Saturday, November 23, 2013

Random Travel Update 99

Last Locations:
Miami, FL: November 5 - November 8, 2013
New York, NY: Perpetual

Present Location:
San Francisco, CA: November 14 – November 24, 2013

Next Locations:
Phoenix, AZ: November 24, 2013
Tucson, AZ: November 24 – November 28, 2013

Follow me now -->

I am in San Francisco. Tomorrow Phoenix, and then to Tucson. If you happen to be in one of these places, and we don't already have plans to meet up, connect!

I am intentionally allowing the distance between updates to grow. I originally started these updates as a project to prevent my writing skills from growing rusty while I was out of school. Having an audience keeps me accountable in a way that journaling does not. The length of time that I have kept up with them—over 6 years now—is a tribute to the power of inertia. A habit formed is a habit kept.

I have recently however, found new outlets for both writing and staying in touch with people. One is Evernote, which I recommend for keeping notes, journaling, or writing stories. The other, is Twitter.

I love Twitter because it forces me to record my thoughts in 140 characters or less. I am using it as a place to keep track of and share epiphanies, and to engage in witty banter with friends and strangers. In law school, a few friends got together to form a short-lived email forum to chat about values, philosophy, moral virtue, and life goals. [This is where I would tag @Adamanteau if we were on Twitter.] I want to use Twitter to create a more lasting and more public version of that forum in which anyone who is interested can participate.

I am going to ask you all to follow me on Twitter. Even if you don’t currently use Twitter, please sign up to follow me. Three reasons: 1. Having followers makes it easier for me to make followers, which I need to have an impact, 2. I may want to tag you in something at some point and I can only do that if you have a Twitter handle, and 3. I will be moving many of the thoughts that I had previously expressed via these updates to Twitter.

If you have a Twitter account, chances are, I am already following you. Login, follow me, and log back off if you really don’t care to use it. Or, check out some of my past tweets and engage!

Following me on Twitter is superior to receiving updates because I can tag you in content that I think you are specifically likely to enjoy and relate to. You can immediately engage me back, and you get all the benefits of keeping in touch without having to skim through multiple paragraphs of text (case in point.)

Some things you should be aware of if you follow me. I use Twitter to engage with all of the communities in which I am a part. That includes the animal advocacy community, the startup community, the model/fashion community, the LGBT community, the travel community, the legal community, and the intellectually inspired. Not all of the content is 100% PG. But most is at least 99.98% PG.

Twitter creates a facade of privacy, not unlike having a conversation at a crowded bar. Everyone can technically hear you, but the sound of all the other conversations drowns out the volume of your own. That said, everything you post on Twitter is 100% public, unless you use a filter so that only approved followers can see your content.

My present Twitter handle is @coaset. It is pronounce “coast.” You know, for west coast to east coast. Or because the highest level of success is to make it look easy, like “I’m just coasting.” But really, it is the shortest available way to pay tribute to Prof. Ron Coase and the theorem named after him which states that, in the absence of transaction costs, bargaining will lead to an efficient outcome. This theory is one that has presented itself in every stage of my education, from learning how to solve for environmental externalities as a Poli Sci and Environmental Studies major in college, to learning how not to over-negotiate during my travels (the time spent negotiating is a transaction cost), to allocating rights in law school, to immersing myself in the world of business, which is what I am doing now.

More on that later. Remember, you can change your Twitter handle as often as you want. I recommend if you have a long one, making it short so that you are more taggable. Handle characters count towards the 140 limit.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Random Travel Update 98

Last Locations:
Houston, TX: August 23 – August 26, 2013
Nashville, TN: September 6 – September 8, 2013
Chicago, IL: September 20 – September 22, 2013
Washington, DC: October 10  – October 12, 2013

Present Location: New York, NY
Arrival Date: April 24, 2012
Departure Date: I never want to leave.

Next Locations:
San Francisco, CA: November 14 – November 24, 2013
Phoenix, AZ: November 24, 2013
Tucson, AZ: November 24 – November 28, 2013

I have become weary of writing about myself. Weary, or self-conscious. Or both. I was in a presentation this evening "Economics of a Venture Workshop"--part of the NYU Stern Venture Competition. The lecturer ended with a quote from Isaac Babel:

"A well-thought-out story doesn't need to resemble real life. Life itself tries with all its might to resemble a well-crafted story."

I would only counter that a well-crafted story requires effort. Life provides content, but it is up to the liver to present it meaningfully. 

I want to offer more content. I want to write things that are me without being merely about me. Stuff that you can use to craft your own stories. And, in return, I want you to consider someday sharing your stories with me. 

When I arrived in New York, I read a lot about how to get a job. Not just a job, but the perfect job. I discovered this. If you want a job, or a new job, or if you want to switch careers, or really do anything to change anything, this is how you do it: 

Meet with everyone you can who does anything that you think you might want to do—or who might know people who do what you want to do. Write a 2-sentence email offering to take them out for a 20-minute coffee, and make sure to give them an opportunity to leave after 15-20 minutes. Keep the subject the same for all so that you can search them easily when you go to write thank you emails and follow-ups. Always write thank yous and always follow-up. Start with professors, alum, friends, past co-workers. Ask each to connect you with one to three more people. By the time you are meeting with 6 to 10 people a week, you will start to get a good idea of the positions for which you are a really good fit and how to go about getting them. Be kind, genuine, engaging, and interested. If you want to do what someone else does, know why and be able to articulate it. If you aren't sure, ask them what they like and don't like about it. Questions impress more than answers. The more you learn, the more you will have to ask about. Use the answers to update your model--is this job really as good a fit as you thought it was? Be gracious, make sure that your resume is relevant, and be ready to send it if asked. Volunteer. Get out. Go to events frequented by like-minded people. Treat everyone you ever meet anywhere well. Pay attention to disguised opportunities. And if someone wants to take you out for a 20-minute coffee someday months from now to ask about your successes, go. 



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Random Travel Update 97

Last Locations:
Albany, NY: June 18 – June 20, 2013
Washington, DC: June 25 – June 29, 2013
Long Beach, NY: August 5, 2013

Present Location: New York, NY
Arrival Date: April 24, 2012
Departure Date: Indefinite

Next Locations:
Houston, TX: August 23 – August 26, 2013
Nashville, TN: September 6 – September 8, 2013
Chicago, IL: September 20 – September 22, 2013

This update is long overdue. Its main purpose is to thank my parents, who not only flew 2,000 miles across the country to attend my bar induction ceremony, but also spent five days in the city to help me move furniture into my new apartment and carry on everyday tasks while my lower back pain was at its worse. It was like having a tiny army of motivation and capability constructing, destructing, carrying, and moving things up and down five floors of stairs. As it turns out, having parents only gets better with age.

I head to Houston in a week. I have been modeling to pay rent while I look for work and one of my clients is flying me out for a hair show. (Hence my lately ever-changing hair color.) Basically, I get paid money to have my hair done and to hang out with attractive women all day. Best gig ever? Maybe not, but it's got to be close. I am booked for Houston this month, then Nashville, Chicago, and New Jersey. If you live in one of those places, make sure to let me know just in case I have time to grab a tea.


Melissa, (Esq.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Random Travel Update 96

Last Locations:
Washington, DC: April 8 - April 24, 2013
Washington, DC: May 4 - May 7, 2013
Washington, DC: May 28 - June 1, 2013

Present Location: New York, NY
Arrival Date: April 24, 2012
Departure Date: Indefinite

Next Location: Albany, NY
Arrival Date: June 18, 2012
Departure Date: June 20, 2013

I adore New York. I have spent several weeks trying to articulate the experience of living here, but it has proven difficult to capture in words without sounding like my head is completely in the clouds.

I want to say: The city fits me. It feels more like home than anywhere I have ever been. I am happy. But in saying it I want to convey more: The sensation of perfect clarity. The feeling that everything I put my efforts towards here is within my reach. The feeling that every conversation I have is a meaningful stone in a wall that I will eventually come to identify as success. And not just success in a financial sense, but success as in fulfillment. I feel here that a feeling of contentedness is possible. A feeling I had previously chased around the world to encounter.  

The city has been good to me. I have had a jacket and my beloved mountain hardware hoodie (from Jon, years ago) stolen. One apartment fall through at the, near literally, last minute. I have had seven weeks of severe allergies, and two weeks with a bad--presently excruciatingly bad--back. My laptop crashed before my time capsule arrived to back up the data. I really good relationship was terminated and a really good job has yet to be secured. My budget is minuscule relative to the size of this city. And I generally feel as though things could not be going better.

Oh, and by the way, I passed the New York bar. My parents are meeting me in Albany this evening for the induction ceremony tomorrow. As of Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 I will officially be an attorney!


Melissa, almost-Esq.

P.S. I would like to extend a special thank you to my good friend and fellow animal advocate from law school, Jon Mirsky, for generously putting me up in his gorgeous Upper West Side apartment for my first six weeks in the city. Your hospitality has meant a lot to me.

P.P.S. I am reverting back the RTUs (Random Travel Updates) and figured that it would be confusing to start from where those left off at RTU 50 when the RLSUs (Random Law School Updates) left off at 45. So I have equally-confusingly  combined the two such that the numbering will here forth reflect the total number of random updates, making this update number 96. (Do let me know if you can think of a fitting way to celebrate my hundredth update!)

P.P.P.S. To those new (and old) adds, I remind you that you are free to evacuate these updates from your inbox at any point. Just send me a note saying, at minimum, "unsubscribe." You can always check out new and archived updates at

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Random Law School Update 45: Call for Questions

Last Locations:
Pagosa Springs, Colorado: January 7 – January 12, 2012
Washington, DC: January 12, 2012 – February 25, 2013
Albany, NY: February 25 – February 28, 2013
New York, NY: February 28 – March 6, 2013
Washington, DC: March 6 – March 13, 2013
New York, NY: March 13 – March 14, 2013
Wilmington, DE: March 14 – March 17, 2013

Washington, DC: March 17 – March 19, 2013
Tucson, AZ: March 19 – March 28, 2013
Salt Lake City, UT & Burley, ID: March 28 – April 1, 2013
Boulder, Denver, Shelf Road, CO: April 1 – April 8, 2013

Present Location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: April 8, 2012
Departure Date: Undetermined

Next Location: New York, NY
Arrival Date: Undetermined
Departure Date: Undetermined

Law school is over. I finished my coursework in December and sat for the New York Bar in February.

I occasionally decline to mention that I have taken the bar–I figure that in the event I fail, I will have done my ego a favor by not having advertised the fact that my second time taking it isn’t actually my first.

But I feel pretty good about it and if I do fail I will be in good company. The only two first ladies to have ever gone to law school each failed the bar their first time around. If future first lady turns out to be the only respectable career path left open to me, then so be it.

After leaving the examination–which consisted of four three-hour segments over two days preceded by two months of bar study and three and a half years of law school–I had expected to be overcome by sentimentality. That severe, gut wrenching nostalgia that tends to follow large accomplishments. I imagined that I would sit right down after the exam and write an update to reminisce on the intensity of circumstances that had culminated in that moment.

But I didn’t feel any of that. I just felt...good. Really good.

This is the second to last Random Law School Update. As I am no longer in law school, and as it seems that I am not necessarily destined to stop traveling anytime soon, I am reverting back to writing Random Travel Updates and will be picking up where I left off nearly four years ago.

At that time, I sent out an email soliciting questions. I extend the same solicitation now. I suspect that your curiosity about all things law school might be duller than that for travel so I am opening the field up to all things law school, health, loss, and any travel questions not already answered here. If there is enough interest, I will answer a handful of them in the next message.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Random Law School Update 44: An Era in Review

Last Locations:
Barcelona, Spain: August 26 – December 19, 2012
Geneva, Switzerland: December 19 – December 20, 2012
Chamonix & Les Houches, France: December 20 – December 22, 2012

Present Location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: December 22, 2012
Departure Date: Undetermined

Next Location: Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Arrival Date: January 7, 2012
Departure Date: January 12, 2012

Happy New Years! 2012 has been, over all a fantastic year. I am presently in DC studying for the New York Bar. Last night, I watched the ball drop quietly on TV. Two days ago, I was watching the Redskins make it to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. A week before that, I was in the French Alps skiing for the first time since I was diagnosed. And three days before that, I was sitting for my final law school exam.

Then, going in reverse, I was exploring the Muslim fortress of Alhambra in awe and gorging myself on vegan tapas in the magical mountain town of Granada. Standing in Puerta del Sol, Madrid among 400 activists each holding the carcass of a small animal. I was caught in the crossfire between austerity-measure protesters and the police while riding my bike home from class in Barcelona. Getting news that my health has stabilized. Watching election results roll in from the official Democratic committee party in Washington, DC. Making calls on behalf of Obama. And before that, snapping pictures in Venice, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Castricum, Tossa de Mar, and Frankfurt.

Then it was summer. I was backpacking the Colorado wilderness in the rain. Waiting for my strength to return after removing my spleen. Laying in a hospital bed for days reflecting on what it means to take time off. Taking Spanish lessons. Visiting friends in New York and the Eastern Shore. Law journal work. Detoxing in the Caribbean. Watching my class graduate without me. Finishing up the Spring semester.

Studying, studying, studying. On a beach in Thailand, fasting, wondering why I couldn’t just cure myself with my mind. Competing in an Arbitration Moot in Hong Kong. Studying. Working. Learning how to meditate. Starting my semester internship at the SEC. Visiting the family in Tucson. Finding out, for the first time, that my pet tortoise since childhood had died…two years prior. And writing a note for my law journal in Tampa, Florida. That brings us to one year ago today.

But today doesn't just mark the beginning of a new year. It marks the end of an incredible period of time known as law school. The last three and a half years have been a rush of fear, excitement, profound sadness, and also complete happiness. 2013 feels, so far, like the moments after you get off of a really intense roller coaster and feel like you are floating suspended above the ground.

In 2009 I started law school, trading in an era of near complete freedom and global exploration for an era of self-discipline and intellectual exploration. Several months later, in 2010, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood condition. My good friend Meghan died of breast cancer a week later. I become a regular at the Georgetown Hospital.

I made it through my 1L year and took a summer internship in Mexico City. I went macrobiotic. And then quit gluten. I overcame my phobia of needles and developed a penchant for acupuncture. I returned to school, met two significant people, lost another, and took a role in the winter play. My good friend Bethany died of blood cancer in February 2011. I helped to organize a celebration of her life.

I accepted an internship at the Delaware Chancery Court and a Summer Associate position at Jones Day. I moved to Delaware and worked during the day while participating in the write-on competition for law journal at night. There were medical problems, but no time to see the doctor. I moved back to DC and learned all about law firm life and luxury. I donated half of my summer earnings to Compassion Over Killing.

Fall semester 2011 began. I was accepted by my preferred journal. I won the Georgetown International Arbitration Competition. I made it  into the SEC’s Spring semester intern class. Relationships faltered, were picked back up, and faltered again. It was a gloriously difficult time. I joined my parents for a ski(less) trip in Colorado and flew from there to Tampa where I watched the ball drop quietly on TV. That brings us to one year ago today.

Thank you all for sharing this era with me. I look forward to keeping you with me through the next.