Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Supreme streamlining.

Can't wait to cite this editorial gem in my first Con Law class! I've always wondered why we don't just outsource SCOTUS anyway.

Countdown clock hits 2 weeks.

Eek. Two weeks without a post. Self-inflicted slap on the wrist for me. 
Quite frankly, everything and nothing is going on at the same time here chez Gulawger. In work related updates, the mother I nanny for is slowly becoming out of control. She's been fast and loose with my "posted" hours from the beginning. 9-5 always actually means 9-5:45 at the earliest. The usual text received at 3:30 or so will read something like, "Can you stay past 4 if necessary?" or "Can you stay a little longer?" Every day. A little longer has translated into anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 extra hours. I don't actually have many other real obligations, but it's a wee bit offensive to totally disregard the hours she actually requests that I work. Situation has steadily devolved to where she has me on call like a trauma surgeon. Receive text at 8:30 am to come work at 9 because she "totally forgot." Receive call at 10 am on a Saturday requesting that I come meet her and hubby at the beach and basically keep a choke hold on her kids to keep them away. She used to work as a BigLaw attorney, so my conclusion is that she misses wielding power over an underling. Trade-in value for my dignity is valued at a steady, but slightly stingy, hourly wage. 

The date of the big move to Law School City, USA is creeping up. Only 2 more weeks. Lease signed, plane ticket purchased, parking permit acquired, new laptop purchased, 6-month supply of contact lenses ordered. However, despite going through the motions of preparation, I feel almost nothing. Not excitement. Not fear. Not anything really. I think I've entered a state of sensory overload and my brain has hit the figurative EJECT button of defense mechanisms. There's too many variables for me to sift out any sort of recognizable idea of reality. New city I've only been to for a total of 48 hours. Two new 2L roommates I've known in person for a total of 45 minutes. The Curve, the arbitrariness of grades, OCI, the cold hard mathematics that dictates that 90% of a class of smart people will not be the top 10% smartest, etc. I don't even really have an abstract idea of what life will be like in 2 weeks. Not even a Picasso or Dali rendering. So I'm an emotional flat line at the moment. And I'm certainly not spending my remaining few weeks as a 0L trying to teach myself torts and contracts. Hell to the no. That's what I'm paying the big bucks for. In the mean time, I'll just keep ticking more manageable things off my Google "to do" list. Next up in 1L preparations, make a dentist appointment, shave head, and practice one-armed push-ups a la G.I. Jane.
Ipso facto quid pro quo amicus curiae sine qua non, bitches.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to deal with top-law-schools.com.

Top-law-schools.com, or TLS, is the drug of choice for many people who are thinking about attending law school. It's a speedball for wannabe and current law students. A mixture of heroin and cocaine cooked up in a dirty spoon and shot directly into the jugular of those who have chosen to pursue a legal education. It's exciting and depressing to read those forums. I know, I've done it. There is so much information to sift through, but there is also so much CRAZY to sift through. I've never posted anything, but I've read and felt the bipolar up and downswings of excitement and total hopelessness that one will, without question, experience when crazily clicking through those threads. In the hopes of helping those who are trying to come to terms with the crack den that is "TLS", I offer up my own personal lessons learned:

1. Other LSAT takers/applicants do not actually know what they are talking about. They are as scared and as clueless as you are. Commiserate with their confusion but if they find a soap box, run. They're talking nonsense.
2. People who are applying to/have decided to go to a school comparably ranked to your own will inevitably bash your school and compare it to the equivalent of paying $120,000 to learn the law from the hobo on the corner. Do not listen. They are paying to receive their legal education from the hobo on the other side of the street. Harvard applicant will tell Columbia applicant they'd rather eat glass than go to Columbia. UVA applicant will try to strangle Duke applicant with piano wire. Georgetown applicant will cage fight anyone deciding to go to Cornell, UT, UCLA, or Vanderbilt. And on and on and on.
3. Do not visit the forums so much that you actually learn the lingo. It actually can seem at times that these people are speaking a different language. And they are. There are forums about how to understand what people are actually saying in the forums. Learn only the basics. TLS= top-law-schools.com//T3,T6,T14,T17, basically T#= Top and then whatever arbitrary ranking cutoff people choose//LG= logic games//LR= logical reasoning//RC=reading comprehension//LOR=letter of recommendation//LOCI= letter of continued interest. Beyond that, I can't help you, but fall into the rabbit hole and read the "lingo" forum if you must.
4. Immediately move on from any post that begins with something like the following:
3.98 GPA from HYP, 178 LSAT. URM. Started charity for mute orphans in Bangladesh. Masters in engineering. Already passed the bar but was told I need a J.D. to practice. What are my chances at HYS
Stop. Immediately. Move on. Do not feel any emotions about this person. They are ego stroking. Do not encourage them.
5. Fear-mongering images are to be ignored. 
Exhibit A:
Exhibit B:

6. If you just recently took the LSAT, do NOT go to the forums because you think you'll get an idea of how you did. You won't. Because, remember, people are crazy and they think that their logic was infallible on test day. Reading 3 pages worth of posts of people arguing about how they think they remember a particular Logical Reasoning question will only make you doubt yourself more. People fancy themselves clairvoyants with the power to predict the curve. They can't. And you'll waste time reading their predictions that you could be using to do something productive, like going to the gym or making sand art.
7. When you read the first even-tempered post that you've seen in a while, you're not hallucinating. Sometimes there actually is sound advice to be discovered like a precious, shining blood diamond. If this person has knowledge about a school you are interested in, search for other things he/she wrote and read them. This person will almost always be a current student at said school and can be trusted, at least a little.
8. Do not, under any circumstances, post your personal statement/letter of continued interest/etc. to be evaluated on the forums. I never did this, but I was just absolutely baffled by people who did. Ask someone you know and trust and didn't meet in a cyberspace forum. There is a grab bag of people trolling these forums. You could, of course, get a very generous future Supreme Court Justice to read your stuff over, or you could get a borderline illiterate person who could make you believe you are borderline illiterate too. Risky business.
9. Get in and get out. Seriously. Have a few questions in mind. Search for them. Find them. And leave. You will save yourself time and emotional energy. Because again, you are reading mostly things posted by people like you, who don't know what the hell is going on. Use it in the hopes of extinguishing the inferno of crazy blazing within, not to feed it.
10. Laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh. The material is endless.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I just wanted some gum.

Life got weird again today. I went to 7-11 to buy a pack of Orbit gum. Orbit Bubblemint gum to be exact. Stuff is crazy delicious. Anyway, when I walked in the 7-11, there was the 7-11 guy and the Other Guy, the subject of my story. He wielded a clipboard, so I assumed that he was taking inventory perhaps? Or cashing out the lottery machine thing maybe? Who knows. He had a clipboard and things looked pretty kosher on the macro level. On the micro scale, however, it was weird. First of all, the clipboard just had some doodles on a sheet of computer paper. Like, someone's name in bubble letters kind of thing. Second of all, he didn't know how to use a cell phone. "I dunno man. You gotta put some code in it or some shit. You do it for me, I can't never do it," he said to actual 7-11 guy. Then I noticed his tattoos. He had many including tear drops from the corners of his eyes, his neck was totally engulfed in tattoo flames, and then my eyes settled on his outer forearm arm. It looked kinda tribal. "Poorly designed," I thought, it's so big and almost just totally solid black ink. Like an Egyptian obelisk or something. Oh no, then I really saw it. It was a giant, veiny, erect penis. Ejaculating. 
I closed my eyes and went to a happier mental place. I tried to shut out thoughts about whether he had replicated his own, to scale, on his forearm. I paid for my gum with my debit card and left questioning everything I ever thought I had known about humanity. The gum was indeed delicious though. The end.

Update: I just told Little Sister about my 7-11 experience. She imparted the following nuggest of knowledge: "You know that the tear drop facial tattoos mean they've killed someone right?" Um, no I did not. Duly noted.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Accidental discovery.

Something weird happened. While babysitting this morning, I was trying to help the mom find her iPhone. She's perpetually late to any and all appointments/general life obligations, so there is a sense of impending apocalyptic emergency every time she leaves the house. Standard operating procedure. The kids are screaming. She's late to pick up her husband's Porsche. iPhone is dead. It cannot be called. I start looking everywhere, which is a weird thing to do in someone else's home. In office desk drawers. In between couch cushions. And, under the living room couch, where our story gets weird. I was laying on my stomach and saw many things. A copy of The Giving Tree. An unopened can of Wegman's  canned sparkling water (flavor: mixed berry). A baby bottle with totally solid fermented formula stuck to the bottom. A plastic hammer. And in the very back, a latched rectangular box. Strange, I thought. They must not even know it's back there! Etched on the top of the faux-leather box was "Laser Comb." Oh no. Pops is only 34 years old and he already has hair loss contraband. Secret hair loss contraband.
Eek. I feel uncomfortable. Like I might as well have found a giant crate of animal porn. I slid it back under the couch immediately. Plus one for being a girl.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LSAT studying byproducts.

Studying for the LSAT isn't fun. And if you think it is, then chances are you're not fun. Fine, I admit that of the 134,549,968 practice questions I answered, I smiled with self-satisfaction a few times. Depending on the portion of crazy I ate for my last meal, the following example dialogue was either held internally or said aloud:
"The argument proceeds by... Let's see. A? What a joke. Of course it's not equivocal word usage! B?! It's certainly not presenting a counterexample to a general claim! NEXT. C. YES! ::maniacal circling of letter C:: SHANE'S ARGUMENT AND LISA'S ARGUMENT ARE BASED ON CONFLICTING SUPPOSITIONS! Duhhhh. Child's play. Don't even need to see the answer key. BOOM. ROASTED! ::self-satisfied smile::" 
Far more frequent reactions to my LSAT studying regimen included, but are not limited to:
1. Stopping mid-sentence to stare at split ends.
2. Gripping my skull in fury/despair over sunk emotional, financial, & mental costs in the black hole that is the LSAT/visions of grandeur/extreme boredom.
3. Cursing at myself.
4. Misplacing blame and cursing at answer choices A, B, C, D, E, or any combination thereof. 
5. Deciding to clean my room on question #11 of a 25-question timed section.
6. Compulsively watching seasons 1-6 of The Sopranos and seasons 1-5 of The Wire. And It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And So You Think  You Can Dance... (list abridged)
7. Searching for law student blogs. 
8. Searching for random things on Wikipedia like "Jonestown Massacre", "Bill Paxton", and "Cheese."
9. Looking up plane ticket prices to random destinations. 
10. Making a dentist appointment as a "field trip" away from my desk.

I'll admit however, that by the end of it all, I came down with a bit of a case of Stockholm syndrome. I missed Logical Reasoning questions. They held me hostage for so long that I felt a fond affection for them after I wasn't in their company ALL DAY LONG. But not Logic Games. I'll never miss them. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In which Gulawger improves by 30+ points on the LSAT.

Okay so part of the motivation behind starting this blog is that I've been in equal parts assisted, inspired, and terrified by the LSAT experience testimonies of  law student blogs that I've read during the course of my own personal LSAT preparation/law school application process. I was so inspired/shaken to the core that I  would like to do the same for others. Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time in 2007, there was a beautiful Ivy League undergraduate princess who signed up to try to slay the evil LSAT dragon. This regal princess was a rising senior living and working in the kingdom of Manhattan for the summer. She was having F-U-N and started dating a laid-back Brooklyn hipster prince. To her, this LSAT dragon was no monster! "I'm smart! I'm a great standardized tester!" she thought, "It will be like the SAT when I just showed up without even my own pencil and got a score of which all the court was proud!" A sage elder had advised her to enroll in a Kaplan LSAT Prep class, for, the sage one warned, this was a formidable foe of a beast and mercenary assistance would be of vital aid. The princess sat in an auditorium with 75 other aspiring LSAT slayers two nights a week, yawning, twirling her hair, jeering at her daft classmates and their asinine questions in her head, and running with untouched homework assignments in tow toward her valiant steed, the L train, for her journey onward to her prince awaiting in fair Williamsburg. After a few weeks, the princess deigned not to attend class. In fact, she stopped thinking about the reality of the LSAT dragon at all. Summer ended. The princess returned to start her senior year, her hipster prince revealed himself as merely an incompetent yeoman, and suddenly the date of fighting the LSAT dragon presented itself as only 3 weeks away. In the chateau library, the princess toiled for hours under stacks and stacks of class books and LSAT books. Kind of..The charms of the last year at the ye olde pub dazzled her nightly, and the fair maiden soon realized she did not understand anything about the LSAT beast. A practice test revealed the worst. Over 50% of aspiring slayers would fare better. "This cannot be," said she. The princess tried again. Her score decreased by 2 points and her kingdom was covered in ominous shadow. The maiden panicked. She screamed into the night sky from atop her high castle balcony. She cancelled her spot for trying to slay the September LSAT dragon immediately. 
Isn't this story truly bone-chilling? Truly unsettling, right? SPOILER ALERT (NSFW): This regal princess was I, and Gulawger now I am. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking. Actually, that's a lie. I was thinking almost nothing. If my brain were attached to one of those monitors on a medical drama, there would be hardly a beep to be heard. I didn't respect the beast and my frightening practice test scores basically scrawled my grim reality in animal blood on the wall. A good LSAT score was not going to come without actually, legitimately, not half-assed, trying. 

The fall semester of senior year trickled by and I decided to sign up for the June 2008 LSAT. I have no idea why I thought I'd have enough time to study and also care about the grades that would forever appear on my transcript, but I did. In the mean time, I applied to a program to teach English in France for the next year. "I'll just take the LSAT in June, do wonderfully, and apply to law school from France," I thought to myself. Surprise, surprise, I didn't even crack a book until May when I graduated. "Ain't gonna happen," I think were my exact words after 30 minutes of looking over the mountain of unanswered Kaplan workbook questions. Then I did the obvious and booked a two month backpacking trip and then moved immediately to France. I made a mental oath not to think about the path to law school during my time there, and for the most part succeeded... until I moved back home.

Scene changes back to Gulawger's house in the summer of 2009. Feeling re-focused. Newly confident. Sign up immediately for a TestMasters course. Kaplan was too gimmicky for me, so I switched. At the time I haven't really spoken, listened to, or read English in over 9 months. Take my first diagnostic test on the first day of class. ::sound of nuclear bomb falling and liquidating the Earth:: Yeah, that bad. Even worse than my 2 practice tests the year before when I cared way less about the test. 10 points worse to be exact. That night I drank a bottle of wine alone and reached a mental crossroads. Either really study and work for this or just fuckin forget about it already. I chose option A. Unemployed and with nothing but time on my hands, I started working my ass off. Did all of the homework. Went through all of said homework and more importantly, worked through everything a second time to understand why I got questions right and why I got questions wrong. This took frequent mental health breaks and a lot of time. Next diagnostic test 3 weeks later, 10 point improvement. Drank another bottle of wine alone. Decided to keep the faith and keep on truckin. Next diagnostic test 2 weeks later, 10 point improvement over Diagnostic 1. 

Finally, I felt on track and like I actually understood the logic. I became a wolverine on a feeding frenzy and started creeping toward my goal score about a month before the September test. I actually hit my goal score 3 days before. In retrospect, that wasn't really a good enough indicator that I was ready to hit a home run on test day, but at the time I was AMPED. The way I felt on test day is fodder for a different post, so I'll leave that be for now, but it came and went. Felt good. 3 weeks later, I see that my score was ehhhhh okay good. I was devastated. I happened to be riding the escalator at Penn Station in New York going to visit some college friends when I received the e-mail from LSAC. Saw the three digit number, put my phone back in my bag, and calmly decided that I deserved to go an a short bender. That night I drank many bottles of wine/vodka/sewer water, but this time in sympathetic company. The next morning I got talked into/forcibly dressed in men's collegiate rowing swag/physically dragged to a day of drinking heavily and pretending to watch some horse races while falling in mud and sprawling in self-pity on decorative bails of hay. Self-pity party continued for another 2 weeks until I made the decision to sign up for round 2 with the December LSAT. I had to erase all the hours and hours and hours of work I put into my TestMasters workbooks and I actually caused friction blisters on my hands. Partly because I was erasing in a rage blackout fury and partly because there were hundreds and hundreds of pages that needed to be scrubbed completely clean in order to start anew. Mental anguish! Ennui! Despair! I also did about 15 practice tests between the start of October and the end of November, and finally I started to score consistently THIRTY TWO or more points better than I had on my most bottom of the soul-scraping barrel of a diagnostic just 4 months before. Test day (again to be discussed in a later post) came along and I felt great. Test results were released cruelly 3 days after Christmas (that's not to say that I wasn't compulsively checking for a week before, just in case the fully automated system forgot to notify just me). Finally, happiness.

I actually Google searched "possible to score 30 points higher on LSAT?" when I was at the pit of pits, and I write now, here today, saying yes. It is possible. But only after (for me) literal blood, sweat, and tears. And also the shedding of total apathy and false confidence. For some of my friends (now 3Ls at the creme de la creme), the LSAT wasn't a thang. Their brains just worked in ways that ran at least parallel to the test. Not so for me. So if your way of thinking suits the test right away, good for you. Ku-fucking-dos. But if like me, you gotta work for it even though you've never before had to work and fail and work and fail at something academically... there is hope. Soldier on, brave LSAT takers. The Gulawger is living proof that (to borrow the words of the infallible Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame) you can make it work. 

Shaving cream.

My sister and I share a bathroom. In this bathroom, we share a shower. When she is home and I go through the motions of being courteous, I use shampoo or plain soap to shave my legs because I don't care. She, on the other hand, has so many fancy lotions and potions that it is sometimes difficult to resist trying out a free sample. She departed this morning for a collegiate orgy pool party or something, so I felt at liberty to try out her products that she left behind because she obviously wanted me to benefit from them. I spied "Flirty Mango" shaving cream in the shower caddy. 

"Oh! Sounds promising... Seductive fruits of the jungle. Okay, I can work with this," I thought. Wrong. My legs are smooth but they smell like Play-Do. Don't get me wrong, I actually love the smell of Play-Do, but I don't personally want to smell like it. Kind of like how I like the smell of gasoline but also wouldn't spritz it on my wrists and then rub it on my neck. Epic free sample fail.

Magazine day.

Yesterday was magazine day. Meaning, the day that all of my family's weekly magazines are delivered. Lined up next to each other, they paint a strange picture. We have only subscribed to the first three. The rest just... arrive. We've never subscribed; never paid a bill; never knowingly provided an address to which they could be sent. I guess I can thank the total LACK of information sharing privacy regulation on the Internet.

1. The Week (have subscription) 

Almost like VH1's show "Best Week Ever" but more highbrow. Excerpts from the week's best national and international editorials, financial news, some entertainment news, book stuff, travel stuff. Good stuff. Kind of like freebasing current events.

2. Time (have subscription)

An old standard in our household. I'm pretty sure I learned at a ludicrously young age about the wonders of sex (and then subsequently shared with seat mates on the school bus) from the science section. Their parents were maaaaaaaaaad...

3. Lacrosse Magazine (have subscription)

My younger sister plays lacrosse in college. Pretty self-explanatory. I read it sometimes (as an ex-laxer) and am consistently amazed by how shamelessly they repackage the same training/stick skills/equipment advice every single issue. It's like Cosmo for laxers I guess.

Now for the freebies that arrive ghost-like every week:

4. National Geographic Traveler
It's addressed to me. And it's very much appreciated, but how does it get here? Where does it come from? What does it all mean? I mean, I love traveling and have booked fair amounts of airline tickets to foreign lands, so is it the airlines giving away my information? Maybe it's Amtrak. In any case, thank you to whoever you are for violating my privacy because this is a fair trade-off in my opinion.

5. Architectural Digest
This glossy gem is also addressed to me and it arrives once a month unlike its other illegitimate brothers and sisters. The arrival of Architectural Vogue is a real puzzler mostly because its cover price isn't cheap. Nice quality paper, lots and lots of pretty pictures. I'm guessing that signing up to be on an art museum's mailing list is the source of this one. I mean I appreciate architecture, but am confident that I haven't been searching for mountain lodge design ideas or sconce to art installation ratios or what-have-you. In any case, again it's appreciated. Always a treat to read about Gerard Butler's rustic bordello design aesthetic or to ogle at the infinity pool at Bora Bora's most exclusive new hotel. Keep it comin.

6. Entertainment Weekly

Addressed to my mother. This one has been coming for THREE YEARS without a single payment from the Gulawger household. How it found its way to us is less of a mystery. Between Fandango, rottentomatoes, imdb, etc. I'm sure our address leaked out somewhere. Reading it is like eating M&M's. You don't even notice you feel a little sick until you've had too much and it's just too late.

7. Maxim

This one is the most unsettling. It's addressed to my mother as well. I couldn't even begin to trace the information trail from our mailbox to Maxim's headquarters. I guess I appreciate the recommendations for "Best Bro Summer Brews" and the "Badass Book Club." Major downside is forgetting it's sitting on the kitchen table and to see house guests try to process it's presence in a household with two 20+ year old girls, one mother, and one straight-laced, boat shoe wearing father whose idea of a pinup girl is Alison Janney as C.J. Craig in the West Wing. The mystery continues unsolved.