Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Three for three

Today I finished my third and final law school exam! Then I came home and discovered that L had all these balloons waiting for me in the kitchen! After my heart started beating again, and my brain realized that it wasn't an intruder waiting to bludgeon me in my own home, but in fact a festive display of congratulatory balloons, I was really happy!

Thank you, L. One more paper and law school is a wrap, and then I can focus on what really matters: preparing for the bar, and getting over my new balloon terror.

Monday, April 28, 2008

One down...

Two to go. I just finished my first exam and have two more, tomorrow and the next day. Today I had New York Practice, and it was fine. Whenever I take exams my brain always puts on music in the background, so as I'm flipping through my outlines or trying to make an argument there's a part of my brain listening to Danity Kane singing about taking me to ecstasy. Today I found myself going back to Mariah's new album ("Touch My Body", "O.O.C.", "Migrate"). I was trying really hard to find my notes on the relation-back doctrine and the difference between impleader and interpleader, but the only thing I could think about was:

If there's a camera up in here it's gonna leave with me when I doooo!
If there's a camera up in here I best not catch this flick on You-TUUUUBE!

The oddest part, though, was when my brain started singing "Fields of Gold," by Sting. Where did that come from? I don't have or know that song; I can't remember when I last heard it. But I definitely took time out of my exam to think about the fact that my brain was singing it, while I'm trying to graduate law school.

Now I am back home, about to go eat lunch with my best friend and confidante, The New Yorker, before the studying continues. Wish me luck. Touch My BODY!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Last day of class

Today was my last day of law school class, ever. I knew it would be a good day when the guy sitting next to me on the subway this morning took out a sheaf of clean white papers and started sketching a guy standing nearby. He used a Sharpie, drafting quick dark lines as his eyes darted back and forth from the guy to his papers. I had been slogging through a dullish New Yorker article but quickly dropped any pretense of reading and just watched him sketch. When he decided he was finished, with a drawing of this random guy covering two sheets of paper, he turned to me to see what I thought, and I nodded appreciatively. Then he reshuffled his papers and started sketching the disheveled old man sitting across the way. "The mustache," he said loudly as he drew the man's mustache, causing him to look up from his newspaper at his portraitist. I wished him a good day and went to school.

In my first class, the professor had lunch for us and we talked about the class. It was her first semester teaching here, and she told us we were a great introduction to the school -- we were smart, energetic, and fun. No gunners among us. She sounded genuinely appreciative of being able to teach us (obviously this was a completely new idea to us), and at the end we all clapped and smiled warmly at ourselves. I thanked her for a great semester as I left, and although we shook hands, I swear that I think she almost went in for the hug. Almost.

My second class of the day -- my last class, ever -- was as mind-numbing as it's been all semester. Yet when the professor began wishing us well, and told us how he'd try to get us special treatment at the courthouse when they swear us in as attorneys in a few months, the class melted. It was like everyone sighed, and clucked, and were filled with a bizarre kind of warm, lawyerly love. Then, when he put a pile of his business cards on the table and invited us to stay in touch and let him know if we ever needed anything -- it happened again! The sighing, the clucking, the surging of good will. At the end of class, there was thunderous applause. I was amazed. This class was horrible! I wanted to yell. What are you people doing? "Loved you, hated your class," seemed to be the message.

I came home to find a jubilant L waiting on the steps to welcome me home after three long years of law school coursework. We went for a walk. I got myself a cupcake. I went for a really glorious run by the river. And now L's coming home, and we're going out to dinner with some new friends in a few minutes.

Classes are over, and although I have some finals to knock out, now I'm on my own time. I wore my Fordham Law t-shirt today, even though it fits weird (too short, sleeves too high, neck too wide) because I felt a surprising wave of nostalgia this morning. And it seemed like a number of people were rocking their Fordham gear today, which was nice to see. As the day progressed, as we all said our goodbyes and thank yous and looked back on one last semester of reading and lectures and talking and boredom and learning -- I began to feel happiness, and even some pride, after this seemingly endless sojourn up at Fordham.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not us

At the restaurant with the best of intentions. The waitress has seen this before, she knows immediately from their posture, their averted eyes. They speak to her with false good cheer, unusually chipper voices as they promise that their meal and everything else is fine. But when she passes their table, bringing other people plates or shuttling empty glasses to the kitchen, she sees them sitting quietly, with blank faces, as the silence grows between them.

She feels sympathetic, though -- she herself has been in their shoes countless times, occasions with boyfriends or parents. When their own good intentions couldn't overcome the worry and the fear that they dragged in the door behind them.

It was her professional opinion, of course, that sometimes people felt a certain unspoken need to be in public, to face each other across a table even when they did not know or understand what was to be said. It was the sight of other, happier people that reminded them of how, or who, they usually were. A part of them hoped this reminder would be enough to pull them out of the morass, and some nights, maybe it could be.

She felt for them as she worked nearby. They ate quickly, without speaking, as the restaurant whirled around them. Yet their good cheer was unflagging when she offered more drinks, and they insisted that the food was delicious.

Later she bid them good night as they left, quick smiles dissolving below down-turned eyes as they walked back into the night. Yet as they left he put his hand on her shoulder, drawing her in, and from the brightly lit center of the restaurant the waitress could only hope that some kind of change had passed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's coming

I picked up my cap and gown today. Three more days of class. Three exams. One paper. Then, freedom.

("Freedom," of course, means eleven weeks of intensive bar exam preparation, propelled by the butt-clenching fear of failure and the prospect of professional humiliation. But then after the bar we're going to Asia for a month, so I'm not complaining.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

MKD Hot Mix 2001

Remember back in 2001? Not the terrorist attack and our ongoing national existential crisis, but before then. It was a frivolous time -- we had our jovially incompetent new president, and we were all worried about Gary Condit and shark attacks. Back then, the internet was basically nothing more than a computer hooked up to a clock radio. As a college student, I had downloaded a few songs from the internet, but I ended up asking my tech-savvy friend James to gather me a certain set of songs for a mix I wanted to create -- a mix known then and now as the MKD Hot Mix 2001.

I was thinking about the Hot Mix on Saturday, when I was half-heartedly studying and looking up old songs on YouTube. After enjoying a couple Lucy Pearl and En Vogue songs, I decided to go digging through my cd collection to unearth the Hot Mix. I found it and was once again blown away. This was definitely one of my favorite mix cd's and I think time has borne out the strength of most of these songs (ok, maybe not Da Brat) (but Shaggy? Come on). So here, for your own enjoyment, is the carefully selected playlist of my 21-year old self:

1. 112, "It's Over Now"
2. Jennifer Lopez, "Love Don't Cost a Thing"
3. Ja Rule and Lil' Mo, "Put It On Me"
4. Shaggy, "It Wasn't Me" (note: I karaoked the shit out of this song in Myrtle Beach once)
5. Da Brat and Tyrese, "What U Like"
6. Chante Moore, "Straight Up"
7. OutKast, "Ms. Jackson"
8. Common and Macy Gray, "Ghetto Heaven"
9. Koffee Brown, "After Party"
10. Madonna, "Don't Tell Me"
11. Lucy Pearl, "La La"
12. Tamia, "Stranger in My House"
13. Erykah Badu, "Didn't Cha Know"
14. Carl Thomas, "Emotional"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring fever

Since L got ferociously sick on Thursday, my normal husbandly duties have been replaced by my efforts in my new role as a home health aide. Is she comfortable? Does she need a blanket? Would she like a sad little peanut butter sandwich made of one piece of bread? Should I discreetly move into the other room while she yaks into the toilet?

These are the questions that haunt you, as a home health aide. Poor L has been convalescing on the couch for multiple days now, sleeping fitfully on the bed and in the living room, watching VH1 marathons and trying not to do anything that hurts (like swallowing, moving, or breathing). They say it's a virus, and in my expert opinion, it's disgusting. L made me look in her throat, twice, and there is quite a battle raging down there. Her gland is really swollen and is protruding from her neck. Although she has been on antibiotics for a couple days, there is not much improvement going on. So like any happy newlywed couple in Manhattan, we thought we'd spend this Sunday afternoon at the ER!

Going to the emergency room really puts things in perspective. L has been a trooper during this whole process, trying to stay out of the way and heal and put up a strong front. For almost three hours today we watched the ER buzz around us, as the IV dripped fluid into L to rehydrate her. We saw some guy come in for a cocaine-related issue. We saw a woman come in who was so tanked on drinks or drugs that the doctor was threatening to have her stomach pumped (which I was secretly hoping for, since it would have been more interesting that figuring out how many milliliters of fluid L had received). We heard all about an old man's rectal temperature. We heard another old man yell forlornly from behind his curtain, "Hello! Is anybody here?" to which no one ever responded. We saw one very large woman shuffling around in multiple hospital gowns, draped around her front and back like a sandwich board. And we heard a lady have a frank discussion with her doctor about her stools and their qualities (she also discussed her extensive list of medical woes, her menopausal state and her active sex life). And, in a moment that made me want to strangle myself with the IV tube, we heard a nurse ask an old man: "sir, are you trying to urinate or defecate right now?"

Indeed. After they discharged us we hustled out of there as fast as L's withered legs could go. We went to Tasti D, then picked up more supplies at CVS, and now we're home, so L can convalesce in peace and I can return to my nursing responsibilities.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday night

A really good night -- I'm tired of complaining about law school, so I want to note some good things that just happened tonight.

I went to an event sponsored by Fordham called "The Law Reporters: America's Next Top American Legal Journalists" or something like that. I don't know, I'm not a details person. But at this event were: Adam Liptak of the New York Times, Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC News, the peppy and wonderfully named Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, and Jack Ford of what used to be Court TV. They all talked about being lawyers and journalists, and writing about the law, and helping people understand what the law means. This was the first time in a little while that I was happy to be entering (this phrase sounds incredibly lame, but it's how I feel, and feelings can't be wrong) the community of lawyers. I'm excited to have this body of knowledge and experience, to know these things and to be able to share it. Since the idea of writing about the law for a more general audience is definitely one of my secret career plans, I thought this event was very encouraging. And it was at a swanky lounge at Time Warner, which I studied intensely as I sipped white wine at the pre-event cocktail party and talked to no one, since everyone was about forty years older than me.

Then I came home to discover that L made brownies from scratch. They were fantastic.

And John and Anna came over and we watched a wonderful episode of "Top Chef," and in the last five minutes about eight contestants got into a big argument, and they were cussing and stalking around and kicking over chairs, and because it was edited in that bizarre reality TV style, where people's statements seem to be taken out of context and strung together in a life-like but not quite realistic way, it was all a hilarious disaster, and that's what I look for in television shows.

And now we're on the brink of Thursday, the best day of the week. I have to get up at 6:15 to get to the gym and I could not be happier about it. Goodnight.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Always on a Sunday

Tonight we ate lavishly -- L made fettucine alfredo with some spinach pasta we bought at the farmers' market yesterday, and she made the cream sauce herself, from scratch. She made a salad with thick carrots and cucumbers and yellow bell peppers (all from the farmers' market) and that bitter kind of lettuce, the purple kind. She steamed up some beets, too, which we picked at with forks while their dark purple juices stained the bowl.

I have been feeling full and distended all night after this meal -- maybe it was my inability to not eat all the pasta in front of me, or the excessive amounts of dairy I consumed (you don't really need milk to complement your alfredo sauce, I've learned). We just came in from a stroll around the neighborhood and I felt unusually jumpy and anxious -- every passerby was a threat, every dark storefront a sight to be avoided. Usually I'm not like this, usually I embrace the nighttime and the natural rhythms of the city, taking note of the restaurants winding down and the busboys taking out the trash and the drinkers stumbling into cabs, but not tonight.

The reason why, besides the pasta and the milk sloshing around my belly, is because it's Sunday and we're on the brink of another week. I'm really struggling to get through these last few weeks of law school, and I don't want to go to class. I try to come up with reasons to skip class, but it's never worth it, so I end up going and I hate it. I want to remember what this feels like, this feeling of hating what you do during the day, so I can never get stuck with a job that feels like this again. Although "dread" feels like it shouldn't be the right word, I guess it is -- that sense of knowing you have to do something very unpleasant, and although you know you're going to do it, you still fight it tooth and nail, in your utterly useless state of petulance and stubbornness. I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude, and really soak in these last hours of academic learning, but it's not working very well. This is no way to get a graduate degree.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wisdom of age

Recently I learned that John Krasinski, one of the stars of "The Office," is my age, 28. This is dispiriting news. Like many people I've always assumed I was a child prodigy, or at least some kind of genius, and if my obvious talent hadn't emerged by now, well, I'm still young enough for some kind of brilliance to come tumbling out of me any moment now. Yet as I continue my voyage through my twenties, more and more people are starting to appear in our culture who are remarkably talented, intelligent, successful, charismatic, gifted, and younger than me.

I always tend to assume people on tv, and the writers I read, and the doctors I see, and government officials, and musical artists, are all at least two or three years older than me, which somehow perfectly explains the fact that they are where they are. Obviously I will be there too in a couple years. Unfortunately, this already shaky world view can't quite handle people like John Krasinski, who is my age yet is somehow also on my favorite tv show and apparently funny and decent. The worst thing of all, of course, is the people who are younger than me: Many R&B artists. Most Olympians. Everyone Diddy picked for "Making the Band." Those kids from "High School Musical." And the list goes on. Sometimes I think about Justin Timberlake, and the fact that I've actually had even more time on earth than he has, extra time when I could have been establishing my own wildly fantastic musical success, and it makes me want to puke a little bit. And I'm not sure if this situation is going to improve.