- The wine selection at EVERY store is far, far better (I was blown away by the wine aisle in Target!) Everyone’s a wine snob! I love it!
- Merging onto the highway is an art, and also involves a certain amount of luck and sheer grit. You have about 4 feet to merge in (or that’s what it feels like), and the slow lane moves around 70 mph – a bad combination.
- Gas is up around $2.39/gallon. I kid you not.
- People refer to highways as "the" – I think this is a California thing. Usage: "I went down to Pescadero. Coming back, I took the 84 to the 280."
- No shoes, no shirt - no problem. I’ve seen a lot of people in some form of deshabille being served. People are more casual about dress code in general – especially when you calculate in proximity to the ocean, and the weekend.
- Very, very few personalized license plates and/or bumper stickers – in stark contrast to Northern Virginia!
- Many street names are in Spanish, and I wish I knew what they meant and what they were named after! Alameda de las Pulgas ? Anyone?
How things are the same:
- People can’t drive here either - signals are also out of style on the West Coast, apparently. (But I’m more careful about yelling at other drivers, since a lot of people (myself included) drive with their windows down!)
- The culture of eating out is prevalent here – but, if it’s possible, people are even more demanding about food than in DC.
- People take their surroundings for granted (until friends or family come to visit.) In the same way that we rarely go to the Smithsonian, etc. without an out-of-town visitor, people here don’t hit SF/the Bay Area’s highlights (such as wine country) without guests.
- People are EXTREMELY plugged in. This might be limited to the people I work with, but I doubt it. I received my first Blackberried email from an attorney who was in a deposition. And as usual, I feel like a neo-Luddite, I can’t see myself going in that direction. I tried using a PDA for a little while a few years ago, and gave it up for an old-fashioned planner.
Those are just my impressions from the first week. I can’t believe I’ve been here for 10 days! In some ways, it seems way longer than that since so much has happened. On the other hand, it seems a lot shorter since I have spent most of my time at work (don’t worry – I haven’t actually been doing work!)
Wednesday, we had to play "3 truths and a lie" with a bunch of associates – I’m incredibly bad at lying! (I know, I know – what am I even doing in law school?) In my typical geeky fashion, I, embarrassingly, tried to jot down a few notes so I could keep it all straight. Here’s what I’ve learned, when it comes to people at The Firm, if it involves a run-in with the law, or interaction with reality TV "stars" – it’s probably true. The truths ranged from being arrested in a foreign country on a 16th birthday (for stealing license plates!) to artificially inseminating a cow. Here’s my list, which one is the lie? (1) I’ve changed my name twice, (2) I’ve had typhoid, (3) I was born in Lumput, Malaysia, (4) I once drove home w/no pants on.
Every Thursday, all the attorneys at our office eat lunch together. Anyone who has a new case, or who has finished a case, stands up and talks a little bit about it. This is especially cool for summer associates because you can try and get on the new cases that interest you. Of course, that would involve having some confidence in your ability to do the work – and I have none! This is a normal pattern for me. For some reason, it takes me a long time to establish for myself that I know what the hell I’m doing. It’s even worse right now because I really don’t know what’s going on! This is being exasperated by my officemate - I’ve asked him a few questions and he’s so dead-set on his responses that I think I have to be wrong. It’s always driving home (meditation through movement?) that I realize that he’s full of crap. Lesson learned: asking another summer associate is pretty close to the blind leading the blind.
Yesterday, I drove to the coast – traffic galore. Coming home, I decided to take a road I thought might hit a highway I could use to get home. All I have to say is that I wouldn’t want to drive it at night! The scenery was gorgeous – driving through redwoods, at one point there was so little light, I turned on my headlights, but a little nerve-wracking, hairpin turn after hairpin turn. I decided that it was actually a slalom for cars, or maybe a car commercial where they weren’t using "professional drivers on a closed course." The smell of the air was phenomenal, creosote-after-it-rains. This very clean, nearly astringent smell that makes you feel hopeful and energetic.
I’m coming off of a crankypants bender. As much as I (thus far) love my firm, it’s stressful– even in social situations, you’re essentially on an 11 week job interview. I thought I just needed some time to myself, but that created different grumpiness – I’m tired of every little thing turning into an "adventure." I’m sick of not knowing my way around, and not knowing where anything is. When you’re in a good, or even normal mood, getting lost and finding another way home is fun. But when you’re crabby to begin with, you just want to be able to find the damn bookstore without any drama. I hit the high/low point of crabbiness last night, and as usual – things look better today. (To ensure that the mood was broken, I bought a pair of shoes!)