March 2007

Law school spring break used to be two weeks. Two weeks felt like the right amount- it gave you a couple days to decompress from exams, do all those errands you’ve been putting off, then blow town for a week, sunning yourself somewhere, forgetting everything you ever learned about torts and strict scrutiny and reasonable suspicion, with a couple days on the back end to get over your sunburn.

Then this year, spring break was shortened to one week, and I am annoyed. (Those of you who work at real jobs are doubtless thinking “bitch is complaining about getting a week off? Please.” To which I say: you have a point, but kindly shut up. I was used to those two weeks.)

So after only one week off, which was just enough time to go quickly to California for the weekend only to be screwed by American Airlines and the Orange County Airport- good times!- I am back at school. This last chunk of law school seems, for me, to be defined mostly by malaise. Some of my classmates are starting to feel nostalgic, wanting to spend a lot of time with friends who are going to be leaving soon to jobs in New York, D.C., L.A. I feel no such nostalgia, and instead want to take classes that demand as little work as humanly possible, then get out of law school as fast as I can. I have yet to (a) purchase any books, (b) do any assignments or (c) actually pick at least one more class to ensure that I have enough units to graduate.

To celebrate this newly-discovered slackerness, this afternoon I will be driving to Naperville, picking up a 30-foot RV, driving it back to school, picking up 6 friends, and driving through the night to Virginia to attend a weekend softball tournament. I plan to play a lot of flip cup, and to drive through West Virginia, thus completing my quest to visit all 50 states before I’m 30. We will then drive all through the night on Sunday to get home in time for Monday class, which I plan to be too tired to attend. It is shaping up to be an excellent trip.

Even though my husband already owns “barnoculars,” (don’t you wish you lived with someone who so truly takes the Boy Scout motto to heart?) I just might have to buy him these  so he can be fully prepared for any Jimmy Buffet concerts and trips to the beach, too.

If I were more cool, spring break might be filled with tales of doing tequila shots out of someone’s belly button, but this spring break so far has been remarkably free of interesting things to blog about, unless you really want to hear about (1) homeowner’s insurance, (2) carpet pricing or (3) BarBri sign up information.

Mostly, though, I have nothing interesting to report because I have wasted an embarrassing amount of time in the past few days trying to beat Family Feud on virtual NES.  So far, I have not even been able to make it to the fast money round.  This is because I have to play against a computer family called the Kennedys, a group of 1991-era GENIUSES, who get every single answer right and always steal my money.  Every single time.

Case in point:   One question asked “how much does a new tv cost?”  I correctly guessed $500, $600, $400, $450, $300, $700, $350, $800, $650 and $750 before I reached my three strikes.  There was one answer left on the board.  The Kennedys had a chance to steal.  The remaining answer was $395.  The Kennedys guessed it.  Bastards.

Another example:  “Name a foreign hat.”  I guessed beret, fez, sombrero and panama hat before striking out.  What one answer did I miss?  Turban.  Damned non-politically correct questions!

My personal favorite:  “Name something that you have been bitten by.”  I got all the basics- dog, mosquito, etc.  What did I miss?  Parrot.  PARROT.  Who gets bitten by a parrot?  How is that one of the top 6 answers on the board?  What?  The Kennedys, of course, knew that.  Jerks.

Let this be a warming:  if you are hoping to be productive, do NOT go to virtualNES. com.  You could waste your whole spring break that way.

I have sort of a “penny wise pound foolish” problem here at Casa de Pseudo from time to time, such that I might say “oh my god the nice soft toilet paper costs like thirty cents more than the stuff that feels like wiping your ass with recycled newsprint, we are definitely not getting it” on the same day that I say “eight dollars seems a totally reasonable amount to pay for the to-die-for mushroom salad at Southport Grocery.” I recognize that this is a problem, and thus I do a lot of buyers remorse-ing, particularly of major purchases. In particular, I am famous (notorious?) for buying beautiful shoes that I love love love and then deciding they were too too too expensive and returning them a day later. John thinks this is one of my most charming traits.

So because I don’t trust myself at all in this arena, I ask you, internet: how much is too much to pay for a pair of boots that are beautiful, well-made, knee-high, flat soled (good for walking!) and did I mention beautiful?

If it would help you make a decision, you should know that I am considering purchasing them as a little “holy crap I finally made it through exams and it is now spring break wheeeeeeee” present for myself after having very responsibly decided not to take a spring break trip to Mexico with my friends.

So? How much?

note: the boots pictured above are NOT the boots in question. But wouldn’t it be awesome if they were?

Our mortgage application forms came through, and as John and I were signing our life away on approximately 432 documents, I happened to glance down at the one called “asset summary,” which said:

Borrower one assumed monthly salary (John): [redacted]

Borrower two assumed monthly salary (Pseudo): $1

Well, geez, I knew public interest work isn’t lucrative, but a dollar a month? So glad to see the bank has so much faith in my ability to contribute financially to this marriage.

Today the following memo was slid under our door:

To: Residents of [our address]

From: Building manager

Date: 3/6/2007



Earlier today a stranger gained unauthorized entry into the building and began knocking on unit doors in an attempt to gain access from whoever would open the door. Fortunately the staff were able to detain the suspect in the lobby until the Chicago Police Department arrived to arrest him.

As you are well aware, [our address] is a safe building. To continue to safeguard our building, management needs your assistance and would like to remind you of the following:

1. please make sure to close the building and garage doors behind you. If you see a door open, CLOSE IT.

2. When possible, do not allow vehicles to follow you into the garage. Allow them the opportunity to use their key fob to enter the garage.

3. When possible, do not allow unfamiliar people to follow behind you once you have opened an entry door. Allow them to [sic] opportunity to use their key fob to open the door.

4. Be aware of your surroundings. Take note of the people around you as you enter the building, especially the garage.

5. Always make sure to lock your unit door even if you are at home. Do not open your door if you are not familiar with the person on the other side of it.

6. Be mindful of suspicious activities, which may appear to be out of the ordinary. This might include suspicious vehicles, visitors, or noise. Please immediately report any suspicious activity to the management officer or the front desk.

Thank you for your continued cooperation in helping make [our address] a wonderful and safe place to live!


My thoughts when I read this ran something like this (in rough chronological order.)

1. Oh good grief. This building is all about the drama. This is just like that time they sent a flyer around saying “call your alderman and let her know that you do NOT support the construction of a soup kitchen three blocks from here! It will lower our property values!”

2. Well, actually, this is not quite like that. It’s kind of nice that they let us know that this incident happened, instead of letting it travel through the building rumor mill. Is there even a building rumor mill? I’m certainly not privy to it.

3. What is up with the whole stranger-danger tone of this letter? “Be aware of your surroundings?” “Be mindful of suspicious activities?” Isn’t that just part of living in the city?

4. It would be easier to use our key fobs and close all the doors behind us if THEY EVER WORKED. Stupid key fob thingies never freaking working properly.

5. How exactly am I supposed to prevent someone from following me into the garage? The fob, when it works, opens the door for like 45 seconds. I can’t make it close any faster.

6. Man, I am looking forward to moving into our new condo.

(Did you see how I just snuck that in there? “Our new condo”? YAY!)

I did the laziest thing I have ever done in my whole life today. 

Today, I received my graduation audit, which tells me which requirements I’ve fulfilled, which ones I haven’t, and how many units I need to graduate.  The audit told me that I need six units to graduate.  Which- great!  Six units is very few!  Only two classes!  Very very few!  So few, in fact, that it is not enough to keep me registered as a full time student.  Full-time studentness requires nine units.  Full-time studentness is also a pesky graduation requirement.  So somehow, through my overzealous taking of classes over the past eight quarters, I am poised to graduate with three extra units. 

But! Wait!  I have a paper for an old class that is still outstanding.  (In law school, nothing is ever really “due,” so much as it is in a state of “perpetual extension.”)  Old class is worth….3 units.  Units I will not receive if I don’t write the paper.

You can see where this is going, yes?  I emailed the professor of old class and asked if he would mind terribly if I, um, withdrew.  Ex post.  Waaaaay ex post.  “You see,” I wrote, “I have kind of a lot of things to wrap up before graduation [lies!  Damned lies!  I have nothing to do but watch all of Season 2 of Lost on DVD!  Which to *me* is important, but I doubt you’d be convinced!] and I’m pretty sure that if I did write the paper the quality would end up being pretty low [truth!  Total truth!  I would be phoning it in on this one!  It would be crap!] so I was thinking that, with your permission, it would be prudent [because lawyers love using the word “prudent”] for me to withdraw rather than submit a sub-par paper.”

“Sure,” he replied.  Which I think translates to “you mean I don’t have to grade your 35 page paper that is now over a year overdue?  Sweet!”

So I withdrew from a class.  A year later.  To avoid writing a paper.  Anal-retentive high-achieving high school me would be horrified, but lazy adult me is elated.  My spring break prospects just got a whole lot brighter.

I have a small confession to make:  I am addicted to trivia.  Pub trivia is one of my favorite things ever because trivia AND beer?  (And also maybe curly fries?)  It’s the perfect combination!  I like trivia so much that I participate in the annual trivia contest at my law school, which comes complete with little light-up buzzers and a bracket and everything.  It’s all very Scholastic Bowl, in a fabulous way. 

If I’m honest with myself, part of the reason I like trivia so much is that it gives me a chance to show off and feel smart.  Even though I excel at categories like “obscure Saved By The Bell references” and “Who in Hollywood is Married to Who?” instead of categories like “Great Works of Literature” or “Things that Have Happened in History,”  I’m pretty quick on the buzzer, and I really like the feeling of securing victory for my team by knowing the name of Corey’s girlfriend on “Boy Meets World.”  (Yes, that actually happened.  And I know at least some of you know her name, too.)

See, I’ve always been “smart.”  Not “pretty,” or “fun” or “crazy”- just “smart.”  (Cue tiny violins playing sad sad songs here.)  And while I think, truthfully, that I’ve gotten better at “pretty” and “fun” as I’ve grown into an adult, years and years of thinking that all my positive traits were lodged in my intelligence has left a powerful mark on my personality.  I really get my back up when people treat me like I’m dumb, to the point where I sometimes assume that someone is treating me like they think I’m dumb when maybe they’re just being normal.   I became really defensive if I perceived people making assumptions about me when they learned I was a public school teacher.  (Anyone who said “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach,” even jokingly, in my presence was liable to get a heaping dose of sanctimonious anger.  I was really fun to be around in those days, let me tell you.) Trivia plays right into this- I can assert my cleverness by knowing random bits of things, without ever having to construct cogent arguments or write any papers or anything!  Plus, sometimes there’s beer!

Well, my law school trivia team took a nasty beating yesterday.  While we never had a chance to make it to the finals (there are some scary people here who are just waaaaaay too good at the history and law questions) it was still sort of a bummer to get beaten pretty much single-handedly by a nerdy 2L who appears to have memorized the Encyclopedia. 

Then, something amazing happened. I turned on the TV last night and discovered a show called “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?  Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, (who looks for all the world like he would rather be anyplace on Earth, including in the dentist’s chair, instead of hosting a show called “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader,”) the premise is a lot like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” with each correct answer earning you more money.  But here’s the twist- unlike “Millionaire,” the questions on “AYSTA5G” are all elementary school level questions, sorted into categories like “3rd grade science” and “2nd grade astronomy.”  And instead of phoning a friend or polling the audience, there is a group of very telegenic fifth-grade-age child actors ready to help you out if you get stuck.

Sample questions:

“What star is closest to earth?”

“How many sides in a trapezoid?”

“How many decades in two millennia?”

I had watched almost the entire episode, squirming with delight and superiority that “this is so DUMB!  People are so DUMB!  I am comparatively so SMART!” before I realized that that is almost certainly the intent of the show.  It’s pitched right at people like me, who enjoy the feeling of intellectual superiority just a leeeetle too much.  Watching some genius get all the questions right on Jeopardy is fine, but rarely do I finish watching an episode thinking “man, I watching that really made me feel better about myself!”  This show, though, allowed me to smile smugly, thinking “Heh! I am such a genius!” 

Sadly, because “smugness” is one of my least favorite human traits, I’m afraid I am not going to be able to watch this show anymore because it just makes me too smug.  Which is a shame, because it was really lovely to have a nice, easy way to feel smart at the end of a hard day.


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