Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I have a midterm this afternoon in Contracts. This has forced me to confront the fact that I really don't know how to study. I have no idea how prepared I am for this exam. My gut feeling is that rereading my notes yet again isn't going to help me, because I'll have those available during the test, and I feel like I must be in relatively good shape since every time one of my fellow students asks me a question, I have at least a halfway decent answer for it. Still, I don't feel like I can prepare for this the same way I prepared for tests in undergrad. It makes me miss the hours I spent studying Latin vocabulary and singing declensions to myself while waiting for the bus.

I also realized this morning that, aside from the LSAT, this is the first exam I've taken since December of 2001. I hope wisdom will compensate for rustiness.

To psych myself up for the exam, I put an extra packet of sugar in my coffee, and it's delicious. As long as I'm still appreciating the finer things in life, I guess I can't possibly be too stressed out.

Outside the law school bubble, life moves on: one of my friends just had a baby, and another just found out she's pregnant. Election Day is in less than three weeks now. Thanksgiving is in five. In just over two months, I'll be done with exams, visiting my family. Somehow I find all this comforting.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Clear Skies

I have a headache that's keeping me from really thinking straight, but I'm beginning to realize that I'm pretty much always going to have some reason not to blog (my thoughts are too serious, my thoughts are too frivolous, I need to study, apartment is on fire, etc.) and I just have to do it anyway. So I'm going to keep it brief.

Fall break has come and gone, and I'm happy to say that mine was wonderful. I spent a couple of days with my family, and then a few more up in Ocean City with friends from the law school. Both portions of the trip were great in different ways. I always wish I had more time with my parents. My dad and I triumphed over a car stereo that really did not want to be installed, which was our great victory of the visit. And the beach was relaxing. We ate crab, drank beer, and lay out in the sun in two different states (we drove up to Rehoboth for a day and visited the Dogfish Head brewery), and for a few minutes at a time, I forgot I was in law school. I got very little work done, but I successfully hit the stress reset button, and that's really what I was going for.

Now we're back, and fall is setting in in earnest. It's going down almost to freezing tonight, and yesterday morning I went outside to find frost on my windshield for the first time. The leaves are just starting to turn. We've had a series of glorious days, with deep blue, cloudless skies. What a beautiful October this is shaping up to be.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I'd love to be able to write one of those posts about How to Succeed in Law School. Sadly, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know whether I'm succeeding or not — at least not by any measure that other people are likely to care about — and I probably won't know until grades come out early next year. But I am learning some things about how to survive law school without having a meltdown. Of course, it goes without saying that what works for me might not work for others.

Learning to get less sleep has been key. I've been an eight-hours-a-night girl for a few years now, and since being here I've whittled that down to about six and a half or seven. I've tried less and not been able to focus at all, and more doesn't seem to be an option. I also get up at the same time every morning during the week, no matter whether or not I have an early class. I think that helps me be more alert. Similarly, it's been important for me to figure out what time of day I can do what sort of work. I can read in the afternoons, but I can really only write in the morning (good to know when memo time rolls around).

Finding friends who don't gossip has also been extremely helpful. I have a couple of friends with whom I only talk about my own business and theirs, and I know that no topic is off-limits and what we say goes absolutely nowhere. I never would have imagined that there would be anywhere near this much gossip here. I've had things I said repeated back to me after being passed down a chain of three or four people. Definitely worse than high school. And I've learned, whenever possible, to keep my nose out of other people's business. Sure, there's some amount of mediating we have to do to keep the peace (considering everyone's sky-high stress levels), but other than that, it pays to keep to myself. I'm still working on actually doing that.

Also, I need to spend time outside every day. Walking to and from the car does not qualify. Even if that means walking in the rain, or studying out in the garden, I need to do it. I'm lucky to live in a place when the weather is almost never too bad to be outside, and I need to take advantage of that. The law school building is very nice, with wide hallways and high ceilings, but fluorescent light and recycled air get to be a drag very quickly — like, within a few hours.

One tactic that I've hit on that's surprised me is that it works better for me to do a week's reading at a time for each class, whenever possible. Four days' worth of civ pro may take hours to get through, but I focus on the material better and it makes more sense in context. Also, then I get the psychological boost of not having any civ pro to read for the rest of the week. The tricky bit is setting aside a large enough block of time to do this, but I think it's worth it for me.

The last, and most important, thing I've learned here is this: life is much better when I manage to relax. If something isn't working, I should try something else, but it doesn't make sense to stick to a regime that's making me miserable, or try to make a whole bunch of radical changes all at once. It also doesn't help when I start worrying about all the things I need to do today. If I just take the first step and accomplish one thing, usually the rest falls into place.

I swear the next thing I post will be light-hearted and irreverent. Next week is fall break, and the closer I get to that, the clearer my head should be.