Thursday, January 29, 2009

Socratic Coping Methods

Three of my four classes this semester use the Socratic Method. That's a form of torture particular to law school, where instead of TELLING the class what he or she would like you to know, the professor instead chooses an unlucky student and asks a series of questions intended to elicit the information. This is very inefficient, and--for the day's victim--more than a little intimidating. Yesterday I got called on in one of my classes and this morning I got called on in another (will I make the perfect trifecta and get questioned in tax today? I'll know in about 2 hours.

So here are my survival tips:

1. Do the reading. And do something (highlighting, margin notes, briefs in a separate document, those little post-it flags, whatever) that enables you to quickly go back through it and answer questions about it.

2. If you haven't done the reading for some reason and you think you might be called on, it's ok to (VERY occasionally) email the professor ahead of time and ask not to be called on that day.

3. Treat the questions like exam questions--spend more time explaining how you reached an answer than what the answer is, combine the law + the facts in a given situation, acknowledge both sides of an issue but choose one you think is better, and BE BRIEF.

4. Don't be afraid to guess. Alternately, after you've guessed for a while, don't be afraid to say "I'm not sure."

5. Most law school exams follow blind grading. Your performance in class isn't going to affect your final grade in class, which is usually based 100% on your exam performance. And even if you think everyone in the class is going to laugh at your mistakes, they probably won't even remember them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

M Memories

Since my friend M (known in my previous blog life as The Eagle) is going to have a bit of a rough day tomorrow, and since she is one of the approximately three people who read this with any regularity, I figured I'd dedicate this post to her with a list of one (or more, because seriously it was hard to choose) awesome memory from each full year we've known each other.

1. 2004: Sharing a 437 sf studio (seriously. I just looked it up) and taking all our classes together and (despite not being old enough to drink at this point) coming out of it better friends than when we started.

2. 2005: A tale of two Dons--one of whom we put in a dunk tank, and one who dubbed us departmental liaisons.

3. 2006: The world's most awkward office-hours experience. Also, a surprise thesis-finishing party and the creation of the famous map.

4. 2007: July 4th, with its crazy parade, H&M visit, patriotic cake-baking, fireworks, and lots of talking sums up a lot of what was great about the non-work aspects of that summer (though it leaves out trivia and 8:55 tequila shots at 1223).

5. 2008: Winter--Operation Crazy [200(0)]8s. Spring--24 in Baltimore and Racin' for Jason. Summer--PieFest 3.0 and Team Roger Federer Gave Me Mono. And the Fall of Full Disclosure.

Bonus 6: 2009 has already featured playdates both with parents and without, and I am looking forward to Tequila O'Clock, grad school acceptances, and goodness only knows what else.

Common elements in my dreams

I kept a [nearly] daily journal from junior year in high school to the first semester of law school. I'm glad I did, but I'm not terribly sad about stopping. I mean, I was going to stop eventually, I guess, so it might as well have been in July 2006. Plus, that summer and following year was a pretty rough one emotionally and I can't imagine wanting to read about it again. It sounds completely ridiculous, but (despite many good things happening that year, and not fully realizing how bad it was at the time) certain things about that year traumatized me in a way that's real and that I haven't fully gotten over.

Well, THAT was a tangent, huh? Anyway, all this to say: I used to keep a diary, then I didn't, and now I've just been using one to write down my dreams. Sometimes I get a total feeling of deja vu, and I thought it would be cool if one day I could say see? I wrote it down a month ago that this would happen! But my dreams, it turns out, are so ridiculous that I don't expect to be living them anytime soon. Here are some things that keep coming up:

1. The co-op I used to live in, and visiting with its inhabitants now that we no longer live together. These dreams are generally very pleasant; there's lots of hugging and just feeling very welcome and included.

2. Going on a Birthright-type trip, often with my relatives and/or with a bunch of people my own age. Not necessarily to Israel though. Sometimes they take place in an airport; other times on a bus or train or just walking around with a group.

3. My thesis adviser. I mean, she's nice, but I didn't realize she (or my thesis!) were having such an impact on my subconscious.

4. People (generally me or my brother) being extremely ill and hospitalized. Since he WAS very ill and hospitalized frequently over the past year, I understand where it's coming from. But geez is it depressing.

5. Being at an airport and either being asked to watch a child but briefly losing him, or helping return a child who'd wandered away from his parents. I say him because it's always been a boy child. The child generally belongs to one of my professors, but is never a child I'd met (or that even exists, usually) in real life. I'm not too panicky in these dreams; somehow I feel confident that the child's not far away, and that I can safely return him to his family. These are the weirdest dreams for me because they feel full of meaning but I'm not sure what. Traveling to new places/experiences in my life? Meeting professors' expectations? Having more options for responsibility (job, perhaps a pet--a child is unlikely for at least the next several years, especially while I am single) and feeling eager yet unprepared?

Probably all of these. Or maybe just that I should keep my eye out for babies running loose next time I'm at the airport.

Bonus #6: Arguing with my mother. Interestingly, I rarely have these dreams when my mother and I are actually spending time together (which is generally when we do argue).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Baby News

1. My cousin had triplets on Monday!

2. They join their big brother Jaxon (just turned 3).

3. Their names are Keegan Reese, MacKenna Dylan, and Greir Charly (all girls). Jaxon was pushing for Batman, Robin, and Spiderman but I guess he got outvoted.

4. Two weighed 2lbs 15oz (since two of them are identical twins and one's a singleton, I think the twin were the smaller ones but that's just a guess) and one weighed 3lbs 14oz, and they and their mom are as healthy as can be expected.

5. Since they live in Arizona I doubt I'll see them anytime soon. But I am hoping for pictures!

Bonus 6: A girl I went to school with on Long Island had her baby this week too (thanks, Facebook!). Since none of my close friends are even near to that point yet (few are married, some are engaged or practically so, and a lot are single or in more casual relationships) it was exciting and happy and strange all at once.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things that are even more random than usual

1. Today I saw a dead bat lying in the law quad.

2. Last week I was gushing about how nice the new business school was and how I wanted to try their cafeteria because it looked really fancy (not that I don't love the law school snack bar, with its dollar grilled cheese and its $1.55 bagel/egg/cheese breakfast sandwich and the cashier who offers to rinse off the apple you buy....though I do wish they'd bring back the muffins they used to serve, and replace the styrofoam cups with something a little eco-friendlier). And the next day it turns out they had some sort of norovirus outbreak there and 30 people got sick and wow maybe I'll wait a week or two to eat there.

3. It was really stinking cold here for a while (like -13 degrees as a low, finally got around to putting the plastic on my window, slept with all my blankets and a sleeping bag, colder than when I went to northern Finland in January, left my cabinets open so the pipes wouldn't freeze cold) and there is still about a foot and a half of snow on the ground (leading to last night's snowbank situation, involving four public interest law women, three different thai dishes, 2.5 shovels, 2 honda civics, one wonderful tow-truck operator with chains, and innumerable bad-date stories). It's amazing how much warmer 20 degrees is than 3 degrees. And yet, how cold I still am when it's 20 degrees. It MAY get above freezing for a couple of hours later this week. But probably not.

4. I got really into Michigan basketball, and now they're not doing so well. I didn't watch their game tonight, which probably means it was awesome. (Note: just checked. They're down seven points at the half. So maybe not awesome, unless you're Penn State).

5. I cooked this and it was REALLY good (I think you can leave out a tablespoon of oil and the sour cream to make it healthier, I added more carrot and onion since they're cheaper than mushrooms, and subbed in cremini for portabellos...and if you use margarine instead of butter, which is what I did, it's vegan! hooray!). So good I'm going to freeze the leftover red wine (I don't really like red wine) so I can make it again sometime that mushrooms are actually on sale.

Feelings from the Inaugural Weekend

1. Inspired/Unified: The whole thing was amazing--the talk of love and service, the poetry and marching bands (I especially liked the middle-aged/elderly one), the inclusion of different races and religions (and non-belivers) and ages and LGBT folks and the slow dance at the neighborhood ball to Beyonce singing "At Last" and OMG Malia and Sasha are getting a puppy. Look, right now I think we need a Camelot figure and we've got one and I've bought in hook, line, and sinker. I just hope I look as good in my H&M workplace attire next year as Michelle Obama does. I think we should hang out and she can tell me all her secrets.

2. Grumpy--that my professor wouldn't let us out of class 5 minutes early to watch the swearing in, and in fact started A WHOLE NEW TOPIC with two minutes left in class. Dude, we listen to you for four hours a week. The president was only speaking for 20 minutes. Note: we were all looking at the live feeds on our laptops. This was redeemed by the lovely group of staff and students I watched the final 15 minutes of the speech with in the student lounge.

3. Nervous--When the amazing Gene Robinson prayed on Sunday that G-d keeps Obama safe, when they showed Obama mouthing along with Garth Brooks to the line "this'll be the day that I die," all the talk about MLK and Lincoln, and all the security, it's petrifying.

4. Ready--to move to DC (which, how cool is it that the city was totally the center of the universe this week? I hope people realize how great it is, that there are other places to eat other than Ben's Chili Bowl--not that I don't love Ben's, because I do--and that the Metro is not always as crowded as it was today but you should still use public transit) and to start doing public interest work for a living. I don't want to knock anyone's career decisions; I know it's an incredibly difficult and personal choice and that people in the private sector do a LOT of good with their salaries and their jobs and connections, and that I had a certain situation/privilege/luck that allowed me to be more flexible than most people could've been, especially in this economy, but I will say this: I think I personally would have felt a bit like crap listening to such stirring calls for service and knowing that I was heading to work at a firm next year.

5. Cold--I mean, I know how it feels to be outside when it's freezing out. And I wear a LOT more clothing than some of those folks out on the Mall and I don't stay outside for hours. My toes went numb in sympathy!

Bonus # 6, from watching the concert (streamed) last night: I felt like hugging everyone. I still kind of haven't gotten over that feeling. President Obama. Wow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Notes on Freezing

When I lived in a co-op in college, there were a group of housemates who were really into fermentation. Making their own kim chee, lacto-fermented oats, pickled "dilly beans," wine and vinegar, beer, kombucha, mead, sourdough bread, yogurt, etc.

I did not share their passion. While I think dairy preservation is really cool and I'd love to start making my own cheese and yogurt, and I really want to learn to can things, a lot of the rest of it made my stomach turn. Mold is one of my biggest fears and fermenting seemed very close to that.

Freezing, though? THAT I could get behind. Freezing is like the opposite of mold, because it prevents it! And it's so technological! And you can save lots of odds and ends and label them and use up all your spare plastic containers. So I freeze a LOT of things--and I can often make whole meals from various things I'd frozen earlier. For example, tonight I made quiche with frozen pie crust (storebought...I was lazy and it was on sale last month), frozen cheese, and frozen vegetables...I just used fresh eggs. And here's what I've learned over the years.

1. Eggplant doesn't work. Don't bother. And I know everyone says you can store fresh herbs but I haven't been successful, except when blended up into pesto (leave out the cheese).

2. Butter, bread, and chocolate all store much better frozen than refrigerated. You can freeze milk or soymilk (just drink some first so that there's room for it to expand in the container) And cheese freezes really well. Just grate it first so you don't have to use it all at once. This is excellent for me because I try and buy only organic dairy products and when they go on sale I like to stock up.

3. A great way to determine whether something freezes well is to think about whether you can buy it frozen at the supermarket. This is how I reached my Burrito Epiphany, which made packing a lunch much easier.

4. If I ever wanted to try eating only local produce for a whole year while living in a climate like the Upper Midwest, I'd need to freeze a lot more tomato sauce and variations (plain, Minestrone, and Morrocan tomato soup; tomato-vegetable curry; tomato-basil sauce; shakshusa, a spicy middle eastern sauce you can cook eggs in), because I go through them pretty fast, and a TON more fruit. Eating apples all winter long, even with my innovations of apple butter and apple sauce, is BORING. I'm grateful that my grandma in Florida shipped me a box of oranges, am holding back on the peaches I froze in September, and am kicking myself for not freezing berries.

5. You can freeze dough (cookies, pizza, pie etc.) and cook it later, so that when guests come over you can offer them freshly-baked cookies and not have to get your whole kitchen dirty! You can also apparently make whole pies that way but I've never tried it.

Bonus 6. To save room in your freezer, boil liquidy things (stocks, soup, sauces) down a lot. You can always add water when you thaw them.

Things the Maryland Bar Requires

I'd heard that bar applications were a pain in the neck. But until I downloaded the FIFTY-SEVEN PAGE application, I had no idea exactly how bad things could be.

1. Certifications from my high school, college, graduate school, and law school.

2. A list of every address I've lived at for the past ten years (I counted 15 places I'd lived at least a month) and all my creditors (luckily this is just a credit card and two student lenders, but still)

3. References from five people who have known me for at least five years but are not my relatives, employers, or fellow law students. No two people on this list can be married to each other.

4. Copies of my driving records from New York and Michigan (never mind that despite having a Michigan license, not once have I operated a motor vehicle in this state).

5. A list of all my employers (both paid and significant volunteer activity) for the past five years. Each one has to be mailed a reference form, or I have to sign an affidavit that the place is out of business. I need to look into whether I need to send one to every babysitting and dog-walking client I've had since January 2004 (there are at least seven, including one that's left the country, oh my gosh) or if I can instead fill in a form for myself as a self-employed child-and-pet-care contractor. Bare minimum, (meaning that babysitting is one job, everything and Smith is a second, and everything at UM is a third) I count nine.

Bonus 6: A brief HAND-WRITTEN essay about why a Maryland rule of professional ethics of my choice is important. I am not making this up.

Not to mention questions about my mental health (which surely was better before I started applying for the bar), financial stability, substance abuse issues, court proceedings, and much more. Once all this is over, I get to do more fun things like an in-person interview, a one-day Professionalism Course, and--oh yeah--the two-day BAR EXAM before I can get admitted.

I'm consoling myself with the thought that every lawyer in the country managed to do this (well, maybe some of them talked their moms or spouses or something into doing it) and so I can too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Proof That I'm a HUGE Nerd

1. I like Bluebooking so much that I save it for the end when I write papers. I find it's even more fun when I listen to boy bands while I do it.

2. I tape the best voicemails people leave me. On audio tape.

3. Needlepoint. People, knitting is cool--see: Stitch & Bitch. Quilting is cool: some folks I lived with in college, people who are so much cooler than me I can't even believe they talked to me, are starting a quilting group out in Oakland. There's even a book and website about subversive cross-stitch. But nothing, you'll note, about needlepoint.

4. When I move this summer, there will definitely be significantly more boxes of books than clothes.

5. This morning when I found out at 7am that we had a religious school snow day my first two thoughts were:
a) Hooray! Now I can go sledding!
b) Oh darn--we had a really nice lesson planned about Jewish books and it tied in so well with our library visit!

For the record, thought c) ("I'm in bed! I can stay in bed! ZZZzzzzz.") won out.

Bonus #6: I know extraordinarily few of the songs on Rock Band (although I do love watching people play it, and if I could get a chance to practice in private first I think I'd really like to try the drums). Why? Because the radio I listened to most in high school was WCBS News Radio 88 and the Lavender Wimmin Radio Show on WUSB Stony Brook. Now, if Rock Band had a part where you could do the New York City traffic report, or some Ani songs, I would be a star.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Keywords that Attracted People to this Site

1. EVERY DAY conversation topics: I don't know. If you want to have the same conversation every day, maybe "how are you?" is a good one?

2. best neighborhood to live in dc: again, it depends. I'm partial to the Eastern Market/Capitol Hill and Kalorama/Adams Morgan/Woodley Park areas, but since I'm working in Shaw I probably won't be living there, even if I could afford it. And if I were a real estate investor, I'd probably go with the area by the NY Ave. metro, or just southwest of RFK stadium.

3. corporations exam: sorry, I'm just as lost as you are. Except now I'm DONE with that class!

4. sneakers hole sole: dude, if you find a way of getting this repaired please come back and let me know.

5. recession and domestic violence michigan: sorry I don't have any stats on this, but it's an interesting topic. And, for a DV-related article that really hit home for me, check out this sad piece.

Irrational Fears

1. Finding a dead mouse in my washing machine (this happened to me once, in 1L year. It was gross but I coped).

2. Mold around the underside of the washing machine lid (also happened. I coped). Between that and #1, it's quite a quandry as to whether I should leave the machine's lid up or down when I'm not using it.

3. Every time someone I care about gets sick or needs surgery, that they have cancer (again, it's happened. Rarely. We coped. Are you sensing a theme?)

4. That really I have no friends and the people I think are my friends are being paid by my parents (or Medicaid. I don't know) as sort of home-health aides for my social life. Yes, I realize this is not exactly likely or supported by evidence. And goodness knows, with the way Medicaid works, I'd probably be getting a lot more paperwork to fill out if this were the case.

5. Getting sued for malpractice next year. At least I hope this one is irrational.

Songs I Had Stuck in My Head Yesterday

1. Mad Mission: Patty Griffin (woke up with this)

2. Eli, Eli: words by Hannah Senesh (this one was not totally crazy because I finished reading a book about her in the morning)

3. The theme song to The Nanny: WTF???

4. An R&B song the bus driver back from North Campus was singing along to that--oddly enough--had small children singing at the end of the recording. I saw "oddly enough" because most of the rest of the song was about VIPs, heat, and other not exactly child-friendly (unless you mean getting friendly and making children) topics.

5. The Locomotion: This happened while I walked home from the library. Again, WTF?

Sometimes, my mind is a scary, scary place. But it's never wanting for variety!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tips for Staying Warm

1. Warm clothing. Lots of layers. Long underwear is your friend. Thick socks, nice gloves (I just got a pair that are wool with a polar fleece lining...I hate the feel of wool so this was necessary), always a hat. Just don't wear so much that you get sweaty.

2. A warm bed: Piles of blankets are your friends. So are flannel sheets. I have a bag of grain that can be microwaved and when it's really cold I'll heat it up, stick it under the covers while I brush my teeth, then hop into bed with it. An electric blanket or hot water bottle (or a pet or other person!) in your bed would probably do the same thing. This is especially important because we turn our heat down a lot at night (hooray for programmable thermostats, which enable us to do this and have the heat click on just before we get up).

3. Seal drafts. Since I rent, I can't do anything permanent, but we've used plastic over windows, duct tape around wall sockets, storm doors, etc. Just don't do anything that will make it impossible for you got get out in a fire.

4. Eat and drink hot (temperature and spice) things. My latest favorite is hot cocoa with cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper.

5. Stay inside as much as you can. Or go to someplace warm. Apparently one of my school's gyms has a sauna I kind of want to check out. The law library is also well-heated...convenient, since I'm here a lot.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Classes I'm Taking Next Semester

1. Transnational Law (not really interesting to me but it's required)

2. Taxation of Individual Income (I am actually really excited about this!)

3. Family Law (also very excited, both because a lot of the subject matter overlaps with my favorite fall class, Children and the Law, and because a lot of my favorite fellow students will be in it too)

4. Evidence (not very excited, especially since it starts at 8:45am, but since it turns out I'm going to be a litigator next year and not the transactional lawyer I always thought I'd be, it seems important)

5. An independent study that will also be my urban planning thesis. It's going to be case studies and analysis about getting community benefits from public and private developers of transportation projects (bridges, roads, airports, etc.) --there are administrative and contract law ways to get these benefits, and the research might help community groups deciding which avenues to pursue. I'm a little daunted about writing 60 pages because I am NOT a very self-directed writer or researcher (see: the fact that my note has been about 5 pages away from finished for the past year. See also: the days where I'd go to the library all day for my Picker paper and write half a page. See ALSO: the fact that I didn't finish my paper for a class I took in the fall semester and am trying to finish it this week--it's due the end of January). But I have to get it done, or else I don't get my MUP and my sister coming up from Houston for my graduation is a little silly. That seems like pretty good motivation.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thoughts Upon Returning Home

1. I'm glad I found someone to share a taxi with.

2. There is a lot to do in the next 10 days before school starts.

3. Hooray! Two more holiday cards and two presents came after I left!

4. And my bathtub got re-caulked!

5. It's really nice to be back.