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, November 30, 2004

Odds and ends:

1. If you go to school here: come see the Scales of Justice sing a cappella music Thursday at 7:30 in the Ropes Gray room. Among our 7 songs will be a song I wrote about on-campus interviewing (called "Why OCI") that I have a solo on, despite my eager willingness to let someone else have the solo. Rumor has it that if enough people clap, we will do an encore, another song I wrote, called "Don't Call On Me," about the Socratic Method, which we first performed two years ago. If you mention that you read about the concert here, you can get in for just $5. If you don't mention it, you can also get in for $5, since that is the admission cost. There will be refreshments. I think we're using the word "refreshments" because it's vague. There will be soda and popcorn. That's less vague. If you can eat $5 worth of popcorn, you can consider the concert free. You would also, in that case, eat all of our popcorn. We have a guest group from Northeastern University. They will sing 4 songs, hopefully in tune.

2. I dropped my cell phone today and split into two. Since it's 28 months old (that's about 80 in cell years, no?), I figured I could spring for a new one rather than try to paste the wires back together, or however one might fix a broken cell phone. I spent an hour in the Sprint store. Sprint needs to rename itself, because there was nothing Sprint-like about their service. Even Jog would be an overstatement. Leisurely Stroll is closer. Crawl would be my pick. Would you buy anything technological from a company called Crawl? Anyway, despite the wait, I found out that I'm a "valued customer" (i.e., I pay my bill) who, if I extended my service plan for 400 years(give or take 398), could get a new phone for 30 bucks. So I did. I am frustrated with new phone. I don't need a full-color screen. I need two colors. Black, and white. I just want to see the numbers, that's all. I don't need pictures of mountains or flying eagles. I also want my ring to sound like a phone, but of the 37 ring choices, only one of them is even close to "phone" and it doesn't sound enough like a phone that I will realize it's a phone ringing and not a doorbell or a wind chime or a fire alarm. I also don't need the multi-directional keypad button, since I don't know why I'd ever need to move left or right on the screen. I don't need web browsing capability, text messaging, the ability to download games, a "wireless organizer," world time zone information, or an optional microwave attachment. I just want to make calls and receive calls, and have it ring like a phone. I like cell phones. I'm not a technophobe. I mean, I have a weblog. :) But this feels like overkill. And I got the simplest phone there, without a camera, a TV screen, a full-size keypad, an mp3 player, a DVD burner, or an ice maker. I can't figure out how to make it stop making a dumb sound when I open or close the flip-top. I'm not shutting down Windows here, I'm just opening the phone. Please stop, phone. Just be normal. On the other hand, my mom tells me the reception is much clearer than on my old phone, and the Sprint guy gave me 50 more minutes for 10 dollars less per month. So I'm not complaining. Just, uh, complaining.

3. "Controlling Your Roaming Experience" is one of the chapter headings in the book my new phone came with. Give me a break.

Monday, November 29, 2004

According to New York Lawyer, "Sullivan & Cromwell has announced higher year-end bonuses for associates this year than in 2003. The firm will pay from $20,000 for first-year associates to $30,000 for senior associates, compared with last year's $17,500 to $27,500. Sullivan & Cromwell associates this year also got October bonuses of $10,000 to $20,000. Last year, no such bonus was paid. The two bonuses will push total compensation to $155,000 for first-year associates, the highest level since 2000, when the booming dot-com economy boosted associate bonuses to $400,000 for first-years and $1,000,000 for senior associates."

Okay, I added zeroes to the last two numbers. But the rest of it is totally from the article. Wow. That's a lot of money. Maybe I should see if my firm offer is still open.

$155,000 is still just $17/hour if you work 168 hours a week though.

And with Blackberries, aren't you sort of?

Incidentally, just in case anyone missed these over the holiday weekend:
After-Thanksgiving Sales at the Law School Bookstore
Inside the Actors' Studio Parody
and, over at The [non]Billable Hour, the 5 things I would change about legal education (long, and not that funny, but (I think) kind of interesting). Check it out, along with the other 4 contributions from other law students, if you haven't yet.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Amber has a post about people being late vs. early, and links to a (very long) thread thread somewhere else about the same topic. I could have sworn I posted about this before, but I can't find it in my archives where I thought it would be, so I'll pretend I haven't, and if I have, then I apologize for the repeat.

I'm always early. Well, basically. I'm just about always early when I have an appointment to meet someone, or I'm going somewhere, or I have anything to do that is at a certain time. With the exception of my 8:50 class this semester, which I've been somewhat consistently 2-5 minutes late to, mostly because I spend too long checking e-mail when I get up and don't leave myself enough time to shower and everything and still get to class on time. But lots of people are late to the class, and I don't feel that bad about it. But I feel a little bad about it, and just writing this post is going to make me set my alarm 5 minutes earlier tomorrow and get there early to make up for it. I promise. I've been one or two minutes late to my 2:20 class a couple of times just because I've been stupid and I'll cut my laundry too close, or go to the bathroom too late, or whatever.

But being a couple of minutes late to class occasionally, and literally just a couple of minutes, feels like a less egregious offense to me than being late to meet someone for something. I feel like it's rude to be late. I don't like standing outside somewhere waiting for someone, not sure when they're going to show up, so I make sure I don't do it to anyone else. I also consistently overestimate how long it takes me to get places, so I leave way too much time, and end up getting places earlier than I mean to.

I happened to have a conversation with a friend over the summer about this -- we were at another friend's birthday dinner, where most people showed up egregiously late, and they wouldn't seat us until everyone was there. The friend I was talking to was basically on time, and is usually basically on time, but he was saying he's late a lot of the time, not because he means to be, but because he'll get distracted, and he'll imagine the best-case scenario for getting somewhere -- "If I catch a train right away... If I walk really quickly... If it's closer to the near end of the street and not the far end..." -- and plan that way. I'll tend to imagine the worst-case scenario -- I won't get a train for 15 minutes, I'll get lost, I'll lose my mind -- and so I'm early.

It's not actually someone being late that I mind as much as the uncertainty. Which is why cell phones are good. I've occasionally called people to say I'm going to be 5 minutes late somewhere, which is probably unnecessary, but it seems polite. It's nice to know that someone's 5 minutes late and not 30 minutes late, or that they didn't just forget.

This post is pointless. Sorry. The links inspired me to chime in. I don't know why. I shouldn't bother writing if I have nothing to say.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Harvard Law School Catalog is vague about a lot of things ("By accepting membership in the University, an individual joins a community ideally characterized by free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change," "Harvard University promotes the health and well being of its students and employees through its Health Services and other agencies," and "Students should strive to take a range of courses in order to create a balanced program," just as examples), but about at least one it is very specific:

"Third-year students must register for the Written Work Requirement by October 15, 2004. Fines for late registration are $25 (October 18 to November 24), $50 (December 1 through February 4, 2005), and $100 after February 4, 2005."

This is awfully straightforward. I mean, people could argue about whether these fines are because it costs the Registrar more to process written work registrations after a certain date (perhaps their resources are taxed figuring out new algorithms for course selection, making the add/drop procedure less computerized, or interviewing proctors for the rigorous hiring process that I'm sure makes OCI seem like a piece of cake), or whether they're simply punitive. Or people could argue about whether the fines ought to be assessed at the time the written work form is turned in, or whether it makes more sense to just add it to the next term bill. But the words are unambiguous. Yet, a careful investigation (i.e., I heard this from a friend) has revealed that the fines are never actually assessed. This seems unfair to those of us who bothered to get our forms in on time. Why threaten a fine -- especially a fine that's fairly minimal anyway -- if it's never going to charged? Why compromise the integrity of the course catalog, if everyone knows it's all just a sham?

If I can't trust that a fine that's clearly explained will actually be charged, how can I trust anything the catalog says? How can I trust that "Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment"? How can I trust that "Harvard Affiliated Housing portfolio offers approximately 2,500 apartments within a one-mile radius of Harvard Yard, and these units vary in style from townhouse apartments to apartments in high-rise buildings"? How can I trust that "The Appellate Courts and Advocacy course combines a substantive review of key appellate litigation doctrines concerning appellate jurisdiction, standards of review, and other topics, with an intensive advocacy component, ranging from motion and brief writing to oral argument"? My world has been turned upside-down.

Why have meaningless deadlines at all? I understand some deadlines, like the add-drop deadline. Without it, I'd take 30 classes, wait until I got my grades, and then drop all the courses I didn't get As in. This makes sense. I understand the financial aid form deadline, because otherwise Harvard will run out of money in its $16 billion endowment. I understand why the cafeteria closes for lunch at 2:00. And then re-opens at 5:30 with the exact same food. Well, I thought I understood that. Maybe I don't. But, in any case, I don't really understand why there's a 3L paper deadline that isn't really a deadline, because the only penalty is a small fine, and the fine doesn't even get assessed. This is why people hate lawyers. Lawyers make up rules that don't make sense. I guess they're called laws. We have to write a 3L paper by the time we graduate. If we don't write it, we don't graduate. Isn't this the only deadline we need?

It's amazing what I learned reading the catalog that I did not know before. I didn't know we had a patient advocate: "The Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) staff provides the student with health care and services that are responsive to his/her needs, but no service functions perfectly all the time. If a student is confused, upset, has a concern or a compliment, they should not go away unheard.... The Patient Advocate is available to provide assistance for patients who encounter difficulties or problems within the Health Services." This is amazing. But why does health services get all of this attention, and the rest of the law school doesn't? Do we have a "course registration advocate" for when the registrar doesn't give us our first choice class, an "on-campus interviewing advocate" when we don't get to interview with the firms we wanted, a "student learning advocate" when a professor sucks, or a "wow, this is the same turkey as they had last week advocate" when the food is lousy?

Here's something no one ever mentioned: "Class work is essential to the educational program at the Law School. Regular attendance at classes and participation in class work are expected of all students." They probably ought to enforce this, but I've seen no indication anyone does.

"There is an extracurricular organization for almost every interest or inclination at the Law School." Lucky that "almost" is in there. I can't find HLS Wiccans, HLS Eat Too Much, or HLS Sit Around And Do Nothing All Day anywhere in the catalog.

"Course materials distributed to students in class or via the Harvard Printing and Publications Services... are normally covered by the cost of tuition. However, courses with large volumes of copied and distributed materials... may be billed to the students at the rates below. ... $50: Over 3,000 pages" I'm glad I'm not in that class. Wow.
I'm sorry, but I think someone's hacked into the New York Times website and put up this article, which strains the bounds of credibility.

Procedures that once were reserved for problems like incontinence, congenital malformations or injuries related to childbirth are now being marketed by some gynecologists and plastic surgeons as "vaginal rejuvenation," surgical techniques to enhance sexual satisfaction and improve the looks of the genitals....

The most popular of those are... vaginoplasty, and... labiaplasty. ... "Now they see porn. Now they're more aware of appearance." ... "Now, she said, "I look down and I say, that's the way it should be." ....

Is this serious? Really?



People are strange.

Friday, November 26, 2004

I fear that all of my content is going to get buried because of the holiday weekend, but I'll take the risk. Just wanted to write up a quick review of Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, the story of Trippi's life as a political operative, the rise and fall of the Dean Campaign, and how although it was the first time the Internet had ever been used to any real effect in a Presidential campaign, it won't be the last, and the decentralization of political campaigns is the wave of the present.

It's a great read, really. Trippi, assuming he wrote the book, is articulate, passionate, and tells good stories. It's very compelling. But before I get to the stuff I liked, two things I didn't, one just quibbling and one a larger, more fundamental problem.

The quibble is that this book is riddled with typos. The West Cast (West Coast), Ray Neely (Roy Neel, the man who replaced Trippi in Dean's campaign), Carol Mosley Braun (Moseley Braun), and lots lots more. They rushed this book into print. They wanted to get it in stores way before the election. And in rushing it, they didn't scrub it for typos. I wasn't even looking for them and caught at least a couple dozen. That shouldn't really be acceptable. It distracted from the text.

The bigger problem is that Trippi's big point is that the Dean campaign illustrated that a presidential campaign can do a lot with the Internet -- mobilize tens of thousands of people, get them to donate, get them to feel involved, create a two-way discussion instead of relying simply on one-way communication -- and that campaigns will need to adopt this new paradigm to be successful in the future. Now, maybe they will. But Dean didn't even get the nomination. Bush and Kerry ran pretty old-style campaigns. So will it be shocking if in 2008 someone wins without using and and relies on big business donations more than relying on lots of little donations? Maybe. I mean, I like what Trippi is saying. But I don't know that the Dean campaign proves that this stuff absolutely has to be an ingredient in future winning campaigns.

All that said, I liked the book. It's a good behind-the-scenes look at the chaos of a presidential campaign, the quick decisions, the way that little things (i.e., screaming at a rally) can have a big impact (i.e., your campaign imploding). It covers lots of technology very well -- explains the potential power of blogs and things like MeetUp and MoveOn. It argues effectively for lots of businesses to decentralize and give their customers and employees more power, and shows lots of ways to use technology effectively. It will also probably give Trippi a whole bunch of customers for his consulting business, because he comes off as really smart and pretty visionary. Of course, Dean didn't win. But lots of people don't win. Good book. Worth reading.
After-Thanksgiving Sales at the Law School Bookstore

1. Buy one Contracts casebook, get one free.
2. Nine tax study guides for the price of eight.
3. GMAT prep books 1/2 off.
4. 20% off "Writing a Law Review Note for Dummies"
5. 25% off "The Idiot's Guide to Writing a Law Review Note"
6. Free with every purchase: a limited-edition black highlighter.
7. New item: "My son/daughter goes to law school and instead of helping me escape prosecution, all I got was this stupid t-shirt" t-shirt.
8. Every purchase gets you one entry in raffle to become Scott Peterson's appellate attorney.
9. One-millionth customer receives Bar/Bri class at 10% off the normal price.
10. Expired milk: 50% off.
There's still two questions from all-request day floating in the queue, and one of them is quickly running out of relevance, so I'd better answer it:

"How about best diversions from studying for exams? My first exam is only one week away and I don't feel like studying ... what should I do instead?"

Okay. Best diversions from studying. Well, starting a weblog is a pretty good one. Developing a phobia of books / ink / words would also work. Laundry. Cleaning your bathroom. Starting a fire. Spider solitaire. Or any of the games on Writing a novel. Writing a screenplay. Writing pretty much anything. Including a shopping list. And then going shopping. Today, that could probably put you out of commission for a while, since you're likely to get trampled by the people running for the $19.99 DVD player at Sears, or the $6.99 time-travel machine at Wal-Mart. Updating your cell-phone phone book is a good diversion. Counting the pages in your casebooks to make sure they're right. Switching to dial-up Internet service. Taking up knitting. Reading (and lifting) the Sunday New York Times. Homeopathic medicine. Editing someone else's PhD thesis. Learning a new language. Learning an old language. Peeling the outer shell off an egg without tearing the inner membrane. Fantasy football / basketball / hockey. Plugging every book and CD you own into and seeing what they recommend you buy next. Getting lost in the woods. Answering an ad on Craigslist for an activity partner (I'm just grasping at straws now). Grasping at straws. Sending e-mails to people whose weblogs you read asking them for suggestions about what to do to avoid studying.

Hmmm. That can probably get you through the weekend, no?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Some Thanksgiving reading (besides my archives, of course): Check out the first two entries in the five-by-five over at The [Non]-Billable Hour. He asked five law students to write about five things we'd change about law school. My contribution isn't up yet, but should be sometime within the next few days. So far, neither post has stolen any of my points, but I agree with Mr. Poon that law school should give out more cookies, and with Wings&Vodka that wireless Internet in classrooms is not exactly helpful in the right way (and, like him, my laptop stays at home when I go to class... although I find myself reading ESPN Page 2 off the computer of the person next to me anyway).

UPDATE: My entry has been added here. Hope you enjoy. (You can leave comments over there, or, of course, you can e-mail me, if you have any thoughts on it.)
Christmas has tons of songs. Thanksgiving doesn't have any. No fair.

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Turkey"
"I'll Be Home For Stuffing"
"It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Football"
"Little Drummer-Stick"
"Do You Taste What I Taste?"
"Oh Come All Ye Traffic"
"The Twelve Courses of Gravy"
"Harold the Red-Nosed Uncle"

Okay, I guess I figured out why.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Someone just sent me this question: "If you could genetically engineer any person/animal/vegetable what would it be? What would you add or subtract? Why?"

Interesting. Odd, but interesting. I started thinking about this, and realized that having this power could be pretty dangerous. Because we wouldn't be able to foresee the consequences. Like if I said I would give dogs the ability to talk, I don't know if the result would be having extra-super pets who you could have a conversation with, or the result would be that dogs, even with the power to talk, wouldn't have very much of any interest to say, and so they'd just ramble on about nothing and be annoying, like sorority girls (I'm kidding, sort of), or if they'd actually use the power to talk to conspire to get back at humans for domesticating them and take over the world (I think there was a summer movie about that, actually, starring the kid from Stepmom). The stuff I can think of doing would mostly be just to make things easier to eat, and probably pretty cruel in the case of animals -- fish with no bones, cows with no bones, chickens with no bones... my genetically engineered world would have lots of floppy animals. Or apples with no cores, plums with no pits... but, really, the inconvenience of plum pits is not particularly high on the list of world problems. I suppose it would be cool to do something random, like give broccoli ears, or give humans flippers -- stuff without a point that would just look weird. Or perhaps some superpowers would be nice -- the ability to fly, or to read people's minds. But if everyone could read everyone else's mind, again, the consequences are hard to puzzle out. There'd be an awful lot of stuff flying through your head as you were walking down the street. Not sure I'd want that. I guess if I could genetically engineer some plants to provide cures for stuff, like cancer and AIDS and heart disease, that would be cool. Yeah, I'll go with that.
More from all-request day: "If you could live anywhere, where would that be?"

Surrounded by people I care about and who care about me.

Man, my answers suck today. But that's the truth. I wrote on Monday about why I went to law school, and how it was harder than I thought it would be after college to move to Texas for a marketing job. Part of the frustration was the job, but I think a lot of it was that I felt more alone than I thought I would. It's nice not to feel alone. It's nice not to be alone. I don't think place matters a heck of a lot compared to who you're there with. Even one good friend can make all the difference, I think.

But I'll give a better answer. Taking my answer as a given -- that no matter where I'd be I'd be around people I want to be around, where then? I don't know that I've ever really thought about it, or that I've been to enough places that I know whether or not I'd want to choose one of them. But here are some of my considerations, I suppose, in rough (but not especially carefully considered) order of importance:

1. A place that feels relevant to the greater world, in terms of it being a place where new things happen, where culture gets created, where smart and creative people gravitate to, where ideas can become reality, where there is a cutting-edge.

2. A place where there are all sorts of neat ethnic food options, that serve dishes I'd possibly be afraid to try (like, say, things made of feet, or brains), but appreciate having the choice.

3. A baseball team. Even if it's just a minor league one.

4. Some amount of theater, especially new theater (as opposed to community productions of The Sound Of Music). An independent movie theater. But also a very much commercial movie theater. A university. A bookstore. Some amount of live music. I guess this overlaps with #1 in a bunch of ways.

5. Nice outdoor things. Like parks or mountains or sunsets or coasts. Even better if they're convenient and walk-around-able.

6. Weather. I'm torn as to whether I have a preference about what kind. I'm not sure I do. Not oppressively hot all the time or oppressively cold all the time or oppressively wet all the time. So that eliminates pretty much nowhere I guess, except for Siberia and The Sun.

7. No terrorists.
On the bus ride home, I came up with 7 funny concepts for posts. Now all I have to do is write them, and make the content be as good as I think the concepts are. So they will all come in due course. But first, I figure I'll continue with the all-request questions.

"What you'd write about if you could be anonymous. Would the substance of your posts change at all?"

Uh, I really don't think anything would change. I mean, if I was writing anonymously as someone who isn't me -- if I was writing fiction -- then I'd obviously have different things to say. But if I was still writing from my own point of view, then I don't really think anything would be different if I was writing anonymously, even assuming I trusted that anonymity really exists, which I really don't. I'm certain that if I was writing honestly, and sharing real things in my life and real thoughts I was having, that someone would figure out it was me, and pretty quickly. I figured out who Waddling Thunder was without too much difficulty, I think people figured out where Sua Sponte went to school before she revealed it. I just don't think it's too hard, given the non-infinite population of law students, for people to figure it out if they try. And I think if I was writing this anonymously, it wouldn't feel as rewarding. I can absolutely admit that part of why I'm motivated to do this is because who knows who's reading, and who knows what can happen if I write good stuff. I mean, probably nothing will come of any of this, and I understand that. But one never knows. And I think any chance of something cool coming out of what I'm doing here goes down quite a bit if I'm writing anonymously. This is not a great answer to the question, I guess, but I think it's honest.
In my Japanese Business Law class yesterday, the professor said something like this:

"If you are a successful tax lawyer, dinner with you would be very boring.... There's a word we call tax lawyers in Japan. Otaku. Like a strange man who loves to play computer games."

Fun stuff. :)
Barring any terrible Thanksgiving traffic on the Chinatown bus, about 7 hours from now (I'm taking the 11 o'clock bus, 4 hour bus ride, an hour or so to get home from the bus stop) I'll be home in NY for the holiday weekend. As All-Request Monday rolled into Tuesday, and now Wednesday, here are the questions still on my plate to answer in the next few days:

1. What you're looking forward to after law school ends.

2. What you'd write about if you could be anonymous. Would the substance of your posts change at all?

3. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?

4. How about best diversions from studying for exams? My first exam is only one week away and I don't feel like studying ... what should I do instead?

I'll try to tackle those by the end of the week, and anything else anyone sends.

But, in case you're going home too, and won't be reading, just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

As all-request Monday rolls into Tuesday... "i think it would be interesting for you to write about how you came to the decision to go to law school.. why you picked harvard (i mean, was it a total "duh" decision for you, or did you think about it, weigh other options?).. and, like what you were doing in texas doing a computer job, what did you get out of that and did it have anything to do with your decision to do law school?"

Okay, I think I've tackled parts of this question before, but I'm not sure ever all at once, and probably the answer looks different from the perspective of a 3L than whenever previously I've touched on any of this.

I'll take the second part first, and catch up on some quick background that some readers may or may not recall from past posts. [EDIT: this ain't so quick. Sorry. I don't know if I've shared this all before, although I feel like I probably have, in bits and pieces; if you know all this, I'm sorry for the repeat. But it's hard to jump right into the question without the background, for anyone who doesn't know and wants to. It all feels a bit too self-indulgent to write though, but I'm just trying to answer the question.] Junior year at Princeton I hadn't really thought about what I wanted to do with myself after college, and a friend of mine was taking the LSAT, so I figured I may as well too, and so I took the LSAT without really thinking too much about it, and did well enough that I knew if I wanted to go to law school, I'd probably have some nice options.

Senior year, I did what everyone else at Princeton does and applied for a bunch of consulting jobs, still having no idea what I wanted to do. But, on a whim, and mostly just to get some free garbage -- Koosh yo-yos, t-shirts, stress balls, that kind of stuff -- I went to the science and technology career fair, and there was a software company in Texas that was giving away t-shirts, but you had to give them a resume. So I gave them a resume, I got a t-shirt, and then they called me wanting to know if I wanted to interview. I was a political science major (the Woodrow Wilson School -- it's an undergrad major at Princeton basically equivalent to poli sci / public policy elsewhere), had taken zero computer classes, had no idea what this particular software company -- or any software company -- did. But I figured it would be good practice interviewing.

So it turned out they were looking for people for their business development / marketing department, and wanted creative people who could help them come up with new marketing ideas, write brochures, do web page stuff, organize conferences, and, frankly, it all sounded pretty neat, and they were a young, fast-growing company, with a reputation for hiring lots of bright young people and being a fun place to work. I got flown down to Texas for a round of interviews, liked the people I met, and got sold on the job being a cool, creative opportunity, got sold on their 3-month training program where I'd get to know the other hundred people who would be starting when I was, recent college graduates from a whole bunch of top schools, many of them computer programmers, but a couple dozen of us in marketing and business development. And it felt, in some ways, like a very college-like experience.

Throughout the process of interviewing with them, I interviewed with a bunch of management consulting firms, and didn't really get a feeling like that was something I wanted to do, and, in any event, none of them gave me a callback, perhaps because they could tell it wasn't what I wanted to do. Or I just wasn't what they were looking for. I applied to law school, just in case. I applied to Harvard, Yale, and UVA. I didn't want to go to school in New York, because I felt (and still feel, in a lot of ways) like being a student in New York would be less fun than somewhere with a real campus, and since my family's New York, I can always be in New York, and so it wasn't really a draw like for some people. Yale said no, Harvard and UVA said yes. But I didn't know why I would be going to law school, and the software job sounded cool, so I turned down law school (I turned them down instead of deferring -- which was probably a little dumb. But I didn't know if I'd want to go in one year, in two years, in five years, or never, and I figured that if I deferred and then said no, they'd be mad and wouldn't ever accept me again. I have no idea if that's a dumb assumption or not. But I'm not sure, in retrospect, it was smart not to defer, although it worked out fine).

And so I went to Texas. And spent 18 months writing product brochures and web page copy and coming up with some marketing ideas, and helping them do stuff in association with a big e-business conference, and learned a good deal about business software, marketing, what marketing people do, what I like to do, what I don't like to do, and was generally pretty frustrated with my life, but it wasn't the job's fault. Looking back, I will say that it was the best job I could have had at a software company, and the work itself was actually pretty engaging and pretty cool. I worked for some great people, I got to do some interesting things. But I hadn't realized how hard it would be to start a new life somewhere, knowing no one, and figure out a way to feel fulfilled and happy all the way in Texas. I made a couple of good friends, a handful of people I still keep in touch with. And I was able to take 8 weeks of vacation in 18 months, so I got to come home a fair bit. But I was frustrated because it was a little bit lonely and boring at times, and I don't know that I was prepared for that. And, probably the bigger issue, I figured out that even though the job was relatively cool, marketing probably wasn't what I wanted to be doing long-term, and definitely not software marketing. I wanted to be doing more creative things than that. So on the side I found myself writing some television spec scripts, and investigating how to get a job in advertising or in publishing. I answered an ad in a newspaper and joined a sketch comedy group, which ended up using some of my material in a show we never performed. But it was an activity. I took improv comedy classes and got invited to join their "rookie" troupe, and met a few cool people, although actually performing improv comedy I didn't find was my great calling in life. :) It was hard to think about being in Texas when the kinds of things I wanted to do were either in NY or LA. Mostly, I just didn't know what the job was leading me toward, and I felt like I was wasting my time, and watching the days click by.

My boss knew what I was feeling, and tried to give me work that was most in line with what I wanted to do, and he was great about it. The company was having trouble business-wise, and did a lot of layoffs, so a bunch of the people I'd become friends with left, and it became slow a lot of days. I was getting in at 10, leaving work at 4, and there wasn't much to do. So that didn't help things. After about a year there, in the fall of 2001, I started thinking about law school again, and since the admissions office isn't going to take back my admission now, I can be honest and say that it was really going to be more an escape than anything else. Not entirely, but the idea of having three more years of school, and three more years of time to figure out what I wanted to do, and maybe figure out how better to get there, plus coming out with a degree that was going to have a lot of value, whether or not I practiced law, was all very appealing to me. And as I started thinking about that, I also thought about how I wanted to spend the year before going back to school, and realized it wasn't in Texas. So I set up some informational interviews with people in NY that my boss knew, or that I got in touch with through the Princeton alumni site, stuff in advertising or magazines, just to see what possibilities there were. I was scheduled to take a week off from work, fly home on the afternoon of September 11 for some interviews, and then fly back to work a week later. Obviously that didn't happen.

After 9/11, any feelings that I had about wanting to be closer to home were only made stronger, although really in some ways I could just use that as an excuse for the feelings I was feeling beforehand anyway. I sent in the law school applications and came back home in January to spend the 8 months before law school just seeing what was out there writing-wise and seeing if I could get any traction before law school. I contemplated doing the 2-year NYU Musical Theater Writing graduate program instead of law school, but didn't think it would make me any more prepared to write than I already was, and that the money and time would be better spent in law school. I answered some ads in Backstage and ended up writing a couple of scripts for things that never got anywhere, did some freelance work for a few people, did some SAT tutoring. Nothing of any real consequence.

I chose Harvard because I figured that if I was going to potentially use the degree in non-law ways, the Harvard name would be worth a lot more than the UVA name, and since I got into Harvard, it would be dumb to go to UVA. Not the best reasons. I visited UVA. They had an April Fools edition of their newspaper, and on the back were the Top Ten Lies UVA Students Tell Each Other. Number one was, "I got into Harvard." I won't say that sealed the deal, but it did stick in my head. I didn't know whether I was going to fall in love with the law or not. I wanted to give myself the best opportunity I could give myself, I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to meet other smart people. UVA would have been great, I'm sure. Another thing that influenced the decision -- and this is stupid, I know -- is that I came across the website of a struggling stand-up comic who'd gone to UVA law school, and didn't want to be a struggling stand-up comic, and was afraid that would end up being me.

These are bad reasons to choose a law school. I'm sorry. You read all these paragraphs and all you get is... "He based his decision on a joke top ten list. Wow." Well, that's more about why I went to law school than anyone would ever need to know. I need to counter-balance with something funny soon, I guess. More all-request day requests on their way.
Tonight, 9PM, on the PBS affiliate near you, a "Frontline" about credit cards and how evil the credit card companies are, featuring HLS Prof. Elizabeth Warren, who I've had for a bunch of classes (contracts, bankruptcy, secured transactions) and think is completely brilliant. Check it out.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I was fortunate enough to witness a couple of amusing things people said this afternoon, that I feel amused enough about to post.

Overheard in the tunnels that connect the buildings in the basement of the law school this afternoon:

"Oh my god! I've never been down here! Tunnels freak me out."

One of my professors:

"I have to check whether my ex-husband is alive or not by looking at the alumni magazine obituaries. And that's okay by me."
I've gotten a somewhat bizarre request:

Here is my request for your weblog: Could you please write a funny Petrarchan sonnet? I've never read a funny Petrarchan sonnet before, so you'd be satisfying one of my deep Freudian desires. (Don't worry about doing it iambic pentameter, but I think keeping the abbaabba cdecde OR abbaabba cdccdc rhyme scheme would be interesting.)

Here is a description of the Petrarchan (aka Italian) sonnet:
"In its original form, the Italian sonnet was divided into an octave of eight lines followed by a sestet of six lines. The octave stated a proposition and the sestet stated its solution with a clear break between the two. The octave rhymed a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a. For the sestet there were two different possibilities, c-d-e-c-d-e and c-d-c-c-d-c. In time, other variants on this rhyming scheme were introduced. Typically, the ninth line created a "turn" or volta, which signaled the change in the topic or tone of the sonnet."

Okay. Ignoring the permission to not worry about iambic pentameter (why not? iambic pentameter is fun), here goes:

The Interview, a Petrarchan sonnet in iambic pentameter

I set eleven clocks to ring at nine
I didn't want to risk that I'd be late
I tied my tie three times till it was straight
I scrubbed my shoes until I saw them shine
I deeply wanted this one to be mine
This firm, they all had told me, it was great
I think I was convinced that it was fate
The influence of something most divine

I left the e-mail printout on my bed
I didn't check till I was on the train
My cell phone charge was gone, the phone was dead
The rash I thought had vanished, it had spread
My suit was soaked from sudden pouring rain
I guess I'll take another job instead
Getting a bunch of post ideas. Thanks. Keep 'em coming. Here's the first one I'll tackle.

"Essay editing services (check out for college/grad school applicants. Ethical/moral/sketchy/weird?"

Interesting topic. Something I don't mind ranting about for a bit. Especially since there's been a thread recently on a Princeton alumni discussion group I subscribe to. Someone posted a message about a week ago volunteering his services as an essay editor for 50 bucks an hour (I think), promising quick turnaround and effective results. And got hit with a barrage of messages that basically told him he should go shoot himself. The upshot was that (1) you're not supposed to troll for business on the alumni discussion groups, but, more important, (2) essay editing services are improper, unethical, and basically the cause of everything wrong in the world, and (3) even if it's okay elsewhere, Princeton has an honor code they make you sign that says everything on your application is yours and yours alone, so it's clearly not allowed on its applications.

This also dovetails nicely with the New SAT, which, as I understand from a set of articles in the Nov. 7th New York Times, will include an essay, and this essay will be electronically scanned and stored so that colleges can call it up and read it when they're evaluating applications. So that if your essay looks too polished, they can see how you write when you're not paying someone 50 bucks an hour to do it for you.

In my ideal world, I think all of this stuff should be outlawed. Test prep, admissions counseling, essay editing. To me, it's like cheating. Schools don't want to see how much help you can buy for your essay. They want to see you write an essay. But outlawing it is neither practical nor sensible. It'll exist anyway, under the table, and it just creates a false moral distinction. If I had a kid and he was applying to college, I'd read his essay and tell him how I think he could make it better. Obviously. And I absolutely wouldn't pay money to let someone else tell him. But the biggest reason I wouldn't pay someone is because I wouldn't trust that anyone can really do a better job than I can. So is that a good moral distinction.

I'm being wishy-washy. I think they're bad, but if everyone does it, what can I say? I don't think people who do the "right" thing should be penalized in the process. That's not a good answer. Part of the reason I'm being wishy-washy is because, in a small way, I'm part of the problem. Harvard has what I think is an embarrassingly excessive system set up between the undergraduate houses and the grad schools (that I don't expect is unique, so I really can't get too worked up over it, but still...). There is a set of "pre-law" tutors -- students at the law school who are each assigned to a different undergraduate house. In exchange for a handful of free meals per week, we're each assigned three or four undergrads or recent alums who are applying to law school. We meet with them, talk about where they're applying, why they're going to law school, tell them about law school, answer any questions they might have, [here's where it starts to slide down the slippery slope], are available to edit their resumes and personal statements, and write a recommendation letter that gets stapled to the Dean's Form. I think we probably do a good deal less editing work than the places people pay for, but that's perhaps mostly because Harvard undergrads don't really need our help. What seems embarrassing about this system is that if there's a population out there that doesn't need help with their law school applications, and that shouldn't get any extra help, it's Harvard undergraduates. They can handle the application process without hand-holding. It's the less-advantaged people who may need the help, just to get on equal footing with people from places like here. But the free meals are a good incentive, and I'm not bad at editing essays -- and to argue it's somehow wrong is a hard argument to make -- so I don't feel particularly morally suspect being involved... but I can't say I feel good about the process even existing.

Okay, I'm not going to be wishy-washy. I think they should make any sort of transactions for profit illegal. Books are ok. Classes are not. Tutoring, under the law, should not be allowed, even if it's going to happen under the table. Because I think there is a difference between a human being doing it and a company doing it. It's not a good distinction, but at least it's something. So Kaplan, Princeton Review, Essay Edge, I'd put them all out of business. Sorry. That's my take on it.
Anyone want to start a hedge fund with me?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Monday is all-request day. Send me an e-mail and let me know something you want me to write about, and I'll try.

All-request day is another name for, "man, I'm thinking really hard, but I'm not coming up with anything to say" day. I take song parody requests, will gladly review a movie for you (even one I haven't seen), and can help you with your LSAT prep if you're getting stuck on whether Tom ate the Turkey on Tuesday or Thursday.

Also, if you're looking for some decent new random music I just discovered the other day reading someone else's weblog, this ain't bad. This tv show is also pretty amusing, although I know it shouldn't be, and it makes me a bad person just for thinking it's funny. Sorry.
Five years ago today, I was a senior in college and sending out cover letters for jobs at consulting firms. I'm glad none of them wanted to hire me.

I just happened to come across the files when I was looking for something else (a song parody I was thinking of for this year's law school parody show reminded me of a song I'd written in college, and I wanted to find the lyrics -- they were less witty than I recalled them being...). I interviewed with eight or nine consulting firms senior year, and didn't get any callbacks. Probably because I didn't really know what consultants did, didn't smile wide enough when they asked me how I enjoy traveling, and hadn't practiced any "case interviews." My worst interview moment (or, some might say, my best), was when a recruiter at one firm asked me what I would do if I faced a problem I was having trouble solving. I told her that I would try my best, ask for help, but if I was spending more time on it than it was worth, and someone else would be better equipped to approach it, I'd probably see if they wanted to handle it. "So you'd give up?" she asked. "If I didn't think it made sense for me to continue -- if I'd tried everything I could think of and wasn't getting anywhere -- then, yeah, I'd give up," I replied. "Consultants never give up," she said, and ended the interview. I'm still not sure my answer was so terrible.

It's not completely true that that's my worst interview moment. I've had two worse, both from 1L year here. One was an in-person interview with a public interest organization. I'd signed up for an interview, under the impression they were a clearinghouse for public interest jobs, and would try to match me with groups they worked with who would actually interview me for jobs. I'm not completely sure where I got this impression -- it must have been their name, but I can't remember what their name was -- but it was wrong. And so I showed up, having done no research as to what they themselves did, and was blindsided by the first question, not really meant to be a tricky one, "What do you know about us?" "Uh... nothing? You place people in public interest jobs, no?" "Uh, not really. We do public interest work in a variety of areas, in a number of places around the country. Where are you looking to work?" "New York?" "Okay... where else?" "DC?" "We don't have an office in DC." "Oh." It just went downhill from there. Not pretty.

But my worst was a phone interview 1L year with someone at the Department of Justice, Immigration Division. It was going fine, until he asked what I'm now guessing was a question he didn't actually want an answer to, but was just trying to be cute. Maybe. "I see on your resume you write songs. How does writing songs related to your interest in the immigration division?" On the phone, it's hard to pick up cues as to whether this guy was really asking me a question or not. My mind raced, and I came up with what might the stupidest answer ever uttered in an interview for anything. Ever. "Well," I said, "music can make people feel better, and so can the immigration division, by, uh, not deporting someone."

And yet I somehow managed to find a job after college, and I somehow managed to find a summer job after 1L year, and I somehow managed to survive the law firm recruiting process 2L year and get a summer job. Is it any wonder, though, that job interviews are not my favorite thing in the world?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I just watched the movie "Elephant" on DVD. It's written and directed by Gus Van Sant, who directed "Good Will Hunting" and "Finding Forrester." It's a film that's basically a tone poem about the Columbine High School shootings. It follows some students through part of a normal high school day, and then follows the shooters from the day before the event up through the shootings. Not the actual Columbine events -- it's a Columbine-like situation, set in Oregon. It's a very artistic film. I thought it was okay. The first half, with the suspense of not knowing when the shooting would begin, was more interesting and edge-of-your-seat than the second half, following the shooters.

After I finished watching, I looked at some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It got pretty good reviews. One of the reviews linked to is on a site called Screen It, which has parental reviews of movies, itemizing all instances of drug use, violence, etc in the film. This is an unintentionally hilarious website, because it presents the issues as an unordered list, without any sense of proportion. So, under "imitative behavior," it lists:

-- The film could inspire kids to do a similar at school shooting
-- A girl wears a midriff revealing top.
--Alex drinks milk directly from the container at home.

One of these things is clearly worse than the others. Is anyone really taking issue with a midriff-revealing top in a movie about school shootings? Or with a kid drinking milk from the container? Do these things really belong on the same list as, "your kid might shoot up the school"??

Again, under "topics to talk about":

--The Columbine shootings that obviously inspired this film.
--Eric tells Alex not to drink from another student's cup since he could get herpes or something from it.

Sense of proportion, please. If you're talking to your kids about drinking from someone else's cup after watching this movie, you deserve whatever fate befalls you.

Just for fun, I decided to see what else I could find on this bizarre site.

Under "disrespectful/bad attitude" in "The Passion of The Christ" -- "A freed prisoner defiantly wags his tongue at a guard." Yes, that was the worst of it, I'm sure.

You may want to watch out in Spongebob Squarepants for this scene likely to turn your children into monsters: "Spongebob grabs Patrick's bare chest (where his nipples would be if he had them, but in a nonsexual manner)."

And one of the scary scenes in The Exorcist, apparently: "Megan spits on a doctor."

Finally, although, really, this website looks like it can provide hours and hours of entertainment, in the ZOMBIE comedy "Shaun of the Dead," under "Disrespectful / Bad Attitude," "A subordinate takes a cell phone call as Shaun addresses him and others." Yes. They were surrounded by zombies, and this is what parents need to worry about. Give me a break.
The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article about Nalgene water bottles, even though the only time I'll ever carry around a water bottle is perhaps if I randomly find myself hiking into the woods. I have nothing against people who do carry around their own water, and recognize it's money-saving -- and hydrating! -- in lots of instances, but it just seems like one more thing -- and a heavy and bulky thing at that! -- to carry around. A cell phone is enough. But the article's interesting.

Also, The Ethicist says it's not polite to use cell phones on the $10 (now raised to $15, which means there's at least a few month delay between when he gets his questions to when they get published -- the price went up over the summer sometime) Chinatown bus from NY to Boston. I actually have much less of a problem with the bus passengers who won't get off their cell phones than with the ones sneezing and/or coughing. I feel very much annoyed when I get on a bus and there's someone near me who seems like he or she is going to make me sick.

Also -- good issue this week -- articles about Teenagers using anti-depressants, and the last days of the Kerry campaign that I haven't read yet, but will right after I post this. :)

Friday, November 19, 2004

(To the tune of "Killing Me Softly With His Song")

"Billing Me Softly"

Padding the invoice with research
Adding the hours that he sleeps
Billing me softly for his work
Billing me softly for no work
Billing the whole day for his lunch
Billing me softly, though we lost

I heard he knew the case law, I heard he knew the rules
And so I thought he'd win with, expensive legal tools
But there he was, the judge said, you don't have a case here

Padding the invoice with research...
(repeat chorus)

I felt all flushed with anger, and then it hit me square
That he'd be charging thousands, for work that was not there
I prayed that he'd have mercy, but how his list went on...

Padding the invoice with research...
(repeat chorus)

He billed for time in traffic, and for a weekend trip
For when he thought at lunchtime, and for the waiter's tip
And he just kept on billing, items vague and long

Padding the invoice with research...
(repeat chorus)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm in a creative writing workshop here, not for credit. 12 law students writing stuff. Yes, it's exactly like that makes it sound. Anyway, I wrote a 2-page short story this week that got a better response than I expected it too. I liked my idea; I'm not sure I'm really all that happy with my execution. I didn't spend enough time on it. Nothing else is coming to mind to post today, so that's what you get. Short stories really aren't my thing -- as in, I don't really ever feel motivated to write them. But as a change of pace, it's not a bad form to play with I guess.


Henry packed his backpack for school. His algebra homework, his history textbook, the pamphlet about gonorrhea he was supposed to read for health class, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich his mom left in the fridge for him, his baseball glove, and his gun. He shut the door quietly behind him. His parents were still sleeping. Henry had to get to school early for baseball practice. He stuck with baseball, even though he wasn’t a starter. He liked being on a team. He liked the camaraderie. He liked the bus rides to the away games. He liked the coach. He liked everyone but Scott, the catcher.

“Morning, Henry,” said the coach.

“Morning, Coach,” said Henry.

“How’s your grandpa?”

“Feeling better.”

“Good. Get out there in the outfield and throw the ball around.”

Henry grabbed his glove from his backpack and jogged across the diamond. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder and fell to the ground. A baseball rolled away alongside him. He saw Scott twenty yards behind him, laughing.

“An accident, I swear!”

Sure. Like the time he ran head-first into Henry’s chest and sent him flying into the dugout fence. Or the time he tripped him as he turned the corner around third base. Or the time he pulled down his uniform pants in the middle of practice.

“He’s our best player,” the coach said.

“But he’s mean to me.”

“He’s just playing. Ignore him. He’ll stop.”

“That’s what you always say.”

“Well, he’s the reason we win games. So there’s nothing I can do.”

Practice ended and Henry went to class. “I think Henry has gonorrhea,” Scott told the health teacher, in front of the whole class. Scott was in all of Henry’s classes too.

“If not for Scott,” Henry told his best friend Doug on the way to history, “school would be perfect.”

“No it wouldn’t,” Doug said. We’d still have homework, and math tests, and that stupid movie about gonorrhea. And someone else would pick on you instead. He’s not that bad.”

“He makes me want to cry.”

“Everything makes you want to cry. You want to go get pizza after school?”

“You always want pizza.”

“So? I like pizza.”

History class was boring as usual. On the way out, Henry felt a tap on his shoulder. “Why are you such a loser?”

It was Scott.

“Stop bothering me,” Henry said.

“Why? I like bothering you. You’re easy.”

Scott pushed Henry to the ground. “Your mom has gonorrhea.”

“Will you stop with the gonorrhea already?” Henry asked. Scott ignored him and continued down the hall, laughing.

“You look like you’re going to cry,” Doug said, as he helped Henry off the ground.

“I’m not crying.”

“You look like you are.”

“I’m not crying.”

“Does your mom really have gonorrhea?”


“Are you hungry?”


“Can I copy your math homework?”


Doug copied Henry’s math homework during class while the math teacher wrote equations on the overhead projector. Last period always seemed to take forever. After the bell rang, Henry packed up his stuff and tried to rush out of the room.

“Thought you’d beat me out of class?” It was Scott.


“You tried to get out before me, so I wouldn’t do anything to you.”


“You’re lying.” Scott grabbed Henry’s backpack and ran. Henry chased him out the door and around the back of the school, onto the football field. Scott slowed up by the goal posts. As Henry caught up, Scott swung the bag into Henry’s midsection and knocked him down.

“Loser,” Scott said.

Scott kicked Henry and started to walk away. Henry staggered to his feet. He looked at his bookbag. He looked at Scott. He took a deep breath. He looked at Scott again.

“Loser,” Scott repeated, and walked away.

Doug caught up with Henry. “You want pizza?” Doug asked.

“Maybe tomorrow,” Henry replied.

“You always say that.”

Henry walked home, unlocked the door, went up to his room, and unpacked his bag. He put his history textbook on the shelf, his baseball glove on his desk, threw away the pamphlet about gonorrhea, and, slowly, put the gun back under his bed. “Maybe tomorrow,” Henry thought to himself. “You always say that.”
Eight last-minute rejected artifacts for the Clinton Presidential Library:

1. Collection of Big Mac wrappers from the President's eight years in office
2. Original copy of universal health care proposal
3. "I was impeached by the Congress and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" t-shirt
4. Love notes to Monica Lewinsky
5. Love notes to Madeleine Albright
6. Love notes from Al Gore
7. Graph: budget surplus vs. cholesterol surplus
8. The cigar

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Been a while since a song parody. Sorry about that. Here's one to the tune of "Beer for my Horses" by Willie Nelson and Toby Keith, a (gasp) country song.... Well, two verses and a chorus, at least. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but I like the title idea.

"Beer For My Courses"

Well, I showed up at my 10 o'clock class,
Don't care what I get, I just want to pass.
Professor's making me sleepy, gunners making me mad.
Don't want to deal with this, it makes me way too sad.
Makes me way too sad.

A lawyer told me softly: "Back in my day, son,"
"A three-martini lunch was just the way it was done"
"Come back a little hammered, crash in board room two"
"Nobody's gonna ever come there looking for you,"
"No one is looking for you"

He said, "I want to take the edge off of this crazy life"
"Be drunker than the partners"
"Be drunker than my wife"
"Go back to school in September, and blow off each class"
"Just sit in the back, and know you'll pass"
"Let's raise up our glasses against evil forces,
"Singing: 'Whiskey at the firm, beer for my courses.'"
Microsoft put free CDs of a program called OneNote in our mailboxes. Anyone use this thing? Apparently it's for note-taking. I've been taking notes with pen and paper this semester, so I'm guessing this won't be all that appealing to me. But it's cool they gave it to us -- a $49 value* according to the package, based on "estimated academic retail pricing" according to the asterisk -- I guess.
An e-mail we just got:

The Harvard University Police Department is forwarding this alert from the Lesley University Police:

Last evening a Lesley commuting student reported she was indecently groped (unwanted touching) by an unknown male at approximately 6 p.m....

Obviously I don't want to make fun of groping. But is the parenthetical definition implying that Lesley University students don't know what "groped" means???
Mitch links to a funny site that mocks the New York Times wedding section.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I saw The Polar Express over the weekend. In 3-D Imax. My mom wanted to go, while I was home. I submitted. It was... 3-D. It was a vehicle for special effects. It tried to be a nice movie for kids, but if you think about what it was really saying... the message, basically, was "you'd better believe in Santa Claus if you want to get any presents on Christmas." Not a good message, I don't think. It was a Capitalist's Christmas, and basically said that anyone who doesn't believe in Santa is wrong and grouchy. And it kept resorting to roller coaster-like sequences to compensate for plot. On a train? Well, what if the track turned into a roller coaster? A bird is flying? What if it flew like it was on a roller coaster track? Santa's Workshop? Well, of course, the presents ride on a roller coaster. It wasn't an offensively bad movie (although there was a song about Hot Chocolate that was in fact offensively bad), but it wasn't all that good either. The animation is neat, but it can't make up for the fact the plot is dull and a lot of the movie is just filler.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I came up with a better column for this week. The 2Ls are making their summer firm choices over these few weeks, and I thought I'd provide some guidance... sort of...

As you choose a law firm, remember...

There’s no better place to begin your legal career. Our training program is unmatched in the industry. Our mentoring program is the best in its class. Our lecture series has won awards. We’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know. You won’t be flying solo. We have a culture of collaboration. We have a commitment to cooperation. We have an open-door policy. Our doors are always open. Open doors, in an open floor plan, without a rigid hierarchical structure. You advance at your own pace. We’ll give you as much responsibility as you can handle. You control your path at the firm. There is no face time. You set your own hours. We treat you like the professional you are. There is no billable hours requirement. There is a billable hours target, but it’s only a guideline as to our expectations. It’s more for your benefit than ours. Don’t worry about your hours. We work hard, but we also play hard. It’s more fun than you could ever imagine. It’s all about having fun with the people you work with. It’s all about the people. We have great people. We have top-notch people. The people here are like nowhere else. It’s because of the people that our associates stay and build their career here. You’ll do good work everywhere, but it’s the people that make the difference. You will love the people here.

We’re a leading full-service international law firm with a proven track record for meeting the needs of our clients. Our clients come first. Our clients rely on us for top-notch service. Our work is of the highest quality. You won’t find a place with more interesting cases, more challenging work, or more big-name clients. Our clients are on the front pages of newspapers worldwide. Our work is unparalleled. Our practice is global. Our commitment to excellence is clear. The firm has a history of excellence. The firm has a track record of excellence. Across all of our practice groups, what ties the firm together is our pursuit of excellence. Our practice groups cover a wide range of modern business problems. We’re on the cutting-edge of corporate law. We serve our clients domestically, and around the world. We have offices throughout the world. We have a strong presence in all of the major financial centers. Leaders in business count on us. Our success speaks for itself. We have won major awards for our work. We are constantly winning awards for our work. Our list of awards is substantial and impressive. You will love the people here.

We place a premium on collegiality. We strive to maintain an informal working atmosphere. We are committed to diversity. We treat each other with dignity and respect. We know what really matters in life. We show our appreciation for the hard work of our employees. We offer a health plan unrivaled among our peers. Our benefit package is state of the industry. We encourage our attorneys to use all of their vacation time. We demand our attorneys take vacations. We have a part-time option. We have a flex-time option. We have on-site child care. We provide cars home if you’re working late. We provide meals. We provide coffee. We provide a brand-new laptop. Our information technology services are top-notch. Our word processing center is open twenty-four hours a day. Our client services department is there to meet your every need. Our support staff is magnificent. You will love the people here.

It’s the atmosphere of small firm combined with the resources of a large firm. It’s the congeniality of a small firm combined with the diversity of a large firm. It’s the one-on-one contact you find in a small firm combined with the kinds of cases you can only get at a large firm. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s the best of all worlds. It’s the best, according to a recent survey. It’s never been better. We’re growing at an unbelievable pace. We don’t just grow for the sake of growth. We have a five-year plan. We have a ten-year plan. We have a very careful plan for the firm’s future. Our finances are strong. Our client base is stronger than it’s ever been. Our partnership is among the strongest in the industry. We’re rapidly expanding. We’re trying not to expand too quickly. We just bought another floor in the building. The views are amazing. The artwork is unbelievable. The bathrooms are sparkling. The number of places to eat around here is ridiculous. You’re in the best part of the city. There’s so much to see. There are so many things to do. There are so many ways to relax. You will love the people here.

There are plenty of ways for people to get involved. Our firm is run by its people. The people make all the difference. You’ve never seen such a collection of people. I’m constantly amazed by the people here. The people here are amazing. The people here are unbelievable. We strive to find the best and the brightest people we can. Our people are truly special. It sounds like a cliché, but I promise, you will love the people here, you really will.
I'm trying to craft a decent column for the law school newspaper this week, about my decision not to work for a law firm. It might not be a good topic. It's hard to write it without feeling like I'm either being really naive, or coming off sort of more against law firms than I really am. I have nothing against law firms if people want to be lawyers. What I want my point to be is that I think it's too easy to get swept up in the herd mentality and do this because it's easy, even if you have other passions, and having other passions but working at a law firm seems hard. I have a beginning of a draft. I think it's not very good. UPDATE: I'm just going to scrap it and think of something funny to write instead. But I'll leave it up as a weblog post I guess.

Why I’m not going to work at a law firm

First, the setup. You’d never see a column that was the inverse of this. I don’t think anyone would even think of writing it. “Why I’m going to work at a law firm” would be a silly column because everyone knows why you’re going to work at a law firm, and since everyone else is going to work at a law firm too, there’s nothing all that interesting to say. This illustrates something. I don’t want to call it a problem, because I don’t know if I think it is. But – and this may just mean I didn’t do enough research before making the decision to come to law school – I didn’t realize before getting here that going to a work at a law firm was so much the default path that it’s taken as a given. There are exceptions, sure. But the vast majority of people are going to work at law firms, and law firms that are all substantially similar to each other. Five hundred and fifty people from a wide range of backgrounds, with a wide range of interests and talents and passions and skills, graduate from here each year, and the vast majority goes to jobs that are very much similar to each other. This is interesting. Again, I don’t know that it’s a bad thing. But it means that if I was going to work at a law firm, I wouldn’t really think about writing a column saying why. But since I’m not, I feel like this column might be worth writing. I may not be the right one to write it. But I’ll give it a try anyway.

I have heard people defend their decision to work at a law firm by comparing it to public interest work. That you work the same hours doing the same kind of work but you get paid a lot less and don’t get free coffee. I might try and argue that there’s public interest work that’s more rewarding than firm work, because you might feel like you’re doing more good for the world. That might not be a very good argument. Even if it is, I’m not the right one to make it. Other people can make it better than I can. My argument is that even if that’s true, it misses the point. Even if law firms come out on top if you compare them to public interest jobs, it doesn’t matter. Because these aren’t the only jobs out there. There’s a whole world of other things people do. I feel like it’s easy to forget that. And if practicing law is your passion, maybe it’s okay to forget that. Maybe that really is the entirety of the universe of jobs that interest you.

If practicing corporate law is your passion, then a law firm seems like the place to go. If doing important legal work down the road is your passion, and the clearest path there is to start at a firm, then that makes sense to me too. But what I think has surprised me about law school is that people with other passions, or who haven’t found their passions yet, seem more willing to give up that search than I expected. Here’s what I don’t get. Everyone in law school has to be pretty bright to get here in the first place. If we assume there is a set of people in the world who are lucky enough to enjoy their jobs and get great satisfaction from them – to be able to pursue their passions – it seems that law school graduates would have as good a chance as anyone else to become those people. Yet I hear too many people ready to admit that they recognize life at a law firm is not going to be particularly fulfilling, yet they’re going anyway.

I spent this past summer at a law firm, to try it, because I felt like it would be ridiculous not to try and then think I could make an informed decision about it. Probably most people went in with the default position that if they got an offer, they would take the offer, and something would actively have to happen to change that. If I’m being honest with myself, I can admit I probably went in from the opposite end. That something was going to have to convince me to take my offer. Maybe that’s the wrong attitude. I don’t know. It struck me that this is not a fun place to be if part of you wants to be somewhere else. I don’t think this is a damning statement about law firms, or even something they would argue with. But by the end of the summer I found myself alternately amused and flabbergasted by what the associates at the firm would admit if even slightly pressed. One attorney had rationalized to herself that “real life” didn't begin until age 40, and up until then it would be okay if she was miserable as long as she was saving up some money for when she figured out what she really wanted to do with herself. Another admitted she had been calling her parents every night and telling them she wished she could just pack up and move away where the firm couldn’t find her. People admitted that the first thing they did each morning, and the last thing they did each night, was check their Blackberries for new messages. At lunch they checked them every five minutes. More than one associate said he’d lost contact with almost all of his friends since coming to work at the firm. People cancelled vacations. A partner said it’s terrible how children “have a way of making you feel guilty” if you never see them. It seemed pretty close to an all-encompassing existence. Great if this is where you want to be. Not as great if it’s not.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Article in the NY Times about breakfast cereal. From the sensible:

"You know that Cap'n Crunch is going to taste like Cap'n Crunch," explained Chris Zelles, a senior at Manhattanville College in Westchester County. "It's a definite thing, whereas the pork roast could be iffy."

To the bizarre:

Erica, who is such a fan of Trix that she plans to have a denim jacket airbrushed with the logo, said that cereal was sometimes the centerpiece at get-togethers with friends. "When I go to my friends' houses, we sit around and eat cereal - that's what we do," she said.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I just got back from seeing a show at Princeton put on by the Triangle Club, the theater group I was part of when I was an undergrad. I've been home in NY since late Wednesday; I go back up to school Sunday morning. (One of the perks of only having class on Mondays and Tuesdays.) The show was good. It feels weird that I've now been out of college for more years than I was a student there. It is especially weird to think that to freshmen now, class of 2008, I am to them what someone in the class of 1992 would be to me, and I don't know anyone in the class of 1992, and I picture someone in the class of 1992 as being quite old. I miss being involved in things that seemed important, with lots of other people who also felt they were important, with everyone feeling they were important together, and the bonding that happens among people all involved in doing something together they feel is important.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I went to Starbucks a couple of days ago for the first time in a long while -- it's expensive, and coffee is icky -- because it was really cold out and I wanted some sort of hot drink. (The Hallmark post I wrote below reminds me -- in college, a friend once made the amusing observation that there are no masculine drinks at Starbucks. Whipped cream and caramel aren't very macho.) My mom had mentioned that she had a Pumpkin Spice Latte the other week and it was good, so I figured that wouldn't kill me. I was shocked at how big Starbucks' menu had gotten. I don't think they always had so much stuff. So many combinations of coffee, milk, sugar, and flavor that cost them three pennies and they charge three dollars for. All this is to set up the following idea I had.

Starbucks Menu Parody

All drinks can be ordered:

1. In any of our five sizes -- enorme, gigantesco, mucho gordo, grande gulp, and dovrete orinare presto

2. With regular milk, skim milk, soy milk, sheep's milk, goat's milk, milk chocolate, or a blended milky way candy bar

3. With whipped cream, regular cream, heavy cream, or cream of wheat

4. Topped with chocolate sprinkles, flakes of butter, chunks of lard, shards of glass, or some of the many pennies of profit we make on your purchase

5. In a ceramic mug, a to-go cup with patent-pending cardboard heat sheath, or mainlined directly in your bloodstream with our new Starbucks IV Drip System (TM), plain or covered in edible mocha

6. Iced, dry iced, room temperature, warm, hot, really hot, ouch, already evaporated, surface of the sun, or plasma

7. One shot of espresso, DoubleShot, StayAwake TripleShot, HeartStopping QuadShot, Did-you-really-crash-through-the-door-like-that QuintShot, HopeYou'reNotPregnant SixShot, and NotForHumanConsumption SevenShot

Espresso Beverages

Caffè Americano
Espresso and hot water

Caffè Americano Terribile
Espresso and cold water

Caffè Americano Non Sano
Espresso and dirty water

Caffè Latte
Espresso and steamed milk

Espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk

Cappucino Supremo
Espresso, steamed milk, foamed milk, warm milk, sour milk, and buttermilk

Caramel Macchiato
Espresso, vanilla and caramel mark the foamed milk with sugar and fat

Caramel Mocha
Espresso, steamed milk, mocha syrup, whipped cream, caramel swirl, chocolate swirl, a cherry on top, and cubes of pure sugar saturate the beverage such that it resembles a slurry more than a liquid

Eggnog Latte
Espresso and steamed dairy eggnog, topped with foam, ground nutmeg, and the spirit of Christmas embodied in a $4.00 beverage that tastes like a mistake that one of our baristas came up with and customers, just because we put it on our menu, decided it must be a traditional European delicacy and are willing to pay for it

Latke Latte
For our Jewish friends, who do not enjoy the seasonal taste of Eggnog, Espresso and fried potato, topped with foam, ground cinnamon, applesauce, and sour cream

Gingerbread Latte
Gingerbread flavored caffé latte, topped with whipped cream, ground nutmeg, bits of Hansel, and chunks of Gretel (watch out for bones)

Peppermint Mocha
Espresso, cocoa and peppermint flavored syrup, topped with whipped cream and a full pound of red sugar sprinkles -- tastes like Christmas

Halloween Mocha
Espresso, cocoa and peppermint flavored syrup, melted candy corn, snack sized Three Musketeers bars, caramel chunks, chocolate pieces, jelly beans, and a plastic broomstick stirring straw

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin flavored latte topped with whipped cream, spice topping, and a slice of pie

Syrup Flavored Latte
Espresso, steamed milk, and enough syrup to kill you

Toffee Nut Latte
Espresso, steamed milk, toffee-nut flavored syrup and whipped cream

Vanilla Toffee Nut Latte
Espresso, steamed milk, vanilla-toffee-nut syrup and whipped cream

Vanilla Mocha Pumpkin Toffee Nut Latte
Espresso, steamed milk, vanilla-mocha-pumpkin-toffee-nut syrup and whipped cream

Frappucino Blended Coffee Beverages

Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee
A proprietary blend including coffee and milk blended with ice. A proprietary blend. So don't be trying and copy our top-secret mixture of ice, coffee, milk, and sugar. It's impossible. Impossible! Don't forget the whipped cream.

Java Chip Frappuccino® Blended Coffee
Coffee, chocolate and chocolate chips blended with ice, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. This really exists. I haven't changed the description. This is more transparent than Cookie Crisp cereal. How can I parody their menu when their menu is a parody of itself. The word chocolate appears three times in the description. Can anyone think that this is not going to kill them? All we need to do is add six or seven more shots of espresso and then we'll get 'em good and dead.

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® Blended Coffee
A proprietary blend including coffee, pumpkin and traditional holiday spice flavors, blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices. I give up. What is a "holiday spice flavor"? This is off their website. I'm not making this up. This "proprietary blend" stuff is hilarious, and I don't know how many spices they can fit in an eight-ounce cup for $4.35 when half the cup is ice.

Frappucino Blended Creme ("Forget the coffee! We're not even pretending anymore. This is just sugar. This is just plain sugar, liquefied and blended with our proprietary ice mixture, featuring ice from three different parts of our freezer, blended together with your wallet.)

Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino® Blended Crème
Rich chocolate, chocolate chips and milk blended with ice, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. [For nutritional information, stand on a freakin' scale, and watch the numbers go up as you drink yourself to type II diabetes]

Classic Favorites, for people who've been dragged here by their caffeine-addicted friends and colleagues, who support our children's college educations.

Apple Juice
100% pressed apple juice, poured by the coffee-stained hands of our employee-shareholders from behind their faux-European counters

Caramel Apple Cider
Steamed apple juice, caramel, cinnamon syrup and whipped cream. Because apple juice is too healthy, and we need to add sugar to it.

Chocolate Milk
Choice of milk with mocha syrup and splash of vanilla. It's chocolate milk. It's from a container. We're just pretending here so we can charge you $3.50 for it.

Hot Chocolate
Our proprietary chocolate milk, heated up in a microwave

Range of highest quality milk products (from fat-free to half-and-half) [I swear this is what the menu says. Highest-quality milk means what -- not spoiled? And a cup of half and half is actually probably no less healthy than anything else on here]

Drink Extras

Flavored Syrup
Add some more damn sugar to your favorite beverage

Mocha Syrup
Add some more damn chocolate to your favorite beverage, as if chips and sprinkles and a mocha chocolate infusion weren't enough

Whipped Cream Topping
Add a little fun to your drink. Really, that's what it says.

And, oh, coffee.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I read somewhere a few weeks ago that James Taylor had a Christmas album coming out that would be available only in Hallmark stores, for $6.95 with the purchase of three cards. Perhaps due in part to a lack of real good Chanukah music, I kind of like Christmas music. Not stuff with the word Jesus in it, because that makes me feel like I'm betraying my religion, but We Three Kings is a lovely song (even though I have no idea who the three kings are), and the Jazz Chorus I was in during high school did a version of that Chestnuts Roasting song that was very cool, with an absolutely unbelievable soloist who if he isn't still singing it is a real shame because he had an amazing voice. We did a Christmas concert one year in the lobby of the Cushman and Wakefield building in midtown Manhattan somewhere that I remember very vividly.

I happened to pass a Hallmark store today. They had a sign for the James Taylor album. I have some friends with November birthdays. I had a few minutes to kill.

I read an article a long while ago that said Hallmark's biggest problem was that guys don't buy cards. Girls buy cards for everything -- birthdays, holidays, Secretary's Day, the 90th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, your first pair of shoes, whatever. But guys don't buy cards. And, even more so, if they do buy cards, they don't go into Hallmark stores. They buy them at truck stops. Or at CVS. When they're buying knives and bullets and generic-brand shampoo.

And the article was right. I was the only guy in the Hallmark store. And I actually felt a little uncomfortable about it. No one cared, no one was looking at me funny, but there were like ten women in the store, and me. Looking at cards. And really quickly picking them out so I could leave. :) So I bought the CD. And I just got home a little while ago, and so I'm listening to the CD right now for the first time.

And it's not that good.

Oh well.
The response to yesterday's post was gratifying. Thanks. I got about ten e-mails, all of which I'll respond to soon. There's a baseball weblog I read pretty often, and the author gets more readers than I do, but not a ton more, maybe 30% more, and he's said a number of times that he doesn't reply to all of his e-mail. That doesn't seem right. Someone takes the time to write to you, because the words you've written have somehow struck a chord or made someone angry or just made someone feel something -- they deserve a reply, and, at least for me, I want to reply. It's one of the things that makes this weblog stuff cool. It's part of why I don't have comments enabled. I think comments encourage a different kind of interaction, and discourage the more personal interaction that e-mails enable. But this is a digression. Just wanted to say thanks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Post

1. People who don't read me regularly can skip to number 2. This is just the prologue. It's hard sometimes to remember what I've written and what I haven't, and even harder to figure out what I've revealed without intending to reveal it. Sometimes I think I've said something, and I get an e-mail that makes it pretty clear that my words came off differently from how I meant them to. Or that the subtext I thought was there just didn't come across. It's been nagging at me for a little while that I hadn't really ever explicitly said what this post is going to say. See, part of me feels like there's a good chance no one even realizes I didn't ever say it, because it's really obvious. But that part of me forgets sometimes that you don't live in my head, and all you get are the words I write. And even if I know exactly what I'm thinking when I write them, you don't. So part of me wonders if maybe this really isn't obvious at all. So if this is news, it is news. If it is not, I apologize for pretending it is. If you are new and reading this paragraph anyway, then, to you, it is news, and you can read the archives and figure out if it would have been news had you been reading all along. That said, I've now built up toward a very anticlimactic piece of non-news that will no doubt be a letdown for anyone who hasn't jumped ahead. Sorry. I didn't know how to else to frame it. I'm trying my best here.

2. I've turned down the opportunity to make having gone to law school make sense. No law firm. Didn't accept my offer. I know, you probably knew this already. But I'm almost positive I didn't say so explicitly. I didn't want to write it before the law firm knew for sure. And I hadn't really talked to the law firm, because I'd expressed ambivalence in my exit interview on the last day, when we got the offers, and it felt weird to call just to tell them I hadn't really changed my mind. But they called yesterday to check, and, yeah, it's just not the path I think I should take, despite that it's the path most of my classmates are taking, and that most people at places less fortunate than here would be thrilled to take.... So that's my non-news. No law firm.

3. But I want to write more than that, because this is my chance to say something. It seems weird to me that I didn't feel like writing about this, at least not explicitly, until now, when really nothing has changed. It's not like I've been agonizing over a decision. There was no agonizing. There really wasn't even a decision. I think most people started the summer from the default position that if they got an offer, they would take the offer, and something would actively have to happen to change that. I think I started from the other end. I think my default position was that this law firm thing wasn't for me, and to change that -- and I really do believe I was open to it being changed, so I'm not at all saying there was no chance for me to end up taking the offer -- something would have had to have happened. Whatever would have had to have happened didn't happen. For some period of time between the start of the summer and right now, I would have said that was the firm's fault. But they're smart to give us two months to make a decision, because right now I don't even know if it's the firm's fault. I don't think it's anyone's fault. It's not what I want to do with my life. How can I blame the firm for that? I can't. They weren't evil. They didn't torture me. If I was going to work at a firm, I'd work for them. I hate saying that, because it's meaningless. It's like saying (and here's a bizarre analogy) if I was going to live in house made of gelatin, I'd choose Jell-O brand. First, it's the only brand of gelatin I know, so I can't really make much of an informed comparison. Second, I'm not going to live in a house made of gelatin, so who am I to make judgments?

4. So they're smart to give us two months because in two months it's easy to forget that you spent all summer there and that didn't make you want to do this for a living, and you forget that, unfortunately, the work just didn't really excite you, and the people you met, while most of them were nice, and virtually all of them were well-intentioned, weren't living lives you want to be living. And you see that all of your friends and classmates have accepted their offers, and you start to wonder if maybe you've just convinced yourself out of it. That you've built up this image in your mind that is simply not the reality, but an exaggerated version of something that isn't true. That you've created a fiction to try and justify the decision you never really made, because some part of you has -- rationally, or, just maybe, completely irrationally -- decided you don't want to do this. You start to get scared. You start to fear (1) that no one in the world is happy with what they do for a living, and that's why it's called work, and any ridiculous notion you're clinging to that you can somehow be different, and you can find work that really makes you feel good about your life and makes you feel like there's a reason you're on this planet, and makes you feel valued and useful and content is just a stupid, childish fairy tale and everyone else has realized this so you probably should too, or (2) that even if some people are happy with what they do for a living, most people aren't, and what makes you think you're so special that you can be one of the lucky ones? And if you are one of the lucky ones, it'll work out eventually. But if you're not, then you're passing up an awful lot of security. So you'd better be confident you're one of the lucky ones, or (3) that in fact no one likes what they're doing at age 25, and it's not like you're going to find something better to do right away, so even if this isn't the long-term plan, what's wrong with taking the job for a few years and just seeing what happens? Or (4) that even if there are lots of ways to be happy, you don't know for sure that this isn't one of them, so you owe it to yourself to give it more than just a summer. Or (5) that everyone else must know something you don't. Or (6) that at least taking the offer would give you certainty, and certainty would feel an awful lot better than waking up every morning worried about what you're going to be doing come June, and fearing the possibility than 10 years from now, when you're serving fries at Wendy's, you will look back on this moment as the instant it all went wrong, that in this one momentous decision you cost yourself the chance at a comfortable upper-middle-class life with a respectable job and instead set yourself up for failure, regret, and disappointment for the rest of your days on the planet.

5. But that's the thing about fear. Fear is irrational. Intellectually, I know I'm probably not going to end up serving fries at Wendy's. I know that deciding not to take this job won't put me on an inexorable path toward failure. Worst case scenario, I feel pretty confident that with my law degree, someone would hire me to do something pretty easily. Perhaps not at the same salary the top law firms pay, but something reasonable, and decent, and probably, in lots of cases, doing work that's just as interesting and perhaps even more tailored to the things that motivate me more than legal work does. (Because I think that's part of the issue here -- the law doesn't inspire me, it's not what I enjoy thinking about, it's not the kind of work I most enjoy doing. So it's not the right fit. Doesn't make that anyone's fault. Not mine, certainly not the law firm's. It just is.) So the fear that I'm setting myself down an irreversible course toward rickets and scurvy, intellectually, I know, is silly.

6. And the other problem with fear is that fear blocks out the reality of what would happen if I caved into the fear. Look, I want to write. I don't know why, but I get a great deal of satisfaction out of expressing myself through the written word, I feel like I have things to say, and I consistently find myself looking for opportunities to write, for no reason. This weblog doesn't have to exist. No one is forcing me to write every day. I do it because I get something out of it. I do it because something inside of me is driven to do it. I can't tell you why. I can make something up, but I'd just be making something up. I don't find myself looking for opportunities to research provisions of the bankruptcy code. If I did, I would go work for a law firm and be happy about it. It's not my fault that this is what motivates me. But it's what I've discovered. And so if I went to work at a firm, from the very first day I'd still be looking for opportunities to write, only I'd have a really time-consuming job to balance on top of it. And I'd feel frustrated, and sad, and unfulfilled. Yes, I know there's writing involved in the law. From what I've seen -- and all I've seen is a summer at a big NY law firm -- that's not the kind of writing I want to do.

7. Anyone ever see the game show Greed when it was on Fox a few years back? I saw a rerun on the Game Show Network at some point over the summer. What happens on Greed is that the players answer questions for an increasing amount of money, and at any time, one player can say "Bank" to put the money away and start over, because if you don't say "Bank" before you get an answer wrong, you lose the money. This is an imperfect analogy, but I feel like saying "Bank." The law degree goes in the bank. It gives me permission and license to fail, because I know it will always be there, and it provides a safety net. So I don't end up living in the park. 3 years ago, before law school, I don't think I felt like I had the security to try and be "a writer," whatever that means. I think I was too scared, too afraid of uncertainty and failure, to do that. So law school was my best option. I needed to do this. (And I've enjoyed law school, but that's a topic for another day.) But now I've done this, and bought myself a little bit more time (at an excessively high price, but, again, that's a topic for another day), and gone from being pretty sure that no matter what I did, I was still going to be motivated to write to being awfully certain that's the case. Because no one's been making me write at law school, but yet... but yet I want to.

8. So I don't know. Maybe everyone else does know something I don't know, and maybe it's naive to think that in the 8 months until I graduate, and in the time after that, I will be able to plan for myself a path that, for me, is a more fulfilling path than I would be on if I took my law firm offer. But even if it's naive, I'd regret it if I didn't give myself the opportunity. So I didn't accept my offer. But this is not news. It's just a really long weblog post.

P.S. The two "that's a topic for another day"s in number seven will get their days soon. And so will a post that gets into more specifics about law firm stuff, because I realize this one is all about me, and not so much about law firm, when what you're really reading for is stuff about law firm, and not so much about me. But I'm trying my best here. I promise.