Archive for the ‘i failed the bar exam’ Category

I don’t want to sadden everyone today, but we gotta get up from here, kids.

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

I get it.  I really do.  And we’ll get to that in a minute.

But I was on the metro yesterday, and the sadness was suffocating.  Every single face was its own perfect storm: furrowed brow, droopy eyes, frowned lips.  There was only reclusive color: a sea of grays and blacks and browns; the kinds of colors perfect for blending into shadows.

I felt out of place.  But not because I don’t have any reason to fret or fear or fall.  It was because when people are that sad, you feel as if they should be left alone.  You don’t belong in that moment.  They don’t want to be seen.  They want to curl up in bed, pull up the comforter and watch reruns of their favorite sitcom or the last movie they watched with him before he left or the first movie they watched with the her that got away.  They want them to themselves.

And there I stood in the middle of it, my eyes bouncing from face to glass to another face to floor, trying to notice unnoticed, feeling guilty for having boarded with a smile.

Then today, just walking down the street, I saw the second person I’d seen in the last two days sitting in a car at a light just crying; just sitting and weeping, waiting on more than the light to change.  I thought of Jonny Lang’s “Red Light:”

Too slow to roll
Put your life on hold
An open path
With nowhere to go
You start to wonder
While sitting at a red light

And I know none of them are reading this.  But for those of you who are, we gotta get up from here.  The energy in this city is fleeting.  I know part of this is because DC’s unemployment rate is 9.9% as of February.  That’s 1 in 10 of every person we know.

I get it.  My family is struggling, too.  Our last three years?  There are parts of it you wouldn’t believe if I told you.  The parts I can tell without (I pray) revealing too much of the lives of others…

All three parents have lost their careers: mom, dad and step-mom.  My dad lost his after 26 years, 5 days before his birthday this February.  It was the only job I’ve ever been alive to see him have.  It was part of his identity.

Two Christmases ago, my brother, mom and I spent Christmas at my place here in DC because it was the only home between the three of us.  Why?  My brother was still in the dorm stage in college.  And for the last three years, my mom has been living with friends in Pennsylvania.  We sold and packed our home in Connecticut three years ago to move to PA.  But a lingering complication has meant the closing on the PA house has still yet to happen.  We still haven’t moved my mom into that home.  For three years, she’s been with friends there, while everything that made our house our home is in storage: baby pictures, furniture, you name it.  My place was the only “home” any one of us had.  Our Christmas presents to each other were homemade gifts that year.  And the money I’m able to send home since then just isn’t “mortgage money.”

After failing the bar exam last summer, unable to rely on the promise of a law license to find a job, but also unable to hide the last three years and a law degree from my resume when applying for things like retail after the first 150 resumes to firms went unrewarded, I started the fall telemarketing, just to make ends meet.  Everyone I knew from law school was at a firm right away and I was asking people for money over the phone, during a recession.  One night, one of my randomly-assigned calls actually went to someone I had sat next to in a few classes.

In just the last few weeks alone, my brother has been in a car accident that nearly totaled his car, almost three years to the day his best friend lost his life in a car accident, and also had his home burglarized.

So I get it.  This thing called life will break us if we let it.

But my family still smiles when we talk to each other on the phone.  And we still laugh when we see each other.  And no one who has met me in real life lately would know any of this if I hadn’t told them, because I still smile when I walk down the street or sit across a table at happy hour.  Because at a time when everything seems so able to defeat us, I know we’re incapable of being defeated.

And though I may not have met you, I have to believe the same about you.  I just do.  I don’t believe the smiles we wear on our morning metro rides should be secrets, let alone never worn at all.  There has to be a way to deal with this while we face it, not just once it’s a memory.

Maybe you were one of those people on the train yesterday.  Or maybe you gave up on this post paragraphs ago because none of it seems like a big deal.  Maybe it’s just April and the rain.  I don’t know.

But for today, I hope at least some of you use the space to talk about why you’ve felt burdened lately (if you have) or why you’re still smiling anyway.

Because these are our options:

you can wait for ages
watch your compost turn to coal
but time is contagious
everybody’s getting old.
so you can sit on chimneys
put some fire up your ass
no need to know what you’re doing or looking for
but if anyone should ask..
tell them i’ve been cookin’ coconut skins
and we’ve been hanging out
tell them god just dropped by to forgive our sins
and relieve us our doubt


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I’ve been making way too many executive decisions around here lately.  So for today and tomorrow, I’m playing more of a fill in the blanks role, thanks to two templates by a couple of people you probably already know.

Today, I’m going to start with an interview and answer some questions Sara sent me.  Forgive the length.  They were really good questions.

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


1. What is your very first memory?

My little brother.

Well, actually, I guess it was the possibility of him.

I don’t know when I learned he was coming. I just remember my pure glee at the chance to be a big brother. I’m 3 and a half years older than Paul now. So, if my math is correct, that would make me about 3 and a half when I heard the whispers that my only-childhood was ending.

I remember planning for him. I was at an office – must’ve been one of my parents’ offices. And I was standing near what would’ve been some rudimentary printer-copier machine, waiting on an 8 1/2” x 11” banner someone had helped me create. I had adorned him with an awesome nickname and I wanted to be able to see it in writing.*

“Paulie waulie waulie bing bong day.”

The whole thing had to be said all at once; kind of like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

I was celebrating him with all of the imagination a 3 and a half year-old could muster. And that made me feel like the coolest person in the world.


2. How have you been impacted by the kindness of a stranger?

I’ve watched my mom be the people person I wish I could be.

It’s her kindness as a stranger. Her inability not to care, her willingness to listen, her passion to seek for opportunities to share.

I don’t want to give away details of her life on my blog – for that, you can go to her newly started blog – but her kindness as a stranger has been the driving force behind her survival. And it has changed the lives of everyone around her. Because so many of the strangers she’s touched now couldn’t imagine their lives without her.


3. Do you believe in second chances?

Do I deserve them? I’ll never be able to answer that, because I could never demand someone make space for me I once had but wasted.

But do I give them…

In The Mexican, there’s a moment, as they’re sitting on a curb, when Julia Roberts’ character is surprised by an answer James Gandolfini’s gives. She asks, “If two people love each other, but they just can’t seem to get it together, when do you get to that point of enough is enough?” and he says, almost confused by the obviousness of his answer, “Never.”

I don’t know if I’m there yet; at a place where I can say “never.”

I believe that hurt happens. I believe that, as with any collision, it’s worse when you don’t see it coming; when you can’t brace yourself; when you can’t talk yourself into being prepared; when you can’t talk yourself into understanding it.

And for those reasons, I often never forget hurt. I remember it vividly, sometimes daily. I’ve often wondered if this means I don’t ever really forgive. I’ve wondered if that’s fair. But second chances are new slates, as blank as hearts allow. We save them for only the biggest disasters, because pulling them out to squash merely disappointing, little things would be like bringing a bazooka to a thumb-wrestling match. We don’t think about giving second chances when someone forgets to leave the toilet seat down. We think about giving them when someone cheats on us, or breaks our heart…

And so if someone has done something to me so tragic that it means we have to stop our lives’ timeline and start from scratch, maybe what’s fair to them isn’t really the point. Or maybe it always is. I don’t know.

I’ve given second chances because I’ve been given second chances, and there but for the grace of gifts go I. I do believe in them and I’ll continue to give them, because there are some people you just don’t let go. But I’m cautious.


4. What would be the soundtrack to the movie of your life?

I wanted to just say “Once.” That movie is glorious and its soundtrack is its pair. But that would be lazy.

Since my favorite movies watch characters develop, my movie might as well be about relationships. So, by moment:

he can’t bear one more Souljah-Jeezy-wack-ass rapper… “Lodi Dodi” by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh
and wants some intelligence in his music… “Ghetto Story” by Lupe Fiasco
he finds someone who feels the same… “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder
and he’s wrapped up in her… “Nothing Even Matters” by Lauryn Hill feat. D’Angelo

it’s almost business time, but they need some coaxing… “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” by Maxwell
then it’s finally business time… “Come Go With Me” by Teddy Pendergrass
(or it’s business time, but Teddy is a little too classy for the amount of alcohol consumed… “On & On” by Nikka Costa)

their love is just budding… “Under Your Charms” by Josh Rouse
then he loves her, he knows it… “For The Love of You” by The Isley Brothers
and he’s there when she needs him… “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
so even when people doubt their love… “They All Laughed” by The Charlie Biddle Trio
she never does… “As” by Stevie Wonder

but then he gets in his own way, in their way… “Not Myself” by John Mayer
he’s sorry… “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke
he tries to fix it, to not be an obstacle… “Let Go” by Frou Frou
but lets her slip through his fingers… “The ‘Notic” by The Roots feat. D’Angelo

heart broken… “Burning Bridges” by Jason Mraz
he considers giving it a second chance… “This Time” by Tracy Chapman
but he’s not supposed to miss her… “Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)” by Vertical Horizon
and so he’s trapped inside by the fireplace… “One Flight Down” by Norah Jones

but just as he begins to think that’s all he’s meant to be… “All At Sea” by Jamie Cullum
he gets lonely… “Wish You Were Here” by Incubus

and so, he finally heads back out again… “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” by Digable Planets
he adds a little more swagger to his pace… “Mellow My Man” by The Roots
and at a bar, he tries to make an entrance… “Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye

but he’s bothered by knowing how much of it is just pose… “I Wish” by Skee-Lo
until he sees someone new… “Pretty Little Thing” by Fink


5. What do your readers know about you that your friends or family might not?

Maybe not even you know (I slipped it in via a tag in a past post). But I may not take the bar exam again. When I found out I failed, I had 16 days to sign up to take it over again. So I signed up. I just kept moving. You spend 4 years in undergrad getting “law school” grades, you get to law school, you narrow your focus for 3 years, you take the bar. I never stopped and really asked “Why?” along the way. I just did what I was supposed to.

And now I just can’t seem to find the heart. And I haven’t told a lot of people. Because I can’t admit what I’m not sure of.

*Not read. ‘Cause 4 year-olds generally don’t read, yet, right? So, apparently, I wanted to pretend to read it.

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i believe
in everything that’s make-believe
even if my fantasy’s Neverland on Earth
you say, “dream
but dream within the boundaries
when you add your color to the world”

and i don’t know
what to make of it
’cause you’re so perfect
the fault must be my own

but this ghost
would haunt me ’til eternity
if i backed down now

so much of this life
just ain’t what i expected;
i don’t need a miracle
i lost my faith some years ago
but i’ll proudly wear my heart upon my sleeve
even if it breaks me

(and something i didn’t write, obviously)

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