Thursday, April 26, 2007

chiming in on the virginia tech issue...

yes, i know i'm a little late on this, but a conversation with my friend kelly the other day got me thinking...

did you guys know that only two days after the tragic shooting spree at virginia tech, five bombings in baghdad killed about 170 people??? i sure as hell didn't know until my conversation with kelly, and she didn't know until a friend of hers who lives in europe pointed it out to her.

i have two primary and related thoughts about this. you may not like what i'm saying in this post. but i'm okay with that.

1. is the american news media so sensationalist that it becomes consumed and obsessed with mass tragedy when it happens on US soil?

2. are we so desensitized to violence in the middle east that we no longer consider it violent?

forgive the geek reference, but the american news machine is like the eye of sauron -- it's incapable of focusing on more than one thing. as soon as something awful happens on home turf, any other bad stuff that happens elsewhere no longer matters. and the media circus moves at breakneck speed to broadcast every single detail -- public and private -- about the lives involved. it's like those gaudy human-interest segments of the olympics -- a hundred million media hands grasping for the heartstrings of the folks huddled around their television sets. why? what purpose does this serve?

lots of things happened that week -- the senate judiciary committee made mincemeat of alberto gonzales, for example. is this less newsworthy than the virginia tech massacre? oh, and the supreme court upheld a late-term abortion ban in gonzales v. carhart. are the ramifications of this not enough to stop the presses???

the sad thing is that i just listed the significant stories, the ones that did make the news alongside the coverage of virginia tech. but the number of stories and articles and soundbytes devoted to seung-hui cho's mental state and his "multimedia manifesto" seemed to far outweigh any other current event of the time.

america is not immortal. america is not above brutality and terrorism. i truly do not mean to be incendiary by saying this, but it seems to me to be incredibly naive to think that the events of 9/11 were not in some way inevitable. by that i don't mean that the united states had it coming -- i'm not THAT cynical. what i mean is that horrible horrible things happen every day all over the world. it was only a matter of time before it happened here, too.

you know what the virginia tech massacre makes me think? it makes me think that we're damn fortunate. we live in a world where things like this generate so much attention because they just don't happen. we should thank our lucky stars.

but you know what the 170 deaths in baghdad make me think? it makes me incredibly sad and outraged that we've become so accustomed to stories about suicide bombings and civilian deaths in iraq that we no longer bat an eye.

i wonder, would we have cared as much about what happened at virginia tech if it had taken place in afghanistan?

one hundred seventy people. that's almost my whole law school class. that's bigger than my entire high school. imagine if my law school class or the student body of my high school got obliterated by four car bombs and another explosion. now imagine that in the ensuing chaos, a crazy sniper took out somebody else and wounded two others. because that's what happened last week in baghdad.

please don't misconstrue these thoughts as belittling the horror and devastation of what happened to those 32 students at virginia tech -- i would never want to suggest that those lives aren't worth recognition or attention. but i only ask that we put it in perspective. 32 deaths. 33, including the gunman. this was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. well, today alone, nine iraqi soldiers were killed and fifteen other people were wounded in another baghdad car bombing. are those nine lives, or the 170 that were lost last week, any less valuable than the 33 in blacksburg?

we should all be outraged. we should all pay closer attention. just because it doesn't happen in our own backyards doesn't make it any less wrong.

trail name...

so, my friend adrian (who has thru-hiked the appalachian trail) tells me i need a trail name for my journeys on the AT. he suggested "sue esponte" (as in sua sponte*). but "sua" is a dumb first name. i could go with "sue esponte", but that sounds hispanic, and nobody's gonna see my pale skin and green eyes and confuse me for a latina.

i have decided to use "jackie argon" as my trail name.

a few years ago, my friends joe, joe, brad, and katey, who were all housemates in philadelphia, came up with an idea for a television drama/mystery/espionage/crime-fighting series called "bird squad seven". the whole thing was fantastic. the four of them were the stars -- they were the bird squad 7. joe g was allen skinnypants and he ran an old bookstore with the help of a monkey named norman mailer, katey was a plain-by-day, smokin'-hot-by-night librarian named barbara mcgillicuddy (i'm pretty sure that was the name of her high school librarian), brad was james fangers, the leader of the squad, and good gracious i can't remember joe t's name (i'm really hoping katey still checks in on this blog and can fill in the missing pieces here).

so the four of them solved mysteries and saved the world and carried out all kinds of of 70s-and-80s-television-show-inspired plot lines. and sometimes they needed a little help from their friends, the supporting cast. i was one of those supporting cast members. my name was jackie argon. i specialized in chemistry and computers, and i lived in a bubble. i also wore a headgear and a prom dress. despite all of my pleadings, joe and joe and brad and katey would not change their minds about jackie argon wearing a headgear and a prom dress. nonetheless, she was very intelligent.

so there you go. my trail name? jackie argon.

* sua sponte: (sooh-uh spahn-tay) adj. Latin for "of one's own will," meaning on one's own volition, usually referring to a judge's order made without a request by any party tot eh case. These include an order transferring a case to another judge due to a conflict of interest or the judge's determination that his/her court does not have jurisdiction over the case.

Monday, April 23, 2007

last day of school!!! ?

remember that old cosby show episode in which cliff is complaining to claire about how he has to wake the kids up for the first day of school when they're all grumpy and miserable about having to go back to classes, while claire got to wake them up for the last day of school, when they practically lept out of bed into their clothes and straight out the door because they were so excited about summer vacation?

well, today was my last day of classes. it didn't exactly go like the cosby show version. truth be told, i'm a total sentimental sap when it comes to endings and beginnings...

today i got up early, made some coffee, and headed out to schenley park for a bit before i had to be at school for 9:00 family law. i found a nice bench on that grassy place on top of overlook drive to sit and drink my coffee and take advantage of the view of pittsburgh. i needed some space so that things could sink in. this is, after all, the last day of class...ever!

i love moments like that. silly and solitary; the kinds of moments where the point is to look at the birds chase each other around and watch the morning traffic on 376 while listening to sufjan stevens on my headphones. moments like that don't translate -- they're only mine. i will never be able to share them with another soul. and i like it that way.

lately i've been surrounded by a sense of adventure, of being on one of those life-roads. this is different than a sense of accomplishment. i think i needed to sit on top of that hill in the park this morning to be able to wrap my mind around having reached a landmark, a destination. this school thing has come to an end. it has been both universal and unique among my other adventures. the last time i was a student, the freshman and senior points were worlds apart. this time, the 1L and the 3L are basically the same. there's a lot of comfort in that. sure, now i'm a little smarter, maybe; better able to articulate some ideas; more determined to be able to support the things i'm willing to say out loud, less impulsively emotional. you know, lawyery. oh, and i read more quickly and my eyesight has gotten worse.

but this... this beauty. those solitary moments, gone as soon as they appear... and letting them pass me by, come and go; i have no desire to pin them down or take them apart. they're the stuff of poems, the stuff of melodies, the stuff of imagination.

the law is not this kind of beautiful -- the law is orderly, regimented, it makes recommendations, it is skeletal, structural. the law is not spontaneous or transient or mirthful. my brain is famished for something beautiful, something that doesn't give a damn about parameters or logic. my brain wants to feel the melancholic aftermath of tragedy; it wants to stand stock-still in wonder of things too big not to marvel; it wants to feel exhilarated at not knowing or having to find answers. i can have these things again. law school is over. i feel liberated!

...but there is also a sadness. my heart is full of my colleagues and friends, some of whom will be far away soon. whatever this law school thing has been, it was something we did together, our lives merged for a bit as we trudged through it. i wish i had the time and the energy to hold each of those people close and tell them what they've meant to me. i wish a lot of things... mostly, i'm grateful.

so, farewell to law school. farewell to my life as a student. good for me. good for us.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

darkest before the dawn...

you know how in action/adventure movies, there's inevitably the scene where the hero is up to his/her eyeballs in chaos and bad stuff, and it just gets worse and worse and worse, but somehow s/he is able to get the hell out of dodge before the world crashes in around him/her?

your honors, i move to enter the following into evidence as plaintiff's exhibit WTF:

that's right. that's "barco high school", as in the barco law library, as in the university of pittsburgh school of law. as in i can feel the ground beneath my feet beginning to crumble as i grasp determinedly for the escape of graduation.

way back when i was a 1L, the jokes about the similarities between law school and high school were a welcome breath of humor. the similarities are plentiful: the lockers, the cliques, the lunchroom tables, the student organizations, the people obsessed with getting drunk, the juvenile behavior of certain classmates... but to take that to a level of having cafepress make t-shirts??!! i mean, sure, i've made a couple of t-shirts throughout the course of my legal education that reflect certain aspects of my time at pitt law*, but to embrace the high school aspect to the point where it looks like a celebration??? uh, no. that's just sad. really really really really depressing.

you see, i haven't been a high school student in 13 years. i never want to be a high school student again. all those people who suggested that high school would be "the best years of [one's] life" were wrong. and the ways in which law school has felt like high school are not the aspects of law school that i want to remember.

this is the last week of school -- tomorrow is the last day of classes, then my only two finals are on friday. this will be over soon. the heroine will escape from the peril, even if only by the skin of her teeth!

*those shirts, by the way, are awesome. one of them says, "[constitutional law professor not to be named on this blog] lost my final and all i got was a lousy B". the other one, truly the greatest t-shirt ever to exist of all time, says, "what would justice brennan do?"

i'm brilliant!

an apple a day...

well, it's finally happened -- i've joined the macworld! ta da! yep -- this here blog post is coming at yinz from my brand new little macbook! i'm still figuring it out, but i'm quite pleased with it. the biggest problem is trying to find something that will open my microsoft onenote files, but for this i blame microsoft for making a goddamn near-universally-incompatible program.

andrew has been my mac-hero through all this, providing lots of technical and emotional support. he's like my mac-jedi master! why oh why does he have to go away so soon?!?!

more is forthcoming from me and my new toy. but for now, must learn a semester's worth of federal income taxation so that i don't fail out of law school a month before graduation...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


carson and i have been talking about trying to take some sort of trip in the 10 days or so i have between the end of my finals and the beginning of my bar exam preparation classes. since i don't have a job lined up yet, i don't want to do something that's going to be irresponsibly expensive. nonetheless, finishing law school is an accomplishment that i think warrants a little celebratory vacation.

last night carson had a brilliant idea -- he suggested that we take a week and hike part of the pennsylvania appalachian trail! i haven't been able to stop thinking about this since. a week! outdoors! with no computers, no cell phones, no ipods, no indoor plumbing! it sounds absolutely incredibly amazing! so, we're gonna do it. this means i need to definitely step up the exercising, so that i don't pass out in a whiny heap of misery along the way, but i'm so excited!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

god bless you, mr. rosewater...

kurt vonnegut passed away yesterday.

when i was a disgruntled teenager, determined not to read david copperfield or any of the books that my father was sure i would love, i dusted off dad's old copies of _slaughterhouse five_ and _jailbird_ and fell in love with kurt vonnegut.

i just gasped out loud at seeing the headline about vonnegut's death. i know this is so corny, but the man is somewhat of a hero to me -- he's brilliant, he's funny, his writing is like a really witty and insightful inside joke, like a wink, as if vonnegut had our numbers all along.

dear mr. vonnegut, may you rest in peace, forever in those places where all kinds of different truths fit together.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

law student spam...

i swear, if i get one more all-student-list e-mail about some stupid student group's upcoming election meeting, i'm going to set some sort of Y2K-scale virus on the e-mail system!

yes. i am full of empty threats. but lemme give you an idea of what a typical day in my inbox looks like...

generally, when i wake up in the morning, i'll go online to check the weather and stuff. "and stuff" = check my e-mail. it's 7:oo a.m. oh look! i have a message from somebody in the sports and entertainment law society telling me that there's a meeting coming up. delete. ooh! and career services wants to remind me about submitting some online survey about how much they're not doing for me! delete.

okay. now i'm at school, in class, i checked out on the whole reading-for-class, paying-attention-and-learning thing months ago, so i again check my e-mail. hey! the pitt law republicans are having their final meeting this week! delete. ooh! and another e-mail from the sports and entertainment law society! delete. and it looks like the pitt law democrats are holding elections soon, too! delete.

now it's later in the day, i again check in on the ol' gmail account. oh look -- the american constitutional society is having elections. delete. and a reminder about the american constitutional society elections! delete. another message from the sports & entertainment law society. delete. and the labor and employment law society is having their first meeting. delete.

now it's nighttime, i'm about to go to bed. i check in on e-mail for a final time. the criminal law society is having a speaker. delete. the hispanic law society is meeting next week. delete. the student bar association is doing something worthless. delete. and bar review this week is at doc's. delete.

i kid you not -- these mass student e-mails have gotten WAY out of control. i've thought seriously about making up an e-mail address, something like (not a real address!!!), and sending a mass student e-mail that says the following:
dear student groups,

in the good old days, e-mails about upcoming events/meetings were sent ONLY to members of the group, students who chose to keep abreast of the goings-on of the club. when did it become acceptable to send messages to EVERY SINGLE STUDENT? also, per your elections? i really couldn't care less about who is going to be leading the group next year. i'm leaving. as are my classmates. not only are we not members of your group, but we're not going to show up for the last meeting of the year just to elect some student we know nothing about. KNOCK IT OFF! STOP SPAMMING!!!

in case you didn't notice, on that same page on the intranet where you can e-mail the entire student body, you can also choose to e-mail only the 1Ls and 2Ls. do this please.

a 3L

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

oh the places i'll go...

this morning on the bus i just about got knocked on my face by this incredible wave of longing to be in philadelphia. i was listening to an album on my never-get-on-the-bus-without-it ipod, an album that my friend chris had put on this giant DVD full of music he gave me before i left philly last summer, and i suddenly wanted more than anything to be sitting with chris and my friend jenn on their porch, just visiting. and from that reverie i further revered into thoughts of my other philadelphia friends and thoughts of the fair city of cheesesteaks and brotherly love.

i don't know where i'm going to be come august. barring some unforeseen disaster, i'll either be in philadelphia or pittsburgh, and i'm kinda letting the jobsearch dictate which city will be my destination. but the honest truth is that i have this feeling down deep in my soul that regardless of where my first job as an attorney will be, i'm going to end up in philadelphia. and i like that feeling a lot.

i have a couple of good friends who don't have jobs lined up yet, but who are going to philly regardless. do i do this, too? but there are definitely reasons to stick around in pittsburgh for a little while, and, well, moving just sucks.

i don't know what to do. my gut tells me that the first job i get out of law school will be more of a stepping stone than a career move. and that's good -- it takes some pressure off. but stepping stones are components of a path, so i do have some duty to point myself in the right direction.

i hate this not having a job thing. i hate the dread. i hate the uncertainty. but i'm not the first person ever to be in this situation, and i won't be the last. and when you consider all the possible shitty situations in which one could find oneself, being on the verge of graduating law school isn't exactly shabby...

this is a good problem, right? i should look at it as an opportunity? alas, it feels like a compromise...

Friday, April 06, 2007

daddy's little girl...

i had an incredibly inane conversation with my dad tonight. really silly. about my bar exam study loan. but ever since i got off the phone, i've been thinking about a few things in the conversation, and i keep getting angrier and angrier. it's of no consequence, really, because as i get older, the more i realize that i'll never ever have any sort of adult-adult relationship with my dad. ever.

i will always be his child; he will always see me as obstinate, naive, shortsighted. and he will always, despite my better efforts, be my father. he'll always be dated, out of touch, with unrealistic expectations.

the phone conversation tonight took a turn for the worse when we started talking about graduation things. you see, the standard diploma that the law school issues is 8 1/2 X 11 inches, but a larger diploma is available for $40. this larger diploma is 12 X 16 inches. my father, in all of his wisdom, is quite sure that "someday it will be important" to me to have the larger diploma. he's convinced that spending that $40 is a good investment since this is such a significant achievement. and i can't seem to make him understand that of all the things that are important to me and that will become important to me, i will NEVER give a shit about the size of my law school diploma. and that setting $40 on fire is, in my opinion, a better thing to do with that money than to put it toward a piece of paper.

my father has convinced me that i should order graduation announcements to send to friends and family. we also talked about who should receive these announcements. i think i should really only send them to family -- aunts, uncles, my grandmother. but my dad listed several names of friends of his that "might want to know." but i told him i'd feel awkward sending announcements to people that i haven't really maintained any sort of relationship with. and then the following conversation occurred:

emily: it would be like inviting your co-workers to my wedding.
dad: no, that would be me inviting those people.
emily: oh wait, you're paying for my wedding now?
dad: no.
emily: well, i'm certainly not going to use my money to invite people i don't know to my wedding.
dad: but...
emily: and if you're not contributing financially, you get zero oversight of the guest list.
dad: you're right.
emily: okay then. and in case anybody's wondering, i have no plans to get married.

see? it's stupid! but i'm enraged about this conversation! i am not a little girl anymore. i've been making my own decisions and learning from my own mistakes for a long time. when my father was my age, he had two kids. he was adult enough at that point to raise and support two other lives. why is it so hard for him to see me as adult enough to intelligently say i don't want a poster-sized law school diploma?

i love my father so much. but i just don't know how to communicate with him sometimes. and it enrages me and saddens me and frustrates me and breaks my heart. i don't think i'll ever stop being affected by this.

my home state is an idiot...

so, one of the requirements for the pennsylvania bar application is to get certified copies of driving records from every state in which the applicant has had a driver's license. and when that applicant is me, we're talking about three states -- pennsylvania, massachusetts, and mississippi.

pennsylvania was easy -- you can get your driving record online, pay $10 with a debit or credit card, and print it out. the PA bar examiners accept this "unofficial" record because it's in-state.

massachusetts was also easy. i had to wait about 20 minutes before i talked to a live person, but the woman with whom i spoke was very friendly and helpful, i could pay the $10 over the phone with my card, and i got my driving record in about three days.

however, mississippi, the magnolia state, the state of my birth, the home of my family, is a fucking asshole! not only did i call seven different phone numbers before i actually talked to someone who could help me, but i had to have a form notarized ($5), get a money order for $11 ($11 plus the $1 for the money order fee), and send them a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which they would return my driving record. only those jerks didn't actually return my driving record!!! i got home today to see my SASE returned. but inside was not MY driving record, but a notice saying that people with licenses that expired more than two years ago were no longer in the system -- my record had been deleted!!! WTF?!!?!!?!?!?

so, friends, the rumors are true -- mississippi really is the stupidest state in the union. apparently, once you go more than two years without renewing your driver's license, you are dead to mississippi.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

the green light at the end of the dock...

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter ---- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ----

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Monday, April 02, 2007


i'm just doing a little glancing-through-my-calendar-to-see-what's-ahead and i just realized that april 23d is our last day of class...and april 23d is only three weeks away!!! what the? and my only two finals are on april 27th! which means i'm totally done with school and being a student forever in four weeks.

oh god i'm gonna be sick...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

so many april fools...

this just pisses me off.

but not for the reasons you may think. back in december of 2005 when i was home in pascagoula for christmas, i heard stories, probably more substantiated than mere rumors, of local people submitting false claims for hurricane relief money. it's absolutely shameful, and the people who do that kind of thing should be shipped off to live in what's left of new orleans' ninth ward, but it happens all the time.

what pisses me off is that a year and a half has passed and only now is this news.