Last Day of Summer

Tomorrow it's back to the grindstone.  Not that there wasn't grindstoning going on this summer, mind you, but work is very different type of effort than school.  With school, there's that endless sense of never being done - there's always more reading to do, more studying, more, more, more.  With work, when you're done, you're done.  Well, assuming that you work the kind of job with hours and not taking things home and all, which is probably where my immediate future is going.  Ahem.

Yesterday was my second trip to the Renaissance Festival this season.  A friend of mine just posted about how she's outgrowing her love of Fest.  I commented that I'm actually growing more into it.  The last couple of years I've started going 2-3 times a season, and honestly I'd be happy to go more.  At this rate I'm only a few years away from buying a season pass.  Crazy.  I hadn't through about why that might be, but I think it has to do with spending more time in environments where I have to be really careful of how I present myself.  It's not a big jump from undergraduate me to Ren Fest going me, but there's a HUGE jump from suit-wearing, law-firm-interviewing-with me to Ren Fest going me.  And hey, I like Ren Fest going me.

One of the big stress inducing bits of the next couple of weeks is the need to come up with a topic for my journal article.  I have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting published, and my impression is that a lot of the fight is in picking the right topic.  Of course, I'm drawing lots of blanks.  I have a huge amount of leeway in picking my article - it has to have some connection to inequality in the law, and that's it.  We've been advised to talk to professors about it, but I don't even know which professor I should talk to.  Bah.

I'm worried about my Monday night trivia group.  It was a great stress release for me last year to have one night a week where I got to let loose, get away from the whole law thing, hang out with a whole different group of people.  Unfortunately, it's an hour bus ride each way, with a half mile walk on both sides, making it a long ass trip.  Last year I was getting rides home, but it's looking like that's not going to happen this year, unfortunately.  So tonight I'm going anyhow, even though it's raining and I have a 9 am meeting tomorrow, but I'm worried about my ability to keep that up as things get even busier.

The summer ended with a bit of a bang - I'd like to deal with it before too much time passes, but am worried about my ability to give the issue the attention it deserves, what with school demanding a whole lot of my attention from here on out.  More than once I've just let things like this fade away, and have felt bad each time I did it.  On the other hand, it's not my responsibility to save everyone.  We'll see.

Summer NaNo!

Since my Novembers are kind of spoken for for the next two years, I decided that I'd do my own NaNo this summer. My goal is to write 1000 words a day through June, July and as much of August as is needed to finish a draft (hopefully it'll be around wrapping up time then). I meant to actually start at the beginning of June rather than towards the middle of it, but petitioning took more out of me than expected. So it goes.

This will be number six. It actually has a decent working title too - The Queens' Men. I haven't actually decided on the placement of the apostrophe - it'll be either Queen's or Queens' (there are three queens in the story). For some reason I got the idea that I wanted to write about a grunt race - like the orcs in Lord of the Rings. I can't think of exactly where the idea came from, but it stuck in my head.

When I went back to school I'd just finished the edits on Light in the Groves and was still in a writing kind of place. I got an idea on the bus to write a story from the perspective of the guards - kind of like a cross between Terry Pratchet's Nightwatch books and the more political kind of fantasy that has been kind of hit or miss for me. I've been jotting down ideas for the last few months. International Law and rewatching Babylon 5 gave me some great ideas for the world, and as usual, there's been stuff going on in my life that I want to work in.

After LitG, I'm going to try a male main character with only two major supporting characters - one male and one female. It was too easy for the characters in LitG to become too much like me. Maybe writing male will help get away from that. I'm trying first person too, though I'm nervous that I'm going to change my mind halfway through and want to rewrite in third person. First person is so limiting, and getting a voice right is tricky. We'll see how it works out!

Freaking Out Is Fun To Do

Why is it that strong destructive (I'm not going to say completely negative, but usually negative) emotions like panic, rage, self-loathing and hopelessness can be so tempting? I think it's the surrender of control. Sometimes I feel like I do nothing spontaneously, like I'm constantly checking and double checking everything in my mind. Sometimes I just want to let go of it all. One would think that it'd be just as easy to let go into, say, joy or something, but maybe when there's so many legitimate concerns, it's a downhill slide to get to panic.

Why yes, I have started preparing for exams, and no, I don't have a summer job yet. How'd you guess? Sigh. It really isn't that bad. I have almost two months until summer break, and there are still a lot of work options out there, both paid and otherwise. My schedule has quite obligingly lessened substantially for the next two weeks, as we're done with legal writing and my international law course is on a planned two week break. I only have three exams this semester, compared to four last semester. I've arranged to meet regularly with awesome people to study. There's just always more that I could do, and the urge to compare myself to others is so difficult to resist. I just have to remind myself about the Schwarcz Curve and I feel better.*

Blah! It'll be fine. Really. Life actually is quite good. It's just... uncertain, and I don't like uncertainty. Something about that whole "control" thing, I'm sure.

The reading for tomorrow's Practice and Professionalism course focuses on the lawyer's role as a counselor, and the idea that people's actions are motivated by either physical or psychological needs. I find the whole idea of examining people's motives to be really interesting, though I suspect that sometimes people just act by default, doing things because it's what they've always done, and not out of any particular motivation at all. I thought I had more to say about that, but I guess I don't.

* My contracts professor showed us this graph during orientation and again right before finals that basically said that the amount of work you put in will only get your grade to a certain spot, and after that point that there's a plateau followed by a decrease in grade from further studying. The difference in grades once you hit that plateau is pretty much due to some people just being smarter than others (when it comes to that particular subject, at least). I think this depressed some of my classmates, but I actually find it very comforting.

Things I've Learned as I've Gotten Older

In no particular order:

1. Sometimes people aren't looking for answers, they just want to vent.
2. Friendship is work, but it's worth it.
3. There's nothing wrong with being the only person on the planet who isn't watching X TV show, hasn't seen Y movie, or hasn't read Z book.
4. Being clean contributes to being happy.
5. Vegetables are delicious. Except beets.
6. The more I drink, the more I want to drink, so pacing myself has to start at the beginning of the evening.
7. It takes a while to get used to sleeping with someone else in the bed.
8. Even if I get a head start, I'm still likely to be working up to the last minute.
9. Chardonnay goes great with popcorn.
10. Always have a backup plan.
11. Back up early and often.
12. If I eat slower, I'll eat less.
13. Some people just aren't going to like me.
14. Look both ways before crossing the street, even if it's one-way.
15. If it's too warm to snow, carry an umbrella.
16. Trying to force myself not to feel something rarely works.
17. Try and treat everyone like they might be your boss one day.

Time Keeps on Slipping

I got an email last week letting me know that my auto-payment for my paid user account was about to go through and would I like to cancel payment? I was kind of ambivalent about it, but ambivalent + auto-pay + passage of time = paying for another year. Meh. So I figured I might as well post something. Spending money on something I'm not using makes me squirmy, though even if I only post once a month, the LJ fee really is perfectly reasonable. I don't mind spending money on things I use, even if it's not terribly often.

I'm also putting off working on my legal writing homework. I'm not entirely sure why. I know more or less what needs to be done on it. It's going to be a fair amount of work, but not overwhelming, especially if I don't leave it until the last minute to do (watch me leave it to the last minute). I suppose I'm just having one of those days where pushing past the funk just isn't happening. I did get most of my property homework done, though, and even feel like I understood it. Retention, on the other hand, is more concerning. I'm pretty sure that's going to be a closed book exam, which is going to blow money chunks.

Yesterday was my birthday. Another thing that keeps happening when I'm not paying attention. Being 26 was pretty good, but I'm fine with seeing what happens with 27. One of my friends turned 27 three days before me joked about being in our late 20s now. Again, I don't mind. I'm happier, saner, more social and better looking than I was when I was 17, so it's hard to find anything to complain about. There's always that little voice in the back of my head nagging about biological clocks and whatnot, but I'm good with ignoring that one for at least until I'm out of law school.

Five and a half weeks until the last day of classes, and eight weeks until the end of exams and the end of my first year. I'd feel more zen about it if I had work lined up for the summer, but so it goes. Something will turn up. I was talking to my mom this morning about working on the novel again. It's hard to focus on it with so much else demanding attention, but it would be nice to get into writing again this summer.

February in a Nutshell

Oh 2010, quit being so difficult. It's not that bad, I suppose. My big worry for the semester was that I'd do poorly last semester and thus feel insecure about this semester, or that I'd do so well that I was paranoid about slipping up. As it turns out, the issue has been that I'm just not as engaged. I guess that's a bit to be expected - I had some really amazing professors last semester, plus there was the whole "this is shiny and new and awesome" thing. Also, there's the job search.

I say that I hate looking for jobs and people smile and nod. Who likes looking for jobs, after all? Well, I really mean it. The last (and first) time I was in the position of serious job hunting was after I graduated from Macalester. Saying that it didn't go so well is something of an understatement. Now all those feelings are coming back, and it's a real bitch. That said, it's not as bad as all that. I feel like I have a number of options and a couple loose fallback plans. There's this aura of panic lying over the law school (and the legal profession as a whole, I suppose) that I'm trying to ignore. It works sometimes. Last week I had some serious anxiety issues, but I seem to have gotten through them.

I'm not putting the sort of preparation into my classes this semester as I did last semester. I think the size of the classes has a fair bit to do with it, and the professors, and the subjects. Last semester I really enjoyed constitutional law, was interested in contracts and civil procedure, and really enjoyed my professors for all three (torts was meh). As for this semester, I'm just not especially interested in criminal law, am turned off by my professor in property (which as a subject I find both difficult and boring), and while I do enjoy international law, still feel like I'm on shifting ground when it comes to my grasp of the material. The first draft of our legal writing memo is due on Thursday. I don't have as much of a start as I'd wanted, but I'll get it done. I've got most of the next three days to work on it, and I intend to put a solid amount of work in each of those days. No doubt I will be up quite late on Wednesday, regardless.

Socially... I don't know. I'm feeling both more social and more isolated at the same time. I'm reasonably comfortable with where I am right now, I suppose. Interesting that anxiety, which has been an issue recently, isn't necessarily the same issue as insecurity. I'm feeling closer to one friend and more distant from another, while a third is transitioning to leaving the state, possibly for good. More than anything, I'm really glad that my mom is in MN now. We've been meeting for brunch almost every weekend and it's really wonderful. I won't be going back to CA over spring break, which is a drag, but not the end of the world. As it is, it'll probably be a more restful week than it would have been, and I already have plans for three parties (one that I'm throwing).

So February has had some rough patches, but overall, things continue to move forward. And that's good.

Odds and Ends

I said at the new year that I wanted to journal more. Since then, taking the time to sit down and actually write has seemed like too much effort. I've been in something of a funk all night though, so maybe writing will clear my head a bit. The last time I updated I was in a funk too. These seem to come every few weeks, stick around for a couple of days, then drift away. The worst is lying in bed after an evening spent alone. The silence of the apartment becomes a physical weight, and I'm torn between wanting to sleep and forget, or get up and bury myself in a book. So it goes.

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On Funks and Law School

I've been in a funk for most of the day. It's a combination of a number of things. I got back from volunteering in El Paso on Saturday, an experience that was very good, but also extremely draining on a number of levels - I slept very poorly, drank too much (which partially contributed to the sleeping poorly), was around other people 24/7, was exposed to a number of moral quandaries revolving around the way our government treats immigrants, and had to deal with the stress of getting to know several people in very close quarters in a very short period of time, and yet feeling unable to talk about the one thing we had in common (law school) as my experience (generally positive) has apparently been quite different from theirs.

So yes, I'm quite tired. On top of this, I realized quite suddenly that I need to start paying attention to job hunt for the summer, and I need to do it about two weeks ago. Sigh. I don't even know what my grades were (though these applications are apparently grade blind), I hardly have any idea what's available out there, and I HATE writing cover letters. Hate. It's an exercise closely tied to memories of failure and depression, as the last time I was seriously job hunting was the summer of 2005 to early 2006, a period which was hands down the worst time of the entire decade, and possibly the worst year of my life since I was in junior high. Not exactly a time I enjoy reliving.

I can't wait to go back to school, though I'm nervous about it too, especially after this last week. I felt so out of touch with these other students. I'm not saying that law school isn't difficult, and that I don't relate to the feeling of being cut off from everyone else in our lives, or how frustrating it is when everything else that one used to do (writing, reading for fun, exercising) has to take a back seat for school work. At the end of the day, though, I really do believe that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. I went into the law building for a meeting yesterday and smiled just being there. I had such a hard time last semester with self-esteem, worrying that everyone hated me for speaking up so often. This next semester all of my classes are combined with other sections, including the sections of the people on this trip. Will that make those feelings come back even worse?

Oh, and on top of that, my computer (the personal one) is seriously malfunctioning. I can start it in safe mode and that's it. At least I managed to get my data off of it, but it's still one more thing that I don't need.

2009 In Review - Cut because this is a doozy.

It's been a while since I updated here, a fact I'm sorry for. Facebook and Twitter have really become the places where I keep track of people, but this place is more for me than anything else. I'm going back and reading my entries for the year as I write this, and it's really nice to be reminded where I was, and how far I've come. I also like doing these year-in-review thingies. When I'm done with this, I might even go back and see how many I have and do a decade in review. Exciting, eh? And no, I don't want to hear about the decade ending in 2010. Really.

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I've been accumulating a list of things that would be interesting to journal about when I actually have/make the time for it. So I don't forget, I'm writing them down.

- Why malpractice suits against clergy is a bad idea
- How I wish professors would stop trying to reassure quiet students by mentioning that student who talk a lot in class and seem to have things together don't always do well on exams
- Those times when I realize that something that seems perfectly normal to me is considered strange by most people
- How strange it is to think about being part of a minority religion and how, aside from the fact that I haven't been practicing actively, I'm uncomfortable with the very real concept of being discriminated against for it in my future profession
- Reconciling the fact that I feel like I've finally found my calling with the fact that said calling is horribly over-populated

I could spend an hour in each of those, really. But alas, I have studying to do. Back to it!