Sunday, November 11, 2007

really delayed life update

i passed the bar exam... yay! last night i had a bonfire where i burned up all my old bar exam study materials. it was quite a sight to behold. there were a few times when i was afraid that some of the papers were going to blow away and start a forest on fire. it took at least 2 hours to burn all the paper. i had some great friends there to help me celebrate. so i'm done. i never have to go to school again. nice to know, though i'll probably study again eventually.

in other news, my heater's circuit board is shot. during the bar exam, you may recall that i was attempting to move and teach classes, etc. so as i was switching over my accounts, i signed up for an appliance service plan. you can't get out of it for a year. total rip-off.

or not. turns out for me, it will be quite a lot cheaper to pay the $20/month for 12 months than to pay for a service call on a Sunday & a new circuit board.

so my bar-exam stupor/stupidity has turned out to be a blessing, after all.

and tomorrow's Veteran's Day so i don't have to work. instead, i'll be meeting with a former professor attempting to get the non-profit's 501(c)(3) paperwork completed. one day at a time, i guess

Saturday, September 22, 2007

belated life update...

so i finally joined the adult world, i think. i bought quicken and have worked out a budget, etc. i've never really had to do that before. actually, i started the budget and keeping track of spending earlier this month, but found that excel was not working for me. quicken is quite amazing--way more functions and features than i know what to do with. and it's not organized in a linear way--there's stuff all over the place. so it's going to take me a while to find everything and be able to get it down.

so... i'm trying to pay off my debts quickly. i think i could have all school loans and house paid off in 10 years. so that's going to be the goal, i think. we'll see how it goes.

and that, my friends, is all i have to report. i've been working like crazy at work, at teaching, and at forming the non-profit. i have the bylaws done, and need to get together the first board meeting. today i'm going to a local university to see a movie on justice & to try to network with students who are impassioned about justice. other than that, it's one day after another, passing by so quickly that it's all a blur.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

unexpected blessings

today i believe that i am in exactly the right place at the right time. i found out last week that i will be able to write while i am at the courts after all-i thought i would have to wait until i no longer worked there.

then, today i found out that i will be allowed to use westlaw from school still to write law review articles because that relates to my job as an adjunct professor!l

so... i'm ready to get started...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

adventures in home improvement

i want to preface this by saying that i did, in fact, get the closet rod installed in my closet...

i moved into my house shortly before the bar exam, so i just did the minimum tasks necessary to feel somewhat settled in & left the rest for later. well, later is now, so i spent today working around the house.

the big project of the day was to install a closet rod in my closet. for some reason, there wasn't one there. so i've just been storing my clothes in a spare bedroom (and on my floor, of course), and that's been working fine. but my friend's moved into that spare room, and i'm going to be working now so i'm actually going to need easy access to my nice clothes.

so anyway... today was closet day. and let me preface this by saying that i have plaster walls & that in my closet, i have one straight wall, and one wall that's on an angle. i wasn't sure how i was going to get that to work, but i had a couple of ideas.

first i had to go buy the closet rod & screws, etc. so i went to the local hardware store. i found some hardware to hold up the rod that was one circle thing, and one thing shaped like a U. the plan was to put the circle piece on the straight wall & the U shape on the crooked wall, angled so that the rod could rest on the U. so i bought those & a couple rods, and asked an employee about what to do to get screws to stick in plaster--he recommended pre-drilling & putting in anchors.

so i ended up buying a drill.

so i bring the drill home, and it has to charge for a couple of hours, of course, so i unpack the drill and start charging it, at which time i realize that the drill did not come with any drill bits.

so it's back to the hardware store, where the same guy helped me, asking "didn't i help you earlier today?" to which i replied, "yes... i didn't have any drill bits." "you didn't have any bits at all?" um... no. duh. so he hooked me up with some bits, and i was on my way for a second time.

so i got home & started going. i tried 3 different bits before i got the right size for the wall anchors. i had some trouble getting the anchors into the wood behind the plaster--the hammer just bounces off those little guys... i finally got the 3 anchors in, and screwed in the round hardware piece, flush against the wall, when i realized that it was too high--the other wall has a shelf at about the same height that i'd used. oops...

so i pulled everything out & tried to start over. but i had some trouble here. i couldn't get the anchors to get into the wood... and the plaster was falling, as i bounced the hammer off the anchors over & over again. i finally got them to work, a little bit, but it's not flush with the wall, and it doesn't look pretty. but it held, and seemed pretty secure.

i moved on then to the U-shaped hardware, and got that installed with no catastrophes, but it also is not flush against the wall. i have no idea if there's a way to get the anchors in all the way or not.

so... at the end of the day, the closet rod is put in, and all my clothes are hanging up, so i guess today's home improvement project was a success. it's a little bothersome that it's not in perfectly, flush against the wall and looking pretty, but at least it works. and i'm pretty sure it won't fall down. yipee...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

in between

well, the bar exam is done & over, and i'm telling myself i passed because i'm not going to spend 4 months anxious about the results. since the test i've been relaxing at home and completely enjoying the lack of responsibility and stress in my life right now. it's been a much needed break.

i start my job on August 20, but before then i'm taking a trip to SCOTLAND!!! i leave on Monday and am so excited. i have some Scottish roots, but i've also read a lot of books about Scotland or set in Scotland, and it's a place that i've always wanted to visit. so... off i go. if i have computer access i may have time to tell stories or upload pictures... we'll see. otherwise i'll regale you with the stories later. until then, my friends...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

one road ends

So 2 ½ years ago I started law school. It was a step of faith, and a huge one at that. Naturally I’m not much of a risk-taker, but I have taken very large risks at pivotal points in my life, where I’ve felt that was the right thing to do, where I’ve believed it is what God was leading me to do. And so on the recommendation of a friend, I took the LSAT, got a scholarship, quit my job, and came to law school. I really had nothing to go on but the hope that it was something that would be challenging enough that it could keep me interested for a number of years & something that I could actually practically use to change the world. I had no idea that I would finally grow into my personality in law school, or that I would learn to put words around the things that I have always known deep within my soul, or that in working my way through, I would create an organization that has the potential to allow me to be all of who I am at one time. I really believed that I would be a conflicted dichotomy for all time.

And so here I am, at the end of a road that I never saw myself getting on, looking toward a road with boundaries and destinations I can’t even begin to perceive. What a crazy journey this life is. There is such potential to do great things, to make great changes, to be of influence. And oh, how I long for my life to count for something—to be used by God, to bring justice to the oppressed, to bring healing to the hurting. So here’s hoping & trusting that that’s where this path is leading…

Friday, July 13, 2007

a little kindness

so a while back one of the girls that i used to teach in sunday school had a sibling die. so i showed up at the visitation. i told her to call me sometime & we could get together.

about 6 months later, she did call. and i just got off the phone with her again. i was amazed that she contacted me. and this time she talked to me for an hour.

i know that i probably shouldn't be surprised that a little kindness bears fruit sometimes, but i kind of am. this girl feels connected to me. and i think that she'll keep in touch. it kind of makes me happy.

in other news, i heard from the character & fitness examiners--they're recommending me for bar admission... so now i just have to pass that test!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

out of the woodwork

they tell you in law school that as soon as you get your degree, people come out of the woodwork looking for legal help. i think they were right.

tonight i got my first call from a long-lost relative, looking for legal advice. mind you--i still haven't taken the bar exam yet, and i won't have my bar card until at least November... but i do know a little bit more about the law than the average person, i guess--at least that's what they think.

so welcome to the wide, wide, legal world. good times.

Friday, July 06, 2007

closing day

i bought a house today.

it's a big old farmhouse-type structure in the middle of the city. it's a long, long house. it's so spread out that you could have a lot of people living here and you would never feel it. it has an attic that smells like my grandma's house (actually, i think it smells like every one's grandma's house...)

it's been wonderfully remodeled so that i really didn't have to do anything to it to move in. eventually i would like to undo a lot that's been done so that it's closer to the original, but i'm not sure that's actually going to happen. i have so many other priorities. but at least i have the option, if i want it.

i'm so glad i moved in here 2 months ago. i would not have made it if i'd had to move this week. there's just too much else going on.

it was kind of fun for me to read the note and the mortgage (now you KNOW i'm soon to be a lawyer). it sort of brought alive the whole process. i am, of course, now concerned that it gets recorded properly...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

concrete dreams and my reality

yesterday i ran across an email i wrote last November. it was the email where i told my friends and family that i had decided to take a job in my city, instead of moving away. i was full of hope for the future, but had little vision of what it was going to look like.

it's amazing how fast things have clarified for me. i now have the articles of incorporation written for a non-profit organization. i am teaching classes at my law school, which dovetails nicely with what i ultimately want to do. and i bought a house, to be the venue out of which this purpose will be accomplished. (or i will have, on Friday).

i have settled into a vision and purpose that is somewhat concrete and defined. true, in reality it is totally up in the air and will only gain definition as time passes. but in my mind things have solidified. i know who i am and what i am supposed to do. it's amazing.

i never really thought that would happen for me. i had begun to believe that my kind of uncertainty was a fact of life, that my personality inherently conflicted with my values, and that the conflict could never be resolved. so i am happy to have found something to do that fits both my abilities and my values. i can hardly wait until the bar exam has passed and i have freedom to plan and dream about what will be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the weight of suffering

i carry the weight of others' suffering deep within me. at times i think i carry it deeper than they themselves may feel or recognize.

i don't really know how it happens, i only know that it has always been so. my parents tell stories of me entering a room where other babies were, and if others were crying, i would cry too. i have been reading about a portion of the population that has a highly sensitive nervous system and is simply in tune with more of the non-verbal, subconscious cues that everyone recognizes at some level. these people tend, as i do, to reflect very deeply on those things they pick up.

this carrying of burdens does not happen with everyone i meet. i do not carry all burdens for all people. but there have been countless times when i have been in a person's life, at the right time and place, and have walked with them in their suffering for a while, taking on some portion of it. i think that maybe this is one of those things that i have been put on earth for.

but for whatever reason, i find myself here again tonight. carrying a burden that is not mine, simply because God's love compels me to love another. and it is a heaviness of spirit that i cannot walk away from. it is an unrest that drives me to pray and cry out to God for healing and hope and forgiveness. it is a waiting and preparation for the time when i can speak words of truth and healing and hope and forgiveness into that life.

sometimes i wonder if there is a purpose for this burden-carrying. i have learned not to think myself a savior. i have learned to think and weigh the need before asking to be allowed to carry part of someone else's suffering. it takes so much out of me.

i guess i do think there is a purpose: if nothing else a purpose of reflecting the God who carries the burden of our suffering, who holds it deeply to his heart, who reaches out to touch us in our pain.

and so i wait, again, until the time is right to listen and to speak.

Friday, June 22, 2007

property law--my favorite

some days things just come together & a light bulb goes off. it sort of happened for me today with one small area of the law. there are different kind of requirements for when you buy real estate about recording your interests to protect yourself from a seller who sells his land to more than one person. these statutes are written in the most distressing format, so that unless you've read them a bunch of times, it's nearly impossible to make heads or tails of what they are saying--and even if you do, to figure out how to apply them. i don't think i fully got it when we covered it in class. today we took a practice test in a class i'm doing with my school, and i finally understood how to tell the difference between the statutes and how to apply each of them.

so for your enjoyment, here are the two most common statutes:

"No conveyance, transfer or mortgage of real property shall be good and effectual in law or equity against creditors or subsequent purchasers for a valuable consideration and without notice, unless the same be recorded." (notice statute)

"Every conveyance of real estate which shall not be recorded shall be void as against any subsequent purchaser in good faith, and for a valuable consideration of the same estate or any portion thereof, whose conveyance shall be first duly recorded." (race-notice statute)

i won't bore you with the details of what they mean or how they're tested. just thought i'd share a snapshot of the wonderful experience that is studying for the bar exam. 4 weeks and counting...

oh, and property law is actually my favorite subject. it's the most antiquated, and therefore the most complex, and therefore the most interesting to me. i suppose some commercial transactions are far more complex, but there's just something so much more interesting about fighting over LAND than fighting over money.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

aiming for 75%

it's amazing how perspective affects things. in undergrad, i was used to getting 95% & above on tests. that's what you had to get to get an A. that's how little material they were trying to get us to memorize at once. that's how easy it was.

not so with law. my first semester i got around 58% on my criminal law test, and i got an A, got the highest grade in the class, and got an award for it. totally different perspective. you've got to totally change the way you think to take a test & walk out of the room feeling good about what you've done.

so i just took my second practice multistate bar exam. there are 200 questions on the multistate. to "multistate out" in my state, you have to get a 150 scaled score. today i got a 147 raw, 159 scaled. they wouldn't even grade my essays if this were the real test--as long as i made a good faith effort, i would have passed the test.

but i got 53 questions wrong. 53. that's insane. i did terrible; i don't know enough. i've been trying really hard not to be perfectionistic about this test--to major on the major things, and leave the details for other people. you can't know everything--it's really impossible. in practice you have to look everything up anyway. so you've got to concentrate on the stuff they test on most often. but man, how do you leave a test missing 53 questions & feel good about it?

the funniest thing to me is that i do the worst in contracts. i spent 3 semesters as a TA for a contracts professor. mind you, the second semester of contracts is much more complex, and i never took sales, both of which are tested heavily in the contracts section. but i wonder how bad i'd be doing if i hadn't TA'd. more ironic still is that i consistently score the highest in evidence--the only subject i ever got a B in--the class that ruined my perfect gpa.

so yeah. fun stuff. my life is this test right now. wish there was something more exciting to share. only 4.5 more weeks, and then it's all over.

oh, and i've gone through 3 more pens since i last wrote...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

of pens & ink

today my pen ran out of ink.

i have developed an affinity for a certain kind of pen. it's a papermate flexgrip ultra, fine point, blue ink. about a year ago i ordered 15 of them online, because they don't sell them in stores anymore--apparently they've moved on to the next generation of pen--papermate flexgrip elite (or something like that).

over the past 3 weeks or so, i've been handwriting a lot of things while studying for the bar. through law school i took all my essay exams on the computer. it's been forever since i've had to do a significant amount of hand writing. so i've been writing old bar exam issues and answers by hand, and this week i started writing out flash cards to get my hands used to all that writing. so i've been using up a lot of ink.

and today the first pen bit the dust. After that, i quickly went to count all the other ones i had left--i don't want to run out of ink before the exam. and after spending so much time getting used to the weight and style of the pen, i don't want to have to adjust to another kind. so i think i have about 6 left, and i'm hoping that will be enough to get through the bar.

ah, what minuscule and unimportant things gain such significance when you're spending hundreds of hours locked away in the house, studying for such a test. only about 7 weeks left before life returns to semi-normal. i'm so looking forward to that day.

Friday, June 01, 2007

small things

i found the light switch to my garage today.

this may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. i've moved into an old house, and it's a little quirky. i've been here for 2 weeks, and never was able to figure out how to turn on the garage light. i had just figured that it was burned out, but it was so high up that i hadn't tried to change it yet. so imagine my surprise when i tried to turn on the hall light (to shine out into the garage) and finally found the right switch.

yes, this is the type of thing that gets me excited these days. since all my time is spent studying and working, it's the small things that make me smile.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

losing my mind

it seems i'm losing my mind.

it's connected to having too many details in my mind, i think. i'm used to carrying a lot on my plate, but most of it has been much broader and more predictable. like i'd be taking 5 classes at a time, but they all had similar work, so i was able to keep all my tasks organized in my mind. but now i have tasks & thoughts flying in a hundred different directions, so i'm not really doing any of it well.

case in point. today i had to teach. on my way to school i decided to go to kinko's to shrink down my diploma. i need a copy of it to include with my loan application for the house i'm buying... b/c they're loaning me money based on a job i haven't started yet. so yeah. i went to kinko's & it took about a half an hour to get all the machines working properly to shrink down my ridiculously-sized diploma to a reasonable size to put in the application packet.

as i was leaving kinko's i realized i'd left the other half of the stuff i needed to copy at home. so i'll be making another trip at the end of the week.

so then i go to school to get prepped for class. only then did i realize that i didn't have my powerpoint presentation with me. it was saved on my laptop at home. so i spent about a half hour re-doing the powerpoint. it's now about 30 minutes before class, and i realize that i don't have the book i need for class. they only have it on reserve on the library, so i have to get what i need out of it in the library before going to class. yes... what fun. i brought only the things that i didn't actually need for class and left everything i needed at home.

but i did actually survive the day and the class. and someday i'll have all these tasks completed. i kinda wish i didn't have anything to think about other than studying, b/c i feel like i'd be able to give more attention to it. but that might backfire, b/c i'd be so bored with the stuff that i would be going out of my mind. there are only 62 days or so until the bar exam. i have much to do before then.

and yes, i do have a planner that i use. it seems i just have to be more explicit like "bring this book and don't forget powerpoint..." so i'm working on that.

Friday, May 18, 2007


i'm sitting in the living room of my new house. my graduation cap & gown are hanging in a closet, just waiting for me to try them on. there are boxes strewn around various places in the many rooms of the house. the books sit on bookshelves, but they have yet to be organized. and i'm sitting here, ready to fall asleep, writing & watching an old movie.

i have so much to be thankful for. my parents made it home for my graduation, the classes i'm teaching are going well, and i am now living in a beautiful house that has so much potential to be used for many different things. tomorrow i'll graduate from law school, and i never have to go back to school if i don't want to (i'll probably want to). and tomorrow i get to celebrate with my whole family the work i've done over the past few years. so i'm just taking a moment to be thankful to God for what i have and where i am, right this moment.

Friday, May 04, 2007

and so it goes

it seems like i should have way more time to write now, since i'm done with school. but it hasn't worked out that way. i've been doing a bar review course from i picked the cheaper one that you can just do at home through audio, and i'm kind of going nuts. it's just a lot of hours a day to be sitting in front of a computer taking notes, playing games while trying to pay attention to what he's saying, and taking practice tests. by the time i'm done with studying for the day, i don't want to be anywhere near a computer.

funny the things that stick out when you listen to the same person over & over again. today i was mildly irritated that the speaker kept pronouncing the word "lien" like "lee-in". in my world it's a one syllable word. so yeah. it's been a long week listening to cds...

i've started packing to move. i hate stuff. i really do. if i could throw it all away & do without it, i would. i like books, and don't mind packing them. but those little things that just sit around, that you use maybe once every 5 years... that's the stuff i hate. but it's such a waste to throw it away & then buy it again. so i just pack it away in boxes. what fun. it'll be nice when i've moved everything & can unpack. i love to unpack things & put them away. somehow it's more creative & satisfying to me than packing.

and so it goes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

the close of one chapter

well, law school is over. it's hard to believe that it really is done. it went really fast. yet it feels like such a great accomplishment. i think it's because of how much work i put in. even though college was 4 years, i just didn't have to work as hard to succeed there.

i'm working hard to savor the accomplishment. if i don't, i'm going to just start studying for the bar hard-core, but i'm not going to have the energy to make it through the end. i'm so fatigued. i pushed myself really hard for the last couple of years. this semester was tough, because i didn't have the energy left to push myself anymore. so now i'm taking a break (for like 3 days) so that i'll be at least a little refreshed when i set up my study schedule. we'll see how that works.

so yeah. only one more big thing before i can get back to just living life like a normal person. ok, so that probably won't actually happen... but at least i'll have more freedom to build relationships & spend time with people.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

house hunting... again

i found a house today that i want to buy. it's a beautiful old house with the original trim & nice wood floors under carpet that was never nailed down. you come into the house & look through the large living room, through the beautiful dining room, through an arch in the wall (with 2 little arch window-like things) into a sun room. the sun room has built-in book shelves. the back yard runs up against a nature preserve that will never be built on. big bedrooms and an unfinished attic complete its charm. as a bonus, the roof is new & there's a high-efficiency furnace and a new water heater. not sure about the insulation factor or the windows, but i'm going back tomorrow to look at it again before i decide whether to make an offer.

so... after 35-40 houses, i finally found one that i really like. we'll see if i still like it tomorrow & what my friends have to say about it. it's been an adventure though. today i saw some super-cool old houses. they had some awesome woodwork and tons of potential. but they were all located in areas that wouldn't resell for as much as i'd be putting into the house to make it better. they were true money pits. but totally awesome old houses.

some houses have absolutely no charm. i went in one where they finished a basement with the ceilings about 5'9"... so short i felt like i had to duck to be down there. i saw one house that was decorated as if it were on a tropical island & whose bedrooms were all linoleumed (not carpet, not wood). but it's been fun. a nice change of pace from the pressure of studying & producing things all the time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

house hunting

so i decided to buy a house this year. we have quite the buyer's market going on right now, so i'll have a lot of places to choose from. i have a list of 17 properties that i'm going to see with a realtor this friday. it's a little overwhelming, and i hope that i'll be able to keep them all separate in my mind.

but it's kind of fun too. i don't think i've ever really chosen where i was going to live in quite the same way. i always just do the functional thing, or the convenient thing, and then i adapt. i can adapt to anything. so to think of actually choosing a place because i love it or love things about it is kind of new for me.

so right now i'm looking for a place with wood floors & unpainted wood trim, a big open living room area, and 4 bedrooms. i'd love to have an attic that is already finished, or that i could finish.

we'll see if i can find what i'm looking for within my price range. actually, there are tons of possibilities already, i think.

so i'm sitting here looking at properties instead of cleaning my house... so much more fun...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

4 more saturdays

i'm a mere 4 saturdays away from the end of law school. one month, and it's history. it's so hard to believe that it is already time to be done. truly it's flown by in such a blur. it was only a little over 2 years ago that i started law school. and now it's done.

but i am ready. i'm excited to be finishing up. i'm looking for a house to buy this summer. i'm planning on opening a non-profit. i'm planning on passing the bar exam, so i've started studying. i'll be teaching at my law school as an adjunct this summer, so i'm planning for that. and i'm looking forward to hanging out with my family and my best friend, who will be visiting this summer. and i've decided to take a week to go camping at the end of the summer, before i start my new job, so i can recover from all this excitement...

the sheer volume of responsibilities and changes are keeping me quite busy, which is why i haven't been writing much. but things are going well, i am doing more than well, and life is good.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

paid to think?

one thing i noticed this week is how much time i actually have to think before i start writing. i can literally sit for 4-5 hours just thinking through all the implications of various arguments, counterarguments, and issues. then i have to re-read cases, do more research, and then think some more. i need a huge whiteboard, and plenty of time to scribble all over it.

i don't think i ever realized how much thinking time is required. and i always feel a little bit weird, just sitting there, thinking. i wonder if the people walking by think i'm slacking off. i think i'll feel especially bad about thinking when people are paying me too--because i'm not producing anything. but then i tell myself that people are going to be paying me to think.

so i feel like i've chosen the right profession. because i enjoy the process. i have fun thinking through the problems. good times...

Sunday, March 04, 2007


on facebook i found one of the girls i used to teach in sunday school. each person on facebook has the opportunity to say a little bit about themselves. so on her "about me" she defines herself as anti-God. her whole identity is wrapped up in the fact that she doesn't believe in God. she grew up in the church, was disillusioned, i think by her family and by the church, and so now her entire identity hinges on how she does not believe God is real.

then i was flipping through channels this week, and saw a cable program called "athiests speak" or something like that. basically it was a bunch of athiests sitting around talking about how God does not exist. what was really interesting to me though, is what they said. the only things they were talking about were the hypocrisy of the church, and the way it doesn't make sense when Christians talk about how God intervened in their lives in a miraculous way, while right next door someone is suffering and devastated.

they didn't claim that it is scientifically impossible that God exists. they didn't bring up philosophy, or argue that God is not necessary. the only thing they focused on was how the people who call themselves Christ followers have impacted their perception of God.

so i don't know. i am just reminded at the importance of my own actions. i am reminded that i really am Christ's ambassador. if i call myself a follower of Christ, then i need to live like he did. and i need to be very careful of what i say, and what i claim about God. my misunderstanding of God's character or Christ's teaching can become the false reality that someone reacts to.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

moments of clarity

today i remembered why i love to write. it's true... i absolutely love the writing process, everything about it. it may not be evident here on my blog, since i'm incredibly lazy about editing here. but i truly love it.

i've been working on briefs all semester--i have 3 different briefs due in 3 classes. for the non-lawyers out there, briefs are what you file with courts to tell them why they should decide something in your favor. so ordinarily i have loved writing briefs. it's basically all i did this summer, and i had a great time doing it. but since the beginning of this semester and i have struggled to force myself to write anything at all. the first draft of my first brief was truly horrible. it was like pulling teeth to sit down and write, and i only did it because i had to. this brief started out that way too... until today.

i wrestled with the material all day, after having a horrible writing day yesterday, not really feeling extremely motivated to write. i had written maybe a page after about 4 hours. and then it all suddenly started to flow. i wrote the next 3 pages within an hour, and as i finished it up, i just knew that it was the key to my whole brief. everything just came together in that hour.

and as i sat there typing the last sentence i remembered why i love to write. i love that one moment of clarity when everything that has been a complete mess suddenly becomes obvious--so obvious that it's hard to believe that i didn't see it before. i love it when the argument becomes solid and i can see counter-arguments and alternative arguments to my claims. i love the art of finding the words that paint the picture of the concepts flying around my brain.

i will admit that it's kind of odd. it's odd that i would claim to love something that is mostly work--indeed, the 40 hours i put into research & writing up to that moment of clarity, and the 25-30 i have left hardly seem worth the joy of the moment when it all comes together. and yet, it is worth it. maybe i just like the challenge--it's like solving a puzzle. and every case is a new puzzle to solve, so my mind must endlessly be working. i guess i just hate being bored.

so i'm sighing with relief because it seems that my brief experience with senioritis is finally past & i can get back to being efficient about my school work so i can go out & enjoy the rest of life as it comes to me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

and that's just life

i'm in the thick of my writing requirements for the semester. i finished up a draft of a brief today, and the rest of the week i have to start writing a second brief. tonight i worked on discovery requests for another class. it's just crazy. i've been taking nights & sundays mostly off--i've had time with people scheduled & have just been trying to have a life outside of school again. but i'm kind of paying for it now. i think i'm going to have to cut back for the next few weeks. i say that, but i've got stuff scheduled pretty much every night next week already. oh well... at least i'm not bored.

so i got some really good news--i get to teach some classes starting this summer at my school. yeah--they're setting me loose on the incoming students and the top writing students. i'm really excited to get my foot in the door there so soon. it'll make studying for the bar kind of challenging, but i'll have to be disciplined in order to do all that & still have time with my family. i guess that's good. if i don't feel any pressure then i won't be very motivated to study for the bar. i'm so ready to just be done with it all & get back to real life.

my old roommate has been visiting for a couple weeks & that's been nice. and i just ran into an old friend that i haven't seen for years. we were really close one summer while working at camp, and i'd completely lost track of him. so hopefully we'll be able to get together soon to catch up.

i finally broke down & bought a new laptop. i'd been trying to just use my old one while keeping it completely stationary, but the power connection is on its way out. i can't afford not to have one right now (for the 3 weeks it would take to get it fixed), and i'm going to need on this summer too, now that i'm teaching. so i just bought one online & it should be here by the end of the week. i'm so looking forward to being able to write somewhere other than my dining room table...

and that's my life for the last couple of weeks. i've only been thinking about school so i've got no interesting thoughts to share... maybe next time.

Friday, February 02, 2007

my dilemma

so i've really taken to heart the fact that i'm in school and am surrounded by people. i know that sounds strange. but for the first couple of years of law school i was in my own world. part of it was the commuting, part of it was the figuring out how to survive, and part of it was the fact that my life outside of law school was full.

so all those things have changed now, and i have classes with several people over and over, and i'm actually getting to know them. i've taken to hanging out after class with them at the bars. i'm not really a drinker, so i'm the girl that sits there with water or a coke, but i'm there all the same.

it's been really fun--it's fun to get to know people, to see them outside of class, to listen to their stories. but i find that i am really terrible about small talk. i don't do things that create small talk topics. i might watch movies & tv, but that's about it, and i don't really care to talk about it.

all i ever want to talk about are things that are important to me. i'd talk about school, i'd talk about spiritual things, i'd talk about justice. honestly i really like to problem-solve, so my favorite conversations are analytical conversations. but i think that only 2 percent of the world's population are really interested in conversations like that.

truth is, i really want to get to know my classmates, and to do that, i have to talk about shallow things for a while. because the normal person does not just open up about everything quickly--it just doesn't happen. somehow there's this period of time where you have to talk about nothing before you can start to talk about something.

so i've got to work on finding some more nothing-topics to talk about. there's got to be some intermediate topics out there--things that would be semi-interesting to me but that wouldn't freak people out. because right now i'm mainly just going and listening to people. and i don't mind that, except that then they aren't really getting to know me either.

so that's my dilemma.

Monday, January 22, 2007

brussels sprouts, but not homework

i'm supposed to be doing homework right now. i didn't get enough done today, and there is so much to do. i think in a couple of weeks things will calm down a little, but right now all my classes are kind of pressing in on me. so i'm sitting here writing instead.

i came home from kickboxing and i was trying to get my computer mouse to work. but it's not. so i worked on that for like 30 minutes. i thought about cooking something for dinner (or the 2nd half of dinner, b/c i had a small sandwich before kickboxing). so i put some brussels sprouts on the stove. but the first water i put on i forgot about & just left boiling there til it was almost all evaporated. so the sprouts are still on the stove.

and why on earth am i writing about these things anyway? i have nothing i really wanted to say. i just wanted to tell someone that i'm procrastinating, i guess.

i just got the brilliant idea to work on a different class than the one i worked on all day. switching it up might be more interesting. so i'm going to try to do that. wish me luck.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

moments of clarity

so after i left Urbana, i was really thinking that i need to try to actively reach out to students next year. and i still really think that. but it's not next year yet.

through a couple of different conversations, my eyes are finally open to all the people who are around me right now, in my life at school. prior to now, i didn't really know anyone at my school well, except for the few i car-pooled with. but a real sense of community is forming now that we've got the campuses all straightened out, and i'm actually seeing some people in more than one class. so i'm really excited about it. i'm actually in a position to have more than one spiritual friendship, and that jazzes me like nothing else.

so in the midst of all my crazy research & studying (and there is a ton of that this semester), i'm going to be praying that God will bless my new friends and help me to see where he is already working in their lives.

and there are only 12 weeks to go until law school ends for me... woohoo!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

a big question

many people are talking about the processness of evangelism. they speak of the need to have intentional, spiritual friendships, where we become a part of the process, and sometimes guide the seeker toward encountering God. (see, e.g. Rick Richardson, Reimagining Evangelism (2006); Fred Peatross, Evangelism is Another Animal--Not the One We Thought, no. 97 Next-Wave Ezine (Jan. 2007), available at this site.

but here is a question that we are not yet asking--how do we (the church) equip a post-modern person to be such a friend and sometimes guide? those of us who are older, who grew up in the modern sunday school classes--we got a big-picture view of the story. we got the details of all the little stories. we have often had bible college or seminary training. we can do the work of translating these fundamental truths to make sense to younger, more post-modern thinkers.

donald miller is a prime example. he has a spectacular, innate ability to tell the story in a relevant, poetic, story-like way. rob bell is another example of a great communicator of these truths.

but as i sat in a group of college students who were listening to donald miller speak, i looked around the room. the students were in awe--here was the gospel story, again relevant to their lives. but these same students had no clue how to speak the same poetry into the lives of their peers.

donald miller, rob bell, and probably many more of the emerging voices have recieved much training--modern training, even. i would venture to guess that they are avid readers, and always avid thinkers.


in a world of podcasts and instant messages, how is the next generation going to be equipped to put words around the truths that they've experienced?

i think the answer must come in the form of relationship, community. but what will that look like? and is anyone out there talking about this? more importantly, is anyone living it?

the good news is that the bible comes in story form, and the poetry that hits home today seems closer to the bible's culture than our old modern culture. so there must be a way. i pray that the Spirit will help us to find it.

and i intend to spend the next few years praying about it and living it and seeking his answer.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

third-culture kids

i read a book about "third-culture kids" over the time i was at Urbana. a "third-culture" kid is one who spent a substantial amount of her developmental years living outside the home culture of her parents. the third culture is the culture that is created from the high mobility and the cultural adaptation that exists for these families.

it was a really good book for me. it kind of named a lot of the issues or personality traits that i have seen in myself. it talks about the strengths and weaknesses that develop in the kids who grow up under these circumstances. it gave me additional language to describe my experience to others, which is always a good thing.

one thing that i discovered though is that i have a lot of unresolved grief--grief that i actually didn't experience. the book talked about "hidden losses," which are the losses that you don't even realize, so you can't grieve them. things like the sights, the smells, the different living experiences. then of course, there are the obvious losses of people & relationships that happens anytime you move away--especially where there was not the communication & technology advances that we have now (skype, IM, etc).

and i really don't think i grieved that much about the losses i felt at all. i think part of it was because i thought the work my parents were doing was so important that i didn't give myself permission to grieve. i guess that's pretty common among MK's especially.

so this actually explains why i feel things so deeply--sometimes i react with greater grief in a given situation than that situation actually calls for, because i'm making up for grief i didn't feel before. and i can't do things like watch movies about the Holocaust or visit a garbage dump community in Mexico because i know i can't handle feeling the pain of other peoples' situations. and when i lose a relationship now, at least for a time i feel all the losses that i ever had all over again.

so i'm not really sure where to go from here. there were some good suggestions in the book about just naming all the things/people that you lost so that you're aware of them. so that seems like a good place to start. but if nothing else, it's nice to understand what's going on.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

social consciousness

another thing that i was thinking about this week at Urbana is the whole idea of living as though i am aware of the oppression in this world.

our country is so materialistic and consumeristic, that we believe that we are owed material comfort. and it is so easily available to us--all we have to do is go to the store and buy whatever we need. there is almost nothing that is unavailable because of cost or scarcity.

and this availability to us is built on the exploitation of people and resources in other nations.

this is a difficult thing. because in some places, sweatshops, though they require a lot of hours, pay much better and provide much better working environments than people could get elsewhere in that country. so i have always strongly believed that the answer to this kind of oppression is not to simply get rid of these places altogether. boycotting the products made there also does not appear to be the best solution. but i'm not sure what else to do--how do i live like it matters to me that these people are working where they're working in conditions that would never be acceptable to me? i don't know. but as i become more knowledgeable about the culture in which i live, i believe that i must think about this issue and live in response to it--somehow. it is that kind of principled living that is going to lend authenticity to the message of the gospel.

and what about money? at Urbana college students gave around $1.25 million to the cause of missions. unbelievable. we have so much expendable cash that put together, really can make a huge difference in the lives of people around the world. i am convinced that simple living is another essential value. and i know that i live more simply than most people here, but i still have too much. i spend my money too easily on my own comfort and entertainment when there is much that could be done with it elsewhere. but where is the line that allows me to use my money to keep myself sane (by doing artistic things, relaxing, etc)? it is true that if i want to be able to give to others i have to protect my own mental health by giving myself these kinds of outlets. but what about all the people who live in horrible conditions and do not have those options? i don't know.

i just come away knowing that i have to think about it. i have to take the time to make principled decisions instead of just accepting the fact that this is the way things are. i don't have to buy a new house, a new car, or new clothes. i can make choices. i guess i just want them to be informed and intelligent. i don't want to settle for what is easy and comes naturally, because a lot of times that's not really the best thing.