Thursday, February 22, 2007

Marriage: The World's Oldest Profession

I am getting to the regrettable point in every young woman's life where all of her friends are simultaneously married off. I have good reason to think I should expect a barrage of fancily stamped, foiled, embossed and engraved invitations to land in my mailbox over the course of this summer.

Being a future lawyer, I'm a desirable guest on my friends' list when they conduct their financial calculus as to who will provide the best payoff in the food-and-booze-to-gift-ratio. Or so they think. In reality, I'm taking a government job while trying to juggle getting a mortgage and paying off my student loans. If this information was widely known in my circle, I'd certainly be cut from the guest list in the first round.

Apparently marriage has become a booming business in this country. While I have been quietly purchasing nice things for my kitchen when I have the extra cash to do so, I realized one Cuisinart and a set of Henkels too late that all I had to do was get engaged and register for whatever the hell I want, and other people would buy it for me. I clearly missed the memo on that one.

Pretty soon I'm going to be priced out of my friends' weddings, so I've started to develop a wedding fiscal strategy.

First, I am going to set a budget each year for wedding expenses, and when that budget has been reached, decline invitations to any weddings for the rest of the fiscal year. So, if you want me in attendance at your wedding, make sure to either a) get married early in the year, or b) register for cheap shit and pay for my hotel room.

Next, I'm consulting with some tax-savvy law students to figure out how I can make this shit tax-deductible. I am certain that many people spend far less money supporting a child (which can currently be itemized) than I anticipate spending on wedding-related expenses in the next couple years.

Finally, I have realized that in order to equalize this cost-benefit ratio, I need to fast for three days before attending any wedding and carry a large purse so that I can take full advantage of the buffet. As an aside, your chances of securing a positive RSVP from me improve exponentially if you assure me that you will have an open bar with a ready supply of Amstel and Stoli.

And for those of you whose weddings I have dutifully attended (or will attend), gift in hand, please note that I am graduating in May, and as such I have registered down at the local Infiniti dealership.

Carpe Beerum.

True to the predictions of our groundhogs, it looks like we're getting an early spring, as evidenced by today's sunny, warm weather.

Before my very pregnant Entertainment Law professor arrived in class, I gave serious thought to ditching and enjoying the weather for a couple of hours. Not like I had anything specific in mind planned, other than avoiding the indoors until Copyright.

Just then, Prof. Entertainment-and-a-half walked in. She noticed that most of the class was strategically placed in the back of the classroom.

Prof. Entertainment: Why are y'all hiding in the back? Are you really going to make me lecture from the middle of the room?


Prof. Entertainment: Most of you guys are 3L's, right?

[We all nod.]

Prof. Entertainment: What on earth are you doing here on such a gorgeous day? This is the type of day when I was in college -- and even in law school -- we would be drinking already. You have to take advantage of that stuff - once you start working, you can't go drink beer at the bar at 1 o'clock without people thinking you're an alcoholic.

[I close my computer and half stand up, about to make my exit.]

Prof. Entertainment: But now that you're here, you can't leave. I mean, I didn't just walk to campus; I drove an hour and a half in!

Damn. I need to learn to seize a perfectly good opportunity before it passes me by. Next week, if the weather is nice, I'll take Prof. Entertainment-and-a-half by her word and carpe diem beerum.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shoot to Kill

Law school, being like high school, has its own unique set of social norms. Many are axiomatic: Don't sleep with your classmates. Or with your professors, for that matter. Don't say things that you don't want everyone else to know (because they will find out). Just generally, don't act like a jackass.

The most important social norm in law school is obvious to those of us on the "inside," but completely foreign to everyone else: Don't be a gunner. As a matter of fact, this unspoken rule is so painfully obvious that I was hesitant to even rehash it here.

Gunners are those assholes who raise their hands in class and talk just to hear themselves and prove how smart they are and how, as a matter of fact, they are that much smarter than you. They want to flex their intellectual muscle. This is probably an effort to make up for their microscopic penises, being that a good 95% of the gunners in law school are males. First year professors are not friendly to the ego, and as such, generally beat the gunner-ness out of them by the end of first year (or first semester, if they're really good).

But sometimes people slip under the radar and continue to act like asshats well after first year, entirely oblivious to the fact that they are subject to the hatred and vitriol of an entire class. While I thought I'd escaped most of the gunners long ago, I was rudely informed otherwise this semester - a semester where my patience is thin and my tolerance for bullshit even thinner.

I'm lucky enough to have in my 16-person Copyright class a 2L gunner of epic proportions. Affectionately known by his class as the 43L, the Copyright Gunner has a Ph.D. in Asshattery and loves parading his irrelevant knowledge and high-horse attitude before the class on a regular basis.

Not only does he interrupt both classmates and the professor on a regular basis, but his holier-than-thou attitude makes me roll my eyes so hard I end up with a headache by the time class is over. Example:

Prof. Copyright: Okay, I'll raise my hand too since I've done it, so don't feel like you're incriminating yourself or anything: Who in here has committed copyright infringement?

[Entire class, save the 43L, raises their hands.]

Prof. Copyright, to 43L: Come on, you've never committed copyright infringement?
43L: No, I haven't.

[Commence eye-rolling.]

Prof. Copyright: Never?
43L: No. I've copied articles for educational purposes, but as an author, I would never commit copyright infringement.

[Oh, barf.]

Prof. Copyright (who is incidentally a well-published author and academic), smirking: Well, I'm an author, too. But that doesn't mean I have never infringed a copyright.

You get the picture. Many of his comments also begin with the preamble, "In my experience..." or "If I may..."

I swear, before this semester is over, I am going to snap. I'm going to duct tape his mouth shut and beat him over the head with my Copyright book. Infringe that, asshole.

Lesson to be learned, kids: Don't. Be. A. Gunner.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Crochet Progress: Small Steps

My crochet skills have improved by leaps and bounds in the past week. Keep in mind that prior to sitting down and devoting concerted efforts to this, my skills consisted solely of making scarves.

Observe: I can now crochet in a circle (left) and also make a granny square (right).

I am sure that my family and friends will be delighted to know that they will be getting more than just scarves for Christmas and birthdays from now on.

I can even make blankets and things for my friend K's baby, who is due to arrive at any time now. I was going to make her a scarf, but several people questioned the wisdom of giving a scarf to an infant.

It's progress, y'all.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Book Review: "Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker"

My grandmother is crafty. My mom is crafty. My aunt is crafty. So naturally, they passed along that crafty gene on their X chromosome to me. However, no one in my family really crochets, so everything I learned about crocheting was passed on through informal lessons with a couple of friends. As a result, the only thing I can crochet with any confidence is a scarf.

Enter Debbie Stoller's fun and fresh approach to crocheting for Generation X: Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.

I am putting a lot of faith in Stoller's claim that her book can teach anyone -- even knitters -- to crochet, as I am not only left-handed, but also have trouble creating anything three-dimensional from a 2D representation.

Stoller discusses a history of crocheting and then explains the tools of the trade, relevant lingo and how to read a pattern. Explanations of stitches are thorough and placed in a logical sequence. Though explained from a right-handed point of view, southpaws like myself shouldn't have a problem inverting the directions.

The book also contains about forty patterns using the techniques outlined in the first part of the book. Each pattern shows a photograph of the finished item, provides specific information about the yarn and materials used, and gives a background of the pattern designer.

The patterns are also cute and fun, appropriate for the target audience of twenty-somethings. It's sometimes hard to find patterns that aren't too grandmother-ish, but this book hit the nail on the head. I haven't completed any projects yet, so the verdict isn't in as to how the patterns match up to the visual representations of the finished product.

All in all, Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet provides an fun and unintimidating entree to crocheting for young women trying to capture our grandmothers' lost art.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What If There Is No Tomorrow? There Wasn't One Today.

Well, y'all, it's Groundhog Day. Lucky for us, for the first time in years, both the national groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, and our very own General Beauregard Lee, predicted an early spring. This comes as timely and welcome news, given yesterday's winter weather fiasco.

I really have to wonder where this strange tradition began. Taking season change forecasts from a rodent seems mighty odd to me, particularly one named Gen. Lee who lives in a miniature antebellum mansion. Southerners will apparently take any opportunity to shove their Civil War heritage in your face when assigning nomenclature, whether it be to a groundhog or a Dodge Charger.

I was thinking that instead of checking each day, I could just buy my own groundhog and keep him in the house. Then I would always be abreast of changing weather conditions. Not sure how the Terrorists would like that, though.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snow Day!

In the Deep South, if anyone even mentions the word "snow," traffic on the interstate grinds to a halt and the grocery store shelves are instantly emptied of milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper and beer. Which really begs the question why people feel the need to make French toast and sit on the toilet on the one day we have inclement weather each winter, but that is beside the point.

So when the forecasters dare to mention the word "ice," virtual pandemonium breaks out. In addition to the aforementioned items, the grocery stores also sell out of firewood and bottled water (which makes slightly more sense). People huddle in their houses and wait for "the big one." After the storm passes, you can purchase t-shirts from street vendors that read, "I Survived the Storm!"

Now, there hasn't been a snow storm of consequence that I can recall since 1993, when we got a record two feet of snow, which shut down most of the state for nearly a week. But when the weather forecast called for some ice last night, all hell broke lose.

To my pleasant surprise, I awoke this morning to an e-mail message from the university letting me know that the school was closed due to inclement weather. I had conveniently neglected to complete my Public Health assignment, so the snow day bought me a couple extra days.

Let me tell you, any time the university decides to cancel school, I don't think twice about it and enjoy the hell out of an extra day off, putting out of my mind the fact that we will probably have to make it up sometime later in the semester.

Winter south of the Mason-Dixon stands in stark contrast to my undergraduate alma mater in the northeast, affectionately referred to by my father as The Frozen Tundra. Sadly, it's not an inaccurate description. My undergrad university prided itself on having not canceled a day of classes in over 30 years, leaving students grumble, freeze and curse their way to class through the snow, ice and slush from October through April.

I distinctly remember my first winter living up north. The first snow we got had me dancing around my dorm room in my pj's, celebrating the fact that I could stay inside and sip cocoa all day. People looked at me like I was from Mars. "Get dressed and get your ass to class," they said. "The university hasn't canceled classes in 30 years and probably won't cancel them for 30 more."

After the first big blizzard I experienced up there, I was convinced I'd get a day off. Again, no such luck. The plows had come through early in the morning and the sidewalks were freshly salted, which astonished me because at home, the only snowplow in the state is at the airport. I was late to class because I had to throw myself over a three-foot snow drift and got stuck on top of it like a turtle, flailing around on that pile of snow in my wool coat, hat, scarf and gloves, my backpack not making things any easier.

Needless to say, I don't have the constitution to live up north any longer than I actually did. The mild winters are one of the many reasons I'm glad to be back down South. I sometimes laugh to myself at the people who panic at the mention of flurries, but I'm not too good to enjoy a snow day when the university decides to throw one my way.