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29 December 2005

Dodging a (figurative) bullet

We were back in court today to hear the judge's decision about whether our client should be transferred to adult court, tried under extended juvenile jurisdiction, or just kept in regular juvenile court. (We wanted the last one.) Entering the juvenile court building is always kind of interesting. There's the requisite airport-style bag scanner and metal detector. I ALWAYS trigger this thing. I figure it's something to do with the shoes I wear to court, which are made of actual leather and feature a small heel (a real departure from the sneakers I usually wear.) As usual, today, the thing beeped accusingly and I headed over to the "wanding" area. (I wish so much that "wanding area" was a place where they gave me a cool wand with a star on the end of it and sparkly tinsel coming out of it that would make it so much easier to play Tinkerbell for Halloween next year instead of a pat down. Sadly, the juvenile court building doesn't seem very interested in tinsel or my future Halloween costumes.) Today, the wanding area was staffed by a very short police officer with positively dreamy Buddy Holly glasses, and when I told him "it's my shoes," he said "I'm just glad you beeped so you had to come over here" and I got all blushy and made some awkward gesture designed to subtly show my wedding band while saying "thanks, um, gotta go." Note to self: get better at dealing with members of opposite sex. Anyway, I finally made it to court, where the lead attorney and the family was waiting. The judge had taken a week to make his decision after our last hearing, so today he had an opinion all written that he read into the record. The first sentence he read went something like this: "though the defense appears to have missed this development, the statute governing extended juvenile jurisdiction in Illinois changed on August 20 of this year." Shit shit shit. I was in charge of figuring out how that law worked. I wrote that motion. I am solely responsible for the "defense missing this development." At this point, my stomach was about at my ankles and I started evaluating the various exits to the room to determine which looks quickest in case the lead attorney wasn't feeling charitible and wants to rip me a new one for missing this kind of key development which was my ONLY JOB for this motion. Oh dear. The judge continued: "the new law uses the same standards as the transfer law, enabling me to consider social factors in my analysis of whether EJJ would be important." He went on to explain all of the shitty things that have happened in this kid's life, all the ways he has not received the services he needs, and how the juvenile system provides the best chance for him to receive those services. Then he ruled in our favor on both our motions. Our client stays in juvenile court. Amid the crying grandmother, the grateful uncle, and the very cheerful lead attorney, I felt so profoundly relieved that this, my first major screw up where an actual client's future was at stake, was one that didn't ultimately matter. I cannot imagine how I would feel right now if this had gone the other way because of my blunder.

27 December 2005

I don't think I'm meant to interact with other people today

After the coldest first three weeks of December on record, we've been experiencing weirdly warm (50 degrees anyone?) weather for the past three days. This has resulted in: (a) a not-white Christmas, (b) soggy soggy soggy, and (c) the discovery of unbelievable volumes of dog poop on the sidewalk. People! Just because there was snow on the ground does not mean you had permission to look the other way when doggy did his business on the sidewalk. Do you know why? Because now, with our weirdly warm weather and the snow melting away the poop hiding places, we are left to discover all of those little parcels and they are (b) soggy soggy soggy! So gross. Manners, people. Seriously. In other news, I have written 7 pages of my paper today, only two days after Christmas. I might just finish this thing yet.

26 December 2005

pretty sure that's not what he meant

Christmas eve, we went with my family to our family church for the service, which features the singing of carols and general warm fuzziness. In the "meditation" before we got to the carol part, the minister made this observation: "Christians always sing when they get themselves into trouble." My first thought? "So I should be sure not to have any Christians on my next bank heist team." Um, yeah, when he said "sing," he probably wasn't referring to the jargon for ratting out a co-conspirator. I should perhaps think about something other than law for a while.

23 December 2005

i shudder to think what my neighborhood would look like today if ikea had succeeded at building a store here

Today's lesson: avoid all superstores in the days leading up to a major retail holiday that also allegedly celebrates the birth of the savior. Driving home from a "hey! I just got off work at 3pm because it's almost Christmas! How cool!" drink with my friends L. and M., I took the secret back way to sidestep rush hour loop traffic, mentally patting myself on the back for remembering the shortcut. I had not counted on Target. Traffic coming from all directions was at a standstill for a solid three blocks approaching the Target right behind our building. People were actually leaving their cars on the road and just getting out to walk to the Target. It was some sort of bizarre Target pilgrammage. This year, in contrast to past years, I had a Plan. I shopped early in an effort to avoid the panicked last minute shopping. Next year, I will have to remember to include traffic maps in my Plan.

22 December 2005

I also wanted to kill the state's attorney, but that's another story for another post.

Here’s the thing about juvenile court: it sucks. The whole thing sucks. The building, with its stark white façade jutting into an otherwise downtrodden neighborhood, sucks. The courtrooms, fluorescent-lit, with a card table for each lawyer and cafeteria-style benches big enough to seat maybe 3 spectators, suck. The people working there, who don’t know where your client is and don’t know what courtroom the judge is in today and don’t know what you expect them to do about it, suck. The waiting area outside the courtrooms, where if you’re a white woman not one but two people will helpfully say “oh, you must be a victim. I hope they get him!” really suck. (As if there’s no reason a white woman would be in this place were it not to witness the conviction of her aggressor.) But then, every once in a while, amid all the suckage, something pretty cool will happen. Today, the lawyer in charge of the case I’m working on for the clinic made a speech that was pretty cool. We were in court to argue that our client, D., should not be transferred to adult court. (Remember that motion I was writing a while back? It was argued today! It was so cool! But I’m trying to stay all calm and blasé so I don’t look like the overly enthusiastic newbie. But a judge is actually reading what I wrote! And analyzing it!) D. is accused of first degree murder (he didn’t shoot, but he was there, which under American criminal law yields the same penalty.) D. is 14 years old, was born addicted to crack, and has caught every bad break you can imagine for a young black man on the south side of Chicago. D. is also designated special ed, but stopped getting services in 6th grade and was put instead into an alternative school for behavior problems. To get a kid transferred to adult court, the state needs to prove that there is no possibility of rehabilitation in the juvenile system because the kid has taken advantage of all the services available to him. This is clearly not the case with D., who isn't even getting the special ed support he's due. The lawyer, making this argument, said it better than I ever could. She said, roughly: “your honor, we don’t like to admit this, but you and I and everyone in this room knows what we are doing to these kids. When they grow up and their voices change, or their attitude changes, or they’re just not as cute as we expect them to be anymore, we stop thinking of them as kids who deserve help and start thinking of them as kids who deserve punishment. What we before classified as "learning disabilities" we start to call "attitude problems." We are scared of these kids because they aren't cute and little anymore. They talk like adults, they try to act like adults, and sometimes they get themselves caught up in some very adult situations. But they are not adults. What was a learning disability is still a learning disability. But we're tired, and uncertain, and "alternative school" means "no longer in this building." We are throwing these kids away. We have got to stop treating kids like this. No kid deserves to be thrown away.” Amen, sister.

21 December 2005

If you must know, I read it in Real Simple.

I just read in a magazine that the average American household will spend more than $1000 on heating this winter. I am floored. $1000? That’s incredible! We live in Chicago, where it is very very cold, but we live in an apartment, and so much heat bleeds into our place from the incredibly overheated hallways (at last check they were hovering at a toasty 83 degrees,) that we don’t actually turn on the heat that often. Before this, I lived in California, where some people believe there is winter but they are wrong, so there was no cause to turn on the heat ever. Thus, these gargantuan heating bills are not part of my experience. I had sort of figured that my $5 a month or so increase in heating costs during the Chicago winter was normal. Seems I was wrong.

This leaves me wondering why heating America's homes is so expensive. Possible theories:

(a) the cost of gas/electricity/firewood has increased dramatically (b) American houses are really really big and require lots of heat. (c) American houses are really really inefficient and leak lots of heat (this is certainly the case in my parents’ house, which is 105 years old and built like a sieve) (d) both (b) and (c)

My first instinct, on learning this little tidbit about heating costs, was to curse once again the rise of the McMansion and its companion huge utility bills. I can get good and lathered about McMansions. I grew up in a town full of old, gorgeous, sieve-y houses, and these days new owners are tearing them down like its going out of style and building new, bigger houses that extend all the way to the lot line. I am not a fan of this trend. I like my living spaces a little quirky- I’ll always remember the four foot square kitchen in my first apartment, the crooked living room floor in the first house I lived in as a teacher, and the constant hissing and clanking of the radiators in my parents' house (see "sieve", above.) McMansions lack these charming quirks. (Rumor has it McMansions are also less costly to keep up and totally customized to the whims of the owner, but I’m choosing to overlook that. I’m making a point here.)

So given my loathing of McMansions, it was natural for me to assume that astronomical heating bills are the fault of these newer, bigger, brighter houses. Upon reflecting further, however, I realize that the real answer is probably (e) all of the above. (I was a teacher, I should have remembered that the answer is always “all of the above!”) There have been all those NPR reports on skyrocketing fuel prices after all, and NPR usually is right about things.

Perhaps I was so quick to blame the McMansions because of a brush with death I had today involving a Hummer. (Hummers and McMansions are both filed under “silly excess” in my grandiose mental filing system, lest you wonder how the one is related to the other.) On the expressway, this Hummer nearly rear ended and ran over my little Prius as I watched, terrified, in my rear view mirror. The driver, cell phone in hand, was totally oblivious to the stopped traffic. Though I’m not a religious woman, for good measure I said a little prayer that she would notice my brake lights before I became part of a Prius pancake. I had visions of really really expensive repair bills. This car could have eaten my car for breakfast. It did not look good. I held my breath...and she came within about an inch of my bumper before stopping abruptly.

Then she honked at me.

20 December 2005

bass ackwards

This may be boring, apologies in advance, but it's got me all incensed: (you hear that? Something for this paper I'm writing got me incensed! I'm intellectually engaged with the law again! Administrative law didn't ruin me forever!) If you're a deadbeat dad (or mom, but "deadbeat moms" lacks the charming alliteration,) and you fail to pay child support, you can be put in jail. The court will find you in contempt of court for failure to follow the order to pay, and you'll go to jail. There are two ways you can avoid jail, or get out once you're there: pay the child support you owe, or illustrate that you are indigent- that is, unable to pay. There are two kinds of contempt: criminal and civil. Civil contempt is the kindler, gentler contempt: you weren't trying to disrespect the court per se, but you didn't follow its orders, so now the court will have you jailed to "nudge" you into doing the right thing. Criminal contempt is the snider, nastier contempt reserved for people who disrespect the judge or the court or the whole system of law we've got going, and it's designed to punish you for your impudence. This is a long setup, but trust me, it's important. If you're put in jail for criminal contempt (you spit in the judge's eye when he suggests, once again, that perhaps you should start paying your child support,) you are automatically entitled to a lawyer, and if you can't afford one yourself, the state will appount one for you, because the 6th amendment allows for the assistance of counsel in all criminal cases. If you're put in jail for civil contempt, however, because you weren't trying to disrespect the court but you just aren't paying, (which is far more likely in the case of the dad who has lost his job and can't pay ,) then yours is a civil case and you're probably not entitled to a lawyer, so if you can't afford to hire one yourself, you're outta luck. Even if you shouldn't be in jail at all because there's a real reason you aren't paying (say, for example, you're broke,) you will not get a lawyer to help you prove this. In sum: spit in eye of judge- get lawyer to defend you. Act totally appropriately and respectfully to all parties but stop paying because you have no money to pay with- no lawyer. Jail for you! If you're a dad who could pay but just isn't paying for whatever reason- yes, you should perhaps spend a night or two in jail- and as soon as you pay, incidentally, you're out. But if you're a dad who can't pay, you don't get a lawyer to help you bring that key fact to the attention of the judge, and you'll generally sit in jail for a while with no recourse. I'm so confused.

19 December 2005

Holy craptastically cold.

I realize it is boring to blog about the weather, but oh. my. goodness. it is cold! Who needs a white Christmas when you can have a subzero Christmas! Penny needed a tuneup and a computer reprogram this morning, which took approximately forever, so I camped in a coffee shop and read about the right to counsel for deadbeat dads being held in contempt for failure to pay child support. I've been putting off this reading for over a week now, knowing that I ought write a paper before the break is over and I'm back to crazy schedule, but being unable to quite buckle down and do it. In that way, writing papers with no defined due date is a lot like packing for a move: it will take as long as you give it. Start 4 weeks in advance of your move date and you'll still be packing as the truck company is calling you to ask when you're returning that U-Haul already. Start writing a paper a month before your professor will start asking pointed questions and you'll still be in the late research to early drafting stage when he starts asking the aformentioned pointed quesitons. You'll just have read an average of one case a day for thirty days instead of thirty cases in one day. But this paper will be done by the new year. Honest. I swear.

18 December 2005

junk in the trunk

Apparently, Chicagoans have big butts. So big, in fact, that the CTA needs new, bigger bus seats to accomodate them. What I want to know is this: if the seats are currently 17 1/2", are the new 18" seats really going to make that much of a difference? As in, "whoa, I was totally squished before and avoided sitting down at all on buses because I was unable to stand up again once I had wedged myself down in there, but now with the extra half inch things are nice and comfy?" Really?

17 December 2005

Just call me Scrooge

We were not planning on getting a Christmas tree. After today's adventures, I remember why. Trouble is, when you tell people (your mother in law, your mother, your friends) that you're planning on remaining tree-less through your first holiday season as a married couple, they have one of two reactions: (a) horrified or (b) filled with pity that you are so devoid of spirit that you don't recognize a good tradition when you see one. After one too many conversations to the effect of "oh, you can't NOT have a Christmas tree your first Christmas together or you're sure to get divorced," John and I decided to get a tree. We went on Metromix and looked up tree lots. We went to the closest one. It was cute, a little mom and pop greenhouse with a russian mobster running the register. (Mom and pop operate in a tough neighborhood.) There were teeny, scrawny looking trees that cost about $20 and larger, too big to fit in the Prius trees that cost about $45. Then, in the back row, we caught glimpse of a medium sized tree. It was round, it was full, it was perfect. It had no price tag. If I'd been paying attention, this is where the ominous music should have started playing in my head. Instead, we asked the helpful tree lot lady how much it cost. "Well," she said cheerfully, "it's between the $20 size and $45 size, so I'd say probably about $30." "$40," said the Russian mobster when we went to check out. Really? Seriously? Only $5 less than the full-sized trees? Nothing like leaving the tree lot feeling like you've been ripped off. Then it was off to Home Depot to get a tree stand. Sold out. Home Depot had approximately 352 trees for sale (all of which cost less than the one we had just purchased,) but not a single tree stand. We looked at planters, pots, but nothing was quite right. We braced ourselves for our third stop of this, our fabulous tree procurement adventure! On the way back to the highway, we saw a junky tree lot being run out of a portable trailer. We drove up. They had the cheapie looking tree stands sitting out front. Elated, we told the cold- and bored-looking man working there that we'd like one of those. "$20." he said. Seriously? So 60 bucks later we have a little tree, a rickety, slightly off-center tree stand, and a handful of splinters. Not to mention about a million pine needles on the floor. But, we did get to impale the plastic Batman ornament that John got as a (non-gag) gift from one of his coworkers on the top in place of an angel. So now our tree, instead of graced by a porcelain representation of the holy spirit, is protected by the Caped Cruscader rendered in plastic. It is, without question, the best tree ever.

14 December 2005

Can I help you find anything today, sir?

A friend of mine has been having some serious problems with inappropriate, harassing student behavior at his school, and he wanted some information on how the law works in this area- specifically, how he could get these kids to see the back of a cop car to wipe the smug “I can get away with anything” look off their faces.

Being a law student, I was a natural person to ask about these sorts of things. Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t have any idea. I live in Illinois! The penal code is state by state! But even if I went to law school in California, I doubt I would be able to provide a quick clear answer to the question: “what crime is this kid committing?”

What I did know was where to look. I dutifully logged on to Westlaw, searched the California Penal Code, and found some answers.* That’s when it hit me: law school is a lot like librarian school. Want to know when Brown v. Board of Education first went to court? I can find that for you, ma’am. Looking for information on Illinois property tax rates? Just give me a moment, sir. You say you have a bet with your friend and need to know if there are any cases out there featuring a party by the name “Humpty”? Sure, I can find that, just give me a moment. Fifty grand a year for what I could achieve with just a Westlaw password and an internet connection.

I know, I know, I’m also learning how to think, and craft an argument, and not crumble when an old scholar destroys me while judging moot court and yadda yadda yadda. Lawyers know that this is what law school does. They expect this. Non-lawyers, however, (and I’m happy to say that most of my friends and family are still non-lawyers- this gig hasn’t completely taken over my life,) expect that because you’re in law school, you will know something about the law. Silly non-lawyers. Did you hear me? WE DON’T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT THE LAW. (sorry.) We’d be happy to look it up for you, though!

Perhaps the reason this is not widely known is that people might balk at the idea of paying $300 an hour ($900 in New York) for the services of someone who is, most likely, looking up the answers on the internet (or asking their lowly associate to look up the answers on the internet.) I hope I’m not violating some unspoken code of lawyer conduct by revealing this. You know, something like “thou shalt not break the sacred trust and inform non-lawyers that we are ripping them off, and if you do you will be forced to be a tax attorney all the rest of your days, because tax lawyers really do have some valuable expertise which should make you happy since you seem weirdly concerned about our clients getting a good value for their money so hahahahahahahaha now you’re stuck in tax!” Yeah, I hope that’s not the case, because I REALLY don’t want to be in tax. I mean, would you?


[*] The victims of the behavior, if the harassment would cause a normal person to feel anxious or afraid, can get an injunction (like a restraining order) against him and if he does it again he can be arrested. I think. But don't quote me on that. Maybe you'd best look it up on Westlaw yourself.

breaking news

The Tivo is now recording HBO. Goodbye, netflix!

13 December 2005

tivo, at last we have found ye

John and I have taken the next big step: we have gotten Tivo. Specifically, we have gotten Direct TV with Tivo, which means that this was a fairly simple upgrade from what we already had, so I didn't have to set foot in a Best Buy. If any given technological advance involves a trip to that, the fourth circle of my personal hell, rest assured that John and I will never have it. Or that John will surreptitiously travel on his own to Best Buy (want to make your husband do errands? Refuse to enter entire stores and he'll be off to the races!) to procure a PlayStation2 that I will eye with suspicion bordering on loathing. But the nice DirectTv man with a lovely Russian accent (it felt strangely seasonally appropriate to talk to someone from a land where winters are even worse than ours) came and installed the Tivo thingy and programmed the remote and then left me with an instruction book and a giddy smile. Two hours later, I hit a road block. Tivo, for whatever reason, seems unwilling to record HBO. I will be the first to admit that I've never actually watched much HBO before, but for whatever reason this little snafu has me all annoyed. I was investigating tivo discussion boards last night, trying to figure out if this was normal or some problem that I need to have fixed, because goddammit I want to watch Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair for zero extra dollars! And that movie is only on at noon on a Wednesday, which is not a time when normal adults are watching television! It's amazing how quickly I went from "girl who barely notices that her tv receives HBO" to "girl who is livid that her newly-installed recording device that may or may not violate fair use copyright provisions will not record movies that are certainly copyrighted material." Perhaps I should register for copyright law after all.

11 December 2005

it's a shame i'm not religious or my fear of my certain descent into hell would be tremendous

Background statement: I am not a fan of judging. (Outside of courtrooms, I mean.) I have ended friendships with people who became impossible to be around when they were unable to stop judging others. I make an effort to think criticially about my reactions when I feel myself tempted to pass quick judgment. Some of this comes from my work in San Jose, where I found too people far too willing to pass judgment on poor immigrant families. ("They're lazy." "They're just here to take advantage of our country." "Why do they have so many babies if they can't take care of them?") These opinions are poison. They're easy, cheap responses to hard, complex problems. I do not, as a general matter, respond well to those who espouse these kinds of opinions in my presence. (See "knee jerk liberal", below). But (and this is not something I'm proud to admit,) I have been forced to conclude that I, too, am a judger. Just this week, I was studying in a burrito place which shall remain nameless (but let's just say its one of those annoying suddenly everywhere big national chains that may or may not be owned by mcdonalds if you get my drift and I promise I had more burrito street cred when I lived in California please don't judge my burrito habits.) A young family came in and sat down at the table across from me: mom, dad, little girl about 4 and little boy probably a year old. As dad went to pick up the food, mom proceeded to nonchalantly lay the baby down on the seat and change his poopy diaper. RIGHT THERE AT THE TABLE. POOP! AT THE TABLE! I can’t explain why this troubles me so much except to say that I firmly believe that food and poop don’t mix (I may not have organized religion, but I pray at the altar of germ avoidance, amen.) Though the poop was a solid 4 feet from anything *I* was eating, I was unable to stop thinking about how close it was to the family's food. And the poopy diaper just sat there, between dad and little girl, for the entire meal. It had to be smelly, right? Do poop germs float? Is there some sort of health code rule about poop? Like maybe a radius that has to be maintained between poop products and food products? (10 yards seems reasonable, right?) The poopy diaper incident distracted me so thoroughly that I was unable to learn how to impeach a witness anymore, and had to leave. Judge-y judge-y judge-y! And I don't have children!! I have no right to judge. It's got to be a pain in the ass to realize that your kid, bundled in snow suit and everything, needs to be changed right. this. minute. And yet, instead of feeling sympathetic, I was looking around the restaurant to catch the eye of another patron who might be on my side of the unspoken debate in the matter of poop v. food, so that we might exchange knowing looks. Judge-y, party of one!

This ties in interestingly with a conversation I had with my friend S earlier this week. She and her boyfriend had been debating the propriety of public breastfeeding. S and I both felt strongly that public breastfeeding is not a big deal, and the strong reactions people have about it are a reflection of some seriously fucked up issues that our culture has with bodies, and sexuality, and notions of propriety. I was feeling sort of superior about my accepting, earth-mother openness to all things natural about childrearing. Then I go and judge the poopy diaper lady.

The next time someone makes a lawyer joke at my expense, I will totally deserve it.

09 December 2005

i'd forgotten how that feels

I was planning on writing a post something along the lines of "god damn I had forgotten how miserable you feel the hour before an exam you're not ready for." It was going to be full of references to our favorite villain, administrative law, and an exam so hard and long that there was nothing to do but laugh and make cute little jokes about alcoholism when it was all through. Then I read this. TMAO is a friend of mine, and he teaches still in the school district I left when I came here to study law instead of teach. And he's a tremendous teacher, always has been. He violates every expectation the kids who walk into his classroom have about teachers, particularly male teachers (though the superintendant hated his mohawk,) and he forces them to think and work hard and be decent people. He's also a good basketball coach. He puts me to shame. And I feel ashamed not only because he's so. much. better. at the teaching thing than I was (though that's certainly part of it,) but because I walked away from it to come do what I'm doing now. At the law school, I have a reputation for being (depending on who you ask): - a knee-jerk liberal - crunchy granola (HA! they should move to san francisco for ONE DAY.) - a "do-gooder" type - that girl who's on the public interest law society and streetlaw who keeps showing up at events suggesting that we do things other than working for firms - a sweet foosball player I get to bask in the glow of feeling like I have a higher purpose, and people at the law school BELIEVE ME. I don't begrudge anyone the right to go work for a lawfirm and make money hand over fist- it's arguably the wise choice when you're facing down undergrad debt, grad debt, parent expectations, friend expectations, and seriuosly high cell phone bills (20 cents per text message? are you SERIOUS, verizon wireless? and after we hemmorage all this money to you you STILL won't let my husband buy a new phone at the promotional rate? bastards!) But I do get to feel, in my own little smug way, that I am going to find a way to use this degree to help communities like the one I left when I left teaching, and people acknowledge that that's a hard, respectable choice (even if most of them think I'm batshit crazy to pass up an associate's salary.) In the end, I probably will do something different, if only because I don't have the fortitude to work at a law firm. My stomach turned this fall every time I gritted my teeth and cheerfully told a summer job interviewer that I wanted to work at a big law firm forEVER (!) because it seemed like exciting, interesting work. (Ha! The lies we tell!) But for now? For now I just type a lot, listen to lectures, debate insanely fine points of law with fabulous friends, and read until my eyes bleed. Once a week, I go to a local high school and teach the students about the law. I make them stand up and have debates about unconstiutional searches of public hosing, I make them tell me their stories about their encounters with the police, and I make them read their cell phone contracts to see how they're getting screwed (seriously, you think you have it bad? Try to be a teenager who has no credit history whose only option is a second-rate pre-paid company that runs out of a bodega on the corner and is happy to charge fees on top of fees for their POS service.) And then, after an hour, I go back to the law school to eat my free bagels. THAT's why I feel ashamed.

07 December 2005

look how much i've grown!

Personal growth comes in mysterious packages. Case in point: Today is the first day of exams for 1Ls. It is also Wednesday. Traditionally, at the law school, Wednesdays start with a feeding frenzy called "coffee mess"- the law school fairies put out free coffee, donuts, bagels, and (oddly) low-carb yogurt, and the law students swarm around the food table like people who haven't eaten in days. Last year, the dean announced that on the first day of exams, coffee mess would start early so everyone could get their food before exams. "What?!" I thought. "Eat before exams? Ohmygosh I'm going to be so nervous and it seems like a bad idea to get me hopped up on caffeine and this seems like a really stupid plan and why don't they just cancel coffee mess because can't they see we're STRESSED here, people?" This year, the dean sent out a similar announcement, and my thinking went something like "Damn right, they're having coffee mess. They'd better not cancel a coffee mess ever again if they know what's good for them. I am ENTITLED to free bagels and coffee, and I don't want to hear any excuses." See? My stomach-ache inducing stress? My panic about grades? My niggling fear that perhaps I was the one they let in by accident and I was going to fail out of law school and god, won't *that* be embarassing when my parents have to tell people at the Christmas party?

Gone!* Replaced by a smug belief that i somehow *deserve* to have coffee and bagels given to me at no cost! Law school HAS taught me something!

* Of course, it's also been replaced by a general malaise and belief that this whole law school gig doesn't really matter in the long run and maybe I should quit and go be a school librarian at a low-performing public school like I wanted to do before I started on this insane exercise. But let's not dwell on that.

06 December 2005

write it? i can't even spell it!

Here's the pesky thing about legal clinics: real clients don't take finals. The clinic is one of my favorite parts of law school. Basically, they're set up so a real lawyer takes clients in a legal-aid style setting, and then law students like me get to help that real lawyer prepare cases. It's a win-win-win, in theory: the real lawyers get lots of student help so they're able to take more cases and do a more thorough job, the law students get real-life legal experience and professional training and advice from real lawyers, and the clients get the benefit of a legal team full of enthusiastic, interested law students instead of a legal aid attorney who has too high a case load to fully address the needs of each client. In practice, we enthusiastic law students sometimes drop the ball. This would be one of those times. I am currently supposed to be working on a subpoena for some records we need for a hearing taking place on December 22. I have a final on Thursday, another one on Saturday, and two papers to write in the interim. At the time I volunteered to write the thing, I was all cheer and optimism. "Sure!" I thought. "Writing a subpoena will be an awesome study break when I'm tired of administrative law! And I'm always tired of administrative law! Perfect!" Now that my exams are two days away and I realize that this client is going to court on the 22nd whether I get my shit together or not, my thinking goes more like: "Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit. I am totally going to screw this client's case because I was afraid to fail administrative law." Journals take breaks for finals. So does moot court. Do you think a judge would be interested in hearing an argument along these lines: "your honor, we respectfully request a continuance while our eager-beaver law student assistants crawl out from under their exam-induced rocks and start fulfilling their responsibilities on this case" ? Yeah, I don't think so either.

05 December 2005

but baby, it's cold outside

Today, it is really cold. Chicago winter cold. Scenically cold, even. Scenically cold is the clear, soft light of early morning punctuated by the billows of steam rising from every single inhabited building, but without any people to mess up the scenicness because all the people are still burrowed under their covers wondering if "it was too cold to go to work" is a legitimate excuse for a sick day. Driving down Lake Shore Drive this morning, the LAKE was steaming. When Lake Michigan is steaming because it’s that much warmer than the air is, the air is cold, people! From the warmth of Penny (my car) I was able to appreciate how cool a sight that was, the steaming of the lake. As I left Penny to dart into the coffee shop to buy something warm to drink, all the prettiness vanished and I was left wondering what, exactly, possessed me to leave the house without hat and gloves this morning.

My parents have season tickets to our local football team, and for months John has whined that he’s never gone to a game in what he calls “real football weather.” We were at a game where it was clear and crisp, probably 48 degrees. In short, perfect football weather- just cold enough to justify drinking four or five beers for warmth, but not so cold that any of your appendages is uncomfortable. John, however, after noting that it was, admittedly, a nice day, launched into a monologue on how much better the game would be if it was “real” football weather. “You know, freezing cold, biting wind, maybe snow for good measure- where the players’ breath is visible on every play. THAT’s real football weather.”

So yesterday, while I toiled away learning administrative law, (side note: if you’re considering administrative law – don’t) John went to the football game against a team that is typically our team’s archrival but this year sucks so bad that they’re just another team we get to beat. He is so excited at the prospect of attending the game in the 15 degree weather with light snow, he looks like a little boy who has just discovered a marshmallow gun under the Christmas Tree.

Fastforward 4 hours. I am still studying administrative law. (side note: still considering administrative law? still don’t) when John returns from the game. He’s moving sluggishly, and I ask him (reasonably,) “are you drunk?”

“No,” he replies. “I can’t feel my feet. And the ice on my seat didn’t melt for the whole game, even though I sat on it. My butt was so cold it was incapable of melting the ice. My butt was below 32 degrees.”

“Ah,” I say knowingly, “’real’ football weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be, is it?”

“No,” he said. “It’s better!”

04 December 2005

there is such a thing as too comfortable

I have apparantly decided that the law school is an extension of my home. Kind of like an auxiliary living room. I realized this as I took a break from study group today, walked down the hall to use the bathroom, and made it all the way back to the study room before realizing that I had just walked the length of the law school, including a journey into the icky bathroom, in my socks.

03 December 2005

new blog

The thing is, I hate blogs. An ex-boyfriend of mine is currently travelling the world, blogging as he goes, and I actively mocked him when he describted his vision of "creating a chronicle of the grown he expexts to gain through the experience" through blogging. (In retrospect, the mocking might have to do with it being so totally in keeping with his ridiculous tendency to overinflate the importance of things, and not to do with the blog per se, but it was the blog I chose to make fun of.) Here's the pisser: I read the damn travelling the world blog compulsively. In fact, there's an ever-growing list of blogs that I read compulsively. (Weirdly, many of them fall into the "mommyblog" category, because those women are fucking hillarious to me, even though I don't have children. Should I be concerned? More pertinently, should realstoops be double-checking our contraceptive methods?) But I love reading blogs. Or at least, well-written blogs. So this one, being not well-written, probably won't ever see the light of day, or at least won't for a long time. But it's worth a shot. I anticipate that this blog will be sort of a nice hybrid between law school antics (the place is teeming with stories dying to be told. TEEMING) and newlywed hilarity. To wit: pseudostoops: sweet pea, let's go see a movie tonight realstoops: what's playing? p: lots of stuff. (lists stuff) what do you think? r: well, i would see x, or y, or z p: i think you're forgetting harry potter. r: and, obviously, harry potter. p: good! you want to see it too! it's at 8. r: i'm getting some kind of "best husband ever" award, right? p: only if you agree with me at the end that it was an excellent film r: man, i have to call it a film now? love him.

* That’s when it hit me: law school is a lot like librarian school. Want to know when Brown v. Board of Education first went to court? I can find that for you, ma’am. Looking for information on Illinois property tax rates? Just give me a moment, sir. You say you have a bet with your friend and need to know if there are any cases out there featuring a party by the name “Humpty”? Sure, I can find that, just give me a moment. Fifty grand a year for what I could achieve with just a Westlaw password and an internet connection.

I know, I know, I’m also learning how to think, and craft an argument, and not crumble when an old scholar destroys me while judging moot court and yadda yadda yadda. Lawyers know that this is what law school does. They expect this. Non-lawyers, however, (and I’m happy to say that most of my friends and family are still non-lawyers- this gig hasn’t completely taken over my life,) expect that because you’re in law school, you will know something about the law. Silly non-lawyers. Did you hear me? WE DON’T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT THE LAW. (sorry.) We’d be happy to look it up for you, though!

Perhaps the reason this is not widely known is that people might balk at the idea of paying $300 an hour ($900 in New York) for the services of someone who is, most likely, looking up the answers on the internet (or asking their lowly associate to look up the answers on the internet.) I hope I’m not violating some unspoken code of lawyer conduct by revealing this. You know, something like “thou shalt not break the sacred trust and inform non-lawyers that we are ripping them off, and if you do you will be forced to be a tax attorney all the rest of your days, because tax lawyers really do have some valuable expertise which should make you happy since you seem weirdly concerned about our clients getting a good value for their money so hahahahahahahaha now you’re stuck in tax!” Yeah, I hope that’s not the case, because I REALLY don’t want to be in tax. I mean, would you?


[*] The victims of the behavior, if the harassment would cause a normal person to feel anxious or afraid, can get an injunction (like a restraining order) against him and if he does it again he can be arrested. I think. But don't quote me on that. Maybe you'd best look it up on Westlaw yourself.

|W|P|113461971632305352|W|P|Can I help you find anything today, sir?|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/14/2005 06:38:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|The Tivo is now recording HBO. Goodbye, netflix!|W|P|113460713178499471|W|P|breaking news|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/14/2005 06:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Isabel|W|P|Welcome to the world of TiVo. You're gonna love it here.

(seriously, it will change your life)12/14/2005 07:56:00 PM|W|P|Blogger hazelblackberry|W|P|I don't know what TiVo is, but I want it. Even if it involves shifting to another continent.12/18/2005 02:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger TMAO|W|P|Netflix is run by a not very nice man anyway. We all ought to shun him and his ridiculous political ideas.12/13/2005 11:20:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|John and I have taken the next big step: we have gotten Tivo. Specifically, we have gotten Direct TV with Tivo, which means that this was a fairly simple upgrade from what we already had, so I didn't have to set foot in a Best Buy. If any given technological advance involves a trip to that, the fourth circle of my personal hell, rest assured that John and I will never have it. Or that John will surreptitiously travel on his own to Best Buy (want to make your husband do errands? Refuse to enter entire stores and he'll be off to the races!) to procure a PlayStation2 that I will eye with suspicion bordering on loathing. But the nice DirectTv man with a lovely Russian accent (it felt strangely seasonally appropriate to talk to someone from a land where winters are even worse than ours) came and installed the Tivo thingy and programmed the remote and then left me with an instruction book and a giddy smile. Two hours later, I hit a road block. Tivo, for whatever reason, seems unwilling to record HBO. I will be the first to admit that I've never actually watched much HBO before, but for whatever reason this little snafu has me all annoyed. I was investigating tivo discussion boards last night, trying to figure out if this was normal or some problem that I need to have fixed, because goddammit I want to watch Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair for zero extra dollars! And that movie is only on at noon on a Wednesday, which is not a time when normal adults are watching television! It's amazing how quickly I went from "girl who barely notices that her tv receives HBO" to "girl who is livid that her newly-installed recording device that may or may not violate fair use copyright provisions will not record movies that are certainly copyrighted material." Perhaps I should register for copyright law after all.|W|P|113449445841800515|W|P|tivo, at last we have found ye|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/11/2005 01:42:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Background statement: I am not a fan of judging. (Outside of courtrooms, I mean.) I have ended friendships with people who became impossible to be around when they were unable to stop judging others. I make an effort to think criticially about my reactions when I feel myself tempted to pass quick judgment. Some of this comes from my work in San Jose, where I found too people far too willing to pass judgment on poor immigrant families. ("They're lazy." "They're just here to take advantage of our country." "Why do they have so many babies if they can't take care of them?") These opinions are poison. They're easy, cheap responses to hard, complex problems. I do not, as a general matter, respond well to those who espouse these kinds of opinions in my presence. (See "knee jerk liberal", below). But (and this is not something I'm proud to admit,) I have been forced to conclude that I, too, am a judger. Just this week, I was studying in a burrito place which shall remain nameless (but let's just say its one of those annoying suddenly everywhere big national chains that may or may not be owned by mcdonalds if you get my drift and I promise I had more burrito street cred when I lived in California please don't judge my burrito habits.) A young family came in and sat down at the table across from me: mom, dad, little girl about 4 and little boy probably a year old. As dad went to pick up the food, mom proceeded to nonchalantly lay the baby down on the seat and change his poopy diaper. RIGHT THERE AT THE TABLE. POOP! AT THE TABLE! I can’t explain why this troubles me so much except to say that I firmly believe that food and poop don’t mix (I may not have organized religion, but I pray at the altar of germ avoidance, amen.) Though the poop was a solid 4 feet from anything *I* was eating, I was unable to stop thinking about how close it was to the family's food. And the poopy diaper just sat there, between dad and little girl, for the entire meal. It had to be smelly, right? Do poop germs float? Is there some sort of health code rule about poop? Like maybe a radius that has to be maintained between poop products and food products? (10 yards seems reasonable, right?) The poopy diaper incident distracted me so thoroughly that I was unable to learn how to impeach a witness anymore, and had to leave. Judge-y judge-y judge-y! And I don't have children!! I have no right to judge. It's got to be a pain in the ass to realize that your kid, bundled in snow suit and everything, needs to be changed right. this. minute. And yet, instead of feeling sympathetic, I was looking around the restaurant to catch the eye of another patron who might be on my side of the unspoken debate in the matter of poop v. food, so that we might exchange knowing looks. Judge-y, party of one!

This ties in interestingly with a conversation I had with my friend S earlier this week. She and her boyfriend had been debating the propriety of public breastfeeding. S and I both felt strongly that public breastfeeding is not a big deal, and the strong reactions people have about it are a reflection of some seriously fucked up issues that our culture has with bodies, and sexuality, and notions of propriety. I was feeling sort of superior about my accepting, earth-mother openness to all things natural about childrearing. Then I go and judge the poopy diaper lady.

The next time someone makes a lawyer joke at my expense, I will totally deserve it.

|W|P|113433064837505203|W|P|it's a shame i'm not religious or my fear of my certain descent into hell would be tremendous|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/09/2005 06:54:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|I was planning on writing a post something along the lines of "god damn I had forgotten how miserable you feel the hour before an exam you're not ready for." It was going to be full of references to our favorite villain, administrative law, and an exam so hard and long that there was nothing to do but laugh and make cute little jokes about alcoholism when it was all through. Then I read this. TMAO is a friend of mine, and he teaches still in the school district I left when I came here to study law instead of teach. And he's a tremendous teacher, always has been. He violates every expectation the kids who walk into his classroom have about teachers, particularly male teachers (though the superintendant hated his mohawk,) and he forces them to think and work hard and be decent people. He's also a good basketball coach. He puts me to shame. And I feel ashamed not only because he's so. much. better. at the teaching thing than I was (though that's certainly part of it,) but because I walked away from it to come do what I'm doing now. At the law school, I have a reputation for being (depending on who you ask): - a knee-jerk liberal - crunchy granola (HA! they should move to san francisco for ONE DAY.) - a "do-gooder" type - that girl who's on the public interest law society and streetlaw who keeps showing up at events suggesting that we do things other than working for firms - a sweet foosball player I get to bask in the glow of feeling like I have a higher purpose, and people at the law school BELIEVE ME. I don't begrudge anyone the right to go work for a lawfirm and make money hand over fist- it's arguably the wise choice when you're facing down undergrad debt, grad debt, parent expectations, friend expectations, and seriuosly high cell phone bills (20 cents per text message? are you SERIOUS, verizon wireless? and after we hemmorage all this money to you you STILL won't let my husband buy a new phone at the promotional rate? bastards!) But I do get to feel, in my own little smug way, that I am going to find a way to use this degree to help communities like the one I left when I left teaching, and people acknowledge that that's a hard, respectable choice (even if most of them think I'm batshit crazy to pass up an associate's salary.) In the end, I probably will do something different, if only because I don't have the fortitude to work at a law firm. My stomach turned this fall every time I gritted my teeth and cheerfully told a summer job interviewer that I wanted to work at a big law firm forEVER (!) because it seemed like exciting, interesting work. (Ha! The lies we tell!) But for now? For now I just type a lot, listen to lectures, debate insanely fine points of law with fabulous friends, and read until my eyes bleed. Once a week, I go to a local high school and teach the students about the law. I make them stand up and have debates about unconstiutional searches of public hosing, I make them tell me their stories about their encounters with the police, and I make them read their cell phone contracts to see how they're getting screwed (seriously, you think you have it bad? Try to be a teenager who has no credit history whose only option is a second-rate pre-paid company that runs out of a bodega on the corner and is happy to charge fees on top of fees for their POS service.) And then, after an hour, I go back to the law school to eat my free bagels. THAT's why I feel ashamed.|W|P|113413412000083111|W|P|i'd forgotten how that feels|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/07/2005 08:07:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Personal growth comes in mysterious packages. Case in point: Today is the first day of exams for 1Ls. It is also Wednesday. Traditionally, at the law school, Wednesdays start with a feeding frenzy called "coffee mess"- the law school fairies put out free coffee, donuts, bagels, and (oddly) low-carb yogurt, and the law students swarm around the food table like people who haven't eaten in days. Last year, the dean announced that on the first day of exams, coffee mess would start early so everyone could get their food before exams. "What?!" I thought. "Eat before exams? Ohmygosh I'm going to be so nervous and it seems like a bad idea to get me hopped up on caffeine and this seems like a really stupid plan and why don't they just cancel coffee mess because can't they see we're STRESSED here, people?" This year, the dean sent out a similar announcement, and my thinking went something like "Damn right, they're having coffee mess. They'd better not cancel a coffee mess ever again if they know what's good for them. I am ENTITLED to free bagels and coffee, and I don't want to hear any excuses." See? My stomach-ache inducing stress? My panic about grades? My niggling fear that perhaps I was the one they let in by accident and I was going to fail out of law school and god, won't *that* be embarassing when my parents have to tell people at the Christmas party?

Gone!* Replaced by a smug belief that i somehow *deserve* to have coffee and bagels given to me at no cost! Law school HAS taught me something!

* Of course, it's also been replaced by a general malaise and belief that this whole law school gig doesn't really matter in the long run and maybe I should quit and go be a school librarian at a low-performing public school like I wanted to do before I started on this insane exercise. But let's not dwell on that. |W|P|113396519199014008|W|P|look how much i've grown!|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com4/02/2006 08:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger java bean rush|W|P|"Replaced by a smug belief that i somehow *deserve* to have coffee and bagels given to me at no cost! Law school HAS taught me something!" - pseudostoops

Ha!
I felt the exact same way last December. :D12/06/2005 09:27:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Here's the pesky thing about legal clinics: real clients don't take finals. The clinic is one of my favorite parts of law school. Basically, they're set up so a real lawyer takes clients in a legal-aid style setting, and then law students like me get to help that real lawyer prepare cases. It's a win-win-win, in theory: the real lawyers get lots of student help so they're able to take more cases and do a more thorough job, the law students get real-life legal experience and professional training and advice from real lawyers, and the clients get the benefit of a legal team full of enthusiastic, interested law students instead of a legal aid attorney who has too high a case load to fully address the needs of each client. In practice, we enthusiastic law students sometimes drop the ball. This would be one of those times. I am currently supposed to be working on a subpoena for some records we need for a hearing taking place on December 22. I have a final on Thursday, another one on Saturday, and two papers to write in the interim. At the time I volunteered to write the thing, I was all cheer and optimism. "Sure!" I thought. "Writing a subpoena will be an awesome study break when I'm tired of administrative law! And I'm always tired of administrative law! Perfect!" Now that my exams are two days away and I realize that this client is going to court on the 22nd whether I get my shit together or not, my thinking goes more like: "Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit. I am totally going to screw this client's case because I was afraid to fail administrative law." Journals take breaks for finals. So does moot court. Do you think a judge would be interested in hearing an argument along these lines: "your honor, we respectfully request a continuance while our eager-beaver law student assistants crawl out from under their exam-induced rocks and start fulfilling their responsibilities on this case" ? Yeah, I don't think so either.|W|P|113388334440573149|W|P|write it? i can't even spell it!|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/05/2005 08:20:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|

Today, it is really cold. Chicago winter cold. Scenically cold, even. Scenically cold is the clear, soft light of early morning punctuated by the billows of steam rising from every single inhabited building, but without any people to mess up the scenicness because all the people are still burrowed under their covers wondering if "it was too cold to go to work" is a legitimate excuse for a sick day. Driving down Lake Shore Drive this morning, the LAKE was steaming. When Lake Michigan is steaming because it’s that much warmer than the air is, the air is cold, people! From the warmth of Penny (my car) I was able to appreciate how cool a sight that was, the steaming of the lake. As I left Penny to dart into the coffee shop to buy something warm to drink, all the prettiness vanished and I was left wondering what, exactly, possessed me to leave the house without hat and gloves this morning.

My parents have season tickets to our local football team, and for months John has whined that he’s never gone to a game in what he calls “real football weather.” We were at a game where it was clear and crisp, probably 48 degrees. In short, perfect football weather- just cold enough to justify drinking four or five beers for warmth, but not so cold that any of your appendages is uncomfortable. John, however, after noting that it was, admittedly, a nice day, launched into a monologue on how much better the game would be if it was “real” football weather. “You know, freezing cold, biting wind, maybe snow for good measure- where the players’ breath is visible on every play. THAT’s real football weather.”

So yesterday, while I toiled away learning administrative law, (side note: if you’re considering administrative law – don’t) John went to the football game against a team that is typically our team’s archrival but this year sucks so bad that they’re just another team we get to beat. He is so excited at the prospect of attending the game in the 15 degree weather with light snow, he looks like a little boy who has just discovered a marshmallow gun under the Christmas Tree.

Fastforward 4 hours. I am still studying administrative law. (side note: still considering administrative law? still don’t) when John returns from the game. He’s moving sluggishly, and I ask him (reasonably,) “are you drunk?”

“No,” he replies. “I can’t feel my feet. And the ice on my seat didn’t melt for the whole game, even though I sat on it. My butt was so cold it was incapable of melting the ice. My butt was below 32 degrees.”

“Ah,” I say knowingly, “’real’ football weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be, is it?”

“No,” he said. “It’s better!”

|W|P|113379253869850512|W|P|but baby, it's cold outside|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/04/2005 06:57:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|I have apparantly decided that the law school is an extension of my home. Kind of like an auxiliary living room. I realized this as I took a break from study group today, walked down the hall to use the bathroom, and made it all the way back to the study room before realizing that I had just walked the length of the law school, including a journey into the icky bathroom, in my socks.|W|P|113374439291747760|W|P|there is such a thing as too comfortable|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/03/2005 09:45:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|The thing is, I hate blogs. An ex-boyfriend of mine is currently travelling the world, blogging as he goes, and I actively mocked him when he describted his vision of "creating a chronicle of the grown he expexts to gain through the experience" through blogging. (In retrospect, the mocking might have to do with it being so totally in keeping with his ridiculous tendency to overinflate the importance of things, and not to do with the blog per se, but it was the blog I chose to make fun of.) Here's the pisser: I read the damn travelling the world blog compulsively. In fact, there's an ever-growing list of blogs that I read compulsively. (Weirdly, many of them fall into the "mommyblog" category, because those women are fucking hillarious to me, even though I don't have children. Should I be concerned? More pertinently, should realstoops be double-checking our contraceptive methods?) But I love reading blogs. Or at least, well-written blogs. So this one, being not well-written, probably won't ever see the light of day, or at least won't for a long time. But it's worth a shot. I anticipate that this blog will be sort of a nice hybrid between law school antics (the place is teeming with stories dying to be told. TEEMING) and newlywed hilarity. To wit: pseudostoops: sweet pea, let's go see a movie tonight realstoops: what's playing? p: lots of stuff. (lists stuff) what do you think? r: well, i would see x, or y, or z p: i think you're forgetting harry potter. r: and, obviously, harry potter. p: good! you want to see it too! it's at 8. r: i'm getting some kind of "best husband ever" award, right? p: only if you agree with me at the end that it was an excellent film r: man, i have to call it a film now? love him.|W|P|113362516863595691|W|P|new blog|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com-->* That’s when it hit me: law school is a lot like librarian school. Want to know when Brown v. Board of Education first went to court? I can find that for you, ma’am. Looking for information on Illinois property tax rates? Just give me a moment, sir. You say you have a bet with your friend and need to know if there are any cases out there featuring a party by the name “Humpty”? Sure, I can find that, just give me a moment. Fifty grand a year for what I could achieve with just a Westlaw password and an internet connection.

I know, I know, I’m also learning how to think, and craft an argument, and not crumble when an old scholar destroys me while judging moot court and yadda yadda yadda. Lawyers know that this is what law school does. They expect this. Non-lawyers, however, (and I’m happy to say that most of my friends and family are still non-lawyers- this gig hasn’t completely taken over my life,) expect that because you’re in law school, you will know something about the law. Silly non-lawyers. Did you hear me? WE DON’T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT THE LAW. (sorry.) We’d be happy to look it up for you, though!

Perhaps the reason this is not widely known is that people might balk at the idea of paying $300 an hour ($900 in New York) for the services of someone who is, most likely, looking up the answers on the internet (or asking their lowly associate to look up the answers on the internet.) I hope I’m not violating some unspoken code of lawyer conduct by revealing this. You know, something like “thou shalt not break the sacred trust and inform non-lawyers that we are ripping them off, and if you do you will be forced to be a tax attorney all the rest of your days, because tax lawyers really do have some valuable expertise which should make you happy since you seem weirdly concerned about our clients getting a good value for their money so hahahahahahahaha now you’re stuck in tax!” Yeah, I hope that’s not the case, because I REALLY don’t want to be in tax. I mean, would you?


[*] The victims of the behavior, if the harassment would cause a normal person to feel anxious or afraid, can get an injunction (like a restraining order) against him and if he does it again he can be arrested. I think. But don't quote me on that. Maybe you'd best look it up on Westlaw yourself.

|W|P|113461971632305352|W|P|Can I help you find anything today, sir?|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/14/2005 06:38:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|The Tivo is now recording HBO. Goodbye, netflix!|W|P|113460713178499471|W|P|breaking news|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/14/2005 06:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Isabel|W|P|Welcome to the world of TiVo. You're gonna love it here.

(seriously, it will change your life)12/14/2005 07:56:00 PM|W|P|Blogger hazelblackberry|W|P|I don't know what TiVo is, but I want it. Even if it involves shifting to another continent.12/18/2005 02:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger TMAO|W|P|Netflix is run by a not very nice man anyway. We all ought to shun him and his ridiculous political ideas.12/13/2005 11:20:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|John and I have taken the next big step: we have gotten Tivo. Specifically, we have gotten Direct TV with Tivo, which means that this was a fairly simple upgrade from what we already had, so I didn't have to set foot in a Best Buy. If any given technological advance involves a trip to that, the fourth circle of my personal hell, rest assured that John and I will never have it. Or that John will surreptitiously travel on his own to Best Buy (want to make your husband do errands? Refuse to enter entire stores and he'll be off to the races!) to procure a PlayStation2 that I will eye with suspicion bordering on loathing. But the nice DirectTv man with a lovely Russian accent (it felt strangely seasonally appropriate to talk to someone from a land where winters are even worse than ours) came and installed the Tivo thingy and programmed the remote and then left me with an instruction book and a giddy smile. Two hours later, I hit a road block. Tivo, for whatever reason, seems unwilling to record HBO. I will be the first to admit that I've never actually watched much HBO before, but for whatever reason this little snafu has me all annoyed. I was investigating tivo discussion boards last night, trying to figure out if this was normal or some problem that I need to have fixed, because goddammit I want to watch Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair for zero extra dollars! And that movie is only on at noon on a Wednesday, which is not a time when normal adults are watching television! It's amazing how quickly I went from "girl who barely notices that her tv receives HBO" to "girl who is livid that her newly-installed recording device that may or may not violate fair use copyright provisions will not record movies that are certainly copyrighted material." Perhaps I should register for copyright law after all.|W|P|113449445841800515|W|P|tivo, at last we have found ye|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/11/2005 01:42:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Background statement: I am not a fan of judging. (Outside of courtrooms, I mean.) I have ended friendships with people who became impossible to be around when they were unable to stop judging others. I make an effort to think criticially about my reactions when I feel myself tempted to pass quick judgment. Some of this comes from my work in San Jose, where I found too people far too willing to pass judgment on poor immigrant families. ("They're lazy." "They're just here to take advantage of our country." "Why do they have so many babies if they can't take care of them?") These opinions are poison. They're easy, cheap responses to hard, complex problems. I do not, as a general matter, respond well to those who espouse these kinds of opinions in my presence. (See "knee jerk liberal", below). But (and this is not something I'm proud to admit,) I have been forced to conclude that I, too, am a judger. Just this week, I was studying in a burrito place which shall remain nameless (but let's just say its one of those annoying suddenly everywhere big national chains that may or may not be owned by mcdonalds if you get my drift and I promise I had more burrito street cred when I lived in California please don't judge my burrito habits.) A young family came in and sat down at the table across from me: mom, dad, little girl about 4 and little boy probably a year old. As dad went to pick up the food, mom proceeded to nonchalantly lay the baby down on the seat and change his poopy diaper. RIGHT THERE AT THE TABLE. POOP! AT THE TABLE! I can’t explain why this troubles me so much except to say that I firmly believe that food and poop don’t mix (I may not have organized religion, but I pray at the altar of germ avoidance, amen.) Though the poop was a solid 4 feet from anything *I* was eating, I was unable to stop thinking about how close it was to the family's food. And the poopy diaper just sat there, between dad and little girl, for the entire meal. It had to be smelly, right? Do poop germs float? Is there some sort of health code rule about poop? Like maybe a radius that has to be maintained between poop products and food products? (10 yards seems reasonable, right?) The poopy diaper incident distracted me so thoroughly that I was unable to learn how to impeach a witness anymore, and had to leave. Judge-y judge-y judge-y! And I don't have children!! I have no right to judge. It's got to be a pain in the ass to realize that your kid, bundled in snow suit and everything, needs to be changed right. this. minute. And yet, instead of feeling sympathetic, I was looking around the restaurant to catch the eye of another patron who might be on my side of the unspoken debate in the matter of poop v. food, so that we might exchange knowing looks. Judge-y, party of one!

This ties in interestingly with a conversation I had with my friend S earlier this week. She and her boyfriend had been debating the propriety of public breastfeeding. S and I both felt strongly that public breastfeeding is not a big deal, and the strong reactions people have about it are a reflection of some seriously fucked up issues that our culture has with bodies, and sexuality, and notions of propriety. I was feeling sort of superior about my accepting, earth-mother openness to all things natural about childrearing. Then I go and judge the poopy diaper lady.

The next time someone makes a lawyer joke at my expense, I will totally deserve it.

|W|P|113433064837505203|W|P|it's a shame i'm not religious or my fear of my certain descent into hell would be tremendous|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/09/2005 06:54:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|I was planning on writing a post something along the lines of "god damn I had forgotten how miserable you feel the hour before an exam you're not ready for." It was going to be full of references to our favorite villain, administrative law, and an exam so hard and long that there was nothing to do but laugh and make cute little jokes about alcoholism when it was all through. Then I read this. TMAO is a friend of mine, and he teaches still in the school district I left when I came here to study law instead of teach. And he's a tremendous teacher, always has been. He violates every expectation the kids who walk into his classroom have about teachers, particularly male teachers (though the superintendant hated his mohawk,) and he forces them to think and work hard and be decent people. He's also a good basketball coach. He puts me to shame. And I feel ashamed not only because he's so. much. better. at the teaching thing than I was (though that's certainly part of it,) but because I walked away from it to come do what I'm doing now. At the law school, I have a reputation for being (depending on who you ask): - a knee-jerk liberal - crunchy granola (HA! they should move to san francisco for ONE DAY.) - a "do-gooder" type - that girl who's on the public interest law society and streetlaw who keeps showing up at events suggesting that we do things other than working for firms - a sweet foosball player I get to bask in the glow of feeling like I have a higher purpose, and people at the law school BELIEVE ME. I don't begrudge anyone the right to go work for a lawfirm and make money hand over fist- it's arguably the wise choice when you're facing down undergrad debt, grad debt, parent expectations, friend expectations, and seriuosly high cell phone bills (20 cents per text message? are you SERIOUS, verizon wireless? and after we hemmorage all this money to you you STILL won't let my husband buy a new phone at the promotional rate? bastards!) But I do get to feel, in my own little smug way, that I am going to find a way to use this degree to help communities like the one I left when I left teaching, and people acknowledge that that's a hard, respectable choice (even if most of them think I'm batshit crazy to pass up an associate's salary.) In the end, I probably will do something different, if only because I don't have the fortitude to work at a law firm. My stomach turned this fall every time I gritted my teeth and cheerfully told a summer job interviewer that I wanted to work at a big law firm forEVER (!) because it seemed like exciting, interesting work. (Ha! The lies we tell!) But for now? For now I just type a lot, listen to lectures, debate insanely fine points of law with fabulous friends, and read until my eyes bleed. Once a week, I go to a local high school and teach the students about the law. I make them stand up and have debates about unconstiutional searches of public hosing, I make them tell me their stories about their encounters with the police, and I make them read their cell phone contracts to see how they're getting screwed (seriously, you think you have it bad? Try to be a teenager who has no credit history whose only option is a second-rate pre-paid company that runs out of a bodega on the corner and is happy to charge fees on top of fees for their POS service.) And then, after an hour, I go back to the law school to eat my free bagels. THAT's why I feel ashamed.|W|P|113413412000083111|W|P|i'd forgotten how that feels|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/07/2005 08:07:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Personal growth comes in mysterious packages. Case in point: Today is the first day of exams for 1Ls. It is also Wednesday. Traditionally, at the law school, Wednesdays start with a feeding frenzy called "coffee mess"- the law school fairies put out free coffee, donuts, bagels, and (oddly) low-carb yogurt, and the law students swarm around the food table like people who haven't eaten in days. Last year, the dean announced that on the first day of exams, coffee mess would start early so everyone could get their food before exams. "What?!" I thought. "Eat before exams? Ohmygosh I'm going to be so nervous and it seems like a bad idea to get me hopped up on caffeine and this seems like a really stupid plan and why don't they just cancel coffee mess because can't they see we're STRESSED here, people?" This year, the dean sent out a similar announcement, and my thinking went something like "Damn right, they're having coffee mess. They'd better not cancel a coffee mess ever again if they know what's good for them. I am ENTITLED to free bagels and coffee, and I don't want to hear any excuses." See? My stomach-ache inducing stress? My panic about grades? My niggling fear that perhaps I was the one they let in by accident and I was going to fail out of law school and god, won't *that* be embarassing when my parents have to tell people at the Christmas party?

Gone!* Replaced by a smug belief that i somehow *deserve* to have coffee and bagels given to me at no cost! Law school HAS taught me something!

* Of course, it's also been replaced by a general malaise and belief that this whole law school gig doesn't really matter in the long run and maybe I should quit and go be a school librarian at a low-performing public school like I wanted to do before I started on this insane exercise. But let's not dwell on that. |W|P|113396519199014008|W|P|look how much i've grown!|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com4/02/2006 08:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger java bean rush|W|P|"Replaced by a smug belief that i somehow *deserve* to have coffee and bagels given to me at no cost! Law school HAS taught me something!" - pseudostoops

Ha!
I felt the exact same way last December. :D12/06/2005 09:27:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|Here's the pesky thing about legal clinics: real clients don't take finals. The clinic is one of my favorite parts of law school. Basically, they're set up so a real lawyer takes clients in a legal-aid style setting, and then law students like me get to help that real lawyer prepare cases. It's a win-win-win, in theory: the real lawyers get lots of student help so they're able to take more cases and do a more thorough job, the law students get real-life legal experience and professional training and advice from real lawyers, and the clients get the benefit of a legal team full of enthusiastic, interested law students instead of a legal aid attorney who has too high a case load to fully address the needs of each client. In practice, we enthusiastic law students sometimes drop the ball. This would be one of those times. I am currently supposed to be working on a subpoena for some records we need for a hearing taking place on December 22. I have a final on Thursday, another one on Saturday, and two papers to write in the interim. At the time I volunteered to write the thing, I was all cheer and optimism. "Sure!" I thought. "Writing a subpoena will be an awesome study break when I'm tired of administrative law! And I'm always tired of administrative law! Perfect!" Now that my exams are two days away and I realize that this client is going to court on the 22nd whether I get my shit together or not, my thinking goes more like: "Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit. I am totally going to screw this client's case because I was afraid to fail administrative law." Journals take breaks for finals. So does moot court. Do you think a judge would be interested in hearing an argument along these lines: "your honor, we respectfully request a continuance while our eager-beaver law student assistants crawl out from under their exam-induced rocks and start fulfilling their responsibilities on this case" ? Yeah, I don't think so either.|W|P|113388334440573149|W|P|write it? i can't even spell it!|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/05/2005 08:20:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|

Today, it is really cold. Chicago winter cold. Scenically cold, even. Scenically cold is the clear, soft light of early morning punctuated by the billows of steam rising from every single inhabited building, but without any people to mess up the scenicness because all the people are still burrowed under their covers wondering if "it was too cold to go to work" is a legitimate excuse for a sick day. Driving down Lake Shore Drive this morning, the LAKE was steaming. When Lake Michigan is steaming because it’s that much warmer than the air is, the air is cold, people! From the warmth of Penny (my car) I was able to appreciate how cool a sight that was, the steaming of the lake. As I left Penny to dart into the coffee shop to buy something warm to drink, all the prettiness vanished and I was left wondering what, exactly, possessed me to leave the house without hat and gloves this morning.

My parents have season tickets to our local football team, and for months John has whined that he’s never gone to a game in what he calls “real football weather.” We were at a game where it was clear and crisp, probably 48 degrees. In short, perfect football weather- just cold enough to justify drinking four or five beers for warmth, but not so cold that any of your appendages is uncomfortable. John, however, after noting that it was, admittedly, a nice day, launched into a monologue on how much better the game would be if it was “real” football weather. “You know, freezing cold, biting wind, maybe snow for good measure- where the players’ breath is visible on every play. THAT’s real football weather.”

So yesterday, while I toiled away learning administrative law, (side note: if you’re considering administrative law – don’t) John went to the football game against a team that is typically our team’s archrival but this year sucks so bad that they’re just another team we get to beat. He is so excited at the prospect of attending the game in the 15 degree weather with light snow, he looks like a little boy who has just discovered a marshmallow gun under the Christmas Tree.

Fastforward 4 hours. I am still studying administrative law. (side note: still considering administrative law? still don’t) when John returns from the game. He’s moving sluggishly, and I ask him (reasonably,) “are you drunk?”

“No,” he replies. “I can’t feel my feet. And the ice on my seat didn’t melt for the whole game, even though I sat on it. My butt was so cold it was incapable of melting the ice. My butt was below 32 degrees.”

“Ah,” I say knowingly, “’real’ football weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be, is it?”

“No,” he said. “It’s better!”

|W|P|113379253869850512|W|P|but baby, it's cold outside|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/04/2005 06:57:00 PM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|I have apparantly decided that the law school is an extension of my home. Kind of like an auxiliary living room. I realized this as I took a break from study group today, walked down the hall to use the bathroom, and made it all the way back to the study room before realizing that I had just walked the length of the law school, including a journey into the icky bathroom, in my socks.|W|P|113374439291747760|W|P|there is such a thing as too comfortable|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com12/03/2005 09:45:00 AM|W|P|pseudostoops|W|P|The thing is, I hate blogs. An ex-boyfriend of mine is currently travelling the world, blogging as he goes, and I actively mocked him when he describted his vision of "creating a chronicle of the grown he expexts to gain through the experience" through blogging. (In retrospect, the mocking might have to do with it being so totally in keeping with his ridiculous tendency to overinflate the importance of things, and not to do with the blog per se, but it was the blog I chose to make fun of.) Here's the pisser: I read the damn travelling the world blog compulsively. In fact, there's an ever-growing list of blogs that I read compulsively. (Weirdly, many of them fall into the "mommyblog" category, because those women are fucking hillarious to me, even though I don't have children. Should I be concerned? More pertinently, should realstoops be double-checking our contraceptive methods?) But I love reading blogs. Or at least, well-written blogs. So this one, being not well-written, probably won't ever see the light of day, or at least won't for a long time. But it's worth a shot. I anticipate that this blog will be sort of a nice hybrid between law school antics (the place is teeming with stories dying to be told. TEEMING) and newlywed hilarity. To wit: pseudostoops: sweet pea, let's go see a movie tonight realstoops: what's playing? p: lots of stuff. (lists stuff) what do you think? r: well, i would see x, or y, or z p: i think you're forgetting harry potter. r: and, obviously, harry potter. p: good! you want to see it too! it's at 8. r: i'm getting some kind of "best husband ever" award, right? p: only if you agree with me at the end that it was an excellent film r: man, i have to call it a film now? love him.|W|P|113362516863595691|W|P|new blog|W|P|pseudostoops@gmail.com-->