It’s been almost two months since I last posted. Wow, this semester’s been kicking my ass, I guess.
Hurricane Sandy blew through here yesterday, with a little rain continuing today. The lights flickered once last night, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful here. Living downtown, all the power lines are underground, so I’ve never lost power in the six years I’ve been in DC. I haven’t gone out yet to see if there’s much damage with tree branches down, etc, but given the last couple of years of big storms and the dorecho we had this summer, I think all of the weak branches were already down.
I spent yesterday catching up on the pile of magazines that has been piling up all semester. Then I watched three movies:
I also cooked. Beef stew in the crockpot on Sunday, and chili, yesterday. Now the freezer is stocked, and I have food for the week.
The best part of Hurricane Sandy was that they closed everything yesterday and today: work, my trainer, school. I’ve had two days with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do! It’s been fabulous. I’m even going to celebrate by taking a nap later today.
Sunday was my birthday. I’m 41.
I had a small birthday party at my house on Saturday. It was a good excuse to clean up, throw stuff out, and invite some people over. There was a good turnout and I think everyone had a good time.
And mother nature gave me two days of relaxation, which is the second best present I got.
This semester has gone pretty quickly. We’re already in Week 11. I had one midterm, which I should get the grade for this week. Last year, I would have loved to have a midterm, so I had some idea what to expect on exams. This year, it was just a pain in the ass. For finals, we at least get about a week to study. For midterms, it was just business as usual: class on Tuesday, exam in class on Thursday. And a one-hour twenty minute exam isn’t very long for an essay. It was hard to get everything down and organized in that short amount of time.
We’re a week away from spring registration. I don’t think I’m going to try to squeeze all my classes into two nights. It hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. First, I still have to go in and do office hours for the law review. Since I don’t to do that from 9:30-11:30 pm, I end up going in a third day, anyway. And because I have to leave work early on Tuesday and Thursday, I end up having to work later on Wednesday, so I get home about the same time I would if I had class.
Oh well, I gave it a shot.
It’s almost November. That means I need to start thinking about outlines and studying for finals. So I don’t have to take much time off work, I’m hoping to get started earlier this year. Maybe I’ll at least be able to get some of it done ahead of time. Luckily two of my finals are at the end of the exam period, so that gives me some extra time, too.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to try to do a better job of staying on top of posting.
I’ve been back to school for two weeks, actually, but am just now getting a chance to catch up and write a blog post. Thank goodness for the three-day weekend.
It was kind of hard going back after having the summer off. I didn’t get as much done around the apartment or in DC over the summer as I had planned. It went so quickly!! I guess that’s ok, partly because it means I just wasted some time and relaxed. And, I did get a fair amount done.
This year, I only have class Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then go to school on Monday just for office hours for law review. Wednesdays I work later, head home and then go to the trainer. Last year I had class at 6 pm every night. While it’s nice to have a little free time, it’s been confusing because I have to keep track of what day of the week it is, and where I go on which nights. I double booked myself twice the first week getting used to the schedule.
I didn’t do that at all last year, I think. Maybe it was the excitement (fear) that comes with starting law school. Or maybe I was just hypervigilant about my schedule. Or maybe I’m just getting older and forgetful, even though I try to use the calendar on my phone/computer.
The semester’s been good so far. The workload is reasonable, nothing seems too hard, yet. I’m taking:
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Family Law
What’s not on that list? That’s right! No Legal Rhetoric this year! Although I do have to write a comment for law review, but not until spring semester, so there’s time to worry about that later.
It’s been a year since I started law school. Wow! A year goes by so quickly.
Yesterday, a few of us were invited to give our advice to the incoming part-time students and to hang out with them over lunch to answer their questions. I remember how excited and nervous I was when I was in their seat. Law school was finally happening; the culmination of several years of planning. First deciding I wanted to go, then studying for the LSAT, then taking the LSAT, then getting the score, then applications, waiting for admissions, lots of paperwork, financial aid forms. And it was all about to start.
That morning, they had their practice lecture on the Hairy Hand case. It was their first experience reading casebooks. I remember how confusing that was and how overwhelming it felt. And while I’m a little nervous starting second year (three doctrinal classes instead of two, and I don’t know any of the professors), it’s nothing like it was the first year. Sometimes you forget just how much you’ve learned.
So, I tried to give the students the good advice I was given and the advice I wish I had been given.
- Give up on trying to do everything perfectly. Figure out what you can stop doing, or do less perfectly. I told them about the time I went to Target and bought socks because it would take less time than doing laundry.
- Set limits. Take nights off. Say, “This paper is good enough. I need to go have dinner with my friends.” Stop studying.
- Don’t get behind. Keep up with the reading.
- Don’t get involved first year. As a part-time student, I have three years to get involved after first year’s over. Go to meetings and events, but don’t sign up for any roles until you’re sure you have school under control.
- Outline early. This was opposite advice we’d been given. Everyone said it could wait until after Thanksgiving. It can wait, but I think it created a lot more stress than was necessary. So, I told them to start early, even if it was only a rough outline summarizing each section, or only if they spent a few hours a month doing it.
Today was the first day of my 2nd semester of law school.
Last night, I started packing for today. Last semester, I had a solid routine down. I packed my bag the night before, including my change of clothes if I was planning on showering at work. I had gotten in the habit of knowing which books I needed which night, and what nights I needed to pack my computer, without having to think about it. But, after only 3 1/2 weeks away from the routine, I felt like I was starting from scratch. It seemed to require a lot of effort to go through my checklist:
- Computer: yes – going to try to take all my notes electronically
- Notebooks: no – See above. Ok, maybe one, just in case I need paper to write on
- Pens: Two
- Casebook: Yes
- Other 5 books for Civil Procedure: No
- Books for Rhetoric: (Didn’t even cross my mind.)
Starting to put it all in my bag, and feeling myself get back in that rhythm, reminded me just how tired I was last semester. And how much of a rut I felt like I was in during the semester. A little part of me wondered if I could do it again. I was SO tired by the end of the semester. People kept saying, “I don’t know how you do it.” Might as well ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer’s the same: “One bite at a time.” Just focus on the next step. The next day. The next writing assignment. Don’t look too far ahead or you lose hope and fell overcome by despair.
But, better to not spend time exploring that feeling, and just put my head down and go forward. One bite at a time.
Tonight, I had Civil Procedure and Rhetoric, which is why I was packing for those classes. (At least I got that right!).
This afternoon at work, I noticed a flurry of activity on Facebook about how it was snowing in DC. (Not that I look at Facebook during work, but somehow I knew.) Then, it started snowing out in the suburbs where I work, and it was coming down pretty heavy. While it wasn’t sticking to the ground, it was covering the grass and the trees as I left work. The first week of my first semester involved a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene. This semester starts with what looked like a blizzard for a few hours. Is this a sign?
Civ Pro (saving me the trouble of typing Civil Procedure every time) wasn’t bad. The professor seems interesting and friendly. I even raised my hand to answer a question. I got it wrong. Doh #1. And, he misheard my name, and called me “John.” Doh #2.
Rhetoric was fine. It seems this semester is going to be a lot of work. Only two real assignments, but they’re both pretty big assignments. AND… I’m already behind in the reading. The Rhetoric Department uses an entirely separate electronic system to communicate with us, and I didn’t think to look there for the syllabus until this morning. Doh #3. And I learned we have two research lectures this semester. Doh #4. Maybe they will be more useful than the ones we had last semester. Maybe? Probably not. Doh #5 & #6.
At least this is a long weekend, so I have an extra day to catch up.
Contracts Grade – Day 33
It’s been 4 weeks and 5 days (33 days!), and we still don’t have our grade from last semester’s Contracts class. I’m going to start doing a daily count like a hostage situation.
Reporter speaking directly to camera: “Day 45 of ‘Contracts Grades,’ and they still haven’t been released. When will this insanity end?”
(Camera cuts to a crowd of individuals weeping loudly.)
I almost don’t care anymore. Who am I kidding? I’m an over-achiever. Of course I care.
Overall, not a bad day
Six “Doh’s,” but overall not a bad first day.
And that’s one more day closer to graduation. Only 6.98 semesters to go.
There was a point where I felt hopeful about this week. It was sometime Sunday night. Then I woke up at my usual 5:45 am Monday morning, and I was already exhausted. It’s been pretty much downhill since then. Or maybe it’s been uphill based on how tired I am.
Where did it go?
I got all my reading done over the weekend. So, I should have been good for the week. And I even took Tuesday off work. Sure, I spent the morning at the hospital delivering a monkey balloon to a friend admitted with chest pain. (She’s going to be fine.) And, I spent much of the afternoon reading the live blogging of the iPhone announcement (An iPhone 4S? Where’s my iPhone 5, damn it?). But, I went into torts feeling like I was getting it, and I was keeping up. And Torts class went fine. Yet, by the end, I felt like I was lost and going to be getting further lost.
I have been so tired this week that several days I haven’t been sure what day it is. In my Wednesday Contracts class, I had a few moments of panic when I realized I hadn’t read for the next class, but then realized that it was Wednesday and the next class wasn’t until Monday. My watch battery is still dead (about 3 weeks now), and the clock in my office is falling behind because that battery’s going. I haven’t had a clue what time it is since Monday.
Tonight, spent an hour or so in the WORST LEGAL RESEARCH LECTURE EVER! Here’s the research librarian’s lesson on secondary resources: “Go to Westlaw. Click here. Here. And Here.” I tried following along, but that was difficult because she left key steps out of her screen shots. (Some of the items aren’t alphabetical, they’re thrown in at the end. And, they’ve changed the screen layout for LegalTrac since she took the screenshots she used for her PowerPoint presentation.) It would have been a more productive hour if you had written out directions and let me do it on my own at home. So frustrating!
Work has been busy, too
It’s been a busy week at work. With Tuesday off, Wednesday felt like Monday. And, I’ve had enough work to do that I have to go in tomorrow. Friday is usually my work-at-home day, which means I can sleep until 7:30 and still be working by 8:00. But, I didn’t have time to figure out what I needed to bring home, and some things are just easier to do in the office. So, I’m going to get up at 5:45 tomorrow to go into work.
This week, I read about 75 resumes and am trying to coordinate interviews across 6 staff and 14 candidates.
At least I have a date after work to look forward to.
This has got to be unhealthy
I’ve survived this week on two speeds: Full and Dead Stop. And, I try to transition as quickly as possible to save time. I’m up to a minimum of 5 medium to large cups of coffee a day, along with a lot of M&M’s. That’s Full Speed. Then, when I get home, I need to calm down so I can get to sleep. That’s Dead Stop. Thank goodness for wine or Ambien. I did make it to the trainer on Tuesday, and had a good workout, although I tired easily.
And, I irritable. When I’m tired, I don’t deal with frustration as well. On the drive home from school tonight, I encountered about 7 idiots, 3 morons, 9 assholes, a few f*&king assholes, and 1 Worst Driver Ever. The guy in front of me at 18th and Florida couldn’t figure out what he was doing, until he managed to make sure no one got through the green light in our direction. Then, 10 seconds after the light turned red, he decided he wasn’t going to turn left, and gunned it through the red light. Really? Where’s a lazy DC cop when you need one?
BTW: Some day, I’m going to start a blog where you can post pictures of DC cops breaking the law or goofing off. Like the day one almost hit me because he was making a right turn on red, while texting on his iPhone.
Sorry if this posting is rambling and disjointed. It’s been a long week. I’m tired, and I just got home at 9:45 pm. Now, I’m going to have a glass of wine and watch Modern Family on the DVR.
This is just an update, since I haven’t posted in a while.
School’s going ok. Legal writing is taking A LOT more time than I expected. The final draft of our first memo is due this week. I’m sure I’ve put in at least 40 hours working on various drafts of this memo. Hopefully it was worth it.
This week, Contracts is cancelled on Wednesday because of the Jewish holidays. So, I get a free evening! (But, we’re making it up in two weeks.)
At some point, I need to start reviewing. Hopefully the next few writing assignments won’t take as much time and I can get back to focusing on Torts and Contracs.
Did I mention that Alex’s been much more affectionate since she spent the day locked in the bedroom? If I leave the bedroom window open, it often blows the door shut. I usually leave a shoe in the doorway, so the door doesn’t latch. The cleaning people moved the shoe and when I came home, Alex was in their begging to be let out. Ever since then, she’s been up on me like a conjoined twin. Right this minute, she’s lying on my desk, with her paw resting on my hand while I type.
I’ve still been hitting the trainer twice a week. It’s the one commitment I have worked to keep school from interfering with. Sometimes I don’t know why. Many weeks, there are only one or two days where I can move without stiffness or pain. But, it’s working, I guess. My chest, arms, and shoulders are definitely getting bigger. And yesterday, I was told my butt looked “perky.”
Today is a relaxation day. I’m doing laundry, catching up on the DVR and paying bills. At some point, I need to take some underwear back to Macy’s and get the security tag removed. This afternoon, I have a BBQ with the Lambda student group, and later tonight a birthday party, that I’m sure will be awesome. Tomorrow’s going to be my study day. I may also try and get a movie in there at some point. I hear Drive is really good.
I finally have more than one staff member! Two new employees started two weeks ago. Now, someone can be on vacation, and we still can have staff meetings.
Law School Update
Today, I’m feeling like a real student. I took the afternoon off work and am at school. I studied in the library, after getting the guys at the help desk to set my computer up to print on the school’s network. Now, I’m studying in the cafeteria, while chatting with my sister on Facebook, and eating Peanut M&M’s.
Too bad this doesn’t pay as well as my regular job. I could do this all year.
Can some explain “consideration” to me? I read the cases, but not sure I understand what it means. But, at least I’m caught up on my reading. I was planning on getting most of it done on Sunday. My legal writing memo took WAY longer than I expected, and then the Katie-thing happened. Didn’t feel like studying after that. I didn’t even start this week’s readings until Monday morning at 8:30.
I was so stressed out over being behind, that I took Monday morning and this afternoon off. I also cancelled my trainer on Tuesday, so I could get home at 8:30 pm, and relax for a few hours before going to sleep. Feeling much better, today.
More on Katie
And, apparently Alex is the heartless cat I’ve accused her of being. I don’t think she has even noticed Katie’s not around. Now, I admit that Katie’d been pretty quiet lately, often lying by herself on my bedroom floor. But, Alex doesn’t even seem to care. I hope Katie took my suggestion and is going to come back and haunt Alex. I also promised Katie that I’d eventually get a new kitten to annoy Alex.
I, on the other hand, do miss Katie. I keep expecting to see her in my peripheral vision.
She really was the best cat, ever.
I survived Hurricane Irene with no problems. We had lots of rain, and some wind. I spent most of Saturday studying, then took a break to watch a movie and drink some wine before going to bed. By the time I got up on Sunday, the rain had stopped, and by afternoon, it was clue skies and sunshine. My lights flickered twice, but the power never went out. There are a few trees down in the neighborhood, but mostly just small branches and leaves.
The earthquake was much scarier.
Washington College of Law is still without power, so there’s a chance my classes will be canceled this evening. I suspect they will have power by then. I’m also not sure there’s any benefit to missing class, as I assume we’ll have to make it up. I already have an extra class Thursday from 8-10 this week.
It’s going to be my first week with full-time work and class. That was my justification for skipping the gym and sleeping in until 6 a.m.
I survived Week One! But I was tired. I had Friday afternoon off, and I took two naps to recover. And it felt good. So far, Contracts has been the easier class for me to understand. The cases can be hard to follow because there’s often money changing hands in both directions, but the concepts are making sense. Torts is a little more challenging. I think it’s because he’s teaching the concepts in a more global way than she is in Contracts. I’m trying to trust in the process and believe that I’m supposed to feel lost at this point, and that’s ok.
I must be learning something in Torts, though. Thursday evening, I was driving home after school and Taylor Swift‘s song, “Mean,” came on the radio. I heard the line: Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me. I immediately thought, “That’s battery!”
Apparently, the first week isn’t just hard on students. It can be hard on professors. Here’s a blog post from Concurring Opinions.
I just got home from the trainer, and as soon as I can lift my arms, again, I’m going to start studying. Today, and probably much of tomorrow, is going to be a study day. Luckily, with Hurricane Irene approaching, there’s nothing else to do.
First we had an earthquake, and now we have a hurricane the size of Europe coming at us. Mother Nature must really be pissed at DC. Someone should explain to her that Congress isn’t even in session, so she should go after them in their home districts and leave us alone. But, I’m prepared. I have water in the fridge, 2.5 cases of Gatorade, food, a gas stove, candles, wine and toilet paper. I tried to buy a flashlight (which I’ve known I should have for a while), but Target was completely sold out! But, I guess I can study by candlelight if it comes to that. It worked for Abe Lincoln.
Actually, we should be fine. DC is expected to get 4-6 inches of rain in the next 24 hours, and winds in the 40-50 mph range. My only concern is the 5-foot-wide, windows in my apartment. My windows face North and East, which usually means I don’t even have rain blowing in open windows. But, the rotation of the storm is going to bring the rain in from the East. As long as the wind isn’t strong enough to break a window, I should be fine. So far, we’ve got nothing but overcast skies. I noticed that off to the East, it is getting darker, and the rain is expected to start within the next hour.
Hopefully the power won’t go out. I was hoping to watch some movies tonight as a study break. Hmm. Guess I should make sure the laptop is fully charged. Might still be able to watch a movie. Just thought of that!
Katie seems to be feeling better. She jumped up on the couch yesterday. That’s the first time she’s been able to jump up in about 2 weeks. She still slips and almost falls, if she walks too close to the edge. But, I guess the medicine is making her feel better. On a sadder note, when the time comes, I heard about a local vet who does home euthanasia. I may look in to that. That way, she won’t have to ride in her carrier, and can be in her home. And, I won’t have to try to drive home while bawling. But, hopefully that’s still a ways off.
Let’s start with Katie. I took her to a new vet, today: Friendship Hospital for Animals. Riding in her carrier is always traumatic for Katie. She cried constantly, while I steer, shift gears, and stick my fingers in the carrier to comfort her, all at the same time. Today, it was also traumatic for me. I was worried the vet would tell me she was in pain and it was time to put her to sleep. I tried to make Alex say goodbye to her, but she saw Katie in the carrier and ran into the living room.
But, the vet was great. I got fabulous service from two vet techs, and a vet who spent quite a bit of time examining Katie, including doing an indirect ophthalmic exam. (That’s where you look at the retina in the back of the eye by using a flashlight and a lens you hold in your hand. It’s similar to using that little light the doctor uses to look in your eye, but a little harder.) They even took her blood pressure. The good news is that she doesn’t think Katie’s in pain. She was active, friendly, and purring the whole visit.
The bad news is that Katie probably has a brain tumor, given that she walks in circles, only turning left, doesn’t seem to see as well on her right side, and she’s getting clumsy. We are increasing her prednisone, which may help with symptoms. We’re also doing some bloodwork and trying antibiotics for some infections, which are unlikely, but would be treatable.
And, as if Katie didn’t have a traumatic enough day, we had a 5.8 magnitude earthquake this afternoon! I was at work and it took a while to realize what was happening, as I’d never felt one before. After work, I had to go to class, but luckily my friend, Noel, lives nearby and was able to come and confirm that nothing had fallen and crushed them. I just hope we don’t have another one on the day I have to take Katie back to the vet.
Day one was pretty good. No one cried. No one was embarrassed by the professor. I felt like I was following the conversation, contributing, and learning. It was a long day, as I had class until 10 pm.
Day two wasn’t quite as great. I followed most of the conversation in Torts, but am not sure I understood the last 5 minutes. If a jury finds substantial certainty of an injury, what roles does the defendant’s limited capacity to see the substantial certainty play? Huh? Maybe I just couldn’t follow it after 2 hours sitting in an overheated room. Hopefully, it’ll make sense Thursday.
Then, I came home and did almost 3 hours of reading for tomorrow’s Contracts class. I’ll finish that reading, and try to start and finish Thursday’s torts reading, tomorrow morning. I won’t get much done tomorrow evening as I have the trainer after class.
It’s day 2, and I am almost behind with my reading! This weekend, I am really going to have to try to read ahead for the next week. That way, I can come home afterwards and review, rather than having to read ahead each night.
Oh well. At least I am finding the material in both classes interesting and am still excited to be there.
Two days down…