May 31, 2004

Spoiled Rotten

Well, I did finally finish my academic "please-oh-please-take-me" journal write-on. I took it to the post office and sent it certified mail as we left town for a weekend of bliss. The end of school-related work took a while to be real. In the car, I kept asking myself, what do I have to do next? Then I'd smile and think, "nothing."

E's parents were in town, so the four of us drove south on the 101 from Silicon Valley until we reached Soledad, where we went on a tour with the winemaker at Paraiso Vineyards. Paradise. Literally. Winds, Mountains, Grapes. Some of the highest quality-to-price pinot noirs being made in California today. What more could I want to start my vacation?

After a leisurely lunch and the purchase of too much wine, we drove south to our eventual destination, the sleepy fishing town of Morro Bay. Our hotel had breathtaking views, a fabulous restaurant, and a bird-filled estuary next door (a huge blue heron watched us without moving while we laughed at the cacophony of a bird-watcher's dream). The original plans had called for a more popular beach destination like Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach, but we all agreed that we made the right choice with a less tourist-filled destination.

The weekend just kept getting better, and now, I feel on top of the world thanks to several wonderful discoveries and experiences:

1. Portable Hot Tub Technology. Enough Said.
2. Long gorgeous drives in the country to reach and taste wines in the Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles Wine Country, and San Luis Obispo Wine Country.
3. Going to Hearst Castle for the first time.
4. Going to the Madonna Inn for the millionth time with my grandparents. (If you've never been, it's an experience not to be missed.)
5. Dinner at Windows on the Water. Two nights in a row. It was that great. The view of sunset over morro rock brings a silence to the restaurant--it's too beautiful to describe. The bouillabaise was the best I've ever had (besides my mother's), and the cilantro-grilled shrimp were perfectly spiced with black pepper. The wine list is extensive and full of local selections (which tend to be much more reasonably priced than their more well-known Napa and Sonoma cousins). And dessert? Well, I'm not much of a dessert person, but the lemon mouse inspired me to try one this summer.

Now, I'm home, relaxed, with memories of ocean views, wine geeking, and my belly full of excellent food. I joined one of the wine clubs of the wineries we visited (thankfully, one of my previous memberships has expired) and have plans to join one more when I get around to it.

It was the perfect gluttonous celebration of the great things in life: Family. Food. Relaxation. Sleep. Wine. Mountains. Ocean. Conversation to tie it all together.

Now, finally, I'm ready to go back to being a working stiff. Has it really only been 9 months?

Here's to hoping I can button at least one pair of my work pants after the weekend of stuffing myself silly.

May 26, 2004

Drifting Away

I had a week to finish everything before I start work.

Most of the week is gone. Most of everything is not done. But, boy, am I well rested, and have we had some good food.

Now, unfortunately, reality is kicking down my door. So, today I managed to motivate and take care of a big chunk of the to-do list.

The largest thing that MUST be completed before heading off for a weekend holiday of central Californian ocean, food, and wine bliss? Cite-checking and cite-fixing my write-on memo. Unfortunately, I've finished the writing, so I'm not that pressed for time. This means that I can't really get up the gumption to do the boring cite-related crap. I was hoping that writing about it would somehow motivate me to attack it and get it over with.

Looks like No. Oh Well. I'm sure I'll finish it before the deadline...

May 24, 2004

Why I'm Paranoid

Material Witness "holdings" scare the crap out of me. I haven't done anything wrong. I don't have to have done anything wrong to be afraid of humans with power who will make mistakes, innocently or otherwise.

I believe we must always fight a clean, honest, and fair fight. Especially in situations where our emotions whisper to us that it's okay to play dirty, sweep white lies under the carpet and use unfair tactics against those who have employed them against us. At the end of the day, we've got nothing but our honor.

May 23, 2004

Reverse Sublimation Phase

As you know, I was in finals mode 'til last Tuesday. Basically, I was vapor. I existed everywhere and nowhere, I had no real substance that my friends or family (or even myself) could depend on. I honestly didn't know what day of the week it was on most days. Since Tuesday, I've been transforming back into a normal solid-phase human, bit-by-bit.

Tuesday night, a small piece of me solidified during dinner out with friends (and wine) to celebrate the end of my last final.

Another piece returned the next day at the salon while I relaxed through a massage, facial and pedicure, courtesy of E. (If you're wondering what to get a recently finished finals-taker, a massage is THE answer, they will adore you for it!)

Additional bits of myself have returned after long bouts of restful sleep, relaxing on the couch with my pleasure book, finally cleaning the house, having the first barbeque of the summer, and spending a day doing absolutely NOTHING with my best friend (slept in, walked to brunch, walked home, showered, walked to tea, walked home, read our books in silence, had more tea, took a nap, and had dinner).

This weekend, I managed to be in good enough shape to deal with my family for extended periods of time--an undertaking which is always rewarding, but invariably exhausting. However, I was back to my usual sarcastic role in the family and watched with pride as my little sister officially graduated from college.

And now, I think I'm more-or-less officially recovered from 1L finals. This is good because I've got this huge packet full of cases and statutes and facts. I'm supposed to use it to write a memo in an attempt to qualify to be a member of one of my school's academic journals. I've had it for close to a week now. I believe tomorrow is the day to begin. Yeah, that's it. Tomorrow.

In theory, I could try to grade on and not participate in the writing competition (if I believed my grades were in the top 1% of my class). But, even if I was that good of a student, and didn't doubt the grading system at all, I'd still have to trust that there was nothing that could possibly knock me out of the top 1%. I doubt that anyone who actually wants to be a member of a journal is that confident. So, regardless of who does grade on when our grades come out AFTER the competition is completed, virtually everyone who wants to be on an academic journal will be making their way through the packet over the next week if they haven't started to do so already.

So, given that this is how I'm spending my week off between work and school, I'm thankful that my sanity and solidity have returned. I'm also thankful for memorial day weekend, which promises to bring travel, ocean, and wine tasting. Now, to finish that memo before the weekend...

May 18, 2004

Day is Done... Gone the Sun...

So, actually, the sun's not gone.

But it's SO OVER!!!!!

The exam kind of sucked, but whatever, I'm used to that by now. Given infinite time, I could have done better. Same story as always. I've got all summer to get over the arbitrariness of the skills they choose to test, the ranking system, grades, and all that stuff. I'll post more cogently about it later.

For now:
1. E's home.
2. I'm going out to dinner.
3. I'm a 2L.
4. I can read fiction and cook good meals every night.
5. Life is good.

May 17, 2004

500 yards to the finish line

You know the people that crawl over the finish line at the end of marathons? That's how I feel right now.

In the last 17 days, I've put in at least 110 hours of studying, ran 48.36 miles (which probably kept me sane), and spent 10 hours taking actual exams. This set of finals is an easy finalist in the competition for most demanding project of my life. I'm certain I've done other stretches of time that were this demanding, but due to the brain drain, I can't remember them right now, and most certainly, I was younger and more able to handle it back then. However, I've almost made it--there's only 24 hours of studying/sleep/etc and 3 exam-taking hours 'til 1L is done. I can hardly wait.

Unfortunately, I also have many a class note to push into my outline, several flow charts to make and a few practice exams to take before the last exam. So, I'm going to have to wait a little bit to enjoy the doneness, but it'll all be over before I know it.

If you see this before 11:30 AM on Tuesday, think good thoughts for me. My exhausted brain needs all the help it can get.

May 15, 2004

More Dreams

As I've mentioned before, I have f*cked up dreams when the rats on the treadmill in my head are racing.

Most of this semester's finals dreams have been predictably wierd and boring, but not particularly memorable.

Until last night...

Somehow, my brain thought that after roughly 8 hours of contracts and almost a week after the crim exam, a good thing to dream about would be the crim exam. And how I completely blew it. As in messed up the entire exam for everyone...

...fade in...

Proctor: Who is going to get these completed crim exams to the professor?

bt: [raises hand] I'll do it.

[All students throw exams into the bed of bt's Ford F150.] (mind you, I don't really have an F150, but apparently my subconscious wants one that is big, dirty, with huge mud tires, and, of course, yellow?)

faceless student (you know how people in your dreams are faceless?): You *have* to come with us!

bt: Of course I do. [bt drives to karoake bar with fellow faceless students]

[bt drinks and laughs and feels guilty about time that should be spent on contracts studying]

group of faceless students: come on, you know you want to...

bt: fine. I'll do it.

[bt sings karoake] [badly]

[bt leaves the bar at daybreak, sees the exams in the truck bed and freaks out]

bt (to self): oh, my god, I've got to get these exams to professor crim....

[bt screeches around several nameless corners to arive at professor crim's house]

professor crim: I've been waiting for you all night. You cheated, didn't you? I know you copied the best answers.

bt: No. I swear. I didn't.

professor crim: Oh, I'm supposed to believe that you just kept them all night for fun? And that everyone's answer is completely unaffected by an absence from my house of more than 3 times the exam time? How do I know you didn't all conspire against me?

[bt jolts awake]

...fade out...

What the hell?

May 14, 2004

3rd's the Turd

Is that how you spell turd? Remember "first the worst, second the best...?"

C needed her computer back. So I returned it on Tuesday. I suffered from the delusion that I had tax TOTALLY under control and didn't need to study that hard for it. So, I spent the first of the available two study days, running, working at about half-pace, and relaxing. Reality returned with only 1.25 days left. I'm now coming down from about 40 hours of frenzy. I went from believing I had tax under my belt to freaking out. For the first time this set of finals, I worked into the wee hours on the morning before an exam.

It didn't help that the computer gods continue to conspire against me. I did all of my charts/outlining on my desktop, in Windows, since formatting issues force me to be a traitor. The night before the exam at 9 pm, it blue-screened. [insert various curses at Bill Gates and windows here, although in fairness, it was a video driver error]. I spent the rest of the time before the final even more frenzied:

1. trying to recreate and recall several of the smaller charts that seemed to disappear with the BSOD.
2. cutting and pasting my charts into the blank pages of the code
3. installing the stupid exam software on my 3rd laptop (my new baby) for this finals period.
4. realizing I didn't have a USB floppy drive
5. finally going to sleep
6. getting up after about 4 hours of sleep
7. studying some more and making notes on the pages when I found more missing bits lost to the computer
8. going to Fry's to buy a USB floppy drive
9. booting my laptop in my car, in the parking lot of fry's and installing the floppy driver to make sure the hardware would work.
10. commuting to school
11. registering the exam software on-line, because it wouldn't let me do it 'til I had a floppy drive.
12. going to the mexican joint and repeatedly reassuring the adorable burrito-making-dude, that no, I wasn't his novia, but no, it wasn't because he was feo.

Anyhow, Tax is finished. I didn't really calm down 'til the exam began. Given my lack of sleep (since I never slept more than 4 hours before any exam in college) and the fact that there were problems with numbers and I had my trusty HP calculator, it felt like an engineering exam. Which was good. My adrenaline levels had been much too high for the day and half prior to the exam--can't be good for my heart (great for staying awake though...).

So now, I'm on the home stretch, and honestly, exhausted. There was NO CHANCE of motivating myself to take a run this AM. And possibly no need since the point is to be physically exhausted at the end of each study day, and boy, am I ever...

May 11, 2004

Finals Food

Waddling Thunder has a post dealing with responses to his Waddling Kitchen Post about the harried law school student's diet.

I, too, dream about food in my spare time. The approach of summer has me excited for several reasons, but the ones vying for the #1 spot are: barbeques, and going to the summer farmers' market every Sunday. Perhaps people who live for food don't begrudge the time it takes to make it. Maybe it is more efficient to buy pre-prepared foods, either in fast-food joint form, or in the bakable/microwavable "meal" form.

But, really, I don't believe it.

Last night, I made stir fry. It took about 10 minutes. It would have taken me at least that long to drive to the nearest fast food joint, order food, and bring it home. Plus, I fed 3 people and had left-overs for one more for about $6. Feeding four people in 10 minutes for $6 is not possible with fast food. But, if you hate cooking, cleaning the dishes, and don't really care about the quality of the food you eat, I could see how the effort saved may make pre-prepared food worth it.

Finals Stir-Fry:

1. Before finals, I do a bunch of little things to make finals easier. So, part of the ease of this meal is that I already went to the store and bought the stuff I didn't have out of the ingredient list. This meal requires:
  • One package frozen stir-fry vegetables $1.69

  • One Carrot (optional, it was in the fridge so I used it) $1 - high estimate

  • One inch piece of ginger root $1 - high estimate

  • Three Garlic cloves (staple, calculated into the high estimates above)

  • Chili oil, or olive oil and chili flakes (staple, calculated into the high estimates above)

  • One package firm tofu $1.69

2. Heat 1-2 Tbsp chili oil (or olive oil and chili flakes to taste) on med-high stove in a sautee pan or a wok. Add minced garlic and ginger (feel free to throw in sliced shallots, onions, or anything of that nature that's lying around).

3. While oil is making the kitchen smell delicious, cut tofu into 1 inch x 1 inch x 1/4 inch pieces. Sautee and stir in oil/spices for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add Frozen vegetables and chopped carott. Sautee and stir for 5 minutes.

5. Serve immediately. (Serves 4 without rice)

6. Variations: 1. buy a can of black bean sauce and add it to the stir fry after the vegetables are partially cooked. 2. Serve over rice.

Okay, enough procrastination. Back to Tax.

May 10, 2004

Two Down, Two to Go

Well, Crim is done. I've giving myself about 20 hours to recuperate 'til I have to start studying again and I think I'm going to need them all.

I walked out of the exam very disappointed. Crim wasn't supposed to be like Civ Pro where I knew the exam was going to be ridiculous and expected to be pressed both for time, and for the ability to find anything to say that was worthwhile. The previous exams from this professor led me to believe that I'd have ample time and the ability to address each of his questions. The trick to this professor was clarity. Or so I thought.

Turns out that this exam was harder than any of his freely available previous exams. (Or, perhaps it wasn't in which case I'm in worse trouble than I thought.) But, time was of the essence. In a MAJOR way. I finished the first portion of the exam with well over a half an hour to spare, which I donated to the essays. I did spot a bunch of issues and outlined a great answer (or so I thought). But despite the time spillover, I didn't have time to address all of the issues I spotted. I had to make judgment calls about what to include and leave out. I had to decide whether it was worth going in depth or giving cursory reference to the fact that I spotted the issues. It doesn't matter what I decided, I knew I could have done better had I had enough time.

I walked out of the exam certain of only one thing: the points I know I lost for not covering issues I had spotted but couldn't get to. I avoided the two sentence approach I had used in Torts because this professor had indicated that cursory statements were basically worth nothing. But, man, it sucks to know something is an issue and not be able to address it.

Ugggh... frustration. Oh well. Time to get over it. Two more in the pipeline.

May 9, 2004


I put in a long day of studying yesterday and didn't do anything physical. I won't be doing that again during finals, if I can help it. Falling asleep was a pain--my brain was exhausted but my body had no interest in calling it a day.

Today is the last day before my Crim exam. I've got big plans:

1. Internet Procrastination: blogging, news, reading blogs, mail, the usual.
2. Physical Procrastination: when I finish here, I'm going to run 6.7 miles.
3. Amazon Procrastination: when I finish finals, I get to be a human again... fiction! remember fiction?
4. Food Procrastination: I've got to eat. But what?
5. Amazon-Food Procrastination: wow, Amazon really does sell everything.
6. Calling My Mom and Neice's Mom: It's mother's day.
7. Packing for, Driving to, and Checking in to the Hotel by School for the AM exam.

I'm also going to make a half-hearted effort to study and take practice exams in between all of that stuff. I'm running on fumes mentally, so there's not much I can do about it except procrastinate and hope I recover. Thankfully, adrenaline will kick in for the actual exam, it's just today that's going to be a bit of a waste. Oh Well. At least the weather is nice.

May 8, 2004

Lost Something

Yesterday, I had a "Law School has really f*cked me up" moment.

Professor Crim had invited students out for drinks. I actually thought my time would be better spent studying. Mind you, this is after 6 hours of studying and an hour and a half review session. Thankfully, H wanted to go and I came to my senses.

We went. It was fun.

A few short months ago, I used to understand that drinks/social occasions with co-workers and colleagues were important and fun. I used to make an effort to join people for drinks after work. I understood that more work was accomplished when people felt that they had a connection to you. I understood that feeling friendly towards the people I work with went a long way towards making the work day pleasant. I knew that I could learn things over drinks that I would never have an opportunity to learn in the office.

How did law school make me forget that?

Whatever. I remember it now. I enjoyed talking to the students that went and hanging out with the professor.

My new laptop arrived yesterday. I was going to wait until after my next exam to open it and play. I think I lost that battle. [runs off to open the box...]

May 5, 2004

Well, that was ridiculous!

Professor Civ Pro is a fan of a steep curve. This doesn't freak me out as much as some of my fellow students because I come from an undergrad program with a required mean of 2.7 and a group of professors who believe that if someone gets 100%, the test did not fully allow people to express the extent of their knowledge. I actually have gotten 20% right on exams and gotten a B on them.

I'm not sure how I feel about that philosophy. When I'm prepared and having a good game day, I think I like it. But, I've had other days where it sucked. It's no fun to work your ass off in preparation for an exam where an A is 50%. Walking out of an exam knowing that you had no clue about 50% of the questions does a number on anyone's confidence. But, in all fairness, so does life. If you know you're going to feel stupid before you go, it's not so bad. I think I also compare this extreme to the other extreme where the curve is required and the exam is too easy, so a 93% is a B-. I'll take the impossible exam over a couple of mistakes making me average any day.

So... yeah, I waver on the issue, but secretly, I suspect if I were a professor, I'd write really hard exams too. That makes me an asshole in the assessment of most of the people who left professor Civ Pro's exam today. He promised to be out of the zip code and people took advantage of the 1st amendment and his absence accordingly.

The exam was long, hard, and close to impossible. If I remember, I'll post the averages, raw and curved, when they come back to me, because I suspect they'll be amusing (like a 40% on the essays is the going bet for average). C's laptop served me quite well, I did my stuff, wrote what I could, felt pressed for time, realized I got some stuff wrong and didn't have time to fix it, also realized that I pegged some hard to recognize stuff, and generally, didn't have any clue that time was flying by.

It's done. It's a relief. Here's to hoping luck is on my side!

I'm doing NOTHING related to law school tonight. Tomorrow, it's back to the same: long run, study, study, study, yoga (if I can fit in in) tea, and bed.
Game Day

I'm up. I'm out of bed. I'm exhausted.

My windows partition died yesterday morning. I took it as a sign and ordered the dream laptop I've been salivating for.

Unfortunately, that did not solve my more immediate problem. What about today's exam? (I wasn't too upset, I was very thankful that it didn't die DURING the exam.)

So, last night, I took an hour and a half off studying to drove to and from C's house and steal the junker PC that she bought to take the bar (she's a mac-head). I spent another hour at home installing the crappy exam software (which most certainly contributed to the freak-out of my windows partition), making certain the external floppy worked, rebooting into and out of secure mode and convincing myself that this machine would NOT die on me.

Now, I've got about 3 hours 'til I need to go to the exam, and honestly, I'm too tired to do any more. I feel like I hit brain-saturation, and anything I add to my brain now will come at the expense of something else it pushes out. But, that probably won't stop me from trying...

Think good thoughts for me if you happen to see this before 4:30 PM PST.

May 3, 2004


I have a few friends who have the present gene. You know, the $6-$10 things you always meant to buy yourself but never did? People with the present gene are able to know what they are and you get 'em for you. They also know exactly how much to spend so that you feel grateful but not uncomfortable. N has the present gene.

N got me a wine question-of-the-day calendar for 2004.

I'm a big wine geek. This was one of those things that I didn't know existed, but if I did, I would have purchased it for myself without thinking. So, I was excited to receive it, and every day I'm excited to tear off the page from the day before so I can read about wine bottles, history, chemistry, producers, regions, grapes, and more.

Today's tid-bit? Although it's not certain because a record of private collections is not kept, it is generally assumed that the largest collection of corkscrews is owned by Don Bull of Wirtz, Virginia, proprietor of Virtual Corkscrew Museum.

Wow. I guess I'm not THAT big of a wine dork.

In other news, Civ Pro studying is continuing on schedule. I'm still enjoying myself. The weather is gorgeous. I fear I'll regret this happy-go-lucky attitude come grade time. But man, all things considered, I've got a pretty good life right now.

May 2, 2004

Enjoying Myself?

I'm shocked to find that this time around, during the reading period, I'm having a good time. I think I might even be able to keep it up.

[grin] of course, it's only been one day, technically, but that first day set quite a pleasant tone...

Yesterday, I slept in, ran 6 miles, got burritos with E, bought my grandmother a mother's day card, studied at at home and at H's house for 8 hours or so, ate defrosted turkey stew for dinner with E, had a couple of beers, watched the Simpsons and was in bed by Midnight.

Today, I got up after 9+ hours of sleep, ran 4 miles, and expect the rest of the day will be similar to yesterday.

I don't hate studying. And, I actually enjoy taking exams, I always have. So, I suppose I'm predisposed to enjoying finals. But mainly, I think my happiness stems from the combination of:

1. no classes 'til August
2. the freedom to make my own schedule
3. the freedom from fear of the unknown that gripped me during last semester's exams
4. and of course, the sun

So, I've got a list of stuff I must get through between now and my first exam (both work and required 8 hours of sleep each night). It's entirely reasonable to get through it with at least a day to spare. I'm planning on filling the remaining time with some of the items off of a longer list of stuff I could get through if there is time, and my list of activities for myself (like running, cooking, facial?, massage?, pedicure?, the list is infinite). My tentative schedule looks like I should be able to fit in some things from both.