backtrack

February 5, 2010

December 16th, 2009 – One of the worst days of my life.

Now, I will admit, making that sort of bold statement about the day I took my tax law exam does out me as sort of a lightweight in the tragedy/bad things happening department.

But just to compare, I would say the six hours that I labored in my apartment, five days past my due date with G, in the middle of the night, after having been sent home from the hospital following the two the most painful pelvic exams I have ever experienced (tmi?), were WAY better than the 24 hours I spent working on my tax exam.

My school’s tax professor is, to say the least, interesting. She’s a brilliant, rather young woman (for a professor) with two children who once told me she used to carry her baby to class in a sling too. The first time I spoke to her I told her I was interested in immigration law and she started talking about open borders and labor markets. I was intrigued, and enrolled in tax law almost solely based on one wacky conversation.

To demonstrate what is patently NOT a gift under tax law, we watched this video (highly recommend you check it out):

Bottom line: If Pontiac (or Oprah) “gives” you a car, it’s not out of the detached and disinterested generosity of their own little greedy hearts, it’s because they want something, ie. advertising. Thus, it’s income, not a gift. By the way, when you find $10 on the street – income.

Anyway, we also periodically talked about Survivor season something, where some contestant named Yau-man traded a truck he won to another contestant named Dreamz for possible future immunity. Later, Dreamz actually won the immunity (and according to his oral contract, owed it to Yau-man), but he breached and didn’t give it to Yau-man. Yau-man gets kicked off the show. Analyze the tax consequences of these facts. Riiiight.

So, while I’m not sure how a standard law school tax class goes, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that. I found it interesting and quite challenging, and I loved the professor. I decided not to take the class pass-fail, even though about half the class was doing so, because I felt like I had done a pretty good job studying and could at least approach most of the problems. With 24 hours to complete a multiple-choice take-home exam, I figured I would at least pull an acceptable grade.

And while I did score an acceptable grade, it was only because the exam was so hard that reportedly people who got 40 percent correct were in the B range on the curve. By hour 12, I had so much left to do, including a truly diabolical multi-question problem which I had very little idea even how to begin to approach. I had not talked to anyone else, so I didn’t realize that many people (myself included) were finding themselves simply guessing at answers in the end.

At hour 18, I came home to eat real food and spend a little time with my boys. They went to bed and I tried to get back to it. I felt like my brain was paralyzed. I cried a little. I thought about the consequences of getting an F in law school. I tried to sleep for an hour, but I just lay there thinking about the first F (or D) of my academic life. Two hours before I had to return the exam, I filled in ten or so blank scantron circles at random and headed to school feeling an overwhelming sense of dread.

It was only after I talked about it with someone who also had to randomly guess on questions, and heard that a very smart peer had been cursing under his breath in the library, saying “What?” “Huh?” “Are you kidding me?” while taking the final that I started to feel somewhat better about the whole thing. In the end, I got my acceptable grade and put it behind me.


some stuff has happened

January 30, 2010

Although it is Friday night, and it’s only 11:00 pm, I should be sleeping. These days, I am usually sleeping at 11:00 pm. My baby is sleeping. My husband is sleeping. And the later I stay up, the less sleep I will get. Because although tomorrow is Saturday, and a year ago I would stay up until whenever and then sleep until eight hours later, I am a parent now. I don’t get to keep my own sleep schedule anymore, which has both up- and down-sides.

But today I also partook in the pleasure of napping with my baby. For the entire lengthy (2+hour) afternoon G-baby nap, I slept. Thus, it is 11:00 pm Friday night, I am not so tired, and I was just reading immigration law. But then I got distracted on facebook. So I read an old friend’s blog, and then it dawned on me that this was the perfect moment to return to my own blog.

So where am I at? I’m a well-adjusted 2L now, have been for some time. Last semester was all about adjusting to law school and motherhood, just in time to finish finals and realize, OMFG I’ll be an attorney in one year! (Gah!)

But I digress. I had G-baby on the 9th day of the 9th month of 2009, which is über-lucky in China, if nothing else. It happened like this:

I had some contractions during the evening of 9-7-09. I went to tax class in sweats the next day, preparing to maybe have to go to the hospital at some point. I was about a week late at this point, it was hot and humid, and I was ready to have the baby. I waddled up my school’s venerable hill to the non-law school classroom where tax class was being held thanks to its 200-person enrollment. The undergrads — as I quickly remembered, with a bit of nostalgia — they don’t have the air conditioning in their buildings, (at least not the 150-year old ones).

So I sweat, and started to contract, but it didn’t hurt too much. So I did what anyone would do, I listened to the crazy tax professor and surfed the web. I had another class that evening, and since it still didn’t hurt that much, I went to that one too. By the time it was over, it was hurting more. Pretty sure I was grimacing about every five minutes, and I had put some times in my notes to keep track of how far apart my contractions were:

5:56
6:01
6:07

etc, etc.

And then I got a ride home, and the next morning I went to the hospital, and at 6:40 pm the next evening I had a brand-new 7 lb. 7 oz. G-baby. And yes, if I keep blogging, I plan to call him G-baby.

G-baby is really cute. And I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. EVERYONE says it. People stop me on the street and smile at him, and these days he smiles back. They ask me his name and how old he is and say things like: “Like babies aren’t cute enough, and then you put them in suits with ears like little bears.” Yes, I dress my child in little brown, fuzzy suits that have bears ears (and feet!) You probably still think I am overstating the cuteness, but you are just going to have to trust me, because I’m pretty sure I’m not going to post photos of him on this blog.

To keep things mostly law school around here, I will share that when F went back to work in October, G-baby came to tax class with me two times per week, two hours each class for the rest of the semester. He was both comic relief and welcome cuteness in the otherwise drab world of Title 26 of the United States Code. When he occasionally woke up and cried in class, I would walk around and feel embarrassed to be an indirect source of noise and disruption. But then later a classmate would say, “It’s okay, I want to cry in tax too.” At least eight different people said that to me during the semester. What none of us knew was that when we took the final exam, we would all cry. Seriously. But let’s not revisit that terrible 24 hours.

These days, the baby law students, (as I will call those who think it’s amusing and fun to have a baby around – note: I was NOT one of those people before I got pregnant, so I’m not at all dissing the non-baby law students) say they miss seeing G-baby. He still makes some appearances, but he doesn’t have a regular class schedule this semester. Tax law was enough for him, at least for twenty or so years.


tick tick tick

August 8, 2009

The other day a friend asked me why I’m not panicking. Hard to say, really…. but it’s sort of because I don’t have time to panic. Eight months ago, while considering the reality of my pregnancy, I didn’t exactly panic, but I was certainly scared and nervous and overwhelmed. More than anything I was mourning the end of my independence, and today, magically, I’m not too worried about that anymore. I’m too excited to see my baby, something I never really contemplated before being pregnant, or before I started to feel his regular movements really.

Things have come together, and the time is flying. All things considered, my summer has been pretty great. I love my clinical work, I have felt amazingly good, it hasn’t been too hot and I’ve felt extremely blessed by friends and family – holding baby showers, giving gifts, offering much-needed advice.

I’ve got a few days left of my internship and then I can mostly focus on moving and “nesting.” F and I went to a day-long childbirth class at the hospital where we’ll have the baby today. I learned a good deal, and it was really nice to see the birthing “suites,” which are actually quite homey and designed in a way that promotes comfort and bonding. I’m not sure what it means that I fear the extremely rare and unlikely side effects of the epidural more than going through the whole birth experience (completely guaranteed to be excruciating) with little or no medication. I think it means that on some level, I am fundamentally illogical and unreasonable. But I’m leaning toward a natural labor completely, or at least as long as possible, depending on the circumstances. We’ll see how that goes.

In other news, I just found out law school classes start before Labor Day, which could be good. I may get to attend one of each class before I have the baby. I guess I’ll take the risk of going into labor at the law school, but at least I’ll have a syllabus and a feel for my professors.


and then there were six weeks…

July 21, 2009

Six weeks until I have a baby, six weeks until school starts again. Six weeks ago I was in the second week of my summer clinical experience, and that seems like just a minute ago.

As always, summer flies. Between working full-time, commuting each weekend and pregnancy in general, it seems to be going extra fast. At the same time, I feel anxious. I want to move into my new apartment NAO. Mostly because of the baby, we’re going to rent out our house in home-town and live in an apartment in college-town while I finish school. I don’t mind moving in general, but moving in the 9th month of pregnancy is not exactly ideal. Unfortunately, leases here tend to go from Aug. 15th to Aug. 14th, so I’ve got to wait until just two weeks before my due date to really let the nesting instinct run wild.

I’m also getting anxious to see this little person. For those of you who don’t already know this: pregnancy is bizarre. Feeling a mini-person kicking your ribs and hiccuping from inside your abdomen is one of the strangest and most amazing things ever. During the last 7.5 months I’ve felt indifferent, scared, paranoid and now, mostly – totally excited for him to actually be here in the world with us. I also can’t wait to just see what he looks like, considering how entirely different my husband and I are in appearance (mutt-American + mostly indigenous-looking Mexican = ?).

My internship is great. It’s a wonderful learning experience and  definitely the right choice for this summer. I’m also enrolled in professional responsibility, which is quite the cushy law school class. The reading is relatively brief and easy to understand – perfect for the summer version of a student’s brain – the professor is straightforward and accommodating, and it only meets once per week for two hours.

It’s also a bit frightening to take PR. You start thinking about all the serious responsibilities a lawyer has to other people. You start to internalize that in two years you will be a lawyer. You realize how much power you will soon have to either help or screw over other people. Then you learn all the different ways others can punish or discipline you if you screw up. You also (at least in my class) have to think a lot about unpleasant things – like the percentage of lawyers who are wealthy, but also dissatisfied with their work, or depressed, or raging alcoholics.

But let’s not get all pensive about the law profession, it’s time for dinner!


magically absent hotness

July 21, 2009

For months now, as I’ve talked to people about my pregnancy, I’ve said things like, “You know, I honestly feel really good, but just think — I’m due early September, I’m going to have to suffer the dog days of summer with 15-20 pounds attached to my stomach!”

I thought by this point I would be existing in a constant state of discomfort. I live in a place known for snow, but during the summer, it’s normally quite hot and miserably humid. I was envisioning gaining a lot of weight, enduring lots of sweaty walks to and from my internship at the law school and roasting in both a house and an apartment with minimal air conditioning.

Apparently, God doesn’t hate me, because it’s been a blissfully mild summer so far. In fact, it’s been amazing. We’ve had exactly four gross, hot days so far, and many, many perfect ones – hanging in the mid-70s with sun, a breeze and a cool evening.

Even better, pregnancy seems to like me. Considering I’m six weeks from giving birth (OMG OMG OMG), my weight gain has been quite moderate. And no, I’m not limiting myself. I have enjoyed a lot of ice cream this summer. I haven’t been ravenous, but I’ve treated myself to the occasional regular soda (a youthful pleasure I mostly gave up years ago) and eaten pretty much whatever I felt like eating.

To top it off, besides an occasional backache, I haven’t even had any of the “normal” pregnant lady symptoms. No heartburn, no major digestive issues, no exhaustion, and so far, only very slightly swollen ankles. It is, indeed, a miracle.

And that is why I must say that I am expecting August to sport temperatures in the 100s every day, or a 40-hour labor two weeks after my due date. Something has to give, right?


best and worst

June 8, 2009

This lazy Sunday evening is a good time to catch up on blog business. Although…. I think I’ll post-date this so I don’t end up with a ton of posts on the same day. Thanks to lawful living for the tag that inspired this post.

So let’s take a reflective look at 1L year. It’s been a wonderful and difficult and crazy year for many reasons, only one of them being the departure from my working life of six years to the start of law school. Among the many changes, experiences and events:

  1. I’ve lived an hour away from my husband around 60 to 70 percent of the time, yet our relationship has been at least as good, possibly better than ever. I attribute this partly to the fact that we have less time to get on each other’s nerves about crap that doesn’t matter, and partly to the fact that it’s easier (for us anyway) to appreciate one another when we see each other two or three or four days per week. That said, I’m certainly looking forward to being back together full-time in August, with baby not far behind.
  2. Eight months ago we decided to “see what happens” for the first time in our five-year marriage regarding having a baby. Two months later I found out I was pregnant. It was a little scary to consider pregnancy during law school (images of running out of class to vomit danced in my head last December) but I’ve been extremely blessed to not feel like crap except on the very rare occasion.
  3. A surprise for me this year has been genuinely enjoying the return to school and the study of law. Unlike many law students, I came here with a specific goal (to become a sole practitioning immigration attorney) which stemmed from my experience with my husband’s immigration process and my involvement in an online forum of people in similar situations. So I didn’t know how I would take to the study of contracts or property or criminal law. As it turns out, I really enjoy studying law, and almost all my classes have been interesting to me in one way or another. Being a little older and having had some life experience has definitely been a bonus in this way. I think I am well-suited to study the law, but had I done it when I was 22 or 23, I’m pretty sure it would have been torturous for me. Having a lot more connections to “real” life and being able to relate many areas of study to practical situations has made most subjects pretty fascinating. And the more fascinated I am, the easier it is to study and the better I do (usually).

That all said….

Best memory of 1L year:

This is strictly the best law school memory: Going out after my Civil Procedure mock trial in late November with my classmate/friends for mojitos and dinner followed by a series of strange blue-green drinks. Ha, I’m so old I didn’t know what they were, but they tasted like candy! That would actually be the last time I had much to drink for nine months. I guess it was a memorable night because we all felt like we had accomplished something intimidating and distinctly lawyer-like during our whole experimental civil procedure class, and it was great to go out, relax and just enjoy’s each other’s company before we all burrowed in to prepare for our first set of law school exams.

That memory is closely followed by completing my December 16th torts exam, heading almost immediately to hometown, packing, and then getting on a plane to Mexico the next morning to meet up with F. That memory is not first in part because while I know all that happened, my post-finals brain blocked out any actual memory of any of that happening.

Worst memory of 1L year:

I really didn’t have a terrible experience this year. I’m too old and wise — or maybe conservative (in a personal sense) — compared to many law students to have partaken in any regrettable evenings of boozing or done anything else I really wish I hadn’t. The worst moments were any day in the early fall semester when I showed up in contracts not completely prepared, or just not really comprehending the material, hoping to god the professor wouldn’t call on me. I came into law school hanging onto a deep anxiety about talking in class and public speaking in general. I’ve gotten over a bit more of it this year, but I’m still not someone who thinks really well on my feet, so it always makes me nervous to be unprepared and have to answer complex legal questions.

The other thing that comes to mind (and its definitely more of an experience, not a memory) is the regular sense of dread about the state of the economy and the decision to return to school, necessitating far more student loans than I had ever contemplated before law school. That will be with me the next two years as well, but on at least some level I’m confident things will work out all right in the end.


looking pregnant

June 7, 2009

For the last two months, since I could no longer comfortably wear my regular pants, even with the help of the amazing, highly recommended Bella Band (or the slightly cheaper Target Be Band version), I’ve been asking my husband every weekend whether I look pregnant or just fat. The verdicts are mixed, depending on what I am wearing, although in the last two weeks, it’s become obvious that I finally look overwhelmingly pregnant.

Two weeks ago when I was at the prison (for my summer clinical/internship), sitting at lunch talking to the legal assistant who helps us organize our inmate interviews, she asked: “So when are you due?” I’m not 100% sure she hadn’t heard me or one of my colleagues talking about me being pregnant earlier, but it was possibly the first time someone had mentioned my pregnancy just based on the sight of my growing “bump.”

A few days later I was shopping for furniture with my mom when the salesperson asked me the same question, then quickly following with “I think there’s a baby in there…” I reassured her there was — certainly stopping her heart from racing at the thought that she made have just committed the ultimate social faux pas — and we chatted for a few moments about it being my first child and a boy.

Last week, back in college town, I ran into a fellow student who was in my legal research and writing section this spring but who I don’t know well. We were in the bathroom and she looked at me and said, “Wow, I didn’t even know you were pregnant.” I hadn’t seen her in a month, and I noted how quickly “he” got huge between the week before exams and now.

Two days ago was I walking down a crowded, pedestrian-only shopping street in college-town when an older woman walking toward me saw me, stared at my belly for a second and then beamed at me as she passed by.

For me it’s interesting to have people stare at my stomach, and particularly to have strangers unabashadly smiling at you. No one has come up and tried to touch me yet (thank god) but I’m sure that’s coming soon.

As my doctor says every visit, I’m just sort of chugging along here. I still feel great, except for a modest increase in backaches, and so far it hasn’t been hot for more than two or three days, which this summer anyway, is a huge relief to me. Back to working the 9-5, time is flying and before I know it it’ll be time to evict my parasite and become a mother!