Monday, March 13, 2006

Belle's Personal Ad

I was just telling someone last week about the law school's "Face Book," which I think is common to every law school around the country. Prior to beginning classes, you send back your deposit, acceptance, etc. along with a "fact sheet" and two pictures of yourself. They tell you it's for your ID and the facebook. "What's a facebook?" neophytes like myself asked? Well, it's a mini yearbook cum personal classifieds that allows your professors and classmates to know a bit more about their fellow students. Professors look through the facebook to identify names with faces prior to the first class, always helpful with the Socratic method. They also use it to poach facts about your life, so that if a case comes up that's set in Alaska, they'll ask the gentleman from Alaska. Or, if your hobby is horseback riding, and there's a case about horses, you'll probably get called on to offer your personal expertise on how to value chattel that has been converted.

I don't think any of us really got that by listing our hobbies and interests, it would be published in some form. I don't konw what we thought it would be used for, but not this. Every year, the 2Ls and 3Ls look through the facebook to scope out cute 1Ls. It's unfortunate that people submit their ugly passport photos actually. And then when you meet "new" people, they're not really new to you. So when they say “Hi, I’m John,” in your head you’re like “Oh yes, John, from Harvey Mudd. You enjoy running, basketball, indie movies, and were a college radio DJ. I too, like to run on the beach. You look better than your unflattering picture. ” But out loud you’re like “Hi John.”

The hobbies/interests that crop up most, universal to all, are: reading, music, cooking, traveling. Then there are the various permutations of "I am physically active, I'm not a nerd loser" like hiking, running, swimming, lifting weights, going to the gym. Then there are the bourgie hobbies common to white people, like skiing, horseback riding, fashion, pilates, surfing, and the like. Then there are the very regular hobbies everyone enjoys across the socioeconomic spectrum, like movies, hanging out with friends, watching TV. And then there are the esoteric hobbies and interests, which immediately show how you self-identify intellectually: politics, literature, foreign languages, poetry, creative writing, philosophy, etc. And then there's the "do you swing left or right" indicator: volunteering, working with children, community organizing, public service, helping the Make-a-Wish-Foundation, human rights, Asian American community economic development, coalition building, and the like. Okay, so thus far I haven't found any clear early indicators of conservative politics in the profiles. And finally, there are the truly "SWF" kind of tags, which I am not making up: walks along the beach, being with my cat, staying fit, checking out new restaurants. For some reason, basketball teams pop up as an interest/hobby a lot, as does "eating" and "sleeping."

Here is a sampling of some more face book personals:
  1. California surfer with a penchant for travel
  2. Friendly sparring with wit and limbs.
  3. Shooting, (at what?) scuba diving, water skiing, being active but also enjoy just being a bum and relaxing
  4. Biblical hermeneutics, religous studies, religious liberities & human rights, light-hearted debate (comes up often!), movies, dogs, family
  5. Sports, squash, basketball, swimming and skiing. Music, piano and guitar. I'm also a Christian and enjoy Christian life very much.
Ooookay. What was mine, you ask? "Creative writing, performance poetry, dancing."

Um, I'm not really into those things anymore. It's always remarkable to me how, even in adulthood, one's interests, tastes, and values can change in such a quick time. Never mind one's research interests (more on that later). When I entered law school, I did fancy myself a writer. I liked writing the occasional decent/bad poem, and I actually aspired to short-fiction. I actually liked reading my decent/bad poetry out loud in front of people. And I was really, really into swing dancing.

Three years later, and I'm resigned to never being a poet or fiction writer. But I'm perfectly okay with this, whereas previously it really bothered me. Surely, the law wasn't all that I was! I must have "creative outlets!" I must be more interesting than just being a lawyer! Now, I'm okay with it--I'm obsessed with law and politics, and everything else is just a hobby. It's okay. I am not a Renaissance woman. It's okay. Besides, nowadays performance poetry really, really annoys me.

So if I had to re-write it, it would be:

Literature, judicial politics, baking, making crafts, spending time with my nieces and nephews.

Kind of boring, and a little domestic hearth mother, but oh well.

I guess I could also add as a hobby "collecting rejection letters from grad schools."

Okay, so that's not a hobby, but seriously, I applied to seven PhD programs as a backup (in case I didn't get into any post-grad law programs), and so far I've been rejected by four of them. What, they don't want cum laude political science majors with rockin' verbal/analytical GRE scores and a law degree? Seriously people, four years ago I thought I could have been a political scientist. Maybe not! Probably not, actually! I suppose I could attribute this to the arbitrariness of admissions, or the very possible likelihood that my stated research interests didn't mesh with any of the faculty advisors. Probably. My research areas are more in line with the study of law than politcal science, and most of what I want to study political science programs don't offer (macropolitics, political systems theory, constitutional history). I should have lied and said I wanted to do empirical legal studies. The problem is, I don't want to (not yet anyway), and if they had taken one look at my abysmal GRE math scores, they would have laughed at my stated research goal. So even though it would have meant better match up, I probably would have gotten hurt in the end by doubts about my statistical ability. (I can do it, I just have to work very hard) I'm a theory head, and unfortunately, departments are cutting back on political theory. So oh well. I got into a law school! Screw the "backups."

So when I go to school this time around, maybe I should find some athletic sounding hobby. Or some artistic hobby that's not so beatnik slam poetry. What conveys "I am a nerd, but I am a cool nerd"? Any suggestions?


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