Law School Buzz

The buzz has started and I’m getting excited about starting law school. Meeting new people and settling into an unfamiliar location always provide unique moments. I’m also a bit apprehensive about picking up textbooks (casebooks?) and writing essays (briefs?) again after two years of “mental relaxation.” It’s easy for a curious mind to enjoy learning new facts and methods, but it’s very different to enjoy the routine practice of them. I will remain of the mindset that studying will be a rewarding pursuit until I am proven otherwise.

The timing is ideal because as I near the end of my two year hiatus, I feel less invested in what I’m doing than ever. It is a frustrating place to be – a transitional place that leaves too much time for unstructured thinking. There is a constant sense that I should be doing or producing more. I am looking forward to some fresh challenges and new adventures to enrich my thoughts and creativity.

As I wrap up my life in Virginia, I will not forget all that I have experienced and learned while here. My mind has been opened to the possibility of imagination and an entrepreneurial seed has been planted. I hope one day to bring my interests in technology, writing, and people together. I need to learn more and find more humor in daily life before I can lead a project, but when the time comes I will not be afraid of trying to succeed.

Writing Notes

I’ve had writer’s block for two days now, and I hate it. I even wrote a neat little simile about writer’s block last night that involved tea-kwon-do and using your attacker’s strength to your advantage. But, as you can imagine it was a horrible attempt at paralleling martial arts with my approach to writing.

I’ve been bothered a lot by the fact that I’ve never really written fiction. In most of my stories the physical details are fictional, but the emotional core is something very real. I’m between thinking this is how you write good fiction and this is how you write bad non-fiction. I want the writing to be authentic and I want to be able to relate to it, and I have nothing wrong with bringing in my own experiences. There’s no better way to write a compelling story with believable details. But, I’m having difficulty distancing myself from my characters and often, they come off as idealistic figures of loneliness or loss or whatever my emotion of the day is. They aren’t flawed and they have no humor. They are one dimensional and because of this, I get stuck at one page of writing.

My goal for the coming week is to write two 1500 word stories that involve three central characters in crowded settings. This is partially in response to Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” which is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. It is simply told, but leaves you with much to think about.

Drag Racing

The high school parking lot is dark and empty. The faded lines that define the spaces during weekdays create lanes the length of the lot that we are racing down as fast as we can in a Jimmy and a Jeep. The fear of getting caught is too far behind to enter our mind.Alice is in the back seat of my Jimmy holding on tight and talking – always talking on her cell phone. Her bright blond hair shines against a black t-shirt that reads “Metallica” in bold silver letters across her breasts. I look away from the pavement ahead and into the rearview mirror. Alice sneers when I catch her eye then blows me a kiss. The air in the car sits low like a heavy fog and smells like cotton blossom body wash and cigarette smoke. I inhale deeply through my nose and exhale through my mouth as the adrenalin pulses down my spine. The engine whines as the car nears eighty-five miles per hour.

At full speed Bob’s jeep looks like an autonomous red blur rolling on black spheres. Even during the day he is invisible behind dark tinted windows, and now he is just a lurking shadow ahead and to the right.

There isn’t much to this race, beyond the girl in my back seat. She was the fixation of his adolescent dreams and is now the source of our silent animosity. She is also my girlfriend because I was too arrogant to know the rules. To care.

Bob doesn’t talk to me anymore, and it is irony, perhaps, that we are racing each other tonight. As if racing cars in the darkness of nowhere will settle something. Damn it, it’s just a girlfriend. Is that really going to wreck our friendship? It was more than that. I knew that. But staring ahead into the open lot and knowing there was a lost friend racing next to me exaggerated the void.

It was over before it started.

Caffeine

Lately I’ve been trying to decrease my caffeine intake. Most days I drink 20oz of coffee, and I usually drink 30 to 35oz one or two days a week. I’ve only been counting my liquid caffeine, so anything I get from chocolate, etc. is unrecorded. Also, the 20oz limit is a bit misleading because 8oz of coffee has about 135mg of caffeine while 12oz of soda only has about 40mg.

I definitely notice the difference between Starbucks coffee (about 440mg per 12oz), or an excessive amount (over 20oz) of caffeinated beverage now that I’ve cut back. Although I don’t feel like I’m sleeping significantly better, it is easier to fall asleep earlier or more quickly. I haven’t noticed many other benefits.

Summer Swim

7am – the alarm goes off. Buzzing. Not music. Music never worked for me. Not since I started waking up on my own. The covers are off and I pull on my swimsuit in seconds. It’s a summer morning and I’m going swimming. No shower. Showers don’t work in the summer because the bathroom gets hot. The water fluctuates and then I’m tense before 8am. Not good.I bike to the lake, only a quarter mile away. My towel is around my neck keeping my bare chest warm. I take the easy route, down the hill to the left of my driveway and bank hard around the right hand turn. The wind feels fresh on my face. Most of the neighbors aren’t out yet. They’re still sleeping or drinking coffee in their kitchen alcoves. I don’t know. Their sprinklers are on.

The sand is cold. The water is still until I step into the waters edge and watch ripples radiate out towards the rising sun. There’s an orange glow that softens to yellow as it rises into the scattered clouds. There is a silhouette of a sailboat to my left. It is still. Gray. Taller and perpendicular to the horizon. It’s the left margin of my morning. To the right is a dock. Part old and part new. This is easy to tell. The new wood is yellow. The old, gray.

I’m only testing the water. I don’t walk in. I jump. I walk out the dock stepping around seagull droppings and holes large enough to catch my large toes. The dock sways a little – like I’m on a boat. I find the spot where I hid shampoo on a shelf under the dock and drop my towel.

The morning sounds have been limited. An alarm. Air racing by on my bike ride. A car driving by above the beach. The crunch of rocks under my feet. The creaking of the dock.

A splash.

A gasp.

Hogwarts Violates Equal Protection?

I’ve been reading Harry Potter lately. I’m not going to bother explaining it because if you haven’t heard of it you clearly don’t care. Harry attends a school called Hogwarts, which is exclusively for wizards.

To jump subjects for a bit, we are studying the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment in Constitutional Law. Today, we got to Brown v. Board of Education, a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that held the “separate-but-equal doctrine” established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) to be unconstitutional.

When the Court approaches laws challenged with regard to race, they look first to see if there is a sufficient state interest, and if it is closely related to the purpose of the law. Very rarely to laws using race as a classification survive this strict scrutiny.

Jumping back now, I posit that Hogwarts may be violating the Equal Protection clause. This is a bit of a stretch considering that Hogwarts is in England and out of the jurisdiction of a U.S. court and the school is fictional. But… but… but…

The book sets up wizards to be a separate race from muggles, the later of which are non-wizards. And the school is exclusively for wizards. Muggles aren’t even supposed to know about wizards.

There are a myriad of issues here… just kinda interesting to think about.

Untitled Poem

I have lost a lot of love.
I have let it slip away. I have thrown it down.
In anger;
In fear;
In disgust.
I have spilled love like a kicked-over soft drink on a linoleum floor.
In that case,
I watched it spread
Until all that was left
Was a thin brown sticky film that made a nasty noise when passers-by stepped on it.

I have lost a lot of love.
I have written it down in blue ink on yellow paper.
I tore that up.
I have typed it out in the dark.
I deleted that.
I have scratched it in the sand.
That is gone, too.

I have lost a lot of love,
But I am not lost Because . . .
No matter.
Love is always.

Morning Walk

I walk the street each morning to get coffee. Rush hour. People look busy – frantic and frozen. Most travel efficiently, cutting corners and jumping signals when they can. Heads down. Hands tucked. Earphones firmly sunk.They are shutoff to the world around them as if today was nothing more than the indistinguishable middle of an infinite staccato experience. The probability of something extra-ordinary happening is no greater than their chance of winning the lottery, which is clearly stated in the window of the deli down the street as 1 in 172 million.

Bad odds to bet your smile on.

A bell tolls from the horizon. It’s a sound you would pay to hear played in a grand hall by famous musicians. Deep and pure, it resonates as if it were coming from within – but feels more like I am along the inside edge of its hallow drum. The vibrations grab me. Touch the small of my back and run their fingers along my spine until I shudder.

I look around, wondering if anyone else hears it. Nothing. Not a soul so much as flinches.

The hammer strikes the wall again – rings a deep smooth percussion. I shake more. Still, heads down. Eyes glazed. The passing time so meaningless it might as well stop ticking. The bell shakes again.

I’m still this time. I step back a moment. Cautious. Wanting to locate the drum. Others walk through it. No notice. No care. It’s more efficient that way.

My Year In Cities: 2005

I spent at least one night in each of the following cities last years:

Traverse City, MI
Ann Arbor, MI
Lansing, MI
Detroit, MI
Chicago, IL
Aspen, CO
San Diego, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Visalia, CA
Herndon, VA
Washington, DC
Arlington, VA
New York, NY

San Diego

Weather. Air. Warmth.
LaJolla. Walking around. Coffee. Fondue. The Cottage. The seals. The funky grass.
Taking pictures.
Walking on the beach. Searching for Rainbow sandals.
The flights. The fatigue.
Apartment. Golden Spoon. Honda.
…Happy and Relaxed.

A View from Starbucks: Consistency in and Inconsistent World

It seems too pristine of a moment to forget about completely. Most of my college weekends have been spent on the road, driving one place or another. I don’t go places that are exceptionally notable, though I have had fun. I go home a few weekends a semester and usually visit friends a couple weekends. It usually accounts to about seven weekends on the road driving and two weekends flying somewhere.

Sitting in Starbucks on State Street in Ann Arbor, I look up from my laptop and through my reflection in the window I see a moving truck park at the curb. When I am not driving, I am usually sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop by the window hunched over my laptop computer. I am undoubtedly wearing my yellow headphones with the right ear speaker taped on.

The mist feels fresh on my face and creates a refreshing distortion through which I can view the dire night lights of Ann Arbor. I stroll by the fountain outside of the League and sip a medium house coffee with a half second of sugar mixed in with a knife. I like the feeling of loneliness that comes with being alone. I would rather manifest grand expectations by myself as the darkness leads me. Go to law school and graduate. Get a job. Settle in somewhere and make friends with the neighbors. Take trips to law conferences in Lake Tahoe with my wife before we have two children three years apart so that they can go to the same high school. The older one can drive the younger one to school and hate it, but that way I will only have to buy one car for the both of them. I do plan on buying them a car. I had one in high school, and it seems to make sense to me. It doesn’t have to be a nice car. The main thing that matters is that it is safe – especially if one of my children is a girl. If I have two boys, I am not really worried if their car breaks down. In fact, I would prefer it. My car has never broken down and I think dealing with a broken car would help my son(s) build character. It could be a convenient break, such as running out of gas, blowing a tire or whatever else can simply go wrong with a car. It has never happened to me so I don’t know.

Rockefeller Center is insane below me. I am sitting on the second floor of a Starbucks across from the famed tree and ice rink, warming up with a cup of mild yet nutty Holiday blend coffee. I can’t believe the chaos outside. I love it. Nothing I have experienced before has been similar. I have been to busier places, but nothing as fervent and well dressed as this.

I am sitting in a Starbucks at the south east corner of Washington Square in the heart of the NYU campus. It is a blizzard outside and my feet are soaking wet because the only shoes I brought with me are worn out deck shoes. That was a slight oversight on my part.

Wall Street is eerily quiet on this snowy Saturday evening. I am sitting in a Starbucks just south of the New York Stock Exchange, warming up with a cup of mellow yet bold Yukon blend coffee. It was only by accident that I found the coffee shop in which I am seated. As always, I am facing the window looking through my reflection in the window to a darkening night setting between the formidable buildings. I not only feel lonely, but also look it as I slump in my chair writing this. The whole scene deservedly fits with my mood. I am tired, cold, and I just saw the WTC site for the first time in person. It looks like any other hole except for the rusty iron I-beam cross that peaks through the falling snow reminding you that two thousand people were crucified in a matter of hours.

The Last Four Years

The last four years have passed more quickly than I could have ever imagined they would. I know life is a long journey, or so I am told. But, so far it seems to have flown by at the speed of light.

Message to My Senior Class

I wrote the following, and then read it to one of my high school classes on May 30, 2000 – our last day of high school.

What fascinates me is that for the past four years I have managed to avoid expressing how I truly feel about all of my friends. I pass people in the halls that appear to be good friends, yet I vaguely know what makes them tick. For this reason I wish that high school could continue so that we could all out-grow our prejudices and perhaps get to know each other better. There are so many cliché sayings that I could use to sum up my high school years that it is tough to choose one. The same goes for songs. So, as I glance back on what simple knowledge I have learned, I will incorporate it with quotes from works we have read this year. A sort of tribute to you and your class, Ms. Shelley-Barnes.

In the words of Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you [all]!” (Austen) Over the past four years, I have had some of the most fun times of my life, a direct result of meeting and getting to know some of you. Nowhere do I feel more comfortable than at this school surrounded with friends. What would life be without friends? I would rather not imagine.

As Janie says in Their Eyes Were Watching God, “Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.” Regardless of how far away from home each one of us journeys next year, we will be stepping into a vastly different setting. One in which we carry more responsibility, where greater demands are placed upon our young shoulders, and where the beaten path of life becomes grown over, forcing us to make our own. We, “leader[s] afraid of our own authority,” have reached the point in life where we are allowed “to live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!” (Joyce)

“If wealth flows upon one, one may be perhaps / Luckier than one’s neighbor, but still not happy.” This is a line from a play by Euripides titled, Medea, that in the context I mean to use it, means that one should always look past money, beyond clothing, cars, and other material items and discover who people really are. There will always be richer people and poorer people, but never anyone that is happier than you if you are content with yourself. I like to think of it as being an eternal child, never growing-up or giving in to the harsh realities of the world. My mom reminds me of this simple thought, telling me just the other day to never grow-up. Attack the world with the mindset that life is fun and that it is a joy to be here.

“What is value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.” (Hesse 145) Throughout life, remind yourself from time to time that everyone has their special abilities, and in one way or another they are better than you. Learn from them, and though you may never achieve Buddha status as Siddhartha did, you will appear all the wiser. “Find the source within [your]self,” that is, figure out what you love to do. Then do it. If you love whatever you do in life, you will never have to work a day.

I don’t know if colleges have lockers, but if not they are certainly one of the things I will miss from high school. Other things such as meeting in the grade wings in junior high to talk with friends, racing to get to the front of the lunch line, holding a girlfriend’s hand between classes, writing notes so secret that if anyone else, especially a teacher, reads them, you would die, and school busses (a/k/a cheese wagons). I will miss all of you, too.

T.S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets, “What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning. / The end is where we start from.” This day marks the end of a significant period of our lives, but also marks the beginning of the rest of our lives. Use the rest of your life to its fullest and you won’t have any regrets. It is at this point that I sign-off, leaving you what I have learned, and letting you all know that you have my respect and I wish you the very best in life.

Kapalua Golf Trip with Dad

The date of this post is the approximate date of the trip, but I posted it 15 years after! Dad and I traveled to Hawaii to meet up with a friend of his, Bill Raduchel, who was hosting a guys golf trip of sorts. We played all three Kalalua courses (since the trip they’ve eliminated one of the three). It was a blast from a golfing perspective, and a fun time with dad. I hope to go back someday to refresh my memory of the Plantation course.

18th Hole

18th Hole

Fred, Dad, and Me

Fred, Dad, and Me

Moloka'i in the background

Moloka’i in the background