Monday, March 29, 2010

Thanks and wishes

Don't worry, you haven't stumbled onto the wrong website! This is the 100th post I've made to this blog, and in celebration I've done a big redesign that I really hope you like.
I got the idea in late January, during my flurry of creative energy after Omar's passing, and soon realized I would need to learn a little HTML and revive a few basic design skills to do it right. That took a couple of weeks and only a little help from my generous darling Anush, and since then I've just been tweaking and waiting for this occasion to unveil it.

It's a fun time to be making this change, with school being so brutal but my upcoming birthday being pretty exciting. In honor of each, I thought I'd do two things with this post:

First, I want to thank everyone reading this for the support you've sent my way over the past year and a half. This has been the most fun and exciting, but also by far the most difficult, time I have ever experienced, and I might never have survived it this long without the kind thoughts you've shared in comments, by e-mail or telephone, in prayers, or in person each day. For that and so much more, I'm sincerely grateful.

Second, on a less sappy note, I thought I'd share my wish list for this upcoming birthday. Not so that you'll buy me these things (or please, at least consult with each other before you do) but because they might be a fun window into what I have going on right now:
Okay, I'll stop before I get out of control. But since none of those was a Constitutional Law reading assignment, can you guess why I might want to keep going?

But I guess all things, even this landmark day for the blog, must come to an end. Thanks again to all those who've stuck with me so far, and here's to the next 100 being even better.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I can't believe the week I just had, or at least I can't believe I made it through without a nervous breakdown.
On Thursday morning, as I got ready to be at school past 10 p.m. for the second day in a row and past dinnertime for the fourth, it occurred to me that I might actually go all week without sitting down to a meal that wasn't also a class or meeting. I've joked before that you know you're a 2L in public interest when you think of class as a good opportunity to have lunch, but I didn't know just how true that was until now.

Some of what happened is complicated and some confidential, but I'll give you the highlights:
  • Catching up on Constitutional Law readings only to have to do the same for Housing Law and Corporations
  • Scrambling to plan another workshop for my at-risk Boston teens
  • Having to leave actually leading that workshop to my partner because our ride to Dorchester was half an hour late, and if I correspondingly got back to Cambridge late I would miss seeing dear friends compete in the Ames Moot Court semifinals
  • Seeing those friends demolish the competition and become Ames finalists, a huge deal at Harvard, but then doing a lot of congratulatory socializing I really had no time to do
  • Giving up lunchtimes to my Community Action partner, TAP Intake Committee, and mandatory (though admittedly great) movie screenings for Corporations class
  • Training a team of 1Ls on technical editing for my journal... at 9 p.m., because it was the only time they all had free
  • And last, but most definitely not least, dropping everything to work late into the night on a court complaint I was wildly under-qualified to write, for a client who spent the last week calling our office to complain about me, but whom no one else would help because of a 24-hour-away filing deadline my supervisor had failed to mention a week earlier, when some (qualified) legal services office could probably still have helped. Seriously.
I'm done being angry over some of these things that really screwed me, but it's taken a lot of opportunities to blow off steam. Like our friend Ryan's birthday party late Friday night over tapas and too much sangria, then breakfast with Anush Saturday morning, followed by a moving and funny conference in honor of my beloved, very sick, 1L Criminal Law professor. Then there were the three hours of shopping and another (more fun, because it was also with Anush) technical edit training for my journal, then the lovely Spring Progressive Formal at Harvard's Peabody Museum to round out the night.

Thank god. Because if this is the storm I referred to last post, then the calm was a lot shorter than I expected. And if it isn't, then I am not looking forward to finding out what is.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Before the storm

I know this post is a long time coming. But preparing for, then taking, and now recovering from a whirlwind Spring Break trip to Austin and El Paso has really stolen any time I would've had to sit down and write.
Fortunately, I've been getting all sorts of other important things done in the meantime. Most critically, while I left Cambridge with quite a lingering case of the New England Februaries, a week in the incomparable Texas sunshine has me feeling much more energized and ready to do what I need to in the last weeks of this semester.

Which is a lot. I fell behind in the readings for my Constitutional Law course leading up to the break (however entertaining the lectures were), so this weekend I've had to catch up in addition to reading for tomorrow's class. I can't let that happen again, or I'll wind up wasting time that I should spend studying for the exam just catching up. I also need to get started planning my final paper for Housing Law, but luckily I have an interesting topic in mind.

More immediately, this Tuesday will be my third workshop with the Boston teenagers I'm meeting through the RFK Children's Action Corps and my Community Action class. This is the single most exhausting thing I've got going this semester, but it's also the most fulfilling, so I hope to write a whole post about it sometime. For now, I'll just say that getting young people whose whole existence is so punitive just thinking and talking about ideas like justice can truly take your breath away, even if it's also a little like pulling teeth.

There's also work for TAP, which is steady and productive if sometimes disappointing. I'm ready to move on from a long-shot case that I recently assigned myself entirely out of sympathy for the delightful Haitian tenant, but (predictably, but no less regrettably) got word over the break that I'd lost. Lousy, but as in every case, I learned a lot and made someone feel supported in a difficult time, so I'm eager to try again.

Of course, all this - plus Corporations, my journal, and the first round of preparations to apply for judicial clerkships in the fall - has to wrap up in just over six weeks now! Luckily, in Austin I took care of one other big thing that was weighing on my mind: I found an apartment for the ten weeks I'll be there doing internships this summer. It's a kind of breezy one-bedroom in a cool neighborhood off North Lamar Boulevard, and it's making me long for summer even more (as if a dear friend's August wedding, in which I'll be a bridesmaid for the first time ever, weren't enough!)

Luckily, I think I have just enough steam to get there. Even with rain in the forecast through Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Supreme Court Storytime

It’s a gorgeous week in Cambridge, with sunshine and temperatures over fifty degrees for several days now. This made it much easier to drag myself out of bed Monday morning no matter how exhausted and sore I was from an amazing ski weekend in Maine with friends!

But once I get to class each day, I'm reminded of another reason to be glad I got up: my Constitutional Law class has just reached the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which our professor sees as a great opportunity to give us a sense of the rich social and historical context and personal dynamics between the Justices affecting such a major decision.

So we get to hear about Justice Jackson’s lifelong hatred of Justice Black, partly based on the suspicion that Black personally visited President Truman to threaten to resign if Jackson were made Chief Justice. Jackson retaliated by sending a telegram to Congress and the press calling Black irresponsible for failing to recuse himself in a case argued by a former law partner. (There were calls for both Justices to resign at this point because of the embarrassment they’d caused the Court, but both stuck around.)

We've heard about the bitter dislike between Justice Frankfurter and Justice Douglas, who became a leading expert at taunting Frankfurter during their years together on the court. During oral arguments, he loved to pass Frankfurter snide notes saying lawyers who were floundering under the Court’s questioning must have been Frankfurter’s star pupils when he was a professor. Douglas would also begin his comments in conference, which he made right after Frankfurter due to seniority, by saying he’d arrived expecting to vote the same way as Frankfurter but had just been persuaded otherwise.

My professor also notes that even the Justices most at odds with each other were united in their dislike for Chief Justice Vinson. Apparently, Justice Frankfurter once referred to Vinson’s death as the only evidence he’d ever seen for the existence of God.

Apart from the hilarity of seeing Supreme Court justices call each other “vegetable” and "son of a bitch" left and right, it's amazing to learn how one of the most famous unanimous opinions in Supreme Court history arose from such discord. It strikes me as lucky—or perhaps genius—that the professor hits this section of the syllabus just as spring fever hits the student body. Even with this lovely weather and the upcoming break to distract us, there’s still a very good reason to show up and listen.