Tuesday, November 10, 2009

25 Random Things about Me

Note: added on November 10, 2015.

Written in 2009 on Facebook:

1. Two activities that changed my life were high school wrestling and coaching kids in basketball. Without wrestling, I wouldn't know how far I could push myself without breaking. I'd also be less willing to push myself to the limit when necessary. Without coaching, I'd have no idea how much children rely on adults to set standards of behavior. This realization caused me to become much more moderate.

2. My first year wrestling, I lost every single match. I almost won my last match, but couldn't hold onto a lead. Afterwards, I was so upset, I went to the bathroom and punched (kicked?) a hole through the wall. (Thankfully, I wasn't injured.) The next year, I won several matches, including a crucial match where I was supposed to be on injured reserve but came in at the last minute. Winning that match against Homestead High helped place my team in 3rd place in our league. That same year, my coach awarded me Most Valuable Frosh/Soph Wrestler. I wrestled all four years in high school, starting at the 152 lbs weight class and ending at the 171 lbs weight class.

3. I didn't experience my first kiss until college.

4. I didn't really study for the bar exam but somehow passed. Here's what happened: I opted for the take-home study program, and BarBri (an intensive study program) sent me the materials a week late. A week in bar prep time is an eternity. Realizing I could never catch up, I uncharacteristically gave up. Instead of studying, I played basketball in downtown Campbell with the SJSU women's team most days and spent most nights terrified and in fetal position. (I did manage to attend a 3 day PMBR course shortly before the bar exam, and I also took the Conviser Mini-Review with me to the hotel.)

The first day of the exam, I ticked off everyone sitting near me. I was making jokes and smiling, and they did not appreciate my insouciance. Everything I said was met with stone cold silence and glares. Anyway, the first day, the questions seemed pretty easy. I went back to the hotel, ate at Hungry Hunter, and read the Conviser study guide until 4AM. The next day, the subjects on the exam happened to be exactly the ones I'd studied.

The second day, I studied the Conviser mini-review from 12AM to 4AM. Well, the third day, the subjects once again happened to be mostly the ones I'd studied a few hours before. When I drove home after the exam, I'd had about 5 hours of sleep in three days and almost rear-ended a BMW. Later, when I checked online and found out I'd passed, I was so happy, I picked up the law firm's secretary and gave her a bear hug.

5. After taking the bar exam, my buddy (Joe) and I saw most of western Europe with no plans, no maps, and not much money. We went to London, took the Chunnel (aka Channel Tunnel) to Brussels and went clockwise. We ended up in Paris and took the Chunnel back to London. In one month, we managed to see almost every capital in Western Europe, walked 10+ miles a day, slept on benches (sometimes, we couldn't find an open hotel), got into a screaming match in Berlin (we made up later), and just had an incredible time. And before you ask, we did _not_ partake in any Amsterdam coffeeshops. My fav city was Venice, Italy. (I love London, too, but that's like a second home to me, so I don't count it in my list of favs.)

6. I went to first grade in Scotland. I have a pic of myself in full Scottish garb, kilt and all, to prove it.

7. I have a younger sister who is much, much smarter than me. She graduated from MIT and is getting her PhD at Harvard right now.

8. For a specific reason you may notice if you know me, I tend to prefer solitary activities, like reading or watching films. Socially, sometimes I feel I'm the male version of Eliza Doolittle.

9. I love reading. You will hardly ever see me without a book or newspaper. Some of my fav times are spent reading a book or newspaper in a bookstore while drinking a white choc mocha or cappuccino.

10. I welcome the J-Lo / Jessica Simpson / Kim Kardashian movement away from the Kate Moss era.

11. I've seen so many divorces in family court, I am fairly certain I will not get married. Other lawyers were paying me 100+ dollars to show up and do routine appearances for them in family matters. After a few months, I got so depressed, I stopped going. This was when I was first starting out on my own and desperately needed the money. Let me give you an example of how bad things can get. I went to court in Hayward (or somewhere in Alameda County) and the only issue to be decided was how to divide the couple's *debt*--they had no assets. After I got a continuance, the ex-husband was so upset, he angrily told me he was going to hire the best lawyer in town to beat his ex-wife in the case (with what money?). It would be comical if it wasn't so sad. After seeing so much irrational behavior, I do not want to put myself in a similar position. This doesn't, however, preclude me from being in a committed relationship--it just means I don't want some stranger/judge telling me what to do if things fall apart.

12. I paid off my private law school (Santa Clara Law) loans myself. It took about three years of eating nothing but PB&J sandwiches and staying in the office 12 hours a day (when you do nothing but work and then go home and sleep right after work, you don't have any opportunities to spend money). When I would forget my bag lunch, I wouldn't eat that day.

13. I have never bought a new car and probably never will. I bought my last car from a rental car company's fleet and paid cash for it.

14. If I could make a living doing it, I would love to write about public companies and finance instead of practicing law.

15. I am convinced women pick men based on height. I had no success with women at all until I hit 6 feet. Not much about me changed--just my height. So if I had to answer Freud's question about what women want, I would say it's pretty simple: 1) be tall; 2) don't be a jerk; and 3) have a job.

16. I'd like to think I have no ego. In a rebuke to sociologists and anthropologists everywhere, I'm not status-conscious at all. I don't buy nice labels or nice cars to look good. If someone hurts me, I just move on. I've realized over the years this makes me somewhat unusual. I genuinely don't care what other people do or say, as long as physical violence isn't involved. The only time I get upset is when people in power clearly abuse their discretion or authority. George Carlin would be proud.

17. I sometimes think about moving to a small town, buying a small house, and spending my days reading books and playing basketball. It's almost like deep down, I lack aggressive ambition, despite my degrees and high work ethic. Anthony Bourdain summed up this phenomenon perfectly, except I would *not* be doing the Mary Jane, and I'm not yet completely afraid of "that guy":

"I know there's deep inside (me) some lazy hippie who'd be perfectly happy to lay on the couch, smoke weed and watch The Simpsons all day - I'm really afraid of that guy. I don't like him. I don't want him around. And my whole life is kind of constructed to avoid reverting to that guy: Stay busy. Stay focused. Try not to mess up."

18. I am probably most happy when playing basketball. Seeing your work--whether on defense or offense--create immediate results is awesome.

19. I've had my own law firm since Nov(?) 2004. I hope I can keep it for a long time. If you're interested, go to www.rafatlaw.com for more info. [Update: closed the business in 2010.]

20. I am unfortunately ultra-cheap, er, frugal. I pick up pennies and change on the ground when I see them. I park about 1/2 a mile away from my office to pay lower parking fees. I own only a few suits, most of them bought at a Gilroy outlet during a sale. I don't think I've ever spent more than 300 dollars a year on clothing, and that includes suits. I told my family I wanted nothing for X-Mas or my birthday because I didn't want to spend any money on gifts for them, and we were all old enough to buy our own stuff. Recently, when I found out how much a crown cost, I asked my dentist to remove the entire tooth (the dentist and the other dentist I went to for a second opinion wouldn't do it, so I ended up (grudgingly) paying the 900 dollars). My largest monthly expenses are food-related. Neal Templin would be proud. So would Jeff Yeager.

21. I dislike driving long distances. The human body was not designed to be sitting for hours in a car. Also, the fact that I get lost all the time might have something to do with it.

22. My travels have taught me something I think is absolutely true--under normal circumstances, all human beings, no matter where they live, what they believe, and what they look like, all want the same things--a home, a job they like or are good at, someone to love, and someone to listen to them. Any differences are a matter of degree, not substance. The key is figuring out the other person's/culture's communication style so you can understand what's really being said.

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