Hell of a

I am just over halfway through my first week back at school and already I am feeling very high stress levels. I have a lot on my plate this semester: 15 credit hours (that's 5 classes, most twice a week), law review, and law firm work.

This law review business has been a royal pain in the ass since I started on it the week before classes. So far, I've been doing my part in source checking a 100-page paper written by one of my school's professors that will be published in the next journal issue. What that entails: locate original or photo-PDF versions of the sources cited in the paper, check the citation format, and then check to make sure the source actually supports what the author says it does, on the page he says it does.

Finding my sources was pretty easy thanks to the magic of the internet. I checked out some real live books from my school's library for the first time ever. Two of my sources are unfortunately in Spanish, so I can't verify if they support the author's assertions, but I am told that someone fluent in Spanish is going to do it. Actually, I was able to verify one of those sources by using Google Translate -- artificial translators are actually getting pretty good these days! But someone else will officially confirm the original.

The hardest part has been pin-citing each footnote that quotes each source. I only have about 10 sources, but some of them are quoted in 50 footnotes, and sometimes those footnotes do not give specific pages on which the support is to be found, so I have to find it myself. Here is where Google comes to the rescue again with Google Books. Not everything is on there (yet), but luckily two of my sources which the author cited copiously were text searchable on GBooks. The biggest problem is where the author cites a 10-20 page range that is support for his assertion. I'm supposed to go in and highlight and label the support, but what do you do in that situation? I've been skimming to make sure the pages generally talk about what he's talking about and then move on with my life.

After hours and hours of work (probably between 20 and 30), I have finally highlighted all my sources. All I have to do is enter the changes to the citation format on the computer in the law review office. Only problem is those four computers are always full of other LR students doing the same damn thing. They have some ethernet ports available in the office, and I googled a video to help me figure out how I can connect to their network using my own laptop (haven't had to use ethernet since about 2004, and that was on a PC). That way I can work whenever the hell I want to work. It's better not to have to use a foreign machine anyway. I hate having to work with other people's default settings and without my shortcuts. Wastes so much time just figuring out how stuff is oriented. Maybe I can get that crap done tomorrow.

Anyway. After this part is done, I guess things should go easier as we move into other phases that are more about editing than source-checking. All I can say is it's fucking bullshit that they only give you 2 credit hours for a whole year of law review, with all the damn work you put in. I said I wasn't going to complain about it, because I got so fucking sick of hearing my friends complain about "stupid law review" last year. But what can I say? It really is a royal pain. I cannot fathom why people out there in the legal realm are so impressed with this credential. Maybe because it proves you are willing to be a little workhorse bitch. Whatever.

So classes: I think they are probably going to be alright (for law school classes). The subjects are all bar subjects. Things like wills / trusts, criminal law, income tax, and secured transactions (fancy talk for when you put up personal assets to secure a debt). Those are all pretty dry subjects, but happily, at least three of the four professors teaching them are very engaging. The fourth... I need to see her in action a few more times to be sure, but she will probably be fine. I actually have a fifth class only once a week, and tomorrow is my first session. It's a class on cyber-crime (internet fraud, child porn, online copyright & trademark infringement, online trade secret misappropriation, hacking -- things like that). It will be taught by a USDOJ guy who I heard give a presentation earlier this year. I liked his presentation, so hopefully I will like his class. This is my one "fun" class. I am slightly concerned because it's a seminar: worth fewer credits, but always seeming to have more work than a regular 3 or 4 credit hour class. But I'm pretty much all in if I want to both graduate on time AND have an easier load next semester.

This morning I woke up drenched in sweat, changed my clothes, went back to bed, and then hours later woke up drenched in sweat again. I guess that could be an indicator of stress. I also wonder if it might not be a reaction to the change in weather. In 2004 when I went to Kiel Germany on study abroad, my first week there I woke up drenched in sweat in the middle of every night. Needless to say I had a lot of laundry after that first week. I remember talking to a friend there who was experiencing the same thing. Maybe it was the weather, maybe we were both stressing. Who knows?

Anyway, it's gonna be a hell of a semester.


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Lactose intolerance!*

*The title of this post should be read as Meg Ryan's voice in the movie French Kiss.


So it turns out I have developed an intolerance to lactose. This is highly inconvenient for me because many of my favorite foods involve milk or milk products. Coffee and tea -- staples of my diet -- are not complete without milk. Cereal, cheese, yogurt, and butter have been on my daily ingestion list for as long as I can remember.

Ever since I identified my unknown food intolerance as being linked to ingestion of milk products, I have been making an effort to reduce my milk consumption, but I find no day's meals complete without it. I have been taking lactase enzyme supplements to aid in my body's digestion of lactose, and they do help, but they do not completely solve my problem.

Yesterday I tried my very first soy latte. My first sip was a little off-putting. This was not what I expect my latte to taste like. It was sort of nutty and sweet and the texture was a little thicker than I am accustomed to. The taste of the soy milk was stronger than the taste of the espresso. But as I kept sipping, the taste began to grow on me, and by the end of the cup I may or may not have removed my lid so as to lick the frothy foam within. I can't really say I have made a practice of doing that with regular lattes. So in the end I think it may be an acceptable substitution. I hesitate to put soy milk on my cereal, though. It just doesn't seem right.

I have heard that lactose-free milk exists. I'm going to look for it, but I suspect it might be (a) hard to find and (b) prohibitively expensive. Things are always more expensive when they take stuff out, for some reason.

Meanwhile, I will be chomping on chalky enzyme tablets and trying to figure out what kinds of foods I can put into my food staples list that do not involve large amounts of lactose.

I need to find a good substitute for yogurt. I mean, I can't live without yogurt. I am just too passionate about it. It completes me.


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Two Points

(1) Yesterday one of my old longtime roommates texted me out of the blue because she and her boyfriend were driving through Portland on the way home from Canada. So I went downtown and met them for lunch. It was quite nice to chat since I haven't actually seen or really talked to this friend in maybe a couple years. Sometimes time just spins away from you as far as old friends are concerned. But it's nice when you get to reconnect with someone that you genuinely like, and have only neglected because you now live in far away places having new adventures. It was not an awkward meeting the way meetings with long-unseen people can be. Instead it was a delightful visit very much like how our interactions always used to be when we lived in the same apartment, and that makes me glad. I do love the chance to hang out with old friends who come through this town. And Portland is a very come-through-able town indeed. Mostly, though, I just wish all my old friends would move here, because I'm self-centered like that.

(2) I have been accepted to join the law review at my school for next year. I went ahead and participated in the write-on competition to try to get a staff position. I don't remember if I mentioned on this blog that I would be participating or not. Might have kept it to myself in the chance that I would be embarrassingly rejected. But, nope, they like me. So I will join their elitist ranks and have another line for my resume. I think there's a chance I might like doing it too. We'll see. At least this means I will have enough credits to drop a class next Spring semester. Huzzah!


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Not Alienating People 101

Here's how it is, people. If you say you are going to do something, you do it. If you don't know if you can do something, you don't say you are going to do it. Backing out because you got a better offer is not cool. Backing out at the very last minute is ultra not cool. Backing out because you have a very good reason is fine, but there is a very limited set of very good reasons comprised mainly of unforeseen emergencies. That's all there is to it. It really isn't complicated.


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New Experiences

Seattle. Last weekend, Ian and I drove up to Seattle to catch a Mariner's game with my buddy Sov, who flew up to meet us from Salt Lake. The drive to Seattle from Portland takes almost exactly three hours if traffic is unimpeded, and it was. That is, right up until we actually reached the city. Then, due to one of those annoying city races where they close down city streets, we had to detour in nearly stand-still traffic for an hour until we could finally find a parking lot that would take cars all day. (Lots of parking lots in Seattle seem to have a 1-2 hour limit for some reason. That makes sense for roadside parking, but I don't get it in parking lots.) Once we finally ditched the car, we met up with Sov near the two enormous stadiums in the southern end of the city. I was pleased to notice a restaurant in that neighborhood called Berliner Döner Kebab. Next time I am in Seattle, I will be sure to check it out to see how it stacks up to my own local Döner shop. We then toured Seattle mostly on foot, but also on bus and monorail. I think Seattle is a really fun town to play tourist in, but I think that's also one of its main drawbacks as far as livability goes. So many damn tourists everywhere. Portland gets tourists, but not nearly to that extent. After we tired ourselves out seeing the sights, we headed back to the stadium for our baseball game. The Mariners lost to the Marlins 2-6, but it was a very action-packed game, which is really all I ever want out of a ball game. (I am known to applaud either team for making a good play -- don't care if it's "my" team or not.) I had a good trip, and it was great to see Sov. Next time I'm taking the train to Seattle, since it stops mere blocks from the stadium.

Last Thursday. I guess it's probably strange that I've lived in Portland for two years but only just attended my first "Last Thursday" yesternight. Last Thursday is kind of like a thing Salt Lake has called Gallery Stroll, where all the local art galleries open their shops with wine and cheese for foot-touring. But Last Thursday is Gallery Stroll times about a thousand. It takes place up on NE Alberta Street -- kind of a cool little strip of coffee shops, bars, boutiques, and food shops. The street is closed down to automobile traffic, the businesses and local artists put out their wares, crazy people juggle fire, and musicians good and bad release their music into the atmosphere. It's a cool thing, but it is very well attended, which makes Last Thursday a little beyond my comfort level. You don't feel like you can linger too long in any place because there are so many people moving about like cattle, and you feel like you have to join the flow. The only time in my life when I felt more crowded was when I went to Bumbershoot music festival and literally could not move without touching somebody. I could move without touching people at Last Thursday, but inevitably some people were touched, and that is something that I don't really like. Touching people, I mean. I'm not a touchy person. I like my space. Space is a definite issue at Last Thursday. But it was cool to do once. I think I'd be happy to hang out in NE Alberta on any other day, which is saying something, because it's on the dreaded east side of the river (which I don't really like going to in general). And the affair kind of reminded me of one of my old roommates, so that was nice.

Top 25%. Well, it's official: I have made it into the top 25% of my law school class. (I am number 62 out of 258, which is technically the top 24%.) Now I have a new goal: top 20%. Not sure if I can make it by the time school ends, but I'll give it a shot.


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The joys of summer

Summer is so lovely this year. Last summer was much less relaxing and much less engaging than this summer.
  • Last summer I was working full time (and for free -- no, scratch that, I was paying for the privilege to work because I got school credit).  This summer I am working part time for pay. 
  • Last summer I had to get up super ass early and walk 20 minutes to my bus stop (after having spent half an hour getting ready) so that I could arrive at the office before 8:30. This summer I snooze my alarm from 8:00-9:30-ish, roll out of bed, check my email for 5 minutes, then clock in to my job at home, and if for some reason I can't work in the morning, I can work at night and it makes no difference. 
  • Last summer I researched a few interesting things, like music licensing and the intersection between IP law and bankruptcy law, but most of the time my work was very tedious and boring. This summer most of my work is interesting: I get to work on copyright and trademark cases, draft actual response letters to opposing counsel, research interesting legal questions, and familiarize myself with some litigation filings. Only some of my work is mindless data entry, but even that is ok because I can listen to my music while doing it, or have TV on in the background. 
So basically I am very happy doing what I'm doing this summer. I am learning a lot of really interesting things that I actually really like learning about. I think this area of law is definitely for me. I hope I get to keep doing this through next year.

Exciting bits of news:
  • My last outstanding grade is in: A- in tech licensing
  • I have been accepted to my school's small business legal clinic for next spring
  • In 1.5 weeks Ian and I are driving up to Seattle for a Mariner's game, and my best friend Sov is flying up to join us!
  • I got tickets to see CAKE this August; haven't been this excited for a show in a long time.
Happy early solstice to y'all.

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It pays to be a 2L

I have already received all but one of my grades. Actually, I received these grades a week ago, which was a mere week after finishing my last final. Apparently the turn-around is much quicker in the second year, because you end up taking classes with a bunch of graduating 3Ls who need their grades STAT. So I got mine stat too. Here are the results:

Ethics B
Copyright B
Business Associations B+
Constitutional Law II A
Trademarks A+
Tech Licensing awaiting

Check that out! I received my first (and probably only) A+ in a law school class. I am quite pleased with that. I feel only slightly bad for whoever had to suffer a C at the expense of my A+.

I am also very pleased with my A in Con Law. I left that test feeling like I had slayed it, so I'm glad the result mirrors my impression.

The B+ in BA is also noteworthy, because I didn't have a chance to finish that exam and worried that it would probably be a C of some kind. Shows you how much the curve matters.

Of course, I am always satisfied with Bs in any law school course, so I feel fine about Copyright and Ethics too.

Altogether it was a very good semester for me. I think the Tech Licensing paper should be good for at least a B, but I tend to do well on papers, so maybe it will turn out better. Maybe this semester will be good enough to bump me up into the top 25% at last.

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Tired and Hired

I took my last of five final exams last night, and am now officially done with my second year of law school.  Next year, I am going to do everything in my power to make sure I don't have five finals in one semester ever again. It was most unpleasant. I think four is the max you feel like you can handle over a two week period. The most challenging thing was that my last two finals were on consecutive days. Normally, exams are well-spaced with at least a day but often two or even three between each exam, so you have plenty of time to purge the old material from your brain and reload with new. But I couldn't do that for those last two exams. Altogether, I feel like three of the five will probably go pretty well, but I don't feel as good about the other two. At this point I am beyond caring, and besides, your feelings about an exam often don't sync up with reality.

In other news, I got a summer job! The small firm that does copyright work finally got around to interviewing me, and they offered me the position. I am going in on Monday to get my computer set up and talk out details, but I will be able to work remotely, which is great. Coffee shop office, here I come! The work is part time, too, so I should be able to get a little down-time in this summer. That will be most welcome. I'm hoping I will learn a lot in this job and also that maybe it will work out so that I can keep doing it through next year. And maybe even if we like each other they would see fit to hire me after school. We'll just see how it goes. Maybe it won't be all that, but at least it's a load off my mind to have some employment.




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Kind of a random collection of reports and thoughts.

Classes are almost over for the semester. I have one more full day of classes next Monday, but then it's reading period for a week until finals begin. I have 5 exams again this term, but I feel less stressed about it. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Maybe high stress yields good exam performance? We'll see.

A lot of my classmates are worrying about our business associations final (that class deals with things like the governing of various business entities, such as general partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies, and closely-held [non-public] corporations). It's a statutory class, which is why I think a lot of people are worried. They tend to be a little harder, I think, because not only do you have a written code that is technically the law, but you also have cases that may interpret and apply that code differently, so the state of the law can be more complex than in areas that are mainly case-law driven, even though you would think areas of law that aren't written down in a code would be more complicated.  But my sales class last semester, which was also a code course, was much harder, so I'm not really feeling the same sense of urgency about business associations. That may or may not backfire on me.

As for my summer job search, I sent off a couple more applications but have not heard anything on them. I also sent a nudge to the small firm that would have me doing copyright issues part time, and they actually said they are still interested in filling the law clerk position, and again said they would get back to me on interviewing. It sounds like they are uber-busy with their recent firm move, which I can understand. It does make me feel better to think that might still be on the table. It seems like it would be a good job for me.

Now let's talk about some non-law school things: TV, for instance. Recently, I have been watching some old TV series on Netflix (which, at $10 a month and commercial-free, seems to be a much better deal than cable or satellite), and I'm a little bit startled that people who used to look old to me now look like contemporaries, more or less. For instance, I just began watching Ally McBeal, a show that I saw a few episodes of back in high school, but never really followed. Back then (10 years ago now, imagine that), all the characters on the show looked so old to me. Now, most of them actually look not much older than myself and the people I go to school with. In fact... ok, no. I suspected that Calista Flockhart may have been about my age when the show began, but I just googled it, and it seems she was 33 then, so she had 5 years on me. But considering her character's position as a relatively new lawyer, I guess that figure is not too far off from where I might hope to be career-wise in 5 years. I guess it kind of freaks me out a bit.  What really freaks me out is realizing that I am presently older than Gillian Anderson was when she first played Scully on the X-Files. She always seemed like such an adult to me, such a professional, when I was in junior high and high school. Now I'm as old as she was when she had been playing Scully for 3 or 4 years, and that just doesn't seem right. It is weird how TV characters have a kind of immortality, though. They will always be the age that they were on the show, even 10 or 20 years later. The rest of us do not get that luxury.

You know what I think's maybe the saddest thing about life? You never really arrive. You are always striving for the carrot at the end of the stick that will always be out of reach, no matter where you are. There was a time when I thought that was the whole point of life: to continue reaching for things, for personal betterment. But I think what it really means is that we will never be satisfied. And that, to me, is sad.


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somnabul

Sometimes I feel too stressed to go to sleep. My bed time has been very late this semester anyway, averaging about 3:AM, I'd say. It's been as bad as 4:30. Right now it's about 2:30, and I surely could have comfortably gone to bed a couple hours ago, but I find myself feeling like everything will move too fast if I go to bed, and I can delay the things that stress me out by staying up. Of course I know that is not the right way to handle things. The right way is to go directly to bed, get plenty of rest, and tackle my issues head on in the morning with a fresh mind. Instead I allow myself to get paralyzed and I am perpetuating my stress by putting myself into a zombie mental state and not allowing myself to just let go of the things that cannot be handled tonight anyway.

It's that time of the semester: finals loom in four weeks, paper due in two weeks, annoying in-class negotiation of a license agreement in 1 week, daily reading ever present, pressure to find summer gig constant.

Additionally, some of Ian's family is coming for a visit this week. Feeling pressure to entertain. Visits during semester not easy for me, stress-wise. Feel at cross-purposes.

As to summer gig: the small business legal clinic that I applied for contacted me to say they have cancelled the summer session, but I can have my application considered for fall or spring semester. That would be fine, but it would mean less flexibility in being able to decide my schedule next year. I will still apply, and if I get into that, it would make me feel better in the case that I don't get a summer gig, which is looking more and more likely as time goes on. There was one possible gig that looked like it would have been pretty perfect: 20 hours per week working on copyright cases for small firm. But the position was not for-sure yet, and the guy said he'd contact me last week to set up an interview, but he didn't, so I'm thinking the position is cancelled, or they just don't want me and can't find the cajones to say so. Starting to feel like I may end up just taking classes this summer, in which case I need to register before they are all full up. Don't really want to do that, but not sure if I'm gonna get lucky this summer.

Sometimes I really wonder what the hell I'm doing.


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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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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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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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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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List of the Missed

Before I left Salt Lake, my old office manager asked me if there was anything about Salt Lake I was going to miss. I said no without hesitation. I may have qualified it by saying I would miss the mountains. But on the whole, I didn't think I was going to miss anything. On the whole, I guess there's really not a whole lot that I do miss, but it turns out I miss a few more things than I predicted I would. Here's the list in no particular order:

(1) Cafe Niche. This is a little coffee shop / bistro cafe / sunday brunch spot / posh wine and cheese dinner joint at 800 E 300 S. I love everything about Cafe Niche. It was literally around the corner from where I used to work, and within walking distance from where I used to live, so I was a frequent patron of the Niche. Their lattes are delicious and cheaper than any of the other coffee shops in Salt Lake. Their quiche is to die for. The sandwiches are unique twists on standard favorites. Their fruit and cheese plate is always good. Their sunday brunch had an amazing french toast in a bread pudding style. God, I miss Cafe Niche! Now, there are a lot of fine places to eat in P-land. Fine places. But there is no Niche.

(2) Late night coffee shops (Roasting Co., Coffee Break, Coffee Connection, et al.). Would you be surprised if I told you that Portland does not harbor a late night coffee shop scene? I would have been surprised if you had told me that before I moved here. I mean, if Salt Lake City has more late night coffee shops than a coffee shop fanatic like me knew what to do with, surely the hip town of Portland would be swimming in them. Not so. All my neighborhood coffee shops (most of which are either Starbucks or Peets [which I do love]) close at around 7:PM or 8:PM. That is precisely the hour that I am thinking a third cup of joe would go really nicely right now, thank you. Now, I guess I should say that I can only really speak with authority about southwest Portland. It is possible that late night coffee shops exist in NW, SE, or NE. But I don't live in those places.

(3) Bosnian Pickles. Before we left Salt Lake, my favorite Bosnian friend had Ian and I over for a visit, and they served us a plate of fabulous European meats and cheeses and some Bosnian pickles. I don't even like pickles, but these were amazing. They were so mild and sweet and tangy, and just perfectly balanced. We did get a jar of them for ourselves before we left town from a Euro deli somewhere out west -- Redwood Road, maybe --, but they are long since digested, though my memory of them lingers. There is a cute little European deli close to us here, and I have looked for the pickles, to no avail. They have other European pickles, but they are not the same. I looked up another Euro deli in town, but when we went over there, they had closed down. That's the jar over there to the left. If you ever see those, buy them immediately. And send them to me.

(4) Bees Baseball. I love watching baseball. Portland had a baseball team in the same minor league as the Salt Lake Bees, but they have left town now. Last summer was their last season, because they kind of lost their place to play now that the Portland Timbers have gone Major League in Soccer and converted the baseball stadium into major league compliant soccer stadium (which I am thrilled about). But I miss my baseball. Ian is not a huge fan of the sport, so it's not a lot of hair off his back. I am planning for us to take the train up to Seattle this summer to catch a Mariners game in order to fill my void.

(5) Mrs. Cavanaugh's Flips/Fluffs. Mrs. Cavanaugh's is a chocolate maker that sells candies at the same rate per pound as solid gold. Or so it seems. But they have a particular candy that is very nostalgic for me. Mrs. C's calls them "Fluffs" and they are made out of that marshmallow fluff stuff coated in chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut bits. My grandfather used to buy them at Christmas time, and he always called them "Flips", so that's what I call them. They are so good. You can order Mrs. Cavanaugh's chocolates online, but for some reason they do not list the Flips online, so once again my desire is just out of reach but within mocking distance.

(6) Monk Honey. In Northern Utah somewhere (exactly where is escaping my mind, but it's North and East of Salt Lake) there is a little modest monastery of Trappist Monks. They keep bees and make delicious honeys. The best, most to die for honey ever, is the Brandy honey, flavored with real brandy. Also excellent is the banana nut honey. I would kill for a jar of this honey right now.

(7) Italian Village. A cult classic in Utah. I once described it as the Italian Dee's. But that really doesn't do justice to the joint, because their food is much better than Dee's. Their decor, on the other hand... well, it could use a little less early 90's flair. But I miss the tossed salads with oil and vinegar dressing. These are my favorite salads in the world. So simple, and so right. And the pizzas are damn good too. Damn it, I miss that stuff.

(You may have noticed that most of the items on this list are food. I am surprised about that, because I still think Utah has crap food on the whole. Crap. I mean crap. But there are gems out there, some of which cannot be easily replaced even in the gastronomically rich town of Portland.)

(8) Acai Frozen Yogurt from Au Naturale in Sugarhouse. It's just so good. I get brain freeze every time I eat it because it's too delicious to eat slowly. No comparison here. We have a lot of self-serve yogurt joints, and they are ok, but they don't have acai flavor, and they overcharge for something I have to fix myself.

(9) Chinese food. There is Chinese food in Portland, but it is all bad. Ok, we recently found a couple establishments that are pretty alright. One is even pretty good. But none of them are even close to things like Canton Village in Salt Lake -- which is admittedly pretty crappy as it is, but so much better than the Chinese food here. I miss this place called Kwan's on South Temple that I was convinced I was keeping in business. Every time we went in, the owner remembered us and said it had been a long time since she'd seen us. I guess now it's been a really long time. In Portland, the best Chinese food is probably Panda Express, which is like saying the best pizza is Little Caesars. I mean, sure, they are good, but Panda is not really Chinese, and Little Caesars is not really pizza. They are both pseudo. There is a P.F. Chang's here, but every time we go in, they ask for our reservation and when we say we don't have one, they tell us the wait is two hours. Seriously? I mean, P.F. Chang's is good, sure, but have you ever had to wait two hours to get into the one in Salt Lake? No, you haven't, because there are plenty of other decent Chinese joints in town.

Those are the things I miss. I may have forgotten a thing or two, but those are the ones that pop up in my head on a regular basis. Of course, my list is glaringly missing any mention of people. But, yes, there are people I miss too. Some quite a lot. Maybe even you.


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Things I have been told

I went to the eye doctor today and had my eyes dilated. All day I looked liked a crazy squirrel bent on hoarding some serious nuts, so wild were my eyes.  Anyway, I was told some things about myself during this exam that reminded me of other things I have been told in life. Here's a list:

1) My eye doctor told me my eyes are spaced slightly wider apart than the average person's, and I have slightly larger than normal pupils. Ian says that it's not that my eyes are farther apart than most people's; it's that my head is larger than most people's. I have to agree.

2) My dentist told me I have abnormally large saliva glands under my tongue. He wanted to know if anyone had ever told me that. Who the hell would have ever noticed?

3) My physician's assistant told me my ears are almost a little too clean, if I know what she means (and I really, really don't).

4) My very short-lived 11th grade fling told me my hair was so soft and touchable and would be perfect if only my part weren't so straight. He was the king of back-handed compliments.

5) An old boyfriend once told me I had a very elegant wristwatch, which was so very unusual for my otherwise non-elegant image. Another one of those compliments that would have been better left unsaid.

6) Another old boyfriend once told me I had the cutest stomach. (I can't imagine a time when that ever could have been said truthfully about my stomach, but it still makes me feel good to think about.)

7) An old boss once told me that my work, when she actually gets it, is practically perfect. I kind of want to feel good about that, but I can't get over the time-delay issue. She had never told me she thought I was taking too long on anything, and I wish I had known she had felt that way, because sometimes a little sacrifice in quality is worth increased timeliness. But I am not a mindreader.

8) One of my very best friends in life, before I was sure if we were even friends (because I thought she thought I was some stupid American dummkopf), once said, "Do you want to know what I really think? I think you are a very smart girl." It's one of the only times in my life when I really did feel dumb. But I'm grateful for it.

What have you been told?



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Passion returning

It's nearly 4:AM, I guess technically Sunday morning. It is not all that unusual for me to be up this latearly because of my weird-ass schedule this semester. It's cool, though, because I get to sleep in 5 days a week. Oh the luxury, you say. Yes, yes, but remember, I am up until 4. I don't really sleep any more than you do. Ok, not much more. Maybe a little.

Actually, I usually go to bed sometime in the hour of 2:AM, but this evening I started to get excited reading one of my cases, and then I took it upon myself to post about the case on my online class discussion board (for which I do get participation incentive, but I didn't have to force myself to do it, that's the point; I was actually passionate for once). If you are curious, it was a Supreme Court constitutional case about whether there is a fundamental right to physician-assisted suicide (short answer: no). The thing that excited me about the case was actually a concurring opinion, in which the concept of substantive due process in constitutional law became clearer to me at last.

[Warning, I'm about to geek out for a couple paragraphs; you may be in danger of your eyes glazing over]: Substantive due process is about identifying the types of liberty, property, and life interests that the government is not supposed to deprive you of without due process of law, per the 5th and 14th amendments. The court characterizes your interests as either "fundamental" or not. If fundamental, the court applies a strict scrutiny analysis to any state or federal regulation that impinges upon that interest. When they do strict scrutiny, the governmental regulation usually fails as unconstitutional because it is a high standard to meet (must be a compelling state interest and the regulation must be narrowly tailored toward furthering that interest). If not fundamental, the court applies a rational basis balancing test, weighing your interest against the state's interest in regulating, and all the state has to have is some rational basis connecting its interest to the means it uses to further that interest, and the law is constitutional. That is an easy standard for the state to meet.

Anyway, the caselaw on substantive due process (usually fun issues like abortion, birth control, sodomy, contraceptives, etc., [I just noticed that I listed both birth control AND contraceptives, so don't go pointing it out to me]) usually focuses on trying to identify these fundamental rights, as if there is some abstract fruit tree hanging over our heads with all the fundamental rights dangling down, and we need only pluck them and call them out by name. But in this concurring opinion (Justice Souter in Washington v. Glucksberg, if anyone is interested) Souter characterizes substantive due process as more of the court deciding which issues are properly decided by the courts, and which issues are better left to legislatures and the political process. The backdrop for making this decision is a consideration of our nation's "history and traditions", which is also nebulous and certainly constantly changing, and therefore not that helpful. But to me, that is a much more honest expression of what these kinds of cases are really about than labeling something as a fundamental right. The truth of the matter is that the outcome of a case can easily turn on how the court chooses to characterize the right that is purportedly fundamental. Do you call physician-assisted suicide the right to have someone help you die, or the right to personal autonomy/dignity/bodily integrity? The answer is really that it depends on what our society feels about the subject. If there is a lot of heavy debate, the court will generally let the legislatures and political process duke it out. If things seem pretty settled, the court will call it a fundamental right and suddenly any law going against that is unconstitutional unless it is narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest. We hide behind words and tests and pretenses that there is some absolute right out there that is codified in our constitution. The reality is that what is right today might not have been right yesterday and may not be right tomorrow. I appreciate that the substantive due process theory allows for a kind of flexibility to be applied to the constitutional analyses the court undertakes. I don't think Scalia or Thomas would agree with that sentiment, but that's alright.

So it's really great to feel excited about the law again. I thought for sure it was gone, all the interest I once had. Last semester it seemed like I had dreamed the whole thing up. But no, it was just the shitty classes that sucked my soul and enjoyment away. I really wasn't intending to make this whole post about substantive due process, but I just got excited about it because I feel a little like I see the man behind the curtain suddenly. It's pretty fun to feel that way after feeling so lost for so long.



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