Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Secrets of the Universe?

Ever feel like you’re on the verge of a great discovery and have just one more clue to find before the secrets of the universe will be revealed? I feel like I am on the journey – so close, and yet, so far. There have been so many changes this year with the birth of our second child, the emerging of our son from a toddler to a little boy, and me going back to school. The challenges and joys of two children are greater than I ever imagined. For me, kids are like the something I never knew I needed, but did. They keep me balanced and sane, despite the insanity they create. They require that of me, to some degree. The challenges all of this has caused for my wife are ten-fold that of what I experience, but I will leave that for her to process in her own way and time.

I’ve just spent a wonderful Holiday with my family, and the days surrounding it with two good friends I have known since high school. In fact, one I have known since the 6th grade. In most ways, no one knows me better, or is more accepting of me than these two beautiful women. We have, at times, been separated for months and even years, and yet, each time we come together, the years fall away and we are simply ourselves comfortable in the bond forged years ago. After spending time with them, I always feel more grounded and sure of who I am and where I am going. In being accountable to those who have known me for so long, I am forced to be as true to myself as possible. Especially as the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my decisions and actions of the past and wondering if I am where I am supposed to be. We all have dreams in high school of how our lives will turn out, and few of them tend to come true exactly, and in many ways, this really is best. I am happy to know I can look back, and at each juncture know that I did what I thought was best for me at the time. It doesn’t mean all has turned out as I’d hoped, or that I made no mistakes, but I can say, I have been true, have not sold out, and not compromised values that turned me into someone who I am not. That is a type of success, for certain.

I never thought I’d be going back to school, particularly law school, at almost 40. I never thought Id’ be accumulating the debt I am in order to do so, and yet, here I am. That is a little frightening, and yet overall, as for going to law school, I still think, “How cool is this?” It feels right, and I have to trust it is.

Still, attending law school also forces me to confront some big issues. It is such an “academic/intellectual” field that I find myself more and more drawn towards the arts for balance. I look towards my lifelong aspiration of being a writer. I’ve done some writing, completed a novel, a screenplay and nearly completed another novel, yet I am not published (thanks to the freak publisher I got involved with who did not fulfill my contract – probably a good thing, in retrospect). That is still something I want to do – to be a well-known, published author. Maybe I will be the next John Grisham :) More and more, the theme of my life that is emerging is balance. It is about balancing the elements that I know are important, those that I want to be important, and those that I still need to discover are important. Maybe that is what we are all doing.
What a wonderful Christmas we had! The family got up early to rush to the living room to see what Santa had left for us. At our house, Santa leaves one gift for each child, and fills everyone's stockings with goodies both edible and non-edible. What fun to have Christmas with a 3-year old! Such pure joy! The first thing he saw was the colorful present Santa left for his baby sister. He pulled it out from under the tree and said, "This is for you!" She barely woke up to acknowledge that something was happening, and then the boy was on to his remote-control car and bike. (Santa left him two presents this year, since they were thematically related.) He actually got tired of opening presents after opening his stocking presents and about two others, and said it was OK to wait until later to open the others. We were shocked, but happy to be able to go at a slow pace and just enjoy the toys that had been opened. The last present was opened 27 hours after the first. Not bad :) We enjoyed visits and meals with relatives, opened more presents for the kids, and had a packed, but good, day. The day after Christmas was also spent visiting with family and friends, enjoying good food, including the best pizza in town (Thank you, B.), and playing with new toys. Great times - great days!

I am now at work for 1 day and then have the rest of the week off! Today I've been enjoying one of my Christmas presents, Melissa Etheridge's Greatest Hits/The Road Less Traveled . I absolutely LOVE it. No denying it, Melissa Rocks! I recently found out that my best friend's husband has a thing for Melissa. After seeing her recent video, "Refugee", which can be viewed from her webpage, I can't even imagine anyone, gay/straight/male/female NOT having a thing for her :) It is my desire to be that hot at 44. Wow. (Note: The video is not overtly sexual in any way, it is Melissa's beauty, movements, voice and energy of the music that make her really irrestistable.)

I believe I mentioned I'd be sharing some good tequila with an old friend (or was that old tequila with a good friend?). I did. The 1800 Anejo she brought over was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that we were "forced" to drink too much of it. *grin* Tequila has always been somewhat of a mysterious temptation for me, and I've located a great site with lots of tequila facts and myths. Fun to browse for a while. Good tequila, good friends, good food. Great night. Merry Christmas to us!

There may be another post happening today, but for now, lunch!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Just two more short hours at work and I’m outta here! I can’t believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve! This season, not to mention this year, has flown by! I’m looking forward to Christmas morning with the kids. Our boy is going to be so excited! My partner will be excited, too! As I mentioned previously, she’s getting a kick-ass Christmas present…plus a few other decent ones :) The baby girl? Well, she’ll probably be overwhelmed, as the Boy was on his first Christmas, but she’ll enjoy the activity and eating Christmas paper – yum!

Tonight I’ll be having my “end of the semester” drink(s) with the previously mentioned friend from high school who is also a student again. She’s bringing over “the good tequila”. *grin* I’ll have to remember to go easy – got kids and a wife to think of, plus don’t want to feel crappy tomorrow. Still, a toast to our accomplishments and in celebration of the Holidays will be good.

Odd how alcohol and the Holidays seem to go together. I was talking with a co-worker this morning and he said that Christmas is definitely the biggest alcohol-buying time of the year for his family. He’s not very fond of the family members who imbibe the most, so will probably not be drinking. Makes me wonder why people drink so much this time of year – to celebrate, to forget, to just get through? For some, I think the act of sharing a drink with friends and family truly is a ritual, if not exactly religious, as least almost sacred. For others, it may be a way of tolerating annoying relatives. For hopefully a minority, it’s just another excuse to get drunk. Such extremes. Guess everyone has their own reasons. I’ll be hoping people remember to stay safe, drink responsibly and stay off the road!

So, as we eagerly await our visit from St. Nick, we’ll be spending time with family and friends, and remembering what life was like before law school! At least 2 hours at the end of the day with the kids asleep now seems like a luxury! Just another fringe benefit of going back to school…

Oh - check out the great digital scrapbook pages my wife has done in just the short week since her birthday! What fun!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Wahoo! I made it through my first semester of law school! Naturally, everyone keeps asking, “How did you do?” and the real answer is that I won’t know until...well, I don’t know when. I’m assuming mid-January or so. There’s nothing I can do about it now, so no point in worrying about it. I felt good about my performance and don’t think there is anything I wish I’d done differently given my current information. Guess if I really blew my finals, I’ll have to rethink that statement - and my study methods!

Sometimes, I am still amazed that I am in law school. I like that feeling of wonder and respect for where I am in my life. For so many years it would have been much easier to go back to school, but I really did not have the interest or motivation. Now that I have the interest, and am perhaps motivated by the fact that I have a family and that I am rapidly approaching 40, it is less convenient than ever before. Ironic, isn’t it? Things come together, or fall apart, for a reason, and at the time that is meant to be, so I don’t question it too much. It’s kind of like being on a ride and just enjoying it, but at the same time, I know to a great extent, I am in charge of the ride and my ultimate destination. OR – MAYBE I AM NOT IN CHARGE OF MY ULTIMATE DESTINATION. What’s really at work here, free will – or something else? I don’t know, and it doesn’t even matter much right now. (Hmmm....is that a symptom of a brain-dead law student?)

I am enjoying spending time with my family. I just had three days off with no work and no school, then a “snow day” stuck at home, making it 4 days in a row that I was home with my wife and kids. It was so nice to have both kids asleep by 8:30 last night and to be at home. We watched a movie, mostly uninterrupted, other than my partner having to nurse the baby back to sleep a couple times. Poor baby is getting in her two top teeth and it seems to be quite painful. I am happy that as adults we do not remember the pain!

I have a feeling I will be at a bit of a loss trying to slow my life down after the Holidays. Right now, it is already slowing down, but we have the excitement of Christmas approaching, and needing to get last minute things done, wrapping, all of that stuff. Next week, I have most of the week off; we’ll do family stuff with my partner’s family, then back to work for two weeks before school starts again. I know the time will fly by...but still...anticipate the “let down” as I do not have to be “on top of my game.” I admit, that it is even harder work to be at home taking care of two little kids. Perhaps "slowing down" is not the correct term. Maybe mentally slowing down? I have the easy task of going to work and school and only being “mommy” part-time. What is really unfair to my partner is that even though she takes on the brunt of the childrearing responsibilities, I get to be the “fun mom” that the kids want to spend time with. Right now, she’s mostly OK with it, as it is allowing her lots of time to play with her new digital scrapbooking program that she got for her birthday (Happy Birthday, Honey!), but when we are out and about, it’s not that much fun for her when the kids just want me.

I see I am rambling. I will stop here with one last thought, “We made it through the first semester!!”

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

First final of 1L down, 2 more to go!

Wahoo! We've made it this far. Completed a full semester of law school and seem to have suffered no major damage. Civ Pro final went well, I think. Guess I won't know for sure until next month sometime. At any rate, I had answers that seemed in the realm of correctness and didn't panic, or draw a blank or anything like that. First real test since high school. I went to the Evergreen State College for my undergraduate education - no tests, no grades. Emphasis actually was on learning - we just didn't have to spit the knowledge back out in exam form. I can see there was value in me having to study for the last couple weeks, and outline throughout the semester. I probably would not have solidified my knowledge nearly as well if there had not been a final to prepare for. Hmmm....guess there is something to testing. I'm not saying I'm suddenly an advocate for traditional testing methods, just that I can see there is value on both sides of the debate...or maybe I should say...all around the debate since I'm sure this is more than a two-sided issue.

Contracts Wednesday.

Con Law Thursday.

Then one whole month off with the family! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Little Revelations from a Law Student...

1) I was informed by my wife that the FRCP quiz from the prior post was not particularly funny, though she conceded that maybe it would be to a law student. I am still pretty sure if I went back and took it again, I would be laughing. Again, I've not had enough sleep. Guess it will have to be enough. Civ Pro final is in 3 hours! Bring it on!

2) I was informed by my best friend since high school that we need to get together drink once finals are over. She is also an insane adult returnee to the upper educational system. (I hope I am able to form such eloquent sentences later this evening.) This proves that no matter what age you are, the need to cut loose after finals is still the same.

3) I was informed by a friend/classmate that I am a smartass. I am quite sure the informers of topics #1 & 2 would agree.

4) Same friend/classmate warned of letting my mind drift in the midst of our Contracts final and creating my own hypos containing offer, acceptance and consideration based on the behavior of the women of the L Word. As a generalization, I'd say there are many implied, if not express, offers; acceptance by performance; and as consideration...well, not so sure there are many mutually negotiated exchanges of legal detriments.....therefore, no enforceable contracts. Now, were we to consider Promissory Estoppel, that might be a different matter.

OK, OK, clearly I am tired and am only amusing myself. Though I may slightly amuse at least one other 1L. If so, my work here is done.

I am off! (As, I am sure, all of the aforementioned parties would agree!)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Am I?

OK - I laughed out loud while taking this fun, little quiz. That goes to show you I am WAY too tired to even attempt studying, which is exactly how most of the rest of my day must be spent. Does anyone else hear that sound? It is the sound of hysterical laugher. I'm not sure where it is coming from....

Go ahead all you other law student types, take the FRCP challenge:


You are Rule 8, the most laid back of all the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While your
forefather in the Federal Rules may have been a
stickler for details and particularity, you
have clearly rebelled by being pleasant and
easy-going. Rule 8 only requires that a
plaintiff provide a short and plain statement
of a claim on which a court can grant relief.
While there is much to be lauded in your
approach, your good nature sometimes gets you
in trouble, and you often have to rely on your
good friend, Rule 56, to bail you out.

Want to know the really funny part? This quiz nailed me!

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What kind of Seducer are You?

Your Seduction Style: Sweet Talker

Your seduction technique can be summed up with "charm"
You know that if you have the chance to talk to someone...
Well, you won't be talking for long! ;-)

You're great at telling potential lovers what they want to hear.
Partially, because you're a great reflective listener and good at complementing.
The other part of your formula? Focusing your conversation completely on the other person.

Your "sweet talking" ways have taken you far in romance - and in life.
You can finess your way through any difficult situation, with a smile on your face.
Speeding tickets, job interviews... bring it on! You truly live a *charmed life*

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

OK, so I can't be a rock star. Whatever.

So, it's back to the books. Seems that I am not alone in my quest for "other things besides studying." One of my classmates admits to spending the time and energy this past weekend to shop for, wrap and mail presents to an old friend that she's not exchanged gifts with for 2 years. Odd how right before finals that was suddenly a priority. I believe she also said she spent a lot of time cleaning this weekend, too. I'm finding it hugely important to surf the internet, read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, purchase Post It Flags for marking up my FRCP book, and of course, do on-line shopping (Guess whose partner is getting awesome Christmas and Birthday presents?). Yesterday, while on some semi-legitimate search about lesbian/gay issues, a link on a page I was on said something like: Who Is Openly Gay? How could I not click to find out? Before I knew it, I'd found out that Angelia Jolie is bisexual, as is Drew Barrymore, Ellen's girlfriend, Portia de Rossi used to go out with Ringo Starr's stepdaughter, Francesca Gregorini, who was seen in April "canoodling" with Kate Moenning (Gay or not? It is said that it could have just been a rumor.) What exactly is canoodling?

canoodle: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
...ca·noo·dle (k-ndl)
v. ca·noo·dled, ca·noo·dling, ca·noo·dles Informal
To engage in caressing, petting, or lovemaking. (!)
To win over or convince by cajoling or flattering; wheedle: "his matchless ability to charm, bamboozle, or canoodle most of his political associates" (Timothy Garton Ash.)

Well, who wouldn't want to canoodle with Kate Moennig....or Francesca Gregorini, for that matter? Ah....we do want to believe that one is true, if only to verify that the hottest current lesbian sexual icon (and there have been so many of them) really is gay, or at least bi.

OK, well, as fun as this is, I best get on with my day. I have to find out if my friend was able to remove the mug that was superglued to the mahogany dashboard of her collectible jag...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Leaving to Become a Rock Star.

Hey – law school has been fun but I have decided to become a rock star instead of a lawyer. As I see it, the perks are way better: you can dress any way you’d like, become intoxicated while working and it is not only not frowned upon but actually expected, there are lots of groupies to carry your gear (when was the last time you saw an attorney’s groupies carrying her briefcase? Exactly.) and provide you with uh…”stress relief,” you can party all night and not have to get up early looking good for a client or judge, there are no finals, and no bar exam. As long as you are among the 1 in 1000 that make it big....the money is great. (Weren't those the odds of even getting into law school?) Also, you do not have to go $100K+ in debt to learn how to do it. Yep, I chose the wrong profession. Damn.
It has been pointed out by both my wife and a fellow law student seeking procrastination support that I have not updated my blog on a regular basis since serious prep for finals set in. Never fear – I am still here – and have been involved in a variety of non-school-related activities in order to assure that my own procrastination skills stay sharp! I have NOT spent all this away time studying. It is, after all, the Holiday, and I have shopping to consider. My wife’s Birthday is December 15th (right, Con Law final day). Best part about that is that it will be my last final. The Birthday present part is NOT going back to school after that night until January 16th. Wow – a whole month off! Sounds so decadent!

It will be strange to be back at home for a whole month. We all have our own new routines and ways of doing things, and this will definitely be a departure. My wife is used to being “queen” of the household with me not being around much, but when I am back home at 5:00 every night, I am fairly likely to disrupt her reign. Well, she probably won’t mind me coming home to cook dinner, give the kids their baths and generally make the “out of control” evening time more bearable. Hey – how about this one: instead of Wednesday being study day, it will be family day! There’s a treat. The kids other mom may want to take that opportunity to go out and have some alone time while I stay with the kids….or MAYBE, if I am feeling really brave…I will take the kids out somewhere and she can have the whole house to herself. It will be a good month, but it will go by fast, and then we’ll all have to get used to my school schedule again. Next semester, instead of getting out at 8:30 on two nights, it will be 9:00 instead. 9:00 on a Friday night? Whose bright idea was that? Ugh.

OK, well, as I this is not particularly entertaining, I am going to move along and consider blogging again later. Maybe I can think of some interesting stuff to write. I know that a fellow law student is hoping for some juicy stuff, and had hoped to find it last week in the story behind a deleted comment on this blog, but alas, it was only spam I had deleted. Let me see what I can come up with!

Have a Happy week! (Now get back to studying!)

Monday, November 28, 2005

What Kind of Superhero Are You?

Just a little fun on a cold and dreary Monday.

Your results:
You are Superman
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Wow. I scored 100%. Pretty pure personality profile there. No combo, no borderline.
I am Superman. Cool. Flying Rocks!

Note of thanks to a fellow law school blogger for linking to this survey:
The Amazingly True Tales of a Naive Optimist

Monday, November 14, 2005

The L Word Withdrawal

Well, after spending the last week watching the second season of The L Word, my partner and I finished Season 2 last night. Like any good drama, it left me wanting more. Today I am in L Word withdrawal. How can I wait another year for Season 3 to come out on DVD? (As much as I would love to have and to support Showtime, we just can’t justify the cost. Especially considering our lack of available tv watching time.) A whole year without Shane? *sigh* This sexy show has sucked me into the lives of these complex characters who irritate, fascinate, stimulate and now *poof* - it’s gone for another year. Perhaps we should have shown more restraint and only watched one episode a week. Right. It kind of reminds me of the Neil Simon play, “Same Time Next Year.” Our affair with this show will continue next year at this time, assuming Season 3 is released in the fall, as was Season 2.

Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of the show, is my new hero. There is a very good interview with her on Planet Out, done near the end of Season One. (Follow that link and there are great interviews and extras from the cast!) How much history is this woman making - or at least, helping to make? She basically says she is just telling her stories. She knew the time was ripe for people to see the lives of lesbians portrayed on tv. (Legal types - cite is from interview link above. If I were more obsessive I get out my ALWD manual and figure out the format, but I'm not.) The fact it was picked up for a second season after only the second show is a testament to the truth of that. Third Season was picked up very quickly, too. Don't recall specifics.

OK, I clearly have a Legal Writing paper due. Two blogs in one day. Can you say “procrastination”?
We hear a lot of talk about balance – especially those of us that are women. (I imagine this is because our society tends validate and perpetuate men being less “in balance.”) Advice, thoughts, books, articles, law school professors – we are surrounded by the topic of balancing career, family, health, free time, and whatever else we may be juggling. There are even seminars on how female attorneys can balance career goals with family. This is good and (hopefully) useful. We need this kind of help, and validation that it is hard, and not something that has been done for centuries, or even decades, with such success that we must be incompetent for even feeling stress about balance. Women have traditionally been the nurturers and there is probably something basic to female chemistry or essence that encourages that behavior. Toss in wanting or needing to be the breadwinners, too, and it does throw individuals and society off balance. Academics far more versed than I have written thoroughly on this topic, so that’s not even where I am going.

What I want to point out is another item to throw onto the balance scale – choosing a specialty within our chosen careers that is somehow in harmony with who we are as individuals. Let’s say a law student must decide on whether to aim towards corporate law, prosecution, criminal defense, or environmental law. Maybe the fields that would most likely pay back the student loans are not what would give the person the most satisfaction as a career. OK, so the person decides to do what will pay the bills and do pro bono work, too…..all of a sudden *BAM*….what happened to the balance? No more time for family, eating right or working out. I know, gross oversimplification for the sake of brevity, but I think the point is clear anyway. Somehow, all of us, within the field of law or not, struggle to find a balance between how we make our living, how we live, and how our life intersects with the lives of others. For some, work and play and values are so interrelated that it really does create a well-balanced life. That’s where I want to live.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Confessions of an L-Word Junkie:

OK, Ladies, it’s out and we have it – “The L Word: Season 2”.
So far, we’ve only made it through episode 3, but that’s only due to lack of time, not lack of interest. I was pretty sure we’d lost our minds when we didn’t shut the DVD player off until after 11:00 last night. (I get up at 5:00am, and my partner is awake on and off all night with the baby, and we'd gotten very little sleep the night before). Somehow, though, watching all those women (OK, yes, HOT women) validating our lives is totally worth it. Check ‘em out on line at: www.thelwordonline.com

I want to be Shane when I grow up. OK, so I’d have to start aging backwards. Let’s put it this way, I SHOULD have been Shane when I was younger. I get that she’s deeply lonely inside and doesn’t emotionally connect with any of her conquests, but she does have good friends and connects with them on some level. That means she’ll probably get to a mature relationship someday, but that’s not really what’s fascinating about Shane, is it? Funny, I want to BE Shane, but I am pretty sure my partner just wants to BE WITH Shane. Works, though, doesn’t it?

*sigh* All right, back to the reality of my life* - mom, wife, employee, student - when DO the women of "The L Word" find the time to hang out in bars and coffee houses, drinking, dancing, and doing it? Oh, right, no kids yet!

*Not that my life is something to escape from. I have a great life and great family, but we all could use a good fantasy now and then!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rock On!

A little fun for a Friday afternoon.
Did a quiz, here's my results for
"What Kind of Rocker Are You?"

(Try it for yourself - link at bottom. Happy Friday!)

You Are a Punk Rocker!

When it comes to rock, you don't follow any rules.
You know that rocking out is all about taking down the man.
You've got an incredible stage presence and rock persona.
You scare moms, make bad girls swoon, and live life on the edge!

Yup, That's me - livin' life on the edge! *grin*

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Halloween Costumes!
OK, it didn't take much for reader, Dagny, to convince me to post a few pics of my kids in their costumes (Note: There are only two kids. They each have more than one costume!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Hauntings

(Written quickly in a pause between classes on Halloween night. Cut and Pasted the next morning.)

Gosh, is there anything more powerful than Mommy-Guilt? I have been feeling horrible all night for not skipping classes and going trick-or-treating with my family. My son and I had a great time this past weekend doing pumpkin carving, face painting and having little Halloween parties. Still, I missed THE night. I missed seeing him in his costume. I missed the family fun. Plus all that, my partner had to do it all alone - kids into costumes, lugging them around to Grandma's, trick-or-treating in the dark, misty/rainy neighborhood…*sigh* Doing this all alone was not part of our bargain. I should have been there to help.

Still, a good time was had and my son was home by 7:00 with a tummy ache shortly thereafter. Once again, the hardest part about law school is not the academic challenge, but the emotional burden of the commitment. Go figure.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"This was your decision."

OK - this will be a short entry, but I just had to write it.
Last night before class, a friend and I were teasing each other about hearing from our partners unsypathetic variations of the phrase, "This was your decision." Both of us have supportive partners, but let's face it, being with a law student is no easy task. As I have mentioned before, our families bear additional burdens due to our student status, so it's not unreasonable that they sometimes have little sympathy for our self-imposed stress, lack of sleep, workload..etc.

As we were talking, a classmate starts laughing and says, "Oh my gosh, I hear that all the time!"

He says he was a wonderfully supportive wife. We all do - and part of that support seems to be reminding us that it was our choice to go to law school :)

I suspect only other law students will find this entry amusing.

(To my partner: I love you, honey!)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

There must be a paper due......
because here I am writing a blog instead of going over the paper that I must hand in tonight. I think it is really close to being done. It is our second legal memo. We've been working on it for about a month and it's gotten to the point that I've read it so many times it no longer makes sense. Our prof. once used the phrase "total abomination" to describe the only reason a paper would be handed back to completely rewrite. While I don't think my paper quite fits that description, those words echo in my head and are much easier to understand than my discussion about a landowner's possible breach of duty to a juvenile delinquent who got hurt trying to destroy his property.

Funny how we all get hung up on certain parts of an assignment, sometimes to the exclusion of actually completing the assignment correctly. Recently much of our class handed in a less than complete assignment because they'd been so focused on one aspect of it that they did not hear the instructions about the full assignment. Our prof. took some of the blame and gave them an extension, but I find that the error is analogous to the entire paper - ha - and even life!

It is so easy to get hung up on an area we are having trouble with, or that is especially time-consuming, that we neglect the other pieces to the detriment of the whole. Guess that gets us right back to that "balance" message again......all parts of our life need attention, or the "whole" will suffer. We must make time for family, friends, fun, spirituality, eating right, sleeping (what is that??), while maintaining our law school career, and for many of us, a job or existing career. Big question - when? In my 8 weeks of wisdom of balancing all of this, my best answer at this point, is it doesn't all happen all the time, or even every week, but I think it can be "rotated in." One Saturday, you meet with friends for dinner, the next go to a movie with your partner, grab an hour on Sunday to read a book or watch some tv, take a few minutes to IM a friend every couple days. It's not life like it used to be, but it's still life!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Stolen Weekend!
We had the best weekend - a totally spontaneous trip to the beach!

My Friday night legal writing class had been canceled, and I decided that my family needed to spend time with me more than I needed to go to my 7:00pm Civ Pro class (for just one night). We were all looking forward to our first Friday night together in 7 weeks. We'd probably grab a pizza and just enjoy our few extra hours together. It was a gorgeous day. Three people over the course of it told me they were heading to the coast for the weekend. As I pulled into our driveway at 3:00pm Friday afternoon I thought - WE could go to the coast, too. It was crazy. It would be expensive. It would be fun!

I raced into the house. All were napping except the dogs. I called the hotel we stayed in this summer. They had a room available. I couldn't book yet, as I'd not talked to my partner. I'd call back shortly. Soon, I peaked into the bedroom and saw my partner was awake.

"Wanna do something totally fun and irrresponsible?"
"Wanna go to the beach for the weekend?"

We NEVER do anything this spontaneously - not before kids, and certainly not since. This normally would be WAY out of my partner's comfort zone. Not this time :)

Within 40 minutes of that conversation, we were packed and heading for the coast! Our son was really excited when he awoke from his nap to find us packing. He asked about every 10 minutes for the 2-hour drive how long it would be until we were at the beach. (2 hours there due to traffic - made it home in 90 minutes!)

Saturday was a wonderful, gorgeous, warm, fun day. We played, we all got along, no big conflicts or meltdowns. For more details and pictures - see my partner's blog.

We headed back fairly early Sunday morning so I could spend the afternoon doing the homework that I'd normally have done on Saturday. We decided that next time I should take my books and study late into the night. I personally think NOT studying was much more rejuvenating!

I already have two sets of notes for the CivPro class I missed, and though I know I can't make a habit out of it, I really believe this "stolen time" was exactly what our family needed this weekend.

Chalk one up for my attempt at "striking a balance" that we hear so much about.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What’s an evening student to do? Most of us work all day, go to school at night and the remainder of our time is spent trying to balance homework and family. Still, there are certain realities of law school and ultimate employment, and those realities have to do with our academic career beyond the grades. Books (and advisors, I presume, though I’ve not had time to talk to one) tell us that we need to get on a law review, go to seminars, volunteer for student groups or pro bono work. I personally am inundated with email every day with extracurricular options to gain useful advice from and schmooze with top attorneys, authors, judges, career experts, and others that will help me not only make a career decision, but perhaps assist in the invaluable process of networking. I would love to participate in at least half of these things. Pro bono work, of course! Work on a law review, sure! Those would be great experiences and would be super on a resume, but the reality is, there are four days a week that I already don’t see one of my kids. When exactly do I fit anything else in, and if I don’t, how do I compete with the (mostly day) students who have had plenty of time filling their time with useful law-related activities?

Sure, I already have a job in an area at least somewhat related to law. Holding down that job, maybe even excelling at it, while going to school will say something about the kind of person I am. OK, good. My grades will count for a lot, as I understand it. (I went to The Evergreen State College where we did not have grades, so this concept eludes me.) That I can work on, but being a first year and having very little idea of what exams will really be like, this area makes me nervous. (I know, join the club.)
What is the real expectation? Do they (you know, “Them”) expect that evening students compete in the same way as day students? How do employers evaluate one experience versus another? I guess that’s what it all comes down to – our experiences are just different. I’d love to be having the non-working or part-time working day-student experience, but that’s not the reality of my life. Maybe I can sneak in a bit of pro bono work or contribute something extracurricular here and there over the next four years (yes, evening is a 4-year program). If I do not, will it be the cause of my law career never even getting off the ground? Probably not, but I guess I should talk to an advisor about low time commitment projects that help build experience and resumes!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Appreciating the simple things:
Yesterday we spent a good part of the day doing fall clean-up in our back yard, and I have to say, it was quite enjoyable. The weather was cool and cloudy, but not rainy. My son and I started by letting the air and small bit of water out of his pool while we looked for bugs (mostly drowned spiders) and slugs. That was soon followed by playing with the worms that were found under the pool when we lifted it from the location it had been in all summer. Our boy managed to pick up his first large worm, usually preferring that I do it for him. It was a proud moment J

My partner and I stashed as many outdoor toys into the tree house/shed that we could, trimmed dead branches and even cleaned out the garage a bit, which we had to do to make room for the battery-powered Barbie car that had been in the backyard. It was nice working together, appreciating the joy my son was feeling on his bug and worm hunt, and seeing the results of our hard work. Our baby girl was out with us in her activity saucer for a little bit, but being confined, she was not enjoying herself nearly as much as she thinks she would have if we’d let her crawl around (and attempt to put every bit of nature she could in her mouth). Well, next year, I’m sure she’ll be out with the rest of us, dragging sticks around and playing with worms.

I did not manage to work on the legal memo outline that is due Tuesday unless pondering the fictional Mr. Potter’s possible breach of duty to infant trespassers while I was in the shower counts. I’m finding just how much time and thought must go into legal writing projects, and like all of my writing, I want this to be good, so naturally, I am procrastinating as much as possible. I seem to operate under the belief that the Great Gods of Writing will infuse my brain with wisdom and clarity if I let the project simmer long enough. It’s always worked before. We’ll see how that method works out for me now!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why didn't I listen to my mother?
She told me when I was 18 that I should be a lawyer. I laughed and said something flip about not wanting to spend my life defending criminals. Too bad my viewpoint was so narrow then. If I had gone to law school when I was just out of college, I wouldn't be dealing with nearly the challenges I have now. Plus, maybe Mom would have been paying my way!

Now, it's 21 years later, I have a wife, 2 small children and a full time job. Four nights a week I only see my son for about an hour of the day, very late at night. I see my wife only slightly more than that, after the boy is asleep. I generally don't see my daughter awake at all those four nights. Two other days a week, I do homework until about 3:30, and then the evening is devoted to family time. The family misses me. My wife is going crazy being on duty all day and into the night. I miss them, too, and sometimes it's hard, keeping up the energy, doing the commute, handling the homework, doing the work work and most of it on not enough sleep. Still, as my wife points out, it was my choice and I am doing something I want to be doing. It was not her choice to become a single mom four nights a week and have her weekend cut down to one day.

From within me, I know I can handle this all and feel that I am doing the right thing. Overall I am happy with my life and with my decision to go to law school. Sure, there will be hard times, but life is full of challenges. When I broaden my perspective though, I get into those incredibly dangerous "shoulds". Should I be doing this to my family? I am missing out on so much of my kids' lives, not being the supportive partner my wife expected, and just generally am not there. The "for the greater good" argument is that someday this will all be worth it. By the time my kids are really involved in school activities or sports, I will be able to be around. In theory, I will be making more money to support my family (that is, as long as the job pays enough - I'll have those damn student loans to pay back). I'll be a shining example to my kids that we are all lifelong learners. I'll hopefully be doing good work in the world. I'll hopefully be happy in my career. Also, I will have gone to law school. Let's face it, there is something intrinsicly cool about that. Granted, the coolness does not outweight the $130K of student loans, but it is a nice perk :)Should I be doing this?

Please God (Goddess, Higher Power), let this all be worth it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Face it fellow evening students, we have no more bargaining power with our families. A few of us were talking about this on the way to the parking lot after class last night. Your husband made a huge mess trying to clean something up? Smile, nod, and be grateful he tried because you have elected to be away from home, away from your family, and away from your right to have much of a say at all in anything anymore. Your partner is upset because you forgot to (insert any chore here)? Just apologize and do better next time! Let's face it, for those of us who are married or partnered and have kids, we are putting a huge burden on our families. They have to pick up the majority of the slack our absence is creating. This includes cleaning the house, doing laundry, running errands, shopping, taking care of the kids and the pets, yardwork....most everything that we are unable to do due to our work and school schedules. Not only do they get the brunt of the work, but they get no glory. We have the respect of our co-workers and other peers - "Oh, you're in law school and you work? Wow! Congratulations! How do you do it?" They get dirty diapers and the dog throwing up on the floor.

Seriously, though, we are at the 4-week point and many of us seem to be riding some rough waters - both internally and externally. The honeymoon is almost over and we (families included) are getting a picture of what our lives will be like for the next four years (and the legal writing assignments have barely begun!). I sometimes wonder if I am doing the right thing. Is getting a law degree worth what I am putting my partner and my kids through? Is it really going to be worth it? Should I have waited until the kids were older? How the heck am I going to pay back those insane student loans? Can I become a lawyer without understanding Civ Pro? It's hard to have to look into the eyes of my sweet son and tell him that I have to leave him to go do homework, or that I am not going to be home when he wakes up in the morning. It's hard to hear my wife on the phone struggling with our 3-year-old who is testing every limit ever created and know I can't be home to rescue her at 5:00. I know I'm not the only one questioning this crazy thing we are doing. Many of us are going through these struggles. I wonder if the men are experiencing it as much as the women? As women, do we have more of a sense of duty to being at home with our families? Is there still a cultural bias towards it being more OK for a man to be going to school so he can be a lawyer and take care of his family? I have no answers. Just thoughts. I love being in school. I hate that it is hard on my family. If only we didn't need my salary to live on!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Almost Survived Week 2

We have almost completed week 2 of law school and we are surviving. My partner seems to be having a better week this week than last. Our son has been really good this week, and he gets to stay up to see me on school nights. When I get home, we play a bit and then I put him to bed. Makes for late nights for all of us, but worth it to get to spend time together. Our baby girl may not notice when I am gone, but she sure is happy when she sees me. It is great seeing the big smile light up her face and having her reach for me. Oh, she is crawling in earnest now - no stopping that girl! My partner has her work cut out for her!

Classes are still fun. I love the way we are being encouraged to think and analyze. This is so much different from classes where the professor gives you the answers and you memorize them (not that there was a lot of that at my undergrad schoo, The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA). Here, we often hear, "we don't know the right awswer," but they help us look at the things we should be considering. Cool.

An odd thing has really struck me being back in an academic atmosphere - that is the man/woman dynamic and the potential for mating behaviors. (Sounds so scientific.) At work, if you see members of the opposite sex talking, it is still assumed to be work ( maybe it's that we only have 5 men where I work and they are all gay).....at school...well, maybe they are talking about class, maybe they are flirting, maybe they are doing both. This is particularly pronounced at times before the evening students are on campus. I have found myself wondering if I should approach someone I know if they are with a member of the opposite sex. Will I be interupting their flirting session? What if I know they are married? I say man/woman....which I know leaves out the same sex couples, but let's face it, the stats are heavily stacked in the other direction. Besides, hopefully I could more easily pick up on the vibe if it was same-sex flirtation happening. OK - weird line of thought and I am not articulating it well. I'll end here. Must go work on my Civil Procedure homework (aka Civ Pro).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

1L - First Week - Law School Rocks!

I am having a blast in classes and doing the whole student thing after 17 years of being away from academia (well, as a student anyway). We get to examine things in a million different ways, playing "what if" and "arguing" in class. How great is that? We've already discovered the answer to almost every question is "it depends." YES! A school/profession that revolves around my very way of being in the world. This would drive my partner nuts :)

Yet, it is a mixed blessing. It is difficult to be having fun and being excited when I know how hard it is on my family. Monday was a good day for my partner and the kids, Tuesday a bit worse, and yesterday, my study day, not so great at all. I think whether it is a good day or bad day for them changes by the hour. That is not all due to school, of course, that is also a fair description of life with a 3-year old. Still, it is hard for my partner to be the mom-on-duty almost all of the time and hard on my son, who misses me so much. I miss them too, of course, but know that this is self-imposed, so cannot complain too much on that count. I will try to make the best use of our limited time together and know that because I am doing this now, I will be more available for school activities and such when my kids are older. I truly believe that within a few weeks we will all adjust to our new "normal", but it will be a rough go getting there, and I know some points in the semester will be more difficult than others.

It's going to suck having all of my time so rigidly scheduled and to only having one family day per week. It's going to suck when we have to do errands on family day. It's going to suck to not get enough sleep....oh, wait, that's been the past 3 1/2 years! Still, I think there are going to be a lot of fun times. It's fun to be challenging my brain again. Oh, another thing that sucks is the commute. Gotta run catch the bus!!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oh my gosh, as my partner pointed out this past weekend, this is our last "normal" week before school starts. Next week we are on vacation, the following Thursday, a 2-day orientation to school starts, and Monday is the Big Day. What have I gotten us into?

I'm 39-years old. My partner and I have been together for over 11 years, and we have an amazing, funny 3-year-old son and a beautiful, happy 6-month old daughter. I go a a traditional job in an office 5 days a week, while my partner stays at home with the kids and does the real work. Life is good, but not all that easy as it is right now. Two kids are a real handful! It takes all the time and energy we have now to mostly keep up with the kids and the demands of daily life, with almost nothing left for each other, or ourselves. Now I throw in law school! In practical terms that means that 4 days/nights I leave the house before 6:00am and don't get home until after 10:00pm. Two of the remaining three days will be largely devoted to studying and homework. Sunday is intended to be family day.

I know my partner is really worried about how she is being turned into a single mom 4+ days a week. Talk about feeling you have no life! I'm worried about her, too. She is a great mom, but will need to get a break sometimes. I hope to help her plan how we can do that, between my family members, and activities we can sign the toddler up for, there must be some ways to save her sanity. We are both worried about how our 3-year old will handle me being away from home so much. He really looks forward to me coming home at 5:00 every day, and we spend the rest of his night playing or interacting on some level. I am generally the mom who gives him his bath and sits with him while he falls asleep. (That sounds like such a simple, peaceful process. It is neither!) As I have been told, kids are resilient and he will adjust. We will still have time together and will find other ways to communicate - like notes, phone, and email. The baby will probably not miss me much, which in itself is sad on some level, but will probably make for an easier adjustment for her.

Before I was accepted, and even after, I think, my partner and I talked about this being what is best for the family. It will be hard on all of us, but there will be good times, and in the end, it will be worth it. I have to believe that. She wanted me to defer for a year, but I was excited and wanted to go to school and everyone I talked to said not to defer. Most people who defer never go, because there is always some reason that "now" is not the right time. Also, the sooner I am done, the sooner I will be back with my family, and the shorter the kids' memory of when I was gone will be. I hope I've made the right decision.

I guess now we hang on tight and get ready for a wild ride.