Tag Archives: law school

The Three Years That Changed My Life

I talk a lot of schitt about college. It is a bitter topic for me, and I try pretty hard to convince young people not to go because no one grabbed me and told me I shouldn’t go. It sounds odd because, for decades, adults have been grabbing young people and telling them why they should go to college. It’s just that I found first hand with both college and then graduate school that the things adults tell young people when they grab them aren’t quite true anymore. College dropouts become rich CEOs (or rich rappers with aptly-titled CDs, not to mention slut-wives) while people who see college through end up in debt for at least 10 years while getting a starting salary of maybe $25,000/yr or $30,000/yr…whenever they’re lucky enough to even find a job.

At the same time…I have a hard time reconciling this knowledge/experience with the other experiences I gained from attending college and grad school, not to mention how to reconcile it with the respect I have for education and academic institutions in general. In fact, I can honestly say that grad school had a profound effect on my life. It changed my life, for better and for worse.

I skipped out on work Monday, and my mother and I went several places. One of them was a store that sells all college gear, particularly for sports fans. I’m always up for buying schitt that reps the University of Michigan (I damn-near have Michigan everything), which was my grad school–the school that changed my life. After we returned home, my mother and I were talking about how she, my father and my oldest sister lived in the San Francisco area before I was born. It was interesting that this came up, because I had been thinking a lot about something recently. This led me to tell my mother something no one knows about me.

Everyone who has known me for long enough knows I love Michigan. Love Michigan.

But Stanford is my dream school. It was my dream school when I headed to Michigan. If I could think of a reason to go to Stanford and afford it right now, I would. And as much as I liked Michigan, had I gotten accepted to Stanford for law school as well, that’s where I would have gone. Of course, the three best law schools in the nation rejected me (Harvard, Yale, Stanford); I very nearly had my choice of top law schools aside from those. The only other school that felt “right” aside from Stanford was Michigan. So, despite the better scholarship offers from other schools and the questioning from fellow Southerners, I went to Michigan.

My mother’s response–to my mentioning that I didn’t get into Stanford and that was the only reason my parents didn’t end up taking trips back to the SF area for [at least] three years instead of to Ann Arbor for three years–was something along the lines, of course, of “everything happens for a reason.”

Oh, of course. I know Michigan happened for a reason. I wouldn’t trade my time at Michigan for Stanford. Would I trade it for less debt, to get back the debt it put me in? That’s a tougher question, it really is.

See, among many things, Michigan is, for me:

-Where I realized I could actually be friends with other women

-Where I fell in love with sports

-Where I truly accepted that I am, and started identifying as, a lesbian

-Where I learned that college towns–not suburbs, not the country and definitely not cities–are right for me

-Where I found the only “community” to which I 100% love belonging (um, sorry, blacks and LGBTs and women)

-Where I really began to recognize, love and appreciate the black or African-descent woman, as well as her beauty

And it’s not all positive experiences.

I suffered from depression for at least a semester while I was at Michigan, which led to my seeing a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist was one of my friends, but we still had real sessions. It’s interesting–for much of my life growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist…got my psych degree. Never once did I think that people could walk out of counseling sessions feeling worse than when they entered them, but that’s how I felt after every session with my friend/psychotherapist–every…single…one. Needless to say, that’s not how I recovered from depression…but that’s a story for another time. ūüėČ

I also had a racial experience at Michigan that is the base reason for why I just don’t view white women in a romantic light/as a romantic option anymore and probably never will again. Obviously, you can’t make an entire race/sex carry the burden for something that happened with one person of that background, and that’s not really the case here…but it got the ball rolling, I learned a lot about the deep lack of understanding between black people and white people (of each other, not just white people not understanding blacks), and now I’m where I am. I must say that, although I wouldn’t quite say I’m glad the experience happened, it was good for me in some ways. Out of it grew the way I now see black women, which is a way in which I didn’t quite view them before. And I think it’s important for black women to completely see other black women’s worth, beauty, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. If we can’t see it, who can/will?

And obviously, it goes without saying that being in debt for the rest of my life is not anything positive that Michigan gave me.

But even out of these three negative experiences came a lot of learning, very important learning and experiences. I went through everything and then some at Michigan–really could have a TV series based off it…we’ll call it “Ann Arbor 48109” or “Michigan Law”–whereas my college experience was relatively uneventful.

I mentioned one of the things I gained from Michigan was a love of sports. I even did some sports writing on the side. Well…people who don’t understand sports or diehard fans or why fans and experts get so emotional…they often ask about it. One of the things I try to articulate, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, is my belief that love for a particular sport or team usually doesn’t develop from the sport/team. To me, there is usually something else–being from a particular city or state, the people around you, the school you attend. First and foremost, I love my school because of everything I went through there, everything it made me, everything it taught me. And that led me to support my school in whatever, be it sports or anything else. It’s the reason why I will watch garbage like baseball from time to time or softball (which…softball, for some reason, I actually like now)–if it’s Michigan playing, I will watch.

My favorite sports are football and basketball. I grew up playing basketball, and my family is a basketball family. My father has basketball championships. But I hated football growing up. After attending Michigan, a huge football school, football is my favorite sport. I didn’t suddenly become interested in guys running for three yards and passing for 15 yards just because it was interesting. It never was, originally. Truthfully, if it’s the NFL, it’s still not interesting greater than 50% of the time. I just don’t have that NFL equivalent to Michigan, no emotional connection. I hate where I’m from, so why would I root for my state’s NFL team?

Michigan is why I like college football and why that’s my favorite sport. And the love I have for my school is why losses are so painful–particularly certain ones. Any loss to Ohio State or Michigan State (rivals). The loss to Indiana in basketball earlier this year that cost Michigan a conference championship…that still brings tears to my eyes because of the way it happened. Even my father cursed and was angry after Michigan lost that game, and he, being an SEC guy, likes to pretend he is not a Michigan fan (he is). There are other Michigan losses I could reference using just two words, and [college] sports fans would know what I’m talking about–Appalachian State and Time Out. Horrific and horrific. We (Michigan) have the most legendary fails in college sports, for real, so you can’t blame me for feeling pain. But we are also among the most successful programs in college sports, so you can’t blame me for feeling pride, either.

So, would I want to give all of this back for, oh, $100,000? I don’t know who I’d be without all of this.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life Took All of My Friends

If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I don’t have any friends. Now, there are probably some people who would take exception with my writing that because they consider themselves my friends. Some of them even have the link to this blog (who knows if they read it?). It is not my intention to offend any of these people.

So, let me put that another way:

I no longer have friends in the same sense that I did 10, or even 5, years ago when I and most of my friends were in our 20s. I used to have different kinds of friends for so many different categories. I had a male best friend, a female best friend, a music best friend, a girlfriend best friend, a law school best friend. White best friend, black best friend, Asian best friend, gay best friend, lesbian best friend. Now pretty much all of my friends fit into one big category–friends I hardly speak with/hear from. Although some other people don’t feel this way–especially married women, it seems–I can’t help but feel this is the same as having no friends.

Yes, this damn overrated life strikes again. I’m not sure, but I believe some people would say life gets better with age. To this point, all I’ve seen is that life gets worse with it. I miss so many things about being younger, but the two things I miss the most are 1) having far fewer legitimate worries, concerns and responsibilities, and 2) easily being able to find people to socialize with. To me, there is just nothing like meeting people at school. We now have co-workers socializing and even dating each other outside of the workplace and people meeting on the internet, but I just feel as if school is the most natural way to meet people and forge relationships. I just can’t shake the idea that I’m supposed to do little more at work than work and that work is meant to be left at work. And interacting with people online, for me, has been an accelerated version of forming relationships in person, i.e. the lack of communication starts to happen way quicker.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I did something wrong. But I think that, with most of my friends, my friendships have taken a fairly normal turn that just seems to be the way friendships progress in life–especially with women and especially with age. As people grow up and develop more worries, concerns and responsibilities, friendship slips down the list of priorities–which I find ironic in some ways. It seems like you’d need a good friend more when dealing with things life throws at you as an adult than the crap life throws at you as a teenager or 20something, but there ya go.

Do You See Your Friends Here?

This is a general list of what life has transformed my friends into, resulting in their not really being my friends. These are not necessarily all individual people–there is some overlap among these adult friend types.

The Friend With Serious Problems: One of my friends is basically homeless because he decided to “come out” in a profession that is particularly against homosexuality. Last I heard from him, he was staying with a friend because he lost his house and car. Another one of my friends is going through a divorce and likely dealing with having to move and find a job. Make no mistake–this is all horrible schitt. My point here is not so much that they’re not here to tap dance for me and tell jokes when I get bored–it’s more like the point I made above about the irony of friendship becoming less of a priority, or at least that’s how it seems. You can never really know what’s going on in someone’s mind. But it just seems that as teenagers a friend will call you every single time she has any dumb problem, but as an adult your friend will fall off the face of the earth when real problems arise.

The Friend Who Talks About Himself 90% of the Time: This is almost the flip side of the friend who falls away when she has problems. No, this friend will communicate with you quite a bit, but almost every time it is to talk about what’s going on with him. He has very little interest in you, and, if he does, he doesn’t really do a good job of showing it. You can easily have a friend who was always like this, but sometimes life will turn a good friend into this type of person.

The Friend Who Was More Than a Friend: If you had a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a husband or wife, who was actually your friend, too, then this is the hardest friend to lose. The worst part is most romantic relationships end. So, if you’re not that lucky person who married your high school sweetheart and it will last forever, you will probably have at least one time in your life when you will lose a good friend because you happened to have a romantic relationship with that person which didn’t endure.

The Friend Who Only Cares About Her Partner/Family/Job: This has got to be one of the top two reasons why adult women lose friends. I had a friend with whom you could argue the friendship was over once she started dating the man she eventually married. It got worse each step of the way from there–moving in together, then getting engaged and finally getting married. A guy, and then kids, killed the friendship side of my relationship with my sister, as well. So many women’s lives amount to work, kids and their husbands, nothing else.

The Friend Who Only Cares About Local Friends: You could easily argue that, for people who attended college, this is the #1 reason why we lose friends. I made a lot of great friends in law school, but I can count on one hand the number of them I’ve even so much as Facebooked with in any way since graduation. I have my reason for why I haven’t spoken with most of them (which I’ll get to), and it’s not due to the fact that we’ve all gone our separate ways and live scattered across the country now. But for most people, there has just always been something about someone’s moving away that keeps them from being able to maintain any sort of long distance relationship.

The Friend You Always Have To Contact: I realized about a year and a half ago that I had among my friends the type whom I’d never hear from her if I didn’t contact her. Yep. A year and a half, counting and so far I’m dead on. Pretty sure I’ll never hear from her again.

The Friend Who Is Insecure About His Life: You might not even know that you have a friend whom you never hear from for this reason. But if you can even kind of pull off the appearance of a successful life–whether you are married or you have a good job or even a job you actually really like–then the chances are good that you have at least one friend out there who is comparing him/herself to you and feeling bad about the current state of his/her life. This is the reason why I didn’t hold up my end of the friendship bargain with some of my law school friends for a long time after graduation, and I have another friend with whom I’ve discussed this and she revealed she feels the same way about staying in touch with our fellow law school classmates. See, the problem that I’m just now starting to overcome and which I don’t believe my friend has overcome is this: we know that any time you start speaking with an old acquaintance, that person is going to want to get an update on your life. Uh…kinda problematic if your life sucks. Imagine having a bunch of doctors, lawyers and business owners for friends and former classmates, too (really, my Facebook friends list could be a Who’s Who of professionals), and having to face these queries. No–my friend and I just decided to avoid most people.

—-

I’ve probably forgotten a few types and maybe even a few of my other friends. But the bottom line either way is I miss having friends. Life, give me my friends back. Quit dealing them so many problems, insecurities, moving vans, jobs, husbands and kids! ūüėČ

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stuff You Probably Don’t Understand About Hotels

The week just started and I already need to get away from my job. Today was one of those “anything that can go wrong” days.

So, I’ll take you back to my first full-time job upon my last graduation. This is the kind of post that makes me wish I had a lot of readers, because this is must-read material here.

See, my first job after law school was working the front desk at a hotel. Like a bunch of other law school grads nowadays, I couldn’t get a job practicing law or even being a paralegal. Student loans were either deferred or close to coming off deferral/forbearance, so I no longer had time to play. I¬†needed a job. This was kind of before I figured out that I wanted a career in information technology.

I wanted to do something easy and incorrectly figured that working in a hotel would be it, especially at night. I wanted to work night audit, which involves some accounting-type of stuff and is also basically like being a night manager, and I was told when I was hired that I could work 40 hours doing night audit. Er…found out in training, though, that the manager had told almost everyone they hired (this was a new hotel that hadn’t even opened yet) that they, too, could work night audit and get 40 hours. Apparently, I was the only one who noticed this and realized that there was no way this could be true, and I brought it up to the assistant manager.

Long story short–ended up with about 30 hours working pretty much every shift, which basically made me a regular front desk worker who checks guests in and checks guests out except on the weekends when I worked night audit. My schedule was all over the place, except for the weekends (until I eventually got on night audit full time).

That’s when I started to see that front desk workers don’t just check guests in, check guests out, deal with payment and book reservations.

See, prior to having to work full time, I used to travel quite a bit. I still go a couple of places a year and often end up staying in a hotel. When I go to Michigan, I stay on the¬†University of Michigan¬†campus at the law quad most of the time, which is like staying at a hotel that doesn’t have everything a normal hotel has. The reason I thought working front desk at a hotel was easy is because my hotel stays have always included minimal contact with front desk staff. I would speak to them to check in and check out–that’s it. My parents were basically the same way whenever we traveled when I was a kid. I had no idea that this wasn’t how other people operated.

I was so blown away by stuff hotel guests do and say and expect until I sat down one night and started coming up with a list of things hotel guests need to get through their heads. I came up with over 10 things, but this was years ago and several laptops ago. When I saved the most important files off my other laptops, I guess I forgot the list existed and failed to save it. But for you…I still remember some of these things that I must pass along to you travelers, plus probably some additional ones.

1) Don’t leave home without knowing where you’re going. I am not sure I can really think of a good enough excuse to have to call the hotel and get help with finding them. There’s GPS on phones and in cars. There’s google and mapquest both on phones and on computers/laptops. There are even–my father’s favorite–old school maps! But, most of all, why would you go to a completely different city–especially if you’ve never been there before–and not have mapped out ¬†exactly how to get from point A to point B? You’re asking for bad things to happen to you.

2) If the hotel has working computers, for crying out loud, use them. What is the sense of coming to the front desk and asking them to look up stuff for you if the hotel has a “business center” or computers available for your use? Better yet, don’t the majority of you bring cell phones with internet access and/or laptops? It seems as if some of you just don’t think front desk workers have enough to do, so you take it upon yourself to give them busy work. Cut it out.

3) By the same token, if you’re not staying at a luxury hotel, don’t ask them to call anybody for you. I don’t get this staying at a Choice Hotel and asking front desk workers to call cabs, restaurants, pizza places or even the police for you. You have a phone in your room. Hell, you probably have a phone in your pocket. I think most hotels will act like this is the front desk’s job even if it has not been explicitly addressed. But I just don’t see how, in a cheap city like where I live now, treating you as if you should not have to lift a finger at all is included in a $59 or $69/night room…or how in, say, downtown Chicago, a $119/night Choice Hotel room means you should not have to lift a finger. Make your own damn restaurant reservations.

4) No, the front desk cannot control your next door neighbor.¬†Oh, it’s 2am and somebody down the hall is being noisy? Tough schitt. Especially if you don’t want to move rooms. If you don’t want to move rooms, what are you calling the front desk for? Did you really think the front desk worker was going to leave his/her actual job behind–manning the front desk–to come up to your floor and tie some kid up or put tape over the mouths of some ghetto adults? No can do. Beyond calling up to the noisy person’s room and asking him/her to quiet down, there’s not much the front desk can do. And even that or going up to that person’s room usually doesn’t amount to anything. And, please…if you’re going to whine about someone being noisy and seriously expect an effort to be made to shut somebody up, know the noisy room number. Finally, threatening to call the police on noisy people…um, unless they are fighting, banging on your door, shooting and such…you’re just being a little bit dramatic.

5) Please learn this about every type of customer service worker, including but not limited to hotel front desk workers–if you can easily access the person, he/she is probably not that important.¬†This means that this person makes very few decisions and has very little power. Hotel front desk workers often can’t do anything about your complaints, especially if you’re looking for stuff like free or reduced-price rooms because your stay was allegedly so awful, upgrades to suites and so on. And they usually are not at fault for the hotel being garbage in terms of the internet service, the breakfast served, the rooms or bathrooms not being clean enough for you, or anything else you can think of that’s wrong with your hotel stay.

6) In light of #5,¬†save your damn tantrums–they won’t get you anywhere. And it’s not simply because the person with whom you’re throwing a tantrum is a scrub. Just because someone works front desk at a hotel does not mean you’re better or smarter than they are, and it doesn’t mean you get to take out however you feel for whatever reason on this person just because he/she can’t really say anything back to you. So, if a worker feels mistreated for these reasons, the worker is going to have an eff-you attitude when it comes to assisting you. There are people who serve people in some capacity every day who don’t seem to understand this. One of the guys at my job complains all the time about our tech support callers, and, yet, he was being an ass on the phone with a customer service worker who, I guess, screwed up some order of his. Personally, the way I respond to a customer or client depends on how pleasant and reasonable the client’s demeanor is. Some people think being an ass gets results. More often than not, though, workers avoid you and leave you on hold longer when you call or pass the call off to someone else, and the people who are in charge start to not care if they lose your business (while you’re threatening to take your business elsewhere, a lot of people are silently hoping you will so they won’t have to deal with you ever again, i.e. that’s not an effective threat). But I will jump through hoops for nice people.

7)¬†Front desk workers are not babysitters.¬†This means that they’re not just sitting at the front desk keeping an eye on your car. They are working. So, if something bad happens to your car, unless the front desk worker did it, it’s not the hotel’s fault (yes, my hotel was blamed for someone breaking into someone’s car). If a stalker boyfriend might come to the hotel and find you, no, the front desk can’t keep an eye out for him (yes, I’ve had requests similar to this one once or twice). If you’re just checking into the hotel and want to leave your car right in front of the hotel entrance (blocking traffic), no, the front desk can’t make sure nothing happens to it or to your belongings.

8)¬†Don’t pay with a debit card.¬†Don’t even book with one, if you can help it. Weird stuff sometimes happen with debit cards, which leads to bewildered or angry hotel guests and silly confrontations with hotel front desk staff in which the guest doesn’t believe anything the front desk worker says (and, of course, it’s all the front desk’s fault). Long story short–if you don’t want to get charged before you check out, especially if you don’t have enough money on your card, just pay cash or use a credit card (or switch to a debit card when you’re checking out and get your cash back if you paid cash…CCs will not have been charged). You might not have issues every time or at every hotel with debit cards, but save yourself the hassle that one time at that one hotel by just never using them. And while you’re at it, learn how to read your card statements correctly (i.e. there’s a difference between “pending charge” and an actual one, and just because there’s a pending charge doesn’t mean it will go through).

9) Maybe the most important thing I can teach you about hotels–hotel front desk workers are usually poorly hired and poorly trained.¬†There’s a lot of turnover in hotels, and, though it seems that most jobs suck at training new employees, hotels particularly seem to not believe in training. They love to just throw a brand new person right on out there, and if the newbie is lucky he/she has been shown how to check people in, how to check them out, how to book reservations in the system and how to process payment. If the newbie is lucky. But considering that there’s an entire hotel layout–complete with a breakfast area and ice/drink machines–paid parking in the most major cities, specials and promotions, hotel booking websites like Hotwire that fax over reservations, different amenities in different bedrooms, guests who think the front desk staff is supposed to know any and everything about the hotel as well as the city, ways to handle certain situations and so on…newbies need way more than they get.

I don’t know what’s crazier–the fact that guests assume front desk workers know the local area like the backs of their hands or the fact that I’ve never known a hotel to include the local area in their training. The funny thing is managers will hire people who don’t know the area and this might be barely discussed in the interview, and then later on they’re kind of like, “Oh…XYZ doesn’t really know the area as well as she should…” And that’s not the only thing hotels screw up in hiring people. Hotels hire more bad fits for every single position they have–including manager–than probably any other industry. Because of the turnover and the fact that hotels are cheap–which leads to their not hiring enough workers, as well as their not doing everything they should to make their hotel meet customer expectations–they conduct quick interviews that don’t focus on the right things, such as customer service skills, the ability to calculate monetary change/prices/tax, and other areas that a particular manager might care a lot about (such as knowing the area well, if that’s important to that manager)…and then they are shocked when a front desk worker sucks or they can’t keep front desk workers for more than a few months. A lot of the time, it just seems as if they need someone and they grab the first person off the street. That’s not quite how it goes, but they do hire and put a new person at the front desk with the quickness.

—–

So, after learning all of this and doing night audit, I was basically handed the keys to that first hotel in which I worked. It would have been my business, except I wouldn’t have been the owner. But I would have been running it by myself. All nine of the things I just listed probably had something to do with the reason why I didn’t accept the keys, but none was bigger than #9. For one thing, I knew I had no business running a hotel. I learned from working there that the manager/owner had no idea how to make the right hires, and I had not been trained at all on how to run a hotel and would have received very little guidance on that. So, instead of looking at “I’m getting a promotion” or “I’m getting more money,” I looked at my lack of knowledge of the hospitality industry, my lack of knowledge of management and of my lacking the type of personality to “run” anything. I also looked at how everyone who had that position before me failed, and that eventually ended up including the main manager/owner.

But I got great references from that job, though. And plenty of crazy stories. I will never look at hotel stays the same way again, though.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,