BACKGROUND

Sunday, July 30, 2006

It's applicable

My best friend and kindred spirit, Britt, said something to me the other night that I think is profound and worth sharing. She said “Our 20s are for learning lessons. Our 30s are for applying them.”

Britt is 32 and I am 30. We’ve known each other since I was 18 and she was 20. This idea of the 20s being for learning lessons and the 30s being for applying them really struck me because it has, thus far, been my experience that this is true. I’ve been 30 for seven months now and in that time I’ve had to apply many of the lessons I learned before.

I am, at the moment, in a situation where I must apply a lesson. I’m not sure if the lesson that needs to be applied is standing up for myself or detachment. I strongly believe that it is detachment, but there may be an element of standing up for myself in there as well. Whatever it turns out to be, I’ve learned both lessons previously and now I must apply it. It makes it easier that I’ve already learned the lessons through other situations because I can see the similarities between what I’ve been through before and what I’m going through now. That means I need to apply what I've learned. I'm being given the opportunity to do that.

That’s the thing about lessons…they repeat themselves until you learn and start applying what you’ve learned. Think about the themes you’ve seen in your own life: bad boyfriends, bad bosses, co-workers with issues. If you look closely, you can see the same issue. It’s a different person, a different situation, but it’s the same problem.

So this week, I’m going to be applying the lessons I’ve learned in this life.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Closing Down the Bar

I'd like to congratulate all those who finished the Bar Exam today. No lawyer ever forgets the agony of the Bar Exam. Ever. Two solid months of your life are spent preparing for the exam. It is a daunting task that leads to many tears, a lot of sweat, and occasionally some blood.

For those who were smart enough not to become lawyers, a little education on the Texas Bar Exam: the bar takes place twice a year, in February and July. It is always the last three days of the month beginning on a Tuesday. The exam starts with a half-day, wherein you take the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and a short-answer test on Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure, and Evidence. The MPT is a test of "real-life" lawyer skills. You receive a packet of information, which you must read through and then do a memo, a closing argument, or some other such task that real lawyers engage in. It sounds easy and it probably is the least difficult part of the bar, but it still takes some time to get through it all.

Day two is the Multistate Bar Exam questions. This is 200 of the most daunting multiple choice questions ever! This typically tends to be the hardest part of the bar exam for many people. You do 100 questions in the morning session and 100 questions in the afternoon session. You have three hours in each session to complete this portion.

Finally, day three is the essay questions. Much like day two, this takes place in three-hour morning and afternoon sessions. You do six essays in the morning and six in the afternoon. These comprise any number of legal subjects from wills and trusts, property, and consumer law, to family law. You must be able to articulate the law in several subject areas.

The bar is usually held in a large room with tables lining the place. It almost looks like a big cafeteria. People show up, take their assigned seat, and try to hold back the tears. Fear is present everywhere. It's so bad you can smell it, it permeates the air.

What is interesting though is that the exam is not the worst part. It's the preparation for it that drains the life out of you. The exam itself is also challenging and quite draining, but most agree that the preparation is the worst part of it. I took the bar in February 2005 and I still remember with vivid detail the intense preparation, the complete and total fear, and the depression that set in with the process. Some people become so paralyzed by fear that during the actual exam, they cry, throw-up, leave or do some combination of all of it. It's sad to see someone get through the preparation and then freeze on the exam, but it happens and it happens often.

So, I applaud those who have finished the exam today. Regardless of the results, you have come through the fire and survived the experience. Celebrate big tonight and finally get the rest you've missed out on the last two months.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday

So, I survived a week at my new job and you know, I feel a little more in control of what I need to do and how to do it. A little. Just a tiny bit. TINY. But, that's progress.

My poor husband. He just doesn't understand that when I came home on Day 2 and said "That's it, I'm going back to school next year to do something else. Forget this law thing" what I really meant was "Hey, I'm feeling scared and freaked and stuff and I need to vent my anxiety. All will be well tomorrow." Poor guy. He must be so confused. I need to write him a How-To manuel for decoding my various anxious words and states of mind.

Anyway, so the job is good and I'm adjusting to it all. And, today I got to eat some cake so I can't complain. Our niece turns two in a couple of days and her party was today so we had chocolate cake and ice cream. That will soothe most anxiety, at least for a few hours.

On another note, it's a funny thing about family birthday parties...they always make me so glad I am childfree by choice. Yup, that's right folks, I DO NOT WANT CHILDREN. Now, before you ask:

1. No, I don't hate kids.
2. No, I did not have a bad childhood that has forever turned me off having my own.
3. No, I am not infertile (that I know of).
4. No, I do not want to adopt.
5. No, my biological clock is not, and will not, be ticking. My biological clock is digital.
5. No, I will not change my mind. This one is always interesting to me because I am 30 years old. If someone was 30 and pregnant, no one would ever say to her "Oh, you'll change your mind." That would be beyond rude and weird, and yet everyone in the world feels free to tell it to me for my decision NOT to have kids.

It would help a lot if people would just understand that not everyone in the world is meant to parent. And by the way, just because two people are happily married professionals, own a home, and have a good life doesn't mean they'd "make the perfect parents!" There are plenty of yuppies out there abusing and neglecting their kids so do not go off of external factors to make such a pronouncement.

Oh and also, just because I happen to play well with children (I don't make them run with scissors) and I'm good with animals doesn't mean I want a child. Do not make stupid statements to me like "Oh, see you're holding a baby. You look so great with a baby, you've got to have one." No one ever says that to me when I'm having my picture taken with the orangutang at the zoo. I like orangutangs and probably look good holding them too, but that doesn't mean I want one in my house 24/7.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so family birthday parties always make me happy not to have children. The good kids are ok, it's the ones whose parents don't discipline them, are whiners, brats, and so on that make me want to tear my hair out. Seriously people, don't let your kid speak to you in a whine because that's just annoying for everyone within a two-mile radius. Teach your kids to say yes, no, please and thank you. If your child says to you "Mommy, get me some cake now" I'd suggest they get a swat on the ass and NO cake today, tomorrow, or for the foreseeable future until they can learn that mommy is not their slave.

Ok, so anyway, that's my rant/random thoughts for the day. Hope everyone out there is having a smashing Saturday:) We're having a storm here so I'm typing away, listening to the thunder, and making my grocery shopping list in my head.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day Two...and the Tribe Grows Stressed

Hmmm...so maybe law isn't for me. It seems to be a constant barrage of stress.

I suppose it's not really fair to say this after only two days. I'm just feeling dumb. Yup, there I said it. I have no idea how to do anything and even advising clients is difficult since I'm just unsure what to tell them. Learning the law in school and applying it in the world are two different things.

But you know, even feeling kinda dumb, it's amazing how incredibly unaffected I am by it all. I remember in previous jobs being totally anxiety-ridden, but here I'm just not. This last year of unemployment has taught me a lot of things, the most important lesson being the beauty of faith. I have a lot of faith in God and in the energy of the universe to direct my path. I also know that, at any given moment, what is happening is supposed to be happening. It's all part of the universal plan for my life. I cannot look back on my life at any negative situation be it a job, a relationship, or anything else and say that it wasn't meant to be. It was all meant to be because I learned SO much from all of it.

It's funny how some people say things like "If I could know for sure that things will work out, then I'd be less worried now..." The thing is, you CAN know for sure that things will work out. That my dear readers is the essence of faith. No matter what, it will work out: your job or lack thereof, your relationship or lack thereof. If you have faith, you can stop mortgaging your present with future worry. Believe. Trust. LIVE.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day One

So today was my first day at my new job. Apparently, I'm a lawyer. I have the degree that says so and some little gold card in my wallet that says I'm a member of the State Bar. So I guess I must be. Right?

Cause you know, I have to say that practicing law is kinda freaky when you feel like you don't know anything. I hear the two other lawyers talking in their offices on the phone and they are rattling stuff off. Meanwhile, I get a call with a simple question and I have no idea what to say. NO. IDEA. WHAT. TO. SAY.

Ok, so maybe I have some small idea. And that's the thing really. I know more than I think I do. Still, first days can freak you right out so you have to remember to breath and if all else fails, go into the bathroom and pray. A lot. God and I had a lot of talks today.

All that said, my first day on the job (first time I've been in a working environment in four years people. FOUR YEARS) was pretty good. Although there is a lot to learn, I feel that I am up for the challenge and it's about time I had a new challenge in life. God saw fit to give me a whole year off to prepare me for this and I'm ready. Um God...just between you and me...give me some easy stuff to start the week off would ya? Thanks. I appreciate it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Do it yourself...and don't piss off your wife

Sometimes I'm just amazed at what people can get away with. Today, I was reading random stuff on the internet and I came across the story of Mike Davis, an Arizona State University law student who had been convicted of murder prior to attending law school. He convienently left that little fact off his application of course, and lied to his fellow students about who he really was. Read more about him in this blog written by a fellow law student.

Apparently, Davis was not the only notorious member of the ASU law school. Another convicted murderer also attended the school. James Hamm fought long and hard to have his past put behind him so he could practice law. Apparently, the Arizona State Bar didn't care for that.

So, this brings up lots of questions. First of all, what the hell is up with Arizona State University's College of Law admissions department? I could forgive having one murderer in your class, but two?

Also, what is it about law school that apparently attracts the criminal element? Clearly, it's cheaper to represent one's self if one is planning on committing more crimes once one has graduated law school, but seriously, why on earth spend that much money, time, and effort (cause, you know, it takes a lot of effort to keep your lies straight)? Just read the law books at the library. No need to spend three years in school.

Finally, I guess we can be thankful the state bar didn't allow either of these people to become members of the bar. Although really, I don't know that I would care if they had. Sometimes the criminal element is a lot nicer than some of the lawyers I've met.

Oh, and if you want to understand the topic heading of this blog, read the blog referenced above about Mike Davis: Here's another link to it.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Ready, Set...Smile?

While I was stretching at the gym today, I happened to notice the posters advertising the Group Exercise classes. In the poster, the instructor is smiling and so is everyone around her. I have never seen ANYONE smile while working out. EVER. While smiling does work out your facial muscles, that's no big help in the weight loss department. If it was, I'd be Kate Moss by now.

I'm always amazed at the advertisement ploys used. Smiling has nothing to do with working out. At all. I never smile while running on the treadmill for example. If anything, I frown. It's hard work running that last five minutes at an incline that practically requires hiking boots to maintain.

While I believe strongly in exercise, I'm also for truth in advertising and you won't see any smiles at the gym. If you want to see smiles, go down the street to the doughnut shop.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Drawing a line in the sand

Boundary setting can be so hard. Especially with friends and family. It's easier to draw boundaries at work, for example, because while you care about your co-workers and your job, there is not the same level of emotional commitment as there is with your friends and family. At least, one would hope that's the case.

This past year has really been a lesson to me in boundary setting. Many things have happened within my family and with my friends that made me realize it was time to draw a line in the sand.

I truly am a student of Dr. Phil who says "You teach people how to treat you." Truer words were never spoken! You absolutely teach people how to treat you. If you tell them, either verbally or through your actions, that it's ok to walk all over you, never call when they say they will, be jerks, etc. then they will do it. You've got to draw that line in the sand.

It's easy to do it when someone is being a complete asshat. It's harder when the poor behavior is either subtle, unintentional, or both. That is when it can get difficult to have the "come to Jesus" meeting with your friends or family. But, it's still imperative to do it.

This blog was brought on by a conversation with a friend yesterday. Let's call this friend "B." B is completely self-centered and insecure. His self-centered behavior makes him a bad listener. He doesn't care about other people's issues or at least doesn't seem to. Everything is about B.

So I wondered...why have I been letting B get away with this for so long? What is the point of having a friendship with someone who acts like this? B doesn't live in my same geographic area so we don't see each other often, but when we used to, it was always about B.

I have to draw a line in the sand. Relationships like that aren't worth it to me anymore, life is too short to endure that when there are wonderful people out there who know how to give and take, and be supportive, and want to do so.

Now, drawing a line in the sand with family members is much more complicated, but I did that a few months back as well and it's been a very freeing decision. I finally had to realize that whatever mistakes or actions my family makes doesn't have to affect me and I can make it clear that I won't let it affect me. It's not about judgment of their choices, it's about realizing that I do not have to live with the consequences of those choices.

In some cases, I've had to cut off family members completely. This is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it's helpful for everyone to know something: Shared DNA doesn't have to equal shared misery.

Some people thrive on drama. I do not. I want peace, calm, and serenity in my life. I want good, solid, strong relationships with people who know what it means to be a friend or good family member. Often, lines in the sand are the only thing that will lead you to that life.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

My Favorite Things: Food Edition

Let's get right to it:

1. Whipped cream in a can. This stuff is the nectar of the Gods as far as I'm concerned. You can dress up hot chocolate or cold pudding and it tastes fabulous. A versatile product if ever there was one.

2. Frozen grapes. But only the green ones. The purple ones taste funky after being frozen. I guess they're a warm-blooded fruit or something.

3. Perrier Mineral Water. Yup, love it. I fell in love with mineral water after spending six weeks in Europe when I was 17. It was either mineral water or beer. There were no other choices. So mineral water it was for me.

4. Pizza Zone. Particularly their pepproni pizza and their CinnaZones. YUMMMMM....

5. Spaghetti at Olive Garden. Oh, and their breadsticks too. Oh yeah, bring it on!

6. Chili's cheeseburgers with extra mayonaise. Ah, heaven.

7. BBQ from Bill Miller's. I can only get this in San Antonio, but man is it good. Rancher's plate with brisket and sausage.

I have to stop now. My mouth is watering and I'm considering driving 250 miles to San Antonio for some Bill Miller's.