A happy weekend

June 29, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Posted in little bug, Massholes, wine | 1 Comment
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Not so much studying, but lots of family and friends. Priorities, priorities! Mimi (aka, my mom) was here from Thursday through this morning, which meant we also got to see lots of Auntie Jen and Uncle Dav, and Auntie Erin.  Friday night was a bit too much wine (although it was a wine tasting), but I had sort of anticipated that Saturday would be a wash from the start, so didn’t beat myself up too much for not really working. 

The Public Garden in the Murphy family seat

Summers, I’m beginning to learn, are Murphy family visiting season.  Various Murphy siblings descend from the opposite coast, from across the pond, and from down South for their annual pilgrammage to Boston (seat of this Murphy clan and, of course, many, many others!)  Last week we saw Susan and her kids from Ireland; today it was Karen and Ryan from Texas.  For the Fourth it will be all of them plus more (Paula and Griffin, Stephanie and her family, Babs — there are lots and lots of  Murphy’s…) in Falmouth. 

Tonight is our Sunday night ritual of pasta and pesto and a few Arrested Developments — we’re almost done with season three, the final season, but are buoyed by the news of a 2009 Arrested Development movie.  Are we cliche?  Decide for yourself, here.

My new wheels

June 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Posted in law school | 1 Comment
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I was inspired by this post.  And this post.  And I was uninspired by: my last trip to the gas station; sitting in a freezing cold basement classroom and/or the library at BC Law for another day when I have, in fact, graduated; and the Mass Pike.  Now I breeze down Marlborough Street, across the Public Garden (though on my way home today I noticed the signs on the gates to the Garden saying “No Bicycling.” Oops…), and then up through the Common, parking my bike at Suffolk Law precisely 10 minutes after I set off from my house.  I haven’t been caught in a rainstorm yet, nor has it been too hot, so, after a week of hopefully reducing my carbon footprint, so far, so good.  I’m currently borrowing my friend Erin’s bike (which had been lying dormant in her living room for about a year, she assures me), but could get inspired enough to get my own so that I can bike to work in the fall, which will be a much quicker commute than either walking or the T.  But for now, maybe I’m doing my own small part for the environment and the family budget (albeit, sadly, small small small on both accounts).

(As an aside, Suffolk Law School is gorgeous.  By far the nicest law school I have ever been in, in a perfect location to boot.)

Running mix?

June 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Posted in law school, running | 2 Comments
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I am downloading PMBR (a multi-state bar exam prep company that takes a stab at competing with the BarBri monopoly) CDs into my iTunes.  Why am I spending 45 minutes doing this?  Because I am actually going to listen to them on my iPod?  Perhaps replacing runs to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It” with the rousing “Offer and Acceptance,” or “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” with the equally as inspiring “Search and Seizure”?  If this ends up being the case, please stage an immediate bar-review intervention:  it should not get to the point where I am replacing Beyonce with “Hearsay.”  No, I think it’s just plain procrastination.  If I’m downloading CDs, at least I’m doing something bar-related as I surf the web, right?

A somewhat related aside: there are 432 unread posts on my RSS feed.  Meaning only that clearly I used to spend far, far too much time on the Internet.

Also: sometimes I look at my blog stats to see what search terms people used to find my blog.  If you mention a celebrity (e.g., Chris Martin), you’ll automatically get a lot of hits.  (Pax Arcana gets a lot of traffic when he writes about zombies.)  But sometimes people find this blog by just searching phrases such as “law school when you’re old” or “what to wear after a baby” — things I’ve written about before.  Today someone found me by typing in “alcoholism while studying for the bar.”  Hmmm. 

Counting the seconds…literally

June 23, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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View from the deck

My family is a little bit crazy about its annual vacation to Long Beach Island, on the Jersey Shore.  My sister just created this: http://www.beaumont-design.com/shore/2008.html

Celtic green city

June 19, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Massholes | Leave a comment
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View from my bedroom window tonight.  The weather beacon at the top of the Berkeley Building is green (yes, that’s a green light!).  Normally, the beacon’s light is lit as follows:

Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead

Although during baseball season, flashing red means the Red Sox game has been called of on account of the weather.  (Thanks Wikipedia.) 

In October, from my other bedroom window, I can see the windows of the Prudential building strategically lit up to spell “Go Sox.”  Despite my previous post on the yelling Massholes, sometimes I really love my adopted city and living right at its heart. 

Random thoughts of the day

June 19, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Posted in running, Starbucks | 1 Comment
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I just took a library break (have I mentioned that it’s freezing in here? Oh yeah, I think I have) and went for a mid-day run.  I ran up Centre Street from the law school, and took a right and ran down Commonwealth, intending to run some hills on the marathon course.  After about a mile-and-a-half, I veered off onto some back roads and OH MY GOD — Newton has some of the most monstrous, yet gorgeous, houses I have ever seen.  Actually, it reminded me a bit of the north side of Summit.  In the 19th century, Summit actually was a “resort” town to which NYC-dwellers would escape in the summer, and many of the large homes on the hillly north side of town have wide, wrap-around porches, porte-cocheres, stone foundations, and gables.  The Newton houses were similar, although the lots themselves are a bit larger here.  I ran an extra mile longer than I had intended just because I was mesmerized by the homes.  My runs had been feeling a bit forced lately (maybe because usually I’m up at 5:30 and running on the river, the same route every day, Mass Ave. Bridge-to-Science Museum?), so I took yesterday off.  And after a long, cold morning of the Agency and Partnership lecture by a guy who thought he was Gilbert Godfrey, I was ready to get out in the sun, and it was wonderful and made me happy to be alive and healthy and studying for the bar and about to be a lawyer.  A little physical discomfort — just a little — can put things in perspective. 


Bowl of Soul at Java, oh how I miss you!

Random thought #2:  skinny people drink lots of caffeine.  When I lived in Sun Valley, Amy and I decided at one point we would go on a coffee diet.  Every time we felt hungry, we walked the short block from the newspaper’s offices up to Java on Fourth (this is before Ketchum got a Starbucks) and had a Bowl of Soul (lattes, really , but with unexplained extras like cinnamon and nutmeg and probably, knowing the people who worked there, a shot of something…).  This happened maybe three or four times a day.  But only for two days — after that, we felt sort of dizzy and sick and just went back to eating cheese.  But I’ve noticed that the skinniest people I know drink coffee and diet cokes all day long.  I had pretty much given up on coffee for a few years, sticking mostly to chai teas, until I had to stop drinking them (the sugar/carb factor, not the caffeine…) while I was pregnant.  Now they just taste a bit too sweet, so I have made the move towards lattes (I still can’t really stomach plain coffee).  And I’ve never been a soda fan.  But now I’m thinking: maybe caffeine really does take the edge off hunger?  I write this as I contemplate heading to the almost-bare cafeteria (their summer offerings are quite limited, it turns out) for a snack while a very skinny girl walks by me with a diet coke.  Perhaps I shall rethink my aversion to the chemicals and embrace the caffeine buzz:  drinking a diet coke is to me like when in college when you’d sneak out of the library and have a cigarette during the day — just the slightest of buzzes, but without the obvious ramifications of drinking alcohol during the day.

Speaking of cigarettes, my last random thought of the day:  this morning, leaving Starbucks early (7:15ish), Little Buggy and I paused at the outdoor table so I could sip my latte and she could “woof” at the birds.  A guy walked by with a cigarette, and the smell of the second-hand smoke, mixed with a faint smell of street cleaner and coffee, instantly brought me to hot summer mornings in Paris.  Every morning as I walked to my French classes, I’d stop to have a cafe creme and a baguette avec beurre at a cafe near the Odeon Metro.  The windows were open, the streets had that damp, musty medieval smell of stone streets in Europe, and cigarette smoke wafted about.  The only time I have ever loved the smell of second-hand cigarette smoke is in Paris…and no, it’s not because I love everything about Paris.  It just created a persistent sensory background, and if a rare American cigarette being smoked in the morning outside Starbucks can bring me back to that humid, wandering summer of 2001, when I watched Lance Armstrong ride down the Champs-Elysees to win his third Tour, was woken every morning by the atelier clandestine (i.e., sweatshop) across the courtyard of my sublet in the 11th, and even learned some French — before the world turned upside down in so many ways — I am appreciative of the Proustian moment.  (I’m almost tempted to take myself there, solo, for a long weekend after the bar.  What do you think, Tim?)

Afternoon aside: city living and its effects on bar review progress

June 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Massholes, wine | Leave a comment
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When you live in the city, and one of your town’s sports teams wins a championship — which seems to happen with some frequency around here — the bars on Boylston street, the MIT and BU frathouses, the crowds going to or from Fenway (even when the Celtics win, people seem drawn to celebrate at Fenway…) all seem to empty out on to our little corner of the Back Bay.  With two minutes to go in the Celtics game I heard the first whoops through the open windows, quickly followed by the buzz of the police helicopters that would hover over our house for the next hour.  By the time I finally turned off the television (they were interviewing some New Kids on the Block — time for bed!), the hollering was full scale, as was the horn honking, much of the latter occuring at the traffic light directly under my bedroom window. 

So.  I am tired.  Not so much bar review happened today, even though I “skipped” class, intending to use up one of my four online replay allotments, until the website informed me I have to watch it all in one sitting.  Too late for that now.  Maybe I’ll just call it a day and try again tomorrow.  (Although I said that last night, too.)  I’m just far too tired to retain any information.  I suppose I’ll go to bed at 8 and get up early and regroup.  Along those lines (sort of): Tim and I have stopped drinking wine during the week (well, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  And not a lot on Thursdays, i.e., maybe just a glass and not a 1/2 bottle).  Shocking, I know, but it is much, much easier to get up at 5:30 when no wine has been consumed.  Though we miss it terribly, and as Tim tucked into his first sip last Thursday (after the interminable three-day abstention), he happily (and in all seriousness) proclaimed, “Red wine is the best thing in the world.” 

Control of Nature

June 18, 2008 at 9:10 am | Posted in read this | Leave a comment
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa — June 13, 2008

Reading about — and seeing those amazing photos of — the flooding in the Midwest reminded me of John McPhee’s The Control of Nature.  The book was assigned for my “gut” geology course (taken at the last minute to fulfill my lab science requirement, the bane of this English major’s academic life), “Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Other Hazards,” a.k.a. “Shake and Bake.”  I actually ended up loving the course, taught by the very man who came up with the theory of plate tectonics.  We learned about exotic things like volcanoes and hotspots.  We took field trips to study the erosion at the Jersey Shore.  And McPhee’s book was one of my favorite parts of the course.  In it, with his exquisite yet relaxed descriptive style, he considered the erosion of the East Coast, wildfires in California, and flooding along the Mississippi.  These otherwise natural events have become modern destructive phenomenon in many ways because man has tried so hard to control them due to the havoc they wreak on our prized real estate:  Malibu hillside mansions, New Jersey beach houses, and Midwestern farmland.  When I heard on NPR the other day that the floods in Iowa had reached the 500-year flood plain, I knew precisely what the reporter was speaking of — the reach of a flood that statistically is supposed to occur only once every 500 years.  There also are 10-year flood plains, 50-year flood plains, 100-year flood plains, etc., and building codes are created based on these calculations.  McPhee explained that the levee system around the Mississippi actually created a higher base river level, squeezing all that water into channels narrower than nature had intended (this is why the level of the river is actually higher than the town of New Orleans itself).  And so when an engineer speaking on the radio this morning argued that perhaps the only way to control and stop such floods is to abandon some land back to the river, again, I understood his theory.

Anyway, McPhee is a phenomenal writer, and I learned a lot from this book — so much so that I remember most of his main points some 13 years later.  It has really helped put these stories of catastrophic natural disaster from far-off places (California, Iowa!) in context.

Blogroll addition: Three L

June 17, 2008 at 9:23 pm | Posted in law school, read this | Leave a comment
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A friend from law school has a nifty little blog called Three L.  I’m not sure what she’s going to call it now that we’ve graduated and she’s taking the legendarily horrible California bar and moving across the country.  S.D. Law?  Sounds a bit too familiar, no?  Anyway, I like her blog because the frequency with which she writes in it lends itself to sweet, funny little observations that don’t try too hard to be too much and, as such, are comforting and entertaining.  For example, she and her boyfriend have discovered that a monthly bus pass is only $59 — far, far less than a tank of gas.  So now they are in a competition to see who can go without using his or her car the longest.  She has a 10-minutecommute to “BarBri school,” while he has a 45-minute one, so I have a feeling I know how this is going to turn out.  Anyway, she has inspired me to write more often, even if I don’t feel like I have something worthwhile to say (which has always, always been a big issue for me when it comes to writing: what if what I write is no good? Until I can lose this attachment to literary perfection, which, of course, I’ll never achieve, that best seller will never get written!) Merci Miss Three L — bon chanceover there at HLS this summer. 

My boyfriend (Chris Martin) is back

June 16, 2008 at 10:45 am | Posted in music | 4 Comments
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It’s Gwyneth or me, baby.

There was a rather bleak period in my life (pre iPod/iTunes), when I’d get in my car and drive around listlessly just so I could listen to Coldplay over and over and over and over and over.  I believe my sisters were worried about me (perhaps rightly so!) and ultimately had an intervention.   To no avail.  You see, Chris Martin got me.  He felt my pain, he really did.  And his voice was so beautiful and the piano chords progressive and haunting.  Those songs were a baseline soundtrack for a dissipating, confused, empty, sad transition for me, and I rode those piano escalations as if I were clutching a life vest in a cold ocean.  Not to get too dramatic about it or anything… 

Coldplay’s last album, X&Y, did not merit the same constant-play status as did Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, or even their live album. The lyrics were a bit too rhyme-y, the emotion a bit too contrived.  So I was nervous about their new album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends — would I be forced to abandon Chris?  Fortunately for him and me both, that seems not to be the case.  I’ve only downloaded the two songs iTunes will allow me to so far — “Viva La Vida” and “Violet Hill.” But I have had them, yup, on constant replay.  These two tracks are far from heartbreaking; in fact, they have an undercurrent of defiance while still embracing that Coldplay sense of longing.  I know that Pax Arcana will make fun of me, but I urge him to listen.

Speaking of Pax, as my source for all things hip and musical Pax Arcana recently enlightened me that Radiohead got with the program and is now finally selling its individual songs on iTunes.  (I can’t find the post, Pax — send it to me and I’ll link to it here!)  So, thanks to the “happy studying” present/bribe iTunes card I received in the mail from Uncle Ropes, I spent the weekend downloading, along with the two Coldplay singles, some Radiohead (I’ve been too nervous to use Limewire anymore for illegal downloads).  The result is an achingly mellow, satsifyingly gloomy playlist perfect for an equally as gloomy Monday spent outlining BarBri lectures.  Enjoy(?):

Driving SidewaysAimee Mann
Stolen Car — Beth Orton
Violet Hill— Coldplay
Hear Me Out— Frou Frou
Viva la Vida  — Coldplay
There, There— Radiohead
Falling Slowly— Glen Hansard
Creep— Radiohead
If You Want Me— Glen Hansard
Why Georgia — John Mayer
When Your Mind’s Made Up— Glen Hansard
Maybe I’m Amazed— Jem
All at Sea— Jamie Cullum
Jerusalem — Eddie from Ohio
Silent House — Dixie Chicks

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