Sunday, February 26, 2006

it's done!!!!!

well... the first draft at least. i've really only just begun. now comes the editing, tweaking, supplementing the supporting authority, and other such activities. but i can at least go to my other classes tomorrow with one less thing to think about.

40 pages. 223 footnotes. hundreds of hours expended. several hours today of complete doubt that i have anything to add to this discussion whatsoever. but, praise God, i was able to push through that, and hopefully have come to the other side & will be able to just concentrate on making it better.

the longest paper i ever wrote before this was 26 pages long, which i had to shrink the font quite a bit to get it down to 20 pages... do you know i've never had to enlarge the font to make something longer? i think i have a tendency to babble when i write, which i seem to be doing right now.

/breathes sigh of relief.

i shall return another day.

nightly update so i feel like i'm making progress

30 pages

170 footnotes

3 more pages of outline to cover, plus the intro and the conclusion, so i'm guessing about 5-6 more pages.

will i be able to finish it tomorrow??? that's the goal...

nighty night.

Friday, February 24, 2006

chaos of the mind

my head is just absolutely swimming from writing all day.

i love it.

but it's amazing to me how long it takes to get things down on paper. after doing other things all week, to get back into the groove of what i'm saying and where i'm going with things took at least 2 hours. and then to just get into the rythm of, "write a sentence, do a footnote; write a sentence, do a footnote," took at least another hour. but by this time of the night, after working for about 9 hours, i don't want to stop. however, the mind-swimming is somewhat detrimental to the paper-writing process, so it's time for me to break for the night.

i'm at 20 pages, 121 footnotes, and i'm a little more than halfway through the outline. yipee!

(and i know that all you non-lawyers--and maybe even some lawyers--are out there thinking how wrong it is for someone to be happy about writing a paper for 9 hours on a saturday... but what can i say, it's a strange sort of sickness i have, i guess...)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

a paradigm of growth

well, i'm about 15 pages and 100 footnotes into my big paper for the semester.

i'm really, really enjoying the process. i know it's just a little bit crazy, but the process of taking almost endless research and turning it into a legal argument is very enjoyable for me. i enjoy the big-pictureness of it, i think - the analysis and synthesis of many parts into a cohesive whole. i enjoy the possibility that it might impact actual lives or policy.

choosing the job that i did for the summer, the place where i'll be researching and writing the days away, is a little out of character for me. i had another great option that would have put me in the courtroom as a prosecutor for the summer. normally, when given a choice between something i would love and something that would challenge me, or between something i perceive as "easy" and something that i will be stretched in, i choose the harder path. i just always choose the hardest thing. i think somehow i have that tied to my spirituality, though i can't tell you how right now.

but somehow for the summer i found the freedom to actually go with my personality instead of against it. see... i live within a paradigm for growth. living overseas and being challenged all my life in many different ways has made me uncomfortable with being comfortable. i always want to grow and be out of my element just a little bit - with the hope that i will become a better person and more like Christ. i think i have a genuine fear of the complacency that normally accompanies being comfortable where i am. so somehow i always end up doing the hard things, or the neutral things the hard way.

i think in many ways this leads to being a more balanced person - i'm working on my weaknesses so they become less detrimental. but i think it also has caused me to not reach my full potential. in developing my weaknesses instead of my strengths i have not allowed myself to excel and strengthen my strengths.

maybe like so much of life, balance is needed. it's really good to develop and use the strengths that we have because that is who God has made us. but it's also good to seek growth and development in areas that we are weak so that as people we can be more balanced.

maybe the challenge for me this summer then, will be to put as much energy into developing my strengths as i normally would put into trying to overcome my weaknesses. there's no real reason why the growth paradigm has to be limited to just one kind of growth.

Friday, February 17, 2006

summer job

i got a job!

i'll be working this summer in a federal government agency right in my own town. i don't have to drive more than 5 minutes to work each day, i'll get some school credit so i'll have less to do during my last 2 semesters, i'll be in a position to make contacts with some great people, i'll be researching & writing the summer away, i'll have nights & weekends to do whatever i want, and i'll have time to visit my family for several weeks.

i can't think of a position that would have been better for me. i'm so thankful that this is what God provided for me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

how evidence taught me grace

my evidence class and a talk with a friend taught me a little bit about grace this week.

the federal rules of evidence don't really allow you to discuss a person's character during trial, with just a few exceptions. usually you can't bring up past actions (like a prior conviction for robbing a bank) to show that someone has a propensity to do something (like robbing in general), to show that they did something specific (like robbing the 7-11). we don't want someone convicted of a crime because he's a bad person - we want him convicted because there's enough evidence that he did it.

a friend and i did something to upset one of our best friends about a year ago. not a huge deal, only we live such a long distance from one another that it's been hard to reconnect. so she was visiting again for several weeks over Christmas, and i discovered that i wasn't really emotionally connecting with her. and so i tried to figure out why. eventually i discovered it was because i wasn't really sure what she thought of me anymore. she's a pretty emotional person. i'm a pretty sensitive person. she had responded in frustration in a way that made me wonder what she thought of me.

and that's where evidence comes in. i realized that i believed that she'd taken my negative action and made a negative inference about me. i believed that she no longer believed in me. and i don't know how to be real and vulnerable with someone who has known me deeply, yet stopped believing in me.

then i thought about grace - maybe that's what grace is. it's seeing the negative things that a person does, but not drawing a negative inference about them. it's allowing people to make mistakes, to be human, but to reserve judgment and keep thinking the best of them. and that really is how God sees us. he looks at us and does see the bad things that we do. but he doesn't infer bad things about us. in fact - he goes further and sees us through Christ's work on the cross. he is able to see the good in us, in spite of the bad things we do.

the reason the testimony about prior bad acts is kept out of court is because it's highly prejudicial. juries tend to give great weight to prior bad acts in determining current guilt. i think that's because that's the way we are in life too. we all to often see the bad acts and make the inference about bad character and then basically expect the person to keep doing bad things.

but i want to see the best in people. and i want people to believe the best about me, even when i do stupid things. is that what it means to always protect, always hope, always trust, and always persevere in love?

i kind of think it does.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

a foot in both worlds

my generation is a product of a strange mixture of the modern & postmodern cultures. as a result, i have adopted parts of both worlds. in addition, the world of law is primarily a modern world (at least until you start talking about policy). but the study of law tends to produce thinkers more comfortable with modern thinking than the postmodern.

this has affected me. but not quite enough, it seems. there's one area that i just cannot relearn to be modern about - a commitment to a future path. i cannot, to save my life, tell you what i want to do with my law degree. i can tell you, actually, about 50 things that i will want to do with it. i fully expect to have at least 10 different legal jobs.

and in every single interview (yep - had another one today), that is the one question i can't answer to anyone's satisfaction. i'm told i should just make something up - just choose one of the 50 things i want to do. but somehow that seems dishonest to me. so i somehow try to communicate that i have a huge worldview - lots that i would like to accomplish, but many different ways to get there. all of them seem almost equally acceptible to me. so i can't for the life of me tell the interviewers why their firm or agency is the place that i should be this summer.

i've actually had this same problem before. it was the very thing that got me in trouble with the infamous missions committee. so in this area, i am an inescapably post-modern thinker. i think i might just have to work for myself.