Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The last week

I'm sitting in the basement of Austin Hall, where the TAP office is, waiting to see if my partner wants to make a quick phone call to our client. We finally visited the Boston Housing Authority yesterday, where sadly we found nothing we could use to revive his application for a transfer. Hopefully we can help him to start a new one, though, and avoid the mistakes that caused the last one to fail.

They say if you don't like Massachusetts weather, you can just wait 10 minutes. That has definitely held true over the past week. We made yesterday's trek to the BHA in pouring rain and bizarrely high temperatures- over 60 degrees- when just this Monday it was 15 degrees on my way to school, and Sunday it was snowing. That was beautiful, but it feels like a year ago- we've had spring and autumn all over again since! Today it's still raining, but back down to about 30. Forecasts are mixed on whether we'll see snow again before I leave for home, and I'm really hoping so- I could use some more practice to help avoid a nasty shock when I get back!

I'm trying to cope well with this being the last week of classes, but I'm not having much success. At any given moment, I'm at one of two polar extremes: either checked-out and slacking off entirely, or studious in a "for old times' sake" kind of way and downright emotional about leaving my first-semester professors and coursework behind. I suspect this feeling will last until I get back to Austin and the steady toil of exam preparation begins. For now, I'm just not ready to let go- or move on to the next task, either.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere around school has gotten really nice. The tension has gone down in the library as 2nd and 3rd-years are wrapping up their exams and 1st-years aren't yet getting started. Egg nog and holiday cookies circulated during our last session of Legal Research and Writing. And all our professors have had wise and wonderful advice to impart at the end of their last lectures; my favorite was probably our Leg Reg professor/section leader, who said the two best tests of whether your life has meaning are how you feel about your work when you first wake up in the morning, and how you feel about the people you're with during dinner.

Together the section put together a thank-you gift for him: a framed statute filled with punny legal jargon and memories from the semester. It's mostly inside jokes, but I thought I'd share it anyway so you can see what legal/comic geniuses we are:

The Legislation and Regulation Act of 2008
An Act
To Recognize Administration of §7 by Professor Todd D. Rakoff

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of §7 in Harvard Law School assembled,

(a) SHORT TITLE--This Act may be cited as the "Rakoff Act.”
Sec. 1. Short title; Table of Contents
Sec. 2. Findings and Purposes
Sec. 101. Definitions
Sec. 102. Administrator
Sec. 201. Timing of Class
Sec. 202. Other Powers and Duties
Sec. 301. Drafting
Sec. 302. Promulgation

(a) FINDINGS. §7 finds that—
(1) There is in fact A Time For Every Purpose, and there must be both Law and a Balance of Life.
(2) Professor Todd Rakoff (Harvard University B.A. 1967, Social Studies; Oxford University B.Phil. 1969, Political Philosophy; University of Pennsylvania M.S.Ed. 1971, Urban Education; Harvard Law School J.D. 1975) has provided excellent guidance to the students of §7.
(b) PURPOSES. The purpose of this act is to give official recognition to said guidance by Professor Rakoff and to cement his authority as fearless leader of §7.

As used in this title:
(1) KNIT TIES.—The term "knit tie" means neckwear, made by interlacing yarn in a series of connected loops, forming a narrow piece of material worn under a collar and knotted at the front.
(2) JAWBONING.—The term "to jawbone" means to perform any act or to foreclose any inaction upon a geegaw.
(3) GEEGAW.—The term "geegaw" refers to any object that has been lawfully jawboned according to paragraph (2).
(4) MILKSHAKE.—The term "milkshake" means a blended beverage made with ice cream.
(5) ICE CREAM.—The term "ice cream" shall not be construed to mean a jug of milk frozen solid.
(6) THE ADMINISTRATOR.—The term "administrator" means the administrator of administrative administrations.
(7) LATE.—The term "late" is defined as any moment in time on or after that chosen by the Administrator to be the time of commencement for class, pursuant to §201(a).
(8) UMPIRE'S STANCE.—The term "Umpire's Stance" refers to a gentle forward-leaning posture, preferably assumed near an unsuspecting student, with hands placed on the knees or lifted to cup behind the ears.

(a) The Administrator shall have the authority to alter, revise, or completely redefine any term listed in Definitions section. In making such modifications, he may consider:
(1) Local jargon/dialect unknown to students, such as "frappe."
(2) Any other factors the Administrator considers appropriate.

(a) IN GENERAL—The Administrator may freely alter the time that class commences and concludes, provided that—
(1) Such an alteration is not arbitrary and capricious, the determination of which shall not receive judicial review.
(2) Notice is provided (of the alteration of commencement only.)
(b) There is no private right of action for students to challenge the Administrator’s determination on this matter.
(c) REMEDIES— Should students arrive late:
(1) Late students are entitled, at Administrator's discretion, to an off-the-record informal adjudication before the Administrator but may not be accorded due process or judicial review in a court of the United States or of the states or territories therein.
(2) Remedies available to the Administrator to address incidences of lateness shall include the opportunity to notice and comment.

(a) IN GENERAL— The Administrator shall have the power to take additional actions at his discretion, such as:
(1) Declaring, irrespective of student opinion, that certain foods such as pomegranates are not sweet.
(2) Dividing the class into opposing counsel and justices at will.
(b) LIMITATIONS— The Administrator shall also be subject to and legally bound by the following provisions:
(1) The Administrator shall not have the power to prevent students from imitating his style of dress on Halloween.
(2) All notice and comment sessions require assumption of the Umpire's Stance.
(3) Any ties worn by the Administrator that are not knit must be in a paisley print that appears to be leopard print from a distance.

(a) The Administrator shall promulgate and publish a casebook to contain a brief and concise statement on the state of administrative law and the basis and purpose thereof.
(b) The Administrator shall, at stated times and upon his discretion, publish subsequent editions and supplements thereof.

(a) The Administrator may charge students a nominal fee in exchange for the casebook, editions, and supplements as described in §301(a) and §301(b), provided that—
(1) Such a transaction not occur directly between the Administrator and students, but rather through The Commission of Onerous and Obligatory Payments (The COOP).
(2) No newly printed copies of the casebook are ever furnished, sold, or transferred to any student.

Yep, we're pretty impressive. I guess I'll leave you with that for today, but expect another update before I head home- I've got to fill you in once I figure out what to do with my time in the absence of classes! Love to all, and I'll see many of you very soon!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The "s" word

We're all waiting with bated breath this evening, and I'm a little reluctant to jinx it, but I wanted to let you know that Cambridge is expecting its first coat of a certain fluffy white something by morning!
This is an exciting prospect for us law students, because the last day of class is Friday, and most of us are headed home shortly afterward. We were starting to worry that it would hold out too long, and it would be January before any of us saw... well, saw Cambridge looking like it's supposed to look in winter!

On the other hand, a part of me does see this as the beginning of a whole lot of hassle. Russell and I have grocery shopping to do tomorrow- wish us luck! And the section's holiday dinner is Monday night... any advice you might have on how to dress "cocktail" in this weather would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, in case you want proof (but having bent over backward to avoid saying the thing myself), I'll let do the talking:

Just hope for our sakes the whole "less than one inch" part holds true for a while. I need time to adjust!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm here to recruit you!

If you're reading this, I really want to encourage you to go out and see the movie "Milk."
It's the true story of an unbelievably persistent man who stood for something important against impossible odds. Sean Penn's performance is so happy, authentic, and heartfelt, you'll fall in love inside of five minutes. And most importantly, the subject matter could not possibly be more timely.

I recommend this film with all my heart. Go ride its emotional roller coaster, and when you climb off angry and hopeful and ready to make America better, give me a call.

Monday, November 24, 2008

End-of-semester blues

Hi all, it's about 15 minutes until the start of my Torts class, and I was just wasting time on a school computer when it occurred to me to write you a little update.
Since my last post, I've had a super productive weekend getting the apartment ready for Mom's Thanksgiving visit, stocking up on groceries, and starting outlines for final exams in my classes. (Didn't get too far in that department, but just getting started feels like quite an accomplishment.)
Weather has been a little wild lately. This weekend was the coldest it's been all year- I'm not sure we rose above freezing more than a couple of times between Thursday and Sunday. Russell and I spent a lot of that time running errands, so we are now intimately familiar with what 28 degrees feels like in windy Massachusetts! However, it warmed back up today and should reach the mid-40's most of this week (good news for a visit from my uninitiated mom.)
Meanwhile, my case for TAP has stalled somewhat. My partner contacted the BHA about retrieving our client's records and is being given the run-around. I wish they'd get their act together so we can help our tenant!
With classes ending so soon, things are still pretty tense around here. Everyone is beginning to worry about finals, not to mention being on pins and needles waiting for the results of our elective registration to post online tomorrow morning.
I'll let you know whenever there's news on any of these fronts- for now, hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heating up, cooling down

Hello, friends and family,

I can't believe November is almost two-thirds over and this is only my second post! If that doesn't speak to the hectic frenzy of my life lately, I don't know what does.
But I finally found a few minutes when I wasn't a) in class, b) frantically trying to prepare for class, c) frantically trying to prepare for something outside class, like TAP or electives registration, d) sleeping, or e) half-comatose on the couch, trying to enjoy TV because I feel obligated to relax but not take naps after 8 at night.
Just a few precious minutes, and I'm using them to tell YOU what's going on in my life- don't you feel special? I'm exaggerating, of course, but it has been crazy around here.
Here are a couple of the major headlines:

New TAP case assigned
So my work for the Tenant Advocacy Project has finally gotten into full swing with the assignment of my first case. Without going into too many details, I can probably tell you that it concerns the rejection of a Boston public housing resident's application for a transfer to a bigger, smoke-free apartment now that his wife has a new baby. There may not be much we can do for him if he's really overdue on his rent, as the Boston Housing Authority claims (they're wrong sometimes, but not terribly often.) Still, my partner and I are gathering his documents to compare with theirs, just in case he still has any options. Not the most exciting case, but it's satisfying when I think about it: because of us, he might get a transfer he otherwise wouldn't- or at the very least, someone will have done due diligence by a guy who probably doesn't see that happen very often.

Lunch, lunch, and lunch
On 3 separate days in a row last week, the opportunity arose to eat lunch outside my usual haunt, the law school cafeteria in Harkness Hall. On Wednesday, it was a Student Government-sponsored faculty lunch with maybe ten other students and my very cool Torts professor, who despite being an incredibly dynamic teacher and a serious hotshot environmental lawyer who's in front of the Supreme Court regularly, is a super modest and easygoing guy in person. It was great, listening over Chinese food as he talked about his own 1L classes at Harvard and which professors he thinks President-Elect Obama will hire. He also asked us a lot about ourselves, seeming genuinely interested and only cooler for it.
Then on Thursday, Russell called wanting to grab lunch in Harvard Square. When I went to meet him, I realized it had been over a week since I'd been out there... during which time the construction that's been making the Square ugly for months got finished! It looks great, and realizing how long I'd been cooped up at home and school made my panini at our favorite cafe, ZSquare, taste even better.
Finally, on Friday, a spot opened up in my Legislation & Regulation professor's weekly lunch with students, so I went out yet again. He was his delightful, curmudgeonly usual self and very entertaining (if a little disappointed to find out that I don't like Contracts, the subject he used to teach.) These little personal interactions are so nice- seeing how invested our brilliant, accomplished faculty is in us makes any amount of stress and hard work seem manageable.

Temperatures drop in Cambridge
So I'm increasingly aware of this, but maybe you'd forgotten: I live in NEW ENGLAND.
Actually, it isn't as bad as you're probably picturing. No snow yet, and just last week we still had highs in the 60's (although it was rainy, so it didn't really feel like it.) But now that it's dried out, temperatures have been dropping pretty much daily- to the mid-30's so far, with nighttime lows and wind chills in the 20's. It isn't uncomfortable yet, especially since all the buildings at school are connected underground; even at home we haven't turned on all the radiators. But I thought I'd remind you, if you're feeling cold wherever you are: count your blessings.

And finally, in other news:
First-year students just finished registering for their two elective classes next semester; it's a lottery, so I'll give you all an update once I know what I've got. Also, exam season is nearly upon us (and thoroughly upon the second- and third-years, who have exams before the holiday break, unlike us.) The libraries are getting quieter and more crowded, professors have started giving out practice exams, and I'm about to head off to a Civil Procedure review session with the author of one of our textbooks. Meanwhile, I met with a Public Intersest Advisor today, and it's looking like I need to figure out what I want in a summer job... before I even finish buying plane tickets for Christmas!

Okay, friends... sorry if I've made you feel as overwhelmed as I am. Trying to cram it all into one blog post makes it seem much worse than reality- I have days to finish all these things and only a few minutes to describe them! There's no need to worry anyhow, because my amazing mom will be here in less than a week to make me feel much better. (:

And as I sit in this gorgeous library, alongside the plaques listing decades of Ames Competition winners who went on to write my textbooks or the decisions within them, beneath the huge portrait of Rutherford B. Hayes, who was once the only alumnus of my school to be elected President, I can't help but think...

I really need to get going to this Civ Pro review session.

It's not glamorous, but I hope it holds you over until I write again. (:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hometown hero

Since everyone seems to be neck-deep in election news today, I thought I'd share a little Harvard news to spice things up. Turns out a lot has gone on up here since I last bothered to post about school!

For one thing, the grading system has officially been changed. HLS always used to give letter grades (A+, A, A-, B+ etc.) more or less like most of us had in undergrad, while our big rival, Yale, gave "mushier" grades (just Honors, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail) that were supposed to take some of the stress and competition out of student life. Stanford recently switched to Yale's system and now, after a few months of faculty and student input, Harvard has too. And since we first-years haven't had any exams yet, the change is being applied to us.

The general reasoning is that striving for the "A" or "A+" adds stress and competition to student life, discouraging involvement with time-consuming but fulfilling extracurriculars. I buy that, seeing all the work ahead of me with TAP and wondering how much studying it might prevent. But I also must admit a feeling of lost footing: unsure what's expected of me now or which grade I should be satisfied with, I'm finding it harder to let go of that "A" than I would have thought!

I'm tending to ramble a little here, so maybe I should employ bullet points. In other news:
  • I had my first advice day for TAP last week, and it was a real success. I returned two calls, one about an eviction and one about an unreturned security deposit, with mostly good news for both which was SO satisfying.
  • The Supreme Court case we saw "mooted" for Torts was argued Monday, and we were assigned the transcript of arguments to read for Tuesday's class. It's so exciting when you have a personal connection to something in the news like that. I wish I'd been there to discuss it- but I'll have to listen to a recording our professor made. I wasn't in class because-
  • I spent Election Day working as an exit pollster! The neighborhood where I was stationed was friendly and beautiful, and there was a big group of us, so things were smooth and fun. It felt good (if a little cold!) to be out and involved on such a big day, and the data we collected will tell our professors all kinds of things about the election, like whether there was any degree of Bradley effect.
  • Finally, it was a total joy being at school today. Most of us were fuzzy, sleep-deprived, and tardy, but the teachers- who were happier than we've ever seen them, as one of my classmates put it- were lenient and one even seemed impressed that so many of us made it to school at all. It made for a nice day, celebrating the success (even by Harvard standards!) of our local-boy-made-good.
Hope you all had fun this Election Day and are having an easier time getting back on track afterward than I am! More news before long, I'm sure.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My endorsement

Cherished readers, I know I’m hardly your first source for hard-hitting political commentary. In fact, I try to keep anything too far off the topic of Harvard, Cambridge, or at least my own life out of this blog entirely. But with something so important coming up in just a couple of days, I wanted to let you know some of my thoughts regarding this year’s Presidential election. I hope you won’t mind if I set up my soap box here just for a moment.

Over the past eight years, I’ve seen billions—soon to be trillions—of dollars spent on a divisive, deceptively plotted war that could have been spent lowering my college tuition or funding my mom’s underprivileged public elementary school. I’ve seen gay friends and loved ones demeaned by wave upon wave of state laws and amendments limiting their rights and social standing. I’ve seen my medication costs skyrocket after the deals between drug manufacturers and college health clinics like mine, which once made prescription birth control affordable on a student budget, were outlawed. (Apparently President Bush thinks I am less likely to engage in behaviors he disapproves of if they become less safe. Maybe next we should make airbags and seatbelts more expensive to discourage drunk driving.) Finally, as a vegetarian who used to enjoy freedom from food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E.coli, I’ve seen that fringe benefit disappear because of the weak and ineffectual FDA born from big agriculture's massive contributions to George Bush.

These are only a few ways my life has changed under Bush policies, and they are just a drop in the bucket of nationwide suffering these past eight years. My troubles are nothing compared with the loss and confusion of the family whose soldier dies needlessly overseas or people losing their homes due to predatory mortgages they didn’t understand and market nosedives they couldn’t predict. They are nothing compared with the fears of people facing illness or disability without medical insurance or whose public housing has been abandoned by the government, then demolished and never replaced. Homes are still uninhabitable, families still adrift in the bungled cleanup of New Orleans that should have been finished two years ago. Osama Bin Laden is still missing. Women still earn up to a fifth less than men putting in the exact same hours on the exact same jobs. And in the worst assault yet on what America stands for, prisoners are still being detained in Guantanamo Bay without formal charges. This is the Bush legacy.

This tirade may sound overly focused on a man who isn’t running for President right now—but I say it because I just can’t believe things will be different enough if John McCain is elected. He vows to continue the Iraq war in pursuit of a victory his own experience should tell him will never come. His health care plan is eerily similar to those useless Bush rebate checks: send Americans cash so they can “choose” for themselves… between for-profit corporate insurers accountable to no one. He has voted over and over against helping women achieve pay equity or gain access to the contraception that would prevent many of the abortions he so opposes. Despite his newly-professed belief in economic regulation, nothing in his recent record indicates that he’ll defy his party’s close ties with corporations to do what’s right for the rest of us. And he has almost completely backed off from the anti-torture stance that once made him such a class act.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has demonstrated sincere concern for the social justice issues our government has neglected far too long: poverty, race inequality, public education, the environment, equal rights, civil liberties, health care, and more. He wants a shot at fixing these things without worsening our calamitous national deficit. I say we give him one.
I believe John McCain is a patriot who has spent his life—and nearly lost his life—in service to his country. However, he doesn’t know what’s best for this country anymore. After too many years in league with an out-of-touch party and a reckless administration, he simply isn’t a compassionate choice for President of the United States.
Barack Obama is, and I’ll be voting for him on November 4, and I hope you will too.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back to the regular material next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greetings from sunny El Paso!

In the week since I last posted, I've been let out on fall break (hence the absence of posts about HLS!) I'm spending the week with my dad's side of the family, and while some of you loyal readers are actually here right now, I'm sure the rest are curious what I've been up to.
And I can't think of a better way to explain than this:

Isn't she wonderful?
Well, I hope you're all having a week as lovely as mine. But I doubt it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

By popular demand

Here it is, folks: proof that I live in New England in autumn!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Moving right along

So the semester continues on, and fall is advancing at the same breakneck clip as everything else around here. I seem to be settling into a steady enough routine, though unfortunately one that involves coming home after dark at least a couple of nights each week.

The week or so since I last posted has been eventful as ever. Monday was especially packed, with a meeting of my great Medicine, Ethics, and Law Through Film reading group back-to-back with a lovely banquet for the Public Service Initiative. Also, I may not have made it to Scalia last Thursday, but I did check out an appearance by the ever-controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I even snapped a picture to prove it:

That's him at the podium, and beside him is Harvard Law's famous professor Alan Dershowitz.

Politics of euthanasia aside, I always found Dr. Kevorkian a little creepy. It seemed bad to have a guy I would've associated with death on looks alone serving as spokesman for physician-assisted suicide. But in person, he appeared far healthier and more relatable than he ever seemed on 60 Minutes. He used the word "nincompoops" to describe the Supreme Court- it was very humanizing.

Also this week, I had a mock hearing in preparation for my work with the Tenant Advocacy Project. TAP is a group of students who, under lawyers' supervision, represent public housing tenants who are facing eviction or other problems with their landlords or housing authorities. The hearing went well- my only real mistake was being too timid about cutting my "client" short when she started to ramble- and now I'm feeling less nervous about having a real case before long. 1L's are allowed to work in pairs on their first case, and a classmate has already asked me to work with him, which I took as a real compliment. Exciting!

A few other exciting things are coming up soon:
  • The moot court Harvard is about to host for a real Supreme Court case! A lawyer who will soon argue before the Court is coming next week to try out his oral arguments before a "court" of nine experts, among whom is my Torts professor. We're all expected to go watch, and are being assigned the case materials for reading next week so we'll understand it all. We Harvard nerds find this very thrilling, even if it does coincide with the stress of our final memo due date for LRW.
  • Training for my Election Day activity of choice: exit polling for a professor who's studying polling places, race issues, and general voter trends in Boston. My work can spot election law violations and help assess this election once it's all over!
  • Fly-out week, the fall break 1L's get to enjoy while 2L's and 3L's travel the country for job interviews. I'm headed to El Paso to see my baby sister... and get warm.

Between this wealth of outside opportunity and the more steady, predictable struggle of keeping up with my reading and dragging my butt to class, I've definitely got my hands full. In fact, I think Russell worries about me a little. But I watched TV tonight and even found time to write you guys a nice, long update. So you be the judge.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nino et al.

Today the whole school is in a twitter because Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is on campus to give a lecture. Half the student body must be packed into the Ames Courtroom as I type- I think it says something about our general nerdiness that this is a much bigger deal than when Alec Baldwin showed up for a talk on fathers in family law a few weeks ago.

It made for an interesting day: one of my classmates found out that Scalia actually taught Legislation and Regulation to Section 4 this morning! (After which I spent most of lunchtime swapping "Dude, we go to Harvard Law" moments with him and a few others- turns out I'm not alone.) Later, I learned that another classmate once had a boss who called all the Supreme Court Justices by their first names or nicknames, and Scalia's is "Nino."

Now, "Nino" is hardly my favorite Supreme Court Justice, but I'd probably be in Ames with everyone else if I weren't in desperate need for some time at home during this unusually long day. Thursdays are always longest for my section because of their spread-out class schedule, but today I have Tenant Advocacy Project training tacked on from 6 to 9 at night, too. So at 3:30, when Legal Research and Writing let out early for Scalia's speech, I couldn't resist heading home for a little bit. (Maybe I could have resisted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg- but hey, someday I may just get the chance.)

Either way, walking home only to come back in two hours proved surprisingly worthwhile, because being outdoors in Cambridge today is a joy: the weather is crisp and sunny, with just a hint of fall color starting to show up on the trees. Combined with the fact that tomorrow is Friday, and I finished all tonight's reading during breaks today so I could watch the Vice Presidential debate this evening, and Russell's job placement with the Harvard Disability Services Coordinator is going swimmingly, and Thai is on the menu at TAP training tonight... this makes for a pretty good feeling overall.

Hoping you're all just as happy- if maybe a little less busy. Until next time, love to everyone!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looking up

So I'm worried my last post might have depressed some of you a little (which makes sense, since I was a little depressed when I wrote it.) But things have definitely started looking up since then, and I thought I'd let you guys know.

This Thursday was a bad, crazy, hectic day. Between classes, the first draft of our big memo, copious amounts of Contracts homework, a mandatory panel during lunch, my application to the Tenant Advocacy Project being due, and a training session for the journal I just joined, I was on campus from 8:30 a.m. to nearly 9 p.m. I almost cried at several points there over stupid inconveniences, like when I realized I'd e-mailed myself the wrong file to print and my laptop, which I would need to fix it, was across campus in my locker. All of which, of course, only added to the lovely cocktail of stressful things I mentioned last post.

However (big however), I did manage to survive. And at 1 a.m., as I submitted my memo to the electronic dropbox on our LRW course website, I felt a huge weight lift straight off my shoulders. It was weird, I never would have guessed that completing that one assignment would bring my stress back to a manageable level- but it absolutely did.

So then I had a lovely day today! Contracts, which was doubled today to make up for a future cancellation, was surprisingly bearable; Leg Reg was downright fun. Before I knew it, I was walking home in a cool rain feeling weirdly happy. The 1L Cup I mentioned last post was postponed due to the weather, which while disappointing did allow me a glorious two-hour nap before heading back up to campus to watch tonight's debate with my section. It was a real party with yummy food and great attendance, and afterward a big group of us headed to a nearby bar called the Cambridge Commons. I talked for a long time with some seriously interesting members of our section before heading home, completely exhausted but much happier than when you last heard from me.

So don't worry: there are good days in law school, too! I find it really encouraging that the bad ones can transform so quickly. And since it's way past my bedtime, I'll leave you with that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Well folks, this will be the second post in a row having little to do with law school- weird, since that's what dominates so much of my time these days.

I feel bad about these unrelated posts; they don't give you guys much of an idea about my daily life, which was always the purpose of this blog. But I wanted to let everyone know about a few other things that have been on my mind.

First, the good news: Russell got a job! His interview Monday afternoon went perfectly, and he's officially on the payroll at Spherion, the temp agency with whom Harvard contracts exclusively. I've heard this is how many people with permanent jobs at Harvard get hired- but regardless, it's a relief to see him finding an income source and something to do with his time. Yay!

Also: one of my cousins, Sarah Bess in Alabama, is having a baby as we speak! Literally, she's in labor right now- I've been getting text message updates. I'm doing my best to send positive thoughts of an easy, healthy delivery her way, and I hope you will, too.

Next, less good news: Russell left early this morning for a visit back home to Austin, and he won't be back until Sunday. Since he bought the plane tickets, I'd been looking ahead to this time expecting to feel a combination of loneliness and enjoyment of the privacy and space. (After all, before Russell found work he was home literally any time I was, and I think we were both beginning to feel the strain of that.) However, now that he's gone I find I'm mostly feeling the loneliness part. The peaceful apartment, big bed, and ability to go pee without closing the door are surprisingly poor consolation for not having him around. Sorry Russell, no guilt intended- just feel appreciated instead! And come home very, very soon.

But finally, faithful readers, I have some really lousy news to share. My dog back home, Tucker, had surgery a few weeks back (did I mention that?) to amputate one of her toes that was repeatedly getting infected. The surgery went well, and hopes were high- until today, when a biopsy on the toe came back positive for cancer.

This is complicated, because the sample's edges were all clean- meaning the vet probably got out the whole tumor. However, the lymph nodes in Tucker's leg are inflamed, which was attributed at first to the infection but might actually mean the cancer has already spread. Now my mom and I are faced with the difficult decision of whether to put Tucker back under the knife for a lymph node biopsy. She may not act or look like it, but she's 13 years old- so it's unlikely we'll seek chemo or radiation no matter what the biopsy says. That said, it could be good just to know- I think we're leaning toward having the test anyway.

So that's sad. And it definitely makes it harder to care about my copious Contracts reading, the closed memo I should be writing for Friday, or even the excitement of the upcoming 1L Section Cup. But I'm trying my best, and if I can just get through this week I should have something more cheery to offer you soon. (Yes, I know that's pretty much what I said last week. But a girl can dream, right?)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


My first anniversary with Russell is today, and I thought I'd show everyone the amazing piece of jewelry he bought me.

It's a necklace of an origami peace crane- the real thing, hand folded from a sheet of silver. I wish the photos could show all the cool detail, or how it weighs next to nothing. But you can probably still tell I have about the best boyfriend ever. Thanks, Russell!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Apologies, and some news

I'm really sorry not to have posted so many days. I caught a cold over the weekend and it stuck around nearly all week- which in law school is like getting stuck in slow motion during an action-packed movie scene.

It was a rotten week to get sick, because several one-time class projects happened to come at once and all the organizations on campus apparently decided the past few days were high time to start recruiting 1L's. This meant unprecedented amounts of homework (for me at least, just my luck being early in the alphabet) combined with lots of after-hours info sessions keeping me at school past sundown.

The extracurricular scene at Harvard is extensive, and for 1L's to even wrap their heads around it (Law Review? Tenant Advocacy? Legal Aid? In Vino Veritas?) it's best to attend the many panels and info sessions different groups hold at the start of the year. Many of these- important, appealing ones included- I had to skip outright this week or I would probably pass out with this cold. So while I made it to the Student Journals Panel, I didn't get to attend the first meetings of any of the journals I decided I was interested in, and I didn't make the Student Practice Organizations info session (which I was the most excited of all about checking out.) Luckily, people in my section made it to both and reported back to me. After a few e-mails I should hopefully be able to join the groups I want with fairly little difficulty- I'm told these are mostly nice people who'll understand about my cold.

There's so much I still want to tell you about, like the tunnels (especially now that the weather's cooling down so much), my Law, Medicine, and Ethics first-year reading group, and my burgeoning social circle. But I just spent 2+ hours on a research assignment for LRW, and it is definitely bedtime. So I hope you won't mind if those other things have to wait.

Hoping you're all well. Special shout-outs to my invalid dog back in Austin, to Daddy for his recent birthday (Sept. 12) and Mom for hers (Sept. 21), and to Russell for the job interview he's got Monday. Congrats, Russell! Happy birthdays, parents! Healthy wishes, Tucker! And all my love to the rest of you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life and legend

Breaking news, folks:
I'm still exhausted.

Seriously, I can't remember ever being this tired for this prolonged a period in my whole life. In a recent Facebook message, my WLA Big Sister pointed out that I'm taking 18 credit hours this semester- that's 18 hours per week in a classroom. It hadn't occurred to me before, but it feels about right- the most I ever took in undergrad was 16, and class itself was so much easier then.

Still, it's easy to feel energized just thinking of the amazing people who walked Harvard's paths and sat in its classrooms before you. Six of the nine current Supreme Court justices were here- so were Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Nader, Janet Reno, and both Michelle and Barack Obama, who was great again on TV tonight. (Watching him, I couldn't help wondering whether he ever used a locker in the tunnels, and which. I plan on a whole post about the tunnels at a later date.) At dinner with the Dean on Wednesday, our faculty leader told me he'd once taught Alberto Gonzalez, another HLS graduate. I asked him whether he could've spent a little more class time defining the word "torture." But disappointments aside, it's an electrifying place to go to school- even moreso, I'm told, once the first wave of exhaustion passes and you can actually enjoy it.

But back to that dinner Wednesday night. They held it in a rare books and artifacts room in the Langdell Law Library, full of treasures Dean Kagan admitted were placed there on the exclusive basis of their value on the open market. (She was hilarious all night, using funny stories she'd heard from us while making the rounds to embarrass each professor in turn during her speech. She even made our Torts instructor demonstrate his amazing name recall on a whole table of students, bewildering everyone who'd assumed he'd just memorized his own seating chart.) I realize I'm gushing, but it's these sorts of events- these chances just to talk and socialize with both classmates and professors- that drive home what an exceptional class of people you're flung into when they admit you to Harvard.

Well, okay- more like an exceptional class of caffeinated zombies at the moment. But I'm told that'll change any day now.

We'll see.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One week down

Hello, you ever-curious friends and family! Thought it might be time to tell you all about the three days of school I've had since I last wrote.

Wednesday started bright and early with Legislation & Regulation class from 8:35 to 9:50 a.m. Our professor (the same as our faculty advisor) is likable, and the material so far has been interesting and refreshingly different from other classes. Most of what we've read relates to Congress's 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act and its implications- very political stuff, good for class discussion.

Next was another round of Civ Pro at 10:15, by which time I'd already come to appreciate the glory of Harvard offering free coffee everywhere. I've never been much of a coffee person before, but it looks like the rumors are true: law school wastes no time in making you one.

At lunchtime came probably the coolest part of Wednesday: the opportunity to meet the Big Sister assigned to me by the Women's Law Association. They have a program where female 2Ls and 3Ls mentor first-years, helping them adjust to classes and make friends- I was pretty excited about this since I've never been in a choir, drill team, sorority or any of those other groups that have big and little sisters, so this was my first. And lunch went pretty great- the 2L assigned to me is very approachable and super forthcoming about what different professors, course loads, and summer jobs are really like here. It was nice to hear the insider's story from someone who wasn't trying to sell me on anything and instead just wanted me to know what I'm in for. (Even so, most of what she had to say was still positive- it is Harvard, after all.)

After lunch, we had our first section of Contracts, which I can already tell is going to be my toughest class. The professor is young and energetic, and he talks a lot about his small children (which I find really appealing lately, I wonder why.) However, all the cases are incredibly complicated and come down to small details that are hard to tease out and almost as hard for the teacher to explain. The whole section seems to be in agreement that this class may well be a struggle all year long- even one former Economics major I talked to, who I hoped might have some special insight or other, said it was all Greek to him. At least we're all in it together!

So that was it for Wednesday, and Thursday went much the same except instead of Civ Pro we had a nice long break from 10 to 1 (good for getting homework done early and slipping into the Hark for lunch before the rush) and added Legal Research and Writing in the afternoon. Our section is broken in halves for this class, and mine is taught by a bubbly, young redheaded woman I already like. We'll meet just once a week and have papers or research homework every so often (basically completion grades) rather than the usual end-of-term exam. I'm told it's a cinch, but also that it's very important: apparently this is the one class nearly everyone goes on to use in future jobs, whatever their field.

So with that, I'd officially had all my courses once! This made Friday kind of a relief, since everything (Leg Reg, short meeting with section leader, and Contracts) was already old hat. Not that I didn't come home exhausted- I've slept probably 14 hours since then and can still barely move my arms. I took dance classes all day every summer in high school, but this is definitely the most tiring thing I've done in my whole life! Other people have told me the same thing, so I know it's not me- there's just something about law school, the new people, the impressive professors with their Socratic method quizzing you all the time, that's disproportionately exhausting.

Luckily, the homework hasn't been as bad as promised yet. There's a lot- I definitely have something to do every night and would be in big trouble if I got behind- but it doesn't take hours and hours at a time like I feared. My Big Sis said that while you can't really judge the year by the first week, I would probably feel this way often. Most of the time, she said, it's not as bad as you might think; only occasionally will you get totally overwhelmed and freak out. She said there's even time to join a few extracurriculars your first year, which can help you decide which to take on in your 2L year when things get more serious.

Overall, I'm feeling tired but optimistic. (And hot and sweaty, actually- it's only about 75 outside but so muggy this weekend that the apartment feels like a sauna. It's the first time since moving here that I've wanted an air conditioner, and only so the air would dry out. Gee thanks, Tropical Storm Hanna!) I guess I shouldn't complain, though- most of you are still back in Texas.

Anyway, I hope you're all well and that you'll keep in touch. Consider sending us some snail mail! Russell and I love finding things in the mailbox. Just ask and I'll give you our address, or Mom can share it if you're feeling sneaky. Take care everyone, and I'll post again soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First day of school

Well folks, today was my first day of school- my third-to-last one ever!

It was hard to think of this as a first day, though, since I already spent last Thursday, Friday, and Sunday night at the law school. In fact, this was probably the least nervous first day of school I've ever had!

Class for my section began at 10:15 with Civil Procedure (although I was on campus at about 9:45 buying orange juice and a corn muffin.) I think we were all half-worried that the professor would launch right into calling on people for answers they didn't remotely know, like you see in movies- but instead she was nice, opening class with an exercise where we broke into six groups and tried to decide on the best English-language film of all time. (Turns out our process of deciding was more interesting to her than our choice. Civil procedure, go figure.) Also, instead of picking on people at random all year (like we expected), she said she'd be calling on just one of our six new groups (now permanent "panels") on any given day. So as a member of panel 6, I should only be on the spot every other Wednesday unless I raise my hand. Whew.

After Civ Pro (as everyone calls it), most of us ate lunch in Harkness Commons. A lot of us tried the cafeteria food out of curiosity and were pleasantly surprised. Food at the Hark (as everyone calls it), while not cheap, is much classier than I've ever seen in a college dining hall- so is the general atmosphere. I mostly took advantage of the excellent salad bar, but I hope the roasted pear-cashew-gorgonzola flatbread sandwich is still there tomorrow. I really wanted one, but the line was getting super long.

Our second, and mercifully last, class today was Torts. This one takes place in Austin Hall, whose classrooms are older and fancier than the Orientation and Civ Pro ones we've had in Pound Hall. There are not just outlets near every seat, but microphones (though we didn't use them), and with the dark wood everywhere, it looks a little like Congress. Our teacher, who is visiting from Georgetown where we hear he's a real hotshot environmental attorney, was much more of the iconic law professor you picture: he called us all by our last names, which he already had memorized by the first class (don't ask me how!!) and he spent the first few minutes telling us all which now-famous and important people sat in which of our seats 32 years ago when he had his first Torts class in our very classroom. (Moral of the story: the courses and professors at Harvard may be great, but "the single best thing you'll get out of Harvard is each other.") Eventually we got into the swing of class and discovered that he's also funny and a dynamic lecturer, and despite clearly being a badass, he takes care not to make anyone feel stupid. So that was nice.

Afterward, I walked with a new friend who lives near the Coop (campus bookstore- like Texas's Co-op except they don't write OR pronounce the hyphen here, which drives me crazy and makes me think of chickens every time) to buy the last of our required textbooks. The damage comes to about $800 so far, with one more book out of stock and a few marked "recommended" that I could still conceivably decide I need. Ouch! Luckily, I didn't have to carry them all myself: Russell met me there to help me bring them home, because he's my hero.

So it's been a big day, and at all of 5:30 p.m. I'm exhausted. I'd like to veg out and watch TV all night, but instead I have reading to do. Welcome to Law School, population Lea!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Food interlude

After that heavy-duty orientation post, I thought we could use something a little more fun.
Here's breakfast from last Wednesday, our last morning of freedom before Harvard:

Blackberry, honey, and goat cheese crepes, yum! Life without a microwave is making a pretty good cook out of me.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Well, it's Saturday morning, and I finally have enough time to sit down and tell you about orientation so far.

Day 1 began two days ago with a 10 a.m. section meeting. Mine seems full of good people, and we've liked our faculty leader so far (I've heard rumors that he's a vicious grader, but I'm holding out hope that they're overblown.) Right away he led us in a funny hypothetical exercise about litter laws on a Cape Cod beach, which was supposed to get us thinking like lawyers; then he gave a little talk about how law school is like a foreign language class- we don't "speak law" yet, but our professors will all be speaking it from the day we show up, knowing the day will come when we "speak law" back to them.

Afterward we went on a student-led tour of campus with two former members of our section, ending in a section photo on the steps of one of the older, prettier buildings called Austin Hall. Our guides shepherded us back for lunch in our classroom, which was a shiny new one with that law school horseshoe shape and electrical outlets at every seat. And while we ate, the staff of Student Financial Services and the Dean of Students Office each gave brief presentations. The Dean of Students, Ellen Cosgrove, was both inspiring and funny- her talk was probably my favorite part of the otherwise matter-of-fact, surprisingly no-frills day.

Finally, our first day ended with Registration- a process which at HLS doesn't mean any of the things you'd usually expect. With most everyone paid up on tuition and already on the books with the registrar, and the first-years' course schedules all predetermined, Registration becomes a funny mix of orientation's loose ends. You sign your name in a long roster Harvard keeps of every entering student, bound by year (kind of a moving moment); you pick up your financial aid check; you're issued a temporary Harvard ID card and take the photo for your permanent one; you turn in forms with your local address and emergency contact info; and you grab things like public transport discount coupons, voter registration cards, candy, and assorted swag from various campus organizations who've set up tables. It's kind of a frenzy and definitely an exciting, if overwhelming, way to end the first day. Back home afterward, I could barely stay awake late enough for Barack Obama's terrific speech.

The next morning I was back at school for Day 2, which started in the same classroom with another section meeting. This time our faculty leader, who had assigned a short case for us to read overnight, gave a tutorial on how to read court cases for class. I was happy to see how well Sarah Weddington's class at UT had prepared me for this part! But the review was nice, and there were some new things to learn, too.

Next, we spent most of the afternoon getting to know our section's Board of Student Advisors members. These are six upper-level students, basically TA's for our Legal Research and Writing course (but they're supposed to give general academic support too); each is assigned to a small group of about 14 of us. I'm excited about mine, a female 3L who seems involved in an awful lot of things I'm interested in. She took us to a long lunch at a local pub and answered a lot questions for us, which was great.

Last on the schedule for that day was a welcome speech by our Dean, Elana Kagan, and a reception afterward. All the L1's reconvened at a very cool building on the edge of campus nearest my apartment: the Sanders Theatre in Memorial Hall, which looks like a giant old church from the outside and Hogwarts School from the inside. Dean Kagan gave a lovely, encouraging speech- I already knew I really liked her, but now I also see why people keep saying she has a great chance at the Supreme Court if Obama wins this election.

And the reception afterward was lovely, too- the space they used, which someone told me is the dining hall for Harvard's freshmen undergrads, had me half-expecting to see a staff table full of witches and wizards, or food magically appearing and disappearing on the tables.

But then it was over, and orientation with it! There are still some social events I'm planning to attend, and after classes start on Tuesday there will still be things like the public service orientation and my section's dinner with the Dean. But to be honest, I'm looking forward to settling into a schedule and a regular routine, and doing what I came here to do.

So far, Harvard has been everything I could have reasonably expected it to be. (Not quite the magical haven a part of me was unreasonably expecting, although it has moments.) It probably sounds stupid, but I can't begin to wrap my head around how much stuff here is free! Free food everywhere during orientation, and free coffee in the common areas year-round. School-issued USB drives for every student, free. COURSE PACKETS for our classes- which everyone had to buy at their undergraduate schools, from $15 to $60 and up- at HLS they're free. Plus Microsoft Office- that's Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for our computers- also free! And they claim printing isn't free, but they give every student a $50 credit at the beginning of each year, which I'm told few ever deplete. It's this general attitude of generosity and abundance that impresses me most about this place. Of course, at $40,000 per year tuition, I guess they can afford it. And as hard as we're about to start working, maybe we deserve it.

Well, I think I've run out of steam for now. More soon, though, I promise- maybe after some of the activities Sunday, or after I've had a few classes to tell you about. Hoping all's well with everyone! Much love from your very tired, very lucky, and so far very happy, friend/relative at Harvard Law!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


It's amazing how swiftly law school is approaching. The past three weeks have gone by in a blur, and in just 5 days I'll be showing up for orientation!

Last night Russell and I were invited to a party by a friend we'd made in our apartment building. She, her roommate, and the fellows next door to them are all architecture students at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and one of their classmates was throwing a party to celebrate the end of their summer school exams. The best part of the party, besides it being right around the corner, was meeting a fellow future Harvard 1L! He's in a different section than mine, but is also interested in the Public Service Initiative and will definitely be at some of their optional orientation events I was planing to attend. We're both especially excited about their tour of Boston, which will visit some low-income areas and public interest organizations around the city. It was great to meet someone else who wants to go.

Well, Russell is getting off the phone with his family, and we can get back to the Lord of the Rings marathon we'd started before they called! Gotta squeeze in all those last important leisure activities before orientation starts!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beach day

Today Russell and I went to the beach on a whim! Turns out New Englanders get something wonderful in trade for their harsh winters: the ability, in summertime, to decide on a beach trip over breakfast and be on the sand before lunch. From Cambridge, you can take the subway out to Revere Beach in just under an hour. We had so much fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


For those of you wondering how the little blister is doing, Dad sent me this in an e-mail today and I thought I'd pass it on.

How precious is she!! I have the best looking family.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lovely afternoon

Today was the first day without any rain in about a week, and Russell and I spent a good part of it wandering down to the Charles River and playing Scrabble in a park there.

I don't expect this is how I'll be spending my time much longer! But I do hope we go back there sometimes- there were great dogs, and we could see people rowing on the water.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Law school news, finally

Hi again, and thanks for waiting patiently through so many weeks of mundane posts about everyday life when what you really wanted to hear about was Harvard!

Well here, finally, is some news about law school itself. My mom (because I'm not on top of things enough to have changed my mailing address online yet) recently received a packet of information about my upcoming L1 Orientation at Harvard! She only read me the cover letter by telephone, but so far I know that I'm in Section #7 (most law schools sort entering students into sections that take all their classes together) and our faculty advisor is a man named Todd Rakoff, whom the faculty directory tells me is an Administrative Law professor who's been involved in Harvard's first-year program for decades now.

I'm sure I'll find out much more from the packet, which Mom is sending on by mail. But I did also get an e-mail from the registrar with Web links to both my orientation and fall course schedules!

Here's what orientation will look like:

Thursday, August 28
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Activities Include:
• Section meeting with Faculty Leader
• Campus Tour
• Class Photograph
• Registration for Classes
• Financial Aid Presentation
Section Dinners with Faculty Leader will occur on Thursday, August 28th.

Friday, August 29
• Section Meeting with Faculty Leader
• Lunch with Board of Student Advisers Leader
• Welcome Speech from Dean Elena Kagan
• Welcome Reception

Saturday, August 30 - 10:30a.m. - 1:00p.m.
• Tours of Boston and/or Cambridge locations
• New England Aquarium
• Fenway Park
• Museum of Fine Arts
• Freedom Trail
• Beacon Hill Black History Walk
• Harvard Campus and Cambridge Tour

Sunday, August 31
• Super Duck Tours of Boston
• Ice Cream Social on Jarvis Field
• Outdoor Movie on Jarvis Field

Then later there's something called Orientation II...

Activities Include:
• Public Service Orientation
• State of the School Speech by Dean Elena Kagan - September 15th
• Student Journals Fair - September 15th
• Safety Discussion with HUPD - September 16th
• Student Practice Organization Fair - September 16th
• Student Organizations/Activities Fair - September 17th
• Wellness Fair - September 17th

Now for my fall courses (eep!) The website had them all out of order, so I copied them by day of the week and am now pasting them here. Sorry for the lack of capitalization (:

10:15-11:30 civil procedure w/ christine desan
1-3 torts w/ richard lazarus

10:15-11:30 civil procedure w/christine desan
1-3 torts w/ richard lazarus

8:35-9:55 legislation & regulation w/todd rakoff
10:15-11:30 civil procedure w/christine desan
1-2:15 contracts w/ john coates

8:35-9:55 legislation & regulation w/todd rakoff
1-2:15 contracts w/ john coates
3-5 pm legal research & writing w/ bangs or true-frost

8:35-9:55 legislation & regulation w/ todd rakoff
10-12 faculty leader meeting w/ todd rakoff
1-2:15 contracts w/ john coates

So there you have it! News about Harvard at last! Now if I could just get my immunization records all together, rid myself of the godawful insect bites I've been covered in lately and am seeing a Harvard Health Services dermatologist about on Monday, and get our apartment's internet to go wireless so I can stop stealing from next door... I'd be set.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The compartment!

Not a lot of news for you today. Russell and I have spent the past few days relaxing, watching the Olympics (how 'bout those men's gymnastics!) and worrying over our misbehaving refrigerator. It's on the fritz, but a newer, bigger one has apparently been ordered and will be here Friday! I think our frozen goods might spend that morning in the bathtub with bags of ice!

This morning we felt like a walk, so we headed down to the Whole Foods near Inman Square. We bought some dry goods and produce (no use adding to the quantities of refrigerated foods we're struggling to keep cool) and ate lunch at the fabulous nearby All-Star Sandwich Bar- remember passing by it over and over, Vern? It was delicious, we thought of you. (:

We've been in touch with some friends in the area lately- the other night we had a dear high school friend of mine over for dinner, and tonight we're heading out for some live music with one of Russell's friends from UT Classics. Should be a nice reward for all the hard work Russell has been putting in applying online for jobs!

Besides that, it's been pretty quiet. Like I said, not much news- but I do finally have pictures of our new apartment! (Or as we like to call it, the Compartment. It isn't very big. You'll see.)

Here they are, better late than never:

Our building from outside

In the lobby

Our little entryway

View down the hall


Bedroom viewed from the window

Bathroom with awesome claw-foot tub

Living room

Living room windows

View from living room

Tiny but functional kitchen

View from kitchen window

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little tour! I also hope you aren't all too miserable in your various triple-digit climes. I'll try to write again a few times before things get too crazy... Harvard orientation is the 28th and I don't expect life to move this slowly ever again after that!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Status update

Hi all, it's a sleepy morning here in Cambridge and I thought I'd take some time to give my curious readers the general lay of the land.

Since the move, Russell and I have been alternating between getting to know Cambridge/Boston (via the running of errands) and working on settling in at the apartment. For instance, yesterday we cooked breakfast and fiddled around with some boxes before setting out by subway for Northeastern University, where Russell would like to start taking ASL classes soon. He got all his questions answered, which was great- almost as great as the yummy lunch we got to have on nearby Newbury Street (: Then on the way home, we stopped by the hardware store for picture-hanging supplies and bought some fresh-picked corn at a farmer's market on the Harvard campus. We came home and hung up a few things before cooking dinner and giving in to the temptation of Russell's extensive DVD collection.

This is our problem: with only about 3 or 4 boxes left, the place is beginning to look like a home (albeit a really messy one.) But because of this, our progress has stalled quite a lot. Why unpack when you can already sit down and watch The Motorcycle Diaries all evening? Still, because the recycling goes out today (which means there'll be room in the courtyard downstairs for the last of our broken-down boxes), we've agreed to be through unpacking by bedtime tonight. I think we can manage it- and then I can finally post some pictures!

So I guess that's about all for now. Rest assured that we're thriving in this lovely, vibrant city even though we miss you all a lot. What we DON'T miss is the Texas heat- Cambridge is having a cool, rainy spell and only reaches the 70s most days- right now it's 65 with a stiff breeze! Can't wait to hear all your angry comments about that one. (:

Monday, August 4, 2008


Russell's standing on a chair in the living room, hanging brackets for our new curtain rod. He says this is a one-person job and all I can do to help is lend moral support. Therefore I'm writing a very morally supportive post about his deeply appreciated hard work!

Yay, Russell!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cambridge at last!

Hello loyal readers,

First let me apologize for taking so long to post! Before the move, I had plenty of time to post, but hardly any news to share. Now so much has happened that I want to tell you about, only I haven't had five minutes to sit down and write! I guess when it rains, it pours.

Speaking of rain, I'm sitting by my new living room window enjoying a spectacular rainstorm just outside the screen. It's been coming down off and on this whole weekend, but somehow never when we needed to be outside moving furniture or carrying groceries. What luck!

In fact, this move has been pretty lucky from start to finish. My amazing dad, aunt Kathy, and uncle Vern arrived Tuesday morning, and we set out from Austin at about 9 a.m. Wednesday. That first day we drove 650 miles (to Memphis, TN), and along the way saw lots of interesting town names, like Fate, Texas, Friendship, Tennessee, and Hope, Arkansas. (That last one is where Bill Clinton grew up- we found ourselves asking "Do you think Bill has ever been to this gas station?" a lot.) On our second day, we drove an amazing 920 miles or so, from Memphis to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The third day we got into Cambridge around 2 p.m. after having just 350 or so miles left to drive.

Our apartment, which my mom and I (with telephone help from Russell) picked out in May, is on Kirkland and Trowbridge just a few blocks east of Harvard's campus. It's in an old, attractive brick building and has wood floors and high ceilings, so despite being pretty tiny it feels like a real gem. We're already in love! But moving into such a tight space takes time and lots of organizational tricks- right now Russell's in the kitchen installing hooks under the shelves so we can hang our pots and pans, mom (who flew up here for a couple days to help out) is squeezed into the hallway breaking down lots of cardboard boxes, and I'm about to put together a storage unit for above the toilet.

Well, that's the very short version of the last few days' adventures. I'm sure the long version will slowly appear in posts to come, but right now the rain is starting to come in and threaten my laptop, so I'd better close it up and go.

If everyone could send their most loving and grateful vibes to all the wonderful relatives who helped us with this move- my dad, mom, Kathy, and Vern- I'd really appreciate it. I can't seem to thank them enough myself!!

Much love from your newest friend/relative in Cambridge! Expect to hear from me again soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eventful days

It's been an eventful couple of days- by summertime Austin standards, at least!

Yesterday, Russell and I got our first serious packing work done: we went through each of our closets together, paring things down substantially. We came up with several big bags to donate and a few more to throw out entirely- it was great knowing we wouldn't have to find room for all those clothes in the closets of our tiny Boston apartment! We even sold a few things at Buffalo Exchange and earned about $18 between us- pretty cool considering they're choosy and only pay 35% of what they'll charge for an item.

Next, we checked off one of our big must-do's: Barton Springs, Austin's own natural spring-fed pool. The water is just as cold as everyone tells you, but you do get used to it. Also, because it was near the end of the day, I think it had been warming up in the sun all afternoon for us. Besides swimming and (Russell) doing some impressive jumps off the diving board, we also just sat around soaking up the Texas sun- we don't have many days of it left!

Today has been pretty productive, too; Russell went in to work for a while (deciding we could use the money even though he was supposed to be done last Friday), I wrapped up some doctors' appointments and other errands I needed to run before the move, and we're both getting back to our packing any moment now. (I also got a flat tire today, but Russell's rescue was so speedy and effective that it barely factors in. My hero!) Then later tonight, my mom is taking us to Chuy's for some last-chance Tex-Mex!

So like I said, it's been an eventful (if maybe not that interesting or exciting) few days, so I thought I'd give you all an update. Love to everyone- especially my dad, aunt Kathy, and uncle Vern whom I'll be seeing in less than a week! Aaah!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I ought to know better

I need to learn not to delve into the comments people leave at the end of New York Times editorials; it only makes me mad. I was just reading a piece my friend recommended, comparing Sen. John McCain's public stance with his voting record on women's rights. It was really interesting, but I just ended up angry after reading WAY TOO MANY comments that amounted to:

I'm really selfish, and I hate helping other people. Don't you dare make me help other people! I get so angry at the prospect of being forced to help other people that I go crazy and entrust my precious liberties to the party of warrantless wiretaps, school prayer, and laws against certain kinds of sex.

Seriously. This, on an article about gender issues. People so selfish that they feel the need to post about it on completely unrelated New York Times editorials should be denied any service funded by other taxpayers for a couple of weeks and see how they like it.

Sorry. Political rant over.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I should probably add- for those who saw it in earlier, uglier incarnations- that my learning experiences with formatting this blog are also at an end. I think this is the appearance I'm finally satisfied with! Maybe now it can look the same for a few days! (:

Learning experience

So last night some of my visitors let me know they'd been asked to create an account and log in before commenting on this blog. I didn't like the added hassle that created for you folks, so I did my homework, found a setting where commenting is available to anybody, and chose it.

Hopefully, this won't mean that lots of strangers start commenting on my blog (I've seen it happen to others.) If so, we might need to go back to the old way. But hopefully now you can all comment to your hearts' desire. As Wall-E would put it: Ta-Daa!

Sorry to those who created accounts unnecessarily, and to others my blog inexperience might similarly inconvenience in the future.

Your still-learning friend,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silly visitors

If you're reading this, leave a comment so I know you were here!
It helps me feel popular.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No news is good news

Still in Austin, taking some time to enjoy this city before heading off to the new one! My roommate Bella has her whole family in town helping prepare for her move (an even bigger one than ours: she's off to London!) and with about six people to one ethernet cable, this is the first time I've had some quiet time at the computer in a while. They're perfectly welcome to stay, though- their packing is a great excuse to put off doing any of my own. (;

In the meantime, Russell and I have made a list of "Must-Do's" and "Maybe-Do's" to see one more time before we leave.

Must Do:
More Alamo Drafthouse ("w/Belor!" adds Bella*)
Barton/Barking Springs
Amy's Ice Cream (check)
Hyde Park Bar & Grill
Toy Joy
Chuy's tex-mex
Hillbert's milkshakes
Ginger Man pub
Vulcan Video (double check!)
Kerbey Lane Cafe

Maybe Do:
Live music
Fino restaurant
Mt. Bonnell
Dobie Mall & Theater
Harry Ransom Center / Blanton Museum
Buffalo Exchange
Texas Expresso
Fiesta Texas

I had a few of my own, like the Arboretum (check) and Austin Java (check, thanks to Bella yesterday!) but this is the basic list.

Meanwhile, I'm rediscovering Austin in another way by house hunting with my mom. So far, the candidates are two townhouse-type condos: one in Lakewood off Hwy 360, and one near Pond Springs, just off Hwy 183. I really hope to help her decide by the time I move, and that design advice (the Lakewood house would need some renovation) will work okay by e-mail and webcam!

Well, I think that's all for today. I'll try to write again soon- maybe once I've seen The Dark Knight, which I am SO excited about. (Also Wall-E, have you seen it yet? Do!) In the meantime, let's all wish a happy belated one-month birthday to my beautiful (and slightly rotund, I'm hearing) baby sister, Mirella!

See y'all around!

*Important note: Bella's monster name, Belor, is actually spelled with an Umlaut over the E. However we recently found out that this letter doesn't actually exist, so it cannot be typed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First post!

Well, if you came looking for big news, prepare to be disappointed:
I'm still in Austin.

I just knew that if I didn't get into this whole 'blog' habit early, it would probably fizzle and leave you all disappointed before long. So I thought I'd post, just for the sake of posting, just to get in the rhythm of writing when I can!

There are a few things I still haven't decided about this blog- like whether capital letters are worth the effort and how often to post. But I'm assuming these will work themselves out in time.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd post a few things I learned during my recent travels! I know they have little to do with Harvard, but since they've dominated my life for about three weeks now, just bear with me. For those of you who didn't know, my graduation gift from Mom was a two-week trip to the Mediterranean. Our itinerary was:

Florence, Italy (2 1/2 days)
Rome (1/2 day)
then a 7-night cruise aboard the Costa Concordia, with a day each in:
Genoa (via Savona), Italy
Barcelona, Spain
Palma de Mallorca
Carthage & Sidi Bou Said (via Tunis), Tunisia
Valletta, Malta
and Palermo, Sicily.
Then back to Rome (2 days.)

Here are the requisite pictures:

As you can probably see, the trip was beyond wonderful. We ate well, shopped well, saw all the most beautiful museums and architecture, got lovely tans, and set foot on a new (for me) continent, just to name a few things! But it was also a learning experience. For example:
  1. While Italy's museums run like clockwork, its airports are basically hell. Especially Rome, where it takes an hour to get from the International terminal to the poorly labeled, criminally understaffed Transfer Desk in the Domestic Terminal. Then it's another half hour just to get a boarding pass, which you aren't given before leaving the States. Disaster!
  2. The Musei Vaticani (where you go for the Sistene Chapel) is actually a two-and-a-half hour indoor hike.
  3. They aren't kidding about the turquoise waters in Sicily.
  4. The sun in the Mediterranean doesn't work like it does in the U.S. Ladies can't just move the ties on their bathing suits around every so often and expect to avoid a permanent white bow on their backs. It rapidly becomes obvious why the locals just untie theirs.
  5. In Barcelona's Catedral de Santa Eulalia is an elevator to the roof. It's easy to miss, but the view up there is probably the single best thing in walking distance of the port.
  6. The second best thing is a store called Happy Pills- neither a pharmacy nor anything illicit, as some of my cruise-mates suspected. Instead, it's the best candy store ever. Score!
  7. Palatine Hill in Rome is sprinkled with drinking fountains that produce miraculously, unbelievably ice cold water. The colosseum is amazing and everything, but this is where ancient Roman ingenuity truly blows the mind.
Okay, so for fear of boring you I'll stop- although I could probably go on forever. It's absurd how much happens to you when a ship is taking you to a different city every single day! Just don't expect my posts from Cambridge to be this long- it's been a ridiculously eventful two weeks, and I hope to be posting often enough that I've rarely got two weeks of new material anyway.

Well, Russell is calling- he's working Casino Knights tonight and the party (his second-to-last ever) is winding down. Time to go pick him up- hope you're well, friends and family. Count on hearing from me again soon.