More Mukasey (sort of)

May 30, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Posted in politics, read this | Leave a comment
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Tangentially related to my last post on Professor Greenfield’s piece is a link to this piece (also posted today in the Huffington Post) by Sharon Kelly, a longtime friend from Summit, who works for the Human Rights Foundation and recently visited Guantanamo Bay. 

Greenfield on Mukasey

May 29, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Posted in law school, read this | Leave a comment
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One of my professors, Kent Greenfield, wrote a response to Attorney General Mukasey’s BC Law graduation speech.  See it here on the Huffington Post blog.  Greenfield does a good job of summarizing the defensive tone of the speech and articulating why there was so much concern and controversy about Mukasey’s role as speaker — all born out in the speech Mukasey ultimately did give and the message it sent to graduates about what the law is and should be.

My once and future dream job

May 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Posted in not yet written, read this | Leave a comment
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Turks and Caicos, winter 2007

I suspect that every journalist at some point thinks he or she is going to be/can be a travel writer.  I was (am?) not immune.  At one point in my fervent quest to turn my journalism career into that of a fabulous, globe-trotting travel writer, I got a freelance job helping a strange woman write a travel book on Caribbean destination wedding hotels.  I was told to get my information from the hotel brochures.  Supposedly it was to be a Frommer’s guide, and, clearly, the hotels were paying her.  It was all very disillusioning (and where was my actual trip to the Caribbean, anyway?).  Travel writing, I’ve come to theorize, is as much about luck as effort.  Because believe me, I’ve put in the effort:  I’ve come home from trips to Europe and South America and even Idaho with bags stuffed full of obscure restaurant menus and museum ticket stubs, pictures, and journals filled with my daily encounters, only to find that the newspapers to which I submitted my stories seemed already to have a cadre of  regulars.  Breaking in was difficult (at least for me). 

All this was during my “traveling years,” now somewhat abandoned for law school and Little Bugs (although, to be fair, we did go to Turks & Caicos last year).   Still, when I read good travel writing I not only fully appreciate the effort and meticulous detail that goes into a story, but I am incredibly jealous of the writer and also filled with practical questions: how did he or she get this gig?  Is this their only job?  How did they break in?  Matt Gross, who writes the Frugal Traveler column and blog for the Times, has been my favorite travel writer for a few years — I love it when he’s on one of his $100-a-day trips:  from traveling around the world or driving across the U.S. , to his current journey, retracing Europe’s “Grand Tour” on 100 Euros a day (a nod to the dismal exchange rate).  His writing is accurate — probably the most important trait for a travel writer — but also witty, personal, and at times surprisingly poignant.   Check out his current trip here.  Reading this makes me wonder how many European law firms need a U.S. tax lawyer…

Countdown to July 30

May 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Posted in law school | Leave a comment
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Today was the first BarBri review session (like a two-month Princeton Review course for the bar exam — almost everyone takes it, so it’s kind of a monopoly.  And it costs almost $3,000, so if you don’t work for a firm who is paying for it, it’s actually a problematic monopoly…).  My bar review experience did not get off to an auspicious start when yesterday, running across Copley Square with a stroller (yes, I brought the stroller to carry everything in — there are a lot of books! And they are intimidating and heavy!) full of books to beat the thunderstorm and massive downpour home, my MANDATORY i.d. card — the one they say DO NOT LOSE THIS, WE WILL NOT LET YOU IN TO CLASS — somehow flew out of my bag.  Granted, that little alley between Copley and the Hancock building has been deemed the windiest spot in Boston, but still — it was in my possession for all of five minutes.  So after class today, I couldn’t even have followed everyone to the library if I had wanted to to begin summarizing my criminal law notes.  Instead, I had to go back to BarBri and get an affadavit, which then had to be notarized (by a nice guy at Bank of America across the street…).  Yikes.  I guess they are afraid you’ll get a duplicate i.d. to give to someone who hasn’t paid the $3,000 for the course?

Anyway, the BarBri course consists of six weeks of four-hour lectures that you watch on a tiny TV screen at the front of the biggest classroom at BC Law — the one where I had all my first-year classes.  It felt very, very strange to be walking into school with all my classmates, just days after graduating, laden with heavy books, laptops, coffee mugs, and a packed lunch, preparing to spend entire days frantically typing out information and then heading to the library.  Nine-to-five, five days a week — total 1L redux.  The difference is, the BarBri class actually teaches you the law — and because of that, it wasn’t all that bad.  Today we learned criminal law.  Yes, all of it.  In 3.5 hours.  Which is all I will take with me into the bar exam because I never took it in law school.   Which is also kind of frightening, but kind of not, because had I taken it in law school, I would have read a bunch of confusing cases and spent the entire semester wondering what was really important and what the rules really were without ever quite being sure.  In just 3.5 hours, I learned the actual black-letter law — now all I have to do is memorize it. 

For those who care, the bar exam is two days — the first day is the multi-state test, which everyone in the country takes.  It is all multiple choice, and there are only six subjects tested, roughly:  Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contracts, Evidence, Torts, and Property.  You take four of those 1L year — Con Law, Contracts, Torts, and Property — so you have a pretty good grounding in them (most law schools also have Crim Law as part of the 1L curriculum, and BC changed theirs to include Crim the year after we were 1Ls, of course…)  I never actually took Evidence or Crim Law on top of these (oops), but most people do.  The second day is the Massachusetts portion of the exam, consisting of six essays, and there are like 13 possible topics, so that’s a bit dicier.  Some topics they test almost every year (Criminal Procedure); some only once in awhile (Secured Transactions, and I know they tested that last year, so hopefully it won’t be on this year’s exam, which would be good since it is one of the hardest classes at BC Law.  I didn’t take it…)  Unfortunately, Tax is not one of the topics on either day of testing.

Anyway, it is sort of overwhelming, but only in the quantity of material.  The actual material is not that difficult — it’s just a matter of gearing up to memorize massive quantities of factors and exceptions.  Which I’m just about to do, having now secured another i.d. (the next one will cost me $250 if I lose this one!), downloaded every possible BarBri handout, and cleaned the kitchen in one last bout of procrastination.  Criminal Law, here I come!

Update:  For the first time ever, I understand that muder and manslaughter are subcategories of the larger classification of homicide.  Woh.  See?  Perhaps we really don’t need law school afterall — just a six-week bar-prep course to really understand the law. 

Graduation

May 27, 2008 at 10:39 am | Posted in law school, little bug | 2 Comments
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Graduation day was almost perfect — a blue sky, warm (but not hot).  A beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived in the morning from my Princeton girls, reminding me that this was indeed a special day.  The ceremony was quite lovely, as well.  Attorney General Michael Mukasey did draw some protests — from the protesters at the school gates dressed in orange jump suits with paper bags over their heads, to the professors who handed out pamphlets expressing their opposition and held white carnations, to my friend Ellen who almost walked out! — as well he should have, since his speech was almost devoid of any “graduation” qualities and was instead entirely a defense of torture.  (As he started speaking, a friend sitting two seats down leaned over to whisper to me, “He’s going there!”)  At the very end he threw out something like, “At sometime in your legal career you might be asked to make a decision that seems unpopular, but remember there is a difference between what is political and what is actually legal.”  I want to add that he also said something like, “I hope you’ll have the courage to do the right thing,” but my writer’s brain might be making that part up.

The highlight, of course, was getting my diploma.  Tim walked the Little Bug up to me from the stands and I carried her across the stage.  I had tears in my eyes and yet a huge smile on my face because who would have thought?  Not only that I’d go to law school at 30 (well, I’d argue that some would have thought that might happen), but that I’d also acquire a husband and daughter in the process. 

Friday would have been my grandmother’s 90th birthday (or maybe her 94th or 92nd — she was sort of cagey with her age!)  She was so proud that her two daughters were lawyers, much as I have always been proud of my aunt and my mother, explicity and subtly following in their footsteps.  Law school gave me my life back.  I loved the rigors of the first year, I made incredible, life-long friends, and I rediscovered my sense of self — which led directly to everything else:  finding Tim, having my daughter, pursuing a great job.  As I walked across stage, holding my tired, fidgeting baby, hearing my degree announced, it all became very, very real.  And I was elated.

After the graduation ceremony (which concluded with the second-highest dean of the school remarking that the judge who had presided over the Salem witch trials stood in front of his congregation years later and apologized.  “You can always go back and admit you are wrong,” Dean Clay admonished [a not-so-subtle dig at Mukasey, obviously]. “Congratulations, graduates.” Hmmm.)  there was a champagne reception up the hill, and then the Rodgers-Beaumont-Murphys retired Chez Murphy for a little after-party with the Little Bug. 

 

Little Bug meets the Dean (this one’s for you, Monique)

More posts to come on the law school experience, but I did want to mark the happiness — its utter thoroughness coming as somewhat of a surprise — of this day for me.

The after party!

Baby advice: What to wear

May 22, 2008 at 8:41 am | Posted in little bug, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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And…I’m back! My blogging mini-vacation is over, and it’s time to get back to some real, serious posting.  Such as this one, a version of which I have emailed to several pregnant friends, who have encouraged me to post it on my blog in the hopes of, you know, enlightening the masses.  The topic was what to wear after having a baby, and, specifically, “Do I really have to buy a hideous nursing bra?  Do I really have to keep wearing maternity clothes?  Does it matter?”  The answer is maybe, no, yes.  I discovered after some trial and error — as I did with everything pregnancy and baby related — that having a post-baby “uniform” is key, for several reasons.  First, since I was not one of those “I fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans the day I left the hospital!” type of new moms, NOTHING I used to wear fit.  For months.  And some things (mostly tops) may never do so again.  So if you buy yourself a new uniform of sorts, you stop longing for your old clothes.  Second, you have to change your clothes about as often as you change the baby’s.  You will be covered with milk, spit-up, poop, and Starbucks.  And hopefully also a little wine.  So you don’t want to go through the whole “what to put on?” dilemma ten times a day.  Finally, you feel pretty gross for awhile.  Even if you take the baby for a walk or even eventually make it to the gym later in the day, getting up and showering first thing wakes you up and makes you feel like a real person.  Then, you put on your new clothes and you feel pretty good!  Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my post-baby uniform (a variation of which I’m still wearing!)

1. Nursing bras are hideous. By all means buy one, but I thought they looked awful under a shirt and are annoying to use.  Also, I didn’t like my stomach showing when I lifted up my shirt to nurse (I bought some of those “nursing tops” that they sell at Gap Maternity and the like, but they were also pretty unflattering, and had supposedly easy to open clasps that never actually stayed clasped.  More on this in a minute.)  Instead, I found these tanks by Glamourmoms: http://www.glamourmom.com/NS_productpage.php?ItemNum=18  These ones with the lace at the bottom are a bit longer than the other ones they sell (I tried them all!), so I like them in particular because I’m not only long-waisted but because it was even more insurance that my stomach would never see the light of day.  I bought several in white and black and wore them under everything.  They are suprisingly supportive (I definitely had a large nursing, um, bosom…), and I liked the way there was just enough spandex to keep everything covered and secure.  The straps were much easier to use than any nursing bra, too.  Some of my friends with less, um, bosom employed the same strategy (tanks, not nursing bras) with just regular old Gap tanks and just pulled them aside.  At first, I sometimes wore a regular nursing bra under these tanks when I was going out somewhere (it wasn’t that hard to unclasp the tank and then the bra underneath), but eventually the nursing bra got tossed. 

2.  OK, so you have your nursing coverage.  But what to do about a top?  The nice thing about the tanks is that even if you are wearing a regular t-shirt, you can be pretty discreet when lifting up the shirt to nurse (i.e., your fleshy stomach doesn’t show!).  But I found a better solution to the whole “nursing top” thing (a marketing gimmick! Which I fell for hook line and sinker, and then tossed the nursing tops about two weeks in because they just scream, “I’m nursing! I’m frumpy!”).  Old Navy makes deep v-neck t-shirts which are great because you just pull the v-neck part down and to the side a bit when feeding.  Moreover, they are (1) cheap and (2) a bit ruched and thus super-flattering.  They are form fitting without being tight — which is just what you need post-baby.  I bought a bunch in white and black — wearing them with the appropriately coordinated Glamourmoms top — and then one or two fun colors.  I bought size L for after the baby, and have since gone back and gotten size M just to wear all the time now because I love them so much.   www.oldnavy.com/browse/product.do?cid=7525&pid=507719&scid=507719002

3.  Pants are a problem.  You can wear your maternity jeans for awhile, but that’s kind of depressing.  You can also wear your black yoga pants, which of course is a great option.  But what if you want to look a bit cuter?  Again, Old Navy has some suprisingly cute and flattering capris (for all of the elastic and draw strings involved) with a low-riding, elastic waist.  http://www.oldnavy.com/browse/category.do?cid=35158  I also bought some Gap jeans two sizes larger that I knew I’d wear only for a (relatively) short while, but it was nice to wear regular jeans (as opposed to maternity). 

So, there you have it:  black and white tanks to go under black and white t’s, to wear with khaki and white capris.  All machine washable!  I’d put one of these combinations on daily with a bright-colored button down cardigan (worn unbuttoned, of course), and then flip flops or cute ballet flats.  (Note: if you have a summer baby, be warned:  your feet do not go back to normal for a few weeks! I was particularly shocked and horrified by this discovery…)  If it’s winter, you can still do this but with maybe a heavier sweater and more reliance on the jeans and nice yoga pants.  But ballet flats can do wonders!  So can a shower and a cute non-diaper-bag-looking diaper bag. 

My whole point is:  it’s nice to prepare yourself with this sort of outfit because it saves you the angst of feeling like you look horrible not only because you’re exhausted, leaking milk, hormonal, etc. etc., but because you can’t fit into either your old clothes and don’t want to wear your huge maternity clothes.  You have some cute things ready to go.  It took me a good five or six months to figure this out, having bought and not worn a variety of nursing tanks, too-big tops (which you don’t really feel all that great in, either…) and pants, etc.  And most important, I think that these clothes are flattering enough while being forgiving that you can enjoy these first few months without being anxious about getting your “old-self” back. 

A good start to the week

May 19, 2008 at 6:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On day one of my week of being a stay-at-home-mom with the Little Bug (a stay-at-home-mom who still has to pay her babysitter, however, so who also will be looking for legitimate reasons to use her, e.g., going to yoga for the first time in six months, returning things at the mall, cleaning out closets and perhaps even the file cabinet and desk…), I let my baby eat her barrette.  As you may have noticed, she has crazy hair that is now down to her mouth.  So I clip it back in a cute little barrette with a little grosgrain bow.  I noticed that the “bow” part of one of them was kind of loose today.  Nevertheless, I clipped it in, and off we went to the playground, where she swung on the swings and crawled in the dirt and tried to walk and thus fell sound asleep in the stroller on the way home.  When we got home, I just plunked her in the crib, bow and all — which I never do.  I always take that bow out.  So, after a short nap, I hear her talking to herself.  I go in, and she’s standing up in the crib, chewing on the metal clip part of the bow.  I was horrified — and then even more so when I realized that the “bow” part was nowhere to be found.  I called the pediatrician.  Apparently a little grosgrain will not kill you, and I should just be “on the lookout” for it in her diaper… But I’m of course pretty shaken up that she could have swallowed the whole thing, metal and all.  And here I was thinking all day long how great this staying home thing was … which it is, as long as you don’t let your baby eat ribbon!

My list of what I hope to accomplish this week is long:  read books, read magazines, write thank you notes, file papers, see friends, cook dinners, go to cleaners, learn to sell things on Ebay, sell bookcase on Craigslist, return clothes, buy new bookshelf after selling old one on Ebay, buy new desk chair, remove all clutter, train for half-marathon on Sunday (which, after a good long run with Jen Carpenter on Saturday, I’m recommitted to running).  We’ll see how much actually gets done…

Vacation

May 15, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Posted in law school | Leave a comment

Taking a few days off from blogging…and everything else! Had a heavenly lunch at Bouchee yesterday complete with sunburn and rose, dinner at La Voile with more rose (there should be an accent on those last “e”s in rose!), a long run on the river, and lots of playground time with Little Bug (and her boyfriend, Will Block, and her other playground “friends”: Luca, Sophie, Riley, Tommy, Layla, Annie…). Have detailed the car, changed the oil, cleaned the closets, etc., etc., etc. Am making my way through several weeks of DVR’d Oprah’s and New Yorkers. Dinner tomorrow night with the girls (and probably more rose — I’m on a warm-weather kick). Slowly, slowly it’s sinking in that I am done with law school. More musings on that as graduation approaches…I’ll be back soon!

Regrouping

May 12, 2008 at 8:50 am | Posted in law school, little bug | 1 Comment
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I’m still alive…after a trying finals period (trying only because of my own procrastination, but trying, nevertheless), but I just hit “send” and turned in my last paper.  It was the final for my “Semester in Practice” seminar, which I attended on Friday mornings after spending Tuesday-Thursday interning at the Harvard Office of the General Counsel.  Nominally it was to be a professional-responsibility-focused paper somehow related to the internship.  Mine was about my first experience as a “working” mother, and I set up the legal, historical, and socio-economic framework for being a twenty-first century working mother; discussed some books on the topic (The Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi and The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts); summarized the main impediments to being a mother working in the legal profession, which include the billable hours-based structure of the profession, as well as the ironic misnomer of the “part-time” option (relying heavily on Lauren Stiller Rikleen’s Ending the Gauntlet); and then, finally, tried to come up with my own strategy for being a lawyer-mother, which came down to the idea of “redefining Superwoman.”  Appropriately, I finished it yesterday, my first Mother’s Day, which I spent at my own mother’s house, watching her whisk my baby up and down the stairs, out for walks, and in and out of the high chair as I pounded out the rest of the paper—trying not to feel guilty.

Our weekend in NYC/Summit was great, though–Tim and I spent Friday night in the city, having dinner at 5 Ninth and staying at the New York Palace, which was a bit over-the-top for me taste-wise, but was in a perfect location on Madison Ave. (how appropriate, again!) directly across from St. Patrick’s.  On Saturday morning we slept late, Tim went to the gym while I read the Times in the big bed, then we strolled around for a bit before heading back out to Summit, where my baby was waiting for me at the train station with her grandparents.  Last night we had a family dinner and birthday party, with aunts and uncles and sisters and lemon cake.  And now I head back up to Boston with a full two weeks of nothing before graduation and bar review.  My conception of “nothing” is quickly filling up with to-dos, but I’m going to try to carefully carve out some pure nothing-time, nonetheless.

Post-mortem

May 7, 2008 at 8:37 am | Posted in politics | 1 Comment
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Our babysitter, Janet, came in the door breathless this morning. “A big, big win!” she exclaimed. “I was up until 2 a.m. watching the results!” As was Tim, who refreshed the Times homepage repeatedly, hoping for Indiana to be called before he went to bed. I am thrilled that Obama will be the Democratic nominee. As I’ve written before, he is something new for this country, and I think we need it.

However, I’m also sad. I’m sad that Hillary the candidate and Hillary the woman couldn’t do it. Not this time. And when will the next woman emerge — the woman who can actually strike the right balance between intellect, aggressiveness, and likability? A balance that is much, much more difficult for a woman on the national political stage to claim. Maybe I’m projecting the sentiments of the poem in the below post. But if a woman as smart and capable of Hillary can’t find her stride in national politics, who can? I’m happy for Obama. But much more existentially, I’m sort of depressed as well.

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