Welcome Back to the Schoolyear

Hi everyone!  Now that the long summer break is over and we’re all back to the routine of school,  I am excited to get T&E up and running again.  I’ve got a few posts stored in my brain that I hope to roll out over the next couple of days, and I am happily taking suggestions for things you’d like to read about!  My original hope for this blog was to illuminate readers on all sorts of things, from stuff I find funny on the internet to living with learning difference to the day to day life of a law student, so anything you’d like to see here just let me or my esteemed associate know.

I can’t believe Wm! and I are 3Ls now – the past 2 years flew by so fast it feels like yesterday I was ditching law school orientation for cigarette breaks and coffee.

The time went by so fast, in fact, that I can barely wrap my mind around it except to mark the time in milestones, to convince myself that time has passed at all… luckily for me, a lot of important things have happened since I started my 1L year.  Let’s see if I can come up with a complete list:

Since the first day of 1L year, I have:

  • Gotten engaged to my beautiful & amazing partner
  • Taken on de facto guardianship of my younger brother (he’s 20)
  • Shaken off the chains of an evil, vindictive landlord and moved out of Seattle and into the northern suburbs
  • Worked 2 summers in prosecutor’s offices
  • Worked 2 quarters at a public defender office
  • Turned 25, and then 26
  • Gotten a puppy who is now over a year old

And I know there’s more.

So whether you’re starting 1L all fresh and new, or heading into 3L year kicking and screaming – welcome back all!  And to all of you the best of luck!


Working for the Man

Some thoughts on working as a (almost) lawyer for the government:

  • Normal working hours. Believe it or not, you get dressed down for staying late.
  • There’s a form for everything.
  • You will be supervised.
  • You have access to a lot of sensitive information. Don’t even think about using it for non-work-related purposes.
  • You get to do the right thing.
  • The money ain’t bad, especially considering the fact that THEY WILL CHARGE OFF YOUR STUDENT LOAN DEBTS AFTER TEN YEARS OMG
  • Litigation is litigation. There are quirks in every field, but there will be discovery, motions, and court appearances, and if you like any or all of those, you will be happy.

First Day At Work

So while the other half of T&E is down in sunny LA, this half is still here in Seattle where it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey and raining all the time.

We’ve both started work at government agencies – I’ll be working this summer at a county prosecutor’s office here in Washington.  Today was my first day and I am both totally excited and completely exhausted.

I am exhausted because this job is a significant distance away from where I currently live, so the alarm goes off at 5:50am in order for me to be there when the office opens at 8:30am… yeah this is summer break in law school kiddies.

I am totally excited though because this is my Rule 9 summer — the summer where I get provisionally admitted to practice law in Washington under the supervision of a practicing attorney… meaning… I can try my own cases in district court this summer!  I got my Rule 9 card and everything.   The prospect of my very first jury trial (and not second chair either, I’ll be running the show) looming on the horizon is an incredible rush, but it won’t be for a while.

I was thankful to find out today that I’ll be starting slow and working my way up to the more advanced stuff.  I’m starting out on traffic infractions – basically people contesting their traffic tickets, and then I’ll go on step by step till I get to criminal court/misdemeanor district court stuff.

A few things really struck me today.  This job is totally different and strange in three major ways… first, the last two internships I’ve had were working in Felony, so now I’ve gone from felony to infractions, which is like an entirely different world.  Second, my last externship was in the federal criminal justice system – so I’m switching back again from federal to state.  And finally, the last internship I had was in defense, and so I’m back over at prosecution now.  Today was more than a little disorienting!

What really got me though was how even the tiniest and not even criminal matters – the infraction calendar – seemed so intense once I had that Rule 9 card burning against my palm… suddenly even asking people what had happened regarding their speeding ticket felt imbued with this overwhelming sense of responsibility.  This afternoon was the first time I didn’t feel like a law student intern – I felt like a lawyer.

Being suddenly and even only provisionally granted that authority to decide peoples’ legal fates seems to have changed everything.  What was once boring is now enthralling, what was once trivial is now crucial – my focus on the details of each infraction file was intense and fueled by something I hadn’t even noticed growing inside me – a sense of my profession.  Up until today, law school has felt sort of accidental, I just followed the currents and shrugged off the unpleasant parts.  Whatever step I took today, whatever activated inside my mind when I opened the envelope with that Rule 9 card stamped with the seal of the Washington Supreme Court… everything looks different.

It may not sound glamorous (at least not to those who don’t love criminal law like I do) – but I felt a sense of purpose and profound respect for what I was doing, even on the speeding ticket docket.

As I drove home the whole way all I was thinking was, I wonder where it will go from here…

Trial and Errors Visits LA: Day 5

I spent yesterday and today visiting an old friend in San Diego. I hit traffic going down, and I hit traffic coming back. I came home and my housemates had gone into my room to feed my (apparently very vocally upset) cat (and I felt so bad about it). I guess that’s life in southern California.

Tomorrow is the big day — first day at work! I’m so excited! It’s Alx!’s first day, too.

Trial and Error Visits LA: Day 2

It’s funny how the things that I would ordinarily hate about living in LA (well, in the LA suburbs) actually seem quaint and somewhat charming right now. The way people over-accelerate and brake late, the way it’s too damn warm, the way that even NPR treats LA like it’s the center of the universe, it’s all “cute” in a way that would be very very annoying if I actually lived here.

It keep reminding myself that I’m just a visitor here. An outsider. If I were trying to identify with this place, I would be very disappointed and angry and bitter (well, more bitter than usual) that they weren’t changing to fit with my values and my worldview. Instead, I can take on the anthropologist’s mindset, accept that LA is the way that it is (and there’s nothing I can or should do to change it), appreciate its virtues and ignore its vices, and await the day when I return to green, rainy, beautiful, passive-aggressive Seattle.

Didn’t do very much today. I got up and checked my bank balance — moving is expensive, as it turns out. I sent an e-mail to my recruitment person to check on when I get paid, but if it’s when I think it is, it should be OK. I did a test run to work — I have at least three options for taking pub-trans to work, and my choice will depend on what my work schedule actually is (as opposed to what the employee manual says my tour of duty is, which includes none of the overtime I’m expecting/hoping for). None of them are cheap, of course — fortunately, the government is picking up my transit costs.

Still haven’t met with my housemates on getting wifi at the house — hopefully they’ll be home when I get back from this Starbucks.

Trial and Error Visits LA: Why?!

I should have mentioned, of course, the reason why T&E (well, half of T&E, anyway) is in LA. I’m starting a summer job on Monday with a government agency. I’ll blog about it here. I’ll keep it somewhat somewhat vague, but I’ll share what I feel I can.

Trial and Error Visits LA: Day 1 of ?

Today is my first full day in LA. I’ve spent the last week trying to get down here, and I might spend the next three months trying to get home.

I spent all last Wednesday moving the stuff that’s too big to fit in my car and not important enough to move to LA with me. My furniture and a few boxes of stuff went to my storage unit (with the help of my friends Aaron and Rachel), leaving behind what I thought was just enough stuff to fit in my car and take to California.

Turns out I’m very bad at judging these things.

Loading my car should have taken three hours, by my calculations. As it was, it took about eight, not including all of the other running around I had to do on Thursday. By the time night fell on Thursday (by which point, since my dome light was obscured and there was no outdoor lighting, I was forced to stop loading my car), I still had another four hours worth of work ahead of me.

There’s somethig about the kitchen that defies making predictions about how much is there and how long it will take. Maybe it’s all the cabinets.

With the car fully loaded (with the exception of the front seat, which was set aside for my cat DJ), I finally got on the road on Friday afternoon, about 18 hours later than I’d planned. I had planned to spend Thursday night at a friend’s house in Corvallis, OR, but that of course fell through when it became 10 PM Thursday and I still had another three hours of loading to do.

My first stop was in Yreka, CA. In a minor triumph, my little car made it through the entire state of Oregon (and about a third of the state of Washington) without refueling. They say that the mandatory attendant gas pumping in Oregon doesn’t affect the price of gas that much, but I’m still skeptical.

After spending the night in Yreka (at a discount motel with no appreciable air conditioning), DJ and I headed down to th Bay Area, which is where I grew up. I’d set up a Facebook event for people to come and say hi at a bar near where I went to community college, but only one person showed up. I guess you really can’t go home again. I did, however, go on a Segway tour of San Francisco on Sunday, so I did have a good time all the same. (I checked — the ones in Seattle are somehow more expensive.)

My friends with whom I stayed in the Bay Area had a cat of their own (so DJ couldn’t be out and about unsupervised) and an air mattress for me to sleep on (so DJ couldn’t sleep with me, since kitty claws and inflatable things are incompatible). Poor DJ spent most of last weekend locked up in the guest bathroom. I felt so bad for him — he would let out these loud pathetic cries (not bad for a deaf cat).

We left for LA yesterday afternoon, taking I-5 (sorry, I’m in SoCal now: The 5) the whole way down. DJ was much calmer on this leg of the trip than he had been before. Maybe he was more used to the carrier and the car, maybe he was just glad to be out of that bathroom. We didn’t hit traffic until we got into downtown LA. The community where I’m staying is east of the city, so we had to go downtown and then take another freeway heading away from downtown which was, at that time of day, overtaken with going-home commuters).

I arrived last night and promptly turned the cat loose in my room since he hadn’t been able to use the litter box all afternoon. I tried to sign on to my housemates’ wifi network, only to be met with, ‘oh we don’t have a wifi connection’. (Seriously? What is this, 2003?) They also like their TV loud in the living room (right outside my door), so I picked up some earplugs rather than make a big deal out of it.

Today I went up to Costco and picked up some delicious breakfasty things. I also spent an hour or two at Starbucks, using their wifi so I could update my e-mail (well, update it better than I could on my phone, anyway) and clean out my Google Reader.

Lessons learned?

Pack your car up first. Do this before you make any assumptions about how much stuff you can fit in it.

Get a bigger storage unit. No, even bigger than that. They give you the first month free, so use the money you save to get a bigger unit.

Do not drive large rental trucks up 35th Ave NE in Seattle. It looks wide enough, but it isn’t.

Feed the cat. He gets meowy if you don’t.

If you forget the food bag (stupid), treats do not count as food.

He won’t use the litter box at rest areas, so don’t even bother.

For all his meowing, the cat is more resilient than you think.

Make sure the rental agreement says ‘includes wifi’.

Leave enough time to take to Goodwill the stuff that won’t fit in storage and won’t fit in your car.

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Bleh.

Everything that sucks about the Bay Area is everything that sucks about LA. But that’s about it — one isn’t really better than the other. Years of antipathy towards southern California seem silly now, since brown hills all start to look alike after two years in green rainy Seattle.

Alx! is the best BFFLS ever.