Monday, August 31, 2009

Circus Act

It's becoming clearer and clearer to me why drinking is a favorite pastime of so many in the legal profession. I've watched other people go through this sort of stress, but I don't think I've ever really felt it myself. It's not that things are going poorly or that you doubt yourself or that your problems are insurmountable, it's that there are unexpected moments where it feels as though the sky is falling. It would not feel this way if you were not such a perfectionist, however, if you were less type A, you wouldn't here at all. Everything you take on is an obligation, and every obligation must be met in a timely manner.

Law school (at least at week 3 of year 1) is a tightrope act, and every time you master balancing one thing someone throws another variable in the mix. Friday afternoon you go home feeling relatively good about yourself. You've learned how to walk back and forth on a half inch wire 300 ft in the air. Monday morning someone says, "great, now cross that same tightrope on this bicycle,". Reasonably you know that you have time and no one expects you to have it all figured out right that second, but when you're up that high, everyone is watching, and it never slips your mind how far you have to fall.

For me, Monday is the worst. I have more classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and less free time, but for me, Monday is the day I put on my biggest show smile while thinking, "don't look down, don't look down, you really can do this."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Playing the 24 Game After Week 2 of Law School

I laughed so hard I cried in Criminal Law today. When I come back to my apartment after a full day, even if had three other classes after, Criminal Law is the class that has me thinking at night.

In two weeks of law school I've learned interesting things. I now understand why the HR lawyer at work wanted us to send in written documentation to her for so much more than ever seemed worth the effort. I understand this because I'm beginning to have a rough idea over what a legitimate lawsuit can be brought over. I play a little game with myself when I watch 24 now called, "How many torts did Jack Bauer commit?" For everyone that thought law school sounded boring, this game is actually fun.

The Scary Things About Law School
1. You actually have to do your homework.
2. If you don't do your homework you will get the look of shame. The look of shame may not sound bad, but it is.
3. You have to learn something new every day. I'm not saying you DO learn something every day, I'm saying that if you check out for a day tomorrow will be twice as hard.
4. You are surrounded by really smart people.
5. Looming in the distance is one, maybe two exams which will make up your entire grade. No amount of sucking up will help you; they grade the papers without names.
6. There's a ridiculous amount of debt you're accumulating, and one day you'll have to pay the piper.

The Fun/Exciting Things About Law School
1. You learn something new every day.
2. You work hard at something and see a little bit of pay off every day.
3. You can play "How many torts did Jack Bauer commit this episode" while watching 24.
4. Everyone assumes that you're smart.
5. You're surrounded by smart people.
6. You do more than you thought you could do.
7. There's always a good lawyer around if you need to ask one a question.

There are other great things too, and other bad things. I just thought i'd let everyone know that it's week two and I'm still alive (and happy!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Rest

This week was exhausting! I'm caving and picking up overpriced tacos from the wannabe Mexican restaurant across the street. This week I've started to learn the strange balancing act that makes up being a law student. I'm so tired and hungry. I'm trying to decide whether to study or sleep. I think I'll eat, study while I eat, then I'll sleep. I'm REALLY looking forward to the sleeping portion of my day. It turns out that even if you don't mean to deprive yourself of sleep, as a type A personality to decide what you're going to finish, and then when you finish it all it's much alter than you intended. Then during what should be nap time you remember that you need to brief a case and you do that instead of napping. Lunchtime you just eat lunch (and brief another two cases), and by the time you get back it seems too late for a nap and too early for bedtime.

I don't even care though. I'm eating my tacos and I'm going to sleep. Someone could probably entice me to stay awake for marzipan (I'm dying for marzipan), but short of that I just want SLEEP.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Join a Student Organization or Make Cupcakes for Everyone?

Going forward it may be useful to know that I am socially inept. I wouldn't exactly describe myself as shy, because I have little to no fear of talking to people and certainly no problem saying what's on my mind. The problem is more that I find social interaction exhausting. I wish this wasn't the case because I like to make friends, however I can handle one person I'm not well acquainted with and two or three that I am well acquainted with at any given time. If you add alcohol to this equation you may be able to add one or two to those calculations. I enjoy making friends, but feel as though I can't make friends in large groups. I'm told that other people don't find the need to personally connect with people they meet. I do not understand this at all, and no matter how I've tried, I have not been able to make myself overcome my dislike for larger groups.

This is all a problem because I feel as though I should make some effort to be socially involved at law school. I'm in rooms full of people throughout the week who have great ideas and offer interesting discussion points. I love going to class. I would like to make friends with these people. I feel obligated to join a student organization (at least one). Unfortunately, the prospect of going through room after room of people who I don't know is intimidating and generally unappealing. I am torn between my desire to try to make friends, and the method by which I'm supposed to go about making them.

I don't think this is a normal problem and I don't think other people in my class are worried about this. They're worried about whether they understand our Torts assignment. I'm worried about making friends. I have always understood school, or at least figured it out in my own dear, sweet, time. Individuals I get. I find people incredibly interesting. Groups confuse me. I feel disconnected from others in groups and would generally rather be at home blow drying my hair then stuck in a room with people I don't know.

I hope I find a group interesting enough to really give social interaction a try. If the topic is interesting enough I'm sure I can at least invest myself in that.

The reading assignments with so many new words that I have to look a new word up three times a page then re-read it twice, are not half as intimidating as the prospect of trying to make new friends. Maybe if I make everyone cupcakes? Hey, it works in elementary school.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Showdown: Life vs. Law

This weekend I'm attempting to learn to balance homework and having a life. I like law school but I haven't seen a movie in two weeks (which is a very long time for someone who worked in a movie theatre for eight years), I miss my dog, I would really like to go shopping, I would like to spend more time with my friends, and it might be nice to even go on the occasional date. This week I plan to go to the American Idol Concert on Tuesday evening, and next weekend I have tickets to the football game, so I'm trying to plan ahead. It's all seems like a lot.

Beyond that, I also want to review and type out my notes so I have some sense of organization. I need to go grocery shopping, and to top off everything I'm exhausted from being woken in the middle of the night by the fire alarm. It may be the loudest, scariest, fire alarm ever. We all went and stood out in the night for twenty minutes. It was not fun.

I won't finish anything unless I get moving. So much to do, so little time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Top of Babel

All this time I thought Congress spent their time sneaking from session to session, meeting to meeting. I figured Capitol Hill was the evil semi-secret laboratory of politicians. It may still be ground zero for bureaucratic policy making, and everything they do may not be especially well advertised, but there is a GIGANTIC catalog of what they do on a day to day basis. During my library tour today I took a good look at the printed Congressional Records. If they're hiding anything it's in plain sight. Does the phrase, "needle in a haystack," mean anything to you?

It also occurred to me today how utterly destroyed the US would be should anything ever happen to the Internet. The fastest reference for law is the Internet. I wonder what would happen to even the best lawyers if the Internet was suddenly no more. When lawyer A has a question about topic X, lawyer A can get online and look up just about anything on topic X in a matter of minutes. To find out the history of a topic, other decisions made on the topic, the existing statutes and regulations on a topic, and general commentary on the topic without the Internet would take a painstaking amount of time even if you knew exactly where to look for every topic (which I'm relatively certain that you wouldn't unless you were Kyle XY). The availability of information provided by the Internet has an astronomical effect on the study and practice of law. I would have guessed this before, but today when I was standing in the stacks surrounded by thousands of books containing nothing but law, it hit me just how big of a deal the Internet really is.

I will probably avoid the library. It scares me to think of needing to use those books. I hypothesize that Lady Justice went blind by reading all of those books (probably by candelight). I will use a search filter instead.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maybe You Just Have to Be There

Last night I went to bed wondering why I gave up my life to study, study, and then spend my remaining time worrying that I'm not studying enough. As it turns out, I'm relatively certain that I sleep more than my classmates (about eight hours a night) and spend more time relaxing (I do something unrelated to school every night). I'm not going to destroy my happiness and sanity. I'd rather be a happy low wage, hourly worker than an unhappy lawyer (or law student).

I woke up today, put in a little pre-class study time, and went on to enjoy nearly everything we talked about in class for the entire day.

On Monday we're going to talk a little about divorce jurisdiction in Civil Procedure. I can't tell you exactly why, but this, for some reason made me feel like someonehad just told me that there would be warm cookies with milk to look forward to at the end of the day on Monday. Maybe I like divorce. Maybe I like Civil Procedure. I'm not exactly sure why it made me so happy, but I can't wait to do my reading for class.

Even more happy than the milk and cookies news from Civil Procedure was that something that I might have said was generally a boring topic even two weeks ago, really excites me. I may not have always understood what was going on in class, but when professors put up sections of our reading, I've had the same passages highlighted. I even volunteered once today (and I was right!) I take all of this as a good sign that I can be very happy in law school and possibly, in time, understand what's going on.

If you're reading this thinking, "Wow, you're odd," first, I'd like to say thank you (not for thinking I'm odd, but for reading my blog). The second thing I'd like to tell you is a story from my day today. On the way to Contracts this morning I walked by a group of five med students headed into a restaurant for lunch. The only thing I caught of their conversation was,

Student A: "......white blood cells."
Students B-E: *burst into laughter*

And you thought my interests were weird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Long Hall

One of the professors was nice enough to actually go through a case briefing with us today, making the cases much easier to understand. It's still all a little overwhelming, but at least I don't feel like reading and understanding everything that's asked of me is a physical impossibility. Civil Procedures is not remotely boring yet, but people keep telling me it will get there. I hope not. I really enjoy it right now.

I am ridiculously tired. It's time to make a new meal for the week, and I wasn't interested in eating anything in my fridge so I picked up a gyro for dinner. I would really like to just take the night off. I'm not sure if I'll ever feel like I have a night off for the rest of my life. I sincerely hope that's not true.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Post Day One

I made it through my entire first day. All of my professors seem nice, and I am not in the least bored. I'm really NOT the only one who doesn't know what's going on, although I think there are a couple people who clearly have a better idea than me. I can't imagine how crazy I'd be if I'd started sacrificing sleep already, so I'm glad I haven't. After day one of law school, my biggest concerns are the following.

1. How will I get through everything?
2. When will I understand my assignments and what I'm supposed to be getting out of them?

For the time being my answer to question one is, I'll try my best and just see how things work out. My answer to question two is, a. I have no idea and b. I'll just go talk to my professors. They all seem like relatively friendly people, so I feel like this shouldn't be too hard.

Things got much better after having lunch and a couple of advil for my headache. Torts and Civil Procedure weren't nearly as intimidating. My homework for today is covered for most of this first week in most of my classes, making life a little easier as well. Tonight I only have to worry about homework for Criminal Law and Legal Research. Right now that sounds like a relief, however I haven't yet looked at the homework, so I may find myself disappointed.

First Day, First Class

I woke up this morning early to have coffee, eat breakfast, and prepare a little extra before classes. While trying to pick up I fell and hit my head on the handle of my vacuum. I now have an excruciating headache and feel a little fuzzy. How do you know if you have a concussion? I feel awful.

Wish me luck in Torts and Civil Procedure.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Day of Rest(ish)

Today I had breakfast with my family, went home to play with my dog, and had friends over for a couple of hours. I feel like a much more mentally healthy person than I did yesterday. I did not spend my day walking in circles in my apartment or curled up in the same spot on the couch. (I'm going to have to vary my studying location; the seat I sit in on my couch is clearly more sat in than any of the other seats. Maybe I'll try studying at the newly renovated main library. I hear the scenery is pretty fantastic. Better to get to it now before the undergraduates get here.) I'm comforted by the fact that each homework assignment becomes a shade easier than the assignment before it, although I'm relatively certain I don't understand any of it.

I'm starting to get used to living directly above such a busy street. I don't have much objection to the drunk people loudly meandering down the sidewalk, the nightly live music, or the ambulance pathway I'm living above. I can sleep through all of it. It only irritates me a little that all of the first floor spaces on the parking garage are marked for "green" cars (defined as cars that get 40 miles per gallon or better). I think this may discriminate against economically disadvantaged people, primarily minorities. I park next to the elevator anyway, so I'll leave that battle for someone else.

I put in a mere three and a half hours of studying for civil procedure tonight, and managed to complete my first day reading assignments for the class. I'm taking a little me time, then I'm going to bed early so I can drink my diurnal half-pot of coffee, eat a biscotti, and possibly scramble an egg. A good breakfast is essential for starting any day, especially one where you're like to spend a large part of it completely confused. (Okay, so I made that last part up.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Brain Fried

I have been reading the entire day. I left my apartment once to find my storage unit (which I didn't manage to locate). I have not been out of the building. I have reading left for two more classes, and am going to have to get on that whole case briefing business... or at least answering the questions at the end of the chapters. I am not stressed, because I figure that it's unlikely I'll be crucified on the first day of class, but I am exhausted and a little frustrated. I do not feel yoga strong. I feel like I've been on a plane across the Atlantic Ocean and am fighting through the international line at customs.

The bright side is that although I've been told on multiple occasions that I won't want to read for fun at this point that's the opposite of the truth. Right this second I'm dying to read any fiction I can get my hands on, but preferably the most frivolous, simple fiction I can find. My brain is checking out for the night. Studying all day is tedious!

Yoga Strong

Today I wake up to a half of pot of cold coffee and set out to work through my mountain of first day assignments. Well, it feels like a mountain of assignments. I'm looking at this whole thing like stretching - you push a little further than you think you can go, then before you know it you can touch your nose to your knees. I give this example because I've taken up yoga as a means of staying in shape and unwinding. Yoga is such a stress relief I think it should actually be offered by the law school to students. Yoga focuses on feeling your strength, not your pain. I think I might need that kind of focus.

I'm going to go use my yoga skills to stop procrastinating and work through the pain, and by pain I mean homework. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Babysteps Involve Falling

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
-Sir Winston Churchill

People keep telling the first year students not to be afraid or to stressed out. I've looked at all of two cases, and I already know that no matter how hard I work, I will not understand this right away. I am going to fail a little here and there. The goal is not to fail when it really counts. I think I'm not stressing out because I realize that I'm about to be a little uncomfortable. That's really okay with me.

I was tired of knowing everything anyway.

Tonight I toast to failure and the resulting success that follows.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Law Word Play

I regret to inform you that "tort" in law is not even a distant relation of rich flourless cakes. According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tort is defined as "A civil wrong other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained."

Orientation started today, and I felt as though I should take the opportunity to learn about these types of things, so next week when I show up to class and there's no dessert I don't find myself disappointed. I also found out that there's a relatively important section of the law school website that has all of my first day's assignments, and that other people used the same website to find their book list (I just showed up to the bookstore with my class schedule - that worked.) People familiar with law school have told me that this moment would come and that I shouldn't be worried because other first year students are just as lost as I am. They didn't seem as lost as I feel.

I wonder if I brought torte to class if anyone would think that was funny. Law students take great joy in playing off the word "bar" (as in bar exam, bar association, etc.) to go on "bar reviews" once a week. The bar review is actually a class taken in preparation for the bar exam so that law students can become lawyers. "Bar review" is the law school term for visiting a different bar each week with other law students. There have been some hints that some students may take bar review a little too seriously. One of the first handouts in my orientation packet included substance abuse counseling contact information and one of the professors spoke about how unbecoming public drunkenness is for law students. I wasn't planning on coming to law school to get tanked. It would seem to me as though that could be relatively detrimental not only one's reputation, but also their studies. I feel that playing off the word "torts" would be a much healthier alternative for the student population. Then again, flourless chocolate cake doesn't free up social inhibitions with nearly the ease of a martini.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Dive

Do you remember the first time you jumped off a high dive? You climbed up that ladder higher than you'd ever climbed before and each rung dug a deeper hole in your chest. By the time you reached the top the air seemed thinner than it had on the ground. Anxiety and thrill were clawing up your stomach into your throat. You shuffled out slowly to the edge of the diving board peering down at the water below. Spurred on as much by the fear of failure as excitement you took a timid bounce and you as much fell as you did jump into the water below.

Tomorrow I fall-jump. Orientation for law school is tomorrow. Wish me luck.