Friday, February 29, 2008

blaw blaw blaw

Every moment of downtime at work, at least after I've scoured my friends' blogs and all the news, I am consumed with a vague sense of antsy-pants. But though the feeling is vague, the source is clear: law school applications. I have nearly completed them. Of the seven on my original list, the only one remaining is the University of Richmond. My fate is largely out of my hands.

I could get used to this. The constant sense of being on the verge of an exciting new place in my life. It's a feeling usually accompanied by packing for a distant voyage, or plunging into a new school. Like the day, after my best friend C and I walked back to her mom's car after the high school orientation for rising ninth graders, which was held in the Oakton gymnaseum.

"Do you realize," I said, turning to my friend, "the grades we get in here will determine our futures?" She nodded her head emphatically. I continued, "I mean, we could be taking AP classes next year! And AP classes go on our college transcripts!!"

My blood was gently buzzing through my veins as I rode the high of feeling like my destiny was entirely in my control, a tabula rasa just waiting for my inscription.

In a sense, that's how I feel now. I'm just waiting to find out what schools will accept me, if any. And until I know that, I can't envision much else. People keep tsk-tsking me about considering that I may be rejected from all the schools. But the fact is that even with the best LSAT scores and GPA, getting into law school is still super competitive. I looked up my LSAT score and GPA on a William & Mary admissions matrix, and found that my odds of getting in there are something like 46%. That's on the high end.

So we'll see.

But the thing is that law school is going to cost so much money. And there are tons of other things I wanted to do at this time in my life... own a house, start a family (gasp), travel the world (which to some extent I feel like I've had a chance to do). NOT be in debt and studying. Not removing myself from the workforce. They say that on average, a woman loses $640,000 in earnings for the time she takes out of work to raise a family. That's a lot of money! So I just hope that by not bringing in a stable income, I'm making a valid investment.

Or maybe it's just my hunger talking. I'm so sick of peanuts and cheese.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Deported for skipping school

I am depressed about the things I am reading as I compile articles for my other blog. Twins deported for skipping school? A US citizen, mentally-disabled at that, deported on error? A 15-year old Louisiana citizen terrified by ICE agents who broke into her house when she was home alone? Children being awakened to say goodbye to their father, before he is deported to his home country of Tonga (in Africa) after an early-morning home raid? It's depressing.

I'm not saying, to the anti-immigrant critics out there, that the Tongan father was an innocent man. (He was in fact charged with domestic assault and various other crimes in 2003.) I'm not saying that every person who crosses into this country should get to stay, regardless of how they got here. Yet, come on, people. There is something depressing about these stories, and the way that immigrants and brown-skinned people assumed to be foreigners are being treated, and the way that the search for illegal fugitives is fast encroaching on our civil rights.

Pay attention to the rhetoric. We used to say "illegal immigrant" and some people thought a more accurate term was "undocumented immigrant." Seemingly in reaction to a less harsh term, many anti-immigrant activists managed to inject the truly dehumanizing "illegals" into the mainstream media lexicon. "Illegals" are the new communists. They are everywhere, they are scary and they must be captured and ejected at any price, regardless of the cost to our civil liberties and justice system.


So to answer a common question, this is why I want to be a lawyer.

Immigration raids: what is the controversy?

In an attempt to get a bigger picture of the immigration raids led by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agency, I have started pulling together news articles referencing specific raids across the country. I want to understand what exactly happens in a raid, why they happen, who is targeted, and who is affected? What do they accomplish? How do they affect the communities?

I can't do this research on my own, as much as I'd like to. Hence, the good people of Google News are doing it for me. By running a simple query of articles pertaining to "ICE raids" I am instantly greeted with the days headlines on the subject. Now, if only our faithful news media do their job and report on these raids, we will have a great resource for people who are interested in learning about the day-in day-outs of ICE immigration raids, over at my new blog:

ICE Raid Report (


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

42-year old mom

I'm thinking about that 42-year old mom comment I made last night, and having second thoughts about it. When I say 42-year old mom, I am picturing an imaginary mom who comes home from work, goes jogging and cooks dinner for her kids. Maybe later she watches American Idol with her husband before putting the kids to bed and then falling asleep to go another round in the morning. Shops at Pottery Barn and clips recipes from O Magazine.

Nobody I know who is a mom actually lives like that [edit: Or if they do, it isn't as dull as I've made it sound]. The moms I know fall into two categories: college friends and immigrants. My college friends that are moms would probably laugh at my saying this, but I don't see their lifestyles as totally different from my own. Granted, they have an entire extra life to care for and keep alive. But I get the sense that, just like me, they are simply trying to navigate adult life and learn the ropes as best they can. Theirs just happen to include a huge extra set of responsibilities. My immigrant friends, most of whom are in their early thirties with kids ranging from infants to teenagers, are basically my idols. I look up to them, because they manage to raise houses full of respectful, interesting, bicultural kids, while also learning to get around in a foreign country, holding down jobs and remaining actively engaged in their communities.

When I talk about the 42-year old mom, what I am really doing is experimenting with the imagination of my own future. And, as is often the case, I really have no idea what I'm talking about.


For J, here is that list I was telling you about:
Celebrity Babies
TMZ (yes, TMZ)
On Balance / On Parenting
Savage Love
Yahoo! Answers
My Monthly Cycle
Google News

Monday, February 25, 2008

Peanut butter to the rescue

Maybe T is right. Maybe I have turned into a grown-up. He made that comment after finding a stack of O (as in Oprah) magazines scattered across the coffee table.

"Why did you take out all your old magazines?" he asked me.

"I was looking for recipes," I said. A perfectly normal answer... for a 42-year old mom.

I'm kind of joking. I think I'm secure enough about myself not to get too worked up about the sometimes middle-agey things I do; the things that I never thought I'd be doing myself. Still, it can be disconcerting, especially when called out by someone else, to realize that I am living out an adult life.

Anyway, I was looking for recipes because my dumb (and by dumb, I mean really awesome) doctor told me that he would recommend the South Beach diet and exercise if I wanted to kick-start my, um, system into working properly again. This because of the double digit weight gain I've put on over the last year and a half or so. Lest you think I am divulging too much personal information, keep in mind: I'm telling everyone I know.

Here's the thing about the South Beach diet, and I'm not going to devote this post to its intricacies or why I decided to actually take the challenge my doctor posed to me: it's really hard. I have to spend two weeks eating no starches, no sugars, no fruit, basically none of the things I count on to make eating fun. No rice for my beans, no taco shell for my ground beef, no pasta for my cheese and no bread or jelly for my peanut butter. And no brownies. Or alcohol.

That leaves pretty much four categories of food: (some) veggies, (low-fat) cheese, (fake) meat and eggs. Plus nuts and spices and stuff. I'm on day five and generally pissed about it.

But not tonight. Tonight I tried a recipe that I discovered while surfing for ideas on my lunch hour. And I want to share it with all lovers of peanut butter, because, for anyone who has ever longed for cookies whilst being too lazy to actually bake them, this one is worth trying out. Contrary to my expectations, though possibly because I haven't eaten a single simple carbohydrate in nearly a week, they turned out delicious!

South Beach Peanut Butter Cookies (supposedly good for all phases)


1 cup peanut butter

1 cup Splenda granular (sugar substitute)

1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degres. Mix the three ingredients thoroughly. Drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Dip a fork in Splenda and press gently on top of cookie.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from pan carefully after cooling slightly. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gnu developments

On Saturday, I spent most of the day accounting for my money. Really, this is a poor start to a blog. To hear that I passed the better part of an afternoon crunching my banking data into expense report pie charts, one might think that I am fiscally intelligent and probably a nerd. The former is definitely not the case, the latter is debatable. Still. To quote my boss, "It is what it is."

Recently, I decided that I needed to contribute somehow to the financial management of our household. Given my knack for forgetting important deadlines, T pays all the joint bills. This leaves me feeling comforted (my credit score has gone up: thanks, T!) but also a bit imbecilic. So I decided recently that my job would be to enter all our spending data into a financial software program that we could track, and figure out how to save us some money.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, I finally finished that up, using an incredible program called Gnu Cash. It's an open-source software program that allows you to track all of your expenses, much like Quicken or Microsoft Money (I'm told), in different accounts and categories. Then, it shimmies up some reports for you, which is how I learned that all those coupons I've been religiously clipping on Sundays has brought down our average monthly grocery expense a whopping 15 dollars.

Having completed the task for our joint account, I ambitiously decided to tackle my personal checking account. Since I am always curious as to how my spending habits compare to those of my peers, I will gladly share a piece of the pie (charts) with you. Those precious dollar bills that remain after savings, rent, utilities, regular bills etc. can be roughly broken down into the following spending categories:

- Medical bills: 33% (!!!?!)
- Eating out: 25%
- Gas / Car repairs: 17%
- Big Brothers Big Sisters-related stuff: 6%
- Law School application stuff: 2%
- Miscellaneous crap: 17%

I need to stop getting sick because insurance clearly does not prevent one from spending hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars on medical expenses each year in copays, coinsurance, deductibles and prescription refills. Also, as one of these expensive doctors told me recently, I need to start paying more attention to what I eat, because those restaurant tabs add up to one big piece of pie.

On an entirely unrelated note, T and I took a Sunday drive today, in which we drove our street (Patterson Ave.) out of Richmond city limits, past Henrico, into Goochland, Fluvanna, Albemarle and (briefly) Cumberland Counties. Along the way, we passed through the town of Columbia, Virginia. It was a creepy little place with just a few rotting wooden buildings towering over the State Rte. 6 thoroughfare. We pulled off onto dusty roads that recalled both Deliverance and the dusty roads of Guatemala. The town, while desolate, was fascinating.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Everybody else is doing it so why can't I?

Everybody else has a blog. It used to be that everybody else had a LiveJournal.

Well, much like a half-filled diary that hasn't been touched since the ninth grade, it just feels wrong to go back to writing in my LJ, even though I do like the idea of such a long string of continuity. I think I left off there somewhere in 2005, but the meat of that journal really falls to my junior and senior years of college when life was crazier and much more dramatic.

Still, I like to think that at the age of 26, with 27 fast approaching, I still have things to say. Semi-formed thoughts, fleeting ideas and off-the-cuff rants should always have a place in this world to call home. Besides, blogs keep you honest.

Important things are happening in my life. So why shouldn't I keep a public record of it so friends, family and future versions of me can follow along?

Top three themes:
1) Law school
2) Joint managing grown up life
3) Lost