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Saturday, August 29, 2009

I want this sweater

Look at this awesome sweater on the cover of Macy's current catalog. You might think that because it is on the cover of the catalog, it might also be found inside the catalog, or on Macy's website. But, you would be wrong.

Why would they do this to me? So infrequently do I feel like I absolutely have to have something, but this sweater beckons to me, and it must be mine!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Misadventures of Bicycle Commuting, part III

Today, my morning ride to school was going very well. I didn't get nearly as winded as the past two days, and so I thought I must be getting stronger already!

Then, while hanging up my bike on the rack at school, I realized that I left my backpack at home, and my supposed progress was only a result of being 20 pounds lighter on my ride. I did remember my trunk bag, which had my books in it, but my backpack at home had my laptop, notebooks, writing utensils, and, most importantly, my coffee (the school's coffee is terrible, so I had to make my own).

I knew Ian was home, so I could call him and have him deliver my backpack to me. But my phone was in my backpack at home. Do they even make payphones anymore? How can I call him without a cellphone? Furthermore, do I even remember my own inamorato's phone number?

Luckily, I ran into one of my friendly classmates in the locker room, and she lent me her phone to make the call. And by some miracle, I punched in the correct sequence of numbers, and eventually was reunited with my backpack with plenty of time to attempt some contracts reading before class.

I really need to not leave my brain and backpack at home. That's the risk of putting so much new information into my head, though. All the old information and my common sense is falling out already.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bicycle! Bicycle!

Well, it's the end of day 2 of law school, and my second day of bike commuting.

I've had a few misadventures as far as the bicycling goes. First off, I can handle the ride to school loaded down with books ok. It's hard, and I'm all sweaty when I get there, but I have a nice spacious locker reserved for bike commuters, and I change from my spandex power suit into clothes, and that helps me cool down. Tomorrow I'm actually going to shower on campus. Generally, I feel that a little sweat never hurt anyone, and I'm not a particularly smelly person. Plus, it's like free hair product. So I haven't showered at school yet. But tomorrow is the big day. Pray for me.

As for the ride home, it really really sucks. It's very uphill, and I can't do the whole thing loaded with books without walking part of the way. I know, because I had to do it on Monday when I missed the shuttle home. I got out of my class at 7:50:PM, changed into my bike gear and prepared my bike, then watched the shuttle pull away just as I turned the corner with my bike. Then I sat at the stop, thinking the shuttle made a regular stop, but after 15 minutes I consulted the shuttle schedule only to find that another shuttle wasn't due for an hour. Ach, du meine Scheisse! I exclaimed. So I begrudgingly took the very uphill ride home with my heavy books under the fall of post-twilight, pre-darkness. It was ok, I made it, but I really hope not to have to ride home very often, because really, it's a bitch, after a long day of mental fatigue and already a morning exercise behind me.

Then today, I decided I wasn't going to miss the shuttle. After classes, I put in a few hours of study while hanging around on campus to hear the Dean's welcome speech. It was a nice speech. When it ended at 6, I once again suited up, and rushed to make the 6:ish shuttle, which I thought would make a stop near my house on its way downtown. Turns out I was mistaken, and it's the 7:00 shuttle and later than stops near my house. Shuttles before then go directly downtown, which is even farther a ride, and much more uphill than school. Scheissemelone! I exclaimed.

Luckily, I noticed that the first stop downtown was on the 12 line, which Ian and I had previously figured out is a bus line that we can take from our house to downtown, so naturally it must go from downtown to my house. I boarded that bus and took it to the Safeway a few blocks from my house, and finally arrived home at nearly 7. Still before the time I would have gotten home had I boarded the proper shuttle, but at least if I had boarded the proper shuttle, I could have spent the interim time reading. Oh well, I'm read up for tomorrow anyway. Now I have to prepare for Thursday.

School is very good so far. It's a lot of work, but I'm not really freaking out about it yet. Today one of my classes staged a trial in which I got to act as a judge, and that was pretty fun. I also read a hypothetical situation that I anticipate having to write a memorandum for in my writing class, and I spent some time sketching out some arguments for either side of the issue. It got me pretty excited, to tell you the truth. I never thought I would be interested in litigation, but the trial side, and argument is actually looking interesting to me now. You have to be very analytical in law, and that suits me well. I still am a bit afraid of the time I will inevitably be called on in class, and will naturally sound much less eloquent than everyone else who's already been called upon. I tend to sound very informal when I don't really know what I'm talking about. But then, maybe all those people who sound really formal are just using big words to mask the fact that they don't know what they're talking about. Either way, my day will come, and so, too, will come the day that a professor makes me cry. I'm just counting on it.

No, actually, all my professors seem very reasonable and supportive, and not at all scary so far. I can tell some of them are tough, but fair, and those are usually the best kinds of instructors. But emotional showers are still a possibility in the forecast.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's always raining in Portland

Today was the first day of orientation. I ate some free food, met some classmates and one of my professors (who doesn't seem as scary as I feared - he speaks Norwegian, after all, and nobody who speaks Norwegian can be bad), listened to a lot of boring information that I've generally already heard, and got my first case briefing assignment, due tomorrow. It only took me two and a half hours to brief the one case. I understand that's pretty normal, and it will get faster as I get used to the language and the process of sifting through facts for relevancy and extrapolating rules from indirect statements.

I also discussed with a classmate the abnormally hot weather we're having in Portland (this morning I awoke in a sweat, and our apartment has no air conditioning, because "it doesn't get hot in Portland"), and he said that in another few months we'll forget what the sun looks like. We started then discussing rain, and I said, "It isn't that bad here, though, right? Mostly drizzly and not downpourish."

He paused a moment and said, "Because you're already here, I'll say, no it isn't that bad, but if you weren't here yet, I'd say it's terrible."

"Why is that?" I asked. "Too many people moving in or something?"

"It is damaging the infrastructure." He said.

And, get this, the guy isn't even native to Portland. He's from Massachusetts, lived in NYC for a few years, and has been in Portland for a few years now, but already he subscribes to the no-outsiders-in-Portland! mindset, which I postulated existed back when everyone told me the slummy Hawthorne district was the bees knees of Portland. Surely these people are trying to keep people out, I thought.

Seems like it's true!

But for the record, I want to say that I think this new classmate is cool. Also for the record, I will never tell people not to move somewhere. That's just snobbish.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

They forgot to mention...

So when I was shopping around for the right school and city for the next three years of my life, Portland seemed like about as perfect a place as you could get. And I still think it is really, really close to perfect.


Someone forgot to tell me about all the spiders. I mean, there are spiders EVERYWHERE. I know Utah has a lot of spiders too, but they are the kind that generally stay out of sight, and when you do see them, you scream, and then go find someone braver than you to kill it for you. Or, if they're feeling particularly Buddhist, maybe they'll just put it outside for you. I don't really care either way, as long as I don't have to see it, and it doesn't live in my house.

But Portland spiders are very visible; they are known as orb spiders, because the build those creepy circular webs and then sit in them, waiting for bugs to fly right into them. And of course, in order for those webs to work best, they build them across wide expanses of space between trees and bushes, and sometimes, like today, right in front of your front door.

Today after going to school to have the nerdy IT crew setup my computer for the network (these guys were seriously more socially deficient than even I), Ian and I decided to take a stroll through the Tryon Creek State Park. Not far down the path, I glanced into the bushes only to see the most heinously creepy orb spider I have yet seen. It was a bit larger than a quarter, white in color, and had very pointy angles. Basically it was a member of my worst nightmare incarnate (the entirety of my worst nightmare would be several such spiders crawling all over the place).

I shrieked upon seeing the spider, jumped about 50 feet, and then ran down the path a ways. Ian happened to be taking some video at the time, so he got my little freak out recorded for posterity, and then he took some shots of the spider itself, even when I begged him not to do it. He wants to show his mum, he says. Well, I'm sure she'll just treasure that, really.

So, I would upload the video for you all to see, but I am scared even of images of spiders, and so I just can't do it. Sorry. Just know that it was heinous.

After walking for 10 or so minutes, I started to get an ill feeling in my stomach from being surrounded by all the orb spiders everywhere. I know being here will test my arachnophobia, but I need small steps toward overcoming everything, and I was starting to feel like I could throw up for anxiety. So we went back, and Ian let me know when we had safely passed the heinous spider, while I looked to the other side of the path. As long as I don't see it, it can't hurt me. That's my irrational reasoning.

So, if someone had told me about all these spiders -- and I'm sure they are pretty seasonal, but still -- I might have given more pause to deciding on this place. Everyplace has to have its downsides, but spiders? Really? Why, universe? Why?

But really, this place is great. We made the right choice. When I see a spider the size of my fist, though, we're oughta here!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Spandex, Apples, Freesouls

Today we walked over to our local bike shop down the street, and I picked up some gear for my bike. I got a helmet, a yellow spandex jersey, a yellow reflective rain and windbreaker jacket, and a rear view mirror for my handlebar. Then I suited up -- how glorious the spandex is, let me tell you -- and rode the route to school. It's nearly 3 miles from our place, and it only took about 15 minutes to get to school. About 2/3 of the ride is downhill, and the other 1/3 is a relatively gradual uphill slope. I had to rest halfway, because I'm not in terribly good shape and haven't figured out how to breath in this moist air yet (can someone get me a tank of dry desert air, please?), but all in all the route to school is doable. The final half mile or so takes a path through the amazing Tryon Creek State Park, which abuts the law school. It is so beautiful, like I've landed on Endor. I'm going to figure out how to mount my Flip Mino on my bike so I can film that section of the ride. It's so cool.

The way back is more challenging than the way there because that 2/3 that were downhill before are now uphill. I kind of wanted to die a little bit. It took closer to 20 or 30 minutes to come back, and the whole time I was imagining how much worse it would be with some law books and a laptop weighing me down. If I could only drop about 20 pounds, it wouldn't be so bad, and I'm hoping that's just going to happen in the normal course of affairs around here. We are getting a good deal more exercise in this neighborhood than we did in our Utah neighborhood. I stepped on the scale today for the first time in a long time, and I've dropped 4 pounds since the last time I weighed myself. So that's encouraging. If I could just drop the same number of pounds as the weight of my law books, that would be great.

So, the good news is that the law school offers a free shuttle which I could take on the way home from school, and which would drop me off about 3 blocks from my place. So I could ride my bike to school and then shuttle back home. I'm going to start off riding two days a week to school, and see how things progress. I'm pretty excited to get some exercise and wear some amazing spandex. Oh the glory of spandex!

In other news, I am currently typing this post on my new MacBook Pro, which arrived yesterday. I'm very happy with it so far, and think I made a fine choice in laptops. As a lifelong PC user, there is some adjusting to do. For instance, it took me awhile to figure out that the task bar changes depending on which program I have open. Where the hell is the menu? I wondered. I was in iTunes trying to authorize my account on this computer, and I couldn't figure out where the damn menu was! I even searched for a tutorial online, and everyone was like, "Go File > Authorize Computer", or whatever, and I was like, "well, that's great, but where's the mother effing File menu?" Then when I noticed it, I felt stupid. But it's separate from the window, so it wasn't obvious to me. You Mac users probably find this amusing. My friend Aaron told me that, as a PC user, you have to kind of unlearn a few things, but that when you figure out how things work on the Mac, it's actually more intuitive, and I'm inclined to agree. There is still a lot of exploring to do, but so far I think this machine is pretty sweet.

So things are going well. There's still some organizing to do before I can post some pictures of our place, but I'll get to it.

I also wanted to mention that there's this guy in the neighborhood who walks around the village listening to his iPod and singing at the top of his lungs and dancing. It is very amusing to me. I love this little town.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009


We're here in Portland now, up to our elbows in boxes that need unpacking, but things are starting to settle a little bit. First of all, we love our new neighborhood. There are dozens of shops, diners, coffee shops, bookstores, etc. within walking distance of our duplex. The area is called Multnomah Village, and it's pretty much exactly what we wanted. There is even a German Schnitzelhaus and Pastry shop in the neighborhood! How much more perfect can it get?

There is also a ton of life here. People are walking the streets from morning to evening, and there's a community arts center in the middle of the Village that has plenty of free events to offer. In fact, last night, Ian and I strapped our folding chairs to our backs and walked over to the Movies in the Park showing of Wolverine at the community arts center. Not such a good movie, but it was fun to just sit around with friendly neighbors with their dogs and kids strewn about on blankets. Did you get that? There were KIDS and DOGS and I didn't even MIND!! This is breakthrough for me. Not to say I'm converted to the idea of kids or dogs or anything, but the people here are just so friendly, in a really genuine way, that you can't help but feel relaxed about the wee little minions that usually drive me batty.

Today we took a drive over to the L&C campus for a law school picnic, and I was pleased to note that the route from our place seems completely bikeable. There is some uphill both ways, and it will be challenging at least at first (until I become amazingly fit), but especially with two days per week starting at 1:30, I think I should be able to do it just fine. There's a bike shop a few blocks away where I will purchase some gear, including a helmet (I know, I haven't used one until now -- I'm terrible), and, yes, some beloved spandex! Come on, don't laugh, this is my dream: to wear spandex during my morning commute. Let me have this one, ok guys? And I just ordered a trunk bag with panniers for my rear rack, so I can tote books and things. So I should be all set to bike to school in a few weeks.

Now for our charming little duplex. Our square footage is smaller than our last apartment, and we are having to come up with creative ways to fit stuff in, but in many ways this place is better. For one thing, there's no one above or below us (score!), and we have washer & dryer hookups and a dishwasher (score! score!), and there is a cute little patio that my poor abused lime tree will live on, and we also apparently have a pumpkin plant already growing there. Plus, there is some space in the front where Ian can plant some flowers if he'd like. We also have a wood burning fireplace. I actually love the flow of this duplex, it's very Zen to me. Sure, the only thing that fits in our bedroom (more or less) is our bed, but in a way this is a blessing, because it means our clothing and dresser will go in the other bedroom with our office and studio, so we won't disturb one another when we get dressed in the mornings.

In sum, I'm very, very happy here. I think we will be able to make this place home for at least the next three years. So, yes, there was a happy ending after all the scheisse that happened the month prior. Maybe we had to pay in order to win. Thanks for all your kind support so far. I really hope to keep this blog running while I'm in law school, but of course I can't promise to be terribly regular. Still, sometimes it's the most stressful and busy times of life when you find the most motivation to write.

I plan to post some pictures eventually, so stayed tuned.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Notes from the road

1) Idaho is the smelliest state ever!

2) Tips for moving:
   a) if you are shredding personal documents before packing up your belongings for a move, save the shreddings to use as packing material.
   b) boxes are free if you freeload them from your office or friends who have recently moved.
   c) professional movers are expensive, but worth the money when you consider all the time and physical pain they save you.

3) Never leave your lime tree in your hot car for a few hours on the reasoning that it's a citrus tree, and hey -- they like the heat! The leaves will cook, leaving a delightful smell of lime in your car, but diminishing your chances of harvesting your first lime any time this year. Sigh.

4) Given the choice between having cruise control or having air conditioning in my car, I think I'd choose cruise control. Luckily, that is how my car is arranged.

5) I'm nervous!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

They must know it's me

I think whoever was in charge of coordinating my class schedule for this Fall knows that I am not a morning person. I am pleased to report that I will only have one early day per week, during which my earliest class will start at 9:AM -- totally doable. Two days per week I won't have a class until 1:30, and I will have no classes on Fridays. The only drawback is that two days per week I will have a class from 6:-8:PM. That's ok, though. I think I might have a hard time if I had a schedule in which I had to be to school by 8:AM every day, but this schedule I can handle.

We are hitting the road to Oregon tomorrow morning. We've tried our best to say goodbye to everyone we wanted to say goodbye to, but inevitably some people have been left out. I'm sorry. Moving is the most stressful thing I've ever done, and it's not easy to coordinate schedules when you also have to pack up and load boxes, and spend two and a half days cleaning the 7 years of filth out of your old apartment.

Anyway, goodbye, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, and such. I will miss a lot of you at least a little bit, and some of you much more than that.

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