On June 6th, 2012 Dinosaur Bear entered the world with its very first post. Sure, the name has changed twice since then, but the general purpose of the blog remains the same. So, although it’s over a month belated – Happy Birthday Dinosaur Bear!
Since last time, I’d mentally decided on the next three posts. First, I wanted to address “5 Years of Dinosaur Bear,” second, I wanted to discuss graduating on a bit more of a personal level, and third, I wanted to talk a little bit what I’ve been doing these past couple of months (aside from studying for the bar). Being a fan of efficiency – and realizing that the topics were closely intertwined – I’ve decided to combine the first two posts into one – this post. The third, on the topic of my busy summer, will come later in July (hopefully).
Let’s start with the topic of Dinosaur Bear being five years old. That’s kind of crazy. I have no data, but my guess is that most blogs are abandoned long before they turn five years old. Similarly, I’d imagine that a fair number of blogs that have been around longer than five years have attempted to monetize themselves. While it’s true that Dinosaur Bear hasn’t been generating content for five straight years (there was a hiatus), it’s never been down for any significant period. I’ve also made no attempt to make money from this blog. Some people have suggested it, but I simply have no desire to do so. This blog, was, is, and likely forever shall be, a story to some future version of myself. I’m not particularly vested in generating traffic, and in fact, I’ve made some posts less attractive to search engines in order to decrease the number of people who find them (a few posts have generated a somewhat incredible number of visitors). This is not to say that you are not welcome here, anyone who might be reading this, but rather that money, plus a large readership, are not the goals of Dinosaur Bear, nor have they ever been.
My guess is that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to guess what they are going to be doing in five years. Sure, some people could, but I doubt most of us can say with much specificity what we’ll be up to in five years (either due to personal choice or plinko). However, I think I’m in one of the higher percentiles of “Are you freaking kidding me?” The person I was five years ago scarcely resembles the person I am today (and not just in good ways, but life seldom gives you a bag of apples without a few rotten ones). I can safely say, that even just five years ago (let alone 10, holy gawd) I would have very likely never have guessed that I’d still be using this blog (thanks again Meem), and I sure as HELL wouldn’t have guessed what I’d have done in those five years that was usual in generating content for it.
But, as someone much more poetic than I once said, “life is odd, with its twists and turns.” Truer words are seldom written (or spoken). As a result, the past five years have, without a doubt, been the most unexpected, craziest, and adventurous of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’ll spare you the 50,000 word metaphysical treatise on what I mean by that, but the gist of it is that I think I’m getting much better at listening to “me, myself, and I” and, consequently, telling the rest of the world to “eat shit.” This isn’t without its drawbacks. I’ve found that I care about far fewer people than I used to, but care about those who are left even more. I’ve also lost a lot of empathy – though in real talk I think law school contributed to that. I’ve learned that what I care passionately about, is not what a lot of people I know care passionately about, and I’ve also learned that I don’t care. While I can completely understand your doubt if you don’t know me personally, if there is one thing I can say about the past five years – particularly the past three – it’s that I’ve spent a lot of time ignoring advice, both well meaning, and ill-informed, and, it’s worked wonderfully for me. This is not to say I’m all-knowing. Oh lawds I am not. I tumble, fall, pout, cry, rage, fail, and fail some more – but in the end I’ve made it, and I’ve “made it” in every single thing that someone told me I couldn’t. You might say I’ve defined myself as an anti-cookie-cutter, and yes, for my fellow anti-cookie-cutters out there, I’m sure you realize that doing this severs a lot of your relationships. It certainly did for me. Maybe I just happened to be surrounded by a larger-than-average contingent of people who don’t understand my desire to be different (or, possibly even more accurately – don’t want to understand), but the end result is that my “sphere” has massively diminished.
But, the thing is. I’m happier – my sphere might be smaller, but the bonds are stronger.
And, it took me a long time to realize that – much longer than five years – but I think that is my connection style, and I’ve yet to see any reason why I should should have suppressed it for as long as I did.
How is this relevant to Dinosaur Bear? Well, for one I am Dinosaur Bear. 🙂
But more pertinently, it’s relevant because if you read between the lines of all these 193 posts, you’ll see the growth of the person I now am. And, I guess if you are good at such things, probably even a prediction of the person I will become (and who knows, maybe I’ll be making a “10 Years of Dinosaur Bear” post – stranger things have most certainly happened). This is not to say that every post is philosophical, of course not. In fact, a lot of them are just me whining, and I like to think of myself as an exquisite cry-baby. Others involve nihilistic overtures of a colonoscopy, or such random topics as what kind of scissors I like, not to mention a nearly endless number of beer discussions. But, if you step back, you’ll see Taco – probably a whole lot better that most people ever will. So yes, dear internet stranger, if you follow this blog regularly you probably know more about me than most people who have known me in-person my whole life but who don’t read this blog. But, give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth – and all that. 🙂
This is all to say that I’ve changed, this blog has changed, and likely you’ve changed. I’d like to think that there has been an upward trend, and the good news is that I think Dinosaur Bear supports that hypothesis.
Which brings me to my next point, graduation. It would be hard to distill “law school” from “Dinosaur Bear,” and in fact one could make a very strong argument that Dinosaur Bear was – at least by implication – a law school blog. If it was, I don’t think it is anymore, but perhaps it was. It was most certainly a blog about me complaining about law school (and other such random topics as people needlessly cutting you off in a foot race), but I think if you go read a blog that is really about law school, you’ll see that Dinosaur Bear is not, and was not one. Regardless of what theme Dinosaur Bear adopted (regardless of the author’s intent – a favorite author of mine, Stephen King, speaks to this much more eloquently), I’m now graduated, and can at that little “J.D.” to the end of Taco if I so wish. Taco, Juris Doctor – or is it Taco, Doctor of Jurisprudence? Maybe both. Who knows, I certainly don’t. What I do know, is that I feel categorically, wholly, undisputedly – no different than I did before having the degree. This is odd, because in the past I felt quite a bit after getting a degree, and you’d certainly think that a J.D. from Harvard would give you some feely-feels. At least, I thought it was odd at first. What do I mean by that? Well, that requires an examination of what brought me to law school in the first place. And yeah, don’t worry, I’m not about to write my memoir here – plus there is no concise and tangible answer as to why I came to law school. And that is actually more of an answer to the question than anything of substance.
Confused? Don’t worry, it’s kind of odd and confusing at the same time. The truth is that I didn’t go to law school because I was driven towards it, and law school was not an end in and of itself, but rather a stepping stone to the future, but oddly enough, not a legal future. Just what future? I didn’t know – and still don’t entirely know. Does that motivation bother you? If so, see the paragraphs above. 🙂
Now this doesn’t mean that I haven’t found some purpose beyond a stepping stone. Of course not. If you’ve read this blog for more than a post or two, you’ll know that I’ve actually grown pretty invested in a few things – most of which I was resoundingly told to avoid as being too “nontraditional” – but so far I’m rocking a pretty good success streak. No, what this merely means is that unlike someone who knew they wanted to be a lawyer, or maybe even more specifically knew exactly what kind of lawyer they wanted to be – where law school was a means to that end, for me, law school wasn’t necessarily a means to any particular end, insomuch as it was a chapter in and of itself.
As such, that I don’t feel a whole lot different because of the degree really isn’t that surprising. The fact is that I feel different because of the experiences that occurred as part of law school, almost all of which were extrinsic to the school itself. Further, I’ve refused – and I mean utterly refused to get “off track” while in law school. This might sound totally, impossibly crazy to you, but at Harvard, it’s easier to get a job with a $180,000 salary and $15,000 bonus, than it is to get the kind of job I want which will literally pay 1/4 (at most, possibly less) of that. And that 180k is a starting salary mind you, it goes up each year (so does the bonus). If your initial inclination is to call me an “ungrateful shit” at turning down such an opportunity (that’s an exact quote, by the way) I can’t say I entirely blame you, but it also shows me that you have no real insight into what I meant by “staying on track.” And – that isn’t something I’m going to explain, the answer lies within this blog if you are really curious. But, I will reiterate, the hardest part of law school, or at least my law school, was – in the words of Gold Five, to “Stay on Target.”
But I did. In fact, I knew it would be a challenge – though I didn’t understand just how big of a challenge it would be, as literally everything pushes against you. But, as I knew it would at least be a challenge, I wrote a “manifesto” to myself prior to starting law school. Of course I’m not sure a “manifesto” is the best title for it since I didn’t revisit it for three years. In fact I promptly sealed it away in the bowels of Gmail and intentionally didn’t open it again until after I’d graduated. However, I didn’t forget about it, nor did I forget about its purpose.
And – I have to say, I upheld my charge to myself. For all I didn’t know when I wrote it, I knew enough about myself to set a high bar, and I most certainly did – but I also most certainly surpassed it.
I won’t share the whole manifesto here, it’s decently long, and this is going to be a long post as-is. But I will share a segment of the penultimate line of the manifesto, as it mirrors this post quite prophetically – despite predating it by three years:
“Law is phase in my life, a brief branch in the trail. My reasoning might not make perfect sense to others, but it is my reasoning to make.”
And, true to my desire to not let THE LAW define me. I kept one little piece of pre-law me very close to the chest, and I’d like to share a brief story about that.
Ask most any law student, or law student-to-be, and they’ll say that probably the most exciting moment in the whole process is when you get the acceptance call, e-mail, or letter. In my case, I mostly got calls which were followed by e-mails and/or physical mailings. Regardless of the format, an acceptance is a wonderfully exciting moment if its a school your invested in, and even if you aren’t, its still a nice bit of affirmation. Likewise, rejections are the exact opposite – and I know those just as well. But, returning to the point, that bit of correspondence (be it digital or physical) is like a small little time capsule that forever enshrines what you felt when you got it. Maybe you don’t remember them all, but my guess is that there are at least two that you’ll never forget. I have two, and I chose to attend one of them. With Harvard, the call came first (and if you include my pre-acceptance interview, I kept that a secret for over a month from everyone except SB – which was also fun), but just before Christmas 2013 I received an email which confirmed that the phone call was real and not in my imagination (a more common thought process than you might imagine with places like Harvard and Stanford, or really any school to which your mind is blown that they actually accepted you). The e-mail, which was itself later followed by physical goodies, was mostly administrative – it’s central purpose was just to send me my ID number. But, the email was more than that. It was, right there, a “Victory” sign to me in a lot of ways. However, over time, something strange happened. The e-mail became less of a “Victory” symbol, and more of a reminder – of the person who got that email – of a person who wouldn’t take that e-mail for granted, even when it got old and law school became mundane, frustrating, and – at times – downright unhealthy.
But, for the Taco who opened that email over 3 and a half years ago, that email was a victory. At the time it was a gigantic “fuck you” to people who no longer matter, though in the ensuing months it become more of a testament to my self ability and less a middle-finger to others (though let’s be real, that can be a fun thing to think about). But, the point is, it was awesome, it was unimaginably, incomprehensibly, amazing. It was, by any stretch of the imagination, a victory – a hard earned victory – but an unexpected one nonetheless. Yet, we are fickle creatures. All those feelings would have normally faded, but I wanted to be sure that they didn’t. So I didn’t let them.
I didn’t delete that email. I didn’t archive that email. I left it right there in my inbox. The first email I ever received at my Harvard address.
And it’s still there.
And it will always be there. I will never delete that email. It will always be the little email sitting at the bottom of my inbox. Because I cannot, will not, compromise who I am.
For at the end of the day, I’ve realized that I am Harvard, but Harvard is not me.
And that email, in its own little way, reminds me of that.
And I won’t forget it.
Because to categorize me as Harvard, loses all of my nuances – it typecasts me into a mold that I’ve sadly learned is not that off-base, but the key word there is that. As law school has taught me, the exceptions prove the rule – but there are always exceptions.
So, while I may be Harvard, that’s just one chapter in my story – and, as I alluded to above, I feel as though my story is one that gets better and more fulfilling as the pages turn onward. I had said that Dinosaur Bear supported that hypothesis – so let’s take a step back and look at these past few years together, shall we? To keep the size from ballooning out of the control, I’m only going to sample one thing from every five or ten posts – but of course the ole’ search bar is right over there if you desire more. 🙂
Over the past five years, Dinosaur Bear has chronicled:
My first visit to Salem, MA – subject of many legends, and more than a couple of theses. (the photo has significance, read the post)
A whirlwind New England extravaganza with Meem. (we remembered the face of our fathers)
And that’s only about 17% of the posts on Dinosaur Bear – and the post count is only going to grow from here.
That’s pretty crazy, and pretty awesome.
So yes, I’d like to think that things are getting better, a little better all the time. 🙂
And on that note, I think it’s a good time to wrap up this post.
In parting, I’ll share one final thought.
After graduation Harvard sent out a questionnaire which asked a lot of things about our collective experience at the school, be it academic, social, professional, etc. Unsurprisingly, two of the most prominent questions were, first “Did you enjoy law school?” and, “Knowing what you know now, would you still go to law school?”
I – perhaps with appearance of paradox (or masochism) – answered “No” to the former, and “Yes” to the latter.
In actuality, the answers make perfect sense.
See, I didn’t enjoy the law in law school. Frankly a lot of law school really sucked – a quick search will reveal just how bad law school is for a given individual’s health. The law aspect of law school is not something I’d recommend. So much of that difficulty is needlessly created by the system itself and doesn’t reflect actual practice (which I enjoyed) – and on that topic you can find many an in-depth post on this very blog.
But the thing is, my law school experience was so much more than a law school experience. If there is one thing you’ve probably garnered from reading this far, is that I never viewed law school as a be-all, but rather as a chapter in the larger story of my life.
And in that regard, if Taco from three years ago said “Should I go?”
I would answer with an unequivocal “Yes.”
Because law school as a chapter – has been the most demanding, most frustrating, most stressful.. yet also, most wonderful, most powerful, most emotional, most liberating, eye-opening, mind-blowing, all around…
…greatest experience of my life.
Thanks for tagging along with me.
Here’s to five more years of Dinosaur Bear – and the crazy roads that two adults, three dinosaurs, a polar bear, and a pig may travel.
Until next time,