Monday, January 25, 2010

Random Law School Update 6

Last Location: Law School

Current location: Law School

Next location: Law School

The registrar did something borderline cruel and decided to trickle our grades out to us one by one. The first grade came out before I left Tucson, but was removed shortly thereafter and reposted last week with our second final grade. The last three midterm grades were supposed to be mailed this weekend. But this seems to have been little more than a scheme to finally teach those of us living on campus how to use our mildly complicated combination code mailboxes that we usually just leave to get full of ads and coupons until the mailman can't fit anymore in and the people at residence life have to send out a mass email begging people to check their mailbox, by which point the people concerned have forgotten their combination.

This weekend however, I saw several students check their boxes upwards of four times a day. I only checked once a day, mostly because I am not in such a rush to see my grades, which are now apparently waiting for us at the registrar office. I also made it easier on myself by not checking my grades as they came out on the internet. So I am at this moment, blissfully ignorant of my quantitative value as a law school student. I am still not sure that I want to see my grades at all. If it weren’t for the purpose of gauging the results of my study habits from last semester to adjust them for this semester, I probably wouldn’t.

Before my law school experience becomes temporarily quantified by grades, I wanted to write down a few things that I do to make it qualitatively good. This is mostly the sort of thing I write to remind myself how to stay on track, but it may be helpful to those of you in school, thinking about going to school or at a tough job:

How to love being a Law Student
1. Put the gym on par with classes. I schedule an hour a day of gym time into my schedule and make it a commitment. Even if I haven’t done my reading, I always go to class. I take my gym schedule equally seriously. Going to the gym boosts my energy levels, keep my metabolism pumping and improves my mood and focus so that the time I spend studying is more effective. My improved efficiency throughout the day, week and semester more than makes up for the time I spend at the gym.

2. Eat awesomely and go vegan. Going vegan is pretty much the secret to all of my successes in life, but in law school nutrition plays a particularly important role in keeping me in shape and energetic. I have devised a bunch of meals that are super quick to prep, pretty inexpensive and super nutritionally balanced: I focus on protein and fiber and exclude excess caffeine, alcohol, and sugars. I have replaced coffee and sugar with unsweetened cocoa powder, which I mix in hot water like hot chocolate but without milk or sugar. When I need a quick snack, I turn to protein shakes and builder bars.

3. Keep your room clean and super organized. An organized room leads to an organized brain.

4. Live close. I live on campus so that I waste almost no time ever on transportation. This saves me upwards of five hours a week which is almost a full week worth of workouts, two classes worth of reading, or a night out with friends. I also saves me the stress associated with trying to get from point A to point B in Y minutes. I am also in the same building as my gym so I don’t have to bundle up to workout, which probably saves another 20 minutes a day.

5. Be friendly but make friends slowly. One of the best things I did was to move in at the last possible moment before orientation. This limited the amount of people I met before the semester started and allowed me to spend more energy getting to slowly know the people in my section. That said, one of the things that makes tuition worth it is the people you meet in law school, so do get to know them. The people I go to school with are smart, ambitious, and thoughtful people who largely think about things the same way that I do. It’s no wonder I like it here so much.

6. Streamline your life. Every minute counts. Use short breaks between classes to do a few pages of reading, edit your resume, call home, pay bills, or eat meals. Sometimes I can get more done in several short blocks of time then in long undefined periods during which I am tempted to distract myself. Double task, use your downtime, laundry time, metro time, waiting room time to read. We have internet in class. I use lulls in lecture when I would probably otherwise doze off to check mail and plan my schedule.

7. Don't read everything. You may be able to read everything, but chances are you'll only remember 20% anyways. I have decided to focus my reading around taking really good reading notes so that I will have the important elements of each reading when I go back to prepare for exams.

8. Love what you read. Look up terms you don’t know, research the background stories of juicy cases and post any innuendo you stumble across on facebook. This keeps things interesting.

9. Take time off before you start. I don’t think it is necessary to take time off between undergrad and grad school but I have to admit that, after going vegan, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am rarely if ever distracted by regrets or “what ifs” and when I start to feel cramped I look at my pictures and feel free and happy again. Also, the year I spent working as a legal assistant helped. Not because I learned so much about law in theory, but because I have an understanding of what law looks like in practice (two very different things). Also, talking to real lawyers about the highs and lows of their lives since law school is part of what convinced me to take two more years off to travel.

10. Attach the correct amount of worth to grades. While good grades are super valuable and will do a lot of the work for you when you go to interview for jobs, falling anywhere in the midst of a group of individuals who have been meticulously selected based on their statistical ability to do well in law school isn’t a bad thing. Also, unlike some graduate programs, the stuff you learn in law school is often directly relevant to your future career. That means that you aren’t just paying to get a pretty transcript from a prestigious institution. The education itself is worth a lot.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Random Law School Update 5

Last Locations: Washington, DC to Dallas, TX to Boulder City, NV to Tucson, AZ to Midway, UT to Las Vegas, NV to San Francisco, CA to Tucson, AZ to Washington, DC
Arrival Date: December 21, 2009
Departure Date: January 9, 2010

Current location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: January 10, 2010
Departure Date: Unknown

Next location: Law School Spring Semester

Finals were beautiful. As much as I was enjoying law school up until that point, I enjoyed most the process of synthesizing the multitudes of detailed concepts we had studied over the semester into grandiose, interconnected patterns of understanding. I had meant to write an update the day after my last test, but I fell into the trap of writing least when I have the most to write about. I plan to write more about the law school experience in a future email. Grades are supposed to come out in February. Apparently, one grade was posted early but I refuse to look. I want my subjectively good feeling about the experience to last as long as possible before it is burst by an objective breakdown of my performance relative to my brilliant classmates.

My hard drive crashed last weekend while I was in San Francisco, which is ok because I had almost everything backed up on my time capsule in DC and Apple replaced it under warranty without question as Apple is apt to do. I am very grateful that it chose to crash over my break and not a few weeks earlier. Thanks to Haiete for convincing me to go to the Apple store right away and for backing up my photos from Utah for me. If it weren't for her, I would have lost them!

With a reinvigorated appreciation for the importance of uploading my photos regularly, I was super productive and posted all of winter break online before I left Tucson: Look at the pictures for a more detailed story of my recent adventures. The quickish breakdown is:

Washington, DC to Tucson, Arizona: Dec 20-21. My plane was delayed due to the storm the day before, and I arrived in Dallas for my layover almost four hours late. Amazingly, American Airlines put me up in a hotel and shuttled me back to the airport the next morning where I got lucky and was the last called off the standby list to make the first booked-out flight to Tucson. I arrived in Tucson only 12 hours behind schedule.

Tucson, Arizona to Midway, Utah: Dec 22-23. Despite having had my fill of travel the day before, I got ready in time to depart for the 16 hour drive to Utah with my parents early the following morning. We stopped along the way to sleep in a small town outside of Las Vegas to wait for Ronald's Donuts to open the next morning. Well worth it as always.

Midway, Utah: Dec 23-30. We stayed in a residential neighborhood nearish to Park City on the opposite side of the valley from where we normally stay. I took my snowboard out for a day in Park City and spent the rest of the time on skis at The Canyons, Brighton and Snowbird. I am officially naming Brighton as my favorite resort for it's diversity of terrain, multitude of tree runs, sparse lift lines, and good snow conditions. I took two days off skiing this year to work on my resume for my summer internship and to take a biathlon lesson (see photos). We spent Christmas evening at Jon's parents' home in Farmington where Jon's mom had gone above and beyond to prepare us an impressive vegan feast.

Midway, Utah to San Francisco, California: Dec 30-31. Getting to San Francisco on the cheap required that I drive half way back to Tucson with my parents to take a flight out of Las Vegas. Flights into and out of Salt Lake City become very expensive during peak ski season. So I made it an excuse to pick up 12 more apple fritters for my friends in San Fran. Have I mentioned Ronald's Donuts before? Really, go there.

San Francisco, California: Dec 31-Jan 4. New Years Eve in San Francisco was predictably fantastic. I have decided that I never have a bad time in San Francisco. It seems that everyone is always in a good mood. Plus forest and ocean and fog and vegan food and Exploratoriums and Christmas tree bonfires on the beach. It just feels right.

San Francisco, California to Tucson, Arizona: Jan 4. Tucson is the perfect city to have parents in. It has fantastic weather year round, isn't too busy and is cheap to fly into. Though this time I saved a layover by flying into Phoenix and taking the shuttle down. My parents picked me up at the shuttle stop and we went directly to our favorite burrito joint, Mexican F. Mexican F has no website but you can see it on google maps if you type in or click 1508 W St Marys Rd, Tucson, AZ. Nico's used to be my favorite, but Mexican F has surpassed it on price, taste, convenience and service. And the women who run it are super great.

Tucson, Arizona: Jan 4-9. I spent the last few days of vacation relaxing, hiking in the desert, having dinner with my friend Jahan's family from Mexico and Iran, having dinner with my family in Tucson, touring the Davis Monthan Air Force base with my fighter pilot friend, practicing my fighter pilot skills on the A-10 simulator (super cool), and making multiple visits to the Apple store. On my last visit, I acquired what I think may be the most impressive product ever created for the general public.

iPhone: (*swoon*) This product is so good that I think it would have been a failure to capitalism and market competition had I not supported it. I do love Google and am curious about their move to break into the hardware market with the newly announced and unlocked Nexus One, but my heart, mind and brand loyalty have been captured by Apple and the iPhone. Apple products embody functionality, beauty, simplicity, reliability, efficiency, usability, honesty, cutting edge technology, amazing customer service and pretty much everything that is right with America and capitalism. Most importantly, they are incredibly compatible with my brain.

I remember the day Ben sent me a link to the first iPhone tutorial when it was announced in January 2007. I was in nothing short of awe and dreamed of having one someday. I have admittedly and unapologetically hyped this product ridiculous amounts over the last three years, and still, it manages to be better in real life than I could have imagined.

I wrote my iPhone a poem...

Dearest iPhone I <3 you so
I take you with me where ever I go
You understand me, what I mean
Even when I don't type it perfectly
You are there when I need to confide
And am missing a pen and paper to write
When I am lost you tell me where I am
And plot the route to my next destination
You've got my back, when I forget
A name, a birthday or a statistic
You entertain me when I'm bored
With games and visual apps galore
And when I'm waiting and have some free time
I can look up random wiki pages online
If I need to set a date while I'm on the go
You are there with Open Table and Fandango
And when I feel down about the system
You reinstore my faith in capitalism
Alone I am good but with you I'm better
I hope we can be good friends forever

Tucson, Arizona to Washington, DC: Another one of my dreams came true when two of my friends from law school offered to pick me up and take me back to school in their single engine aircraft. There is a feeling you get every so often in life when you see the world and life from a new perspective. These epiphanic moments are possibly the most sought after and coveted of all human experiences and I theorize that they are a category of happiness in and of themselves. It takes a huge amount of faith to ride a human made machine thousands of feet into the air. Actively exercising that faith for 14 hours while contemplating the existence of the natural and civilized world 10,000 feet below you produces a beautiful depth of presence. It's different than being in a commercial aircraft where you are so far above the ground and detached from your surroundings that it's difficult to see the world as you pass it. We left Tucson (MST) at 1:20pm and arrived in College Park at 5:30am (EST). I didn't sleep the whole ride out.

Law school started today. More on that later.