Friday, January 29, 2010

The inevitable

Now is as good a time as any - and probably a bit late - to tell you some really lousy news we've been doing our best to cope with this week. On Wednesday morning, after one last, long, loving night with our amazing cat Omar, we had to take him in to be put to sleep.

We took a lot of pictures toward the end. This is Russell's absolute favorite.

We'd been preparing for this inevitability since September, when we first found out he had kidney failure, but never expected the end to come so soon. The vet's words at our appointment Tuesday afternoon were crushing. But in the following hours, Omar became so clearly ready for relief that the next step felt like our most important one yet in his care. Russell and I are doing really well now. But the apartment does seem so empty with him gone.

On the bright side, something else inevitable happened this week: the release of fall semester grades. It's my policy not to post them specifically here, but I'll say this: things went well. Really well. Ask me about it, and I'll be extremely happy to tell you.

It's only a small consolation, but the support and kindness of friends and family have been a big one. If this had to happen, I cannot possibly think of a more caring, solicitous group of people to have in my life at the time. Thanks everybody. And less depressing news next time, I promise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Hooray! As spring semester begins tomorrow, it'll be with a few upgrades in my activities at Harvard. Each one has seemed a bit minor to mention before now, but together I think they'll give you a good sense of how things are progressing:

At the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP), where I work with low-income housing residents, I've been accepted to the Intake Committee to help decide which calls from tenants will be accepted as cases for our advocates. My swanky-sounding title is Intake Director, and my job will be contacting tenants to get our first sense of their circumstances and attending meetings to gauge the collective case load. I'm so ready for this new role, partly because I got to leave my last one with a bang - we just got word that my last big case, a hearing to reinstate a family's housing subsidy, came back a win!

At my journal, the Harvard Law and Policy Review (HLPR), there was also just a round of promotions. I've been made a Senior Student Article Editor (the position of my direct supervisor last semester) for spring and the Executive Tech Editor for next school year.

That's me near the top!

The history here is this: my first semester at Harvard, I was a 1L Editor (see the bottom right); the next semester, I was a 1L Editor and Tech Editor (a member of the team that does a second pass over all articles for typos.) This past semester, I was a Student Article Editor (supervising a team of 1Ls on a student article) and Senior Tech Editor (a slightly higher ranking member of the tech team.) Now, in the coming semester, I'll be supervising several Student Article Editors, and next year I'll run the entire tech team. I'm nervous about the responsibility, but it has definitely been fun to rise through the ranks and see what it takes to bring a real legal publication to print.

Finally, I've just gotten approval to claim clinical credit along with the Community Action course I'll be continuing with in spring. Law clinics are programs giving real-world practice experience to students, either through in-house outfits like the Legal Aid Bureau or Legal Services Center or through faculty-sponsored externships paired with workshops. The Community Action clinic is like the latter, though with an outside project already required for the class, it's really more of a way to claim credit for big projects involving a bit more work than the two-hour course would indicate. That's definitely how my project working with Boston youth is shaping up - something I'm hoping to blog all about very soon - so I'm glad to be giving it a place on my schedule (and my transcript!)

Well, that's about it - hopefully it won't all prove impossible to balance. Sometimes I think Harvard is one big case of, as C.S. Lewis put it, "if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one." I guess we'll know once class begins this week - wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Talk amongst yourselves

With my last paper for winter term finished last night, I'm feeling a brief, merciful lull before the start of spring semester. So I thought I would go back and corral a few Admissions Blog posts I'd so far neglected to re-post here. It seemed wrong to ignore them, since they're actually pretty interesting:

That last one is pretty heavily redacted from my notes of the interview, which had pages and pages of in-jokes from my section's Torts class last year. It was amazing to catch up with such a memorable professor, and I stayed in his office until nearly 5 p.m. with another student, just reminiscing. I wish more of it could be easily explained in an Admissions post, because those experiences would sell Harvard like no other. But why am I telling you this? You know.

What you may not know (because it's pretty darned random) is that my blog is coming up on its 100th post very soon! What exciting thing should I do to commemorate that? I welcome your ideas. In the meantime, I think I'll go back to enjoying my lull.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Look down at your hoodie

I have been so swamped this week. I blame the fact that a three-week winter term only has two weekends, but my professor wants three response papers on three different days of our choosing. So one has to get written on a weeknight, every minute of which is usually taken up just by the hundred-page readings we still take home every day. Ugh.

It's lucky the material is interesting - incredibly lucky - but that alone can't keep the water below my head. Especially when responsibilities are ramping up for TAP, the admissions blog, and my journal all at the same time. So I've been on a pretty aggressive campaign of taking good care of myself: cooking favorite healthy meals, keeping caffeine intake reasonable, getting to bed early when I can, and letting Russell take over some of the household chores like cleaning the litter box and dishes.

It reminds me of something my friend Jen said around finals our first year. She caught a lot of flack from some of our fellow study group members at the time, but it made absolute sense to me. She said that when things got really crazy and she could feel herself starting to panic and not have fun, she would make a point to study in her Harvard gear so she could look down, any time she wanted, at her hoodie and remember where she was and why all the hard work was worth it.

So it's cheesy, but this Tuesday as I sat down to a particularly long and dry Low-Income Workers reading, I pulled on my own Harvard hoodie to see if Jen's trick would work. I didn't find myself physically looking down very often, but I realized my survival strategy at times like these is essentially the same: staying conscious of the exciting thing I'm doing and what a waste it would be to go through it unhappy.

I need to go grab lunch before a TAP Intake Committee meeting, but I just wanted to drop you all a line to say it was working. Thanks for your support as I've fought against the odds to strike this balance.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sports & admissions

My first post of the new year, capturing my life for the past few days surprisingly well:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter and Spring

Happy new decade, folks! I'm back in Cambridge after a wonderful winter break, but just a hair too exhausted to tell you all about it yet. So, with the January term here at Harvard approaching fast, I thought my course schedules for the coming semesters might be a good way to hold you over:

Winter 2010

Mon, Tues, Wed, Thu, Fri: 9-11 Low Income Workers, Alstott

Spring 2010

Mon: 10:20-11:40 Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, Klarman; 5-7 Housing Law and Policy, Grossman
Tues: 10:20-11:40 Constitutional Law, Klarman
Wed: 10:20-11:40 Constitutional Law, Klarman; 1-2:20 Corporations, Hanson; 5-7 Community Action, White
Thu: 1-2:20 Corporations, Hanson
Fri: 1-2:20 Corporations, Hanson

It's a lot, and I expect to be pretty overwhelmed, but I'm really looking forward to it all. Until next time, I hope each and every one of you has plenty to look forward to in the coming year, too!