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.