The student residence may withdraw my offer.  I say this because I have peppered them with so many questions and complaints via email that my name is surely a dirty word in their office.  But they don’t tell you ANYTHING, at least not enough to make me feel comfortable handing them a credit card number.  And then today, after going through ELABORATE steps to clear a $5000+ payment via my debit card with USAA* (to avoid the two percent credit card fee), they STILL CHARGED ME THE CREDIT CARD FEE.  To the tune of well over $100.

My head nearly exploded.

I called them on Skype and spoke to a guy who was nice and able to help, and theoretically I will get a refund.  But I mispronounced the woman’s name who has been helping me on email (“helping me” is a bit optimistic), and he made fun of me.  Her name is Marjana.  Evidently pronounced Mariana?  What would you have said?

I know this is just the first of many, many difficulties I’ll have to figure out  in the coming months, but I’m tired already.  Mostly because I’m trying to do this while surviving the last month at the Goddamn firm with no motivation, no concentration, and a lot of nerves.

*USAA, in its overzealous attempts to protect me from fraud, has thrown up more roadblocks than I care to count.  They’re more intrusive than the NSA.

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Already Behind the Curve

So, turns out that I booked my flight for a day too late, and I’m likely to miss the “Masters Induction Program,” which sounds rather pompous but makes a rather unimpressive acronym (“MIP”).  I checked, and it’s $400 to change the ticket.  I’m not sure being there on Day 1 to meet the classmates is worth that, especially when I’m already bleeding cash as though my income doesn’t come to a screeching halt on Aug. 23.  I’ve emailed the program director to confirm the dates for the MIP, but I’m resigned to missing it.

I say this because I can already feel my old competitive instincts rising.  Put me in a school environment and I want to be the best. Or at least not at a disadvantage.  Which is normal enough, I suppose, except I like to think that having seen the stupidity of law school, I would have outgrown that desperate insecurity.  I’m not going to fail my courses because I missed Professor So-and-so’s introduction.  I’m not going to fail to make friends because I wasn’t there first.  If I’ve learned anything in the last nine years, it’s the value of networking and carving your own path, and my fellow classmates (most of whom are likely at least 10 years younger than I am) aren’t going to be the holy grail of connections.  I’m also not going to spend the rest of my summer in Austin and Fayetteville reading from the recommended reading list I just stumbled across online. (This program does a CRAP job of publicizing information.)  I’m going to wing it a bit, and hope that a law degree and the skills I learned there will go a ways toward  overcoming a lack of competitive, fear-fueled preparation.

It’ll be good, guys.

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Dorm Life Revisited

I just paid the £300 booking fee for a room in a graduate residence in London.  I think it was the right call, but it’s bringing home how much things are going to change.  Or regress . . .   to 1996.


Yep, as my friends buy houses (some, their third or fourth), I’ll be living in a dorm (twin bed!) and sharing a bath with three other people at the age of 35.   I’m selling my furniture, some of which I am quite fond of, and putting all my wall art and books in storage.  I’m trying to remind myself that I never wanted to be a person who was too attached to material goods.  I’m going to have to buy a duvet, sheets, pillows, and towels once I arrive . . .  or take a couple of extra suitcases at $100 each.  I haven’t decided my strategy yet.  Probably some combination of the two. But I may end up sleeping on a bare mattress on Night 1.

The Wednesday after I arrive on Monday, I have international orientation, which hopefully will have useful and relevant information on things  like banking and libraries.  At freshman orientation at Arkansas, they did a “Say No to Drugs” skit with a trippy dance to Total Eclipse of the Heart.   It was weird.  And kind of unforgettable.  In any case, I didn’t do any drugs.

So, yeah, I’m starting to get a little wigged out by what I’ve decided to do, but I think it’s the right call.  It’s not like a steady legal job and cozy apartment have made for a particularly satisfying four years, beyond the lovely friends I have here.

In the words of a wise TQ, “it’ll be good, guys.”


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“Good Money After Bad”

Russ and I continued the discussion about my departure (sort of) this morning.  I get the sense I really did let him down by leaving, especially with the endangered species stuff.  He kept pointing out how I would deal with crappy people and frustration in any field, and that I could “build a practice” here.   I finally had to say “Russ, I just don’t want to practice law.”   Later, I reminded him that I was here for five or six more weeks and could work on various projects, and he said “talk about throwing good money after bad . . . ”

So that went well.


On another note, I’m thinking about closing this blog.  Barcelona Girl isn’t entirely apropos anymore.


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For Better or Worse . . .

I told Russ today of my impending departure.  He was pretty cool about it, congratulating me and wishing me well.  (I was a little disappointed not to get a classic Russ “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.”  :) )  But then he told me he had long thought I lacked a “theme” in my life.

Er . . .

That was a bit of an awkward moment.  How is one supposed to take that?  What is a “theme” in life?  I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong though.  If by theme, he means something about which I am passionate, something that drives me–like a family or money or career purpose–then yes, that’s been lacking at the firm.  But I think I’ve used the time there well enough–working with Tova to find clarity and purpose, chasing down Italian citizenship and, for the last year, working with EDF and NRS on the Habitat Exchange.  The last has opened lots of doors and given me a glimpse into a whole new world of options.  I told him I’d been glad to learn water law from him, and that I thought London was the next step and perhaps part of my “theme.”

He agreed and then threw me out of his office so that he could finish a paper for a conference.

I’m glad it’s public knowledge now.  And I purchased my plane ticket this morning for September 15.  So there’s no going back . . .

One more bit of good news: both the client and the consultants on the credit market pulled me aside during the two-day committee meeting this week to ask about me working for them while in London, so that might be some good experience and a little bit of income.   It’s nice to be valued.



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Water World

My other favorite sight of the trip was the Oceanário, which is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.  It was amazing.  Honestly, Valencia’s Oceanografic didn’t hold a candle to it.





colorful fish

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Skeleton Church

One of the more minor sights we saw in Portugal (but one of my favorites) was this skeleton of a convent destroyed in the 1755 earthquake:


I thought it was just stunning.  So striking; kind of morbid.  Here you can see it from another angle, taken from the square behind it.



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