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Archive for the ‘Law School Problems’ Category

Distance and Engagement

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Law School Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 at 2:42 am

On April 2, 2014, my boyfriend went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes. He and I were by ourselves at this moment, and we went to celebrate by ourselves. In the coming days, we were quiet and savored the newness of the thing largely alone. Despite what movies and novels would have you believe, I didn’t have friends who I immediately called to gush over the news. Many of the women who I might have called for that reason have distanced themselves from me and I from them–perhaps due partially to this man.

But, it’s not a new distance among us. The drift had begun before he and I took real notice of each other and it quickened as soon as two weeks after he and I started dating in the summer of 2011. We met in law school, probably very early during my first fall semester since we both rode MARTA then. We were each involved in our own lives and really didn’t overlap each other. I was certainly swallowed up in the emotional and intellectual tides of first-year law school. At the end of the Spring semester, though, I called him to apologize for not coming to his graduation party. From there, we talked and saw each other regularly.

After about two weeks, we had our first real date and I met two of his friends and he and I went to watch movies at his friends’ home. It was all so deliciously normal that I began to feel guilty…..as if I was dragging this man into all of my friend-losing, engagement-breaking, prozac-taking drama. The criticisms of others had long before become the rain that watered my soul. Also, I have very little sophistication when I comes to relationships. Later that evening when he and I were alone I started to cry and all of THAT came tumbling out in (what I can safely assume was) a rather jumbled tale.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, so I can’t truly say that I remember it clearly as the significance did not dawn on me until later. What I remember most is how gentle and kind his eyes looked once he realized that I was serious and in some distress. There wasn’t really any pity and absolutely no shock in his voice or face. In those moments, he was quiet and listened. He said to me then what he continues to say to me now: that we all have our scars, weaknesses, and troubles. That mine were not worse than those of anyone else.

In the coming days, I watched for a sign that he thought I was different, crazy, soiled. But, that sign never came and it has not come. I did not recognize that I was in love and even if I had, I would have found it hard to explain it to my women friends. What I did know was that I felt comfortable, peaceful, at ease, and unsuspicious with this man–and those were things I experienced rarely then. Even though I communicate(d) in short, pointed, expressive, honest bursts punctuated with silence and he is more comfortable with conversation and words, he made (and makes) me feel an equal. I did not have the words to explain that to them–and did not (for whatever reason) search for the words to explain it.

I was, honestly, a little selfish in absolutely basking and camping in these experiences and not being particularly open with my friends about how I felt. The feeling of acceptance was such a God-send and I had no desire for anyone to remind me of the doubts I was slowly putting to death at the time. Maybe I was wrong to hoard that positivity. But, it was beautiful. And, it was mine. And, I had a chance to forge a healthy relationship with a balanced and open-minded person.

I took that chance, and I have not regretted it.

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#UMWFG: The Dream Maker

In Education, Happiness, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 28, 2013 at 3:23 am

That’s exactly what your brain is: a dream maker of the sleeping, waking, and life-long varieties. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was watching a student formulate a dream and begin to articulate that dream and take steps toward that dream. My 7th graders are now 11th graders, and it is so ¬†cool to see them pursuing fashion, writing, graphic arts, computer science, music, dance, engineering, skateboarding, sports, public speaking, and general happiness. Encouraging and equipping young people to make dreams and pursue dreams is THE most important function of our education system.

But, I digress. The point is to use my words for good. At this moment, I want to celebrate by using my words for good. I found out Friday that I passed the Georgia Bar examination. I get to be an attorney ūüôā I have wanted to be an attorney since at least the fourth grade and probably since the first grade.

I am blessed to say that I didn’t reach this dream by accident, by luck, or particularly quickly. ¬†While I am not insane enough to believe that every human being should become a lawyer, I am insane enough to believe that EVERY human being needs a dream to chase. More than that: every dreamer needs encouragement and the occasional push while hunting down that elusive and nearly invisible dream.

Here are some mental and emotional obstacles that I have encountered on my continuing journey:

1. I AM NOT TOO OLD. “By the time you graduate, you’ll be 32!” They said. But, I was going to be 32 either way, right? Don’t listen to this one.

2. I AM NOT TOO YOUNG. Ok, ok, ok. So, yes. LOTS of young people need to experience life before honing in on THE DREAM. But, I knew in high school that I wanted to major in political science and minor in history. I took a long path trying to make “sure” that the dream I had was the right dream. There is no “right” dream. There is my dream and there are the dreams that don’t belong to me.

3. THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY PEOPLE. ¬†“There are so many lawyers out there already. Do you really want to be one more?” They said. ¬†Incorrect thought process. There is not another me who is already a lawyer. There is a reason that God dropped a love of politics and law into a 6 year old’s heart. I may indeed be one of thousands of lawyers, but I have a purpose that is unique.

4. MY DREAM IS NOT THE ONLY DREAM. There’s no need to trample someone else’s dream. That’s just rude. I have no right to do it to another any more than that other has the right to do it to me. It all comes down to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

5. SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF YOUR DREAM. “Oh. A lawyer? Well, that’s not my thing. I’m perfectly ok with ______.” A few times when I told others that I was quitting my job and going back to law school, I was met with a chill. I don’t think that law is the best profession. Law is simply the best profession for me. The fact that I chose law doesn’t mean that I think that anyone else should choose law. Be careful of people who meet your dream with this reaction; before you know it, you might begin to think that your dream is TOO big, TOO impossible, and TOO impractical for you to chase.

6. DREAMERS NEED COMPANY. But, not just any company. I had to surround myself with like-minded dreamers. Dreams are tiring, exhilarating, elusive, and tangible all at the same time. That roller coaster can put pressure on partnerships and friendships if both people don’t know first-hand the weight of a dream. I lost friends and made friends during law school. The making of friends felt great. The losing of friends was wrenching.

7. SHORT TERM SACRIFICE IS CONTINUALLY IN THE WINGS. Dreams are time-consuming and/or money-consuming affairs. Before I started law school, I was focused on paying down my loan from getting my master’s degree and also with saving money in general. So, no fancy handbags; no new cars; no elaborate vacations; no fancy crib. I didn’t have time to plan all my meals. Regrettably, I ate many meals from the snack machine. I didn’t have the money to get the AC in my car fixed right away, so I hot-boxed my way through town for a few weeks. I had to cut down on my church commitments. But, now I know that none of it was permanent. I can lose weight. I got my AC fixed (eventually). I have more time now to spare, and I have learned that new cars, vacations, and houses are not the causes of happiness but are rather the least important symptoms of success. Fancy handbags, I must admit, are my weakness.

8. LIFE IS A WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT. There is no guaranteed outcome for which every human being should be gunning. When I was teaching, I would spend my weekends grading papers and being angsty. Monday morning was a bad time, topped only by the first day after Christmas break. I was overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. To put it bluntly, I was unhappy. Not because teaching is a bad career–but because I wasn’t meant to be a teacher for any longer than the 4 years that I did it. There is nothing sinful in changing directions. There is no shame in admitting that you need to make a new choice.

9. IT’S RARELY ABOUT THE MONEY. I won’t say never. But, I never cared much about being filthy rich. I’m not sure why, it just never was something I was into. I didn’t go to law school to make piles of money (though, to be sure, if was not blind to the fact that I could make piles of money). When the economy tanked and legal jobs were hard to find and salaries fell to bargain basement levels, I wasn’t *quite* as disappointed as I might otherwise have been. Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Shirley Chisolm and Coco Chanel didn’t chase their dreams for the money (though money several of them made). Money is just a symptom of chasing and catching the dream. Money itself isn’t much good–unless (obviously) you plan on having a Scrooge McDuck-style money tidal pool.

10. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE. Don’t change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Don’t fail to change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Your life is entrusted to your keeping alone once you reach adulthood.

Lord of the Rings: The Writing of the Bar Exam Essay

In Bar Prep Problems, Law School Problems on July 31, 2013 at 2:32 am

Using the glorious and varied facial expressions of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, I will show you what it feels like to write an essay for the bar exam. Currently, I am trying to squeeze an extra 30 minutes out of my day so that I don’t have a repeat of the I went to sleep too early and thus woke up at 3 am debacle of this morning.

Without further ado….

1. Focused.

2. Oh, hell. I’m NOT supposed to touch the essays yet?

3. Ok. Ok. Gotta listen more carefully.

4. WOOT! There it is! Begin!

5. Reading. Reading. Yeeeeeah. I know this issue. I’m all about this issue.

6. Wait. Hold on. What? What is that? What…? I don’t…! How am I….?!

7. C’mon. C’mon. Get it together. Enough drafting. Enough reading. WRITE! WRITE!

8. TEN MINUTES?!

9. ONE MINUTE????!!!!!

10. Glad that’s over. I feel…actually…LIKE A BOSS.

11. Oh, hell. What? What were the instructions? Do I leave the paper clips?

Monday Bar Review Blues and All That (Christian) Jazz

In Bar Prep Problems, Encouragement, First World Problems, Law School Problems, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on July 23, 2013 at 4:55 am

Have I mentioned that I am taking the bar this summer? Have I mentioned that studying for the bar is miserable for me? It is. BUT, I am down to about 7 days before the end begins. And, let me tell you: this is a crawl to the finish. Quite frankly, I am feeling like a chip of pine bark.¬†It has been a lonely and trying couple of months. I have experienced sadness, self-doubt, abandonment, isolation, confusion, and anger. It feels like I am being ripped to shreds–and there is no guarantee that I will pass.¬†Like a flash of lightning, I realized that I needed some good Words.

Reading over my scripture cards (yes, I made scripture cards…type A personality! Hello!?), I experienced not my old reaction of feeling confirmation (and even pride), but rather a feeling that the words before me were goals. The words are measures of what I can achieve and reminders that God can take me to those places. These words are, for me right now, mirror and magnifying glass and window and telescope all at once. The big picture and the details feel a little clearer. I am God’s and no matter what happens, that is what really counts. In passing, I can learn more about Him. In failing, I can learn more about Him. The part of me that is closest to Him can never fail.

Here are some of the scriptures that grabbed me.

1. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

2. “Why should I be afraid of bad days?…” (Psalm 49:5)

3. “Nevertheless, His mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn Him from His purposes? Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do for me all He has planned. He controls my destiny.” (Job 23:13-14)

4. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)

5. “You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.” (Psalm 38:9)

6. “[God] who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)

7. “. . . For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)

8. “No one will succeed by strength alone.” (I Samuel 2:9b)

9. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:6-7)

10. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . ” (From II Corinthians 4:8-10)

11. “For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” (Romans 11:29)

12. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

13. “Simon, Simon, Listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22: 31-32)

14. “For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded. Therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)

15. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

16. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. There is need of only one thing.” (Luke 10:41-42)

17. “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (II Chronicles 20:15)

Novel

In Bar Prep Problems, Law School Problems, Novel, Somewhat disjointed rant... on June 17, 2013 at 12:33 am

I’m starting a novel in what I thought was an original way. But, as there is nothing new under the sun, it turns out that other authors are also writing their stories online and doing the meta-cognitive task of revealing the back story in an accompanying blog.

I’ve never attempted writing a novel before. But, while I am studying for the bar, I want to give myself an outlet that does not require rules or form or strictures–and mostly: doesn’t require listening or memorization. Sigh. I need a left brain activity.

So, I’m turning to the paper. I have a new, crisp, and overly expensive composition book. I have some awesome pens. And, I have an idea.

At the bar (review): Day 1

In Law School Problems on May 21, 2013 at 2:21 am

Oh, no. The class portion of bar review has not started yet. Today was the foundation course start day (and I, as customary, have decided to do it my own way…more about that later). It was better than I expected; but, it definitely was not as awesome as going to Six Flags.

Lessons learned from day one:

1. Wake up by 9 am.

2. Each correct answer is worth a mini-celebration.

3. Drawing smiley faces by each correct answer is a mini-celebration.

4. Buy index cards. You will need them.

5. Having cute pens makes everything more fun.

More tomorrow. I’m off to cruise Amazon so that I can find some cute pens…maybe something involving unicorns.

Twas the night before Bar Review…

In Encouragement, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems on May 20, 2013 at 2:58 am

Graduated on Friday. It’s Sunday night. Tomorrow, I start bar review. Bar review is a daunting thought. It is true that I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid; there are three final steps. I need to study for the bar, take the bar, and pass the bar. Studying for the bar starts tomorrow. I gotta tell you: signing into the online review site and looking at all documents and the schedule and the syllabus quite frankly overwhelms me. A lot. And there was a time in my life (not so very long ago) when that feeling of being overwhelmed would have sent me to bed (though, in the end, I am going to go to bed…and watch The Wedding Singer).

But, not today.

Today, I made myself proud. I pulled out my calendar and my flash drive and started organizing.

That, and that alone, is what I call progress.

Chasing your dreams…

In Encouragement, Law School Problems, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on May 13, 2013 at 4:10 am

Hold on to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.

Hold on to dreams

For if dreams go

Life is a barren field frozen with snow.

 

Those are the words, as I remember them, of Langston Hughes. I didn’t look them up.

One of the most difficult things to teach a child is the importance of dreams–those loftiest of life goals. But, I was blessed. At a young age (that is, first grade) I took a huge interest in politics during the Bush/Dukakis Presidential elections. This early interest in politics led me to an interest in law-making, and the legal system. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had decided that I wanted to be an attorney with the ACLU. In a simple matter of days, I ¬†will be leaps closer to fulfilling the hopes of that first-grader (who, coincidentally, tried to rig the practice ballots that she handed out–I have far more integrity now than I did then). Perhaps I am not (yet) working for the ACLU, but I could!

How refreshing and how surreal it is to be able to say that I am achieving a dream. It is honestly unlike any feeling that I’ve known before. Happy? Yes. Satisfied? Yes. Hopeful? Of course! But, there is also a sense of anticipation and lightness and power that I have never before felt in combination. I know my limits, and I feel fulfilled within those limits. That’s the new part, I think: I literally have been to my limits.

Chasing a dream is one human experience upon which I think all should embark. Achieving a dream is something that I will forever encourage others to do. Perhaps in achieving a dream, you meet your destiny.

Healing: Stages of grieving

In Encouragement, Law School Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 28, 2012 at 7:05 am

It’s easy to blog when I’m happy. It’s easy to spread encouragement. I just think about what I need to hear on days when I feel hopeless, burned out, and used up. Days like today. Yesterday, I gave myself permission to walk away from pain. But, I wasn’t vigilant enough. You see, pain is a sneaky thing. It’s like a lioness attempting to take down a¬†wildebeest¬† The lioness knows damn straight she can’t take down a healthy¬†wildebeest¬†from a herd of healthy¬†wildebeest. She has to wait for a weakness in the group: a sickly wildebeest; a lone wildebeest wandering off; a young, impetuous wildebeest to0 quick to believe itself strong and indestructible. Though the herd may well sense the lioness’s presence and move away from her. Well, she IS still a lioness.

Needless to say, pain snuck up on me. I was susceptible. Studying all day after a week of studying and working for five days. Tired. Bored. Boring. Burned out. I was that lone wildebeest who wandered away from the herd. Pain came at me like a lioness from the tall grass: fast, efficient, devastating.

Still in repair.

In defense of lawyers

In Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 10, 2012 at 3:09 am

It really chaps my hide when someone (and I mean ANYONE) makes a serious generalization about any group of people…particularly a group to which I belong. Of course, being a law student means that I’ve told my share of lawyer-as-douche-bag jokes. But, I’ve earned my stripes.

I would like for the whole world to know that lawyers have not cornered the douche bag market. There are douche bags in every known profession out there. But, for some reason, lawyers are social pariahs. We tear at the fabric of society. To be clear, most lawyers are former (or current) nerds who spend hours in libraries and artificially lit rooms reading–sounds dangerous.

1. Lawyers do talk a lot. Mysteriously, this is a problem only when we are not in the courtroom. Step into the courtroom and clients want you to jump up and shout OBJECTION every few moments. Of course, after the objection, you have to make an argument. Then, the clients want you to do an opening AND a closing. Geesh. Then, for some unknown reason, EVERY client wants to know what is going on with his or her case…this means meetings and telephone calls.

2. Lawyers like to argue. I think that this is for purely economic reasons; the lawyers who don’t like to argue or take adversarial positions don’t tend to get a lot of business.

3. Lawyers are aggressive. I agree. Lawyers could definitely negotiate with insurance companies in a less aggressive way. Yes, there’s no need to be aggressive when the insurance company starts off at $600.00 and the client has $10,000 in medicals (not including missed wages and the need for continuing care). Soft words and warm biscuits will work.

4. Lawyers don’t actually add anything to society. Thurgood Marshall. F.W. de Klerk. Marian Wright Edelman. Maynard Jackson. Francis Scott Key. William Penn. Paul Robeson. Gandhi. Nelson Mandela. Henri Matisse. Alexander Hamilton. ¬†Absolutely. Never. Did. Anything. For. Society.

5. Lawyers only want money. This completely distinguishes the legal profession from other professions. The following professions are all above a simple cash nexus: doctors, dentists, singers, basketball players, dancers, hair stylists, makeup artists, architects, and chefs.

I’ll be honest. Not every lawyer or law student that I know is the person that I’d choose to be stuck on a deserted island with. But, most of the attorneys and law students that I know are incredibly passionate, articulate, and driven people. Some attorneys and law students are douche bags. If, however, you get stuck with a douche bag attorney…..you know what you should do? Fire your attorney.