Monday, August 28, 2006

For the Record

Law school really is just like high school, only there's no mandatory gym, and no curfews.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I feel old. Not really super-old, just slightly, eerily not the right age. Most of my friends here either just graduated from college, or have been out for one year, and I've been in the quote real world unquote for five.

That doesn't make me feel superior; it actually makes me feel kind of sad. What have I done with that time, and what have I learned from it? These people three or four years younger than I am can do everything I can do. Well, except they probably can't make quite as good a cappuccino as I can. I did get pretty skilled at that.

Yesterday I woke up feeling somewhat worse for wear. There was a party Friday night, and I had a couple of glasses of wine, and I didn't drink any water before going to bed. Realizing that lying around wasn't going to make me feel better, I forced myself out into the world and went to get coffee. The Mudhouse was way too crowded to hang around, so I got my iced coffee to go and wandered east along the mall. I stopped at a kiosk where I saw some pretty jewelry for sale.

I like semiprecious stones. I'm not sure where this interest came from, but I remember buying a tiger's eye ring at the Maryland Science Center in fifth grade and wearing it until the stone came unglued. I learned about hematite, which looked like solid mercury to me. Then in middle school I got interested in beading, and I bought strings of sodalite and malachite chips to use in necklaces. Every time I went to a natural history museum I headed straight for the gems and minerals exhibit.

So I started talking to the woman working at the kiosk about the jewelry she was selling. She showed me blue moonstone, iolite, ocean jasper, carnelian, citrine. I examined a pair of amethyst earrings that iridesced blue, a turquoise bracelet with a pattern of brown veins that looked like tree branches in winter, a pendant made from a tiny geode. She told me she did crystal healing. I didn't tell her I didn't believe in it; I just listened. I told her how I loved garnet and peridot, but wanted to try something new. She picked me out a pair of tourmaline earrings I never would have chosen for myself, with tiny cascading pink, green and black stones. She asked me if I'd studied gems before; just a hobby, I told her.

After I paid for my earrings, some other customers came by and I saw that the woman was going to be busy, so I thanked her and went to leave. She reached out and hugged me. I realized, walking home, that I've actually learned quite a few things since I was 22. Too many to enumerate, in fact. But it all adds up to me being a much more functional person than I was then, with much better judgment, more social grace, and a lot more courage.

I'm here in C'ville to accomplish two things: get a law degree, and be comfortable in my life again. Sometime later I'll tell more of the story of the five years since I left Charlottesville the first time, but suffice it to say that my reasons for coming back were a lot better than my reasons for leaving. So I may be older than most of my classmates, and that might feel a little weird, but I know I belong here, and that's much more important.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I should probably retract my earlier gloat about making out like a bandit at the PILA sale. I seem to have bought the wrong edition of my Torts casebook, which I realized around 8:00 last night when I tried to do my Torts reading. Fortunately my book contained two of the three cases that were assigned, and I have some very generous and helpful section-mates, but I did experience a brief Moment of Terror. Easygoing and chill are not words I would self-apply.

I met up with Jeff for dinner last night here on the mall. We intended to try out Himalayan Fusion, which I still want to check out, but, lured by low prices on the menu posted in the window, ended up at Eppie's instead. For $6, I got baked sweet potatoes, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli and cornbread, in such portions that I couldn't finish them, and I was really hungry. Everything was delicious. Eppie's is also about two blocks from where I live, which is good because Five Guys is even closer, and I need a tempting alternative to their burgers within easy reach.

The first day of classes yesterday was, dare I say it, fun. You know your Crim class is going to be good when the first comment is, "I think people who kill their children should have the option of choosing sterilization over other forms of punishment," and everybody laughs. And then after class you end up talking about crime and punishment out in the garden, because the class seemed too short.

Living alone is taking some getting used to. It's very quiet. I don't have much of an attention span, so it's remarkably easy for me to get distracted by my thoughts. It's funny: I used to be able to read, or knit, or whatever for hours on end, and now my thoughts are always wandering. I hope that through practice I'll be able to get my focus back.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Holding out for the PILA book sale turned out in my favor. I bought all my books for the semester for a mere $246, less than half the bookstore price. Now that I've secured books, I shall commence to hit them.

School starts tomorrow. I'm dying to see who gets cold-called first. My section all put in $1 so that whoever's in the hot seat at least gets a little cash as compensation for the icy hot terror he or she will experience. Although, as one of my peer advisors pointed out, too bad for whoever gets cold-called second.

I also got an email today that said my loan money was on the way, so, financially speaking at least, it's been a good day. And the burgers at the Biltmore are as delicious as I'd remembered.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Content (or lack thereof)

First day of orientation was good, albeit somewhat overwhelming. My brain is tired. There are a whole lot of people in our incoming class.

And now I'm going out to the Biltmore with everyone else in the known universe. I may be nuts, but at least I'm only a mile or so from home so it's easy to bail.

Later in the week there will be more to report.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It Just Gets Worse

Last night I dreamed that I was diagnosed with colon cancer, crashed my car twice (once hitting a police car rushing to the scene of an accident and causing it to burst into flames), was banished to a basement infested with cockroaches, and discovered that I had secretly taken a (potentially very dangerous) alien as a pet. This was all in one dream.

On the plus side, in the same dream I got to wander through some very beautiful woods and discovered that I could walk through walls. So I guess it wasn't all bad.

The moral of the story: never, ever eat chicken lo mein just before bed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Breaking Ground

One proviso to those who might be considering taking a barista job: the work is fun, the tips can be great, but oh boy do you ever end up addicted to caffeine. I'm lucky enough to be able to wake up just fine without coffee; it's easier with, but if there's none to be found, my central nervous system sort of shrugs and moves on. Hours later, the pounding headache sets in, and getting rid of it is very difficult.

Of course, I know this, so I made sure to have coffee ready to brew no more than 20 feet from my bed. This morning was the Habitat for Humanity event that some of us 1Ls participated in, and I had to be at the law school at 7:45, so I set my alarm for 6:30. Through a series of unfortunate and sadly rather predictable events (I knew this was going to happen!), my alarm did not go off, and I was awakened around 7:15 by a disturbing dream involving needing to remove some gerbils from my bedroom without hurting them and without my parents finding out.

Dreams of Gerbils. Like Dances with Wolves, I guess. I've never had that sort of dream before.

Anyway, consequently, I woke up way too late for coffee, and barely made it to the law school on time. And now it's 4:30 in the afternoon, and I have The Headache. I also have one pair of jeans, one tank top, and one pair of shoes that are covered in red Virginia clay. Most of the job we were needed to do today at the Habitat house consisted of digging ditches into which pipes could be placed to carry rainwater away from the hill on which the house was built, thereby avoiding excessive erosion. Because I have tendonitis in my wrists, I couldn't do too much of the digging, but I did get plenty dirty and have a lot of fun. Then I went to the Cingular store on 29 and spoke very briefly with the world's worst salesman:

Him: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I need to buy a phone, and I think I've already decided on the plan I need.
Him: Who do you have service with now?
Me: Um, I don't. That's why I'm here. I mean, I do have a prepaid phone, but I don't want to use that long-term.
Him: Well, which plan do you want?
Me: The $39.99 a month one.
Him: And which phone?
Me: The one that was listed on the website as being free... well, one of them. The LG flip phone... it was a camera phone... it was silver...
Him: Hahaha... oh, yes, we don't have that phone here. It's discontinued, that's why you can get it on the website for free. Hahaha.
Me: Ooookay... well, do you have any phones here that are free with a two-year contract?
Him: No.
-- silence --
Me: Okay, then I'm not buying a phone here.

Let's see... first we ask irrelevant questions, then we laugh at the customer's expense, then we tell the customer we don't have what she wants and suggest absolutely no alternatives. Great way to earn a commission!

So I came home and took a nap, and then I woke up, with The Headache, and decided to fix myself some coffee. I use a French press, so that means I have to heat water in a kettle on the stove. I guess I'm not that used to my new stove, because I turned on the front burner instead of the rear burner and didn't notice until the thought crossed my mind that I ought to be hearing whistling by now.

So it's back to the Mudhouse with me. Clearly I'm not competent to prepare coffee.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fait Accompli

I'm successfully installed in Charlottesville. I have a bed, a chair, internet access, food in the fridge, etc. James and his family are bringing down the rest of the furniture and assorted belongings on Friday. (It'll be good to have more than three shirts. I could have planned this move a little better.) My mom and my friend Joe helped out tremendously on this end, and of course Dad and James helped out tremendously on the other end. I'm feeling grateful to a lot of people lately. Thanks, guys.

Being back here is going to take some adjusting. I feel like some antisocial misfit. People keep saying hi to me and I panic because I think I must know them since they're being so friendly, but I'm so bad at recognizing faces that I can't be certain. By the time I realize that they're complete strangers just being nice, I've missed my chance to say hi back. The Pittsburgh smile/nod/eye contact/grimace doesn't seem to get the job done around here. Shame, because it's so versatile and requires so little thought. On the other hand, I might actually get to know some people here without having to spend two years doing everything alone.

I had iced coffee at the Mudhouse tonight, on a sojourn for free wireless. It was amazingly good. Still, I've got my bag of Coffee Tree Ethiopia Sidamo here, and my grinder and French press, so I'll be making my own coffee in the morning. Time to rein in my spendthrift ways. I even bought peanut butter and jelly tonight (among other things -- don't worry Mom and Dad -- no starving here).

I've now spent twelve hours here and haven't randomly run into anyone I know. That might be a record.

I'm considering getting a Cingular phone. Right now I have an Alltel prepaid/no-contract thing that's worked well as a stopgap, but I think it's ending up being more expensive than a traditional plan would be. And I'd like to be able to talk to friends and family without worrying about minutes. Any Cingular horror stories? I'm not a fan of the two-year contract, but the price is right -- $40 a month -- and I can get a nice phone for free, so it seems like it would be worth it.

It's so humid here that my windshield fogged up tonight and wouldn't clear unless I was driving at least 35 mph. Not sure what to do about that. Defrost didn't seem to work on any setting, and even opening the windows didn't work. I need to be able to see out of my car. I guess the weather will be changing relatively soon, anyway.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


The week of high-90s temperatures has finally been broken by a big rainstorm. I have my a/c off for the first time in ages. It feels great to air out the house -- and not to be paying per minute for the luxury of sitting on my couch without breaking a sweat.

Today I worked my last shift at the Coffee Tree. The six weeks I worked there had their share of interesting moments, but altogether it was a mostly stress-free, sometimes fun temp job that paid my rent. Last days at jobs are rarely uneventful, and today featured one of my co-workers oversleeping and coming in two hours late. On the plus side, I learned that the morning rush can indeed be handled with only two people. But it's really, really not fun.

I also realized that, even though my espresso machine doesn't work as well as it used to anymore, I should still be able to use it to make my favorite summer beverage, which is a total ripoff of the Starbucks Doubleshot. Two shots of espresso, two packets of Sugar in the Raw, four ounces of skim milk and a splash of half and half, shaken with ice. It's so good and so easy to drink when it's hot and early and I don't feel like consuming anything at all. I've been drinking these for the past month and a half and have now gotten my friend Jessica hooked on them. I hope they'll be something I can make quickly in the morning and save myself a little money.

Eleven days until moving day. I'm trying to make the most of that time. My friend Greg's coming over tonight and we're ordering pizza from Conicella's, our local place here in Greenfield. They're good people and the pizza's delicious, and of a style that's very common around here but hard to find in C'ville: tons of high-quality cheese; not-too-sweet, slightly acidic sauce, and crust that's thin in the middle and puffy on the edges. Anyone who's got a line on this stuff in C'ville, let me know.