Monday, September 25, 2006

Worth the effort

Nick, my one-time next door neighbor,

the guy who spent 12 years in the same school room as me, the room mate who left a big poop in my toilet and said it was from Santa, the knucklehead who introduced me to Legos when I was 5, The Beatles when I was 6, fireworks when I was 7, and the joy of spying on grown ups when I was 8,

the ally who taught me how to play flashlight tag, stickball, king of the castle, and knock the donkey down, the guy who never fails to tell me how gay I am,

my best friend,

the godfather of my baby girl,

has been called into active duty and leaves for a year of service with the United States Navy next month.

That’s the bad news. The not-so-bad news is that he’s a medic, so he’ll be pretty far from the front lines. In fact, I’m told his assignment is in a hospital in Germany. Regardless, that’s a year spent away from here.

To give him a proper send off, his knuckleheaded friends are getting together to make sure he remembers what it is he and countless other heroes are fighting for: chicken wings and bar hopping. You’re all invited.

Wanna come? Email me and I’ll send you the information.

(At the very least, you get to see me and Lisa out at a bar, which doesn’t happen all that often. We're pretty sure the party will be worth the effort.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

lots goin' on

Not really. Well, not really a lot goin' on that I'd blog about. School's going. Work's going. Baby is awesome, but you already knew that. Here's a pic:

I wonder what I was telling her. Garvey family secrets? That Aunt Esther had baked beans on her shirt? That the Bills were winning? That I would, eventually, shave?

Maybe I was singing. Or just shushing. That seems to be her favorite topic of conversation these days.

She's sick today, by the way. Just a little under the weather with a stuffy nose. I told her to take vitamin C pills, but do daughters ever listen to their fathers? Only when you're making fun of Aunt Esther, evidently.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Law, Religion, and Correspondent Pinocchio

It’s 7:54am right now, and I’m already on campus, already coffeed, already internetted, already in my seat, and whathaveyou, which means I’ve been here for about a half hour. Why? Because of the conference shown above. Because I deal in the law, I respect Buddhism, and I seek social change. Oh, and it’s a class requirement to be here this morning.

Unfortunately, I was unable to score a seat in the same room as these distinguished speakers. As upset as I am at that, Buddha tells us to remain dispassionate (a task you’d think my apathetic generation is up to), so I’m pleasantly contented to settle into a seat in an adjoining room. They simulcast it all over the campus, and in here I can use my computer to capture a few thoughts as they hit me, so all the better. See? I’m already feeling enlightened.

8:07 – they just turned on the webcam. The actual conference is in the law library, and I’m about 40 feet away in O’Brian 104. From my seat, it looks like it’s being hosted by Stan Lee. No, wait, that’s a UB prof. Sorry Spidey fans. The Dalai Lama isn’t there yet. I’m guessing he’ll make some spectacular entrance, with fog machines, C&C Music Factory, and a laser light show.

8:19 – One of my class’s professors was just introduced as the organizer of the event. I owe her a paper. The one I wrote last week was all about Lisa Simpson, so I really need to step it up this week. Oops, the sound isn’t in sync with the visual. Some monk fell asleep at the switch, I think.

8:24 – sound’s askew again. If there were a Law, Buddhism, and Social Change: The Drinking Game, taking a shot whenever the sound messes up would be the rule that pushed you over the edge.

8:38 – everyone just stood up, so I think he’s about to come in. Evidently, he opted for the Willy Wonka entrance. Luckily, he didn’t try for the fake trip that turns into a summersault. My prof is now introducing him to everyone in the circle. What would she say about me if I were there? “This is Michael Garvey, a second year law student. He can make a killer guacamole, and has probably played more Dragon Warrior than anyone else in this room.”

8:45 – wow, they started quick with the heavy artillery. First question was “do you feel contradictory being both a religious and a political leader?” His answer? Essentially, “monks aren’t in politics.” Well, okay, he was much more eloquent than that, but, hey, ask a pat question, get a pat answer.

8:52 – he just asked his translator what “penal system” meant. I wonder what he thought it meant.

8:59 – I think his views on religious politicians are quite valid. America is suffering from a lot of problems right now because of that intersection, and subsequently, there are a lot of people (myself included, sometimes) who think they should be 100% separate. His point is that you can’t, really. Religion, a personal philosophy, makes the person, and the person is elected into office. He’s acted as a politician before, but only in the capacity that his compassion could act in concert with his reason and logic. It is the man, influenced by his personal beliefs, making political decisions that are best for the people. Direct quote: “Religion affects the person. Democracy affects the society.”

Alternatively, I think there are still a lot of politicians who make decisions today simply because “the Bible says so” and that bugs the hell out of me. Is it too slippery a slope? I don’t think so, but I have yet to meet the politician who can prove that.

9:10 – questions I would ask if I were allowed in the room: How far does non-violence reach? Can I protect my daughter with force if I have to? In other words, is it sometimes preferable to hurt my karmic balance in order to attain some more immediate goal? Have you ever seen this show, Avatar: the Las Airbender? Isn’t it awesome?

9:21 – the man loves to laugh.

9:22 – his overall point is that compassion makes for smarter, more productive people, and that doesn’t have to be a religious task. Even, evidently, law schools can teach compassion. He’s only able to say that because he gets his own parking spot.

9:37 – ah-ha, interesting question. If the lawyer knows his client is guilty, should he remain loyal to representing the client, or act on the knowledge that the guy’s incarceration would best benefit society? How about the lawyer’s karma? The answer? No idea – the translator’s mic malfunctioned. Everyone do a shot.

9:51 – paraphrased response to question about making money: “Two goals: First is Nirvana, second is a happy life. In the intersection of these two goals, you need internal values, yes, but you need also to be prosperous. You should make money if that allows you a happy life. Remember though that being compassionate is not just something to benefit someone else. It also makes your life better. You have to think of the welfare of others, help society, and therefore your compassion for others will ultimately help you.”

9:57 – he is against censorship of any kind. He is skeptical as to whether it really works. The media should be able to say whatever they want, but “a lot of media should have a long and growing nose...”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

The Dalai Lama is coming to the university today, so the campus has organized a slew of Tibetan/Buddhist events for this whole week. Yesterday, sis and I took a long lunch and saw three monks painting with sand. Well, no wait. We drove around for 45 minutes, then saw three monks painting with sand. I think Buffalo is trying a ying/yang sort of thing. Get pissed off trying to park, then find enlightenment.

Turns out at least some of the parking had been set aside for our esteemed visitors. Seriously, they had it officially blocked off and everything. I wonder what the Dalai Lama drives. A lamaserati? A lamaborghini? A pope mobile?

Griping aside, it really was amazing. The trip was impromptu, so neither of us brought our cameras, but I did snap a few shots with my damnass phone.


I can’t tell you how scared I get in these situations. I just know I’m seconds away from turning into Frank Drebin. All it takes is one sneeze. One slip on a banana peel. One bad choice of object-on-which-to-lean (big fan, fire hose, jet engine). One piece of candy corn, choked upon, and then Heimliched.


It was beautiful, honestly. I’d always assumed from pictures that these murals were done in layers: red shading on a white outline on top of a green circle, etc, but actually it’s all on one plane. And, yeah, there are lines penciled into the table, but not all of the detail work. So no, it’s not like sand-by-number.



Outside the exhibit room, people are once again allowed to breath. I bought a string of prayer beads for Maeve and phoeby and I glanced through the books that were for sale. (“The Dalai Lama on Peace”, “The Dalai Lama’s Teachings”, “The Dalai Lama’s 30 Minute Meals”, and such.) Sis played in the children’s area. She seemed respectful and all, but I knew she would rather have used the artist’s tools – long brass tubes – for decorating cookies. Baked goods are the way to Nirvana, they say. (No they don’t, but you know it’s true.)


I swear I didn't stage this last photo, by the way. Blogger didn't want to upload it, but evidently, flickr is much more enlightened.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

info trade

I am both:

a) recommending to anyone who feels a cold coming on that they take a vitamin C pill. One of those that gives you like 800% of your daily requirement. Works every time for me. And
b) in the market for a webcam. How much should I spend? What brand is good? Do I generally need to get software along with it, or are they plug-n-play?

You're both welcome and thanked.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

So... what does that make us?

I was finishing up some reading, playing around on the world wide web, and I noticed a section in my estates book that I can actually use. Hey BA Start, here’s a word for you: consanguinity. It comes from the roots, “con”, meaning “In all seriousness...”, and “sanguinity”, meaning “...I had no idea until I pulled it up on wikipedia.”

Maeve is the first of her generation in Lisa’s family, and the second after phoeby’s young’n in mine. My sister and I are close to our cousins, so the question of what to call all these people has come up a few times in the last couple of months. Eventually, even the most distant of kin becomes “Uncle _______”, or “Aunt ______” out of convenience. It’s much easier just to use a default title than to have the “Is it second cousin? First cousin once removed?” conversation every time the fam gets together.

Turns out some smarty wrote it all down and made it into a thing: consanguinity. Here’s a very scientific and mechanical way to show it in a diagram. Oh, wait, no, someone got Jesus mixed into my heredity conversation. Damned monks.

Here’s a better one:

So there you have it. My cousins and The Nugget are first cousins once removed. Now won’t life be easier? See Maeve, now when First Cousin Once Removed Elise comes over to say hello again you can give her a big hug and say “I love you First Cousin Once Removed Elise!” And won’t it be fun when First Cousin Once Removed Ben has a son and you and young Second Cousin Ben Jr (whom I will refer to as “First Cousin Once Removed Ben Jr”, of course!) can play outside?

Now if I can just figure out why there’s no such thing as grand-uncles, -aunts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Understandably excited

The next mock trial team chapter has concluded.  Not as exciting as I hoped, but here’re the facts:

  • University at Buffalo National Mock Trial Team is split 7 ways.  Each squad goes to a different city for a different competition.  Evidently, LA and Boston are two of the biggies.

  • I was put on one of these.

  • I was excited.

  • Wife looked up the competition online and discovered it fell on a weekend I’m busy.  Wife killed my buzz.

  • I called coordinator, told him I’d have to decline, he told me he’d put me on another team.

  • Evidently, I was worth the effort.

  • I was excited.

  • He wrote me yesterday (after getting my email address wrong, then re-sending email), saying I’d been moved to Atlanta team.

So where does that leave me?  Well, I’m once again excited, honestly.  My heart stopped when I found out I might have to decline.  And anyone in my family will tell you I turn into one big damn Eeyore when I get down in the dumps.  Nocturnal animals singing Lionel Ritchie couldn’t cheer me up.  Cats jumping into walls couldn’t do it either.

And truth be told, I’m really upset that I had to give up my spot on the other squad, but when I look at the big picture, I see I’m still on trial team, I still get to put that on my resume, and I still get a chance to kick some legal ass.  Now I just get to do it amidst peaches.

Oh and...

  • Kudos to Katherine Dempsey who was kind enough to lend me her trial technique book.  My trial team success from that point on is due in a great part to her generosity and general awesomeness.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Clear as day

Got an email this morning:

Your niece spent all morning saying your name.  Sometimes it was "Mikey" and sometimes it was "Mimey".  Mom almost cried. She also said "MINE" and I almost cried.

I read it and almost cried.  

In a similar, though made up, story, Maeve looked at me this morning and said, quite clearly, “Daddums, why ever would you leave me?  I work so hard all day long to be the perfect baby, just for you.  And you run off to play with you law books.  Because you obviously don’t have to time to show me affection, I do hereby intend to grow up preferring marvel comics and liking only the bad cartoons.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I have another chapter to write in the ongoing Mock Trial Team epic, but I want to wait until it’s done before sharing it. I’m not one of those writers that ends one chapter with a cliffhanger, just so you’ll be sure to come back and read the next one. I’m looking in your direction, Mr. Dan Brown. That’s rookie stuff. That’s Hardy Boys league.

Anyway, if there’s a good picture out there of my daughter, there’s a decent chance someone else took. I’m not the world’s greatest when it comes to my digi-camera. However, the nugget had a bath in the sink yesterday and Lisa’s hands were full, so camera fell to me. I think they turned out pretty nice!

Okay, I still haven’t figured out the red eye stuff. Until I do, just assume she’s a vampire.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How 'bout now? Now?

Mock Trial try-out results might be emailed out today.  “Might.”  That means I only check my email once every ten minutes, and once every half minute during times it’s highly probable they’d be sent out.  So once every half minute all day, in other words.

Here’s how my brain worked today:

9am – he’s been in his office for at least a half hour now.  Plenty of time to put the email together and send it out, if he made all the decisions last night.  No email yet, but it’s early.  
9:10am – maybe he got to work late.  Nope, not yet.
9:20am – maybe he went and got a coffee before getting to his desk.  No.
9:21am – maybe he forgot to include my email address on the list and just resent it.  Sigh... no.
9:22am – maybe he forgot to include my email address on the list a second time and just resent it.  Sigh... no.

...the day drags on...

11:50am – he’s a busy guy, so I bet he takes lunch early and eats at his desk.  The email is sure to be in by now.  Or not.
12:00pm – high noon, brother.  Draw!  Or not.
12:01pm – maybe he forgot to include my email address on the list and just resent it.  Sigh... no.
12:01pm and one second, and two seconds, and three seconds, etc. – Okay, I’m just going to keep clicking refresh until you send the email.

...and on...

4:45pm – alright, you’ve had the whole damn day.  You’re done at 5, and you’ll need to leave at least fifteen minutes for any bounced back emails.  Aaaand, no.
4:50pm – if you haven’t written me by 5pm, that means you won’t be sending out the results until tomorrow, so hurry it up.  Anything yet?  Of course nothing yet.
4:59pm – oh it’ll definitely be in by now.  It’s four fifty freakin’ nine. And by definitely, I mean not at all.
5:00pm – maybe email travels slow here and it took exactly one minute to get to my computer.  Maybe not.
5:01pm – maybe he forgot to include my email address on the list and just resent it.  Sigh... no.

...and on.  At 5:02pm, Lisa called, but I was in the library so I told her I’d call her back and started toward the hallway.  That’s proper library etiquette, bitches.  And guess who wrote to me at 5:03?!?  No one, and I know because I checked to be safe.

Anyway, on my way out, a friend stopped and congratulated me for making the team.  Wha?!?  I made it?  And he knew before I did???  According to him, he’d known for about an hour!  I just hadn’t gotten the email yet.  Thrilled and more than a little confused, I hugged a law school friend in the middle of the library.

So what happened?  Turns out he forgot to include my email address on the list and just never resent it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Mike Garvey has recently learned a bunch of once loyal RT voyeurs have stopped reading, but now are back.

What’s been going on with Mike Garvey? Allow me to up your date.

-> I had a baby. It was almost nine weeks ago. She’s awesome. For pictures, go anywhere in my life, pick up a dead cat and swing it in a full circle around your head. The first thing you hit will most likely have a picture of her in/on it. Please return dead cat after you’re done.
-> I started a new job. I’m a graduate assistant, doing graduate assistanty stuff for the university. In return, they give me undergrads who call me sir and pay my tuition. The university pays my tuition, the undergrads just call me sir. And occasionally seal envelopes for me.
-> I started my second year of law school. A few more months, and I’ll be halfway through. I’ll be half a lawyer! I’ll be a “law-”! This is easily going to be the busiest semester of my life, considering my part time job, my heavy course load, and my (emotionally) heavy baby load at home. I quipped recently that I feel like I’m back in high school when I overloaded on extracurriculars. Writing for the paper, playing in the pep band, arguing for debate team, model UN, FFA, national honor society, track team. Then I remembered I never did any of those things, just spent way too much time in the drama club, but the sentiment is the same.
-> I bought a monkey. Not really, but wouldn’t that be cool?
-> I tried out for Mock Trial Team last night. That’s like adding color guard to the high school list above.
-> Oh, one more high school note. Today, I got a locker! There isn’t one for everyone, so it’s kind of a big thing for law students to score storage space. I felt very teenagery, squeezing between two other second years, fighting with an ancient lock (combination: 21 left; 45 right; recite a Bible verse left), and wondering whether I should pin up a picture of Superman or a Moxy Fruvous cd liner first.

And if you’re swinging a dead cat, I’m sure there’ll be one of my daughter in there too.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cross them fingers.

I generally do well at things that are called “try-outs”. Sports not included.

In high school, I got a part in every play and musical for which I “tried out”. In college, the more elite actors preferred the term “auditions”, but I new the power of wording. So long as the bulletin board said “try outs”, I had a pretty good chance of getting onstage. After graduation, in Chicago, I had a 100% success rate at “try outs”. Well, okay, that was only one play and two movies. (We’re not counting the Goodman because they only wanted union actors and we’re not counting that one Irish play because it was dumb and it ruined my perfect score.)

The point is, if it’s a “try out”, I’m your man.

Yesterday was the most recent, hopefully. I and 700 other law students “tried out” for the University at Buffalo Mock Trial Team. I think I did okay. I think the “try out” gods were with me, though it was very apparent that my ability to do a direct examination of a witness isn’t quite as sharp as my ability to fake a monologue.

At one point, I was so rusty in my direct that I almost objected against myself. Here’s how I described it to Est and Aly afterwards:

Me: And you saw her on Virginia St?
Witness: Yes.
Me: OBJECTION! Leading!
Judge: ...aaah-
Me: (throwing my voice) sustained!
Everyone: ...?...
Me: I'll rephrase the question, Your Honor.
Judge: Get out of my courtroom.

Anyway, I find out in the next few days whether or not I got one of the few seats on the team. Any good juju you can send my way until then is appreciated. Especially if you’re one of the “try out” gods.

Monday, September 04, 2006

e-support group for new parents

I got this email yesterday via Facebook:

Hi Mike, you don't know me...I was clicking on some of my more random music choices to see if other people liked them, and when I clicked on Gomez, you showed up. Then I saw your picture of your little girl (so cute!) and I thought I'd ask you how you do it, that is, both grad school and family. I have a 3 month old daughter and am starting grad school and wondered if you could lend any advice. Adèle, fellow student/parent

Dear, Adèle,

Wow, I haven’t really been asked for parental advice yet. I wish I had some magic word solution for you, but I’ve yet to find it. Honestly, school doesn’t start for me until tomorrow, so I’m sure if you ask me again in a week, my answer will be much more haggard. And probably written in the blood of the first person to steal a parking spot from me. (That’s inside UB grad student humor.)

Yesterday, though, I cracked open my evidence book for the first time, getting ready for class this week. From my office, I can see into the living room where Maeve (my daughter) looked at me from her swing as if to ask why I wasn’t playing with her. It broke my heart.

Moments like this happen a lot, I notice. Why on earth would I, at 29 years of age, go out into the cold when I could stay home and mush with my daughter? I have plenty of instant oatmeal. We could survive forever. No advanced degree needed, thank you very much.

Then I think of my father, and the stories I heard about how tough it was for him to get through med school with me and the sibs at home. No, I’m not saying “if he could do it, I can do it” – just that it seems to have paid off for him. In the end, I know I’m going to miss a lot of my daughter’s early life, but it also means I’ll be able to take her and her family to Hawaii some day, like my dad is doing with my older sister this fall.

In the meantime, here’s my survival plan for fellow student/parents:
1. Pictures. Your daughter is gorgeous. You need to show her off, yes, but you also need to remind yourself of what you have waiting at home. Bring lots. If you have a computer or pda, nerd it up and throw a slideshow in there.
2. Other students. I would bet we’re the norm these days. Most of us have taken some time off and a lot of us have one or more rugrats at home. Misery loves company, and new parents love to talk about poop (some of us even like Gomez), so find your support system early.
3. Call your mom. She’s a wealth of information and a good shoulder to lean on. If your mom isn’t around anymore, I’ll lend you mine. She’ll make you a meatloaf to die for.
4. The list. A friend told me when she got her MBA, she made a list of all the things she had to pass up each day (going out drinking, dating, traveling, etc.) so she could study. In the end, it made her degree that much more important because she could see exactly what she sacrificed to get it. Someday, this education is going to mean a better life for us, and subsequently for our sons and daughters. When you start to hit your head against a wall in frustration, just remember what it’s all for.

And try not to think about how unappreciative she’ll be when she’s a teenager...

All the best,