Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How time flies

It's hard to believe how much of my summer has gone by already. It's even harder to write about it, because that kind of reflection only reminds me of all the things I still have to do, and before long I'm pretty much panicked. But I'll try to stay calm enough to give a good update on what's happening with me.
For starters, in the past week or so I've seen the first few conclusions to some of my projects at work. In one of the first cases I worked on at legal aid, the opponents have agreed to a settlement that couldn't be better for our client: she gets an apartment with them, and they revise their policies to be fairer to applicants like her. I got to write the actual settlement agreement they'll sign and submit to the judge, which was satisfying and a much better resolution than we expected back when I was researching contingencies in case they got us thrown out of federal court.

In another case, we seem to have succeeded at helping a tenant pull enough money together to pay all her back rent and convincing her landlord to quit trying to evict her in exchange. This client is very young and formerly homeless, but truly seems to have her life on track now and just had a rough adjustment to a pay cut and new childcare costs for her son, whom she's very cool when talking about. So it will be really gratifying if we're able to save her tenancy.

Meanwhile, at my policy job, we just submitted an enormous research product on health and life insurance law to the international NGO that commissioned it from my boss. She's actually out this week presenting it, but at least it's finally out of our (the interns') hands, to our great relief. I'm also relieved to have finished a more individual project to revise, introduce, and do some ancillary research for a proposal we want to make to the Treasury Department.

So those things are going well, although there are twice as many things just like them still lined up to get done. And predictably, a whole new round of things for Harvard and career planning have presented themselves. We're into the add-drop season for fall classes, which is pretty important since this will be my last year, and so far I have:

10:45-11:45 Administrative Law, Rakoff
1-3 Environmental Law, Freeman
5-7 Political Economy of Modern Capitalism, Desan

10:45-11:45 Administrative Law, Rakoff
1-3 Environmental Law, Freeman

10:45-11:45 Administrative Law, Rakoff

10-12 Taxation, Alstott

10-12 Taxation, Alstott

That Modern Capitalism class is a big dilemma, because it really interests me, and I may need it to keep my fall credit hours from being unimpressively few. But it also extends into the spring, when a lot of other classes interest me even more, and I'm so worried it will crowd one of them out of my schedule when it comes time for spring registration that I'm considering dropping it entirely. Like a lot of Harvard students facing the ridiculous abundance of good classes, I'm not sure which gamble to take: that it will be wonderful and totally worth the sacrifice, or that something even better will come along? I've got time to consult some fellow students, so I'll probably mull it over for a while and be sure to let you know once I decide.

Finally, a whole host of deadlines in the judicial clerkship application process is approaching fast. I just had my resume reviewed by the folks at Career Services, and it looks like a fair amount of changes are needed. Plus, I have to finalize my list of judges to give to my recommenders by next Monday, July 26, then gather everything including their letters to submit for Harvard's centralized mailing by August 9. All this seems absurdly soon, but luckily I seem to have cleared what I once thought of as my biggest hurdle: getting Russell on board with the idea that some of the really excellent clerkships to which I really can't justify not applying are in Houston, so I might need to spend a year there before coming home to Austin.

Speaking of which, it may sound like it's been all work and no play around here lately, but that couldn't be less true. Monday was the last day of a fun, busy, incredible four-ish day visit from Russell that involved at least four margaritas, seven breakfast tacos, two movies, one visit to Toy Joy, and one amazing day at Schlitterbahn. We're both totally exhausted and bummed to be back at work. But we get to look forward to a repeat performance in just under a month, when Russell will come back to attend a friend's wedding and help me move back North.

In entertainment news, seeing Inception at the Alamo Drafthouse was definitely one of the weekend's highlights, and I sincerely recommend it (even if you live in a city without an Alamo Drafthouse.) It's smart, exciting, surprisingly emotional, and creative like nothing I've seen before. Which, come to think of it, is also a decent description of my new pop culture obsession, Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

I know, everyone and their sister has seen this show already, and I'm way behind the times with this. But can I just take a moment to say how great it is? Not just the show, but the experience of discovering it for the first time (which I always knew I'd get around to doing eventually, but had finally put off a bit too long) with the knowledge that there are 7+ whole seasons to go through and enjoy. I'm trying to savor it, but my coworker keeps lending me his DVDs.

Well, I think that last bit kept me from panicking completely as I try to sum up all the activity in my life right now. And I may be able to avoid complete nervous collapse if I make good use of this coming weekend. Wish me luck, and in the meantime, go see Inception!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Under the weather

Summer is chugging along, and I'm definitely keeping busy. We had a hefty research memo come in from some pro bono partners at my policy job this Wednesday, so my boss there asked if I could front-load my time at the other employer this week, then spend a few solid days helping package this thing for some important presentations beginning next Monday. Now I know a lot more about Texas and New York insurance law than I ever expect to need again, but I guess you can never be sure.
Before that, I spent a long weekend with my dad's family in El Paso, especially enjoying the time with my little sister who just turned two. She's more physically manageable than the last time I saw her, when she had just learned to walk and was seriously lacking the motor skills to avoid catastrophe on her constant, single-minded quest to get her hands on everything in sight. Now she's more coordinated and smarter, almost astonishingly so, but unfortunately she also came down with some sort of bug the night I arrived and spent a lot of the weekend grumpy and feverish.

I definitely assumed this was something minor that was just being exaggerated by the Terrible Two's, but I definitely ate my words late this week when I realized I had caught the thing from her. And oh! My god! The sore throat, body aches, and relentless headache that no drug in the house could cure!

At first, I thought my body might just be reacting to the days and days of rain we've had around here. Central Texas tends to get the fringes of whatever goes on in the Gulf, in this case a hurricane with a tropical storm chaser. I learned in Cambridge (which, ironically, had sun and temperatures over 100 most of the week) that rainy weather can make me feel pretty sluggish and sore. But when the throat stuff set in, I had to admit that I might really be sick.

I've been dog-sitting for my mom, so luckily I had her comfortable couch, full kitchen, and HBO On Demand to help me rest and feel sorry for myself. However, I was also in charge of a pooping, barking, feeble, deaf old dog who pushed me right over the edge a few times just by existing. In other words, having ONLY thrown the few tantrums I saw last weekend makes my sister an absolute angel.

I'm feeling better today, and I even put in a little work at the yoga studio and hung out with friends all afternoon and evening. On the way home I talked to my dad, who said my stepmom also got sick from my sister and saw a doctor who told her it's a herpes virus (like chicken pox, cold sores, and mono) that likes to wreak havoc at daycare centers and rarely infects adults unless they have little kids. (Awesome time to visit, Lea.) There's not much I can do, but she says it should end suddenly after a couple days.

I'll be taking it easy tomorrow, but back at work on Monday, trying not to need any time off so I can guiltlessly take a day when Russell visits in ONE WEEK. We have so little planned, just one dinner and a possible trip to Schlitterbahn, but I'm so ready I can hardly stand it.

In other news, I received my financial aid offer from Harvard this week. The grant portion keeps getting more generous, but the cost of living keeps climbing, so I'll be borrowing about the same as last year. The difference is, early this year I'll have the option to commit to five years of public interest work after graduation in exchange for the tuition part of that debt being waived completely. With all my interests in the public sector anyway, this is the ideal bargain for me. Especially in the year when, according to a friend of mine, the cost of attending Harvard has risen above the average income for an entire American family.

Moral of the story: thank goodness for financial aid, not so much for toddlers. (Just kidding, I already can't wait to see her again.)