Homecoming

Well, we did it. All the hours of staring at a computer screen and massaging out flashcard-induced hand cramps did finally culminate in 18 hours spent here:

Add in about 1,600 clacket-y laptops and their owners (nearly vomitous* with fear) and that should pretty much give you the accurate emotional picture. There’s more to elaborate on here, but this entire experience has been stored in a lock box in my brain marked “Do Not Open Until November 16th,” which is the day I will know whether I can look back on this episode with amusement or deep-seated horror. So.

The days since then have basically been the two of us wandering around Long Beach, saying, “We live here now!” to each other in various shades of wonder and disbelief. I knew that our time on the East Coast was making me nostalgic for California, but it’s so great to discover that (now that we’re back) it was real nostalgia. By which I mean, the beach air about which we had been rhapsodizing really does smell that wonderful, and does lower your blood pressure by about 10 points. All our crazy 2nd Street denizens are alive and well, including the leathery shirtless drug dealer prowling the streets in broad daylight with his enormous St. Bernard. I guess I had been subconsciously worried that we “couldn’t go home again,” and it turns out we totally can.

Of course, you can go home as much as you want, but you can’t really stay there until you actually find an apartment. Which we just did. And I am crazy about it. I told M last night that I loved it like an actual person, and saw myself waking up in the middle of the night and padding down the stairs with our little in my arms, really quietly so as not to wake him, and nursing on the couch with the door to the deck open and letting in the breeze from the beach. He…didn’t quite know what to do with that information, but he likes the apartment too!

It currently resembles a natural disaster zone immediately after all the packages of aid have arrived (rubble + everything is there if you have an hour to look for, say, salt), so it’s not in the most photogenic state. Still, this part looks amazing, and I am constantly pinching myself over the fact that we actually get to live here.

It’s already being used for its highest purpose, as you can see…

…which is to have intense bro debates over beers. (The other highest purpose is reading fashion magazines under floppy hats, but you saw that picture already).

So, open invitation! Who wants to ignore the disaster going on in the actual apartment and come have cocktails on the roof?

*According to Dani, who was sitting in the front row near the bathrooms, “nearly” became “actually” more than once. Not sure how to even talk about that.

27 1/2 by 27 1/2

Maybe it’s just the looming feeling that the bar is imparting to my life these days, but I feel a little compelled to pump up the “human” part of my life. It doesn’t need to be swallowed by the law. Well, it kind of does for the next month, but after that, I want to reach for more balance.

I’ve never made a list like this before, but I don’t believe in waiting until January 1st to start a new life practice anyway. So, here is a list of things I’d like to accomplish before the earth gets a chance to rotate again…

1. Pass the California Bar Exam the first time around. (I guess this one is obvious, but it’s earned the number one slot for this rotation).

2. Go to ballet class at least once a week.

3. Actually make it past barre consistently.

4. Become more re-attuned to my body, eating, and fitness plans so that I feel like I have my dancer body back instead of this more athletic situation.

5. Do one pull-up. (What? I like contradictions.)

6. Post at least twice a week on this blog.

7. Move the blog to a hosted site and actually configure the design in a way that looks somewhat professional.

8. Go to Spain.

9. Attend the first ever annual FriendFest! (I am embarrassingly excited about this one).

10. Buy a bar cart for our new apartment and stock it with everything so that I can make any guest any cocktail upon request.

11. Have a living space that feels like it reflects us and the things (and people) we love.

12. Use the Rosetta Stone and become somewhat conversational in Spanish.

13. Speak to all my closest friends once a week. (In person or on the phone, ideally.)

14. Institute a girl-only night so that I see my (local) female friends on a weekly basis. (I’m thinking a standing brunch date sounds like a really good idea…)

15. Paint something good enough to hang in our apartment. (I used to love to paint before high school, and just totally let it go.)

16. Go to New Orleans.

17. Read at least two books a month.

18. Buy fresh flowers for our apartment every week (or so), and arrange them in all the rooms. (Such an inexpensive and fast way to make sure you wake up every morning and are greeted with beauty).

19. See my family at least every other week.

20. Talk to Dan at least once a week.

21. Go on a real, get dressed up, wear perfume and meet at the restaurant date once a week. (With M). (Obviously).

22. Have a perfume wardrobe. (Scent has always been my most immediate and important sensory impression, and I’ve always felt like my mood can be changed immediately by a spritz of a different perfume. I love it, and yet it’s something I never buy for myself.)

23. Have an edited, adult wardrobe that’s stocked enough that getting dressed for work every morning, for brunch with friends and for dates with M are not sources of stress (and hopefully even fun).

24. Have an operational budget.

25. Pick a cause in which I feel invested, and start offering my time and money.

26. Learn to make at least ten totally new paleo dishes.

27. Take a weekend trip somewhere with just my female friends.

27 1/2. Be a delightful human being as often as possible.

What do you guys think? Any suggestions/substitutions?

Little more of this, little less Rule Against Perpetuities.

Little more of this, little less Rule Against Perpetuities.

Cresting the Hill

Like all important life events, law school sort of ended with a whimper rather than a bang. I mean, there was a pretty significant bang when I typed my last keystroke and slammed my laptop shut. (Probably could have absorbed more of those “taking care of your things” childhood lectures.)

Most of it was an awkward timing issue. My darling friend Kirsten was getting married in Sacramento on 4/28…the weekend in the middle of finals. There was obviously NO way I was missing her working that white dress, so we took our first three finals and then booked it back to California on that Saturday morning, touching down in time to attend one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously, it was fantastic. Kirsten looked beautiful, the venue (the downtown Citizen Hotel) was seriously swanky, and I might have cried during her dad’s speech. For like a second, whatever, it’s not a big deal.

The library. Quite possibly my favorite ceremony site ever.

My photos do not even approach doing it justice, but the whole event enveloped us in the best possible wedding feeling: that you are a true “loved one,” invited to watch as two people celebrate how much they love each other, with all the people that they love, and with crab cakes and dance parties. We even became insta-friends with our table-mates and crammed eight people into the photobooth to take a (quite inebriated) Table 4 picture. I kind of just wish I could live full-time at weddings. Maybe if this whole law thing doesn’t work out, I’ll explore the wedding-planner world. You know, with my abundance of skill with details and returning phone calls. Right.

We peaced out super early for our flight down south, and studied for out last final: Prison Law. Or, my poor husband studied, while I did my best to distract him with photos and pleas to do anything else. You know you’re a horrible study partner when your own mother is sending you texts telling you to stop bothering your husband. Whatever, Pup. Who taught you to text anyway?

And then we woke up at 4:30am on Monday to take that final. I don’t want to talk about it.

Which left only the foster care paper, aka the albatross that has been around my neck since literally SEPTEMBER of this school year. In other news, I received my official placard for Procrastinator of the Century, if anyone wants to come over and look at it. It’s really shiny, because I didn’t want to work on my paper.

Instead, I wanted to drink almond milk lattes at hipster coffee shops in Long Beach. And M wanted to play chess with those gentlemen in the background. So we did.

But obviously we also finished our papers. Isn’t it kind of sad how much you hate your own written work by the time you turn it in? So stoked about the idea to start with, and then I always end up hitting the “send” button with this weird mixture of resignation and relief. And you always have to stand up with extreme gravitas and say, “Well, it’s in the hands of the gods now!” At least you do if you are a child of my father.

M and I were literally actually giddy when we finished. I pranced out of the Starbucks yelping, “We’re done! We’re done!” until M hauled me to the beach to run off my cray. And then we went to Costco and did this:

That’s his guilty face. I don’t think he’s had a churro in like five years.

And we ended the night at Javier’s in Crystal Cove with some of the homies who have seen us through this entire crazy process.

Darren. Get in some pictures.

And that’s all, folks. Until the next graduate degree.*

*Oh man, I slay myself.

Well Qualified to Represent

One of my favorite parts of returning home is reveling in the LBC, my adopted hometown. I’ve been a devotee of sun worshipping on 2nd street for years now. I mean, Taco Surf.

I don't always eat dollar tacos, but when I do...actually, I eat them at every possible opportunity.

But now the city is running a full-court press of awesomeness. Please observe:

One of my new favorite people lives here (well, two new favorites, if you count her stellar boyfriend, as I most certainly do). I kind of can’t believe my luck at meeting someone this cool at a summer law firm gig…I was just hoping the “cool people” vibe would translate into partners who were more mellow than most. Turns out you can find someone to carpool and groan through Cardio Barre with too! Sometimes you just win at life.

Aside from her general coolness, Ms. D is a font of wisdom on all things Long Beach, and she found this fantastic NY Times article highlighting the city as an up-and-coming fun place to vacation. So, of course we spent the second half of spring break prowling around neighborhoods we’d never even thought to visit until a newspaper across the country recommended them. Apparently Fourth Street is where it’s at. In an extremely major way.

Among the standouts:

Kafe Neo: A total win of a breakfast place with the temerity to serve adorably tiny cookies with their free espresso drinks. There’s so much excellence going on in that sentence, I don’t even know where to start. Our beloved Baller realized you can “check in” on Yelp and get treats in various places, and this was the delicious result:

Baller’s omelette had Greek marinara sauce, our waitress wore retro cat’s eye glasses, and the yoga hippies at the next table had a snuggly little puppy. Now you understand.

Berlin: I forgot to take any pictures, but this cool little coffee shop is attached to both a second-hand bookstore and a music shop that still sells vinyl. It was also the site of my purchase of Three Cups of Tea, so now I have to love it forever. Not the heaviest burden.

Portfolio: Great coffee and hipster heaven. And therefore my heaven, because people-watching is my favorite sport. We were taking Baller to the airport, so we couldn’t lounge around in all the plush couches and chairs for too long, but the chill vibe was immediately apparent. I was all busy planning how it would be my new study lounge when we came back, until M reminded me that when we next touch down in California, studying will be…over. I was trying to wrap my mind around the cosmic truth of no.more.school. that will soon be mine, but then I realized that firm work will indubitably provide plenty of law-related paperwork for me to take wherever I please. I’m choosing to believe that this is a victory, as it means my days of being pseudo-studious in coffee shops are alive and well.

Apparently there are all sorts of vintage clothing and furniture consignment shops along Fourth as well, so we’ll have to check those out when we come back after finals. Totally loving that this whole alternative world existed five minutes away from our well-trodden path…you just never know!

Open Sesame Pretty Much Settles It

The other day, for the first few disoriented moments of consciousness, I thought I was in Belmont Shore. The first thing I saw was gray, balmy sky, and my mind immediately leapt to the walk down Santa Ana street to the ocean. The gray sky was real, of course, but the bright purple hibiscus flowers lining that path were three thousand miles away.

I wouldn’t have called myself a “California girl” before spending three years immersed in a culture that is anything but. Growing up, my fantasy life involved urban city centers navigated by public transportation, places with bright marquee lights and scarves and cafes where you could spend all afternoon with Austen or Faulkner without a strange look from teenagers in string bikinis.

I’m sitting in one of those cafes right now. Admittedly, I spend more time with my Google reader than with Austen, but that dream has been realized all the same. A train takes me to school each day, I own enough scarves to outfit a small boutique, and I can tell you where to get the best chocolate-chip cookie in Manhattan.*

Being the child of parents who are still happily married, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to being torn between two poles. I love Boston. Twenty minutes and some flat boots can get you anywhere in the whole city, and the place you’re going probably is some speak-easy restaurant with dollar oysters.** But, as my early-morning subconscious can attest, I am longing for the sunny, salty air of the open expanse where I grew up.

M always teases me that I’m a split personality when it comes to cities. When we land in Boston each August, I’m all hopped up on the Q, rhapsodizing about culture! And ethnic food! And intellectual communities! And as soon as the first 20 degree day hits, I’m angry at the weather and making kindergarten paper chains to count down the days to when we fly “home to California, how could anyone even consider living somewhere else!”

So, it’s safe to say that I have trouble making up my mind. Except that when I look ahead to our return home after the bar exam, to living among our core loved ones again (instead of the dreaded exercise of “splitting time” among people I would rather lavish time upon)…I feel nothing but unadulterated excitement.

Perhaps that’s my answer after all.

*It’s Levain Bakery. If someone says otherwise, they’re telling a falsehood and they don’t want you to be happy. Get the chocolate chip walnut and then write a poem about it. We’ll compare our sonnets*** while eating the double-chocolate chip.

**Hi, Marliave. Let’s talk about your gin cocktails and how they’re just…I like them. A lot.

***You were going to do a sonnet, right? Haikus look like you’re not even trying.