Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Break—Getting Over “Mom Guilt” and Catching Up with Life Outside Law School

As a working mother in law school, I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” The truth is, sometimes I think I suck at it.  I’m not going to lie—I experience “mom guilt” and wish I could spend more time with my 5-year-old son.  There is a silver lining, though.

Law school drives home the reality that my son’s childhood years are fleeting, and that his time as my baby is limited and constricted.  If I don’t take advantage of my time with him now, he’ll be off to college before I know it and wincing at the thought of his ole’ mama planting a wet one on his cheek.
Prior to law school, though, this reality seemed so distant.  I would always have tomorrow to do that fun activity with him; there would always be next month to visit Disneyland together.  Law school changed that.  It created a sense of urgency—one that I had not previously felt—and I’m grateful for it.

So, when my winter break rolled around, I meticulously planned each week to accommodate family activities.  Not a day was wasted (although I did fantasize about a day of doing absolutely nothing but watching Netflix in pajamas).  Family activities weren’t the only ones on the agenda, as I was able to catch up with my life outside of law school in general.

Here’s a brief recap of my winter break:

Trimmed the Christmas tree.
Attended work-related holiday parties.
Took my son to Disneyland.

Fostered a former street dog from Romania until she got adopted.

Took my son to Legoland (our first time there).
Caught up with non-law school friends whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time.
My cousin and her kids came to visit me for a week.
Took my family to Costa Rica and we snorkeled, swam, relaxed, zip-lined, and trekked through the rainforest.

Celebrated my 31st birthday with a limo, champagne, and 7 fabulously fun friends in West Hollywood.

It doesn’t look that intimidating in list form, but there is no way I would have been ambitious enough to fit all of those activities within the span of a few weeks had I not felt a distinct sense of urgency to utilize every moment of my break from law school to pop back into the lives of those I care about.  And, boy, were epic memories made!  My son thought I was fun and cool again.  My friends remembered why they were friends with me.  My dogs wondered why I was crazy enough to let a peculiar 3rd dog sleep in my bed (just kidding—they all got along swimmingly).

So, while law school does cause me to take a break from the things I love to do and, at times, to retreat from the people I love to be around, it also teaches me how to do what a fictional English teacher, John Keating, once said:  “Carpe diem, seize the day...make your lives extraordinary.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to School

By Reichen, 2E

It’s time to get back to school.  I’m looking forward to this semester because at the end of it I’ll be half way done with the evening program.  Time really is flying.

I spent the break getting more done at work than usual, skiing, and just enjoying not having any reading.  Just enough time to recharge my batteries for another semester.  See you at the library!

How I Spent my Winter Break

By Marlee, 2L

This winter break I ventured up to Portland, Oregon to visit my boyfriend and his family. My trip was filled with tons of food, wine tasting, and snowy adventures. We rang in the New Year by taking a trip to Mount Hood for some skiing. Little did my boyfriend know I had little to no (much closer to the no spectrum) experience with snow or skiing. Living in southern California my whole life and being raised in a family who really doesn’t enjoy cold weather has left me little opportunity to experience snowy activities.

After spending an hour waiting in lines to get ski gear, we finally made it to the mountain. My fears came true when my boyfriend decided I should nix a ski lesson and learn by trial and error. Luckily, I seemed to master the bunny slopes quickly. I started to pick up on my boyfriend’s hidden motives- he was on a mission to test my ski abilities and kept challenging me with a tougher part of the mountain. Unfortunately, “Cascade” was my downfall.  “Cascade” turned my skiing into sledding and I worked my way down the mountain primarily on my stomach.

Other than my trip to Portland, my winter break consisted of family time, sleeping in, catching up on shows, and constant relaxation. The holiday season is undeniably my favorite time of year so I am always a little sad to welcome in January, but I can tell 2015 is going to be a great year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ode to the Simple Pleasures

By Brittney, 2D

Winter break is one of the lesser-mentioned pleasures of law school. It is a glorious month with no assignments or obligations between fall and spring semester. Some of my classmates are taking vacations to interesting places like Peru and London; while others are heading to their respective home states to catch up with loved ones. I am spending this winter break here in Los Angeles paying tribute to life’s simple pleasures that tend to take a backseat during the semester.

Everyday I get to wake up the sun shining through my windows. I get to attend my favorite aerobic instructor’s classes and even arrive early enough to get my favorite spot. I have been taking full advantage of Amazon Prime Instant Video and finally figured out how to get the sound to come out of my TV instead of my computer. Hobbies that had become mere talking points on a resume, become hobbies once more.

My selfish indulgences are pleasantly interrupted by the holiday’s reunion of friends and family. The priceless conversations with family will give me the laughter and warmth I need to fuel my spring. One little brother asks me skeptically why I’m not studying like I was during Thanksgiving. Another little brother attempts to analogize the high stress and workload of high school with law school. And let’s not forget the reassurances…reassuring my mother that I’m eating well, reassuring my grandfather that I’m exercising regularly, reassuring my great grandmother that I’m saying my prayers daily, and reassuring my uncle that I will have a job after I graduate.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that it is also nice to have some free time to work on some things for school. As much law school and becoming an attorney is the last thing on my mind after my last final, a few days of down time gives me time to remember how close I am to achieving my dreams. This prompts some final edits on my writing sample, additional (never-ending) fine-tuning of my resume and the ambition of getting a head start on my note for law review.

Now, back to some guilt-free TV watching.

How I Spent Winter Break

By Hayden, 2E

Because I like writing, I wanted to have one class with a paper instead of an exam this semester.  Professor Jessica Levinson’s seminar “Money and Politics” really appealed to me both because I’m interested in politics and because I liked her dry sense of humor when she spoke to our class last year.  The class was great  - it forced me to question my own assumptions about campaign finance and look deeper into the unexpected repercussions of certain policies.  For example, I was an advocate of absolute transparency and disclosure for all political contributions, because it seemed reasonable to know who is funding any given candidate or ballot measure.  But now I also see the other side of the argument – that a donor might feel strongly about a candidate or issue, but might want to keep that opinion and the donation that expresses it private.  After all, when we go into the voting booth, we vote with privacy, and that’s a given.  People would be horrified if they thought their voting record would be listed in a database on the web somewhere.  So why should it be that way for their political donations?

The Money and Politics paper was due on the last day of exams, which is typical for a class with a paper.  This turned out to be a double-edged sword. Yes, I had extra time to work on the paper after the other final exams, but I was in the library until the bitter end of the final exam period, while everybody else was already kicking back.  Fortunately, I enjoy researching and writing, so 12 hours everyday in the library is…well, if not an unbridled joy, it’s at least something I usually find very engaging.

Winter Break itself was good!  You have to have a break.  You work your tail off during the semester, and doubly so during finals, so you need some time to relax and gear up for the next round.  I have family in Colorado and we always spend Christmas there.  It’s beautiful and cold and snowy and we always get our White Christmas fix.  Plus, it’s really nice to have family to help take care of our three-year-old boy.  

We start back on January 12th and I’m getting started on the reading now.  It will be another challenging semester!

Spread the 3E Cheer

By Yungmoon, 3E

During my 1E and 2E holiday breaks, I was able to lounge in my bunny slippers and spend a few blissful weeks where my biggest issue was figuring out what I would be eating for dinner.  The holiday break of my 3E year, however, is turning out to be a different story.

The Scott Moot Court Honors Board sends students to represent Loyola at three different competitions.  This year, I will be representing Loyola at the ABA Moot Court Competition.  While I am tremendously excited to be participating, our team's brief is due January 5.  Thus, much of my holiday break will be spent researching, writing, and perfecting our brief.

While this may not sound like much of a break, preparing this brief is actually quite different from school.  For starters, this is the first time I am preparing a brief with a team.  We are able to bounce ideas off of each other and give thoughtful feedback.  Our brief will be scored as a team, with no differentiation for us as individuals.  It is a very unique experience that lays a strong foundation for our work as actual attorneys, where we will collaborate and create briefs as a team for our clients.  Additionally, we receive feedback from our coaches that has a different focus from feedback we typically receive in class.  Finally, this is an opportunity for us to represent Loyola in a nationwide competition.  Every member of our competition team went through the tryout process last Spring in the hopes of making the team and having the chance to represent our school.

Although we are still working hard over break, it's a different kind of work, both in terms of the substance and the joint effort it requires.  Luckily for me, my team doesn't mind if I wear my bunny slippers to practice.