27 April 2007

you have to be kidding

I got my hair cut the other day and after she cut my hair, the stylist reached for some product to put in it for the blowdrying. "NO!" I said, "I hate having product in my hair. It weighs it down and I have to wash it sooner. And every time I get my hair cut, I tell them no product and they put it in anyway. Please don't."

The stylist said, "I completely understand. No product."

A few minutes later, post-blow-dry, discussing some flyaways, she said, "You could just try something really light, like this one." (pouring product into her hand and rubbing it around) "It would work."

And then she swiped her product-filled hands through my hair.

They can never resist.


Then I went to the Apple store, where I fell in love with black and red headphones but ended up with boring white ones that don't quite fit into my ear, because of the $60 price difference. I tried to find a place to check out, but it turns out that now you can check out by credit card with any customer service person, wherever they are wandering through the store. They just slap a "Thank You" sticker on your purchased product and you get the receipt by email. Unbelievable.
"Where's my indifference?
She prays to God most every night
And though she swears he doesn't listen
There's hope in her that he just might...

And all the colors mix together
To grey.

She says...
I live on the corner of grey street
And the end of the world."

(Dave Matthews; Grey Street)

I love depressing music, although my love for it doesn't so much correlate with feeling depressed. In fact, it often makes me feel better.

On the brick wall above my little cafe table, someone took blue play-doh and made tiny letters and stuck them on one painted brick. They say: LoVE

25 April 2007

frantic life

This is the first exam time this has happened to me, actually. Usually everything stops for focusing on exams. This time, nothing has stopped - I'm still quasi-internshiping, still babysitting, still job applying. I'm just trying to fit studying in around it. I may in the end be more productive with studying, because there is so little time that I have to use it well. But I'm tired. Tired in my bones and my brain.

It's really sad when your end-of-the-day treat for yourself is applying for jobs. Pathetic.

I heard of some possibilities, though. I might not be a complete loser as of June 1.

24 April 2007

On the train on the way home today, a man with one leg told me I had nice legs - "dancer's legs." I thought for a second about the weirdness of talking about legs with a man missing one, which isn't all that weird, actually, because legs are just legs and then shrugged and said, "Thanks!"

wrap up

I can tell I'm about to leave this city in the appointments I prioritize. My planner is full of the things I usually put off until I can't anymore because soon everything will change. I met with the financial aid people about my loans and the repayment I'm about to start. I made an appointment to get my hair cut before graduation. I gave two baby books to my friend whose wife is pregnant. I ordered glasses in case my next job is in a dry place or I get pink eye. I called for a time to get my new right wrist brace fixed since right now it cuts off my circulation and my hand turns purple. This is starting to feel real.

23 April 2007


It is late, if almost midnight is late, and it is when you are tired and today finished your last law school class ever but can't relax because not only do you have two papers and one exam left, but you also have a list of five million things to do, the most important of which seems, frankly, much more important than the exams and is: APPLY FOR JOBS. That's what I do now. I apply for jobs. Day and night. Just applying and applying. And applying again.

Unfortunately, there aren't actually that many jobs I want to do and sometimes I realize in the middle of an application that I actually don't want to do that job. But I apply anyway, much of the time, because I need a job. And then, on the jobs I don't want, somehow I end up doing incredibly stupid things, like not attaching my resume, which I think might be a way that myself and the universe are saying, "This is not the job for you."

I have stopped looking at the location until after I look at the job. But sometimes the location does factor in. Many a location I can imagine going to, would be excited to go to. But some locations I look at and think, "Nope." Afghanistan, for example. I think I need to ease into Afghanistan. Who can get me into Pakistan? Or Bangladesh? Then maybe I could think about Afghanistan. Right now I just have no context for Afghanistan, although I used to read some blogs from there, before the people moved on to Tajikistan and, I think, Indonesia. I need to ease into Iraq, too.

Bedtime. No more job searching tonight.

22 April 2007

blue, blue, blue

Realized that I sounded depressed in my last post, which wasn't the intention. I'm just holding on for three weeks from tomorrow when I get to leave this city. It's been a long, tough two-and-three-quarters years. I'm ready for the next thing, even if I don't know yet what that will be.

S and I went to Princeton today, for one last little outing before exams and papers get bad. It was warm and beautiful and people were out in droves. On the train on the way there, I pressed my face against the window to watch planes landing at Newark and, far above them, other planes passing over, pulling tails of steam. I feel heartsick and happy when I watch planes flying in blue sky.

Waiting for the Dinky, which our train missed, the only sound was that of the birds chirping and a bit of my tense and stressed mind relaxed. I had forgotten that birds could be louder than cars. I had forgotten that you could sit in the shade of a tree instead of a building. I had forgotten that the air could smell of grass rather than exhaust or grit or pee. I had forgotten how badly I need those things.

I felt alive for one entire afternoon.

(Happy Birthday, Momma!)

21 April 2007


The truth, people? I'm bored. I have nothing left to say here because it's just more of the same. I've done this before: spring comes, which is nice, but so do exams, which are not nice. There are only so many semesters you can document the number of exams and papers left before you get bored even with yourself.

I'm too busy to notice the funny things going on around me (with the possible exception of the poor, poor confused tourists, but enough fun is made of them on overheardinnewyork). I've perfected the art of stealing time from one project to supply another, but nothing gets all it deserves.

And every once in a while, I just randomly shout out "JOB!" and S has to say, "You'll get one. Just channel your job anxiety into applying. Every time you worry about getting a job, apply for one." Which is good advice, but most of the time I don't have time to apply for jobs. I did consider getting up and applying for some this Saturday morning at 4:58 a.m. when I couldn't sleep for worrying about everything. But then eventually I fell back asleep, after some deliberate deep breathing and attempts not to think about anything because every possible topic is fraught. Fraught, I tell you. "JOB!"

Quasi-internship has turned into the quasi-internship that never ends. And all I've learned from it is that I don't want to spend my life in an office in New York writing about things that happen in the rest of the world but never actually doing anything about them. I think I might have known that before, so learning it wasn't that valuable.

BUT! Presumably I will actually get a job, eventually. And then, the excitement will be right here. Don't look away, all zero of you. (I checked. I have two subscribers on bloglines. One of them is me. The other is T. Heh. I can write whatever nonsense I want here.)

20 April 2007

I can breathe again

It's getting warm, and I'm starting to feel like I might be able to live. I can't survive winters in bitter cold north. I didn't miss seasons when I lived day after beautifully warm day in Rwanda. Never did I miss seasons.

At lunch, my quasi-internship supervisor and I got lunch and sat in a little bitty park without coats. I squinted into the sun and got a tiny sunburn on my cheeks and arms. A baby in a yellow sweatshirt toddled past with his daddy chasing him. A homeless woman sat with a boombox blaring music. My soda got hot.

I was wearing my new red shoes. I'm starting to understand why people are into shoes. Last summer at my job in Liberia, a female colleague about my age (isn't this funny? it used to be that everyone was older than me; now they could actually be younger) pulled me aside and said, "I just want to tell you that the girls are making fun of your shoes. They say you wear the same ones every day." Okay, I wore leather beaded sandals made in Kenya every single day. But I had no money last school year and I had to conserve space on the way to Liberia because I had just had wrist surgery and couldn't carry too much in the way of luggage. Plus it's hot in Liberia! Why can't I wear sandals?

Anyway, I started buying better shoes for my next foray into Africa and/or my next job, because I don't want to humiliate myself again. It seems I'm supposed to be an adult now, but as far as the shoes go, I don't mind. I like the new shoes. I only buy flats, because I hate being extra super tall. I'm tall enough, I think. But these red flats make me smile.

T-minus three weeks to the J.D.

14 April 2007

on Bob Marley and African roads

There is nothing like a little Bob Marley playing in a cafe to make me heartsick with missing places. Bob Marley is, you see, the soundtrack of Africa. In a crowded dalla dalla, it's going to be on the radio. When you buy some cassettes on the side of the road for $2 each, Bob is going to be among them. And then you are going to spend the next six months listening to either love songs in Swahili or Bob. You may have grown up in a household where the only music was Psalty the Singing Hymnbook and Handel's Messiah, but pretty soon you are going to know every word to Buffalo Soldier and One Love. And you are going to like it. Your options are to like it or go crazy, so you are not just going to like it, you are going to start loving it. You are going to sing along while you drive to see the gorillas, on the rocky roads under the volcanos. You are going to relax to it at a beach restaurant. Someday, you are going to hear it in a cafe in New York and exhaust the Africa blogs on your rss reader and then go looking for some more and they will all turn out to be written by Peace Corps Volunteers in Cameroon, which will not satisfy you, and then you won't get anything done that you are supposed to get done because all you want in the world is to be done with law school and going somewhere, anywhere, before you lose your mind with boredom. And you might even bring Bob along.

10 April 2007

i love angry music

Or maybe I really mean defiant. I was a (fairly) good kid, at least as far as I remember. My parents may have a different opinion. But I always wanted to be the bad one. I'm still a (fairly) good kid, enough that I don't have to regret anything about who I am. I mean, I'm a lawyer. How conventional is that? (Okay, not that conventional for me, because no one but no one around me growing up was a lawyer. But lawyers do things like make law, which is really conventional.)

"I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4-wheel drive..."

I generally save my anger for things like injustice or those MASSIVELY ANNOYING SLOW PEOPLE WALKING THREE ACROSS on the New York sidewalk. But although I may be boring much of the time, I still love defiant music. Just so you know, that's all in me somewhere. Just wait until I find the right outlet. The world won't know what hit it.


You want to know why it's much more interesting to live in Africa? Things don't go so monotonously smoothly all the time. And it doesn't annoy anyone. Car broken down on the side of the road for four hours? Bank doesn't have computers? Bus overfilled? Talk. Wait. Put the baby on someone else's lap so you can hang out the door. Just saying.

07 April 2007


Applying for jobs, that is. I am ready ready ready to be done with law school. But applying for jobs is like pulling teeth (not that I've ever had a tooth pulled, so that might be a bad example but I'm not sure because I don't actually know what it feels like). I am qualified for a surprising number of jobs. Surprising because as a friend of mine said, "No one is ever qualified for those jobs."

And I'm brave. Well, brave. I'm braver than I ever used to be. Applying for jobs is my least favorite thing in the job world (almost). I can do jobs and do them well, I just hate applying for them. But it gets a bit easier when you are qualified. That and having spent the last three years at a school that constantly tells you, "Everyone wants to hire you when you graduate from here! Everyone!" Which might be a lie, but at least it's an emboldening one.

I'm applying. I'm applying for Africa jobs, for the moment. I don't really have the experience to apply for jobs in Asia or Latin America, but I do think it would be great to work for an organization that might send me there after a few years.

Wouldn't it? Wouldn't it? I love thinking of the possibilities.


One of the things I love about New York (I'm getting all nostalgic now that I'm about to leave) is the individual interaction. It's actually one of the things I also love about Africa. You can't hide behind a big shopping cart and a major retailer and a U-Scan in New York, or in Africa. You can't hide in your car. It is you and the guy selling incense on the sidewalk. It is you and the homeless man asking for money. It is you and the woman who cleans the bathroom. It is you and the crowd of teenagers on the subway. Every day you get to make a choice: smile and say hello, chat for a moment while buying the purse or the scarf, or shove past them. Unfortunately, you get a lot of shovers in New York. But you also get real moments of being human together.

02 April 2007

stupid road construction

3 April 2007
0040 hrs

The thing about living in New York is that every once in a while there is a terribly loud noise and you hold your breath for a moment and think, “Am I still alive?”

Usually you are.

2 April 2007

Conversation last night:

M: So I take the A train a lot and I’ve noticed – okay, first, have you noticed that hardly any white people take the A train to Brooklyn?

A: I’ve always wondered about that. Which train do the white people take to Brooklyn?

M: The F. The F goes right through Carroll Gardens to Park Slope, where all the white people live. The 7th Avenue F stop in Park Slope is the center of white people Brooklyn.

M: Anyway. White people on the train never give money to people who ask for it.

[Long conversation about patterns of generosity, essentially that rich white people give to institutions and less-rich non-white people give to individuals and churches. A had read a study.]

(Side note: why do the white people want to live on the least reliable train ever? The F is always and forever under construction. And it comes by so seldom. I mean, it’s just silly to choose to live on the F line.)

Today I got on a Manhattan-bound A train in Brooklyn and looked around my car. It was full. There was no seat for me. I stood in a doorway and thought about last night’s conversation and checked to see who was in the car. There were two other white-ish people down at the opposite end of the car. Everyone else was, you know, not white. I stood in the doorway looking at the teenaged boy sharing his headphones with his girlfriend and the old woman nodding slowly off to sleep and I thought, “I’ve never been so thankful for Rosa Parks.”

still thinking about it

I love the name DOOM for a bug spray. By comparison, Raid is so boring. "I went on a raid but all I got back from the cockroaches was this little piece of bread." When you have a giant bug, you really want DOOM. It's me or the palm-sized Liberian spiders. Only one of us can live.

(Did I mention that a large part of the spider problem was my fault? When I packed for Liberia last summer, my suitcase wasn't quite full, so I filled it up with crumpled newspaper to prevent so much clattering about in there. When I got to Liberia, I tossed all the crumpled newspaper into a corner. That's like building a nest and begging the spiders to move into it.)

So I was doing some last minute re-checking on my paper last night? Turns out that there is a bunch of new UN-like stuff related to the topic. As recently as Friday, which seems unfair. Now my brain is clogged by it all and I can't seem to finish the paper.

I babysat today and put baby T in the front carrier to walk along the Brooklyn Promenade. He fell asleep and I sat taking in the sunshine, looking out over the river and listening to the kids shouting on the playground. I love warm weather.

01 April 2007

procras... what?

30 March 2007
1955 hrs
Paper is at 4.5 pages and by Sunday night (or Monday, I guess) it has to be 20. NO PROBLEM. Right? Right? I’m making little goals. Baby steps. The current goal is to get onto the 6th page and then make some teeeeeee! In my new mug. Which is a travel mug but it’s new, so I’m going to use it. It is pretty and has shiny pink flowers and a pink lid and a chick and a bunny. But no bees. I wanted bees, apparently, because I made them up this morning when describing the mug. Maybe I could buy some shiny bee stickers and put them on there.

2040 hrs
I accidentally took a little break before I got onto the 6th page because my stomach got all annoyed with life. And then I washed some dishes. So no tea until I’m on page 7. I am the most scatter-brained paper-writer in the entire world. I read in the NYTimes that when you switch tasks you lose concentration because you can’t get back on track fast enough. I lose a lot of time when writing papers, because my brain skips around and if I don’t go write what I just thought of down in the section where it belongs I’ll probably forget it. But it doesn’t make the process flow all that well.

2304 hrs
Today’s goal is met. On the 9th page. Oh the joy of S having gotten a movie that I want to watch.


31 March 2007
1431 hrs
Just getting started again. It’s amazing how much time the internet can waste. Fortunately, I don’t get wireless in my bedroom, so I have retired there to my desk and music. I am on my second cup of tea in my travel mug and every time I look at it I feel happy. My favorite part is the word sunshine. That and the pink. When I was younger I was very anti-pink because I thought it was too girly, but now I have embraced my girlie-ness. But clearly not my paper-writing.

I just want this semester DONE. I can’t do law school anymore. I’ve burnt out on it. I used to like things and people and now I have this simmering irritation constantly just under the surface, ready to burst out at any time against sales clerks (“We don’t do cash back.” “EVERY pharmacy does cash back!” “We have an atm instead.” Because atms charge $1.50 to get money.) or slow people on the sidewalk (MUST you meander back and forth across it so I can’t pass you?) because I’m at the very end of my tolerance for this city and this law school thing. The only things that are keeping me sane are the weather and Africa blogs and the baby. The weather lately has been stunning and long walks in the sunshine with the baby are pretty much the only thing rejuvenating me enough to keep me from dropping out of school every single day.

Notes from crim pro, to prove that big words are all you get from law school:

(focus on invocation)… invocation of 6A right is offense specific… no persuasive distinction… in response to adverse interrogation… interpositional role of counsel… analogous re. 5A… question is whether primary emphasis should be compulsion… voice exemplars… relevancy, admissibility, specificity… thwarting grand jury investigation with interlocutory appeals… quashed… not adjudicative or adversarial… substantial exculpatory evidence…

The question really is: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That’s all from one day of class. No, it doesn’t make sense to me, either, but in a month I’ll have taken an exam on it and theoretically be knowledgeable.

Must. Finish. Paper.

Two pages and then a break for lunch.

1917 hrs
Getting nothing done. I’m only on page 12. I wanted to be to 18 by tonight but likelihood? Maybe not so good. I keep getting distracted by the New Yorker and the half-functional internet and the desire to do anything, ANYTHING other than write this paper. I play with the cat. I do wrist stretches. I get water. Anything. This paper is massively boring. I pity the professor who has to read it.

2040 hrs
The pain, the pain.

2324 hrs

about how little is known about Liberia’s biodiversity. Flora, insects, amphibians, ARACHNIDS, gastropods or other animal species. I HATE SPIDERS. Did I mention that Liberia has spiders bigger than my palm? Ew. Ew. Ew. In Rwanda the people before me left a can of Doom, the bug spray, and I never bought a new one. I just never needed it. (Also noticed in a photo that my hair was straight there. Less humidity.)

In Liberia, I am going to have to keep one huge can of it next to my bed. You know how much of that stuff you need to kill a spider the size of my palm? A lot. Then you can watch it seize up and actually witness what the spray does to the nervous system. Reminder to self: don’t breathe it.