Don’t call on me


“Isn’t it enough that I even bothered to show up? Why are you making me avert my eyes, stare intently at the pages of the casebook, fake a sneeze, tie my shoe, and take a bite from my imaginary sandwich? The class enrollment is sixty-two and there are thirteen people here. Please don’t call on me.”

As a 1L, I felt like my classmates would think I was stupid if the professor called on me and I gave a bad answer. As a 3L, I feel like my classmates will think I’m stupid if the professor calls on me and I’m there. Someone in one of my classes got called on earlier this week. Five minutes later, she packed up her computer and left in the middle of class. I’m hoping it was a protest and not just a coincidence. It’s more fun to think it was a protest. I can’t very well base a column on a coincidence.

As a 1L, gunners get a bad rap. As a 3L, I love the gunners. They keep the professors from bothering with the rest of us. I like class. I do the reading more often than not. But I have nothing to say. At least I’m not playing solitaire.

In another class, the professor said that he took making eye contact as the functional equivalent of raising your hand. I’m going to start wearing sunglasses.

It’s not that I mind getting called on. I don’t mind getting called on. Okay, maybe I do. But I didn’t used to. It’s weird. The attitude changes from 1L year, when everything feels important and the stakes feel high and the atmosphere feels kind of serious – to 3L year, when it seems like everyone’s just playing out the string, waiting to graduate.But even though I don’t want to get called on, it’s not really like I want to graduate either. School is fun. Life is scary.

When I was younger, I used to think that one day people just woke up and magically turned into adults. That one day everything made sense, and you found that you had a job and a life and knew all of the answers, and things were suddenly easy – or even if they weren’t easy, that at least you felt in control, comfortable in the world, able to handle anything that came your way.

This is probably coming at it from the wrong direction, but the more adults I meet on a peer level – the more people I get to know who I really do think of as adults – the more I realize this just isn’t how it works. Adults wonder and worry and question and struggle. We don’t wake up one day with all of the answers. Which is kind of sad, but also kind of heartening, because it means maybe I didn’t just miss something on the road toward adulthood.

I guess I’ve started to think about these things because it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is probably the last semester I’ll ever be a student. I worked for two years between college and law school, but that mostly just felt like a really long summer vacation. I knew I’d be going back to school, for something, eventually. But this time it’s kind of for real.

And it just won’t sink in.

I feel like I’m wasting these last opportunities – I haven’t done a clinical, I haven’t cross-registered, I haven’t been in a reading group, I haven’t gone out to lunch with a professor since 1L year, I haven’t gone ice skating, I haven’t gotten food poisoning from the sushi in the Hark… I’m missing out on everything. Instead, I’m reading about the model ABA rules (legal profession…) and going to class, hoping not to get called on.

* * *

A friend of mine got an e-mail from the registrar last week, because she hadn’t registered for her 3L paper yet: “The current degree audit does not find any registration for the written work requirement in your program. It is an HLS JD degree requirement and as a June 2005 JD degree candidate, your program must meet JD degree requirements by the close of spring semester add/drop on Friday, February 4, 2005.” Sounds pretty serious, right? The last sentence of the e-mail? “If necessary, you will be notified again after February 4 if your program does not meet degree requirements.” Ooooh. Another e-mail. Scary. Not even the threats are threatening. And I’m worried about getting called on in class?

Jeremy Blachman is a 3L.

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