Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am thankful I am not you.

This column was originally published in the Georgetown Law Weekly on Nov. 21, 2006.

We are in the midst of finals, of the stress of dealing with family for winter break, and of the end of college football. This is therefore an extremely emotionally trying time, and at such times it is easy to forget that we are all extremely lucky, and that is a shame. When I stop and think (read: sober up) I realize how truly fortunate I am, and how truly fortunate we all are. In the spirit of the holiday season, I am dedicating this column to a list of people I am not, behaviors I don't engage in, children I am not related to, and schemes I am not part of.

As a 2L, my bitterness reached cataclysmic levels. That's not hyperbole; I had a disastrous 2L year, and I'm relieved to see the back end of it. 2L year is like the adolescence of law school, complete with crying, awkwardness, self-esteem issues, and, in at least 15% of all cases, a resurgence of acne.

New York is a great city; it is the beating heart of America, like it or not. New York is the yard stick by which all other US cities are measured, and New Yorkers are right to be proud of it. It is also the most expensive place in the world, ever. I thought my tiny studio apartment is DC was expensive; I pay $900 a month for a place so small I can cook and go to the bathroom at the same time. Little did I know that the same square footage in Manhattan would fetch approx. $4,000 a month, and seventeen years rent as a deposit. New York is so expensive I couldn't even afford McDonald's the last time I visited. "Uh, I guess I'll have a number three." "One goose-liver value meal coming up. Would you like to try our apple pie, served in a box make of pure platinum?"

Many of you came straight out of college to law school. I don't want to rag on your decision making, but: HA. You'll never know what it's like to have to re-adjust back to school. You'll always think your grades actually say something about your worth as a person, and you'll never really know what its like to go without medical insurance for years at a time. You will also never get to wear the self-satisfied smirk that we older students wear whenever you open your mouth to deliver a heart-felt opinion. That smirk just might be my favorite thing about law school.

I am thankful that I have never compensated for my own lack of self-worth by sending angry letters complaining about EJF to everyone who is required, in their job description, to take my whining seriously. I am thankful I have never sat in a room of people happily enjoying the moment of student unity, bonding, and charity, and thought "Hey! I should b**** about something, so people will see me as an outside-the-box thinker!" As a completely unrelated and somewhat ad hominem aside, I am also thankful I am not ugly.

Even if I s*** the bed here, there are a good number of friends and family who wouldn't give a darn. There are probably whole sections of my support network, in fact, that already assume that I'm going to flunk out. That's the beauty of decreased expectations; if I keep my bathroom clean enough to stave off legionnaire's disease, I've already beaten most estimates. I have at least one signed statement from my high school AP Chemistry teacher that reads something to the effect of "If Mark makes it through college without getting beaten up by any faculty, I'll be shocked." Guess what, Ms. Levinson: That didn't happen until law school.

Before coming to school here, I have people tell me that law students were worthy of a whole host of negative adjectives; those same people also told me that I would fit in with such students. I can honestly say that neither prediction has come true. There is way more diversity of opinion in the student body than I expected, and way more diversity in career goals than I imagined. I thought that every law student would be a big firm/future politician type, and I am glad that that applies to only 89% of us.

With any luck, all copies of any Law Weekly that I've written in will be lost to history once I graduate. I'd hate for anything I've written here to rise up and bite me years from now.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc. Come back safe.

Mark Nabong will pay for making me edit the profanity out of this thing. His columns are online at chicago-typewriter.blogspot.com.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Going to school & the fall season

I just realized that this is the last time for the foreseeable future that I will get to experience fall semester. It is the last time I will enjoy the leaves on the ground on the way to a campus for class, and the last time I will be a student for the season we most associate with school, autumn.

I've spend a good number of years in school; most of my adult life has been in a school, and I am not as young as I act. I'm going to miss it, however excited I am about the next phase.

I didn't go to a sports-heavy college; The University of Chicago is Division III, which meant we put the biggest nerds in pads and left them on the football to scramble with other nerds in pads from Washington U. and Emory. Nevertheless, fall football reminds me of high school, and college, and grad school. It reminds me of eating steaming hot dogs bought from a pleasantly semi-hygienic stand. I went to my first big football game in high school, Northwestern-Penn State 1995, the same year they first went to the Rose Bowl. I started my adoration of Notre Dame football that same year, watching them trounce Southern Cal 38-10. I started really following the Bears in college, sitting in the TV lounge with football fans from a half dozen teams, all of use with books half-heartedly opened on our laps.

Autumn is my favorite season, and that's in no small part due to reminders it leaves me of schools and people I've left.

Extra Point has a great video of his trip back to Notre Dame for the UNC game this year, and it really does take me back.

Extra Point: Yea! Woo! Nostalgia!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Apparently not every evening student has kids

This column originally appeared in the Georgetown Law Weekly, Nov. 14, 2006. For those who don't know, evening law students at Georgetown graduate in four years instead of the normal three, and are designated as Section Seven.

In a previous column, I revealed that I do not know all that much about evening students. Apparently, not every section seven student is raising children; for many, their kids have already left home for college. My apologies. I have been told by evening students that they are often the forgotten Georgetown students, as most events, talks, lectures, and classes are aimed at the full-time days students.

Evening student Morlocks deserve respect.

Why is that? Why do we neglect the evening students so much? They are valued members of the GULC community, and should be accorded respect. In many ways, they are superior to the day students.

1) Evening students have done more in their life then run for Fraternity Treasurer.
I'll like to invite all the day students to look at their resumes. See all the fictional crap you listed under "accomplishments?" Evening students have actual accomplishments there. You interned for Harper's Monthly? An evening student founded Atlantic Monthly. You worked as a paralegal after college? An evening student was a paratrooper during college; he studied during drops. You studied abroad in Europe for a semester? An evening student did, too, except it was called Pangaea back then.

2) Evening students know how to cook.
The section seven students have to know how to cook, because the cafeteria is closed by the time they get here. When your corporations class goes on break, you run down and grab a sandwich; when the evening corporations class goes on break, the law center has transformed into a Mad-Maxian wasteland, where there is no food, the pop machines only have ginger ale and Yoo-hoo, and wild packs of roving Gewirtz 1Ls roam the land looking for booze. There is no one to make over-priced chicken fingers, no one to refill the soup tureen, no one to grill panini sandwiches. The evening students have to make their own sandwiches, their own soup, their own Thermoses(TM) full of Jello(TM).

Trying to get food at Georgetown after 6pm is tough.

3) Evening students do not have tawdry flings with other law students.
Maybe it's because they are all married, or maybe it's because they know how stupid it is to become romantically involved with people with whom you work, but no evening student will date any other law student. It is just as well, because when would they have the time to date, really? There are section seven classes every night of the week, and exams on Saturday. That leaves Sunday for dating, which is impossible because that's where football lives. Go Bears.

4) Evening students are less politically irritating.
Everyone has strongly held beliefs, but evening students do not believe in purchasing silk-screened t-shirts displaying those beliefs. In the entire history of Georgetown Law, there has never been an in-class screaming match over a politically-charged topic during an evening class. Not so with day classes; I have never taken an class for an entire semester without discovering what each and every person thinks about the President/School Prayer/Gay Whales at extraordinarily high volume. I expect the rancor in the day classes to get worse now that there are a whole lot of GOP staffers without jobs.

5) Evening students do not blog about everyone else in class.
All I know is that I read a blog someone posted about a stupid thing I said in class while I was saying it. That is not ok. It is also not ok to blog about law school drama in general, even if you disguise people's names. You are not clever enough to hide it, because if you were you would not have started the blog in the first place. I once read a blog from another student who listed people he hated, and the pseudonyms he gave people rhymed with their actual names. Someone came up to me after one particularly venomous post and asked, "Did you read that blog last night? Apparently he really hates this guy Narc MaBong."

6) Evening students actually donate money back to Georgetown.
Look around at the major contributions to the GULC, and you'll see that many, many more of them come from evening students than you might expect. I suspect that they donate at a higher rate because the bitterness of law school is spread out over four years instead of three. Perhaps they give back at a higher rate because they see people they entered law school with graduate a year ahead of them, and realize everything actually turns out ok a year after law school is over.

These reasons, and more, say to me that we should do better about reaching out to the evening students. Administrators can insure that cafeteria services remain open until after every evening class goes on break. Student groups can make sure that some of their events reach people in section seven. And if you are a full-time day student, introduce yourself to an evening student and offer to baby-sit.

Mark Nabong is finally some other editor's problem. His columns can be found online at chicago-typewriter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld resigns, despite FOX News


(Thanks to VT for the pic)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day

No column today, as I was pretty busy this weekend. Instead, I want to kick off the 2008 Presidential campaign officially by asking everyone to to visit Obama/Affleck 2008 and leave a comment.

Barack and Ben, for America.