Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where do civil rights begin and end?

Yesterday in con law, we had to make up an hour of class on top of our normal class time, so the whole day ran really long. But the last hour of con law was just a PBS documentary on the civil rights movement, including the famous scenes from Emmett Till's murder/funeral/killers' trial and footage of the Montgomery bus boycott. I pulled out my pictures of the little kids I used to tutor and stared at them a while. I carry their photos around to remind me of why I went to school. The whole thing got me wondering about the civil rights movement, citizenship and what it means to be an American. Where do things like 287(g) and detainee health care fit into the civil rights movement? Do they? Or do they highlight the need to recognize something greater than civil rights? Does an individual have a right to trust the law enforcement officers of their community, regardless of whether they are a legal resident or not? Do inmates have the right to receive prompt and adequate treatment for medical concerns, regardless of whether they committed a heinous crime? (Thinking beyond immigrant detainees now, but the same question applies... What about civil immigration violators being held in detention centers? Do they have the right to prompt and adequate medical treatment?) And what about kids who grow up in the US illegally... do they have a right to stay in the US? Do they have a right of access to the same resources for attending college as their US citizen counterparts? If any of these rights exist, where do they come from? What kind of rights are they? Got a lot of thoughts on my mind about this today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

disaster dream wedding

snippets from last night's dream, which i don't expect anyone to actually read:
- the ceremony was going to take place in a catholic church (huh?!) but as the (very few) guests started to gather, a bunch of homeless people were filling the pews for the noon sermon.
- nothing was ready, so i started to frantically direct my bridesmaids, T, his groomsmen and my parents to get various tasks done. but instead of helping, my mom decided to attend the mass and only one of my bridesmaids showed up (that's you, J) but she disappeared into her office, which was for some reason in the church with a handdrawn sign that said "J's Office".
- i sent T and one of his groomsmen to check on the caterer, who i realized i still hadn't received a proposal from for the food, etc. (true in real life.) i also realized that it was a mistake for me to have asked T to snail mail the request for us to reserve a city park earlier that week (also true in real life), since it obviously was probably just getting to the office on the day of the wedding.
- i flew (literally) over to the caterer's office, frantically flapping my arms, where i found that T and his attendant were just ambling on up to the office, having using their leisurely stroll as a chance to catch up.
- irritated, i landed in front of them and asked the caterer what the deal was with the food and where we were supposed to have the reception, since we didn't already have a park reserved. he offered us the grassy knoll by his "office" (a lemonade stand-style lean-to). the knoll was unacceptable to me, as the whole area was too noisy with the sound of children playing and cars driving by.
- i realized it was a huge mistake for us to try and plan the wedding in such a short amount of time, and we'd either have to proceed in this shabby manner or else put it off and send our guests home.
- then i realized that virtually none of my guests were there.
- then i realized that we didn't know who was going to marry us.
- then i realized it was all a moot point because we had forgotten to get a marriage license.
- then i sighed, licked my arm and sadly began flying back to the church.

then i woke up, contemplated spending some time working out a few of the pesky details that haunted my disaster dream wedding, and decided f that. instead i breathed a sigh of relief as i trekked over to starbucks to read property law and outline international law for nearly three peaceful hours. learning the law never felt so good.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

can't help genetics

i'm feeling sad, though i don't exactly know why. something feels off... wrong. i'm dealing with a prescription issue again, since i have yet to schedule my appointment with the school doctor. i miss having regular appointments in va, when i never had to worry about getting a refill because i could count on seeing the doc on the regular. this time it's all so ad hoc and i get so distracted because it's such a minimal part of my life (a fifteen minute appointment to get a new scrip once a month, theoretically). conferences with professors, brief deadlines, make-up classes, and plain old forgetfulness have gotten the better of me, not to mention i think my general semi-conscious avoidance of the non-routine. i just hate feeling like things aren't the way they're supposed to be, and that's how i feel right now. i would expand on that idea, but i don't think it would be an honest reflection of my thoughts and feelings. the problem with being in poor mental health is that it affects your fundamental conception of reality in a way that can deceive you into believing the worst things. at its worse, this misconception of reality can lead to hurting oneself or worse. but even on a mundane level, it affects your simplest choices: how to interpret a look, what to eat for dinner, when to go to bed. all of these things in turn feed into your ability to feel good. you stay up all night surfing the internet, get poor sleep and feel worse the next day. you eat junk food for lunch, blood sugar spikes and you're cranky the rest of the evening. you make a joke to a colleague, who doesn't laugh, then worry all afternoon that you've offended them. that's how depression and other mental illnesses feed into themselves. for me, i'm lucky that i only have a serotonin issue that appears to be regulated to my menstrual cycle. and i'm lucky that this issue responds to medication. but none of that matters if i'm not taking care of myself. on top of the poor choices that come with this situation, there are the actual chemical reactions - the anger, impatience and exhaustion that swoops in at unexpected moments and so often overpowers the will. i don't like it, but though i can't help genetics and i am grateful that i know the way out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

frozen dinners

In the last four days, I've watched as my friends and I have been subjected to some of the most wonderful and treacherous parts of life. T got a 3 am text message announcing the arrival of our friends' brand new beautiful baby girl, their as-yet-unnamed and highly anticipated first child. Another friend was told at her first doctor's appointment that either the dates are off or the pregnancy isn't viable. She will be waiting a week in agony. This morning, a friend received a phone call informing him that his mother passed away unexpectedly. He will have to put law school aside to fly home for the funeral he had no idea was coming. I have been fielding calls all week from my wonderful cousins and aunts all expressing their excitement and happiness at our upcoming wedding, offering tidbits of advice and granting the use of their children for the day's ceremony. It will be a beautiful reunion of loved ones.

Fucking life.

I took the train an extra stop on the way home today so that I could walk through the market and pick up a couple frozen dinners for my mourning friend. It's a beautiful warm day outside, and half the city seems to be roaming the streets. On my walk, I passed a Mexican family, both parents holding a frozen popsicle and a toddler following along, whining and reaching for the mother's popsicle. As they passed me, I happened to hear the mom admonish her daughter (in Spanish) -- "No, because you'll drop it." I wouldn't have even remembered this, except that a moment later, I passed an old Italian man sitting outside a junk shop and smiling at me. I smiled back, and he said, "You see that? One for each of the parents, and none for the baby." He shook his head in dismay. "I wouldn't do that." At that point, I had already mostly passed him, but I felt compelled to turn and say, "She didn't want the baby to have it because she would drop it." "Then get her a small one," he said. For some reason, this exchange really annoyed me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reflections on this new phase

Well, I'm at the tail end of my spring break. Spring break in law school is not much like spring break in undergrad, that's for sure. It was fairly uneventful outside of the weekend trip that I took with T, his brother (BroLo) and brother's girlfriend (Girlf) to T's parents house. That was just a nice getaway, which involved a LOT of wedding planning and culminated in my being dropped off at my own parents' house on Sunday night in order to do even more wedding planning with my mom. I fear I am turning into that person who talks weddings all the time. (Did I mention that in my last post? Probably.) But, as I keep reminding myself, it has to be done. After all, I am the one who lobbied for an August '09 wedding, insisting that we'd have plenty of time.

Went shopping with my mom and aunt, and found a dress that I felt pretty confident I could turn into exactly the kind of dress I want for the ceremony. It's shorter... tea-length... and is actually a bridesmaid's dress that comes in white. I've never been one for gown-y wedding dresses, and couldn't ever tell them apart. But I did have a minor crisis of confidence when I tried on a David's Bridal gown that looked beautiful on me, and my aunt and mom were all like "ooh... you are stunning!" and I felt tempted to go the traditional route just for the positive reinforcement. But I'm trying to stick with my original idea, which isn't really all that out-there, and just make the choice and move on.

I also went and met with the caterer for the place we are renting, which is really an art gallery in a loft, but it's owned by a catering company. I was immediately impressed by the guy's list of various types of wedding dinners they've done (sushi stations, Salvadorean pupusas, empanadas, as well as more traditional fair). He also immediately had a bunch of ideas for fish that we could use, aside from or in addition to our salmoln idea. But then, when I told him we were having a fish/vegetarian wedding, with no meat or chicken, he got kind of cagey and tried to tell me that we needed to consider our guests and have at least one meat option for them. After reading online, I realize that this is a pretty common reaction from caterers, but at the time, I was pretty frustrated and annoyed, especially as I could see my mom nodding vigorously out of the corner of my eye. I talked about it with T when I got back up to the Big City and we decided we are going to stick to the vegetarian menu (it wasn't much of a decision, but I needed to hear his support in the face of opposition). So now, we are having to come up with cool vegetarian ideas for an hor d'oerves or buffet menu, so I can get them to my caterer for a proposal ASAP. Ideas welcome!

I'm getting pretty excited about this wedding, and most of all it's been a great way to ground myself in my life outside of law school for the last week. It's been nice to remember that we have this huge support network of friends and family who are excited to celebrate with us, and who are just generally around to talk to, and that not everything revolves around mid-semester hypos and brief drafts and study groups and black letter law. I'm so sick of school right now that I really just want to go through the motions and step back as much as I can without falling. I'm feeling frustrated with the fact that it feels like my life is on hold in some ways while we are up here in the Big City. For one, it sucks that we have only one income, thus we can't afford much in the way of a nice apartment and we are often spending beyond our means thanks to the higher cost of living. For two, I miss feeling like I have time to call friends or go on road trips or just take a leisurely stroll around the block with T after dinner (okay, that last one may have more to do with the cold weather). My leisure time is really just time I am spending procrastinating. I'm tired of feeling like all my down-time is just procrastination. For three, I don't like the split between my student life and my home life, or T's work life and his home life. That's a hard one to explain. I just remember T's dad saying before school started that we were going to be pulled in different directions for a while during this phase in our lives, and I understood him intellectually. Now I understand him in my gut. It's not that we aren't close, it's just that our individual lives are so different and uncoordinated right now, and that kind of sucks too. In short, law school makes me feel like I've lost a lot of control over my life. And I'm nothing if not a person who needs to feel in control of my surroundings. If that wasn't clear to me before (which it kind of was), it's certainly clear to me now.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Life is chugging along up here in our little fire-trap apartment. There was a minor wedding-related fracas earlier this week that caused me to cry out "Oh my God!" in the middle of the library (mom sent e-mail to T after misinterpreting something he said over the weekend and giving her unsolicited advice about what he should be doing, then sent me an ex post e-mail as a heads up). I had to draw some boundaries in a pinch, but luckily T was not nearly as shaken up about the whole thing as I was. I think we're all back on track now. Most importantly, I want my family to know that T and I are a team on this wedding business, and for T to know that I have his back. Secondly, I want my parents and T to have a really good relationship, which I think they do have, and which is also why my mom felt comfortable going directly to him with concerns. As I said a few times this week already, I now know we're really getting married: there's drama.

Seriously, though, things are pretty good. Spring break for me starts this afternoon, which is actually a somewhat unhappy development, as it means my brief is due in two short weeks. But I intend to fully enjoy the time off, starting with our trip down to VA to visit T's parents and old friends. I haven't left the Big City since we got back from Christmas vacation, and I am longing to get out of here for a bit. I miss country music radio and homemade (by other people) dinners and the color green.

Also, I read this really long front page article on Twitter in the news yesterday. If that doesn't say something about the state of print newspapers, the world must be much more uneventful than I thought. But it did make me a bit more curious about the buzz that I have written off for so long. I've seen a few other bloggers getting into Twitter, so I guess I'll have to do my research and figure out how its used. Show me an opportunity to publicly share my thoughts on mundane happenings throughout my day, and I'll show you ground breaking analysis on law professor humor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Aisle show you mine...

Over the weekend, T and I went out with a bunch of people from my section as part of a birthday celebration. It was not that fun. I like most of the people in my classes and have a good time hanging out and interacting with them at school. I enjoy the opportunity to socialize off campus and without the heavy casebooks. I'm happy to throw back some beers on a Friday night. But I have a hard time with the integration of law school & my "real" life. Outside the confines of the law school building and its immediate surroundings, hanging out with my classmates in a group setting feels like a throwback to college. It's kind of like how when I lived at home with my parents for a while as an adult, it felt like I was transported back to being in high school. It's a situation ripe for regression. Basically, I have all kinds of social hang ups and my preferred method of dealing with them is to avoid contact with the world when the circumstances do not allow for my control. I'd like to be better at having meaningful interactions with others, but I tend to not allow myself that risk.

Meanwhile, wedding planning is turning into a stereotype that is endearingly frustrating, entertaining and infuriating. We have not gotten past the very basics. Last night, we argued and I cursed and had to apologize, all the while imagining a red "B" branded on my forehead a la Bridezilla. I'm not trying to act like a television character on a Lifetime reality show. But when I used the word "aisle" last night and T said, "wait - aisle? who said anything about an aisle?" my head almost exploded. I really like this handsome man who lives in the same apartment as me, but I can't seem to figure out what planet he comes from or what language he's speaking. I'm pretty sure he feels the same way about me.