Counting Sheep

It’s late on a Monday night; late as far as I’m concerned, anyway. I have to get up for work at 6:00 tomorrow morning but as midnight approaches I find myself unable to sleep. So here I am staring blankly at a computer screen whose glowing phosphors serve as the sole source of light in the room. There’s something slightly eerie about sitting in front of a monitor, whether it be that of a computer or television, without any other lights on. Awash in its brightness, I feel exposed, as if the focal point of any eyes lurking in the darkness beyond.

I probably shouldn’t have taken that nap earlier; I think that kind of threw me out of whack. That, and I seem to have a lot on my mind, which is not unusual. I have always been hopelessly inept at shelving thoughts in the interests of falling quickly to sleep at night. Too often I find myself gazing toward the ceiling while lying in bed, thinking about what lay in store in the coming days or, more likely, what I have come to know in days passed. After the bustle of daily activity subsides and I lay in darkness, alone with my thoughts, I find myself finally able to get some real thinking done. There are no tasks to perform or conversations on which to focus; my mind is free to wander to those strange, mysterious places only the mind can go.

A-ha! It seems my suspicions concerning lurking eyes were not wholly unfounded. As I type this a small fly dances across the computer screen, apparently more concerned with reaching some point inside my computer monitor than getting any sleep. It seems perfectly content with the idea of being completely revealed by the one light source in an otherwise unlit room. As for me, I’ve had about enough exposure, I think. It’s time I retreat into darkness and my bed concealed therein. I get this feeling I’m going to be bushed tomorrow…

“Well then why are you in law school?”

It’s a question I’ve been asked numerous times to which I have no answer. Well, no convincing answer, anyway.

I have just completed my first year of night school. Our last final was this past week and, thankfully, I am not taking classes this summer. My spring semester came to a typical conclusion, involving final exams for which I was grossly under prepared. Over the course of my academic career, I have come to take a perverse pleasure from walking into a test (partially?) unprepared. I am not sure how to explain it except to say that when you sit down in front of a piece of paper upon which most or all of your grade depends and realize you are ill-equipped to complete it, the adrenaline starts flowing. It dawns on you that you are going to have to dig deep, if you know what I mean. And so the game begins.

For quite some time I have had little aspiration of becoming an attorney. It just doesn’t seem like me. Voiced aloud, this sort of confession invariably earns an utterance along the lines of the title of this post. My usual response is, “I really don’t know.” And that’s the truth. I have long held at least a mild interest in the law. I am not sure if it was that interest or boredom or perhaps a combination thereof that drove me into law school. I can tell you that I work 40 hours a week now and for me that’s PLENTY; I have no desire to work any more than that. Some people believe the choice to be financially driven. I don’t think that’s it, either. Those things that bring me the most joy in life have little to do with money. I suppose what it comes down to is that maybe I pursue the law more as an avocation than a vocation. Such a realization is valuable to me; it allows me to assume that role of a “casual law student,” thus avoiding many of the stresses normally intrinsic to the pursuit of a law degree.

I should make one thing clear. In my mind, the field of law is an inherently noble profession, despite any less-than-savory characters who might lead you to believe otherwise. It is a system of principles and rules based on fairness; that, at least to me, demands a certain respect. For all its flaws, abuses, and apparent shortcomings in execution, the judicial system in this country has remained progressively flexible and generally effective since its inception 200 years ago. That impresses me.

So perhaps I am destined merely to admire the field of law from afar as a mere spectator, rather than a player. As with everything else, time will tell.

Unleaded

Lately, I’ve been amused at the to-do over rising gas prices in this country. Myself, I just find it hard to complain when our European brethren are paying an average of over $5/gallon to fill up. But I suppose that’s typical. It’s likely that most Americans don’t view Europeans, or the rest of the world for that matter, as brethren. For some reason we tend to feel as if we deserve better. Put that way, I guess we really do have something to complain about.

As it turns out, much of the price of European gasoline is attributable to taxes placed on it. United States gasoline prices include tax, as well (around 50 cents/gallon is attributable to taxes, varying by state), just not as much. Much of this tax goes toward supporting the highway infrastructure which, in the case of the U.S., is the best in the world. So here we are paying less than half the price for the same gasoline while enjoying a transportation system unmatched in the global community. But let’s complain.

I think some twisted part of me hopes that gasoline prices continue to rise. In such an instance, maybe alternative fuels would become a more attractive option for car manufacturers and the traveling public alike. Fossil fuels are not the future; that much is clear. Perhaps rising gas prices will encourage the utilization of car-pooling and mass transit. People in this country have developed this notion that it’s their inalienable right to drive their very own 1-ton (and any in many cases 2-ton and beyond) vehicle for the sole purpose of delivering only themselves from the suburbs to the city for work. It’s the American way: wanting all the benefits without any of the effort. I admit, I am guilty of this myself. I get in my car every morning, drive straight to work, and return straight home afterward; no messing around with picking people up or catching a bus (though, if mass transit were an option for me I’d seriously consider it). But I really should complain, I suppose.

Is OPEC a monster? Absolutely. But until I see American citizens (myself included) and, to an extent, corporations putting forth at least minimal effort to mitigate the impact of rising gasoline prices, and at the same time combat them, you won’t see me feeling sorry for us. Until then, for me and the Jetta, it’ll be 87-octane, please. And you won’t hear me complaining.

Life IS Good

On the car ride home from work today I had one of those moments where everything just felt GOOD. It’s a warm day and I had the wind in my hair as a great song came on the radio. I couldn’t help but smile as I cranked it up, sang those lyrics I knew, and fudged those I didn’t. Worries melted away, everything around me seemed to radiate an incredible energy as I was reminded, irrefutably, that Life IS Good.