• It Doesn’t Bother Me Per Se…

    …but, there are implications that are unfortunate.

    So, my entire life I’ve never really had friends. I come from a relatively large, relatively close family. There were always people around, and we were always around other people for soccer games, piano recitals, school events, etc. So, I was never alone for long periods of time. More importantly, I never felt lonely for any indeterminable period of time. Still, though, I never really had friends. I never talked to anyone about having a bad day or randomly texted something I thought was funny. I think that was mostly because I find that kind of stuff pointless. I know it’s perfectly normal and it doesn’t bother me that people do it; but, I don’t understand what it accomplishes. And, I have, at the risk of wading into the paradoxical, a very solid theory of practicality. And if I can’t articulate why something is necessary, usually it doesn’t seem worth the effort or practical, and so I don’t do it.

    For a LONG time I thought there was something crazy defective about me as a human–you know more than the usual human flaws that are characteristic of our kind and that make us awesome. That insecurity prevented me from seeking out friendships or any relationships really. Part of it was feeling like a victim of my own, inarticulable defect. Another part was the more reasonable thought that I should really know myself before I try to know anyone else.

    When I started law school I decided that I had a new chance to be outgoing and meet new people. So, I tried. It was a disaster. I thought that at some point it would get better, and everyone seemed nice enough so I didn’t feel like I was a complete pariah. But, everything about being around others still felt forced. What I realize now is that I was trying to pattern behavior on what I saw others doing, rather than reacting to situations organically. I was trying to fit my conduct in the frame of how I observed others rather than letting the contours of my own thoughts and reactions come out. This period was hard for me. And there was a LOT of drinking because that seemed socially acceptable. This led to a number of terribly awkward situations–like more than the cringe-worthy scenes in comedy movies. These were simultaneously sad and offensive.

    Not wanting to remember all the terrible things that happened around the unfortunate people who were the unwitting Guinea pigs in my experiments to participate in society, I took summer classes. Then I added a six-month internship several thousand miles away. Away from the faces that brought back weird memories, I thought I would be safe and could try again. Then, by the time I returned to finish classes, everyone I knew would have graduated and things would be fine. I could figure out how to be a part of things and note hate it. While I was in the bubble of Geneva, I met new people, went out on occasion, and generally enjoyed myself. But, I still didn’t have any real friends–not like I had seen other people meet.

    The lessons you learn are often not the ones you try to teach yourself. Basically, what I discovered was not the secrets for being sociable rather what I need from human interaction. And what I need is not a lot. It turns out that I was not defective. I’m just more independent than most. I don’t need to vent about most things. I don’t need an audience. Having people around doesn’t change things fundamentally, it helps you deal with and process what is happening. If I already have a way to achieve those goals, then I don’t need the usual means. Realizing this was a huge relief.

    With all that said, it’s important for me to note that I’m not an agoraphobic hermit. I carry on polite conversation when it comes up. I can play the small talk game. But that’s it. There’s every reason to be pleasant when you’re around others. But, there’s no reason to seek others out other relationships if they’re not practical.

    So, I can very confidently say that I don’t have friends and that I’m fine with it. Because it’s true. Well, mostly. What bothers me is that so much of what happens is an incident of relationships. Finding the perfect job, meeting “the one” (whoever the hell that is), enjoying a hobby, and innumerable other opportunities are all very important, but are (considered) a relatively small incident or side effect of relationships. That is, many opportunities have fringe benefits that become integral parts of our life. It’s the access to opportunity that I’m missing out on. And that’s what bothers me.

    On one hand, I do not have the time, will, or resources to build/develop/manage (I don’t even know the right word!) a relationship. On the other, I am missing out on potential employment opportunities (maybe other stuff too, but I’ve painfully aware that after graduation in a few weeks I will simply number among the unemployed). What I’ve been struggling with is how/whether to have relationships for the “fringe benefits” and not the core relationship activity. For me, the “core relationship activities” are things like hanging out, doing things together (movies, sports, mani/pedis, etc.), talking out problems, and generally sharing one’s life with another in varying degrees depending on the relationship. Of course you don’t do the same things or to the same degree with an SO, sister, friend, or co-worker. But, there is a commonality in all these interactions. This is the core that I don’t like and want to avoid…just because I find it tedious. That may change at some point in my life, but right now, trying to live in the world of relationships is more trouble than it’s worth for me.

    I guess that’s the idea behind a “network”: you can mitigate the involvement costs by recognizing that everyone involved is best served by having a close enough relationship to lubricate communication but it’s so not close that you’re undertaking the unending and unforeseeable obligations and responsibilities that come with “core relationship activity.” So, maybe that’s what I need. A network. How do I go about getting one of those? Is there a socially appropriate way to say, “Hey, it seems like knowing you will be good for my career and maybe vice-versa. What’s the minimum amount of effort we have to put into knowing each other so that our future interactions aren’t burdened by the inhibitions of strangers?” Yeah, I think that’s basically what I need. Friendships/relationships have too many unknowns and are too indefinite. A network has clear purposes and its effectiveness can be ascertained, even if the standard is still a bit squishy. I like that. I like it a lot.

    So, how do you build a network? How do you mitigate against the risk of accepting the risk of core relationship activity? Am I even allowed to ask that?

  • I’ve Been Derelict

    …in tending to my Xanga duties.

    Basically,  I think I stopped updating when I moved to Geneva, which is totes not cool because it’s been the most interesting part of my life so far.

    The internship is going well. I wish I could say that I have a higher opinion of the UN than I do…but, I better understand it’s structural challenges.

    Also–I’m convinced that there needs to be a radical shift away from the tradition notion of state sovereignty in the social contract of nations. The more I think about it, the less I’m a fan of democracy–not that I have a better alternative, I’m just increasingly less impressed with the status quo.

    Oh, here’s something: everyone here thinks I’m German. I’m very not–but apparently tall quasi-blond people who speak French are automatically German. I guess that’s just life? IDK.

    I still worry about finding a job. The thing is: in about 9 months, I will be a lawyer, licensed to practice in Texas, with a degree in economics and who speaks three languages. Still–I will have to work my ass off to FIND a job. Something about the American belief in education being the “hope basket” of the future is incredibly skewed. When education is an increasingly risky venture, it will only further ENTRENCH income disparity, not alleviate it.

    Sixteen other thoughts that I want to say but won’t.

    I’m typing this in a bar right now and there is a 10-year old across the room. It’s the first time that’s ever happened.

    I’m seriously entertaining the idea of taking a road trip in France next weekend to see the castles along the Loire River. If you have any suggestions/feedback/etc., I’m very opened to them.

    In summary: life is great and sucks. I like where I am right now, but am all too aware that it will end in two months and then I have to go back to real life and I’ll hate it.

    Between now and my next poste (hopefully soon), you cats keep it real.

  • Under Glass

    Maybe y’all have had a similar problem. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on, but I am baffled. There are several of you who have green thumbs, so I hope you can either tell me what the issue is or how to think about it.

    A few months ago (June), realizing that my home is rather sterile, I undertook to convert some old glass containers into terrariums (terraria?). I thought it would be nice to have some living things in the house. Plus, this was kind of a cool way to up-cycle some defunct glass containers I had.

    I laid a layer of rocks a couple inches deep and then another layer of soil (I left out the charcoal–I couldn’t find any at the store and I had an afternoon to do the project, so I just thickened the layer of rocks since the charcoal is mostly about drainage). I had already picked out plants that had similar light and water requirements. I can’t tell you what the plants I got were, but one had tiny leaves with pink spots/splatters and grew kind of bushy close to the ground. The other one was relatively taller and felt much waxier. It was variegated–yellowish and green in color. In each of the small pots I had, there were multiple plants, so I split them and put half in each of the two glass containers I had. After the “potting” process, I had two glass containers, each with two types of plants in them. I thought it was a rather handsome addition to my eating area.

    For a while things were going well. Being in the eating area, they never received direct sunlight, but got plenty of it in the afternoon. Both containers have removable lids, so when the sides got really foggy I just took the lids off to let things air out a bit. Since they are terrariums, I didn’t really have to water them–there was usually at least some visible moisture around the rocks at the bottom. But, I did water when things looked dry or limp.

    Sadly, one day I noticed that the pinkish plant had turned dark and got very limp. Within a few days, it was almost completely indistinguishable from the soil. In the meant time, the same plant in the other jar was doing well, as were the other plants. A few weeks later, the same thing happened to the plant of the same species in the other jar.  Recently, the waxier, taller plant in one of the jars also turned really dark and limp. And again, the plant is indistinguishable from the soil.

    So, of the four “plantings” I had in the two jars to start with, I have one surviving plant–but it’s survival chances don’t look so great in the scheme of things. My impression is that it looks like their environment got too humid and something (bacteria, fungus, etc.) got to them. But, I’m certain.

    SO! If anyone knows what’s happening to these plants, please let me know. I will field any suggestions. If I had a camera–or a smart phone that was actually smart enough to establish communication with my computer–I’d post pictures. But, that’s not the case, so I don’t.

    And really, it’s not that big a deal–the plants were small and inexpensive. I think I paid $5 for the both of them. Long ago I made a decision not to worry about mistakes that cost less than $10. But, the curiosity is killing me. Plus, I am considering getting some new plans to put in there (with fresh soil), so I don’t want to make the same mistakes if I can avoid it.

  • Two Weeks

    Today I realized that it has been two weeks since I shared a meal with another human.

    I think the majority of the other meals have been in front of the TV. A significant part have been in front of the YouTubes. I think the rest of the meal-time accompaniment was an even split between my phone (probably because I’m at a restaurant) and a word document/other homework assignment.

    I made this realization today when someone extended a lunch invitation via e-mail (I am much relieved that it wasn’t on the spot). Ordinarily I don’t decline, but I don’t really know the other person all that well and I have zero confidence in my conversation skills. While trying to think of a nice way to say “No. Not now, not ever,” I realized that I could legitimately say, “No thanks, I don’t eat with other people.” The last time I remembered sharing a meal it was my birthday–a special occasion. And I don’t remember the time before that. But, it was probably at least two weeks.

    I don’t think I’m opposed to eating with others–just with people the idea of sharing a meal with whom makes me uncomfortable. Restated a little more articulately: As a general rule, I’m not opposed to eating with others. However, the idea of sharing a meal with certain people makes me uncomfortable and I would almost certainly turn down those invitations. Then why not eat with anyone else? It’s one of the most natural things that people do.

    For me, I think it’s a product of my schedule. Usually I’ll eat twice a day: once between 2 and 3 or so and then again later, usually between 8 and 9. For most people, these aren’t normal fooding times, so there just aren’t others around to eat. Also, I don’t know anyone, which is probably a bigger factor than the first one. But, they two are somewhat interrelated.

    So, I’m curious now: how often do you eat with others? Also, how often should someone eat with others? In my quest to better understand my humanity, I don’t know if this is something I should change.

    Also, do you have any good ideas for how to tell someone to nicely bug off? If you have a “it’s not you, it’s me”-type speech, I’d love to hear it.

  • Status Update

    …because I have nothing else interesting to say…

    As the internship seems increasingly certain, it’s been increasingly difficult to pay attention in class since getting the internship means dropping classes and no exams. But, a sudden and unforeseen twist of events complicated my life today.


    Tuesday, I sent an e-mail informing the UN: 1. that my visa application arrived; and 2. that they need to send the employment letter to complete the visa process. By some stroke of fate/luck/coincident, I had included everything in the application that I needed. The employment letter–understandably–has to be sent directly to the consulate from the “employer.” Apparently, the country is pretty protectionist in that it wants to make sure that all of its own citizens have a job before it lets foreigners in. I get it–but, it’s kind of a pain.

    Anyway, when I woke up this morning, I had received an e-mail telling me that the employment letter was forthcoming PENDING FORMAL APPROAL OF THE INTERNSHIP. Apparently, I’ve been running around putting all my little duckies in rows and this is isn’t a certainty on their end. I imagine “formal approval,” is little more than a background check and rubber stamp–especially in light of the fact that it’s unpaid. Still, I will be very frustrated if the consulate returns my application because the UN hasn’t sent in the letter, which is not an onerous task. Basically, it must say: ”Yes, this person applying for a visa has a job/reason to stay in this country for more than 90 days.” Not hard, but must be done. And probably should be done soon.

    This afternoon I received an e-mail from the consulate that said they received my application and are waiting on my employment letter. DUH! Once the letter is sent, I should receive my passport back within four days…and then I can hop on a plane and fly in in just a matter of days after that. I feel like I’m so close to such an awesome experience–and at the same time painfully aware that it could fall apart for reasons beyond my control at any time…I imagine that it’s something like this feeling (although on a much GRANDER scale) for parents all the time with respect to their children. Of course, all that anxiety and stress will dissipate if I can get formal approval AND a letter quickly–or at least know when I’ll know whether I have those things.

    I don’t know what to do to light the fire under the pants of an organization that has unfathomable bureaucracy. So, I simply forwarded the e-mail from the consulate to my contact in the UN telling her why I sent the e-mail, thanks for all their help, etc. Hopefully I’m not wearing out the person on the other side of my e-mails. I’ve tried to keep them light-hearted, to the point, and as few as possible. I only e-mail when I have an update and then I try to say “thanks, you’re awesome” as many times as I can. Hopefully she doesn’t hate me by now.

    Do you have any suggestions about how to compel an employment letter?

  • I’ve Figured it Out!

    On occasion, I’ve bemoaned the fact that I am probably the worst Texan ever. First, I don’t own cowboy hats or cowboy boots. Second, I’m terribly allergic to horses so I’ll never be able to rope or ride’em. But the final straw that often blows people’s minds around here–I just don’t get football.

    There are so many things about this game that just make no sense. Mind you, I understand in general terms what the rules are and the scoring system (why there are six points in a touchdown, I’ll never know). I even bothered once to research the origins of the game–it’s almost entirely artificial. Basically, one guy just sat around one day and decided to think up a game. The result was football. And everything about the game is largely arbitrary and capricious without a real root in human endeavor, behavior, or goals for excellence.

    Furthermore, the idea of a “team ethic” in football is absurd. There is not one team, there are two. When the ball starts to travel a different direction, an entirely new group of people come out to try to either make the ball move the new direction or to keep the ball from moving in that direction. They’re not even supposed to be on the field at the same time!

    So, there’s a lot that about teams on the old grid iron that I don’t get. But, today, I realized why I don’t think of football as an actual “sport”: there’s no discussion of skill. There’s often talk about statistics: catches made, yards rushed, speed, etc. But there’s not really a discussion of the technique of the actual playing of the game. In tennis, for example, the way one handles a serve or delivers a backhand is key–and the object of much conversation. In soccer, the skill and technique one develops to kick the ball into the goal is crucial. Even in baseball, the mechanics of a pitcher’s throw determines the type of pitch that he makes. In football, in contrast, no one seems to discuss what a player does apart from saying “he’s really good because (statistics).” This is the bulk of a football conversation. Sometimes I’ll hear someone say “tight spiral”…but generally only one person throws a football. It seems that a lot of what happens on the football field is about “getting done,” and not about the whys that caused it. That’s boring.

    So, when you look at football, what have you got? Two distinct groups of people under one banner with very different objectives, trying to work under a set of complex and completely arbitrary rules that have little human dimension.. There’s no discussion of the particular skills or reasons that anything in that game; it’s all about what did or didn’t happen. So that it’s it, in a nutshell: football = Congress. Now I feel like I can finally justify my disinterest in this lame-o sport.

    I do recognize that there are many people out there who do enjoy tossing pigskin (err…seeing OTHERS toss pigskin?), and I’m not trying to take that away from you. I’m just saying–YOU ARE DELUDED IN THINKING THAT THIS IS SOMETHING WORTHWHILE. But, in all sincerity, I am curious: What is appealing about football?

  • Unthwarted

    So, it appears that I got the internship, which is exciting news.

    But, it’s unleashed a new set of processes. I have to get a visa and marshal all the documents that the UN wants to see. It could take a while. The scariest thing is that I physically have to send away my passport for the visa so it can get a stamp or something. The idea of it getting lost is TERRIFYING, but that’s just the way it has to be.

    The good news, though, is that once that’s done, all I should have to do is hope on a plane and show up, get a security badge printed and put my nose to the grind. I’m hoping it will be a good–even if exhausing/not immediately rewarding experience.

    Also, tonight I made a vegetable Stromboli. It. was. delicious. (and unintentionally vegetarian!) When you get to a point where only butter and sausage/bacon will improve a dish, you’ve done most things right.

  • Matching

    Since I’m too cheap to buy a real cable package, I’ve been watching a lot of old TV game shows on the YouTubes. Mostly, it’s been episodes of the old Match Game and some Password. Apart from the abundant appearance of Betty White, the critical elements of both games is celebrities and trying to get other people to guess what’s been said. Making the match is the key to winning big.


    And when there is a match, it’s usually met with applause and fanfare. It’s a grand occasion. But, then there are times when a contestant gives a really crummy answer–an answer that is either too obscure or just not a lot a logical fit with the question. When that happens, sometimes the audience boos. Sometimes the host makes fun. In short, failing to make a match is to be avoided.

    Why is it that we like our “matches” so much? And, I should clarify, “match” is a broad concept–it’s not just about two, identical things as is required by those stickler judges in “Match Game.” It’s about two or more things going well together or fitting well together. For some reason, finding a match elicits a positive, aesthetic reaction. Whatever reasoning underlies the human psyche, things are just better when they’re not alone.

    As much as I love “Match Game,” and all the witty banter, the pervasive notion of matching doesn’t sit right with me. It may be because I resist any form of relationship in my life….mostly because I’m confident I could not endure the effort that a relation-ship requires. (Heck, I don’t think I could handle a realtion-canoe. Do they make realtion-water-wingies?).

    At the same time, though, I get it. I like having everything organized. And, the first rule of organization is: “like with like.” You put all of the things that are the most similar in function, color, or appearance together–you have to match them so that you can make sense of what’s all in the space. You need to make divisions so you have a better sense of the whole.

    And maybe that’s where matching’s allure lies: it puts things together in a way that sheds a light on what else is out there. When I have all my socks together I know that they’re not the same as my t-shirts or underwear even though these are all things that I wear. By putting my reference books together, I know where I can find how to make a proper citation without having to look through all (and there are a lot of them) the law school books I have.

    But, I think there’s a distinction to draw: what works for things might not work for people. Even if it’s generally good for things to be matched and organized, it might be equally good that people are not. So, while I can sit down and enjoy an episode of Match Game, cheer at the matches and boo and hiss at the rotten answers, I might also appreciate that not everything has to match.

    What about you? Do you like things to be “matched”? Do you think people need to be matched too?

  • Wish Me Luck

    As I may have mentioned, I have a “test” tomorrow about the role of the private sector in humanitarian assistance. The test follows from my candidacy to an intern position at the UN. I’ve been buried the past 36 hours in learning about humanitarian assistance, the changes in needs, and the recent trends in funding, involvement, and best practices.

    It’s been a lot.

    Part of the research required me to look at how the UN operates in this area. The UN has a bureaucracy like you wouldn’t believe! So many agencies, and then the all-important inter-agency standing committee (IASC), well, I ask, “Why must this be so complicated?” I don’t think it’s all that bad, it’s just a little daunting to a green outsider.

    Anyway, the internship is a very cool opportunity. It would be in the humanitarian affairs department, and if I’m doing stuff related to what I’ve been researching, it would provide great exposure to corporate best practices, dealing in an international setting, and seeing how different countries treat businesses (so far, there’s a big difference between the US view of a company and the more-international, “stakeholder” approach). Since I do have an interest in international law/estate planning (and I believe that these fields will only increasingly overlap in the future), this could be a wonderful opportunity.

    The test is written, online, and two hours. My goal is just to answer the question(s?!) coherently and intelligently. My sister has friend who worked at the UN. Among other helpful tidbits, she said that the goal of the test is probably to see if: (1) I can write; (2) I can convey knowledge about a subject area; and (3) think strategically about the subject area.

    So, wish me luck! I’d love to update yous guys on the results if teh Xangas are still around when I get the news. Now, it is time for sleep so that I can wake up and impress the pants off the lady in Geneva who will be grading my responses (but not in a creepy way…just in a “I really want to impress her” kind of way).

  • A Veritable Vortex of Potentially Life-Changing Information

    …is swarming me all at once!

    ***Disclaimer: the next few paragraphs are largely whiny. Then, they get very boring. End disclaimer. ***

    Having finished the nastiness of PC3, I figured I was all set to finish my final quarter this fall. I only have to take 10 hours to graduate, and I knew more or less how to spend them. There was some delay in getting the schedule out this quarter, but all in all I felt pretty good about my one post-PC quarter: that would leave me with a few months between graduating (at the beginning of November) and then taking the bar exam (end of February) to review and study (I couldn’t take this July because I wasn’t close enough with my hours).

    However, when the schedule FINALLY came out Monday, they weren’t offering remedies (and they had offered remedies every fall since I’ve been in law school!). So, now the soonest I can graduate is in February–which eliminates my nice study cushion before the bar. This especially sucks because everyone says remedies is almost just a waste of time. Everyone must take it, but it doesn’t do a whole lot (per popular opinion). I find this all very irritating, especially since I already had to get my capstone approval forms in. What’s doubly worse is that they usually have a projected schedule pretty far into the future so you can plan accordingly–not so for this fall. If I had known that remedies wouldn’t be offered, I could’ve planned things differently: I could have done an externship, taken a quarter off and done a full internship, maybe found some sort of short-term part-time job–SOMETHING. I feel like now I just have to twiddle my thumbs because most of the deadlines for the cool things for this fall have passed already. *SIGH*

    I’ve gotten the impression that if I explain the situation to either the associate dean or perhaps one of the instructors who teaches the course, that I may be able to do some sort of indpendent study or get them to offer the course (it’s required, so there are people who would take it when it’s offered, right?). So, that may also happen. I should talk to someone though.

    Then, this morning, I wake up to an e-mail in one of my gmail accounts that I don’t use that often. Apparently, my application for an internship at the UN was selected–which means…wait for it…that I am now officially qualified to take a TEST for further consideration! All this coming right after my exams! So, now, if I want to pursue the internship, I have to study the UN’s humanitarian affairs policy in the private sector if I really want the internship in Geneva, which I do. But, one week’s notice to impress people with my knowledge about a subject they know intimately is NOT a lot of time. What’s worse is that I have no idea how to go about researching that area…if anyone has any pointers, please let me know.

    So, with the possibility of that internship on the horizon, there’s a chance that I may not be here for the fall anyway. It would be nice to spend a couple of months in Geneva, even if the gig doesn’t pay (I have a place to stay–which will cost me many diaper changes and baby-sitting hours, but still it’s a place to stay), especially since I’d love to practice internationally (even if just doing sales contracts between Texas businesses and Mexican ones).

    But, if I don’t take remedies until the winter quarter (graduate in February), then I can also take taxation of corporations, which would complete the business transactions concentration, which means I could graduate with two concentrations (bizzy trannies and estate plannies). And, I think those two concentrations would put me in a good position to find work in some sort of transactional capacity, which is what I want to do.

    The other advantage to not graduating until February is that my student loans won’t be due until after I graduate–and, as you can imagine, it’s easier to find a job as a lawyer once you’ve passed the bar. So, while it’s not as soon as I’d like, it’s still manageable. Also, there really is no rush to graduate. Realistically, I have AT LEAST the next forty years of my life to work.

    In other news, I had two big exams today: Business Organizations II and Securities Regulation. I was all up in Rule 10b-5 today. So, that was a thrill (being very facetious). The first one wasn’t so bad. But, after taken one time-pressured, 2.5 hour exam, waking up at 6 after going to bed at 1 and not sleeping well during those five hours, when the second exam came at 2:00, I was EXHAUSTED after the first hour. Plus, I hadn’t studied the material correctly. I studied the right stuff, but I didn’t organize it by case name–I had organized in my brain according to the legal principle and which statute/SEC rule it fit under. So, when there were 12 questions on the exam that essentially asked for a mini-brief of specific cases, I could only do my best to remember. Luckily, there was a lot overlap between BizOrg2 and SecReg, so I was able to draw on BizOrg2 information to complete the SecReg exam.  But, sigh…I really could have done better on the second exam. There was no time pressure, but I just couldn’t retrieve the information I needed. *SIGH*

    This entry turned out longer than I thought. Apparently, there’s a lot on my mind. Maybe by putting it down I’ll sleep better tonight–which will be important if I need to be alert to study for that other damn test I didn’t know I would have.

    So, I put it to you: How should I plan the next few months in trying to get an internship/prepping for the bar/ending my law-school career/getting a job? How should I got about trying to put things together?