Thursday, April 26, 2012

my 2L year is fading fast

Last December, I was more thrown by the fact that I was halfway through law school than I was when I completed my 1L year. I still cannot believe I am here, sometimes. There are still times when I want to shout, "I'M IN FUCKING LAW SCHOOL!!!"

However, reality sets in and I realize I am hip-fucking-deep in law school and I better get a move on before I forget how to apply Chevron or which level of scrutiny is the court talking about this time.

2L has been a great year, to say the least. I got 2 very cool internships and kicked ass in both of them, and secured yet another fantastic internship for this summer. I think someone put it best when she told me that last semester she stopped worrying about grades and her GPA and began to do well! I had such a good time last semester that it reflected in my grades and the best GPA per semester I've had so far.

I also enjoyed myself academically. It's a great feeling knowing you've chosen your own path and not once have I had to kick my own ass over my choices. I've come to know and adore some wonderful professors and I just don't know how I would have got on without their support.

I also got some amazing opportunities here at school. I got a fellowship that let me write for a newsletter, got to meet alums at different events, and even went to a Rangers game as MSG in a suite! I can never sit in the stands after that experience!

And the school treats me well. Everyone is very supportive and I try to give back as much as I can. I go to a really great law school and I try to do everything in my power to tell everyone in the world! I love saying I go to New York Law School because I have every reason to.

One thing I don't love, though, is having 3 finals in 4 days. I have Sex and the Law on 5/14 at 9am, Admin Law at 6pm on 5/15, and Con Law at 1:30pm on 5/17. I can't tell you how I panicked about that for weeks, really unable to figure out if I could do that. But, you know, I had 2 kids, I can fucking do anything.

I began to worry about grades and wasn't actually accomplishing anything. Days would go by and I'd have some kind of outline or work but I couldn't tell you I was retaining anything. Then, last Tuesday, Admin Prof says final is open book and everything just fell into place.

I don't know why hearing that just set the wheels turning, but I am glad. I was getting fed up of my internal moaning. It was all I could think about - 3 in 4 days, 3 in 4 days - it was some kind of sick mantra that was making me sick. Where was the confident chick of last semester? She gone.

But learning that this exam, what I expect to be the most challenging, was open book just made me sit up! By the end of that day, I had a plan. This prof was also going to set aside his last 2 classes for review, so I thought I would stick with Admin Law till the end of the week, Sunday. On Monday, it's me and Con Law till 4 days before Sex & the Law, when that's all I'll focus on.

Sex is also open book, but it bit odd to study for. I know I better know Lawrence v. Texas inside and out, but other than that, I'm a bit stumped.

For Admin, I've made a binder of all the cases and notes from the semester and tabbed the hell out of that puppy. We had 1 of our 2 review sessions today and it was the best class I've been to all year! I actually thanked the Prof afterwards.

Con Law is closed book. It's been my favorite class this semester and I don't want to fuck it up, but it's a lot to remember. Pray for mojo.

And Labor Relations is giving us a take-home paper as a final. I can't imagine dealing with that right now and am not really dealing with it. I can only hope she wants it back AFTER the Con Law final, which is when I will have time to work on it. Not too happy with that class. The Prof has been weird about questions all semester. I have her again in the Spring!

So, me as a 2L is almost past tense. Not quite yet, because I am off to Con Law class. I am tired of learning new stuff! It's time to study.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Yesterday was a weird day.

The Alumni Association held a lunch for donors and scholarship recipients. I was a recipient and it was a great lunch. I normally would have enjoyed myself silly at an event like that. But I kept watching the clock, just wanting to get out of there and go home, so I could be with Jackson before he left us.

The very first time John and I spoke on the phone, he was walking Jackson at the time. During those early, heady days on Journalspace, John wrote a lot about how much comfort Jackson used to give him, wagging his tail so hard that his whole back half got involved in the party. When John used to call us, John used to make Jackson "speak" for Derek. "Speak" for Jackson meant bark. When Der realized that Daddy had a "voice" for Jackson and "translated" what Jackson's thoughts were, that's what Der wanted to hear whenever he asked Daddy to make Jackson talk.

Up until last night, I thought John invented that voice for Derek. He informed me that he'd had it since he got Jackson because he looked like a dog who had a lot to say but would never really say it well. Like Jackson would threaten to call the ASPCA on us, but never used the same set of letters twice: PSBPA, ASQFA, DSDFA, etc. Needless to say, we never really took those threats seriously.

I'd never had a dog and people didn't really have inside dogs where I came from. When I moved here, I had to walk Jackson every day. I found it a great way to explore the neighborhood. He and I would walk all over the place. For a while, I used to take him to off-leash time at Central Park and watch him try to not hump other dogs. I was home for a long time and Derek wasn't the only one who got attached to having Mummy at his fingertips. I really didn't realize it until Kayrein came to visit and noticed that Jackson followed me everywhere. If I went to the bathroom, he would sit outside the door till I was done showering or whatever. Even if I just went in for a Q-tip, I had to close the door to get to it, and he would just plop himself outside the door and wait.

Over the years, he was just there - our underfoot dog who invariably tried to kill me in the kitchen by insisting on being in-between my legs as I tried to move about. He came to bed with me every night and got up with me every morning.

These last 3 months were painful and heartbreaking. John and I were fairly desperate at what to do and John really needed to try anything and everything to see if it would work. We agreed that we were not going to see him suffer if the meds just slowed the decline. That would be agony. The last couple of weeks were bad and the last three days were worse. Jackson was on so many meds and they seemed to have him more wired than sedated. He was nervous, tense, and confused and it was pretty clear that we had to bite the bullet.

As I was sitting at the lunch, being feted and questioned by the alums and classmates, I wondered what it would be like to come home to no dog. I couldn't see it. Jackson has been a part of my life and home and family and I just couldn't picture his absence. I really just needed to get out of there.

I picked up Derek from school and we met John at the vet's. I'll just cut to the chase now. The vet gave Jackson a sedative, a really strong one because she was concerned that since he didn't take to the sedatives, she had to give him enough to "fell a horse." We gave him as many treats as he could eat, and when he pushed away the last one in my hand, we knew.

He lay down by my feet and I eventually got down on the floor and lay down beside him. The vet brought a blanket and John lifted him up and put him on it and I knelt down beside him and stroked his head while she gave him the final shot. I don't remember when I started to cry, but when she said that he was gone, I was a mess. I think John was crying, too, but trying to comfort me. I gave Jackson a kiss and et my last mouthful of pet hair.

As we were leaving, the vet said that they take a paw print of pets in clay and bake it and we can have it as a memento of out Jackson. We will remember the time he stepped in Mariano's paint tray and walked white paw prints around the living room and I had to take him outside and force him to walk in rain puddles to wash it off. We will remember the time he swallowed a huge rib bone. We will remember the times he ran from small dogs. We will remember our big, silly dog who couldn't remember the ASPCA.

I love you, Jackson. Chase that squirrel.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The post you've been waiting for

Though it's hardly breaking news by now! On March 9, I was sworn in as a naturalized US citizen!

After the swearing-in ceremony, my friends kept asking me if I felt any different. Well, I didn't, really. I was happy that people I loved were there to be with me. Later, though, was a different story.

I wore a khaki suit that won rave reviews at my internship. The day I wore it to work I knew it was the suit I was going to wear to the ceremony. I even wore lipstick.

John's mom came with me and John and Der and BB, Samia, and Brigida met us at Federal Plaza. Samia got there before us and they let her in and she saved a whole mess of seats for us. BB met us outside the building and I have no idea when Brigida showed up. John waited for her outside for a while but then he had to come in. I eventually saw her moments before the ceremony began, and I was so relieved. She was with us when John adopted Derek and I really couldn't imagine her not being there for this ceremony.

I really wish Anu and Bellie could have been there. And maybe one of my brothers. You know, I didn't really care to become a citizen until I started law school and realized I wanted to work in government. I didn't even start law school with that intention. I wanted to focus on Copyright Law. And, now, look at me. Labor and Administrative Law. Whoda thunk it?

Anyhoo, it was nice to have so many people there. One agent asked me if I brought everybody. I think I did.

We sat around chatting and me pacing, don't ask me why. It was hardly a nerve-wracking situation. I was calmer somehow at the interview! Afterwards, I realized how big a deal this was to me. More about that later.

They called in groups of people by sections. Naturally, I was in the last section and there were about 100 people. I think they called everyone who was left because I'm pretty sure earlier groups that went in didn't even have 50 people. Oh well, I guess even USCIS agents have lives and want a half day on Friday.

They swear people in every Friday, so the agents have it down to a fairly precise science. They separated the swearees from their guests and sent us to where we were supposed to sit. I had to turn around to see John et al, but I could see them and they could see me.

Each seat for the newbies had an envelope and a small American flag on it. The envelope had a letter from the President (cool!), a copy of the US Constitution and other stuff. Someone gave Derek his own flag, so we are now a 2-flag family.

I sat between a man from Pakistan and a man from the Dominican Republic. Me and Mr. Pakistan hit it off right away and pretty much giggled through most of the thing. Not of course, when we were supposed to be paying rapt attention!

Some guy came to the podium and said some stuff and then he called out every country that was present in the room and the people had to stand up. Naturally, the WIndians made the most noise - Barbados and Jamaica represent - and I was the only Trini, so I yelled real loud and totally cracked up Mr. Pakistan.

When he was done and everyone was standing, we recited the Oath of Citizenship, which is NOT the same as the Pledge of Allegiance. We did that, too, but after the country song.

Yes, they played us a country song. They made us wave our flags to a country song, and sing along. Me and Mr. Pakistan were in stitches but we waved and sang. Good thing, too, otherwise we'd have got yelled at and pulled into the naughty corner!

A man behind us was apparently not getting into the spirit of flag-waving and country-song-singing and was being lectured by an agent about one of the things you agree to do when you become a citizen is to respect the flag. Caught up in mirth, I turned around and told him to wave his flag. Before the words were out of my mouth I realized it was not something jokey, but getting serious. The man said nothing while the agent was talking and the only thing he did say was that he did have flag and he put it in his envelope. And he said it to me. I turned around and sang my song.

But it didn't end there. Me and Mr. Pakistan were giving each other the eye throughout the whole scene because we couldn't figure out why the agent was on that man's case. At the end of the song, which was fairly long, we all stood up and prepared to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Everyone faced the flag closest to them and recited.

Two lines in, I heard and felt this slapping against my row. I turn to the right and see the same agent slapping his file against the back of the last seat in the row and pointing furiously at the man behind me. W.T.F?

I am trying to be both a Trini and a Yank, now: I trying to maco AND recite the pledge! Next thing I know, the agent pulls out the man and take him behind a curtain. I nearly ran home for my "1984".

We sat down and were told that our naturalization certificates were going to be handed out. They were organized by row and we were told to stay in our seats until we get them, check them for errors, and then we can leave. Derek came over and the Australian woman next to Mr. Pakistan thought he was our child. Mr. Pakistan's American wife came over at the same time and we all had a good laugh when I said Der was mine. The Aussie chick looked like she wanted to die dead right there.

I never found out what happened to the man after he went behind the curtain. I left with my group. Brigida went back to work and we took the rest to The Ivy's for a late lunch.

It was great fun. I didn't expect to have such a good time. The agents ran a good show and I guess since we've all been put through the wringer to get to that point, we deserved a celebration, country song and all!

We went home and I slept for four hours! Then I got up and registered to vote as a Democrat. THAT was the most empowering thing. When you think about it, for me personally, not a lot has changed from being a permanent resident to being a citizen. I can vote, work for the federal govt, and get drafted. There are other things, of course, like federal programs I can qualify for, run for office, and other stuff.

I think right then I realized that something really big had happened. I belong here, now. I was very conflicted about becoming a citizen because I felt I would be betraying home, somehow. Not that I have to give up my Trini citizenship, or even give up the feeling that there will always be home. Now I feel ... I don't know. It's odd belonging to 2 places at once.

I also didn't expect to feel happy. I thought the process would be really serious and somber, but it was really celebratory and fun and there was a country song. I waved a flag and sang along with a country song and my husband, son, mother-in-law, and 3 friends were there to see me do it. I wish I could have brought everyone. I wish all of John's friends could have come and my big son and my brothers and my law school and work chums and everyone I knew from Journalspace. I thought of everyone I ever met since I moved here and felt glad to have met them because, in their small way, each one of them made me feel good about standing there waving my flag, singing along to a country song.