Monday, August 23, 2004

Welcome Back to High School, Shithead

It turns out that law school is high school for rich kids. What fun.

Orientation at Wash U started last week, last Wednesday, to be precise. Events were scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Four fucking days of orientation.

The entirety of the law school is contained by one building, Anheuser-Busch Hall, a four story hollow rectangle on the edge of campus. The inside of the building is an open courtyard named for somebody who gave them money. All the law classes are here. The law library is here. Our lockers (yes, we have lockers) are here. There's a little food counter that serves deli sandwiches and hot dogs, not to mention a long line of vending machines selliing dollar 20oz cokes, coffee, ramen noodles. This is in the pseudocafeteria directly adjacent to the courtyard, where I hang out because it's where you can smoke.

On Wednesday, the first day of orientation, I walked into A-B and saw students chatting with each other about what they'd been up to. Old friends catching up. Young, attractive people fresh out of college. Oh joy.

Our first day of orientation, scheduled to run from 830 in the morning to whenever late at night, had some worthwhile activities in it. We registered for Lexis and Westlaw, which I'm sure we'll actually use at some point. We took headshots to be used in the big photodirectory of students posted in the school. We got set up to check material out of the law library, bought books, picked up our checks. All told, perhaps an hour and a half's worth of activity, barely squeezed into four hours of confused wandering around campus led by 2L's and 3L's

Oh, I should explain that. You see, law school lasts three years, so in your first year you're a 1L, a 2L in your second, and so on. Unlike college, where you actually have to accomplish something to move from status level to status level, here you just put in time. Like a convict.

The other orientation activities were listening to a bunch of panelists. Let's talk about the law school's IT department. Let's talk about parking. Let's talk to some 2 and 3L's about your fears.

Don't stress out. It'll be fine. You'll graduate and you'll get a job, the hardest part was getting in here.

So how should we brief our cases for class?

Do whatever works for you. I don't really brief cases, just take a coupla notes. What do you do?
Oh, I don't brief.
Nope, me neither. I'm still here.

What's the law review like?

I hate it.
Can't stand it.
Yeah, I didn't even read past the first page of the application. It doesn't really matter, I mean you'll still get a job. It's not like a deal-breaker or anything.

Oh, ok, how's the atmosphere, is it really competitive?

Oh no, not at all. Very chill, very laid back. I mean, we have happy hour every Friday, and those are really great. Man, I used to drink all the time and it got pretty close to the line for me, but hey, I'm still here.

So you were showing up to class hungover a lot?

I remember this one time I was out all night....I get to class, and I'm one of two people who actually showed up, and I had to excuse myself halfway through class to attend to hey, I'm still here!

Oh, I see, so you're joking when you say "I'm still here." Like it's really hard to get kicked out?

Yeah, absolutely. Now, you shouldn't be out drinking all the time, but....

But, of course, he's still here. And so am I. I guess I shouldn't begrudge others their happiness and all, but in the end, I'm still here with these shitheads.

The tshirts that the 2 and 3L's wear read "just outside the top 1/3." You see, as they painfully explained the joke to us, Wash U only ranks people in the top third of their class. So, when asked for your class position by a potential employer, you're supposed to respond that you're just outside the top 1/3.

After these fine, inspiring events, we had little party-type things. Mixers. I can't mix. I hate mixing.

I skipped the last two days of orientation. One of the interesting panelists had, as an aside, said, "you know, we didn't have orientation when I went to school, they just dropped you into classes." Lucky him.

Classes started today. So I went to my 9 o clock, and then sat smoking in the courtyard till my 2 o clock. Had a hot dog, read the material for the 2 o clock. The reading is easy. It takes very little effort to breeze right through it. And, once you've done it, you're set for like a week, it seems, because we certainly don't go through a lot in class.

So, to summarize my law school experience so far: 1-I'm crashing really hard for some reason. 2-It's so insanely fucking easy it's not funny. 3-This is really training school for assholes with money and pedigree. 4-The number of people I'd consider "cool" that I've met so far is really, really, really low. And I don't even necessarily mean "smart." I just mean "cool."

Of course, these are all the deluded ravings of somebody who really hates all mankind and has a big chip on his shoulder about, well, a lot of things. So it's all subjective. But I will add this one bit.

I brought my father's old Argus C3 to school today to take some pictures around campus. I've shot two rolls on that fucker already, so I'm starting to get the hang of it a little. It's freaky, it has f stop settings and shutter speed and all sorts of completely non-electrical-non-automatic mechanisms in it that you have to push and twist and push, then twist and it's great.

But still I've lugged that fucker around Creve Coeur lake and taken pix with it. And I've lugged it around Kirkwood. And before that, I'd take the shitty little Kodak Cameo Focus Free around anywhere and taken all sorts of random shots.

But, and this is probably just me, when I had that thing on campus, I hid in the most godforsaken areas to take pix. I walked the campus and saw things I wanted to shoot, like nice floral arrangements and freaky letters carved into the ground around the library. They were all in plain sight on the campus, though, so I had to just keep going, I couldn't stop, couldn't focus, couldn't snap. And it's a vibe I've long gotten from campuses. When I'm there, I feel so outside the norm that I just can't risk deviating any further. Or I don't have the guts to do so.

Or something. Law school, so far, sucks.

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