Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I was reminded yesterday of how much I dislike people who are competitive in a bad way. Whether you realize it or not, there is more than one kind of competitiveness - a good kind that is internally focused (i.e., how well can I do?) and a bad kind that is externally focused (i.e., how bad will everybody else do?). I know this because, well, I'm a pretty competitive person. And I think that is a good thing. In fact, it is one of my favorite aspects of my personality, even if it does get me in trouble sometimes.

When Paul went to my father to get his permission to marry me (which I thought was unnecessary but still a very sweet gesture), rather than asking Paul things you would expect of a father like, "Do you love her?", "How are you going to provide for her?", or "What makes you think you are good enough for my daughter?", my dad instead only had two pieces of advice for Paul. Based on double hearsay, i.e., what Paul said my dad said, the conversation went something like this:

Paul: "Russ, I'd like permission to marry your daughter." (There might have been more lead-in than this, but I'm trying to move this story along here).
My father: "Well sure Paul, but you should know two things about Amy first. First is that she thinks she is always right. And she usually is."
Paul: "Um, okay."
My father: "The second is that Amy is the most competitive person I have ever known. You have to be able to live with that."

I would like to add that I think the way my father uses the word "competitive" is just a tidy way of summing up all of the other positive adjectives that describe me like ambitious, hard-working, determined, beautiful, etc. Thanks, dad.

So I guess its no surprise that I ended up at the law school that is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive law schools in the country. Before starting at BYU law school, I heard all sorts of stories intended to scare incoming 1Ls about how students were so competitive with each other that they would hide books that others needed in order to improve their chances at doing better in the class. Or that if you missed a day of class nobody would share their notes with you. And on and on.

But I never saw this kind of "bad" competitiveness in action until yesterday in my Barbri class when one of the students (who shall remain nameless) was talking with me and Paul about our plans for the Fourth of July. When Paul mentioned that we had been thinking about front-loading our study schedule to get some studying done in advance and then taking a day or two off to go to Jackson Hole, this other student got an evil gleam in his eye and with the tips of his fingers malevolently pressed together and eyebrows raised in mock encouragement, said "That sounds like an excellent idea. You should definitely do that."

It was like a fourteen year old girl who tells her friend to eat another cookie knowing the friend is already susceptible to the idea and that it will make her fat so that the other girl can be the skinnier one. Or when one girl tells another to "definitely go ahead and cut all your hair off - short hair would like so cute on you", (or "no way, those pants aren't too tight at all, you should buy them") all the while thinking that there is no way the other girl will look good with short hair but now the first girl will be the only one with long hair. Don't hate me for telling the truth. I know this happens all the time. Fortunately I was too naive during junior high and high school to pay much attention to this thinly veiled malice. And I never really had a need for developing this kind of approach to social interactions because I never had social standing to protect in the first place. Now that I am older, I just think this kind of destructive competitiveness is just immature.

Anyway, the issue I have with this guy in my class is that his motivation is so messed up. As if my taking one day off of studying which I plan to make up for in advance will have any effect on his performance on the bar. I mean, seriously, this guy needs to get a grip. It is one thing to respond positively and say sincerely, "Sounds like a fun trip. Besides, everybody else is taking the Fourth off. It will help you avoid getting burned out." It is another thing entirely when someone says this while thinking "Do it and meanwhile I will stay at home, study like a crazy-person, neglecting my wife and children and the rest of humanity, and absolutely slaughter you on the exam." Sheesh that's creepy. Has anybody told him that it doesn't matter whether you have the highest pass or the lowest pass, you either pass the bar or you don't? At this point I contemplated adding a joke about people who did Law Review, but Paul did so I won't.

I really, sincerely hope this guy passes the bar. Heck, I hope we all pass the bar. If the state of California wants to put all bar applicants through the horror that is bar-prep, it seems the least they can do to pass us all, right? But I get the feeling that there are a significant number of people out there who don't want others to pass - who actually like the elitist notion that they are better than others just because they passed a test where others failed. People who derive their self-worth off the failures of others are just sad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When I was your age ...

Paul had a birthday on Tuesday. There wasn't much celebrating in our house because we had a Barbri class all day, but I was able to surprise him with a couple of presents he didn't see coming like a king-size Symphony bar and package of Red Vines (Paul is very easy to please) and "Rock Band 2". I also made his favorite summertime treat, a little concoction we refer to simply as raspberry dessert in my family, lit birthday candles and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

We had an actual chocolate birthday cake on Sunday with Paul's family where everybody sang, but there were trick candles on the cake and when they wouldn't all blow out Paul looked at me and said "Dang, that wish was important!" So I had to give him the opportunity on his real birthday to make his wish. He blew all 28 candles out in one try. I'm pretty sure I know what he wished for even though he didn't tell me because of bad luck. But I'm betting it has to do with a certain exam coming up next month.

Speaking of next month, how is it already so close to July? The bar exam is only a month and a couple days away now!! I go between feeling like everything is going to be okay--that I have enough time to study and prepare and that we are both going to pass without a problem--and complete panic/exhaustion/discouragement/self-loathing/extreme pessimism where I find myself with my hands digging into my bloodshot eyes thinking there is no way I can do this and I should give up. Thank goodness I'm not a quitter. I just like to pretend sometimes. But still, you get the picture.

A typical day of study for us entails:

- Wake up
- Get ready
- Eat breakfast
- Pack a lunch
- Drive to class
- Take notes for four hours on a subject that took four months in law school
- Try to ignore the paranoia setting in among other bar-takers in the class
- Eat lunch
- Review outline materials for a couple of hours, quizzing each other on elements of tests, black letter law, and hypos
- Take a practice exam, score it, get depressed, review the answers, get angry, then tell myself its all okay, that I am smart and can do this
- Repeat the last bullet point at least once or twice more

We are usually done studying by around 6:00 pm, although often we will do some extra studying after watching a little Wheel of Fortune (what are we, like, 80?) and eating dinner. Sometimes I try to squeeze in a run. Then its time for our nightly constitutional, a little news and the weather forecast, then bedtime. That's pretty much life these days.

I am SO grateful to have my husband by my side going through this with me. A lot of people ask if we have a hard time not making everything into a competition, but that hasn't really been a problem except for just a couple times when one of us (usually me) does crappy on a practice exam and the other aces it. As in, Paul has had practice exams where he only misses 2-3 questions on the whole thing. Even with a decent, passing score I feel dumb in the face of that sometimes, which I know is ridiculous, but hey, I've got my pride. Paul is really good about letting me vent my frustration though and getting me refocused to take another set of practice questions.

We have been able to take little breaks every other weekend though when we don't have Saturday classes. This past weekend we took our study-materials with us to Idaho and went to a family reunion. My mother's mother's family (the Robertsons - coincidentally Paul's mother's father's family name as well, although to find a connection you have to go way back to Scotland in the 1700's or something) owns a piece of land up in the mountains of Idaho called Robbie's Oak Glen. I have always just referred to it as "The Property." It is really beautiful up there and we had a fun time enjoying being out of doors after so much time being stuck inside with our heads craned over books.

There is always delicious potluck food at family reunions - fruit salads, potato salads, dutch oven enchiladas, pulled pork sandwiches, and a huge picnic table loaded with nothing but desserts. Jessica made lemon cookies which were my favorite. Then we go play on the rope swing hidden in the trees, play games like soccer or volleyball, or just sit around and visit.

(My cute mother and sister, Jennie, dishing up plates of food.)

After lunch Paul made friends with my nine-year old fourth cousins (or something like that) who had a slingshot. At least, Paul called it a slingshot until the nine-year olds corrected him, saying, "Nowadays it is called a 'wrist rocket.'" Paul replied tartly back, "Well, when I was your age, we called it a slingshot," then proceeded to amaze them with his shooting abilities, knocking plastic cups off logs and launching rocks over distant trees. They were duly impressed.

It was a much needed, relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How's my driving?

A couple of weeks ago Paul was watching "The Simpsons" (why? I have no idea). I walked into the room and got sucked into the stupidity (I am even more clueless as to how this happened - I blame it on already being braindead from studying for the bar all day). The Simpson family was at a restaurant for dinner and Bart grabbed one of those comment cards where the restaurant invites you provide feedback on service, quality, price, etc., marking every box as "poor". It made me think about how when I was younger I used to fill in those comment cards all the time, but I would only mark "excellent" for every category.

Anyway, and along related lines, today while we were driving home from the law school, a service truck driving just in front of us swerved suddenly and cut off another car, almost causing an accident in fairly heavy traffic. Paul immediately pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, told me he was going to call and "comment", and started dialing the number on the back of the truck underneath a sticker that said "How's my driving?" next to the vehicle number.

I thought he was joking until it became obvious that he had the trucking company on the line. When he said into the phone, "I'm calling to report that one of your drivers just cut somebody off really bad," I just about burst out laughing. Despite my protestations, he wouldn't hang up the phone and finished the call, "reporting" on the bad driver.

Tattling is more like it. I mean, really, the sticker should just read, "Please tattle." Because nobody calls to say, "Hi Trucking Company, I just wanted to let you know that Driver #6 is doing a great job using his blinker to signal." Right?

While Paul was talking to the trucking company, I was talking in his ear telling him that he was going to get the poor driver fired. He must have agreed because just before ending the conversation, Paul said to the woman taking the complaint, "Hey, don't be too hard on the driver." When he hung up the phone, I asked what the response to his last comment was. He said that the woman just laughed.

So, to all you drivers out there who flagrantly disobey traffic laws while sporting "How's my driving" bumper stickers - watch out! Paul's watching and he's not afraid to report you...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chuck Norris

I saw these years ago but was just reminded of them today and couldn't help myself:

If you spell Chuck Norris in Scrabble, you win. Forever.

Chuck Norris once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger.

Chuck Norris has two speeds. Walk, and Kill.

Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

Chuck Norris can slam revolving doors.

Chuck Norris is not afraid of the dark. The dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris lathers and rinses, but doesn't have to repeat.

Geico saved 15% by switching to Chuck Norris.

The boogieman gets up in the middle of the night and checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Waldo is hiding because of Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.

When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

It takes Chuck Norris 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.

When Chuck Norris falls in water, Chuck Norris doesn't get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King and got it.

In fine print at on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone has ever come to matching him.

Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.

Chuck Norris invented black. In fact, he invented the entire spectrum of visible light. Except pink. Tom Cruise invented pink.

Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter

The US doesn't launch satellites. Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks them into orbit.

For every answer on the SAT test, write in "Chuck Norris". You will automatically score an 8000.

There is no Santa Claus. Actually, on Christmas Eve, Chuck Norris circumnavigates the globe in his pickup truck dispensing gifts to good children and roundhouse kicks to bad ones. The children, upon receiving these kicks, die.

Chuck Norris always knows the EXACT location of Carmen San Diego.

Chuck Norris knows what's in the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, after all he's 5 of them.

Chuck Norris knows Victoria's Secret.

Chuck Norris can breathe in and out at the same time, when he needs to breathe at all, which is never.

Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.

Chuck Norris can win Scrabble even when the only letters he has left are Q, X and Z.

Chuck Norris can sneeze with his eyes open.

Oxygen requires Chuck Norris to live.

In a fight between Batman and Superman, the winner would be Chuck Norris.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dwelling Place

The title of this post is part of the legal definition for burglary. Studying for the bar is surprisingly not as horrible as we anticipated. Its not fun as in capital "F" fun or even fun-fun, but in a disturbingly socially inept way that hearkens back to the years of nerdiness that was my childhood, I find that I still enjoy taking and scoring practice tests and trying to beat my best scores.

I hope we're still friends.

Anyway, the reason I am thinking about dwelling places is because the House of Nash is wishing we had a house. Apartment dwelling is fine and all, but gee it would be nice to have a place to call our own. Somewhere with walls we could paint in beautiful shades of yellow and green and blue. A place with a little yard and more than one bathroom and a laundry room that is not also part of the kitchen would be divine. And no neighbors who leave their kids' poopy diapers wrapped up in garbage bags set out in a shared staircase. Disgusting.

Am I the only one who thinks that it seems like everybody in the world is house-hunting these days? Can't say as I blame them what with the really great interest rates, housing deals, government assistance, and tax incentives that are available.

Plus, I think (and since we haven't experienced the stress of trying to actually buy a house I don't know this for sure) that it would be fun to go looking for a place to call our own. Imagining what it would be like to barbeque on a back porch, to walk to the mailbox, to sleep in a bedroom or pull into a garage. You know, a House of Nash for the House of Nash. (Before anybody rolls their eyes, please don't think that I am ever going to be printing that on vinyl and sticking it on our walls or anything. That's not really my style.)

Every now and then Paul & I get on the internet and look at homes that are available in the Bay Area and dream about the day when homeownership will be a reality for us. But you know, sometimes it is nice just to dream and scheme and plan, and for now I am going to enjoy that part of the road to homeownership. Because like Christmas, sometimes the anticipation is a huge part of the experience - sometimes it is even more enjoyable than Christmas itself (at least for some people).

And the searching, purchasing, and being poor and responsible aspects of homeownership will all come in good time.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Vacation

What we'll be doing for the next 2 months...