Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crazy as promised

Yes, it really is high time you heard the story of my crazy week.
It actually began the Thursday before last, when my work for the Tenant Advocacy Project ramped up suddenly and immensely. I'd had a horrible time getting in touch with the client in my new case, leaving multiple messages over a two week stretch, and we were even considering rescinding our offer to represent her when I finally heard back.

This gave me exactly five days to prepare for her hearing, since asking for a postponement would only have left her without housing assistance longer. So with classes and career planning phone calls and blogging for admissions and meetings for my journal going on just like normal, preparations to save this lady's housing also went into overdrive.

Plus, on Friday I had a paper due for Sex Equality. For my topic I chose Supreme Court Justice Scalia's infamous dissent to the United States v. Virginia decision admitting women to the ultra-masculine Virginia Military Institute in 1996. I knew I hated that dissent, but had no idea how much or for how many reasons until I started writing. So I had to balance my TAP work with a paper that was growing longer and more important to me by the minute.

After my morning classes Friday and a quick visit to the TAP office for some phone calls, I spent several hours in the library finishing my paper. At 4:30 when I slipped it under my professor's assistant's door, I was positively braindead and bound to be useless at any work for the rest of the day. So, magically, Russell and I found two hours to see Zombieland at the theater in Harvard Square. It may have been my exhaustion talking, but I absolutely loved its funny and unexpectedly tender take on the zombie genre, and I can't recommend it enough (to anyone who can stomach a little gore... strangely similar to my feelings about law school.)

After that brief refresher, I spent most of Saturday writing a letter related to my tenant's case and preparing questions for her hearing. It was around this time that Betty, the administrative assistant at TAP, utterly saved my life by finding a volunteer to help with some of my legal research. Joe, a JD/MBA who joined TAP as a 1L and had recently been asking for work with them again, was a total godsend. As I told him many times, I probably could have handled this case myself, I just wouldn't have had time to eat.

In fact, because he stepped in I was able to spend Saturday night seeing Whip It with Russell and Anush. Yet another movie I recommend with all my heart, partly because it's set in Austin, which I wasn't expecting and which bolstered my mood through many of the tough days ahead.

Sunday, for instance, was a bad one because just as I was leaving home to meet my TAP client for the first time and co-chair the first meeting of my article team for my journal, I got an e-mail from my supervisor full of harsh criticism for those questions I'd spent most of Saturday preparing.

But Monday was a bit better, strangely enough. There was class to balance with about a million last-minute phone calls and faxes, but as things started to fall into place for the hearing and the remaining tasks became smaller and more discrete, I reached that place of artificial confidence and calm that comes with running on pure adrenaline. Sure, I had never done a housing hearing before and a whole family's finances would depend on my performance, and sure I had a runny nose and sore throat that allergy medicine didn't seem to fix anymore, but it would all be over soon.

Which is exactly what happened. The next morning, in a small meeting room in an office building very near where I worked all summer, I met my client and supervisor, a very supportive Joe, and a couple of people from the agency for the hearing. My client's leasing officer read the case against her from a prepared packet. I coaxed the important answers out of my client, then made our legal argument to the hearing officer, who seemed receptive. It all seemed painfully slow and awkward, but somehow it was over within an hour and a half.

Tense, but uneventful - that's how everyone who knows tells me these things always are. And you can never be sure until those 30 business days are up and the decision arrives, but over coffee afterward to debrief, my supervisor seemed fairly hopeful. For all her harshness, she had hardly any criticism to give, thank God.

So Tuesday morning was gone in a blur, and Tuesday afternoon was a blissful six hours alone in the apartment playing catch-up on sleep, Omar time, and some cleaning and decorating I'd been desperate to do since the move. That evening in my Community Action class, my study group had to give a half-hour presentation, but we'd prepared a week in advance so it was a breeze. Or maybe it just felt that way compared with that morning.

Things were quieter Wednesday and Thursday. I had a doctor's appointment and another couple of meetings for my journal, but these were a manageable, typical kind of hectic unlike what I'd been through the prior few days. The only problem, and one I should have seen coming a mile away, was that the nose drip and sore throat I mentioned earlier spiraled into a full-blown head cold as soon as I slowed down. In windy, chilly weather with a cough I couldn't control and either a sinus headache or a serious buzz from DayQuil at all times, I was almost as grouchy as if that hearing were still days away.

But it's Saturday now, and that too is wearing off. Especially since we have Columbus Day off school, making this a three-day weekend, making Saturday the perfect time for me (and Russell, who obviously caught this thing and is just at the peak of it now) to take a full sick day complete with crepes for breakfast and lots of television, napping, reading, playing board games, and watching Texas football on the folded-out futon. In our giant living room. With our awesome, grouchy cat.

A sick day! If that's not proof my crazy week is finally over, I don't know what is.

No comments: