Vote.

6 Nov

Last night after I left work, I drove back to Corpus Christi from Houston. I’m currently working in Houston (temporarily, though hopefully that will change soon) and until I get a permanent position and Houston address, I’m registered to vote at my permanent address in Corpus, which has been home since 2003.  This morning, I went to vote in my first presidential election.

I was not able to vote for president until 2008, when I was 21. That year, I was in undergrad at Texas A&M University.  I called Corpus, managed to get my ballot by mail, and voted in the primary. I got busy and lost track of deadlines and was unable to do so for the general election. I missed out. I promised this year would be different. So, here I am.

I got to the polling place shortly after 7am because I did not want to wait in line all day. There were not too many of us there, but the line quickly grew longer and louder. I looked around and saw complete strangers chatting, exchanging opinions, laughing.  I thought to myself, “This? This is the America I believe in.” There were people of different races, colors, ages. Black, brown, white, old, young, middle aged. There were three different languages being spoken in the line that I could hear. There were about 100 people peacefully in line to change leadership of our city, county, state, and country. Suddenly, I found myself blinking back tears.

Americans have a history of apathy when it comes to voting.  We feel like we don’t matter. We feel like the candidates are just the lesser of many evils. We take for granted that this is how things work. We take for granted that the polls will be open. We know there will be problems with machines and ballots, but we also know that our polls are safe. We feel like politics in this country is a lost cause, a big machine rolling over us the way a tractor wheel would roll over a frog on the highway, crushing us under its weight. Yet: the way we feel is not always the way things are.

We have the power to change things, no matter what anyone says. We live in a country where we are given the chance to fire the people in charge. We can vote out our representatives, we can vote out our mayors and city councilmen, and we can vote out our senators. In Texas, we can fire judges and sheriffs and district attorneys. We can vote in people we feel will be different, will do better. There is always a lot of talk about money – who raises it, who has it, who doesn’t have it, who needs it. Money will buy TV spots and billboards and banners and stickers. Money will buy sponsors and dinners and flyers. Money cannot – should not – buy our conscience. We are free to do what we feel is right. The question becomes: will we? I hope so. I know that to do so, we need to vote.

Vote because you love your country. Vote because you believe in its future. Vote because you still have hope. Vote because you haven’t given in, given out, or given up. Vote because when the times are tough, Americans are tougher. Vote because you still believe that about us.  Vote because you love your community. Vote because you believe it can change.  Vote because you know it makes a difference. It makes a difference to you, to your family, and to how you feel about this country and where you live. Vote because it gives you a stake that no one can take away. Vote because it gives you power when there are those who would make you feel powerless.

Will your vote matter? Probably not, if you define “matter” as the deciding vote in a presidential election. I encourage you not to define “matter” that way. Will your vote push a candidate or proposition over the line? I can’t tell you. I can tell you that your vote is guaranteed not to matter if it doesn’t exist. There are statistics and studies and grad students dedicated to putting a number on just how much your vote does or does not matter. I encourage you not to let anyone, anyone, tell you that you do not matter. You matter. Your vote matters. This election matters.

I left the polling place this morning encouraged and excited about what awaits us, for better or worse.  I want you to have that feeling too.  End our history of apathy. Be the America you believe in. Vote.

I am resigning as Captain…

6 Nov

…of the failboat.

Why?

Because the bar results came back and:

 

 

 

This is your captain speaking.

25 Jul

The last day of the exam is tomorrow.

12 essays.  6 hours.  30 minutes each.

And I know nothing.

“Oh sure! You know some things!”

The things I know are not the things I will be asked about (because that’s how my life works), and they will not be the things that push me over the “passing” score.  (If they are, I will GLADLY eat my words later and link to this as the exam-induced delirium that happens to everyone, in the hopes it gives someone else encouragement.)

But whatever happens, this is it.  Last day.  No more law school. No more bar exam.  No more panic and cramming.  I either walk out of there tomorrow a lawyer, or I don’t.  Either way, we won’t know until Nov. 2. 

After that, I get my life back for three months and I just repress this memory and try to forget it ever happened.

Thanks for sticking with me through the crazy that has been the last two months.  I’m sure I haven’t been anyone’s favorite. I love you for your support [delusional though it may be at times, and thank you for that] and your never-ending encouragement.  If you’re still friends with me after the bar, well, you’re pretty fantastic.

Last time I captain the Failboat.  Here goes nothing.

Sometimes you win.

23 Jul

The bar exam begins tomorrow.  Three days. 15 total hours of test time.  20 areas of law, give or take a couple.  The exam that will decide if I’m an attorney, for real.

I wish I could say I feel good about it. I don’t.

I just can’t feel good about my ability to remember and spit out enough information to get the 675/1000 I need.  And this is where you say, “67.5? As in…you only need a C- to pass?” Well, a D actually, if we’re in a school district that doesn’t have a plus-minus grading system.  But that’s beside the point, which is: I am not confident I can muster the mediocre performance it will take to pass this exam.

That is not to say I will give a mediocre performance.  I will do my best, because Lord knows I only want to do this once.  I have studied hard. I was a “box checker.”  I dutifully checked all of the boxes Kaplan gave me.  I worked too hard to throw it away.

I do not lack confidence in my abilities as an attorney.  I have come a long way from the 1L I was in December, 2009, when I took my first law school exam.  I understand argument, persuasion, advocacy.  I know I have a lot to learn, as any recent graduate does, but I can at least put together a decent argument about why I should win my case.  I can connect with people.  I read people well.  I listen to them.  I have somehow become incredibly detail oriented, much to the pleasure of my bosses and the dismay of opposing counsel.  I am a lot of things, but mediocre is not one of them.

“Wait a minute,” you say.  “This exam only requires a mediocre score.  You said so.  Incongruity detected.”

I did. You got me.  That should tell you something about the mental trip the bar exam is.

Earlier tonight, I felt numb.  Then I cried.  Then, I remembered a few words of one of my heroes – Atticus Finch:

[Courage is] knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

And in that, in those words, I found what I needed for the next three days.  So much of being a lawyer is running headfirst into things you are sure will result in abject failure on the off chance it will all work out.  A colorable motion here [denied] and objection there [overruled], a few words to a jury you swore would bring them to tears [blank stares].  But you do it, because you are an advocate and it is your duty and your responsibility to throw yourself before the wolves for the sake of your cause.  You walk into a courtroom, knowing you’re licked, but resolved to give the best argument you can, because maybe you’re not.  The words Atticus said following the above were:

You rarely win, but sometimes you do.

Sometimes you do.  It is those times that make you push forward.  If that’s what this exam is supposed to test, well hell – going forward I can do.

I am not going to walk confidently into that room tomorrow, but I am going to walk in resolved to do my best, come hell or high water, whatever the results are.  And if November comes and my name isn’t on the list – well, I’ll know that I tried.  And I will try again, because sometimes? You win.

Where have you been?

20 Jul

This was the product of several minutes stuck in traffic this morning blaring Rihanna’s Where Have You Been.  Sometimes they write themselves.

I’ve been up for days, man
Learning all the law
Man I feel so sleepy,
Study all night long
I’ve been up for days, man
Learning all the law
Learning all the law
Studying the law

What do I do?
Cause I’ll never figure out
All the answers I need, yeah
I wish it weren’t so hard.

(Woe.)

I’ll never learn
All the law, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law

There’s so many rules, man
In every area
Property and contracts,
Are eludin’ ya
You’ve been up for days, man
Learnin all the law
learning all the law
Studying the law

What do we do?
Cause we’ll never figure out
All the answers we need, yeah
I wish it weren’t so hard.

(Woe.)

I’ll never learn
All the law, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law
I’ll never learn, all the law I’ll never learn all the law
I’ll never learn all the law
I’m tired of cramming all day long
Every day, Every day
I’m gonna need some coffee tonight

I’ve been up for days, man
Learning all the law
Man I feel so sleepy,
Study all night long
I’ve been up for days, man
Learning all the law
Learning all the law
Studying the law

I’ll take all the luck I can get.

18 Jul

Over the last month or so, crickets have invaded Austin.  Just google “crickets austin” and peruse any of the many results.

Since they showed up en masse, I’ve found 5 in my apartment.  My apartment is relatively creature free.  I’ve lived here for almost a year and have found a few silverfish, two roaches, and a spider.  In 12 months? I’d say that’s a pretty good record.  And then in one month: 5 crickets.

The first cricket I found on the floor one day as I went to sit down to read:

Image

Yes, that’s a regular food container.  It was the first one I could grab and has since become the designated cricket-catcher.  I scooted the container and the cricket toward the door and set it free:

Image

The first cricket I set free. He looks like a Pixar character waiting to happen.

A few days later, I pulled back the shower curtain one morning to find cricket #2.  I grabbed the lid to my cricket-catcher, coaxed it into the container, and then set it free outside.  I didn’t take a picture because by then the novelty had worn off.

I’m generally averse to killing other little creatures [except cockroaches; sorry not sorry that I’m gonna make it Raid] because I feel incredibly guilty about it.  Crickets are much larger than the normal house bugs, but they are also not known to be particularly germy, they’re harmless, and I find their hopping generally amusing.  Also, I may be the only person I know who is fascinated by their little songs.  So, when I found the crickets in my apartment, I let them go.

Then, I found cricket #3, also in the bathtub in the morning. [They come through the drain. Bah.] I saw it there, rolled my eyes, and walked away.  I didn’t feel like dealing with it before I’d had my coffee.  When I finally went back to trap it and let it go, I realized: IT ONLY HAD ONE BACK LEG.  The poor thing was generally walking about in circles, probably just as unamused to find itself in the tub as I was.  A comedy of errors ensued where I tried to coax it into the container, it would make a sincere effort to get in, and then fall over because its one back leg [the big hopping leg] would exert too much force and dump it out.  More than once it got stuck on its back, flailing about in frustration.  Eventually, our combined efforts got it into the container and I set it free in the bushes outside.

Cricket #4 was not so fortunate.  I found it dead by my window near the curtains.  I’ll spare you the sad details, but its story involves a vacuum cleaner.

That brings us to today, and cricket #5.  Earlier, I was sitting here typing up a small outline for negotiable instruments (someone explain to me why the word “negotiable” is used to mean “transferable” when we could just as easily use “transferable”) and I heard what I thought was a whirring, high-pitched mechanical noise.  I figured it was my fridge, so I walked over to the kitchen and heard: nothing.  I went back to my computer.

Then I heard it again and thought it might be a cricket.  Out of curiosity, I walked to my closet/bathroom where the noise got louder.  I looked around my closet and figured it was somewhere in there.  I decided I did not care enough to look for it and just hoped I wouldn’t find it dead later.  I went back to my computer.

Then I heard it again.  Crickets are incredibly small for how much sound they make.  I walked back over to the bathroom, thinking maybe it would be under the sink.  I pulled everything out and listened.  No cricket to be seen, but much cricket to be heard.  I sat there for a moment and realized: the cricket is under the vanity.  The vanity in my bathroom goes to the floor, like this one. The cricket is hidden inside it where I can’t reach it.  To get to the cricket, one would have to actually remove the bottom panels.  See also: things that aren’t even remotely worth it.

I resigned myself to having my new roommate and went back to my computer.  I then wondered if the poor thing had made a very stupid mistake and gotten stuck where it would die.  I googled “what do crickets eat” and found out they are apparently omnivores who will eat ALL the things, which made me feel better.

Then I remembered: crickets are considered by some to be good luck.  This was a particularly fortunate thing to remember because today has been a day where I am convinced – more so than usual – that I am going to fail the bar exam.  There isn’t really a way to make that feeling better, or to make it go away.  And yet, here’s this little cricket, singing away.  As absurd as it is, that cricket has been the only thing to really improve my mood all day.  Five crickets in one month is most likely just a result of the thousands of crickets in Austin looking for new places to live.  A week away from the bar, it is more comforting to believe that I’ve been turning good luck charms away and that one has parked itself where it cannot be reached in order that I accept its encouragement and good wishes.  If crickets are good luck, I welcome my new noisy roommate for as long as it cares to stay.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be lawyers.

17 Jul

Don’t let ’em read long books or argue too much.  Make ’em be doctors and cowboys and such.

 

In other news, the bar exam is a week away.  It’s going to be really fun to do this again in January. 

 

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