Smoke on the Horizon

Minutes ago, I saw smoke on the horizon. In a simpler time, I would have thought nothing of it. Nothing more than a house fire. Today, though, another thought arose. “That’s gotta be Skokie over there, or Lincolnwood” I thought. “God, I hope it’s not an attack”.

Skokie and Lincolnwood are two of the largest Jewish communities in the Chicago area. In the country, in fact. I don’t want to think these things. I want to go back to a simpler time.


A Quick Update: Almost Back to Normal

I realize it’s been two months since I last wrote anything, but it felt like two weeks. About a week after my last post, I found a new apartment, and a week after that I started moving in. I stopped moving in about three weeks after that, just before the 4th of July holiday – it took three weeks because I utterly failed to line up the necessary people and vehicles to get it done on one day, so I got what help I could whenever I could. I also had 12-hour days Monday-Thursday (between class and work), a paper, a mock trial, and a visit from the parents to deal with. Actually, visit is a vast understatement – my parents gave me most of the help with the move and acquiring furniture, and without their help I’d probably still be sleeping on an air mattress in a bare apartment. But thankfully this is the last week of summer school – Wednesday is the second and final¬†mock trial, and Thursday my last paper is due. On Friday, my life will finally return to normal. I then have three good weeks before the MPRE (the legal ethics exam) and the start of Fall semester, during which I can try to enjoy the summer.

My apartment is sweet, my schedule is winding down, and I have no idea what to do with this upcoming free time. But I’m definitely looking forward to it ūüôā

A Snapshot of Frustration

I’ve been looking for apartments, and it’s been frustrating. This is because of: 1. Time constraints (I need to be out by the end of the month and¬†I have limited time to look); 2. Money constraints (I rely on loans and I’m trying to keep my debt down, even though it really can’t get any worse at this point); 3. Consequences of money constraints (cheap apartments are cheap for a reason – the last one I looked at had hilly floors and¬†smelled like despair). Today I was sure I was gonna get this place, a nice studio in a nice part of town with reasonable rent. I think I told someone I was gonna get it for sure, and that probably jinxed it because of course I didn’t get it. So now I’m frustrated.

Usually, I refrain from writing (or doing anything productive) when I’m frustrated, because I know it will taint whatever I produce. Today, I’m¬†inspired by frustration¬†to write. I just don’t know what else to do at the moment. Right now continuing to¬†look for places is the last thing I want to do, and yet logically it’s the¬†only¬†thing I should be doing. So this is a word picture of me frustrated. A snapshot of frustration.

If this thing happened in a vacuum, then I’d be fine. It’s only irritating because it’s concurrent with other worries, things like work stress, classwork, needing to pack, etc. Plus, I’m pretty sure that I screwed up in a few ways that caused me to lose the place and that exacerbates it.¬†Should I not find an apartment by June 1st, my “Plan B” is to move my stuff into a storage unit and live at the YMCA. Thinking about that definitely doesn’t help.

I started to think/write about how I pull myself out of it, but I realized that doing that amount of informative writing would be frustrating in itself. In a nutshell: I make some tea, make a to-do list, do absolutely nothing for half an hour, then get to work on something on that to-do list.

Alright, I feel a little better now. Everything’s gonna be OK. I’m off to make some tea.

Fresh Off the Cuff*

I realize I’ve been doing this blog thing all wrong. I set out initially to just speak my mind and practice writing. Problem is, I have trouble doing both at the same time. I’ve found that speaking my mind is a lot harder when I’m¬†writing. Speaking is all about trying to get your thoughts out in a clear and concise way. Writing, I have more time to edit the thought before sharing. I can endlessly ponder and analyze that thought, trying to find the perfect way to express it. As I’m doing that, I think of ten ways to expand on that thought.¬†This results in the simplest things taking for-freaking-ever. I’ve spent over half an hour just on this paragraph.¬†Whatever I’m trying to say, it gets hijacked by the perfectionist in me, and the natural flow just gets lost; by the time¬†I’m finally satisfied with a thought or statement, I’ve lost my train of thought.

What I’ve been doing wrong is letting the perfectionist run the show. While I’m trying to express a thought, I get caught up¬†trying to make everything perfect, and it’s incredibly frustrating. It never comes out perfect anyway, because at some point I just say “fuck it!” and go do other things. Then I either publish the half-perfect monstrosity or I stash it away as a draft. By the number of posts, you can probably tell that I take the second option 99% of the time.

You see, this post here, it was supposed to be off-the-cuff, just straight concise thoughts as I would speak them. This blog here, it’s supposed to¬†alleviate¬†frustration, rather than add to it. I have not accomplished these things. So what I’m going to do is get the substance of the post down first,¬†then¬†go back and edit it. Yes, English teachers, you win. After 18-odd years, this most basic principle of writing has finally pierced my thick skull. Your efforts were not in vain.

Ok, that’s pretty much it. Writing about the process of writing makes my brain hurt. Time to go do other things.


I Blinked and Five Months Went By…

My last post was about five months ago. Since then, I started and finished my 4th semester of law school. I was miserable and stressed out for that whole time. I’ve got a week and a half until summer school starts. I’m gonna spend that time sitting on my ass and doing absolutely nothing.

Except not really. I have to find a new place before the end of the month. Somewhere that’s closer to the train and farther from Chicago’s unending street gang vendettas. Once that’s sorted out though, hopefully I can get some time to relax. Maybe then I’ll be inspired to write something substantive. Until then, dear reader, take care of yourself and enjoy the spring.



Unplugging for the Holidays

Happy Festivus! I have let more than a week go by without writing anything, but I feel it is a forgivable lapse since I’ve spent that time trying to be social. The holidays are here, with all the usual comings and goings of friends and such. Not to mention the usual office party with the usual inebriation equalizing bosses and employees for a day. Now I’m out of town visiting my family for a week, and I’m going to have little to no computer access. This is probably a good thing, and I’ll have some good “unplugged” time to catch up with my folks and perhaps read a book or two. I hope that everyone else has a nice holiday as well. Cheers!

A Little Something Until Sanity Returns

I’ve had finals for the past¬†two weeks,¬†which precluded any serious non-legal writing.¬†I am, once again, forcing myself to write something before the week’s out. This is a somewhat journal-style writing, and it has some¬†venting about writing and the writing process in general.

I have a problem with words. My words specifically. They are too big and too numerous, and they all want to come rushing out at once. For some reason, my brain feels that all these words must be somehow included in the final communication. I like to try to stuff these words all into one complicate sentence, stuffing until the sentence can take no more. The result is overwrought, bulky, and in desperate need of editing.  I know all of this, and I know that simply correcting grammar and spelling errors will not correct the problem.

For this problem, my¬†ultimate goal is to develop good writing habits and be able to crank out decent writing with minimal editing required. I need to be able to communicate my ideas quickly and concisely, so I can finish writing at a normal time of day (right¬†now it’s 11pm and I’m about to fall asleep at my desk). Most importantly, I have to compromise with myself and be able to accept¬†work which, content-wise, is¬†not perfect. Perfectionism has stifled more of my writings that it has helped, and I’ll have to get over that to start writing in earnest.

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for stopping by!

The Only Famous Person I Ever Met

In keeping with my writing goal, I’m forcing myself to write something before the week’s out. I’ve got an exam tomorrow, so this will be a bit rushed. This is just an amusing¬†anecdote from college, hopefully others will find it amusing as well.

I’m pretty sure I’ve only met one famous person. Like, in my entire life. The funny thing is, I have no idea who he was. In fact, he might not even be famous. I only assume he was based on the way he acted.¬†Here’s how it went down:

It was my senior year of college, and I was working an¬†evening shift at a fast food restaurant. This guy comes in and asks if he can use the phone. I say “of course, no problem” and point¬†out the phone on the counter. He thanked me, and I went back to work.

Or at least, I tried to. Instead of reaching for the phone, he just stood there staring at me with a smirk on his face. This was unusual for sober customers, so I asked, “can I help you with something? Do you need the phone book?” Again, he just said he needed to make a call and kept staring at me. Unnerved, I stared back. Eventually he lost his smirk and leaned over the phone as if to make a call. He seemed really disappointed, but I had no idea why. How could I know? Again I tried to go back to work.

I look up and he’s standing by the cash register. He didn’t call anybody. He’s staring and smirking again, smirking even harder if that’s possible. I’m thinking, “well, you really showed that phone, didn’t you? Not making a call, even when you really wanted to.” I asked again “can I help you?” He said, slowly, “no, I just¬†need to make a phone call.”¬†I said, “OK, it’s right there, go ahead.” At that, he lost his smirk. Some new emotion crept over his face, something between bafflement and devastation.

Somehow I’d upset him by trying to help him. Why? What did I miss? Was there something implied in his innocuous request? Something sinister? Perhaps he had us mixed up with a shadier type of establishment, one where “can I make a phone call?” was code for “a gram of heroin, if you please?”¬†I was incapable of divining his intent. All I had to go on was that he asked to use the phone, so all I could do was assume¬†he really did want to use the phone and was just really slow about it.

Not knowing what else to do, I asked, “Do you need directions? Are you trying to go somewhere?” He abruptly turned and made for the door. As he left, he said “I’m going somewhere where¬†someone¬†recognizes me!

And that is when I realized I’d met a famous person. The phone call was a ruse. That whole time, he’d been maximizing the time I spent looking at his face so I could recognize him. His smirk was a “yeah, it’s me” kind of smirk. Turns out that smirk was premature. He left, defeated, his ego bruised and his fame called into question. All by some college kid at a hoagie shop. Oh well, I’m sure he found someone to recognize him and forgot the whole thing. I, on the other hand, will always remember our encounter as the first and only time I met a famous person.

Reviving This Blog

So I’ve been away for a while; law school has a way of appropriating all of your time. I’ve come back to this after two years to just, well… Write. I need to balance out legal writing with some writing of my own choosing, as legal writing has a way of, how do you say…¬†draining your soul. I also need to become a better writer in general, as writing is a huge part of being a lawyer. The best way to do that is to just keep writing, consistently, in spite of harsh self-criticism and general lethargy.¬†I’ll be¬†trying to write at least one thing a week; can’t say it’ll be funny, or any good at all for that matter, but it¬†will¬†have contractions, which is more than I can say for my paper on preliminary injunctions. Thanks for stopping by, there will (hopefully) be more and better things to come.