May 30, 2005

Il Buono #4, La fine

I'm exhausted. I started the day with a 4 mile run with D, a snack on left-over
cowboy caviar from the last barbeque and the news from my sister that my grandfather is not doing well. His answer to "How are you?" is a feeble, "I'm still alive."

He's led a rich, full life. But now, in his eighties, his body is breaking down, he has a walker, his heart can't pump enough blood to keep his body as useful as it once was, but his head is intact enough that he must witness and feel the pain of every day of his inevitable decline. He and my grandmother have outlived the majority of their friends, which on its own has been a very painful experience. Over the last few years, family members have been constantly warning us about my granfather's slowly declining health. But each time I visited, he seemed only slightly worse than the time before -- blissfully healthy and stubborn. I had faith in his ability to hang on.

Today, my sister arrived at home to cry on my shoulder about papa's attitude of acceptance of what she perceives him to see as his soon-to-be death. You just don't talk bluntly about these things in my family, it's all subtle hints and actions I can't adequately describe, hence why it's her perception of his perception. What was worse for me, however, was her description of his health, and that his opinion of the end of his time might be reasonable. Regardless of whether it's true, I think that will to live (and be healthy) is a huge factor that is not well-enough understood in the health community to be given its true weight. In other words, if she feels that he's acting like he's done, I'm scared.

So, for the second time this running season, I'll probably be missing a race I'd planned on running. I'd already decided to opt out of the the napa to sonoma half marathon (I swear I'll get a flat one in one of these days) because it was the same weekend as a law firm activity that seemed like it was important to attend. Instead, I decided to replace napa-to-sonoma with the Forest of Nicene Marks Half Marathon, right down the street from E2's house (after all, what's a 1,000 feet gain in the first 7 miles -- the rest is downhill, right?). But, now, it looks like my brother's family (including my niece, for whom I'm a sucker), my sister, my father, E and I will all be making a surprise trip to visit papa next weekend. Obviously, if the family comes together like that, I'm out of the race.

This morning, I called to check in with my grandmother and she wasn't her usual upbeat self. When I asked if E and I could visit next weekend, she said, "we make plans on a day-by-day basis these days, so no, we don't have any plans for the weekend. I'd rather just wait and see." It broke my heart. The approaching death of one you love who's lead a full rich life is such a real drama, full of pain and love and acceptance and guilty anger. I know how lucky I am to have grandparents with whom I've been close since childhood and grown able to relate to as adults. I know how lucky they are to have lived to see their great-granddaughter. And yet, I don't want to let go.

So, I'll take any prayers, waves, good thoughts and whatever other pull you've got to send his way so he can have a good weekend with his family next weekend. Yes, it's not the zen attitude, but I'd love it if some force could sustain him 'til the wedding. I also know that if he's tired and sick and ready to be done I wouldn't want to keep him here any longer than he wants.

The rest of the day was a bright beautiful contrast to my feelings about my grandfather's sickness. First, I joined D for a gossip-filled manicure -- Damn my nails look good. Then, E and E's parents picked me up and we all walked across the golden gate bridge (embarrasingly, the first time E & I have done that despite over a combined 16 years in the bay area). As far as memorial days go, we couldn't have asked for anything better: it was warm and clear and windy, the bay was full of sailboats and a few insane windsurfers, a few small planes were flying about, and in general, I was awed and thankful to live in such a beautiful place. From there, we went to north beach, got cappuccinos (in the afternoon, the horror!), and sipped them on benches in Washington Square while we people-watched and recovered from the golden gate winds.

Dinner was a blissfully low-key sushi date at Sanraku with E's parents' friends. No rehearsal dinner evaluation. Just some of the best sushi in the bay area (mmmm... hamachi toro and bon maguro), sake in boxes, and mochi. Seriously. I like to think I know my way around sushi, but I'd forgotten just how superior this place was to our local cheap joint where they know our name. It'll be hard to go back next week (but we'll power through).

Now, I'm home, and full to the brim, both physically and metaphorically. Ordinarily, a holiday weekend at home is a chance to relax and unwind. But this one managed to be simultaneously relaxing, emotionally draining, and ridiculously productive: I fit in 17.5 miles of running, another 4 or so of walking, 4 multi-course gourmet meals at bay area restaurants (3 of which are on the short list for the rehearsal dinner), two trips to the wedding venue, a visit and semi-final sign off on the hotel where we'll be tossing the guests for the weekend, a meet-the-fockers' type dinner between my parents and E's parents, three days of sightseeing with E's parents driving and me generally not involved in the organization (this lack of control is particularly taxing on me, but good for me, no doubt), winetasting at 3 santa cruz mountaian wineries, a sad but realistic conversation with my sister about my grandfather (followed by calls to my father and brother), a short visit with D, who no longer lives in town, and probably one or two short-tempered snaps at E, who no doubt did not deserve them.

It was a good weekend. But I am glad that it is over.

May 29, 2005

Il Buono #3

Kingfish restaurant. Good stuff. Better space options for the rehearsal dinner than the other locations we've visited. Decent Jambalaya according to the southerners, so that's a good thing.

The meal came after a long day of bay area fun including brunch in los gatos and winetasting at Testarossa, Savannah Chanelle, and Ridge. All three grow a few grapes and source many more from some of the best vineyards in California. They all do wonderful things with the grapes. Between the beautiful weather, the gorgeous scenery, the curvy mountain roads, the great wine, and way too much food, I'm in sensory overload mode.

May 28, 2005

Il Buono #2

Today was a perfect day to begin the holiday weekend. First, E2 and I dragged ourselves out of bed to slug through 10.5 miles in the surprisingly muggy heat. Neither of us were particularly into it, but with a half-marathon next weekend, there's not really any easy way to bail on the long run this weekend. So, we struggled through the mileage with a bit more walking than normal.

Thankfully, after a shower, much water guzzling, and a quick lunch, my reward was to be a passenger on the gorgeous drive up the hill to show E's parents Thomas Fogarty winery ("this is where we would have liked to get married, but BT wanted to get married in March, which meant no guarantee that the outdoor facilities would suffice..."). We tasted their delicious wines, and talked the rents into importing a case back to the South. Then we checked out the supposed hotel base for the wedding. We toured the guest rooms, bar, and cafe and decided it'll work, and I sighed with relief at one more detail crossed off the list with relatively low effort on my part (plus they have a free airport shuttle).

From there we headed to the wedding location where we glanced around the grounds. It was a gorgeous day to see the facility and E's parents approved of the selection, so that was good. But, another wedding was about to start, so we high-tailed it out of there and headed for this evening's dinner location, Iron Gate restaurant in Belmont. My parents joined us for a very long, very delicious, thankfully not too embarassing, meet the in-laws dinner. E and I avoided father fighting by picking up the tab ourselves and the evening ended with a group photo of all of us in front of italian carved door scenes.

As far as dining goes, Iron Gate could not have been more different than last night's dinner at pisces if it tried. Where pisces was small, light, airy, clean, and modern, this restaurant was large, dark, full of dark wood (including medieval italian door panels with carved scenes titled, "the harvest," "the hunt," "the kill," and "the war"). Where pisces had little-to-no-excuse for a bar, this restaurant had an almost full fledged dive-bar attached, TV playing sports before dinner and blues band after dinner and all. Where pisces had a fish-full menu, Iron gate had more steak and veal options than I've seen in a long time. Pisces was full of the young and the hip. Iron Gate had several apparent octogenarians, including one birthday, and the crowd reminded me of French grandparents.

The only trait the two restaurants shared was excellent french-influenced cuisine. Truth be told, pisces is more french-inspired california cuisine, whereas Iron Gate reminded me of several restaurants I visited in the suburbs of Bordeaux. For a good steak dinner, Iron Gate is now on the list. But for a seafood tasting menu, pisces is impossible to beat. Regardless of which restaurant E's parents choose for the rehearsal dinner, I'm glad I had the opportunity to try both of these restaurants. I can't wait for tomorrow's selection.

May 27, 2005

Il Cattivo

I already believed that sun was good for you. I mean, I feel better when I get sun. But, then again, I feel better after a glass or three of wine too. So, it's understandable that I desperately want these folks to be telling the truth.

But deep down. I know it's like everything else: if it feels good, it's bad for you. But so is stress. Take your pick.
Il Brutto

Mid-summer review: okay. Not great. Turns out, my personality lends itself to some interactions that send very different messages than those I'd like to be sending. Kudos to the firm for being honest with me about this. Bummer for me, though. Makes me think I may just be better off in litigation where my natural personality is an asset instead of a liability.
Il Buono #1

My parents-in-law-to-be are in town for the holiday weekend. We're eating our way through the best restaurants near the wedding location to select the rehearsal dinner location. Tonight's selection: Pisces. It's been remodeled. It's supposedly better than ever although I never experienced the ever part of that equation. It's definitely impressive in terms of food quality, though.

The tuna tartare was recommended by several people. They were not wrong. The tasting menu, at $55/person is probably one of the best values in the entire bay area for multiple-course, high-quality food. Tonight's courses included the famous tuna tartare, a crab cake sauteed in panko, stewed beef in a red wine sauce with provencale vegetables for which I requested the recipe (our server apologized but the chefs felt the recipe was too simple to write down, just goes to show, some things are earned through experience only--I'll use the same ingredients and follow his instructions, but I guarantee it will not turn out the same), a side dish of your choosing (baby asparagus with pancetta for me), and dessert... wow. I'm not a big dessert person. But this lemon sorbet custard in a hard tart shell over a raspberry reduction, amazing.

And of course, there was wine. We started with a full-bodied, very typical fruit-full and light on the dirty-funk-that-pinot-can-be bottle of Foley pinot noir. It was a good find and I felt like a good California wine guide for the Southern in-laws. The second selection, a bottle of Robert Sinskey pinot noir was very different in style. More complex, more subtle, and a longer finish. I know people who like this type of wine. Unfortunately, none of 'em were at the table and we all prefered the Foley. Oh well, it wasn't bad by any measure, just lighter and difficult to appreciate in the face of rich food and the heavier, fuller, richer Foley. We were in heaven and ready for bed by 9:00 PM. Also, the service was impeccable, and although that may have had something to do with sitting for dinner at 5:45 PM and being the only patrons in the entire restaurant (ahhh... east coast guests), it never went downhill as the courses continued and the restaurant filled up. One bonus: when the restaurant is full, the trains aren't as loud, because although the location in the old train station is quaint, when the place is empty, each passing locomotive is quite an event.

Stay tuned for the remaining restaurants of the weekend.

May 22, 2005

Another 52nd of 2005 -- Gone

When did it become the fifth month of 2005? Wasn't it just New Years? Am I the only one who's shocked at how fast time is flying these days?

As for my lack of posts, well... I've been distracted. Work at firm #1 has picked up, as have the social events. So I'm pleasantly busy and amazed at how much money and time this firm spends on its summer associates. I'm thankful, of course, and it's fun, but it is a bit disconcerting. Why do they feel the need to make it like disneyland? Shouldn't the work in and of itself plus a few get-to-know-one-another events be enough to convince us that we want to come back? Obviously, I'm not a recruiter, and word on the street is that very few people refuse an offer from firm #1, so they probably do know what they are doing. But I can't help feeling slightly guilty at being the well-paid recipient of so many lunches, events, and training sessions. It feels slightly wrong. I think I need to work on my sense of entitlement.

E & I spent the weekend in Santa Cruz for H & P's wedding. They got married on the beach and it was the best weekend weather that the bay area had seen so far this year. It might have been a little too good -- the groomsmen in the tuxes under the 80+ degree sun didn't look so comfortable. It was interesting to sit through a wedding ceremony with the knowledge that we'll be going through those motions in a few short months. I also had enough conversations with past and future brides to know that I'm slacking and need to get my butt in gear if I want to have all of the details covered in time. RAD.

Other than that, I don't have much to report. I'm very tired after a weekend of catching up with friends I hadn't seen in years, too much drinking, and not enough sleep. And, I'm even more exhausted because I'm insane and I managed to fit in a 12-mile morning run (okay, so it was 10.5 miles of running and 1.5 of walking) with E2 on Saturday. Today, before the post-wedding barbeque, E and I walked around on the beach at Seascape and decided it definitely belonged on the prospective weekend getaway list. Now, all we need to do is magically line up the time and the money to get away...Famous last words.

I expect to report back on catering tastings in the next few weeks. See, if I write it, I've got to follow through. Or something like that.

May 15, 2005

Scary but True

Somewhere in the middle of bay to breakers today, I found myself giving my mother an explanation of the functionality of a cock-ring.

Other than that, it was a good day.

May 14, 2005

Thoughts on getting off the beaten path

The last few weeks, I've been thinking quite a bit lately about applying for clerkships. Because it seems like life is trying to tell me that it may not be the best plan for me. And I'm slowly starting to listen.

Letters of Recommendation. One of my professors who previously promised to write me a letter of rec has decided not to respond to my email asking for confirmation that she'd definitely have time to write the letter before the school-mandated clerkship deadline. Sure, I could bother her with a follow up email during the grading period for finals, but the little voice in the back of my head is thinking, "if you have to beg for a letter, how good can it be?"

Advice from the experts. Recently, I went to lunch with the partner I worked for last summer. We talked quite a bit about clerking at the district court level and his perception that in silicon valley, outside of academia, it doesn't hurt, but it definitely doesn't help as much as people believe it does. For example, in his opinion, it may help you move from the person who the litigation firms wouldn't consider to one they might, but it probably won't help you all that much if you are already considered a decent find. He was quick to point out that the valley's perception of clerking was quite different than New York firms' perceptions, where it really does help. But, I have no interest in moving to New York and working at a firm there. In fact, I won't even know if I'm interested in litigation 'til AFTER the majority of the work to apply for clerkships is due.

Furthermore, it was his opinion that an externship probably gives one the same exposure to the legal process without requiring a missed year of firm life. Yes, some firms will give you parity and bring you in as a second year associate if you clerk, but it really doesn't count in terms of your actual status since you're treated as a first year as far as the work the partners will trust you with and how much actual experience you have as an associate at that firm.

He's not alone. I've talked with quite a few partners about this issue. And every partner with whom I've discussed this issue agrees -- it's just not that helpful for someone like me unless I get a clerkship in my local area (where the intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the court and connections with the court can be quite helpful) or an appellate clerkship. The san francisco bay area? Yeah, those courts might be a little competitive. And in reality, the only appellate clerkship I've got a real chance of getting is the Federal Circuit. Which, don't get me wrong, I'd really enjoy, but it would require a move to DC.

The Significant Other. E has a job here. E and I can't do a long-distance relationship. So, I have to limit any clerkship applications to places where E could work. That throws the Eastern District of Texas and many tropical locations out of the running. When you combine E's need to work and my desire for technology-related cases, it limits me to applying only to locations that are the most competitive.

Laziness. On paper, I'm not as competitive as the majority of the people who will be getting the clerkships that meet my requirements. Applying for clerkships is quite a bit of work. So, I'd be doing quite a bit of work to apply for a few shots in the dark. My time could be much better spent doing other things...

Finances. So, basically, best case scenario, I'd be taking more than a 50% pay cut to move to DC, and take E away from the best place for work in the software industry. I'd refused to consider the money issue until recently. But once I started thinking about it, it was a compelling reason to just not apply right now.

I'm not the kind of person who lets money get in the way of their dreams. First, I figure out what I want, then I figure out how to pay for it in a way that is acceptable to me. But, with the clerkships, I'm not starting in a vacuum. I've already got goals that clerking needs to compete with: specifially, I want to travel and I want to retire early.

That 50% pay cut in the first year of my earning career after a three year break would really push things back, financially speaking. Add the fact that we may have to move and pay the mortgage (or at least subsidize it while someone pays us rent) while ALSO paying for rent in another city and it's more like a 75% pay cut. And did I mention we're getting married--yeah, that's some debt I'd like to pay down during my first year as a lawyer, but it will not happen if I take that pay cut and we are paying more in housing costs.

The real issue. Yes, I know that no one clerks for the money. Rather, I've been told that people who aren't into the academic prestige and connections clerk because it's the best experience of their legal career, and "the best year of their life." After my externship, I could see how the best experience of the career bit could be true. But, I'm not in a hurry to have the best experience of my legal career. If it's really all downhill after clerking, maybe I could do it a few years down the line, if I still want, and the pay will be higher and I'll know what I'm missing in terms of leaving the firm.

In fact, once I consider that I can apply for clerkships after a few years of working, then the only reason to take the pay cut, move, etc, now is because everyone else is doing it. But, career-wise, money-wise, relationship-wise, and life goal-wise, it doesn't make that much sense for me, so why exactly would I follow the crowd?

Since I accept that it wouldn't be that helpful for my career, I'd be doing it because it was a great life experience (admittedly, a great reason to do things). I'd be looking for "the best year of my life" I've heard so much about. But once we get into that category, then I've got to consider that in terms of life-experiences, as it stands right now, I'd rather travel around the world on a year-long grand sight-seeing tour of the world than clerk. And that trip costs money. If I do it the way I want to do it, it'll cost much less than 50% post-taxes of my first year associate pay. In short, I'd rather spend the money on travel than on purchasing the privilege of clerking.

So, perhaps I'm better off going straight to work for a few years, paying down my debt, and then deciding if I'd rather clerk or take that world tour, or just drop out of life and open an ex-pat bar on an island somewhere. Because, really, I'm not part of that crowd. Most of the reasons that make sense to them don't make sense to me. So maybe I don't need to compile a billion envelopes and send them off next labor day.

I reserve the right to change my mind again, of course...

May 11, 2005

Stream of consciousness from a summer associate trying to sponge it all in

Do I like this work? Is this work indicative of what I'd actually be doing as a first year associate?

Is that person really happy? They have to know I have no clue about this stuff. But they asked me to do it anyways. So, I guess I'll go learn it and do it.

Was that joke mean, or funny? Are these people happy? Do they really like each other? In humor is truth, and there are a lot of insults flying around under the guise of jokes. But it seems comfortable and friendly, not menacing. Am I missing something?

Is there enough work to go around? Is most of it interesting? Wait, maybe there's too much work so no one has time to give work to summer associates today? That girl was definitely here 'til all hours the night before, and the night before that, and last night, she mentioned something about driving home at 2...

Was she here 'til 2 AM last night because she wanted to be, because she had to be, or because that's just her gig? Is she on a one time deal, or is this standard and you just have to do it a few times a year if you work here? Would I mind? Would I get excited and actually like the hours? Would that be a problem for my relationship?

Did that missed typo destroy the partner's perception of everything else in the memo? Am I doing enough work? Am I bothering attorneys by asking them for work?

Could I be eating any more food?

May 8, 2005


So far this year, I've ran:

the friendship run (but only 10 miles)

the skyline ridge half-marathon


golden gate headlands half-marathon

I ran the friendship run below a 9 minute mile pace and was fairly stoked. Then the hills of skyline and the golden gate headlands kicked my ass and I learned that a sub-9-minute-mile half-marathon will require a flat course for me.

So, I'm registered for a few more runs this year, most of which are blissfully flat. To date, the tenative line-up of races (okay, let's be honest, they're group runs the way I do 'em) for the remainder of 2005 includes:

bay to breakers which I'd planned to walk with my mom and sister, but now my step-dad has gall-bladder surgery scheduled, so mom may not make it, which would suck if mom couldn't come, but could mean that sis and I could run it.

Escape to Lands End -- Either a 10K or a 20K. It's still tentative, but seems like a good idea as a training run for the next run.

napa to sonoma wine country half-marathon -- where I'm hoping to break the 9 minute mile half-marathon obstacle. This means I need to get my butt in gear.

America's finest city half marathon (San Diego) -- with D and possibly R, an excuse to go down to Southern California and hang out with my bay-area-fleeing friends.

The nike half marathon -- Another tentative one, but good weather and an opportunity to run with D who will be in town for college football make it a promising suspect.

And finally,

The US half (san francisco) -- where I'll set a reasonable time goal based on the earlier races and run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The point is, I needed to motivate.

I ran 6.1 miles today. Slowly. On the treadmill. In the gym. I haven't been treating my body very well. I've been slacking for the last month. My feet hurt after the run and I probably need new shoes, which are expensive and annoying since this pair only has 325 miles on 'em. (Of course, several of those miles were in the rain, mud, and ocean, hence why the shoes feel like lead when I run, plus, they feel like I'm cutting it close to some nasty blisters since the insteps are worn in weird ways.)

But now, after writing about my plans for the year, I'm motivated. Starting tomorrow, I'm going back to the healthier ways I'd had from Jan to early April. I enjoyed the way I felt. I had fun. And, I had an insatiable appetite that showed no negative effects on my physique. That alone, when combined with summer associate gorge-fest is reason enough. But for some reason I needed to spell it all out.

And now, as I suspected, I've got the motivation I needed. I'll buy the shoes. I'll run the training miles. Odd. But whatever works, I suppose.
Party Salad/Salsa

D is moving to San Diego. R already moved to LA. As did N. I feel like everyone is leaving for Southern California. At least with D's departure, I'm not just losing the one of my closest friends, I also gained:

10 cans of corn
10 cans of garbonzo beans
10 lbs of jasmine rice
A box of chocolate covered pretzels
Worsteschire sauce

(Clearly, D shops at Costco.)

One of my favorite things in the world is to be stuck with random ingredients and to find a way to put them together into something inspired. When I succeed, I feel like an artist. Unfortunately, I did not find a way to combine all of these ingredients--I have not reached that level of nirvana. So, I'll have to deal with them individually.

Jasmine rice, it's a staple, and one I don't have thanks to the grain moth debacle. So I'll easily find a way to use it over the next year. Mustard and Worsteschire are also staples in the flavoring/marinating camp, particularly now that barbeque season has officially started. The garbonzo beans could be a problem if I hadn't already put falafel, hummus and this recipe for Channa Masala on my food-to-make-soon list.

But corn? What could I do with canned corn? Chowder? It's spring and soon will be summer (I'm optimistic despite the rain today), so that doesn't seem right. Fried corn fritters -- okay, but 10 cans worth? That's a hell of a lot of canola oil. Corn pudding? Maybe once, but it really doesn't grab me, it'd be a pity use of the corn at best.

So, I settled on pawning it off on the barbeque attendees in the form of a black-bean & corn salad or salsa. It was surprisingly delicious. I received more compliments on this thrown together concoction than I have for many, much more complex and difficult dishes. So, I'll share:

Corn & Black Bean Salsa/Salad

3 cans corn
3 cans black beans
1/2 huge red onion (probably one regular-sized red onion)
6 roma tomatoes
2 large bunches of cilantro
4 cloves of garlic
lemon juice (I cheat and use the bottled kind)
chili oil (could probably get away with olive oil and jalapeno, but I had it laying around)
olive oil
spices to taste (I used white pepper, black pepper, garlic salt, and paprika).

1. Dump the canned ingredients into a strainer in the sink. Let the juices drain while you work.

2. Chop the onion and tomatoes. Throw them in the strainer.

3. Combine the cilantro, stems and all (I only used 1.5 bunches), chili oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices in a cuisinart or blender. Puree, add lemon juice and olive oil if needed until it's the consistency that you like for pesto. (I did two batches, one that was more smooth and another that was made up of visibly small chunks/leaves of cilantro, the combination worked well).

4. Dump the strainer's contents into a big bowl. Top with the cilantro sauce. Mix and serve with corn chips or on its own. Enjoy!

May 6, 2005

Slip of the Eyes

I just was at some porn stupid web site that had a blinking animated GIF ad in the top ad space.

You know that space? The portion of the screen that your brain filters out because it's always useless ads?

Well, this time, I was doing a good job of ignoring it but the thing was blinking and the letters kept getting bigger until finally, I had to look.

Because, I SWEAR --

the ad just wouldn't back down, it kept growing in its taunts of me and calling me


Only, no. Because when I finally let my real brain process the ad, I found it to be an advertisement for BIOTECH!!!

Week One -- Report

Too much food consumed! There's a policy that summers must be taken out to every lunch for their entire summer. Ridiculous. I'm going to explode. Every associate is ready to cash in on the firm-sponsored lunch and so they propose some long, filling, caloric disaster. I play my role appropriately and say yes. I like food, so I eat it. I'm already visibly more plump.

Interesting work. After orientation, I've been given two assignments. Both concern topics that I find fascinating and about which I don't know much. The partners and associates seem to have tons of these small, new, interesting tidbits to deal with at the same time. Seems like a very cool way to make a living while satisfying intellectual ADD.

Very cool people. I can honestly say that the stereotype about boring, driven, mean, overbearing lawyers is not playing out here. It didn't at my previous firm either. I wonder if it's all a myth or if I've been EXTREMELY lucky.

Exhausted. Not so much with work, but with life. I finished wedding crap just in time to start work, take a day off to take a final, and then return to work. Having no plans tonight is exactly what the doctor ordered.

May 4, 2005

66.666666666% done

It doesn't feel real.

I took my exam today, but it just felt like a normal undergrad engineering exam. There were some problems, I had an idea of how to approach most of 'em. I felt reasonably certain that I did okay but the last 10-20% is luck. No big deal, it's just another chink in the armor. This is the first time a law school final has felt like that to me. It was a pleasant change.

I think part of the calm comes from the fact that the instructors were practitioners and the exam was very practical. Real world stuff? I'm confident that I can do a decent job. Theory? Who in the world is intelligent enough to analyze things in that void? Not me. Too many variables. Too many real world situations where the theory could be blown to smithereens...

Anyways, with that anticlimactic return to my roots, I'm 2/3 done with law school. Tomorrow I'm headed back to work at summer associate gig #1 (they paid me today and said I didn't have to make up the hours -- I must say, their generosity on that issue is going a long way to compensate for the lack of a welcome I felt on the first day). I've got two interesting assignments and I can't wait to dig in.

In the oh-shit-I-get-a-real-life-cuz-its-summer category, barbeque season is quickly approaching, with the kick-off scheduled for saturday. We're playing it close with rain predicted through friday with another storm to start on Sunday. So cross your fingers for us!

And now, I'm taking my where-did-the-time-go self off to french food with E to celebrate. We'll sip wine, eat many courses, and laugh over the things that are memorable about the last two years. All in all, I'm content with how I've approached this journey and I'm excited for the last year. I just can't believe that it's already here.

May 3, 2005

A Much Better Day

Still being oriented, but almost done.

No insults from anyone employed by the firm: good.

Mexican food from a hole in the wall with my fellow summer associate: amazing.

Returning to to be asked why we left on our own, lectured on how we should be taken out by associates every day, and then told we should turn in our receipts: wow.

Telling the head of recruiting that we had no receipts because the menu was in spanish, as was the receipt, which we didn't bother to keep since they only accepted cash, and really, it was worth it, and we'd probably do it again to get away from it all: priceless.

Plus, I got my first two assignments today and they are cool. Also, I met with my study group and feel reasonably prepared for my final tomorrow, which is awesome since I haven't read very many of the cases. Wish me luck, I suspect I'll need it. And, of course, the reservations at the local best-of-the-best restaurant for tomorrow night don't hurt my attitude one bit.

Off to print my notes for the open book exam...

May 2, 2005

One for the record books

I was inadvertantly (I hope) the recipient of an insult from one of the partners at my firm this morning. The recruiting manager tried to help the partner recover from his gaffe, but he wasn't having any of it. From my perspective, it looked like he was insisting on standing by his insulting words, although I'm sure he had a different perspective.

Then, despite assurances to the contrary, my partner mentor (a different partner) never showed up for mentor lunch. No doubt she had an important client call come up and couldn't make it. I understand--and on its own, her absence wouldn't make me think twice, but when added with the insult from breakfast, I'm beginning to question whether I'm missing a very blatant message. It was my first day, after all...

Of course, that line of thought died when I got a nice reality check on the unintended messages I am capable of sending. My phone rang after my evening run. I'd mis-entered the study group meeting for my last class in my organizer and they were waiting for me. At that point, I was 15 minutes late, an hour away, and was certain that I didn't need to be there 'til tomorrow.

So, yeah. Tomorrow is another day. Preferably one with less sucktitude.

May 1, 2005

Reality Shows

I spent the last week or so knocking things off the to do list and visiting my brother's family, my mother's family, my father, and friends.

I'm all caught up. I've heard all about or seen enough to understand without discussing the latest developments, money problems, relationships problems, hurt feelings, joy, and frustration from the trials and tribulations belonging to each of these people.

At my brother's, I witnessed the frustration and the toll that raising a 3-year-old and supporting a family of three in California on less money per year than I will make this summer. It's hard. And I can't help but feel a compulsion to help. I also felt blessed to be part of the wonder that a brilliant 3-year-old can bring to any conversation: everything is new, wonderful, and fascinating. When did we lose that? Why do people think that money will make them happy? Maybe it just keeps you from being sad.

My mother was a typical mother-hen -- happy to see me and hungrily devouring each wedding detail I provided. Her joy at inclusion in the wedding plans is embarrassing -- it means more to her than I ever imagined, how did I not know?

My father was typical papa bear -- too gruff at times and awkward in his recovery, but funny, well-intended, and thankful for any time his kids could spare.

H's wedding is less than a month away, so my visit to catch up involved quite a bit of "thank-god-you-can-relate-and-even-if-you-can't-you-should" conversation. I left aware of more wedding details than I needed to hear, stories of more wedding-related family drama than I had even considered as a possibility, and a much firmer understanding of the reality of financial stress that comes with a wedding when the couple funds it themselves. It was a bit overwhelming.

After the trip home, I hosted R for a 3-day birthday visit consisting of many long (both drunken and sober) conversations on topics as varied as: the scarcity of resources, subway as the largest fast-food chain, gender roles, the beauty of highway 17, violence, the goodness of fried food, taxes, wedding atire and how it can go horribly wrong, foreign policy, caffeine, arsenic, and education. In addition to our fun, we fit in a visit to D during packing so we were able to pack up several boxes on D's behalf before the big move. What the hell else do friends since 6th grade do if they don't help one another move?

Finally, R & I headed to Santa Cruz, our traditional get-away-from-it-all town, for a night of good food, martinis, and great conversation with E2. After eating and drinking ourselves silly, we watched an easter procession at an orthodox church, and R & I finished up the night at Denny's, surrounded by high school kids. It was surreal.

Now, I'm home. My little sister has moved into the guest room for a while. I start my first summer associate gig tomorrow. I'm exhausted. And, nothing seems less important at the moment then the final I've got scheduled for Wednesday. This is a recipe for disaster.