Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Young and Fit v. Old and Rich

It happened again. Outside, of my house in Hollywood I was arguing with a lady over parking.

I have a sporty, roadster. Such is a great car to have when you have a hard time to find parking. The turning radius is awesome and it's just so agile.

But when you compete with people for parking, the loser hates you. Just tonight, I had an argument with a lady. She had a big white Volvo. We both came to the same parking spot. As she was trying to grab it, I busted a U-y. I took the spot before she could blink. She got out of her car and started screaming, "I fu*(&n hate you. Move your car. I'm going to get your car towed."

I just said, "I don't see this space have your name on it."

"I'm going to get you towed."

I said, "Go ahead."

But then, I realized, this fight isn't worth it. There's a parking spot just half a block down. I moved. I swore at her before I moved though.

That's my fifth fight over a parking spot in this area in the last two and a half years. One time, a guy said, "You f)(*&)* chinky. I'm going to kill you."

The road rage over parking spaces. But, I won all these battles when we both come upon a spot. Why? Because I have a quicker car. And these people I fight with, usually have a huge clunky machine. I mean, I am so against these huge cars. People should live with their consequences, or so I think.

One time, though, I had beat out another car for a space. I woke up in the morning, and she wrote on my hood in shaving cream: "You piece of sh*t cu* eating fu**er." That's what she wrote. I did think, Get a faster car lady.

My car's been broken into once (it was before all these parking battles). It just made me think, you have no idea what these people are going to do with your car. Broken windshield. Broken window. Who knows? Not worth it. But, I hated that feeling of backing down to this losing girl. I, too, wanted to throw a bier bottle on her car and hoped it cracked and dented it. I think I was angry because you could tell she was the bullying type, and that she screamed and threatened people to get her way. I think if a car beat me to a spot, that's my fault. Right? Speed and fitness beat old and clunky.

I pulled back the thought back about throwing a bier bottle against her car. Why do it? I thought of all the consequences of getting caught. Then I asked myself, would you throw that bottle if you wouldn't ever get caught? I decided, better not. Making those choices makes you a worst person - slowly but surely.

* * *

On our trip back from wine country to Santa Barbara, the lux guy Paul and I had to meet with my friend Albert. I hadn't seen Albert in over 10 years. We were looking for a parking spot. But none to be found.

I told him, "I wish we had the roadster. We could easily beat people to a spot."

I told him the story about the girl who had used shaving cream to write the foul slogan.

Paul said, "That's not nice, Paul to take the person's spot.

I then said, "Hey - survival of the fittest."

He said, "Well then, I have a story to share."

"Share then," I said.

"Well, I knew a policeman. He told me this story. A young man in Luxembourg had a porsche and an old guy with a big Mercedes and him were fighting over a parking space. The guy with a porsche was quicker and got into the space.

The old man got out and said, 'Hey what are you doing?'

The porsche guy got out of his car and said, 'Young and fit, old Geezer.'

The old man got back into his car. He pulled a few yard away from the porsche and rammed it with his Mercedes.

The old man then told the young guy, 'Old and Rich!'

The policeman came out but couldn't do anything, as it was just property damage. He told the young guy to sue.

Can you imagine the guy's face when the Mercedes slammed into his porsche?'"

I thought wow.

Albert was waiting upstairs at Brophy Brothers. There, I ordered a glass of champagne and half a dozen raw oysters. Putting on a New Zealand accent, I then asked for "Fush and chups."

* * *

I didn't forget that story about Young and Fit v. Old and Rich when this woman was in her volvo, spewing out her ire.

I had the legal right to have that space. It reminded me of my first year property class. There's an ancient American case called Pierson v. Post. In it, the plaintiffs were going fox hunting. They chased and chased the fox. But at the last moment, the defendant knowing that the plaintiff almost had the fox, snatched it for himself. This is a core legal property principle - that persists even today. At what point does property rights actually materialize? If someone steals my sperm while I'm sleeping, who owns it? (real cases).

Back to the fox. The court reasoned, No. The plaintiffs only had an expectancy or a hope to have that property. The property of the fox belonged to the defendants who was the first person to physically capture and possess it.

This is exactly what happened with the parking space. I'm the defendant who captured it first. The angry lady is the plaintiff who sues. But in the end, like in Pierson v. Post, me persisting would have been a lose/lose. Both parties in that case, accrued legal fees that surpassed the value of that dead fox. But good on lawyers for milking the system, even in ancient American times.

Monday, February 20, 2012

American Road Trip: Santa Barbara and Beyond

It was at breakfast that morning. My mom made us a light breakfast, with eggs over toast. She said, "Where you heading off to?"

I said, "Santa Barbara."

She said, "Oh, that should be fun. Why not also go to Solvang?"

"He does not want to go there." Its little Denmark in California.

She said, "Oh, I bet Europe is better looking anyways."

I told her, "We are going to take the Mustang."

She said, "What?! It is not going to make it. Take the BMW."

I looked at Paul's face and he looked sad. I could tell he wanted to take the Mustang.

"No, Mom. I think we'll take the Mustang."

Before we took the car, we hand washed it. I told Paul, I said, "This car, you hand wash. She needs a lot of personal attention and care."

So, after my conference talk at UCLA we went to the Ghettys Museum. Then we headed off in the Mustang.

We drove North on the 101 through the Southern California night.

We stayed at a small hostel in Santa Barbara. It was about a two hour drive. At one point, when we were filling the car, Julia my mustang wasn't starting. It was late at night and I was thinking, "Come on girl. For me. Please..." And I pressed on the pedal, and she started!

In the morning, we walked around Santa Barbara.

Then we took Julia up the Californian coast, up to Solvang. I had drank two glasses of champagne, so I was knocked out as Paul W. was driving. As the scenery on the road changed, he woke me up. This is what we saw.

Then, we did some wine tasting.

Here we depart between my lifestyle and the Europeans. My European observer saw me working at night. He saw me first thing in the morning. He saw me working at every opportunity I had. He often told me, "But you don't enjoy life." I couldn't help it, work was always on my mind. I could only think about the assignments and their deadlines.

It made me consider his comment, but in general, this is the American working lifestyle.

The next day, we went to the California Beaches.

Finally, we made it back to Los Angeles on California Highway.

And, we made it back safely to LA. We have Julia my car to thank. I told my friends, "See: she made it!" 300 miles. Yes. Now we're ready for the big roadtrip with her.

At home, my mom had made Korean BBQ for us. I called to my kitty Luka. He came to me, and I was back in East Los Angeles with Paul, Luka, Julia and Mom. Time for dinner.

I wish I had another classic car to restore. Maybe in another life and another time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dealing with Defeat

After coming back from Europe, I felt depressed. I kind of knew it would happen. I had a very fantastic holiday, and it made me feel very, very good.

So what does that surmount to? A burst in the bubble - one can say. And I knew it was coming. I was expecting it. What goes up must come down, right?

But even when you expect it, even when you know it's coming, it doesn't help you. I wasn't teaching this semester. Somehow, my workload was easier. This isn't a bad thing, but when you're used to a high paced environment like I am, it's a bit of downer. It is a bit of downer precisely because it forces you to slow down.

Then, I had that bad grade. The one I really didn't expect. On top of that, I didn't know what actually went wrong in that class. I did decently in the midterm. What happened?

Walking through the hallways of the law school again, I felt judged. Regardless if I felt it or not, it's real. People judge you in the law school. One of the deans once told me, "No one is invisible in law school." This is true. It's small enough everyone knows you.

For instance, I met someone new today. And he said, "I've seen you around a lot." I hear that a lot, probably because I wear bright red ferrari jackets or suspenders. Someone else told me, "I notice you because you wear suspenders." I thought ok. . .

But it hammered home a point to me: You are not invisible in law school. People are wondering about your gpa, if you made it onto the law review, and/or if you have a firm job. Those are probably the three precious status symbols in law school.

So, when I started being harsh on myself, I thought the external world was viewing me under its own lens. I'm probably not too crazy to think this too. We're a competitive bunch; so, we're always measuring ourselves against the competition.

But all this, just got me a bit down. I texted a friend, who has now graduated and is a licensed attorney. She said, "Get used to it Paul. You are always judged."

That wasn't comforting. So, after I had to force myself to do the simple tasks: like going to class, doing the readings, finishing homework, etc. I spent some time reevaluating what I had to do to regain control and figure out what went wrong.

Isn't that the basis of depression? When you don't actually believe things can get better? It's either that or you believe you can't get better. Doom and depression are probably twin sisters.

So - I thought, you have to figure out what went wrong. Let's flatter yourself and imagine you are a CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation. Yes, I'm in a fantasy world, but humor me a bit. If you were at the helm, and you had a bad financial quarter, what do you do? Do you do what the Italian captain of the cruise ship did and abandon ship first? Of course not! Even if a CEO came to me for advice like this, I would say this: "You need to figure out what went wrong. We can go through it together to identify how to get accurate information."

I decided I need to do this. So, I saw the professor in the class I didn't so well in. I was embarrassed. Here, I was, and he's going to tell me how I f()*&) up. Yeah, that's basically how it goes. My right arm was grabbing my left bicep throughout the meeting. It's an obvious sign of pain or stress or being uncomfortable. And he explained good analysis. Good this and that. But he could tell I didn't spend enough time with the material. That was basically it. I agreed with his analysis.

I was teaching last quarter, lecturing around the world, and writing a lot. I mean: a lot! So, that was in someways comforting. I wasn't dumb. I probably could have done better it if I had more time. I learned a valuable lesson: know your limitations.

This situation reminded me a lot of dealing with my own students and their shortcomings in writing. When they met with me, they were nervous, frustrated, sad, and or angry. Then when I explained what they did wrong, AND (always explain this part of the equation) what they SHOULD HAVE done, they actually smiled. I often put my hand on his or her back or shoulder, and let them know, it's ok. We all make mistakes and we're all on a journey to evolve. When I did that and gave my explanation, they were so much happier. They always thanked me too. The sad part, though, is that I think many students can't get passed the barrier to see me for help.

And after the weeks went by, in my new classes, at least the investment in my own writing paid off. Professors were telling me: Great Topic for my next paper. (I never had that happen on my first shot). Great papers you're turning in. Trust me, law professors don't give you praise unless you really, really earned it. Funniest thing, is all this writing and topic searching came easily now.

I had a 1L ask how to come up with a few topics. The guy was Jewish. I said: "Why don't you write on Jewish Law." He said, "That's boring!" I said, "There's so many interesting topics. Why don't you write about whether a genetically engineered pig, that chews its cud, is kosher to eat?" Jews can eat animals that have cleaved hooves and chew cud. He said, "That is a really interesting topic. It's pretty complex." I could see his mind going through the Leviticus laws. Of course, it's controversial. That was the point I was hammering into him that controversial stuff actually gets published.

I saw my laws of war professor. She said my paper I submitted for her has a lot of promise to be published. So, I guess I'm stronger at writing than test taking. We'll see.

That's where I am at.

My classes this semester are four:

1. Trial Advocacy: How do you learn to be a trial lawyer?

2. Client interaction: How does a lawyer effectively communicate and deal with clients?

3. Critical Race Theory: What is the role of race, gender, and sexuality in how law is formed? I didn't initially want to take this class, but seeing that I finished all my BAR classes, I thought why not. I'm actually really enjoying it.

4. Youth and Justice: How are youth treated within America's juvenile justice system?

And no surprises there, I have a lot of writing I need to finish up from last semester. I'm rewriting an international trade law paper. I finished rewriting a paper on sexual abuse of juveniles. I finished an article being submitted to a business journal.

I still have no job lined up. If you know of a legal job for me, let me know.