That was the year that preppy girls got their swerve on drinking cosmos with future doctors in Jacuzis in apartment complexes, covered in coconut oil and sunning for their Vegas trip to celebrate the end of the lighter than air, forgotten last semester of law school. Where polo-clad men boys with weapon arsenals purchased in anticipation of Kerry’s presidential win were picking up naive co-eds named Ashley and Morgan over at The Shanty with phrases like, “I got a job at a firm in Phoenix. I’ll be doing corporate law. Six figures.” Where self-tanner Orange was the Pantone Color of the year and the razor cut hairstyle was de rigeur. We could still be found cruising in the last cars our daddies would buy us, when time was cheap and experiences still captured on disposable cameras. Ashlee Simpson and Britney blaring from factory installed speakers. Just once more to “A” Mountain and back and then we would study for finals. And then we would become adults. And then this would all end.
I didn’t know it yet, but Graduation day would be the happiest day of my life for a very long time. I don’t think my feet touched the ground the whole day.
Graduating law school was the very first thing that was all mine. I never actually graduated college until I was already in law school (I finished my senior thesis the first week of classes). I don’t know how I managed it. It’s kind of crazy. I got by with the help of a lot of friends, Bacardi rum and the fear of God almighty herself (otherwise known as Ana Merico).
In law school, I lost two tonsils, married the ex, made amazing friends who live all over the world, traveled to Europe for the first time, went through some serious family issues, started the onset of mania that kept me up days on end (sometimes gardening at night), and built up faith in myself.
You might have had The Bachelor viewing parties, but I hosted Project Runway Season 1 (go Austin) parties. Remember the dress made from 🌽🌽🌽?
And Megan, Rui and I would go out karaoking so often we made it into the Arizona Daily Star.
I’m trying to remember what music I listened to then…New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Von Bondies (still have the shirt), Ravonettes (saw them in D.C.), Franz Ferdinand, Destroyer, Hold Steady, Interpol, French Kicks, Walkmen, The Streets, Ashlee Simpson (if I stick it in here no one will notice), ART BRUT (fuck yeah), Phoenix (only I didn’t know they were French), Modest Maus, Weezer, Killers, Gwen, Jay-Z, Britney, Snoop…
I didn’t study in law school. I barely paid attention in lecture. I was too busy planning a wedding and building a gift registry. Plus I was a very immature 22-25 year old. So professors who taught using Socratic method scared me. Not enough to pay attention and study. Just enough to ask other people what the reading was on. Once, in property class, I was asked a question. My answer, “I’m sorry. I’m on oxy right now.” I was, actually, for a tonsillectomy.
Law school is a funny place. You’re supposed to find camaraderie with your classmates, but you’re ranked by GPA and you’re competing for jobs. Plus the type of people who are attracted to law school are mostly the over achiever student council/Model U.N./debate society nerds. These are the type of people to whom gold stars are still necessary long after teachers have stopped putting stickers on student assignments.
So what did I do? I pulled a punk rock move and decided not to care. I wasn’t going to compete. I wasn’t going to enter the dick measuring contest of where I went to undergrad and who my father was and what other schools I’d gotten into (for the record: U of A, Richard Aguirre, Columbia/UChicago/Berkeley). And I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit on Law Review, the highest ranked student publication. I elected out of it, not because I couldn’t handle the pressure or because I was afraid I wouldn’t make the GPA cut (I did), but I didn’t want to live in an echo chamber of people who patted themselves on the back for being masters of the universe. So I said no to Review and yes to Journal, which was a bit tamer, but even there a lot of people thought they were hot shit though few of those people had an adequate background in International Studies to write on international issues.
I’m smart. I don’t have to prove it. Anytime I open my mouth something annoying and bossy and nerdy comes out. But if the crowd goes right, I swing left. So this is what I did in law school. I pretended I was a ditz. I worried more about fashion that I ever have since I was 12 on my way to a boy/girl party. I said “like” more than should be legal. I had that emo haircut and enough self-tanner to recreate the movie “Soul Man” starring C. Thomas Howell. I only talked to girls for the most part. And if I did talk to guys, I would ask them questions and bat my eyes at them to let them think they were amazing. I was still pretentious as fuck on the inside and sometimes around my close friends. But my affect was all about misdirection.
Why? I guess because I didn’t see any benefit the beating people at the “let me amaze you with my pedigree and resume” game. That should have been my first clue that I wasn’t meant to be a lawyer. But how do you fight the whole world telling you to be a lawyer when you’re young and impressionable and the first kid in your family to graduate college? How do you disappoint Mexican parents?
I don’t think I wowed anyone in law school. I think people bought the act. That I was a snobby girl who went from dumpy and obese to fancy and normal weight while wearing the best clothes on campus. That was who I was to those people. I remember walking into the lobby one day after a job interview first year. I was in a black suit with a pink silk shell, black pumps and huge pearls. And a black floor length wool coat. People stopped and stared. I felt the air in the room change. Women made mental notes. It threw people off. And it was exactly what I had planned. Not to impress people with how smart I was. But to take the route less traveled and show them I could play the part better than any of them.
The day of law school graduation, someone passed on gossip to me. Apparently the girls who opposed Liz and me in mock trial had gone around telling others that we only won our case (we did not) because we were “pretty girls.” And you know what, I went around telling that to everyone, feigning offense, just so I could humble brag about being pretty. I know. I’m gross. But remember that I was 25.
The fun and games came to an end when bar study classes began but I was riding high for a week. I “forgot” to study for the bar exam, which is half my imposter syndrome speaking and half my undiagnosed dyslexia speaking. I did drink…a lot. I forgot to download the bullshit software we needed to take the bar exam on computer. I remember freaking out so bad the day I remembered that I drove all the way to Nogales and back twice, wiping away tears the whole time.
I felt sick the day of the exam. And I hadn’t really studied, so I was sure it was nerves that made me puke outside my car door on my way into the exam. Only I puked all day. Even after I ate my hot canned tuna and relish on crackers for lunch. I puked at the law school on the way home for good measure.
I called my mother that evening and found out that the whole family had food poisoning from the sushi we’d eaten the day before. So it hadn’t been nerves after all.
I walked into the second day of tests like a baller. I was sick as hell, but I knew it was bad fish and not bad me. I killed that exam.
In October, when the results were announced, Rui, Danny, Andrea and I met up at RA Sushi (irony or coincidence?) for fishbowls of liquor and a read down of the list of people who made it…passed the bar. Two fishbowls down, Rui and I walked…galavanted…gavotted through the outdoor mall, repeating, “Who passed the bar? We passed the bar.”
We toured Anthropologie drunker than we ought. They offered us job applications.
Rui and I cried about our jobs. We hated them and were sure we’d get fired at any moment’s notice. We watched The Lonely Island–Ka-blamo repeatedly and told each other, we were sure to be fired because we’d forgotten what coal was.
Thanks Jorma, Andy and Akiva for getting us through that shit.
2005, man. That was a trip.