Friday, July 31, 2009

First day post-internship

I'm not gonna lie. I just spent 20 minutes reading about beef curtains. What a weird phenomenon that would probably not exist without the internet. I need a nap.

Tomorrow T and I are supposed to go camping. It's the weekend before the wedding. We finally have our photog and our officiant (fingers crossed). That means the Big Stuff is officially done. I am now mostly just excited.

And, evidently, bored.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

OMG I'm about to be married...

Okay, right about now is when I look at all the people, especially young people, in my life that are already married, and I think to myself: How did they do it? Right about now, I am wishing I paid more attention to my friends when they were getting married, at their bridal showers and bachelorette parties and last minute visits, and watched and marvelled. How did they do it and stay so calm? Or, if they were freaking out, how did they manage to keep it together?

Today, I woke up in a panic about the fact that we have less than 10 days to Pull It Together. I know what my friend O says: "It's Just One Day." I know what my friend B says: "Don't lose sight of the Real Meaning of It All." I know what my friend K says: "You won't remember half the Stuff You Freaked Out About." I also know that this is just like law school -- half the fun is in freaking out and getting excited and nervous and thinking, "holycrapIcan'tbelievethisisactuallyhappeningtome!" (In a good way, of course.) But still. It's times like this I wish I lived closer to my friends, especially my bridesmaids. I could really use some girl time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The obligatory "Advice to 1Ls" post

Well, seeing as how school is about to start back up in the blink of an eye, I figure there must be hundreds if not thousands of eager, nervous and ravenously curious rising 1Ls scouring the internet for advice right now... No? Was that just me?

Anyway, this time last year, I was pretty much searching constantly for advice and other ways to get a bit of a head start on my law school experience. Like so many who came before me, and so many who shall succeed, I refused to believe that there was nothing I could really do except enjoy the last of my free days. Yet, the time-worn advice turned out to be true. Thus, with full recognition that I risk tainting this post with a condescending tone, I present my bulleted advice for future law students...

- Call your friends. Often. Reiterate how much you care about them. Whether you are leaving town or staying, your relationships with your nearest and dearest are about to become strained, if not estranged. Best to jump into the law school fray with your friendships on solid footing. You'll spend the next few months staring guiltily at your Facebook page thinking how you should really pick up a phone, just after you finish all your reading and get a head start on that outline....

- Read Planet Law School. While not everybody is in agreement with me on this one, I happen to think it gave me a pretty good, grounded perspective with which to approach the whole law school thing. I'll be the first to admit the guy who wrote it has a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas and whoever edited the book did a terrible job. Nonetheless, I found it gave the most practical advice and enough warnings so that I didn't go in to class on the first day feeling too naive. I wouldn't recommend buying the book, or reading every word, but definitely give it a good skim over while seated in a comfy chair at your local bookstore.

- Save your money. School starts pretty soon, so it's a little late for this one. But trust me. Every bit of money helps. The more you have socked away, the less debt you'll have to go into, and the less guilty you'll feel every time you buy your lunch rather than pack one, etc.

- Enjoy life. Every bit of it. Enjoy going grocery shopping without feeling riddled with anxiety over all the other things you could be doing. Enjoy reading a book for pleasure on your front stoop. Take a walk. Have sex. Go on a weekend excursion. Just, live. Because, trust me, you're going to start feeling jealous of people standing in line at the DMV before the next year is through.

- Buy your books online. Don't waste your money at the school bookstore. Yes, yes, I know you might not get them in time for classes. You can almost always find the casebook in the library if your shipment hasn't come in yet. But you will save yourself boatloads if you buy used and buy online. I recommend It aggregates the best textbook deals all over the web. A total time saver!

- Use the E&Es. In my opinion these are the most helpful study aids. But, okay, they may not be for you. Everyone will obviously have a different opinion, but seriously, these are the cream of the crop. Whatever you do, GET a study aid, no matter what your professor tells you. Nobody gets extra points for doing well in a class without using extra materials. That's just risky and making life harder on yourself. That said...

- Trust your own gut. If you don't like studying in groups, don't. Study groups aren't necessary and can be an enormous waste of time for those who don't get something out of it. If you can't stand commercial outlines (like me), don't use them. If briefing cases is sucking up all your time, don't spend so much time briefing. I'll be honest, I gave up briefing early on. Whatever your strategy, just go with it and do not (I repeat: do not!) look around at what everyone else is doing and decide you should be doing that too. That is a trap. A very powerful, at times almost irresistable, trap. Half of the people are only doing what they're doing because they see everyone else doing it. The rest are just as clueless as anyone else about what to do, they're just trying to follow their gut. Be one of those ones.

- Avoid the "How Much?" game. "How much have you read for next class?" "How far are you on your outlines?" "How many hours were you up studying last night?" "How late were you at the library last night? How caught up are you on your briefing?" How easy is it to get into this kind of conversation? As easy as running into another 1L on the train to school, in the bathroom before class or in line at the coffee shop. Talk about the weather. Talk about sports, or Lost, or the state of the economy. Talk about whatever topic you're learning in class, if you must. But avoid talking about your study habits. I guarantee it will only leave you feeling insecure. If it doesn't, you're probably getting some kind of reputation for knowing it all - which can be a problem on a number of levels.

- Get Black's Law Dictionary. I got it second semester and wished I'd had it first semester. It's just a time saver. You'll pick up words and phrases like demurrer, declaratory judgment, on the merits, inter alia MUCH faster if you have Black's Law Dictionary. You'll figure them out pretty quickly anyway, but the more time you save on little things and the more you understand a case, the easier it is to get your work done, and done well. And by the way, nobody gives you definitions in law school. Occasionally, a good case book will have some explanations, but for the most part, you're on your own to figure stuff out.

- Go to office hours. This is one piece of advice I am still trying take myself. I hardly if ever went. But I saw my classmates go frequently, and I saw how it paid off. If not in grades, at least in confidence and ease of understanding of the materials. You'll quickly start to see some of your classmates having a much stronger grasp of concepts than others after the first few weeks. It's kind of scary. The ones who "get it" are often the ones who aren't afraid to ask questions and enter into discussion with the prof outside of class.

There is probably a bunch more I could say, but I don't feel like typing out all night. And I'm no expert. I'm just one opinion of many, many opinions, all of which have something important to contribute. But anyway, I did decent in class this past year, and I'm happy to report that I will be returning for 2L year, so for what it's worth, I hope this advice has been something useful! Good luck!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

the future past

i got horrendous cramps yesterday and left work early. i reallllly wanted to just hail a cab home, but decided it was ridiculous to pay $7 to be driven a mile on such a sunny day. even though i did feel like complete ass.

in order to survive my debilitating self-pity and the feeling of being punched in the gut from the inside out, i played an old game i used to play when i was a kid. it was such a beautiful day. 2:30 on a friday afternoon, sun shining bright but without the usual mid-atlantic humidity. people were walking all over the city sidewalks, just doing their thing... having cold beers at the outside table of a curbside restaurant, walking around with tourist guides and sunglasses, playing drums on a couple of overturned buckets for spare change, sleeping off a mid-day hangover on a front stoop... whatever. life, basically.

i imagined myself the way i imagine my old age to end up... me in some nursing home bed, staring out some window at a brick wall or the tops of trees, just remembering. remembering the time i lived in that big city, back when i was in law school and we were just starting out, about to get married, still trying to figure out our careers, excited and in love and young and all that. remembering so hard, its like i'm almost there. and then, suddenly, i AM there. i am back on that street, walking in the hot sun, my knees and legs and eyes and heart all in perfect working order, on my way back to that tiny little apartment, to the dog i used to have, that sweet little E. i look around in wonder, back in a memory. there, the shoe repairman has his rubber soles mounted on a display case. here, Shank & Evelyn's diner is about to open up in its new location downtown, out of the neighborhood. there are little hearts taped up on the window of that store. a little boy waits with his mom for the bus. and it's all so beautiful.

...and voila! life is no longer taken for granted. cramps, forgotten, if only momentarily.

Friday, July 24, 2009

rhymes with pronfession

confession #1: i have no idea why my last blog post looks like it does. i wrote what i wrote in a text document, then decided i might as well post it on the blargh. for some reason it copied and pasted that way. i thought it looked cool.

confession #2: i am worried about a loved one having a drinking problem. i'm not sure how to deal with this, as it's a problem i've never had to deal with before. anyone out there? experiences with this?

confession #3: i cried on the phone with my dad today. this was after a big fight we had as i was leaving virginia last weekend. the tears took me by surprise, but out they came. big, fat and hot. i felt better.

confessions aside, i've been doing farmworker outreach for the last couple of days. i would write more about that, but the tenor i'm getting from the blarghosphere is that i shouldn't. so i won't.

t and i spent the night, as we promised each other we would, plotting out the ceremony details. all sorts of things that The Knot timelines say to do months in advance (you know, back when we were getting engaged), we're just getting around to doing. like, finding someone to perform the service. still looking for that special photographer. could it be you?

in other news, i am working on reading the new testament. i figure, i gotta start somewhere on this 30 before 30 thing. i really want to get out and take some film pictures with my ol' SLR, but i am gonna wait until i am done with my job after next week (woohoo!) to do that. last night, i read my single chapter aloud to T, who said, "borrrrrringgggg..." and i said, "i know!" but then the jealous king killed all the little children under 2, and i remembered hearing that story when i was a kid, and i thought, "how tragic! how violent! i wonder what happens next?" i am trying to psych myself up. ah, agnosticism!

Monday, July 20, 2009

summer city breeze

i turned off the air conditioning and opened the window overlooking my desk. now a summer breeze is blowing in softly, and i hear

the soft rush of cars pulling up, stopping, moving on. beautiful, gentle city noises. like the hum of a fan or flourescent ceiling bulb. i

remember when we first moved to richmond, that very first night that we laid in our bed on patterson, and we listened to the noises all

around us. it felt so loud, with the bus pulling up and announcing its stop, with the occassional car honk in the distance, or drunk

patrons walking by from the corner bar. the sound of neighbors beneath us, beside us. we had gotten used to our own house. a yard

with a grassy buffer. a small southern town without cars whizzing by. greenery. even though it was small, richmond was city. and so

too is this.

i've gotten used to the noise. it is a different kind of breeze, a different kind of calm. it's the peaceful nights of my childhood stays at

my grandparents' apartment in Mclean, when i would lean on their balcony railing and stare at the tall buildings lit up in the

distance. they were only office buildings, part of the Tyson's Corner suburbs, hardly urban. but they were romantic, and their

shinning distances told stories of adventure and thriving life. somewhere, just off on the horizon, the world was alive, thriving and

awake even at 11 o'clock on a summer night. as a child, i dreamed of that elusive place. i couldn't wait to see it, but i was contented,

safe, cozy in knowing it was just out there, just over the edge of the balcony, just up the road, only a few years away. i settled into my

grandma's soft couch, turned off all the lights, and switched on the eleven o'clock news to turn the whole room a deep blue. i watched it

for the stories, and for the routine, the familiar faces and voices. and what i remember most was the city scape behind the weatherman's

forecast, with all those happy smiling suns or cheerful clouds. the monument, or the white house, or the capitol. but always, the city,

my ever present, strong and silent companion.

being here in the big city on a night like this, alone with my thoughts, with the summer air blowing and shaking the little green plant

on my desktop, i feel comforted. its nights like this i wish i had a t.v. in my room, so i could turn out all the lights, paint the walls a

glowing blue and be soothed to sleep by the jovial chatter of a couple of anchors with pearly white teeth and perfect hair.

wedding insanity

It was a lovely weekend, but seeing that it was capped off by unprecedented wedding stress and family drama, I have joyfully returned to my firetrap apartment in the Big City where I spent the morning watching White Oleander on the couch and blissfully not checking e-mail. (Mondays are office hours, so work doesn't start til the afternoon.) Now I intend to get dressed, saddle up the pony-dog and head over to the cafe to space out and not think about wedding. What a beautiful way to spend the day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Down to Virginia

We are headed down to Virginia in just a few moments. I've stolen away with my cup of coffee to sit here and make a quick little blog post. We're on our way to visit the site where we'll get married, and take care of all those details we've put off to the last minute. (Photographer, I know you're out there somewhere...) In three weeks, more or less, we're getting married. Wow. I'm still having wedding dreams, but they're less and less like nightmares and more and more excitement and happiness.

The dog is hanging around our feet tonight because the sky was rumbling so much earlier. He has no idea we're about to shove him into the trunk of T's hatchback for a long haul south. But once we get there, he'll be glad. There's much more room to run and play, and many more gross and smelly things to roll in. Pretty soon, he's gonna get a weeklong vacation in the country, while dog-mom and dog-dad go to Spain!

Another weird thing: I can't stop burping. It's getting gross. I think burps are more disgusting than farts by a long shot. A few minutes ago, I sat down next to T on the couch, and immediately began a chain reaction of mini-burps. "I'm so glad you chose right here to sit," says T, snarkily. So I got up to write this post instead. Have a good weekend!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Digging deeper

Well I was working on a long and thought-out introspective post about my feelings toward radical/progressive politics, and the seemingly inexplicable development in recent years of an anti-intellectual streak in my attitude. But then a wall of bike cops and dozens if not hundreds of crazy party-goers streamed down my block, making noises like a riot, and I got distracted. They're gone now, but as I type there is lightening striking somewhere in the neighborhood, the rain is crashing down HARD and there is a lone siren blurting and bleating in front of my door. Whatever is going on out there, it's not pretty. Of course this is all ten minutes after I kiss T good-bye and wish him a safe walk to a downtown hotel where he is meeting out-of-town friends for a drink at a bar. Thank god for online texting.

Anyway, since I'm not getting back to my shoegazing post anytime soon, I thought I'd at least check in. I'm thinking more about how to use this blog as a way for me to develop thoughts and share about myself and process things that are going on in my life. I feel like I've said one of the same two things over and over for a while: either "I am so lucky" or "Life can really suck sometimes." Sometimes I say both things in the same post, just to mix it up. And that's all I think I really ever express to anyone in real life either. Making an effort to reach out to people feels like swimming upstream in a rapid current. It's exhausting, and it's easy to want to give up.

When I worked at my last job, I only ever interacted with two people: my boss, and my boss's boss (also my boss). I think I purposely chose that job because I was afraid of taking a job somewhere where I would interact with a lot of others, especially peers. I had just left a situation in which my actions had caused a ton of hurt, and I didn't want to make any moves that would lead to the same or similar results. In short, I didn't trust myself. Now, I'm back at a place in life where I have many opportunities to interact with people, but I still find myself holing away, unsure of the proper way to be a good friend.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. I want to challenge myself to dig deeper. Whatever that means. So today I went to the coffee shop by my house with a journal and this marriage book that I bought on a whim when marriage was still a long ways from our reality. I wanted to work on writing my vows. Last night, T and I spent a while finally tackling the subject of what we want our ceremony to be like. We got in some arguments, had a few laughs and generally made productive headway. Now I'm trying to think of all the things I want to promise him, and the things I'd want him to promise me. With less than a month to go, the only thing I'm freaking out about is the deadline. Sometimes this date feels like a deadline to have it All Figured Out. I know us well enough to know that we are good problem-solvers and the issues we haven't already tackled or talked about, at least in the hypothetical, are few and far between. Mostly we are on the same page, or are confident in our ability to reconcile our differences. There is one issue that lingers that I doubt we'll have figured out before we marry. And I guess that's the only thing that worries me. Are we supposed to know every single detail of our plan for our future? Of course not. But what ARE we supposed to have worked out? What's okay to play by ear? I just don't know. The one thing I am glad about, though, is that I do absolutely know that I am making the right choice. But that goes back to that whole "I'm so lucky" thing. And I've said that before.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the living's easy

Today is exactly one month from the day I get married. In one month, I will be at my wedding reception. Isn't that crazy? Not really. This isn't more than what I ever expected we would do. I've always known I want to spend my life with him. But at the hard parts of our relationship, I have wondered if I would get to live that dream out. It looks like I might be in luck, after all.

I had three glasses of wine at a fancy bar on the 19th floor of a high rise in the middle of the city with my section-mates from 1L year. While I was there, I learned that our new class schedules are up for the fall. I came home and checked out the roster, where I learned I'll be taking Employment Law, Trust & Estates, Political & Civil Rights and the school's famed trial advocacy program. The news is something of a Pandora's Box. It is fascinating, intriguing, exciting... and dangerous. I am staring at my new class schedule from across the room, eyeing it warily and waiting to see who makes the first move. I'm not ready to go back yet. Hell, I'm not ready to cross that aisle and go from planning a wedding to being married. Everything is moving so fast!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Multiples of 7

I am now 7x4 years old. My birthday was celebrated on the same day as America's, since my actual birthday was spent at a funeral service for T's grandma, which was a surprisingly nice way to pass the day (honoring and hanging with loved ones). On July 4th, T's parents had us, along with T-bro and his GF on their sailboat. I spent most of the trip chatting with T-mom about wedding plans. Since she spent the last month nursing her suddenly terminally ill mother, she was eager to reconnect with happier thoughts of our upcoming celebration. The rest of the sailing excursion I spent drinking beers and imagining future children running around pulling ropes and saying things like "tighten the jib!" and "crank the wench!" and other phrases that only make me giggle. After doing some brief genealogical research, I learned that T's family roots are buried deep in the sandy earth of the Eastern Shore on both sides. He comes from a salty past. I like that.

I also drew out a list of the 30 things I want to do before I turn 30, but promptly lost it. I will try to recreate it here... If I don't get to all 30, I will at least try to fulfill the ones I do remember. I decided that I've done like a million really awesome things in my life, and I'm not dying to do a lot right now. There are only a few very big things I want to do, none of which felt right on a list of items to check off. (Hello, "Get my JD"!) So, anyway... here they are, in no particular order:

1) Read the New Testament
2) Plant a (herb?) garden
3) Perfect grandma's chicken and rice
4) Learn to cook Ajiaco
5) Attend Catholic mass in Italian and Spanish (neighborhood churches around here do that sort of thing)
6) Get a Brazilian wax
7) Be able to do a new hairstyle (no ponytails)
8) Introduce T to my Colombian relatives
9) Learn to hem / basic sewing
10) Record my dad's life story
11) Visit my bro in CO or wherever he is
12) Run in a race
13) Play on an intramural/community sports team
14) Get a bike
15) Go back country camping
16) Go fishing
17) Spend a night dancing at a Latin music club
18) Shoot a roll of film & frame a new picture for my walls
19) Take a Tae Kwon Do class
20) Take a yoga class
21) Publish a zine
22) Ride a wave on a surf board

That is all I can remember now. If I remember more, I will post them. For now, I think I have a good list of things to get started on! I'm kind of excited -- this could be my ticket to getting off the computer and out the door!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"101" Things To Do Before I Die

...okay, more like 61. And I wrote this circa May 2000, when I was a freshman in college, not in high school. While I am entering these without any added commentary, rest assured I am not keeping a straight face while typing! "X"s by the ones I've done!

1. Read the Bible (the WHOLE thing!)
2. Go to the Serenghetti
3. Get married
4. Have kids
5. Meet Billy Corgan
XX Travel cross country w/friends
7. Publish a book
8. Be on the Price is Right
9. Sell a photograph (or 20)
10. Get my doctorate
11. Bike across the county
12. Write a song to be played by a band
XXX Learn how to dance
14. Take pictures for a newspaper / Life-Time mag.
XXX Go on a shopping spree (guilt-free?)
16. Learn recipe to chicken & rice (and perfect it)
17. Live on the ocean / by the sea
18. Live in Europe (Spain...? Nerja...?)
19. Get physically fit - able to run a mile, do pull ups!
XXX Visit relatives in Colombia
21. Own a boat!!!
22. Fly a plane
XXX Learn a foreign language (and be FLUENT)
24. Invest $ in the stock market!
XXX Get high
26. Go to Mardi Gras
27. Bungee-jump!
28. Go hiking in the Eastern Hemisphere
29. Go to Australia
30. Go scubadiving
31. Learn how to surf
32. Go camping in the wild (not a campground)
33. Do Peace Corps
34. Create a social services program
XXX Skinny dip co-ed!
XXX Get drunk and XXXXXXX [okay one censorship :) ]
37. Travel w/my dad
38. Get to know [my older brother] and his family
XXX Karaoke at a K. bar
40. Adopt a child
41. Foster care
XXX Kiss a girl
43. Be happy at 70
44. Volunteer at an AIDS clinic
XXX Befriend a person completely unlike me that I wouldn't normally be friends with
XXX Try being a vegetarian
47. Swtich to an organic diet
48. Run for political office
49. Beat Mario in under 5 min.
XXX Confront my parents about the past
51. Learn the truth
52. Have & maintain faith
XXX Be a regular (at a diner/coffee shop, e.g.)
XXX Get to know my Goddaughter
XXX Get in touch and attempt to rekindle friendships with friends from youth.
XXX Stay friends with F for life
57. Get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do
58. Learn to play the drums
59. Work at McDonalds
XXX Drink moonshine
XXX Teach photography to underprivileged kids

What I am going to do with my life

Well, I've been trying to come up with ideas of things I want to do before turning 30 and finding the task to be harder than I expected. Isn't that weird? I expected it to be pretty easy, but I find myself challenging every idea that pops into my head.

Example #1:
Young JE - "I like to travel. What about doing a cross country road trip?"
Grownup JE - "Yeah, but are you really going to have time to go on a road trip this summer or next summer? You have law school and summer internships. Plus, where is the money going to come from? And that's to say nothing of the cost of gas..."
Young JE - "I guess you're right. Besides, there's plenty of time in my life to go on road trips. I don't really want to go on a road trip right now."

Example #2:
Grownup JE - "How about buying a house. That's something you want to do pretty soon, right?"
Young JE - "I think so. But c'mon. Isn't that going to happen anyway? I mean, do I really need a list to encourage me to buy a house? This is supposed to be about me and what I like to do. You know, for fun."
Grownup JE - "Fine. But good luck coming up with those ideas."

Am I a nutjob or what? Anyway, I AM coming up with some good ideas but I'm giving myself until my actual birthday to complete the list. I have to admit, the grownup side of me is having second thoughts, and I'm wondering if I'm pressuring myself to do something I don't really want to do anymore. But the young side of me is egging me on, daring me to just do it.

So, for personal inspiration, shits and giggles, I'm digging out my high school list of 100 things I want(ed) to do before I die. I'm putting that as a separate post.