March 31st 2006

when it gets really hard, i just want to close my eyes until it’s over

This has been a tough week. I’ve had to get back into the swing of school, following our too-long Spring Break, all while being in the middle of production week for the law school musical. The nights have been late. The sleep has been less. My reading has suffered. And Mr. Angst now officially hates the law school musical. Frankly, I’m not fond of the schedule, especially since this week comes at time in the semester when I really need to be buckling down and getting outlines done. But I’ve been telling myself over and over that it’s just one week, that it’ll be over before you know it–and what do you know? It is almost over.

So right now I’m a little burned out, but I’m also really excited, because the show is going to be terrific. I just wish it had been easier to juggle all my obligations this week.

March 30th 2006

observations

It must be near the end of the semester. I just saw a classmate highlighting a case book with a yellow dry-erase marker.

March 29th 2006

oh, ow

I went to my first Yoga class in almost a year today. It was a good class. It’s small, and full of beginners. About halfway through, after instructing us to relax out of Down Dog into Child’s Pose, the teacher asked me if I’d practiced yoga before, since I automatically moved into Child’s Pose without waiting for her description of it.

No matter that I know the easy, relaxing poses, though. The class was still terrific for me. I can practice at home all I want, but I won’t get the constant reminders to adjust my alignment, keep breathing deeply, focus my gaze. After class, the teacher gave me some DVD and book recommendations for doing a home practice to supplement the class. That was also good.

So all of that stuff is good. Yay! Good! But my neck and shoulders and hamstrings are already ow. Mostly my neck and shoulders. (I’ll feel it in my legs more tomorrow.) Basically, I’m just ow. Ow is a good thing, I guess–it means I’m moving and working my muscles. But it’s still ow.

March 28th 2006

bruising

Last night at rehearsal, I was walking down a row of seats (instead of using the cross-aisle) and I whacked my leg on a seat arm. The arms on the seats in the auditorium are small and hard, with hard edges. And within three minutes, I had a big purple bruise.

Today, it’s making it hard for me to walk up stairs, because the bruise is right on the quad muscle. I can’t cross my left leg over my right because when I do, my leg crosses right over the bruise. I can tell that, in a few days, this bruise is going to be one of those really remarkable ones, multicolored and puffy.

March 27th 2006

Monday, Monday

The trouble with Spring Break is that it gets your body all used to sleeping in and eating well and generally not stressing about anything at all. So when it’s over, you look around and realize that the four emails you got in the last week really ARE important and need to be attended to and all the free time you thought you had is really going to get eaten up by silly little errands, like collecting your props for the law school musical and buying a mat bag for the yoga class you’re starting on Wednesday.

So agh. I mean, I’m still sort of relaxed, but I’m also sort of not relaxed. Even worse, my schedule this week is full of activities that involve a lot of hurry-up-and-waiting. I hate non-productive time when I have lots to get done.

March 26th 2006

Spring Break ends tomorrow.

Spring Break ends tomorrow. I have to go back to class. I have to do reading. I have to start preparing for moot court. I have to keep working on my outlines and start taking practice exams. Ack!!!

So I spent this weekend relaxing, even more so than the rest of Spring Break. I didn’t work on my outlines, I didn’t read. (OK, well, I did read today, but it was a short novel, the one the bookstore didn’t have that I was lucky enough to find at another bookstore in the city. The one I ordered has not arrived, so it will be going back to the store.) Instead, I did some cooking and some shopping, and I went and got a manicure with two of my friends yesterday. We also got chocolate fondue. Totally sinful and totally delightful.

Frankly, I’m feeling pretty relaxed right now. I’ve been keeping up with my reading all semester, even while working on my brief; now that the brief is turned in, I have more space for doing my reading and working outlining into my schedule. Moot court is coming up, but it’s ungraded and I’m approaching it more as a learning experience than as a stressful competition. OK, yes, this week is production week for the law school musical. And I’m going to be on campus a lot for that. But it’s over after this week! And I’ll have two more weeks of school plus a week of reading period before exams start.

I am sure that in about two weeks, I will completely freak out about how little I’ve learned this semester. But right now, the guilt fairy is trying to give me an ulcer, and she’s failing. I just don’t feel like I’ve slacked off excessively over Spring Break. I took the time off, enjoyed it, and now I’m rested and refreshed for the sprint to the end.

Can you tell that, when the sun comes back, my mood automatically improves? We gained about three hours of daylight over Spring Break and I feel terrific.

March 25th 2006

education in our country makes me sad

This is yet another New York Times article that makes me sad. I understand that because school funding is tied to test performance, schools’ hands are somewhat tied as they try to improve the performances of the students who struggle the most. What I don’t understand is why all subjects are dropped except reading and math. Don’t students read in social studies? Or in history? And don’t they do math in (certain) science classes? So, OK, I can see that some students might need extra math. But why can’t social studies and history teachers incorporate reading skills into their lessons? Why do the subjects have to be dropped?

I understand that there are pedagogical differences in the teaching of reading, as a skill, than in the teaching of history. But students who are learning to read must be learning by reading something. Doesn’t it seem like there’s an educational market out there for textbooks and other materials that present history or social studies in ways that are consistent with reading pedagogy? If that market doesn’t exist, is it because there’s no money in it? After all, the school districts that can afford the best materials are those that tend to have fewer problems meeting the standardized test benchmarks. The poor urban and rural schools that need the most help can’t afford it. And that’s unfortunate. A generation of young people will leave school without experiencing the wonder of history or biology or chemistry, because, pedagogically, no one could figure out how to teach them those things while tying in sufficient math and reading skills.

March 23rd 2006

mmmm…..nutella

We live about equidistant from two grocery stores, but within a week of moving here, we had decided that one was definitely better than the other. The one we chose–let’s call it Special Mart–prices certain things higher, like beer and wine, but its produce and meat is far superior. The other one–let’s call it Mega Mart, even though our local one isn’t that big–has more selection of certain items, but it’s oddly organized and, the first time I shopped there, I couldn’t find broccoli, only broccoflower, which is a weird broccoli-cauliflower hybrid (and gross).

So we shop at Special Mart. I like it. I know where things are and, even if they don’t have the chips Mr. Angst prefers and they sometimes run out of the kind of bread we buy, it’s a better store overall, at least in our neighborhood.

But one thing they don’t sell that I have been trying to pick up for the last several months is Nutella. Mmmm……Nutella. If you haven’t had Nutella, you probably want to avoid it, because it’s so good you’ll want to eat it twice a day. And at 200 calories a serving (a generous serving, but still), it’s probably not going to help your waistline for you to get addicted. Nutella is a hazelnut spread, with cocoa and milk added. I first had Nutella in college, but forgot about it until we went to Italy. Every morning, we’d eat breakfast in the hotel and they’d have a wide selection of pastries–and Nutella to spread on them. Every morning I’d have a croissant with Nutella (along with really good coffee and warmed milk). I fell in love with Nutella. And last fall, I came down with a craving for it. I wanted Nutella at home. But Special Mart didn’t sell it.

In searching for Nutella, I got online and found that Mega Mart carries Nutella. Why Mega Mart carries it but Special Mart doesn’t is really beyond me, but there you have it. I’d have to go to Mega Mart to get Nutella. Except every time I’ve had to run over there for something in the last several months, I’ve forgotten to also get Nutella. Most recently, I haven’t been at all because the only thing that we really buy regularly that is cheaper at Mega Mart is wine, and there’s a closer drugstore that has wine at the same low prices. So I haven’t been to Mega Mart to get my Nutella.

Well, yesterday I took the train several neighborhoods north to go to the good Asian supermarket. Mr. Angst and I are going to try making pad thai tomorrow. But pad thai requires a few specialized ingredients–if you want to be authentic, that is. While Special Mart has fish sauce and rice stick, it does not have things like tamarind juice or concentrate. Hence the trip to the Asian supermarket. Where it took me 20 minutes to find tamarind concentrate, hidden on an end shelf, at the bottom, with the label turned away from the aisle. But while I was scouring the shelves for tamarind paste, I saw a jar of Nutella, right at eye level, winking at me. I grabbed it.

Funny that I had to take a 20 minute train ride to pick up Nutella. But I did, and this morning I enjoyed Nutella on toast. As breakfasts go, it’s pretty good stuff.

March 22nd 2006

a no-laptop class might be a nice experience actually

While I understand how frustrating it might to discover mid-semester that your professor is banning laptops from the classroom, I don’t disagree with the professor’s rationale or even think it’s necessarily a bad idea.

“My main concern was they were focusing on trying to transcribe every word that was I saying, rather than thinking and analyzing,” Entman said Monday. “The computers interfere with making eye contact. You’ve got this picket fence between you and the students.”

I think this is pretty true–many students use their laptops to hide from the professor (yes, myself included) and many students tend to transcribe when taking notes on a computer–particularly when they don’t understand the material very well. Yes, again, myself included. It’s instinct. When I am confused, I take solace that my notes are, essentially, dictation. If only I could type faster!

But I would be interested in taking a class with a “no laptop” policy, if the class was one I really wanted to take, and the professor was someone I really wanted to have–and if I knew about the policy ahead of time. Consider–if everyone in the class is proscribed from using the computer, there’s no lost competitive edge. Everyone is relegated to taking notes by hand. A spirit of camaraderie would probably flourish, too–those with good handwriting would be courted by those with chicken-scratch, and study groups would help one another transcribe the handwritten notes into typewritten outlines. And, again, everyone would be in the same boat, and none of us write so much anymore that anyone would be likely to be a better handwriter.

Now, to be honest, I’d probably not want a no-laptop policy for a 1L class, particularly because I think it’s important that everyone in such a class be aware of the policy so no one complains about it (á la the students in the article). But I think for an upper level class, it could work quite well. So, professors, if you’re interested in banning laptops, consider it! But not for 1L classes. And decide before the semester begins–and, indeed, before registration. Make sure the laptop policy is clearly listed on the course description so that every student knows what he or she is getting into. And see what happens!

Hat tip: JD2B

March 21st 2006

Things that REALLY frustrate me

When the bookstore doesn’t order a book on the syllabus for some reason,

…so they put in a special order just before Spring Break,

…and I go all the way down there on a VERY windy and cold day during Spring Break to pick it up,

…and I bring it home and start to read it and get confused because it doesn’t seem to fit the class,

…so I look at the syllabus and notice that the book on the syllabus has the same title but was written by someone completely different,

…and I have to have it read by Monday,

…and Barnes & Noble.com is charging me $4 for 3 day shipping,

…which means I MAY get it by the weekend so I can read it for Monday afternoon’s class.

I was having such a productive-feeling day.

i’m still here, just really boring

The ennui finally got to be too much. So I ventured out in the blustery cold (and BOY was it cold and windy, I nearly lost my hat) to pick up some books from my locker. And I started working on my outlines. Talk about your fun ways to spend Spring Break.

Other than that, this week has been pretty quiet. No one wants to read about how much I’ve been working out (or not), how many Coke Zeros I’ve had today, how many episodes of Law & Order I’ve watched, etc., so I won’t be writing about any of that. Sorry.

March 19th 2006

i knew it wouldn’t be easy; now I’m sad about it, too

For the last couple of days, I’ve been ruminating on the New York Times article on women in the law. I wanted to write something substantive about it, but really couldn’t get past my first impression–the article leaves me feeling vaguely sad. The fact that my career will likely be more difficult than my male peers’ is frustrating, and is only made worse because I know that, in large part, that difficulty will arise out of my/our desire to raise a family. I’m not oblivious to the fact that I won’t be able to be a stay at home mom–but that’s OK, because I’ve never wanted that. Furthermore, having been raised by a single mom who worked and went to school, I know that kids still turn out OK even when their parents aren’t always around.

But still the article makes me sad. First, it approaches the career of a woman in law as one with a specific trajectory–into partnership. Sure, the author interviewed women who have done different things, but the general tenor of the article suggested that, by leaving the partnership track, those women were somehow failing. Or, that, because many women don’t make it to partner, the “system” has failed them.

And maybe that’s where the sadness comes from for me. Because while I know that law firms have done things the way they’ve done them for many, many decades, I don’t necessarily think the law firm system–overworked associate toiling towards partnership–is the best one. The article, for instance, touches on the problems with billable hours:

Over the last two decades, as law firms have devoted themselves more keenly to the bottom line, depression and dissatisfaction rates among both female and male lawyers has grown, analysts say; many lawyers of both genders have found their schedules and the nature of their work to be dispiriting.

And that’s a great observation, even if it’s not breaking news to me or any of my classmates. The problem is that the author doesn’t really impugn the actual concept of the billable hour. Instead, it focuses on firms that use other factors when making compensation decisions: “Compensation is also based on a number of other factors, including leadership and business development activities, among which billable hours are just one component.”

What I wanted the author to get to–and what he very carefully avoided getting at–is that billable hours are inherently NOT family-friendly. What I’m saying is not new stuff, either–people like Matt Homann have written more and better about the problems with billable hours. I just want to point out that, from a family standpoint, working in a system that rewards more tasks, done more discretely does not reward the innovative or efficient employee. And the one thing that all the working moms I know have in common is a passion for doing more, more efficiently.

Further, the article didn’t address any of the other inherent shortcomings in the law firm system. It didn’t shine a spotlight into the perhaps outdated methods law firms use. One woman interviewed said,

“We have a long way to go. It’s my dream that more women will stick it out in the law until they get to the fun part, and it just breaks my heart to see them giving up the dream.”

But why does any young lawyer have to “stick it out”? Why isn’t it fun from the beginning? The irony is pretty thick here–gosh, it’s pretty bad that women don’t stick it out, when, after all, the way we treat our employees means they won’t have any fun for the first several years. The article acknowledges the mentoring problems in law firms without pointing out that any career which requires three years of (expensive) graduate education should perhaps offer more for the junior associate than several years of expected drudgery before the job gets “fun.” So, sure, shucks, I’m sorry too that career paths at law firms for women, with or without families, are so difficult or are so uncertain. And gee, I’m sorry that, in the hard-bitten law firm world, women who don’t learn to say “I want” don’t go places. But maybe, you know, the problem is really the business model that rewards only a single kind of aggressiveness and farms out its dullest tasks to the most junior employees–employees who, particularly if they are women and mothers, will rarely hesitate to walk away from it all.

So the article made me sad. Because it didn’t say anything I hadn’t already thought about, it just put some hard facts on paper. It seemed to accept that the law firm environment is a fait accompli, perhaps changeable in some ways (considering, for instance, an associate’s ability to work in a team along with her total billable hours when handing out bonuses), but not substantially. And if we, meaning female lawyers and law students, accept that, then it really won’t be substantially changeable. Nor will it be if the problem is seen as confined to women. The last line of the article is really the most true, even if it is clichéd:

“I think diversity is a beneficial thing in an organization,” she adds. “Without it, you have a loss of different points of view.”

Men, women, law firms, everyone (the WORLD) suffers when women are driven out of the workplace. I bet a lot of women thought that fundamental problem had been solved decades ago. Well, not in law firms. How much longer will take?

March 17th 2006

Sometimes being Green ain’t so bad

How is it that I can drink for…golly, close to six hours STRAIGHT and not feel it until I can get home and kick off my green boots and start drinking a bottle of water?

Things good about tonight:

  1. Corned beef and cabbage
  2. Guiness
  3. Harp
  4. Fife and drum band
  5. Finding a cool local pub

The last is no lie. How can it be that, several months after moving here, we found our local watering hole? It has reasonably priced beer, decent food, and an inviting atmosphere. Even better? While I waited for the potty, the chick in line with me complimented my hair. My I-do-it-myself-OUT-OF-A-BOX hair. And she was a hair stylist. Seriously??? Could that have been a better bar for us to find tonight?

I’d keep telling you about it, but I’ve had to delete half of what my fingers have accidentally typed tonight. So it will have to wait. Suffice it to say that St. Paddy’s Day ended up being pretty good after all.

March 16th 2006

movies in the afternoon

How great is the joy of watching Office Space while I’m on Spring Break??

Days full of doing nothing, and it being everything I ever dreamed of. Not having to go (to school) anymore (or at least for the next week and a half).

Still, it does make me miss My Old City.

March 15th 2006

TV to the fourth power

This is my new favorite show. Though the ostensible villain got the boot on the first episode, the editors have clearly picked the new bad guy–and the one who is talented enough to stay on the show for a while. I already hate him. A Lot. It makes the watching more fun!

i have no words

This post brought to you by the letter A. For Apple. And for Amazing. And for Astonishing.

Why? Because my computer? The one I dropped off less than 48 hours ago? Is here. In my lap. With a working power input. And all my stuff still on it. (Yay for repairs not requiring wiping of the hard drive.) And it was a covered repair. Totally free. Expedited shipping. Back in my arms again.

Yay Apple! I know a lot of people complain about their service. Right now, I am not one of them. I’ve never needed to have anything repaired before, but this experience was so good that I won’t fret so much if I have to have something else fixed in the future.

March 14th 2006

being where you are, and loving it

Sometimes it hits me — I haven’t really absorbed that I live here now. Here, in Our New City™. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a student, and so much of my life is spent in the one mile corridor between my apartment and campus. Or if it’s because, aside from my school friends, I haven’t really met any people here. Or if it’s because I don’t have a car, and am sort of restricted in getting to the remoter, outlying areas here. I just don’t know.

I still read Our Old City’s paper online. I still subscribe to its -ist blog. I keep up with what’s going on. When friends say they’re going there on vacation, I tell them what restaurants to eat at, where to get good drinks, which landmarks to keep any eye out for.

I find this a little strange. I was so excited about moving here! I love being in new places! I love getting to know the best places of new places. Most of all, this is not at all how I felt about New York when I lived there. I embraced New York. I went to museums. I walked everywhere. I tried cheap Chinese food in Chinatown, and expensive desserts in Little Italy. I had favorite restaurants that I still recommend to friends going to the Big Apple. And I was only there for a semester!

I haven’t done that here yet, despite being here twice as long and–dare I mention it–being of legal age to drink now. Why not? What keeps me in, or at least close to home?

I’m hoping to spend some time over Spring Break doing the things I haven’t done here yet. Wish me luck falling in love with Our New City™.

Holy cow, that was fast!

I got an email today from Apple, telling me that my computer had reached the repair center. It gave me a link to click on to check the status of my repair online. So I did. Just now, I did. At 3:30 in the afternoon on the day after I dropped it off. (I dropped it off at about noon yesterday.) And you know what? The link told me my computer’s repair is DONE and that my computer is “return pending.”

In other words, whenever their next batch of packages gets picked up by FedEx or UPS or whoever does the returns, I GET MY COMPUTER BACK. Like, possibly tomorrow. Likely on Thursday. SOON!

I have no words. Except maybe this one: Dude. That was, like, lightening fast. Kick ass.

March 13th 2006

a little with the good, a little with the so-so

Well, folks, it’s done. My brief was done by about 9:30 last night and as soon as it was finished, I noticed that my computer wasn’t charging anymore. And nothing I could do would make it charge again.

In other words, the computer gods were watching out for me. One of them waved a magic wand and made my power input work for two more days, exactly as much time as I needed. I emailed my brief off to the proper authorities last night and this morning, I got up and carried my computer to the store to be sent in for repairs. They were very nice about it all, and it looks like it will be a covered repair. Seven to ten days from now, I should have a fully functional computer back in my arms. I’ll miss her until then, but she’s getting taken care of, and that’s all that really matters.

Until then, I’ll still be reading blogs and (occassionally) posting. But recall that this is also my Spring Break, so I will be enjoying myself as much as I can, also. You know, reading non-law books, getting manicures, going to museums, and maybe even renting some movies. Oh joy!

March 12th 2006

NOW it’s Spring Break

Kids, I think it’s done. I have spent A LOT of time over the last three days working on this thing, and at this point, I’m pretty sure it’s as good as it’s gonna get–at least, while I’m still worried about a page limit. I’m right at my max, and I’m worried to fiddle with it, lest I bump the whole thing over by a word.

All in all, this is the most exhaustive piece of writing I’ve ever done, and (warning! nerd alert!) it’s been the most fun. I liked the issue, I liked the side I got to write for, I even liked the policy arguments I got to make. Huzzah!

I’ll turn it in tomorrow morning, and then I guess I have to send my computer in. So, good things and bad things. Ah well.