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Celebrating the Nguzo Saba 365

Kinara with the principles in place of candlesticks

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Last December 2015 was the first time my household celebrated Kwanzaa.  It was a week where my boyfriend (yes, still boyfriend status) and I spent some time each day to discuss the Nguzo Saba (7 principles), have we upheld them, and what we will do to uphold them. Read the rest of this entry

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Year One And Not Done

I haven’t written here since December 2014.  That’s a long time to go without an update, I know.  Who would have thought that the first year in law school would be so…busy?  Okay, I did. Everyone told me it would be.

It's true. Your life ends the moment you enter the first orientation workshop.

It’s true. Your life ends the moment you enter the first orientation workshop.

And then it began.

August – December

Contracts I, Crim Law, Legal Writing (yes, three classes because I’m part-time. I’m not that crazy).  I joined everything. Tried to do everything.  I ended up doing just what I needed.  Different SBA orgs, study hours.  It was enough for me.

Goals. I set lots of goals.  I didn’t quite meet them all.  Here’s the thing about law school: It’s not your average ballgame. It doesn’t matter if you were queen bee at your old school.  It won’t matter if you were the big man on campus, top of the class, president of every club, etc.  If you work, it won’t matter that you were the go to person for your department.  It won’t matter because EVERYONE is a gunner, a go-getter.  Everyone is fiercely competitive.  Here’s the biggest thing: Everyone can’t get an A. Remember in high school or elementary school where everyone who had the grade can get an A?

Not in law school!  In my 1L year I learned that there can only be a certain number of A grades. That number varies by class but one thing is constant: You better have the top of the top grade and great in-class contribution to secure that A-spot.  It’s because we are graded on a curve and the grades will fall along that curve. It’s not uncommon for a B+ to jump to an A or even down to a B.  So we gun. We compete. We go to office hours, TA hours, make study groups…we fight (academically of course!).

And then…finals

You have no idea

You have no idea

Did you know that the only grade you get for the semester is from your final exam? Thought you’d get a push because of perfect attendance? Ha! Even the midterms (if there are any) are ungraded.  That’s another thing.  Midterms are like a mini-final.  It has all the stress of a final, it’s taken like a final, and you will get the same feedback from professors as a final.  You just won’t get a grade.

And that’s IF you get a midterm.  Back to finals.

It’s hell week all over again.  For the last month every student, at least us 1Ls are taking up every corner of the library.  Study rooms become prime real estate and you hear this word “outlines” being thrown around.  To the average person, “outline” probably just means a skeleton of notes.  To the law student, outlines are gold. No. They are diamond encrusted gold.  A good outline (that you actually worked on for yourself) is what gets you closer to that coveted A.

And then it’s over.  First semester ends.  Enter Freedom.  Not complete freedom of course.  That’d be too easy.  Remember, classes begin again in just a few weeks and it all begins again.

January – May

Second semester.  For me this meant Contracts II, Torts and Legal Writing II.  For me this meant spending my entire break wondering if I made it over the threshold GPA requirement for Contracts and then for the school.  I did…but I wasn’t satisfied. When it comes to my grades I’m never satisfied.

Second semester was much like the first with the added bonus of mandatory LAWS rounds.  Yes that yearlong writing requirement? Not only does it include 15 page briefs, but it also includes a weekend mandatory public speaking!  I can’t lie though.  I thoroughly enjoyed that part.  I’m in the Trial Advocacy track and this was my chance to do something I love: public speaking. It was great. It was wonderful and I decided to continue subjecting myself to the extra pressure and participate in the Intramural competitions.  GUESS WHAT?! I made it to the Semi-Finals!  I still think if I had just did my prosecution argument in that round I had a chance at the Finals.  I did well though!

But the work didn’t end.  We still had our doctrinal classes.  Once our final brief was submitted, it was just a matter of topping off our other classes.  That fateful day came in May.  I walked into my Torts final. The skies were grey.  I walked out. They were greyer.  It was  a sign.  I would spend the next several weeks obsessively checking my student portal for my Spring grades and rank while also trying to conquer this summer class.  Yup!! Who needs a summer break? Not this girl.

Did I mention I started volunteering with a legal service in February? Because THIS girl is a mental masochist.  The point is I survived.

I survived 1L and I’m ready to do it all over again.

Here’s to us law students and our futures.

Options…Where Are They?

I haven’t been so concentrated on my “new, healthy me”.  I want to be but, the distractions are great.  I’m just a few months from being broke.  I’m going to get personal for a minute WP peeps.  I’m 30 years old and can’t say that I’ve ever held a true paying job.  Yes, summer job here and there but, nothing that I can say is true work experience – at least not in today’s job market.  I do a lot with my time.  I volunteer for organizations.  I’m not talking about soup-kitchen Fridays.  No, I’m talking about sitting on boards, making decisions…a job, just free.

But, here I am, people.  Unemployed.  In the past three weeks I think I’ve been on at least three or four interviews.  I even travelled to another part of the state, on my own dime, for a job that I ended up not getting.  I spoke (emailed) the hiring consultant and she told me they are still looking.  They haven’t found the right person for the job.  That doesn’t mean I’m still in the running, that means that IF I get the job they settled.  Two days ago I had a phone interview for a work-from-home position as an enrollment agent for an educational program.  Sales.  I received an email that SAME day saying they decided not to push me through to the next phase.  This past Monday I interviewed for a “Long Term Substitute Admin Assistant” (read: temporary receptionist).  The director said she’d let me know by Friday.  I’m hoping that the lack of a call means she fell behind on her work and will call me Monday.

It may sound like a bunch of griping to you but, I’ve been actively looking for a job since I graduated college in 2005! What are my options? I can’t even get a call center job? Receptionist? I’ve been trying to break into the legal field but, apparently I’m not good enough to be even a receptionist in a law office!

Two months.  That’s when I hit zero and run out of options.  No, I do have one last option: Move back to New York.  The state that I left because options there were worse than here in L.A.  Two months before … yeah.

I’m crying as I write this because I don’t know what else to do.  I feel like I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. I finished school, got a graduate degree, continued education, was diligent in my search, networked, built a resume, everything!  And I’m seeing people who are not as qualified get jobs!  Yes, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to other people but, when I see the certain people getting hired over me or before me, I have to wonder – What’s wrong with me?

Interview skills? I continue to work on that. Is it my resume? I’ve watered it down so much so I won’t look over qualified. Personality? People like me!  There aren’t many people I meet who do not like me.  Skills? Plenty.  So I ask again, what’s wrong with me? Someone said it’s not me, it’s the economy.  No, it’s me.

I’ll have to put law school on hold. I don’t have a choice! I can’t pay for it even with financial aid.  I can’t afford more loans for school.  I have to put my plans for a family on hold.  I can’t afford it!  I wanted to adopt and felt that I could do it by the time I was 35.  I guess not now.  New wheelchair? Not right now.

I’m so frustrated! There can be no Four Wheel Workout of mind or body when I’m busy spinning them trying to figure this all out.

*pauses*

Wow, not even good enough for a call center! When I read that email a couple hours ago, it completely ruined my night.  My significant other was trying so hard to lighten the mood but, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t laugh.  I just started at the TV.  SportsCenter.  I can’t even tell you what was on it…just started through the TV. 

I don’t even know why I keep trying.

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