Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why I quit law school. The events leading up to me leaving. Plus BONUS emotions!

This is long, and I did not edit it at all because I didn’t want to keep reliving everything. It may be hard to read, but if you want to know what’s going on this is your best bet.

As many of you know I have had to take a break from law school. The more I look at it the more I think it will be a permanent thing. I haven’t told a lot of people about the situation that has forced me to leave, and a lot of people are asking my emotions about it and I hate talking about that so I figured I would get all of this down in one place so people can read what is going on.

So the reason I have left law school is because I have this weird brain issue. It started about February of 2008. Basically it started with a massive headache and flulike symptoms (I think the flu was coincidental, but I figured I would include it). I was at work and I was completely unable to talk to people on the phone. So I started trying to send emails but this was extremely taxing, however since I could take mini breaks and work at my own pace I was able to be somewhat successful with this.

After a week or so the big headache went away but the concentration issue remained. It is really hard to explain this concentration problem. It’s not like ADD where your mind wanders and you think about other things. The best way to describe the issue is that it is like placing plastic wrap around your brain and poking holes in it so only some of the information would come in or go out. Part of the headaches is this pinching feeling pressure which gets worse when I try to process information. Whether that means recalling memories, making calculations, etc. Basically it feels like the plastic wrap is being tightened and the holes constricted. I know it is a weak visualization/analogy but it is the best I can come up with.

The side effects of this issue, especially when it is at the worst, have been fun for a lot of people. I forget words, or use incorrect words when speaking and have no idea I had done it. This guy at work would actually use words that were close to the correct word, but were clearly incorrect in the sentence just to throw me off and see how long it would take me to figure out what he meant. Or even to figure out that he had made a mistake. I would often just stare at him with a blank stare trying to process what he had just said. When in a large crowd of people when it is really bad I basically just sit there with a blank stare trying to control the pain/concentration issues. Part of this is because I know I won’t be able to speak, and part is because my body just doesn’t come up with things to say to talk about in the conversation. When I don’t know what to say we really know I have a problem.

Since this didn’t seem to be going away I went to my general practitioner who did a bunch of blood tests I don’t remember what all of them were but it included thyroid tests, STD tests, test that could indicate tumors. All of those came back normal. My blood pressure was on the higher side of normal (like 120/80… right on the borderline of normal but pretty damn good for a fat man). So they thought the issue might be caused by my blood pressure. They put me on meds to lower that, which did nothing. After all of this they decided it was likely neurological so I was referred to a neurologist.

During this time the problems were fluctuating quite a bit. I had good weeks and bad weeks. It seemed to be a slow fluctuation, never was it just a sharp change from good to bad or vice versa. In August 2008 I went to the Philippines for the first time and about 2 weeks in I got a complete reprieve from the problem. So for about 4 weeks my brain was completely normal. About 3 days after getting back from the Philippines the issue came back. Because of this I thought it might be environmental. However when I went back I was not lucky enough for it to go away again.

To make a long story short with the neurologist I went through an MRI, sleep test, headache charts and tried various drugs as the theories changed. In the end with all of the different symptoms they decided that it was most likely being caused by migraines. The theory was that I would have migraines that would last for weeks or months at a time. I just wouldn’t feel the actual pain the whole time. We started trying various drugs to combat migraines, none of which worked. I though the neurologists were crazy. One day the pain was extreme so I decided to screw it and took a couple of Percocet (yes a couple) to ease the pain. Once the drugs kicked in I had no pain and was starting to think clearly (well… until I started feeling high). This made me hop on board with the migraine idea and keep pursuing that train of thought.

Finally drug number X (who was even counting anymore) was given to me in late June or early July of 2009. It was a combo of two drugs used to control pain. They seemed to work. You cannot imagine how happy I was to finally have my brain back. I was thinking more clearly and was going without pain. And just in time to go to law school. It was like everything had aligned to head off to NYC.

When I got into law school and started heavily using my brain I started to see the limitations of the effectiveness of this drug combo. There were two main issues, there was a limit to how far I could stretch my brain to comprehend things (and those limits weren’t very far) and I wasn’t able to be very social with people, basically I became a zombie. I could talk to people one on one, but even trying to juggle a conversation with two people would make my brain basically shut down. Even though making friends and having fun with people is one of my greatest joys in life I felt that was an acceptable loss, and so I just started to make friends one on one.

Very quickly I started to notice that my ability to make the connections critical to legal analysis was deteriorating and that I was starting to get minor headaches as well. About a month into the semester I had the worst migraine of my entire life. It felt like daggers were being continuously shoved into my head, my eyes were watering continuously, and I barely had any cognition of my surroundings. I stumbled to rite aid and bought a bottle of Excedrin and went back home. I decided that there was absolutely no reason for me to be taking the prescription drugs anymore since they didn’t work and I just started popping Excedrin. Luckily this was a weekend so I had time to recover before class started again.

There was a remarkable change in my ability to actually do my work and I was excited. I was taking the maximum dose of Excedrin as well as some ibuprofen here and there when I felt that a headache was coming on. On the Thursday after I stopped taking the pills I was called on in Professor Chang’s class, he loves to stick with the same person basically the entire class when it is “your day,” so long as you are giving productive answers. I was actually able to make jokes and answer his questions, which is something I hadn’t been able to do at all while I was on the prescription. It definitely felt good to actually be able to be myself again.

As the semester progressed the Excedrin became less and less effective. I was to the point where I was taking double the maximum dose and was taking ibuprofen between Excedrin doses just to stay afloat. During the week before finals it got bad enough that my vision would blur as I was trying to read so I would just have to go walk around and either talk to people or go to the bathroom and just close my eyes for a minute with no sound. I even started taking naps. For years I have been vehemently opposed to taking naps. However, when my brain got so bad I could barely function I would just say I was tired and go take a 20 or 30 minute nap.

When I got home from winter break I tried to recover my brain. I tried my hardest not to think or do anything mentally taxing. I attempted to get as much rest as possible. My hope was that my brain would reset back to the point it was at the beginning of the fall semester. A large part of me knew that it was a long shot, so much so that I didn’t buy any books (technically I ordered a couple but I cancelled the order) and I just tried to work off the library copies until I could get things figured out.

About two days into the semester I was back to the pain/concentration level I was experiencing at the end of the previous semester. It was then that I knew I wasn’t going to make it, but I still tried to hold on. I decided to take a week of not studying/reading and just go to class and see if I could recover at all with this extra time. Of course it didn’t work. I got began the process of withdrawing from school and going home.

That’s an extremely shortened version of what happened, but it is sufficient to fill in the major gist of what brought me to this point. I know many of you who have experienced this time with me have no idea about this. I hide pain and emotions very well, and there is no way you would have known. I hate when people pity me or when they feel bad for me or coddle me, so I didn’t tell anyone about the issues. My own mother, while she saw how much Excedrin I was taking while I was at home for winter break, had no idea the full extent of what was happening until about a week before I started the process of withdrawing. So don’t feel like you should have known I was going through this.

Now a lot of people have been asking about my emotions and how I feel about this change and I brush them off. Since the cat is out of the bag and I know people are just asking because they care about me, I will include some of my thoughts about this. You can probably stop reading here if you want.

The best way to sum up how I feel about this is to tell you about the walks home I had when I was still going to school but knew I was going home. If you can imagine Charlie Brown walking home with his head hung low, that would have looked like a happy sight compared to me. I never understood drooping your head as you walk until now. It was like I was completely emotionally drained and my head just dropped. I was unable and unwilling to face the world around me. I would have walked with my head buried in my chest if I could have.

I am a really happy person in general. I don’t understand being sad and feeling bad about myself. This is all very new to me and I’m trying to sort it out. I don’t really know what to say about this because I don’t understand it myself. There is this void in my heart where law school and my friends from law school are, and I’m just trying to repair it. I am optimistic that I will be able to do so.

When people ask if I will go back to law school again I answer probably not. It’s not because I don’t have an enormous desire to go back. It’s that I can’t go through all of this again, the doctors, the drugs, everything, only to have a repeat of this and to fail. I know I can manage the pain/concentration issues in a work environment where I’m not trying to learn and study constantly, I did a pretty damn good job at eBay. I need to go a route that doesn’t have the potential to completely crush me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kancho - prank of the stars

I have found a new and amazing reason to want to spend time in Japan. They have one of the most glorious and hilarious customary pranks that I have ever come across. This prank is called "Kancho."

Let me paint a picture of this for you. First close your eyes and imagine......

That method isn't really going to work with text is it. So, imagine this vividly, step by step and don't skip ahead to the end.

Imagine you are at a party, maybe you are a little tipsy, and you feel like pulling a bit of a prank. You like the people who own the house, so an upper decker is out of the question. So you remember the ancient art of the Kancho and you immediately put it into action.

You take your hands and interlace your fingers so that only your index fingers are pointing out - basically the Charlies Angel's gun pose (except not so slutty and overdone like on Facebook where ugly girls are trying to look hot).

You crouch down and start creeping silently like a ninja. You slowly creep undetected until BOOOOOM!! In one upward thrust you jam your fingers right up some poor unsuspecting person's butt. I would suggest after that you run, because as soon as the shock goes away from your victim he(or she) will be coming after you.

Once I found out about this ancient form of hazing, pranking, wife hunting, what have you, I knew I had found the single most brilliant action in the world.

If you are a fan of anime, here is a clip from Naruto illustrating the ancient technique.

I have yet to try this out for fear of a lawsuit, this is why I have to go to Japan where this isn't only acceptable, it's encouraged.

I only remembered to write down one thing for my the Heard on the Streets of New York quotes.

"He tried to dig here from Savannah, Georgia with a missile strapped to his back." (This was someone talking on the phone, if I could have heard both sides of the conversation I would have stuck around for more)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Longest post I will ever put on this blog, Plus, the beginning of a new tradition!

One of my core values on which I base much of the way I treat people is that I am not better than anyone. From those on the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel, we are all in this world trying to do the best we can with what we have. When I start working at a law firm as a lawyer, that does not make me any better than the guy who goes to the same building and cleans the toilets.

I think the best way to remind myself of this is what we are working for. That person cleaning the toilets is working to provide for himself and possibly a family. The effort that he puts in would most likely be the difference between whether his family has food on the table or they go hungry. (I could go on about the socially desirable function he’s serving by creating a hygienic environment, and so on but I think I’ve made my point.)

You may rebut this with, “But Jeron, you’re such an ass all the time!”

Well kids, you would be right that I am an ass, but let me explain a little bit about how those two things can live and mingle together.

It’s called “Justification.” That’s what others probably call it, but the rules when my jokes are and are not appropriate, so I will try to put as many of them as I can think of to paper. (Yeah, justification.)

1. Never have the motivation of my jokes to be to about how I look, or about how the other person will look.
2. Do not have malicious intent as the reason for my joke unless I have a very good reason to be malicious.
3. Do not give people a hard time if they are clearly in an emotionally fragile state. (Meaning if they are having a bad day, week, are very soft hearted - whatever the case may be)
4. Don’t say anything about someone that I wouldn’t be willing to say about myself.
5. Never say anything about someone behind their back that I wouldn’t say to their face.

I know I have more and I will edit more into this post if as I think of them.

There are two reasons I bring this up. First, my close friends may not know the actual rules I have, but they understand that the things I say are to be taken with a grain of salt, so it just seemed like a good place to quantify this process. Second, I have recently either broken these rules or come pretty damn close and that has made me think about these rules a bit lately and has made me feel bad. I am not happy when I break my personal ethics.

So this guy sits right in front of me in all but 1 of my classes and he is kind of an odd duck. He picks his nose and eats it in class, he uses his glasses to pick his earwax and then licks it off the end of his glasses, uses big words a lot for no apparent reason… Until you meet him, he’s hard to picture.

So he likes to argue, and about dumb things. I like to argue about dumb things. So he started randomly talking to me and he mentioned how he wants to sick the U.S. Marshals on many different people including Disney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Pope. So an argument about these things ensued about these things between him, the girl who sits next to me, and me.

So when I have ridiculous arguments like this I don’t argue on their terms. I argue on my terms. I make it more ridiculous than anyone could imagine. So to make a long story short, I have a $100,000 bet (with 10:1 odds mind you) on who would if the U.S. Marshals are on one side of the golden gate bridge (they number 50 which includes a mix of Marshals and a deputized posse) and Schwarzenegger is on the other side and they meet in the middle and do battle. I go with the Governator. So if this scenario ever plays out, I will be a rich man.

So there are many other interactions I have had with him that I haven’t recounted, and there are very few in the class that he interacts with. So one easy topic of conversation with people you don’t know yet from our section is this guy. He is just so fascinating you want to talk about him. This is where I am hitting a gray area. At first it was just good fun, but a few of these conversations have become pretty mean spirited. This could be a violation of rules 1 and 5.

In one of the most recent conversations I mused at the fact that he was thinking that we were becoming friends. It was at that point that I realized that I was probably breaking my rules. I’m not proud of myself for it.

I think the biggest problem was that I lost sight of one of the biggest rules I have, which is that I am not better than anyone. I am not better than this guy. He is not a tool for me to get to know people better, nor is he some object placed there for my amusement.

I have resolved that I’m going to continue to have these arguments. However, I will now keep in mind that I am not better than him, I am arguing with him because it is enjoyable for both of us. I don’t think we will become friends, but I will make sure that I will now have the attitude of respect and friendliness that I should have been having this entire time.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

Lastly I have decided that at the end every post I will have a “Things heard on the street of New York” section. So here are a couple:

"There are so many skid marks all over this sidewalk from all the dog crap!"
"It’s 1 a.m. why are there so many people out on a Tuesday?" (Umm… why are you out at 1 am?)
"Get out of my way or I will call Obama on you!" (At this point he pointed at his Obama shirt. Yes, he evoked the power of Obama.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two quick thoughts that I had throughout my day

Thought 1 - speed reading through legal text is like speeding through sex. You can do either, but it's just not the same as doing it right.

Thought 2 - To get a good job I have to work hard AND train hard, life won't just hand me what I want? This is socialism if I have ever heard it. Thank goodness everyone was up in arms against Obama to keep him from indoctrinating our youth with this socialist propaganda!

End sarcasm.

Watch it and decide for yourself rather than flipping out before it happens and pulling your kids out of school, showing it to only 3rd grade and above, or any of the other unbelievable things people did.

I think that we should have a media literacy class for our youth that teaches you to actually think about the ideas presented to you so you can decide for yourself. I would be scared as hell if FOX News, NPR, or any other media outlet set our agenda. It is up to us to actually sift through the ideas and form an opinion.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I am against blogging, yet I am starting one.

So I decided that I would crack down and start blogging so I don't get tired of telling the same stories over again and again.

The first story I have for everyone is a good one to let everyone laugh at me doing something stupid.

First, a little background on they way it works at my school for 1L students. We have several sections. There are 2 large classes (Contracts and Civil Procedure) in which there are about 100 students who are in the same section with me. There are two small classes with 20-30 students each (Torts and Legal Writing). The students in the small class are comprised of those who are also in my large classes.

Today my first class was Legal Writing followed by Contracts, I had to print something for Contracts and because of printer problems I was already 1 minute late when leaving the library. I wasn't too happy about this since we had a different professor teaching us because the regular prof's husband had surgery.

I hopped on the elevator (my class is on the 4th floor, no way was I running that) and hopped off and ran into class. The professor asks me if she can help me. I say "I'm in this class." (I was prepared to be yelled at because some professors love to harass people for sport). She acted wicked surprised and started looking through her roll. I sat down, and looked around and this one girl was shaking her head at me. I thought she was just giving me a hard time for being late. I shot her a look back with a "what can you do," kind of look.

The professor then says "you're not on the roll," "I'm not?" "Nope, you're not in this class."

I then take a look around the room again and realize that this really wasn't my class. They were from my section, but none of them were in my legal writing class. I stood up and gave a brief "we were supposed to have a different professor so I didn't realize it" apology told everyone to have fun in class and walked out the door.

I then looked at the classroom number, it was 304.... I got off the elevator a floor early. It is a damn good thing I don't ever feel embarrassed, otherwise that one would have been a doozy.