Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

From a reader: "How about a post on, and I know this is immature for law school graduates, but still: law school words that sound dirty but aren't really?? I just finished anti-trust, and it's got a ton, like oligopoly, ease of entry......summa cum laude is one of my favorites."

Okay, let's see...

Penal system

Okay, I'm bored with this. Send me some and I'll post 'em, otherwise maybe I'll get inspired sometime later this week.
From a reader: "I am interested to hear your thoughts on the sort of small talk that takes place during interviews, lunches, and social events. Perhaps the 'top ten subjects about which one must be able to chat proficiently to be a successful (or at least tolerated) summer associate.'"

Okay, I can try that.

When I interviewed and was a summer, I found that there were a few subjects that people kept coming back to. Most common question, always, was "what kind of law do you want to do?" so having a quick 'n' easy answer to that one would have been helpful, instead of always trying to flip it around -- "I don't know -- what kind of law do you do?"

But beyond law and law school stuff, TV actually always seemed to be a pretty safe one. Even when people are working a bazillion hours a week they end up watching some TV, usually with the aid of TiVo. Everyone knew about stuff happening on American Idol or The Apprentice. Less so with movies, since there were people who'd admit to not seeing a movie in a long while. At some point during the summer I started to notice a pretty safe (and fun) topic was travel -- where people had been, where they were planning on going. Lots of disposable income means people end up going to some pretty neat places, and have some pretty cool stories. So that was fun and innocent and easy. Food's a good one too -- what's the best restaurant around here, what kind of food should I try, what are some neat places to try in the city, etc. Music / concerts -- hear anything good recently, seen anyone perform. Wait, this is actually starting to sound like a primer for having regular conversations with regular people. Because, despite what I end up writing about half the time, lawyers at big firms really are just people. I know, I don't always acknowledge that. But I guess it's true, at least until they make partner. So the normal stuff does work to talk about. Sports, politics, the weather, family... it's all fine. I don't really think you need to do anything special to fit in as a summer associate, really. Unless you're weird to begin with, and then you're beyond hope anyway.
A NY Times article about the President's personal assistant -- like Charlie (Dule Hill) from The West Wing, but in real life. Neat article.
I just read Morgan Spurlock's "Don't Eat This Book." Spurlock is the director and star of the movie "Super Size Me" about how McDonalds food is going to kill us all. The book builds upon that, with some stuff about the movie, and a lot of stuff about food in general and how all this processed fast food is terrible for us, and Americans overeat and we shouldn't and we're all gonna die. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's a solid read, and does a good job of taking they key points from a bunch of other books -- Fast Food Nation, for example -- and distilling it down. If he wrote the book himself, he's not half bad. It's entertaining and breezy, a quick read and hard to put down.
How to waste an afternoon in Brooklyn

1. Get on the subway.
2. Space out and miss your stop.
3. Get off at the next stop but instead of just taking the subway back one stop, decide to walk through Prospect Park back to where you should have gotten off, since it's a nice day.
4. Walk sort of the wrong way through the park, and end up not really all that close to where you live.
5. Find a subway station and realize you're three stops away from where you want to be.
6. Wait 45 minutes for a train, until the subway worker finally comes onto the platform and says there's been a derailment and no train is coming.
7. Walk home in the end anyway.

Total time my trip home should have taken: 25 minutes.
Total time it actually took: 2.5 hours.

Monday, May 30, 2005

"So now that you're not in law school anymore, what's your weblog going to be about? I mean, it wasn't really about the law anyway, but at least there was some sort of hook there, and now you don't really have that, so what's it gonna be? Ideally, you could come up with something that would keep your current readers and also get a whole set of new readers interested in whatever that thin strand of connection would be, but regardless, don't you need some sort of plan just so you're not aimlessly writing about whatever comes into your head?"

I've gotten a version of that question a bunch of times in the past few days. I have some thoughts but no real answers yet. But I figured I'd throw this out there and see if anyone else has any thoughts. Is this still interesting to anyone? What can make it more interesting? How can I keep myself interested but also keep you interested? Am I doing okay with that lately, or not so well? Do you want more focus, less focus, any thoughts? Obviously a lot of what I write here is going to be shaped by what's shaped it all along -- whatever random stuff I'm thinking about. But I don't entirely write for myself. It's rewarding to feel like I'm writing for an audience. If I knew you wanted more song parodies, that would motivate me to write them. And if I knew you didn't, I probably wouldn't. No pressure here -- this isn't a "tell me you want me to keep writing or I'm threatening to stop" kind of post. That's not what I'm getting at. I'm just trying to see if there's any feedback I can mix with the thoughts in my own head and maybe it'll trigger some grand vision of what can make this be really awesome despite (or because) being done with law school.
Yoda's Twenty Pieces of Law School Advice

1. A student uses the Law for knowledge. Never for attack.
2. Do or do not attend class. There is no online recorded lecture database.
3. Marathons exams are; you must yourself pace.
4. Extracurricular activities, for sanity, get involved you should.
5. Carefully chosen, study groups helpful they can be.
6. Expensive books are, but buy them anyway.
7. In your assigned seat you stay, to avoid the professor angering.
8. You must learn to use the power of the Uniform Commercial Code.
9. Size matters not. Some professors skinny can teach good quite.
10. Law review is the path to the dark side.
11. The cases for class carefully brief.
12. The very Republic is threatened, if involved the Critical Legal Scholars are.
13. A Jedi's strength flows from chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code.
14. Study you did not. That is why you fail.
15. Great warrior. Moot court victory does not make one great.
16. The fear of loss is a path to seeking reliance damages.
17. Ready are you? What know you of ready? Have you the Gilbert's outline read?
18. A law student must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind, the longest outline.
19. Blind we are, if the fine print at the bottom of most contracts we cannot see.
20. There is another... administration of the bar exam.
I just saw the new Star Wars movie. Uh, it was okay I guess. A little long. I started looking at my watch about 75 minutes in, hoping it would end soon. It didn't.

For much of the movie, I couldn't help but think back to the last movie I saw Hayden Christensen in, the excellent Shattered Glass. In Shattered Glass, he played Stephen Glass, a journalist who starts making up stories. In a way, I feel like that character and Anakin Skywalker are kind of the same. Both are promising young professionals (a reporter in one case, and a Jedi in the other) who decide, somewhat inexplicably, to go to the dark side (making up stories in one case, and becoming Darth Vader in the other). The wise mentor -- Charles Lane, or Obi-Wan Kenobi -- tries to save him, but ultimately is unable to, and Stephen / Anakin ends up unemployed and disgraced / the victim of terrible burns and forced to wear an evil black mask. Also, Washington DC in the summer gets very hot, like that planet of fire. And if Stephen Glass is Darth Vader, then I guess that would make Jayson Blair the chancellor. Okay, I'm done with the analogy. I do think the actor played both parts pretty much the same way, which either means he saw these parallels, or that he's a one-note actor incapable of doing anything else. I suppose we must await his next role to see for sure.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Princeton Reunions, the long-form version

I now own a Princeton sweatshirt that I didn't own 24 hours ago. Carried around my umbrella on Friday. Not much needed. Left it behind on Saturday. It poured. I was cold. So I bought a sweatshirt (my friend's idea -- he bought one first -- I copied). It helped me fit in better into the sea of orange and black. I really liked Princeton. College was a lot of fun, I met a lot of great people, and, while I totally feel like I would have enjoyed it wherever I went, and a lot of why I enjoyed my college experience has nothing much to do with Princeton itself, I absolutely feel like it was a great place to go to school and I have no regrets at all about having gone there, and nothing but positive feelings about it. That said, I just can't get as wrapped up in the whole Reunions thing as most people do.

I feel like saying "college reunion" evokes images of a rented hotel ballroom and people in semi-formal wear with nametags and finger food. Which isn't at all what this was. It's an event. We were told there were twenty-one thousand people there -- I'm unsure if that's the number of alums or the total number of people (spouses and children included). Most wore some combination of orange and black. Some brought pets wearing some shade of orange and black. One woman (at least one woman) dressed up her two dogs in Tiger costumes. At graduation, each class gets a Princeton beer jacket -- a black and orange jacket with some garish design involving the numeral of the graduating year. Every five years, your class votes for a "theme" and a jacket design -- and you get a new jacket (and t-shirt, and hat, and whatever -- all unwearable outside of Princeton's campus, and all designed as a fundraiser, as if the endowment isn't big enough already). My class's theme was Nascar, which is somewhat hard to explain, since I'm not sure the Nascar fan base and the Princeton alumni population have tremendous overlap. But Nascar sounds like Nassau, Nassau Hall is Princeton's oldest building and still in use... so Nascar 500 becomes Nassau 500 and... yeah, this is what people spend energy on. We also have class officers that get elected every five years. The election was contested. I don't know why I find it really hard to care about this stuff. I like Princeton. I liked going back and seeing people. I don't care if our "theme" was syphilis (justification: the last part of syphilis is phylis; phylis sounds like the word philosophy; Princeton has a good philosophy department; hence the theme syphilis) and we have no class officers to decide where to get the cookies with the orange and black sprinkles or the orange and black striped layer cake (both really things we had at dinner) or the orange sherbet with blackberries (not a thing we really had, but sounds good and maybe we should have -- maybe the officers we elected will get on that for our tenth reunion in 2010).

Despite my lack of eagerness to wear orange and black -- full disclosure: the shirt I wore on Saturday did have some orange in it; but it wasn't an "orange shirt" per se. It was a striped shirt with some orange -- I had a good time. Despite the rain. Which I was fortunate enough to basically avoid. Every year there's a P-Rade on Saturday (that's like a Parade, only without the first vowel). People walk, by graduating class, down the Princeton campus, carrying banners and stuff like that. It starts with the 25th reunion class, and then goes in order from the ancient to the modern. Like watching auto racing, part of the spectator appeal of the P-Rade is seeing if any of the old people will perish en route. Naw, not really. But it's cool to see very old people dressed in orange and black riding in golf carts, and then, after a few of those, you get to the people trying to walk, and then the people who can sort of walk, and then once you get to the people for whom walking really isn't that big a deal it ceases to become too interesting. So this thing lasts from one in the afternoon until about four-thirty, since 21,000 people is a lot of people. As my class got to the end point, the sky began to open up and we ran for cover under some newly constructed concrete awning.

A pause while I talk about construction on college campuses. Like you can count the rings on a tree to see how old it is, I feel like I can count the number of new buildings to figure out how many years I've been out of school. There's a whole new cluster of buildings at one end of the campus; they're tearing up the middle of campus to build new dorms; two of the four dorms I lived in have been renovated since I left; there's centers and plazas and nooks and crannies that didn't exist five years ago. There's a part of the University Store now called U2 that's open longer. There's a new student center. There are new stoplights. There are new sculptures and pathways and arches and benches. And this is five years out. I can't imagine how this must seem to people who graduated fifty years ago. It can't possibly even look like the same place. I mentioned to someone that I remembered when Scully (the first dorm with air conditioning, built my sophomore year, I think) was new, and he looked at me like I said I was there when the Egyptians built Stonehenge (I told you I liked Princeton, but I didn't say anything about the quality of the education :). There's nothing that can make you feel older than realizing they're already renovating buildings that didn't even exist last time you noticed.

So I found myself under some concrete structure that never used to be there. This moment, 5:00 on Saturday afternoon, marked a moment of Reunions that I thought there'd be more of. I had the one and only kind of conversation I was fearing. The "I haven't seen you in five years, what have you been up to" conversation. I've written about this before, but I did a relatively crappy job after high school of keeping in touch with friends, and really didn't want the same thing to happen after college (although as I look back on it I realize I'm now in touch with the people from high school I'd want to be in touch with, and, to a greater extent than I realized while in college and thinking about how I did a relatively crappy job keeping in touch with people from high school, I made better friends in college. Talking generally not specifically, I like the friends I made in college more than the friends I made in high school. Whether that's a function of the person I started to mature into in that time or a function of the high school and college populations or a combination of those factors I'm not sure). So I'm pretty good about being in touch with people I wanted to keep in touch with. Not perfect, and there are definitely people who I wish I was in better touch with, and where I've dropped the ball or they've dropped the ball at some point in the past five years, but for the most part, no, this is something I pay attention to and really try to be good at, because I like my friends and don't want to have to find new ones. Because people aren't fungible goods and if there's someone I like knowing and spending time with how can it really ever not be worth the effort. We meet a limited number of people we connect with and even though it sounds hokey to say this, I feel like it's kind of precious to hang on to those connections and sad to lose them. Actually, I shouldn't say "we" necessarily. Maybe some people meet a lot of people they connect with, and do feel like friends are fungible. I might argue those people are shallow, or at least lacking some introspective quality perhaps. Maybe lacking a soul, I don't know. I think that slurpee I got at 7-11 earlier today may have been laced with something -- this paragraph has somehow gone from being about concrete to something else. Oh well. You can skim.

Okay, so where was I? Under the concrete structure. Then I ran to another awning, in front of a building that may or may not have existed when I was a student, but I know I was never inside it (it was a science building). And then the skies opened. And as the more recent classes finished their P-Rade march, they ran for shelter. And this was really cool to watch, sort of. People running for cover, running from the rain. It sounds terrible to even admit thinking this, but it looked a lot like the 9/11 television scenes of people running from the twin towers, except they weren't covered in dust. But they had fear in their eyes -- fear that their orange and black costumes would get wet -- and were fleeing across an open field to uncertain shelter. So we waited out the storm and then headed over to our assigned tent for dinner.

The tents are something other schools do too, I think. Big tents, a band playing, "free" cheap beer (nothing was really free after paying the lump sum bracelet fee). The previous night, the tent was really crowded. It's impossible to find someone you know, in a sea of orange and black, at night, in a crowded tent. Cell phone was useful. Anyway, dinner featured the orange and black cookies and cake, and was fine.

Following my friend's lead, I went to the university store to get a sweatshirt, because it was cold. Lots of people were doing the same. Sweatshirts and umbrellas. The cashier told the guy in front of me that they sold more sweatshirts and umbrellas that day than the rest of the year put together. That seemed like hyperbole, but who knows. Also, it thus seemed like a dumb move to have half the stuff in there be on sale. I would have paid full price for a sweatshirt, and assumed I'd have had to, but there was stuff that was 50% off. Why? Why, on the weekend when 21,000 people come to town, many looking to buy anything orange, black, or orange and black, would you have a sale? You're just costing yourselves money. It didn't make sense.

Just in terms of dormitory construction, I'm a little jealous of the students there now. They've built new buildings and renovated others. There are buildings with air conditioning. There are buildings with windows that look out on nice courtyards. And they're renovating more stuff and buildings more stuff... my freshman year I lived in a one-room double that was 150 square feet, I think. I got along really well with my roommate, but it was small. Someone told me at some point that the rooms on my hall, back in the 1800s, had been servant quarters. But when they were servant quarters, one person lived there. One servant, but two freshmen. (Yes, this entire paragraph was designed to lead up to this joke. It wasn't worth it, sorry.)

In any case, I didn't actually feel that old being back for a five-year reunion when there were all these people back for their tenth, twentieth, fiftieth reunion. And it ended up being just a cool couple of days hanging out mostly with people I would hang out with anyway in a non-reunions context, so it was fun.

Friday, May 27, 2005

I take it back. I'm not old, and 37-year-olds are totally entitled to play video games. Totally, dude, totally.
This weekend I'm going down to Princeton for my five-year college reunion. Five years. Wow, I'm old.
Speaking of adulthood, sort of... there's an article in today's New York Times that I find slightly bizarre. Ostensibly it's about how movie attendance is down this year. Personally, I'd blame that on the movies -- I've gone to the movies much less this year, just because there hasn't been anything I've wanted to see. The article does that in part, but also blames it on other entertainment. I did a double-take when I read this though:

Jill Nightingale, 37, who works at IGN Entertainment in ad sales, is the type of moviegoer - older, female and important to studios - that "Bewitched" should appeal to. But video games increasingly have taken up time she otherwise might spend watching television or going to the movies. The last two theater showings she said she attended were "Star Wars" and "Sideways," which she viewed in December.

She plays a video game for 30 minutes each night before bed.

Did this woman really want her name in the New York Times saying she plays video games? Do 37-year-olds play video games? I guess it's an unfair judgement I'm making, since there's nothing necessarily worse about a video game than watching TV or being online or (gasp) reading (?? I don't think I really believe that ??), but I don't know. Although there's a new book that got reviewed by the Times last week (Everything Bad Is Good For You) that claims video games help people be smarter (sort of -- I haven't read the book so I don't know exactly what it says), so maybe it's me who's being bizarre by not playing video games. Anyway, that just caught my eye so I figured I'd flag it.
Adulthood, continued

I received a bunch of responses to the post regarding adulthood. Just thought it would be interesting to post some of them.

I think being an adult involves being responsible for your own choices, but also realizing that you can't rely on other people for every aspect of your life. One of the defining aspects of childhood is that you rely on other people for everything: food, clothing, emotional support, education, etc. Becoming an adult is the process of shrugging off some of these things that are done for you and taking them on yourself.

However, that doesn't mean you have to shrug off *all* the things people do for you. For example, love, whether it is familial or intimate, is something that people do not easily give up. Having your family there to support you when things go bad is not a sign of childhood either. I think an interesting aspect of adulthood is that you are sometimes expected to ask for help from others, but the catch is that they have to be able to ask you for help too.

Obviously, it's an amorphous concept, but look at the people we consider childish. They're the ones who expect the world to revolve around them. I just think adulthood is that point one reaches where they realize they are part of a bigger community and that they must contribute to their own survival. It can happen for different people at different times, but putting off the final leap makes sense, I guess. Being an adult is
scary. :)

To me, it's when you really start to think and care about the consequences of your actions, and how they affect people that mean something to you.

As a person that has trying to "be an adult" (at least, out of school, on my own, paying my own way, etc.) and will soon be giving all that up to go back to school in September, it seems to me that adulthood isn't something that magically flips on, but sneaks up on you gradually. You no longer think of yourself as tied to your parents, and are related to as a person in your own right. What you do becomes more important than where you are from, and, yes, people do expect you to make decisions for yourself. Really, eventually, it is a state of mind where you do feel like yes, you are running your own life. When you get there, it isn't a bad feeling, but one of satisfaction - you get to choose the life you have.

No, we should not avoid being adults. Adulthood is inevitable. Sure, you can still act like a child, but eventually you are going to be forced to be an adult.

And in some situations that is good.

When it comes to making serious decisions, one must be an adult, act non-selfishly and rationally. Children are unable to do this on the same level as adults. When dealing with serious agendas, your health, your livelihood, and the financial success of your family, you must act in a manner that is responsible, logical, and consistent. You cannot immediately deal with your own feelings when acting as an adult; you must consider others and their well-being, such as when you must care for a child, or an elder.

Although, you’re right, just being in these situations does not make you an adult. Some people deal with adult matters in a childlike way. I am going to assume that it is because they are scared and don’t want to risk making the wrong decisions and become unable (or so they think) to deal with the matter in a way that is appropriate. Death, Finances, Marriage, Divorce, Children, Health, and so on and so forth, these are issues when you must be an adult. You must stand up and be strong, even when it is not easy. So, it is essential that you act like an adult... sometimes.


Children are pure, inquisitive, live in the moment and love life. They are uncensored and fun. If they want to go play in the mud, they do. They don’t care what the neighbors will think, or if this will cause them to neglect something else. They play in the mud, because they desire to play in the mud, and when they get sick of playing in the mud. They stop. Children are passionate and full of heart, they blaze their own trail. So be a child, experience life in its most pure sense; when it’s feasible.

But be an adult too, know what your responsibilities are and embrace them. Enjoy making your own way. Care about others. It is powerful to know that you have reached adulthood and are capable of being an adult, and you are, but never lose your inner child.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I just got an interesting e-mail from a friend, which I'm going to pretend to be quoting, but I'm editing it slightly to make it make sense with what I want to say in response:

Are we made up only of our words and actions, or is there some deeper meaning behind our interactions with one another?

The question was partly inspired by your last post. Actually, the post didn't strike me as that interesting, but that's because we've talked about it before. I don't remember what we said, but the very fact of our having done that seems to diminish my interest in the
post. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a bit troubled by the fact that people seem to have a finite number of topics and issues, of stuff to talk about. Not finite, exactly, but fewer and fewer new pieces of information.

I just came back from dinner with a friend, and I'm sitting here trying to think of what to write in e-mails to various people. And maybe it's because I'm just a bit tired from the workweek and haven't come up with a way to make my week sound new and interesting.
I was amused to get the e-mail, mostly because it dovetailed extraordinary well with a post I started to write about an hour ago, but stopped because it seemed a little silly, and I didn't have enough to say to make it make sense, but my friend's e-mail prompted some more thinking -- and posed an actual question to address -- so now I feel motivated to ramble.

Basically, the post was going to be this -- when you're not doing anything, it's really hard to come up with things to talk about. I was hanging out with two friends last night, we saw some sketch comedy, and I noticed on the walk to the subway afterwards that once we talked about how much the show sucked, for a moment I kind of had nothing new to talk about. And then tonight I was on the phone with a friend, and again, the same fleeting thought.

Part of this just feels stupid (and it's why I stopped writing the post the first time) because give it three seconds and someone will say something and all sorts of new stuff will be triggered in everyone's head. And part of it is just that I feel like more than a lot of people I get antsy when there's silence. With people I like. With people I don't like, I don't care. And part of it feels stupid to say because it's not like it's anyone's responsibility to have something new to say. And it was just a fleeting thought, and probably triggered more by own realization that I haven't done much that's story-worthy in the past couple of days, or at least haven't really processed anything in such a way that it's given me anything to talk about, but, anyway...

No. This is ridiculous. Because when I sit down and think about it for two seconds, I realize I just wasn't trying hard enough, or my brain's tired, or something. I mean, obviously there's zillions of things we haven't talked about, but just nothing was salient -- nothing about stuff that's actually going on in my life right now. And most people don't have much to say a lot of the time anyway. I feel like writing here every day helps me sort my life into stories, and that's cool I guess, but maybe it's not really.

But, getting to my friend's point, I guess maybe we do need to do things in order to have things to talk about. I know that I fall into patterns -- I have favorite topics that I feel like, with anybody I get to know, I'll eventually get around to talking about. I feel like they're probably things I've posted about. I mean, more than a couple of times I've found myself talking to someone about why I think Saturday Night Live isn't very funny and how it could be better. I have a line about how in the freshman year math class I took in college the only numbers were the textbook's page numbers... that I've said way more times than I should have. I have some law firm stories that come out a fair bit. And maybe more than I should be I'm completely willing to travel down conversational paths that lead to discussions about things like the meaning of life. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's lots more patterns I fall into, things I have things to say about that I've said enough that I can feel myself slipping into a routine. Like during law firm interviews, sort of. But maybe there really is a finite number of things we can all talk intelligently about, and you do run out of those things...

NO. No, wait. I don't mean that. I mean, all it takes is two seconds of thought and there's a zillion new things to say. Like here's something I've never talked about but was wondering about today. What's the difference between The Gap and Old Navy? Besides the price. Like, is the quality any different? Or -- I'm trying to make an effort to cook a little bit, and not just go out and get stuff if I'm eating at home, and I sliced and grilled a parsnip yesterday, and it was good. Is that weird? You never hear anyone talk about parsnips, but they're not bad. Am I strange because I like vegetables? I made a salad with some fennel, tomato, parsley, and vinegar. It was good. This isn't fascinating, it's barely worth writing about, let alone talking about, but it's a topic. And there are lots more. All it takes is a deep breath and some though to come up with things that can be things to talk about. I had a falafel for lunch at a place I found last summer -- Azuri's Cafe, 10th Ave. and 51st St. in Manhattan -- it totally takes falafel to the next level, it's a complete leap in quality from any other falafel you've ever had and you should go there and get one if you're anywhere near there, really, I swear, you'll like it. I have things to say. But maybe sometimes they take a second to find.

But I still haven't addressed the initial question my friend posed. "Are we made up only of our words and actions, or is there some deeper meaning behind our interactions with one another?" I think, for me, part of it is just that sense of connection, beyond the words themselves. I'll sometimes find myself asking questions I don't necessarily need to know the answer to, or saying things just to say them, just to keep things going, just to keep up that connection. Sometimes. I don't know that all interactions are just the words and actions they consist of. There's thoughts and purposes behind everything. A conversation can mean something more than that. Maybe. I don't really know what I'm saying, actually. I don't have a real answer to the question, at least not something I've thought through. Maybe tomorrow. :) Or maybe some of you do.

**I got a lot of responses to my post yesterday about adulthood. I'll post some of them tomorrow, for sure.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I sent an e-mail to a friend yesterday that said, in part, "I'm all settled into the apartment, and it's nice, I really like it. Almost feel like an adult...." The response I got back simply said "Resist Adulthood." Along the same lines, I got an e-mail just now from a 23-year-old reader, starting law school in the fall, that said, "I'm convinced that adulthood is a big hoax anyway. Avoiding it is working out well for me so far." This all makes me want to write something, but I'm not sure what I really want to say.

It seems pretty clear that we're able to push adulthood further back than any previous generation. Thanks, grad school. The New York Times had an article maybe a year ago about how more and more twentysomethings are living at home while they get started in their careers, to save money and avoid "becoming an adult." What does it even mean to be an adult? I know I've said this before, but I used to think that at some point it all clicks and magically you're an adult, and life makes sense and you have all the answers. The older I get the more I realize that just doesn't happen. Adults get scared too. Adults make bad decisions. Adults do the wrong thing sometimes.

I think what it means to be an adult is that you act like you're responsible for your choices. I mean, we're always responsible for our choices, but, if I'm being honest, at this point I know that if I did something bad -- got addicted to crack, gambled away every penny I have, joined a cult -- my family would be there to help me start over, and I wouldn't be homeless, I wouldn't be destitute, and I would still have a chance. There's a safety net. But wait. If the definition of an adult is not having that safety net, then the bar is really high. You can be an adult and still have a safety net. But maybe it's the flip side of that. Maybe it's when you're someone else's safety net. When you have a child. When you're married. When you're forced to take care of an elderly parent. Maybe that's when the switch gets flipped. But wait. If the first definition seems too broad, this one seems too narrow. I know people who seem like adults who haven't had to deal with any of this. And people who have and yet still seem like kids.

So maybe it's less about life circumstances and more about mindset. Whether you're the kind of person who leads or who needs to be led. I feel like I'm only really driven to be a leader in a very limited set of spheres. I like when other people make decisions. I'm happy to defer to people about what movie to see, where to eat, what train to take, which shirt to wear, and how to get that stuff moved over there. (In exchange, I'd like if you'd give me just a little bit of credibility regarding how to write that thing.) But that doesn't entirely make sense either. Because sometimes adults are passive and sometimes kids are not. But there's something to this. When I think of an adult, I think of someone who makes decisions. When I think of the people I know, and which ones I see as adults and which as kids, I see the adults as people who make decisions. Who don't get flustered. Who can be relied on to make choices. How do we get him to the hospital? When should we leave for the thing? Which is the best thing to order? Adults make choices. Kids don't necessarily. I don't always want to make choices. I don't always feel the urge to. I'm not an adult.

But this is unsatisfying, because I don't really want to say that you become an adult when you start being obnoxious about things. I don't think that's true. So I haven't stumbled on the right answer yet, I don't think. What makes someone an adult? And is it good to be an adult? Or should we be trying to avoid it? I really don't know. Hence, this post. :)
Ever since my Internet got installed, some of the e-mail I send is being labeled as Spam by certain e-mail programs. That seems bad. Anyone know how I fix this?
So I just read that Carrie beat Bo and won American Idol. I think Bo's the more compelling singer, because there's something unique about his voice, and not much unique about Carrie's. Oh well. The world won't collapse.
I got asked to post this e-mail looking for students interested in going to an event. I have no affiliation at all with this, and normally I feel uncomfortable posting things like this, but I figure free student tickets, maybe someone is interested, and why not. So I guess e-mail these people at if you want to know more.

Israel Policy Forum (, an independent, not-for-profit Middle East policy organization, has complimentary student tickets available for its 2005 “Focus on the Future” Tribute Dinner. This event will take place on Thursday, June 9, 2005 at The Waldorf=Astoria in NYC (6:30 pm cocktail reception, 7:30 pm dinner). The keynote speaker will be Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister of Israel. Columnist and author Arianna Huffington will emcee. Business attire is required. Tickets are extremely limited so RSVP right away! Please send your name, university affiliation and email, and phone number to with the subject heading “Student Ticket” if you would like to attend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stuff I've read or seen or heard in the past couple of days:

1. The Freaks & Geeks script books. "Freaks & Geeks" was a TV show from a few years ago that got cancelled after one season. I'd seen an episode or two, and thought it was okay. But I discovered it has a cult following now, and thought maybe I'd read the scripts to see what I thought. So I got them from the library. And I read all 18 episodes over the course of the past three days. This is what happens when I don't have Internet. And they're solid. It's really quite good. It's a well-crafted show. I trust the writing. The characters are three-dimensional. The scripts are solid. I may rent the DVDs, but mostly to listen to the commentary tracks. Commentary tracks are neat.

2. "Monster-in-Law." I promised I wouldn't say who I saw this with, since it's embarassing to have seen it. I don't think it was as bad as it should have been. I mean, it's not high art, and it's not even good or anything close to that. But it's not horrible, there are some laughs, and it's not entirely unpleasant. I don't go so far as to recommend it, but, really, there's nothing good playing (go see Crash if you haven't and want to see a movie) so it's not like it's worse than seeing nothing. Maybe.

3. "Happiness" by Richard Layard. Read Gregg Easterbrook's "The Progress Paradox" instead. Same ground, done better and with more depth and thought. Layard's writing to a fourth-grade audience, unfortunately, and barely skimming the surface. I didn't learn anything new about why lots of people aren't happy. Oh well.

4. My cell phone bill. Too high. I need a new plan.

5. The nutritional information on the side of a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Wow.

6. The tag on my new mattress. Apparently I shouldn't remove it.
From Yahoo's fantasy baseball player notes:

May 23 The Cubs instructed pitcher Carlos Zambrano to cut back on his computer time because the hours he's spending typing could be contributing to his elbow problems, according to the Associated Press. This came about after Zambrano had to leave his May 14 start against Washington early with a sore elbow that the team determined was the result of a non-pitching condition and activity. "I have to spend one hour and take it easy," Zambrano said, after it came to light that he had been spending as much as four hours a day communicating via e-mail with his brother.
Time Warner Cable just left, leaving me with Internet (finally) and cable TV.

Updates on old posts:

More food suggestions from readers:

"Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (keeps forever; use a little at a time, keep the rest in a plastic container. Good for adding heat to anything, or in quesadillas.)"

"Rice noodles (add them to a veggie stir-fry; toss with some peanut sauce; make a salad with sesame oil, soy sauce, and chopped raw vegetables; put them in spring rolls)"

"I recommend anchovy-stuffed olives. I know, it sounds soooo gross, but I don't even like anchovies and I find these to be the best things ever. They leave you with the impression that these 2 foods exist on this earth to be eaten together. The only downside is that they are a little pricy - about $6 a jar where I live (CA)."

"Quaker Oatmeal Squares"

That last one may sound familiar. Because I hate them, and wrote about them over a year ago, right here. I'm thinking maybe my e-mailer knew that, because otherwise it's a pretty funny coincidence.

And -- I've been shamed into admitting that, like the plural of biscuit is biscuits, the plural of triscuit is, in fact, triscuits. Thanks to the dozen readers who now think I'm stupid.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Today would have been my grandfather's 95th birthday. He passed away about three and a half years ago. I still miss him an awful lot. I guess that kind of feeling never really goes away, and I'm kind of glad it doesn't. I'd rather miss people than never think about them at all. If that makes any sense.
More than 1 Triscuit cracker = Triscuits? Or Triscuit? I feel like it should be Triscuit. Five triscuit. Eight triscuit. No one I've mentioned this to agrees. Five triscuits just sounds less neat to me.

These are the mysteries of the universe I find myself pondering.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I wonder if they make one of those little word magnet sets for the bathroom. Like, bathroom-related words, so you can make little phrases while you're in the bathroom, about the bathroom. I am probably the only person who wonders about this.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

All-Request II

"Any suggestions for cheap eats while in law school?"

Well, I guess that depends on the law school and what's around, and maybe this is a better question for Waddling Thunder, who may want to chime in.

The cheapest eat is actually cooking your own food. Which may mean living in a place that's more expensive (i.e., not a dorm), so it may end up being a net neutral on cost. But if you're living with a kitchen anyway, then the best cheap eats are buying the ingredients and making it yourself.

But that's probably not what you were asking. At Harvard, here's what I found that wasn't badly priced:

>>Burritos are a pretty good deal, and pretty filling. I find they get boring kinda fast though. More than once a week or so and it gets kind of nauseating. A little.

>>I found a decently cheap (~$6) Japanese noodle place that made some tasty stuff, and was nice and warm for when it was cold outside.

>>Kraft Easy Mac is pretty cheap, yet awfully good, and ridiculously easy to make.

>>Getting a job as a non-resident tutor in one of the undergrad houses and getting a handful of free dining hall meals a week also helped save on food. Obviously an idiosyncratic solution depending on what your school has in place like this, if anything.

>>Join lots of student organizations that serve food at their meetings and you can eat pretty cheaply.

>>Law firm recruiting events often had good appetizer-ish food that you could fill up on and make a meal out of, often at nice restaurants you weren't going to be going out to anyway because they cost too much.

>>Sometimes lectures had food. Lectures are boring, but you can go, get the food, and then leave.

>>We had a couple of professors known for bringing food to class. Might be a reason to choose those classes, if you're really desperate.

>>Occasionally after there was an event with food, the leftover food would be left in the room for a little while until food services came to clean up. This is not the greatest idea if you want to avoid eating food that's been sitting out too long and/or half-eaten already, but, hey, sometimes you may find a brownie or two that the rats haven't gotten too yet.

>>I hear acorns are a decent source of fiber.
All-Request I

"Can you address the following issue: I've heard that three years of law school tends to make otherwise impassioned, exuberant and humanist law students into apathetic drones, ready to be shipped to law firms to churn out billable hour-fluffing work. How accurate is this phenomenon? Why does it happen? What can be done to stop it, to maintain one's conviction and sense of healthy skepticism? Are there on-campus groups - public interest, for example - that help keep their members in check? The reason why I ask this is because I am heading to law school myself this fall."

Wow. To start law school with this kind of attitude seems not that good. I don't think law school makes passionate people into drones. I don't honestly see tremendous differences in people from the beginning of law school until the end, although maybe I'm just blind to it because I've been on the same journey with them. I think some of the self-selection that happens when people choose to go to law school means that law school has its share of people who are looking for a relatively secure job where they can earn a decent living. Law firms provide that, with some tradeoffs obviously. But I think passionate people can keep their passion -- and I think that holds whether or not they end up going to law firms. Lots of people don't stay at law firms forever, and go on to do interesting things. I don't know that public interest is necessarily better in every case -- it depends on the person and what they're interested in. I'm just circling this answer I guess -- I don't really have a direct response. You are not just a pawn in law school's evil plan to turn you into someone you don't want to be. If you go in wanting to retain your passion, then I don't see why you can't. You can be whatever person you want to be. Write yourself a letter before you start, about the person you want to be. Read it every so often. Maybe that will help. Find other passionate people. I think being aware that there's a possibility of turning into an apathetic drone is probably the biggest step toward not being led down that route. This is not great advice, I know. I'm just not sure I buy the premise.
Responses so far to my post below about grocery store foods to try:

"Celery root. Thick-sliced and roasted. Sweeter and mellower than traditional celery stalks. I learned about this popular european vegetable in a cooking class. Apparently celery is grown to build up either the stalk or the root, and some european cultures (especially German) much prefer the root. Roast it with other root veggies: parsnips and rutabegas."

"don't know if you can get 'em in ny, but i absolutely love these chips called "red hot blues" made by "the garden of eatin'." i get them from target."

"If you like creamy, try triple cream brie. Best cheese ever."

"If you like tart, try starfruit, whenever you can find it."

"Dunno if you like wasabi, but if you do, you should try wasabi peas. They are quite addictive."
If you don't go read Sherry's post on the lies that law students are told, someone should take away your Internet connection. Seriously, go read it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Reader Request, and I promise I'll share the results.

Something you buy in the grocery store that you know if everyone tried it, they'd be buying it too. I'm just curious. I'm thinking I'll get answers like "crystallized ginger slices," or "thin-sliced prosciutto." You know, stuff that someone would probably have to tell you to try before you'd think of it, but then you get really addicted. Only curious because I'm about to go grocery shopping for the first time in new apartment, and may as well start out with some interesting items on my list, at least to begin with, and at least give them a chance to become those things that sit in the back of the cabinets or refrigerator that never get eaten.
Sorry no post yesterday... my stepdad had knee replacement surgery and I was in the hospital with my mom. Seems like it all went well, he's moving the leg already today and starting therapy. Also, I've been spending way too much time with an Allen wrench and Phillips screwdriver lately. When they told me the desk I ordered came in a box and had to be put together, I guess I didn't realize it would involve 42 screws. And that the instructions would just be one sheet and some tiny pictures without any real sense of what was going on. So I saw that and got a little frightened. But I figured it out and only had to unscrew and flip a piece around twice. :) Putting together the 16-screw TV stand this morning was a piece of cake in comparison.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How about an all-request weekend? You want me to write about it? I'll try my best. E-mail link.
I just wrote a piece that's posted on the site Fantasy Football Spiral, called "How to win at fantasy football when you have no idea what you're doing." It's a cool site, they've got cheat sheets and stuff like that. Not sure how useful my article is to anyone who actually wants to win their league though. :)
Tips for Summer Associates

Someone e-mailed me asking for advice about being a summer associate. I've been thinking about it, and honestly I'm not sure there's all that much legitimate advice I can give. Being a summer associate is like being anything else. If you want to make a good impression on the firm, be nice to people, do the work you're given, and don't give anyone any reason not to want you to come back after graduation. But see -- I'm not actually sure that simple advice is even right. It seems like, from my experience and from talking to friends about it, there are, roughly, two broad categories of summer associates. There are the normal people -- people who for the most part do absolutely want to make a good impression, want to get an offer, want to try out different kinds of work, want to enjoy the summer, want to meet new people, and are totally fine and normal. And then there are the crazy people, who have somehow ratcheted up the stakes in their minds and who are approaching the summer as if this is an athletic competition with one winner at the end, and they're going to do whatever it takes to be that one. I'm exaggerating a bit, but bear with me. So they'll go maniacally out of their way to introduce themselves to partners, to volunteer for work, to make the other summer associates look bad, to demonstrate that they "want it more," whatever "it" might be, to somehow stand out, to be the superstar, to refuse to acknowledge that any aspect of the summer experience isn't fantastic and unbelievable. It's a little bizarre to leave a 2-hour presentation on the compliance department's new initiatives, that by any objective measure was not the most fascinating presentation in the universe, and find that there are people who will still insist that it was more fun than Disneyland and they're so glad they got to sit through it. So here's why I'm not sure my advice is right. I would think, I would hope, I would expect that the law firms wouldn't like the crazy people any more than the rest of the summer associates like the crazy people. Surely the partners and associates are smart enough to recognize who's normal and who's insane, and surely they realize that it's a lot more pleasant to work with normal people... but... but maybe I'm wrong. Because the crazy people are probably doing more work. Because they've put so much more pressure on it, and the stakes seem so much higher. And probably their work might be better -- more tolerance for the mindless parts of the tasks, more patience for the tedious work, since in their heads everything matters so much. Less likely to flake on an assignment, to be unreliable, more likely to do whatever the partner wants without complaint, even if the meeting conflicts with the fun summer associate event, even if it's the wekeend, even if it doesn't matter. So maybe they do like the crazy ones. And maybe if you really want to make a good impression, you should be one of the crazy people, and act like it's a zero-sum game and try to knock everyone else out. Convince yourself document review is a blast. Make yourself believe that if fourteen partners don't know your name by the end of the first day, the summer will be a disaster. Don't try and make friends. You're not there to make friends. You're there to win.

Yikes. Could this actually be the right advice? Part of me fears maybe it is, but most of me still can't imagine it's really possible. What I think it's very easy to forget is that a law firm as an institution is still made up of individual people. So even if it's in the best interests of "the firm" to want crazy people, the firm is made up of actual people, and actual people recognize crazy people as crazy, and surely they must prefer normal people to crazy people, no? Unless all the people at the firm are themselves crazy, which may be a possibility. But it can't be. I mean, not everyone can be crazy, and surely in a just world the normal people would win out? Certainly I met some normal partners and associates at the firm I was at. I also met some crazy ones. But then sometimes you meet people who seem crazy, but you get to know them, and they let down their guard, and you realize that inside they're normal, but just seem crazy because that's the way you have to be at a big corporate law firm. But why? Is it all just this can't-escape-it pattern where everyone's caught in the trap of really, deep down, being normal, but feeling like in order to succeed they have to be crazy, like everyone else, but really everyone's feeling the same way and so everyone's crazy, even though the payoffs would be better if everyone could just be normal, like they all want. Hey -- it's a prisoner's dilemma!

If everyone at the firm is normal, payoff for you is, say, 10 points.
If you're normal, but everyone else is crazy, that's not good for you. 1 point.
If you're crazy but everyone else is normal, you get to stand out and become the superstar. 20 points.
But if everyone is crazy, it's miserable for everyone. 2 points.

Thus, in a 2x2 matrix, you'll be crazy, but so will everyone. So you all lose. Prisoner's dilemma. Yay!

Okay, I've gotten distracted from the task at hand and instead artificially forced the situation I was describing into a prisoner's dilemma framework. That's sad. I'm sorry about that. Gotta love game theory.

So... the original question was about advice for summer associates. Clearly from this whole discussion so far, I don't really know what the law firms want. Whether they want normal, or they want crazy. So that much, I'm not that useful. I will pass along any replies I get from people at firms who want to e-mail me their thoughts though. But what I can offer are some tips for enjoying the summer.

1. Make some friends. Part of this is outside your control. Maybe your firm sucks, and all of the other summer associates will suck besides you. But I hope not, for your sake. Hopefully not everyone at your firm will be crazy. Because if they are, I would imagine the whole summer could be really frustrating. You leave a six-hour conference call and there's no one willing to acknowledge that was boring. You find yourself in a conversation with a partner about how life is really hard when you only have three houses, and you've got no one with whom to appreciate the absurdity of that. It would suck to feel like there's no one you can ask about how to fill out the form right who you don't think is going to hold it against you and turn you in. So make some friends. Or e-mail me and I'll create a find-a-summer-associate-buddy system that can pair up normal people who aren't crazy, but who haven't found each other yet. I'm sort of kidding, but actually that would be kind of a neat service, for people stuck pretending they're crazy because they think everyone else is, but looking for someone else normal at their firm, to have a "normal registry" where the other normal people have identified themselves and people can be matched up. Nevermind. I'm taking this normal vs. crazy thing way further than it actually deserves to go.

2. Enjoy the summer events. Most firms will plan fun stuff to do. Some stuff that is fun, but a lot of stuff that should be fun, but because you have to do it with lawyers, is less fun. It's all still good for stories. One of my professors, before I started my summer job, told me to treat it like an anthropology expedition. It's a land where you may or may not want to live, but it could be cool to visit, and see how life works there. So even when events aren't fun, they can be interesting and enlightening as a people-study. Or something like that.

3. Eat. Those $60 (or $40 or $80 or whatever it is where you are) lunches at nice restaurants, admittedly, are often very good. Again, made slightly less fun since you have to eat with lawyers, but still, sometimes worth it. Take advantage. Order the appetizer. Order dessert. Order two desserts. No one will think less of you. No one cares. Eat. That's the one regret I have about not taking my law firm offer. No nice restaurants three times a week summer, paid for by someone else. It almost makes the whole thing worth it.

4. Remember they're all just people. Oh, wait, this is the advice I don't know if it's good or bad. Maybe they're not just people. Maybe they're crazy. Ignore this one.

5. The work is all do-able. Don't stress over it. I get the feeling they take care to give summer associates projects they think they'll be able to do. Relax, it'll be fine.

6. You're probably getting an offer no matter what you do, so don't worry about it.

7. Don't be crazy. For the last time, yeah, maybe this is bad advice. Maybe you'll go farther if you're crazy. Maybe they'll like you more. But if you're not going to change the industry, who is? Wouldn't you rather work with normal people than crazy people? Wouldn't it be more rewarding to be able to be normal and not have to pretend you're crazy in order to fit in? Don't let it make you crazy. It doesn't have to. I hope. For your sake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lawyers and Weblogs

For about a year and a half, Evan Schaeffer, a tort lawyer in Illinois, has written a blog called "Notes from the Legal Underground." He gently pokes fun at the legal profession, talks about what it's like to be a lawyer, talks about other weblogs, and has consistently come up with fresh ideas for how to take advantage of the weblog form -- weekly features, recurring post types, guest bloggers, podcasts. His weblog's a good read, if you care about lawyers.

But he's tearing it up and starting from scratch. Over the weekend, he posted a podcast talking about how while the conventional wisdom in the blogosphere has been that having a weblog helps a lawyer, because it gets their name out there, can demonstrate an expertise, can lead to referrals... Evan now thinks the conventional wisdom is wrong. He thinks having a weblog like his can hurt a lawyer, because clients wonder why their lawyer is spending so much time posting to a weblog instead of working on their cases. And potential clients may take having a frequently-updated weblog as a sign that the lawyer doesn't have much else to do.

Thought-provoking. Sounds like it makes sense, but also sounds pretty stupid. If you found out your lawyer played golf a lot, it probably wouldn't register as a negative. And weblogs take less time to update than people think. If I were a potential client, Evan's weblog establishes him as someone who thinks well and can write well. This is a plus. Perhaps it also indicates his interests go beyond practicing law. I'm not sure this is a bad thing. Then again, I'd be a lousy potential client.

I think the bigger problem is even thinking about weblogs in terms of generating business. I'm not sure that should really be the point. I feel like too much is said about blogs as unique or revolutionary, or somehow changing things. Blogs in and of themselves aren't much of anything. It's the content that matters. It's just another way of getting content out there. Having a blog isn't going to generate business. Content could. The blog is just how to structure that content.

I hope Evan finds a way to exercise his creative muscles while not feeling like he's damaging his law firm. It would be shame if he can't.
So apparently Dave Chappelle is having some trouble. This article on talks about how he's gone to South Africa, stopped taping on his show, and left Comedy Central in the lurch. His $50 million contract has ratcheted up the pressure, and he's having trouble. Seems kind of understandable. It's hard when there are expectations, and he's only human. The article's interesting. I feel like it's easy to forget people like that are real people, with real struggles.

Of course, then there are jerks. I think this Boston Globe column blasting Chappelle for feeling 'stressed' is pretty unpleasant. She writes, "Now, Chappelle is as heavy a hitter on Comedy Central as Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" and Cartman on "South Park," but he's feeling too put upon to continue, at least for the moment. Well, you know what, Dave -- you weren't feeling too stressed to sign that reported $50 million deal, even though you say it took you months to decide. If nothing else, that gives him 50 million very good reasons to return to work."

I mean, yeah, it's really a ridiculous amount of money, but it's not like he's done anything evil -- I'm sure he doesn't see the money if there's no episodes of the show to air. He's hurting his reputation and his career with all this press about him being in drug rehab, or mentally ill, or just too 'stressed' to continue. It's pretty clear from the articles I've seen that he's having real difficulties. What point does it make to belittle him? I just don't think it's all that civil.

Not sure why the column struck a nerve.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I feel like I'm dealing with the Mafia to get a new bed -- a family friend is a furniture wholesaler, so I got in touch with them and I'm getting a good deal I think -- but they called me this afternoon, and they're like, "Look, we're gonna save you the tax, but we need the money in cash. But don't give it to the delivery guys. Give it to your grandma, in a blank envelope, and she'll get it to us. Just sign the invoice when they deliver it, ignore the tax. Ignore the tax, Ignore the tax, IGNORE THE TAX GODDAMIT."

I called Comcast this morning to cancel my cable up at school, and the customer service woman wanted to have a conversation with me. All I want to do is cancel my cable.

"Why do you want to cancel it?"
"I moved."
"To where?"
"New York."
"Oh. I used to live in New York. What do you do?"
"I just graduated from law school."
"I always wanted to go to law school. It's exciting, right?"
"Sort of."
"What kind of classes did you take?"
"All kinds. Contract law."
"Oh. We have some complicated contracts here."
"I'm sure you do."
"I swear, I wasn't just saying I wanted to go to law school. I really do."
"That's great."

Finally, finally, finally she stopped. I mean, I know her job must suck, and it must make it better to talk to people, but all I wanted was my cable cancelled and didn't need to be making a new friend over at Comcast. I'm sorry, she seemed like a nice person, but, no, not what I wanted. I think she liked me though. She said she was giving me a $1.13 credit. Sweet.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


I watched the Survivor finale tonight. It's one of the few reality shows I can get myself addicted to. I haven't watched all of the seasons, but whenever I start watching the first couple of episodes of any of them, I get drawn in and find myself watching the whole season. So I've seen maybe half of the seasons. This was probably the most compelling ending of any that I've seen, mostly (I think) because all of the contestants left as the game winded down seemed like real people, and reasonably bright people. There were no caricatures. There was no one who seemed like they weren't a thinking person. And maybe the credit for that goes to the editing room, where they take the hours and hours and hours of footage and condense it into merely hours. If so, then kudos to them. If not, then I think the producers did a great job this season of finding cast members who I personally liked. :)

The interesting twist tonight was that Ian, a 23-year-old dolphin trainer, basically sacrificed a spot in the final two (and likely a significantly-better-than-even chance at the million dollar prize) in order to leave with his integrity. Here's what happened: Ian, Tom (the eventual winner), and Katie (who finished second) had made a promise at the beginning of the game to take each other as far as they could go. Over the course of the 39 days, Ian and Tom became close, and Ian and Katie became close. The challenge Ian found himself in was that the game got mixed up with the relationships Ian formed. Ian and Katie had promised each other that if one of them won a reward challenge and got to choose someone to go with them, they would choose one another. On last week's episode, Ian won a reward challenge, but chose Tom to go with him. Strategically, this was (arguably) a smart move -- leaving Katie with the other 2 remaining players while he and Tom went on the reward would likely, Ian could have figured, lead the others to form an alliance to vote off Tom, Ian's biggest threat. If this happened, Ian would get to have Tom gone while at the same time avoid dirty hands. So, strategically, one could make the argument this was smart. But Katie took it (or at least played it) as a personal affront, because of Ian's promise to her. And Ian freaked out, because he valued his personal relationship with Katie and didn't want to lose it for the sake of the game. He apologized. Profusely. Groveled, in fact. But you could feel his pain -- or at least I could. The personal was getting confused with the game and he didn't know what to do. He was smart enough to know how to win the game, but didn't want to sacrifice the friendships he imagined he'd made, and didn't know how to play it. He was torn. It was riveting to watch, actually. You could see his internal struggle with what to do, what to say, how to save himself in both the game and in life. Because all along he'd played the game as "the nice guy," and if he lost that... you could sense that was bothering him more than the chance to win.

Now, this week, with 4 people left at the start, Ian started to strategize with the other 2 to vote Tom off if Tom didn't win immunity. Tom won immunity. And said he wouldn't vote Ian off, since they had their agreement. And Ian, who, even when he was trying to play the game ruthlessly, appeared completely unable to pull off lying about anything, said he was glad it wasn't he who had to make that decision, because it would have been hard. This bothered Tom, because Tom played it off as an easy decision -- they had an agreement, and he would stick to the agreement, no matter what. It came to light that Ian had been planning to vote Tom off had Tom not won immunity. Tom felt betrayed, personally. Again, the game and the personal were getting muddied. And, again, Ian didn't know how to save himself. He was just playing the game, but (and this may have been strategy all along) Tom and Katie were taking it as betrayal of friendship, and that's not what Ian wanted at all. So he found himself torn. How does he play the game but still maintain the relationships.

Now, really, I felt Ian's pain. Maybe it's just because he came across on TV as so genuine, so earnest, so well-intentioned, or maybe it was something in him that connected with me, but, really, I found this to be extraordinary television. Yeah, it's only a reality show, it's only a game, but you could tell Ian thought he'd made real friendships here, and felt like he was blowing it, that something was happening and the more he tried to play the game the less he liked the consequences and the less he was able to live with Tom and Katie feeling like he'd been lying to them.

What made this even neater to watch was that, from the omniscient perspective of the audience, we knew Tom and Katie really weren't doing anything different than Ian was -- they were strategizing, changing alliances, lying to people -- but they were just better at hiding it, and better at keeping it from interfering with the personal side of things. And because we saw this side of it, I found it hard to know whether Tom and Katie were being genuine or were just playing Ian, knowing it would get to him if they acted like this was ruining their friendship, and taking advantage of his innocence. And on some level surely they were playing him, but he just didn't seem to see it, and all he wanted was their approval.

So he gave up. He traded a chance at the final two for the returned respect of Tom and Katie. So they would know the friendship was more important than the game -- but, even more, so HE would know the friendship was more important than the game, and so he could live with himself in the end. It seems silly to give up a million dollars for this -- for friendship with two people who may have been playing you all along and who may not even be worth being friends with -- but you could sense his torment, and that if he'd won the money it would have made him wonder what kind of a person he was -- if he was really as good a person and as honest a person as he wanted to see himself as. The fact that someone on TV was wrestling with this -- that there could be a character on TV really feeling torment about this kind of stuff -- this is what made it compelling to watch. He was wrestling with his conscience, on the island of Palau, about the relationships formed on a reality show.

I feel like the response to him stepping out and giving up the chance at a million dollars will be negative from most of the people watching -- that he was stupid, naive, weak, whatever -- and that no way should he have done that. But I don't know. I see the desire to want to see yourself as a good person. I certainly want to see myself as a good person. And I try not to do things that conflict with that. And when I do, I feel bad about it. Even if I haven't really done anything bad, but just think maybe something I did could be interpreted that way, I feel really terrible and have a tremendous impulse to fix it. I guess to some extent we all do. I can see where Ian would have really had a hard time with himself if he'd felt like he'd betrayed people he saw as friends in order to win the money, and if he felt like he'd played the game without the integrity he saw himself having. And I'm not sure that isn't worth more than a million dollars (or at least whatever's left after taxes). Besides, to be on national TV as the villain, even a million-dollar villain, may not be as rewarding in the end as getting to come off as the nice guy, despite the money. So I totally understand what he did, and can't be sure I wouldn't have done the same thing in a similar situation.

I have a hunch he'll end up better off in the end -- endorsement opportunities and the like. But that may just be wishful thinking, as I hang on to the idea that good people should have good things happen to them. And he definitely came off as a good person in the end. Although maybe that was all strategy too...

Friday, May 13, 2005

I'm done with law school!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Tell Me If I Should Go To Law School"

Someone e-mailed me asking if she should go to law school. Frankly, if you're asking a stranger whether you should go to law school, the answer is probably no. But the question provides a nice excuse for me to start a series of posts in the "law school wrap up" category. Less than 24 hours from my last law school exam ever, obviously I need to continue to avoid studying. So I'll start with this post, which is less about whether you should go to law school and more about some things to be thinking about when making that decision. I feel like this is ground I've covered before, but not recently enough. So I'll tackle this stuff, and in the pipeline I have a few more ideas -- someone e-mailed asking for advice for summer associates, and I promised I'd get to that; and someone else asked me whether I'm glad I went to law school. I am, but can probably wring a couple of paragraphs out of that. I feel like I could also do a post with law school survival tips and maybe some course selection advice. If there's more "law school wrap up" ground you'd like to see me cover, shoot me an e-mail and I'll see what I can come up with. But, for now, if you're thinking about law school...

1. The People Who Say You Should Only Go To Law School If You Want To Be A Lawyer Are Right. And Wrong. I've told a bunch of people (and surely written on here before) that coming into law school I had no idea that afterwards almost everyone goes to work for a law firm, or what a law firm was even like -- I hadn't thought about what people do after law school, I hadn't done my research, I thought I was going to law school to avoid looking for a job for three years, not to put myself on a track toward a law firm life I knew nothing about. I mean, I just didn't do my research. It didn't even cross my mind that this was different from college in this respect -- I didn't go to college having any idea what I wanted to do when I got out, and so I didn't think about it at all before getting to law school. Which is why I was surprised when a month in they start talking about resumes and job fairs and dark suits. Some people have been kind of baffled when I've told them this. They think I was negligent at best -- a moron at worst -- for not looking into this stuff before I applied. And I'll admit I was negligent. But, really, it didn't cross my mind that this was something I had to think about. I'm not entirely upset about that. I don't know for sure that I would have come to law school if I knew what the career paths looked like on the other end. But I've liked law school, and I'm glad I've spent these past three years here. It's benefitted me, intellectually, socially, and in terms of career opportunity creation. I don't have any regrets about it. Which is why I'm completely torn about the merits of the standard advice you hear that law school is to train lawyers and if you aren't sure you want to be a lawyer, don't go to law school. It's good advice. Sort of. It's true. Sort of. But it's also kind of stupid. As much as anyone wants to argue that law school is of value primarily if you want to be a lawyer, it's hard to deny that the law degree has value beyond that. It's a set of skills. It's a credential that sets you apart. If you go to a "name" law school, it's another name on the resume to help impress, it's another set of alumni and possible connections, it's an education that can help in a whole variety of fields -- government, policy, even just being an informed citizen -- not just the law. I don't want to say these are reasons to go to law school. But they're reasons why I think you can make really compelling arguments for why it's not wrong to go to law school even if you don't want to be a lawyer. I think you want to know what you're trying to get out of law school. You want to have a story to tell for why law school makes sense. But if you can make that story make sense -- if you can satisfy yourself with your story -- I can't say I think law school is a bad choice. I didn't do my research. Maybe I should have. But maybe it's okay that I didn't.

2. The People Who Are Miserable At Law School Are Doing It To Themselves. I feel like I either know lots of people here who are miserable, or lots of people who enjoy the idea of being miserable. People don't love it here. And I partly get it, but not entirely. If you're miserable here, it's your own fault, because whatever is making you miserable is probably something you can stop doing. Exception for the weather. If the weather is making you miserable, you should transfer. But if the schoolwork is making you miserable, this is kind of pathetic and speaks terribly of the education we receive, but you can stop doing it, basically. There are people here who don't go to class, don't buy their textbooks, and spend the day before each exam studying, and do fine. It doesn't take a heck of a lot to pass. This is sad and unfortunate, and is something that's wrong with legal education at least here, but it's true. So the schoolwork is a lousy reason to be miserable. If you're miserable because you haven't met the right people, maybe you just need to meet new people. I have trouble seeing how law school can be more miserable than having a job, any job -- except for the money part. But if money is the determining factor as to whether you're happy or miserable, then maybe that's the thing you should work on, and not why law school is making you sad.

3. Go To The Best Law School You Get Into. Or Not. Again, advice that's kind of good. The better the law school, the more firms come and recruit, the easier it is to get a job, the more weight the name carries if you're looking to do something else.... But, again, maybe there are reasons to go somewhere else. If you know you want to do something that you can do equally as well coming out of law school A, better ranked but really expensive, and law school B, lower ranked but they're giving you a full ride, why not choose B? It's all about that story you're telling yourself about why you want to go to law school. If you want to clerk for the Supreme Court, go to the best school you can (probably). If you want to impress your grandma's friends, go to the best school you can (probably). If you want to open a solo practice doing divorce law, I'm not sure it matters as much.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Things I've Seen Recently

1. The new Broadway musical, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," last week when I was in New York. The New York Times calls it "effortlessly endearing." Eh, I was less impressed. Here's the problem, as I see it. It's not terrible, there are some laughs... but it's throwaway. This may be the wrong standard to be judging something by, but it's got nothing to say. It doesn't stick. I also felt like the book and the music didn't match at all. The book was light and trying to be jokey. The music needed melodies. It wasn't catchy enough. It would have been cool to see it done with the "Avenue Q" songwriters. The acting was solid enough. I mean, like I said, not terrible. But, eh. They have a gimmick where they have 4 audience members come on stage as spellers, and interact with the cast. Today's Times has an article on that, which is interesting even if you couldn't care less about the show. Here's the other problem: the movie "Spellbound" was really awesome, and so anything else about spelling is kind of held up against that. And fails.

2. The movie "Crash," starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and a whole bunch of other people. It's a movie about racism, structured sort of like "Love Actually," which is a completely different kind of movie, but has the same structure of interlocking characters and stories all about the same ideas. Roger Ebert likes it. He says, "[Paul] Haggis [the writer] writes with such directness and such a good ear for everyday speech that the characters seem real and plausible after only a few words. His cast is uniformly strong; the actors sidestep cliches and make their characters particular." I'll agree with that. I thought the movie was really good, and worth seeing. It's thought-provoking and engaging. It has something to say, unlike "Spelling Bee." Biggest negative: the previews! 5 terrible looking movies. Including one about a spelling bee. A fictionalized version of Spellbound, in the inner city... come on, Spellbound was good because it was a well-done, engaging documentary, not because Spelling is some magic subject that will make anything you put together a huge hit. At least I hope not. This is just hopping on a bandwagon. How about making good movies instead of just copying things that worked?

3. Today's Red Sox game, at Fenway Park. Was a fairly boring game for a while, Sox up 4-1 until the 9th. And then the A's scored 4 in the top of the 9th off Keith Foulke, all with 2 outs, to take the lead, 5-4. And then the Sox came right back and Jason Varitek hit a 2-run homer off Dotel to win it 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th. One of the best 9th innings I've seen, ever. Very cool.

4. Tonight's season finale (and hopefully not series finale) of "Jack and Bobby" on the WB. There's a rerun on Sunday. Watch it. It's awesome TV. Really, TV doesn't get any better than this, and they put enough catch-up at the beginning that you can figure out what's going on. This will be a good DVD set when it comes out. Unfortunately, it looks like ratings aren't high enough for them to really bring this show back, but I hope they do anyway. It's really quality TV. The Times likes it too. Check out the article, and then check out the episode. Shows like this are why writing for television would be so cool. Because you can tell real stories, and let them unfold over a season, and really hook an audience, and create compelling drama and characters... Jack & Bobby is the human drama side of The West Wing. There's something really cool about TV shows about smart, interesting characters instead of dull and vapid ones. Joey, I'm looking at you here. Yeah, yeah, I know 20 times more people are watching Joey than Jack and Bobby... but that just means 20 times more people are dull and vapid. Why should we cater to them anyway?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fifteen Things To Do The Remainder of the Day, After An Exam, When You Really Can't Focus on Doing All That Much

1. Burn all your notes from the exam you just took.
2. Test out all the highlighters on your desk to see which ones you can throw out and which ones you should bring home.
3. Listen to that Lionel Richie CD you spent three dollars on when you weren't thinking straight, and don't really want to listen to, but you figure you may as well.
4. Realize you kind of like the Lionel Richie CD, sad as that may be.
5. Read the Entertainment Weekly Summer Movie Preview to see which movies you want to see. Read the Entertainment Weekly Winter Movie Preview to see which movies you should have seen. Read the Entertainment Weekly Foreign Movie Preview to see which movies you're never going to see.
6. Realize the Lionel Richie CD makes a good soundtrack when reading old issues of Entertainment Weekly.
7. Download the last two episodes of Desperate Housewives and watch them, even though you really couldn't care less who killed Mary Alice and why there are twenty-seven main characters but only ten of them appear in any given episode.
8. Start a new anonymous weblog.
9. Research different address book software online to see which one is going to be least annoying to everyone in my Outlook address book when they get an e-mail from me asking for their contact information.
10. Alphabetize your shirts by color.
11. Daydream about what you're going to do with the $7.23 you're going to get back from the bookstore when you sell back your used books.
12. Count the pile of change you've been collecting for the past year, even though you're just going to throw it all into a Coinstar machine anyway.
13. Throw out some old cheese that you should have thrown out a few weeks ago.
14. Consolidate two half-empty bottles of laundry detergent into one, even though one of them has added bleach alternative and one doesn't.
15. Consolidate the glass cleaner with the bathroom cleaner, even though for all you know that's going to create an explosion, or, at best, something that cleans nothing particularly well and just leaves soapy residue on everything, but, hey, you only live once.

For added fun: I actually did five of these things this afternoon. Can you guess which five? Winner (or anyone really) can have my Legal Profession rules book, if you want it, since the bookstore surely won't take it back since there'll be a new edition next year.
Exam funnies.

A friend at Boalt passed along this e-mail he received:

Dear students:

It has come to my attention that many of you are disregarding the
DOWN until told to begin the exam. It has been reported to me that many
of you are not only reading the cover page of the exam but have actually
been turning to the first page and reading the first page of the exam..

I must remind you that any of you who have done this have violated the
Honor Code.

Please remember to follow the proctors' directions exactly and to the
letter. Do not start reading your exam until told to do so and do not
continue writing at the end after time has been called. We will be
monitoring compliance with these rules very carefully during the second
week of finals.

And this morning, an e-mail was sent 17 minutes before my exam started that said:

I believe that I was unclear about what types of outlines were permitted in the exam. Therefore, I will allow all outlines, even ones that you did not prepare or participate substantially in preparing. The registrar will make an announcement to that effect at the beginning of the exam. I apologize for creating confusion on this point.
The registrar did not make such an announcement (or maybe he did, before I arrived -- I don't know), and I got the e-mail when I got home. Didn't make a difference, but still, kind of funny.
Two exams down, one to go (Friday), and then I'll be done with law school.

Someone e-mailed me asking for the apartment-hunting advice I received. Courtesy of Melissa, here's 28 questions to think about:

1. Laundry facilities - how many machines and where are they located.
2. Exactly what utilities are included in the rent.
3. If utilities aren't included, how much they typically cost (make sure to get estimates for both winter and summer).
4. If there's A/C in the unit, and what kind (window or central).
5. You need to ask if the building is wired for cable, and you could also ask if the building has its own high-speed internet service.
6. If there are any common facilities - lounge, fitness room, mailroom, etc.
7. Check out to make sure the common areas are kept reasonably neat and in good condition.
8. Is there a place that packages go to, or are they left on the door steps.
9. If all the windows open.
10. What's due upfront in terms of payment.
11. How long a lease the landlord is expecting.
12. The procedure for repairs or other problems.
13. Whether the building is all apartments or condos. If it's condos, whether most people that live there own or rent.
14. How old the appliances are.
15. Check to see if it comes w/ a microwave - a decent amount of places do.
16. Water pressure.
17. Dishwasher, disposal, fireplace, balcony.
18. Check the ceilings for signs of leaking.
19. Kind of flooring.
20. Can the walls be painted if you want.
21. Make sure you can fit your stuff, both into the apartment, and up the stairs and through the doorways.
22. Definitely check out closet space.
23. Ask if there's basement storage.
24. Does it come w/ parking (even if you don't have a car, maybe you could rent the spot).
25. Is subletting allowed.
26. Check the windows to see if the paint is peeling which might be a sign that they're drafty. Also just check to make sure they don't look old and drafty.
27. Try to check out the current tenant and neighbors. They might give you an idea if you're the type of person that might like the building.
28. As the number of blocks - not minutes - to the subway. People always underestimate minutes.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I've had a couple dozen people e-mail me so far to be part of this vague experiment I posted about late last night (see below). More than one has asked for some clarification as to what the heck I'm talking about. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what I'm talking about. But here's what I'm thinking:

1. There's at least a thread of dissatisfaction with the large law firm life. Too many people I know are going to large firms more reluctant than excited, feeling like it's worth it for the money, but, all in all, not going to be a particularly pleasant experience. Critics have said much worse. There are elements of this world -- of every world, I'm sure, but that's not the point -- that could be improved.

2. Sometimes it's hard for people entrenched inside a world to see the problems and to think outside the box and figure out how to change things.

3. Law students are generally pretty smart. Get a bunch of people sharing and thinking and talking, and maybe we can figure out some ideas for institutional improvement. Maybe not. But maybe we can try.

4. More than that, I think there's something cool just about trying to create a community of people who want to think about these issues, and either share their own ideas, or just follow along in case something cool does emerge. I think it would be awesome to have a mix of 1Ls and 2Ls getting their first exposure to firms, with people already there, or people doing other cool things in the law that may provide other perspectives.

5. Maybe this will end up being nothing, but if enough people care about these issues, and want to engage, and want to see if we can maybe come up with some ideas, I think it can be something neat.

6. So e-mail me if this sounds cool, and like something you want to potentially be a part of. I don't know what shape this will take exactly; that'll end up depending on you as much as on me. You're more than welcome to be part of this anonymously, and it may even be better that way. I'll try and put something together this weekend. Until then, this is the last I'll say about it, because if you couldn't care less, I bet this is pretty boring and ridiculous.

7. And, again, I'm really not sure entirely what this is yet, and have no idea what I'm talking about. But maybe you can help me figure that all out.
The Great Vague Experiment 2005

Just had a sudden idea, and I haven't thought this through enough to know if it'll end up being something or nothing or what exactly it is I'm thinking about here. But -- if you're a law student working at a firm this summer, or a young associate somewhere, and want to potentially help me sort through this world this summer, and maybe we emerge at the end with some thoughts about how to make law firms better places to work, or something along those lines -- I feel like it could be cool to set up a Yahoo group just for people to share their experiences and maybe find some sense of how things are better or worse at different places, how experiences compare, and some common ground. I mean, part of this is that for me to write this Anonymous Lawyer book, it would be awesome to feel immersed in this world without being in it every day, even just more for the atmosphere than the stories, so I totally admit that's part of the motive here, but I feel like there's a lot more than that, and really something potentially much cooler and not really for my benefit specifically -- I just feel like there's some room for thinking here, there's some room for brainstorming about institutional change, and putting some smart people together to solve this puzzle of why so many people working at these places don't seem all that happy about it and what some better models might be, or way to fix these models, or maybe even just explain why the current model is actually working quite well. And to get the fresh perspectives of people who are first going into this, and the perspectives of people already there, people who love it, people who don't, I don't know -- I feel like maybe something good and interesting and fun could emerge. So that's my idea. If this sounds like something you want to be a part of -- and clearly this is as obligation-free as it gets; I mean, I don't even know what this even is yet -- go set up an anonymous Yahoo/GMail/Hotmail/whatever account -- and send me your address, and I'll invite you onto a Yahoo group and we'll do something, or some of us will do something and you can just be a lurker and watch. I don't know. I'll see if this gets any response at all, and then we'll see what happens. Cool. I think there's something neat somewhere in here, somewhere.
Happy Birthday, Grandma

My grandma turns 89 today. She ends up reading this stuff in paper form, every few weeks when my mom prints out a stack for her. She's really awesome, and even though she'd like to think she's my biggest fan, I think the way it actually works is that I'm her biggest fan. I'm pretty sure that if she'd been born fifty years later than she was, she'd be President by now. ;)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The first of my final set of exams is tomorrow morning.

I think I'm worse at this than I was two years ago when I was a 1L. This school thing, I mean. My attention span feels shorter. My ability to focus on this stuff. My ability to get concerned and scared and motivated and get myself to really try and learn this stuff. My ability to ignore the part of me that's saying I can fake it and still do okay. I mean, I've done some studying. I know some of this stuff okay. But not really. I'm basically going to fake it. Which is basically what a lot of people do.

Back in high school, I didn't really think about having to like my classes in order to care. I took stuff like AP Physics and AP Chemistry not because I decided I would like them, but because that was what the smart kids did. Smart kids took the hard classes. So I took them. It never crossed my mind to wonder whether I would like them or not. Even now, I have no idea if I liked them. I paid attention, I did the homework, I took the tests. That was what school was.

But then in college they screw with our heads by letting us make choices. By adding an expectation that we should like our classes. It spoils us, really. I totally shouldn't have been able to get credit for stuff like The Economics and Politics of Sports and The Literature of Comedy, or whatever those two classes were called (I can't find them on Princeton's website, so I'm just guessing). They were too interesting. They should have forced us to take stuff like...

Like Civil Procedure. Because then we get to law school, and we're sort of back to high school, where we have to take the classes they tell us to. Although at this point, I picked all my classes. So I really have no one to blame. Oh well. Back to studying.

Also: Per Chris's recommendation, I bought Ben Folds' latest album, Songs for Silverman, last week, and have been listening. I like it. "Landed," "Late," and "Time" are my favorites I think. A lot of them are good. They've been sticking in my head. Check it out if you generally like Ben Folds' stuff.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I was with a friend in a bookstore a little while ago and she was looking at the book, "He's Just Not That Into You," a dating guide for morons, with tips like "He's Just Not That Into You If He Only Wants To See You When He's Drunk" and "He's Just Not That Into You If He's Breaking Up With You." Here's a couple more:

"He's Just Not That Into You If He's Hitting You With A Baseball Bat"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He's Locked You In The Basement"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He Keeps Calling You By A Different Name"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He's Your Father"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He's Really Into Your Brother"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He's Michael Jackson"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He's In A Coma"
"He's Just Not That Into You If He'd Rather Clean His Toilet"