There comes a point when I'm in the library that my eyes are incapable of focusing any longer. I mean, they definitely possess the capability of sight if my phone is located exactly six inches away from my face and is solely open on TikTok, but unfortunately, I suffer this temporary blindness around 20 minutes after beginning studying. I'll try to maybe switch books or courses, hoping a fresh look at Legal Communications & Analysis II could spark some kind of renewed scholarly attention; but alas, I end up staring out the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that line the Silent Study Room. Slack-jawed, misty-eyed, my mind immediately transports me to one of the following scenarios that, admittedly, are the only brief respites keeping my sane during COVID U.
Because I've yet to apply this same creativity and rigor to my legal writing (*insert the upside-down smiling emoji*), I've decided to rank my ultimate daydream playlist on both duration and how long it takes me to recover my focus. Enjoy! (or at least go through the motions of enjoyment because the last real thing you felt was clubbing with your girls last Galentine's Day 2020 before the end of the world! #justgirlythings)
You, a gorgeous law student with a 4.0, are studying in the library WITH RAPT FOCUS, when you hear a horrible crash! You look out the window that perfectly lights your face as you take in the chaotic scene below. Is that- omg, it is! It's Hozier's tour bus that hit a lamp post! It breaks all laws of physics but somehow, it is too damaged to work while simultaneously being not bad enough to injure Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, just everyone else on the bus! You rush out to offer your assistance (which admittedly, as a law student, it's mostly "um...here's who to sue?!") but before you speak, Hozier asks if you can help rush him to safety as mass amounts of COVID-infected fans stream out of the college dorms like infected zombies. It's suddenly Notting Hill, and you must rush Hozier back to your Lockerbie Square apartment. You joke that that would be the title of your movie and he is charmed, if not still borderline concussed. You spend the evening regaling each other with stories of your childhoods and finally, when his manager has recovered, he wishes you a soft farewell. He has to go. He doesn't regret the accident; it's brought him this magical single day with you. You never see him again but you just know his new dreamy ballad "Lockerbie Square" is about you.
Duration: A good five minutes
Bounce-Back: 3 hours. You first have to rewatch Notting Hill but then get distracted while googling the distance from Indianapolis to Bray, Ireland. It may be an insurmountable hurdle, you guys.
2. After watching the illuminating New York Times Hulu episode, Framing Britney Spears, one lazy afternoon, you decide to check out your local Goodwill to snag a CD. You find her seminal 2000 album "Oops...I Did It Again" and excitedly play it in your car on the way home. You're just trying to feel something again, by listening to "Lucky" on repeat when suddenly, the CD scratches. Is it... playing backwards? Oh my gosh, it contains a hidden message! It's Britney herself, pleading for help à la Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope. The album was her R2D2! You drive straight to the law school library. Get back out those textbooks, Maggie! You must ace your classes, get to the top of your class, score an internship with the premier legal authority in psychiatric legal conservatorships, and learn all of his/her secrets. "Stronger" plays over this montage, obviously. You somehow graduate in the span of a few months. You get thick 2000s-era honey blond highlights and wear a sparkly tube top under your suit jacket as you petition the court. OMG, you did it! The court is swayed and even institutes a restraining order against Jamie Spears and all members of the paparazzi forever! Your client gets to do whatever she wants, be it perform in the largest residency to ever be made in Vegas or live on a farm in privacy with her kids. Every so often you see her on Instagram and know that the string of seemingly random emojis are just for you. All is right in the world.
Duration: The span of your favorite Britney Spears song, "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know"
Bounce-Back: This one is devastating. You end up getting lost in legal opinion pieces both on WestLaw and of course, the other premier legal authority...People Magazine. It's somehow dark by the time you look up. You leave the library in shame and you still have all your Contracts work left to do.
3. As you're plodding along a research rabbit trail on WestLaw, your phone dings with a new email. Yeah, so what; you're the bad student who keeps your phone on alerts in the library. WHATEVER; caring about social norms is an antequated notion right along there with accountability of a planned white supremacist insurrection on our nation's capital. It's so 2000-and-late; it's just not going to happen. ANYWAY, you read the email and see it's from...Shonda Rhimes?! What?! It turns out that she's one of my loyal 58 subscribers and just loves my work?! She has decided that I am the fresh voice/creative genuis she has been looking for to help her create a new gritty remake based off a beloved childhood favorite... of MY CHOICE?! I instantly know what to do...
These Royal Diary books were the shit. My parents wondered why I was an intersectional feminist at, like 11, despite being raised in upper-privilege white suburbia and it was because of these!! If you weren't scarred by the plot to reveal a sexual assaulting-perv in the court of Marie Antoinette, you clearly weren't a preteen girl with a library card. Anyway, each episode would star an undiscovered 13-year-old acting prodigy from the country the book is based in, with lush and historically accurate filmography. It would be the perfect viewing that both pre-teens and their parents (who are desperate to actually spend time with their kids) would love equally. Also, these historical heroines would finally have their day in the sun! Wouldn't it be cool if there were a ComicCon-style gathering for girls who aged out of American Girl Dolls but aren't quite into slutty CW shows to have a safe space to talk about their love of Princess Kaiulani or Mary, Queen of Scots?! Okay, I might be onto something...
Duration: 5 minutes. It's cut off when I realize my current email inbox is drowning in 150 promotional emails I never unsubscribed to out of sheer laziness.
Bounce-Back: about 15 minutes until I can fully get back into work. I mourn for the loss of little girls' innocence and how no matter how serious they take their interests, society makes them embarrassed of it and shamed into moving into hypersexuality wayyyy too young. Back to law school to get my degree so one day my opinion may have more universally-respected weight *sigh*
4. I think of my Sliding Doors alternative self every now and again, and I wonder about her. Back in Manila, Philippines, circa 2018, I was offered an opportunity to apply to a remote position in non-profit data tracking that needed to be located in the Philippines. It didn't line up with my timeline as I would've had to quit my internship but it did pay and I would have just kept living in Manila. It was intriguing for sure and I always wonder what would've happened if I would've taken it. I for sure wouldn't have ended up in DC; I probably wouldn't have gotten my full ride so I would've never made it to law school. So let's dream a little bit...what would Manila Maggie's life have been like?
Well, she would've continued her lifestyle of hella cheap spinning classes, weekly massages, and bomb eyelash extensions ((I'll be honest, by the end of my time in the Philippines, I had never looked better)). She would work out of bougie cafes, maybe bop around Estancia and Makati every so often, and of course, she'd have to unwind by taking weekend flights to Bohol or *gasp* maybe even Batanes (aka the New Zealand of the Philippines)! Her friendships were able to grow deeper and her dream of hosting board game nights would come true. She'd have to start getting semblances of a more permanent life as she grew more and more distanced from her life in the States; she would definitely need to get some real kind of temporary residency. No more visa runs for her! Just when life seemed so fun and normal BOOM!!! THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC WOULD'VE HIT!!!
I can't even imagine how scary it would be as a young, single expat working in non-profits during a global pandemic and being stuck in a tiny apartment you're trapped in as you watch borders being shut down every day. I genuinely would not have the wherewithal and I know my poor dad would attempt to Taken-style come get me, so all in all, it really was for the best that this plot line didn't ever occur...
Bounce Back: sorry I'm still there. I'm googling COVID flight restrictions and 90 Day Fiancé applications as we speak!
5. That's it! You've finally crack. Halfway through a Civ Pro case about the tension between substantive state law and competing federal procedural rules, you decide...NO MORE! You gave it a good run but you absolutely cannot read another legal opinion in which you know the meaning of every word individually but strung into a paragraph, you suddenly need to get re-hooked on phonics. You finally decide...you're dropping out! You text your section's GroupChat to pour one out for you on graduation ((the post gets one like, because your fellow classmates are all such super students, they're never on their phones!)) and you pack up your bag. The second you step out of the law library to breathe fresh air- WHAM! A hand comes out of nowhere and SLAPS you across the face!!! The sound of the slap is comically loud; it is essentially that failed pilot of The Slap. As you rub your cheek, discombobulated, you see who your assailant is.
It is Captain Olivia Benson herself!
She is LIVID. She gives you a long-ass talking-to. She is Tyra Banks, mad as hell, telling you that she has been rooting for you! The whole cast of SVU has been rooting for you! She has never in her life yelled at a girl like this before ((except she totally has, especially whenever it's a cracked-out mother who won't give up her pimp boyfriend who is selling her kids to a human trafficking ring- you know, typical New York stuff.))
She says you must achieve this law degree, to protect the innocent people of this gritty, lawless city of...Indianapolis. You have to become Casey Novak, Assistant District Attorney, whose heart is just too big for the job! You need to sit in with teenagers who are involved in a pregnancy pact, or with a glamorous divorcé whose last five husbands all had "mysterious little yachting accidents". You need to have a string of failed marriages because "honey, you know this job is my life". You give Benson a skeptical look. Yeah, yeah, she knows it doesn't sound like too hot of a sell BUT SOMEONE HAS TO DO THIS JOB, KID, AND IT MIGHT AS WELL BE YOU!
You sigh, taking in one last longing look to the parking lot, and you know she's right. With a sigh and the faint dun, dun of the title sequence, you go back in.
Cut to black.
Duration: Four minutes of pure empowerment
Bounce-Back: This is the one. I am slapped into rapt focus. I power through all the studying I have to do, mostly so when I binge SVU on the weekends or tune into my current favorite podcast, That's Messed Up: An SVU Podcast, I can do so guiltlessly.