Shyster: Not-so-great Expectations

For those just checking in, I’ve started a little writing project. This is the third installment. Here’s Part 1Here’s Part 2, Here’s Part 3.

Neither my SAT scores nor my college fund were good enough for the Ivy League.  I applied to and was accepted to Ohio State and began my studies there with no particular plan.  I never once visited the journalism school or even gave it a second thought.  I took the classes that interested me – political theory, English and anthropology – with no care whatsoever about what kind of job I’d have some day.

I got good grades.  I toyed with the notion of going to grad school and becoming, oh, I don’t know, a political science professor?  A primatologist?  To the extent writing entered the picture it was because I fancied myself a novelist of some sort.  Of course that was a ridiculous exercise in image shopping and nothing more.  I was convinced that if I could carry on like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer or Hunter S. Thompson it would somehow will me into being a writer, but I never really gave much thought to actually writing anything beyond the papers that got me those good grades.  All of which led me to the same place it leads most people with my particular blend of talent, disposition and lack of ambition:  law school.  Training ground for those who love mahogany furniture, top shelf liquor and cutting edge electronics.

I drifted in college, but I simply went to sleep once I hit law school.  I would make it to class, but I studied far less than most students.  Probably because law school, like high school, is a place where peer pressure reigns supreme and I was fairly immune to law school peer pressure.  I got married the summer before I enrolled at George Washington and I lived in Virginia, not the District, and as a result I didn’t do much socializing or anxiety sharing with the 1L crowd.

I’d go to class until about 3PM most days, bum around DuPont Circle until my wife and her friends got off work and then have a drink or two.  Afterwards we’d get back to our apartment for a late dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed.  I treated law school as a job with very low expectations.  I was bright enough to get Bs without studying.  Knowing that the ultimate plan was to get back to some mid-sized firm in Ohio rather than compete for jobs at the white shoe law firms in New York and Washington, the grades didn’t really matter to me.

I had a job lined up by Christmas of my 2L year.  It was so … easy.  And then I really went to sleep. For the better part of a decade.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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