Life As Is

...it being understood that Seller and Seller's agents make no representations or warranties
pertaining to the fixtures or state of repair of the World or any of its systems.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
  "Post Already" (or, what has Brian been up to since finals ended?) : Two words: slow food. I've always been the world's slowest chef, and when I found out that there was an actual movement, that was all the encouragement I needed. Kris has been very understanding. For the past several days I've insisted on making elaborate breakfasts that usually involve lots of chopping and prep work and a strict adherence to temperature control, with a strong emphasis on presentation. Despite my description of these meals as breakfasts, they are seldom ready before noon. Dinner prep starts at five, and we usually get around to eating around 7:30 or 8.

Reject TV culture, mates! Spend your time chatting the hours away with a knife in your hand, that's what I say.

Another essential ingredient is the music. I'm already famous around here for trying to put a theme song to everything. (Example: running around the apartment late, as in seven-minutes-to-catch-the-bus late, and taking the time to stop and put on a CD because I've become convinced that "Talk About the Passion" by REM is the perfect song for packing your bag). But now with the slow food thing, I've got music for every cooking maneuver: slicing and dicing (Bob Mould) waiting for the pan to heat up (Suzanne Vega), browning the tortilla (Pavement), and on and on my friends.

Sawyer loves the slow food thing. We've got a tall stool next to the stove that he can peer down from to look at whatever's sizzling. And he sometimes gets to take samples right from the pan, just like his old man does. (It's better than a grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.) And of course, he hops down and follows me over to the radio every time I change the CD.

I was supposed to work this week, by the way. Ha! There is a big closing on Friday and I offered to help with the paperwork. I learned I don't have to go in until the actual date of the closing. Excellent.

Life is slow.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
  Faith, Hope and Inspiration from Counting Crows (of all Sources) : True story. Sawyer and I, heading for home last night, just after sunset. We'd had fun playing around at Hilldale, but the car was cold. Traffic was tight on University Ave, testing our patience.

I was restless; couldn't settle on any of the preset stations. I was looking for some music to inspire me, or at least something that didn't sound ugly, like everything seemed to. I switched to FM2—a rare move because those are the stations from the commercial end of the dial. A random button (preset #5), and out soared this low vowely voice:
It's been a long December,
And there's reason to believe
That maybe this year will be better than the last.
I reached out and snapped the radio off. All it had offered me were those few lines, but that was enough. I was bound to be disappointed if I kept asking for more.

Home to a Christmas dinner (ham and sweet potatoes). Maybe 2005 will be better than the last.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
  Update : I'm past the Real Estate exam. Whether or not I passed the Real Estate exam is another matter. The test was absurdly long—literally impossible to finish (with real answers, I mean) in the three hours provided. The poor proctor felt so bad making us stop! And at least half of the class stayed afterwards to mull around in the hallway and grumble amongst ourselves.

The thing is curved, so it should be no big deal. But I don't like the fact that we were tested on something other than our in-depth knowledge of the material. It became a test where you did well simply by sprinting through as many questions as possible, leaving behind a trail of half-assed answers.(*) I'm not sure if that's my strong suit or not.

Incidentally, if you want to go the extra mile as a reader, you need to pronounce the word "assed" in your head as a two-syllable word—like "acid." That's for emphasis. Just saying.

The only thing I have left is a take-home due on the 22nd. My answer is already all thought out, which is nice, giving me three full days to execute it. There's lots more to say, here and elsewhere. And I've got to go out and get caught up on all my blog reading. But that'll have to wait a few more days. Peace and merriment to all readers of Life As Is. I'll catch up with you shortly.

*Qualification. I acknowledge that one can only spout half-ass-ed answers, quickly, with an in-depth knowledge to draw from; surface-level knowledge would probably only reap quarter-ass-ed answers. So it's not that the test was unfair but my god was it frustrating. If I can just resume the diatribe for a few more seconds: I literally felt like I was committing malpractice a few times by giving the issues such scant analysis before moving on (e.g., answering a series of questions about a mortgage without actually reading the sample mortgage that our answers were supposed to be based on!)
Friday, December 17, 2004
  I can breathe again : Still not finished—I've got my Real Estate exam on Sat—but I'm definitely through the worst of it. Sawyer put barrettes in my hair while I was sleeping this a.m., and it started me on a laughing fit. I could tell that the stressful part of finals had passed. Felt good. Can't wait for x-mas break. No traveling, just hanging out at the apartment getting to know my family again (and choosing a name for number two, due in seven weeks!).
Saturday, December 11, 2004
  The Weight : Last week I passed through the leisurely-pursuit-of-ideas part of studying of for finals; and a few days ago I passed through the awe-inspiring-a-ha-moment-I-see-the-big-picture-now stage of studying for finals; and earlier today I passed through the Brian-you're-freaking-out-don't-panic-just-breathe stage of studying for finals. That's a lot of passing through.

I knew that I had hit this third and crucial stage when I asked Jerry if he would bring me a cup of coffee on his way back from dinner, and he secretly brought me decaf for my own good (I didn't find that out until much later). And when he handed it to me he just sort of set it down near me and then moved away quickly—like I might bite.

I'm feeling a little bit better now. Grrrrrrrrrr.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
  Chalk Talk : Last night Erik and I wheeled out the chalkboard (which is in rough shape by they way) from the mock-trial courtroom into room 3261 (affection[ately] known in the law school as the "judge's chambers"). It is the room where Salty Dog and I used to study during finals of yesteryear. Erik did an adequate job of filling Salty's shoes—I think I'll keep him. We spent an entire hour mapping out the provisions that form the "heart" of the internal revenue code: Sections 61, 62, 63, 67, 68, and 151. (Or the engine, if you want to think of the code as a revenue-generating machine). When we finally got them mapped out in all their glorious detail we just sat back and looked in awe.

I could almost hear the sound of it humming along like a well-oiled machine. Well, OK, an oiled machine. Must be the way that scientists and doctors feel when they look at the human body.

SosySteps update: Forgot to mention this earlier. New picture of the little man up here. He's dressed to the nines.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
  Fate Buying Me a Cup of Coffee : Congratulations to Michael (as in Valerie and) for getting through his pre-lims today! For those who haven't heard me tell the story--Michael caught the flu a few days ago just in time for the big event. Michael, I'm sure the cold medicine made you even more lucid than normal.

Quick story. I'm in the computer lab. No, not the evil and diseased Law School lab, the Memorial Library lab (three words: flat screens flat screens flat screens). yeah right, that was six. I need sleep. Where was I? They have flat screens here, and the computers work, and nobody talks. It's just the clicking of fingers and the sound of light bulbs going on and off in people's minds. People studying normal subjects like anthropology and Portuguese.

I sat down at my computer about an hour ago, and on the floor were two shiny quarters. I have no money. I need coffee. But they weren't mine and it appeared as though they had fallen out of the pocket of the anonymous computer-user to my left. She was up walking around, so I picked the quarters up and placed them at her computer station in front of her keyboard. Back to my finger clicking.

She sat down a few moments later and lifted the two coins into her palm. She's curious. She wonders how they got there. She doesn't say anything. She goes back to her clicking.

Time passes, and the main library closes. Foot traffic ceases in the corridor outside the lab. The crowd at the computer lab thins out, too, until I'm the only one left in my row. I'm having trouble staying awake, lean back to stretch. My chair swivels to the left and I let it take me. I'm glad to give my eyes a break from looking at the screen.

Then I saw them sitting right where I had left them an hour earlier. In front of the keyboard of the computer to my left were two quarters--coveted briefly and then abandoned by me. I took the coins into my palm, just as the woman I'd given them to had done. Took a minute to think about the way that objects take on meaning, and then I went across the street to trade them for caffeine.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
  Two Weeks Remaining in the Semester :

I'm 14 steps from home.

Sunday, December 05, 2004
  Question of the Hour : It has been said that FB gets by because he remembers everything, and EO charms his way through life. For my part, I've never won anything outright because my strategy is just wait everyone out. Even as we scramble to defend ourselves against these baseless charges, it must be said—everyone's got their methods.

Have you ever really been put to the test?

[Update: Eric has given me a thoroughly unsatisfying answer to my question--see comments. There's nothing wrong with a little introspection, E, it's not a bad way to respond to stress. You crack me up. Anyway, try again. Or don't. The rule around here is that when something comes out, sometimes you just gotta leave it *as is.*]

[record straightening: I was very tidy whenever I slept in the Law Review office, thanks much. It's only good practice when you're staying someplace rent-free!]
Friday, December 03, 2004
  "I Guess That's What They Mean By 'An Ownership Society'" :

That was his final quip. It made for a nice ending: the lecture hall was filled with laughter, and as we realized that those were his parting words the laughter slowly transitioned into applause. I was the first one who got out of my seat to go and shake his hand.

So... the semester ends. Hats off to my Tax prof, the man himself, presenting a lifetime's worth of wisdom in the course of one semester—at no extra charge.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
  The Semester's Yield : Today I started my outlines. The first of the month, appropriately enough. Here's a snapshot I took this morning of my Civ Pro II outline:

I had stopped at supplemental jurisdiction because I wanted to go look at my notes on joinder and impleader. This afternoon I finished that section, and I am now working on the dreaded Erie.

My arbitrary deadline for wrapping up my grad school coursework (papers, presentations, and other projects) was Nov. 30th—somehow I made it. Now I can start focusing on my three law school exams: outlining, staying up late in Word Perfect's warm embrace, creating beauty such as that which you see above.

Come a little bit closer,
hear what I have to say...
Most people try to do their outlines during the semester, but I usually wait until December and it has always worked out fine. Outlining too early would be extraordinarily frustrating and not a good use of time. During the semester, if I'm not in class, I spend my hours: (1) reading, (2) re-reading (3) thinking, and (4) talking to people. The goal is simply to gain as much understanding of the material as possible. And whether you're a 1L or a 4L, like me, you can always get more out of the material if you push yourself further. I soak up everything I can until the stacks of notes and doctrines and ideas pile up like towers. Until... as they are just about to come crashing down, I get to swoop in and save the day. Staying up late, waaaaaaay into the night, bulding a foundation, putting my thoughts together.
Because I'm still in love with you
I wanna see you dance again,
because I'm still in love with you
On this Harvest Moon
The big time. It's fun. And if I've done my job correctly during the previous fourteen weeks, the outline will just fall into place, and there's nothing like rolling into an exam with everything in place. There's just nothing like it.


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