September 22, 2013

  • Thanatopsis

    Perhaps this post isn't so morbid as much as it is exploratory--like the difference between a colonectomy and a colonoscopy. One is much more serious than the other, but they both kind of stink. This is kind of whiny/down---but I really wrote it to ask the question at the end--so maybe just skip to there? I'm in the middle of exploring what "big issues" make people interact the way they do and how I relate/agree/differ from others on those points.

    Recently, I've discovered that, unlike many people, the idea of dying alone doesn't bother me. I don't remember why this came up, but it did. Maybe in the context of future plans/will you have a family/why don't you have any friends/something equally existential? Perhaps after drinking? But, it seems like many people try to fill their lives with people to avoid the lonely-death scenario. I don't get it. And, in a recent trend, I've decided to stop buying into/accepting premises that I don't understand.

    SOOOOoooo, all that said, there's actually not much more to say. Oh, except that I've embraced the possibility that I might die alone--maybe in a nursing home, maybe not. That'll depend on how fast Alzheimer's sets in and how fast I can spend down my assets, create a Medicaid plan, etc. That is, presuming I don't have a sudden and traumatic emergency that otherwise leaves me permanently breathless.

    To be clear: the idea of dying painfully is still upsetting and is something to be avoided. But, dying alone, in an empty room/house, even messing myself in the process, not so much. The end of life is as much a part of the life cycle has the beginning and the middle.

    Meh. Maybe my parents just raised an independent child?

    I am curious, though, why, if you have this fear, is the idea of dying alone loathsome/a factor worth motivating current conduct?

September 18, 2013

  • 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?

September 15, 2013

  • 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?

September 5, 2013

  • 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.

August 1, 2013

  • 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?

July 30, 2013

  • 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).

July 25, 2013

  • A Veritable Vortex of Potentially Life-Changing Information 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?

July 15, 2013

  • Some Feelings

    There are some feelings I really don't understand. In one context, I'm left feeling disgusted or perverted. But, in a very similar context, what would otherwise be the same experience leaves me feeling quite different.

    Lately, I've a had a problem with beetles. Big, black, iridescent ones have been crawling about my apartment lately. They don't normally bother me. For the most part, they walk in erratic circles on the tiled floor, occasionally bumping into a wall or cabinet. As long as they leave me alone, I'm content to leave them too. There is pesticide about my apartment, so they don't live long--they might as well enjoy what's left of their short, buggy lives.

    But, sometimes they do bother me. When I say "bother me," I mean "touch me." The other day while I was studying at the kitchen table, one of the little buggers bumped up against my bare foot. That was enough. I got a paper towel to "wipe the floor with him," certainly metaphorically and possibly literally. I folded the paper towel half. From the little guy's perspective it must have seemed like a gargantuan sheet descending from the sky. But, this sheet is not the restful kind that makes dreams sweet and mornings pleasant. This is a shroud of terror to end the beetle's existence.

    As the double-layer of paper towel is increasingly the only barrier between me and that shiny exoskeleton, I begin to feel a little uncomfortable. As I wrap my fingers around what is surely a beetle in survival mode, the power of my digits seem fatefully weighty. My fingers close tighter and tighter. A whisper of a crunch halts the advance. There, tidily wrapped up for eternal slumber, the dead beetles gets dumped into the garbage can.

    This exercise of power over another living thing often causes me a nihilistic fit. Fair or not, right of wrong, I have the ability to destroy another life. My actions will have eternal consequences. This beetle will no longer exist. The disproportionality between the act (squishing) and the consequences (non-existence) usually makes me feel unsettled. Usually. Earlier tonight I had a much difference experience.

    My general disdain for all creatures Blattidae has been well documented here in the Xangas. It's no secret that cockroaches make my blood boil. Simply put, I hate them. They make me angry. When I see one in my home I just. feel. dirty. Like some sort of crack-stitute surviving in a dilapidated structure with no other option but to embrace the surroundings and all the arthropods that come with it.  Well, that's not me. I am no crack-stitute. Accordingly, when I saw an American cockroach crawling with its tiny little hairs-for-feet all up on the mini blinds in my kitchen, something inside me flipped.

    I should remind you: where I live, we have several different kinds of cockroaches--two of which can grow to more than three inches or so long. It takes a different kind of energy to battle this kind of tiny monster. They're more resilient than their smaller counterparts, and they seem faster since their longer legs can cover more ground more quickly. And the bigger ones will fly in desperate--and sometimes successful--attempt to save their lives. Seeing the chaos and flutter on the wings of such a disgusting creature creates a memory not easily forgotten.

    So, the stage was set. My American friend covered in his pre-historic armor. I armed with a roll of newspaper. As far as terrain, he clearly had the upper hand: not only was he in a position with lots of nooks and crannies where he could squish and squeeze himself, he was more than 2/3 up the wall. If he took flight, he likely would land outside my reach faster than I could react. So, my first move had to get him to an open space.

    The first flick of my roll failed. The roach scrambled behind the mini blind, which I quickly pulled open. The roach was caught off guard and missed his landing. This was his fatal error. He landed on the window sill, before he had a chance to crawl back through whatever crevice whence he came, I flicked him to the kitchen floor.

    The first blow from my newspaper merely stunned him. After a period of vibration that lasted no more than a split-second, he suffered the second blow. As I raised the newspaper, I lifted up legs and smears of cream-colored roach guts with it. Most of the body lied on the floor, held there by what was once held inside. The newspaper came down again, again, again. The roach was dead, but I wasn't satisfied.

    Instead of the beetle scenario, the cockroach stirred up a much different set of emotions. I felt the need to kill. Maybe the difference is in a squeeze in contrast to a whack. Maybe it's about the sense of standoff between man and beast. I don't know. In the first circumstance I was a little sadder after the ordeal. In the second, I was energized.

    Killing an insect should be as mundane as it sounds. But, here, there was more at work. My brain has constructed very different responses to what is essentially the same thing: ending a bug. This baffles me. I wonder how many other feelings my brain-filter distorts?

    What about you? Do you ever react in dramatically different ways to essentially the same scenario?

July 12, 2013

  • Il a fait longtemps...

    ...mais, maintenant j'ai l'opportunite de m'exprimer comme je dois...


    I have nothing profound or interesting to share, so here's a spontaneous collection of Friday tidbits:

    This afternoon I found myself rather down without explanation. It's not even that time of the month! (FYI: It's never that time of the month, since I don't have the right equipment (FYI: when I say "equipment" I mean ovaries, a uterus, and the whole bit (FYI: I don't have the right equipment because I'm male (FYI: this ever-developing parenthetical is an attempt at an absurdist-type joke (Get it?)))).

    Before my negotiations class, I wrote on the board: "An obscene and offensive comment." Nobody seemed to get it.

    I made a really good gazpacho Andaluz to go with my pizza, beer, and salad tonight. #stilleatsalone

    My youngest brother has really long hair. There is a big part of me that wants me to let my hair grow out just to out "do" him.

    A couple weeks ago, Professor Bird (named change for privacy) called on me in class. I didn't do well--I missed the point of the case (we were supposed to see that the standard for getting a jury trial despite a waiver is really the same in civil and criminal courts, but I read it as a pathway for getting a jury trial even when a lawyer messes up). ANYWAY, I needed to unwind from the week, so I went to see "The Heat," but I snuck some pocket shots into the movies with me. After I had about two "dranks" that I mixed with my over-priced soda, I saw Professor Bird and his wife walking up the aisle to take their seats at the movie. For one, you don't want to see your PC professor at the movies. For two, you don't want your PC professor to know that you sneak alcohol into the movies. For three, I had performed badly that day. For four, you don't want to see your PC professor at the movies. I was waiting to be assigned a memo after the movie that discussed all the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment  (and possibly 14th due-process) violations that Melissa McCarthy's character committed during the course of the movie. Luckily, that didn't happen.

    I bought an orchid on clearance a couple weeks ago. The first bud has started to open. It should be fully open tomorrow afternoon. #goodinvestment

    My life is frightfully boring know, apart from the constant fear. #joysofpracticecourt

    I think I'm going to apply for a position at the UN. If anyone knows anyone in either New York or Geneva who works for the UN, tell them what a wonderful person I am AND that I would be a great asset at the UN.

    Sometimes I feel like I was more of a grownup when I was 20 than I am now. Sometimes I feel like if I went back to talk to my 15-year-old self, he would be disappointed with me. Actually, I'm certain he would be.

    I've decided children should be taxed. That is, there should tax liability on parents for having children--probably tiered to income. I also believe that no one under 18 should have to pay income taxes.

    I found a recliner that I really liked that was priced well on Craigslist. Unfortunately, I'm too neurotic to make the call to see if it's still available.

    Lately, I've been fascinated by my ability to believe things that I know are objectively not true. If only I had the clarity of perspective of the guano collector from Lord Jim!

    I don't know how I feel about Xanga possibly shutting down. On the one hand, this has been an important place for me. On another, I feel like leaning here in some way keeps me stunted.

May 1, 2013

  • I Knew It Was Summer

    I have a habit of escaping to my parents' lake house at the end of each quarter to change my scenery a little and study. It's quiet there and a little more secluded. I don't have to worry about sirens going off at night, or my car getting rummaged through. It's just far enough away from civilization to "reset," and far enough from where I live to make a trip out of it. The end of this quarter was a beautiful time to make the drive.

    It's been unusually cool for this time of year here. I can't complain. The air's freshness only made the soft, cool cerulean of the bluebonnets melt into the same-colored sky. The bluebonnets and coral-colored Indian paintbrushes meandering through the patches evening primroses created a lovely moment. These pastel-dressed fields--dotted with emblematic Angus, Herefords, and the occasional longhorn--marked the distances between the small towns as I drove  home through Central Texas Saturday.

    However, an aestival harbinger occasionally disrupted these vernal vistas. I was not the only traveler along the hundred-mile stretch of back roads. But, these curious travelers didn't travel the roads, but across them. Between towns, and hills, and the soft-dressed meadows, one wanderer foretells the approach of sweltering heat. As the proverbial canary in the mineshaft, it is not its life that is the most telling, but its death.

    Yes, the beguiling armadillo. It's a tiny tank on the constant prowl for the insects that nourish it. It's an unassuming character in the Texas landscape: it scuttles and digs and rarely concerns itself with what happens a foot above it...that is, until it's too late. The armadillo has a terrible habit of jumping straight up when frightened. Often, finding that a car has straddled over you suddenly is a reason for fright. The process becomes scuttle, rumble, bust. Thus it has been, thus it will be. And that's how I knew it was summer.

    Seeing the dead little buggers on the side of the road like overinflated, legged footballs means that summer is here--which would suggest a reason to celebrate. But, unfortunately, dead armadillos are never the end of the scene. Alongside, feeding on the fleshy, crimson treasure within the armored hull were the vultures, dark and looming. They basked in the misfortune of the literally run-down and dis-heartened. And suddenly I remembered my professors. And my exams.

    Alas, two are now done. The third will be the hardest. It's sobering to remember that 5-10% of students every quarter don't pass one of the exams. I'm praying fervently that I am not in their number. Also studying. But, there are definitely prayers that go up during the study breaks.