if justice is blind... Sua Sponte
My law school odyssey: three years, three time zones and beyond.


G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

It's easy to sink into excess and hard to overcome a bad habit. As the Stars begin to transition into a new pattern, it's time to look around and eliminate what's disagreeable from your lifestyle. Don't become overly dependent on a resource that might soon vanish. Your future lies well beyond the world of instant gratification and short-term gain. Putting your priorities in order is a good place to start. Even if it's as simple as cleaning up the kitchen or straightening up your bedroom, you've got to start somewhere. Start small and work your way up to more important issues.

thus spake /jca @ 10:55 PM...

Overheard: a guy on his way out of the room where I was studying was talking about how excited he was to be working for a judge this summer. My ears perked up at the mention of one case the judge had worked on, and then, when he mentioned another, I intruded on the conversation.

"Which judge is this?"

He named the one in whose chambers I'd interviewed a week ago.

"And you're working for him this summer?"


"That's awesome!" I told the guy as he left the room.

Guess I'm not.

thus spake /jca @ 12:38 PM...

Best Google hit I've had in weeks: "rent an elephant Michigan."

thus spake /jca @ 12:01 PM...


Waaah, it's a vast left-wing conspiracy!

Subject: sign today! [Student council] supports diversity in higher education

Last night at the [student council] meeting, the general body passed a resolution in support of diversity in higher education, and encourages all students to sign the petition now in the lobby of [building].

The deadline to sign is 3:30PM. The signed petitions will be express mailed to the sponsors of the Amicus Brief this afternoon.

It's not so simple as politely declining and walking away, unfortunately. If I were another anonymous 1L, unaffiliated with the tablefolks except as a passerby, I could get away with some response other than absence or invisibility. But explicitly refusing to sign the petition will put me in an uncomfortable position on my journal, whose lead editors are spearheading the petition effort. (I meant no disrespect by "usual suspects," but rather intended to imply that these exact individuals tend to be the ones invariably responsible for just such activities as these.) The time will certainly come for us to part ways, but it hasn't yet.

I guess what bothers me is the purely unilateral viewpoint being aired here, along with the fact that I've painted myself into such an ideological corner that I'm in a poor position to protest it. My politics aren't neatly packaged; there are occasions on which I'm sure an honest airing of my worldview would offend the Federalist Society folks as much as my thoughts on admissions discrimination would bother my journal colleagues. I guess I just see a fundamental incompatibility between dogma and dialogue, which is why it bothers me that the school seems to have wholeheartedly espoused the former on this issue.

thus spake /jca @ 1:16 PM...


From a mass email to the student body at my school:

Subject: Support diversity nationwide by signing petition here!

Students will be tabling with this petition beginning this Thursday. All students are welcome to sign. Please remember to bring your student ID and be prepared to show it.

The case, Grutter v. Bollinger 288 F.3d 732, will be reviewed by the Supreme Court this term. Join an unprecedented effort to help shape American law on an issue that will directly affect us all--the use of race in the higher education admissions process. The Supreme Court will review the claim of a white woman who was not admitted to the University of Michigan law school who has challenged all race-based admissions criteria. Students at Georgetown University Law School prepared an amicus brief and ask us to sign a petition in support of the brief. Students are circulating this petition at over 80 law schools across the country, and that number is growing. An amicus brief of this nature has never been submitted on behalf of as many law students as we will gather through this effort. With your help, we will make our voices heard and impact this important issue.

Prof. Julie O'Sullivan, of Georgetown Law, serves as Counsel of Record. Prof O'Sullivan clerked for Justice O'Connor at the time the Justice issued her opinion in Wygant (which recognized that diversity has been held to be a compelling governmental interest in the context of higher education). Because O'Connor is likely the decisive vote on this issue, we are very pleased and excited that Prof. O'Sullivan will submit this brief along with Prof. Peter Rubin (a former Souter clerk and constitutional law scholar). In order to insure the integrity of the signature process, only students who have identification at ABA approved law schools will be signing on the amicus brief. The signed petitions must be in the mail on January 31, 2003. Gretchen Rohr, a student at Georgetown University Law School, is centerposting the effort. Her email is: gnr@law.georgetown.edu

From the Brief: INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE A group of 2000+ [final number to be inserted] current law students at ABA-accredited American law schools submits this brief as amici curiae in support of Respondents Lee Bollinger, et al., urging the Court to affirm the Sixth Circuit's judgment that the promotion of diversity in higher education is a compelling governmental interest and that the consideration of race as one factor among many in admissions determinations is a permissible means of furthering diversity. As current law students at accredited law schools across the country, amici are uniquely positioned to comment on the benefits accrued from diversity in legal education and will be uniquely affected by this decision of the Court. Amici believe that a racially diverse student body provides invaluable educational benefits. Amici organized for the sole purpose of expressing to the Court the educational benefits derived from learning among and from students of varied ethnic and racial backgrounds. Listed among the signatories are White, African-American, Latino, Asian-Pacific-Islander, Native American, and Arab-American law students, men and women, from ___ of the 186 ABA accredited law schools in this country.

From another mass email (why stop at one?):

Please stop by the table in the lobby of [building] to sign the petition supporting continued diversity in law school admissions criteria. The Supreme Court, as you may know, will hear the challenge to the remaining vestiges of diversity in the Grutter v. Bollinger case very soon.

The petition supports the respondents, the University of Michigan. Your signature will go to the Supreme Court, attached to the amicus brief being filed by students at Georgetown University. The brief is at the table, and also on an easel in the lobby. Eighty ABA accredited law schools are participating. The petitions must be sent via express mail on Thursday afternoon, so don't miss your chance!

The students running the table are the usual suspects--the same folks who run the campus NLG chapter and the journal on which I work. The lobby in which they've set up camp is one of the most highly-trafficked areas of the campus, not to mention hardest to avoid if you're in a rush (which we commuter students frequently are).

It has not been an easy week to hide from my colleagues, who beyond question expect me -- along with everyone else on the journal, in their social circle, etc. -- to sign the petition. The political bent of the school is such that most of my 1L friends have, most likely, already signed. I know we have a Federalist Society chapter somewhere, but they've been conspicuously silent of late in the face of so much activism.

The tablepeople pegged me this morning, as I arrived at the building en route to Property. "Later," I said over my shoulder with a wave as I bolted down the hall to the elevator, cursing myself for walking right through the front door rather than remembering to go around to the side. I'd really rather not announce myself in such stark ideological opposition to people with whom I work, at least if I can avoid it, for as long as the work is of value to me. I'm not so much a coward as an opportunist; still, there are times galore when I envy the candor of the Angry Clam...

The petition gets mailed out tomorrow, and I'll remember which door to use in the interim. Maybe I'm just passive aggressive at heart.

thus spake /jca @ 9:09 PM...

I had a remarkable meeting yesterday with Professor Crim, much of which I'm still trying to parse.

For roughly an hour we talked, concluding early on that he'd be willing to review my exam with me once the Records office finally got around to redistributing the wealth (currently bluebooks are sitting in a box somewhere). He tried first to disabuse me of any belief I might harbor that a review meeting would actually help.

"It's like diagnosing a soft tissue injury," he said. (He is apparently as fond of nasty metaphor as I am.) "I can examine, I can palpate, but at the end of the day I might not be able to tell you anything more valuable than to take two aspirin and give it rest."

I insisted that I would find his feedback useful, even if the only problems were unspotted issues. I needed to improve my consistency on these tests. Every little bit would help.

"You're looking for an algorithm," he nailed me. "There is no algorithm."

And from that point on -- for the next forty-five minutes or so -- we talked a roller coaster. We argued whether practice exams made a difference, whether there were valuable modeling lessons to be learned from sample answers. He told me that mimicry of previous successful responses never worked as well as an "organic" answer "experience"; I disagreed. He told me that grades were contingent in vast part on professorial caprice, insisting that even if he wrote a model answer for one question, it would still provide no indication of what he would value in response to a different question. "Could you tell me why you fell in love with the men you've fallen in love with?" he asked me, and then, perhaps in response to my jaw hitting the floor, revised his question: "Could you tell me why you prefer your favorite foods, or whether you'll like a particular type of food?"

Of course I could. "If something is extraordinarily spicy, I'll probably like it," I responded, "and if it's especially saccharine, I probably won't. Clearly it's not possible to predict with 100% accuracy what someone will like *best*, but it's simply false to say that observable preferences can't be established by trend analysis."

He changed his tack, telling me now that exams tested neither command of the substantive law nor even test-taking skills. "We test judgment," he intoned, going on to tell me how good his was and how little he understood of why it was so. "I'd bottle it and sell it and be rich!" he concluded of his own mojo.

I realized that I would have had no idea what I was getting myself into, had I successfully bid on a day in the wine country with this person.

"And that's why," he continued, shifting back away from self-congratulation, "going over exams can only help up to a certain point. You either have good judgment or you don't. What if I came to you and said, JCA, I have really poor judgment, what should I do? What would you tell me?"

It's tough to tell when Professor Crim is being rhetorical versus when he actually expects a response. "Set priorities," I responded tentatively, "and make all of your decisions with an eye to context."

"I've tried all that, and nothing works! What do you tell me?"

I raised my eyebrows and blinked at him.

"There isn't much you can tell someone," he concluded with a flourish.

More was said that hardly bears recounting; I finally pried myself out of his office by realizing out loud that I was (truthfully) twenty minutes late for Moot Court. We could have gone on.

It feels no less strange in the retelling. I suppose it doesn't help that I'm a compulsive talker; I didn't do poorly enough on his exam to stun myself into silence as with Torts. I wonder what our exam review session will actually be like. On one hand, he's also a compulsive talker, and unlike Professor Contracts has no hangups about seeing his time wasted. On the other hand, he seems convinced in advance that he can offer no substantive advice from which I could profit on future exams.

I still would argue that it's worth a shot -- and probably will wind up arguing exactly that, when the time comes.

thus spake /jca @ 7:50 PM...


Not a peep from Hizzoner's chambers since they beheld the albatross. No news is good news, I guess. Or maybe they haven't yet stopped laughing.

I wound up submitting four resumes to the public-interest drop, eschewing the lesbian activists, AIDS victims and battered women in favor of two family law projects, a mental-health organization, and the state bar association. I had a resume packet ready for the one Department of Justice recruiter who had expressed an interest in hiring 1L's, only to find out that they'd apparently changed their minds since last week.

I'll be interested to see what comes of this, if anything...

thus spake /jca @ 3:09 PM...


Professor Contracts was about as helpful as I'd feared he might be.

"I called the dean of students, and asked him if a letter was really necessary," he told me. "And apparently people just pencil in their midterm grades on their transcripts all the time. There's no need for professors to say anything about midterm grades."

I unsuccessfully attempted to keep my eyes from bugging out.

"I don't think there's any reason to be so paranoid," he said, correctly reading my face. "They'll believe you if you tell them that this is really your grade."

"And you don't think it would carry more weight coming from you?" I begged.

"By no means," he said crisply, giving me the evil pixie smile.

I thanked him for his time and left the office chewing on the insides of my cheeks, wondering how in the hell I managed to pull my best grade in a class so utterly bereft of goodwill. And I faxed off the agonizing transcript this afternoon on a wing and a prayer, fronted with a cover letter self-identifying both my utterly modest Civ Pro grade and the fact that I was one of three people in a ninety-person section to top out in Contracts. Should they disbelieve me, they can always call the dean of students.

thus spake /jca @ 6:49 PM...


A fistful of Northern California law schools, every spring, host a daylong interview/schmoozefest for public interest groups to seek out free labor while high-minded students jockey for Work That Really Matters so that they can Make A Difference according to plan. Resume drop for the event is this Tuesday.

I have no guarantee that any judge will engage me this summer, and my chances at a firm job are even slimmer given the near-universal reliance on 1L transcripts as a barometer of individual potential. (Assuming I were interested in a firm job anyway, something that has never really struck my fancy.) So it seemed worth my while to take a shot at contention in the public interest meat market.

There are a few bona fide government jobs on the list, all of which regrettably ask for a transcript (and most of which would require camping in a rented room in DC or Sacramento for more weeks than I'd like to spend apart from my husband). But the vast majority of organizations in search of fresh chuck are the ones who exist to Really Matter and Make A Difference, folks who would turn up their noses and disown any association with me if they ever got wind of my voting record.

I enlisted my husband's aid, figuring that he and I would at least have a good laugh at the activists' expense. Unfortunately, he turned out to be of little help; I'd call out the name of an organization and barely manage to roll my eyes before he'd say "Hmm, that could be interesting."

Way to make me look like the bad-attitude queen.

"Understand," I tried to explain to my husband, who was bewildered at my lack of interest in activism, "I'm looking for something uplifting this summer. Something to remind me why I'm doing this."

"Come on!" he insisted, flipping through several organizations. "How is this not uplifting? You're helping battered women, people with AIDS..."

I opened my mouth to try to explain to him how surrounding myself with other people's misery would only make me unhappier than I already refuse to admit that I am. Whatever came out certainly failed to illustrate this point, if it made any sense at all. "Why are you asking my opinion then?" he sputtered, exasperated, and retreated back to the study.

"I thought you and I could laugh over this," I called after him, but nobody was laughing.

Maybe it's just not funny.

thus spake /jca @ 7:33 PM...

Google hits of the day: "bad 1L grades" and "should I quit law school?"

thus spake /jca @ 6:04 PM...



Forgive me, but there's this big -- albatross -- thing hanging from my neck...

I was happily stoked for the interview, my first in at least a year (even counting pitch meetings). All of the reasonably dressy business clothes gathering dust in my closet are at least a size too large for me now, so Wednesday afternoon saw me flitting about the mall, trying on about two dozen appropriately black pantsuits before alighting on the Anne Klein at Bloomingdale's. The saleslady attempted to sell me a baby-blue shell to wear underneath it. I had to draw the line somewhere, though; no one with my coloring should wear baby-blue in public, and if that meant flying in the face of fashion I was (as usual) fine with that.

This afternoon I skipped Edie, as planned, and came home a few hours early in time to paint on my Interview Face and suit up. Usually I wear a gold bracelet to interviews for luck, a gift from my late father, but today I had another idea. The saleslady at Ann Taylor, while rhapsodizing over an ensemble I wound up not buying, had suggested accessorizing it with pearls. Why not? I thought. I was an older student and might as well look the part. I happen to own some actual pearls, a choker that my father and stepmother had given me when I graduated college; I phoned my mother to make sure that they were appropriate to wear to an interview, and when she wasn't home, decided to just go for it.

I didn't actually meet the judge. Hizzoner was elsewhere and went largely unmentioned in the interview, which consisted of me, two clerks, and the chambers' administrative assistant. I submitted my public obscenity memo as a writing sample, which had the desired icebreaker effect ("So tell me, were you nervous sending out a writing sample with all these words in it?"), and found myself smiling more naturally than I had all last semester. The room was full of Federal Reporters, but they had the effect of making me feel quite at home.

All was going smashingly until the administrative assistant told the clerks that it was time to wrap things up, and--

"Do you have a copy of your transcript with you?"

*blink blink*

[imagine photo of me, pearls and all, in your dictionary next to the word "crestfallen"]

"I don't, I'm sorry," I made the best save I could, although suddenly the smile was plastic again.

"Okay, you can fax it in to us, as soon as possible please."

I left the chambers bearing Hizzoner's fax number on a sticky note. The security guards, who had flirted with me as I came in through their metal detector, attempted to do so again, but now it was no longer amusing. The sidewalk outside the federal building was cluttered with a group of protesters waving signs: HONK FOR PEACE! END THE WAR ON TERRORISM! I thought about losing out on the opportunity to work with a judge whose politics I actually shared, just because of Torts, Torts, stupid Torts. And I was nauseous.

I did not honk for peace as I drove away.

"You need a letter from Professor Contracts," advised my husband, upon hearing of my dilemma.

"My Contracts grade doesn't even show up on my transcript," I groaned. "Neither does Civ Pro, although that's not such a problem...still, I figured I'd just pencil them in anyway..."

"You need Professor Contracts to go on record saying you got the top grade in the class." He was firm. "You totally need this."

"How can I get a letter of recommendation from him over the weekend?" It was five o'clock on a Friday, and he had almost certainly gone home, where even if I knew his number I would utterly lack the nerve to phone him.

"Shit, just have him sign a piece of paper that you've written yourself," my husband said.

I may have to do just that.

I've never had to deal with an albatross before. Up until now, I have looked uniformly good on paper. My interviewing crapshoot came not in the impression-making stage, but in the do-we-mesh phase after the first ten or fifteen minutes of the interview. Now there's this big obtrusive thing hanging there, and past experience has left me utterly unprepared to cope with it. Do you hide an albatross? Do you acknowledge it and then quickly follow on with a yes-but? Do you just leave it hang and hope that the other guy doesn't mention it, that he's as embarrassed by it as you are?

thus spake /jca @ 6:24 PM...

I didn't win the wine-tasting with Professor Crim. When bidding reached the price range of a night at a bed and breakfast in Mendocino, I weighed my options and decided that I'd rather save my money and just ask the guy for a recommendation during his office hours. If it should come to that.

Interview this afternoon, 4 pm. I'll be deliberately skipping class (Edie) for the first time since starting law school. Whee!

thus spake /jca @ 9:47 AM...


G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

You can't stop looking around for a way to escape now. Everyone can see that there's only one way out, and that's forward. Time passes more easily if you care about what you're doing. Give yourself an incentive -- that carrot on the end of your stick should be bright and juicy. Whatever happens, don't let the crowd make you question your abilities. Your positive attitude combined with your more-than-adequate skills are all you need to finish the job.

thus spake /jca @ 8:55 PM...

The public interest law club at my school runs an annual benefit auction, proceeds from which provide stipends to students employed in summer public interest positions which would otherwise be unpaid. (As far as I know you can't get one if you work for a judge.) This year's affair starts in about two hours.

I donated a lasagna (actually a future lasagna upon request) to the silent auction, but am a good deal more excited about bidding in the live auction. Professor Crim, in whose class I did solidly enough to be able to request a letter of recommendation without shame, has donated "A Day of Voluntary Intoxication" -- a tour of the Napa Valley in his Boxster with him as the chauffeur/designated driver. "Oh no," groaned my husband upon hearing this. "Don't spend too much money."

Fortunately, I haven't yet had to worry about letters of recommendation. I've gotten two interview requests thus far from the first batch of packets I sent out to judges last week (apparently the binder clips in no way hindered my applications), neither of which was predicated upon a professor expressing support for me. I like it better that way, frankly, and would skip the letters of recommendation altogether if I didn't know how ultimately necessary they were. Alas, they're *that* necessary.

Still, even if nothing comes of it, I'll bid this afternoon just for kicks. Going tasting with Professor Crim has got to be its own experience. But I am glad that it's only Napa, glittery touristy nearby Napa, and not my magical retreat up in Mendocino where no one from my law school world is allowed to tread...

thus spake /jca @ 3:34 PM...


Devils 5, Sharks 4 in overtime.

I realized midway through the game that it hadn't even occurred to me once to root for the Devils. While I may be an unwilling Californian, I am now officially no longer a New Jerseyan (assuming I still had any claim to the title in the first place).

Stupid way for the Sharkies to lose, too. (Not to mention how disappointed I was that they played whatsisface-Kiprusoff instead of *my* goalie, Nabokov, whose literary surname is only part of the reason for my affections.) At least they scored four goals, though, which meant that our tickets were each good for a personal single-topping Round Table Pizza.

thus spake /jca @ 10:46 PM...

Another for the list of Law School Firsts (which, apparently, do continue into the second semester): I was, for the first time, called on in class without actually volunteering for same.

Professor Property nailed me on Charrier v. Bell, a case where a bumbling amateur archeologist -- although not so bumbling as to have failed to excavate two and a half tons of Native American artifacts from someone else's private property -- was blown off by the Louisiana Court of Appeals when he attempted to claim title to the artifacts. I had read the case last week, back before heading off to heaven for the weekend. This was to be a test of how well my Revised Second Semester Study Habits would endure an actual Socratic fisking.

I've stopped briefing cases, more or less. I still have my cute little briefs database, but instead of wasting potential sleep time attempting to apply my own filters to the cases I read, I populate the database with notes gleaned directly from class discussion. Obviously this approach isn't optimized for when I'm the one being called on, but since my section is still upwards of ninety people, most of the time it should work.

Still, this represented not only the first time I'd been cold-called, but also the first time I'd been cold-called without a case brief in front of me.

I did passably, I suppose, although as soon as I looked down at my casebook in search of an answer Professor Property moved on to C. to my left. The two of us finished off the case and then, either because we'd done so well as Socratic victims or because our performance had been so wanting, we found ourselves the main characters in a string of hypos. "Let's say JCA picks up a property casebook right in the middle of [intersection near our school]. She doesn't know to whom it belongs. Does she own it now? And let's say she gives it to C. to hold for her, and C. chooses not to give it back. Who owns it now? And let's say that it was actually V.'s casebook all along, and he realizes this when he sees C. and JCA arguing over it, but before he can claim it, J. grabs it out of C.'s hands and runs off with it. Now who owns it?"

We all came away from the class having learned two valuable lessons: one, that abandonment of property involves intent for title to transfer to the finder, and two, that indicia of ownership are key if you ever hope to recover anything you've lost.

thus spake /jca @ 3:04 PM...


Tuesdays this semester are not so bad as Thursdays were last semester. They don't start full throttle and power straight through the next eight hours, for one thing. Even though Tuesdays do begin early (I've taken to calling the 7:38 "the sunrise train," since that's what I'm usually watching on my walk up Evelyn Avenue to the train station), there's a break for lunch, then two usable hours between Edie and Moot Court. There's time enough to get work done, and when I'm getting work done I escape the sense that my time is being wasted, at least by anyone except myself.

Tuesdays this semester are not so bad as Thursdays were last semester, since I now have Moot Court instead of El-Dubyar. Moot Court has everything El-Dubyar lacked: an ostensibly sensible grading rubric (who can argue with pass-fail?), a mellow instructor and five mellow TA's, class time spent thus far on issues of actual procedural import -- *gasp* could I be learning something in a non-GPA seminar? -- and, most importantly, efficient research methods.

Although I must admit that last night, following so close on the heels of my sublime retreat weekend, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw were not my friends. "Am Jur," I told them gently, "trespass to chattels." They protested. "Am Jur!" I insisted. They nudged each other and winked. "Trespass to chattels!" I begged them, lapsing into cryptic terms like /2 and /s. Lexis finally folded and showed me the damned article, while Westlaw continued to wink at me. Although Westlaw did eventually decide to share a stack of law review articles with me, after Lexis decided she'd had enough of me for the evening. In the end, I emerged with a passable research log, but my Route 128 zen had been mangled beyond recognition.

Near tears, I ranted repeatedly to my husband as we nursed big bowls of ramen. "All of last semester, just wasted," I groaned. "Other students got their passwords last semester. We, on the other hand, got hazed. And now we're paying for it, with just a handful of hours to figure out everything we should have spent last semester perfecting."

He had retained a bit more zen than I had (helped in part by a stopoff at the Japanese Tea Garden), and helpfully attempted to distract me. "Yeah, but this is the skill you'll keep," he said. "Mmmm, tonight we'll sleep on our mattress," he said. "Hey," he said, "Luca is really soft."

But that was Monday night, which dissolved effortlessly into Tuesday, and thankfully Tuesdays this semester are better than Thursdays were last semester. I only wish that they started...just...a little bit...later.


thus spake /jca @ 10:31 PM...


to heaven, and back...

We had the fortune to find ourselves in Elk, California (pop. 250) beneath an expansive full moon. The bustling metropolis of Elk features not a single street light, but we neither needed nor missed them under the incredible moon shadows. Our cottage sat astride a bluff about twenty yards above sea level, with a mildly precipitous path leading downward to a stone-encrusted beach strewn with giant logs. How did logs get on the beach, particularly logs four and five feet in diameter? Coastal redwoods leveled in mudslides? We had no idea. I dreamed of massive bonfires, and so, apparently, did the moon.

Breakfast featured, among other things, a treasure called Morning Pie whose recipe I could not leave without:

2 cups cottage cheese
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp grated orange rind
1 Tbs orange juice
1/4 tsp orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cottage cheese with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour into a 9" pie plate sprayed with Pam. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean. Refrigerate overnight; serve chilled next morning. Freezes great also. Serves 6.
(Recipe courtesy of David the Innkeeper, Elk Cove Inn.)

To reach Elk you cross the Golden Gate Bridge and shoot northward on the 101 all the way up through Sonoma County. Past Healdsburg, right when the towns start getting truly quaint (better had pack all the Tylenol et al. that you'll require, since the last chain drugstore you'll see is in Cloverdale), you ease off of 101 onto a road called the 128, which bears absolutely no resemblance to its eponymous Boston analog. This 128 swings around for about six or seven miles in some crazy-ass hairpin turns before depositing you, vaguely queasy at this point, in front of the Entering Mendocino County road sign.

From there the road runs parallel to the Anderson River through what I'm pretty sure is California's northernmost wine-producing region. The cute, if slightly ghosty, towns of Yorkville and Boonville slip past before you look around and realize that you're breathing deeply and everything is...just...perfect. By the town of Philo, as you pass the Roederer champagne cellars, you're grinning. And when you come upon the sign reading "Navarro, pop. 67," hopping out of the car for a quick photograph is an irresistable temptation.

There's a Navarro Vineyards as well, south of Philo, where the tasting room is lazily patrolled by a dachshund named Simon. I adore dachshunds even when sober, and after tasting at Husch and Roederer already, I was ready to hug the dog straight into the A4 and cuddle him all the way back up to the inn. Alas, Miss Kitty, the official guardian of the patio outside our cottage, likely would have objected, so Simon stayed at Navarro (where you can purchase a T-shirt featuring an artist's rendition of Simon standing on his front paws, balancing a bottle of Gewürztraminer on his nose).

Between Navarro and the ocean lies the Navarro Redwoods State Park, inside which it is wholly impossible to harbor any discontent with anything, period. "Camp only in designated areas," mildly threatens a brown sign at the entrance to the park. The trees are slightly scary, much bigger than ordinary trees, silvery-reddish-green with bark and moss and needles and more moss. Perhaps they suspected that I had entertained dreams of bonfires featuring their shipwrecked cousins. Even so, they still welcomed us completely.

And then the ocean. This is my ocean, this is the Pacific I'm supposed to live near. It is not steel-gray and furious like the ocean in Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz; this ocean is at once joyous and pensive, a toss of jade and eucalyptus and evening sky colors dotted with whipped-cream foam. "Look at the ocean!" was all I could say to my husband. "It's got color!" It had color under the sun, under the fog, and oh, my God, under the moon. The sky and the fog and the ocean swirled together past the cottage picture-window until I could no longer tell which was which.

Amidst the whispering roar of the ocean and the quiet of everything else, my husband and I remembered that we were married and proceeded to act like it.

I turned twenty-eight yesterday at 12:42 pm, right on schedule. Try to keep distractions and other unwanted intrusions out of the way as much as possible, said my horoscope. Now's a good time to pay attention to the inner workings for a while. If you're feeling guilty about something, do whatever is necessary to cleanse yourself of that negative energy. I ate a lot, drank a good deal of wine, and read the inn's copy of Winnie-the-Pooh.

And it was good.

thus spake /jca @ 10:33 PM...


Tomorrow my husband and I are headed out of town for a much-needed Actual Break (and this time we mean it), two nights in an oceanfront cottage in Mendocino with no mention of work or exams or law school or any other of the myriad sharp pointy objects suspended tenuously over our heads.

Tonight, I tried to get everything done for Tuesday and Wednesday next week. I came close, at least for Tuesday.

But I'm going to be good to myself this weekend. I'm going to leave my books home, completely wipe my feet and recover all the perspective I failed to recover over Christmas break. We're finally going to observe our anniversary in a suitably festive manner, and we'll toast my birthday in a total contextual vacuum. Just us and the ocean, the A4 and the open road, sand and wineries and a hot tub and a featherbed and port and chocolates delivered to the cottage door at sunset. I get happychills just thinking of how much I need this right now. My husband is already in the best mood he's been in since Thanksgiving.

See y'all on Monday, or thereabouts...

thus spake /jca @ 11:45 PM...

I know entirely too many people who are going to be marching in this protest.

"In a lighter but perhaps equally eye-popping tactic, protesters in the organization Baring Witness said they might take their clothes off and march down San Francisco's Market Street."

Hopefully I don't know any of those.

thus spake /jca @ 10:03 PM...

Employment Discrimination (hereinafter "Edie"), my statutory elective, was canceled twice this week. Professor Edie had informed us at the introductory class that he and his wife were anticipating the birth of their second child within roughly two weeks, upon which occasion he intended to cancel "two or three classes." I chuckled at that, figuring that once the baby arrived he'd reassess and take a paternity leave in excess of three days.

Nope. Class reconvened today, and the guy didn't even bring pictures of the kid.

I'm liking Professor Edie, at any rate. He, like Professor Torts, is a graduate of my alma mater (I think they both majored in history, a department I neatly avoided), and has an engaging cuteness that works well for me. D., who for the record is a heterosexual male, described Professor Edie as "uglysexy." I disagree; he's certainly not ugly, and sexy would not be a term I'd choose to describe him. He gives me a different vibe altogether: here's a reasonably young married guy who's actually having children. See, it can be done!

"My part in the effort thus far," he said, upon announcing the pending birth, "was very, very easy." Cue classwide giggle.

J. spotted Professor Edie this afternoon in the cafeteria, grabbing a cup of soup about a half hour before class. "Hey, Professor Edie's back," he remarked. "We should give him a round of applause." C. and I gladly obliged, to which the good professor blushed adorably, paused to thank us, and briefly gave us the lowdown. Boy. Seven pounds, fourteen ounces. Cesarean section, but otherwise without difficulty. Very cute name, Hebrew in origin. Grandparents were in town for the long weekend, wife was about to come home from the hospital.

"Omigawd," I sighed to C. as Professor Edie hurried back to his office to finish his soup, "I want babies."

"Tell me about it!" she groaned back at me.

J. chuckled at me. "See, you're all over this shmoozing with the professors thing," he said. "I need to get a move on."

"I wasn't shmoozing," I protested. "I just want babies. Babies are honestly that interesting to me."

J. rolled his eyes. "Don't get it."

"That's because you're young, male, and not married," I told him.

"I'm your age!" he replied.

"You are not."

"When's your birthday?" he asked.

"Sunday," I said, and then realized that this was true. It's my birthday this weekend. I will be twenty-eight years old on Sunday.

"You're three months older than me," he said.

"And I've been married for four years, and I want babies," I concluded.

"I'm not even married and I want babies," C. chimed in.

At this point, seeing where the conversation was headed, J. prudently changed the subject to Contracts supplements.

thus spake /jca @ 7:45 PM...


You tell 'em!

thus spake /jca @ 6:48 PM...

I have seen my Torts exam.

I had given several thoughts this morning to the nine Xanax pills still in my medicine cabinet, but had finally decided that I would handle the meeting myself, without chemical assistance. I am an adult, he's an adult, and there's no reason left for me to get hysterical over the stupid thing since it's so clearly beyond my control at this point. Just go, I told myself, take the feedback that's valuable, and learn how never to do this again.

I'm not sure whether taking a Xanax would have helped. I kept my cool, which was a good thing, but found myself almost completely unable to speak.

I had, legitimately and in good faith, screwed up. I missed two issues on the first question and one on the second, all of which were major enough to offend Professor Torts. It helped somewhat to hear him say that but for the curve, my grade would have been at least two increments higher; however, he was bound by the rules, and my particular choice of omissions had set me far enough back in the queue to make all the difference.

"What I want to take away from this," I said as clearly as possible, fighting the constriction in my throat, "is a set of marching orders."

"Exactly!" he said. "Here's your marching orders."

Looking at the scattered, well-thumbed pages of the exam in my lap (can't fault the guy for thoroughness; he'd obviously spent a great deal of time determining exactly how much my answers sucked), all I could feel was exhaustion. Two of the issues he claimed I had omitted were news to me; I could have sworn that I addressed them. But looking at my answers -- ohhh, agony of embarrassment, did I write that? -- he was right. No sign of Herskovits, no sign of J'aire, no sign of Firestone. "I even specifically *asked* you to address this in the call of the question," he said, remarking that plenty of other people had done so quite proficiently.

Work with this! I commanded my sulking, choked-up self. I had missed the call-of-the-question issue fair and square; even now, looking at the question again, J'aire would not have occurred to me. Okay. Every case has a rule. Pull a rule out of every case. Leave nothing aside.

But I *had* pulled a rule out of every case; that's how I'd set up my torts outline. General rule, then list of cases, with a bullet point under each case describing the instance of the general rule it addressed.

The other two issues, whose omission had so surprised me, made this a bit clearer. These were rules I knew, rules I'd thought of. How did I skip them in the writing?

I thought of Contracts, the one exam I nailed. I'd done the case-bullet-rule thing in preparation for that exam as well, but I'd kept them separate from the actual outline, which consisted purely of rules. Nearly all of my Contracts studying, in point of fact, had involved grinding and grinding over the rules until I felt somewhat comfortable with them.

I need to get all the rules in one place, I concluded. No matter how confident I feel about my command of the subject. Just make a great big list of all the rules. Every single one.

This left me feeling particularly stupid. No shit, Sherlock! What did you think an outline was supposed to be? Narrative??

I thought it should follow the arc of the class.

-- And how would that help you? You knew damn well that exams were virtually unrelated to class discussion!

But how else can you prepare for issue spotter questions? Everyone says that just knowing the rules isn't enough...

-- Who's the one taking the exam?? You shouldn't be relying on what everyone says, or even just what you remember. You need a checklist for every single rule, indexed by issue. That's what you need.

That's what I need.

Professor Torts was now saying that Herskovits had shown up regularly on his old exams. "Did you do any practice exams?" he asked me.

"About eight or nine," I responded.

"And who did you review them with?"

I looked him in the eyes and felt my voice break. "Nobody."

He clapped his hands together and shouted that *there* was my problem. If I had just done one or two practice exams, he said, and brought them to his office hours instead of grinding away at so many in isolation, it would have made all the difference in my grade. "Even a study group," he suggested, "might have shown you what you were missing, instead of you just doing the same thing over and over, reinforcing your mistake."

I nodded, wide-eyed. Absolutely. Absolutely. Iteration had saved my grade in El-Dubyar, and my husband had already suggested numerous times that it could do the same for me anywhere else. Keep hacking at it, over and over, until you get it right. That had been my motivation for doing so many practice exams to begin with, and it was my own fault that I'd gotten started on same so late in the semester that office hours were no longer an option. This semester will be different. This semester I will outline sooner, be prepared to take practice exams sooner, do so sooner, and seek real feedback, not just a misleading internal sense that I'm on the right track when I'm not qualified to make the assessment.

Rules. Rules and practice. And next week, a meeting with Professor Civ Pro to conclude, hopefully, the same thing.

thus spake /jca @ 3:25 PM...


Today's quote:
A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.
--Charles Evans Hughes

thus spake /jca @ 2:55 PM...

"No good with the clips," said the clerk at the post office in the basement of the federal building.

"Hm?" I hadn't been paying attention.

"Clips," he said, pinching the corner of one of my resume packets. "We don't hand sort envelopes any more. It's all machines that do it now. You use these big clips, the machine will tear the envelope."

He was talking about the binder clips I'd used, cute silver things that had caught my eye in OfficeMax and really weren't that big at all. "You're kidding."

"Nope," he said. "Machines'll rip the envelope right open and everything in it'll fall out. And then it gets delivered empty."

I briefly imagined a torn envelope arriving at the courthouse, proudly featuring my return address, while its contents -- cute silver binder clips and all -- lay strewn across a post office floor a mile away. And then I stifled a laugh. What was the worst that could happen? Not being offered an unpaid externship? Which, of course, is the most likely outcome even if the packets do arrive at their destination intact?

"Ah well," I shrugged, handing him the rest of the envelopes. "Nothing I can do about that now."

The mail clerk went on to tell me, as he measured out my postage, about how the machine sorters had just all kinda problems. "They read it wrong when you put your return address on the back of the envelope instead of the front," he said. "They don't know front from back! They think it's the real address, and then the envelope gets sent right back to you!"

"That seems simple enough to fix," I said.

"Yeah, so we're trying to re-educate the public," he concluded, handing me my receipt.

"I guess that's one solution," I said, wryly amused at how many people seemed to adopt it as a maxim. You can't change the system, but you can change your behavior to suit it. Compensate, readjust, circumvent.

thus spake /jca @ 2:04 PM...


Mondays and Wednesdays provide me with the comparative luxury of sleeping in until 8 am. Property doesn't start until 11:30, and the appropriate train for an 11:30 class leaves my town at 9:19. What a relief. The sun was up before I was. I am going to relish Mondays and Wednesdays.

Today wasn't so tasty, though. I arrived on campus at around eleven, glanced at the bulletin board where initial reading assignments are posted, and realized that my Property class had actually had reading due today. (This assignment had magically materialized on the board over the weekend, unbeknownst to most of the people I asked about it.) Ah well, I thought, I'll just read it right now.

But something was odd about the assignment. I recalled, and quickly confirmed, that the author of the casebook in my pullman bag was a fellow named Dukeminier. The bulletin board, on the other hand, was instructing me to read twenty pages in a casebook by someone called Singer.

Oiy, oiy, oiy.

So much for purchasing a nice used casebook last month. We'd been misled, all of us neurotic earlybird shoppers, into purchasing a book about which Professor Property had apparently changed her mind in the interim. This left the bookstore with *no* used casebooks, so I was stuck plunking down an additional $20 on top of my return to acquire the shiny new Singer. And now there was no time to do the reading. All I could do was shrug.

It didn't matter that I hadn't done the reading, of course. Half the class had failed to discover the assignment in time, which left me a better excuse than most since I actually had the wrong book as well. But it made no difference. My fear of being unprepared has worn through, it seems. Last semester I received my best grade by far in the *only* class for which I failed to read every single case. At the same time, though, I can hardly impute causality between skipping two cases on a bad Thursday and doing well on the exam. I'm going to have to figure out a new approach to workload management this semester, I think.

thus spake /jca @ 3:26 PM...


I have to update my resume and gin up a cover letter to send out to judges as soon as possible, since it was actually due sometime last month.

Ugh, the resume is nasty. My work experience to date has little to nothing to do with the law, unless one counts the translation work I did for a few lawyers back in college -- big bloopy French and Belgian patents and research protocols, which were Herculean endeavors but paid well enough to enable me to avoid an on-campus job -- or my laughable turn as a lobbyist for a water company in the business of municipal privatization, back before said water company lost big bucks on bad privatization deals and were bought out by a European conglomerate. No paralegal experience, no file clerk experience, not even any legal-secretarial experience (and such nonlegal secretarial experience as I did accumulate while temping doesn't go on the rez anyway).

It's tough to make the rez look appetizing for anything other than more consulting work. How else to explain the fact that I never seem to do the same thing for longer than eight or nine months at a clip? How does it follow, to the eye of a busy judge or law clerk, that this seemingly-flighty marketing writer/web designer/translator/ex-many-things is the slightest bit qualified to practice law?

(I suppose I could work my Contracts exam grade in somewhere, but I doubt that would help much since [a] it's not my final grade, [b] I wouldn't be doing any transactional work as a judge's summer clerk anyway, and [c] it would merely draw attention to the rest of my grades by their absence. But I digress.)

The nice folks at Career Services tell me that judges like verbs. Front every sentence with a verb, I'm instructed. But at the same time, I'm told, judges are technophobic and are unlikely to understand many of the verbs I'd be inclined to use. So I'll potentially go the route of "Programmed Internet site" rather than "Developed and implemented website" to the extent that I need to talk about my web work at all, and will have to dig up some good actionish synonyms to "wrote" to fill out the rest of the bullets on the list. Or not. Anyone else hear fingernails on a blackboard?

Honestly, though, I'm more comfortable sticking to nouns. "Lead copywriter" feels a lot punchier to me than "wrote copy," despite the absence of verbs in the former (and the potential disconnect with a judge who might not know that "copy" is something you write, rather than something you make with a photocopier). And at the end of the day, I've never heard of a resume being passed-over since it fell short of the minimum number of verbs.

Then again, I've had no shortage of inexplicable and unprecedented things happen to me lately. Maybe I should just shut up and do what I'm told. "Authored" is a nice verb, after all, as is "edited." And I suppose I could expand on the concept of "copywriter" to pitch myself as a master producer of press releases, web content -- er -- Internet site content (huh?), data sheets and brochures (as well as whatever else I can remember having written).

But if anyone catches me using the verb "redacted," you have my permission to shoot me on the spot.

thus spake /jca @ 9:22 PM...


Simon and Garfunkel:

Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I'm all right, I'm all right
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it's all right, it's all right
For we've lived so well, so long
Still, when I think of the road
we're traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying, to get some rest.

thus spake /jca @ 8:26 PM...


Vermouth, straight up, tastes just like Robitussin.

thus spake /jca @ 9:58 PM...

Professor Torts tells me that I almost earned my Civ Pro grade in Torts (which would still have been bothersome, but not unprecedented in my graded life), but then a few key flaws intervened and knocked me over the cusp into no-JCA's-land. I'll be meeting with him on Wednesday morning to discuss exactly what those flaws were. It's funny; I'll be meeting with Professor Civ Pro (whom I still have, this semester) the following week to review his exam, and that's a meeting I'm actually anticipating. I misfired in Civ Pro but can still fix it, am excited to fix it this spring. Torts is dead in the water, and while I'm presumably mature enough to swallow a litany of my own screwups and digest same into a working model for self-improvement, it's less fun when I know there's no chance to undo them.

I got the Moot Court topic I'd bid for last semester, Intel Corp. v. Hamidi. I'll be arguing for the Respondent, which I believe at this stage is Intel. I'll know more after class meets on Tuesday.

It's a tort case. It's either a semesterlong in-your-face reminder of how lacking in this subject I've been judged by this school, or a wide-open opportunity to turn the grade on its ear and demonstrate that the assessment of my capabilities was made in error after all. Sure, yeah, things didn't quite work out for me on the fall exam, but then I cleaned up in Moot Court. Who you kiddin'? I'm all over torts. Pah.

Unlike El-Dubyar, Moot Court is pass fail. Employers don't look at your grade and inhale audibly through their nostrils if it's below an A. You can, however, win awards for best brief or best oral argument. I'm not sure how many of these awards are given, or the extent of the field with whom you're competing to win one (is it just your four-man team, or your whole section, or everyone on the case?), but this should all become clear as time passes.

And I've finally shed the most repulsive shackle of last semester. Yesterday, bathed in a golden aura and accompanied by choirs of angels, I was granted a Westlaw password. No more Federal Reporters. No more photocopies. No more nuclear-winter living room strew of paper. "You can print to this printer here, or to your local printer at home," the instructor told us. "Can you just save it to disk and not print it at all?" I asked. "Um, well, yes," he replied, uncertain why anyone would do such a thing. I, meanwhile, smiled for the first time all day, a great big goofy grin. Starting over, indeed.

thus spake /jca @ 3:15 PM...


This is how it will be. The alarm sounds at six-fifteen. My husband groans. I shut off the noise, roll out of bed, and grope my way through the pitchblack room to the bathroom, where the light burns my eyes and the shower, no matter how hot I run it, gives me a chill. I gulp my vitamins, force down some cereal, and shamble out to the elevator, huddled in my winter coat. The morning is foggy. The sun won't rise.

The train arrives right on schedule. 7:38.

Today is my fourth wedding anniversary.

Today is the first day of the second semester, and it hurts to be here, which it can't, must not, is not permitted to do. The hallways hurt, and the stairs, and the elevators, and the sterile hospital classrooms. The professors ring in my ears; my fingers jitter over the keyboard, misspelling half the things they say. Wrong. I'm all wrong. I have to wipe my feet, get over it, start from scratch, pretend like last semester never happened. Grow new thumbs for a fresh set of thumbscrews.

The migraine is rooted at the base of my neck, where my shoulders have solidified into a mass of knots. It spreads across my scalp like a vise.

The email from my husband arrives in the middle of my third class, Employment Discrimination. Professor Torts called, he writes. He's on the answering machine. He says the grade is correct. There is no air left in the room.

Wrong, wrong, must shelve this, must put it away, move on, get started, there's more work to do, always more to be done.

"How was your break?"

It's my own fault that I had no break, that I stayed on the hook for two and a half weeks and never stopped, never let myself recharge. Now I'm back here, and everything is starting up again, and I can't just curl into a ball and withdraw because there is no time, no time for self-indulgence. Must work. Must work. So much reading, all due tomorrow. And then more. No time. Snap out of it. Get moving. Now.

thus spake /jca @ 2:23 PM...


G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

It might finally be time to let go of something that has been bothering you for a while. Reliving the past could be keeping you from thoroughly enjoying yourself in the present. Try to forget about the things that were never meant to be permanent. Look to the people who care about you for guidance. Family members are especially supportive. It might also be a good idea to get an objective third party's view on the situation.

All true. All true.

thus spake /jca @ 8:56 PM...

I can't dislike this man. Professor Torts, who is technically already on sabbatical, returned my voicemail this morning. "I'm sorry I had to be the bad guy," he offered, unsolicited. He's checking his math on my exam (the last forlorn hope of any student at my school; no reevaluations here, only recounts), and is happy to meet to discuss what actually went wrong once the exam booklets are handed back to us in a month.

Now would be the appropriate time for a miracle, if I've got one coming.

thus spake /jca @ 1:22 PM...

Silver lining to every cloud: there's nothing like a day spent convulsed in misery (coupled with regular gym attendance since returning home, of course, it's not like I'm going completely nuts) to burn off four out of the five pounds I gained over Christmas break.

thus spake /jca @ 8:48 AM...


The sad thing is, this is exactly the nightmare I've had for the past two nights. Well, almost exactly. In last night's dream it was Torts that presented the problem; the night before it was Crim. Crim, in real life, turned out to be unremarkable. But Torts --

How embarrassing. Everything I say about it, every thought that crosses my mind is horrendously stereotypical and melodramatic. I am evidently as unoriginal in my anger and panic and grief as dozens of other students in the exact same situation, not to mention dozens of soap-opera actors emoting in response to bad news. Listening to myself I flinch at how clich├ęd I sound. This can't be true. There must be a mistake. I've got to talk to him! You've got to help me! Don't you understand that this is a mistake?

Authenticity: yet another thing to lose.

My husband (who is showing a great deal more interest in this grades website than I am) made a composite spreadsheet of my section and determined that no one had gotten straight A's. He charted the minimum grade for every student across all four classes and El-Dubyar; the range ran from D to B+. "Still," he said, highlighting a block of about a dozen folks who had bottomed out at B+, "these people did pretty well." I am not among them.

And yet it's not over.

Sua Sponte reader Adam offers excellent advice to any 1L in a similar situation: sit down with all your professors, even the ones on whose exams you did well, and crack the code. Figure out exactly what it is that they were looking for, and what you did that hit or missed it. It's the blitz-on-practice-tests mindset, post hoc, where it's actually valuable as a constructive tool for improvement. Once you've got a clearer picture of what you were missing, engineer your outlines to solve the problem. Keep going to class. Keep doing your work. Tell yourself: now it's serious. Now I'm really going to do it. Quit letting the big picture spook you; screen it out and focus hardily on the near term, on the next five months. "It's a marathon," said Adam. "It's the goddamned Iditarod!" I responded.

Extra-potency rib-crushing hugs to Adam, on his way to sainthood in my book.

thus spake /jca @ 9:42 PM...

This is bad, bad, bad.

My husband came home for lunch, excitedly looked up my grades...and my luck, as it turns out, did not hold.

I pulled a hopefully-sufficient grade for Crim, and tanked in Civ Pro, which fortunately counts for only 25% of my ultimate grade in that class. Somewhat ironically, I tied with two other members of my ninety-odd-person section for the top grade in the class in Contracts of all things. Like Civ Pro, however, it only counts for an eventual 25%; the big guns will still need to be primed for spring exams. My GPA, right now, is merely an average of my grades in Crim and Torts.

I am lost somewhere among hysteria, disbelief, and denial at my Torts grade. This simply can't be correct. I know I did passably, if not better, on that exam, and my best-beloved Professor Torts, the most generous grader in the school, could not possibly have judged my work this way. Maybe the exam didn't print correctly. Maybe there are pages missing or something. Maybe he entered the wrong grade in his ledger. This can't be possible.

I managed to calm down briefly, long enough to call the Records office and find out when they're planning on releasing our marked-up exams. Answer: perhaps by the first week of February. I called the school's guidance counselor, lost my cool, and found myself blubbering on the phone to her (but that's why they pay her the big bucks, so no guilt there). I need to call Professor Torts, track him down, get this fixed.

This has to be something I can fix.

thus spake /jca @ 3:01 PM...

They have updated the grades site, but I am being a coward and refusing to look up my grades. I have too much yet to do this afternoon, and don't have time for a crash-and-burn reaction if the news is bad. When my husband gets home tonight, I'll look.

I am one of those people who wade slowly into cold water, who peel off bandaids millimeter by millimeter. But you probably could have guessed that.

thus spake /jca @ 12:12 PM...

G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

The last couple of days have been filled with frustration, but you are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can breathe a sigh of relief as the cause of your troubles becomes apparent. Instead of laying the blame, you could be fixing things with your new knowledge. Whatever goes down at the office, don't bring your work home with you. You still need a safe refuge, and your house or apartment is one of the best ones you have.

thus spake /jca @ 10:53 AM...


Scary, scary, scary. I feel vaguely guilty: my first thought, upon reading the headline, was Whew, at least it wasn't a Caltrain.

thus spake /jca @ 5:28 PM...

I was optimistic, it seems, in my estimation of the efficiency of web-enabled publication of grades.

Turns out today is merely the deadline by which professors must turn in their grades. Presumably this means by the close of business today. I suppose it wouldn't be unprecedented for a few staffers to pull a late evening updating the website, but all the same it looks as though I may still be ungraded as of bedtime tonight, at least in part.

There is one grade that's already posted, though: El-Dubyar. It doesn't figure into my GPA, but it still freaked me out to the point where I couldn't even look. I didn't want my parade rained-on before it even began. "Tell me your number," my husband said, "and I'll look for you." And he did.

I feel odd talking about my grades on a weblog. It feels like discussing one's salary in public, and it's probably too much information anyway. But I will say this: although I was (predictably) not the highest grade in my class, I was very, very lucky. And the 2L was wrong: not everyone gets a B after all.

thus spake /jca @ 11:43 AM...


We returned home yesterday to find the kitchen acrawl with ants. Not the dangerous red Florida kind that bite you, or the huge fat shiny Southern Californian kind that scare you. These were just tiny black ants in search of food, wherever they could find it.

Ants are amazing. They'll climb all the way up to the third floor and migrate across an entire living room, all the way around a kitchen, and into the one cabinet where there happens to be one squeeze bottle of honey that's even just a bit sticky. When you crush one with your finger, one of its comrades will pick up its corpse, shoulder it, and march back out, down the wall, along the floor, and even across the living room carpet, which to an ant must seem like miles and miles of exhausting, uneven terrain. All this without blinking. They can do anything. They're ants.

We set out arsenic traps, doused the doorsills with Raid, and scrubbed the kitchen down with white vinegar. And now the indomitable ants are all dead.

My first semester grades should be posted on the internet within twelve hours of this writing.

I'm not too worried, only because it seems that my brain won't let me worry. Every time I think hey, grades tomorrow! it's as though brick walls spring up immediately around the thought, snapping it frozen in place. Don't think about it can't think about it not thinking about it.

Instead, I think of a mantra I chanted to myself every morning last spring, as soon as I woke up: Let this be my lucky day. Let my luck hold out. I will chant it tomorrow, and hope for the best, and remind myself to breathe.

thus spake /jca @ 10:52 PM...


We are headed back to California as of tomorrow morning. I've just spent two weeks at my inlaws' house, gained back several months' worth of lost weight, and accomplished exactly nothing that I intended to do while in New Jersey. Now, tomorrow, if the weather quits mucking with my schedule, we get on a plane to go home and I'm left with four usable days to get everything done before the semester starts on Thursday, at which point I will almost certainly get nothing done for the next four months. I have nothing but ill will towards anyone who has the chutzpah to call this vacation.

I found this, which has been helpful, in a prayerlike kind of way. Elizabeth Bishop wrote it. I agree with her.

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

thus spake /jca @ 2:35 PM...

more final thoughts...

sua sponte
transferring law schools
on the moblog
the short list
otherwise of note
recurring themes
fellow travelers
other blawgs