Saturday, January 29, 2011


I probably shouldn't be blogging.

I should probably be reading the 12,000 pages we have covered so far for my Fourteenth Amendment class. Or at least attempting to understand what the heck some of the words on the pages of the thick book mean. Maybe if I was doing that, I would be more prepared to sit in on yet another impossible-to-understand conversation on Monday with 50 of my closest friends and a professor who I'm pretty sure dislikes me, although I can't figure out why.

I should probably be working on my never-ending contracts paper that I started exactly one year ago with the intention of publishing with my professor but which has changed so much as it has basically switched topics every 12 minutes for the last 365 days. Maybe if I was working on that paper, I would finally get something published before I head off into the real world in just a few short months.

I should probably be working on the case that Jeff and I have to present in DC ten days from now. Or at least I should be reading through the materials so I can get an idea of what the heck we're going to be doing in some courtroom with incredibly well-prepared teams from all over the country. Maybe if I was doing that, I would actually start to feel confident about representing the school instead of how I'm feeling right now--overwhelmed.

I should probably be working on my moot court argument that I have to deliver in New York just two weeks after I return from DC in the national competition. Maybe if I was doing that, I wouldn't feel so guilty after talking up how much effort I was going to put into the competition for over year.

I should probably be working on my bar application; frantically trying to track down the address to every place I've ever lived or seen or thought about; digging through every single record of everything I've done and everything anyone I've ever know has ever done and meticulously documenting it on the 15 billion page bar application. Maybe if I was doing that, I would be less stressed about the looming March 1st bar application deadline which seems to require everything short of offering up my second-born in some cultish blood sacrifice (they do require the first-born), but instead I watch the ticking-clock and wonder when I'm going to have time to care about any of it in the next 30 days.

I should probably be working on my journal assignments, pouring over pages and pages of tedious editing. Maybe if I was doing that I would actually get a journal assignment done before midnight of the day it is due.

I should probably be reading for all of my Monday classes.

I should probably be answering overdue emails.

I should probably be working on a research assignment for work that I need to have done early Tuesday morning.

I should probably be out attempting to have a social life so my friends and family will stop feeling the need to pray for me.

I should probably be running because once again I've committed to a marathon just a few months from now without thinking about when I might train for it.

I should probably be trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, since graduation is approaching and clerkships don't last forever.

I should probably be cooking something for the event I'm about to head to as I promised a couple of weeks ago to cook something for the event I'm about to head to.

I should probably be sleeping, as there has been far too little of that in the last three years.

I should probably be figuring out what I should probably be doing the most right now.

But instead I'm blogging. Oh well. None of this has killed me yet.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, January 17, 2011

Public Transportation

Last September I had a new little addition come into my life: the regular use of the state's public transportation. I live in Provo and go to school full-time while trying to continue my job part-time in Salt Lake City, which entails about an hour long commute. Not wanting to make that drive two times per week, I got a heavily discounted student bus pass and decided I was going to finally start using public transportation.

This would not be the first time that I had ridden public transportation, but just the first time that I had done so with any regularity in Utah. When I lived in Ukraine and Russia, I practically gave a kidney to public transportation services (not because they were dangerous, but because we were so close). And I had an absolute love/hate relationship with public transportation in those two countries. On more than one occasion in Ukraine I climbed aboard a bus/van/metro that was so crowded that I could literally lift my feet off the ground while standing, and not fall. My friends and I used to play our favorite Eastern European game, "how many people am I touching" whenever public transport was especially crowded. I think the highest count I ever had was 11. If you happen to have 11 people in the room with you right now, smash your bodies together and see if you can comfortably touch all of them at the same time (this way you'll truly understand just how impressive my record is). Add to the amount of bodies pressed firmly against every angle of my own, standing on my feet, touching my face, crawling between my legs, etc., the smells of 1500 people all mixed together, and you've got a pretty accurate picture of a typical ride on Eastern European public transportation. (Smells included: vodka, body odor, vodka, leather, poop, borsch, vodka, cigarettes, halitosis, vodka, and dirt).

So purchasing a public transportation pass in Utah produced some anxiety for me, as I was somewhat convinced that my experiences would be much the same as in Eastern Europe. Not necessarily disappointed but somewhat underwhelmed in my never ending quest for strange experiences, I quickly found that my public transportation experience in Utah is full of annoying, but mostly sans bizarre. This is mostly because I seem to take the LDS church-office-building bus to and from Salt Lake which is full of relatively well-mannered and nicely-dressed older people who are all cross-stitching inspirational quotes onto pillows, writing in their journals, and talking with one another quietly about how to get grass stains out of pants. Compare that to somewhat similar experiences I've had on the Moscow metro where instead of inspirational quotes onto pillows the needle transcribed obscenities onto skin, instead of journals the writing went onto the side of the car, and the grass-stain conversation was actually about blood, and this seems like a relatively calm commute.

So calm, in fact, that I seem to have stopped paying attention to what is going on, which has unfortunately led to two transportation mishaps recently:

On New Years Eve my friend Jason and I decided to ride trax downtown to meet up with some friends and have the time of our lives despite the 6 degree Fahrenheit weather. Knowing that the last trax cars stopped running just after 1:00 AM, we quickly boarded the train after celebrating midnight and coming up with one or two New Years resolutions that we have no intention of keeping. Apparently we thought that there was only one train, going one way, and that that way was the way we needed to go, because we didn't bother checking the giant bright sign on the side of the car, electronically indicating that it was headed for the University, the exact opposite way we needed to go. And unfortunately, although both Salt Lake Valley natives, we didn't notice that the train was headed for the hills (literally) and not for our homes until WAY later than we should have. After getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere (and you would think that "the middle of nowhere" doesn't exist in the city; but it does. And we found it) we waited and wandered in the freezing weather, knowing it was quite possible that we could die in the middle of our home town because of the cold. This was HIGHLY disappointing to me as I have always pictured my death to be incredibly dramatic (like getting stoned to death in South America while leading a mult-million member revolution, NOT freezing to death in the middle of America's safest city because I'm too incompetent at age 26 to figure out how to use the world's least complicated public transport system). Eventually Jason called his parents who picked us up in front of a sketchy all-night diner. It was middle school all over again. Except with fewer hormones.

Then Thursday happened. I fell asleep on the bus and woke up riding around the middle of the city. As is usually the case when one wakes up from a deep sleep, everything seemed like a much bigger deal to me than it might in the middle of the day. So, naturally, when I opened my eyes and hadn't yet processed where I was or what had happened, something instinctively told me that everything was wrong and I (very unfortunately) yelled out a somewhat long and incredibly loud "NOOOOO!!!!" I was, of course, in the very back of the crowded bus, and got to watch all 75 heads turn from the cross-stitching to look at me. I hit the bus stop button without even knowing whether I had reached my stop yet, willing to walk up to 500 miles if I had to, just to get off that bus as soon as possible. Unfortunately it took over five minutes for the driver to get to a bus stop. And by the time he did stop and I had to make my walk up past the curious passengers, I had realized that my stop was several ago (having missed it during my sleep). I was slightly late to work that day. And I'm now thinking of wearing a disguise to keep anyone from recognizing me tomorrow.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why I'm Not A:


When I was in Mr. Landeen's seventh grade science class, we started talking about diseases (because that's what you do in seventh grade science class). I sat on the front row next to my friend Aaron Ludwig who had broken his leg and got to use crutches, so naturally I spent the whole of 1997 jumping from the top of stairs unnecessarily to try to fracture any bone that could also allow me to use crutches and garner at least as much attention as he had been receiving. Fortunately, I was never quite brave enough to fully commit to said venture and so never ended up with so much as a bruise. Some things never change. Anyway, during Mr. Landeen's lecture on the common cold, I found myself suddenly extremely light-headed. After a minute or two, Aaron Ludwig raised his hand and said, "I think Eli is about to hurl." I did not hurl, but rather passed out cold onto the tile floor. So there's that. Ever since I've avoided any detailed conversation concerning any physical ailment, whatsoever. Also I'm generally terrified of the human body. And catheters.

Police Officer:

When I was eight my dad took me fishing. I saw the small buoys bouncing up and down on the water and asked him what they were. Having learned a few parenting tricks from my mother over the years, he found the most disturbing explanation he could imagine, conveyed that explanation to me with a straight face, and then turned it into a lesson: "obviously, that's where the police put children when they are misbehaving, and the more misbehaving children there are, the more crowded those become." (In Bob and Cathie's defense, I was apparently the spawn of Satan until at least age 12. And apparently their somewhat morbid practices worked to some degree as I'm now a relatively well-behaved adult, although one with many irrational fears). Rather than become concerned that I might be stuffed in there with the undoubtedly hundreds of suffocating children (and yes, these buoys were about the size of a basketball; I believed in many impossible things at age eight, including one creature my older sisters invented called "The First Eye" which was a giant eyeball with 1,000 toes all the way around the perimeter. It lived in every cave on Earth and terrified children. I still get the chills when I drive through southern Utah and see dark holes in the red rock), I thought to myself how horrible it must be for the police officers to have to swim out to the middle of the lake to stuff children into the bouncing buoys. This was a terrifying thought mostly because I was sure that lake was full of giant vengeful fish with razor sharp teeth (who were apparently smart enough not to fall for our bait as I'm sure we caught nothing that day). I think somewhere in the back of my mind I firmly resolved that I would never have a job that required me to do anything like that. And by the time I was 23 and realized that that story was probably not true, I was already unpersuaded-ly comfortable that I would make a terrible police officer.


I hate animals.


At age six I cut Micalyne's hair. She was four. I did an amazing job. I took out half of her bangs and cut out a couple of chunks from the back that I didn't think needed to be there. I thought it made her look "real" and approachable. Cathie, on the other hand, did not feel the same way at all. Fortunately for six-year-old Eli, the whole thing got blamed on Libby from down the street, which Micalyne verified was the true perpetrator of the massacred hair, because evidently Bob and Cathie hadn't yet figured out that child-Micalyne just answered "yes" to every question asked of her, and they just happened to ask first whether Libby had cut her hair. It is also possible that child-Micalyne just had a terrible memory (this came in handy once again two years later when I scratched her misspelled name into the bumper of Bob's car, to which she admitted guilt (I intentionally misspelled it to make it look more authentic. She was only six years old after all)). In any event, I have now gone two full decades without fessing up to the hair-cutting incident. So there it is mom and dad: it was me. I hope my punishment didn't accrue interest.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Another year has come and gone. I can't believe it's time for the annual sum-up post already.

2010 was a good year. It wore me out like any good year should.

In 2010 I started eating salmon regularly. I read exactly four more pages of Crime and Punishment (well, three and a half). I ran a marathon. I got severely sunburned in a third world country. I attended a reggae concert on a beach and subsequently got stuck in a hurricane-like storm. I won a competition. I competed in Boston and DC. I attended a temple dedication in Ukraine. I got my first ever speeding ticket. I got in my first ever car accident. I started a new job and continued an old one. I staged a half-effective sit-in. I experienced a total computer crash two weeks before finals. I moved twice. I finished year two of law school. I crashed into Uncle Will’s garage with my car. I visited Mexico a couple of times. I went cave tubing in Belize. I stayed in a "hotel" that cost $4 a night for two people. I lost my bathing suit in the ocean. I met a famous Russian actor in the Moscow airport during my 20 hour layover. I made lots of borsch. I impromptu taught Sunday school half a dozen times. I ran the mud run and cleaned mud out of my ears for the next week. I started riding the bus. I landed a clerkship. I finally broke down and got a gym membership. I almost learned how to swim. I blogged and wondered how many people were actually reading. I successfully went on a four month shopping fast. I had Thanksgiving in Brawley. I recovered from the hand surgery. I purchased two old icons from a woman sitting on a stool in L'viv. I rode on two sleeper trains in eastern Europe. I visited New York City for the first time. A cat jumped on my lap on a red-eye flight. I helped work on a 400 page brief. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and thought it was sad. I ate at “Shigella’s” in San Felipe. I passed the MPRE. I took third in a pretty un-competitive Halloween 5k wearing very little clothing despite the freezing temperatures. I fought several battles at school and lost many of them. I taught contracts to 75 1Ls for a few days. I started sleeping without taking sleeping pills. I unexpectedly reconnected with long lost friends who I thought had disappeared forever. I gained a new niece. I found heaven on Earth on San Pedro Island ("Paris . . . dice".). I found Hell on Earth in Belize City. I went to midnight mass. Of course, I visited Salvation Mountain, again. I was the man of honor at Kimbally’s wedding. I went ice-blocking and then wondered why. I went body surfing and then wondered why. I went through several more terrible Blackberry Pearls. I danced for four straight hours at a Halloween party. I helped advocate for points I didn't fully believe just to make sure all sides were considered. I fell even more in love with my friends and family. I drove for two days looking for the Grand Canyon before finding it. I enjoyed life.

It’s amazing to me that I’m already reflecting on 2010. 2010 was my best year. It was different than any year I've had, full of strange events that have shaped me into a person that I appreciate more in my never-ending quest for infinite strange experiences to fill my repertoire of stories. I talk about a lot of strange moments on this blog, always in the most positive light possible, because, really, the strange experiences are what we live for. They represent the moments in our lives where we dared to feel something unique, learn something new, and pick up a new story along the way. So while we appreciate the common day-to-day experiences that keep us grounded, we savor the strange ones that keep us interesting.

Farewell 2010. Here's to a great 2011; may it just get stranger for us all~