My impressions of Albany are entirely negative. This may have nothing to do with Albany and everything to do with the bar exam. Here’s a list of impressions and you be the judge.
1) Walking out of the Albany airport, I followed the signs for “Taxis” and found a line of people. When this happens in NY or even Atlanta, there lines of taxis waiting to grab the next sucker…I mean customer. Here, there were no taxis. There was just a man who asked people where they were going and stood awkwardly waiting for cabs to show up. I stood there for a long time.
2) Eventually, a cab came and this Swedish girl who also lives in Texas shared it with me. She was slightly abrasive and when we got to the hotel there was a huge cluster of people outside. “Wow, look at all the law people here already,” I said. “They’re not law people, they’re black,” she said matter-of-factly. I stared at her, mouth agape. “Sorry, I’m European—we’re not PC.” I jumped out of the cab, still moving.
3) When the driver caught up he said: “16 dollars.” “Each?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. The ride was like 10 minutes. That was slightly ridiculous. But I’ll grant Albany this—it’s the same thing in every city.
4) The hotel was decent. I went down to the local Starbucks to study some. The funny thing about that Starbucks is that the people working there looked like they’d never seen customers before. I got the impression that Albany comes to life twice a year–July and February–when the law people come to take the bar exam. When they leave, all goes quiet. At least that’s the impression I had. And my drink came out ok.
5) The first morning, (the day before the bar: Monday), I went to Bruegger’s Bagels for breakfast. I’d never been to a Bruegger’s bagels. I figured since I was in New York the bagels would be better. Sadly, no. These were about as bad as bagels could be. Well, they were edible. People were friendly.
6) For lunch that Monday, my friend Andrew and I went to a local deli. They had corned beef there and I figured since I was in New York the corned beef would be better. It wasn’t…it was dry and awful. It made me sick.
7) Albany, it seems, does not represent New York in any way, particularly its food. Unless I missed something.
8) Monday night–the night before the bar–Andrew and I went to an Italian restaurant across the street from the Pepsi arena, where I took my test. We ordered spaghetti and meatballs and salad. The bill came to $22 each. No, the meatballs were not made of gold. Albany meatballs are pricey. And not very good.
9) The day of the test I went back to Brueggers. Then I went to Subway to get a sandwich to go for lunch. All sandwiches had to go in a bar-approved plastic bag so they could see what you were bringing in. For example, an Answer Sandwich is strictly prohibited.
10) The bar itself was very hard. And the Pepsi arena was crazy cold. Literally, I lost three toes to frostbite. The girl across the aisle from me was wearing HORSE BLINDERS. People are crazy about not being distracted during the bar. There were many ear plugs. And did I mention the horse blinders?
11) That night, feeling much relieved (beacuse the first day was the ultra-hard essay day as opposed to the ultra-hard multiple choice day where you can at least guess), Andrew and I sprung for a fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant. Well, I didn’t realize it was a fancy restaurant until we got there. We had asked the front desk for restaurant recommendations and they scratched their heads and gave us faces that suggested this was the first time they had ever been asked for restaurant recommendations. “Ummm,” they said, “there’s ***.” “Ok,” we said. We walked there and the menu was ultra pricey and strangely varied. Foie gras, ravioli, lobster, steak, lamb, all kinds of fish. Where were they getting their ingredients from? And the place was nearly empty, something was up. I bravely ordered the duck. Bravely, I say, because my mom always warns me not to get duck in a strange place because she once got violently ill from it. But I like duck. I’m brave. And it was—ummm–decent tasting. Actually, it tasted like it sat in a freezer for months and then they burnt it beyond recognition so as to hide its aged flaws, but the sauce–orange sauce–covered it fairly. Luckily, I didn’t die.
12) A happy point, however, from that meal. The salad was great. It was called Jerusalem Salad and it had tomatoes and cucumbers, olive oil, lemon, olives and goat cheese. I really loved the goat cheese. This was a new revelation and I spent a strange part of the next day (taking the multistate) craving goat cheese. So, to reward myself, I bought a goat. Her name is Terri and she’s a true companion. She bleats hello to you all.
13) After the bar was completely over (Wednesday) night, I crawled back to my room and passed out watching the Democratic National Convention. John Edwards gave a great speech and I recalled meeting him last summer because his California headquarters were in the firm I worked at. I remember he came through shaking hands and afterwards I was like “Who was that?” and everyone said “John Edwards” and I said “Oh.” Now I feel the fool.
14) Leaving yesterday, I heard the hotel had a free shuttle to the airport. I sat outside waiting for the shuttle to arrive. A cab pulled up. “Where you going?” he said. “The airport,” I answered. “Ok, get in,” he said. “How much? I inquired. “Twenty bucks.” “No way!” I said, “I can wait and go for free.” Another cab pulled up and overheard that and the driver said: “Yo, I’ll take you for fourteen.” That sounded better and this shuttle was taking its sweet time. “Ok,” I said, and got in. “Hey!” said the first driver. “OK ok, I’ll do $14.” “Sorry,” I said. I hate when cabbies fight over me.
Now that I am back I feel like the guy in the Green Mile who sucks all the evil out of everyone and then spits out that giant explosion of black flies; except I still have the evil in me and I’m waiting for the flies to come out. I thought the feeling of release would be worth the 2.5 months of misery but the release hasn’t sunk in yet. And now I have to get packing because the movers come Monday! I arrive for my new life in the Big Apple one week from today. That gets me totally excited. Until then, your fly-fillled host bids you adieu.