Given my relative disillusionment with purely “diary” type posts recently I haven’t been reporting in too much on the day to day happenings here at ole’ Château de Taco. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things haven’t been busy. In fact, things have been quite hectic lately, in a fashion that only the “end of the semester” push can really create.
Since returning from Vegas I’ve primarily been focused on wrapping up classes, preparing for exams, attempting to wrap up my clinical work, taking exams, and then wrapping up my clinical work. SB also finished school, like, finished-finished.
As part of this process we’ve been continuing to partake in a wide variety of foods, including a first for both of us: a “naanini.”
Which is exactly what it sounds like, a panini except made with naan. We’ve also tried some new places, such as Zoe’s.
Here I tried souvlaki for the first time, it was good.
And we’ve also had some old favorites, such as Grendel’s Den.
And mixed in with all that yummy “real” food has of course been lots of yummy treats, such as cupcakes.
There’s even been just a little bit of beer, believe it or not.
The food, treats, and beer have all served their part in reducing our end of the academic year stress, and to make things even better, its spring!
Meaning warm, sunny days with lots of animal friends!
Except that that isn’t what it’s been like at all.
Nope, it’s been cold (as in, down into the 30s at points) and rainy almost every single day of May [As of me writing this portion of the post]. In fact we got 1/2 the normal amount of rainfall for May within the first week of the month. So rather than having lots of nice outdoor spring days, we’ve instead had lots of dreary not-really-spring days inside.
Of course the benefit of things not being great outside is that it makes it a bit easier study – not really, but I like to pretend.
And studying is always (yet another) excuse to get some coffee.
And in addition to studying, I’ve also had to take care of the most recent round of medical stuff – this time it was getting tested for food allergies. It involved getting 60 shots, with each shot containing a dab of whatever they were testing to see if I was allergic to it. The good news is that these were smaller needles, not the big ones that actually inject (or pull out) something, so it wasn’t horrible, it was mainly the totality of the circumstances (e.g. 60 little shots vs 1 big shot) that made it bad.
If you really focus you can see the marks on my forearm and bicep in that photo. My stupid phone wouldn’t focus on my arm, so they are hard to see. It was basically just 3 clusters of 10 shots on each arm, and most of them didn’t even bleed and for those that did it was really just a little spot of blood. So while it wasn’t the best way to spend my 9:00am, it was NOWHERE near as bad as compartment syndrome testing, I still swear that that test is like some hellish procedure that time forgot from the early 70s. Seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me, the procedure has not changed AT ALL in over 45 years. I’ve had many things done to me, from being electrocuted to being poisoned, and I really think compartment syndrome testing is still the worst.
Oh, on a good note, I wasn’t allergic to anything.
Oh, and on a bad note, that means they still don’t know what’s wrong with me (which is the story of my past 6 years).
Oh, and on another note, getting a bloody toe while running is not advisable in the presence of a dinosaur.
In addition to exams, clinical work, and having my phalanges consumed I’ve also been trying to get a better picture of my career situation (you know, that “job” thing people talk about). That meant another trip to OPIA, which is one of my favorite places at Harvard. Not only do they have really cool and friendly advisors that are actually helpful (especially mine) they also have a frog buddy.
And while my clinic isn’t quite as warm and cozy as OPIA, it did get livened up awhile back by the addition of four new plant buddies.
And while plant buddies can definitely make a sterile legal clinic a brighter place, all and all I have not been too enthusiastic about law school for the past few weeks, in fact, most of my mornings begin like this:
Interestingly enough Pig is always ready to embrace the day, the other boys (and me) – not so much. Of course the boys have been pretty happy lately, I think they are all more than ready to bring on summer, and while Valentino doesn’t like heat, he does like sunshine. It might also just be good vibes from their “Birdie” sticker.
But, in spite of all the food, coffee, and beer there comes a point where you just have to accept the bad weather and deal with exams. That doesn’t mean it’s fun or not-hectic, it just means you have to deal with it. In fact, my exam period this year kind of felt like how the inside of this car looks.
Part of the reason this exam period was rough was the fact that I had 4 exams this time around, plus my last clinic project – which itself clocked in at 42 pages long. Making those 4 exams even more strenuous was that 3 of them took place over 4 days, which isn’t much time between law school exams when you consider that they can last up to 12 hours, meaning that it’s quite possible that you’ll finish one exam, and then only have 12 hours before the next 12 hour exam starts. It’s fun times.
For my exams, I was kind of viewing them in following ways. I had one “Required” course which I figured wouldn’t be too hard to Pass, and having taken it, I think I passed just fine. That said, the act of taken it was a pain because as it was a required class I had no say in the matter, meaning that the class (and exam) are always more painful than they would be otherwise. Then I had a class where I thought the exam wouldn’t be too bad at all, being just a 2 credit class, but NOPE, turns out that it was the longest exam I’ve had in law school, for a stupid 2 credit class – it was ridiculous, but I think I passed just fine. Then there was the class where I knew the exam was going to be difficult, and it was difficult, and I thought the curve was going to be bad, and I’m now sure it will be, and this is the one exam I’m worried about grade-wise. My grades have largely consisted of “Middle of the Road” territory, but I did do poorly in one class (again, thanks to that curve) and I felt sort of similar on this exam as I did that other exam, so I’m just hoping for the best there. And then there was the last exam, which was the subject I was most interested in, but as the last exam of the gauntlet my brain was essentially fried and I just wanted it to be over, but I think I passed just fine.
So out of 4 exams, I’m really only worried about one of them (Administrative Law).
Of course as a Public Interest student my semester doesn’t end when the last exam ends. Never mind the fact that my last exam was literally in the very last exam block of the year, but in addition to that my clinic work has also continued beyond the end of the school year. Yes, I am working on clinic stuff after the year is over, and as a reminder, clinic stuff is supposed to have ended on April 22nd.
Ah the life of someone who cares.
In fact my clinic work didn’t end until just last Wednesday, which required one last client meeting. But before I get to that point I have to backtrack just a smidge, because SB and I celebrated her being done the Thursday before last (I still had one more exam and a client meeting left at that point) by getting some sushi from OSushi!
It was a bountiful feast, and like most of such feasts, we were only able to afford it because SB has crazy Groupon skills. Plus while we were eating we got to see someone get arrested for shoplifting, so it was kind of like dinner and a movie, good times.
The next day (Friday) we just got some stuff from Broadway to save money, but I also picked up a special beer to enjoy as a way of celebrating being done with classes (if not the semester):
While I normally don’t splurge on these larger singles, this one was only $5, which isn’t bad for out here. It was also really good, and definitely worth the $5. It had been a long time since I’d had something defined as an “Extra Pale” (which is really just a subcategory of American Pale Ales, by the way) so it was nice refresher. It kind of tastes like what you would imagine, a more hop-laden version of a standard pale eye, with a touch of smooth bitterness – but without the flavor profile of an IPA (or the IBUs). For something named “Steel Rail” it was surprisingly “brisk” and light, but not in a “Bud Light” sort of way, but rather a “light in body” sort of way – it was very drinkable in other words. At only 5.3% ABV this is an easy “big” bottle to go through solo, but I would like to try it on tap. Next up I need to find its older, badder brother “Imperial Steel Rail” which at 8.5% ABV is the stuff empires are made of I guess, kind of like the Empire Builder Train SB and I rode!
I didn’t get to the Steel Rail until Saturday night, which was fine because for whatever reason (we still don’t know why) Boston had some fireworks Saturday evening and we could sort of see them from our house!
So that was a nice coincidence, beer, fireworks, and even burnt popcorn! Yes one of these days I will learn to never rely on the directions on the popcorn box.
Anyways, fast forward to last Wednesday, or rather, Taco’s last-duty-as-a-2L-when-really-he-should-have-been-done-as-a-2L-a-week-ago-like-everyone-else-day. It also was supposed to have been my last day on campus.
Wednesday involved quite a bit of stuff, ranging from a Gastroenterology appointment, to sending back my last textbook via UPS, to a speaking with people from City Hall. The “highlight” of Wednesday was the meeting with my current clientele, which was coincidentally my last client meeting of the semester (and subsequently my last formal duty of 2L as well). While I wasn’t overly thrilled about having a meeting the week after the semester is officially over, I do have a commitment to the project, the clinic, and more specifically to the client – so I was a good baby lawyer and did my job. However it actually turned out to be a bit more draining than I figured it would be.
For starters, it was a conference call instead of an in-face meeting, and this is bad because one of the clients is almost impossible to understand on the phone because it sounds like they are trying to speak so quietly as to not wake dust mites. Then, when we first began the conference call it was just me and another student, but eventually we were joined by some of the clients, and so we started late from the get-go. Then my supervisor joined even later, and then the client supervisor joined even later still, so that was kind of weird, but I made do. The meeting was designed to “wrap up” two projects with this client for the year, with me on one project, and another student on the other. However, the coverage of the call was a bit skewed as my project was much more broad than the other one, and as a result, of the 75 minutes that the conference call lasted I was probably talking about 55 minutes. Yep, that isn’t even an exaggeration – and when I thought I was done when it switched over to the other project, it just got brought right back to me after about 10 minutes. It was rough, but really it was just rough because of how late in the year (as in, the year is over) it was, not that the clients were aggressive. In fact they had good questions that didn’t put me on the defense, but that didn’t stop them from being draining questions. In the end though I got through it and was even commended by the clients during the phone call and then my supervisor afterwards.
I actually met with my supervisor for a bit after the call and talked about my formal work product (what he had changed in the final memorandum and why) and my future with the clinic. It was good to talk to my supervisor and not get anything else assigned to me for a change. In fact I was kind of worried that I’d walk in there and get tasked with some additional assignment, but fortunately those fears didn’t come to fruition. So, after wrapping up my post-meeting meeting, I went and stored the sensitive files we were keeping, shredded the ones we were not, and then headed out the door.
So, now I’m done. I am no longer a 2L.
That is pretty interesting to think about, and as I think back over this past semester and even the entirety of 2L, I can’t help but be surprised by how much as changed, and simultaneously how much has stayed the same. For instance, this semester still yielded a crap-ton of work – as is tradition here is a photo of one of the boys (two this year, as Pigsten joined Valentino before the camera went off) next to a stack of my papers.
As always, it’s important to remember that that is just one semester, and it’s only extra things, like extra readings, notes, and research. Not seen are all the casebooks, which thankfully are on their way back to the various places I rented them from as we speak [and have since arrived]. And while the paper stack doesn’t seem to be shrinking as the semesters progress, at the very least I’m keeping it stacked better, which was the kind of small thing that 1L made challenging.
But while some things, like vast wastes of tree-life, stay the same, other things tend to change. For one, 2L has shored up my “Purpose” (with a capital P) here in law school in a manner that 1L did not. I’m now one of the few people left that have really stuck to the public interest track, or as you non-law people might call it, the “How in the hell does someone go to Harvard and make less than a McDonald’s manager” track. Though to be fair to me, there is a decent chance I’ll make about the same as a McDonald’s manager and not have to deal with angst-ridden teenagers either. But the point is, while some of my classmates will be off making in the range of $33,000 – 38,000 (or more) this summer, I’ll be making substantially less (though to be a flagrant braggart for a moment I did score a fellowship for this summer, which while nowhere near 33k, did increase the amount of money I will be making from $16.25 an hour to about $25 an hour). But, I also won’t be making the rich richer, in fact, if anything, I’ll be making the rich slightly less rich and will be making a difference for creatures and people who will likely never even know I helped them. But I’ll know, and I’m good with that.
In a lot of ways, being “good” with things is probably the thing that changed with me the most over the course of 2L.
2L saw my concern with grades go down – and while the concern was never anywhere near most other students’ concern to start with – this change actually caused my grades to go up.
2L saw my concern with attending every single doctrinal class go down – which ironically made me care more about those classes in some ways.
2L saw my concern with never saying “no” to my clinical supervisor diminish – and not-so-ironically that made my work product improve
2L saw my concern with “staying home and being safe” drop a bit – and as a result I went to work in New Mexico, rather than sit at home and be “safe.”
2L saw my concern with “admitting ignorance” to professors all but vanish – and as a result I went to more office hours this semester than I had in the prior 3.
2L saw my concern with “looking bad” to my colleagues on my journal all but vanish – and as a result the journal was part of my life, not the other way around.
2L saw my concern with not taking the easier, safer, FAR better paying road trickle off – and while it still causes me stress, I haven’t looked back to that burnt bridge a single time.
2L saw my concern with being on a “track” in general fade away – and subsequently I started thinking about what I wanted to do, not what HLS is telling me I should do (which even happens to public interest people, in some ways just as badly if not worse).
2L saw my concern with “checking out” drop off, sometimes I wasted time, sometimes I was inefficient, sometimes I didn’t try very hard – but I was happier as a result of it.
2L saw my concern with academia plummet – but my concern with practice soar.
And, mostly important, even more important than grades and career trajectories, 2L made saw me stop caring about being the “lunch box kid.” While I’ve never been one to care too much about what other people say, there is always a part of us that ones to be “accepted” on some level. To say that I was not HLS’s typical “peg” would not be an understatement, and that caused me a variety of issues during 1L, not only in the sense of HLS not really being institutionally cognizant of “poor” people, but also because a large portion of the student body isn’t either (despite their claims to be). So, at times, it wasn’t always funny to be the person who was made fun of (yes, highschool style), because I have to bring my lunch to school [Though in fairness to my classmates the “(insecure) coo kids” only really made up about 10% of the class]. Further, that a professor once said to me “Why are you wearing jeans with holes in them? Don’t you think that’s inappropriate for speaking with me?” – and in fairness they did have holes in them – wasn’t really funny either. That a clinical instructor once chided me for asking to have my subway fair covered for a client meeting because it was “only $2.10,” well, that really wasn’t too funny either.
But now I do find it funny.
I find it funny because if those are the only negative vibes that have been sent my way, then I’m doing pretty good. Because yes, I am the lunch box kid. And while the people who have called me that will probably never need to worry about spending 40-50$ a day on food (and mostly likely have always been able to do that), I do have to worry about spending that kind of money, so I don’t. And I am quite alright with that. I pack my lunch because there is no reason not to, and truth be told, even if I could afford to not pack my lunch, I’d still pack my lunch, because there is a great deal to be said for taking the time to make your own food (and yes, you have time – I was averaging around 70-80 hours per week this semester during the busy periods and I still made my lunch). Additionally, yes, I did have pants with holes in them. No, not because I couldn’t afford new pants, but because I had patched those pants and didn’t need to buy new pants, yet to certain people a “patch” is just as bad as open hole. So yes, call me the person with the holey pants, I’m more than ok with that, because I value things.
Which is precisely why I ended my 2L in these bad boys:
These were my “2L” winter socks, and just like my “1L” winter socks, they only lasted one season. I do a lot of walking, it’s how I commute 95% of the time. And yes, if you were wondering, I do wear two pairs of socks almost constantly (thank you progressive Reynaud’s). And yes, I can afford more socks, in fact I have more socks (purchased and gifted), but those 2L winter socks still had many miles to go when the first hole appeared, many miles indeed. So, rather than just throw out them at at the first hole, I wore them until I was done with them, just like I’ll carry my lunchbox until I’m done with it, and wear my jeans until I’m done with them, and just like I’ll keep using my 6 year old folders which are held together entirely via tape but have literally traveled the world with me, even though people tell me they are “unprofessional.”
So, as I walk towards 3L year, I look back at 2L as by far one of the busiest and most difficult times of my entire life – while 1L sucked, 2L was hard.
And, as I’ve mentioned before, the ole’ adage goes that 1L they scare you to death, 2L they work you to death, and 3L they bore you to death. I can say right now that I will be anything but bored during 3L, I’ve already turned it into a year that is going to be even more busy than 2L. So, rather than making law school easier as I go along, in typical Taco fashion I just keep making it harder and harder.
But that’s the thing about people who chose the path less traveled, rather than the easier and more lucrative one, who pack their lunch rather than recoil in social stigma, who patch their jeans and have a professor wearing a $2000 suit ask them why they even bothered showing up in them, and who wear broken down socks and use folders held together by tape, not because they can’t afford new ones, but because the old ones aren’t done yet.
The thing about those kinds of people is that they tend not to quit.
So while a fair number of my classmates will be checking out during 3L – taking easy classes and low credit loads while safe and secure in their high-paying firm jobs or federal clerkships (which will then lead to high paying firm jobs), I’ll still be over in my little corner, fighting my own little good fight – the same kind of little good fight I’ve been doing since the first weeks of 1L when I joined an SPO, because that’s what I’m here to do: not to get top-tier grades in doctrinal classes – or really even any classes, not to leave with 600 letters of recommendation, not to go clerk for SCOTUS, not to be a paycheck-puppet to some partner, not to spend 100 hours a week in the library debating the meaning of a word in some obscure law, and most importantly I’m not here to make the rich richer – no, I’m here right now to keep those kinds of people in line, to act as my own little variety of David in a Goliath’s world.
And thus far I am very good at what I do. Not to be too self-righteous or anything 😛
Plus, almost as a cosmic sign of the changing times, the weather substantially improved once my 2L duties came to a close.
Oddly enough we’d never been back since we moved out here, so it was kind of weird (and fun… and expensive…) to go there again. Plus, since it was a nice day we took our food and ate at the Science Center Plaza and even had a squirrel friend join us for dinner!
The funny thing about spring weather is that it tends to bring a little something else with it, known as “spring cleaning” or more accurately “how to not have a weekend.” SB and I had decided to deep clean the ole’ apartment awhile back, and even made a to-do list solely for the clean and scheduled it on our calendars. Naturally SB made us reschedule it, but only once. It was by far the deepest clean this apartment has received, and maybe even one of the more thorough cleans I’ve ever engaged in. I think we cleaned parts of this apartment that hadn’t been cleaned since the roaring twenties. In fact, getting the whole list done (which we had taped on the kitchen wall as a way of forcing us to acknowledge its ever-looming presence) took not only an entire Friday, but also a bit on Saturday morning, and then a sizeable chunk on Sunday afternoon as well and even spilled into Monday evening once we were both home. In fairness this list including a lot of stuff, but I don’t think either of us anticipated it taking as long as it did. Still, Friday was really the only “all-consuming” day, and once we’d put in a full shift of cleaning we took one of the $10-off coupons we’d gotten in the mail and headed down to UNO Pizzeria for our Friday night dinner and of course some beer.
From there it was off to get treats (cake slices!) and then chill at home. It was a very productive Friday, and we had done a lot of cleaning, so even I didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep that night. The next day we expanded our cake with some ice cream. We normally don’t “double up” on treats in a week, but the almond-milk Ben & Jerry’s finally made it to our Whole Foods, so we had to try it. It was noms!
The next day we continued wrapping up our cleaning list (including cleaning the inside, outside, and “inside” of the computers, which always takes forever) and I gave the Three Amigos, Bonsai Buddy Jr., Rosita, and Little Friend some TLC via some much-needed trimming, pot-cleaning, and soil refreshing. Here is what the smaller plants looked like beforehand:
And here is a shot of Little Friend, for height-reference.
I estimate Little Friend to currently be around 6′, 8″ and if we hadn’t cut him down twice I can only imagine how tall he would be. So yeah, Sunday was more cleaning combined with plant TLC and a variety of other tasks. Though on Monday morning at around 5:30am (I wasn’t have sleep troubles – no surprise there) I did clip off one of Little Friend’s arms that was making closing the blinds difficult – fortunately he was asleep so I wasn’t severely injured.
Of course, speaking of doing things, my “being done with 2L” phase didn’t last very long – not because I’m not done with 2L – I am – but instead because 3L stuff is already trickling in. Yes, just when I thought that I’d be able to leave the law school behind until September I get an email from the director of the clinic asking me to come in. While I am much better at saying no to supervisors these days, when the director asks you to come in speak with you – and you want this person to be in your corner for post-graduation endeavors – then you go in, even if the semester has been over for nearly two weeks. Plus, to be entirely honestly I wasn’t even sure what the director wanted to talk about other than an “idea” for me for 3L – and since my 3L is already working on about 30 hour days (the impossibility of that is intentional) I wasn’t sure how to feel about this “idea.” But, as mentioned, I wasn’t about to just shrug off a meeting with a person who I really need in my corner. Plus, when looking at the schedule for Monday I noticed that a former Attorney General (one of my professors) was holding post-semester office hours that same day, and since I needed (or rather, wanted) to talk to him about my upcoming summer I figured I’d just kill two birds with one stone and let the law school reel me in one more time.
Well, it turns out I only ended up killing one bird, because the former AG never even showed up to our meeting. In fact he didn’t even appear to be there at all. I even came back later and he still wasn’t there. So that was a nice waste of my time. However, my second meeting with the director was much more fruitful and left me feeling very good about spring semester of my 3L, which was nice because I was worried they were going to try to convince me to do the clinic again during my fall semester, which just wasn’t feasible at all. Fortunately that wasn’t the case and we were actually on pretty much the same page, and now I have some exciting stuff to consider. Of course now my 3L is going to be even more busy, but I guess that’s the fate I’ve chosen from myself. Once I was done with my second meeting I had to go wait in line for 40 freaking minutes at the Post Office to mail SB’s old phone (we sold it on eBay) which was probably even more frustrating than having the professor just ignore our meeting, but at least we were getting money from the phone.
So, that’s that. This post ended up being longer than I anticipated, not because I ramble (which I do, I am not denying it), but because things kept happening and so I kept delaying the post and adding things to do (in fact, I think this post is over 1 week “late” at this point). But, some exciting stuff is about to start happening – in fact its starting the same day this gets posted, so er, today I guess – not the least of which is SB’s graduation. So while I’ll soon be departing for another summer job, my hope is to get in one more post before I actually depart. I can’t really say what that post will (or won’t) cover but at the very least I’d like to talk a bit more about the upcoming summer (similar to this post) and I can hopefully touch on anything I miss in regards to the pending excitement in another post after that.
Until next time,