31 March 2005

"2L in a handbag"

Catchy title, no? Puns are like the store-brand bandages of the humor universe: initially they stick, and provide a quick-fix (dare I say a "band-aid" solution?). But then a single teardrop from a dust mite falls on a corner of the adhesive strip, and they fall off, leaving the wound open to things like...dust mite tears. How did this analogy go so horribly awry? It's only 10:30--this must mean my brain has decided to turn off earlier than usual. Yet I forge on...

The title represents the malaise I've been feeling lately toward the whole law school experience. Is it how insanely busy I've been? ["Yeah right," you say, "so busy that he can keep a daily blog."] Is it that I'm halfway through with no real feel for where I'm going? Is it that weird funk in the law school stairwell that smells like pine scented garbage twinkies? Will Hostess have to market such a product when the world becomes overrun by its own waste?

I've never been good at self-diagnosis (the whole idea seems counterintuitive), so instead I'm left to wallow. I suppose I could just follow the old adage and pick myself up by the bootstraps, but I have sandals on, and I'm not that flexible. I know. I'll blame the weather. Except I can't-- who would be in a slump when it's hit 70 for the first time since last September and the sun is shining? I'm gonna go now and look for things with which to distract myself....

The Marriage Bug


Yeah, I'm talkin' to you... Posted by Hello

So I obviously have a fixation on sheep--I guess that's a pretty safe thing to get hung up on. Maybe even culturally acceptable in Arkansas. The picture does have a point though, because this entry will be devoted to the enigma of being single, and I feel the need to do a little rant on the topic.

You see, I've been single as long as I can remember. I'm not sure I planned it that way, but the opportunities for getting married were slim to none, especially in kindergarten. I doubt my parents would have approved, and society in general seemed just fine with me playing with my Legos and Transformers and just being a snot-nosed kid (though I was neurotic about cleanliness even then, but I digress...). Besides, girls had cooties.

As I grew older, I noticed that the gap between the "adults," who were getting married and having kids, and me, who still privately longed to play with my Legos, was growing smaller. Little else had changed, though. No one cared if I got married, and a few girls still had cooties, though now we called it "crabs" or "herpes" (I still think cooties has a less menacing ring to it), and I don't think it really stopped the boys from playing with them anymore.

But then the horror of all horrors happened. Someone I knew, who was my age, got married, and people were actually happy about it. Apparently, once the husband and wife hit 18 or graduate from high school, everyone shifts from saying "they're too young" to saying "what a cute young couple." A few months later, "it" started.

"It" is the phenomenon of having the following conversation: "Are you married?" "No." "Oh, are you engaged?" "No." "Oh, um....are you single? Because I know the perfect girl for you." Ok, so maybe I'm over-simplifying it, but when you read between the lines, I've got it down cold. "It" starts slow--maybe once or twice a year when you're around 20. When you hit about 24, though, the slow trickle becomes a flood. Even in Sex and the City they all caved in at the end (or so I heard from every disenchanted feminist I know, I could never get through a whole episode for some reason). I'll admit that it's easier being a guy and being single, but only marginally. The downside is that when you're a single guy, new people you meet instantly appraise you as a dawg (he who indulges in lots of casual sex) or a weirdo (he who must have something wrong to prevent being in a long-term relationship). I know this for a fact, because of the many married people I've met who freely say after knowing me for a little while "you're not like the other single guys we've met, you're like really normal and nice." Then they try to "fix me up" with someone, which I guess implies that somehow I'm still "broken"?

I guess I find being automatically thought of as a sex-hound the more annoying thing. Even if I wasn't Catholic, that lifestyle just doesn't fit me. Nevertheless, when I'm around my single friends (declining in numbers and diminishing in quality, regrettably), all they talk about is getting some/got some/not getting any for a while. I suppose this is why they're the remaining single friends. When I'm around a married guy acquaintance, inevitably my sex life comes up, as if he wants to live vicariously through me. At the doctors office for a check up, I was asked if I was sexually active, and when I said "no" the doctor looked at me with raised eyebrows and explained that I could be honest with him. I thought he might offer me a sucker next, or a neat sticker. Maybe I should have angled for one....(do they bill insurance for that?)

Thus, to everyone out there who is no longer single (should I call you "double"?): being single does not mean you have some personality problem that needs changing. It does not mean you prowl clubs looking to get some. It does not mean you are in search of your missing half, but that you've figured out how to be whole all by yourself. Like anything, it can be great, and it can suck. Just like marriage, last time I checked. But the next time you find yourself reminiscing about your youth, just remember that you were single then, and wasn't it nice?

Oh no! Brian Brown just showed up...


Me This Week (but less fuzzy) Posted by Hello

The title above is an inside joke for anyone who ever suffered through The Thorn Birds miniseries (which I did, and twice, and at a young enough age to fully appreciate its unintended comic value). I chose that picture because the Serta Counting Sheep are a stellar marketing idea and because that expression represents well what this week has been like. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll only add one: AARRRGGHHHHH!!! There, all better.

27 March 2005

WOOOOHOOOO!!!!

Ok, so beating Duke was awesome. I think we've already established that. But as good as that was, beating Kentucky, an equally storied program, to get to the Final Four--and doing it in a heart-stopping, double overtime victory--is better. Our fourth trip to the promised land in seven years.

This would also be a good time to bring up my lucky streak. You see, I have always been at a school when a national championship is won. My last year at Oklahoma, the football team went undefeated and won the championship against a heavily-favored Florida State team. My last year at Grand Valley, the same thing happened, except in Division II. Now, I realize we're dealing with basketball, and that we haven't won it yet, or gone undefeated, and that I'll be at State another year. But I'll take what I can get....

In other news, the family and I went to the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral last night. Even when I was little, I loved all the symbolism, mystery, and celebration of that one night each year. Christmas Eve was always a close second, for the same reasons. I guess for some people going to church is more of a social function (many of my Protestant friends would admit to that), but I was always more drawn to the history, ritual, and ceremony. I'm not sure if that's right or wrong, or if there is any way to be right or wrong when it comes to expressing faith. The truth is, I'll always feel more at home beneath the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral, with the sounds of an organ echoing from the choir loft, than I ever will in a sterile, architecturally modern church, with guitar, drums, and who knows what other instruments perched up front. Despite growing up in that kind of post-Vatican II environment, it was never a good fit, and never will be. I'm not sure that anyone else wanted all those liturgical changes either, or what benefit they have provided, especially with more substantive problems (like a shortage of vocations) looming.

[Why does the topic of religion consistently lead me into such lengthy tangents?]

25 March 2005

Spartans + (Victory * Duke) = Awesome


Sweet....no, wait,...Elite Posted by Hello
March Madness is always great, but when your team knocks off the number one seed in their region, who just happen to be the Duke Blue Devils, who we haven't beat since 1958, to get to our fifth Elite Eight in the last seven years....to put it lightly, that qualifies as AWESOME!!! (trust me, multiple exclamation points are definitely in order)

I could write about how we wore them down with our athleticism and deep bench, or how we shut down Reddick, or got their key big guys in foul trouble, or how Duke turned it over 20 times because of our superior defense. I could write about that, but I'm still riding that post-victory euphoria (I think I might until tomorrow morning). So instead, I'll just say, once again...that was awesome.

"It's Just a Game"

No question: cribbage is a truly superlative game. Anyone who's played understands just how eggregious the title comment would be when applied to cribbage. Some games are too much based on chance (I would put poker squarely in this league). Others are pure skill (for example, chess). I've never really liked either extreme, probably because I stink at poker and chess. But cribbage--it's just the perfect blend. You can either win by hitting a lucky streak, or win by grinding it out. You can blow someone away, come from behind, or nip and tuck it the whole way. Sometimes you can pull off a skunk (or, rarely, a double skunk). Sometimes it comes down to pegging, and nothing (absolutely nothing, in any game I've ever played) matches the drama of that scenario.

There's a second reason I love cribbage, though, beyond its inherent awesomeness (is that a word?). You see, my Dad taught me cribbage. It is the only thing he ever taught me. I'm sure he made attempts with other things along the way, but for one reason or another these activities didn't take. I'd always felt that he would have wanted the typical all-American quarterback for a son, and I think anyone who knows me can understand how far afield I was from that type of guy. That I played classical piano and he likes classical music was probably just lucky--but there is a huge gulf between majoring in piano performance and listening to Aaron Copland records. And while I appreciate sports, he played sports--another equally large gulf. We never really bridged either of those gaps, and that's not surprising. So when Dad made the effort to teach me cribbage, I relented, after avoiding for years what I assumed would be another fruitless attempt at us sharing something.

I learned from Dad the only way to really learn anything--by doing. I caught on quick, and he was happy. We played for hours on end, and at some point I could see for the first time that he took pride in something I was doing because he actually felt proud of it, not because my Mom or someone else told him he should be. Dad was passing on something to me: he was taught by his brothers, who were taught by their father, my grandfather. I guess you could say card-playing in general is in the blood (and, yes, I do buy into that whole notion). Obviously, it was great to feel like part of some lineage, as if I had been invited to some special club. Cribbage quickly became, and still is, the one thing that has allowed me to really connect to my Dad.

It's not that we talk more when we play. Or that my relationship with him has reached new depths. No, I probably know just as little about what makes my Dad tick as I did before; I'm sure he'd say the same about me. But that seems okay now, as if we've reached some sort of understanding. I doubt it will ever change. At least now, we have a common ground, if even in that one small way. For all the years Dad has played, I'm the first person who ever double-skunked him. I'm the first he ever played against who scored a 28 hand. There's a remarkable lasting quality to that for which I'll always be thankful, even if it is "just a game."

24 March 2005

The Man Behind the Blog


yours truly Posted by Hello

Well, this whole blog thing is really interesting. Not sure what you'd call that pose--maybe "contemplative," although at that point is was just getting frustrated with my digital camera (I have a classic love-hate relationship with technology). It does seem like a good time to comment on the ring though. First of all, it's not a wedding ring (clearly that would be the wrong finger), or an engagement ring, or a friendship ring. On the other hand, it's not just a ring. I guess I'll save the backstory for after I've been on here a few months, maybe allow people to guess (if I actually get any comments, which my friend's blogs usually don't, so we'll see if I can buck that trend).

The hat? Well, that's easy. GO SPARTANS! I was never a State fan growing up (yes, I was more of a GO BLUE person then, though fairweather at best). But even with our football teamhaving its ups and downs, I've grown attached to the green and white, and it definitely becomes easier in basketball season. The men's team has their Sweet 16 appearance tomorrow night vs. the Puke Blue Devils (oops, I mean Duke--freudian slip). Hopefully, the Spartans will pull through and help my severely ailing bracket. I mean, I'm a big fan of upsets, but Bucknell? Vermont? At least I didn't bet money....

$130!!!! Ridiculous...

Money is not something I usually think about. When I'm writing a bill, or walking the fine line between having a balance and being overdrawn at the end of the semester, then it might pop into my head. But even then, it's not high-priority.

But this morning, it's definitely on my mind. I got a ticket last night. That's right, a ticket. Honestly, I'm the safest driver I know. I rarely speed, I wear my seatbelt, and I couldn't even try to be reckless (ok, so I raced someone once when I was 16, but on a rural road with no traffic--real dangerous lol). The ticket was for what apparently is a really big no-no: "disobeying a stop sign." I stopped, but I stopped with half the car past the sign. Oh, the horror! And for that, I sit in my car with one of those SUV police cruisers with its spotlight on me for 20 minutes. I was honest, friendly, and totally agreeable with the policeman. I expected to get out of it (which always makes being agreeable easier), but apparently I must have blinked once too many times or something, because I got the ticket. Oddly enough, it was at the exact same intersection I was in a fender bender last year. I'm beginning to think I should take a new way home from classes.

Now, I can accept getting ticketed, but how does me rolling halfway past a stop sign with no other car in sight for miles warrant that kind of fine? My inner utilitarian is definitely up in arms. Maybe they'll use the money to pour rice in a pothole, or whatever technique they've been using lately....

23 March 2005

High School Flashback

A few days ago at the law school I ran into someone I used to know in high school. We exchanged pleasantries, much the same way we did in the halls of RCHS, and I couldn't help but wonder: how would high school have been different if I was back then more like I am now?

I can't pretend I was popular in high school; I could romanticize the whole experience (which I've been prone to do in the past), but that would just be a joke. Like anything else, high school had really high points and really low points, but the whole experience would be best described by the word "blah." The truth is, at least once my junior year hit, everything just turned neutral. People knew me and liked me well enough, but I didn't have friends or enemies. I didn't have to worry constantly about being picked on, but I didn't get invites to parties either. If I went to a reunion tomorrow, people would know me, probably even remember my name (our class only had 160 people), but when it came time to tell stories and reminisce, I would definitely be left out.

So now I'm left wondering: why was I so like that? Why did I continue to allow that state of affairs to continue even into college? And I think after this long, I finally know the answer. It was easy. In every other aspect of my life, I give it my all, especially academics. When I tried piano, I went far in that. Same thing with art, writing, architecture, etc. I'm naturally curious, and I have a pretty strong ambition. The more challenging, the better. Except when it comes to my social life.

Taking the easy way out means you don't get looked at like you're odd, you don't get rejected, and you don't have to deal with all the emotional baggage that comes with getting close to people. But that's the problem: you don't get close to people. Which, obviously, sucks. When I talked to that girl, I couldn't help but feel deja vu. The conversation was so familiar to so many I've had. Totally neutral, totally superficial. In law school, talking about summer jobs and classes is the equivalent of dicussing the weather or asking someone in a singles bar "what's your sign?" Safe, nice, easy.

And the weird thing is, I have many more friends and a much more substantial social life now than ever before. But even with them, I find myself taking the easy way out. Keep it light, keep it airy, keep it convenient. I can't really say that I have a strong connection with any of them, despite the fact that they seem like really great people. I wouldn't spend time with them if they weren't, obviously.

So with spring coming, and all the symbolism I've been hearing at Church lately about change, maybe that would be a good thing to change. Maybe going out on a limb and avoiding playing it safe would be a good philosophy to extend to my whole life instead of just pieces of it.