June 2007

Dear chirpy blonde lady who is an “independent contractor” hired by BarBri to come and talk us through the practice exam we all failed, who insists that the BarBri paced program is “not tough enough” and if we really want to pass we should pretty much kiss our friends and families goodbye now and plan on not seeing anyone again until August:

Bite Me.




Mason and Bama and I decided today that the only way we could really expect to get any studying done was to go to the beach.  Oddly enough, we got a hell of a lot more studying done on the beach than I have managed to on any other afternoon, when I am at home and distracted by snacks and the internet.

If only I hadn’t missed that one damned patch on the side of my neck when I put on sunscreen, it would have been the best day ever.  Instead, I  have a really irritated, small yet oddly-shaped red mark on my upper left neck- sort of like I’ve been nuzzling a hedgehog.

Studying at the beach- so awesome, and yet not.

If you didn’t take Secured Transactions in law school because everyone reassured you you’d learn everything you needed to know about it during BarBri, and then in BarBri the teacher positively careens through Secured Transactions, barely even stopping for breath, let alone explanations, because “you all remember this from your secured transactions class in law school anyway,” how big a problem is that going to prove to be, exactly?

Last week, the lovely Samantha was interviewed by her cousin, and she put out the word that she’d be willing to similarly interview any interested parties. I took her up on it.



1). You’ve mentioned that you used to be a teacher. Now you’re going
to be a lawyer. Are you able to take any skills you used teaching and
bring them into your new profession? Like, I don’t know, detentions?

It would be so awesome if I could put annoying coworkers (or annoying clients!) in detention. Sigh. Since I can’t, I’ve assembled an alternate list of teacher skills that are useful in lawyering:

  • An ability to shrug and laugh at the absurd inefficiency of government systems.
  • The “Teacher Look”.
  • A thorough understanding of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. (Thank you, 5th grade civics!)
  • How to inform someone that you know they’re lying, and that you will not tolerate it, without making them hate you for calling them out.
  • How to be humbled and honored when someone trusts you enough to share some of the most difficult and personal parts of their life with you, and how to repay that trust with compassion and respect.

2). You’ve mentioned that you like to play trivia games. What is the
craziest tidbit of information that you know that you’re proud of? And
has it helped you win a game or do you just bust it out at dinner
I LOVE trivia, but I am having a heck of a time selecting one crazy piece of trivia that I am most proud of knowing. I do, however, have a favorite trivia-esque party trick: I can recite all 50 states in alphabetical order without taking a breath. It is rather impressive, if I do say so myself.


Ooh! I thought of one! Did you know that the national currency of Ecuador is now the U.S. Dollar? And that most U.S. Sacagawea dollar coins are in active circulation in Ecuador instead of in the U.S., because Americans have a weird aversion to dollar coins? That has come up in two different trivia contests recently. That’s a good one.

3). Did you ever return your grandma’s figurine and get store credit?
If so, what did you buy? If not, WHY??
I did. Don’t tell.

I got these shoes:

new shoes


And this body scrub:

for exfoliating

And this lipstick:

shiny and overpriced!

And this eye cream:

supposedly brightens?

And even had some left over to save for future purchases! Who knew Little Violet could yield so much?

4). If you could be any celebrity, who would you be and why?
Ugh. I would really hate being famous, I think. I generally am very bad at being the center of attention, to the point where even birthdays and graduations make me squirm. (Though I love being in the middle of a conversation. Go figure.) For that reason, if I had to be a celebrity, I think I’d choose someone who was famous and really well respected in their field, but relatively unrecognizable outside it. Like a really great author, who occasionally gets recognized on the street by admirers of their work, but who can generally shop at the grocery store pretty much unbothered. Other “celebrities” that fit into this category: inventors, classical musicians, really brilliant academics, and Supreme Court Justices. Since I’m all into lawyer stuff, I’d choose Supreme Court Justice. Those guys never get recognized. Well, except when they’re in D.C., because D.C. is filled with wonky types who take perverse pride in knowing the names of and recognizing various Congressional aides, to say nothing of Supreme Court Justices. So I guess I’d like to be a Supreme Court justice, except one who lives in Chicago, so as not to get recognized.

(This is awesome! How else can I bend the rules of job qualification and geography to create my perfect famous person identity?)

If I had to be an actual celebrity? Like one who works in “The Industry,” or is famous enough to be featured on the cover of People Magazine? I’d be Kate Winslet, because she is awesome.

5). You just moved. Are you more likely to unpack and decorate or
leave everything in boxes for a while? Also, was there any sentimental
attachment to your old place? Why or why not?

I am a fast unpacker- I hate digging through boxes to find a particular shirt or shoe or what-have-you – but I am a real dawdler on the decorating. In fact, I believe that the walls of our new place would still be totally bare were it not for John. Once you’ve unpacked the clothes, and the bath stuff, and the glassware, and the books, you’re just so tired. Who wants to hang pictures after all that?

And I don’t miss our old place a bit. It was chosen in a hurry, since I moved back to Chicago and had to start law school almost immediately, and while its location was good for school, and it had a nice view, there were many things I did not love. I did not love the odd half-walls that didn’t go all the way to the ceiling and that made having a roommate for that first year nearly intolerable. I did not love the total isolation from any place you might want to shop, eat, or catch a train. I really did not love the ridiculous property management company that seemed to delight in distributing absurdly annoying daily memos.

I think that when we eventually leave this place, we’ll feel a lot more sentimental- this is the first place we’ve bought together, where we bought our first bedroom furniture, the first time we’ve made the effort to paint rooms in our favorite colors- it’s going to put a lump in my throat when it comes time to move on.



Thanks for the great questions, Sam! I am bad at tagging people (it’s like when I throw a party and fear no one will show up- I’m afraid I’ll tag people and then no one will reply!) if you’d like to be interviewed by me, leave a note in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll come up with some really juicy questions for you.

1. Picking up dry cleaning:  When you pick up 6 weeks worth of dry cleaning on the windiest, hottest day of the year, you will be left with an unpleasant choice:  hold it aloft, effectively creating a sail made of dress shirts that catches the wind and buffets you about, or drape it over your forearm, causing the plastic film to chemically merge with your arm in a gross slime of plastic, sweat, and skin.

2.  Police intrigue: Plainclothes police officers are easy to spot as they pace up and down the el platform looking for a suspect, despite their efforts to appear nonchalant.  It is so hot they are wearing their bulletproof vests over undershirts, with no shirts on top to hide them them.  Subtle.

3. Overheard conversations:  “Is it hot today?  I can never tell these days if it’s actually hot, or just the menopause.”

Can someone explain to me why Starbucks insisted on playing the same five damn songs off the new Paul McCartney album over and over and over yesterday?  I mean, I get that they have some promotional tie in (see, e.g., tremendously over-the-top ass-kissing reviews of said album posted in front of the Starbucks cash registers.)  But why only five songs?  Is the rest of the album too bad to play, even in a store that calls it “evocative, emotional, and rocking?”  Is this really just an effort to get loitering, Bar-studying students like me, the kind who buy one cup of coffee and then sit for three hours, out of there?  Because let me tell you, if that was their plan, it totally worked.

As I believe I have mentioned in this space before, I am in BarBri hell. Every morning I get up, shower, get on the el, and trudge into the loop for a three and a half hour closed-circuit video lecture on one of several scintillating law topics that will be covered on the Illinois Bar Exam. After that, I get back on the el, trudge home, and lay on the couch, listlessly watching t.v. and berating myself for not doing the BarBri homework assignments.

Really the only saving grace about BarBri is that I get to regularly see my friends. We sit next to each other, pass notes, and chat during breaks. Makes the whole thing less horrible.

Except I have this one friend? Who I actually like quite a bit? Who is driving me SO BATSHIT CRAZY that I don’t know what to do. He is making me so nuts that I am tempted to sacrifice the anonymity of this blog just to call him out for all the internets to see.

But I won’t. Instead, I will call him Guido. “Guido” is punishment enough.

Guido is incapable of whispering. Seriously. He is also apparently incapable of writing notes. Most of us, when we want to make a snarky comment about something the lecturer is saying, write said snarky comment in the margins of our BarBri review books. Guido? Just says it out loud. Not in a whisper. It causes people sitting around him to shoot him looks of such disdain you would think he would take the hint. People in BarBri are very high strung, and they do not like interruptions. Guido refuses to take the hint. These people really hate Guido and, by association, his friends. I feel very awkward about being associated with snotty people who refuse to conform to social norms. I am a people pleaser. While I don’t always pay perfect attention in BarBri, I try to be courteous enough to not make it harder for other people to pay attention. Do the crossword! Do sudoku! Write notes in the margins! Text message, for all I care! But the talking? Has to stop.

Today, I sat next to Guido. He kept trying to talk to me. I kept shooting him Teacher Death Stare (being a former teacher has its advantages.) At the break, I called him out. “Seriously, Guido,” I said, “I know you think I’m being prissy, but it’s annoying as hell, and it’s rude. Stop talking. Please.”

Guido looked a little wounded. I didn’t care. It was worth it if it made the talking stop.

When we came back from break, however, I realized I had not been specific enough about the need for silence generally, rather than focusing on the talking. Why? Guido had returned from the snack shop with a half-pound sized bag of wasabi peas. In loud crinkly cellophane.

crinklecrinklecrinkle…..crunch! one pea down the hatch.

crinklecrinklecrinkle….crunch! pea two.

For an hour, people. One freaking pea at a time. Loud, open-mouthed crunching. I thought the girl sitting in front of us was going to lose her mind. She actually left class early, after shooting Guido a look of death. Guido drove her out. With PEAS.

Is there a way to nicely tell a friend that you will never, under any circumstances, sit next to them in BarBri ever again?

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