the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Street Law: The Series?

So according to my mother, I have four jobs: dogwalking, book writer, legal writer, and now, television producing-type-person. I don't really know what to call it. Only legal writing pays the rent, so far (dogwalking doesn't actually produce that much dough, unsurprisingly). But the television is by for the most ridiculous. Somehow, a visionary yet obviously foolhardy producer/director named Gabriel Tolliver has taken an interest in me and The Street Law Handbook. His credentials seeme pretty damn impeccable and we are on our way to VH1. Of course, I actually have to put the show together. Is it just me or was this on Seinfeld?

First of all, I don' t watch a lot of television. And what I do watch is pretty embarrassing: reruns of the Simpsons, Seinfeld, Golden Girls and I Love Lucy, animal documentaries, any non-home-decorating show on BBCAmerica, the sex-and-murder movies on Lifetime Television for Women (as opposed to the child-and-disease ones, which are downers), PBS Mysteries featuring very dry British actors, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, historical biographies of royalty, writers or killers, Behind the Music (when it's on, which is not often), my show on MNN, and any miniseries from the 1980's that features exotic locales (my favorite is North and South, Books I and II). The only primetime show I ever seem to catch is Arrested Development, which is pretty funny, but I never remember to watch it. The only thing I do every day, rain or shine, is go to NY1 to see what the weather is and who killed who last night in Queens/Lower East Side/Long Island. If I'm a legal mood, I'll watch reruns of Law & Order (the original and Criminal Intent). All other legal shows are shit.

So there you have it. My entire exposure to television. The weird thing? My television is always on. I like to work with the sound of people talking in the background. I tried NPR, but I always get distracted or riled up and never get any work done. I should try classical music--that "Mozart for Babies" movement has got me thinking. The funny thing is that I never even look at the television. I prefer reruns because I've seen them all already and I barely register what they say.

(For the record, I can't go to coffeehouses to work for sound of people talking because those are real people talking and I get curious and start talking to them and never get any work done.)

But now, I need to start watching television, specifically VH1 and MTV and SpikeTV (God help me) . All those talking head shows with people giving carefully rehearsed opinions of the most ridiculous topics. (Already I'm visualizing my talking heads: Ice-T, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Chong and Moby. It's The Street Law Handbook Cast Recording, waiting to happen)

I can do this. I went to law school. I can write anything. It might even be good.

I might even get paid.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dirty Books

I think I've seceeded. I don't remember, actually. The reading, by a very fiery Jason Flores-Williams, was very good, and though he talked about secession, I think it was more about a kind of liberal rage at not being heard and having no power in this country. (Go, liberal rage!). There was also some performance art things I didn't quite understand, but it started to make sense three or four drinks in. The evening sort of devolved into me and Buffalo Mailer drunkenly stealing someone's Chinese food and Jason asking me questions like "tell me about life." I told him that you cannot expect decent conversation with an opening like that, and that he might do better if he stopped staring down my shirt.

The evening did make me wonder if their can't be a book about law and literature and sex. Namely, the law of porn/erotica. Buffalo and I were discussing Henry Miller (we're both fans, and his father wrote that book about Genius and Lust, which I have promised to go find) and I remembered what a brouhaha Tropic of Cancer caused in the legal world. It seems like the legal assessment of what literature is and is not porn has completely disappeared, especially when you can go buy a copy of Horny Jailbait Cheerleaders in multiple locations on 8th Avenue. But back in the day, they used to have trials about dirty books--not just Tropic of Cancer, but Lady Chatterly (go, John Thomas!), Fanny Hill, An American Tragedy, etc. I'm not sorry to see the trials of literature go, but I am curious as to what our newfound open mind has done to the secrecy and the naughtiness and the sense of rebellion that the best erotica can instill. Are there no taboos left?

And, if I can just make all this into a fun book--"The Trials and Tribulations of Dirty Books (That Everyone Should Read)" I'd be all set.

Note: Horny Jailbait Cheerleaders is not a real book. That I know of.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fan Fare and Fun Law

Well, it's happened. I have fans. A following really, ardent folks who wait eagerly to read the next installment of my so-called life. This is a good thing, as one sent me a friendly reminder of the signature I have at the end of my email that says "Updated Daily." What it should read, or does read, if you squint hard enough, is that it "May Be Updated Daily." Or perhaps, "Should Really Be Updated Daily." Or even "Wants To Be Updated Daily." Perhaps I should have been more clear. At any rate, the friendly cattle-prod from my one fan has got me typing, which can only result in goodness and peace and harmony.

Tonight I am off to something called a Secession Event, thrown by my ex-editor at High Times, Mr. J. Buffalo Mailer. I have no idea what this entails, except that I have shrewdly deduced that this has something to do with the inauguration that occured last week, cementing the fact that we are, as a whole, a really, really stupid people. So, much like the red states tried to do about a hundred-odd years ago, we are planning to secede. I am all for this, since the government doesn't give me any health insurance and I'm assuming I'll pay less taxes as a founding member of the new order. I am, however, reluctant to pledge allegience to a new ruler (unless it's little Prince William, in which case he gets all my attention). At any rate, the event should be good, even though a live reading is threatened, and I do know for a fact that this particular bar, at the end of the night when everyone is nicely toasted, pulls out a karoake machine. (I do apologize to all those who found my lyric-less rendition of Sex Pistol's God Save the Queen a bit ear-shattering. But then again, the original was both lyric-less and ear-shattering, so I think I have made my point). I have a good feeling about this event as I have invited a half dozen of my miscreant friends who have been snowbound and running out of vodka from the frig. (Please contribute to our cause; Paypal link listed below).*

So my question is this--if we can make politics hip and interesting (as the previous masthead of High Times tried to do, only to be told that straightforward stoner mags sell better), and if we can make science hip and interesting (SEED magazine--check it out) then there must be a way to make law hip and interesting. Enough of the pin-striped, gray haired, Y-chromosone dictatorship. Enough with crushing the will to live out of people who, if they had just gone into performance art or religious studies, might have been interesting. Enough with sanding our rough edges and deciphering the Rule of Perpetuities (Not enough has been said about the evil that the Rule of Perpetuities has caused. Who will pay for all that shock therapy--the firm? I think not). There must be a cutting edge in all that document review/due diligence/drafting memo life.

Law does teach us about politics and morality, gives us a way to deal with crime and punishment, and provides countless hours of courtroom entertainment in shows like "Fashion Court." I want to write the book that brings law to the MTV generation (in small ten-second segments for the attention-span challenged). Help me figure out how.

*There is no Paypal link. You're a little gullible.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Snowbound, chatty, and tipsy, actually. Is it bad form to blog blotto? But I had no less than three separate parties cancel tonight.

I can't think of any law related topics today. I was writing a drunken list of all the books that significantly altered my life. Not because they were written so well, but because they seemed to highlight a turning point (or cause one) in my non-reading self. There are many respectable books out there: Absolom, Absolom (Faulkner), Don Juan (Byron), The Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter) etc., etc., , but I get tired of people making Greatest Books In the World Lists. I'd like to say that Infinite Jest or Confederacy of Dunces changed my life, but they didn't. I loved Confederacy, couldn't get through Infinite, but they didn't change my life.

The list is weird. Witness:

Shakespeare's Stories: A kid's book with the summaries of Shakespeare's most famous tales. Discovered in elementary school library. Thought it was just another book with princesses and princes and dukes and magicians and cool stuff like that. But anyone who heard the title was so mysteriously impressed, so I decided to investigate this Shakespearean character. So it's the kid's book, not the plays, that change my life. Thank God it was illustrated, something that the adult versions sucked at.

Bohemian: Glamourous Outcasts: Just discovered this book a few months ago. The unconventional lives of artists makes mine seem so ordinary. Sometimes I like that.

Opus Pistorium: The King of All Dirty Books, discovered in college library. Ruined me for all porn and became the subject of a fictitious essay for I’d always dismissed Henry Miller as a misogynist—but what a misogynist! All fire and brimstone.

Franny & Zooey: I liked Catcher in the Rye, but Franny & Zooey was my bible. It talked about God, and meaning, and trying to find it in the preppie, chic, Upper East Side, intellectual, sweater-girl, co-ed, New England, All-American culture. It was pop culture, but inside were the simplest, purest comments on art and spirituality and the search for wisdom.

Raymond Chandler, canon. I loved his tough guy. I loved his poetry. I loved the nostalgic world he lived in. I loved the romance. And in the worst parts of my life, I would read every one of his his books on the treadmill, dreading when I would reach the last one. He encapsulated everything I love about old movies and earlier eras--and men.

P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster series. Less about the plot and more about the beautiful craft and comedy so bubbly, so light and frothy and frivolous as air itself. The ultimate in escapism. Like getting tipsy and never coming down.

Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook. I was amazed to find out at the tender age of 9, that there were others who actually pretended to live in a fantasy world—and made a million bucks out of the fact that others wanted to do the same. My parents heard about some kid killing himself and wouldn’t buy me the books. I got them anyway. Why do kids read so much science fiction and fantasy, and we adults grow out of it?

Princess Daisy: Discovered at my violin teacher's house while she was tuning my strings. Filled with the most baroque, luscious, ridiculously detailed descriptions—of characters, of places, of outfits. Like Vogue, 1979. It made me start imagining what it would be like to live in the big city.

Arranged Marriage. The first time I ever read an Indian author writing about Indians. After a while, I saw the flaws in her writing –all her men were almost uniformly bastards or dead, and it was all about the unhappiness of the Indian women and the uselessness of Indian men. I started to see flaws in the writing style a bit later and now I don’t read it much. It was the first book about Indian-Americans—I'd never thought we were good sources for literature before.

Lolita. The first time that I was able to really dig into this book was after it bored the hell out of me in school. When I read it, and reveled in the prose, and read it in class, it was the first time that I really studied anything modern, something that the trendy intellectuals liked. I would revisit it and learn every line in it eventually. It was a pure love of words.

Edgar Allen Poe, Abridged Illustrated Children's Treasury. The stories of Edgar Allan Poe in an abridged, pocket-sized treasury version with writing on one side and picture on the other. I must not have read that many words, but this book scared the bejeezus out of me to the point where I actually vomited out of fear in the middle of the night. I dreamt of people standing in my room, waiting for me to sleep so they could kill me. I dreamt of women clawing their way out of coffins and roaming into the halls with the sole purpose of tearing someone’s throat out. In short, it made me a big chicken and I still hide under the covers when I see a really scary movie (I can’t even watch The Shining).

D'Auliere’s Book of Greek Mythology. There would be better ones, with better illustrations and more details, but this is what got me obsessed with Greek mythology and the idea that there could be pantheons of really cool gods and adventures and a form of fairy tales that adults actuallyseemed to respect.

Dancing Wu Li Masters: A book which told me that philosophy, religion and science all met at some bizarro land called Quantum Physics. Science as nihilism, yet strangely optimistic. Mind-bending. Might be fun to read at this moment, actually.

And so forth. What does it mean? I'm worried about something Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) said--that we never love books the same way as we did when we were kids, and the books we loved as kids get into our system for good. That list is populated with books I discovered before the age of 10.

There's got to be more out there, I think...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Vive La Difference...

When I lived in London twelve years ago, I made friends with these two Polish waitresses at the local tea place. They had a dinner party in the Spring and, along with inviting me and then-favorite-guy, also invited these two French women. One was named Genevieve and the other was a writer whose name I can't remember, but she's the one who's relevant to this story. The writer was in her thirties, not traditionally beautiful, but very attractive. She had all those Frenchy qualities that we associated with Parisians--the chic-ness, the Amelie-ness, the girls in the Madeline books. That same quality that everyone thinks they can get by slapping a beret on their head. I'd never heard of her books, but I knew she was a good writer because of the way she spoke. She was familiar with using words well.

Back then, I didn't have thoughts of becoming a lawyer or writer. In fact, I was working for a food photographer named Martin-Something who was very successful but a complete asshole and had no time for my timid questions. But I was curious about this woman, and how she made a living at writing--fiction, no less--when everyone I grew up with kept saying it was impossible to live well as an artist.

She told me three things that I always remembered. The first thing was that she was a selfish person, and that all her writing had to be about her. And when she became too selfish to give time to her characters, she brought everything that happened to her that day--the bad fish at lunch, the unrequited love affair, her nephew's tantrums, the editor who was stiffing her--into the book. "I ask myself, how do the events of today relate to my story?" And then she got past her selfishness and began to write, because because all the best books, when read, tell you something about the author.

I really like that idea. I'm trying to do it myself, even if nothing particularly interesting seems to be happening to me. I'm not sure how much my feud with Roadrunner, my cat's predilection for shredding toilet paper, my doorman teaching me about football so I could (still reluctantly) understand the Patriots-Colts game, or this damn cold weather have anything to do with my stories. But you try, I guess, and see if it works.

(The other two bits of advice from the nameless French writer were these:
1. In order to be sexually attractive, one must have secrets to go to inside one's head (she called it her "secret garden")
2. Most men are more susceptible to romance than most women.
Both are true).

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Plague Upon Road Runner

You see, I am a bit naive, and I think that perhaps you are too. For example, when the signature line of my email says "UPDATED DAILY: My blog:" you must naturally assume that this blog is, indeed updated daily. this is a mistake. This is very similar to the mistake I made when I signed up for an internet account with Roadrunner. I naively assumed that if I paid my bill regularly (okay, semi-regularly) that I would somehow get regular (or at least semi-regular) internet service. This is, as I pointed out earlier, a mistake. Not only am I banished from the internet by a firewall virus provided to me by the aformentioned bird, but Roadrunner has decided to inform me that while they are working on the problem, they don't know when they will be able to call me to fix it, and if they do call, they don't think they will be able to give me a callback number. This is troubling for a wide variety of reasons, that I will not get into here. Suffice it to say, that I think that all of us--you, I, and the aforementioned bird that should be served at Thanksgiving with an apple in its mouth--have all learned valuable lessons. If anyone knows what these lessons are, please contact me via semaphore or carrier pigeon, as, if you have not guessed, my email is not particularly accessible at this point.

On a good note, the Jon Stewart book is once again available in Southern Mississippi libraries. I am glad, in the end, that the libraries ignored my previous post and allowed the book in. And now, thanks to the overnight banning, the book will have garnered even more publicity than ever before recieved for a book in Southern Mississippi (sorry, Faulkner) and will be checked out by many miscreants with geriatric-related sexual issues that can only be solved by naked Supreme Court Justices.

My heart goes out to them. Let us dig into this feast of Roadrunner stew and be thankful for what we have, even if it's not a reliable internet connection.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Damn Libraries

Well, I'm back from a hiatus of doing absolutely nothing useful. But I did read in the news today that two Southern Mississippi counties have banned Jon Stewart's book America from the shelves. (Read more here). The reason? The satirical naked pictures of the nine Supreme Court Justices, accompanied by cutouts of the justice's robe that the reader can put back on them. This, incidentally, was the same reason that Wal-Mart refused to sell the book.

Well, I for one am glad. People don't realize how dangerous libraries can be, and how often they are the first source that children go to learn about naked people. Where would I be without back issues of National Geographic? Sadly misinformed, I tell you. And I remember seeing my first naked man in an anatomy book--only to be promptly caught by my father and warned Never To Look At Such Things Again. (I took his advice for about 10 more years, then said to hell with it). That was bad enough, but can you imagine a poor, impressionable 8-year old today, curious about the human body, who opens a tempting book-- only to be faced with...naked Supreme Court Justices? What kind of trauma will that kid suffer?

No, better to take out all books involving naked people, satirical or not. And those damn anatomy books as well. Let the kids learn about nudity and sex the old fashioned way--through poorly scrambled porn channels and the Robin Byrd show.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Just a Thought, Oprah

I'm a post behind, but I think it's okay because my last post was so epic. But as I do this work for a legal publisher, I start thinking more about writing and lawyering. Why, exactly do writers become lawyers? Is it because everyone we meet says "you write so well, you should be a lawyer?" I did hear that, but I could also have become a journalist, advertising executive or whoever does press releases for the White House (and is no doubt a black arts magician as well). I think what people are actually saying is "you write so well, you should become a lawyer so your writing might actually help you earn a living, as opposed to ending up as a starving artist/waiter and a drain on our society."

So maybe that's why so many lawyers are unhappy. I don't know anyone who was a pre-law major in college, because so many of us had other things in our hearts. But law seems like a practical way to use our talents and, well, continue eating three square meals a day. What they don't tell you is that it's a lifestyle, and if you're not prepared for it, you'll be yet another dissatisfied artist wrapped in a pinstriped suit.

But...Rumi was a lawyer. So was John Donne, even if he didn't practice. And Wallace Stevens. The difference between them and the likes of John Grisham, Scott Turow and Steve Martini is that the first three weren't compelled to write about law. (They also never appeared on Oprah. And they sell a lot fewer copies).

I envy those kids who start taking speech and debate classes in elementary school because they know even at this stage, that they want to be a courtroom. And, similarly, I envy those quiet kids with perpetually inkstained hands who know that they'll never do anything but be novelists. Although, come to think of it, I should have known too. I've got stories I've been working on since I was twelve. (Are they any good? I don't know. I just know that I'm compelled to keep working on them).

My agent wants me to write another law-related book. I'd like to, but I'd like it to be different than the "real-life" accounts and faux fiction out there. I'd like it to be dark and gothic and all about why us artistic types run to law like it's going to give our lives some definition. I'd like it to--god help me--say something about law and people and life.

Still...if Oprah called, I wouldn't pull a Franzen. I'd be sitting there with a big grin next to Dr. Phil and a big cardboard blow-up of my book. Hey, I like my three square meals a day. And mom would be so proud.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Identity Crisis

So today I realized that I have my first comment on an earlier post. (Thank you, Toey!) Of course, there is nothing inherently meaningful about the writing life, just as there is nothing inherently unmeaningful about the lawyer-ing life. But it begs some questions.

1. What exactly is my view on law, lawyers and being a lawyer?
2. Since I don't practice and don't intend to, am I still a lawyer?
3. If the answer is yes, how much of me is lawyer and how much of me writer.?

(1) is the subject for a long session with a therapist, preferably one who is tied down and can't get away. I will reveal it in small pieces as I figure it out myself.

(2) is interesting, and I think yes, I am still a lawyer, simply because I am an admitted member of the bar and I could, like Superman into a telephone booth, leap into the practice of law at any time. I would also say that get extra credit because (a) do a lot of writing for a legal publisher and (b) am the legal on-air expert (god help us) for a new little cable show called Politcally Upside Down, and therefore have to keep my hands and other body parts in the legal world. At least a little.

(3) is somewhat annoying. To the world, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. It's a cult you join. I am happy to know about the law and have the highest legal regard for those who learn about the law--much as I have a high regard for those who read the newspaper, watch the news, listen to NPR or otherwise have some knowledge of the world around them. But do I want the invisible halo of "lawyer" following me everywhere, overqualifying me for jobs faster than a speeding bullet? Not exactly. Before law, I spent six years studying English and Film, and working in NYU's English department and at Tribeca Films. I also read books and go to movies and generally engage in both as hobbies. I do not practice law as a hobby, as this is quite difficult without clients, or at least a mock-up of a courtroom in your apartment. (Yelling "objection" at an episode of Law & Order is as close as I get). However, to the world, having practiced law once, I am now a purebred lawyer, with little room to be anything else. (Not accidentally, lawyers often have little time for more than one small hobby, if that).

The lawyer-writer conundrum is about as annoying as the Indian-American conundrum, i.e. "do you feel more Indian or American?" I have no idea. I am purebred Indian by nature and largely purebred American by nurture. I am glad to give up both to be a hybrid, a new classification, with its own unique traits, an Indian-American. And it's about time there were more of us.

Ergo, lawyer-writer. The percentages of each vary from person to person. For a lawyer-writer who seems more lawyer than writer, I recommend Evan Schaeffer's excellent blog, Notes from the Legal Underground. For a lawyer-writer who seems more writer than lawyer, I recommend Maud Newton's equally excellent blog Of course, this is just my take on their blogs. If you are an aspiring lawyer-writer, I recommend that you try them both out, and see where you stand on the spectrum.

And welcome--it's about time there were more of us.

Getting Paid

I got paid. This is good news, as it means that I don't have to transform from my mild-mannered neo- (or is it pseudo-?) hippie self into that bulky green muscled hulk known as The "I-Will-Litigate-You-To-Into-Tiny-Little-Pieces" Lawyer. This plays into the stereotype that, as a lawyer, I am just itching to drag you into court if you give me so much as a stink-eye. Which is ironic as I once thought I might be that kind of lawyer, that kind of legal gladiator circling my hapless Ally-McBeal-type opponent in the courtroom. Funny thing is, not only did I spend my every hour at my big fancy corporate firm billing hours to avoid the courtroom at any costs (that's why, incidentally, you hire a big fancy corporate law firm), but I realized that I don't have the courtroom gene. It felt kind of like theatre. Kabuki theatre. Everybody had their angry eyebrows painted on.

Still, legal training is training, and legal stereotypes are stereotypes, and if it puts the fear of God into someone who otherwise would stiff me (and I have done my courtoom time, actually) then it's all for the best. Because when you're hurting to get paid and you're dealing with jerks who tell you it's the Postal Service's fault, your mind takes some melodramatic turns. Suddenly Henry Miller's account of begging from a particularly rude man in Paris: ("I was really degraded, humiliated, you know. But there I was down on my hands and knees, picking up the change and wiping the mud off.") feels like your life.

And if I feel like the melodrama makes me tougher with the more deadbeat clients--especially when I'd rather relax and put all my faith in fair play and karma--well, it fades when the it's my turn to buy the round. Even happy hour requires some cash, and I don't know how to do anything else but write.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Warning: Misuse of the Socratic Method

It's a day for confrontations.

This morning I was doing a radio show (via telephone and in my pajamas) when the host said the most dreadful thing you can say to someone at 6:30 AM: "Okay, let's take some callers." Still, all went well, until Angry Caller called in. Angry Caller did not identify himself as a cop or law enforcement official, but proceeded to enumerate all the things that were wrong about The Street Law Handbook. He summed up by suggesting that everyone simply buy a local copy of the statutes and codes in their county if they wanted to know about the law. This is why I think he was not a law enforcement official, because if he was, he would know that statutes are open to interpretation (and therefore lawyers) and that they also make for incredibly boring reading. However, I decided to employ the most fearful weapon in my legal arsenal: The Socratic Method.


Angry Caller: It's simple. Assault is just when you use force*

Me: Well, what is force?

Angry Caller: Like when you push or hit someone, or hurt them. Something excessive.

Me: But what is excessive?

Angry Caller(getting angrier): You know, when you injure someone.

Me (smug): But what is an injury?

At this point, the guy started swearing and the host cut him off. This is the most common reaction to the Socratic Method, unless you are in law school. Anyway, it was too bad that he was cut off, as I starting to enjoy law-school-professor act. That's what the law degree is about: if I don't know the exact definition of something, I'll make sure you don't either.

(*Assault is not defined as "when you use force." and I do know the legal definition of the terms above, but they are interpreted differently in various locations. To learn more, you should go buy a copy of your local codes and statutes in your county as soon as possible)

My other confrontation might not happen. I am waiting to get paid for a job I did in March. I am quietly simmering, ready for action if the money does not arrive. We'll see.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Blue Hair, Dogs, and the New York Times

A gentle brag today--The Street Law Handbook was featured in the New York Times Book Review section in an essay by Jonathan Miles, entitled "Misbehavin'." You can read the essay here. A small mention, but still exciting, and many thanks to Mr. Miles for including me in his essay on behaving badly. May it inspire others.

As promised, here are instructions on How To Dye Your Hair Blue.

1. First, decide if you want streaks (recommended) or you want to do the whole head. Streaks is a way of slowly entering the realm of blue hair. If you decide you want streaks, you must buy a highlighting cap, and that yanking thing to pull the hair out. Beauty supply stores or Ricky's will have this.

2. Put on the cap and pull the hairs out through the holes. Then lighten the color of your hair (if you have dark hair) and apply a hair lightening kit such as Manic Panic's. Just follow the instructions.

3. Rinse that junk off your hair and apply color. I like Manic Panic's Midnight Blue, but Street Lights Electric Blue is good too.

4. Your blue hair will lighten the more you wash it. Color must be put back in every two to three weeks. Prepare yourself and roommate for occassional blueness in the bath tub.

5. Frustratingly, your blue hair will shine brightly in the sunshine and at job interviews, but show not at all at night in cool clubs or funky bars.

I include this section because if you have an overwhelming urge to dye your hair blue, then corporate law may not be for you. Trust me, it's one of the signs.

Moving on, as promised, The Odd Job. If you are any kind of writer, whether you have a law degree or not, chances are, you have one or many Odd Jobs that don't involve writing. Some bartend. Others temp as clerks or secretaries. I walk dogs. I enjoy this very much, which seems to baffle people, as they imagine that the law degree has made me unable to do any kind of manual labor. (I tend not to tell my clients I have a law degree, as they will probably wonder how bad a lawyer has to be in order to be reduced to a dog-walker). The truth is, the money is negligable, but it's fresh air, a break from writing, and I love the dogs. I started, in fact, when I realized my beloved family dog Jupiter was not long for this world, and walking dogs became a form of therapy. I imagine I'd probably do it even if I wrote a bestseller, as I do it for the dogs and me rather than the dogs' owners. This, again, baffles people. Apparently, dog walking is the lowest form of employment. I disagree. Sitting in a windowless room for 10, 11 hours a day, marking and copying incomprehensible documents with others who refuse to admit that they weren't trained for this either--that seems a bit more demeaning as you are essentially doing secretarial work, but you have to hide this fact from all those people who look up--way up--to your law degree.

This, in a nutshell, is Why I No Longer Practice Law Even After That Very Expensive Degree. A couple other reasons: I don't like waking up early at the same time every morning. And I don't like working in windowless offices for set periods of time. And I don't like people setting my hours. This is all incredibly presumptious, I know, as it is open defiance to The American Way of Business. The price for rejecting The American Way of Business is that you are usually struggling for money.

Of course, it took three years of law school, a bar exam, and two years on Wall Street for me to figure out these peculiar little likes and dislikes. Oh, for a short cut!

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Well the new year is upon us, and I have chosen to celebrate by...starting a blog. Up until now, a blog just seemed like the last bastion of the self-involved, and I haven't had much interest in them. I've always thought that a blog should a)be funny or b)have a theme or c)be fiercely educational or interesting, like my cousin's siva's blog, here: Of course, now I have one. Why? I like having something that forces me to write everyday.

An introduction to me: yes, I am a lawyer. yes, I am a writer. My first book (with a major publisher, anyway) is The Street Law Handbook: Surviving Sex, Drugs and Petty Crime (Bloomsbury, November 2004). Having mentioned my book, I assume that you are all going to run out and immediately buy it. That is what happens, isn't it? Well, maybe just check out the website then:

So, following my own guidelines, this blog does indeed have a theme. I am an attorney-turned-writer, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many of us out there. Or many who would like to leave the hallowed, hollow profession of law to enter the impoverished, absurd life of writer. So basically, I'm writing about my oddball career choices. Hopefully it will be funny, but as for fiercely educational, well, we'll see.

My current hit list:

The Bohemian Manifesto by Laren Stover: a beautiful little book about living on the outskirts of the mainstream. Makes me feel normal. And she's a sweetheart.

London Fields by Martin Amis: I bought this book years ago because of the name of the lead character, Nicola Six. When I went to Disneyland as a kid, I never found a "Neeraja" coffee mug or license plate or key chain. I did see a couple Nicola's, and wished that was my name. I like Neeraja now, but I still use Nicola Six when I make reservations. Buy it for Nicola the femme fatale, and for all those nights you wished for a nice local British pub, where you could play darts, sip Guinness and contemplate alternative realities.

"Bring the Pain"
by Method Man and The Chemical Brothers. The best mash-up ever.

The Essential Neruda: Pablo Neruda writes like most people dream.

Shopping in Chinatown
: silk duvet covers, little kimonos, sandalwood oil--you can't get this stuff anywhere else.

Lemony Snicket's books (canon): Harry Potter meets the Addams Family. But did the movie have to have Jim Carrey? And why wasn't Tim Burton directing?

Anonymous Lawyer Blog. Very funny blog from a faux law-firm partner. Actually written by a law student, but weirdly accurate. Check it out here.

Rediscovering Old Music: When the alternative music scene was still new. Fishbone, Sonic Youth, the Cramps, Parliament, Gang of Four, the Stooges, Digital Underground, Jane's Addiction, Cypress Hill. Why is it that the music you listened to in high school is always the coolest?

That's it for now. Join me tomorrow for more adventures: The Odd Job, The Street Law Handbook in the New York Times Book Review, How To Dye Your Hair Blue and Why I No Longer Practice Law Even After That Very Expensive Degree.