission slip when I was in the third grade.

33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

I bet you can't even carry a copy of this to school today.

34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Yet another book that makes me want to hold the people whining about it down and make them read it until they understand it.

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel

45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume

Yes, girls masturbate. Welcome to the reality of life.

47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Another tearjerker book that made me think about my preconcieved notions for a long, long time after I read it. In fact, far from being banned, I think it should be required reading for everyone.

48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

I like Louis Sachar and this sounds intriguing. I must locate it and read it.

50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Yet another book that leaves me scratching my head. He's clever but fairly innocuous and very definitely kid oriented. Perhaps there was too much of a scatological bent?

52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

Finbar found this book at Half Price and bought it out of curiosity. It's far, far lamer that I could ever have expected and reads like something written by a particularly politically active 15 year old.

58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney

This book is an ABC Afterschool Special in written form. I bought this book and its sequels because of the whole adoption angle in it.

69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I never really understood why this book was required reading for 7th graders at my school. It's really far too subtle for most of them to truly get, so they mostly get hung up on the gorier aspects of the story. I think it would be much more appropriate for a slightly older audience-- maybe 9th or 10th grade.

71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

This book was in a big box of very old "Little Golden Books" at my Grandmother's house when I was a child. I don't really remember it, per se, so I suppose the story didn't make a particular impression on me or cause me to develop racist ideas. I remember the book only because there was a pancake house near us named "Sambo" and I loooooved their pancakes, so seeing the name "Sambo" on the cover of a book made me think it would be a wonderful book. On an unrelated note, the Swedish word "sambo" ("domestic partner" would be the English equivalent, I suppose) makes me giggle a little for the same reason.

91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

This book was on a waiting list a mile long when I was in elementary school and was featured in an episode of a PBS reading show. (I can't remember the name of the show, but it was the one where an unseen narrator read the book aloud while a disembodied artist drew scenes from the book on light blue paper with pastels.) You did not, however, need a permission slip to read this book.

97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney

100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Go forth and read banned books my friends. It's one of the most edifying forms of social protest.


Don't Flatter Yourself

I’ve spoken well of professors who are practicioners or former practicioners, as opposed to someone who got really good grades at Harvard or Yale and decided to stay in school to teach. I’m afraid I’ll have to make an exception for Professor Strap.

He is the partner in charge of immigration at a Very Big local law firm and teaches Immigration Law as an adjunct each year. I have been looking forward to taking Immigration Law since before I even started law school and was majorly bummed out when I didn’t get into the class last year. I should just learn my lesson about “interesting” classes already and stop getting my hopes up. I hate our Immigration Law course.

I described the professor to another student as follows: “He looks like he was a big football player in high school and still has season tickets to watch the team play.” Hence, his nickname: Professor Jacque Strap. This could be overlooked if he weren’t so incredibly incompetent. Seriously, if he makes half the mistakes in advising his clients as he does in lecture, he must commit malpractice eighteen times a day on average. I’m sorry, but if I can spot glaring errors in his lecture after a couple of months working at an immigration law firm, there is a serious problem in his knowledge. Apparently, he can’t even read a statute and understand the words—and a very straightforward statute at that!—because he insisted in a previous class that a certain status rendered you ineligible to attend school while we stared at the subparagraph of the statute that said the opposite.

But now I have a whole new, much more personal reason to hate him: he accused Lasoe of trying to get free legal advice when she dared to ask questions during and after yesterday’s lecture. Personally, I think she should report his sorry self to the administration here. He didn’t accuse the American students of seeking free advice when they asked questions, just Lasoe. And let’s not forget: he’s teaching a class. Taking and answering questions is part of the job; it comes with the territory. And just in case someone out there is thinking, “Well, maybe it’s just a misunderstanding. I’m sure people try to get legal advice for free all the time”, the questions she was asking were to do with visa categories that are utterly unrelated to her current status and, with one small exception, unrelated to any status for which she could be eligible in the near future AND they were to do with the material being (woefully inadequately) covered in that day’s lecture. It’s not like we were talking about asylum and she was asking about how to convert her student visa into permanent residence. Oh, and by the way? If Lasoe were looking for free legal advice, it would be from someone who won't end up getting her deported, not from you!

The intense and burning hatred coming from our side of the room might actually cause him to spontaneously combust.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More Language Pedantry

“When he returned to work” is not synonymous as “whenever he returned to work”. They mean two entirely different things. The first refers to a single event in the past. The second refers to a recurring event in the past, presumably triggering a similar outcome each time. They may sound similar, but they are different.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Brush With Death

I found a black widow spider in the hallway of my apartment building when I went to get the morning paper today. I have a terrible phobia of spiders. I have to change the channel when that stupid commercial with the big orange spiders comes on, the aracomantula scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was well beyond horrifying for me, and I cannot even consider sleeping in the same room as a spider or,for that matter, with a garbage can containing a tissue used to smash the spider. But this one caught my eye because of its shape and its astounding blackness against the fresh white paint in the hallway. I leaned gingerly in for a closer look and immediately skitted back when I recognized the tell-tale hourglass shape. I took off my shoe with the intention of smashing it, then realized that I would never be able to do it. I am altogether too squeamish.

So I went back to my apartment and checked the pantry for something to spray on it. No Raid in the cabinets, so I settled on a can of Lysol. Back in the hallway, I stood as far back as possible and let loose with a stream of Mountain Fresh poison, following the twitching spider with my aerosol can of death. I did not pick up the resulting corpse-- again, far too squeamish.

Now I'm all freaked out with the idea that there must be a nest somewhere and the eggs are going to hatch and my apartment will be infested with deadly spiders. I think I have an overactive imagination.

Friday, September 23, 2005


"We have a good relationship. We don't care about each other, but we pretend like we do."

Viva Las Vegas

My parents, my sister, and my aunt just returned from a week in Vegas. By all accounts, they had a good time. My mother flew for the first time in her life and other than a moment of panic when she thought the plane had stopped moving once they reached cruising altitude, she survived the experience untraumatized. They won a little bit at the slots and were duly impressed by the MGM. They got involved in an honest-to-God FBI sting, though only as inadvertent bystanders nice enough to loan a cell phone to someone. (The arresting officer commented “Now you’ve got a great story to tell about your trip to Vegas.” As if Vegas itself isn’t enough of a story!) My parents finally got to see the Grand Canyon, which I imagine must for them have been like the moment when I arrived in Reykjavík; they’ve talked about traveling there for years now.

However, the highlight of the trip seems to have been seeing David Copperfield. My aunt was one of the volunteers chosen from the audience. She was part of a disappearing trick. My aunt is a lot like me in the respect that we both tend to take the view that you only live once and you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. In other words, my aunt would have belly danced at Marrakesh right along with me. However, my mother reports that she returned to the table all freaked out, swearing “NEVER AGAIN!”. Even after being right in the middle of it, she has no idea where she went or how she got where she ended up. Personally, I think that’s cooooooool.

Finbar and I saw David Copperfield once, about 7 years ago. It was just flat out amazing. Usually, when you see a magician perform, you can guess at the principles at work behind the trick, even when you can’t figure out exactly how it works. That certainly doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the performance, at least not for me. In fact, I admire the dexterity and cleverness necessary. David Copperfield is in a whole different league. It was spooky and strange and inexplicable and I spent most of the evening with great large goosebumps. Several times I turned to Finbar and announced that I officially believed in magic and was pretty certain that David Copperfield was actually a sorcerer. This was B.H.P. (Before Harry Potter), so no quips were made about Hogwarts or possible post-Hogwarts careers for wizards with a flair for the dramatic. Feel free to imagine them now, though, if you like.

All in all, it sounds like the trip was a resounding success. I’m really relieved to hear that because I was worried that my very conservative, Christian parents would be too horrified by the Sodom and Gomorah aspects of Vegas to enjoy themselves. They’ve worked so hard all their lives and had so few vacations of any sort, I’m very glad that this trip went well for them.

Jag Slutar Banta!

As of today, I have officially lost 30 pounds. I weigh about the same as I did when I started college. If I never lose another pound, it doesn’t matter because this is the target weight I wanted to hit all these years and smack in the middle of the ideal weight range for my height. Yay for me!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Will They Take Away My Citizenship?

Following the example of Jill, I took the Politics Test:

You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(11% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

No wonder I think everyone's a communist ;-)

Things I Wish I'd Known Before Choosing a Law School

Today the law school hosted a presentation on the bar exam for all 3L students. It was, as predicted, basically useless. Here is an outline of the hour long presentation:

I. You have to take the bar exam before you can practice law.
A. It's really hard.
B. And takes a long time.
C. And is only good for the state you take it in.

II. You should take the bar exam right after you graduate.
A. So you don't forget the stuff you learned in law school.
B. And because that's just the way it is.

III. You will have to do a lot of stuff to get ready.
A. Like getting fingerprinted and gathering background information to prove that you're not a psychotic killer or something.
1. No, we won't tell you how to do that.
2. But we will tell you that it's really hard, just to freak you out.
B. You have to pay a lot of money to some company for a bar review course.
1. That doesn't mean that the law school didn't do it's job.
2. Even though it's our job to prepare you to practice law and take the bar exam.
C. You have to apply early.
1. Guess it sucks if you don't know what state you'll get a job in.
2. We really only care about the 70% of you who take the bar in this state.
D. If your grades suck, we'll embarass you by making you go to remedial law school
1. This will be announced by a letter in your student mailbox.

IV. If you have any questions, please see us on your own time.
A. If you can get an appointment.
B. Good luck with that.

But that's not what really piqued my interest. No, what piqued my interest was the offhand remark that if you graduate from an ABA-accredited law school in the state of Wisconsin with a certain GPA, you are not required to take the bar, but are eligible for "diploma privilege" in the state of Wisconsin.

Hmmm... Three years at Marquette or U of Wisconsin, but no bar exam necessary... and if you pass the bar of any state, you can waive into the DC bar... If only I'd known this before I picked my law school based on the amount of scholarship money they threw at me!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Weird Craving

Everyone who has ever been out to eat with me knows that I do not like french fries. If there are any reasonable substitutes, I will always go with one of them. Sweet potato fries are exempt from this general rule.

So why is it that I am totally jonesing a big salty plate of french fries with regular tomato ketchup (as opposed to the curry ketchup I usually prefer)?


Here In My Car... and the Bus

She sat down on the bench, reached into her shoulder bag, and produced a bulging makeup kit from its depths. I watched in horrified fascination as she began to slather on foundation. What is it that makes people think that it’s appropriate to conduct large parts of their grooming routines in public? There are some things that are meant for the privacy of your home.

She pulled out a ratty looking brush and scrubbed it into a bright pink blush, then rubbed it briskly and roughly across her cheeks, creating a broad swath of utterly unnatural color on either side of her face.

We’ve all seen the commercials that play to the stereotype of the commuter shaving in the car (or worse yet, in the carpool). What you do in your car is bad enough, especially if you are in the act of operating the car at the same time. But at least you are nominally separated from your fellow man, I suppose. People who do these types of things in the close confines of public transportation are, in my considered opinion, rude and gross.

A large palette of eye shadow was produced and a complicated series of dabs and swabs of different, not necessarily complimentary colors was begun, resulting in a very strange, 1960’s-Cher-esque look.

My own special pet peeve in this regard is people who do things to their nails—finger or toe, equally gross—in public. I’m not talking about someone who breaks a nail and uses the emory board to do a quick smoothing of the resulting rough edge, though I wouldn’t necessarily want them to do it at the dinner table. What I mean is more the woman who got on the Metro early one August morning and filed her nails the entire way from Rockville into town. The sound is incredibly irritating to begin with, like (if you’ll forgive the expression) fingernails on a chalkboard. Worse yet, I could practically see the cloud of pulverized fingernail rising around her and dissipating in all directions, including toward me, making me want to simultaneously cover my mouth and nose with my shirt to keep from breathing in her fingernails and puke at the thought of the possibility of breathing in her fingernails.

I have never seen someone lacquer on mascara like that. Up and down, up and down, layer after Tammy Faye layer. How does she get it all off at night? Oh, God, she’s going back for another coat, this time holding the mascara wand vertically, presumably to ensure that each individual lash gets its full rightful share of mascara.

Miss Manners and Emily Post agree with me on this point. It is permissible to touch up your lipstick, provided it is done discretely, but nothing more. No foundation, no masacara, and if you want to powder your nose, well, there’s a reason why they sometimes call the ladies room a “powder room”. I like to sleep in late as much as the next person, quite possibly even more. I am a busy woman with a very, very full schedule. But I make sure to get up in enough time to complete my beauty routine in my bathroom. If I don’t get up in time to put on makeup, then I don’t wear makeup, and surprisingly enough, the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt. I can almost guarantee that it wouldn’t happen to any of these other people either.

Lip liner is not supposed to be a shade darker than your lipstick. I thought everyone knew that. And Dear Lord, how many brushes do you need to apply lipstick to such a thin set of lips?


One in Every Generation

We are discussing In re estate of Mahoney, in which the court addresses the question of whether a spouse who comes into inheritance of his or her spouse’s estate by dint of murdering said spouse should be barred from inheriting the property. The professor keeps referring to the murdering spouse as “The Slayer”, which, of course, brings visions of Sarah Michelle Gellar sitting in the defendant’s chair. “Who qualifies as a Slayer?” “What do you need for the court to invoke Slayer status on you?”


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Probably Not the Message Intended

In Commercial Transactions, we are talking about the Statute of Frauds. One exception to the requirements of the statute of frauds involves specially manufactured goods that are so specific to the buyer that the seller would be unable in the ordinary course of business to sell them to another seller. I immediately thought about a catalog that the Marketing Director at my last job before law school brought into my office for a laugh one afternoon. As the marketing director, she was constantly getting samples and catalogs of schwag that could be customized with our company logo to be handed out at conferences or trade shows. I often discussed selection of these items with Cee, trying to pick out things that were more interesting than another stupid ballpoint pen, but still low-cost.

This particular catalog looked just like every other catalog at first glance. Then I realized why Cee was snickering and waiting for a reaction from me. It wasn’t that secret pornographic images had been inserted into the pages of the catalog or that they’d started selling personalized condoms or something. No, it was because a great many of the photographs showed items that were emblazoned with the Enron logo. My guess is that the catalog had been produced just before the scandal broke and the company felt that it would be too expensive or take too much time to remove the images and replace them with less notorious company logos. But I have to tell you, in a way, it seemed like the message being sent was “Buy our products and you will be just as successful as Enron!” Which, may, in fact, have been the intended subtext for the initial choice of the Enron items as examples, but took on a whole different connotation by the time the entry actually came out.


Monday, September 19, 2005

It's Different At Street Level

I've been living in my neighborhood for just shy of a year now. I spend a lot of time here and given that my little section of the neighborhood is riddled by one way streets, I drive the same loop on a regular basis. Yet when I went for a walk/run yesterday, I noticed all kinds of interesting things that escaped me before. For example, while the sidewalks directly in front of my building are the traditional concrete kind, the ones on the next street over are made from huge slabs of slate. The roots of the trees on my street have cracked the sidewalks in places. On the next street over, the entire slab has simply been raised and tipped by the growth of the roots. In fact, in places, taking the next step up the sidewalk literally involves a step up onto a slate slab sticking out five or six inches above the adjoining slab.

There is a very small park one block over and two blocks down. It's got swings and a plastic playground. There are also basketball courts and a baseball diamond, but they've been claimed by weeds and rust. I found a long narrow alleyway connecting my street to another dead end street. I passed lots of people out walking in the cool evening air. With only one exception, everyone smiled or said hello as they went past.

I'm dreading the return of cold weather and shorter winter days. It felt good to go out and soak up some sunshine, to move and breathe and be alive. Running on a machine in the gym is one thing. This is something entirely different. I would have preferred to have company along for the journey. I always loved the long and meandering walks Finbar and I took (especially the ones that included a stop by Dairy Queen, mmmmmmm) for the companionship and the conversation as well as the fresh air and movement. The important thing, though, was that I got to take advantage of the unseasonably lovely evening, storing away the memory of how the air felt on my arms and legs for the coming days when every possible inch of skin must be swaddled in layers of wool and cotton, far away from the frigid bite of winter wind.


Avast, me hearties! It be Talk Like A Pirate Day and I want to see ye scurvy curs celebrating properly or I'll keelhaul each last one of ye bilge rats.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

What Do You Get When Type A People Get Together?

Only among a group of law students could a game of Duck, Duck, Goose turn into a competitive full contact sport. We should start a league or something. I would also like to point out that this is the first time in my adult life that I came home from a party with grass stains on my clothes.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

I Don't See Why It Couldn't Work

Am I the only person who feels tempted to run outside with a rag and a bottle of dish soap when it rains really hard? Washing the car is a pain when you live in an apartment and don't have access to a hose. If it rains hard enough, it seems like it would be just as effective at rinsing dirt and soap off the car...

Grandma Moses Meets Flo Jo

Last night I "ran" 3.58 miles on the elliptical trainer. It took me 35 minutes to do it. Maybe Fran and Lisse aren't crazy when they keep suggesting that I train with them, after all. It would be so cool to be able to say that I've run a marathon, but then, I keep thinking back to high school track when the 3 mile training run would kick my sorry suburban butt three days a week. Of course, that was also before my asthma was diagnosed and treated, so I was sucking wind from the start. In fact, I have to say that I am just amazed that no one-- not the coach, not my physician, not any of the team members or their parents-- recognized the wheezing, gasping distress as a sign of asthma. Instead, the coach kept setting me additional conditioning exercises, which never helped. I finished the season and quit, devoting the time and energy to ballet classes, where I was vainly trying to improve enough to go professional. A couple of years later, I injured my knee very badly and that was the end of all that.

I kind of miss the strength and flexibility that I had when I danced. I've never been athletic. I don't particularly like sports and have a nearly rabid hatred of professional sports of all kinds (They seem to me to showcase the worst parts of our society, including the screwed up priorities regarding money and power). But I do like to play games, so I'm not philosophically opposed to something like an intramural league. But then again, I'm not and never have been athletic. I actually don't know how to play many sports and it seems like now I'm too old to learn.

And then I think to myself: Self, you are being ridiculous. You are never too old to learn something new. You are never too old to make changes and grow. And if there was ever a time to do exactly that, this is the time.

So I'm going to give running another chance. It's free and you don't need any special equipment to do it. We'll see how my knee holds up. So far, it's been fine and I hope that a careful regimen of stretching and gradual buildup will keep it that way. And next time Fran or Lisse suggests training with them,I might even get the guts to say yes.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's Just Business, I Swear

You know it’s going to be a strange day when your professor is taking off his shirt and tie in a demonstrative strip tease at 8:35 in the morning.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Doing Small Things As Though They Are Great and Noble

Bravery and compassion come in many forms. I'd like to think that I would have done the same thing, but I honestly don't know if that's true.

Just Some Friendly Advice

If you live in an apartment which directly abuts the elevated track of the local public transportation system and which has large picture windows, it would behoove you NOT to stand directly in front of said picture window to watch the traffic go by while talking on the phone if you do so in the buff.

How Far I've Come

In today's Commercial Transactions class, I got called on for material that I had read-- twice so far!-- and did not understand. When I say "I got called on", you understand I mean multiple times over the course of the hour for various points of the lecture.

As a 1L, this situation would have resulted in utter panic, possibly even a heart attack or spontaneous combustion. As a 3L, I felt only vaguely annoyed that she wouldn't leave me alone already.

At one point, she asked whether provision X made sense. My answer was, "No, but frankly, none of this makes any sense to me." In saying so, I was likely speaking for at least 70% of the class, but for whatever reason, people are too afraid to say so. This has always seemed stupid to me. How are you going to learn and how will the professor know where more attention is needed if no one speaks up? But, again, as a 1L, I would never have had the guts to actually say that out loud in class.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Debt and the Middle Class

Here is an interesting article examining bankruptcy in the middle class and the idea that people who declare bankruptcy do so to avoid paying the debt for their extravangant lifestyles.

I Am So Cool

Grammar Boy got his approval!

Rocking the Productivity

I accomplished more this weekend than I think I did in the entire week previous. I read like a madwoman for class. I cleaned-- and when I say cleaned, I mean pulling-out-the-furniture, scrubbing-floors-on-your-hands-and-knees,pulling-down-the-curtains-to-launder-them cleaning-- two of the rooms in my apartment, which has been a harrowing experience, seeing as I was gone for four months. The dust bunnies are rabid by this point.

Hulio and I drove out to H&M for a look-see. It was Hulio's first time in an H&M, so something of a religious experience for her. As usual for me, I felt a strange kind of cognitive dissonace. See, H&M is not supposed to have signs in English. They are supposed to be in German. Not Swedish, German. And the prices are not supposed to have "$" on them, they are supposed to have "DM". No, not "€". "DM". I love H&M and find it very sad that my finances have progressed to the point where I can't even afford to shop there. Perhaps I can get a gift certificate for one of my Christmas presents. The fall clothes are very cute, especially a forest green tweed skirt, narrow at the top, falling to about two inches below the knee, where it flares out ever so slightly. It comes with a hideous velvet belt, but that's detachable and the belt loops are just thin black threads, so those are also detachable. Perfect for the office when it gets cold, as it inevitably will.

I grocery shopped for the first time since I got back, which means I can stop eating canned soup and ramen at every meal. Milk in the refrigerator means yummy cereal for breakfast! I bought some fresh ingredients to go along with the 400 pounds of pasta currently in my cabinets, so one night this week, I'll have to whip up a big batch of pasta to portion out into tupperware and bring in for lunch.

I pulled out the clothes that I had packed into storage and tried them all on. The fact that almost everything fit was a huge thrill-- some of these pants hadn't seen the light of day since college. I am now in the process of culling the clothes in my closet, getting rid of the things I don't wear anymore and packing away the things that are too big. I'd love to just donate them, but am afraid that I won't be able to keep the weight off permanently. We'll see how things go. If next winter rolls around and I'm still triumphantly in my size 6s, Goodwill will get a huge donation of nice dress pants and button up shirts. Once I finish all that, I'll hang the things that still fit in my closet and take the bags of castoffs to Goodwill.

On a side note, I had an interview for a school-year job on Friday and wore my blue pinstripe suit with the pencil skirt. It was actually just a tiny bit too big. I looked like, you know, a real lawyer and stuff, too. Like playing dress-up.

Hulio and I walked several miles on Saturday and even squeezed in a mile and a quarter before dark last night. She made delicious enchiladas and cornbread for dinner and I went home and read for another hour. I didn't finish everything that I wanted to, readingwise, but really, expecting to read close to 600 pages was a bit ambitious. I've still got to read for Immigration Law this afternoon, but it's all review for me, so it won't be difficult to read. That is, unlike the reading for Sales, I won't need to reread every sentence four times before it sinks in, so it shouldn't take more than an hour or two.

And I actually had a social life this weekend for a change. Eep had a couple of us over for fondue, which was fun and yummy. Everyone brings a little something along-- bread or veggies or fruit or whatever-- and we throw it all together on plates, then eat until we're sick. After, we watched Fight Club. I may be the last person in the Western Hemisphere to see this movie. I really, really liked it, which surprised me a little, as I remember when it came out, I thought "Boy, that looks stupid". Turns out I was wrong. It was funny in a demented way and very clever and well-made. Also, I think I may have to add Ed Norton to my harem. Alton Brown is currently on probation, since he's starting to strike me as smug and obnoxious instead of comfortingly intellectual, so there's a potential opening. I also went out for indian food with a guy I know from classes. Very nice and interesting guy, and we had a good conversation. Turns out, he grew up in the same small town as one of my other law school friends and they used to play soccer against each other in high school. Neither one knew the other had come to the same law school until last year. Die Welt ist ein Dorf...

If I could manage to balance work, home, and social life this way all the time, I would be the Queen of the World.

Jenna Is Fine

Just to calm the fears of the several people who emailed and commented in fear that my previous post was a eulogy. The post was inspired by a random comment during a conversation with my mom, nothing more. In fact, I was late to class this morning because I got lured into laying in bed just a minute or two too long when she crawled into bed next to me, curled up, and started purring contentedly in those twilight minutes between turning off the alarm and throwing off the covers. I am such a sucker.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On How I Was Suckered Into a Life of Servitude

Nine years ago this week, I made the mistake of going to the SPCA with Hulio to "look at" cats and "consider" getting a pet. I probably don't even need to continue typing this story out; everyone already sees the ending coming from a mile away. I could have gotten the sleepy little tawny kitten who looked like Simba. I could have gotten the grey tiger stiped kitty who played with my shoelaces. I could have gotten the little male calico with the blue eyes. But nooooo, I had to fall for the oldest scam in the book. She climbed right up into my lap and started purring and my head was instantly filled with visions of cozy evenings reading with a purring kitty curled up in my lap. Next thing I knew, I was at Petsmart, buying litter boxes and dishes and Kitten Chow.

And, of course, once we got home, she wanted nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing. Except in the middle of the night, when she insisted on sleeping in the middle of my chest. The old bait-and-switch.

As a kitten, she was aloof and unfriendly, especially to my boyfriends, who she seemed to regard as intruders on her territory. She tolerated me-- after all, I control the kitty treats-- and I spoke German to her. In fact, my nickname has its origins in this habit, as I continually referred to her as Jenna Katze, making "Katze" one of the first and only German words that my friends recognize. To this day, there are certain words and phrases that she will only respond to if they are in German. No one ever believed me because

Her real, actual name is Genevieve. No particular reason, it just seemed to fit. Thanks to Hulio's intervention, however, it morphed into Jenna. Which has its own set of connotations, some negative, some positive, some just strange. The only time I ever call her Genevieve is when I yell at her or when I sing the "Whisker Song", which starts out "Oh Genevieve, Oh Genevieve, how lovely are your whiskers!" (to the tune of "O Tannenbaum", just in case you were wondering). There are several verses because I am strange and get punchy around exam time.

Over the years, she's mellowed considerably and turned into a very cuddly, snuggly cat. She loves belly rubs more than anything. But she still has a bit of the coquette about her, flipping over and arching her back to display the fluffy, long fur on her belly, only to jump up and run away when you try to rub it. Then she plops over again, just out of reach and does the same thing. My friends still fall for it. I've learned to just ignore her after the first time.

She's a very talkative cat, too. I think she may have some siamese blood in her. You can ask her questions or call he name and she will meow back as though trying to converse. She has a funny little chirpy meow that means "PAY ATTENTION" and when she gets upset, she sounds like she's yowling "NOOOO!" and "HELLO!". This amuses my friends and family to no small end and people will try to bait her into "talking" to them.

She's got a sweet tooth. Strange little beast will turn up her nose at fresh tilapia, but has stolen Hostess Apple Pies and Pocky, to name just two memorable occasions. And she will chew into plastic grocery bags to get at muffins or donuts.

Nine years of vacuuming cat hair off the couch and the midnight crazies. Nine years of purring and secret snuggles. It's been a good life together.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lawyer Jokes (An Ongoing Series)

Q: Why does New Jersey have more toxic waste dumps than any other state while California has more lawyers than any other state?

A: New Jersey got first choice.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Outrage Isn't Strong Enough

I encourage all of you who don't already to read Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane" for an excellent round up of the Administration's lack of a response to the disaster in the Gulf states. We as a people form a government instead of living in utter anarachy, each man or family for himself precisely because we have entrusted the government to take care of things like this that are bigger than the people affected. Our goverment has failed at the most basic level to do so. As so many have already said, this was not an unexpected event. We've had years and years to plan for and refine the plans for this very eventuality. Where are those plans now?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


If they turned the air conditioning in this building to a reasonable temperature, I bet my tuition could be hundreds, if not thousands of dollars less. There is no reason on Earth that I should be wearing a sweatshirt and jeans and shivering anyway on September 1.