Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stepped in so Far: Life of an Evening Law Student

It's spring break during my third year of law school. But unlike the majority of law students across the country, I'm an evening (part-time) student, and won't be graduating this May. Instead I'll experience life as a 4L, and sigh... it looks like I won't be graduating until I'm actually a 4.5L.

Is that even a category?! The average evening student graduates at 4 years, but the whole having a baby in the middle of my second year of law school threw me off a bit. Even though I have a bit more than a year and a half until I graduate, sometimes I feel like I'll never finish this agony called law school. I get discouraged and wonder why I started this in the beginning, but now... well, I'm well over half way through, and now, I can't quit as I'm in too deep.

As I think about getting in too deep, the years I spent in undergrad studying Shakespeare comes flooding back.

In Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV
Macbeth famously utters his expression that he has killed so many and is so covered in blood that he can now, metaphorically speaking, no longer turn back and seek salvation:

I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er"
Literal translation: I am in blood so deeply stepped that even if I waded or walked no more, returning would be as tedious or as time consuming and difficult as going over or returning.

As a child my mom and grandpa called me McBeth, playing off of my middle name Beth. Now I'm living up to my namesake, MacBeth, and I too am in too deep, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

But perhaps I shall take Lady MacBeth's advice and sleep on it.

"You lack the season of all natures, sleep" (Line 141).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes the Best Advice is... well, like Baby Oil

A few days ago I went to a law school career advice panel. The purpose of the panel was to show evening students at law school how to transition their pre-law school careers into a post-law school job. There was a ton of great advice, and I met and talked to a lot of smart, interesting people.

But the one take away I had, was when one of the panelists said, "There's a point your law school career where you just have to quit your job, leap out on blind faith, and really do the law school thing."
Or something along those lines, as I wasn't taking verbatim notes.

Immediately the blood rushed out of my head and I felt sick to my stomach. That was the one thing I DID NOT want to hear.

I can't quit my job. Yes, I know that I would have better opportunities with internships and future legal jobs, if I had more time to get more legal experience while in law school. But then, who will pay for my mortgage? For my kid's health insurance? In fact, more to the point, how will I justify giving up my job's tuition waiver program, where my non-legal job is paying for 20 law school credits a year, just so I can go to law school?

I still hyperventilate when I think about quitting my job and just being a law student.

But then, I force myself to realize, that advice is just advice. It's not like this nameless career panelist knows my EXACT situation, or that his way is the only way to get a legal job when I graduate.

Advice is just advice.

And well, sometimes, it might be bad advice. Like this advertisement that is selling baby oil to moms so their babies can tan and not be so pasty white.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{reading} Barnheart

I recently finished reading Barnheart:The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own, by Jenna Woginrich. The title alone sold the book to me, and this memoir was a delight to read.

Woginrich moved to Vermont for a new job and was certain that she was going to start homesteading on her tiny rented acreage in the Vermont mountains. Her experience was small, other than gardening, raising chickens and rabbits in northern Idaho, she was a rookie at the farming adventure. But Woginrich was determined, and having recently published a book, , she documented her first few years in Vermont as a newbie sheepherder and farmer.
The section that I enjoyed the most occurred towards the end of the memoir, as Woginrich reflected on her vegetarian past and how that contrasted with her delight in raising a turkey for the sole and set purpose of sitting on her Thanksgiving Dinner table.

Woginrich writes:

"Raising food myself had changed my ideas about humans and animals, but not in that macho way, in which people think that other living things are theirs to exploit. No, this was not a question of possession. It was a question of equality... Treating animals as equals doesn't mean treating them like people; it means seeing humans as animals. We are all pieces of one big puzzle. Before I became so aware of the life and death involved with everything we eat, I saw us as separate. Us and Them. But as I evolved from a consumer to a producer, I began to see humans as the animals we truly are. We're all food, organic matter that will either feed the soil or another animal. Eating meat is what predators do, and human beings are nothing if not predators. I had no problem with a wolf eating me or my eating a deer. We were all in this together" (pg 138-39).

I love how she reached this conclusion, and watching how her connection with the land, growing food, and raising animals for meat, changed her perspective on her vegetarian lifestyle choices. I won't tell you what happened to the turkey, (it's an unexpected twist!) but she did ultimately start eating meat again.

Great memoir, and a great read! I heartily recommend it, and I can't wait to read her earlier memoir, Made from Scratch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Learning to Fail

At a recent networking event, a lawyer asked me how I was balancing work and law school. I replied, a bit too glibly, “I’ve discovered the purpose of law school is to teach you how to fail, and then build you back up after breaking you down.”

Starting my first year of law school, the horrors of Civil Procedure and Lawyering Process taught me quickly that law school was completely different than college, grad. School, and any other experience I’ve had. I worked like crazy on papers and then would get horrible grades on them, for what seemed illogical reasons.

Now as a third year evening student, set to graduate in December 2013 (hopefully!) I’ll apply for an internship, a scholarship, or research assistant positions and not be chosen.

That feeling of rejection, of failure, transports me right back to fifth grade P.E. when I would be the last one picked for a team.

Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms.

Without the right perspective, if you don’t step back and try to look at the big picture, as a law student you regularly feel like a big ole’ failure.

Recently I applied for a few student organization board positions that were chosen by a vote from your peers. When I wasn’t chosen for anything, I was devastated.  But later, I realized, that law school is teaching us how to fail, to fail gracefully, and then get up and keep trying.

While I spoke without thinking to the lawyer at the networking event, I realize that those words are true. Law school breaks you down, and then teaches you how to overcome failure and keep trying.

And if you keep trying, eventually you’ll achieve it. Life (or law school) will eventually throw you a bone.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Pains

One of the most repeated cliches every new mother hears is: "Treasure every second, it goes by so fast."

I mentally roll my eyes every time someone tells me that, well, because it's true.

Baby Buckaroo is now 15 months old. He doesn't crawl any more, he runs. He jabbers and baby talks constantly, and his favorite words seem to be, Bye, Hey!, Dada, Mama, Me, and what sounds like Amy. Since he calls me Mama, I don't think he's calling me Amy too, but well, who knows? I answer to both.

But ultimately, I'd like it if the kid stopped growing. Can he be a little baby again, who's sole purpose in life was to snuggle on my chest and take a zillion naps a day?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sheepdog Trials to prepare you for St. Patrick's Day

It's midterms and my brain is totally fried.

But this has made me laugh uncontrollably for five minutes.

Hope you enjoy.

Who's your daddy?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Where have all the cowboys gone?

I love rodeos. 

I love the environment, the throngs of people, the smell of cotton candy, popcorn, and beer overshadowed by dust and the faintly sweet aroma of manure.

I love people watching at rodeos. I love to see all of the rodeo royalty, the queens, the princesses, the rodeo princess want-to-be's. I love watching the old men, gristled and outwardly unimpressed with the excitement going on in the arena. After all, these old cowboys are the real deal.

What's going on down in the rodeo arena? It's mostly an expensive, addictive sport to entertain the masses of city folk who've ventured out to taste a little bit of the rough and wild West. Now, don't get me wrong, I love rodeos, and I love that they strive to give people a glimpse into the Western lifestyle, of cattle ranching, of independence, of riding the open range.

Yet, I often find it sad that a rodeo may be as close as most people get to the American cowboy and the ranching culture. I take my coworkers and friends, and often spend most of the time talking about the events, assuring people that the bucking straps aren't torture, and how steer wrestling came into practice.
My favorite events, the roping events are often sped through to get to the more exciting events of bull riding and it's more friendly, fluffy cousin, mutton bustin'. In Denver there is great competition to see who can get their kid entered into one of the mutton bustin' competitions.

Personally, I can't wait until I watch my baby boy cling to the wool of a sheep and ride out across the arena. (Take that as you may, no sarcasm intended).

If a rodeo really is the closest thing to a cattle ranch that the majority of people get, I hope that they really listen to the announcers, as they describe the events, the people involved, and the careful treatment of all animals. I hope people will get out of the bandstands and wander out to the corrals, to talk to the participants, to the stock handlers, to ask questions and then really listen.
Obviously, I'm feeling nostalgic and a bit blue this morning, missing my horses, my parent's ranch, and the lifestyle that goes along with it.


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