Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
- Watching the first 45 minutes of "The Lives of Others," our latest DVD from Netflix, while eating dinner Monday night. (I still haven't managed to watch the rest of it.)
- Letting The Biggest Loser play in the background while folding laundry and booking holiday travel on Tuesday night.
- Joining friends for trivia at a local pub for two whole hours last night.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
It’s funny, I had planned to write a whole post about how horrible last week was, but I never got around to doing it. And while last week really was awful—I still can’t sugar-coat it—not only have things gotten much, much better since then, but it also turned out to be pretty lucky that I didn’t post just to complain.
To sum it up, last Monday was the first day when judges could call clerkship applicants to offer them interviews under the federal hiring plan. Of course, the calls immediately flooded in for all my most brilliant classmates, while I sat staring at a silent phone. It didn’t mean I would never get any interviews, since various judges have their reasons not to start calling right away, and that seemed even more likely in the less competitive locations where I applied. But people tended to forget this fact, and those who didn’t ignore me completely were a bit too sympathetic, like this whole career path had already closed for me forever.
I’m sure other people were also struggling with the feeling that everyone had gotten calls except them. But like me, they didn’t exactly advertise it. So I sat alone when I could, slinked straight home after class every day, and stayed there. It was the loneliest, most alienating time I’ve ever spent at Harvard.
But enough of that, because things changed a lot very soon. I was in Tax class on Friday morning when my former boss left me a voicemail saying she had been at a function with one of the judges I’d applied to, and she’d taken care to recommend me at length. She suggested, though, that I call chambers to make sure they had my application, because the judge hadn’t recognized my name.
In a class break, I got the message and called the judge, trying to sound calm and casual in a voicemail requesting confirmation, out of an abundance of caution, that they had received my materials. I guess this was just pushy enough, because soon after I got home that afternoon (and was thanking my lucky stars just to have survived the week), I got a call from the judge saying they had indeed pulled out my application, had been impressed, and would love to interview me.
I had to laugh at this point, because of course the call had come on Friday afternoon before a week-long school break when I would hardly have anyone to tell about it. It was like the cosmos wanted me to be successful, just not in time to disrupt the test it was putting me through socially. Thanks a lot.
Anyway, the judge gave me the weekend to schedule a flight to Austin, and when I called back on Monday, we set the interview for Thursday afternoon. Then she mentioned that her clerks had discovered my blog and thought it was “very well-written”—high praise, but you see why it was a good thing I never managed to post my long tirade about the injustices of last week! A nice big pity party about the lack of attention you’re getting from employers, full of bitterness toward peers who are doing better, is just not the first thing you want a judge to see when she has the good sense to probe your online identity.
(By the way, I’ve often questioned whether I’ll want to continue this blog after graduation, and I think my answer came when the judge said, “By the way, there will be no more of that if you come work for me.” I couldn’t help but joke, “What, good writing?” And she laughed, but she also made it clear what she meant: “Blogging!”)
Well, after a shopping trip for a terrific new suit, several hours of interview prep, and a hellish couple of flights to Austin (are you noticing a trend? Don’t all my flights to Austin lately seem to be hellish?) I was in the judge’s chambers for my interview. I won’t go into detail, but there were some tough questions, a lot of great information about the job, and a really encouraging amount of laughter. So I left feeling pretty good.
And that turned out to be justified, because I was stopped in traffic, not even home yet from the interview, when she called to offer me the clerkship!! She didn’t want me to answer right away and said I should call her next week, but I couldn’t wait and accepted first thing on Friday. We exchanged a couple of voicemails that day, in one of which she invited me to a party at her home over the holidays. What people say about the best judges making their clerks feel like family already looks to be true.
I’m exhausted now, having spent the rest of the Austin trip celebrating with every friend I could get my hands on, but I have enough work to do for classes Monday that I can’t relax completely. I think it’s going to be a little tough concentrating, but I have to power through—my work ethic dropped WAY below normal while I was so bummed last week, and I had better catch up.
However, I am beyond relieved to think how much attention I can give school, TAP, the journal, my friends, and everything else I should be savoring about Harvard now that my job search is over. Most of the great things about this clerkship haven’t quite sunk in for me yet, but that’s one blessing I’m very aware I have. I think I earned it, but if I ever take it for granted, please somebody remind me about last week.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
- Not leather
- Two handles, so I can get into it while carrying it
- Solid color besides black or brown
- Structured enough not to flop around while I put things in it
- Lining not slippery, so if it falls over all my things won't slide out (say, across the ladies' room floor, because yes this did happen)
- Looks sharp enough to carry into job interviews if need be
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
This was the last week of classes, that time of year when students' exam stresses officially kick in and professors, done trying to cram whatever last material they had planned into their lectures, dispense all their best humor and most poignant advice about law and life.
But I've written about all that here before, and what I'm really itching to tell you about is a few opportunities I've had lately - opportunities of the special, extra-ridiculously-great variety that could only happen at Harvard.
First, there was an event last Friday that Russell heard about through work and knew I'd be overjoyed to see. The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard was awarding its Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism prize, and the recipients were… drumroll please… THE MYTHBUSTERS.
For any of you unfortunate enough not to know, these are two guys named Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman whose show on the Discovery Channel employs lots of robotics, crash-test dummies, and of course explosions in the name of testing things like whether duck quacks echo or if pennies on railroad tracks derail trains.
Basically, these guys are huge celebrities in the nerd community and the objects of one of my bigger TV crushes of all time. Apparently they're also both atheists, and they were being honored for the way they’ve promoted the scientific method and made skepticism more mainstream. There was standing room only in the gorgeous Memorial Church (oh, the irony) as they made surprisingly eloquent remarks on this topic, then fielded a long question-and-answer session about the show.
The entire thing was just freakishly awesome - even better than I imagined when I rushed out and nabbed some of the last advance tickets for the unreal student price of $8. But I particularly loved finding out how much their favorite episodes to make differed from my favorites to watch - how can they prefer Lead Balloon and Exploding Water Heater to Explosive Decompression and Alcatraz Escape??
The bottom line here is, when your day job is shooting frozen chickens out of homemade cannons and trying to wear through prison bars with salsa - in sunny California - what besides Harvard could possibly entice you to the cold, wet north to spend your Friday night sitting in an old church answering questions about that job?
At this point, I'm actually reluctant to go on about my next great opportunity this week. But it involves that project with the Boston teenagers I've been dying to tell you about, so the opportunity to catch you up is just too perfect.
I'll start from the beginning: my Community Action class requires an outside community-based project, and this year the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps was scouting for one. They'd been in touch with two former Community Action students whose project was a workshop series with some Cambridge middle-schoolers, and they wanted to do something similar for a group of kids they were supervising as an alternative to detention out of juvenile court.
I jumped on this project literally the moment my professor mentioned it, and soon I had a partner and we were arranging two "get to know you" meetings at the Dorchester community center where the group was based.
We found the teens pretty sullen and withdrawn, but before long were learning interesting things about them anyway - like how most felt less safe inside school than outside in their neighborhoods, and some didn't think they made a positive contribution to their school, but most still thought they could go to law school someday. The key was first giving them a non-verbal way to weigh in, like voting in a show of hands or walking to a placard marked "Agree," "Disagree," "Strongly Agree," or "Strongly Disagree," before asking them to explain why.
Then, this semester, we channeled what we'd learned about them and their interests into some more formal workshops with topics like blame and responsibility, justice, authority, and power. Each week the group would start with the same standoffishness, but eventually open up into lively and profound discussion about their lives and opinions - and it was astonishing to see this happening faster and lasting longer with each passing week.
In the end, we shot and produced a video to share their thoughts with other Harvard students who, we assured them, stood to learn just as much from them as we had. This actually took a lot of persuading, because the group makeup had gradually changed enough that not many of the teens who originally proposed a video were around by the end. To convince the new, more skeptical majority, I wound up making a short example video with some friends asking the teens for their views. After we played it for them, we got a unanimous vote to make one of their own.
It took two sessions to get the footage: one last regular weekly meeting, when to occupy whoever wasn't filming, we brought in a fellow student who works with the Criminal Justice Institute to answer their questions about the courts - he was just awesome with them and they loved him - and one Saturday "crunch session" to brainstorm the last of the content and get it shot.
So that's what I did last Wednesday night: I screened the 15-minute video I'd edited for a group of about 25 Community Action classmates, friends involved with the example video, RFK staff members, and the teens themselves. We used a big, beautiful room in Austin Hall and had questions, discussion, and mingling over cheese and fruit and desserts. I think it went well, but it went by in a total blur I can't entirely assess. In any case, I did what I set out to do and couldn't be prouder.
The last opportunity I want to mention concerns my brilliant, off-the-wall Corporations professor - and yeah, I guess it falls into the inspirational last-week-of-class category I figured I would avoid. It's the opportunity to hear him read this amazing poem by Naomi Shihab Nye at the close of Friday's class:
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and is not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
This is the same guy who, I recently learned, wrote this incredible blog post every woman should read, and whose class made me laugh harder and more often than all my other classes in my whole education combined while, yes, teaching me a fair amount about corporations too. At the risk of letting this post get absolutely barf-inducingly gushy about Harvard - if it wasn't already - I just feel so privileged to have had this semester with him. I'm going to miss it so much!
Me, miss Corporations? Talk about things that could only happen at Harvard.