No costumes this year, but we did carve a jack o' lantern. Or a kitty o' lantern, as the case may be.
How to have a clean house: invite people to visit.
Anthony and Amanda came to stay this weekend and, after two months, we finally unpacked the last of the boxes, put a shower curtain up in the guest bathroom, organized the office into a livable space, and put some artwork on the walls.
And we celebrated by drinking beers as big as your head. Out. Because why dirty a glass when you finally got everything sparkling clean?
Actually, us ladies drank cheap red wine mixed with Pepsi. Because we were creative with the meager offerings of a pizza joint. Also, we are classy.
Happy 24th to Amanda! And thank you for forcing us to get it together and finally unpack the boxes that, for two solid months, occupied the guest room bathtub.
I've heard some pretty wise people say that if you treat law school like a 9 to 5 job, you'd get along just fine. Maybe you wouldn't get straight As, but you'd have time to watch television and take photographs and sleep and have a life, a real life, outside of the library study room.
For the first six weeks of law school, I found this to be absolutely laughable. Impossible, I thought, absolutely impossible. But then I did a little experiment. It's an experiment that I highly recommend to anyone who feels that there is never enough time in the day to finish all the work that piles up.
The first thing to do is download a chronoTrack. This won't work for you PC people, so you can go wherever it is you go to get Widgets (or gadgets, as you so cleverly refer to them) and get a timer. A regular old stopwatch would also work.
Then, track your time. Only track the time that you are actually being productive. Honestly productive. Turn the timer off when you are checking personal email, peeing, talking to the person in the cubicle next to you about your weekend plans, reading blogs, making an appointment with your hair stylist, searching for a pumpkin cake recipe, or talking on the phone for purely social purposes. No cheating. This isn't for credit, people, so you aren't cheating anybody but yourself.
Let me tell you, I was shocked at how little I was actually getting done in the span of eight hours. Barely fifty percent of my time was truly productive and much of that was only because I was listening to a lecture. It was kind of ridiculous, actually, how much time I wasted. I'm trying to meet the eight hour mark earlier each day and I really think it's helping. I actually, finally, seem to making sense of this thing they call "the law."
Even if your job doesn't require much, it would still be fun to track your time. Wouldn't it be great to know that you get paid for eight hours when you actually only work for two? That's the kind of job you want to keep. Trust me. I've been there and, when I'm sitting in my carrel working towards eight full hours knowing that even THAT will likely fall short of the A mark, I sure do miss that peaceful easy feeling.
As an undergraduate student, parties were mainly about drinking and involved copious amounts of cheap vodka or cans of bad beer. Now that I'm older, much of the allure of that kind of partying is gone, in large part because I don't want to wake up on Saturday morning with the type of hangover that results from drinking bottom shelf vodka mixed with Sunny Delight.
I am back in school now, but for the first half of the semester I avoided attending parties because I just didn't want to go down that road again. However, for two weekends in a row, Will and I have attended the parties we have been invited to and, I have to say, college parties as a graduate student are much different than college parties as an undergraduate student. Now, the parties are about food. Alcohol, yes, but also food.
The Friday before last, we went to a wine and cheese party where there was wine and cheese. Obviously. But it was good wine and good cheese. And there was also olives and homemade tomato soup and edamame hummus and pumpkin cake.
On Friday, we went to an Oktoberfest party where there was German beer, brats, cabbage, homemade German potato salad, German cheese and other sorts of German foods. Somehow, our resourceful hostess had received money from the German consulate to pay for these treats. I have no idea why the German government would want to pay for thirty college students to drink beer and eat fancy hot dogs in an apartment in Davis, but why ask why?
Sure, it's still about the drinking these days. But it's not just about the drinking anymore. A person has to eat, too, right?
A few weeks ago, Will and I were discussing our next vacation. We don't have a date set (and the way things look we won't be able to go anywhere until next summer) but we started to consider our options. One of the biggest concerns about our next vacation is that it will need to be cheap, what with me being a student and all. Will immediately suggested we use the Big Mac index to help us make a decision. The Economist's Big Mac index is a light-hearted guide to how far currencies are from fair value. There's a lot of fancy language about purchasing-power parity but you don't have to understand economics to see that a Big Mac in the United States is $3.41 while a Big Mac in Thailand costs only $1.80.
Norway is definitely out for us next summer, with a Big Mac costing a steep $6.88, although Egypt, with Big Macs coming in at $1.68, is certainly on the table for discussion.
Just for the record, should there be any confusion, I would never buy a Big Mac on vacation. Will and I abide by very strict, self-imposed rules which preclude us from eating anything that we can find right here in California. It may always be a safe bet, but I just can't imagine flying across the United States to eat an appetizer platter at T.G.I. Fridays.
Yesterday I was at the law building late, working with my group on the last-minute details of a group presentation that we had to make this morning. Toward the end of the evening, I was editing our script and I noticed something fishy. In the script, referring to something that happened this month, the date was stated as October 1, 2008.
I swear to you, I sat there staring at that date for a full minute and, for the life of me, I could not remember if we were currently in 2007 or 2008.
It was just a stupid typographical error but my brain? It is fried eggs.
Here are a few of things we do to help the environment, from this list:
Use CFC light bulbs
One of the first things we did when we moved into our apartment was replace all the old bulbs with those cute, swirly, compact fluorescent bulbs.
Use cloth shopping bags
We used to be very good about this, although we can't seem to find our canvas bags anywhere. I suspect they are still packed in a box in our office. In the meantime, we have been reusing the plastic bags as bicycle seat covers for when it rains or after the sprinklers have watered the plants near the bike rack.
This is probably the highest impact thing we do. The poor car, it just sits in the carport and maybe gets to go for a ride to Target or Ikea on Saturday, if it's lucky.
Use your oven less
I've used the oven once in eight weeks. How's that for helping the environment?
Take shorter showers
I'm a law student. I'm lucky to get a shower at all.
Will and I try to make choices that are friendly to the earth, but we could certainly do more. I'm sure all of us could do more, don't you agree? Like, we could all move into Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, for instance. Or, at least we could go find those canvas bags for next week's trip to the grocery store. I think I'll get on that this afternoon.
Some people in Davis forgot to check the weather report this morning, which means that some people had to ride their bikes home in the pouring rain. Will and I both arrived home at a little after one in the afternoon and we were both fully soaked from our respective fifteen minute bike rides. After changing out of our wet clothes, we made some soup and then took a nap--the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon, if you ask me.
There's something wildly disappointing about this particular rainy afternoon, however, bike ride aside. You see, this afternoon was supposed to be the local high school's homecoming parade. It is the only high school in town so this parade was not going to be around the high school track or across the football stadium--this parade was going to run straight through downtown Davis.
Will, being a counselor at the high school, was supposed to be in this parade through downtown. The ladies in the counseling department came up with the cute idea of using Cookie Monster and "C is for Counselor" as the main theme for their parade entry. They even made giant cookie costumes.
I packed my camera this morning to capture Will riding his bike through Davis wearing a bright blue shirt and a giant cardboard chocolate chip cookie, but, I am sorry to report, the parade was cancelled due to rain.
I don't believe that Will shares my disappointment.
Recently, we purchased a bag of Dove Chocolate Miniatures. Each piece of candy came wrapped in foil with a "promise" printed inside. I mostly just threw away the wrappers with their silly little promises, but this one merited a photo.
Maybe it is because I don't watch television, but I just don't get it. They replay your memories of what? Sitting in front of the television? And aren't you, technically, replaying the memories of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha?
Through most of college I regularly watched Friends with my various roommates, but never do I look back and think about how I miss sitting around the television with them. I miss riding bikes and going downtown and mixing margaritas and gossiping late into the night and traveling to new cities and dancing at ratty old bars with them. I miss going to baseball games and getting happy hour steaks and dressing up for Halloween with them. Plenty of things throughout the day conjure up a memory of an old roommate--a photo of Boston, the mention of a great restaurant, a specific item of clothing--but never once have I watched a rerun of Friends and thought, gee, I remember the time that Stacey and I watched this episode in our DC apartment, good times.
No, reruns never replay any of my old memories, except, I guess, memories of me sitting in front of the TV. And, as far as my life has gone, those aren't the times worth much remembering.
On Friday at noon, when I was sitting in a bar drinking a glass of wine in celebration (or contempt, as it may be) of my first law school midterm, Will texted me asking if I would like to meet Anthony and Amanda for dinner in San Francisco.
We met them at a brewery, where a beer and a lemon drop were awaiting our arrival, and we chatted and laughed and I lamented about law school, the only thing I know how to talk about because it's the only thing I do. Ever.
(Seriously, I went to Target today, and I literally shopped from a list, steering the cart only in the direction of the items we needed. Glass cleaner? Check. Cat food? Check. Lotion? Check. Bleach tablets? Check. People, I did not even look to see what new clothes Isaac Mizrahi has out or whether there was a cheap pair of ballet flats that I couldn't pass up.)
San Francisco was as fabulous as always, and for the first time I didn't feel like I needed to rush around to see as much as possible in the limited time associated with a place that is too far away to visit with any regularity. Now, it is a mere hop, skip, and jump away, plus a $4 toll to cross the Bay Bridge.
After drinks, we ate at an Italian restaurant and then visited City Lights, a fantastic independent bookstore. At the end of the night, we were standing outside the bookstore, ready to go our separate ways. Although it was getting cold and we were tired, we couldn't seem to stop the conversation, and we continued to chat and laugh.
The story is so nice up until this point: the pasta, family, conversation, books, laughter. We probably would have stood out there all night--in fact, there's a possibility we could still be standing out there right now--but the party was broken up by a stream of pee that was flowing downhill, right in our direction, sprung from a bum that was using the wall of the bookstore as his personal urinal.
Walter Cronkite once said that "leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible." But just not long enough for the pee to get you.
Before law school, among other things, I briefly considered attending culinary school. The idea didn't last long because, the truth is, I know absolutely nothing about cooking or baking. The only recipes I can successfully pull off have Jello and Cool Whip as the main ingredients.
It's a funny thing. I didn't go to culinary school because I know nothing about being in a kitchen. I came to law school because I know so much about the law. For instance, I know that there are laws. And that we should abide by them. And, also, that some things are illegal. Like speeding. And killing people. Also, something about contracts? And wills?
I might as well have gone to culinary school.
Tomorrow is my first law school test. Somehow, I think that it would have been much easier to make a raspberry jam torte than to analyze intentional torts. At least it wouldn't have required any damn typing skills.
I have a celebrity neighbor.
The guy in the apartment across from us was the 1st runner up in California's Best Bagger Championship and will be attending the National Grocer's Association Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada next year.
Our neighbor can bag groceries with precision faster than you can swipe your American Express. What does your neighbor do?
Type or Die! Have I ever mentioned that I don't know how to type? Really. I've been practicing on Dance Mat Typing over at the BBC, a program for 7 to 11 year olds, and, I swear to you, I just found out that those two raised dots on the J and F keys actually serve a purpose. My husband, while watching me peck away this weekend, actually said, "wow, I didn't realize you were that bad." Happily, I can now type the home row without looking and with minimal mistakes. Do you think I can type a torts midterm using only words comprised of the letters a, s, d, f, g, h, j, k, and l with the semicolon as my only punctuation?
I swear that the pop posters from The Poster List were designed especially for me.
Bike or Die! I have hardly been in the car at all since we arrived in Davis, relying almost exclusively on my bicycle as transportation, even when I don't have to. Today I even biked in the rain. Or, well, right after the rain. There were some big puddles. Or the road was a little damp still. Whatever. The main thing to know is: rain, bike, me. I am a hardcore cyclist (if any hardcore cyclists ride pink bikes in skirts and heels).