Monday, August 31, 2009

Before I Move: Operation Rice Pudding

My Grandma made fantastic rice pudding. I don't know how to describe it without indulging every hyperbolic adjective I can think of: scrumptious, amazing, delicious, delightful, comforting, creamy, delectable, etc. There was literally no other dessert we chillins liked as much. I remember when my cousin R impaled himself on a piece of rebar after jumping off a trampoline. My favorite part of that whole adventure was the fact that Grandma made him rice pudding every day he spent in the hospital ... and she always brought extra over to me, Echo and Charlie. (What can I say, JM Barrie was right: children are heartless. Hey, he survived, right? And became the semi-legendary Boy Without A Bellybutton. I think a little rice pudding gluttony on my part is nothing to be ashamed of.)

(Yes, I know that there are two sentence/sentence fragments in the aforementioned paragraph that improperly end with a preposition. Sue me.)

The first week of my freshman year in college, my grandma passed away. (There's another. Also passive voice?) Among the many things I regret not asking her before her passing is the rice pudding recipe. Ever since, I have been doomed to subpar cups of Jell-O 10 calorie ridiculousness.

Until now.

Among the many things I am planning to do during my pre-law firm period of underemployment (watch football, write a novel, improve my snowboarding, paint, travel, just generally make memories), I am going to figure out the rice pudding recipe for which my grandma was widely renowned. Between and endless willingness to taste test rice pudding samples, I think it can be done.

Sure, there are some problems with my plan. Namely, I'm not a very good cook, and may very well run across the correct recipe, but due to my own culinary shortcomings, fail to recognize it as such since it will taste nothing like the original. But I will persevere. And succeed. And overcome. And whatever.

Experiment Number One:

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 cups milk
1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Combine rice, sugar, salt, and 1 1/2 cups milk in medium sized saucepan, cook on medium, stir until creamy and thick (15-20 minutes). Blend remaining milk and egg. Stir 2 minutes. Add butter and vanilla.

Verdict: Not quite sweet enough. Also, I definitely did something wrong - the egg didn't mix evenly, so there chunks of scrambled egg throughout the pudding. (Think ham fried rice style.) (Not as gross as I described it just now.) OK pudding, but not amazing. Possibly not thick enough? Also, I burned myself. (Not completely relevant, but worth mentioning.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Project: Beowulf on the Beach

Number 38

I was at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago with my friend Ryan when I noticed a paperback called Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits by Jack Murnighan. Intrigued, I picked it up and gave it a skim. Partly because it seemed interesting, and partly because it was on the "Buy 2, get the 3rd free!" table, I bought it (along with a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Working Poor by David Shipler).

Well, I've gotten around to actually reading it, and in doing so, I've found my new project. A Ph.D. in medieval and Renaissance literature, Murnighan picks 50 of the all-time greats (in his opinion, at least, but the list seems pretty standard) and tries to make the pitch for reading them (or re-reading them, in the case of hated high school classics like Moby Dick, Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights).

Challenge accepted.

So I have a new goal: reading the 50 books on Murnighan's list in the next year. Some of them are, frankly, pretty intimidating (I have never had any desire to read The Faerie Queen or Madame Bovary), but that's what unrealistic goals are all about, right?

So with the help of my friendly internet random number generator (see for a greater explanation), I have picked my first challenge:

Number 38: The Trial by Franz Kafka.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Age: 25

Status: Still having trouble with the parallel v. perpendicular distinction.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making monsters out of nothing

I usually pride myself on being pretty brave. I don't mind trying new food, or going new places. I like confrontation (probably more than I should) and don't get intimidated by challenges. (OK, yeah, the bar made me miserable, and I worried about it, but at no point was I actually scared. I guess we'll see if that changes if it turns out I failed and have to start studying again.)

My only real fear is heights, and even that kicks in at odd times. Sometimes I'm just fine at the rock climbing gym or on a roller coaster or in an airplane -- and sometimes I'm standing at the top of Wally's Wiggles in Zions, looking out over the canyon, and suddenly my knees turn to Jello and I know that there's ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY no way I am finishing the Angels Landing hike, and I have to turn around and face the opposite direction until I calm down. (It didn't help any that on the way down, my friend Sarah ran into a friend who informed us that two people died hiking Angels Landing last week. Yeah -- two people.) (Oh, and how dorky is it that the first thing Chris, Ryan and I did upon contemplating falling down the face of the mountain and into the Virgin River below was debate whether shouting out your will at the top of your lungs would do your heirs any good in probate? Reeeeeally dorky.)

But sometimes I get things into my head, and I just don't want to do them.

Like call my landlady.

So, I moved out of my apartment at the end of May, and my landlady still hasn't sent back my deposit or any letter explaining why she didn't refund the money. And I don't know what it was, other than the fact that I always kind of thought she didn't like me, but I DID NOT want to call her about it. It got to the point where I told myself, Wait until after the bar. Worry about it then. And then after the bar, Well, after you finish cleaning the kitchen. That's a big enough project for now or After I get home from Southern Utah. I can't call while I'm on vacation, right?

But finally I bit the bullet yesterday and called. It went to voicemail, and I rambled on about how I was sure it was just an oversight, but could she please send the deposit or a letter, please? (Yeah. "Please" was said more than once.)

She called me back just now, and it was no big deal. I gave her the new address; she said she would look up the receipt from the maid cleaning, and send me a check for the rest.

The end.

I still can't figure out why I was dreading that phone call so much, but I hope the next time I freak out over nothing, I try to remember most people are reasonable, and Chris, Ryan and Sarah made it back from the top of Angels Landing just fine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life in a post-bar exam world

My parents grow a lot of fruits and vegetables in their garden (and by a lot, I mean an obscene amount, and by garden, I mean plantation). In the last ten years, my dad's obsession has been blackberries, and even though we already have enough blackberries bushes to overwhelm the makers of Smuckers Jam, he still plants more every year. I think next summer he's going to devise a way to grow them on the roof.

Anyway, this means my siblings and I have the "opportunity" (quote marks used intentionally) to pick and sell berries every summer, which is actually a pretty sweet gig - and since I am currently underemployed, one that I was truly grateful for.

This morning I had two orders to fill, including one for XXX* in SLC. So I woke up, hauled my "sleeps in until ten now that the bar is over" bottom out of bed at (guh) 8 in the morning, and drove to Salt Lake to get their in time for their opening at 9 am. I delivered the berries, went to the grocery store, headed back up north, was nearly home and ...

Charlie called. XXX had called him, claiming they didn't order any berries for today.

I was flummoxed. Should I go back and get them? Start whining about the perfect tender rule? Rely on the solid legal grounds of, "Uh, yeah you did"?

So I turned around in Bountiful (stopping to flip off a lady who honked at me repeatedly for getting into the turn lane to turn and then staying there as I waited to turn- and tried not to think about whether Jesus would have behaved similarly in like circumstances) and drove all the way back to Salt Lake City.

To put it succinctly, I was in a pretty bad mood when I finally re-arrived at XXX. It got worse when the lady at the sales counter kept me waiting. And then worse still when the manager declined to come out front to explain to me how this all could have happened.

And then they found my weakness.

A sweet old lady came out with the blackberries, told me their boss was away and she didn't really know what was going on, but she was sorry for my trouble, and would I like a dozen chocolate covered strawberries to take home?

Anger = dissipated.

Candy and the elderly. They foil me every time.

* Kept anonymous to preserve good business relationships.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

That's the kind of lawyer I want to be

My friend Alex sent me this video. It's a response to a certain dancing-down-the-aisle-so-cute-I-could-die-despite-the-fact-it's-set-to-the-music-of-a-woman-beater video that went viral a little while back.

I need to start working on my high kicks.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Analogy Help

I've debated this with a couple of friends, and we all come up with different answers.

So, practicing law without a license is a big no-no in any jurisdiction, which means even after you've graduated from law school and received that sweet, sweet Juris Doctorate, you're still the equivalent of someone who got a master's in Russian literature. You might as well go pierce your tongue and start working at a Starbucks until you've passed the bar.

Some think that once you've graduated law school, you're a "lawyer," and once you've passed the bar, you're an "attorney." This distinction has never made any sense to me, since that would imply "lawyers" aren't really supposed to be practicing law.

I've always considered a law school graduate kind of like a fetus lawyer, and someone who has passed the bar a real baby. The summer after graduation? The long, icky process of labor.

My friend Chris thinks that when you graduate you're a baby, and when you pass the bar, it's like you're an adult, ready to go out into the world. He thinks the three years of law school should be analogous to the three trimesters - and if you abort yourself in the first year, no one thinks the worse of you, but if you tap out during 2L or 3L ... well, that's a bit more tragic. (I think that this analogy is a little too in-depth, but I will acknowledge mine is a little thin on details.)

Anyone out there want to weigh in on the proper description of a law grad with no ability to practice law? We did not discuss the repercussions of bar failure on the lawyer-as-baby analogy, because that would be depressing, but now that it's all over, feel free to toss out suggestions.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Random thought of the day: Mel Gibson

So I watched Lethal Weapon last night in the ER with Charlie ... is it just me, or should we have known Mel Gibson was totally batsh*t crazy a long, long time ago?

In any case, now I know who Jonathan Rys Myers of the "eyes widening, nostril flaring" school of acting thinks of when he plays Henry VIII.