Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stories from the train

I was riding the train in to school the other morning, and I didn't have my i-Pod. That's not entirely unusual, but for some reason, it felt odd not to have music blaring in my ears as I rode to campus. It felt intentional. I needed some time with my thoughts. As the train rumbled its way north, I noticed that most of the other passengers had earbuds in their ears. At 8:30 in the morning, most of the people taking the subway are students on the way to school and young adults trekking it to their office jobs from their South City walk-ups. That may be the reason for the proliferation in mp3 players.

Whatever the reason, it was creepy in a way I wouldn't have noticed if I weren't without my own morning playlist. Every ear-budded person was staring vacantly into the tunnel darkness from their little bright orange seats. I thought about Central America and all the chicken buses I rode when I was down there. I thought about what it was like 10 years ago when I worked my first commuting job in DC and rode the Metro in the mornings. I wondered whether the benefits of a middle class and improved technology all amount to this: 50 strangers in a car, each in their own little world, silent and day dreaming until the moment they have to wake up.


Other interesting things happen on the morning communte, though. A couple days ago I was cramming for corporations while I waited in for the train with all the other tired suckers. Even though I've slacked to the point that I don't even highlight with one color this semester, I happened to have saved my spot in the assignment with a pink Bic. Feeling ambitious, I immediately highlighted the Defendant's relationship (majority shareholder and sole director) to the Plaintiff (minority shareholder). For some reason, I've actually enjoyed corporations. Oddly, I think it's because my professor yells at us all and makes us laugh at one anothers expense.

"It's never too late to read for class," I heard someone say. Looking up, I expected to see one of my classmates, some other law student on their way to a day of drudgery and schlepdom. Instead, I was face to face with Mr. Socratic Method himself.

"Noooooooooo!" I said. Seriously. That's what I said. Then, ever quick to recover, I added, "I was just reviewing."

He looked down at me with a mix of pity and (did I detect it?) sadistic amusement. "Oh, right," he laughed, lightly. "With a highlighter."

It was exactly at that point that the train arrived, and we rode up to campus seated across from one another in what could have been one of the most awkward 11 minutes of my life. Thankfully, I really did have to read, so I just kept at it. As the train pulled to our stop, we stood up.

"That's a hard case," he remarked skeptically, as I snapped the casebook shut.

"It seemed to make sense," I shrugged a little too smugly.

"They always do when you read them."

Why he didn't call on me in class an hour later is a mystery I will probably never solve.


In the last week, which isn't over, might I remind you, I seen no less than three people reading little miniature Bibles on the train. I've stopped reading the New Testament at night before bed. I've stopped reading it all together, even though I'm over halfway done. I fell out of the habit over the holidays. Maybe I should carry my King James with me on my morning commute. See if that doesn't ward off evil spirits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I get my best writing done at the last possible minute (quite literally). Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It's 3:16 and I have to get some sleep so I can wake up and finish up this stupid paper. I wish I didn't squirm like a toddler getting their first haircut every time I sit down to focus on writing.

Oh well. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bitten by the travel bug (again)

Exciting news on the homefront: It looks like we're going to be going to Guatemala over my spring break!

T & I have a friend who's been in the Peace Corps down in Guate for the last couple of years. It seems like just yesterday we were bidding him farewell, and only a few hours ago that I was reading his blog as he struggled to come to terms with the strange new place into which he had landed. Instead, A is now the old hand and I am excited to have a chance to see where he's been living and what he's been doing while we've been moving to Big City adjusting to law school getting married working 9 to 5 jobs drinking way too much and twiddling our thumbs.

We may only get to be down there for five days, depending on T's vacation and work schedule. But even 5 days will be more than none, and I am so thrilled to think of travelling in Latin America with T, revisiting some of the places I passed through ever so briefly six (!) years ago, seeing things from the perspective of someone who has lived there long enough to speak the indigenous language... I love travelling!

It's going to cost a penny, but I think it'll be worth it. The hard part will be coming home.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

whah whah whah WHAH whah WHAH

Everything since about 2:35 has sounded exactly like the grown-up voice from Charlie Brown. I can't understand anything anyone is saying. Because at 2:35 p.m. my best friend called to tell me the sex of her baby.

Since then, I've been over the moon thinking about the new little boy in my life, who will be a part of my life (and hers, duh) for EVER! I don't have kids yet, but I can't wait for them to meet! haha.

So. This could be a problem, considering I have to do make a motion to compel production of ESI in about half an hour. Somebody pinch me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just tryin' to live

I have never hated being a law student more than I've hated it this week.

But now, at 1:15 a.m., having just powered through 44 pages of civil procedure in just over an hour, I feel vindicated in some small way. Maybe I do have a shred of inspiration left in me. Maybe I can make myself work. Maybe all it takes is a drink in the afternoon, a nap in the evening and a tour of a new apartment. You know? Maybe it just takes going through the motions of a life in which law school does not loom large over everything. In which I'm a normal human being again.

I'm starting to suspect the job search as my source of misery.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Balentime's Day

The fireplace was a nice touch, but just the novelty of sitting in the Omni sipping cocktails was by itself enough to make yesterday a memorable date night. "Happy Balentime's Day," T said to me. "Happy Balentime's Day," I replied. And we toasted, he with a Jack and Coke, I with a gin and soda. We chatted about office gossip, what our lives will be like when we're old, and whether money is a romantic topic of conversation. (Me: Yes. T: No.) Over by the bar, a group of hotel guests were huddled together, strangers acting like old friends, watching the 2010 Winter Olympics. I was grinning.

We hadn't intended on having a "Valentine's" date. I just suggested that we go see a movie. But then we realized we still didn't have food in the house, and we were hungry. So we decided to walk over to our favorite Thai restaurant a few blocks away. It was a brisk walk, what with the snow and my refusal to wear my new boots to dinner. But when we saw the neon lights and the inviting sign, thoughts of cold disappeared. Instead, we began to wonder why nobody was eating at the restaurant.

"Welcome!" said the lady who greeted us. "We have a prix fix menu for Valentine's Day. $35 a person. Would you like to see?"

"Um, are you doing your regular menu, too?" was my classy reply. Predictably, the answer was no.

After a quick huddle, we decided to throw caution to the wind. Kind of like we did the last time we decided to splurge on dinner out. And the time before that. And I haven't even gotten to last week!

Kidding! (Sort of.)

I'll fast-forward through the delicious appetizer course, scrumptious dinner and so-so (hey, just being honest) dessert, except to say that our dinner conversation consisted of deciding that we should look for a new apartment. The glory of being on a month-to-month is that we can pretty much move out whenever we want, except for the whole 60-day notice thing. After a year and a half of being in this little firetrap, we've official been in Big City and in this apartment for as long as we were in Richmond (and our nice, big apartment). Other exciting topics of conversation included gushing over our fat, "just married!" tax return, and the speed with which we will now be able to pay off credit cards. T quickly wiped my hefty student loan debt off the table of conversation.

Anyway, after dinner, we had a good long stroll down the main drag of our neighborhood, where we stopped in to some of the charming local shops (Condom Kingdom, Beyond the Wall). I considered buying a journal for logging, uh, bathroom functions. Mostly I pretended I was 15 again and hanging out at the mall. I even saw a group of my old high school friends (or their doppelgangers) sharing fries at Johnny Rockets.

Eventually, we wound our way up to the movie theater, where we were 45 minutes early. I guess Condom Kingdom didn't have enough to keep us occupied between dinner and movie. Cue T's brilliant idea to get drinks at the Omni Hotel, which is right next to the theater. Yes, I had to use my passport to get my drink, since I lost my driver's license at that stupid 1/2 to JD party a couple weeks ago. But no, they did not kick us out for looking like vagabonds wandering in off the street.

But the whole point of this post is to tell any reader lucky enough to have read this far that you must go see Fishtank. If it's not playing at a theater near you, rent it on Netflix when it comes out. This was a beautifully stark, well-shot and never-dull "coming of age" story about a 15-year old girl growing up in public housing in England's East Side (?). I hate the concept of "coming of age" movies, which usually seem to be about boys trying to have sex for the first time. But this one was awesome. I can't recommend it enough.

That concludes my obligatory Valentine's Day post. Thank you for reading :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

in other news...

I just want to give a shoutout to my other blog. I haven't done much updating here lately, but I have been happily updating Other Blog at least once a day for a while. I guess my Crimes & Immigration class has got me really inspired again.

What else is going on? Nothing, really. T & I had our 6-month anniversary, which we celebrated by eating a cupcake I brought home from a school bake sale and going out for dinner and drinks. (Not necessarily in that order.) Last night, we went to a Jersey Shore party. Really. I did not dress up. Today, I am working on cover letters and trying to echarle ganas. I'm really trying, ya'll.

Better get back to it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cash Flo Rida

I am high on the thrill of having created a cash-flow report for T's & my finances. Somebody please pour me a drink.

Look, it's snowing outside and I am still wearing my Grinch pajama pants. I have been coughing pretty much non-stop (though I *do* feel a trillion times better than I did earlier). There's not much else to do, except study Corporations or work on cover letters.

But the fact is that I am thrilled to be able to create a spreadsheet to track our finances, not just because I'm stir-crazy and delirious, but because I have been waging a one-woman lobbying campaign to have this capability for at least the last month. That's right. We've been engaged in a dirty war over money. Money, the dreaded m-word that is supposedly at the root of many marital dissolutions, has been causing me woes.

Here's the thing: T makes it all. I spend a bunch of it. But I don't make any. None. (Unless you count the $99 I earned doing mechanical turks in 2009.) And even though we are married now, we haven't done much to change our financial arrangement. Which is fine, because we've always had a pretty easy-going policy of what's mine is yours, etc. We don't keep track of who pays for what, or any of that stuff, because we realized long ago that it didn't really matter. We have a joint account for some of our expenses, but that stems mostly from the early days of our co-habitation, when we each had something to contribute. Back then, all our bills were paid out of said account, including groceries and date nights. And the rest of the money was each of ours to do what we wished with it.

Back in the day, I worked full-time and made a banked a good chunk of change. I put a lot of it in savings, which has allowed me to not panic for the first half of law school, as financial aid has been perpetually late in coughing up loan money and supposed grants for public interest students never materialized. It was a nice cushion while it lasted. Alas, the cushion has dwindled down to the dregs of my student loan money. In the meantime, T pays our bills, groceries, etc. I contribute my half to rent, pay my transportation costs, provide my own lunch money and generally spend out of my loan balance. But for the big, household stuff, it's all T.

I am so grateful for that. That cannot be overstated, and perhaps I should spend more time thinking of how awesome it is that I have a guy who is willing to bust his behind to make it rain up in this firetrap. Not only does he make sure the bills get paid (on time! something I never managed to do) but he also banked us a good refund for our taxes this year. T works full-time and he actually likes his job, when it's not totally stressing him out, so we're a lot luckier than many young folks these days. And even still, it often feels like we're hurting for cash. There's always the nagging voice in the back of our heads, saying we're not bringing in enough, or we aren't doing it right.

I never have a good sense of exactly how lucky, or how responsible, we are because I don't really pay attention. Most of the blame is on me for not asking. I don't worry about the bills because T pays them. I don't worry about savings (too much) because we long ago negotiated how much we were going to put into it each month. I don't worry about credit cards because we both stopped using them and we're paying off our respective debts. But I do worry if we're doing enough and we're doing it right. Call it my control-freakishness. Or call it me playing the part of a responsible young woman who wants to be prepared in the event of an emergency. I can see that they're two sides of the same coin.

So for a while now, I've been lobbying T to give me access to his accounts, so that I can track our spending. He has been reluctant to do so, for reasons I completely understand. I have a tendency to micromanage. I have a tendency to second-guess his decisions and insist that my way is the Right Way. We don't see eye to eye on all things related to financial-planning (who does?). But at the same time, both he & I recognize that I am good at some things.... like sorting things into boxes and making pretty little spreadsheets and crunching data. I like that stuff! And with the right data, I can create the right reports, which can help us to both see where exactly our money is going and what we can do about it.

After much haggling and "discussion", T and I came to a compromise. Instead of fully implementing a budget that we sketched out a while back, which would involve shifting a whole bunch of cash into our joint account and basically upheaving our current system, I am going to be able to track expenses through online access to all our accounts. Then I can match up what we ARE spending with what we MIGHT HAVE BUDGETED to spend. And with my cash-flow report (which I stole from my old job when I was stuck doing the CFR every day after they fired the Director of Finances), we can actually see how much money we really have... today, next week, next month!


Hopefully, T will feel the same way. And hopefully, I can keep it up. Because if I do, I foresee an awesome wave of fiscal responsibility culminating in the greatest surf.....wait, that metaphor is going nowhere. Anyway, I feel smart and empowered and fiscally responsible today. Now where are my ladies Suze Orman and Michelle Singletary to pat me on the back?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dude, where's my casserole?

I vaguely remember making a casserole last night. I came home from school and the clinic, armed with my Z-pack and fresh box of Theraflu Flu & Chest Congestion, and determined to be a helpful spouse. Since T's mom gave us a casserole dish recently, I'm starting to catch on to the fact that baked dinners require a lot less supervision and consume a lot less time.

Thanks to the ever-trusty I found a tasty sounding dinner with all the ingredients I had on hand: broccoli, eggs, cheese and fake sausage. The actual cooking part of it was so quick I hardly remember frying the sausage and steaming the broccoli. Threw it all in the dish and put it in the oven...voila!

It gets hazy from there because that's when I put the tea water on to boil and started watching old episodes of Lost. Within 3 sips of the Theraflu, I was starting to feel woozy. I remember laying down next to T on the couch and putting my laptop on the floor. I remember starting a new episode of Lost... After that? Not much.

T must have eaten all the casserole, because the empty dish is in the sink. I must have made it to the bed at some point, because I woke up there this morning. Apparently I didn't have enough energy to take off my clothes, because I'm still wearing my pink hoodie, jeans and all the requisite undergarments. I woke up wide awake at 7:00 this morning, for the first Wednesday since my 8:30 a.m. Wednesday classes began. Except I felt like I was drowning in my own gunk.

With memories of the last time I went to school sick and all the dirty looks I got (two weeks ago) I decided to stay in... again. Why? Why do I, the non-smoker who never gets sick, have bronchitis for the second time in a year? I'm sure certain members of my family would say it has something to do with my lack of faith. I'm just going to drink my sleepy juice and wait for the anti-biotics to do their work.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

99 things

Because a scheduling glitch has me stuck in the school clinic for another hour and a half...
Here's the meme: Bold the things you've done already! Ready...GO!
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightening storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Received flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Monday, February 1, 2010

Privileged to be annoyed by homework

Boo. Back to being sick AND I haven't finished this stupid paper. AND I don't think I'm going to do a good job on it. I can't muster the energy to care (from apathy, not from being sick).

So far the best part of my day has been talking to an old friend from North Carolina. It's funny how even though I am studying precisely the type of law that will affect the lives of my friends down there in the Mexican community, I can't muster up the strength to give a damn about my homework. Maybe instead of blogging, I should be reflecting on the privilege I have of being here and doing this.

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48.