Who doesn’t love the end of a Sunday?

Today was a good day.  I had lunch with my roommates at a local Mexican place, and it was actually good.  Out of the many restaurants in our neighborhood, it’s the first we’ve gone to together that we’ll return to.  I found out the major lawyerly memo I was freaking out about isn’t due tomorrow – in fact, it isn’t due till next week.  I actually had time to take a nap and read in the sun on a day that was bright, with just the perfect amount of wind – and in September, too!  I cracked open a bottle of the ‘bio-dynamic’ white wine I’d gotten on Saturday and shared it around, to the happiness of my living-mates.  Finally, I enjoyed on of the PR cigars that was mailed to me awhile ago, by myself, in the dark, on the porch.  All in all, a pretty respectable day.

I was just about ready for unconsciousness when I found out that Fletcher, my roommate Lindsay’s cat, had been in my room.  Normally, I like Fletcher.  Sure, he’s a bit on the heavy side and is probably the most hedonistic being I know.  He’d do anything for a good pet, and even though this means he has a tendency to park his butt wherever it’s most inconvenient for me when I’m studying, he doesn’t get ruffled when I just push him out of my way.

However, Fletcher has had the unfortunate tendency of late to pee on Walter’s bed.  Now Walter, my other roommate, does just have a mattress on the floor, and I have been convinced that Fletcher’s natural reaction was to treat it as a giant litter box.  Fletcher has been since banned from Walter’s room, but was allowed in mine, as he often curls up on it without showing any inclination to urinate.

Unfortunately, I had a false sense of security about the whole thing.  Fletcher was really just waiting for the opportune moment to let loose the floodgates.  And he seriously didn’t hold back this time.  I’m not just talking about a little pee.  I’m talking about serious puddling on top of my duvet cover slowly seeping into the comforter below.  I’m talking about little rivulets running  from the top of my bed to the hardwood floor below.  I’m talking about more liquid than a cat – even a big one – should biologically be able to hold.

I’ve had some gross cat experiences in my day, from the inevitable half-eaten remains of  ‘presents’ to the bloody, thick spit-ups of a kitty with mouth cancer.  And really, in the grand scheme of things, cat piss is not all that bad.  It’s not as corrosive as bird doo, and it doesn’t smell like some of the more pungent markings of other animals.  Still, there are limits to what I’m willing to allow in my immediate vicinity.  As a result, Fletcher my kit, you’re no longer welcome on my bed.

Winding up to WriMo time

Despite my schedule, despite law school, and despite my lack of ability to say no to people who ask me to do things, Portland has thus far been a very contemplative space for me.  Perhaps the busyness is even part of it, in pressuring to think about the larger life-scale issues.  Maybe it’s the hordes of others asking me what kind of law I want to practice and why.  Still, I’ve found myself thinking deep, really digging into the idea of what I want my life to be and what I have to offer the world.

A part of that is why I’m seriously considering still doing NaNoWriMo this year despite oncoming first year finals and too many outside activities.  At the core, I am still and will always be a writer.  It’s the creative skill set I consider most dear, most central to who I am as a person.  It is the basis for my perception, and perceptivness, if I have some.  It gives me a unique resource in categorizing the world around me.  To have that redefinition of self, that central principle reaffirmed in the midst of the whirlwind that will be November for me this year will give me the balance to do well in December.  And typing X words a day will speed up my typing skills for test taking.

So I have excuses of why to write.  The question that remains, as always, is what.  Something uplifting and inspirational that I can read again to cheer myself up in January?  Something gritty and ‘real’, perhaps even lawyerly?  Something outside the arena in which I currently base my existence?  All of the ‘who are we-what are we-contact-contact’ questions?

Sending out the signal

I am a product of ‘modern’ education and the university-economic complex.  I’ve spent over five years learning in a variety of fields, including literature, history, architecture, language, archeology, science, sociology, education, and math.  What does this qualify me for in the working world?  Possibly teaching.  So I’m going back to school, hopefully to gain experience in the field of law while in class.

But as I’ve spent over six years in the working world before re-entering academia, I have a slightly different perspective from some of my peers,  Debt is not the same superfluous concept that it was to me in undergrad.  Spending on my professors salaries, their textbooks, and indirectly, their research, no longer seems as necessary to me.  In fact, as a teacher of some experience myself, I find I’m less likely to full-heartedly embrace the requirements of others.  DO law school professors have something to teach me?  Absolutely.  could the knowledge be imparted at a lesser price?  More than likely.

That’s why I wanted to jump up and cheer after my Intellectual Property meeting today.  The teachers who are in charge of the intro to that class have taken the available technology and run with it – digital books under their own company for a fraction of the price of most law books.  True, these same professors still endorse buying (and keeping) the books for other classes, but they’ve made a concerted effort to make such books more affordable.  Ultimately, it’s efforts like this that lead me to the school I’m at – genuine efforts to teach, to share, and to listen to students.  As one professor remarked to me recently, “you are our customers, but not only customers”.  What would higher education look like if everyone had this outlook?  I’m not sure, but I hope to spread the trend.

And can I spread this trend myself?  Should I be sending out my WriMo work to the general public for free?  It’s an idea worth considering, especially if I can do it in a way that does not detrimentally affect my own work.

Power Elite = Total Conceit?

Since I got to law school, the idea of being a member of the ‘power elite’ has been tossed around liberally.  It makes sense in some ways.  I’ve totally already achieved.  I’ve proven I have a brain and know how to use it just by getting into a good school.  And law is one of those prestigious things to study.  But recent events have intruded to make me again aware of how this prestige can turn well-meaning people into…people who aren’t very nice.

To illustrate, I will give a totally unrelated example.  While I was still working as an administrative assistant, I met a man who we will name Mr. Mandolin.  In the course of our conversation together on a variety of interesting and diverse topics, I somewhat self-deprecatingly mentioned my job at that time.  He responded that he knew several admins, and that the job was a ‘necessary’ one, so I shouldn’t sell myself short.  He didn’t quite add that I could be replaced by a barrel of monkeys, but the implication was there.  Something in my face – perhaps the raised eyebrows, or the half-choked laughter – told him I thought he was being less than gentlemanly.  He quickly and angrily exclaimed that he wasn’t blanking conceited, which pretty much ended our conversation.

I’ve been in the real-life working world where people are not nice.  I’ve been in the rush-around-stressful East Coast business environment.  I studied four years as an architecture student.  I’ve been an admin who had to interact with bigwigs.  I think I have a pretty firm handle on pretension and how much egotism is actually warranted and how much I want to interact with swelled heads in my daily and professional life.

I am a realist.  I know that there’s always going to be someone who thinks they’re brighter/better/faster than me.  and I know that sometimes the idealists are the worst of the bunch.  Still, I chose a law school that was more laid back because I knew that’s the kind of environment I want to be in after I actually pass the bar.  I chose a law school with some ideals, so that I would be someplace where everyone knows there’s more to law school than backbiting competition, and that there’s more to the world than law school.  Still, I have this sinking feeling at the moment that perhaps that wasn’t enough.

I was fortunate enough in my last job to be in the kind of working environment I want to inspire and promote in others.  I had a good boss, now I want to be a good boss.  And so far most of my fellow students are the kind of good people I want to work with.  But I can already pick out those who will be less than comfortable to work with, and this worries me.  We still have years left of disillusionment and ideal-crushing stress, so those numbers are only going to increase.  So at the end of that time, am I still going to be the lawyer who realizes some admins are brilliant and that all people deserve respect and that social bonding and genuine care in the workplace increases employee dedication and work effort, or am I going to lose the half-wisdom I’ve so far gained?

Because I have to.

I’ve been told that it’s absolutely necessary for me to keep up with this blog, especially now that I’m on the opposite coast.  And, naturally, law school is no excuse.  So instead of bugging my eyes out with any more case briefings, here I am type-typing away.  Unfortunately all I can think of to write about is law-type topics.

So, I was doing some reading in the blogosphere looking for inspiration when I discovered this post on Wikipedia and some study that women don’t contribute as much as men.  You can find the original articles here and here.  Anyway, it was an interesting article to me because I personally love Wikipedia, but have never contributed to it.  Which got me thinking.  Have I simply never noticed any glaring errors on the site which need immediate revision?  Or is there some deeper, more nefarious implication to the situation?  Do I simply not want to be known as a snob who goes around correcting people all the time?  Or am I really afraid of being wrong?

There’s probably some credence to each of these ideas, but mostly I think it’s just situational.  I know stuff, I have no inhibitions against saying things that may or may not be true, and I genuinely enjoy just making things up on the fly.  For example, I happen to know that the word ‘credenza’ comes from an old usage, ‘credence table’ which was where people put the food out to be tested for poison before eating.  Wikipedia’s current entry, while slightly differing, is close enough for me.  But if they hadn’t mentioned the poison, I would have felt compelled to help them out. Sure, Wikipedia isn’t the ultimate end-all of knowledge, but it’s a great place to get a quick summary of something you don’t know anything about.  If you still have questions or concerns, that’s why we have experts, specialists, and librarians.

So back to the original blog about what’s wrong with WikiP – evidently the writer is also a lawyer.  A lawyer who blogs about law.  A lawyer who blogs about why women lawyers don’t blog about law more.  Hey!  I’m a woman!  And like half a lawyer!  And I blog and stuff!  So, new topic, why are there so few of me?  Is it 1) People don’t notice them if they aren’t looking for them, B) lack of time due to familial obligations or for other reasons, or iii) exposure to personal attack?  There’s also some question about the statistics for legal academics being more balanced by gender, which leads me to my own theory about the disparity. 

Obviously, academics publish.  It’s one of the formost things they do, other than research and occasionally teaching someone something.  But underlying this requirement is a fundamental skill all academics have – they can write.  Ok, actually I retract that.  There are probably some who get away with limited writing skills.  But I would allege the ability of legal academics is generally higher than that of the average lawyer.

Of course, I have no proof.  But I’d be interested to see some stats on just how many lawyers think they’re good at writing, and more particularly, how many enjoy it.  Because, let’s face it, if you don’t derive at least some pleasure in expounding your ideas in a written form, why would you ever have a blog?  Until the day that someone figures out how to do a picture-based legal blog, I think that’s what we’re stuck with. 

Not that I’m saying women generally enjoy writing less or are generally less skilled at it than men.  It just may be a factor in the group of women that are lawyers versus the group of men who are lawyers.  And with that, I’m going to call it a day and pretend I’ve broken some major stereotypes.

Whatever.  I’m a member of the power elite.