The calories in alcohol are not “empty” calories. They’re “gettin’ drunk” calories. They are perhaps the second most important type of calorie, right behind “stayin’ alive” calories.
The calories in the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked that I eat in one sitting even though I’m not hungry because there’s nothing on TV on Tuesday nights and I get bored without constant stimulation, kind of like how a shark needs to keep swimming in order to stay alive? Those are empty calories. Delicious, empty calories.
I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty smart kid, albeit a little bit lazy. I did well on standardized tests and well enough in school. Plus, due to my love of reading, I have a shallow knowledge of a ton of subjects, which makes me a great cocktail-party conversationalist.
Law school hasn’t much changed the way that I see myself (please, like that would happen), but being surrounded by brilliant classmates and reading incredible, often non-law, books has made me realize that there are people out there who have so much more knowledge than I do.
And you know what? I really like that.
Now that I have a few weeks off before I start studying for the bar exam, I’ve been able to get back into reading. Yesterday I finished The God Delusion and started The 4 Percent Universe. The authors of both books have attained a depth and breadth of knowledge that I can only hope to one day approach. Humbling.
But The 4 Percent Universe has also been humbling in a different way. I’ve always had trouble wrapping my mind around really abstract concepts. When I was 11 and I first read about the size of the universe, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake in bed for hours, trying to figure out exactly how big billions of galaxies would be.
And the concept of heaven? Instead of consoling me, like it’s meant to, it too caused eleven-year-old me to lose sleep. You mean my soul is going to exist…forever? No, that’s not possible. Eternity is too long. I don’t know what that means.
Now I do find a kind of solace in enormity. (Not heaven. That’s still absurd.) The Universe is comprised of 100 billion galaxies, each containing 100 billion stars? And Earth is only one planet orbiting one of those 100 billion2 stars? Well shit, my life only matters inasmuch as it affects those around me.
And those 100 billion2 stars and their surrounding planets only comprise 4% of the universe? The other 96% is, as of now, unknown and undetectable to us?
That’s about as humbling as it gets.
"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." Carl Sagan said that before it had been shown that we only observe 4% of the universe. Now it appears that he was even more correct than he knew.
I’m a finalist in the New Yorker Caption Contest this week (!!!). Given that I used to cut out my favorite cartoons from the magazine and save them when I was younger (I say this like I was a child, but it was three years ago), this is almost a bigger deal to me than graduating from law school.
My entry is the middle one. If you happen to think that it’s the funniest, please vote for me. If you don’t think it’s the funniest, please close the page without voting.
(Yes, I share my last name with a country. Please don’t stalk me.)
I graduate from law school tomorrow. It’s difficult for me to actually put into words how proud of myself I am.
Before I started law school, my college friends placed bets on when I would drop out. I don’t blame them. My first semester in college my GPA was a 2.2. In the epic, never-ending war between napping and schoolwork, napping won every single time. (Thank god law schools place more weight on a four-hour exam than on four years of coursework, right?)
The first grade that I ever received in law school, back in January of 2009, is still the lowest one that I’ve gotten. I cried when I saw it. I immediately called my parents and told them I was going to drop out. I had never put in so much work for such a disappointing result. Shit, I had never really put it any work, so I expected the amount that I did put in to result in the best grades of my life. But I was no longer the smartest kid in my class, or even one of the smartest kids in my class.
They talked me down from the ledge. That exam turned out to be a bit of a fluke. The rest of my grades trickled in and my GPA slowly climbed to its current (still not-that-great) level.
I managed to find a pretty good job, which is ultimately the only reason I came to law school. The best friends, improved writing ability, and future Presidential running mate were a welcome bonus.
I left college thinking the best four years of my life were behind me. I’m leaving law school knowing I was an idiot for thinking that.