I Object! – Revised Edition

i first wrote this story almost two years ago. i decided to revise it and publish it in one post rather than the three parts.


“God, I’d wish he’d stop shadowing me,” I breathed when I found out Clark won our section’s Senate seat. “I ran for Law Student Association President so I could distance myself from him!”

Instead, I now get to sit behind him in Torts and before him at Senate meetings. Day and night, Clark all up in my proverbial grill. Wonderful.

What’s wrong, you ask? Well, nothing’s wrong, per se, but I have several issues with him.

Like how he’s never floundered when cold-called. Not once!

He’s cool as a cucumber – I bet his books make that crunchy sound when — I mean, if — he cracks ‘em open. I play clammy Nixon to his calm Kennedy, even though I’m the only one who outlines nightly. I consider my undereye circles as badges of distinction; I hope the professor sees them that way, too.

But, you’re right; I can’t really hate Clark ‘cause he’s not the guy who machine-guns his hand in the air in every class. He’s that guy, the effortlessly brilliant one. What’s worse is that he’s so down-to-earth about it, generous, even.

Clark finds me two hours into my nightly study sessions, right when coffee’s worn off, also when I’m stuck in the umpteenth revision of my case brief. With chai latte or jasmine tea – either being the exact beverage I’m hankering for, oddly enough – in one hand, he drops a final draft on the dark cherry desk with the other.

He plops down across from me and sets out his Apple accoutrements. Nary a source of caffeine.

photo by Alex Ford via Flickr (Creative Commons: CC by 2.0)

I pause to skim his brief. Restraining myself from breaking the library’s tense quiet with choice expletives is difficult.

“How long did this take?” I whisper.
“An hour.”
My brows furrow at him.
“No.”
My brows relax.
“Two hours: one to read the case, one to write the brief.”
“Ah.”

Before being reincarnated as a 1L, I was an editor so it doesn’t take me long to see that it’s grammatically impeccable. Legal analysis-wise, it’s solid. Worst of all, the brief is… brief.

“You’ve got room to spare,” I say.
“I know.”
“Why not explore other lines of argument?”
“Meh. I don’t need to,” he sighs casually, as he flips his MacBook open.
“’’Kay,” I heave, as I burrow my face back into my casebook for the rest of the night.

I’m armed with my rainbow of highlighters and sticky tabs. Every half-hour I hear a guffaw from his direction; I see the reflection of the viral video du jour off his thick, black-rimmed glasses that I dote on but can’t bring myself to like publicly because they’re decidedly hipster. Why do things I like end up mainstream; why, God?!

While we’re at it, Lord, why can’t I attract men I find attractive?

Is Clark attractive? I suppose he is, objectively speaking. He’s tall and has beautiful, piercing eyes.

He’s most affable; yes, much like Mr. Bingley, but a little chunkier.

photo by Tim Kilkenny via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I almost pity him. All his intellect, talent, and charisma without the ambition to do them justice. He doesn’t pursue opportunity because privilege is his birthright. He’ll inherit his family’s law firm, so he doesn’t need to hustle to make partner somewhere.

Never mind. I don’t pity him anymore.

My disdain of Clark is no secret to the section and surely he’s too smart not to notice. It’s bad enough our section sings “Clark and Louisa sitting in a tree…”

I chew him out like bubble gum as much as he digs into my side like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Poor guy ought to be nominated for sainthood. Or diagnosed as a masochist.

He seems to show up right when I’m at my worst: at wits’ end, sleep-deprived, clad in my hoodie and scrubs (I once wanted to be a surgeon). Yet puts up with me with a Chick-fil-A cashier’s smile.

Why can’t he be around when I’m showered, dressed in the dark-rinse jeans that make my ass look good, and well-rested?

No, no, no. Clark would be my pesky brother if I were to have a twin and you don’t date your brother. Didn’t you read the Oedipus cycle? Just thinking about it makes me shudder.

No, I don’t want to be the crazy cat lady. I can’t stand cats.

God and I have an agreement; I’m on the “selective celibacy” life-plan. I have a list of qualities I’m looking for in a prospective mate as well as a pool of prospective candidates. I am open to being paired with those who pass muster but if there are no suitors from said pool, then I do without.

Like how Meg Ryan orders her pie à la mode in When Harry Met Sally. I know what I want and if I can’t have it, I’d rather fly solo than face turbulence with a guy who makes me wanna pull my eyelashes out.

I think it’s a great plan. If I’m not married, then the Lord Almighty gets to keep all of me to himself. A great compromise for all parties.

It is for these reasons I am of the dissenting opinion that Clark would be suitable for me.

——————

“Hey, Louisa,” a voice whispered.
“nabmdslkgjbgasdjk,” I mumbled, trying to wave off the finger prodding my shoulder.
“Louisa May,” the voice repeated.
“Nnghguh,” I groaned.
“Wake up, little woman,” said the voice.

Clark. Of course.

My head shot up, which I immediately regretted. My left cheek was soaked with drool. I’m not sure what was worse: that the man I love to hate saw me at an all-time fashion low or that the drool blurred all the highlighting and notes in my book.

Preparing the speech I was to present before the Graduate Student Council took longer than I anticipated. Now I could barely remember the facts of this case. Jesus, please can I have the gift of learning by osmosis, please?

photo by David Ortez via Flickr (Creative Commons)

“Can we talk?” he asked.
“Okay. What about?”
“Could we walk and talk?”
“I guess.” It better be The West Wing multitasking kind of walk.
“By the way, I drew up some talking points for your GSC speech tomorrow.”
“But I already wrote it. What I need is to outline this case.”
“The points are for rebuttal. I also made a copy of my notes.”
“Huh.”

Still sleepy, we walk to the little pond outside the library and sit on a bench. Wait, why are we sitting?

“So, Louisa…” he starts.

——————

It was all a delightfully awkward blur, which is sad, because this might’ve been the first time I’ve seen him…human. Vulnerable. Real.

All I remember was how breathless his words left me; they were a cross between Jack Nicholson’s “You make me wanna be a better man,” (As Good As It Gets) and Mr. Darcy’s “I love, I love, I love you, most ardently,” (Pride and Prejudice, 2005).

He said something Jerry Maguire like about completing him and turning his family’s law firm into a legal aid clinic and needing my help to pull it off.

I never felt so asinine yet loved in my life.

“I’m sorry for being a jerk,” I blurted.
“How ‘bout I take you out on a real date, and we’ll call it even?”
“Define ‘out’, and ‘real’,” I asked, making those stupid air quotes characteristic of Dwight, our section’s chief of gunners.

I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to win this final repartee–especially before things between us turned the corner.

“By ‘out’ I mean, not the library,” he said.
“Good,” I said.
“By ‘real’, I mean that I need you not to wear scrubs, unless by ‘scrubs’ you mean those dark indigo jeans you wore during orientation when I first saw you.”

Gahhhh… God, that’s so not fair! Smooth like butter per usual. I hate that! But really, I love it, I do.

“I am amenable to said stipulation,” I said as coolly as I could.
Then we stood up and as we took our first steps, Clark fell. Like, he just bit it. Hard.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Just, uh, watch out for that pebble there.”
“That was… bizarre,” I said, as I tried to help him up.
“I blame you,” said Clark, while dusting himself off. “You, Louisa, in all your splendor… rendered me… ‘weak in the knees’ is a gross understatement.”
He grasped my hands, pulled himself up, and said, “You melted my insides.”
“Well, I, uh–”
Then he kissed me.

And I did not object. Not even a little bit.

two sides of lent

for lent this year, i will abstain from social media. gut reactions to fasting from the following channels:

  • facebook: obvi. y’all can wait until after easter for me to post photos i take from my brother’s and friends’ weddings–if i manage to take photos from my brother’s wedding.
  • twitter: will i be surprised if my follower count drops dramatically? nope.
  • instagram: the app on my phone’s been on the fritz, so that should be easy-peasy.
  • pinterest: not as difficult.
  • tumblr: ditto.
  • youtube: ooooh, tricky.

it’s easy to tell myself i’ll fast from facebook if i use the other channels as crutches. hopefully, this will force me into a regimen that requires me to cope in productive ways.

my hope is that this lenten season will dovetail with my one word for this year, that the less i consume, the more i’ll create. that what i do consume will be more wholesome: books! real newspapers! house of cards (not so much)!

it’s kind of the opposite of a paleo diet, i guess. books, magazine articles and longform journalism pieces are processed and refined much more than blogposts, statuses, tweets, and even some shorter-form news articles.

right around now, i miss google reader. most of my content comes through my facebook newsfeed, tumblr, and some twitter. should be interesting to see what i’ll “create” without these sources of “inspiration”.

also. these posts will probably not have cool images because i typically find them on social media. so, enjoy this one:

my one word for 2014 is…

first, i’d like to list the runners-up for this year’s #oneword365

  • courage
  • flow
  • integrity
  • persist
  • perspire
  • through
  • yield

after some hemming and hawing and being paralyzed by too many choices, i landed on this, eventually:

create ≥ consume

i wondered if “create” should be my one word of the year. then i was fixated on the symbol, and wished there were a way to make a suffix my word of the year. alas, i can’t, for by definition a suffix isn’t a word in and of itself. and i could only append “-er” to a limited number of adjectives, which was a problem because i grew increasingly convinced that my one word should be a verb.

but that also troubled me because i felt it would psych me out from the get go. i caught myself judging myself harshly, within a system of feast or famine, all or nothing. and i realized that such judgments were myopic and unfair to myself. how could i rail against and try to dismantle a false dichotomy over others while still bound in one of my own?

i realized that i would erroneously interpret words like “create” (or other verbs for that matter) as a mandate to fill a void when the reality is that i have been active, i have been crafting words, and getting stuff done.

my problem isn’t, “i’ve done nothing and now i’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
my opportunity is, “i’ve done some pretty good stuff. let’s see if i can do more of it — and better.”

and so, i present to you, for the remaining 325 days of 2014, my #oneword365:

oneword2014

more writing. more exercise. more reading. more singing. more creativity. more initiative. more diligence. more confidence. more clarity. more surrender. more prayer. more trust. more faith. more hope. more love. more grace. more selectivity. more depth. more growth. more respect. more justice. more mercy. more kindness. more patience. more peace. more dancing. more risk. more reward. more vulnerability. more freedom. more praise. more joy. more wisdom. more experience. more insight. more memories. more fruits and vegetables.

i figure more of the good will overtake the junk. so if i can just focus on building upon the progress, however little, i’ve made, and be faithful to continue, the excellence will follow eventually.