Friday, December 31, 2010

Obligatory finals post

So it seems like I should report back on finals while it's still the same year I took them, right? I apologize for taking so long already, but as you can imagine, I really needed a break. They were pretty brutal, since I hadn't taken so many in so short a time since 1L year.
The first one was Taxation, preparing for which could have been much worse, since our professor released model answers for several of her past exams to help check our work. I also had a friend in the class to meet and go over one of them. So the difficult part was balancing that with Environmental Law, which I had to study at the same time because the exam was only a day later.

The Tax exam was fair and not too long to complete in time, which is always my biggest fear with the three-hour, in-class format. I did have a minor heart attack when one of the questions centered around a term I didn't even remotely recognize. But after I skipped it and came back at the end, I was lucky enough to find it in the index of the case book, so I could quickly read up and write what I think was an adequate answer. It's hard to be sure, but I didn't feel too panicked as I submitted my exam and headed out to lunch with some classmates.

Environmental Law was a lot tougher, mostly because it lasted eight hours, every minute of which was needed to work out the answers and then cut them back to fit the extremely tight word limit. The professor hadn't released model answers, but to go over each past exam, I met with the most outrageously brilliant study group you could ever want: three members of this year's winning Ames Moot Court team and two Law Review editors, one of them the President. I went into the exam fairly confident, partly because I'd more or less held my own among those geniuses and partly because I'd learned so much each time they'd caught things I hadn't. The real challenge was just to keep going the whole time at enough of a pace to cover everything important.

I had two days off after that, and I made sure to spend the first one relaxing to avoid burnout. I did some Christmas shopping, watched some TV shows I had missed while studying, and tried to catch up on sleep and healthy food. Then I got started studying for Administrative Law.

That exam took three hours on a Friday morning, and I felt about as ready as I could be, although I never quite know how to prepare for that professor's exams. I think he makes the questions vague on purpose, which I can respect, since it must lead to more varied answers and less tedious grading. But between that and not having model answers, I couldn't be entirely sure what he'd want, so I just had to do my best and take my chances.

That was probably a good last exam to have, since it dialed down the intensity of my studying a little toward the end, and I was able just to write for three hours and walk away without much to dissect. I had a long lunch at Cambridge Common with friends, headed home to watch the original Tron online in preparation for a Tron Legacy showing downtown that night, and pretty much called it a semester.

Now, I don't want to jinx anything, but I'm hoping those were the last exams I'll ever take in law school. There might be one more, depending on my spring classes - all but one of which are currently seminars and obscure electives with paper assignments instead of exams - and how much finagling I'm willing to do to change that last one to match the rest. Either way, the prospect that this was my last jam-packed and stressful finals season is pretty incredible. Even at my most fearful about leaving school and entering the real world once and for all, that's one part I think I can happily do without.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Go west, young girl

I'm in El Paso at the moment, getting ready for a family visit to the historic village of Old Mesilla, New Mexico, and wondering at what a difference six months makes. My sister has changed from a toddler into a full-fledged little kid since I last saw her, which sadly was all the way back in June, around her second birthday, since all the time and money I've had for travel since then has gone into trips to Austin for job interviews and my mom's surgery.
She's still about as contrary, mischievous, and temperamental as anybody under age three, so of course I look forward to this phase being over. But I also can't believe how much is going on in terms of her cognition and verbal skills right now. She can sound out basic words with just a little help, and she recognizes some of her favorites, like the D-O-R-A of Dora the Explorer, on sight.

She's also downright conversational. Pointing at different parts of a toy bracelet she got for Christmas, she'll tell me, "I like the butterfly, I like the pink, and I like that, because that is light blue." Watching a TV show on her favorite channel, Sprout: "Did you see his girlfriend walking there? He has a girlfriend." Later, when the characters arrive at daycare: "They're gonna take a nap." Then again, her favorite words are "I don't want to," which I think we all wish we could go back and make sure she never learned.

It's crazy, as everyone in the family asks for updates about school and congratulates me on my upcoming graduation, to think that all this development in Mirella has happened since my first visit to Cambridge to pick out an apartment for law school. I once heard J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, refer to one of her books as her daughter's "ink-and-paper twin" because it was largely written during her pregnancy. I feel kind of the same way about my legal career and my sister, which were both in their infancy at the same time.

On a side note, Christmas was great, especially all the presents from my mom designed to help me develop a professional wardrobe. There's a particular ochre-colored top from J. Crew that I hope I have the restraint to keep in nice shape until my clerkship.

For now, I'm off to New Mexico, but I promise to post again soon with the promised updates about exams, classes, et cetera. Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


There were times when I literally thought this would never happen, but it finally has: I am 100% FINISHED with final exams and free to enjoy TWO FULL WEEKS with almost no responsibilities whatsoever!!
The first two days since exams wrapped up have been surprisingly busy, since I put off several things for my journal until I'd finished testing, plus needed to get out and Christmas shop for anyone whose gift I wanted to buy before leaving Cambridge. We're also lending our apartment to some friends upstairs whose parents will be visiting while we're in Austin, so that requires some cleaning. They've asked us over for wine and egg nog tonight in gratitude (although I don't know why - they're looking after Ramona in this process, which is such a relief for us), so predictably I'm baking. Wish me luck getting the sugar crackle on top of my turnover recipe to turn red and green for the season.

I promise to post soon with a report on exams, my incredibly exciting, far-too-jam-packed, how-will-I-ever-decide-what-to-drop course schedule for next semester, and more. Right now, I have got to start packing for our flight tomorrow evening. Packing for a month-long trip the same day as the flight does not seem advisable, and since I ACTUALLY HAVE TIME TO DO OTHERWISE, I plan to take advantage!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


"Crunch" doesn't even begin to cover it.
The entirety of my free time in the past week has consisted of:
  • 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.
I've spent literally every other moment of every day either in class or some other school function, reading or otherwise preparing for class or final exams, trying to wrap up TAP cases for the semester, or proofreading articles for my journal (by far the most time consuming of all.)

I guess I'm grateful to be getting enough sleep, but I also think it says something about the energy-intensiveness (and/or tediousness) of these tasks that I absolutely cannot drag myself out of bed before 8 a.m. or keep my eyes open past 1 a.m. each day.

I can't remember any other time quite like this, even during 1L year. Last night I couldn't shut up about how tired I am, not caring whether I bored my friends. I considered it a huge relief to take an hour out of yesterday afternoon and wash the dishes I'd been letting pile up in our sink all week. The dishes! My least favorite chore in the universe! I set my computer to play the most recent episode of "Glee" and barely noticed whether it was any good, my brain zoned out so completely.

I guess this is the deep, deep hole I dug for myself by taking charge of the technical editing department of a law journal, fully aware of my own extreme perfectionist tendencies. Doing it in the same semester when I'd need to take a week off school to tend to family didn't help, either.

So I apologize if my blogging suffers as I trudge through this. After I die of exhaustion, I promise to post more from beyond the grave.