July 31, 2005

Holy Sh*t

Today, E and I slowly walked towards the house after law firm #2 retreat.

It was completely different than law firm #1 retreat, starting with the fact that it was really a string of events where people could come in and out as they pleased, so WAY more people attended because it wasn't really a retreat for anyone except the summers. It was also very different because they put the summers up in porn star rooms with roman pillars around the stairs leading to four person hot tubs and mirrors above the magic fingers beds. (Okay, so maybe I'm slightly exaggerating...)

Much like firm #1's retreat, I enjoyed the activities and meals on this retreat and took advantage of them to get to know people from the firm better. I laughed at funny stories, and did my best not to be the entertainingly drunk summer associate. It was a good, but exhausting weekend.

Our slow, tired trek towards the front door was punctuated by my instinctual reach into the mail box. There was a large envelope (!) from a writing competition I'd entered several months ago. I tore it open as we walked in the door and read "Congratulations!"

Apparently, the billions of petty revisions my advisor had required of my journal note were not in vain. I actually won a decent chunk of cash, and a free trip to go accept the award in DC. I'm in shock, actually. It's probably the biggest honor I've received in the course of this whole law thing and I really wasn't thinking anything could come of it. I sent that note into at least five competitions, spending plenty of cash on each one. With each one I figured, I already wrote the damn thing...why not spend $70 on copies and shipping?

Now, no doubt because others thought it was silly to spend that much to make paper copies of an electronic document, I'm about to be the proud recipient of recognition, cash, and a free trip. I can't completely believe it, but I'm thrilled. How cool is that?

So, the moral of the story is this: if you have to write a note for your journal (or a seminar, or whatever), get a faculty advisor, work a little harder than you would have without one, and do the annoying photocopying, fedexing, etc. to enter writing competitions. The more ridiculous, the better--it thins the competition. Do it! You just might be surprised.

July 30, 2005

The next level

Sure, I've got a ring I wear every day (or rather, I try to remember to wear it every day). And we put a deposit down on the location to reserve the date. We've even been to a few catering tastings. The invitation list is mostly done. The save the date cards are ordered. We've got a friend who's probably going to do the photography and another friend who'll probably do the flowers. My sister-in-law will make the jewelery for my bridal party. We've looked at the hotel and possible locations for the rehearsal dinner. And I've tried on dresses on three occasions.

The first dress trying on attempt was at a chic-chic salon where I couldn't afford anything. The second attempt, my mom even cried at the first dress I put on. I laughed and pointed out that I looked like an automobile and asked her to at least save the tears for a dress that was flattering. Unfortunately, while everything in that store was reasonably priced, nothing was remotely attractive on me. The third attempt, however, I found a few dresses that could work in my price range and one I loved. I knew when I tried it on that it was too expensive. I was scared to find out how expensive, though, because I knew I'd buy it if it was less than 50% more than I'd planned to spend. Turns out, it was just at the high end of my budget. I was shocked. R, who was with me, went back to make sure that the woman knew which dress we were talking about because she was also shocked. The quality of the dress was very high and it seemed too good to be true that it was so "cheap." ("Cheap" as 50% more than I've ever spent on an outfit, with the baseline being the emergency suit I bought in 10 minutes at a Union Street boutique.)

Yet, despite all of this preparation, until yesterday, the wedding still felt like a normal event to be scheduled in my life. I finish work in two weeks, run a half marathon, school starts, N's wedding, a few trips, another couple half marathons, the MPRE is in November, the holidays, my first marathon in february, and I get married in March. It was just another stop on the train of my life this year. As AD informed me the other night, I'm "painfully pragmatic." So I figured, the stress of getting married -- that's for other people.

But, yesterday, the event took on a whole new level of reality. E2 and I went to the salon to see my dress and how it fit after the 5+ summer associate pounds have neatly settled themselves on my frame. It still fit, and E agreed that it looks beautiful. I figured I might be able to wait until September to order the dress, so D could see it when she visits and possibly I could whittle a few of the extra inches away. But the owner of the store quickly disavowed me of that notion. Apparently, the dress needs to be here 6 weeks before the ceremony in case I need alterations. With work breaks for Christmas and Chinese New Years, even if I ordered it yesterday, it wouldn't arrive 'til late January at the earliest.

So, that's it. I was measured and determined to be a particular size. Oddly enough, it was the size they had in the store and it fit reasonably well right off the rack -- this NEVER happens for me. The owner of the store knew her business, she discreetly asked me if I "maintain my weight" because the dress fits as is. I explained that I'm about 5 pounds heavier than I normally am, and we discussed the theoretical pre-wedding loss of weight that seems to accompany every woman's wedding. Turns out, I have a "nice bust" and unless I lose so much weight that it shrinks to the size it was when I was a teenage athlete with 13% body fat (oh, hell no) it will be the limiting factor in the size of dress I order. Kind of a relief, actually. I can gain a few more pounds or lose 10 and I still will have ordered the correct size dress.

So, I plunked down my credit card. And, for some reason, it feels so much more real. I'm getting married. Workers in a chinese factory will be cutting material to fit my body exactly and sewing what must be a million parts to put it together. Six months from now, the most expensive outfit I've ever worn will arrive in the bay area for me to try it on and have it altered. And all of of this effort is focused on one day. I'm excited, and I'm starting to see how this whole wedding thing could be stressful.

July 24, 2005

Drinking it in

As planned, I've been attending the social activities, enjoying a bit too much of the free food and alcohol, and putting my free time to very good use.

We've done a weekend with E's sister and her boyfriend including a friday night in San Francisco, winetasting in Sonoma, a party in San Rafael and another party in Cupertino. I wanted to post about the wineries we visited, but time got away from me. Suffice it to say that North Sonoma is much better for winetasting than Napa, in my opinion. Two weekends ago, I went on a wonderful retreat with one of the firms (which was awesome despite my whining post). This weekend, I left E in the heat of Silicon Valley (102F at home on Saturday!) to do the whole bachelorette weekend in a condo on the beach thing for my college roommate. The weekend with the girls was amazing: views of the California coast while running, wine tasting in the golden foothill valleys, eating too much, staying up late and laughing at old stories -- I'm so glad I was able to share it with some of my oldest and closest friends.

So far, this summer has been decadent, corpulent, and full of life at its fullest. But, I'm getting ready to be done. A week ago, I ordered a huge load of books from Amazon to make sure I fully enjoy my spare time this summer. When they arrived, I realized that I have no time to read them.

I've scheduled myself so tightly that I don't have enough time get enough sleep, much less hang out with E or read. I'm notorious for doing this. In fact, I looked at the calendar to figure out when it would slow down and was shocked to realize that of the 23 weekends left in the year, I'm out of town for 9 and have plans for 13 others. In other words, I have ONE remaining weekend left this year to stay at home and relax. So, of course, it's now scheduled in as "do-nothing-weekend." In my defense, this seems to be the year that many of my close friends have chosen to marry (with E & I coming in a little on the slow end next spring).

But I think it's funny that I'm looking forward to school starting so I can relax at home and study at night. I know when it's here I'll regret my longing. But right now, after unpacking my travel bag again I feel like multiple serial nights at home with E is a decadent luxury to be cherished, even if I'm reading several hundred pages a night to pay for the privilege.

It's not that I'm not having fun with my current life. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'm having fun like a professional. But I need to realize that I'm not a professional partier or socializer. It drains me and I need to slow down. It's funny how the grass is always greener...

July 21, 2005

Blessed Quandry

Living in a world of assumptions, I'm wondering what choice I will make if I get an offer from both Firm #1 and Firm #2. I like both. For completely different reasons.

Each one will set me down a very different path in my life and I will regret the opportunities lost behind either door, should I eventually choose to close it.

I wonder what I could have done in my life to deserve such a wonderful problem.

Then I remember that it's not actually my problem yet.

But, still, I can't help but assume and wonder...

July 20, 2005

The Wonder Spice

Sure, turmeric tastes damn good and appears to have anti-cancer properties.

But that's not all! It also permanently dyes the bristles on your toothbrush. That's right: the yellow-headed sonicare is mine.

So, the clean the fridge out treat of the week was very pretty:

3 Color Fusion

  • Dice 3/4 white onion.
  • Dice 2 roma tomatoes and one red tomato-on-the-vine.
  • Sautee diced onion in olive oil. Add tomatoes, 1-2 T turmeric and black pepper to taste.
  • Simmer until slightly soupy so that the base is an orange juice and orange-colored onion bits but the tomatoes are still recognizeable.
  • Remove tomato salsa mixture and place in a bowl to cool.
  • Finely dice 4 cloves garlic.
  • Place garlic in sautee pan, cover with olive oil and simmer on medium heat.
  • Add 1.5 bunches washed spinach.
  • Sautee until wilted but slightly firm (in hindsight, perhaps they should have been sauteed until soft).
  • Remove spinach mixture to a bowl and lightly salt.
  • Warm corn tortillas.
  • Place warmed tortillas, the orange/red mixture bowl, and the green mixture bowl to the table at the same time.
  • Construct wraps by placing a layer of green topped with a layer of orange/red.
  • Try to eat gracefully.
  • Admit you can't eat it gracefully and cut into bite-sized bits of colorful goodness with a knife and fork.
  • Talk about improvements, like baking with cheese (for structural integrity), or adding spiced chicken strips.

July 18, 2005


35+ hours of direct interaction between the summers and the associates and partners who attend. Lots of alcohol, good food, sponsored activities and, of course, they put us up in very swank rooms at a very swank resort. Overall, the firm retreat was lovely. I had a blast and feel like I know many of the people who attended much better than I did before we left.

The only major negative observation is about my future colleagues and the attitudes that the industry of law is willing to accept from its members. Apparently, it is acceptable for summers and associates to have such a sense of entitlement that they get angry when the free food, activity plans, or alcohol isn't to their liking. And, if they don't like the policy set by the firm, they think it is entirely acceptable to speak ill of servers as they bring the food, or to be rude to bartenders. In all honesty, I find this shocking.

Somehow this subset of the group chose not to see the retreat as a gift. They didn't consider that if they wanted something to accompany or replace any portion of the gift, they could purchase an alternative option. Instead of being appreciative, many of them complained about the free stuff and asked, nay demanded, for alternatives of their choosing (all on the firm, of course).

Realization: I find it hard to enjoy a wonderful environment when I am sharing it with even a few vocal winers/whiners.

I know it's not the firm. It's something about the type of people that want to end up in the practice of BIGLAW. Not all of them, certainly, but definitely some of them feel that the world owes them quite a bit according to their tastes and desires. Sure, it's annoying to be around. But more importantly, I can't imagine how miserable it must be to have your default response to gifts be anger, disappointment, and frustration.

What causes people to look at the world like this?

July 10, 2005

I couldn't resist

I got some spam today. Or so I thought. But after a careful reading, I determined that the misspellings were legitimate and it really was someone applying for a real job, with a real posting on the internet, which they referenced via the URL in the email. I read the message, and verified that the job application's intended recipient had an email similar to mine.

I opted not to forward it to the intended recipient. Attention to detail being a job qualification and all...

So instead, I replied to the sender, informed them of their mistake and...

Suggested several grammatical edits.

The author was were clearly ESL and qualified for the technical job posting (which happened to be in a field where I've hired people in the past). I thought my suggestions were a nice thing to do, but I enjoyed doing it a bit too much. Also, I thought it was funny. Imagine the surprise on the person's face when they get my reply.

Clearly, I'm a sick, sick, individual.

Do you think I'm going to get a thank you?

July 5, 2005

Books 12 & 13

So, the quest continues.

Book 12: Charming Billy, by Alice McDermott. D showed up with a rat and a couple of books a few barbeques ago. Fourth of July weekend arrived and I had no books to read. D's book won by default of being in the right place at the right time. So, I read this book, a National Book Award Winner, while relaxing in San Simeon for the holiday. It was good. Full of drama. Typical, really. The kind of book I wouldn't choose to read on my own, but being the kind of person who reads the back of cereal boxes, the kind of book I'd read without reservation if I had no other un-read books on hand. I've read worse on more than one occasion.

Bascialy, it was a sad, painful tale of Irish-American immigrants, alcoholism, catholicism, family, and all the drama therein. Like I said, it was good. I recommend it if you like this genre. It wasn't full of surprises. But it was great for what it was supposed to be. And really, is there any better epitaph? I'd like my tombstone to say "BT was great for what bt was supposed to be." Now, if only I could figure out what bt is supposed to be...

Moving on.

Book 13: The Da Vinci Legacy. This book was another gift from D of nym. But this one was much closer to my legal heart. Apparently, Lewis Perdue wrote this book, the original Leonardo religion thriller, back in the '80s. Then, Dan Brown gained acclaim for the Da Vinci Code and predictable accusations of derivative works ensued. To be fair, I have not yet read Daughter of God, so I am speaking without full knowledge. But, in this reader's opinion, the Da Vinci Code and the Da Vinci Legacy are CLEARLY very different books. Ironically, both belong to the same category in the world of BT -- mindless brain candy, good for killing a Sunday afternoon in a fit of sloth-like indulgence, but not anywhere near the realm of linguistic or literary perfection. Anyways, back to the review. The Da Vinci Legacy took me about 2 days to get through, and much of that short time period is due to the fact that Lewis Perdue drew me in and made me want to keep reading. So, if you're the kind who enjoys an escape full of impossible escapades, a wee bit of romance, and just damn good plot advancement against an excellently researched Italian backdrop, you should go for it. Read the Da Vinci Legacy (and don't forget to read the Da Vinci code for comparison sake!). I was glad that I did and I will be reading the Daughter of God one of these days merely for the pleasure of it. I'll do it even if I find nothing of interest to report to the blog regarding plagiarism.

Oh, and I'm not so sure that this whole working for a living thing is what I'm all about. That is all.

July 4, 2005

Happy Independence Day

E & I just concluded one of the best Fourth of July celebrations I can remember. Fireworks? Yeah, I've been listening to 'em loudly screaming and booming in the night. But I haven't seen a single one, unless you count the teenager across the street who threw poppers into the street so the cars that drove by would make 'em pop. Normally, the fireworks are a major part of the reason why I sleep with a smile after the 4th. But no, despite the awesome power of explosives, and my full support of a holiday that uses them for entertainment instead of evil, this Fourth was great because of the way it worked out, which somehow involved no staring at flashing light.

See, back in January, E2 and I looked for open campsites where we could camp and celebrate the holiday weekend. As is our norm, we were behind the curve and several of our first choices were already fully booked. Two years prior, E2 & I had gone to washburn campsite in San Simeon. The chemical toilets stank up the entire campground, the fog never cleared, the sites were too close, we were awoken every morning at the ungodly hour that old people think is morning by the sound of their RV generators that were 20 feet away at best on both sides, there were no trees at the campsite, there was only one hike and it wasn't that good, it didn't warm up above 65F the whole weekend, and well, in general, it was suboptimal. Sure, we had fun, because hey--it was vacation, and camping, and with friends--how could we not have fun. But, despite the fun, the other negatives made us cross San Simeon off the list of posssible summer camping destinations.

Never say never though. Because when everything else is booked for July by January, you start to reconsider your options. Damnit, we wanted to camp! So this time, we booked a site at san simeon creek instead of Washburn. This weekend couldn't have been more different than last time. Again, we were right next to the bathrooms (driving from the bay area on on a Friday night means you arive later than the locals and get to check into one of the last available sites), but they were flush toilets that were cleaned daily. And really, when camping, proximity to the toilets is not a bad thing if they don't stink. The building acted as a noise and wind block on that side while we were blessed with trees to block the noise and wind (and provide shade from the sun for E--who's a sun wuss, and doing Georgia proud with a nice red neck after this weekend). Unlike last time, where we had a nice view of the parking lot, the view from this site showed us deep blue ocean, a cliff, and behind us, the gorgeous california foothills. To make sure we enjoyed ourselves, the fog burned off each day around noon and beat the weather forecast by about 10-20 degrees (I'd resigned myself to 60 degree days, it would be worth it to hang out with friends and relax). So, now, I'm dark, full of Vitamin D and just generally happy.

E2 & S/O came as planned. Additionally, D & R (who decided on Thursday to fly up from Southern California--an AWESOME addition to the plans) showed up. We all hung out in the sun during the day, playing bocce ball on the beach, lazing around, drinking beer, wine, soda and water, getting sun burnt, eating gourmet food (car camping) and reading books. Each morning, E & I slept in. And each evening, we all gathered around the fire and talked about everything and nothing.

At the end of the weekend, E & I even managed to fit in a visit to my grandparents and I was happy to see that my papa's anger at the dog is expressed with more vehemence than the last time--clearly he is feeling better.

Overall, I can't imagine a better way to spend the holiday. Friends, sun, beach, bocce, grandparents, reading, sleep, and amazing food (thanks to E2 who did all the shopping and pulled some mad favors from the carniceria). At around $50 per person total for three days including food, lodging, and parking, it was a bargain of a vacation. And yet, despite the low price, in terms of enjoyment, it was high on the list of favorites for the year. Not to mention that there's nothing quite like that first shower after not showering after 3 days of dirt, smoke, smores and grime.

Basically, I feel very lucky to have spent such a wonderfully relaxing and fun weekend with friends who could join me and can't help but think that it's a future payment to compensate me for the weekend of sucktitude that July 4th will most likely be next year while I'm studying for the bar. Oh well. I'm full of good food, relaxed and tan. I'll worry about the bar when I'm actually studying for it. The focus this summer is on fun. So far, so good.