Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to School, Redux

After some 20 first days of schools, I still get jitters. And this year, I did not even start classes but I am back to school. Today was the first day of the mentoring program I am volunteering with. And I won't lie, I was a little nervous. What will my mentee think about me? What if she thinks I am boring or not cool? Silly thoughts since this is not about me at all.

Inspired by my brother, who is a "Big Brother" in Oakland, I decided to find my own mentorship program. I thought it would be harder for me to be a "Big Sister" because I'm not as good at just hanging out with teenage girls (this is what happens your only sibling is a boy); however, I know I am pretty good at helping people academically. So I signed up for a great organization that is academically focused. I really admired how no non-sense, but supportive they are with the students. They bring together kids from public schools and charter schools across DC and help them with all aspects of preparing for college: academics, personal maturity, financial, etc. The stories I heard were so inspiring. The mentor I met at traning just had her last student receive a full scholarship to UNC.

The organization pointed out that DC is the most college-educated city in the country, yet it also has one of the worst high school graduation rates. Let's use one to help the other.

As for my student, I don't think there was any reason to worry. She seems very nice. We are very different, but we found common ground in a love for writing, watching football, and Law & Order SVU. I can work with this.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

All Politics are Local

Although most people think of national politics when they think of DC, local politics are also kind of a big deal around here. Marion Barry anyone?

Early voting in the DC Mayor's race started on Monday and the one early voting booth is right outside the metro station by my work. It's intense. Getting to my office past all the campaign supporters and weaving through the vans shuttling voters over felt like running through a gauntlet.

Sometimes I forget that as high-profile DC is as a city, it's pretty small. Everyone seems to know each other, and it's not unusual to see the mayor or his opposition walk down the street and campaign.

It's also interesting to live in a city where people care. LA was so large, and everyone there was so "LA" that mayors races came and went without much fanfare. Here though, lawn signs, rallies, and campaigning everywhere.

Well, at least it looks like a lot of people care. When my co-worker saw an old classmate holding a sign outside the metro, he asked his friend why he supported that candidate. Response: "Who? They just paid me to hold this sign." Good old DC politics.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Top Cheffing It: Volt!

Back when I was in college, I saw advertisements for a new show called Top Chef. Even though I was an avid Food Network watcher, I did not think I would become such a big fan. "How is this show going to be popular, you can't even taste the food," I remember myself saying.

Well a few years later, I am an addict and thanks to my roommate's birthday, I got to try some of the food too. Her boyfriend made reservations for the coveted Table 21, restaurant of one of the runner's up last season. Eight private seats, 21 little courses, an amazing night.

Some of the highlights were twists on simplest things: fresh beets with a goat cheese mousse and beet macaroon sticks on top of a balsamic glaze. [top picture] There were also interesting combinations that worked surprisingly well: chilled corn soup with blue crabbed and topped with frozen coconut and caviar. Some that didn't work perfectly in my opinion: liquid nitrogen frozen gazpacho; it was like dip'n dots. And some were classic dishes done really well: goat cheese cheesecake with berries. [bottom picture]

Thanks to Top Chef, I think of things like plating and flavor profiles.I have learned cooking tips (ie: when you think it needs salt, add acid instead). And I've also gotten a little more adventurous. At the dinner, I tried sweetbreads for the first time--who thought the throat would taste like a chicken nugget. [middle picture]  

I don't think I will be whipping out liquid nitrogen or foam cannisters in my kitchen, but I feel inspired to try out some new recipes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Year

It is hard to believe that it has been a full year since I first started my job clerking. On the one hand, I feel like I just started, on the other, I have seen and experienced so much. After going through a dozen trials, hundreds of cases, and thousands of motions, here are some things I have learned in the past year:

  • TV has nothing on what happens in real life cases.
  • Everything I ever learned in law school actually exists in the real world. Especially property. Ugh, property.
  • The term "complex litigation" is redundant.
  • You never know what a jury is going to do.
  • I never want to be a landlord. Nor do I ever want to open a restaurant.
  • For better or worse, people have faith in the judicial system to take care of all their problems.
  • The court can do a lot, but it can also only do so much.
  • A little good lawyering and writing goes a long way.
  • There are a lot of bad lawyers out there, like report to the bar bad.
  • Rich or poor, family members always find something to fight about. Their fights are also the worst.
  • People really do not like the DC government.
  • Every freak accident you can ever imagine actually happens.
  • Some people just want their day in court.
  • People who scam other people out of their mortgages are nothing but pure evil.
  • The line between criminal law and civil law is not always clear.
  • People watch too much Judge Judy.
  • Civil cases can help restore people from wrongdoing.
  • "Case settled" are my two favorite words. 
  • Justice usually prevails.
  • My judge is pretty amazing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Elephant in the Room

As much as I complained about moving and downsizing closets, a silver lining about the process was getting rid of stuff. Do I really need these notes from 1L year? When was the last time I wore this...or even knew it was in my closet? 

Being organized and having a large walk-in closet in my former apartment is a deadly combination. It means I am able to fit a lot in that closet. It means that I keep a lot of things I do not need. I ended up throwing away/recycled bags of things, and donated another few bags to Goodwill.

My reward? A pretty awesome elephant teapot I found at Goodwill for less than a dollar. I am tempted to go back and find more fun things, but then I try to remind myself that I am trying to get rid of, not accumulate, more stuff.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Foodie Family

Most of the people I know who cook inherited their skills from their moms. I had the good fortune of having two food-loving parents. I remember helping my mom cook dinner--both Vietnamese and American food--and bake goods for the classroom and many bakesales we roped her into.

However, I also remember my dad cooking for us, especially on the weekends when my mom worked. One of my favorite dad-meals was hot dog or spam fried rice, but he made much more sophisticated things as well. My dad, brother, and I also would watch food shows on the weekends on PBS before the food network even existed.  Our favorites were Yan Can Cook ("If Yan can cook, so can you!"), Julia Child (way before Julie & Julia), and the Frugal Gourmet (sigh, Jeff Smith, I never knew about the sexual assault charges against you). I'd like to think we were foodies even before it was cool.
My dad visited us this weekend on his way back from a business trip overseas. Knowing how much I like his rendition of Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon came prepared to make it. He even packed the herbs in a zip-lock bag (preparedness runs in the family). The result, a delicious home-cooked meal in my new home. Mmmm.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back to School

University Identification Card - Check
Residential Hall-Sized Closet - Check
Attending Orientation - Check

It is that wonderful time of the year. I used to love going back to school when I was a kid. One year, I even had a countdown. I was the kid who loved buying school supplies. Dork, I know.

Well, I am not going back to school, for the second year in a row. And this year, I am not even starting something new, like my clerkship last year. However, I am feeling the back to school spirit. That may be because I just moved in with Alex (which is my excuse for my blogging absence), who lives in a Residential Hall. Everyday now, I see new students moving in, the awkward introductions, the back to school events, etc.

As a side note, moving back into a "dorm" is not as bad as it may seem, nor do you have to worry about me reverting to days of eating ramen. It is not the tiny 10x10 room with communal bathrooms of my UCLA days. I might joke about how old I feel around college students and complain about my tiny closet, but my new place is actually a really nice apartment within one of the newest and most expensive halls at GW, which is saying something because it's the most expensive schools in the country. Heck, with two bathrooms and a washing machine, this is probably even an upgrade from my last place.

To round out this time of the year, I went to my law school's orientation, this time as an alumni panelist. I cannot believe I was sitting in their spots four years ago. I would never want to go back and start law school all over again, but I think part of my is envious of their excitement of starting something new.