Archive for October, 2012


The LSAT Mark Cometh

I’ll be getting my LSAT scores at some point in the next 48 hours. And man, I am shitting bricks right now.

In a lot of ways, I feel similar to how I felt just before getting my SAT score back. But it’s also very, very different.

I was nervous back then, but I really didn’t have to be. Regardless of my score on the test, I knew that I had a minimal chance of getting into Harvard or Yale. Realistically, whether I scored a 2100 or a 1200, my choice was always going to be between U of T and Queen’s. In other words, that test could not have had a significant impact on my life, regardless of how well I did on it.

The LSAT, on the other hand, is largely what is going to determine my options for the upcoming three years. I’m casting my net wide this time. Rather than applying to just three schools (plus Harvard and Yale, to which I didn’t have a realistic chance anyhow), I’m going after about 12 schools this time in both Canada and the U.K.

Why the U.K.? Well, since the Canadian legal system is based on the British legal system, it’s relatively easy to make the switch between the two. Or so I’ve been told. Yeah, it’d require an extra year of school were I to return to Canada afterward, but that’s a small price to pay for expanding my options both now and in the future.

The crown jewel for me is U of T. If I get accepted here, it will be very difficult to turn down that offer. The catch is that there’s no guarantee that I’m going to get in. My chances of getting in are probably about 35% right now, though that will change depending on what my LSAT score is. If I get rejected, that’s going to be hard on me. I’ve never been rejected by any school that I had a reasonable chance of getting into. It just hasn’t happened to me. But there’s a very good chance that U of T will break my heart and be the first. If that happens, my situation will get a whole lot murkier, and will make the U of T/Queen’s debate of 2009 seem insignificant by comparison.

No doubt the stress over my decision-making process will be the subject of many blogs in the months to come, much as it was in 2009. But that’s a subject for the future.

My point for the moment is that depending on what LSAT score I see tomorrow, my options for next year will change dramatically. Depending on what number I see, I might have twelve options, or I might have two. And that’s a little scary. That in itself is something else that’s new about this whole LSAT thing – I’m scared of it.

Go back as far as you’d like in my personal history. The EQAO. The PACE. The SSAT. The SAT. All of those tests had one thing in common. They didn’t scare me. I knew that I was going to do reasonably well on them, and I went in with a confident, almost cocky, attitude.

But the LSAT was a different beast. It intimidated me. I was afraid of it – particularly that damned Logic Games section. I didn’t go in with my usual swagger. And if Thursday comes and I see a poor score, I’m just going to be even more intimidated by it in December when I take it again. Hopefully that isn’t the case, but at this point I’m not confident.

Basically, here’s my scale:

  • If my score is below 155, I’ll be distraught, and I’ll be taking the LSAT again on December 1st.
  • If my score is between 155 and 160, I’ll be unhappy, and I’ll be taking the LSAT again on December 1st.
  • If my score is between 160 and 165, I’ll be content, but I’ll still be taking the LSAT again.
  • If my score is between 165 and 170, I’ll be happy, and I may or may not take the LSAT again.
  • If, by some incredible miracle, my score is above 170, then I’m streaking down Yonge street. And not taking the LSAT again.

Realistically, I expect to be in the 155-165 range. If I’m below that, God help me, and if I’m above that, well, awesome. But even within that small range there’s a wide range of emotions. A 155 is useless, and won’t get you in anywhere. A 165 is great, and will get you into the majority of law schools.

I’ll find out by Thursday afternoon. Until then, I’m a bag of nerves.

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The Dark Side Of Age Nine

I remember being nine years old.

I was at Wonderland with my parents and younger sister, having a jolly old time. And there we were, at the bumper cars. After a short wait in line, I boarded my vehicle. I can’t remember what colour it was. Probably blue, or maybe orange if all the blues were taken.

And then I made a decision which I have regretted for the last twelve years. I looked at the boy seated in front of me, and I decided to become an Asshole.

And so once I had control of my vehicle, I went straight for this boy. I hit him, hard. But that’s not what made me an Asshole. It’s bumper cars after all. You’re supposed to hit people.

But rather than turn the wheel in the opposite direction as I was instructed, I turned my wheel toward his vehicle. The effect of this was that, despite his best efforts, he couldn’t move. I pinned him down, like a rat in a cage. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to keep him pinned for as long as I did, given how much he squirmed. But I kept him there for the entire 90 seconds of the ride.

I was pretty pleased with myself afterwards. My parents, on the other hand, were furious. They let me know that what I did was wrong, and they punished me for it. The next ride we came to was the Ghoster Coaster – one of my favourites. Only my dad said that I wasn’t allowed to ride. I had ruined someone else’s ride, and now he was going to ruin mine. He took my sister along (it was a junior roller coaster after all, with a very lenient height restriction), and the two of them went off.

Before they were out of sight, my dad turned back and waved at me. Just to rub it in a little. I don’t know why this sticks out in my mind so much, but it does.

Now, my dad always did things like this when I misbehaved. If I was refusing to go somewhere, for example, he might drive off and leave me alone in the house, where invariably I’d start to cry. Or he’d pass by the toy store that he had promised to take me to if I was being a pain in the ass.

But he always turned back. Once I’d learned my lesson, I would look up and see his car in the driveway again, or he’d turn back around in the direction of the toy store.

By the age of nine, I had learned a little bit about the ways of the world. I was sure that a minute or two later he’d come back, and invite me on the ride with him. I knew that he wouldn’t leave me behind.

But this was the one time that he didn’t turn back. This was the one time that he left me behind. He and my sister waited in line for the Ghoster Coaster for a half hour, and then they rode it. And I sat there with my mom, watching the merry-go-round go around and around.

By and large, I was a good kid. But like all kids, I had the potential to be downright awful sometimes. When you don’t fully understand the way the world works (and heck, I still don’t), you’re bound to do and say things that offend people from time to time. This is probably the worst thing I ever did. And it might not seem like much, but it’s something that I genuinely feel bad about, even 12 years later.

Going Places

Google Street View is one of the greatest things ever invented. With just a few clicks, you can be anywhere in the world.

…Okay, that’s not quite accurate. You can’t really go to South America. Or to Africa (except South Africa). Or to Asia.

But you can go just about anywhere you’d want to in North America and Europe, and I think that’s pretty great.

Personally, my favourite thing to do with Street View is to visit places that were significant at some point in my life, but which I haven’t seen for a while. And I like to “walk around” these places, tracing over familiar pathways.

Like the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, for example. It’s still very much the same, with one notable difference. The Virgin Store, which I praised so highly back in 2007, is gone. Having done some research, it turns out that the store closed down only a few months after I visited it in 2007. And that makes me a little sad.

Or what about Knoxville, Tennessee? In 2009 I walked the path from the Mariott Hotel to the Convention Centre daily for a week. It’s a trip I look back on with mixed feelings. I was there to compete in the Global Finals for Destination Imagination. As I recall, there were 50 or so teams competing in our category, but we were expected to finish in the top 3, or at least the top 5. Ultimately, we finished 8th. And while finishing 8th out of 50 isn’t objectively bad, it was devastating to my team members. They had been trying for years to finish on the podium, and this was really their last chance to do so. And I think – no – I know that they blame this on me. And it really was my fault. I was undoubtedly the weakest link in my group. And I’d like to tell you that I tried my best, but honestly I didn’t. I felt unable to contribute anything to my team, and I didn’t make enough of an effort to do so. I did what they asked me to do. Nothing more, occasionally less. And for that reason I “walk” up Church Avenue (and Dixie Avenue in Mississauga, where most of the work for Destination Imagination was done), with a bit of melancholy.

And then there’s Kingston, that swell town which is marred somewhat by the student population there. I used to really enjoy walking into town along the lake, and I’ve found myself retracing this journey a number of times over the years. Partly so that I can see whether I still remember the way, and partly because it’s something I miss.

And Waterloo. Even though I only spent two days there, it was here that I made the final decision to go to U of T after high school – a decision which I reversed less than two weeks later. When I street view Waterloo, I think about the two months between March and May 2009, and how completely torn I felt between Queen’s and U of T, and how badly I just wanted to stay in high school another year.

And there are other places too. Sometimes I trek around Wales, seeing if I know my way around familiar places. Sometimes I head to Philadelphia and New York and Boston and Washington to relive the glorious road trip of 2011. Or Spain, to remember the pair of most excellent vacations I’ve had there.

 

Street View isn’t quite the same as being there. You can’t feel the gusty winds of Chicago, or the freezing cold of Kingston, or the heat of Spain. And you can’t hear the twang of Tennessee accents, or the lilt of the Welsh. But it’s the best I can do from my desk in Toronto.

All of these places remind me of different times, and different people. And although for the most part I’m sad about the distance between myself and these people and places, the memories I have are happy ones. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t bother going back.