February 2006


I have been trumped. A Google image search of my friend Beignet’s name gets you this:

Emily Miller, despite her tragic pen-collecting death, cannot compete with a man with an elderly man wearing a sash, garters, and some chipper pastel flowers on his hat.


Oh my goodness. This is what studying too much will do to me.

As a fun break, I decided to do an image search on google for my name. I have a VERY common name, so I wanted to see who else has it, and what they look like.

So I type “Emily Miller” (not my real name, but mine is about as dull,) into google and come up with this completely and totally adorable picture. No, seriously, look at how adorable this child is. So precious it kind of makes you want to steal the image and place it on your blogger profile because it is so much cuter than any pictures that you actually have of yourself, because maybe then people will think that you were a charming and darling child and thus you must be a charming and gorgeous adult. Posting an actual picture of myself at this age would not accomplish this. Most pictures of me at this age feature (a) a grape juice mustache, (b) crazy fly-away hair that caused my mom to repeat “Emily Miller you go upstairs and brush your hair right this minute” ad infinitum, and (c) unflattering fashions (this was the eighties, after all.) I don’t have a single picture of me from this age with perfect ringlets, a jumper, and bangs so cute you could just eat them for dinner. Bangs on my curly hair are, in general a bad idea. Really bad. No, seriously. Fine, see for yourself:


Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Anyway, I click on this adorable, adorable munchkin’s picture and am transferred to the bio of a lovely woman named Emily Miller whose life passion is (wait for it)…..collecting fountain pens.

Okay, that’s a weird hobby, but as I keep reading, I learn that she went back to law school after a career in P.R., and worked as the executive director of a non-profit that helped advocate for stronger legal protections for foster children in Seattle. Holy crap! She’s got my name AND my perfect job! John and I are dying to move to the pacific northwest, and I would love to do legal work on behalf of kids (former teacher and blah blah blah) and I have just decided that I must email this woman to tell the funny story of how I found her picture because we have the same name and I was bored and googled us and how cool that she is a lawyer and I am a lawyer in training and hey, maybe she wants to help me get a job and we can go for coffee and she can be my mentor and we can make t-shirts talking about how cool it is to be named Emily Miller when I get to this part:

On August 9, 2002, Emily lost her life while pursuing her passion of pen collecting. During her first visit to the nation’s capital and to the Washington, DC Pen Show, Emily was mugged and shot to death. By all accounts, on August 9th, the world lost a beautiful soul, and Emily’s pen collector family lost a wonderful friend.

You cannot make this shit up. Either pen collecting is a seriously hazardous hobby, or being named Emily Miller is. I am totally freaked out now.

I am big on devising theories. Look at a set of facts, try to discern a pattern, share pattern with others so that they might marvel at my brilliance, my searing levels of insight. For example: the theory that those people who raise their hands incessantly during class to show that They Are Smart all spent childhoods as bedwetters, the theory that men buy dogs to try to get laid, and, most recently, the theory of travel karma.

I have a new one: the theory of conservation of homemaking energy. This is a lot like the first law of thermodynamics, conservation, which says that energy can be transferred from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed. I believe that the same holds true for housekeeping duties. There is a finite amount of energy available for housekeeping duties, and once it’s spent for the day, it’s spent. There is no creating more.

Case in point: today, I baked bread. From scratch. With many whole grains in it, and a little honey. There was softening of grains, there was kneading, there was the unending waiting for the dough to rest, and rise, and rise again. And now, there is bread- delicious, soft, dense, rolled in oats for a professionally finished appearance. Luscious.

There is also, however, a load of wet laundry sitting in the washer that I have been meaning to transfer to the dryer for HOURS, and I can’t quite get around to it. This is the law of conservation in action. I have expended my entire allotment of housekeeping energy for today on these lovely loaves of bread, and I think I am now stuck with the possibility that I will wake up tomorrow to face a washer ful of mildewed socks and t-shirts. And before you suggest that I ask John, kind lad that he is, to transfer these items for me, note this: the law of conservation of household energy applies to households, not individuals. John responded to my flurry of homemaking by taking a nap. I suggested that he might help, and he yawned mightily, sighed, and said “hm, smells like bread in here. Bring me a slice?”

My book club (side note: everyone should have a book club full of cool women who drink wine and occasionally, just for kicks, try to talk about the actual book,) read the new Maureen Dowd book, “Are Men Necessary?” this month. I’ll spare you the suspense: you can finish the book and still not be at all clear on whether Ms. Dowd thinks that men are or are not, in fact, necessary. Total mis-title.

But among the sort-of-interesting-but-terribly-underdeveloped thoughts she raises in the book is the idea that “feminism lasted for a nanosecond,” and what we’re stuck with now is a hyper-sexualized culture juxtaposed against fanatic Christianity and a return to nearly puritanical values. Now, I’m no stranger to exaggeration for emphasis, but “nanosecond” seems unnecessarily dismissive of the feminist movement, and the observation that we now have a sort of weird cultural schizophrenia about sex is no great revelation. But hearing about South Dakota’s troubling antics, coupled with the book club discussion, has got me thinking.

Some folks who think about this more than I do have suggested that Roe v. Wade doomed feminism: it rendered women complacent, while it galvanized those opposed to legal abortion, perhaps even inviting the kind of creeping, insidious threat to reproductive rights and gender issues in general that I find so troubling. But it’s so hard for me to imagine an America without the Bible belt and the big red states in the middle and this whole neoconservatism that I can’t really picture that it would look like.

But if Roe v. Wade doomed feminim, would overturning it resuscitate feminism? And would it be worth it? My instinct on the “worth it” scale is no- and the thought of a return to back alley abortions is too gut-wrenching to endorse- but it’s an interesting thing to think about. Maybe feminism needs a swift kick in the pants. And I can tell you, Maureen Dowd’s scolding is not going to be enough to do it.

Moot court is over!

Now, there are only two week until exams. Sheesh. I am going to be so ready for spring break.

When you go to Federal Jurisdiction, a class in which you are not enrolled, because they will be discussing the topic of the moot court competition that is (gulp) tomorrow, and they start with a discussion of THREE cases that you have neither read nor heard of.

I have been doing a lot of travelling the past few days, some planned, some not. Suffice it to say that I have been through O’Hare and Midway twice each since Thursday. I would not recommend this schedule, unless you are engaged in some sort of anthropological study of people’s behavior in airports, and probably not even then.

Travelling several times in such a short window has alerted me to a remarkable phenomenon of which I was not previously aware: Travel Karma.

On my flight back to Chicago from Boston, I suddenly, and I don’t know how this happened, turned into an annoying awful person to travel next to. The kind of person you dread, the kind of person that makes even non-religious people cross their fingers and say a little prayer that goes “please please please can’t I just sit next to some exec who travels 300 days a year and doesn’t want to talk to me any more than I want to talk to him so we can just sit in stony silence and ignore each other? Please?” I could see this happening to myself. It was like an out of body experience, me floating above myself in seat 11A, marvelling at how I could be so goddamned annoying but powerless to do anything to stop it. First I got myself into a conversation with the person sitting in 11C, and managed within 2 minutes to make a vaguely condescending comment about his major in forestry. Then, to overcompensate for my accidental condescention, I proceeded to ask him lots of cheerful questions about forestry, except I don’t know enough about forestry to ask more than your basic, “so, forestry, eh?” so my cheerful question had a tinge of desperation to them. Nice. This was compounded by the fact that the person sitting in 11B had arrived by this time so I was asking chipper, poorly-formed questions across him to try to make nice with Mr. Forest in 11C. Then my light didn’t work and I somehow managed to suggest to 11B that if he would refocus his light we might both be able to read, even though I didn’t really want him to and could have used the nap, and in truth we really couldn’t both see and he ended up reading his magazine in the dark. I felt bad about this and tried to convince him to move it back so he could see, saying something like “my light not working is just God’s way of telling me I’m not meant to do Constitutional Law reading on this flight.” Wow. Evangelical and snobby. A rare combination. God doesn’t give me messages often. Or ever. Not sure why I chose that moment to start hearing the Word. Then I spilled a diet coke all over my lap. And 11Bs. Seriously, it was one of those flights where my floating-above-myself self wished that the lady across the aisle would just throw up or strip naked or something to divert the attention away from my own craziness.

Then, on my next flight, from Chicago to San Francisco, I sat down next to a man who practiced, shall we say, a casual approach to hygeine. (Motto: “less bathing, more cologne!”) Awful. Epically awful. And when the pilot got on the intercom and said “well, folks, we’re looking at a pretty stiff headwind, so this flight is going to take a little longer than normal” and told us that our flying time would be FIVE AND A HALF HOURS (normal length: four hours), that’s when I knew. I knew in the way that sitting next to Mr. Smelly (who also did a weird, grating, tooth-sucking noise for most of the flight) for an extra hour and a half makes clear: this was payback for my insanity on the way home from Boston.

Travel Karma, my friends. Travel Karma.

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