Thursday, September 27, 2007

War Is Over...if you've got 'em

It is major recap time. Where do I begin to tell the story of September? There's been more to accompany this passage from summer to fall than any recent season change of my lifetime.

To begin with, for those who didn't get the memo (and to you I say, when will you get a good text messaging plan?) the second year of law school is sooooo much better than the first. So supremely much better it's indescribable. Thus, I will now cease describing and move on to other things happening.

I love Brooklyn! Specifically, I love Greenpoint. And I never would have known this were it not for dear cousin Crystal. This has been a fabulous month -- despite the hectic nature of apartment hunting (ugh times fifty) -- in the Greenpoint 'hood. Woot woot! Highlights include: the park, The Mark, pierogis, convenient commuting, and just chilling out in the lovely, roomy, comfortable apartment crib.

Did everyone know I ran a 5K? Yeah, I loved that. My goal was 28:44 but I really ran it in more like 27:20. I then promptly took a week and a half off from running. But now I am back on the horse. Or something.

In other sports news, despite Chipper and Teixeira, the Atlanta Braves could not see fit to make the playoffs, so I am now officially all about the Red Sox. Also, I could get into a Boston-Arizona World Series, for sure. Meanwhile, keep your eye on my ever fabulous USC Trojans doing their football thing. (that thing = greatness)

And in world news this week, I hereby declare that it is officially time for the war in Iraq to end. How do I know this? Because I smoked a cigarette. Now, before anyone goes and gets his or her knickers in a twist, just listen up: I have not fallen prey to anything, and rest assured I have absolutely no desire for another one. I did not crave it, I did not enjoy it, and frankly I did not even remember it, until a few days later. The cigarette in question was smoked on a very drunken whim last Friday evening in Manhattan midway through Hurricane Rob. That is how I am now thinking of the three-day visit of Brian's good friend Rob from Michigan. From Thursday night through Sunday morning we were unstoppable. The beer was unstoppable. You get the idea.

I just know, as I have famously stated here and elsewhere, that I quit smoking the same week we went to war in Iraq, the same week that Michael Moore pointed out our fictitious president was leading us into a fictitious war, although for some absurd reason a lot of you didn't believe us at the time. So I always know how long we've been at war in Iraq because I always know how long I've been quit. I went four years, five months, and twenty-five days without a cigarette. Dubya, it's time for the war to end. The jig is up.

Speaking of Oscars, it's not the season yet but I already know one film that deserves things, and that is The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, or, as my friend Stacey put it, "Mr. Jolie's film." You might have heard about it. Do more than hear. Go see. Now. Go. Go go go. That was one of the many great accomplishments during the time of Hurricane Rob, the three of us seeing that film. Then we strolled through the mud of Central Park (long story) talking about it. Well, mostly I listened to and agreed with Brian and Rob talking about it, because it left me quite awestruck.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of that paragraph it's not Oscar season yet but I am very excited about some awards happening this Saturday, the Vendies! The third annual Vendy Awards are for New York's finest street vendors, of which there are many many many but only five finalists up for the grand prize this weekend, and get this: "our" guy in Astoria(in Queens) is one of the fab five! Brian discovered Freddy, the King of Falafel and Shawarma, shortly after moving to Astoria. He has introduced me and others to this wonderful street vendor cart, which is worth every step of the 2o-minute+ walk from Brian's place. I usually get the falafel, but I have also tried the chicken and rice, which is to die for. (Yes, I'm lapsed right now vegetarian-wise, so no flood of "What? Meat?!" emails, please. I've also been shaving my legs regularly this summer, so there.) Freddy and the others who dish it up there are amazingly cool. Freddy is HILARIOUS. And so good to us! But you don't have to take my word for it, go check out the street vendor awards site and WATCH THE VIDEO. Do it. Do it now.

It just so happened that Brian and I went there on the first day of Ramadan, and Freddy, who is always so lively and cracking jokes and good-naturedly teasing us, he actually slumped against the cart and sat atop the cooler to talk to us: "We stared fasting today, you know," he told us. "It's been really hard." Can you imagine? Working ALL DAY in the thick of those delicious aromas and not being able to eat or drink until I told him he is so awesome. Go visit his site and wish him luck in the Vendy Awards!

One parting thought: Netflix, which really knows the way to my heart, has added an amazing new feature. We are now ranked. Each Netflix user has a ranking. How do you get ranked high? By reviewing and recommending on the site, and by having your Netflix friends and others read and respond to what you say. Not to mention by having people add things to their queue after seeing them on your pages, and then you get ranked even higher when they actually watch what they've discovered from you. I LOVE NETFLIX!!! This is the greatest new feature in some time. I am currently ranked #121,585. To give you an idea, out of my personal 19 Netflix friends, one is ranked higher than me, in the 18,000s. Several are in the two millions and two are three million and something. I rule!

And on that note, I am off to watch L.I.E., which means Long Island Expressway, on which I drove very much during September. You see, I had my friend Heather's car a couple times, for a few days at a stretch. And I learned many things about driving, and driving in New York, and LaGuardia, and myself. I meant to blog about it. I still will, actually. But not right now. It's late. And I am off. But I daresay if ever there were a parkway about which one could make an edgy independent film, the L.I.E. would certainly have to be it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Judgment and the dearly Departed

You had to know I’d have something to say about this. As someone who is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt (which is to say, a doubt that can be reasoned) that he is responsible for the murder of his ex-wife, I now duly note that my fellow USC alumni OJ Simpson has been arrested in Vegas on armed robbery charges. It would be wrong, I think, and it would sound vengeful to say something along the lines of “Ha! I love it!” But come on. The dude has been causing no end of trouble for the past year. The very notion of that horrifying book sent shivers down my spine that brought back the visceral sensation I felt when I stood next to him, briefly, in the bar of a fancy schmancy hotel in Bel-Air years ago (I was attending a work convention; he was staying at this lush place while his house was renovated). I had the sense of being in the presence of evil. I have never felt malevolence coming off another human being like that; it was creepy. Anyway, so instead of going out looking for the “real killers” he writes a book saying how he would have done it if, which is the most blatant lying ploy of evil I’ve ever heard, and now – a new felony.

This morning on the Long Island Rail Road I passed someone reading one of the New York tabloid papers, and the sensationalist headline blazed across the story was “If the charges fit, in jail he’ll sit.” This is a great headline for many reasons. First of all, ha ha. (And it’s not even extremely clever, though you do have to wonder how long a copy editor sat there coming up with it.) Secondly, it reminds us of what a fiasco that entire first trial was. And the fiasco-dom, it is often thought, just may be what saved him from jail. That time. Well, that and the flat-out stupidity of the jurors (“I don’t understand why the prosecution was introducing all that evidence of domestic abuse,” one of them told a local TV news reporter. “I don’t understand what that had to do with this murder case.”)

So today I sit here quite comfortable in the assumption that I am not the only person in the country who had the fleeting thought of “Ha ha, he might have to serve jail time after all.”

Now, as an A+ criminal law student I can surely tell you all the reasons why you can’t punish someone for one crime under the guise of punishing them for another, legally. But you know what they say about the court of public opinion. Here’s what I was really thinking, however. It’s kind of like Martin Scorsese. Right? I mean, The Academy does this all the time, bestowing delayed Oscar recognition on someone, often directors, but sometimes actors too. Or even the people of New Zealand. Let’s face it, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won every single bingle award (and made for one of the most boring Oscar broadcasts since The English Patient) not because it alone was the best film but because Peter Jackson (and the people of New Zealand) had made an amazing trilogy.

A lot of people complain about this practice of Oscar voters. But I don’t. I observe it, and sometimes I think it is rather unfortunate for the poor soul who did create amazing art -- but only one amazing work of art -- in a year that someone is “owed.” I don’t vilify this. I wanted Morgan Freeman to win during the Million Dollar Baby year just as much as the next person, and I particularly remember Alan Alda, who was up against him for Bes t Supporting Actor for The Aviator, on the red carpet. Alan was delighted to be nominated and “having a great time, this is so fun” but he utterly 100% casually dismissed his chances of winning. “Oh no, this is Morgan’s night,” he said. It struck me during that interview that he didn’t say it petulantly, or with any snide or “woe is me” or even clever insidery tone to his voice. Seriously, go to the tape and you’ll see what I mean. He was matter-of-fact, almost like he just wanted to quickly but graciously point out that the interviewer had misspoken, like, “Oh, no, I don’t win tonight. This is Morgan’s night” the way you might say, “Oh, Sunset Blvd? No, go up there and make a left this is Wilshire. Oh, you’re welcome, bye.” And, you know, I think it kind of IS OK to subconsciously consider a body of work. I mean, we do it with other artists. For example, Starry Night is one of the most amazing paintings I’ve ever seen for a lot of reasons, but I totally take Vincent Van Gogh as a whole into account when I look at it and pass that judgment.

And so, OJ, I’m not sure how often you’ve attended the Oscars; perhaps you’ve been at more Oscar after-parties. But you are definitely familiar with that Hollywood lifestyle, and I hope you’ve taken into account the many ways in which the crimes of your past might be judged, not the least of which is via the crimes of the present.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Wow, this is just getting weirder and weirder, so I feel compelled to blog about it even though it is kind of personal and may reveal things about people which they'd prefer remain unrevealed. Ahh, but such are the risks we run when we have a blogger in our lives. Yes?
(waits for collective affirmation from the blogosphere)
(gets sick of waiting and gives self permission to get on with it)

As you know I am really big on "oh-my-god-that's-so-weird" moments. Cosmic signs, coincidences, and especially things coming full circle. Even more since I went to Korea, but also before, I like to look at dates and anniversaries, and I like to think about "on this day one year ago..." and I like to sing "every five years or so I look back on my life and have a good laugh" (indigo girls) and so forth. I like the neatness with which time packages up our lives.

This brings us to Rosh Hashanah. I have had the last couple of days off of school from Hofstra, since sundown Wednesday. Since I am not in the least bit Jewish and am perfectly comfortable writing the "o" in god, the high holy days don't really do much for me (a high holi-daze, however, is a different story). What they really do is give me time off school. A mere week after Labor Day. And then with no more three-day weekends or holidays until Thanksgiving. Columbus Day, you say? Not at Hofstra, which has clearly come down on the side of Jews as opposed to slayers of indigenous peoples.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It's all about casting off the past and preparing yourself to plunge headlong into something better. I love New Year's Eve/Day for this very reason. It epitomizes my whole time-looking back-looking forward-isn't life amazing thing that I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago. So I'm down with Rosh Hashanah, and fond of the lunar (some would say "Chinese") new year, too. I think we should co-opt as many cultures' calendars as possible. What could be better than one new year fresh start? Three new year fresh starts! Yeah!

Anyway. Now for the trippy part. I am currently in Boston. I came up from New York yesterday to retrieve a few things from the house here, while I have the use of a kind friend's car and another kind person's assistance to boot. But even as I arranged to come up here I'd forgotten this week, until I started plotting how to avoid anticipated traffic, that I also came up from Hofstra for a September stuff-retrieval sojourn in Boston LAST Rosh Hashanah. Which I now clearly remember because there was SO MUCH TRAFFIC as the Jews all fled New York City for the holiday; it took three hours just to get into Connecticut.

So that in itself is fun, the whole last-year-Rosh-Hashanah same-thing. But it gets better. Last year my September was indeed spent casting off the past, in particular one despicable sordid member of it whom we like to fondly remember as the interpersonal jackassical alcoholic demon of all that is lying cheating betrayal, or "the evil ex" for short. Among the interpersonal emotional tricks I was playing on myself during that casting off time, I had re-opened a ferociously close friendship with "the first guy I loved" from high school/early college (i.e., BYU time. That is to say, the faaaaaaar distant past.) Yeah, found him on MySpace, "coincidentally," (and by that I mean probably not coincidentally at all) right as evil ex and I were disintegrating. This led to a few months of both of us sort of marveling at how "after so long" we had "magically found" each other again, although I would like to point out for the record that if MySpace is magical, it is so in a kind of The Prestige way -- be careful. And be afraid.

So anyway, there I was last September having way too many way too intense conversations with this man who is now married with two small children, and as much as I did care for him very much at age sixteen and then again briefly at age twenty-one, even I can admit that he "reappeared" at a time when the most evil betraying raging alcoholic demon I'd ever let into my head had just ravaged my trusting soul and therefore the teenage love friend, who had no shortage of issues of his own to work out (let's just say I wasn't the first "other woman" he was having late night phone conversations with), was kind of sucked in to my emotional vacuum and it was stupid and furthermore it was stupid. Now stick with me, because I'm almost to the point.

Last Rosh Hashanah I lay on the mattress in the little guest room of this Massachusetts house, just as I am doing this Rosh Hashanah weekend. These are in fact the only two times I've slept on this mattress in this room, because usually when I'm at this house I'm living here and sleeping in a bedroom, so the association would be powerfully strong already even if it didn't have the extra Rosh Hashanah cast off my old year anniversary full circle going on. And I thought about some of this full circle Rosh Hashanah-ness as I drove up here last night belting out Patty Griffin songs at the top of my lungs and leaving me with hardly any voice once I got up here (though you don't need much of a voice to enjoy cheese fries).

Here's the point, about the present: Brian, the boyfriend, my partner in a relationship in which I am quite content, lovely Brian, he is in Maryland with his entire group of high school friends this weekend at a wedding. For a variety of reasons (although there are 1-2 prominent ones), I am not there with him. (I won't get into those here as that would take a while; this entry is long enough, wouldn't you agree?) Last night as I sat enjoying my cheese fries and the end of the Red Sox game I started getting "wish you were here" messages from him as he and his high-school crew partied into the night. Furthermore, I woke up this morning to several very late night text and voice mail isn't-there-some-way-it's-not-too-late-to-get-you-here messages. In fact, it is too late. And since I did not go with him to the Maryland wedding adventure, I am running a 5k in Brooklyn tomorrow, so at any rate now I'm doing that and even if it weren't too late in time, it would be "too late" in the "too bad you didn't plan this accordingly to begin with" sense.

Last Rosh Hashanah, unhealthy-in-his-marriage-high-school-love friend was on a business trip and he called me, a lot, from there. In fact, he invited me to go there. To see him. Because he was on a business trip away from his wife and two small children. I would like to point out for the record that I said, "No, I am not coming." But that Friday night I went to sleep on this very mattress in this very room in Boston amid can't-you-just-change-everything- and-get-on-the-next-plane and woke up to text and voice mail messages about it.

It's weird.

Now of course the differences are many, duh, I see that. For one thing, let's start with the fact that one situation is appropriate (if unfortunate) while the other was so entirely inappropriate it shocks me I could have suspended my disbelief to participate in a conversation about it as long as I did. (And if anyone is wondering what kind of evil person I am, no, I did not ever see high-school-out-of-the-woodwork friend last year, and I in fact told him he needs to learn to be honest in his marriage. We also stopped talking late last fall. Right around when I stopped being an alcoholic and clued in that he and I were both pathetic and using each other emotionally for shite we needed to go work out ourselves.)

Nonetheless, it was weird. Despite the differences. Which, interestingly, Despite Our Differences is the title of the Indigo Girls album that was released that very Rosh Hashanah week last September, which I was buying at a Borders on Long Island when I received the first "come meet me on my business trip" message and which contains a few songs about heartbreak/betrayal that at the time reminded me of the freshly cast off evil jackass ex.

And just to further stir the weirdness pot, I am also in the midst of this whole weird thing about my cousin's wedding next month to which I of course want Brian to come but about which there is an issue which is decidedly different from the reasons for which I did not go with him to his friend's wedding but which seems to leave me feeling kind of oddly similar when I think about it. Wedding weirdness.

HERE'S MY POINT! (At last!) It is ALL ABOUT casting off the sins of the past and moving forward and doing good. It is all about new years and new horizons. Frankly, it may be all about love. And by that I mean love. I do not mean Days of Wine and Roses-style finding a fellow traveler who will accompany you down into your circles of hell. I do not mean being afraid to face your life and fears and so talking to someone thousands of miles away instead. I mean, love. I mean two peas in a pod. I mean making mistakes and then when you see they are mistakes, saying, "Oh, that was a mistake, and I am sorry for it" and then growing from that realization and doing something to make it right. Love does not mean "never having to say you're sorry" (god, I hate that movie). Love totally says it is sorry. Because it truly is, when it does something wrong, and it is not just blowing smoke when it apologizes. By love I mean moving forward, together. I mean knowing each other. I mean finding someone when you were not even looking.

And here's my other point: I LOVE NEW YEARS. Even Jewish ones that I don't know anything about. Because I love looking back to see how far I have come since the last one, and by extension contemplating how far I might be able to go before the next one.

L'shanah tovah!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I run for human rights

Click here to support my upcoming weekend 5K adventure!

I'm very excited to be running in the 2nd Annual Liz Padilla Memorial 5K in Brooklyn this weekend. I will be even more excited if you (yes, you!) would take a moment to read a bit about her and then stop by my fundraising page to donate to the cause. All the money raised by the run goes to the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project and a memorial scholarship fund, to further the human rights cause and Liz' legacy.

I appreciate any donation -- even one dollar!

It is just a way for you to acknowledge my effort to triumphantly run a 5K after my summer-in-training, and more importantly to recognize the human rights lawyer goodness that Liz Padilla brought to the world.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Brooklyn Delight

There is just something about a Sunday morning. There is a different feel in the air. I have long been fascinated by this, and have found it's true almost anywhere I go. It is not because it's "the lord's day" or anything silly like that. I love when I get up and out and about early enough on a Sunday morning to enjoy that moment, that Sunday morningness. It makes me feel solemn contentment, wistful appreciation, a sense of being ready for the world while also being already fulfilled.

Today I appreciated Sunday morning in my new Brooklyn neighborhood. I woke up early and set out in search of coffee and greasy breakfast, which I found for $3.00 at a fabulous corner coffee shop, as well as some other errands. There were just a few of us strolling in the bright stillness. I like this 'hood. I'll be staying here one month, in Greenpoint, living with my cousin. I am subletting the room of one of her roommates while said roommate is off touring with a show she's in. So everybody wins. This neighborhood is great--it's so Polish (love it), it's got a great park with a track for running (yay!), and it's actually very well located for accessing all the places I need/want to go, which are basically Manhattan, Astoria, good ol' Atlas Park, and the Long Island Rail Road to Hofstra.

I've been here two days and I already feel so much better about being in New York than when I lived on Long Island. For example, last night I headed to the bar on 36th Street which has been designated as the gathering place for USC alumni to watch our Trojan football. (We are so #1. Seriously. Try not to be jealous.) It was SO NICE to be out and then just be able to go home like a normal person in a normal amount of time instead of schlepping all the way to Hempstead. Now, don't get me wrong; I still love me some Long Island Rail Road. I will be loving it as I commute to school four days a week. All summer in Boston I would sing the praises of the LIRR every time I even thought about riding Boston's far-too-infrequent-service commuter rail. But it's nice when you reach the late night point of tipsy exhaustion to not have a long night's journey into day ahead of you.

But even before I relocated, even as I stayed with a friend on Long Island during the first week of classes, I discovered that no matter where I choose to live the second year of law school is so much better than the first. SO much better it's impossible to explain. I officially think my third-year friends were holding out on me last year, and I have now told them this. How dare they let me entertain thoughts of dropping out? The suckage ended when I handed in that Property exam! Hurrah!

I am taking seven classes. A lot of people think that's crazy. Then again, they also think it's crazy I'm taking things I'm interested in instead of things they heard are on the bar exam. So I don't listen to those people. Well, I listen to them, but then I shake my head and move on. Most of my classes are only two credits. I have one required class, Constitutional Law, which is three credits, and International Law, which is three credits, and then I have five two-credit classes: Bioethics and the Law, Foreign Affairs and the Constitution, Entertainment Law, the Gender Law and Policy Colloquium, and Energy the Environment and the Global Economy. I love my classes. The week just got better and better as it went along. I couldn't believe my luck; I just kept loving class after class, professor after professor.

If only those Atlanta Braves could get themselves into the playoffs...but I think I'm going to have to settle for being happy with my team in the American League, which is the Red Sox of course. The Red Sox are making me exceedingly happy, and have been all summer.

Now, if you haven't already, go watch The Road to Guantanamo.