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Oh How the Months Go By

August 30, 2010

Good lord, it’s been a while since I updated. I know that no one is hanging on my every word, but if anyone noticed, I apologized.

So. Law school has begun. It’s already a very strange experience. I’m working on several entries covering the past two weeks (a week of orientation stuff and the first week of classes). These future entries include:

They Said It’s Nothing Like Undergrad. They Were Right. (It’s High School.) I’m telling you, they should rename this place Law School High. The drama level hit Tuesdays On The CW before classes even started.

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. At orientation, they said law school is like golf. Maybe it should be, but I’ve already seen at least eight different sports being played in the classroom, hallways, and library.

Becky’s Guide to Drinking With Law Students. There’s a reason they spent about five hours of orientation telling us not to become alcoholics (and giving us resources for when we inevitably do anyway). Subtitle: Worst Case Scenario – When Your Gunner Gets Plastered.

I’ve Got Friends in Low Places. I befriended quite a few people at orientation, and somehow, none of them are in my section. This is apparently a much more bizarre phenomenon than it sounds, according to my peers.

So Three People Are In A Boat, and It’s Sinking… One week in, and there are some people who already seem way behind. I like to be known as a nice, approachable, helpful person, but where is the line between friendly and self-sacrificing?

And I’m planning to make a post about the kind of studying I’m doing right now. That one is mostly for me, so I’ll be able to look back later on and say, “Ah, well, now I know not to do THAT again…” or something.

I know this has been a post of no actual content. But I need to post to remind myself that I want to post things that do, in fact, have actual content. I have a tendency to forget.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

July 12, 2010

My birthday is this week. I love my birthday. It’s a very weird day for me, though. Most of the time, I absolutely hate being the center of attention. I have gotten better at it, when there is an obvious reason for it (I’m presenting research, performing, or speaking about a topic I know a lot about), but I am not someone who just generally wants attention. But on my birthday, I do. I blame the fact that I didn’t get a lot of attention on my birthday when I was growing up. It’s during the summer, so I didn’t get the in-school-cupcakes thing that my friends did. I also had a hard time having birthday parties with more than two people, since everyone was out of town. And my dad’s job had a big event that was always around my birthday, so there were many years where the only family with me was my mom. Now I’m old enough to verbalize that I want attention, instead of just moping around and pretending like it’s fine (I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescence moping. I think that’s fairly standard, though). So even though I’m technically an adult, I still like to throw myself birthday parties and have cake and get presents.

This year, my friends and are I going on a minibreak for a combination birthday/going away party. We’re heading to the Big City for a weekend of adventure. Planned adventures include: staying in a two-bedroom suite with full kitchen, games of Killer Bunnies and Apples to Apples (the best two party games in existence), yarn shopping (these are the friends from my knitting group, after all), a trip to a fancy grocery followed by homemade gourmet meals in the hotel, an improv comedy show, an underground swing/jazz club with a live swing band (I’m so excited about this, I can’t even put it into words), imported beer, and a fancy import store. I’m definitely looking forward to the trip, but every time I think about it, I’m struck by how lucky I am to have a group of friends who will take off work and take a weekend vacation with me, just because I asked them to. Most of them have jobs that require working weekends, so it’s not as easy to just take off Friday through Sunday. I try not to get all sentimental, because they would just laugh at me, but I really do feel lucky.

TGIF, apparently for the rest of the year

July 2, 2010

I got my fall schedule!

I already had my spreadsheet of the section schedules, so I was able to look at the section number I’ve been assigned and immediately pull up the full class and study schedule for it. It’s an interesting schedule, and I’m not sure what to think about it.

I have no class on Friday, which I do like. I like the idea of having a day where I can spend extended periods of time on a single item, if necessary, without interruption. No having to run off to Contracts in the middle of a difficult Torts reading, etc. It also means that if I need to run an errand during business hours, like to the bank or wherever, I can. That’s what has frustrated me the most about working the same regular business hours as everyone else; how do interact in a business setting if you’re all at your own workplaces at the same times? And, of course, it will be nice to be able to drive home occasionally without having to leave late (not that it’s a long drive. But a group of my friends meets every Friday evening, and I’d be able to be there every once in a while).

The major drawback to having Fridays off is making up the class time elsewhere. Three out of my four classes will meet every day, Monday through Thursday (the other class is MTR). So I will have readings for every class, every day. In terms of staying focused and on top of things, this is good. I won’t have time to forget everything I read on Thursday for a Tuesday CivPro, because I had Contracts Friday and Monday. In terms of work load, this is a little frightening. Theoretically, we should have the same amount of reading per week as every other section. I hope it works that way in practice. But honestly, knowing myself and the way I prioritize, it will work out much better for me to have constant work for four days a week and then have three days of “empty” time to work on larger readings, projects, student organization activities, 1L advocacy, etc.

So all in all, I’m very pleased. A couple of the professors are ones I met and talked with and had decided that I wanted to take a class with. But they only teach advanced courses that I’m not interested in, so it was 1L or nothing.

I only have three weeks left at my job. Four weeks until I move. It’s all starting feel very real, and very soon.

Four Paragraph Short-Term Memory Test

June 15, 2010

I looked at a calendar the other day and had a momentary freak-out. It’s hard to believe that it’s so close already. I’ve talked with my new apartment complex and e-signed my lease, put in my official last day at my job, and have done everything I can towards being financially ready for the fall. I’m even almost through training my replacement at work. There’s really nothing else I need to be doing, and I feel jittery and empty-handed because of it.

It rained last night and this morning, a good long thunderstorm that flooded the streets and made it hard to get to work. I have to remind myself that even though there will be a little less rain in Homefield, it really won’t be a noticeable difference. I adore rain, I love thunderstorms, and cloudy skies are my happy place. So, logically I know that 3″ less rain per year on average is not a huge change, but it still makes me a little depressed. There weren’t a lot of extra inches to spare here, so I try not to imagine what even less will be like.

I’m working on getting my technology settled. I have a really old desktop (bought from a university four years ago, after they were done with it), and even though it’s mind-numbingly slow, it’s stable and reliable. I have a clunky laptop that has had a hard time (it came with Vista, which blew up after a year, so I replaced it with Ubuntu. Then I found my Vista disc and reinstalled. Then it developed a loose solder at the power connection point, and currently it’s out of battery and won’t charge), and it’ll cost about $125 to fix it. I will probably shell that out and use it for a spare, home-based laptop that’s got good power and speed but low portability. My parents offered a long time ago to get me a laptop, and originally my dad said that money wasn’t an issue. Things have come up for them since then, though. I know they don’t want to take back the offer, but I don’t feel right asking for a really expensive new laptop when all I really need is something decent and small. I’m trying to convince them that a netbook is all I really want (which is true). They’re going to get me an iTouch for my birthday this summer (it comes free with the Macbook for my little sister, the Macbook being part of what “came up”), which I was already going to buy for myself, so that’s a definite win-win. I don’t need the iPhone (especially not with the new crap data plans AT&T is rolling out), because pretty much everywhere I will go has free wireless. Even Starbucks will, by the time school starts (and can I say how excited I am about that? Cause I am).

I’ve never been too concerned about the nightlife in any place I’ve lived. I’m more of a homebody, so my “night out” generally involves going over to a friend’s house for some epic Rock Band battles. But I am interested in what kind of venues exist in Homefield. It’s a lot more urban than where I am now, so I hope there will be more options. Or at least better options. I don’t want to go out a lot (I love my cats and the internet too much for that), but I like knowing that I’m home by choice, and not because there’s nowhere else to go.

My previous posts have been more cohesive than this. I should probably admit that future posts will most likely be more like this one. Sorry. 🙂

As Time Goes By

May 3, 2010

On the heels of my last post, this one feels a little silly.

I’m trying not to be impatient about the next official steps in preparing for this fall, but I have to admit to getting a little antsy. HP’s financial aid department was up-front with prospectives about the time line for aid letters: they said it would be mid-April at the earliest, but more likely early- to mid-May. So, it being May 3rd, I’m not exactly worried that I haven’t heard from the school in a while. They have my initial deposit, my FAFSA, and I told the Assistant Dean of Admissions personally that I was definitely attending (I know that last one is the least weighty of the list, as I don’t expect him to have any recollection of the conversation). The orientation website still has last year’s information on it. So I’m not really worried that I’ve missed something, or that somehow my name has been lost from The List (whatever list that may be). But I like to see progress, however slow, and it’s been over a month since my last contact from the school. It’s silly, but it makes me a little nervous.

To ease my (unreasonable) anxiety, I’ve been seeking out what information I can. I found the academic calendar for next year, which lists exact orientation dates. That helps me know when I’ll have to move, and thus when I’ll have to leave my job. I also looked up the course schedule for the fall. I probably shouldn’t admit this (it will make me seem crazier and more OCD than I like to pretend I am), but I made color-coded spreadsheets for all of the 1L section schedules. I experimentally added in study time and lunch breaks to see what my basic schedule would look like for each section. I know I won’t have any idea about section assignments until late July, most likely, but I can’t help it. I like to plan. I don’t delude myself into thinking that any of this will help me succeed, but it can’t be worse than watching The Paper Chase (which I did yesterday, finally. It was…interesting).

Eye of the Storm (Not the Tiger)

April 26, 2010

For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking a break from all things law school. Most of the advice I’ve read says that’s the thing to do during the summer before starting. I never doubted that it was a wise idea; I did, however, doubt my ability to do it.

I tend to attack areas of interest with singular focus, staying dedicated to that single topic until I’ve exhausted either available knowledge or available energy. This approach has both helped and hurt me in the past, depending on the circumstance, and I’ve been trying to learn how best to temper these tendencies. There are classes I took in undergrad that I have no real memory of attending, not because I didn’t go but because they weren’t part of my focus that semester. I can’t afford to do that in law school, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. So I’ve been spending my time off between degrees working toward a more even approach.

This whole law school application process, I have to say, has helped me incredibly on this front. Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve really enjoyed it. Granted, I was always one to enjoy a theatre audition more than actually getting the role. I have always loved applying and putting myself out there, so I’m not surprised I loved my application cycle. But it also taught me a lot. I learned to let myself take time for decisions, to not let myself overthink things I can’t change. I allowed myself to be in limbo about my plans for the future (what school? What classes? Where would I live? What’s my ten-year plan?) and not flip out about the indecision. And I gave myself permission to be patiently interested in something. I can’t speed up the approach of August by reading more cases on LexisNexis. I can’t guarantee my success by rereading One L until it’s committed to memory. There’s an event–the beginning of law school–that is guaranteed to take place in my future. It’s not going away if I ignore it, nor is it coming faster if I focus on it. I can’t conquer the subject matter, I can’t predict my future performance, I can’t contain the possibilities or plan for all eventualities. At the same time, I won’t lose my chance to do this by taking some mental time off. I put my time in, slowly but surely, throughout the cycle. And now, I’m floating in the calm before the storm.

When I started this whole thing, I half expected to burn myself out before last September. It’s what I’ve done before, and I was worried I’d do it again. I’d spend six months or so obsessing about the possibilities, only to hit that point of exhausting my available energy. Then I’d move on to the next what-if plan that I wouldn’t follow through with, and so life would continue. Maybe it’s a testament to my personal growth these last few years, or maybe it’s more related to finally finding something I really do want to do. I’m not sure why I’ve stuck with this idea, this plan, this future for myself, but I’m really happy I have. There are dreams I never considered possible that are looking more real every day. There are opportunities on the horizon that I never imagined. I’m excited about my future, but I’m being excited patiently, quietly, and with tempered anticipation about what this fall will bring.

It’s an attitude I never thought I’d accomplish, and I’m thankful that everything that’s happened has brought me here. I’ll continue to post throughout the next few months, when I get new information (should be getting another packet from HP soon) or when a thought strikes. And I’ll continue to spend this summer watching TV shows, reading chick lit novels, hanging out with friends, training for roller derby, and all the other things that I have the freedom to do right now. It’s a big world out here, and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it.

Joins and Relates

April 13, 2010

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted last. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff to say (or at least stuff to say more often) later on.

In the intervening time between last post and this, I went to another official student day thing at HP. This one centered around student organizations, which was really interesting. They have a ton of them (as I’m sure most law schools do). I got to talk with current students from several groups and get a feel for what each one does.

This has the potential to be a problem, because I’m a serious joiner. If there was a 12-step program for compulsive joiners, my friends and family would have signed me up years ago. I can’t even remember all the clubs, teams, and organizations I was a member of in high school and undergrad. In grad school, I managed to only officially sign up for one (Graduate Student Council; we planned fundraisers and parties and such for graduate students at our school), but I attended lectures and things for a couple of others.

I got a general feel for the concept when I was up at HP the first time (the scholarship event). I was talking in a group with a current 1L, and she jokingly said “You’ll probably want to limit yourself to only three organizations your first year,” making the rest of the group laugh.  The other prospective students didn’t seem too interested in the school groups, refocusing the conversation to nightlife in the city. I’m not a nightlife person, or even a social event person–I’m a student organization person. The conversation about groups was over, but I heard something in her voice that I completely understand. It was wistful, self-mocking, and a bit rueful. I could tell she wanted to join more, but she knew she didn’t have the time. She had to make decisions about what was more important.

So far, my list of potential organizations is about nine, not including anything based on qualifications (competition teams, law review, etc). There are at least five that I feel strongly about. Weeding it down to a reasonable, manageable list is going to be difficult and frustrating. Any advice on the topic would be appreciated.

I also took time when I was visiting this last time to get an apartment squared away. I’ve lived in my current place for over two years, but in the five years before that I lived in four different houses/apartments (not including the four different summer locations, or my three college dorm rooms). I’m fairly familiar with the whole moving thing, and to be honest, I enjoy it. I like starting over in a new place, walking into a new apartment or house and envisioning where my belongings will go, and watching my “home” take shape around me. So getting an apartment is a big deal for me, and I love staring at the floor plan for my big, spacious, 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath apartment that is 50% larger than my current place.

Is That Your Final Answer?

March 25, 2010

So the past week and half was spent driving around the country, taking my last big vacation before law school. I have a few more weekend trips planned, but nothing of this magnitude. It was relaxing, exciting, tiring, hilarious, and all in all a lot of fun. My plan was to spend as little time as possible thinking about anything work or school related, and in the latter half of the trip I accomplished that. The first half–not so much.

Part of my trip took me through the city where State is. It’s a good drive away from where I am now, so it’s hard to get there during business/school hours. I didn’t want to inconvenience my trip buddies too much, but they agreed to amuse themselves while I spent a few hours on campus. I let the office know when I’d be there, and for how long, and they arranged for me to meet up with a student to give me a tour.

As we got closer, it was clear I’d be late, so I called and rescheduled for an hour later. They said that was fine, and I got to campus with plenty of time. There was some running around, some missed connections and confusion, but eventually I got my tour from the 3L. I also got to sit down and talk with one of the administrators for a long time, asking all my questions. The more I heard, the more I liked. State has a very different feel to it than Homefield Public. HP seems to be more formal, as well as being significantly larger. State is small and personal: when we walked around, students all over greeted the tour-giving 3L by name. I got the impression that a lot of my initial assumptions about the program are correct, though. Along with smaller classes and an informal vibe, State has a lack of focused programs and a high in-town placement rate. I think I could go places and do things while at State, but I’d be going against the grain, and I’m a little tired of signing myself up for that.

The city, though, was as beautiful as always. I will probably always adore that city and always want to live there. That, in the end, was the hardest thing to give up in my mind. Even after visiting HP and knowing it would probably be the wiser choice, I held out hope that State would blow me away. I wanted State to prove itself to be the right choice, and I have to give them props–they tried. But in the end, I know that there would be more regret if I chose State. At HP, I may sit at home on a Saturday night and wish I had the fun and friends of State. But at State, I would sit in class and interviews and competitions and wonder what I could be accomplishing, what my future would look like, if I’d gone to HP. That, to me, is the deciding factor. Both are good options, I could do well at both. But I need a decision I can live with, and for me, it’s HP.

Feels so strange to have made my decision. Wow. Huh.

Subconscious Does Make Cowards of Us All

March 11, 2010

Sometimes, I forget that I am not the same person I was when I was twelve.

Twelve was a decent year for me. I was at the top of my school in my competitive sport, my instrument in band, and my academic competition team. I had more friends than I knew what to do with. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I had no understanding of peer pressure; I did whatever activities I wanted to, regardless of what other people might think. But I was also shy and nervous, and I hated myself for it. I mentioned middle school debate in an earlier entry as a miserable experience for me, as my drive to succeed warred against my desire to get out of the spotlight. My stage fright controlled my life, in many ways. I wanted to do community theatre but was terrified of the audition process (not to mention what would happen if I got a role). I wanted to compete in speech and debate but couldn’t handle the judges looking at me. I never even raised my hand in class, too afraid that my classmates would turn to stare if the teacher called on me.

In high school, I worked hard to overcome my fears. I pushed myself into theatre and choir, getting used to being the center of attention. I took classes that required lots of presentations, some very personal in nature, so I became less afraid to speak in front of a group of peers. My senior year, I even joined the school team that competed in televised academic competitions (I hated watching myself on tape, but who doesn’t?). In college, I went further. I became more outspoken in class, drawing attention to myself on purpose. I presented research at local, state, national, and international conferences, in front of people I greatly respected. In grad school, I continued to acclimate myself to public speaking, through my classes and volunteer work.

I still get a shot of adrenaline every time I stand in front of a crowd or speak to a group of people. I have learned to use that adrenaline to my advantage, turning it into the appearance of confidence and energy. But there is still a part of me that associates that feeling with the sheer terror of those middle school debate competitions, where I cried in the bathroom after every win. I am not that girl, but I remember how she felt.

I had a dream the other night that reminded me how far I’ve come. I’m thinking it’s not a good sign that I’m dreaming about law school before I’m even there, but at least this law school dream was a pleasant one. In the dream, I was getting ready for a moot court competition. I was preparing the outline of what I wanted to say and touch upon, and I could feel myself getting excited. I was looking forward to the competition, anticipating the rush of adrenaline that would come when I got up to speak. That was pretty much the extent of the dream, and when I woke up, I could still feel that happy excitement. It took me a while to realize that the dream did not reflect my conscious feelings about the whole moot court idea. I’ve been thinking of moot and mock as necessary evils; they are the law school version of middle school debate, and though I knew I could manage, I wasn’t looking forward to it. But the dream made me stop and think. I *enjoy* my research presentations. I *like* getting up in front of people and discussing things I am familiar with. I no longer feel about public speaking the way that shy seventh grader did, and so there’s no reason for me to tie those desperate, remembered emotions to my future activities. The dread I felt towards the moot/mock aspect was the last thread of negativity I harbored towards law school. Now that I recognize its absurdity, I’m able to drive it away. And in doing so, I’m becoming even more convinced that law school is the right step for me.

Not bad for one night’s rest.

Part of That World

March 9, 2010
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When I was in middle school and high school, what I wanted most was to go to a school that was really, really old. In middle school, the dream took the form of going to an all-girls boarding school, which my parents (wisely) didn’t send me to. Later, when I was trying to figure out where to go to college, I desperately wanted to move to New England, because (obviously) that’s where all the old schools are. I wanted to stand in a grassy courtyard, surrounded on all sides by buildings from another century; I wanted to be part of a tradition of education that felt deep and historical.

The closest I’ve gotten to the dream of old school buildings was attending a physics conference at Cambridge University several years ago. I walked around the campus and town, taking in the feeling of history that rises through the cobblestones. But I knew I wasn’t a true part of that culture, that history. It belongs to other people than me.

I finished reading “One L” by Scott Turow a few days ago. One of the things he mentions often in the book is the connection HLS students felt to the deep, underlying history of the school. Turow entered school with the same awe-struck expression as many of his fellow students, but throughout the book he warns against getting too wrapped up in the status and power of the Harvard name. But Turow also mentions another deep, underlying history that the students share in, one that is not specific to Harvard or Ivy or the eastern United States. He talks about the history of law itself.

As I thought about where I wanted to go to law school, I was again tempted by the thought of old stone buildings and nineteenth century campuses. But as I thought about it more and more, and as I’ve begun to read cases and articles and opinions, I came to realize something. Wherever I go, I will be surrounded by history. It doesn’t matter if my classroom was built in 1898 or 1988. It doesn’t matter if the campus is old and green and overgrown, or if it is crisp and modern. If I want to feel surrounded by something much bigger, older, and more important than myself, the only thing I have to do is open a book.

That was a strange thought for me. I have focused so much for so many years on the physical environment of a school, never once considering that it could be the subject matter itself that gives me a sense of perspective. But my love for the words of Shakespeare is not dimmed by a new edition; the words are the same, the historical value the same. In reading “Richard III,” I am a part of a 400-year tradition. And when I read about the law of the early United States, learning from the thoughts and decisions of so long ago, I am as much a part of that history as anyone. Sharing in the rich culture of our nation and its law doesn’t require attending a certain school, or living in a certain state. All I have to do is read, remember, and learn, and I am a part of the thought processes that built our country.

And that’s pretty dang cool.