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My profile name: sfrajett
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Thanks Hilaire and LucyRain for this fun test.
Monday, October 16, 2006
After working all weekend to revise legal writing memo number one, due today by noon, I have a little breathing room. Property is cancelled this week, although there is a makeup Criminal class tomorrow in that time slot (but not today! and not Wednesday!) I could be studying Contracts, but I'd rather blog.
Contracts gets me down. I enjoy the reading so much and I hate the class itself. Contracts is evil. Something happens to my mind when I get there. No matter how much or how little time I spend on the reading, I always feel blank and unbalanced. Today we did math. We calculated, or attempted to calculate, damages. We read a case where a lady had bad plastic surgery and ruined her nose. The doctor had promised her beauty and perfection, and delivered disaster. We had to plug in figures and variously calculate restitution, reliance, and expectation damages for her. I missed that she would still pay the hospital, since she was actually suing the doctor. How did I miss that? Dumb.
I think I have mentioned that the girl sitting next to me bugs me. She started out nice but then I think decided that I wasn't very smart since I never answer his questions very well. So she is snappish. I think she worries I'll ask her for something. Competititive people are like that. They always worry that in a world of finite resources, someone will try to take away from them what they have justly earned. I don't want to think about her. Why do I have to think about her? I feel this way about school often. I can't keep myself apart enough to remain unruffled by the bizarre emotions of these first-time graduate students. If I try to hang out with them, though, something is never right.
There she sits, typing furiously next to me in two classes, three days a week, driving me insane.
We are different species. She is trying to be smart, but she talks like a Valley Girl so the boys will like her. I have spent my life learning to be critical, and I don't care who knows it. Her smile is brittle under the strain of trying to seem nicer than she feels herself to be. A lot of the things I say and think would be considered mean and judgmental, or "too intense," by people like her, people in their twenties. She is compulsively overprepared. I gave up briefing cases weeks ago when I realized that it took up enormous amounts of time merely for the benefit of helping professors teach their classes by calling on you and having you recite facts. She is the kind of girl who would have a Mean People Suck sticker, or at least, agree with it. I am a mean person. I suck.
I like to judge people, measure them, put them in categories, find their limitations, then fall in love with them when they try hard to be smart, or interesting, or kind. I like passionate people. I like people who are messy and unruly. You would think this was the very definition of a young person, but in fact, young people are rigid. Very young people are still worried about what other people will think of them. Other young people. Their professors. Job interviewers.
When people, any people, are worried about what other people will think about them, they make you feel that way, too. You know the feeling--you suddenly feel too loud, too cynical, too fat, too old, too learned, too butch, too opinionated. Too much. People in their twenties can make you feel like that. A lot of women of all ages make each other feel like that. Women in general have a lot in common with twenty-somethings in the way they monitor other people's behavior. Women are idealists. So are twenty-somethings. Idealists want a utopia. They want purity and goodness. They want to uniformity so that the rules can work. They also compete with each other. Monitor, compete. Two sides of a coin that replicates itself, mother to daughter, down through the ages.
Men, they are angels for remembering to breathe. But women? They'll drive you crazy. They drive me crazy.
GF came to visit me for the first time this weekend. She has offered before, but I have insisted on getting the hell out of here instead. This weekend she had a conference paper to write and wanted to work in the law library. We spent the whole day Saturday sitting quietly next to each other getting work done. It felt heavenly. Getting her away from the stresses of our apartment--two needy Siamese cats and a running toddler pounding the upstairs floorboards day in and day out--made us both realize that we enjoy each other a lot. Even just sitting quietly, working.
GF and I fight sometimes under the strain of it all. Not this weekend, thank goodness, but sometimes. She calls me a beast. I call her a horrible person. At some point it blows over like a summer storm. It is never about anything except its own energy released. The energy of idealism, of being nice, of being women. Women and lesbians in a stern world.
I think maybe it is the best kind of feminism to fight with women, to tell them what you think of them, to forgive them and love them again, to let them be themselves in a world where only men are allowed to march differently. I wish I could crack the manic achiever facade of the mad typing girl. I wish she would blow up or calm down. Throw things or laugh. If she did we could be friends. But her mask is tight on her head, and she's not coming up for air until after exams on December 16th. Tll then, we'll be at an impasse--she with her pursed lips and flying fingers on one side of the long table, me with my rolling eyes and slouchy sweaters on the other side. Worlds, genders, generations apart.
Unless I kill her first.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Half way through our second section of Contracts, the room started to get tense. Forty minutes earlier I had asked someone how far she thought we'd get in the reading. She looked down at my open page covered in highlighting. "Oh we'll NEVER get that far," she assured me. I certainly haven't read to where you are. If we do, you'll be the best-prepared one!" I laughed uneasily. I wasn't so sure.
Thirty minutes in, the professor called out a case and page number. I heard several indrawn hisses from the seats around me. The girl next to me muttered "Oh Jesus" under her breath. Suddenly I realized that the whole class was worried. Would he get beyond where anyone had read, or would he stop at the very precipice of our preparation?
We marched on, working our way through the textbook. I watched every minute tick by on my computer clock. On through the cases I knew, into the thicket of discussion notes and hypotheticals that provided filler. One note concerned a man who checked a parcel of furs and sued when the checkroom lost it. The checkroom insisted that the disclaimer on his ticket stub amounted to a contract. The case referrred to a "bailer" and a "bailee" in a most confusing manner. The language was convoluted and archaic, and included several confusing court results. The appellate judges had disagreed about whether the man should get a thousand dollars or 25, as per the stub disclaimer. I had barely noticed it in my careful reading of the surrounding cases.
"Ms. Sfrajett." My heart stabbed. I felt it stab. With five minutes to go, he called on me.
No problem. I scanned the case. No highlighting. No notes. Why had I not written any notes? He asked me who won. I couldn't say. I read it again. I gave one result, but that wasn't the one he meant. He badgered me for the final ruling. I swear I couldn't find it in the oddly-worded argument. One guy piped up from across the room that it was hard to tell what it said. The professor moved on, just as I found the answer. The court held that the ticket was not a contract becuase the ticketholder thought it was just a ticket. But I was too late. I remained an idiot, unredeemed in the eyes of my peers. The ex-English professor. What a joke!
Class ended and the room erupted. I heard one woman behind me complain bitterly that she hadn't been able to tell what he was asking when he called on her. She said she knew he thought she was stupid.
I didn't think she was stupid. I don't think anybody else did, either. The person I had spoken with in the library laughed about how she had nearly peed herself when he started jumping pages. I laughed back. What can you do?
I thought about the guy across the room who had piped up in my defense. The relief when class ended was palpable in people's voices, as they rushed out of the room in a warm wind. I felt it all around me.