"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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sunday, May 30, 2004
Christmas in June
Guess what happens on June 22nd? That's right, Bad Santa, the best movie ever comes out on video. I am so excited about this. J and I saw it during exams in December, and we were both hysterical the whole time. Now, J thinks that we might have only thought it was so great because we were experiencing exam delirium, and anything that wasn't about equitable distribution or attempted monopolization would have had us rolling in the aisles. But I will stand firm: Bad Santa is objectively hilarious; not just diverting during exam period (By the way, I hate it when someone says a movie was "diverting," meaning "it wasn't the meaning of life, but it held my attention for 2 hours." It's so condescending). There's this one scene where Marcus (the little person) is wearing a tiny snowman outfit and he's running and he dives down the metal ramp between the up escalator and the down escalator. I laughed so hard at this point that I couldn't breathe, and I didn't really ever recover. I'm just glad we weren't at home, because I would have rewound that part like 40 times, and then I would have made J watch it backwards and in slow motion. So yeah, see Bad Santa when it comes out. It's wonderfully, perfectly, and gloriously diverting.
Friday, May 28, 2004
A few days ago J left to go to New York for a week, and the night before he left we went to dinner at one of our favorite local places. One of our friends from law school has a friend who works there who we've met a few times at gatherings for sports events and whatnot. As we were being seated, we saw him and, though he wasn't our waiter, he hunched down over our table for a while to give us all of his personal recommendations. I beamed up at him obnoxiously as he spoke, like a teacher's pet in kindergarten.
The food was wonderful: corn bread, salad with pine nuts and goat cheese and tomatoes, and some sort of meat thingy for J (this vegetarian is the wrong person to ask, but I think it was beef tips (tips of what? eew) and brie and portobella mushrooms. I know J loved it because when he's really blown away by the food he's eating he shakes his head in disbelief, huffs, and makes this face at the food like, "Goddamn, how can you taste that good you uppity little piece of shit! Your audacity is embarrassing."). I finished my salad and looked up to see the waiter setting down a huge bowl of gazpacho with mangos on top, casually saying, "Will wants you guys to try this." I smiled because I knew we were both thinking, "Oh, well, far be it from us to disappoint Will..." We savored the green goodness, even more pleased with our special treatment than we were with the gazpacho. J put down his spoon and said with a smile, "Bekah, we're people who know people." I'm not ashamed to say that at that moment I felt a little bit like a grown up.
After the meal, we ordered coffee and it wasn't long before we heard the waiter saying, "Will wants you guys to try this too." This time it was two huge chocolate chip cookies drenched in fudge with vanilla ice cream between them. Simply put, it was glory glory hallelujah in edible form. We savored the sweetness of having connections in the restaurant world--connections which, we concluded, provide much more opportunity for instant gratification than legal connections. When the bill came, there were not 10, not 20, but 27 dollars missing from our ticket. We'd gotten all of our drinks for free too. Will took care of us. We tipped accordingly. And for once, I felt that the world was harmonious.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Work Week One
So far, working life is what I expected. I feel stupid a lot; when I look at files and see police reports and statements and pleadings I get all panicky because I don't know what anything is. I blank on simple and practical things, and feel supremely incompetent most of the time. But I'm starting to realize that such things just go with the territory. Today was actually kind of fun, because I got to transcribe some taped witness statements. I got to use one of those cool machines with the little tapes and the pedal on the floor that lets you play and rewind while you type. Ok, it's not exactly something to throw a party over, but it made the hands on the clock move a little bit faster, and that was a blessing. (Side note: I can't write on my blog at work because my computer faces my boss's office, and something tells me this isn't what she pays me for).
My belief that feeling stupid and panicky and helpless is just part of the job got solidified today by a trip to a local court. One of the associates had to go "walk through" a motion with a judge and I was invited along. But when we got to the court, the judge was in session. So we waited. When he came out, the scorn with which he addressed us made me want to cry. His eyes indicated his belief that we were two pieces of dog poop stuck to the bottom of his shoe that must be removed at all costs. He refused to even talk to us; he was late for a meeting. So we proceeded to run all around the courthouse trying to find a judge who could sign a writ so that the client wouldn't miss the deadline. Everywhere we turned, there was another pasty, khaki-clad secretary with mall hair telling us that we were doing everything all wrong. Oh, the unbelievable egos in this world! Note to people in menial positions of authority: The fact that you sit behind a counter and hold a clipboard or preside over a royal file cabinet does not give you permission to be a completely uncivilized monster to other people. I got a huge dose of bureaucracy today, and it left a really bad taste in my mouth.
As we were leaving, I told the associate that I would have cried about five separate times today if I had been in her position. She laughed and said I'd have to have skin a little bit thicker than that if I'm going to do this for a living. That's what I was afraid of.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
On Saturday night, J and I went to a show at the venue above the House of Blues. Well, to be completely honest, we went to see the show on Friday night, bought the tickets, tried to get in, became thoroughly confused after being rebuffed by the doorman, asked at the ticket office whether Beulah was playing upstairs or what, and ultimately cringed as the doorman replied with a brutally sardonic "Yes, they are. Tomorrow." Oh yeah, Mr. Smart Doorman? Mr. "I spend my life selling Nickelback tickets to teenagers and Doctor John tickets to belligerent tourists from Skokie"? Well, we're in law school. And stuff. Yeah...it was dumb.
So like I said, on Saturday night, J and I actually went to the show. The opening band was great (and by great I mean that the lead singer was ridiculously good looking), and the place wasn't too smoky. I was feeling good. But then, disaster struck. As the tides of the crowd shifted, J and I found ourselves positioned directly behind a small cluster of frat-tastic high schoolers. At first I thought that the group would merely serve as an amusing addition to the night's people-watching activities; I noted the soccer shoes and Birkenstocks, the front-tucked T-shirts with the fashionably frayed khaki shorts and ribbon belts, the poofy hair sprouting out beneath baseball hats with the predictably emblazoned state school insignias heralding their wearers' future dreams and aspirations. The music started, and, in unison, as if on cue, they started doing that dance. You know, the one where the eyes are closed and the feet don't move, but the torso jerks forward systematically while the head bobs just enough to ever so gently rustle the curls of the frat-fro? The one where you can almost smell the pot and hear Redemption Song?
That's how it started. But then one boy started adding some new, more invasive movements. He began thrashing spasmodically, twisting and jerking his arms in a perverse jogging motion. The other boys, taking signals from the leader, began adding a few of the new moves into their regularly scheduled jerk and bob, but none of them was as adventurous as this one kid: the one standing directly in front of me. He was so close that his elbow once came close to poking my eye out. I looked at J in disbelief. He just laughed and tried to ignore it, focusing on the music. But I became fascinated. I watched the boy's movements at first with wonder, but then with concern. There were some crazy strobe lights in the show...could this be an epileptic fit? Once this kid in my youth group had a seizure at the bowling alley from playing video games. These things happen. But despite the arguable validity of my concern, it quickly gave way to supreme irritation. I suddenly grabbed J's arm and pulled him to the other side of the room, where the view was much better, in that it was a view of the stage rather than the gyrating wonder. The rest of the concert was very enjoyable, once I got my seething under control.
On the way home, I started to regret my annoyance a little bit. So the kid was a little overzealous with the dancing. At least he liked the music and was enjoying himself. At least he wasn't booing the band or puking on my shoes. But despite this second-guessing, I still feel that what that kid was doing deserves my scorn. You can't go to a public concert and act in a way that prevents other people from enjoying themselves. If you want to dance with the butterflies and twirl like a princess, go to an empty area in the room. This kid stepped on my feet about 5 times and wasn't fazed. It was rude and insulting! The hoodlum's behavior was unacceptable! And I am clearly getting old.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Ok, quick rundown on the books I read. It’s a short list this year, since one of the books turned out to be a lot longer and a lot less exciting than I was hoping. (I’m one of those sad people who have to finish a book once they've started it). First I read Galapagos, which was good, but not my favorite Vonnegut by a long shot. I have to say that I’m honestly not sure if I really got the whole thing. Kind of fell a little flat for me--and wasn’t as funny as the others. I prefer Mother Night and Sirens of Titan. And Cat’s Cradle. And basically every other Vonnegut I’ve read. Oh well.
I also read Of Human Bondage, by the esteemed old, dead, white, and British W. Somerset Maugham. I found the book to be, if I’m being kind, tedious, dated, and badly written. I read the Introduction to try to get an idea of the author, and the critic said that Maugham always thought it most important to find “a story interesting in itself, apart from the telling.” At the time, I was happy to see such frankness in a writer, and thought that it was a great insight; unfortunately, the realization of that insight was completely lost in Maugham’s case, considering that the story was played and the telling was dull and ponderous.
Of Human Bondage is one of those coming of age stories about the life and education of a boy who goes through ups and downs and meets various friends and enemies and evil, life-ruining whores along the way. Basically, I didn’t really like the main character (based loosely on Maugham himself, fancy that!), and I thought Maugham's writing was not only boring, but surprisingly repetitive. Kind of like a sledgehammer with the symbolism too. It's actually ridiculous how many times the same adjectives, metaphors, and ideas crop up all over this 625 page monster. I would venture to say that the word “grotesque” shows up about 800 times. My favorite line from the book is this gem: “It’s rather jolly to come back and find someone about the place. A woman and a baby make very good decoration in a room.” Women, potted plants--I mean really, what's the difference?
Don’t get me wrong—-I can take a little bit of sexism and anti-Semitism and whatnot thrown into a novel as a product of its time. But the problem with Of Human Bondage is that there was nothing remarkable or even memorable to make the rest of the novel worthwhile—the characters were lame and badly developed, the storylines were roundabout, and when I finished the book I had an overwhelming feeling of pointlessness. The central character's big revelation is that life is meaningless, and that understanding that meaninglessness is the key to beauty and happiness. As evidenced by a Persian rug given to him by an old drunk poet. Uh…thanks?
At the end of the day, what I got from the book was a strong desire to make up dialogue like this: I say, old man, you look terribly out of sorts. The whole town knows she was an ill-mannered slut—a damned painted hussy! And yet, you were nothing but a brick to her all the same. A right brick! In any case...it’s frightfully pleasant out, old chap! Shall we stroll to the public-house, while the missus (simple wench—god love her!) fixes up some mincemeats for tea? I’m simply dying to discuss art and beauty and life and other pretentious and amorphous things with you over a frothy pint or some absinthe. Oy.
On my last night at the house, I read Animal Farm, one of those books that I somehow graduated from high school without reading. I loved it. The prose was perfect and well-formed and crisp, like a shiny red apple. And the humor--so dry! So subtle! It was a needed reminder that a good number of the old dead white guys' works are worth keeping around. I learned from the Introduction that Orwell's real name was Eric Blair. How cool is that? He sounds like a porn star! But I also read that he died when he was just 43 or something. Does anyone know the story behind that? Please fill me in. And now, I'm off to prepare for my first full day of work. More on that soon.
Back From the Dead
I’m back from my yearly trip to North Carolina, and, as usual, very little has changed at the mountain house. The same natural artifacts and specimens sit on the bookshelves—snakeskins and pressed butterflies and chunks of mica. Under the artifacts are the same field guides about mushrooms and wildflowers, old Nancy Drew hardbacks with brittle, flaking covers, and hundreds of great works by Proust, Dickens, Wordsworth, and the rest. Massive historical volumes line the bottom shelves, and millions of old paperback mysteries and thrillers fill in the gaps. The old footed bathtub is in the upstairs bathroom, the firewood is by the fireplace as usual, and the stone porch looks out on the same mountain sunset I saw when I was little.
It shouldn’t be so surprising that everything is always the same at the house—the pipes aren’t winterized, so my family and cousins only visit in the summer. But it’s disconcerting that no matter how much I think I’ve grown, or how many changes happen in my life, everything feels the same at the house. The place is like a time warp: the physical house doesn’t change at all, and, when I go there, I get a strange feeling that I haven’t changed either. Even if I only stay there for a few days, it feels like I’ve been there for ages. All of the years of my life run together, and I can’t remember if I’m in law school or high school—if I need to do my seventh grade summer reading or study for the LSAT...or even think about where I’m going to take the Bar.
I was only there for a short time this year, but I definitely got my fix. It was a hard life, waking up in the middle of the day, going for a walk down the mountain, curling up on the couch to read, taking a bubble bath, and reading till bedtime. I’m pretty worn out from the exertion. It’s actually funny--when I got to the house, all I wanted to do was sleep and read and sleep more. I resented the idea of ever again having to do actual work or having to go to the trouble of even existing in a world where I had to dry my hair and put on uncomfortable shoes day after day. I was burnt out. But when it got to be time to go home, I was somehow ready for everything again. Now I’m anxious to start my job, and I’m anxious to do lots of reading and writing and enjoying life this summer with J and my friends around, and without school to worry about. This is officially my last summer as a student, and I’m willing to dodge the inevitable punch in the face I’m going to get from the real world as long as I can.
Friday, May 14, 2004
I'm writing for the first time in a while to announce that I won't be writing for a while. Yeah. I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately--things have been hectic--but as soon as I get back from my short vacation in North Carolina I will resume posting pretty regularly. I'll be out of town and away from the internet until next Saturday, so please don't forget me before then. I'll have lots of book reports when I get back, because sleeping and reading novels is all I'm going to be doing. So try not to implode with excitement before then. Peace. Seacrest out.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Oh, It’s Such a Perfect Day!
Sitting here, studying for my last exam, I’ve decided not to wallow in the doldrums. Instead, I’ve been fantasizing about The Perfect Day. The Perfect Day exists, in various forms, in everyone’s psyche. Although the Day can never actually be realized, it is important for us all to construct a cast of characters, an activity schedule, and an elaborate menu in our minds, so that we will always know what to shoot for. Here is my Perfect Day, in its current incarnation:
9:00 a.m. Wake up naturally (no alarm), sprawled out on a poofy-mattressed canopy bed, complete with T-shirt sheets and a million pillows, my eyes gradually adjusting to the gorgeous brushstroke of sunlight beaming onto my pillow. My hair looks amazing. I revel for a few moments in the glory of the morning. The breeze blowing through the open window rustling the curtains indicates that it’s a temperate 68 degrees and sunny outside.
9:30 a.m. Roll out of bed and take a scalding hot shower with ridiculously good water pressure (it feels like pins and needles, but in a good way), using the brand new assortment of designer products lining the shelves in my bathroom. Think about shaving my legs, but realize that there’s no need—I must have forgotten that I had electrolysis, and will never have to shave my legs again. Silly me! Also, I realize that I’ve had that special Japanese procedure done to my hair, and I don’t have to ever blow dry or straighten it again—it’s silky smooth and straight as soon as it air dries.
10:00 a.m. As my hair air dries, I put on The Shins’ latest cd and get dressed in my favorite jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops. (Ok, that’s every day. But some things don’t have to change). Notice that the jeans feel a little looser than I remembered. And there’s a $20 bill in the pocket that I’d forgotten about. Hot.
10:30 a.m. Go to brunch with J at a restaurant with outdoor seating and a balcony with a wrought iron fence. I’m pretty sure the building is brick, and there is lots of ivy on it. And there are flower boxes in front of all the windows, with tulips in them. And there are tiny flowers on the tables in blown-glass vases from Venice. And I have a big Belgian Waffle (the kind actually from Belgium; they ship it to me because I said so, or maybe I’m actually in Belgium, but just for brunch) with whipped cream, and a big glass of pineapple-orange juice. The breeze is cool, and there’s Mendelssohn playing. Also Johnny Depp is sitting at the next table, and he is very nice to the waitress and tips her well. Then he kisses his baby daughter on the forehead and smiles at me knowingly. I call my parents and sister and tell them I love them.
12:00 p.m. I hop in my 1989 convertible Mercedes (it’s not obnoxious because it’s old and stuff), and drive to the mountains (which, today, happen to be a scant hour away). J and my friends are all in the car, but everyone understands and observes the no talking rule. There is only music of my choosing, and if it were today it would probably involve some Bob Dylan and some Stills and some Walkmen and some Death Cab, since I’m feeling shamelessly—pathetically—indie. Soon, the air starts to get cooler, and the smell of honeysuckle and overnight rain fills our nostrils. I reach out and touch the flowering plants jutting into the mountain road. I point to the baby fox peeking out of the foliage, and then we’re there.
1:00 p.m. We pack healthy snacks like dried banana chips and granola, put on some running shoes, and hike up one of the smaller mountains. This takes about an hour. On the way to the top I bend down and pick up some shiny rocks and put them in my pocket the way Amelie would. (I forget about them until next month when I find them in the drier with the lint and remember the Perfect Day).
2:00 p.m. At the top, everyone splits up to explore on their own. I find a huge, loveseat-shaped rock with an impeccable view of the mountains and countryside below. I take in the view for a while, watching the falcons swoop around over the checkerboard of farms and trees and lakes, and suddenly feel that sharp pang of sublime fear that is terrifying but reassuring too. Eventually, I pick up the book I brought—who knows which book, but after today it will be my favorite—and read in the sun for several hours before hiking back down.
5:00 p.m. Head to the lake for a sundown picnic. All of my friends and family are there, including friends from high school and college and law school and camp, and so is my 7th grade science teacher, who my friends and I attempted to drive slowly insane all those years ago, and to whom I am finally able to apologize. He’s very kind and assures me that he’s not mad. At the picnic there are little mini quiches and other tiny appetizers, including torts and chocolate covered strawberries. Also, lots of frozen margaritas and beer. And there are cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, and deviled eggs, and latkes and matzo ball soup made by my mom, and grilled cheese sandwiches fit for a queen. And we all eat and then lie on our backs in the grass, which is suspiciously devoid of any bugs of the biting or stinging variety, stare up at the sky, and comment on the moon and the stars, and it isn’t trite at all. It’s sincere. And then we play on the go-karts and splash around in the lake, and sing Nightswimming unbelievably out of tune. And the mist around the moon is moving fast. That means it might rain soon.
8:00 p.m. Everyone takes a moonlight drive back home to the communal mansion (my Mercedes holds about 25; everyone else drives on their own), and when we get there we put up the convertible top just in time to beat the monstrous thunderstorm that doesn’t even start with individual raindrops—it’s just sheets of rain. We all run inside, but it’s too late—we’re soaked and cold. So we all put on flannel pajamas and build a fire and curl up on the fluffy white carpet and give each other back rubs and talk about when we were kids. Then we read the paper and do crosswords together, and drink hot chocolate, and make brownies, and listen to the rain clink on the roof, which is suddenly and conveniently made of tin and makes the rain sound like music. The lightning outside is the kind that makes the entire sky glow, and it’s white and pink and yellow. We eventually fall asleep watching brat pack movies and Mystery Science Theater (which Comedy Central is inexplicably playing again, all the time). I dream about basketball players hugging each other, and sleep all the way through the night, without any worries about adhesion contracts or rape shield statutes.
So that’s my Perfect Day. It may not involve Virginia Vennett in white lingerie, or a little person on a unicycle, but it’s mine. What’s yours?
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Hi, I'm Bekah. You might remember me from such after school specials as, "Mommy Why Can't I Take Speed During My Evidence Final" and "Blood in the Computer Room: The Loud-Typer Massacre."
So, hi. I am still alive, but confused. I'm not quite sure what happened to me this week, but I have a distant recollection of somehow taking three exams. I remember typing pages and pages for hours at a time, but I couldn't really tell you where one day ended and the next began. It was, put simply, a seamless stretch of torture. I can't be sure, but I think I may have written about Title VII on my Evidence exam, tried to make a hearsay objection on my First Amendment exam, and described in great detail the Central Hudson test for commercial speech on my Law and Gender exam. Added up, that is 10.5 hours of typing some seriously convoluted shit. So feel special, because now I'm typing again. For you. I do it all for you.
Unfortunately, I don't really have anything to say right now. I need to start studying for my last exam, and I should probably do that before I lose what little momentum I still have. When something does come to me in the natural course of events, I will definitely write about it. Sorry for the lack of content. Content neutral regulation. Time Place Manner test. Secondary effects. For the love of GOD I need to get out of here.
Before I go, I'd like everyone to take a moment of silence for George Huff, the most adorable American Idol contestant ever, who was shut out of the competition last night. George, you will be missed. But maybe you can make me an omelet sometime.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
I had a dream last night that I was locked in a car with a rabid dog. I found it sleeping and hurt on the side of the road, so I put it in my car to take it to the vet. On the way, it woke up and attempted to maul me. The locks on my car wouldn't work at all. There was a lot of bleeding and screaming. I woke up pulling my own hair.
This morning I attempted to get all of my study materials together for my last full day before the three-in-a-row. Everything was fine, outlines in order, tabs in place, but then I noticed that my pen was gone. My amazing, magical blue Pilot EasyTouch pen. It may look ghetto, but it is hands down the best pen I've ever had. So light, so smooth, so crisp. (If you're planning to act on this endorsement, note this: the EasyTouch variety of pen is only good in blue; the black is not nearly as smooth, and the ink seems different--thinner, almost. Like it's trying too hard). I couldn't find the pen anywhere, and I immediately concluded that the loss of my pen, coupled with being mauled by a rabid Doberman in my sleep, did not a good start to the day make. Things were not looking good.
But when I went to get one last book out of my car before walking to the coffeehouse, I saw my blue pen lying, fortuitously, on the ground next to my car. So, the moral of the story is: Life sucks right now, but at least I have a good pen. I guess it could be worse.