Sunday, January 27, 2013

The End

I haven't posted for a long time and I think it is for a reason. This was really about the trials and tribulations of law school, or my life during law school. (OK, that was a horrible an unintentional pun.) Since law school is thankfully over, I think this blog has come to a natural end. Maybe I'll start a new one with a new theme in the future. If so, I'll keep you posted.

So thank you to everyone who ever read this blog. I only hope you got some amusement out of it at some point during its three year run. It certainly helped me vent my emotions (read: anger) during that period. And it was quite enjoyable to write along the way.

So I present, The Epilogue:
I passed the bar and was sworn in. Which, I suppose, makes me a lawyer. That is still a scary thought. I am gainfully employed at a law firm in DC. I like my job and I am anxious to get better at it (another goal is to at some point yell "I AM THE LAW!" - but that is less germane). The people I work with are surprisingly reasonable and polite; there is no ominous looking man sitting behind an old wooden desk smoking cigars and sadistically yelling at underlings, which is how I pictured law firms for a bit.

I generally like this city; I have lots of great friends; and I would even say I am doing pretty well. So as I look at where I was when I started this blog and where I am as I finish it, my takeaway is that things get better and bad situations are not permanent.

Thanks again for reading!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Hillbilly Hide-a-Way

If I started naming "laws" I could probably keep talking for thirty seconds before I ran out. Forty-five seconds if I spoke real slow. Nonetheless, I am now officially a "law clerk" (waiting for bar results to become "attorney") with three cases and a blog post as my responsibilities. And it's not this blog post - it's about real things like the CFTC. All after one day of real, honest to goodness work. Last week's orientation was fine and uneventful. Today all the action got started. And I'm pretttttty excited to dive in.

Not only was it my first day of work, our new office opened its doors today, making it a sort of Day One for everyone. This was to my advantage; everyone else was walking around inquisitively as well. The new office is nice. It looks like a cross between an Ikea catalog and an Apple store. Everything is white and wood. The best feature: my desk can mechanically be raised into a standing desk, or lowered to my comfort. It even has saved settings! Blew my mind!
The downside: for all the technology, my office has a mouse pad, but no mouse. It also has no keyboard, docking station, or monitor. All I had today was a tiny little laptop. And a mechanical desk. The irony.

 I spent the last few days of my stay-cation visiting Erica in North Carolina. It was mostly ranting about menial things (pretty much the best pastime ever) and eating bar-b-cue (the second best pastime ever). Lots of bar-b-cue (bbq?). I mean...LOTS. We went to this place in the middle of nowhere (read: the middle of nowhere) called Hillbilly Hide-a-way for a family-style dinner. It was quite simply phenomenal. To give you an idea, it included fried chicken, fried fish, green beans in butter, cinnamon apples, corn bread, mashed potatoes, gravy, bacon, and more. The next morning I ate a pulled pork sandwich for breakfast. I literally could not eat for the next two days. I think I had...a granola bar and some Diet Coke.  Look at this plate (and note the basket of "whipped spread." As I said at the time, "Oh look, they took butter and made it less healthy").

Seeing Erica was, of course nice. We had a little rage time. Released the fury. For me, that started in the car when I was stuck in an hour and a half-long traffic jam. I tried to leave a calm voicemail saying I'd be late, but I ended up yelling about it. Road rage like whoa.
On Friday morning, Erica was at class and I wanted Starbucks. So I used my handy dandy smartphone to track one down. Turned out my search for caffeine took me to "downtown" Winston Salem. I walked around both blocks of it. It was a slow-paced, quaint place with a surprising about of cultural diversity. And three bars, one of which is apparently the local favorite. I was jealous; nice beer cost about $4. The good life.

Exhausted. Time to sleep.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blog Rededication to My Own Often un-PC Throughts

New look for the blog. It shows minimal effort on my part, which is better than no effort. What do ya think? I'm open to suggestions.

Today at the Nationals game I was surrounded by Boyscouts and their families. Little boyscouts. Cub scouts? I had the un-PC urge to yell, "Why do you hate gay people?" My goal is just to prompt some productive family dialogue about tolerance. Don't worry, I didn't do it. I know they probably don't individually hate gay people. But seeing the reactions would have been amusing. I'm just jealous because I'm not good at tying knots like them. And because they don't sell delicious thin mints.
This was actually just a thing that ran through my mind for about two seconds. What really became the problem was not being surrounded by boyscouts, but being surrounded by small children. It's very difficult for me to cheer for my team, or heckle the other team, without using profanity. Heck, it was difficult to maintain interesting conversation with my party without using profanity. I should probably expand my vocabulary. Torpor. There's a good new word. It describes the play of the Nationals today. Sad but true.

The Onion was right on in pointing out features of the new iPhone. So the iPhone 5 is lighter and thinner. But was anyone complaining about how thick and heavy the iPhone 4 was? Was anyone's pocket or purse severely burdened by this device? Why is this a selling point? Why isn't the new iPhone dialogue more focused on Apple obnoxiously changing the charger so that everyone has to buy adapters? I'm stickin' with my ol' iPhone. Call me old fashioned as I sit here using Face Time over wireless only and sitting in my rocking chair. There's nothing wrong with it.
The Samsung commercial pointing out all the flaws in the iPhone marketing is great because it's true. It's also a big F-U to Apple. I think in the Apple-Samsung wars, I may be siding with Samsung.

Orientation Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my first day of work! I am pretty excited. Well, it's an orientation day that includes two hours of IT training. So I guess that is less exciting. But I'm pumped to start it up. A job that is the culmination of three or twenty years of school, depending on how you look at it. This is the true meaning of the Alice Cooper's classic. In preparation I filled out tax forms, gathered my I-9 documentation, and did some hardcore ironing. Mmmmm nothing like a good pregame.

I was asked whether I anticipate having trouble sleeping tonight. I am a terrible sleeper before lots of big nights. The night before the practice multistate bar I slept maybe three hours (interestingly, the nights before the actual two days of the bar I slept alright). But I think I'll be alright: 1) I already worked there for a summer, 2) it's just orientation, and 3) I think I'm only there two days this week while my office moves. So that removes lots of pressure. And at least half of my excitement for this week revolves around getting to go out and do something during the day.

I have been getting out of the house more, mostly by going to Nationals games. I went to the double-header on Wednesday, the game on Thursday (thereby seeing the entire Dodgers-Nationals series), and the game today. All for about $8 to see a first place team. Wow, coming from Boston where tickets were impossible to get, forget about the price, that is stunning.  (And I really don't want to talk about the Red Sox right now, except to say that we are not in last place.)
At one of the games, there was a fight between a Dodgers fan and a Nationals fan. I didn't know anyone cared enough about the Nats to physically defend them. And it wasn't even in the belligerent bleachers. The combatants were right behind the Dodgers dugout, maybe three rows up. In other words, they paid hundreds of dollars to get their seats and all they got was an escort out of the stadium. Security won the fight.

The Emmys are on! I don't care!

The Patriots are on! I care more! These replacement referees are just terrible. Killin' me. And I don't even care that much about football. I mean, it's not baseball. But this is out-of-control bad refereeing. And as an athlete, nothing angered me more than awful refereeing. So as I type this, I have higher blood pressure and I am arguing with my television. My television is not phased.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm at the point where doing nothing is getting a wee bit boring. It would be better if everyone else were doing nothing, then we could do something together. But the work week is quite the barrier, all these people with jobs and responsibilities. How unfair. I did have three days of actual scheduled time this past week. My group at the firm had a retreat here in DC. Well it was in Arlington, VA technically but that's close enough. There was a cocktail reception, a day and a half of meetings, and two nights of going out on the town. The meetings were mostly geared towards partners, although they did give me a better sense of what the practice group does. The social aspects were far more productive for me (not to mention more fun than listening to the head of the group remind partners to get their bills out on time). It was good to meet the people I will be working with. I think that type of relationship is much better with someone you have met in person. Call me old fashioned, but I feel much better taking work from people I have shaken hands with. And the flip side of that is that people who have met me are more likely to give me work and frankly be nicer to me. I even talked to some associates about my interests and got preemptively put on some cases. Department of Energy enforcement action, here I come! (Not sarcastic. I am actually excited about being a part of the matter.)

And then there were the nights we went out. The first night we went to POV, on top of the W Hotel to give the attorneys from the other offices a DC feel. The second night was more intense. We went to a restaurant with 1) a great view, 2) terrible food, and 3) an open bar. The DC attorneys formed an ad hoc party-planning committee and headed to 18th Street. They wanted a classier place to begin the night, and I suggested Jack Rose. In retrospect, it was a ballsy move for a not-yet associate to steer the entire group but it paid off. The bar features a huge whiskey list, good beer, and a fun atmosphere. The highlight was definitely buying a partner a manhattan and praying she liked it. Luckily she did, and now I feel like she is barred from being mean to me for my first six months. After everyone had a few drinks under their belt (metaphorically, if that were literal it would be quite odd), we headed up to Adams Morgan and settled at Millie and Al's. It ain't a classy place, but it got the job done. I definitely had a jello shot with a few partners including the international head of our practice group. Then I headed home around 1 am to be ready for our 8 am breakfast. I was far from the last one there. The group partied hard and was full of fun people. I'm glad to be joining up. It's far better than it could have been (Ex.: "This shiraz smells of currant and red berries. What do you think? Now I must retire for it hath past nine o'clock and  I must be fresh for the morning meetings.")

Also at Jack Rose, I got asked my name by a bouncer under the excuse that someone dropped some unknown item. Immediately after, a girl came over and asked me my name. Well turns out it wasn't someone flirting or being sketchy; she was a girl I knew in elementary school and hadn't seen in about 20 years. But she recognized me. I guess I really have looked the same since I was four.

Friday, August 24, 2012

DC Chillin'

It's sort of hard to update when you have so little to update about. For example, this week I sat around, watched Hell's Kitchen, and played video games. For variety, I read a book on my balcony. You see what I'm saying? Not a lot to get excited about. Although I am happy to have down time. Possibly my last down time ever. Don't panic, it's not because the world is ending Maya-style. It's because I start work in September and don't know when I'll have another opportunity to just chill.

Some 1L friends are beginning their quest to law school. It took me back to my first week of 1L. That was a dark time...that I never have to repeat. Woooooo. But it sucks for everyone, rest assured. It takes an hour to read twenty pages, you don't understand half the words, and you pray to the Law School Deity that you don't get cold called to explain what you read but didn't understand during class. Par for the course.
I got to reminisce about this with some friends/co-law school graduates last night at the bar. (The bar had a bocce ball area. I didn't even know what that was before last night - sort of bourgeois shuffle board as it turns out - but I liked it.) We all agreed the first week took forever and was awful. Then we poured a little out in memory of Aaliyah. Well, I did that.

I got a couch! It's been three years since I promised to get a couch for this apartment. Apparently I am a little slow. But I no longer have to sit on a broken, miserable futon to watch TV. All it took was a week of craigslisting plus a U-Haul rental so that I could, um, haul it.

On my run through Georgetown, I passed a bank that was taped off with an FBI evidence truck in front of it. No Neil Caffrey sightings though. That could either be because he is based in New York or because he is a fictional character. Draw your own conclusions. The point is that White Collar episodes cannot come out fast enough.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Viva el Peru

I'm back from Peru. It was amazing. My itinerary took me all over. Lima; Cuzco; Sacred Valley; three day hike on the Lares Trek; Machu Picchu; Puerto Maldonado and the rainforest; and the desert Oasis of Huacachina. Rather than recount my entire trip, I am just going to do a Top 5 list. This is very much in the spirit of a DC-Lima in-flight movie (High Fidelity, also one of my favorites).

Top Five Favorite Parts Peru
5. The Night Sky - You just don't get stars like that in DC. Or almost anywhere. Plus the view from the southern hemisphere was totally different. I got to see the Southern Cross, called the Andean Cross in Peru. Especially on the hike, you could see the Milky Way with incredible clarity. I'm not usually a sap about things like this, but it was breathtaking. The best part about the sky is that I can only remember it - it was impossible to take a picture. On a steep descent from sappiness, I had the best pee of my life on the second night of the hike. The moon was so bright I didn't need my flashlight, and I got to pee while gazing at the universe. It was a transcendent urination.

4. The Hike - The hike was a great experience that I would be happy never to repeat. The first and third days were basically fine. The second day was quite trying. We hiked to an altitude of 4600 meters (~15,088 feet) above sea level. More than one person felt quite sick at that altitude. I actually did fine with the altitude; it only made it difficult to breathe while hiking. But Jen couldn't eat lunch because of how altitude sick she was on the second day. The last 30 minutes on the way to the 4600 meter peak were steep and difficult. On the other side lay a picturesque lagoon. If you didn't feel like you were about to roll over and die, the hike was totally worth it.

The hike also included two nights of camping. We were told it was going to get a little cold. But we were warned in Celsius, so I didn't really pay attention/understand. (Though we Americans are actually the silly ones for using Farenheit - USA! USA! - why is 32 freezing rather than 0?) The first night was cooooold. I wore two pairs of wool socks and still couldn't feel my toes. Every time I woke up I would wiggle them just to make sure all ten toes were still there. When we woke up in the morning, the condensation on the outside of the tent had frozen, and ice fell on my head as I unzipped the tent flap. Turns out it went down to -10 Celsius, or 14 degrees Fahrenheit. I was completely unprepared for that.
The second night, I wasn't getting fooled again. I put on three pairs of socks, four layers, and a hat. The extra clothing and the slightly higher temperature made for a slightly less chilly night. I am happy to never again go camping when it is below, or even approaching, freezing.

3. The People - The people were diverse and friendly. I had lots of interesting conversations: discussing Kafka with a German, how ayahuasca helped my Peruvian guide deal with alcohol abuse, and the problems of conflating religion and politics with an Egyptian. I traveled with tourists from over a dozen countries, talked with a number of locals, and made some friends. Everyone I traveled with was outgoing and inclusive. And the guides really made the trip. (Except the rainforest one. He was terrible.) Additionally, Jen made a great travel partner. The most serious conflict we had arose over a fact that we couldn't Google due to lack of internet.

2. Sandboarding and Dune Buggying - At the desert oasis of Huacachina, 'the thing' to do is to rent a dune buggy, drive to the top of some high dune, and board down it. The dune buggy itself is a bit like a roller coaster ride - with smaller drops and more danger of getting seriously injured. The buggy was great fun, and it allowed us to get amazing views of the sun setting over the desert and of the oasis. A sandboard is basically a low-tech snowboard...really just a piece of board-shaped wood. You can ride it toboggan-style on your belly, or snowboard-style standing up. The former is definitely preferred for larger dunes. I attempted the smallest dune snowboard style, having never boarded down anything before and never even been skiing. I actually made it 95 percent of the way down before falling painfully on my hip and resolving not to try that again. Sand can hurt. I popped up with a groan, saying "Nothing that a beer can't fix." The final ride lasted about 18 seconds, which is a pretty long time to be hurtling down a sand dune with absolutely no control over your tiny piece of wood.
Sidenote: In Huacachina, I heard "Wonderwall" twice. It was so damn literal that I could do nothing but laugh for the entire 4 minutes of the song.
Sidenote 2 - Sidenote Strikes Back: Huacachina was generally a silly place. It was so small that you could see just about every structure in town from any point next to the lagoon. And the lagoon itself was silly. It was one of the least impressive bodies of water I've ever seen (small - less than 7 minutes to do the circumference in a rusty, old paddle boat). But it was also very impressive because it's a freaking lagoon in the middle of the desert.

1. Machu Picchu - It lived up to the hype and then some. It deserves its status as a modern wonder of the world. The photos don't do it justice. A book ("Turn Right at Machu Picchu" - thanks Carole!) described it as "sublime." That may actually be the most appropriate word for it. Another I will try is "awesome," in the sense of inspiring awe and wonder. It was best early in the morning, when it was only "had lots of" tourists and was not yet "infested with" them. Two of the best experiences were seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu and climbing to the Sun Gate to see the city from afar. I have tons of pictures, but none of them adequately capture the scene. You just have to go.