One L(ove)

December 28, 2008

Two-ness, Three-ness, Four-ness?

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 6:53 pm
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W. E. B. DuBois

W. E. B. DuBois

Last night, the girlfriend of a friend of mine threw a surprise party for him since he has now finished his applications to Ph.D. programs in literature. So as a way of showing my happiness for him, I decided to get him a gift for this achievement. Before heading to Rego Park in Queens, I went to the Borders store in Stony Brook and ended up getting three novels for him (if you’re of the curious sort, I got him Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, and Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal). While browsing through the titles in the fiction section, I couldn’t also help to notice a beautiful young woman with what seemed to be a five-year old child. The correspondence between these two totally caught me by surprise. The little girl says to our Zaria: “I don’t want to be American! I want to be Pakistani!” So our Anahit responds: “You can be both Pakistani and American at the same time. There is no conflict being both.” The little girl then says, “No! I want to be Pakistani!” To this, our Inanna exclaims: “Fine! You be Pakistani and I’ll be American!” And then our Astarte takes the young girl in her chariot to Sidon, I suppose. I was amazed by this conversation and many thoughts flowed through my mind there and also during the long and tiring drive to Queens. First, what in God’s name is wrong with five-year old kids these days? Jesus Christ! One claims that the good Lord saved him (reference: Jesus Camp) and the other is wrestling with how she should define herself through identity. When I was five-years old, the greatest agony I felt was when someone would change the channel when I was watching “Thundercats”. 

What I also thought about was W. E. B. DuBois’ concepts of “double consciousness” and “two-ness.” Basically, what double consciousness is when a person measures herself or becomes aware of herself through the eyes of others. It’s looking at oneself through the eyes of others who stare with “amused contempt and pity.” This sense leads to “two-ness,” which DuBois describes, in the context of the African American experience, as: “two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body.” This often comes when one is being forced to conform to the dominant society while wanting to cling on to the older identity. The inner struggle of minorities.

The dialogue that was taking place in the bookstore made me think of my situation three years ago. In July 2005, I got my U.S. citizenship. I remember sitting in the court with other immigrants that were going to become naturalized and was feeling a great sense of despair. I remember sitting there and asking myself, “What does this mean to my Pakistani identity? Will I lose it?” But another question bothered me even more. “What does it mean to be a Muslim and American at the same time? Is this a conflict?” The thing is that identifying oneself as “Muslim” in Pakistan is not problematic since that is the dominant soci0-religious identity in that country. Identifying oneself as “Muslim” in America, I felt at that time, was troublesome. The reason being because right outside the court, there were talks of racially profiling Muslims. In that same month when I received my citizenship, terrorists (in the name of Islam) bombed and killed innocent Londoners a week or two earlier. I felt that the “Muslim” identity of mine will come into a cosmic battle with my newly acquired “American” identity, all taking place within me since political pundits, radio talk show hosts, editorial columns, etc., were calling for young Muslim men to be racially profiled on trains, buses, and the subway. This meant me since I love trains and was bearded at the time. Innocent me! I had this incredible sense of “two-ness” where one of my identities that I wanted to maintain was being castigated by the identity of the dominant society. It felt, at the time, that these two identities were incompatible. I guess this is what prompted me to write an editorial for the school newspaper few months later, trying to understand precisely what it meant to be Muslim in America. I guess I indirectly explored these concepts of “double consciousness” and “two-ness,” in the context of the Muslim American experience, in another editorial. Now I feel differently. I feel as if there is no conflict between my “Muslim” and “American” identities. Of course, there are always in society that look at you with contempt because of my “Muslim” identity, but the thing is that not to let them get you down. Know what the law says, know your rights, know yourself, just know, speak up, have confidence and believe in the power of your own voice. No one deserves to feel uncomfortable, not only within the land, but also within oneself. I know there are others in the Muslim American community that have it worse. What I have in mind are Muslim women. They not only have to worry about the “Muslim” and “American” identities. But they also have to worry about their “woman” identity. They not only have to worry about the stereotypes that accompany them when it comes to the “Muslim” identity, but they must also battle the stereotypes that face them because of their “woman” identity. Now imagine, what they have to combat when it comes to defending their “Muslim woman” identity — which is certainly different from the “Asian woman” identity, “white woman” identity, “Latina woman” identity, “Christian woman” idenity, “black woman” identity, etc. So there is a sense of “three-ness” when it comes to some minorities, even four-ness!, and so on.  

What I also thought about was what I saw a week ago. It was extremely cold outside but I decided to go out anyway during my lunch break because who wants to stay inside the office when there’s a chance to catch life and voices not related to work within the air? I decided to go to the train station nearby, see the trains (I’m a weird guy but I love trainspotting), have my lunch, and read the copy of Pride and Prejudice hidden in my coat pocket. While I was reading about how Mr. Darcy is a total douche because of the way he acted in that ball in the beginning of the book, I looked up and saw a pretty Muslim woman (wearing a headscarf) with a white boyfriend. The first thought I had in my mind was, “Great! Now this will give the ‘brimstone Mutts’ reason to continue barking.” I noticed that she kept on looking around nervously whenever they hend hands. The sight of them honestly made me sad. They really made a cute couple. She was obviously worried about someone finding out about their forbidden love (well, from her side). What must she being going through? There she is, a Muslim woman in a headscarf, bound to get dirty stares. So she must embrace herself against the stares of others from the dominant society and measure herself against the standards of this society by making sure she doesn’t do anything to further increase this “contempt” or “pity” from them, while holding on to her other identity. Then there is the standard she has to measure within her own minority community — against the stares of others within that religious community (i.e., she must be a ‘good’ Muslim and not go ‘astray’). So when love gets thrown into the mix, mesdames et messieurs, things get really messy and complicated. What I felt between them was pure love, as opposed to socialized love. The latter is where a person conditions love by binding it to certain social factors such as “the other person should be of the same faith as me, race, nationality, language, live in the same region, have a certain wealth, etc.” (I fear that I’m going to get bad stares from friends who’ve gotten together, love each other to death, and happen to be of the same social identities. To defend myself, I’m referring to those who formulate these social notions of love prior to coming into a relationship. Pure love can definitely exist between two who happen to be of the same social backgrounds.) For the type of love the Muslim woman and her boyfriend exhibited went beyond social backgrounds and identities. But one couldn’t help but notice how uncomfortable, tense, and reluctant she got whenever her boyfriend’s hand searched for hers, and only let him take her hand after she looked around. Now, there’s a double consciousness within her own social identity. Isn’t that interesting? She’s worried about how people within her religious group will look at her if they discover her relationship. This is exactly like the plot of the Canadien film Sabah. An old identity that gives you comfort and you want to belong to because of its values but are at the same time in danger of being shunned by those who identify the same way. And there is me. Do I not also contribute to her sense of double consciousness when I sat there like an idiot, staring at her with “pity,” using DuBois’ words? Guilty me!

Jesus Christ! Five-year old kids shouldn’t be allowed to talk!

Currently listening to: Feist – The Reminder

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December 27, 2008

More than 200 people lost their lives today in Palestine…

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 12:52 pm
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…and no one seems to be morally outraged.

Currently listening to: Sleater Kinney – All Hands on the Bad One

December 26, 2008

/\/\/\____^____/\/\_____^_____/\/\/\ (Confession. aka: Meet me at the place with no words, my love. Don’t worry, my eyes will say it all.)

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 4:31 pm
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Before I start off, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe holidays.

For a couple of weeks now, a co-worker of mine has been talking to me about meditation. The first time he mentioned it was when I bumped into him when I came out of this cafe on the ground level of the building I work in and he was right outside its doors, having a smoke break. He looked at me and said, “I see auras. Yours is pink, which means that you’re a good person. You care about other people.” I didn’t know how to respond to that so I said, “Um, thanks.” I didn’t believe him though. The reason is that not only would I adamantly disagree with the statement “I’m a good person,” but I naturally distrust people who say that they see things that others can’t verify. I’m really a skeptical person. I tried to hint to him that I didn’t believe in those sort of things (i.e., auras, psychics, etc.) by saying, “I’m not really a spiritual person.” He then asked me if I meditated. I answered him in the negative. He couldn’t believe my answer and said that he believed that the reason we were having this conversation was for my benefit. However, I thought I had been living a pleasant life; that is, I’m pretty happy right now and that life is treating me well so far. He asked me how I viewed life. I told him that life’s a struggle. He got irritated and said, “That’s bullshit! I’m sorry, I respect your opinion. But I think that’s complete bullshit.” He told me that life is a miracle. The world is a miracle. Everything is beautiful. There’s actually no difference between me and the salt box (it was snowing that day) and the tree. I didn’t say it to him but I definitely thought that was bullshit. Yes, life is beautiful if we make it out to be and carry out choices that align with our notion of happiness, but how can life not be a struggle? If life wasn’t a struggle, our choices wouldn’t mean much. The weight of our decisions would not matter. We are always confronted with different things, life being beautiful depends upon how we react to those things. The world may or may not be a miracle, but that doesn’t matter in my humble opinion.

My co-worker told me that this world has a dual nature. Everything is a duality. There’s good and evil. Right and wrong. Happiness and sadness. Pleasure and pain. Something and nothing. Blah and non-blah. He said that in this world, there are words that have dual nature: they either cause happiness or harm (nevermind that words also have a neutral sense to them). The way to escape this world of duality (our world as we know it), we have to escape it through meditation by going to a world/realm of no words, where there is no duality, where everything is one. I guess, that’s what my co-worker meant that there’s no difference between me and the tree. That coming back from that other realm, we have this sense of awareness that everything is in fact one and not dual as they appear to be. I disagree with the view that this world is dual by nature. I hate it when someone views it through a black and white lens and describes it in terms of what they see through it. The world is highly complex precisely because we’re in it. How can we then compartmentalize it into two? I have to agree with Nietzsche. Nietzsche, in one of his essays, wrote that we humans tend to look for similarities in things and group them together. He used the example of a leaf and said that we look at leaves that look similar and group them together, thereby losing sense of all the things that make them different. To put it succinctly, Nietzsche says that there is no leaf that is the same as another. We just like to think that they’re similar. So even when we say that the duality of this world is an illusion because in another realm we saw that things are actually one and of the same essence, I think we’re deluding ourselves even further. We fail to recognize all the difference that is between, let’s say, you and the tree. I don’t know why, if you look throughout human societies in this world, difference has been looked upon in such a bad way. Difference is beautiful. (It should be noted that I’m in danger of giving “difference” a quality of sameness. Certainly, difference is not always beautiful, it can also be bad. For example, deformity, illness, etc.). We look at people that are different from us and compartmentalize them into one group. “These Jews…,” “These blacks…,” “These Muslims…,” etc. If you take a person of my background and compare her to me, you will find many characteristics that are similar (not only physically, but what we might believe as well). But if you fail to realize that there is a world of difference between her and me, you will fail to realize the beauty of individuality, the beauty of personhood. Yes, we as humans to compartmentalize and life becomes easy when we do so (i.e., we categorize in science, etc.), but when we apply it in a social sense (although compartmentalizing here can be useful also in that we get together in common belief or pursuit of something), when we fail to realize the complexity of people, this could lead to dangerous results. No Jew is the same as another Jew. No black is the same as another black. No Muslim is the same as another Muslim. No woman is similar to another woman. No person is similar to another person. I guess I might be being a little unfair. I’m using the world “difference” in a social sense. I might be missing the real reason, missing some deep point on existence. But I do think, even if we don’t use “difference” in the social sense and we ourselves as similar to a tree and when we say, “There is absolutely no difference between me and a tree, that our ‘ground of being’ is the same,” I think we fail to realize that a tree has things that I don’t have and I have things that a tree doesn’t have. We are different no matter if you all of a sudden have this deep sense of awareness that the tree and I are the same. We might be but yet we are also different. Plus, another point I had trouble with is that if this world is a miracle and is beautiful, that there is essentially nothing wrong with it, then why do we need to escape it? But I’m reserved on this point, because I feel within me that I’m being unfair on this point and I’m not totally getting what he meant by him saying that.

Another thing that he said was that the past and future are illusions. Everything is present. He made a sort of Boethius argument where the latter, in his attempt to solve the problem of free will versus God’s omniscience, said that God’s knowledge is always present, never past or future since God is not bound to time like humans, since we’re temporal beings. God then knows the future because to him it is the present. My co-worker basically uses this argument but reduces it to humans — that is, that everything for humans is in the present. While Boethius’s argument was highly creative, it’s not that convincing. Similarly, this argument that everything is in the present for humans and that the past and future are mere illusions is also not convincing. But what complicates the situation further is that my co-worker stated that he has had out-of-body experiences when he has done meditation and has even stared into his own eyes. He has traveled to places, including the realm of no words talked about above. He has also stated that he has visited the past and altered the future. Now, if you believe that the past and future are mere illusions, and everything is the present, how can you alter something that doesn’t exist? I find it an inherent contradiction, an illogical flow.

On Christmas Eve, my co-worker gave me a piece of paper on meditation. The first paragraph opens like this:

My approach to meditation is very simple: be still, relax, pay attention, and assume no relationship to anything that arises. No relationship to your consciousness is the posture of freedom. When you assume no relationship to your experience, you are aligning with the deepest part of yourself, which is the ground of all being. That groundless ground has never had a relationship to anything that ever happened in time, because it always abides prior to the world of time, form, and mind.

I find the second and third sentences really problematic. How can one sever one’s relationship with her own consciousness and expect to be free? This is emblematic of bad faith. I always personally believed that severing one’s relationship to one’s own consciousness is not freedom but in fact it’s quite the opposite, that one is actually running away from one’s freedom. Of course, when we contemplate about death it, effectively put, scares the shit out of us and puts an uneasy burden on our consciousness. It’s exactly the same when we realize how radically free we are. It’s really disturbing. In response to this, one of the ways to react to it and live in bad faith is to deny one’s freedom by severing one’s relationship with her own consciousness — severing one’s relationship to what one calls the “I.” What a beautiful one letter word! Assuming no relationship to one’s own experiences is only furthering bad faith. We learn from our experiences and I find it confusing when one says that she can have an awareness of herself without any recorse to her experiences. We base our actions on our experiences and how we create our subsequent actions after them show our awareness of our relationship to the world. I think when a person says that they want to understand the deepest sense of their being without consulting her experiences is not attaining freedom. Only delusion. To have an awareness of one’s person without consulting one’s own person is not a way to freedom. A way to obtain awareness of one’s world without consulting the world is not a way to freedom. We and our experiences are grounded in this world and trying to obtain an understanding of ourselves and the world s0 we can be free means we have to consult our personhood, which is grounded in this world. As one of my favorite philosophy professors put it once when we were discussing Heidegger: “We can’t crouch (shit) outside of the world.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I think meditation is a great thing. It helps reduce stress and brings comfort in one’s life when things seem so cluttered. Numerous studies have shown how meditation is extremely healthy and a great way to relieve stress. However, I just have a problem when someone says that she’ll have an understanding of herself by visiting this realm of no words, and thus be more free. We as humans understand through words, concepts, and symbols, images, feelings, and experiences. Take them away, how will we understand? How will we be free? Freedom requires an understanding of ourselves. It also requires action. When someone or something deprives our freedom, we realize and understand that something’s happened, that we’ve been wronged. Once again, I might be using freedom in a social sense. But we do in a sense base our understanding of social freedom through our understanding of personal/individual freedom even though the two might be different.

I have to make a confession. I used to be part of a Sufi group that was distinguishable from others due to its insistence on meditation. It’s called “Muraqaba.” What drew me to Sufism was its intense spirituality and a desire to reach the highest enlightenment stage called ehsan, where one prayed to God as though one can see him, and if not, know that he’s looking at you. I think this is the highest spiritual stage that all Muslims work hard to achieve and Sufism is that spiritual aspect of Islam helping you to get there. What I like about Sufism is that it doesn’t view the world through a black and white lens. It realizes that the world is so gray. I feel that some of my friends who are not Sufis and are super-religious view the world as either black and white. Even though I love them to death, I feel as if they act as they’ve figured it all out. If you can’t figure this life out, how can you figure or, at least, act as if you’ve figured out the next? You’re how old? Twenty to twenty-five years old? Hopefully, your whole life is ahead of you to learn more about it instead of saying you’ve figured it all out in your young age. It reminds me of that kid in that scary documentary Jesus Camp who said that he was “saved” when he was only five. Excuse me, I’m sorry, but how the fuck is that possible? How can you figure it all out at five? I think that’s what I like about Sufism. It realizes that the world is not black and white, highly complex, and that life is a learning process to develop and reach that stage of ehsan. It’s not something you get right away. Obtaining that stage takes a lifetime. You must work hard for it and it doesn’t happen right away, not only you work with the Shaykh (the spiritual teacher) but mostly with yourself. It’s a personal process and lets you know how seriously you take it. For those who act that they’ve figured it all out and that they’ve been “saved,” gives them the arrogance of Gabriel from James Baldwin’s novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. Faith is in fact not an expression of that you’ve figured it all out but instead a slow process of learning and understanding that may take a lifetime. I guess now that I reflect upon it, I think that’s why I stopped doing the meditation and left that group because I became disenchanted and frustrated that things weren’t coming so fast. That I fell asleep during the muraqaba, haha, and also that I just became too busy with life. Also that I felt that I rushed into it, seeking quick solutions to my pain and, generally, confusion with life. I told one of my friends, whose religious advice I greatly appreciate it (shoutout to Sanzid) this and he basically scolded me. I guess he’s right. I’m not a patient person at all. I guess after abandoning Sufism, my interest in it and the desire for it intensified after listening to a couple of my brother’s dear friends at Stony Brook. Their knowledge of Sufism and just religion in general (since they’re religious studies majors) is so inspiring since I have no idea what they’re talking about, haha. But you know that what they’re talking about is really deep and that’s really a good thing since that inspires you to want to know. One of them has a blog that you can read and you can see how deep they can get (a shoutout to him). Thanks to them, conversations with them have only reignited the passion for Sufism again and I feel now that I’ve made a mistake for leaving it. One has invited me to take an Ibn Arabi class in Stony Brook next fall semester there and I think I might since it’s a late night class and that the next year of law school won’t be as intense as this year.

But what really prompted me to write this entry is that for Friday prayer today, the guest speaker was the Sufi Shaykh I gave allegiance to. I felt tremendous guilt because I found out from a friend of mine that one of his students said that the Shaykh liked me. When I saw him, I had to physically restrain myself from cursing out loud in the mosque. I feel bad that I don’t give a call any more, just to say what’s up, haha. Although some of his active students were present, the whole time he gave his speech, he stared right at me. Whenever he said, “disobedient,” he stared at me, haha. Shit! Perhaps that’s just my guilt talking but I could have sworn. But it’s true that he stared at me throughout the whole speech. He must have wondered where I had went. It’s been two years since I’ve talked to him. He must have been wondering what happened to me. And there we were, making eye contact. He talked about how we are thankless to those who help us out. Shit! When the prayer was finished, I felt like I had to go up to him and just talk to him. But I didn’t. I felt I’d be too ashamed to look at his face and answer, naturally, the questions he would ask me. “Sorry, Shaykh, but I thought I’d go and do this myself. Try to figure it out. I need my own space. Need to figure this all out by myself. Don’t need ya help. It’s after all my life.” I’m an arrogant asshole, aren’t I? I should have talked to him. Said ‘hi,’ at least. To tell him what has been going on with me for these past two years. I think I should give him a call and thank him for being patient with me and with my questions. That he really helped me out. I should go to the spiritual meetings he holds each month and just have a heart-to-heart conversations with him like I used to two years ago. I should tell him that I’m in Ghazali’s state before he went off in the desert to go on that spiritual journey. I should tell him that I’m a character in an Ingmar Bergman film. I could go either way. Ah, why did I walk away without saying something? It’s so disrespectful. Perhaps, after all, instead of visiting the Shaykh, I need to visit the shrink. Such a nice and understanding guy, cares for me, and that’s how I repay him back? — even though knowing that he doesn’t want to be repaid back for anything. I dunno. Yes, I should give him a call. I hope I have a long life ahead of me to figure it all out. If I sit down and meditate, for spiritual reasons rather than solely for relieving stress, to find an awareness not only of myself but to reach a certain spiritual stage, does that mean I’ll contradict everything I’ve written above? Everything that I’ve taken time to write about above? Ah, man needs confidence to cut through the grayness in order to live colorfully.

Currently listening to: Bob Dylan – Modern Times

December 23, 2008

Ah, Billie Holiday! Could There Ever Be Anyone Sweeter Than You?

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 11:06 pm
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Sorry for not updating in so long. I’ve been incredibly busy these past few days preparing for today. Today was the day of the claimant’s hearing. It was also the first day I ever wore a suit. I had to wear one in front of the judge. Although it looked nice, for some strange reason I felt like Dostoyevsky on that life-changing day when wearing it — especially due to the tie! I arrived at the Department of Labor in Garden City around 8:15 a.m. I read over the direct and cross questions (about 80 of them altogether) in the car, staring at the rearview mirror to practice (if my advisor reads this blog, I’m so going to get in trouble). I met the claimant in the waiting room at 8:30 a.m. and we went over the questions I prepared. She was really nervous, but after a couple of jokes, I kind of got her to relax a little. Approximately at 9 a.m., one of the managers (representing the employer’s side and opposing the claimant’s desire to obtain unemployment benefits) showed up. She totally freaked when she saw me. Little did she know that this was my first case and that I had only finished one semester of law school so far. I felt a boost of confidence after that and my nervousness subsided somewhat. However, it returned when that manager and another showed up with their representative at 9:30 a.m. He’s a commercial litigator from Great Neck with 30+ years of experience. Needless to say, it was my turn to be freaked out. But incredibly, I kept myself calm. The attorney had the managers step outside of the waiting room and told them that he’ll get them at 10 a.m., the time the hearing was scheduled. He returned and took out a copy of a McKinney’s in front of us, looking at statutes (blatantly a maneuver to intimidate us). Few minutes before 10 a.m., I heard the sound of a saxophone coming from the speaker in the waiting room of the Unemployment hearing. I listened closely and heard that beautiful, sweet, and distinctive voice of Billie Holiday. It was her song “Lover Man” playing — one of my favorite songs ever. It put a huge smile on my face. At 10 a.m. sharp, the judge called us all into her office to start the hearing. The setting was really informal. It took place in the judge’s office and we all sat a table. The judge turned on the tape recorder and explained the procedure. After she finished doing that, she began asking the claimant questions. She pretty much asked majority of the questions I had prepared to ask the claimant on the direct. After the judge was done, she asked if I had any questions I needed to ask the claimant for the direct, I said “yes,” and she let me start. The attorney kept on objecting to my questions but the judge was cool, she kept on overruling them. One of them, she sustained because I phrased it in a leading manner which you can’t ask during the direct. After I was done, the attorney did his cross. Here, the most embarassing thing happened. I objected to the first question he asked the claimant. The judge asked for my reason and I said “Isn’t that leading?” The judge looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is cross-examination.” I totally forgot. I must have looked like a fool. My advisor and the attorneys that work in the law firm I work in had a good laugh when I told them about it later on. Something came up in the claimant’s testimony which made the judge modify the case by adding an additional element that I had to prove on behalf of the claimant. Great! After a brief recess and questioning the claimant, I decided to not go with the adjournment that was offered by the judge and decided to go ahead with the proceeding. Then came the office manager of the employer’s side. After she was sworn in, the attorney did the direct. Afterwards, I did my cross. I totally annihilated the office manager. I didn’t use any of the cross questions I had prepared prior to the hearing. I just used the words she gave in the direct against her. I made her stumble over her own sentences, made her contradict herself, and made her quiet. It felt really good. Although she seemed like a sweet woman (I bet she is), you have to lay a trap for the witness of the otherside in a cross. And the great thing is that she fell right in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much luck with the other manager. I couldn’t get anything out of her but you could tell that the judge was getting frustrated with this witness when the judge was questioning her. Afterwards, we were given an opportunity to make our closing statements. The attorney went first and then I did. It all came to an end at 12:30 p.m. We were told that we will find out about the judge’s decision two to three weeks from now. I asked the claimant how she felt about the hearing and she said that she’s not sure, it’s too close to call. I agree. It could go either way. I felt that the attorney exposed some of the weaknesses in my legal theory and I felt I exposed some of his. Wouldn’t it be a great story to tell that a law student who has studied law only for one semester beating an attorney with 30+ years of experience? Hopefully the judge will decide in the claimant’s favor. I feel really bad for her. She had such a heartbreaking case. I’m not only saying that because I represent her. She has a job interview this Monday and I hope she gets that job so she can continue on with her life and not worry about her dreams being clouded by despair and hopelessness that are bound to take place after long periods of unemployment. Will let you know for sure what the outcome of the case is. Keep your fingers crossed!

I bought the Watchmen graphic novel today. Can’t wait to bury my nose into it.

Currently listening to: The Doors – L.A. Woman

December 20, 2008

A piece written by the 19-year old Jack Kerouac

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 10:38 am
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My Mad Sunset Birth” by Jack Kerouac.

P.S. Today’s my first meeting with the client. I’m going to meet her at a local public library near her place. I’m nervous, but I’m beginning to feel really confident. I’ll get a better understanding of the case after meeting with her as opposed to going in only with a small blurb written by the UAC when you get the case. Today, the meeting is just about her telling me her story. Afterwards, I’ll look over the fact pattern, spot the issues, and start doing my research. My advisor (who is really cool!) has done about 17-18 cases already and she told me that there are some cases that just bum you out because of your client’s story. She told me that after hearing one of them, she sat by herself for a while and didn’t say anything. But the thing is that although their stories do depress us, we have now been given the power to scribble into the pages of those stories. I think as law students, we have to keep in mind that no matter how depressing the story, we have been given (or more properly put, will inherit) the immense power of potentially changing all sad stories into happy ones. This is the art of the lawyer. Will update you on how the meeting went.

Currently listening to: Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign

December 19, 2008

Day of the Lords

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 3:34 am
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Just came back from the work party commemorating the tenth anniversary of the law firm’s existence (It was held at the Glen Head Country Club, a small yet cozy place full of warmth. Despite it being such a nice place, it was definitely hard to find. I came an hour and thirty minutes late because I couldn’t find it. I swear to you that I kept on driving circles. The GPS (what I affectionately like to call “Goddamn Piece of Shit”) kept on telling me to make U-turns and when I did, it would always say that I just missed the place. This vicious cycle lasted for a whole hour. Honest to God, I thought I was in The Twilight Zone. Remember the episode where that guy sat in the train and he would always stop at the same station, no matter what he did? That was me. When I finally arrived, I saw that everyone was there. How embarrassing! I found out that they announced my name so I can be introduced to the families of the attorneys and staff members of the firm. Heads turned to look for me, haha. Even more embarrassing! It kind of struck me as funny because it’s not that different from the work setting where my boss calls for me on the speaker and I’m walking around outside, aimlessly, in Mineola. Also, all the men were dressed in suits and the women in dress. For those of you who know me personally, don’t worry, I didn’t wear my corduroys, I tucked my shirt in, and also combed my hair, although I did look like a lost, starving poet, plagued by storms, amongst comfortable lords. I had a really good time though. I played blackjack all night and won $3700 (sadly, it wasn’t real). I met the wives, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends of attorneys and staff members and they were all really nice. One of them, a wife of one of the counsel attorneys (who by the way, studied in Paris during 1968!…I have yet to ask him about it), said she heard so much about me. Michael, one of the youngest associates in the firm, told me that all I need to know from law school for purposes of practicing law is to learn how to do research. That’s it. How awfully true. I had a great time but something within me kept my eyes darting towards the open doors – hoping, just hoping, but never came…

Guess what? I’ve got my first case from the Unemployment Action Center. The hearing for my client is on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Garden City. Although I’m not going to talk about the details of the case, I do hope I get over this anxious feeling. I did well in keeping myself composed while taking my finals, but this is totally different. This is the first case of my legal profession and someone’s interests are at stake and it all depends upon me to make her win the unemployment benefits. So much rests on your shoulders. Tomorrow I’m going to give my client a call. Saturday, make the first interview. Saturday night and Sunday, hit the books and do research, develop a strategy, blah blah blah. Monday, go to the Department of Labor in Garden City to review and study in depth my client’s file to see if she hasn’t left anything out, and also go over with the client any last things. Tuesday, judgment day. It’s incredibly nerve-racking, yet extremely exciting! Wish me luck!

By the way, I saw The Jane Austen Book Club. I was disappointed with the film but it nevertheless inspired me to pick up Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice. I’ve never read it before but look forward to enjoying it.

Currently listening to: Mission of Burma – The Obliterati

December 16, 2008

“What Is House Music?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 9:10 pm
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Nearly 30 pages away from being done with James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. Such an amazing novel.

Bought some really neat books and records today:

Appointment in Samarra – John O’Hara

The Wretched of the Earth – Frantz Fanon

The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir

Palace Walk (Part I of the Cairo Trilogy) – Naguib Mahfouz

Everything All the Time – Band of Horses

L.A. Woman – The Doors

Modern Times – Bob Dylan

Incredible Jazz Guitar – Wes Montgomery

One of my co-workers, who also happens to be a DJ, gave me a CD today of various house music songs on it. He wrote “What is House Music?” on it in black marker, thereby preempting me from asking him that question. “It’s really spiritual stuff, man. Don’t listen to it right away. Listen to it when you know that the time is right. When everything in your life is in harmony with the world’s essence, man.” Despite of my severe distrust for such language, something tells me that this is going to be really interesting…

Currently listening to: Band of Horses – Everything All the Time

December 15, 2008

She tapped her foot in the elevator and said, “If there was no such thing as music, there’d be no joy.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 10:58 pm
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I’m back!  My last final was today. Can’t believe that half of the first year is already done. It went by so fast!

So what did I do as I handed in the Torts exam? Left the law school, didn’t look back, and went straight to the Guitar Center near my work. I bought my first bass guitar. It’s the Squier Jazz Bass Affinity series model. It came in a package with simple instructions: “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing.” So I did exactly that. It includes a 15-watt amp, headphones, gig bag, strap, DVD Instruction, tuner, and a cable–all for $279 (including the bass, of course). I absolutely love it. I just learned how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” haha. Only my two-year old nephew would appreciate that. It’ll blow his mind away completely. I plan to play this bass throughout the next three years and hopefully upgrade to a real Fender Jazz after graduation.

So after I bought the bass, I went straight to work. Even though I was gone for a couple of weeks, I didn’t realize how much I missed some of my co-workers. Some of the people thought I got canned, haha. After a brief celebration of what seemed to be a warrior’s return back home, I got bombarded with papers. One of the partners there, after finding out that I finished my last final for the semster, gave me great advice and encouraging words. Oh, I’ve got to tell you. While driving to the school in the morning today, the Northern State Parkway was jammed because there was a car on fire on one of the lanes ahead. It was 7:30 in the morning and I had an hour to make it to my exam (I made it to the test room at 8:20). Suddenly, I hear someone honking right beside me and calling out my name. I turned my head to see who it was. I couldn’t believe it. It was Ed, an attorney from the firm I work in. He’s a Hofstra Law alumni and absolutely such a great guy. I think if  there has to be anyone who prepared me to handle law school, it has to be him. Hands down. He told me that the only way to survive law school and to do well there is to have confidence. That’s it. Anway, I’ll be working there full-time this winter. I think I’m also going to request a case from the Unemployment Action Center tomorrow. Oh man, I also have to make an appointment with the Office of Career Service to have them look over my resume.

So now what? A whole month to myself. Hopefully, I’ll get to read some good books. Watch good films. Listen to good music. Have good sleep. Play music. Hopefully, I can dedicate time to my poetry this winter. I haven’t written a single poem in over a year and that frustrates me. I’ve looked at all the poems that I’ve written in the past and feel like destroying every last one of them. Besides that, I hope I get to spend a lot of time in the city. See some art. Hopefully, I’ll learn how to cook. I want to take care of my health. Learn French. Most of all, above anything else I desire, I hope to see that beautiful, smiling face. Sometimes I think I’m going to get hurt real badly and when it happens, it’ll be of my own doing. I guess that’s just my insecurities talking. But what would we be without our insecurities? They’re our personal prophets who write apocalyptic scriptures upon our conscience. These doomsayers explicitly warn that if we don’t heed them, we’ll lay down cobblestones that’ll create pathways to our heartbreaks. Quoting the title of a well-known jazz tune, while at the same time being fueled by the Beat-driven ethos/madness, leads to me to evoke some of the most holiest words a human being can ever utter: “So What”?

Currently listening to: Lou Reed – Transformer

December 3, 2008

Taking a Break

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 9:23 am
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I’m going to be taking a break from blogging (and pretty much everything else) for the next 12 days. My first final is going to be this Monday and the last one is on the 15th. I’m pretty calm right now which is quite strange for me because I usually start panicking right before exams. I’m actually freaking out about not freaking out. Anyways, since I see that I’ve developed a small yet consistent readership, expect the next blog entry to be on the 15th. Take care until then! Au revoir, amants!

By the way, when I outline for my classes, I have this marathon of records and songs playing, back-to-back. One of the songs that makes a constant appearance on my playlist for studying is “This Year” by The Mountain Goats. It has the power of making a cold, lonely, dark, and concrete parking garage into a paradise. The flowing puddles after a rainy day into sacred rivers. And the doors of cars slamming off in the distance into the clapping of barefooted angels. “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.” Ah, what a perfect chant for a 1L.

Currently listening to: Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan

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