Mixtape Marathon

"In vacant or in pensive mood..." I am: Bekah; 24; Law Student / Favorite Things: Carbs (so there!), Johnny Damon, Smiling at babies, Grilled cheese, Comfortable silence / Favorite Supreme Court Justice: Brennan / Favorite Wilson: Owen by an inch / Today's Special: Song: Elliott Smith, "Bled White"; Quote: "You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff." Please love me: mmbekah@yahoo.com

February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 September 2005
Monday, June 30, 2003
Law Review "Right On!" Competition

One more thing before I go. Because of the small sense of accomplishment I have right now, I feel I should report that I actually took it upon myself to join the flock attempting to make Law Review. After reading 300 pages and writing and Bluebooking 17 (thanks to a relatively generous 20 page maximum), I can finally say that, no matter what happens, at least I tried. I just dropped off 5 copies for Law Review and 5 copies for another journal (name TBA if by the grace of God I get an offer). If you hear nothing more of this, feel free to assume the worst. Life without citation will go on.

In the meantime, please check out a delightful little book entitled The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation by The Prince of Darkness (pen name). What a find! Famed for its organizational clarity and overall readability, The Bluebook will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! My favorite selections include: Table 6, the Short Citation rules, and the Practitioner's Notes--those are fun and witty! The Bluebook even makes a great fireside companion (resist the urge to toss it into the fiery depths from whence it came).

Ok, now I'm really going. I refuse to be like those infuriating couples on the phone:

You're so cute. I love you.
No, I love you.
Well, I love you more.
No way!
Yes way!
I love you til infinity!
Infinity plus one!
(Giggle) It's a tie!
Fine! Goodbye!
Ok, you hang up first!
No, you hang up first!
No, you!

[Neither one actually gets the chance to hang up, due to severe head injuries inflicted by Bekah. End scene.]

I love you! [click]

Some Parting Words

Tomorrow I am off to Europe for three and a half weeks, so I will not be tending to the Marathon with my usual diligence (or any diligence at all, frankly). In my absence, I wanted to leave you with a little something to mull over. I will check my email periodically, so if you have any questions or comments feel free to send them along and I’ll answer as soon as I can. If I happen upon a relatively good and cheap internet connection, I might try to write a post or two from an exotic locale. I'll also have access to a digital camera, so if I can I'll try to make this site prettier every once in a while.

Like so very many others, I want to provide a few words of wisdom (?) and encouragement for entering law students. If you’re a soon-to-be 1L and you’re already reading law student blogs, you’re probably a lot more prepared (or a little more psychotic?) than I ever was. Seriously…chill out. Regardless of the advice below (or any of the fantastic and much more in-depth advice you may have found on other blogs or in books/movies/messages from God), my biggest tip for you is to NOT THINK ABOUT LAW SCHOOL UNTIL YOU GET THERE. Read novels. Go to the park. Go to Target and browse around the bedding section for several hours. Count the tiles on your bathroom floor. (Do not think about whether or not you’d be liable if someone cut his foot on one of them). Do anything and everything that has nothing to do with the law. Believe me, it will be your last chance for a while.

1. Run away! Run away! Kidding, kind of. But quite seriously, if you aren’t really into the idea of going to law school, you should probably reevaluate your decision to attend. It’s not too late at this point to save yourself the grief. I remember hearing this very warning before I started, and I thought people were just exaggerating. They’re not: you will be miserable if your heart’s not in it. On the flip side, if you know that this is what you really want, then the pain will be much easier to endure. I didn’t really know what I wanted, and my first year wasn’t peachy. But I made it, and you will too should you decide to take the plunge.

2. Friends. Given the fact that all of your classmates will one day be lawyers (except for that one kid who looks like he’s been pumping himself at the gym 24 hours a day), and given the fact that networking is the single-most important tool in finding jobs, it behooves you to be nice to people. Aside from this relatively selfish motive, making friends is essential to surviving your first year. You simply cannot do this alone and maintain your sanity at the same time. You need friends to remind you that sometimes you just have to skip that last case so that you can eat ice cream and watch the Bachelor. I absolutely would not have made it through the year without my girls.

3. Preparing for Class. Personally, fear is my main motivation in this area. I fear being unprepared, I fear getting called on in class, and I fear not knowing the answer. Thus, I almost always do all of the reading, and I almost always brief my cases. I’m a big fan of the color-coded book briefing, although I also like to put a short synopsis of the case in my notes. Some people have no problem saying, “Yeah, sorry, I’m not prepared,” and honestly, I think lots of those people do just fine in the long run. To me, it’s ultimately a matter of respect. I know how hard professors work. If I found out that people didn’t prepare for my dad’s class, I would yell at them and beat them mercilessly about the head. So basically, I do my reading so I won’t get physically and verbally assaulted by the crazed spawn of one of my professors.

4. Outlining. Outlining is exactly like plucking your eyebrows: it’s uncomfortable, it’s easy to fall behind, and the longer you wait the harder the job gets. Think about the period of time right after you get your eyebrows waxed. You start to see a few stray hairs here and there, so you pluck them with relative ease. But imagine that you get really busy (or really lazy), and neglect to pluck for a whole month or more. Any attempts to get your brows presentable again in time for an important occasion will surely be time-consuming, ugly, and extremely painful. And worse, if you give up altogether and show up on your date as a Michael Dukakis look-alike, chances are even better that things won’t go well. Outlining is exactly the same way. If you stay on top of things and outline your classes every week or two, you’ll never have to have an excruciating monster-plucking session at the end of the semester, and you won’t be a loser on your big day like Michael Dukakis was.

5. Exams. There’s no good way to sugarcoat this one, kids. Exams are an awful, awful experience. To a certain extent, however, they are only as bad as you make them. I have several friends who were cool as cucumbers (or perhaps trendy stalks of broccoli) during the entire process, and I seriously envied them. Actually, I may be the wrong person to give advice about exams. I have had somewhat varied results with no real correlation to my level of study or understanding. I also have kind of idiosyncratic issues when I take exams. For example, when I sit down with my exam in front of me, I invariably have a sudden and severe existential crisis during which, in my dementia, I must repeatedly assure myself that I am in fact a human being complete with hands and feet and a brain who is about to take an exam. I venture to say most of you probably don’t have these kinds of issues to deal with, and can simply walk into the room and kick ass on your exam. Unfortunately, I sometimes have problems performing everyday tasks as a normal human being. I also have a more common problem of psyching myself out; telling myself I’m not good at whatever class, and that I can’t do well. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. One thing I do know is this: flashcards work for me, as does simple, methodical memorization. Basically, sit down and empty the rules into your brain. That is the single most important thing to do. Oh, and always write everything you know, regardless of whether you think the professor asked about it. I made the mistake of not doing this, and I was penalized for leaving seemingly irrelevant things out of my analysis. Even if your prof says he doesn't like "brain dumps," the translation is: "I love brain dumps. Dump away, or you'll pay...listen to what I say..."

Ok, I'm out like a fat kid in dodgeball, as my friend Abby says. Peace.

Saturday, June 28, 2003
And at the next table:

Father: ...And I'm going to want to figure out a sum of money to give you that will challenge you to manage your funds. I don't want to make living impossible for you, but I want you to understand what it means to have a budget...

Daughter: Uh...

Father: You need to figure out what you're doing. You know who you would like? Aunt Ruth out in Phoenix...

Daughter: It's hot there...

Father: Well, you have to cut off your hair or find a way to deal with it...

Daugher: Uh...

Father: Well, shall we?


I have no idea what just happened here.

Starbucks Guy: What are you wearing?

Me: (Tentatively, somewhat embarrassed) What am I...wearing?

Starbucks Guy: That perfume...

Me: Uh, I don't know...

Starbucks Guy: (Wistfully, slightly starry-eyed) Man, you just reminded me of someone real quick...

[Awkward silence]

Me: (Bright red, fidgeting with necklace, uncomfortable to be witnessing a stranger's sudden nostalgia) Can I get a medium ice coffee please?

Friday, June 27, 2003
"But does the desert even miss the rain?"

In response to this question, posed by my lovely and wildly intelligent sister Hannah, I would like to offer my thoughts. On many a sleepless night I've pondered this very dilemma, and, after years of inner debate, I've come to the conclusion that no, the desert couldn't possibly miss the rain. The desert is, by definition, dry. If it ever rained, it's entire identity would be obliterated. This is not a desirable occurrence. Also, and more persuasively, the desert has never seen the rain, and probably doesn't know it exists. It is simply impossible to miss something that you have never seen or heard about; if the desert has no concept of or word for "rain," it certainly cannot formulate any sort of emotional response to its absence. It may feel some sort of abstract emptiness, but that sense of incompleteness could not ever be linked to the absence of rain. Indeed, one must understand the concept of wetness to know one is dry. Thus, from the desert's perspective, it is really neither wet nor dry, but rather merely "is." It does not miss what it is not and could never be. In conclusion, I would say that the desert is content, self-sufficient, and largely pleased with the camels and cacti that serve as its lifelong companions.

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Supreme Court Defies Age-Old Admonition; Does in Fact Mess With Texas

Today the Supreme Court held that it's legal to be a practicing gay man, overruling a Texas law prohibiting sodomy. I mean, it's about damn time. I'm honestly embarrassed that it's 2003 and the Supreme Court still has to decide such things. A prominent religious figure, Rev. Rob Shenck, had these godly words to share: "The court has said today that morality -- matters of right and wrong behavior -- do not matter in the law. That is an undermining of our concept of justice in this country." Yes, yes, and the whole corrupt death penalty system in Texas makes us all feel warm and cozy about the justice system. I've got news for you Rev. Rob: chances are your son, your best friend, hell, maybe even you, are gay, so you better get used to the idea. Go preach about something that's any of your goddamn business. I'm just glad this case came up before W. could screw up the court...

Update: I've been wondering lately how people like Rev. Rob can still exist in the world today. Don't they understand that they are nothing more than caricatures at this point? It's like people with mullets. Don't they realize that such a hairstyle is no longer socially acceptable? I mean, the anti-mullet movement has been absolutely done to death. You'd have to be living in a cave not to know that mullets are ridiculous. Similarly, has Rev. Rob SEEN the world lately? How can he still piss and moan about people being gay? People are gay! They're just gay! Move on! Get a haircut or something!

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Advantage, Bekah

Oh hell no...it seems that Woody Woodpecker works at Starbucks. Or maybe it's his country cousin with the even more obnoxious laugh. Either way, I'm pretty sure that even the Norah Jones comment can't redeem this. Oh Starbucks, why must you toy with me so? Why must you take me on this emotional rollercoaster. This is the most destructive relationship I've ever been in. You build me up with your sweet talk, and then betray me with your terrifying laughing, your milky coffee, and your stupid kite posters. And every day I come back, hoping you've changed, hoping you will be the coffeehouse I know you can be. Or maybe it's my fault. Maybe I'm trying to make you into something you're not. Maybe I'm holding you to too high of a standard--that of my old coffeehouse. You can't change who you are. I can't make you into a coffeehouse you're not. It is my fault for coming back to you when it is not you I want.

But while I'm pointing out Starbucks' flaws, there's one other thing I've noticed. The guys that come in here order the cheesiest drinks. I just can't take a guy seriously if he orders a "Tall Chocolate Brownie Frappuchino with Whipped Cream." Some guy just ordered one, and afterwards he adjusted himself and tried to make a manly coughing sound. I mean really dude, what's the matter with you?

I Like To Move It Move It

I'm settled in my new apartment, and it is wonderful. I love everything about it. I sustained a few injuries when I sneezed while transporting a bookcase. Word to the wise: sneezing may impair your ability to grip heavy objects, and may cause them to fall and tear a gash in your poor arm. Other than that, the move went pretty smoothly. I will write more as soon as something of interest happens. Oh, my landlady uses the word "gnarly" and is therefore the coolest person ever.

Monday, June 23, 2003
Life's Great Mysteries Solved!

Go to the Dialect Survey Map to discover who pronounces what how, and where they pronounce it. Although there were 8 different reported pronunciations of "pecan," I was happy to see that the the highest percentage of those surveyed pronounced it correctly. Eat that, stupid PEE-can and Pee-CAN eaters!

And here is one of the best questions in the survey, along with the freaking hilarious results:

What do you call the gooey or dry matter that collects in the corners of your eyes, especially while you are sleeping?

a. crackling (0.16%)
b. sleep (37.78%)
c. sleeper (4.23%)
d. sleepy (1.56%)
e. sleepies (5.17%)
f. sleepy seed (1.67%)
g. sleepy bugs (0.75%)
h. eye booger (10.68%)
i. eye shit (0.45%)
j. eye crunchie (0.13%)
k. eye crusties (3.10%)
l. sand (7.77%)
m. kitty (0.05%)
n. gunk (7.09%)
o. matter (1.63%)
p. I have no word for this (8.73%)
q. other (9.05%)

So Much for Having Learned Everything I Need to Know in Kindergarten

"Now Bekah, if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"
"No way!"
"Very good. Now Bekah, if everyone did the law review write-on competition, would you do it too?"
"Ooh, I'm sorry, wrong answer. Now go join the flock of prestige-seeking posers and fight for the prize."
"I want my Mommy."

Advantage, Starbucks

The guy working the register yesterday told me I looked like Norah Jones. That makes 4 people, not including relatives, who have seen a resemblance. I'm not really a fan of her music (I think she's nice and everything, just not my style), but that doesn't mean I won't take a complement when I get one. And you can believe I will continue to go to Starbucks if they treat me like a celebrity. Oh yes, I will...

Update: Norah Jones is not, under any circumstances, to be confused with Star Jones, a woman with whom I'd venture to say I have little in common, personality-wise or otherwise. Other irrelevant Joneses include: Jenny, Jesus, Tom, Dow, Orlando, and Osmosis.

Move it or Lose It

Tomorrow's moving day, and I am more than ready to get out of this sad, sad empty place. There is nothing worse than living in a state of apartment limbo, surrounded by cardboard boxes and empty beige walls. Actually, come to think of it, being homeless is probably worse. I'll stop talking now.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
The comment I made a few days ago about Westlaw burning holes in my retinas reminded me of two fairly amusing eye-themed stories that help weave the strange and colorful tapestry that is my life. Gather ‘round the campfire, children, and I’ll tell you the tales.

1. Mine Ein! Mine Ein!

When I was about 12, I was staying at my grandparents’ house for the weekend with my family. My little cousin was also spending the night, and he’d just gone to sleep. My sister and I were in the living room watching a “program” (I think it was 48 Hours—ah, the joys of basic cable), and then we heard it. It was quiet at first, but the volume quickly rose: “Mine Ein! Mine Ein!” Over and over, over and over, coming from our cousin’s room. As I write this today, I am spelling the mysterious phrase phonetically because it sounded like my poor little cousin was trying to scream “Mine Einstein!” but was getting cut off. My mother, frantically attempting to understand the hysterical child’s plight, was simply at a loss. Finally, he rubbed his eyes as he screamed the words and everything made sense. His eye hurt. Now I like to say “Mine Ein” at various times in conversation, just to see the reactions I get.

2. The Truth is Out There

Every December, “camp people” reconvene in one of the more party-oriented Southern cities for a New Year’s celebration. I’ve been attending this annual festival since my sophomore year in high school, and it has never failed to be an entertaining and drama-filled reunion. Last year, everyone went to a bar that was a little smaller than our typical choice, so it was pretty packed.

After ringing in the new year, I was standing in the crowd listening to the band with my friend Mona when the unthinkable happened. An unidentified flying object came out of nowhere and hit me directly in my left eye. I was stunned for a moment, and tried to get my bearings. I looked down and attempted to locate the wayward object, but to no avail. My eye started to water, and I rubbed it instinctually, only making it worse. Mona looked over at me and asked, “Oh my God, are you ok?” “Yes, I’m fine, something just hit me in the eye.” As the words came out of my mouth, I knew they sounded like lies. Mona looked skeptical, but at this point my eye really hurt. It continued to water, and the shock of being hit by a foreign object in a dark, crowded place was beginning to sink in. The tears started coming. There was no holding them back.

Mona walked me outside, and you might guess what happened next. Everyone I knew started coming up to me, asking me what was wrong, comforting me about whatever emotionally trying thing had happened to me to make me break down this way in a public place. Every time someone asked me what was wrong, I tried to tell them the story of the UFO hitting me in the eye, and every time I told the story it sounded more and more farfetched.

By the end of the night, I really was crying because my friends thought I was an annoying emotional basketcase who couldn’t handle the prospect of a New Year. I was crying because they thought I was a basketcase, and I was a basketcase because they thought I was crying. Yes, it was a vicious cycle. Attempting to convince my friends that I was not losing it was just about as effective as screaming “Mine Ein!” into the unforgiving night air.

Sadly, the majority of the people who were out that night still don’t believe my story. Do you want to believe?

Friday, June 20, 2003
I've spoken with a few people about my post today, and I think I should make a few things clear: 1) The rumors are true, I do tend to exaggerate sometimes. The JC Penny commercials do not actually make me livid. I am not writing a strongly worded letter to the president of JC Penny, or going on a hunger strike outside of their store at the mall. I am not distributing flyers denouncing JC Penny as sexist or communist or fascist or anything. I merely think that their commercials perpetuate annoying ideas about what women and men can/should be doing. 2) I love babies. Eventually, I want to have lots of babies. Babies probably make me happier than anything in the world. Especially when I see them taking naps, their chubby cheeks flushed and smooshed against their Daddies' shoulders and their little curls stuck to their hot foreheads. I also want to take care of my babies when I have them--I just think I should have some help in that department. 3) My main point is that if both parents work (which is the norm today), both should help with house stuff. It's like with my parents. My Mom always cooks, but my Dad always does the dishes (such a good boy). That being said, the household duties were definitely skewed, and I still think my Mom is Superwoman. I honestly want to kick myself when I think about how much I complained when we had leftovers for dinner (leftovers of a superbly prepared meal which she cooked for us after a full day of work), or whined about having to do my own laundry when I was still at the tender age of 15. Now go hug your Mom and we'll be done here.

We Can Do It! (If By “It,” You Mean Laundry!)

No matter how much progress women make in society (my law school class, for instance, has more women than men), leave it to television to consistently throw us right back into the 1950’s. Commercials are the single most detrimental force against feminism. They continuously perpetuate stereotypical views about both women and men, and hinder any attempts to achieve an equal society. I’ve absolutely, completely, and totally had it. There are some basic themes running through commercials today that I just have to address.

1. Shaving. Yes, as one would deduce from commercials on the subject, the act of picking up a can of shaving cream, applying it to one’s legs, and using a sharp object to shave said legs is clearly beyond the realm of women’s capability. (Cut to a shot of a woman in a bathtub spraying herself in the face with some unruly shaving cream. You can just imagine the caption: “Oh, it comes out of this end! Now I get it!”). Because of the difficulties associated with shaving, one of the newest razors on the market seems to be much easier for women to “grasp.” It even has a no-slip handle. Essentially, this razor purports to have built-in shaving cream. But it’s not really shaving cream; it’s just goo. As my friend Melissa so aptly put it, the problem with shaving without real shaving cream is that “you can’t tell where you’re going or where you’ve been.” I think I’ll stick with the challenging, but ultimately more effective, two-step process.

2. Childcare. There are a bunch of JC Penny commercials going around that make me absolutely livid. They feature assorted doltish Dads attempting to perform strange, alien feats such as dressing and feeding their children. Those little brats just won’t behave, and the exasperated fathers exclaim, “Where is your mother?” Oh you guessed it folks, she’s at Penny’s shopping up a storm. I find these commercials offensive to both men (is feeding a kid peas really that gender-specific an undertaking?) and women. If the makers of that commercial wanted to answer the husband’s question realistically, I think they’d be better off showing mom hard at work at a job where she works harder and more efficiently than all the men but still gets paid less. Or maybe she’s having an affair because her tool of a husband can’t even get their kid ready for little league.

3. Laundry. Yes, you guessed it, “Mama’s got the magic of Clorox bleach.” I’m sure women around the country really appreciate that. In addition to their full time jobs and exhausting attempts at mastering the art of shaving, it’s good to know that women are still the only sex with enough time to do laundry. I have a news flash for my future husband: I don’t know how to iron, and I don’t intend to learn any time soon, so you better figure it out. Also, when we get married, whoever has the dirtiest clothes is doing the laundry. Enjoy that flag football game, k? I’ll be at work.

4. Beer. For a long time, I really liked the beer commercials featuring different groups of guys hanging around telling stories about funny stuff that happened to them. Like the one where the guy hitches a ride in an Eighteen wheeler in which there’s a ventriloquist dummy maniacally screeching “Eeeeeeeeee!” for the duration of the ride. The guy explains how he jumped out of the moving truck, and then everyone in the bar laughs. That’s funny. But then the commercial people tried to do a “women’s version” which consisted of a group of “girlfriends” sitting around coming up with original ways to get back at an evil ex-boyfriend, such as hitting him in the balls with a golf club. Ooh, good one! (Or not). The moral of the story: girls have nothing better to talk about than evil ex-boyfriends, and they’re not creative or funny either. Cool.

5. Cooking. “Choosy moms choose Jif.” Choosier moms choose a partner who’ll help shop for peanut butter once in a while.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Confessions of an Aging "Camp Kid"

Have you ever seen Wet Hot American Summer? The movie with Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, and that guy from Law and Order: SVU? Well, that’s where I went to camp, give or take a talking vegetable can or two. The talent show scene in that movie is absolutely priceless. It’s the most accurate depiction of summer camp I’ve ever witnessed, right down to the thunderous applause for each and every questionably “talented” camper. You see, we cheer vigorously for everyone at camp, regardless of whether or not they understand what “talent” means, because we want to make the kids feel good about themselves. That way they understand that when they go out in the real world and play “The Circle Game” with their belly buttons, people will think they’re cool and will accept them.

I’ve spent the majority of my summers at camp (“Jew Camp” as my friend Josh affectionately calls it, although come to think of it that doesn’t really sound good), and I have to say that right now I’m feeling a little nostalgic. As I sit in this air-conditioned, caffeine-saturated, technological mecca in the middle of July, I can’t help but think one thing: I’ve been out of school for over a month, and I haven’t gotten so much as a mosquito bite or a sunburn. Granted, the evil Westlaw computer screen is burning painful holes in my retinas, but it’s just not the same. For starters, the holes in my retinas definitely aren’t turning into a tan anytime soon.

This whole “spending the summer indoors” thing is starting to take its toll. I’m getting lazy and sluggish. Boiling water to prepare instant oatmeal is often too daunting a task. I need sunshine! I need lanyards! I need someone to start my lanyards! I need a huge pool filled with campers’ pee (and, once or twice a summer, poo)! I’d even settle for fake poo, like the kind my campers put in my bed one summer! (Did they really think I’d believe that one of them would take a crap on my pillow? I knew that even they—a group of twelve and thirteen year old girl-demons—weren’t capable of such a monstrous deed). Man, it was fun to say “It’s poop again!” though. Good times. It just doesn’t feel like summer if you can’t say “It’s poop again!” Maybe I’ll work that into my research somehow.

I know in my heart of hearts that my camp years are over—that I’m officially too old and too law-school saturated to ever return. But it’s still hard. In all seriousness, there is nothing like sitting down with a camper and really helping her deal with something awful that’s going on in her life. Or like having a pack of twelve year olds jump on you and tickle you until you wake up from a well-deserved nap. Or like being in a relationship that is disastrous in the real world, but seems just right in the camp world. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have any of that again. But I’m not too concerned. The memories Westlaw and I are making this summer will surely bring me joy for years to come. Oh, don't worry. I'll make a scrapbook.

Update: Um, yeah, I just remembered that it's actually the middle of June. Thanks for filling me in guys...yeesh.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
As long I'm taking things seriously, I'd like to report one of the most disturbing statistics I've ever come across. I really don't know what to say about it, except that it scares me and makes me sick. I think some women (and maybe some men?) will be surprised:

"Virtually every study of male college students has found that a substantial number, typically around a third and sometimes close to half, acknowledge that they would commit rape if they could be sure of not being caught."
-- Bartlett, Harris, and Rhode, Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary, Aspen Publishers 2002.

Two Reasons Why I’m Going to Become a Public Defender (Warning: I Do Take Some Things Very Seriously)

1. Attitudes Like This:

“No doubt grand juries err and indictments are calamities to honest men, but we must work with human beings and we can correct such errors only at too large a price. Our dangers do not lie in too little tenderness to the accused. Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream. What we need to fear is the archaic formalism and the watery sentiment that obstructs, delays, and defeats the prosecution of a crime.”
– Judge Learned Hand, United States v. Garsson, 1923.

This is a dangerous and unrealistic view of the criminal “justice” system. In America, we pride ourselves on valuing the rights of the individual. We consider ourselves civilized because, before putting someone in prison, we are supposed to guarantee that the government has proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Given the dangers of over-zealous prosecution, biased judges, adulterated evidence, corrupt cops, and mistaken witnesses (the figures on this last group are astounding), I firmly believe that it is much more important for us to protect individuals than it is to make sure every guilty person rots in jail.

There was no excuse for Judge Hand’s belief in the infallibility of our justice system in 1923, and there is even less of an excuse for it now. If you have not done so already, please visit The Innocence Project’s website. The Innocence Project is a group of lawyers who use DNA and other types of evidence to exonerate innocent prisoners. 131 actually innocent people have been exonerated thus far. “Actually innocent” means that it can be conclusively proven that the convicted person did not commit the crime. Read Actual Innocence by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer for some horrifying instances of wrongful convictions, often resulting in decades of unjust imprisonment.

According to Judge Hand, to fear conviction of the actually innocent is “archaic formalism” and “watery sentiment”—an “unreal dream.” He couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not an unreal dream. It’s a nightmare. And “the ghost of the innocent man convicted” should haunt us all.

Update: Turns out, I'm in good company: "We have to choose, and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part." --Oliver Wendell Holmes. Elementary, my dear Holmes.

2. Judges Like This:

“This is one of the worst crimes that a person can commit. I just get so disgusted that I just figure what is the use? You are just an animal…I don't know why your parents haven't been able to teach you anything or train you. Mexican people…after 13 years of age, its perfectly all right to go and act like an animal…We ought to send you out of the country--send you back to Mexico. Maybe Hitler was right.”
– Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gerald S. Chargin, addressing a young Mexican-American he convicted of having sexual relations with his stepsister. Cited in: Sambhav N. Sankar, Disciplining the Professional Judge, 88 Cal. L. Rev. 1233 (2000).

Res ipsa loquitur.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
A Window to the Soul

The driver side window of my car broke over the weekend. I think a pack of angry Dutch people, enraged by my previous post, smashed it in with wooden clogs. I could tell it was them by the "Foeck u, stoopid Uhmerican!" scrawled across the door. Ok, fine, there were no Dutch people, and there was no vandalism. The window itself didn't even really break. But the mechanism that makes the window go up and down stopped working, and my car made a horrible, painful grinding sound whenever I pushed the up button. Interestingly, this convenient little flaw came to my attention on Saturday, a good two days before the dealership was available. Also interestingly, it rained all weekend, so I had to leave my car in a parking garage and walk anywhere I wanted to go. In the rain. As a final bit of excitement, the VW dealership in this town is run by a quite spectacular collection of incompetents, idiots, imbeciles, and assholes. Diversity is a beautiful thing. I will just share a few highlights of my experience with you.

Because the window broke on a Saturday, I thought the most intelligent thing to do would be to go to the dealership's website and fill out the online form requesting a service appointment at 8:00 a.m. Monday. After doing this, I got an email saying they'd received my request and would get back to me shortly. When I called Monday morning to inquire about my appointment, the woman who answered the phone asked who'd contacted me. I responded, "Whoever runs your website." To this, she responded, "Our website? I didn't even know we had one." Merciful Christ. So, she took my name and number and said she'd get right back to me. I waited an hour, and then called back. Someone else answered. I explained my situation. Again. And then I heard it. A question no one should ever be asked.

"Did you want to speak to Chuck, or to Cha Cha?"

At this point I had several thoughts, including: 1) Is this person speaking English?, 2) Who/what the hell are Chuck and Cha Cha?, 3) Did I call American Bandstand instead of the car dealership?, and 4) No good can come of this. After a few seconds, I stifled my fear and replied honestly, "I have no idea." I eventually got Chuck, who took my keys and gleefully scribbled down my problems on his little clipboard. Then I suffered through the Montel Williams show (yes, he is your baby daddy) while waiting for the shuttle, until a nice lady and I gave up and decided to split a cab. After keeping my car all day, Chuck finally came through and the window is functional again. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d asked for Cha Cha.

Sunday, June 15, 2003
How do you say "You sound like you ate paint chips as a kid" in Dutch?

Note: This post is, for lack of a better characterization, irreverent hyperbole. It is not meant to offend any nationality, race, creed, people, tribe, ethnicity, gender, club, organization, society, conglomerate, or amalgamation. Not even people on crack.

In preparation for my European excursion (now to include all of the following locales: Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, hopefully Scotland, and maybe Germany), I’ve been reading some travel books. I don’t know if I’m tired, giddy with anticipation of my trip, or just exceedingly immature, but I cannot look at Dutch/Netherlandish/Flemish words with a straight face. At the risk of sounding horribly ignorant, I have to say that the Dutch language looks and sounds to me like English on crack: it is as though someone took English, spelled everything as inaccurately as possible, and tweaked the pronunciation to the point of absurdity. When I try to verbalize Dutch words, I sound like a drunk 4 year old with a cold and an unfortunate speech impediment. Why can’t these people just admit that they tried to speak English, failed miserably, and ended up sounding like their Mommies and Daddies just didn’t read to them enough when they were little? Observe some examples from the phrasebook included in my travel guide:

good morning: goedemorgan
thank you: dank u
how much is…?: wat kost…?
hot: heet
cold: koud
drinks: dranken
men: mannen
there: daar
chocolate milk: chocomel
coconut: kokosnoot (!)
twelve: twaalf

And the best word ever:
orange juice: sinaasappelsap (!!) (I’m totally ordering some).

If all goes well, my uneasy marriage of English and Dutch will go something like this: “Hallo! Goedemorgan, goed mannen! I am heet. I want koud dranken, preferably sinaasappelsap or chocomel. Oh, and wat kost the kokosnoot? Twaalf euro! Dank u, but nee dank u!”

I understand that Dutch is a very rich language with a rich history, and that I’m representing myself as a silly, sheltered American by mocking it. But you have to admit: some of those people in New York subway stations who seem a little off at first listen might just be from the Netherlands or northern Belgium.

Update: I just received the following note from my dad: "Incidentally, you should know that you are of Dutch descent. Your great grandmother's (my mother's mother's) maiden name was Conover, which is a anglicization of something really Dutch like Van Coewenhoewen. So watch it." Figures.

Update #2: Tenaya, a fellow law student, was kind enough to issue me the following warning: "I thought I should warn you, before you stroll though certain parts of Amsterdam, that the Dunglish (Dutch + English) 'I am heet' essentially translates to 'I'm horny.'" Who knew? Thanks, Tenaya!

Friday, June 13, 2003
It's good to know that our country is in such capable hands. I implore you to scroll down and observe the hilarity of our commander in chief attempting to master the art of riding a Segway. Incidentally, shouldn't it be a "Segue"?

Update: Luckily, the President's mishap wasn't due to any faulty manufacturing; he simply forgot to turn it on.

Well Isn't That Special?

Last night I had dinner with my grandparents. Naturally, the conversation took the following turn:

Bubby: So, Rebekah, you’re working here, and then you’re going to Amsterdam later this summer?

Me: Yes, and to Luxembourg, and hopefully I’ll get to visit my friend Devon in Scotland too.

Bubby: Ah, now is this Devon a “special friend”?

Me: No, she's a girl Devon. She's a friend. And she's special. But no, I don't have any "special friends" right now.

Bubby: Oh.

Me: Oy.

Thursday, June 12, 2003
A Moment of Reflection on the Popularity of the Teacup Cottage Illuminated Musical Waterglobe

Whenever I write something like my entry below about Thomas Kinkade, I always feel a little pang of guilt. I feel guilty because Thomas Kinkade is the best selling painter in America. This means that his prints are probably actually inspirational to lots of people, and might have even saved someone’s life. Allow me to illustrate.

A few weeks ago, I was watching The Today Show. It featured a young girl speaking with Matt Lauer about her undying love for Mariah Carey. She was in tears, explaining all of the joy that Mariah Carey’s songs had brought her, and how those songs had given her the strength to cope with endless family troubles. She could actually listen to “Dream Lover” and be truly moved.

Remembering the look on that girl's tear-stained face, I began to wonder: who am I to denigrate Mariah and K-dog (my new, affectionate moniker for Kinkade)? Does the girl on The Today Show not feel real emotions? Is she not an authentic human being? Are people who order the “Streams of Living Water Lit Sculpture” really just lost souls in search of simple pleasures, not at all deserving of my scorn? In other words, am I snobby or mean-spirited for reviling the Christ Gardens or the inspirational messages that accompany them?

Ultimately, I have to say that the answer to my last question must be a resounding “No.” Regardless of the true emotions that Mariah and K-dog may evoke in their fans, it is obvious to me that such emotions are actually controlled by Satan, who will not cease in his quest to permeate the earth with clichéd music and commercialized, hotel wall-adorning, putrid attempts at art. If there is evil in this word, it is Thomas Kinkade. He, following the more tentative footsteps of Norman Rockwell, has forever tainted the art world with his foul and kitschy triteness. Sure, he claims to be a religious man. But do I have to count the number of times an evil person has claimed to have God on his side? Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton are Kinkade's musical cohorts. No one can escape their wrath.

But we can make fun of them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Bad Coffee, Bad Feelings

My views about Starbucks have been vacillating quite a bit lately. Some days I'm sure I can't take it anymore, some days I think it's not so bad. But some serious shit just went down, and I think the harm might be irreparable. The Starbucks workers and I just had words. I promise, they started it. See, the last time I got coffee, they made it with way too much milk. So much milk that my coffee was basically white. This didn't do it for me. I am one of the few people left in this world for whom coffee is a necessary source of caffeine, not some sort of fun "hmm, what flavor will I choose today?" hobby. I just want my coffee, and I want actual coffee to be the main ingredient (although sometimes flavors are ok, depending on the occasion). Anyway, today I ordered coffee with skim milk, but added at the end of my order "and with a little less milk than you usually put in, please." I didn't think this was really a big deal, and it certainly wasn't the equivalent of pulling a Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Boy was I wrong. The words had barely left my lips when the girl said curtly, "um, what do you mean?" I tried to explain myself, but it wasn't getting through. She asked, "Do you mean you want less coffee?" I explained that no, "less milk" means, oddly enough, less milk (I wasn't rude though, just firm in my insistence on less milk). By this time, another worker had come over. I think there is some sort of Starbucks mind control technique whereby employees must intervene if a customer says anything other than the words printed on the board behind the counter. So this new employee said, "Do you want us not to fill up the cup?" "No, I just want the coffee to milk ratio to involve more coffee." "You'll have to buy another shot then." "Fine." So I ended up paying more for a cup of coffee, simply because I wanted coffee and not milk. That's how those evil bastards get you.

Why I Would Rather Become Thomas Kinkade's Personal Artistic Advisor Than Work in Retail

I was in The Body Shop last night (the one for bodies, not cars) browsing through the grossly overpriced, yet wondrous lip gloss. A woman shopping in my vicinity mumbled something inaudibly, and one of the dutiful salesladies asked "if she could help with anything." The woman repeated herself, happy to share her profound revelation with the other patrons: "It's just like a Bath and Bodyworks store in here." The saleslady just kind of flinched and went back to arranging the pumice stones. I vowed never to complain about law school again.

Update: In case you aren't familiar with the horror that is Thomas Kinkade, please use the link above to observe his heartwarming (or gutwrenching?) website, wherein he displays his "work." Please note that Kinkade, who dubs himself the "Painter of Light" (funny, I thought Carravagio and Rembrandt were doing just fine there) also employs an army of "master highlighters" who basically work in warehouses sprucing up thousands of prints of Kinkade's Christ Gardens with the famous "Kinkade light." Now that's art. He also provides calendars with inspirational messages from the scripture, himself, and his wife Nanette (real name). I'm sorry to desecrate my site in this manner, but I have to make you understand my pain:

This work, entitled "Garden of Prayer" has the following caption, straight from the Kade-Man himself (or maybe a "master highlighter"): Perhaps in a garden we are closer to our creator. We certainly are closer to His creation. My prayer is that this painted garden will be a meeting place for many that would speak to their God in the silence of morning. As my friend Jessica would say, "I think I just threw up a little in my mouth."

My Thomas Kinkade Wish List:
1. Lilac Bouqet Silk Scarf.
2. "Home is Where the Heart Is" Collector's Print.
3. "Bridge of Faith" Inspirational Print.
4. The Streams of Living Water Lit Sculpture.
5. Christmas Cottages Notecards With Scripture. Pretty please!

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Quotable Quotes (from recent conversations):

1. I have a friend who is working for a firm this summer. All of the new interns went out to lunch at a Japanese restaurant, and one of the partners proceeded to force them to a) attempt to catch shrimp in their mouths, and b) compose impromptu limericks. It seems that by "lunch," this firm actually means "three ring circus." Of the experience, my friend said, "You haven't really learned true humility until you've had shrimp thrown at your face." I think she might be right, although I can't say I've tested the theory.

2. I recently had a conversation with my sister about some kid she knows. I tried to be flighty and superficial, and she just wasn't having it:
Hannah: ...and he's kind of a jerk...
Me: Yes, yes, but is he cute?
Hannah: Yes, but he has some problematic political views.
Me: Oh. (Decided not to ask if he had curly hair).

3. A while ago, I had a conversation with my dad about my mentioning his name in something I wrote on this site:
Dad: Are your friends jealous that I got a shout out?
Me: Yeah...
Dad: Tough shiznet.
Me: (!?!) Whoa.

4. During finals, I had a great conversation with my 14-year-old cousin. I'd been studying all day, and I was having dinner at his house. With a crazed look in my eyes, I said something like, "I can't even tell you how much I've studied! Do you want to hear how much I've studied? Do you? Do you?" And he said, "No, tell me what you learned. Because if you didn't learn anything, then it's pointless." After I got over the shock of something so wise coming out of such a young person, I proceeded to fill him in on joint tenancies with rights of survivorship. I'm pretty sure he wished to God he hadn't piped up.

5. A few nights ago, some of my friends and I were hanging out at one of our apartments watching Elimidate and talking about general pop culture-type things. Somehow I got on a rant about how I hate it when big, fat, gross men get on talk shows and complain that their wives are fat, and I was going on and on about it, until someone asked, "Bekah, what percentage of your life have you spent being angry about something?" That made me feel bad. I'm not an angry person, I'm just hyper-sensitive to stupidity. But maybe I should calm down a little.

Monday, June 09, 2003
Now That's Entertainment

Actual conversation heard during my viewing of The Italian Job (I mean really, why would people stop talking to each other? It's only a movie):

Bitter old lady (loudly, with a good deal of attitude, to a group of "young people" behind her): Could you please be still with your feet.

Young people (muffled, slightly obnoxious): Heheheh.

Bitter old lady (again, loudly): Oh that's right. Keep laughing, show everyone how ignorant you are.

Young people (continue to laugh, showing everyone how ignorant they are).

Disgruntled moviegoer in the back: Shut up!

Bitter old lady: No, you shut up.

Entire theater (to themselves): Is this really happening? This might be more entertaining than the movie! Maybe I should throw a Milk Dud and start a brawl!*

*The last thought was actually mine, but I didn't have any Duds on hand. It's a good thing The Italian Job is just a fun action movie. If this conversation had occurred while I was viewing a film, I would not have been even slightly amused.

Thursday, June 05, 2003
Memo #2
To: Law Professors
From: Your Conscience (yes, me again)
Re: Update on Emulating Satan: It’s Still Not Friendly

Dear Law Professors:

I write again to inform you that your performance of late has been decidedly sub par. Granted, my April 29th memo was directed specifically to the writing of exams, so I can appreciate your feeling mildly confused when the time for grading rolled around. That being said, I must confess that I expected more of you. I expected a more subtle capacity for creative cognition, and a slightly more sophisticated intuitive grasp of the idea I was attempting to convey.

Today I would like to emphasize, so that future misunderstandings may be avoided, that my request for you to harness your demonic tendencies pertains to both the writing and grading of exams. Let’s look at a case-in-point, shall we? A certain 1L, who I will refer to as “Fekah” in order to protect her identity, recently received all of her grades. Please take note of the following points of interest:

1. The two classes for which Fekah studied the hardest, longest, and most intensely (read: tabbed and color-coded outlines; highly annotated casebooks) were her lower grades.
2. The class for which Fekah studied for a mere two days prior to the exam was her highest grade.
3. Fekah received identical grades for the exam she felt best about and the exam she felt worst about.

Query (to use language to which your kind is accustomed): Given this information, how can it possibly be said that law school exams are an accurate measure of a student’s knowledge? How is a legal “education” accomplished if students can never be sure whether or not they actually understand the material? Let me explain. In law school, a student can make it through the semester, really feeling confident about his coursework, only to discover, by proclamation of one grade, that he did not understand anything after all. Conversely, someone may think, “Golly gee, I don’t get this stuff and I didn’t really work at all in this class. I’m screwed,” and end up with an A. What, may I ask, is the function of such an academic system? And where might a student who is rewarded for studying less and punished for studying more get the motivation to study at all? Might she rather decide to watch Joe Millionaire and alphabetize her cd collection? (Don't strain yourself. The answer is: yes, she might).

Please know that I am not undermining your intelligence or your capabilities as educators (for the most part). I merely wish to inform you that law school exams are ineffective, unrealistic, and unfair measurements of a student’s worth and capability. There is too much room for an unfair variable (misreading a question, having a headache, sitting next to a heavy breather), and not enough time for the student to make the professor understand how much he studied and how much he knows. If the question is too pointed, the student is precluded from exhibiting his creativity or depth of knowledge. If the question is too broad, the student can’t be sure what information he should include. It is a completely backwards method of evaluation, and it needs to be seriously reconsidered.

Unless I get an A.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Metaphorically Speaking

Starbucks is starting to look up. There seems to be another musical genre occupying the airwaves today. Kind of indie, kind of oldie…I even heard a little Bob Dylan. This could work. Besides, I brought my headphones for emergencies. I am, however, troubled by the poster next to me. It depicts three Starbucks “non-coffee” beverages (like mocha and coconut) floating in the sky, attached to kite strings. I fail to see the point of this advertisement. Why would Starbucks beverages ever be likened to kites? Perhaps I lack the requisite creativity to appreciate the poster, but I think it would have been cooler if the beverages were visually analogized to something a little more plausible. Like a river, or a swimming pool or something. Something with volume, something liquid. Something that does not fly through the air and get caught in trees.

I don’t think I’m wrong to be skeptical of this ad. Here’s why. Last night I was flipping the channels and came upon the final round of the Miss Universe pageant, which consisted of questions written by the contestants themselves (literate and everything!). One of the contestants was asked the following question: “If you could be either fire or water, what would you be?” The ever-analytical contestant answering the question, with a puzzled expression on her beautiful face, explained that she was “a girl with feelings,” and, since a girl is neither fire nor water, she could not understand how to possibly make such a decision. Ah, metaphor. So elusive a device among the strikingly beautiful. I wonder what she would have done if the judge had told her that she was “a delicate flower.” Perhaps she would have potted herself for display in his windowsill?

Thought of the Day: Why do they call it a “laptop computer” if when you attempt to place it directly on your lap your thighs suffer third degree burns? I’m guessing it’s because Gateway is an evil corporation. I’m just kidding, I love you Gateway. Kidding. Please don’t unleash your wrath or voodoo powers and make my computer die. I’m still mourning my flip-flops.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
At Least They Display Local Artwork on the Walls...

I have been attempting to work at Starbucks lately because 1) they have dial-up internet and 2) it's not the law school. My favorite coffeehouse is not technologically advanced enough for my research-assisting needs, so I've had to branch out. But regardless of Starbucks' internet capabilities, I'm going to have to come up with a few more reasons to be here if it's going to become a regular working environment. Why? All of the usual suspects are of course to blame, including the general lack of personality in the atmosphere, the glaring commerciality of the establishment, and the hoity toity names for all of the drinks. But there are other reasons.

First of all, the music is virtually unbearable. Lots of trumpets, pseudo-jazz, and saccharin Frank Sinatra-type garbage, all played way too loud. My coffeehouse plays Interpol and The Flaming Lips, and only sometimes plays music too bizarre even for me (I recall one particular incident with moaning and loud cricket noises that went just a bit over the line from cool to weird. If you're not sure whether what you're hearing is music or someone slowly dying, you might need to reevaluate your choices).

Secondly, the patrons are less interesting than the ones who frequent my usual place. At least there I get a variety of strange characters who take random pictures and scribble in their little notebooks. I like trying to figure out what those people could possibly be doing with their lives, and how they have the time and money to spend day after day in a coffeehouse (because something tells me they're not law students with really nice parents like mine). Here at Starbucks, everyone has a laptop and seems to be actually doing work. It's boring. And if they're not doing work, they piss me off. For example, a teenage girl in an orange halter top just came in with her boyfriend and started slow dancing with him to the music. Barf. In the middle of the day, in the middle of a public establishment. Barf. She then proceeded to order a "Grande nonfat mocha latte with just a tiny drop of whipped cream" or some such nonsense. Did I mention, barf? Yes, my friends, that is a lot of vomit.

To top it all off, the employees speak extremely loudly. I like background noise, but when one particular conversation about how some lady's husband is excited about his new job in sales and her brother is gay rises well above the jazzy easy listening blaring from the speaker above my head, I actually start to feel flames of anger burning my cheeks. They are also the type of employees who will tell someone who orders a particular thing, "Oh, that's actually not very good. What you really want is..." Sweet Jesus. On the other hand, there is a constant supply of caffeine, the window seat is pretty comfortable, and I can research without setting foot in the law school. I guess it boils down to the following question: Which is worse, a corporate coffeehouse or a law building crawling with stressed-out graduates studying for the bar? I'll have to do some more research before I can make the call.

Monday, June 02, 2003
Of Southern Belles and Big Apples

I’ve been MIA for a few days because I’ve been off celebrating one of life’s most important coming of age events: holy matrimony. No, no, don’t worry, I did not elope with Airport Freak (see below), although it took everything in my power not to yield to the temptation. My friend Jenny is the one tying the knot at the end of the summer, and the other bridesmaids and I took her to NYC this past weekend to celebrate the occasion. (Yes, I have issues with the fact that my friends are getting married, but I don't want to discuss my quarter-life crisis right now). It would be impossible to write about all of the wonderful events of the trip, so I’ll boil it down to the 5 most memorable:

1. One of the Girls. If left to my own devices, I would maintain good personal hygiene and keep my fingernails and toenails in respectable, functional condition. But when this particular group of girlfriends takes control, I become a manicured, pedicured, eyebrow-waxed, walking stereotype of a girly girl. And the thing is--I really enjoy it when they force me to partake of such nonsense. There is nothing wrong with liking it when someone massages your feet. I now have a French manicure (Freedom manicure if you're nasty), a pedicure, and perfectly groomed brows. As we walked out of the salon, Melissa caught me admiring my nails and said, "I love making Bekah do girly things. It's my favorite pastime." Yeah, don't quit your day job. We also did other "girly" things like sit around watching movies and eating cookie dough. (I personally think that the general act of sitting around watching movies and eating junk is a gender-neutral pastime). One movie we watched was The Sweetest Thing. Actually, my friends watched it, laughing periodically, while I sat, relatively catatonic, attempting to quantify the shittiness of what was unfolding before me. It ranged somewhere between extreme disgust and infinite repugnance. But this brings me to the absolute best thing about my friends: we may disagree about a lot of things, but we have each other in common, and somehow that is enough to maintain and nurture an amazingly strong decade of friendship.

2. Off Broadway, and Off With Their Pants. On Friday night we saw Naked Boys Singing, which, for the most part, lived up to the title. If I had the job of titling the show, I would probably lean towards Strikingly Nude Young-to-Middle-Aged Gay Men Singing and Dancing Within Inches of Your Face, but sadly it's not up to me. Anyway, the show was hilarious, and definitely worth the wait for tickets, especially for a bachelorette party. A group of gay men in line behind us for the show joked, "Girls? What's a group of girls here for?" We laughed, and I said, "The same thing you are!" The show was an experience you really just can't describe, but I'll give you a taste: the opening song of the second act was called "Members Only," and I assure you the pun was most definitely intended. I do not recommend the front row seat if you are at all timid; the production gives new meaning to the phrase "intimate performance."

3. Serendipity, minus the banal script and horrendously implausible plotline. We went to the famous restaurant and had the famous "Frrozen Hot Chocolate," which was fantastic, but not nearly as good as the $12 slice of cheesecake which we all devoured in seconds. I will remember that cheesecake forever.

4. Musical Shoes. We did lots of walking this weekend, and every day I wore a different pair of shoes. But I didn't do this because I enjoy variety. Let me explain. About a week ago, my favorite flip-flops died. It was an ugly, graphic death. The between-the-toe piece was violently extracted from the rubber sole in a most vulgar fashion, and the plastic innards were splayed onto the sidewalk. Sadly, none of my other shoes were sufficiently broken in for the amount of walking we did this weekend. Therefore, every day my feet were mutilated in a different place. I have cuts on the tops of my feet from one pair of sandals, on the sides from others, and assorted blisters from two pairs of boots. Luckily, I did not get frostbite or trench foot. I am hoping gangrene does not set in. At least I can rest assured that my toenails are in perfect condition.

5. "Turn around, bright eyes..." There is nothing like four great friends dancing in a bar, sipping tasty drinks, singing Total Eclipse of the Heart at the top of our lungs, and joyfully ignoring the unimpressive male clientele. Yes, this weekend we lived the "Ladies Night" that Kool and the Gang extol so beautifully in song. And it was good.