Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's not so bad.


Forget 1L. Forget it. Everyone talks about how the first year of law school is a trial by torture. It hasn't started yet. I don't know if it's going to start. Maybe it's that most people who go to most law schools either come straight from undergraduate, or went straight from undergraduate into some fairly predictable office job, or some really 'meaningful' field work...

I spent the past three years working and going to school, both as much as I could. I finished three years of school in three terms. I paid my rent. I didn't have more than four hours a day off. All I have to do now is read and go to class. It's simple. It's almost childish.

Yes, it's a lot of reading. Yes, it's sometimes dull or complicated. But nobody sticks pins in my urethra when I miss an answer.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I miss my job.

I really do. I miss working. I miss making myself a coffee before I leave. I miss talking to eighty people a shift. I miss my coworkers. I miss having the same thing to complain about as eight other people have to complain about. I miss going out after work. I miss the magical transformation from coworkers to friends that happens after some rum and a change of clothes.

And goddamn, do I miss the coffee.

I want to be a barista again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do you know what adulthood is?

Adulthood is missing more people than you currently see. And nobody warns you about it, either.
I've got people scattered over half the world, who at different times were my everyday folks. And now, not. Adulthood is achieved at the point where those people you'd like to see outnumber those people you do see.

Or else, it seems like it must be. And some of my prototypical grownups would seem to have the same experience.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I was at a diner a weekend ago, and I saw a woman nurse a child large enough not to require a booster seat. He was that lanky-post-toddler age, where they're not wearing baby clothes, but miniature people clothes. I don't know. Maybe he was four.

The woman sat down, and began to nurse this child, as she ordered, and as she waited for her meal.

I bet you're wondering how the Hobo felt about this. Is she, being in general pro-free, pro-health, anti-prude, going to say that it's perfectly fine to nurse a child in a restaurant? Is she, being generally anti-child, and generally anti-annoying yuppy parent, going to be against this public nursing?

Hobo didn't know herself. Because Hobo has read studies supporting breast-feeding. Hobo does, in general, not at all support the general body form and function phobia that is inherent in American culture. Hobo thought for a minute. Hobo decided that she was perfectly fine with it. Because the kid was eating, and it was a restaurant, and obviously, the restaurant didn't serve breast milk, so restrictions on outside food and drink shouldn't apply to him.

Then the waitress came back. And the waitress dropped off three plates of food. One for the mother, one for the father, and ONE FOR THE CHILD. Which, in my opinion, changed everything.

Because if the kid doesn't need the breastmilk for breakfast, I thought, then there's no reason to nurse him in public. And it's not a good way to encourage him to learn how to be in a restaurant, what they're about, and how to deal with waiting for unfamiliar food. But, parenting judgements aside, as I am not myself a parent, and don't actually know how to teach a kid to do anything- it just changed the tenor of the situation for me.

So, coincidentally, a few days ago on, there was an article written by a woman who was still nursing her four-year-old son. I didn't think much of it, but I read the letters. All two or three hundred of them.

They seemed pretty evenly decided between two orthodoxies, with a half-dozen or so juvenile trolls thrown in.

Orthodoxy A: Breasts are for babies! Nursing is great! Anyone who thinks that there's something wrong with any nursing of any child of any age is just sexualizing breasts! Which is WRONG! Because BREASTS ARE FOR BABIES! Not men. Not sex.

Orthodoxy B:Nursing is good, and all, but, come on- the kid's going to have memories of his MOTHER'S breasts. Which is gross. Because breasts are sexualized. And if you have any memories of a part of your parents' body that is sexual, you'll become a pervert. The mother must hate her husband, because she's giving her son her breasts instead of to her husband. MAYBE she's FRIGID!

For an accurate picture of the letters, just throw a "for better or worse" between every few clauses of the above.

I think that nursing is such a fractious issue in our society because there are the two orthodoxies, without any recognized (or admitted!) middle ground. Either nursing is seen as something that must be private and brief, but is an important sacrifice of the mother's sexuality and bodily integrity for the child's benefit; or the sexualization of breasts is a mere social construction that masks their true and sole purpose: nursing.

To that, I say, go to the zoo. Look at primates. Try to find me some gorilla titty. Or some chimp titty. You can't. And the reason you can't is because in most other primates, the female breasts remain very small unless actually engorged with milk (or flattened out and droopy after). It's obvious, then, that human breasts are a sexual characteristic under sexual selection- that is, they are a feature so attractive to mates, that natural selection has worked to enlarge them. Some anthropologists say that breasts are the bipedal answer to hidden vaginas- our vaginas are between our legs, whereas a chimp vagina is basically on their butt. Visible from behind. So bipedal primates with upright posture and hidden oestrus needed a characteristic that advertised fertility, and post-pubertal status. Thus, enlarged breasts.

Breasts are for sex.

Even though they're very obviously also for nursing.

So how do we reconcile these two features of America's favorite body part?

To read salon, we don't. We can't handle that a naturally sexual and sensual feature is also an important factor in child-rearing and bonding. Because we can't handle the words Sex and Children in the same sentence without calling Fox News in. We can't handle that a woman's breasts might remain sexual objects to her, even as they are nurturing a child. A woman (and I'll try to find reference for this when I get the time,) once had her child taken away because she told her therapist that she experienced sponteneous sexual arousal while nursing. My initial reaction to that is "ew". Because, really, we don't want to think about stimulating parents. And, as far as I know (remember, no babies here) frequently, nursing is painful, uncomfortable, and intrusive. But a person with an atypical physical reaction to something that involves a sensitive area, and is meant to stimulate oxytocin (a neurotransmitter that facilitates bonding, and is released during NURSING and ORGASM) should surely not be labeled a pervert, right?

So what, then?

Breasts are for babies. But they're also for women. And for men. And for sex. So what do we do? What can we do when this dialogue just dissolves into each side denying the basis of the other side's argument? Do we have to play King Solomon, dividing the booby, and say that nipples are for babies, and mammary glands, but areolae and fatty tissue are for sex? And trix are for kids?

P.S. There was a very interesting study a while ago, that I'll try to find the citation for later, that found that certain of the 'benefits' of breastfeeding, when study groups are adjusted to account for education level and socio-economic status, are not as pronounced as originally thought. Which is interesting, as it seems to reconcile the paradoxical evidence from early last century when formula was seen as better nutrition for babies. Whatever upper-class, educated mothers, with abundant resources tend to do will always seem to give their babies an edge, when in fact, their edge may be an accident of birth.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm working on a humor piece.

For a friend's thingie

It's dirty.

But it needs editing like crazy. I'm supposed to be reading for property. But instead, I'm working on a submission to (it's hard to say what it is- humor thingie? literary magazine? not entirely's...a new thing) you can visit it

It's dirty.

When it's done, and submitted, if they publish it, I'm going to post a link. But at the moment, I'm using it as an exercise in character and plot without actually having any character, or plot.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

You may not know this about me

But I hate weddings.

I really do.

I'm not the type of person to hate weddings. I like family events. I like getting dressed up. I like appetizers and wine.

But I loathe weddings. I loathe that we take what most cultures do in one afternoon, or at most, a long weekend, and stretch it out over six to nine months of engagement functions, wedding showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, dinners, after-parties and ephemera. I can't stand the fact that we've taken such a respectable and time-honored custom as exchanging goats for women and bastardized it to include up to four separate gift registries, a half-dozen or more uniformed attendants, and a cake that costs more than my student loans budget for a term's living expenses.

I hate the ridiculous, uncomfortable dresses, the rented formalwear, the dyed or leased shoes. There are no other remaining occasions where adults ask their closest friends to dress in matching and possibly used clothes and wait on them, nor many occasions that we mark, in our vastly privatized romantic lives, with catered food and a rented hall.

"Hey, Uncle Ted! Have a bacon-wrapped scallop! Today's the day my little girl gives her first hand-job!"

"Mrs. and Mrs. Rubenstein invite you to celebrate the occasion of their son, David's, first same sex relationship"

Why do we? Why do we do this? I understand that the rituals have meaning to some people, and among the religiously oriented, the ceremony can be incredibly important. Others have always looked forward to having that first dance, or being given away. Some people even like wedding cake.

Personally, I like cake. I like eating meals with people. But I've never been able to maintain lively dinner conversation with 150 people. Ten is probably my limit. Fifteen if there's alcohol. So that's all of the tradition that I find appealing. Unfortunately, wedding cake doesn't taste good. So that's one off.

But I can imagine, extrapolating from my deep personal relationship with cake, that there are people who find parts of weddings touching and meaningful.

But what I do NOT buy is that everyone who has a wedding likes every little bit of the American wedding. Some people like bands. Other people like their family. Are you really going to tell me that you find chicken a la king, dj's, cummerbunds, and pink roses on a field of baby's breath all deeply and personally symbolic of your unique romantic relationship?

I really can't think of anything else about the whole wedding brouhaha that means anything to me. I do really, ideally, celebrate any occasion with between four and fifteen people. Not eighty. So that's out. I don't like uncomfortable clothes, and I look awful in white. I love men in suits, but not tuxedos. I just can't get over that they don't own their pants. I don't like to coerce people to get me gifts, so showers and registries are out. I don't like clubbing or male strippers, so the bachelorette party is out. I don't dance or like music, so any DJ or band would be out. I don't like flowers, so that'd be out. I don't like videos or most photographs of me, so that's out. I'm not religious, so no church wedding for me. Personally, I believe that what the state of Massachusetts has put together, virtually any man may put asunder.

I like the idea of a proposal. Not the one-knee thing, though. It's too submissive. Not very creative. And we don't go down on one knee for much in life these days. Catholics do it at mass. But it's two knees. And there's a padded thing. A kneeler. Football players go down on one knee, I think. And I hate football.

The reason that the whole proposal thing appeals to me is because I like to mark decisions in life, not transitions. I was remarkably unaffected by my own college graduation. Wearing a bizarre costume and waiting in line did not make me feel like any momentous threshhold had been crossed. I'm sure that getting married would be a similar emotional non-event. The moment before a decision is made, however, the moment of formulation of intent, of anticipation, is a heady one. I can't remember much about the first time I actually had sex, but I have many treasured memories of considering the possibility. I like auditions more than rehearsals, Christmas Eve better than Christmas, and I LOVED applying to law schools.

The other aspect of proposal that appeals to me more than wedding is that not only does it require less of me, it also requires, unlike weddings where you try to manufacture a perfect manifestation of the deeper meaning of a relationship out of jordan almonds and satin-dyed shoes, that someone plan something about a relationship, but really FOR the other person. (Gender neutral there- see. It's like feminism, even when I'm talking about how getting presents is better than throwing a party). And planning, and thinking about what a person really wants, and really means to you, is the essence of romance (Men don't get enough credit for the planning that goes into a decent proposal. When, where, what kind of ring, what to say, how not to fart). Whereas thinking about what a person, their parents, all their friends, certain coworkers, and extended family, would like to eat for 45 dollars a plate is dismally prosaic.

But, all in all, like kittens into cats, engagements turn into weddings, and something cute and fuzzy and loveable turns into a resentful box-shitter who may or may not carry hepatitis.

I suppose I'm meant to be an old maid. Which is fine with me. Because I'd make a great crone. I'm very good at cranky.

When I was a seven year old girl, alone with a priest

and asked to make my first confession, I lied.

Because I have an extraordinarily contrary nature. If you put me in a school with four hundred nader supporters, I'll end up pro-war. If you put me in a relationship with a charming republican, I will threaten to leave him in the parking lot of a computer store in Warwick, Rhode Island, over affordable housing. If I'm studying Fellini, I'm going to go home and watch Romero. If I'm reading Petrarca, I'm going to use the word "fuck" in my term paper.

If you put me in a room full of bright-eyed, eager, individuals with passions for social justice and making the world a better place for kittens and puppies and women and transexuals and immigrants and minorities and none of them cares how little they'll make in the public sector, ever...

I'm just going to put on a straight face and tell them that I decided to go to law school because I liked the movie Legally Blonde, and that when I grow up, I want to be an ambulance chaser.

I'm passionate about things. I care deeply about reproductive rights, and affordable housing. I believe in the power of law to shape society-

But I'm about three weeks in and 50,000 in debt, so excuse my inability to talk about how I'm going to save the world until I can find the library and pay for a sandwich in cash. I think that'll happen sometime next fall.

I'm just not good at resume conversations. If I'm interviewing, I'm interviewing. If I'm working for a cause, I'm working for a cause. But I don't want to spend two hours twice a week sitting in a circle talking to people who all want to assure each other that they really went to law school because they wanted to help people.

Social workers help people. Teachers help people. Nurses help people. A really good janitor can do more for human dignity than a bad lawyer.

It seems to me that a career in law is a luxury of a kind that we're not supposed to talk about. We spend three years in school, learning, and accruing debt. But after those three years, we have a chance of entering the covetted knowledge-worker caste. Whether we're fulfilled or not, none of us will work with our hands, or have a sewn-in nametag, again. I don't think a lot of my classmates have really thought about this. I have.

I literally worked my fingers to the bone, at that cafe. The skin on my hands peeled off, from fingertip to the top of my palm. I never worked little enough that it could heel. For a while I was able to get gloves, but when they ran out no one knew where to get more. When they replaced them, they were so baggy that instead of protecting my hands from the bleach, they trapped the solution next to my skin. I woke up, I served, I cleaned, I went to class, and fell asleep to do it again.

I don't want to make it sound torturous. It wasn't, really. Even with my skin peeling off, it was the best job I ever had. I worked with some of the brightest, funniest, most generally worth-while people (seriously, call me. Let's have a drink. I miss you guys!) I've ever met. Brighter than I've met at law school, actually. R, N, T, E, even P- fundamentally intelligent people.

What the FUCK were we all doing working at a coffee house? (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Food service is below NO one.) But seriously, N. I mean it about the smarts. You need to get your butt into a classroom so you can have someone other than your husband tell you. You think T is the only one who can get a 4.0? You guys ought to be classmates. Immediately.

But I've digressed. What working there taught me, and what a lot of my classmates may not be privileged enough to know, is that a lot of very bright people are working in careers that don't recognize their minds as a great asset. And they do it for a lot of reasons. Some don't have a choice, others have made the choice to put most of themselves into another aspect of their life (raising children, for example). But there are some people who just haven't had the opportunity to get the credential that would allow them to enter a field where they'd be appreciated more for thinking than smiling.

For 150,000 dollars, a bachelor's degree, and a 97th percentile LSAT score, I may have bought my way in. Not earned. Bought. And I'll never, I think, believe that I earned it. And if I do begin to believe that I earned it, I won't think that it had anything to do with aptitude or merit. It's luck. It's the benefit of having parents who could afford to help me out while I finished my undergrad. I bought my way in, and now all I have to do is hang on for three years. Drop out rates at law schools are way down. Mine is under 4%, I think. That's less than my high school. Like, 18% less.

I think that's why I feel the need to lean back in my chair and say "Well, you know, I figured, it'd be easier than getting in to grad school...and I'll make tons more money".

People like to pretend that they're going to be selfless, middle class, public-interest lawyers without realizing that the very act of using an education this expensive to trot after pet causes is, in fact, an enormous luxury.

You can be middle class, even poor, without the privilege of being able to help anyone on the scale that we may become able to. It's amazing to be able to go to school, to take on debt, to become something, just so you can further your cause, leading to your own self-fulfillment. And we talk about it, not as if we are phenomenally fortunate- but as if waiting for a pat on the back?

I don't think this is coherent.

I don't think it makes sense.

But people may be able to get at what I'm talking about.

And I do mean it about my co-workers. I've almost never met anyone smarter than you guys.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Everybody's ganging up on Deval Patrick in the debate.

I'm complately going to vote for him, though. He's awesome.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I am nearly paralyzed by debt.

I think about my student loan debt in class.

I think about my student loan debt in the shower.

I think about my student loan debt in the grocery store.

I think about my student loan debt every time I use my new (entirely necessary) laptop, or touch my expensive textbooks, or watch my free-with-unbelieveably expensive student housing cable.

I'm haunted by it.

I can't believe I actually made the decision to pay for law school when I could have gone for free. It is the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. Northeastern isn't so great. It's ok. But it's not crushing-debt great. I could be going to any number of law schools that were perfectly eager to throw money at me. But fat girl had to go for the one who played hard to get.

If you see me, slap me. Then feed me. Jesus Christ, I'm an idiot.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Can this relationship survive?

My boyfriend and I have weathered a lot of difference in these four years. Apart from the severely personal that would turn blog into LiveJournal...there have been political conflicts (he's a republican, whereas I have compassion for the human condition), geographic conflicts (When I lived in Vermont, he lived in Massachusetts. When I moved to Massachusetts, he responded by immediately moving to Rhode Island), and philosophical conflicts (sometimes, he thinks I am being unreasonable, whereas I counter that he is an asshole).

But through all this, we have maintained what I like to think of as a remarkable partnership.

I think, however, I've found the limit of our relationship. You see, I like movies.

I like movies like a high-school nymphomaniac likes sex. Like grimy Sandi, taking all comers regardless of charm or hygeine or whether they'll buy her a Junior Bacon Cheese first, I don't excercise what many would call 'judgment' when it comes to films. Sure, there are some movies I don't like (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Man Bites Dog, any with helicopters), but the movies I do like, I like regardless of quality or redeeming characteristics.

I'm not like some bad-film purists I know (Hi Rob!) or serious film students, (Hi Paul!) or relentless blockbuster consumers (Hi April!). I span all categories. But I can be counted on to watch any movie that has a decaying skull as a movie poster.

My boyfriend likes "good movies". You know, movies with thoughtful dialogue, sensitive and understated acting, or Eddie Murphy.

This leaves me watching many fine films alone. Such as the first three Jason movies a friend loaned me. Which I loved the hell out of. Alone. Weep. Cry. Tragedy.

Recently, looking for a movie to watch on on-demand, I suggested this or this . He did not agree to either. Although I think the one with the zombies in the forest would have been pretty awesome, and guarantee a scene with a chainsaw in it.

We ended up watching this . Which I didn't mind at all. Because I'm a whore. And I'll watch anything. Boyfriend pretty much hated it. I'll admit, it's not a great movie. But, it has Samuel L. Jackson. With Asthma. Julianne Moore, doing basically what Julianne Moore does. Which is fine. Not great. But fine. If I were Julianne Moore, I'd act like a woman with larger breasts, but that's just me. And, it features Edie Falco,who is interesting when she is not Carmela Soprano.

I'll admit. It wasn't the best movie I've seen in a long time.

This was. I recommend it, without reservation. Unless you happen to be my boyfriend. Then you won't enjoy it. Because it features zombies, aliens, and australia. And it's wonderful. And it's creative. And it's just pretty great as a whole. It's one of those movies that if you had diarrhea, you'd seriously consider adult diapers, in order to maintain continuity.

But can I live in a world, in a relationship, where I can't share my greatest joy (zombies) with the man I care for, somewhat?

I've seen a lot of relationships come and go. And I've seen interracial romances work. Long-distance. I've seen relationships work where one partner actively tried to undermine the other in all things, for twenty-five years (Hi, mom!). But I've never seen a relationship work where one partner was pro-zombie, while one partner didn't even like Dead Alive. Which, if you haven't seen it, is the zombie movie to show to people who don't even like zombie movies.

Disclaimer (To Guy): I don't mean it. You're great. I'm sure we'll overcome our differences. But next time I pick a movie, I'm not going to try to be kind and choose a middle-of-the road thriller. I'm going with something where somebody's guts come out. Because if you're going to hate it anyway, I might as well love the hell out of it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The view from my window

when I lean back, as yawning, is of the Prudential Center.

And at this moment, grey sky behind the Prudential Center.

I'm starting to realize that at this moment, my life is the result of less thought, effort and planning than it has been at any other time, except when I found myself suddenly home from Vermont. Last year, at this time, I couldn't have imagined owning (renting) this view, and this tiny room, and the massive pile of boring/intriguing textbooks.

Exactly one year ago, (one year and two days ago) I wrote ... There's no point in being 23 right now. Motherfuckers used it all up. Alex P Keaton fucking Dot Com fucking Real Estate fucking Social Security fuckers. I'm young, bright, hard working. And I'll be poor forever. Unless I go to law school. Which I probably will. But I'd rather write a shitty novel...

I'd still rather write a shitty novel.

But law school doesn't seem so bad so far. A decent way to spend 150,000 dollars I haven't made yet. My roommates are fine. My room is atrocious. My classes are dull and slow. Hopefull it gets harder. And I mean that, dammit. Because if it stays like this, and the internet persists in being unavailable in the classroom, I don't know how I'm going to get through it.

I like reading the cases. The cases are interesting. They're stories. And it's fairly clear, as yet, what we're supposed to get from them. The only think that seems bad so far is that I may have chosen the touchy-feeliest law school in the country. They've just eliminated what was their legal writing course and replaced it with one that an upper-level student tells me is just an excuse to hug and cry.

I had thought that law school would bring more drinking and reading, not more hugging and crying. If I'd been good at hugging and crying, I'd be back at Bennington. I'd have excelled at Bennington. They'd have have given me the key to the fucking school. The presidency. I'd be the dean if I could just hug and cry.

But I'm not a hugger and cryer. That is why I'm so bad at wakes. I"m a good stander and shuffler. Which is why I'm better at funerals.

I'm also typing this entire blog post while staring at the ceiling, to see how good I am at touch typing. Pretty famned good I'd say. I'm considering taking notes on my laptop. Although two of my professors have told me that they'd prefer we not take notes at all.

Here is my most fervent hope: That this, this hugging and crying and free beer, and kind professors with soothing voices and genial styles, is all a ruse, like a fat girl in a corset.

That in a week, or two, the corset comes off, the rolls are exposed, and the stress and heartache and long hours I'd prepared for finally come to fruition. Because I can take anything. Anything but more hugging and crying. But maybe the fangs will never come out.

I've accepted the relative lack of creativity in my life. I've accepted the relative lack of ME in my life. I haven't accepted spending three more years talking about how a subject is relevent in my life.

Can I please just have my three years of torture and my hundreds of thousands of dollars, please?