Sunday, December 28, 2008

1L.1 in review

This semester has gone by faster than any that I can remember. Because of that (and because I am a nostalgic goon) I thought I'd run through the highlights and low points on 1L.1.

The semester went a lot more smoothly than I imagined it would. My personal life didn't self-destruct, my apartment wasn't a constant mess explosion, I didn't gain or lose a bunch of weight and I managed to preserve my mental health to my satisfaction. I had really hyped law school before starting, and while that made things a little rough for a while, I think ultimately I adjusted because I realized that it wasn't worth going crazy over.

In terms of academics, I really like law school. I like the class material, I like the reading subject matter, I like the way that the classes are taught (with greater and lesser skill by profs), I like that my classmates are by and large intelligent individuals who are prepared for class, I like the idea of what I'm learning. My substantive classes this semester were civ pro, torts and crim, and I found each of them intriguing in different ways. In some ways this puts me in a weird spot, because I liked everything enough to not know what I want to learn more about, whether in classes or a summer job. Yes, the workload is heavier than in college, but since I'm actually interested in what I'm learning (and since I see actual application of what I'm learning) it doesn't really bother me that there is a lot of work. Honestly, I don't think that it is an unmanageable amount of work, and I'm a bit surprised at people who do. Overall, I think law school was the right choice for me.

On the other hand, in terms of the social aspects, I'm still a bit iffy on everyone. Maybe I'm just someone who needs more time to adjust to social situations, and maybe I'll really find my niche in the spring. I hope so. I have found one really, really great friend, and there are a few people who I like to hang out with. I'm still wary though because of the drama that has happened to me and to my section-mates. Seeing the same 80 people day in and day out, hanging out with them evenings and weekends, having all our classes together, doing all of the same things at the same time - it wears on me. Its no wonder there is drama, we don't have a lot to talk about aside from ourselves and each other. I'm not used to the pressure of competition, to the scrutiny that comes with spending so much time together, and most of all I'm not used to being around so many know-it-alls. With so many cooks in the kitchen my response is usually, "Fuck it. I'm going home for some quiet time." And when you're the person that bails, its hard to make friends.

I'm also still somewhat unsatisfied with the mixing of law school and my pre-law school personal life. On the one hand I feel like I spent A LOT of time dicking around this semester (law and order, anyone?). On the other hand I feel like I almost never had time to spend with my BF, with my friends from college that also moved to Law School City, or to go back to my home town and hang with friends and family there. I think that the obvious absence of non-law school social life contributed to being unsatisfied with my law school social life. Plus, I didn't realize how weird it would be to try and talk about law school with "outsiders". My friends and family are really interested to hear how things are going and if I'm doing well and enjoying it, but for the most part that's about it. Its hard to bring people up to speed on the very particular world that law school is, and its frustrating because sometimes I really need an outside view. It doesn't help that I really miss my home town, and that every time I'm there all I can think about is how great my life will be once I'm out of school and can actually live the way that I want to.

Ultimately, in spite of being less enthusiastic about the social aspects, I really like law school and I'm glad I made this choice. This is getting a bit new year-clean slate, but hopefully I can use this reflection in a positive way to help me shape the next semester into being better than the last.

Monday, December 22, 2008

pick me, choose me, love me

Or at least give me a summer job? Ugh.

Recommendation to Career Services Office: next year, instead of saying that we should get settled into our studies and that's why we can't get started on the fun of job searching til later in the fall, you should tell students to get all their reading and outlines done super early so that they may spend the end of the semester working on resumes and sending out cover letters. Because, based on your lovely Career Services Guidebook, that is clearly what you expected ME to do in November and December, and it would have been nice to have had some heads up.

Winter Break - HA! Otherwise known as "time in which you have no classes but are starting your new job, spending way too much time trying to see the people you have neglected for the past four months, prepping with your moot court partner, cramming every possible health and other related appointments into the same 3 weeks as everyone else, and oh yeah, SPENDING ALL YOUR EXTRA TIME TRYING TO GET A SUMMER JOB." Winter Break laughs at me and my foolish naivete in thinking that Winter Break means the same thing this time around as it did in college. I miss the time in my life when relaxing meant watching tv or reading for fun. Now it just means pretending that finishing up my apartment-related chores was really how I wanted to spend my afternoon.

I know I'm being a bit screechy, but it hit me today while I was thinking about exams and sort of lamenting my "meh" grade on my last memo that I may benefit from getting those cover letters out before grades start to surface, you know, just in case. Which.....means now. Which.........ack. Also, if you haven't noticed, I'm not entirely full of the good cheer and patience needed for the fun of job searching.

So, while I'll be spending the next few days not actually doing anything to help me land summer employment, I will be trying desperately to drum up some motivation. Maybe spending Christmas with my family will help me to remember that if I don't get good summer jobs in school then I won't get a job after graduation and I'll have to move back in with my parents and then I will go fully and completely insane. That or I'll find my motivation at the bottom of one of the many mimosas I plan on drinking on Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

what comes in sixths besides law school?

I am done with finals. Err, sorry, I meant I AM SO MOTHERFUCKING HAPPY TO BE DONE WITH THOSE GODDAMN FINALS. And also exhausted, mentally and physically. My brain is, on the one hand, blissfully numb and on the other is feeling the pain of intensive thinking withdrawal. I feel like I ought to still be doing something - there has got to be something - and I cannot just sit and relax. It doesn't help that during the month long reading period/finals period I put a lot of day to day stuff off, so in addition to the types of (non-school) projects that I usually have saved up for winter break I also have a lot of menial tasks to catch up on. I'm also going out of town for a few days, which I haven't done for winter break since elementary school. Plus this winter break is about a week and a half shorter than what I am used to from college, so it really does feel like I'll have no chance to stop and rest.

I tried a few times to write about my finals. Unfortunately I think the pressure of exams and my own coping mechanisms encouraged me to be even more fickle than usual, to the extent that by the time I was done writing a post I didn't still feel the way that I had described, and I didn't really feel comfortable sharing the various stages I went through.

At this point I don't even know how I feel about the exams, or how I should feel. There were moments in the past few weeks when I felt like I did really good on my exams. These bursts of confidence proved to be great motivators. I thought, "hey, if I did that well on that exam, I could certainly do well on this one if I just put in the time." There were moments when I feared that I did horribly. I doubted myself, I criticized my own methods of study and of dealing with stress, I wondered if I was sabotaging myself subconsciously.

I learned that I need to feel like I did well while I wait for results, regardless of how I do in the end. If that means skipping the post-exam bar outing so that I don't have to hear anyone talk about what they did and did not include, I'm ok with that. I'm desperately trying to hold onto the feeling of having done well for the next six weeks or so until the grades are finalized and released. Its so anticlimactic to think that I will have started classes again before I know my grades. The uncertainty of the tangible results adds to my uncertainty about how I feel about the experience.

But holy crap, I survived a semester of law school.

Monday, December 1, 2008

lessons in legalese

From my civ pro notes:

"motion for a new trial: there has been a defect/mistake in the conduct of the trial, and there is no way to cure that mistake short of a do-overs"

I especially like that "do-overs" is pluralized. Also, this is a great example of why I might fail civ pro. If that happens I will link to this post with a See citation.

goals for finals

In the spirit of not turning into a complete pathetic excuse for a human being in the next two weeks, I have made some goals:

1. shower - aim for once a day but will accept once every other day
2. leave apartment at least once every other day
3. do only enough cleaning that my apartment is roughly as clean as it was before finals started
4. remember to check the mail
5. remember to water the plants (too bad they don't meow when they're hungry)
6. oh yeah, remember to eat more real meals than junk food
7. do not go to the grocery store past 9pm
8. put on real pants and a real shirt when I leave the house
9. take vitamins every day
10. pass all of my classes
11. try not to bore BF to death

In other words, my strategy is to aim low and take encouragement from otherwise unremarkable events in order to keep my spirits artificially high. Its sort of like thinking of the day you start your period as "Yay I'm not Pregnant Day" instead of "Horrible Misery & Pain Day" (and it is too bad if that grosses you out, it is late and I am tired and my brain is all wonky and I cannot think of a better analogy).

I am desperately looking forward to knocking these classes out of the way. I sort of love the end of the semester because if I just keep studying it goes by so quickly, and the *POOF* its over and I can return to my more natural state of vegging.