Joe Michael Sasanuma was born in Tokyo, Japan on August 7, 1981. He does not recall that day nor many days thereafter, thereby making it difficult to write anything concerning that period.

Starting April 1987, he matriculated at Meguro Seibi Gakuen Shogakko, a private Catholic elementary school in Tokyo, Japan. He, or rather, his mother, applied him to three school or thereabouts, but he successfully was admitted to only one. Thus begins Joe’s long history of very low acceptance rate to schools.

On May 12, 1990, Joe moved to New Jersey due to his father’s transfer to the United States. He is enrolled at a local public elementary school as a second grader (rather than third), the idea being to provide the poor kid some time to learn English.

In June of 1993, Joe graduated from elementary school. He did not attend graduation because his father decided the summer is the perfect time to take a family vacation to the Southwest.   Joe remains confused about how the importance of his graduation was eclipsed by a summer in the desert.

In September of 1993, Joe successfully advanced to middle school. The term “successfully” is used loosely here as it’s clear the advancement had less to do with any academic accomplishment on Joe’s behalf than the legal requirements of providing mandatory education to children that age. Not coincidentally, around this time, Joe’s parents, indignant at Joe’s indifference to academics, compels Joe’s attendance at juku, a Japanese cram school, twice a week in addition to weekly Japanese school on Saturdays.

In June of 1996, Joe successfully graduated from Valley Middle School, his academic performance so lacking in effort a science teacher scorned him, “You can do better.” Not surprisingly, his grades were not impressive. His height, however, was. He graduated second from last in his class, as the class thankfully graduated in order of height rather than academic achievement.  Parenthetically, that science teacher, who deserved far greater respect than Joe gave him, was incorrect in his evaluation of Joe’s scientific capabilities.

In September of 1996, Joe began attending Indian Hills High School, a local public school. That experiment lasted two months. Dissatisfied by either the quality of the education or Joe’s inattention to academics, Joe is transferred to Bergen Catholic High School, a local private school. It must be conceded this change in environment contributed more to Joe’s attitude towards academics than any other factor (read: those 6 days-a-week Japanese school had no impact), since he was thrown into a school where competitive people cared about grades.

While at Bergen Catholic (the first of three “BC”s that Joe would attend), he played tennis on the junior varsity team the first three years and varsity his senior year.  Joe’s position on the varsity team may best be deemed “first bench,” as he was called on to play when either the opponent was so atrocious even Joe could beat them in singles or the coach felt sorry for his lack of playing time he was willing to sacrifice second doubles.  Joe ended up going 10-2 that year in singles and double, making honorable mention in the league (which is lower than a county), which, as far as he can tell, is the lowest award one can get except, of course, not getting an award.  Joe’s performance in the county’s tournament, filling in for third singles, was a particularly traumatic experience that he wishes not to relive, although it is one of very few moments he wishes he can get back–quite a paradox which exemplifies the confused mind of Joe.

Joe’s summer of 1998 was spent at Columbia University’s summer program. It made Joe want to attend Columbia University.  He never did, but not for lack of trying:  he applied to the school four times.

Joe spent the summer of 1999 taking summer courses at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  How in the name of God he was left to spend even the summer attending school is a sad turn of events Joe is still coping with.

On August 7, 1999, Joe turned 18. It was the happiest day of his life because he got to open his own stock trading account. He dumped his life savings into it, bet it all, doubled his money, then quickly went down flaming with the tech bubble.

In May of 2000, Joe graduated from high school. He maintained a relatively high GPA (relative to middle school, that is, and not so much relative to other students) on the heels of an inflated 4.0 GPA in Math. Considering Joe was receiving extra education in this field in Japanese school for seven years, Joe is compelled to concede his accomplishments in high school were far from extraordinary.

In September of 2000, Joe matriculated at Boston College, not to be confused with Boston University. The second BC of Joe’s life was one of only three schools he was accepted into, out of the 11 applied. Cumulative acceptance rate since elementary school dropped to 28%.  Joe has never regretted BC’s choice of him.

Joe’s summer of 2001 is spent interning at the district office of his local Congresswoman. All things considered, it was a relaxing summer, although it was hardly a summer of fun.

In the morning of September 11, 2001, Joe was in bed, awoken by the alarm to attend his morning class. He turned his TV to CNBC, as was his morning custom, only to see the channel cover the airplane crash at World Trade Center rather than the pre-market trading. He watched live as the second plane crashed.

Summer of 2002 is spent again interning at the Congresswoman’s district office. Joe’s state senator ran for county executive, so he also volunteered at his campaign. He lost, after spending one million dollars.

In the summer of 2003, Joe interned with a judge in the state court’s criminal division. This suggests he was interested in becoming a lawyer early. When, why and how that interest waned is somewhat obscure.

Joe graduated from Boston College in May of 2004, majoring in political science and math but leaving little work worthy of note. His course load was almost exclusively in his two majors, apparently missing the point of a liberal arts education.  College was a four years in which he studied a lot, played a lot, made a lot of friends, learned a little, became somewhat wiser, grew as a person, and in general, had a blast. He became a BC apologist.

In September of 2004, Joe commences his law studies at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark. He suffered from an “I don’t want to be here” syndrome because he did not want to go to law school (his idea to defer a year was unanimously and resolutely vetoed by his parents) and if he did, he wanted to attend Boston College Law School. His failure to take seriously the LSAT led to only one acceptance from seven schools he applied to, lowering his cumulative acceptance rate to 23%. In all fairness to Rutgers, it provided Joe with an excellent education that he only appreciated years later when he was less bitter because…

In September of 2005, Joe transferred to Boston College Law School after nailing his Constitutional Law exam. BC Law was the only school out of several to which he was accepted. Apparently, the thought of applying to schools he would be accepted to continued to evade him. Regardless, because he was accepted to his first choice, Joe thereafter suffered from “Just happy to be here” syndrome. His desire to relive his collegiate days with his undergraduate acquaintances did not help matters.

Important events took place between Joe’s Rutgers and BC Law days. In November of 2004, President George W. Bush was reelected as president, marking the happiest end to the most nerve-wrecking day of Joe’s life. The day after, Joe overheard a moron saying, “I can’t believe half of this country is so stupid,” to which Joe thought, “I’m so glad I’m stupid rather than wrong.”

In the summer of 2005, Joe interned for a judge in the civil trial court of New Jersey. The judge, who is also a BC grad, provided Joe with invaluable guidance, both in law and life. Joe will forever be thankful to the judge for trusting him with a very big project and referring his resumé to his colleague, who later became his first boss after graduating from law school.

In the summer of 2006, Joe worked at Shearman & Sterling in the Tokyo and New York offices, living the life. He was spoiled for that 12 week period.

Joe graduates from Boston College Law School in May of 2008, remarkably without taking any practical courses such as Secured Transactions, Bankruptcy, Commercial Paper, Alternate Dispute Resolution, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, or Federal Courts. Apparently confused that law school is an extension of (or, in Joe’s case, a correction of a failed) liberal arts education, Joe instead took courses like American Legal History, History of the Constitution, Seminar on State Constitution, Education Law and Public Policy, Due Process and Equal Protection in Education, and Seminar on Elementary Education. His enrollment in four tax courses would be commendable, if not for his realization that that is the only course where he would be exposed to numbers (and, at least according to people at Rutgers, conservatism).

In September of 2008, Joe commenced his one year term as a law clerk in the chancery trial court of New Jersey in order to mold himself into a marketable attorney. His boss, a workaholic insomniac who comes into work as early as four, is a brilliant, hard-working, fair but demanding, widely-respected, humorous, caring, generous and amicable jurist from whom Joe learned what it means to be a good, ethical attorney. Joe developed a great personal as well as a professional relationship with the judge due to the uncanny similarity in their interests and thinking; they shared the love of the New York Yankees and football (he albeit a New York Giants fan), the passion for investing, the political tilt to the right (although he is a Republican of an bygone era), and the philosophy of judicial restraint and highest ethical standards. Joe as an attorney and as a person will forever be defined by his one year of clerkship.


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