Sunday, July 27, 2008


We're now at about the 48-hour mark before the bar exam starts, and for the last few days the craziest thing has been happening: I've been feeling pretty happy. There have been moments here and there -- walking to lunch on Friday, at the gym earlier today, hanging out with L in the apartment -- where I feel a sense of contentment and freedom that has been missing from my life for a while now. I think it's the knowledge that this wretched process will end very soon, and all I have to do is make it through the next few days, which will be no longer or shorter than any other.

I have been feeling pangs of confidence, and I think I'm at peace with the knowledge that I have and the knowledge that I lack. In Donald Rumsfeld's parlance, at least I know what I don't know. But I actually do know a lot of stuff, it turns out, and my head is chock full of rules and exceptions and stupid acronyms. I have a pile of flash cards six inches thick that I've run through a few times (not to mention toiled over to create) and I think I'm about where I need to be, hopefully.

I am finding some peace in the fact that life has not stopped for everybody else the way it has for me this summer. Today was the NYC Half Marathon, which I missed for the first time in three years, but a friend of mine ran it and I was excited for her. Elsewhere people are having babies and going on trips and getting married, and the wheel keeps rolling along for all of us. For me, it happened that the first few months of summer 2008 were a tad on the unpleasant side, but I'm only one person, and it's only one summer. In any event, I am happy to be at this point, knowing that at any moment I could explode (emotionally and legal-knowledge-wise) if it turns out that I completely forgot, say, an entire unit on maritime law.

The photo above is from our trip to Hawaii, which is in the Pacific Ocean, and if you majored in geography you'll know that the Pacific Ocean takes you right over to Asia, and that happens to be where L and I are going in nine days.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New horizons

The view to the north.

And the view to the south.

Another week and a half, and it's over.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another awesome Manhattan Friday night

You know what's going on right now? L is at a wedding in Long Island without me, because I'm studying for the bar exam.

Today, so far, I've outlined a 2.5-hour lecture, did a 35-question problem set, reviewed 4 essays, and did a 45-minute exercise in craziness. Still on tap for tonight is another 35-question problem set and 2 more essays.

Our kitchen smells weird and I don't know why. I took the garbage out. I sniffed around under the sink. I even applied my secret cleaning trick (squeeze out a healthy amount of dishwasher liquid into the sink, swish it around with some water and let it sit) but it didn't work. Consequently I don't like going into the kitchen.

Today I watched "I Love Money" on VH1 and I hated myself for it.

Of the last four meals I've eaten, Chipotle has been...three of them. Thank God they're closed for breakfast.

Speaking of which, we ran out of Cheerios this morning, so tomorrow's breakfast is looking bleak.

This afternoon my pencil sharpener seems to have broken; it only sharpens them up to this pathetic degree where I'm left with this stubby little nub, so that rather than a nice sharp point I'm dealing with a little plateau of lead. I have been giving myself carpal tunnel trying to twist the shit out of these pencils to get a point. I tried poking into the sharpener with a screwdriver to take it apart but it's impossible for me to do. So I'm left with these crayon-like pencils and a crap sharpener.

Right now in this city people are drinking, looking sharp, dancing, riding in cabs, going places, watching movies, and eating food without black beans in it. Tonight I wish I was one of those people.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Time for another installment of the series, "Things I wanted to write about, but the moment passed." Thanks to my immersion in bar exam preparation, I have basically abandoned emailing, seeing, or really even talking to anyone who (a) I'm not married to, (b) doesn't already have their own keys to the apartment, or (c) doesn't go to the gym or my local Chipotle. With that in mind, here's my email to the world:

1. Last weekend L and I had our best New York City Independence Day, ever. We began with a question: What's more American than Staten Island? Obviously, the answer is "nothing," and that's why we booked passage on the renowned Staten Island ferry to go see the S.I. Yankees play the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Seriously, minor league baseball is the way to do it. It felt great to escape Manhattan, and although Mahoning Valley was not well-represented in the stadium, Staten Island certainly was. Strong accents, husky people. It's a good thing they have their own island.

The best part is that the stadium was shrewdly designed so that the outfield opens up to the water, with a great view of lower Manhattan, the coast of Jersey, and the statue of liberty. Consequently we had great views of several fireworks displays, as well as a show at the stadium itself, where the fireworks shot above center field as the PA system piped in patriotic tunes like Lee Greenwood's elementary-school era classic, "God Bless the USA."

2. On Sunday I took a practice bar exam: 200 multiple choice questions divided into two three-hour blocks. We took it at the Javits center, where nearly a thousand people (I believe) sat in a room that was like a parking garage, but with fewer frills. I managed a seat in the second row, and as I would return from the bathroom I would look at this literal sea of eager beaver bar applicants and kind of laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Needless to say, the exam did not go as well.

3. Musically, I'm still in a very intensive R. Kelly phase right now. I'm at the point in my knowledge and understanding of "Hair Braider" where I cue up the song, google the lyrics, balance the computer on top of the TV so I can read the words standing up, and then sing the hell out of it, especially the part where R. notes, "My hair braider so hot, I call her my booty shop."

4. Also on the musical front, I finally figured out how to stream my favorite Washington radio station from their website. I feel like I have uncovered a secret passageway back to my core. DC radio is a lot better than New York radio, if you ask me. The DJs are a lot less crude and they are very attuned to DC's musical culture (namely, gogo, and a bizarre tendency to play Maxwell's modern classic "This Woman's Worth" multiple times a day, still). I feel like they resist some of the lockstep programming decisions that forced us all to hear songs like "Apologize" eighteen times in one hour on eight different stations for a year and a half. The link to the site, which, like most radio station sites, is comically bad and stuffed with visual crap and nearly impossible to navigate, is to the right.

5. On the white music front, I've been listening a lot to the new Coldplay album and I'm really liking it. I need to hear it some more to get a full sense of its textures and everything, but it's a marked change from their old stuff (nice work, Brian Eno) but it feels like a very natural progression. They are definitely pushing themselves and moving in a new direction, which I appreciate, especially since a lot of recent music seems like it's just trying to copy previously successful formulas (I'm looking at you, Mariah Carey).

6. Also, at Chipotle the nice lady recently took a look at my credit card when I was paying the other day and now knows my name. This is great, except now other employees know my name too, and I feel uncomfortable. Today some woman was giving me crap for ordering something innocuous like corn ("Whoa! Something new today, huh? Changing it up! Watch out!"), and it made me feel like an idiot. My tip for people in the restaurant industry is to consider that there is a fine line between making regular patrons feel appreciated, and making them feel like giant losers for eating at the same place every day. Today that line was crossed.

7. This afternoon we got our shots and prescriptions for our Asia trip. My shoulders are still sore from where they gave me vaccinations for polio, Hepatitis A, typhoid, and TB. We also have prescriptions for anti-malarial pills and something to help us out when we inevitably get sick from the food. Like most other people, nothing gets me more fired up to travel than the thought of Hepatitis!

8. Also, finally, the bar exam is kicking my ass. They told us things would intensify in July, and they have. But I cut my studies short tonight because I am exhausted and needed a breather. This morning after the gym I came home and puked up water into the toilet before my shower -- that is the sign of a tired person who is not managing his fluids, let alone his mastery of the law. So tonight I'm taking it easy, and then tomorrow we're back at it. The slow boil is heating up -- next Wednesday, once our formal preparation program ends, we're basically in a sprint for the next ten days or so before the exam. And then the exam. And then it's done. Like Diddy says, time and time again: "this too shall pass."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm having an R. Kelly moment

I was at home this weekend, brushing my teeth in my bathroom at my parents' house, when a song on the radio caught my ear: It was the track above, the remix of Raheem DeVaughn's "Customer," featuring the remix-killer himself, R. Kelly. I loved this song immediately and once again thanked my lucky stars for DC radio (93.9 WKYS and 95.5 WPGC, specifically). I could not think of a better song to capture this particular moment in the summer of 2008.

During this process of studying for the bar, I have turned to many things for solace and comfort, but now the main thing propelling me forward is: R. Kelly. I know, I know, I shouldn't like him, he's gross and likes to pee on young women, but his music is just so GOOD. Further browsing on YouTube led me to the video for his most recent single, "Hair Braider." The track is very derivative of T-Pain, and R. is hiding his vocal talents behind an auto tune, and the lyrics are inane and juvenile. But durn if I don't sort of love it! The laziness of the groove, the head-noddingness of it...I don't even know. No one else will like this song, some of you will laugh at me for loving it, but what are you gonna do.

Finally, my YouTube odyssey led me to this remix Kels did over Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body." For a song with the cockroach-like sustainability of "Touch My Body," I thought Kelly added some unexpectedly interesting stuff.

So that's my R. Kelly menu for now. I've always loved R. Kelly, from the days of "Bump & Grind," "Your Body's Callin," "You Remind Me of Something," "Feelin on Yo Booty," and everything since. I think he has pretty much defined male R&B in the last 15 years (arguably). No one can self-aggrandize like him, and no one can beat a metaphor to death like him. Although he has shown himself to be a freak and a true weirdo, I like what he's doing lately.

(So based on his lyrics, I should do what, then? Tip him? ....No, probably not.) Once again, thank God for R&B.