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Wow, the cobwebs around this place are terrible, aren’t they?

So a lot has happened since my last post- I graduated, passed the bar exam, I’m in job search hell, and oh, right, someone tried to blow up the Boston Marathon and then the whole city and surrounding suburbs went into high alert for a day looking for him.

What has ALSO happened is a bunch of people who don’t live here, who weren’t here, who didn’t live through this past week with us have decided that they get to explain to us what our experience was. That were under martial law, that we’re sheeple who will cower in our homes just because the government told us to, that no one needs a gulag, because we’ll look ourselves up.

Fuck you.

What happened was this: not long after midnight on Friday morning, police in Watertown (a suburb bordering Cambridge, Newton, and Boston) engaged in a running gun battle with what they were pretty sure were the bombing suspects. Grenades and IEDs were thrown. I heard the explosions of those bombs from my house in Medford, about 4 miles away as the crow flies. My roommate and I stayed up until nearly 2 am watching the news. I went to bed, because I had to be at work in the morning and figured that it would all be over by then. She stayed up until nearly 5:30.

When I woke up, I checked my email, which included a note from Inman Oasis (in Inman Square) that they were closed “until the Red line started running again.” I got up, and Twitter said the enitre MBTA system was shut down, and the governor and mayors of Watertown, Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, and Boston had asked everyone to “shelter in place.”

Please note the action verb there. “Asked.” Not “ordered.” Asked. They requested our cooperation so they could do thier jobs, find Suspect #2, and not get anyone else hurt in the process. They asked, and we all said, okay. Yes, it was creepy to see the pictures, but look at it this way: we had two blizzards and a hurricane that shut down Boston much the same way (with less explosions) in the past six months. We survived. the local economy survived.

My particular job was under a “no one in or out” lockdown for most of the day, but that didn’t affect me, since I couldn’t get there anyway. For the people who were stuck there, the institute made sure there was food and information available, and did it’s best to keep everyone as calm as possible. Luckily for me, I got paid for the day, and I know that there are people who were not so lucky.

(For anyone who claims that “children were kept from their education for the day,” that’s a load of crap. It was school vacation week in Boston and a number of surrounding communities. No one was supposed to be in school that day anyway.)

And everyone pulled together to make this bearable. People lvietweeted the press conferences for anyone who couldn’t watch. Boston university delivered food to students stuck in their dorms. A Brookline officers brought milk to a family that was out. They asked, we waited (I admit that my cabin fever and stir crazy was pretty bad by the end, and we weren’t under the Shelter in place request).

Bostonians are a cranky lot. We don’t respond to orders too well. We do, however, respond to reasonable requests as long as we understand why it’s being made and how what we have been asked to do will be useful. As a friend, Siderea, said in her Livejournal:

As a therapist, I’m pretty attuned to how people say things. I couldn’t help but notice something in how authorities addressed the public in all those press conferences over last night and into this morning. The news was wrong: never did the police or the governor or anyone order communities to shelter in place. Always, always, when speaking into microphones, it was expressed as a request. “We request that people stay home. We are asking that businesses not open.”

Sentences we did not hear: “Citizens are ordered to remain in their homes.” “All people are to remain in their homes.” “Martial law has been declared.”

No, instead: “we are asking.”

And so, we did. Massively, as one, with unanimity I have never seen.

It’s like they know us: we haven’t got an obedient bone in our bodies, but we cooperate like champs. Order us and we won’t, ask us and we will.

Nor did they attempt to frighten us into compliance, even while making it clear the situation was dangerous. No “it is unsafe to go out”, no “for your own safety”, no “you may be shot”.

And this remarkable sentence, “If you see people waiting at bus stops or train stations, please tell them the bus or train isn’t coming, and to go home. The MBTA doesn’t want people congregating at stations.”

“The MBTA doesn’t want.” Okay. Wow. What an incredible formulation. Fair enough.

Not the exercise of power, but the enlistment of a people, the rousing of a whole society to a collective good — in the dark and chaos and uncertainy in the small hours before dawn.

And you know what? In the entire operation to get the suspects, not one civilian was injured. NOT ONE. Well, a boat was pretty fucked up, but not one injury. LAPD can’t say that.

We weren’t under martial law. There were no jackbooted thugs. Law enforcement made a request and we all cooperated and in doing so, we caught him.

Boston Strong.

So an acquaintance at my old (now, as of less than an hour ago, closed forever) Borders job has started at Concord School of Law, an online law school in the Kaplan conglomorate.

And we are not good enough friends that I can say “WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU LOOK AT YOUR LIFE LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES.”

Concord Law School is a for-profit school, which makes it shady as fuck just for that. It’s non-ABA accredited, students can only take the California Bar Exam and according to Wikipedia, one has managed to sue his way into being allowed to take the Massachusetts Bar Exam.

The pass rate of the California bar is around 36%.

WHY WOULD YOU WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS SHIT.

I mean, however much the ABA accredation process is full of shit, and I believe it is, I still do NOT understand why you would waste three years and a shitton of money on a non-accredited school. Your job prospects are severely hampered, some states won’t even let you take the bar- okay, the non-accredited schools are a LOT cheaper, they’d kind of have to be.

But this shit- I don’t know what she expects to be able to DO with a “degree” from an online diploma factory. I don’t get it.

…it’s more likely than you think.

So, I grew up in Minnesota. I was used to batshit crazy storms and the occasional tornado warning and watches all the damn time. When we moved into our house in Minneapolis in the early 80s (i was 4) we had a stump in the backyard that had been a tree that got knocked down by a tornado the year before.

(That stump by the way? BEST TOY EVER. It was the perfect size for a seat for my four year old self. I was big into He-Man and She-Ra at that time, so for a little while at least, th stump and the bushes around it were Castle Greyskull. True story- I was a dork from a VERY early age.)

(Moving on.)

Anyway, growing up on the Northern edges of Tornado alley, I was used to hearing the tornado warning sirens get tested every first Wednesday of the month at 1 pm. I hard heard them every first Wednesday during storm season (Spring through fall) my entire life until I moved to Boston.

Yesterday, I saw tweets from @UniversalHub that basically all of Massachusetts was under a tornado watch until 8 pm last night. This was odd- I cannot remember hearing about any tornado anything happening in the region in the 8 years (almost) I’ve been here. I kept an eye on the weather, because with the storms that have been bitchslapping the South and the Midwest (including Minneapolis), I wasn’t going to rely on “it never happens here.”

So there I am, in my first Personal Income Tax class of the summer, which is on the 5th floor of the school building, and windows on two sides, and I’m keeping an eye on the clouds (whihc were getting darker and crankier by the minute). The prof has 25 people in the class, and he has us all introduce ourselves and stuff, and I say that I’m from Minnesota, and I moved to get away from tornadoes and crap (whihc is not entirely true, but whatever). So the prof designates me as the person who knows what to do if it looks like downtown Boston is actually going to get hit. (Answer: stairs to the basement. Quickly!)

So a couple (four, I think?) tornadoes hit Springfield, Mass and near Sturbridge, Mass, but the bulk of that storm swung south of Boston. The next cell exploded and a long, narrow band went right across the city. Luckily, I never lost power or internet, but I did find my camping lantern and candles, just in case. The sky was looking a bit green.

The mentality is the thing I found really interesting. Some of the New Englanders were utterly unconcerned, some were freaking out “So… do we go to the basement? WHAT ID HAPPENING” which the bulk of the Midwesterners on twitter were comparing the color fo the sky, and being alert but not quite concerned.

I saw one person on Livejournal being like, “I thought Tornado watch was when you went to the basement?” and the rest of us Midwesterners scoffing and saying “dude, if we did that, we’d be spending half the summer in the basement. Who has that kind of time?”

So, yeah. Tornadoes. In New England. Didn’t expect that.

So it’s been AGES since I’ve posted- this semester kicked my ass in an annoying way, and I’ve been SO exhausted just going into finals, then doing the finals, then recovering… I’m finally at the point where I don’t fall into a nap-like stupor in the afternoons.

That hasn’t stopped me from watching a bunch of my Lord of the Rings extended edition DVDs with some of the features and commentaries. Also I scrubbed the kitchen floor, so. I haven’t been shiftless, just… homebound. Oh, I made a skirt, too. well, mostly, I still have the hem to do.

So instead of writing about this semester, I thought I’d give you all a recipe. Well, a couple.

I adore the slow cooker more than is truly reasonable. And this summer I’m making an effort to eat better and to cook more- I have some time and stuff. And I really like cooking. So I also really like Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbook Make It Fast, Cook It Slow . She based the first book she did off of her blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. So I’ve done some of her recipes and they generally turn out pretty good.

(My biggest problem with cooking is that I am fundamentally incapable of cooking for less than 4. Which is fine, until I get tired of my leftovers).

Anyway, I had some sun-dried tomatoes leftover from a pasta sauce I’d made the week before, and I found a recipe for Sundried tomatoes and feta tri-tip. Now, that sounded pretty good, but I don’t really like feta. I do love bleu cheese, though…

So off to the grocery store I went, and got the other ingredients along with brocolli and some other stuff, and got to the meat. And I had NO idea what tri-tip was, and didn’t see any cuts that said it was tri-tip, and the roasts were kind of expensive, so I ended up getting 2ish pounds of shoulder cut, I think. It was on special.

Now, by the time I got home, it was 4 pm, (on Rapture day) and my roommate was like “you’re making dinner in the slow cooker when the end of the world is supposed to start in 2 hours? Nice!” (no, she was not serious. Neither of us were terribly concerned about the end of the world.) and I wanted to eat before midnight, so I cooked it on high for like, 4 hours.

I made one of those rice and pasta mixes for one side- the herb and butter one blended well with the sauce. For a veg, I made roasted brocolli with balsamic vinegar, which was AMAZING if I do say so myself (and I do, obviously).

The meat on day one was a bit tough, but aging it for a day or so as leftovers was AMAZING. I want to try this again with a different cut of meat, but the sauce was amazing.

(Or how I flumoxxed my clinical evidence professor with my kindle)

Two of the classes I’m taking this semester are Criminal Advocacy and Clinical Evidence. Both of them involve practical, hand on stuff- directs and crosses and arguments and the like. Criminal Advocacy is awesome, but it’s first thing Monday mornings, which is awful, and involves somewhat complicated things- dealing with directs and crosses for motions to suppress. I’m not horrible at cross-examinations in trial testimony, but working out what needs to be done on crosses for motions to suppress is something I’m weak on (but getting better- the case we’re working on has 4 suppression motions so there’s a lot of practice involved).

Now, after the semester started, and I knew I’d need to have prepared questions for each class, I really REALLY wanted an Ipad. I can’t even tell you how much. Because I hate paper, and I hate paying for printing, and constantly changing things and editing and jsut having shit on a hand held device would make me happy. But ipads are $500. I am poor.

Instead, I got a Kindle, because you can put PDFs on them, and its only $139. I was resisted the ebook revolution for a while- I got the kindle app on my ipod, but that wouldn’t do for having my notes, questions and outlines. (I’m totally sold on the kindle, now. It’s paid for itself a couple times over at this point.)

Anyway, yesterday, I did my first direct examination in Clinical Evidence. I was tweaking my questions up until I got up to go, so I uploaded to the kindle, and off we went.

Now, sometimes we got notified in advance who will be your witness, and sometimes it’s catch-all, whoever volunteers. In this case, it was not pre-assigned. I had practiced with someone (of coruse I practiced- sometimes things written sound stupid when you say them out loud. And going through the examination with Tony meant that I could see how the whole thing shaped up), and Tony did try to volunteer to be my witness, but the prof chose someone else.

(Theoretically, she should have known the entire testimony backwards and forwards- she was also prepared to direct the same witness, but life doesn’t work like that.)

Anyway, things were going well, except for two things- first, since I hate paper and don’t print shit out unless I have to, and Tony left his printouts at the Law Review office, I didn’t have the 3 exhibits I wanted in to hand. So I introduced one, and laid the foundation for the other two (to prove that I could, and didn’t actually put in the other two. Second, she kept getting important details wrong. At one point I stopped and asked if I could impeach my own witness, and the professor was like “…what is that thing in your hand?”

I said it was my Kindle- it had my outline on it.

He said, “…but what is it?”

I said it was an ereader.

He asked, “what brand?”

I said Amazon.

He wanted to see it and I said I would show it to him at break. He was suitably impressed. He aslo said he would be leery of putting all his trial documents on one thing- your opposing counsel might dump water on it or something.

There was also a bit of a discussion on judges allowing people to use something like a Kindle or an ipad in trial because of the ability to communicate wirelessly, which… maybe? I don’t know. maybe someone will have an idea.

(oh and I finished my examination, and someone else did the cross. The comments I got was that I was calm, relatively unflustered by my witness not saying what I wanted her to, laid the foundations for the exhibits really well and handled the hearsay objections well, so YAY GO ME.)

Two and a half weeks ago, my surgeon cleared me to do pivoting things with my knee, and to go back to tae kwon do. He also said, very seriously, that as soon as my knee started feeling tired (the quivering exhausted muscle sensation), I was to sit my ass down and be done for the day.

A week ago, I went back to the do jang for the first time since June 1st. There have been some really nice improvements- new mats, the women’s locker room has been painted. Otherwise it had the same feel and the same smell (this is not bad, it just is).

I chatted with one of the head instructors about where to start. I knew, even if I hadn’t been told (very firmly) that a class was out of the question. But I wasn’t certain on where to start. (I tend to get paralyzed by too many options, and even if my instincts say one thing, my brain goes over all the other possibilities and is like, “but is that the BEST thing to do?”)

Really, what was important that day was going, and getting up the stairs and just starting SOMEWHERE. Where didn’t matter all that much. It was the step in the door that did.

However, I have retained some flexibility (when you start with nothing, being able to get your leg up on the barre is something to be proud of), and muscle memory. I ran through the blocks and strikes from the first couples of belt levels and tried a very few (very very very gentle) kicks. I realize that the weakness in my hamstrings is going to make just holding my leg up for kicks hard.

THen I ran away to Vancouver for several days, and went back a week later. This time I went through the blocks, tried some more kicks, and went through the first three forms. All in all about 20 minutes after stretching, and then the muscle fatigue set in.

At which point I had the better angels in my head argument- where I didn’t want to stop just then, but the ACL is BRAND NEW and I cannot afford to get a new one again so soon, and baby steps lead to bigger steps, while over doing leads to being crippled.

It was hard. The worst part is the effort it takes to get there for only 20 minutes of working out.

But that’s where we are. In a few weeks, I hope to be able to join at least the first part of a class and who knows? I have this hope of being able to take my black belt test this fall, we’ll see how long the practical part of rehab takes.

At any rate, it is really good to be back.

I sent a variation on this (slightly shorter, less detailed) to my Senators. I’m not terribly concerned that the defunding of Planned parenthood will pass the Senate, and I’m really not concerned that John Kerry will vote for it. Scott Brown is a wildcard, though. I don’t know what he will do, but then, neither does anyone else. So I wrote.

I moved to Boston eight years ago, straight out of college and with no job, and no real prospects. I wanted to be in Boston because I felt I should be, and I had money to last for a bit. But no job means no health insurance. For almost a year and a half, my only form of health insurance was “Today, I will not get hit by a bus.”

(now, to be fair, at the moment my insurance sucks ass, so I am still doing my best to not be hit by a bus.)

However, a year or so before I moved, I’d had an abnormal pap smear.

To those of you reading who are not women, and don’t suffer this procedure on a yearly basis, allow me to explain a bit. I won’t explain the procedure itself because you are all capable of googling if you really want to know, but it’s designed to screen for early signs of cervical cancer. There are constants in life- one of them is you get this thing done, and a few weeks alter you get a card in the mail (or a letter, or whatever) that everything is fine and you forget about it for a year.

Unless you get a call from your doctor saying that they need to talk about the results. Cue panic. Panic on my part, and panic on the part of my parents. This is not what is supposed to happen. I had to go in for a colposcopy, where they take many cells from the cervix and examine them. That was painful and was painful for a couple of days.

Now, the results of that test were just some random abnormalities, but they wanted me in for a pap smear every THREE MONTHS until I had three normal ones in a row. So I did that for a year and change. Eventually, I hit my hat trick, and tried to forget about it. But I have been pretty religious in making sure I got a pap smear every year.

However, in my year and a half of no insurance, today-I-will-not-get-hit-by-a-bus health plan, the only option was Planned Parenthood. I was lucky that the main Boston clinic was literally down Commonwealth Avenue from me. The sliding scale meant that I could get checked out, and also get birth control, which helped curb my truly off the hook PMS (seriously, I would go from psychopathic rage to psychopathic, I want to listen to My Chemical Romance and dye my hair black depression in about 73 seconds. Hormonal birth control evened all of that out and everyone liked me better).

Without access to pap smears and pelvic exams, women die. It’s that simple. If an uninsured woman gets cervical cancer, the cost to the tax payers for her (probably substandard) care will be a lot higher than funding a place that could have caught it early and made the treatment a lot easier and less intense.

I admit that I’m not touching on the other important things Planned Parenthood does, like birth control and sex education for low income women. This is about what they have done for me, personally.

I am livid that the 240 Representatives (including 10 Democrats, wtf, assholes?) voted to gut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. I am LIVID that the House is wasting time on this shit that does nothing but demonstrate that they hate women so much they are willing for them to DIE (House 358, anyone?) and claim that they protect life.

I am angry that some many people elected think my life and the lives of every other woman in this country, especially the poor ones, is less important than their political posturing. Shame on you.

This week has been the first week we’ve actually had all the classes happen as scheduled. It’s so weird.

This is week 5, and there’s been no routine, no pattern, and things are in utter chaos. We’ve only had three Clinical Evidence classes so far, and three Law in the Ancient World (which is my Nerd Pride class- I love it so much but will love it MORE when we get to Roman law. Because I am a nerdy nerd who nerds).

So there’s been a lot of uncertianity on if classes will actually happen. And a lot of uncertainty about which version of the syllabus we’re working off of in all my classes (except Criminal Advocacy, which is my ONLY class that’s met every time it has supposed to) (it’s also my very favortiest class- I’m just sad it only meets once a week).

This week I’ve also been fighting a cold. I stayed home Tuesday morning because I truly felt utterly shitty, and missed Criminal procedure (which I ALSO love. Seriously my schedule this semester is awesome). I did the reading the night before, with a fever, and then decided not to go when my alarm went off. I got the notes from a friend, and also found out that my row was “on call” for Thursday’s class (this morning).

(To which I responded “….shit” and she said “Well, you might be able to hide…. no, not with your hair. It’s too bright.” Which, yes.)

So I did the reading that was assigned today, carefully, and then discovered that we hadn’t finished everything up from the last class. Including a case I know I had read, but couldn’t remember anything of, because, well, fever.

Of course, I got nailed on that case, and made the call that bullshitting would not end well, so I just admitted that I could not remember anything about it. Now, I salvaged myself later on on one of the later cases, and then apologized after class, so I think it’s okay, but still auuuugh.

Augh.

Some weeks ago, on my LiveJournal account, I admitted to be a huge worrier (which I am), and that sometimes I worry that law school was a huge mistake. Not so much in terms of “do I want to be a lawyer” because I do. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for a long time- it was only in early 2009 (you know, when i took the LSAT) that my desire to be a lawyer was higher than my desire to NOT go to law school.

What I worry about the cost- not just the money, because it’s just money, but the stress and the hair falling out, and most importantly, the friends from not outside school I’d sort of let fall by the wayside. I keep in touch with them by internet – LJ mostly, I only grudgingly use Facebook anymore except for Zuma Blitz and Twitter is something else entirely – and will spend time with them when I can.

Anyway, my LJ friends (who are mostly SCA friends) assured me that they would still be there when I was done.

(I’m gonna stop here a minute and stupidly apologize for getting messy. I’ve been doing a lot of self-editing lately pretty much everywhere for various reasons and that’s not gonna hold for much longer. One of the reasons is that while writing for an audience might help process my grief and emotions, I didn’t want to add to the pain of other people. Which, while that seems noble, it’s also kind of dumb.)

So.

Those of you who follow my Twitter saw that a friend of mine had passed away late last week. The official announcement went out while I was in CrimPro, and while I knew it was coming, it was still kind of a punch in the head. (My notes from that day are horrible. HORRIBLE.)

She’d been sick for a while, and I made time to go visit, but not as much as I should have. I visited once in the hospital on the last day of classes fall semester, and once when I and a network of people across Twitter had to move a small mountain. I’m really glad I followed my gut that day, instead of sticking with the original plan to go see her the next weekend, because it would have been too late.

It’s so easy to say, “I have all this reading. I just can’t right now.” “I’ll see you when I have a break.” “Look, July 2012- I’ll be done with the barzam then, it’s a date.”

This weekend, I either curled myself up at home, doing not a lot but watching the last season of The Tudors (I know, I know) or grouping together with friends in our shared grief. Three times I gathered as we ate, drank, cried, drank, laughed, and oh yes, drank. It was what I needed- both the hibernation and the social.

So really, the thing here is that law school will take as much time as you give it. You can always find more to do- more to read, more MCQs to practice, more outlines to outline. But just because you can do more doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Even though the guilt you have when you’re not studying is intense sometimes. Life on the outside is important, too.

Sometimes they aren’t there when you’re done. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just life.

But it sucks.

I got briefly embroiled in an internet discussion yesterday about the attorney who is representing Jared Lee Loughner (we know he’s really bad because they use all three names). On a discussion board, someone mentioned that Loughner’s attorney, Judy Clarke, had previously represented the Unabomber and Susan Smith

Someone else responded with “THIS BITCH.” Happily, even though this is the internet, most people responded with “….” And the commenter backpedaled a little (not a lot) and was like “Well, I understand that everyone gets an attorney, but I wonder what kind of person would WANT to defend those horrible people.”

I said,

Speaking as someone in law school looking to do precisely that….

First, everyone gets an attorney. And high profile cases deserve good attorneys to make sure everything is followed to the letter to avoid the knee jerk “hang ‘em.” (How on EARTH they’d pick an impartial jury…. holy shit that’s just not happening.) By protecting the rights of the most reviled, that means that everyone else’s rights are safer.

Second, high profile defense attorneys get the high profile cases- I would not want to saddle some kid fresh out of law school with this case- it’d be a nightmare for everyone involved, especially the shiny new attorney.

Third, and less altruistically, high profile cases like this tend to have private attorneys working pro bono- it’s GREAT exposure, and clients with money will be happy to fork out huge amounts of money for the privilege of being defended by the Unabomber Attorney.

Now, surprisingly enough for The Internet, the original commenter had honestly not thought it through. And admitted those were all things they’d never thought of, and thanked me for responding.

In my Criminal Advocacy class yesterday, we were practicing opening statements (first class, hit the ground running flat out. Life after law school is going to be SO BORING). And most people introduced themselves and their client (or the State of Nita) right off.

The professor, who is AWESOME (and told me to be very very careful when deploying the Sarcastic Eyebrow), said that you do need to do that, but you don’t have to do it straight off. And sometimes, because not all criminal defendants are good clients, and the jury can TELL, associating yourself with a really bad defendant can be hard or even not great strategy. So instead, you say that you’re there to represent The Constitution.

That’s what it is, and what got me into law school in the first place was working for the unit in Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services that defended people who were being classified by the Sex Offender Registry and being committed as Sexually Dangerous Persons. It’s easy to write off sex offenders. God knows most people do.

But, beyond the studies of what may help prevent recidivism, and what actually makes people safer from sex offenders, there’s the idea that you have to make SORB prove itself. In 2006, there was someone running for… Middlesex County Sheriff, I think, who was saying that he wanted to expand the Sex Offender Registry to include everyone convicted of a drug offense.

Do you see where that starts getting even scarier? It’s a horrible idea. (He lost, btw). By making SORB at least pretend to go through the motions (and sometimes it really is like pretending) (sorry), they can’t just go trampling on the rights of everyone else. If sex offenders still have rights, if Jared Lee Loughner still has rights, that means you do, too.

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