Thursday, July 31, 2008

Done done done done done done

And for historic Post #333 on my blog...



There, now the word doesn't even have any meaning anymore.

But I'm done with the California Bar. And, I strongly suspect, forever.

More complete account of the 3-day ordeal forthcoming. More pressing, however, is the need for alcohol consumption. Laters.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How evil should I be?

In discussing the Bar exam with Kevin, a fellow USC (and Edison High School) alum, we got on the topic of stressed-out test-takers, and the many ways to screw with them.

We recalled, with some derision, the people in college who would be huddled in the hallway immediately before an exam, studying until the last possible second, and Kevin recounted playing mind games with them to make them even more nervous. He would bring up a topic that was only spoken about once for the entire year, but that he knew just enough about to make them uncomfortable. Or he would choose a topic that had been covered briefly in the class, but was so complicated that it was implicitly understood by all that it wouldn't be tested on, and then quiz the other students about it before the test (under the guise of being helpful in team-studying).

This, of course, inspired in me all kinds of fiendish thoughts. I could walk out the door after the morning essay session, which, perhaps, involved an establishment clause-based Con Law question, and ask a friend -- loudly, conspicuously -- "So, did you catch that [nonexistent] Equal Protection issue on the Con Law essay?" And I have no doubt that everyone in earshot, no matter how confident they may have been in their performances, would immediately freak and start going over the fact pattern in their minds, hunting desperately for the phantom Equal Protection issue they apparently botched.

There are about a million possible variations on this plan.

But is it too cruel? Certainly I wouldn't do it to friends or people I knew, they'd be in on the joke. But would this make me a bad person, or just a minor-but-amusing ass? You have about 12 hours to offer your advice if you want me to see it by Day 1.

Only time will tell

While I'm glad to have stayed safely ensconced in my panic-free boredom cocoon, the side-effect has been a growing inability to work. I went to a bonfire (with drinks) Friday night, a quinceanera-themed house party (with drinks) on Saturday night, and out to dinner last night (after spending about 2 to 3 hours working during the day). I haven't started working yet today, and while I plan to, I also plan to call it a day by 5 pm and relax the rest of the way.

I earned a lot of street cred from the '07 law school grads at the party on Saturday for showing up and staying late, but the fact, as I've told a few people already, is that my little life plan is either genius or lunacy, and I won't have any way of knowing for sure until November 21, 2008 -- the day the exam results come out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Next phase

So already I've been through slight nervousness, calmness, well-founded fear, cautious optimism, abject panic, despondency, and general madness (ongoing). But for the last couple days, I've been stable in one emotion vis a vie Bar study: boredom.

I'm just bored of the law.

Luckily, however, my boredom, for a few days now, hasn't been accompanied by any real stress or nervousness about the exam itself, just a feeling of being anxious to put down these Bar books and completely disengage from the law for a while. And lookee here, that's just what I get to do as soon as the Bar ends and I vanish to Europe for a month! And then lounge around the U.S. for another month still!

Basically, if I can just stick with this boredom thing until I get to the Bar itself, I will be golden. Come ooooooon, consistency.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 15: "Happy Rainbow Day"

"Happy Rainbow Day"
Jon Cheng
July 16, 2008

Top-to-bottom brilliance, I think this should be the official picture for the actual day of the Bar exam. As always, a high-quality homage. There are just too many ingenious details. The little upside-down cloud dude on the far right. The depressed look on the face of the cloud man curled up into a ball in the front row. The sheer range of emotion that is conveyed on the various faces in the crowd. The "Rainbows" pennant. This is our world. I've come to accept that now.

I am, however, sad to report that, for the time being, our library of Bar Art has been exhausted. If and when anything else worthy of publication is created, it will be given its moment in the spotlight duly. But if this is truly where our art show ends, I hope it has been as entertaining for you as it has been cathartic for us.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More fodder for the pop culture lexicon

If you see me in the near-future, and say something random and hilarious that you don't recognize, I probably stole it from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. What can I say? I'm a fan of the people involved.

The Bar Art Series, Part 14: "Wills and Trusts Law Is Trying to Kill Me"

"Wills and Trusts Law Is Trying to Kill Me"
Ken Basin
July 9, 2008

It's fun to watch the art progress. This is a new approach, a sort of split-screen patchwork of notebook doodles created in response to our absolutely maddening 2 days of wills and trust lectures (I still haven't decided if I'm going to try to learn to this area of law, or just write it off as something that hopefully won't appear on the exam, and if it does, try to make up the points elsewhere). But it's also a stylistic successor to Tina's take on California Civil Procedure, by introducing the use of color to convey dramatic effect. Unfortunately, the scanner didn't do justice to the yellow highlighter hue, but luckily, the conversion of the highlighter into grayscale creates an interesting effect on the Wills and Trusts Monster in Panel 1, the exclamation point in Panel 2, and the impact squiggly in Panel 3.

Also, this artistic process has been invaluable in making both Tina and me far more effective in the use of stick figures to convey comedy and emotion. Facial features are way overrated (though I kept them in Panel 1 because I found it extra tragic to have the monster cover one eye)'s all about the careful positioning of arms, sensitivity to posture, and the strategic incorporation of fingers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Bonus Entry 3!

"My Life, In Drawing"
Kimanh Nguyen
July 18, 2008

It turns out consultants hate their lives too. This bonus entry, while not truly related to or even spawned from Bar study, reflects a similar mentality. It comes from a college friend of mine who works at a major consulting firm, and apparently finds herself at constant war with the very tools she relies upon to make her living. Kinda like us lawyers/Bar studiers and our brains. It is helpful to know, though, that there is at least one other class of human beings who understand our despondency, and who share our same sense of conflictedness over totally selling out. I don't count I-Bankers, they are just too gleeful about selling out.

To all my married readers


Excerpted from the Achewood comic for July 17, 2008.

* Although sadly, I think it could also sort of describe mine at the moment.

The Bar Art Series, Part 13: "I Taste Like Science!"

"I Taste Like Science!"
Jon Cheng
July 2, 2008

Strictly speaking, this has very little to do with Bar. But as it is still symptomatic of the madness borne out of the Bar (and was created during a BarBri lecture), I thought it appropriate to include. As with his last venture into the field of Hertzfeldtian art, it is a stunningly faithful adaptation of the source material. Even the captioning sounds like something out of a "Rejected" deleted scene. We had some discussion about what the marks were all over the professor of scientist's body. Did he saw himself? Eventually, we concluded that those were actually just splatters from his sawing work on his companion's head. Now, I understand that there's an argument that this particular piece crosses the line to "mentally disturbed." And I don't know that I could argue strongly to the contrary. But if you were here, you'd probably understand.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Everything about this article is awesome

The mesh grill. The sheer cartoonishness of it. The use of scissors as the "jaws of life." The fact that a marsupial can apparently contract chlamydia. It's all amazing: "'Lucky' the Koala lives after horror car hit."

As brought to my attention by Tina, who needed me to look it up for her because her Internet had no funtionality except chatting with me on gChat (proof, I submit to you, that to some very limited extent, the universe really does revolve around me).

Clearly I am in one of those post-y moods with the Internet.

Affirmation for Bar takers

Thanks to Pam, for showing me a website that dares ask the question, am I awesome?

Of course, there's at least one website that already knows, even without asking.

Stop sabotaging me, Google

I am largely over the minor crisis situation from last night. But Gmail needs to stop giving me context-dependent ads about alternative services for people who fail the bar and are retaking it.

Not cool, Google. I thought we were friends.

The Bar Art Series, Part 12: "WWNPHD?"

Ken Basin
June 30, 2008

This was obviously an up day. My mind was wandering as dramatically as ever, and for some reason I decided I wanted to draw a unicorn. Don't know why. Yes I'm straight. And when that was done, I felt like I should probably add a rider. After that, I figured anyone cool enough to ride a unicorn would probably be carrying a sword. And once that was added, I decided to make it pertinent by branding the unicorn with BarBri's name, and using the whole image to evoke my trail to victory. It wasn't until the whole thing was drawn that it was clear to me where the inspiration must have come from all along: Neil Patrick Harris wouldn't fear the Bar, and neither should I. The rainbow was Tina's innovation to complete the effect.

To be fair, this wasn't an entirely original artistic notion:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Worst decision ever

As I was finishing up my studying for the night tonight, I did a quick Google search to check on one little nuance of law. Basically, I was too lazy to go get my Conviser outline out of the other room, and I knew from experience that there were enough BarBri outlines available through Google that it wasn't worth the effort.

But by some freak coincidence of search terms, I happened upon a website of a guy who's failed that Cal Bar twice and is getting ready to take it a third time...which, in turn, connected me to about a dozen other blogs of Bar repeaters. Some end with little triumphant posts where the blogger celebrates passing after umpteen tries, talks about how they'll never take it for granted, and shares what tips and tricks finally worked for them. Others are still in the thick of it, talking about what they're doing for the July 2008 Bar that's different from what they did in February 2008...and July 2007...and February 2007. Several provide exhaustive reviews of every Bar review source imaginable, stuff I've never even heard of because I'm just doing BarBri and that's it. There are lots of friendly comments, with people offering condolences or cheering one another on. It's apparently a very vibrant and supportive community.

But, you can imagine, this is a community I want nothing to do with.

Throughout this whole process, I've had a very specific view of this period and my feelings of stress about it. Everyone has given me the usual, "Don't worry, you'll pass." And I have replied, very honestly, "I know I'll pass, I just hate all the stuff I have to do to get there." My psychological malady hasn't been anxiety, it's just been straight depression from the fact that this process is so mind-numbingly boring, and that I am so incorrigibly incapable of focus.

But tonight, for the first time, I have that knotted "what if?" feeling in my gut. It doesn't help that, just this week, I heard about an HLS '07 grad who just failed the Bar for the 2nd time (and lost her job as a result). And I know that the feeling will go away, and yes, I know that I will pass. I keep remindig myself that I took the SATs without a formal prep course (I used a $50 computer program and just did practice test after practice test). That I took the LSATs without a formal prep course (same). That after a while, even HLS came easily enough. That it's okay if I'm not studying as hard as other people, because frankly, I never did. That (no arrogance or disrespect meant) demographically, my educational and work experience do not bear much resemblance to the norm of the "vibrant" repeater community. All of this I intellectually understand, and on some level, truly believe.

But for now, for tonight, as I finish up here and head to bed, this sucks.

The Bar Art Series, Part 11: "My Soul Is Dead!"

"My Soul Is Dead!"
Jon Cheng
July 2, 2008

In time, it was sort of inevitable that Tina and I would drag others into our madness. And thinking about it now, the beginning of July was an eminently appropriate time for it to happen, what with my own long-forgotten promises to myself to hold off until then to indulge the sad drawing instinct. Jon is a friend of Tina's from one of her firms last summer, and we were glad to have him in the fold. Like I had just days earlier, Jon looked to Don Hertzfeldt's little cloud men for inspiration. But my sincerest compliments to Jon, who did a far better job truly capturing them than I did -- an especially impressive feat when you consider that Tina and I had introduced him to Don Hertzfeldt for the first time just days earlier.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Help me make sense of this

Does anyone fully, truly comprehend the vagaries of rail travel in Europe, particularly vis a vis the Eurail pass? If you do, please teach me. This nonsense got way more complicated since the last time I used one in 2004.

Also if you help me I will give you a cookie okay thanks.

Introduce this into your vocabulary

Because the process of Bar study has confirmed for Tina and me once and for all that never again will we be able to truly meaningfully interact with non-lawyers again, we have deemed it necessary to adopt a specific term to refer to "non-law people."

That term will be muggles, which would have been appropriate enough even without the reference to this year's HLS Parody.

We expect this to go into widespread use immediately.

The Bar Art Series, Part 10: "At Least It Isn't My Anus"

"At Least It Isn't My Anus"
Ken Basin
June 25, 2008

If you recognize that little cloud dude, then you know this drawing is far more innocuous than its rather disturbing title would suggest. It's an homage to Don Hertzfeldt's legendary "Rejected" cartoon, the first of a few our group ultimately produced (look for a special guest artist soon). Hertzfeldt's little cloud man ultimately drowned in a flood of blood gushing from his own anus, while his dancing compatriots cheered on. I just wanted to express my annoyance with my own sickly body, which had taken to rather sustained nosebleeds during a few allergy-intensive days that accompanied a heat wave. The day before this was drawn, I had to scrub down our shower to make sure it didn't look like someone had just recreated the shower scene from Psycho there.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I retroactively authorize this act of copyright infringement

In a Bar procrastination-induced frenzy of Google searching, I decided to re-search my own name, which I had not done for some time. I admit this freely because I know that each and every one of you does it, and so I find no shame in it.

Really, my motivation here was making sure that my reputation on the Interwebs was still relatively intact, something I can't say for some of my Harvard Law cohorts, particularly those associated with the Harvard Law Review. Reason #327,893 I'm glad I never even applied.

Anyhow, I'm fine. Most references to my name that aren't related to the geographical Ken Basin in Africa are based on (1) this blog; (2) my Daily Trojan archives; (3) my Jeopardy appearances; (4) the video Trevor and I wrote for Charles Nesson; and (5) miscellaneous hits from Facebook, Twitter, and comments on other people's blogs.

Every once in a while, I've found bits of my writing misappropriated elsewhere. U-Wire, a national wire of college newspaper stories, picked up several of my DT pieces, but they were specifically authorized to do so. Radiohead and Save Ferris fan sites reposted DT articles I wrote that made reference to each. But I've found my favorite bit of online copyright infringement yet: a blog dedicated to promoting Macau and its hotel and casino development apparently picked up my Blog post about Macau, in which I excoriate the place as a useless lo-fi Vegas wannabe. Personally, I find this hilarious, and therefore grant a post facto license for their republication of the post (they were nice enough to credit me too).

So if anyone else I've ever criticized wants to republish my criticism of them, feel free. That's something I can get behind.

The Bar Art Series, Part 9: "No Pressure"

"No Pressure"
Ken Basin
June 24, 2008

When you're studying for the Bar, some days are better and some days are worse. Sometimes the day starts out better, and ends up worse. This picture started out as a simple cartoony drawing of a bunny rabbit. I was thinking about playing it conservative and giving him a carrot to eat. Then I thought about being a bit more subversive and having him smoke a cigarette. But as the day's lecture droned on, and my energy and willingness to stay upbeat waned, the bunny slowly, inevitably found his way to the chopping block. But I don't think of this as a wholly negative drawing. It's an incentive. I'll save you, bunny! I vow it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 8: "Effective Notetaking"

"Effective Notetaking"
Ken Basin
June 19, 2008

Another adaptation from notetaking scrawl, this piece is notable for its faithful recreation of the actual text of the printed page of notes from which it was drawn. Mortgages, which my property class had never covered in law school, was a particularly painful part of my first real property problem set. By the time we reached them in lecture, I was bracing for the worst, as the hero of the drawing would suggest. But actually, this turned out to be a surprisingly painless area of Bar study. Still, I wanted to include this in the art series, if only for the painstaking effort that went into positioning each character of text under the crying man in the right place. In case you're wondering, no, mortages are not the "King of Lending O." That first word is the visible portion of "thinking." As in, the bank is thinking of lending someone money, but they want a security. Hence, the mortgage.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 7: "California Civil Procedure"

"California Civil Procedure"
Tina Rad
July 1, 2008

With "California Civil Procedure," Tina ushered us into a bold new phase in our Bar-related artistic endeavors by introducing the use of color. I think we had both flirted with this for some time; highlighters are a staple of our work, both in class and out. But it took the harrowing experience of learning about the absolutely nonsensical idiosyncrasies of California Civil Procedure -- which, of course, we will be expected to meaningfully compare and contrast with its (admittedly less insane) Federal counterpart -- to finally bring color into the equation. Sure, she could have drawn the vomit in pencil. But I think the sickly green hue of the retch really drives home the despair, don't you?

This drawing also took on special significance a week later when, after a particularly dreadful run through Wills and Trusts, our lecturer advised us to take advantage of the power of visualizing our own success. It was very comprehensive -- imagining ourselves having dinner the night before the Bar, watching a little TV after we eat, sitting on the couch and feeling kinda nervous, driving to the exam the morning of, etc. But because my subconscious had already been infected by this (and a similar drawing I made later, which involved a more tragic cradling of the head and a more colorful pool of vomit), I visualized myself eating dinner the night before the Bar...and vomiting uncontrollably. Watching a little TV on the couch after I ate, feeling nervous...and vomiting uncontrollably. Driving to the Bar exam on the morning of...while vomiting uncontrollably. I broke down in convulsive laughter in the middle of class, and for several minutes after. Thanks, Bar study, for making me look extra crazy in a room full of strangers (you know, in addition to an Internet full of strangers and loved ones).

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Bonus Entry 2!

The movement is spreading.

The brilliant SMC has gotten on-board with the Bar Art movement, and has introduced her own depiction of "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress."

Now, in the interest of pickiness (and procrastination), I must take slight issue with SMC's definition of Bar Art. As she defines it, Bar Art is "the result of an odd compulsion to draw out legal theories, usually in stick-man form, in order to vent your feelings of insanity during the Bar studying period."

While I agree that Bar Art often takes the form of the depiction of legal theories, I think it's a sideways definition. I'd say Bar Art is "the use of drawing to vent one's feelings of insanity during the Bar study period, which often takes the form of visual depiction of legal theories." As our own gallery shows (and will continue to show), as often as not, Bar Art (at least as we've pursued it) is merely a depiction of stick figures who are expressing the exasperation and madness they feel in response to the Bar.

But hey, let it be organic. You're all free to do with this what you will, folks.

I have good moral character!

Or at least that's what the California Bar Association tells me.

Apparently, they never consulted with Google.

The Bar Art Series, Part 6: "This Is Not a Trust"

"This Is Not a Trust"
Tina Rad and Ken Basin
July 9, 2008

While Tina and I have added elements to each other's works before, this is the first one we'd call a true collaboration. And even though there's still a bunch more to come, we were so proud of this, it had to be sent to the front of the line. I trust you all to get the reference on your own, but if you need a hint, think "turn-of-the-century Belgian surrealist." Take that, Rachel, for saying your friend's art is nerdier.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


From an article about Tiger Woods being on pace to become the world's first billionaire athlete by 2010:
But a billion is such an abstract number. Let's break that down. Tiger is on pace to make about $100 million this year between endorsements and winnings, even considering the fact that he won't play in another tourney. $100 million a year equals $273,972 a day. $11,415.53 an hour. $190 a minute. He earns three dollars and seventeen cents per second. That means, hypothetically speaking, if Tiger was walking up the fairway in a tournament and saw a $10 bill lying there, he'd make more money by walking right past it.
Hot damn. The next time one of you lawyers get all big in your britches, think about that.

And I'm too sexy for this website

The entire Picasa page for the 2008 HLS Parody -- which featured us in all of our scandalous pre-party, afterparty, and often during-party glory -- has been unilaterally removed by Google, because it violates their terms of service. Every last album. Every last picture.

That should be the HLS Drama Society's new motto. The HLS Drama Society: Too Hot for Google Since 2008!

The Bar Art Series, Part 5: "End of a Life Estate"

"End of a Life Estate"
Ken Basin
June 17, 2008

"End of a Life Estate" is an early notetaking doodle that was adapted to index card form after our art movement began. For the non-lawyers out there, a life estate is a type of property interest that lasts as long as you're alive, and then reverts to the grantor or some third party upon your death. You can sell it, but the other person only gets to keep the property for as long as you're alive, not as long as they're alive. So basically, it's a totally useless kind of estate that only exists in Bar questions, because seriously, who is crazy enough to want one of these? And they tend to lead to Rule Against Perpetuities problems, which you might recall from Part 1 of our series. But useless as they are, they inspired me to commemorate them in stick figure form.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 4: "Flock"

Tina Rad
June 24, 2008

Another homage to Jan Honigsberg's lesson that we should be sheep, not goats, Tina's later adaptation of that advice lends itself to several possible interpretations. Consider the duality between the joyous sheep jumping over the Bar, and the dead sheep on the other side. Are the sheep passing the Bar, only to discover the painful death of law firm billable hours on the other side? Did the dead sheep actually fail to pass the Bar altogether, whereas our current jumper will actually succeed? How the hell is that one dead sheep so perfectly balanced in his vertical orientation? Tina has deliberately decided to leave it to you to answer these questions for yourself. That's the magic of art, I guess: whatever you think, you're probably right.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 3: "Richard Conviser Doesn't Teach the Law, Richard Conviser IS the Law!"

"Richard Conviser Doesn't Teach the Law, Richard Conviser IS the Law!"
Ken Basin
June 20, 2008

Richard Conviser is the man, the myth, the legend. Richard Conviser is the multimillionaire founder of BarBri, a former law professor who discovered just how much recent law grads (and their law firms) were willing to pay for a little help passing the Bar -- and just how much more lucrative the business could be if you just engaged in a little anticompetitive activity to destroy your competition. Did Richard Conviser know he was committing those antitrust violations? Probably. But did he care? Hell no. Richard Conviser is Moses, Chuck Norris, and your daddy all rolled into one. This particular drawing commemorates his lecture on California Remedies, our first and only opportunity to see the man himself in action.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Bonus Entry!

"The Adventures of Wild Deed and Mutilated Will"
Tammy Chow
Summer 2005

As submitted by the fabulous Rachel, a friend from my firm: "Decidedly less grim but more nerdy than friend Tammy made this during our summer of the bar. And the red cup ('Barbri parfait') is the breakfast of yogurt, berries and granola that all my friends and I brought in red cups every day of BarBri. Whatever works, I guess."

The Bar Art Series, Part 2: "Sheep Passing the Bar"

"Sheep Passing the Bar"
Ken Basin
June 23, 2008

As things were getting particularly rough, we all received a breath of fresh air in the form of Jan Honigsberg, BarBri's California Performance Test lecturer, and unofficial arbiter of common sense and cool. Honigsberg lecture was as much Storytime with Uncle Jan as it was a substantive lecturer, and one theme persisted: wacky stuff happens, but people still pass the Bar. Over 6 hours with Jan, we came to know all of his expressions. "Good idea?" he would ask suggestively of seemingly silly courses of action, the answer always being no. "Nobody!" he would shout, to remind us that if we didn't remotely recognize or understand something on the exam, it probably meant that nobody did. And of course, "You don't want to be a goat! You want to be a sheep!" to teach us that the key to success on the Bar was embracing enough simplicity and conformity to keep your grader in a stupor long enough for them to mark your essay as passing.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Bar Art Series, Part 1: "Voiding Perpetuities"

"Voiding Perpetuities"
Tina Rad
June 19, 2008

In a very real way, "Voiding Perpetuities" is the drawing that started it all. It was born in a moment of inspiration after watching SNL's brilliant "Dear Sister" digital short. Tina and I noted that Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" was quite possibly the most depressing and emotionally destructive song ever. As I lay on Tina's bed in the fetal position after a particularly brutal set of real property questions, I suggested (jokingly, people, jokingly) that a few more problem sets like that and I would find myself in a bathtub, putting a dull Bic razor to my wrists and sobbing through the lyrics as I slipped into sweet release. Tina later gave the scene visual expression, I helped captioned in some of the lyrics, and the Bar Art Series was on.

And for you non-lawyers out there, the title is a reference to the dreaded Rule Against Perpetuities in property law. You don't want me to explain it to you. But to give you a sense, there is a California malpractice decision on the books that says that a lawyer did not commit malpractice by drafting a will that violated the Rule Against Perpetuities, thereby causing someone to lose their inheritance, because the RAP is so complex and difficult, a lawyer of reasonable skill and care in the jurisdiction would have made the same mistake. Yes, the rule is tested on the Bar.

The Bar Art Series, Part 0: Introduction

I made reference in this space to my former roommate's Bar coping mechanisms, which involved haunting and depressed drawings on index cards that depicted the torment of Bar study through the agony of stick figures. At the time, I promised myself I'd make it through June before following suit.

That failed.

So with that in mind, I introduce to you what will be, for the time being (while supplies last), a daily series of artistic interpretations of the Bar study process by myself, and my June roommate/Bar study-partner/general platonic lifemate Tina Rad. Where appropriate, brief explanations will be offered for the non-Bar-study-literate.

Living at home, or, I am a big jerk

I can't decide anymore how much of my overwhelming panic and discomfort with living at home is related to real concerns, and how much of it is me having categorically, non-negotiably relegated life in the parents' house to the "abjectly terrifying" column. But either way, as soon as I looked out of the window of my plane as it approached John Wayne Airport today, gazing down upon the rows and rows of generic track housing, I raced right back into "oh my god why Orange County" mode. By the time I reached baggage claim, I was seriously contemplating a decidedly socially inappropriate response to a crying 4-year-old in the area.

It was about 2 hours after landing that my mother and I started exchanging thinly-veiled swipes about how very much we enjoyed each other's company when we weren't forced to cohabitate (and at that point, we were still at lunch and hadn't even entered the house yet). It was about 30 more minutes until the first aggravating political conversation. 4 more hours from there for me to flee the house so that I could try to do some Bar work at Starbucks (and so prevent myself from bringing the simmering hostilities to an outright boil by making some bratty or impertinent remark toward my parents).

The funny thing is, I don't really blame them at all at this point. It's certainly true that all of us have spent enough time living apart that we're no longer any good at living together (my mother's various neuroses have graduated into full-blown OCD, and I've developed a rather unhealthy disdain for parental authority). But I was getting all tense and knotted inside long before they did anything to offend me, simply in anticipation of the slights that would inevitably come. Even in the moment I could recognize my feelings as totally immature and counterproductive, but in so recognizing, I wasn't able to fix them...only to remove myself from the situation fast enough to avoid a real conflagration.

And even Starbucks offered little comfort, as I quickly realized that the studious, intellectual environment of the Harvard Law School Starbucks bore little resemblance to the Huntington Beach location, frequented as it is by stunningly loud slacker teens. Tomorrow I'm experimenting with some of the more independent and esoteric coffee house locations in the area.

In making it through Day 1 without openly fighting with my parents, I've already improved upon my last extended stay. But I'm still ridiculous - literally, worthy of ridicule. Before he went to bed today, my dad asked if I needed him to make sure I was up for class or if he could make me coffee or breakfast or a mid-class snack in the morning, and I felt equal parts gratitude for his generosity and resentment for his involvement. I had no problems accepting my parents' kindnesses, in the form of pre-cooked food and freshly-laundered clothes, while I was inhabiting a physically separate building. But put me under the same roof, and apparently, I'm instantly an ungrateful brat. I smiled and tried to sound as wholly appreciative as I could, because he really has the purest intentions in offering to help (in no way did I or do I think it's some play for influence or control on his part).

But I wish that not being a jerk wasn't apparently such a struggle.