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Thursday, March 17, 2011

WYSIWYG

I think about my grandfather a lot now that I'm in law school. My grandfather's life was replete with the law: he was an FBI agent, an attorney, and ultimately a judge in the Utah state court system. He died shortly before I graduated college, before I even considered that going to law school would be a viable option for me. I wonder sometimes what it would be like if he were alive now. I know he would be tickled pink that I came to law school, and he would boast of it proudly to his bridge group and golfing companions. He would smile and chuckle to himself and say, "My granddaughter's going through law school."

I wonder what he would think if he knew how often I felt scared and incompetent and unsure of my chosen future profession. I wonder if he ever felt the same things when he went through law school. Somehow, from what I know of him, I don't think he would have felt as much self-doubt as I do, if indeed he were familiar with the concept at all. His mind was so analytical, so impassioned for learning, and I think maybe the instances of not knowing would have seemed an adventure to him, just another puzzle to unravel with his brilliant mind.

Of course, usually there is another side to the coin -- a private face behind every public facade that the world does not often get to see. Sometimes, in fact, when we see glimpses of that private face, we are horrified, because we realize that those whom we idolized in gold are really mere humans bespeckled with flecks of tarnish like the rest of us. That's probably true of everyone. But I think if it were ever not true of someone, it would have been not true of my grandfather. He seemed to be a WYSIWYG -- a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of man. It comforts me to hold on to that, whether or not it is true.

He wrote an autobiography, which I read when I was in the 9th grade. I partially re-read it a couple years ago when I began to digitize it and work on editing it -- a project I have never completed, but may finish some day. There's a story in the book that sticks in my mind: at one point, when my grandfather was a green Fibbie out in the field, he managed to leave his firearm in a public restroom and drive 20 or 30 minutes away before realizing what he had done. This was it for him, he thought. He would be in so much trouble if that gun wasn't there when he went back to look for it. He would certainly lose his job. By some great strike of fortune that my grandfather always seemed to have on his side, the gun was still in the stall where he left it when he finally made it back to the restroom. The way he must have felt during that 20 or 30 minute drive back to the restroom is probably similar to how I sometimes feel in law school -- like my career is about to go down the toilet before it has even had a chance to begin. So I think about things like that and it makes me feel like maybe I can get through it all by some lucky strike of fortune too. Maybe I can learn to overcome my self-doubt, or else cover it in a nice shiny facade of gleaming golden self-confidence.


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Points of interest

(1) Coffee. There is now another (sort of) late-night coffee shop in my Portland universe: Bella's Garage, a cute little coffee shop close-ish to my school (25 minute walk). It stays open until 10:PM 6 nights a week, which is not too shabby. Midnight would be better, but I will take what I can get, and this place is closer to my house and not as crowded as Ava Roasteria. Bella's happens to make a delicious chai latte -- it rivals Peet's in tastiness. As a bonus, apparently Bella's has belly dancing on Fridays, which is nice because I used to enjoy watching belly dancing at the Grecian Gardens in Salt Lake before that joint sadly close-up shop.

(2) Kindle. I broke down and got myself a Kindle. I kind of love it. I really do like the electronic ink technology that makes the screen look like paper (Ian says this is technology that has existed in PDA land for years -- but who cares? When was the last time you saw anyone using a PDA? Mid-90's, right?). The Kindle takes PDFs and TXT files just fine, and I guess if you want to load up a Word document without going through the minor inconvenience of resaving the file as a TXT, you can email the document to your Amazon account, and Amazon will deliver the doc to your Kindle reformatted in Kindle format. Pretty cool.

(3) Behind. I am ridiculously behind on my reading for school now. Luckily I have just one more week of classes until Spring Break. I'll be able to use Spring Break to catch up, even though there are other things I'd rather do. I guess this signals the beginning of the time of the semester when I'm supposed to start freaking out about how finals are almost a month away. Meh. I'm not too concerned yet, and I'd rather relish that relaxation.

(4) Friends. The making of friendships is going easier for me this semester. I have never really been good at doing the friend thing. For one thing, I am very independent and introverted, and sometimes I get exhausted by sociality, which wants much interdependence and extroversion. I have had plenty of friends in my life, but they are almost always a result of circumstance. Maybe we happened to grow up on the same street, or maybe we happened to live together in college, so we were friends because of that. Not that that should cheapen the relationship at all: I consider all those friendships true, and still think on them fondly. But to be someone's friend because you like them enough to seek them out even if circumstance does not afford the convenience is something else. Since coming to Portland, I have made basically one good friend, a handful of minor friends, and a number of acquaintances. I think things are starting to expand now so that I might be able to shift the numbers in those categories. So maybe my solipsism that I both cherish and lament is fading a bit.


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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Late Night Coffee Shop Procured

I wrote recently about various things I miss about Salt Lake City, one of the most important of those being late night coffee shops. In Salt Lake, I had my pick of several regular late night joints, each staying open between midnight and 2:AM. Surprisingly, Portland is lacking in that scene; most shops here close around 7: or 8:PM. But I am pleased to report that I have located one 24 hour (!) coffee shop not horribly far from where I live (10-15 minute drive). It is technically in Beaverton, which is to Portland like Sandy is to Salt Lake.

The place is called Ava Roasteria (warning, annoying Flash site complete with unwelcome musical onslaught if you click that link). The place reminds me a lot of the love child you would have if the Salt Lake Roasting Co. and Coffee Connection got their grind on and produced a fine brew: it's got the cozy atmosphere of Coffee Connection, with arty decor, hip lighting, and similar-feeling just-this-side-of-the-tracks neighborhood, but it's got the delectable-looking cakes and other treats of Roasting Co. We have gone to Ava twice now, both times on a Friday, once after 11:PM, and tonight after 9:PM. Both times there was literally nowhere to sit, unless you wanted to brave the drizzly and not yet warm enough patio air. We may have to try going earlier in the evening, or maybe not on a Friday. But one of these days, rest assured, we shall get a seat!

What does this seatlessness tell us about coffee? People want to drink it at night! There's a market for it. With the amount of foot traffic going in there at such nightly hours, they could easily sit twice as many tables in there, I'm confident. Can you hear me, Portland? Bring the nocturnal coffee shops! If Salt Lake (land of the coffee-eschewing religious persuasion) can rock the coffee shop scene, surely Portland (supposedly having a reputation for fine coffee) can own a little of that scene too.


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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Om.

I finally sent out an application for a summer gig today. (I am late out of the gate this year; last year I already had a gig lined up in February, and this year I haven't even applied until March 2.) I applied for acceptance to my school's small business legal clinic for the summer. You do actual legal work for actual clients in an actual law office downtown under the supervision of actual attorneys from my school. You do it for school credit. Clinics look good on resumes, and should provide really good experience to prepare you for actual practice (which law school surprisingly really doesn't do).

There are only 4 slots available for the summer, and I'm sure it's a popular clinic, so I'm not holding my breath or anything, but I think it would actually be a good fit for me and would help me feel more confident to go out and practice after law school. I would have the opportunity to learn how to interview and advise clients, help them negotiate contracts, draft agreements, and stuff like that. It would be cool, I think.

Ian doesn't think it sounds like a very good idea. "It would be nice to work for a law firm," he said. Yeah, it would, because I would get paid, but I worry that the type of supervision/instruction/feedback at a law firm might not be as good as at a clinic, where the focus is still on teaching us, albeit by doing. Also, the pickings for law firm gigs are really, really slim right now. But I don't think he understands that the clinic really is a law firm anyway. Yes, it is run by law students under professorial supervision, but they actually work with real world clients and do the same types of things I would need to do if I had my own practice advising business clients with their needs, which is exactly what I'd like to do.

The other plus side is that the hours are nice -- 9:AM to 3:30 Monday through Thursday. So I would be able to decompress this summer a little as well. All in all, I would welcome the opportunity. I'm still going to apply for other things as they come up. There is one gig working at the Small Business Administration focusing on bankruptcy type things that I'm probably going to apply for, but it is only two days a week, so I would have to take classes or find some other way to supplement my time. I'm gonna send out a few cold solicitations, and apply to any good-fit law firms that post jobs, but there really haven't been many good fits popping up on the job boards. There're all these opportunities for environmental type gigs (but all the enviro students have to fight for those, so they aren't sitting pretty either), but the soft-IP firms are not really coming forward (maybe they don't exist?). It's just a sucky market, especially for law students who really don't know what they're doing and need a lot of hand holding.

School-wise, I have been really behind on my reading since last week when I put my reading aside in order to write a damn ethics paper. So I will be continuing playing catch-up this weekend. Usually when I miss just one reading assignment in a week, it stresses my workload for the weekend. But right now I am 4 assignments behind, so that's a little more stress on my work load than I like to have. But I still feel so much calmer than last semester. Almost zen, sometimes. Om.


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