I was planning on writing a post something along the lines of “god damn I had forgotten how miserable you feel the hour before an exam you’re not ready for.” It was going to be full of references to our favorite villain, administrative law, and an exam so hard and long that there was nothing to do but laugh and make cute little jokes about alcoholism when it was all through.

Then I read this.

TMAO is a friend of mine, and he teaches still in the school district I left when I came here to study law instead of teach. And he’s a tremendous teacher, always has been. He violates every expectation the kids who walk into his classroom have about teachers, particularly male teachers (though the superintendant hated his mohawk,) and he forces them to think and work hard and be decent people. He’s also a good basketball coach. He puts me to shame.

And I feel ashamed not only because he’s so. much. better. at the teaching thing than I was (though that’s certainly part of it,) but because I walked away from it to come do what I’m doing now. At the law school, I have a reputation for being (depending on who you ask):

– a knee-jerk liberal
– crunchy granola (HA! they should move to san francisco for ONE DAY.)
– a “do-gooder” type
– that girl who’s on the public interest law society and streetlaw who keeps showing up at events suggesting that we do things other than working for firms
– a sweet foosball player

I get to bask in the glow of feeling like I have a higher purpose, and people at the law school BELIEVE ME. I don’t begrudge anyone the right to go work for a lawfirm and make money hand over fist- it’s arguably the wise choice when you’re facing down undergrad debt, grad debt, parent expectations, friend expectations, and seriuosly high cell phone bills (20 cents per text message? are you SERIOUS, verizon wireless? and after we hemmorage all this money to you you STILL won’t let my husband buy a new phone at the promotional rate? bastards!) But I do get to feel, in my own little smug way, that I am going to find a way to use this degree to help communities like the one I left when I left teaching, and people acknowledge that that’s a hard, respectable choice (even if most of them think I’m batshit crazy to pass up an associate’s salary.)

In the end, I probably will do something different, if only because I don’t have the fortitude to work at a law firm. My stomach turned this fall every time I gritted my teeth and cheerfully told a summer job interviewer that I wanted to work at a big law firm forEVER (!) because it seemed like exciting, interesting work. (Ha! The lies we tell!) But for now? For now I just type a lot, listen to lectures, debate insanely fine points of law with fabulous friends, and read until my eyes bleed. Once a week, I go to a local high school and teach the students about the law. I make them stand up and have debates about unconstiutional searches of public hosing, I make them tell me their stories about their encounters with the police, and I make them read their cell phone contracts to see how they’re getting screwed (seriously, you think you have it bad? Try to be a teenager who has no credit history whose only option is a second-rate pre-paid company that runs out of a bodega on the corner and is happy to charge fees on top of fees for their POS service.) And then, after an hour, I go back to the law school to eat my free bagels.

THAT’s why I feel ashamed.

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