Friday, January 30, 2009

Bad week for new classes

Well, it finally happened: school days are here again.
Time for a new schedule, new professors, and four new courses: Property, Criminal Law, Public International Law, and Leadership in the Public Sector. Unfortunately, it's been a pretty bad week for starting new things.

The other night, I got a call from Mom saying that my dog back home, Tucker, is sick again and won't be getting better. I won't dwell on this too long, because it's too sad- I'll just say that it's cancer in her lungs this time, and they aren't pursuing treatment, but it seems to be growing slowly and in locations that are only causing a dry cough, no pain or discomfort so far. So we think a few months should pass before the worst happens. If you could shoot a prayer or two our way in the meantime, I'd sure appreciate it.

To make matters worse, we got hit with an ugly storm this week that made me hate New England weather for the first time since moving here. It snowed copiously all Wednesday morning, which was fine until it switched to rain in the afternoon, so everything was covered in mud, slush, and ice as slick as glass. So, you guessed it- I slipped and took a big, nasty fall on my way home from school, coming up drenched and crying. Russell had to come rescue me with an umbrella- it was awful, and the sidewalks have only gotten a little less treacherous since.

Finally, I had kind of a mishap with the start of my Public International Law class. The website where Harvard posts our schedules had it listed as starting next week, with our other electives, but I found out (after class Thursday morning had started without me) that this was a mistake, and it actually started this week. So I was absent the first day of class- way to make a lousy impression!

Fortunately, that seems to have been the end of my bad luck. The sun came out today, and I started hearing stories of other students who took bad spills or missed their first international elective just like me. I caught up on the really copious reading for mine just in time, and the professor was very gracious when I spoke to him today about my mistake. Great guy, I can already tell.

I'm just as excited about my Criminal Law professor, who according to my WLA Big Sis is one of the foremost experts in the field. He's also a charming and dynamic lecturer, so his course should be a perfect replacement for my beloved Torts. I even stayed after class today, listening for nearly 40 minutes while he fielded questions and shared his ideas about race and crime. It made an excellent end to a tough week, reminding me why I'm glad to be at Harvard.

I guess that's a good place to leave off for now, especially since Battlestar Galactica is about to come on! I'll write again soon to fill you in on my other classes. So far Property just seems like a dry, but not miserable cross between Torts and Contracts (whoops, I may have just told you everything there is to say about it!) but Leadership in the Public Sector should be more exciting. I hope you're all having a better week than me, and that you enjoy your weekend as much as I plan to!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In the news and on the ice

Hello friends,
You've probably noticed that my always-famous law school has been getting even more press than usual lately. Not only is our new president from here, but he seems to be taking half the faculty with him. Some of the bigger names are administrative law professor David Barron, now Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and constitutional law professor Cass Sunstein, now head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. There are a lot more, so that (besides my beloved Torts professor from last semester, whom it looks like Harvard is going to get to keep after courting him away from Georgetown), there's basically a mass exodus going on from Cambridge to Washington, D.C. It's disappointing that these people won't be teaching our classes, but it's also really exciting that they'll be running the world!

Some of my favorite coverage of this phenomenon includes the New Republic's speculation that differences between Yale Law and Harvard Law are reflected in the transitions to power of Presidents Clinton and Obama. (I'm not sure it's true, but it sure makes me glad I attended neither school in the 1970s-90s!) Meanwhile, some of my least favorite news is that Dean Elena Kagan, probably our student body's single favorite human, has accepted a nomination to be Solicitor General, the government's chief lawyer to the Supreme Court. Was it so unreasonable to expect her career to remain on hold until I graduated??

Anyhow, yesterday Russell and I took advantage of one of the Kagan era's most popular reforms: the ice skating rink they build every winter outside the law school's dining hall. We dug through the two big bins of skates that are free to borrow, each found a pair, and spent an hour or so making fools of ourselves on the ice. Don't worry, I wouldn't dare deprive you of pictures:

Aren't we adorable? Russell was a lot faster than me from the start, but I was getting downright graceful near the end. He took the only tumble of the evening (it was right after he'd wanted to quit but I said I wasn't ready, which made me feel bad. On the bright side, I got a few minutes more skating out of it, since I don't think he wanted to leave on that note.) And yes, that's the Harvard Law School seal on the ice... probably there to remind me that classes start in two days, so I'd better have fun while I still can!

Well, in that spirit, we're off to the movies. I should probably go and get bundled up! I'll write again once classes get going and let you know about my new professors. Keep sending your prayers my way until February 11- that's when they distribute grades!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In case you were wondering

I figured a few of you might be wondering what our fair city looks like this time of year.
So on the way to the library the other day, I took a few pictures for ya. Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Halfway there, in many ways

Wow, guys: you know it's been a really long time since my last post when my automatic log-in to this blog expires and I'm actually asked to sign in for once. I apologize for the long silence! It's been a busy few weeks.
I'm back in Cambridge, right in the middle of final exams after a lovely 12-day "break" in Texas. While seeing all my friends and family was great, it wasn't much of a vacation with all the studying I still had to do. But I like to think of it as only the first half of my break, since we get around 10 more days off (perfect, in my case, for a Haynes family MLK/Inauguration trip to Atlanta!) after finals are through.

Ah, finals. Law school exams are very different from anything I've experienced before (and I've been a student for a long time now- I thought nothing could surprise me!) It's the first time I've ever had the entire grade for a class hinge on one test, which professors were actually forbidden from doing at Texas. The result is more continuous studying on any given subject than I've done in my whole life. But it seems to be paying off- the two tests behind me were fairly painless, all things considered. It's hard to know where you stand, with everything graded on a curve and the new pass-fail system still a bit mysterious. But I feel confident that I answered to the best of my abilities.

Those two were Torts and Leg Reg, probably the subjects I feel most confident in; still to come are Civil Procedure and Contracts, definitely not my stronger classes. Other people feel the exact opposite, which I find really interesting. It's been a long time since I last had all the same classes as my friends, and I'd forgotten how much people's strengths differ. We're still debating whether I have it made (easier tests early builds confidence) or awful (all downhill!) It's probably the kind of thing where the grass is always greener.

Meanwhile, today is Russell's last day at the Harvard Disability Services Coordinator's office. We'd been hoping this assignment from the temp agency would turn into a permanent position, since it was so suited to his interests, but serious budget cuts conspired against us. He's had a great few months there, although the position is pretty stressful and I don't think he'd mind something a little easier. We'll see where the next assignment takes him, and in the meantime he'll probably get a few well-deserved (after a winter break much shorter than mine) days off.

Well, lunch and a stack of Civil Procedure practice tests are calling me, so I shouldn't dally here too long. But there you have it- I'm halfway through break, halfway through exams, halfway through my 1L year at Harvard. And finding a surprising amount of time to watch the Mad Men Season One DVD's Russell bought me for Christmas. (:

Hopefully I'm back in the blog habit now, and will be posting again soon. Although some of you will be seeing me in just over a week! Atlanta, the light at the end of the tunnel.