Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving thanks after it's over

Thanksgiving was hard, even though it's been enjoyable. For one, my parents haven't been talking for months. And they were staying with us for three days. And we all had plans to spend an evening with T's parents. Who get along great. That evening actually went very well. Dads chatted amicably and moms made polite conversation. But that was the pretty easy part of the holiday. The harder part has been to remind myself how thankful I am of everything, when I feel bogged down, worn out and overworked. I've been on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and exhausting dips in energy, hardly able to think about the work I have to do to get ready for finals. But the whole time, it's been looming in my head, and last night, my friend from law school casually mentioned that our first exam is Thursday. It's a pass / fail class, but I haven't cracked the book since the first class in August. So, I have a TON of work to do. And, I'm just now, at 4 pm on Saturday, sitting down to do it. My post-memo glee was fun but I think I let it go on a little too long. It's time to get back to work. And so, you see, I am too focused on the day-to-day to focus on the bigger picture. That forest is around here somewhere...

Here are some things I'm thankful for:

- A partner (T) who is supportive and affectionate and has a great sense of humor.
- A dog (E) that is sweet and snuggly and provides a quick reason to smile.
- Parents that love me very much.
- A brother that is one of my best friends and someone I can always turn to.
- My best friend (F) who I've shared so many milestones in life with, and who is excited to share her pregnancy journey with me, the honorary aunt-to-be.
- The opportunity to go to law school, which is my ticket to a fulfilling career and a flexible family life.
- The health of my parents, my friends and family, T, E and myself.
- Our safety at a time when the world seems to be falling apart.
- T's job, which is sustaining us through a difficult economy and tight budget.

The list probably could go on. I am thankful after all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Needing a drink

Is it bad that I want nothing more than to drink heavily tonight? The reason: I feel trapped. By my memo, that is. There is no escaping this weekend without getting through it. For a while, I was able to weasel my way around it, tricking it into thinking I had paid it some attention. Log into LexisNexis, sheppardize a few cases and presto! I put in my work for the night! Now.... oh, now. I can't even finish that thought. I have to get back to work.

Wow, I sound so self-important. This is not a big deal to anyone except me. I need to keep repeating that to myself.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One meme, and then memo time...

I've seen this one going around. I think I'm supposed to hit random on my i-Tunes for an answer to each question:

"Lay Low" (My Morning Jacket)

"Eres (You)" (Cafe Tacuba)

"Tattoo" (Jordin Sparks)

"Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac) (okay, this is really scary...)

"Te Quiero (I love you)" (Monchy y Alexandra)

"With You" (Chris Brown)

"Fantasias (Fantasies)" (Monchy y Alexandra)

"Promising Light" (Iron & Wine)

WHAT IS 2+2?
"Breathe Me" (Sia)

"No ha sido facil (It hasn't been easy)" (Monchy y Alexandra)

"Muddy Hymnal" (Iron & Wine)

"Coat of Many Colors" (Dolly Parton)

"Hoja en Blanco (Blank Sheet)" (Monchy y Alexandra)

"I Love It" (DJ Drama & Young Jeezy)

"If You're Going Through Hell" (Rodney Atkins)

"Como Duele El Frio (How The Cold Hurts)" (Los Gigantes de Vallenato)

"Joshua" (Dolly Parton)

"Back Home" (Dolly Parton)

"Perfect" (Smashing Pumpkins)

"In the Good Old Days" (Dolly Parton)

"Bird Stealing Bread" (Iron & Wine)

"Tres Palabras (Three Words)" (Binomio de Oro)

"Top Back (remix)" (T.I.)

"La Ingrata (The Ingrate)" (Cafe Tacuba)

"Niña Bonita (Pretty Girl)" (Binomio de Oro)

"Off the Record" (My Morning Jacket) (hahaha...)

"I'm Going to Jackson" (Johnny Cash & June Carter)

"Cumbia Poder (Cumbia Power)" (Celso Peña)

"Dare You To Move" (Switchfoot)

"No Me Queda Nada (I Have Nothing Left)" (Juanes)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You are not alone.

I have decided to do this post for three reasons:
1) To justify my last "post", which was really just one long temper-tantrum about school.
2) Because it's more fun than working on my memo.
3) It might amuse you.

So, explanations aside, here are some recent blog posts I have come across from other law students of various sizes, shapes and colors, who are all struggling at this point in the semester. Fun all around!

In no particular order...

Oh look! Another hand waving for help, another body frantically splashing in the turbulent sea of memo! And a great blog name, to boot! (Laughing: With or At You)

I am so happy that I am not the only person who is driven crazy by little noises in the library (or anywhere else). I'm also pleased that when the word "inchoate" is used in a sentence, I actually know what it means! Fun in the library, part 1. (Terra Nullius)

Q. What would I rather be doing than working on my memo? A. Writing this blog post. Follow-up Q. What would I rather being doing than writing this blog post? A. Taking a nap. 1L babies need our naps! (Lawful Living)

There is this weird vibe going on in the library right now. When I get to school around 9:30 in the morning, it's starting to buzz. By noon, it's pretty much packed with gum chewers and coffee slurpers. At 5, when I'm going home, the place is still in full swing, but there is a lot more slumping. We are like sardines, all packed together and not sure whether we like each other or not. Fun in the library, part 2. (Thanks, But No Thanks)

I have to remember that it's a lie, what they say about second year being better. Apparently it's just as cutthroat. Here's a scary story, that's also kind of hilarious in a "glad it didn't happen to me" sort of way. Bonus: it's in the form of a letter. Double bonus: ranting and raving on par with my last post! ([Useless Dicta])

Last class, Prof Crim asked a student, "What if the safe-cracker had retired?" Student says, "Wait--how does a safe-cracker retire?" It was hilarious at the time. Now, not so much. Weird thing about this post, the exact same conversation happened in one of my classes. (No. 634)

I'm glad I'm not the only one (not-so-secretly) coveting my classmates study skills. That's all I can say about this one. (A Woman In Law School)

And finally....

I found a nice little message of encouragement from one 3L. (Law School for Dummies)

Now, I have to go. I've got a 5,000 memo to write!

Feel like I'm drowning

Not to get all graphic, but you know how you can drown from the inside out? Well, I feel like that's what's happening to me, in some weird metaphorical sense. Every time I look at one of my casebooks (or at least the pages, as I've torn them out of the binding and stuffed them into notebooks) I feel a wave of nausea pass over me. I sit down to read and instead feel an overwhelming compulsion to play Uno Freefall on my cell phone. Or cry. Or scream and rave like a madwoman. Or bake little mini peanut butter pies. Gah! I'm not getting anything done.

Here's the shitty thing. I'm sure I sound like a lunatic or a melodramatic mary to anyone (anyone?) reading this. I honestly cannot even explain to myself why I feel like I'm going crazy. But I just am. Going. Crazy. Of course this is just a rant, and I'm probably not all that miserable. I am kind of just giving in to the madness. But for real: I am spending my days surrounded by smart people whose noses haven't come out of the books since before Halloween. Today, I accidentally left all my relevant work at home, so I had to leave school by 1 pm. At the beginning of the semester, that would have been a cheery opportunity to "read" at home or in a coffee shop. But now, that kind of mistake just feels like the equivalent of chopping off my pinky toe, handing it to a classmate and saying, "Hey! Hang onto this for good luck. I'm sure you'll do great on exams! Maybe you can have MY scholarship money."

Irony of all ironies. I'm writing this instead of doing my reading for tomorrow. I just can't crack down like the rest of the loonies in this bin seem to be able to do. And it's driving me insane.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My dog ate my prozac.

So T took the dog to the park today with his brother. Apparently our dog got into a fight with his brother's girlfriend's cat. Fine. That's to be expected. They had a nice day out anyway, running around the woods and exploring creeks. I stayed home and got to eat a leisurely late breakfast at the diner and get some work done on my memo. When they came home, E looked utterly exhausted. He conked out on the floor, and we left to go grocery shopping. Came home. Ate dinner. Played a few rounds of Boggle. I came back to the bedroom/my office to "get back to work" and noticed some little blue pills laying all over the bed. Now, I was up all night writing in pain from horrible cramps that wouldn't subside for four hours. But those pills were NOT the ones I was popping from 6 am to 10 am. No, they were my brand new 10 mgs, fresh from the school psych services, in powdery dust on the bed. (Okay, only one of them was busted, but still.) So apparently my dog is depressed. He is laying cozily on his bed right now, no doubt dreaming all happy thoughts. And I am wondering how to explain to my new scrip-writer that I am out of pills a few days early.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday night nice

Yesterday I carried my backpack all around the city, because T met me halfway between our apartment and the subway station so we could go out for drinks after school & work. After staying late at school all week to try and get back to my original intention of treating it like a 9-5 job, I was really ready to unwind yesterday evening. T walks to work every day, cutting through the heart of the city and passing all sorts of cool things. He had noticed a bar that looked low-key and down-to-earth, so we decided to check it out. Turns out its incognito style had more to do with the fact that it was a gay bar than anything else, but it was perfect for getting that well-earned gin and tonic, plus a little general encouragement. (Sample exchange -- me: "what are your happy hour specials?" server: "YOU'RE special, honey.")

After a couple drinks, we were good and drunk, and walked all over the grid, kind of looking for places to eat and kind of just tottering around. Eventually, we made our way back to our own neighborhood, where we tried to eat at a hookah bar around the corner from our apartment. The menu posted in the window looked good, but inside the overwhelming smell of pachouli and raspberry-flavored tobacco was oppressive. All the patrons were literally draped across couches and the servers lacksidasically wandered to-and-fro. Nobody noticed we had sat at a table. T: "Should we give it five minutes?" Me: "Sure." (30 seconds later) T: "Two more minutes?" Me: "Sure." (10 seconds later) T: "Let's hurry up and get out of here, I think they're on to us." For some reason, the whole place felt like a bad drug trip. We sped out the door.

And we ended up at the Thai restaurant we ate at with T's family back in August after we had just moved here. It was awesome and delicious and was really a perfect way to get over a really long week. At the beginning of law school, administrators gave all sorts of speeches to the new class. In one of them, someone admonished us: "Midway through the semester you are going to have to work really hard to remember that the world does not revolve around you and law school." I am definitely guilty of getting wrapped up, or as T put it, always trying to keep my head in the books. But then there are great nights like yesterday, where I almost forget law school is even a part of my life. Thank God for nights like that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The war and fallen soldiers

On the ride home from school a song came on my iPod ("Letters from Home" by John Michael Montgomery) that reminded me of how for a while I was watching a lot of fallen soldier tribute videos on YouTube earlier this spring. Don't ask why. I think it must have had something to do with the fact that I was very bored and also listened to a lot of country music. Anyway, that's why I started probably, but I kept watching them because they fascinated me. I mean, we're at war and at the same time, our t.v. stations aren't allowed to show the caskets of soldiers coming home to be buried. So, as YouTube so frequently does, it has lived up to its reputation as part of the new media, making real something that our administration worked so hard to gloss over for the rest of us. Anyway, I wanted to come home and post a link, and lo and behold, I remembered it is Veteran's Day. So, here are some links to some of the more recent fatalities -- please do not take this for anything close to a complete list, which you can find here, but just a list of people for whom I found tributes on YouTube. Sorry, I know this is morbid, but it seemed like something I wanted to do.

Sgt. William Patrick Rudd - October 5, 2008

Spc. Christopher T. Fox - September 29, 2008

Capt. Michael J. Medders
- September 24, 2008

Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Mayne - September 4, 2008

Sgt. Gary M. Henry
- August 4, 2008

Spc. Jonathan D. Menke - August 4, 2008

Spc. Ronald Schmidt - August 3, 2008

Sgt. Brian K. Miller
- August 2, 2008

Spc. Kevin R. Dickson - August 2, 2008

Staff Sgt. David W. Textor - July 15, 2008

Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez - Captured May 12, 2007 - Remains recovered July 10, 2008

Maj. Dwayne M. Kelley - June 24, 2008

Sgt. Shane P. Duffy - June 4, 2008

Spc. Jonathan D. A. Emard - June 4, 2008

chastity or sex! or homo!

oh my!

just a little LexisNexis memo humor for ya. i've been at the library too long...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

looking for the forest

yes. that is what i feel. burnt out. glancing at my reading this afternoon literally made me queasy. and i keep nodding off and waking up with this throbbing pain behind my left eye. i feel like i'm back in elementary school, finding myself resenting everything i need to do to keep up. it's relentless.

and at the same time, i think i'm glad to be here still. as long as my personality and my life outside of law school can survive this, i just have to keep on trucking. but as someone else noted on a message board i was reading a few moments ago, "law school has long lost its glamor."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday morning

It's 8:30 on a Saturday morning. Ordinarily, I would be sound asleep and not even feeling guilty about it. But last night, I visualized myself waking up at 11:30 or noon and feeling disappointed that I had wasted a whole morning. There is a Bar/Bri review of torts at school today and I know a lot of my classmates will be there learning, reviewing and generally making the grade. I want to be one of them.

T is out of town, so I have the whole weekend to focus (almost) exclusively on studying. Last night, I did some exercises out of the E&E for torts. Today, I am going to work on my graded memo. I found out yesterday that I really messed up when I went to check my appointment time for my meeting with the writing professor. Turned out to be at noon... the day before. I went to talk to her about it and she assured me that there was no other time available for her to meet with me. So. I'm hoping I can work around the giant hole I just blew into my foot.

My mind keeps wandering back to this one moment in my freshman year of undergrad, when me and the girls were all studying for finals in the midst of the holiday cheer. One sunny afternoon I wandered into my suitemates' room and found them taking a break to watch How the Grinch Stole Xmas on their little tiny t.v. Naturally, I settled in to watch it too! What I remember about that afternoon was the coziness and the amalgam of feelings... warmth, friendship, familiarity (The Grinch has been my favorite since I was in diapers), sense of purpose... I don't know. It was just a nice feeling. So I often think of that moment when I am bundled up on the couch reading for Contracts with a cup of tea or when I am scurrying across the street from my law building to meet classmates at the bookstore on a cold day. It makes me feel good about being in law school despite the exponentially increasing stress. I have also taken to muttering to myself in the elevator (or the hallway outside my writing professor's office) that bumper sticker mantra, "let go, let God." I'm trying to trust that no matter what happens with law school, my grades are just my grades, and even if I flunk out and never end up getting to practice law and still find myself in all the debt from this year... I'll still get to live my life and I'll always gravitate toward happiness and balance, and eventually, it'll work out.

If this post sounds overly... I don't know. Dramatic? Whiny? Hallmark-y? Well, it's because law school has seriously changed over the last couple of weeks. Shit got HARD! I'm just trying to keep sane right about now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Election Day eve

Tomorrow, the United States will vote for its 44th president. I believe and hope that the winner of that election will be Barack Obama. No matter who wins, this election marks a new era for the American people. We finally get to leave behind the 8 years that brought us a botched response to the most horrific terrorist attack I hope I'll ever see in my lifetime, the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, a sham war in Iraq, a disintegrating battle in the hills of Afghanistan, on-line beheadings, American citizens dying in their own homes and hospitals as FEMA utterly failed to rescue New Orleans from a predictable disaster, skyrocketing health care premiums and inadequate coverage rendering insurance nothing more than a mediocre coupon in the face of the crippling cost of care, neighborhood streets lined with foreclosure signs, a collapsing economy that is dragging an entire generation's retirement funds down with it.... Sadly, the list goes on.

I'd like to see a movie where someone goes back to 2000 with the mission of keeping George W. Bush from getting elected.

Tomorrow, from the opening of the polls to the counting of the precinct results, I'm going to be an official poll watcher at a "super-site" in a primarily African-American urban neighborhood in this enormous swing state of ours. They say that the lines will be long, morning, noon and night, and that this is the "perfect storm" for election problems. I'm excited to be on the front lines, watching the first voters stream in, watching people vote for the first time, watching ballots being cast for the first major black presidential candidate, watching those ballots get counted up at the end of the day, and then, hopefully, watching the election of 2008 get called for Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


i got on prozac in may of 2006. the night i started the prescription was relatively uneventful. t was in town visiting. we sat and talked for just a moment, i paused for a moment to wonder what was going to happen, and then i swallowed my first blue-and-white pill. then we walked to a friend's house up the street to feed her dogs while she was out of town, then walked over to a local cafe to catch a burlesque show and then walked back home. we probably went to Honey's for late-night coffee and biscuits. i felt kind of giddy, in a way that i know now was only psychosomatic. the real effects of anti-depressants wouldn't kick in for several sleepless and sweaty weeks.

depression and other mental illnesses run in my family on both sides. the mom has it, the dad has it, the aunts, the cousins, the sister and probably, eventually, at least one niece. and those are only the diagnosed cases. as my dad once joked with his uncle, visiting from South America, i was born with his mal genia. in my family, these issues take the form of either testy anger or sleepy lethargy, and for me it's been a battle of the former.

it took me years to realize that my experience of emotion was not within a healthy range. [there are plenty of doubters out there who would read that sentence with all the skepticism it deserves, and i was always one of them. even now, as i write this, a part of me protests silently but forcefully: "this talk of the 'unhealthy range of emotion' is a bunch of b.s. and even if it isn't, i'm certainly not included. my emotions are perfectly acceptable."] but the fact is, i grew up in an environment in which emotions were denied, tip-toed around, uncontrolled, projected onto others, blamed on others, and generally feared. you know... the stuff you read about in self-help books about dysfunction: the crying parent who claims to be happy, the quiet child who 'disappears' to avoid unwanted attention, the raging parent who tells their kid 'you put me in a bad mood', the 'bad mood' that involves verbal abuse and holes in walls, the child who shoulders the responsibility for calming angry parents and soothing hurt feelings. it's not an uncommon situation for a family to find itself in. err... i mean, there are many others out there who may relate to what i'm describing. that doesn't mean it's normal or okay. it also doesn't mean those families are 'bad'.

anyway, in that context, i ventured out into the world as a semi-formed adult with completely misguided notions about how to respect others' feelings while honoring my own. anybody who hurt me was a bad person, at least until they realized the wrong they had conferred upon me and apologized for it. i felt no qualms about fighting even (and especially) my closest loved ones, over and over again, when they hurt my feelings. my goal in all those battles was to make them see how they had upset me, and why they were wrong, and to convince them to feel sorry and apologize. obviously, this resulted in only a vicious cycle of anger, guilt and regret. the long-term strategy, of course, was to avoid pain at all costs. that's the war i was fighting: don't get hurt.

so there were these two problems. first was my unhealthy understanding of emotion, my refusal to take responsibility for my own feelings by blaming them on others, my abject failure to even consider the feelings of others. i was, quite literally, looking out for number one. second was this whole biochemical problem that ran in my family. i started dealing with the first problem first, but found that i was facing these incredibly high obstacles. it seemed that every couple of weeks, everything got harder. at those times, even as i could stand outside of myself and see that i was overreacting to something and unfairly criticizing or blaming, i felt this hairpin trigger urging me to explode. there was an overwhelming rage just beneath the surface that seemed to be immune to my rationalizations and applications of all the insights i'd learned about healthy expressions of emotion.

i talked to my doctor about it. he diagnosed it as pmdd. said something about how the second half of my menstrual cycle, after ovulation, my body was likely failing to properly regulate my hormones. he suggested prozac. and, having worked very hard for a very long time, and feeling quite exhausted, i decided i owed it to myself to give it a shot. so i did. which is how i ended up, back in may of 2006, taking my first little blue-and-white pill.

all this reflection today is because my prescription lapsed about a month and a half ago, and it has affected me. the lapse of course has to do with my move, the change in insurance, the law school distraction, etc. but its still a lapse. in some ways i feel back to where i started. yesterday, as t and i were walking back from a downtown shopping trip, i got incredibly angry that we had to stop at a corner and wait for the light to turn red before we could cross. in my head i had this visual of a two-year old melting down and crying on the sidewalk. though i couldn't indulge the same behavior, that's how i felt inside.

i guess i needed to write about all this because when i say to others that i'm "on anti-depressants" i still hear a simple excuse -- like i couldn't hack it, or like i copped out or something. but the reality is exactly the opposite. sometimes i need to remind myself of that. i fought to get to this level of self-awareness. and right now i am very much aware i need to get back on that prozac.