Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stream of consciousness heralding the end of my third exam

It’s fifteen minutes before the end of my criminal law final.  It started at 12:31, and it’s a four-hour exam, ending at 4:31.  I finished typing around 3:15 and looked over my exam for 15 more minutes, editing a few things and changing little things here and there, but I’ve basically been done for nearly an hour.  I don’t know if that means I didn’t get many of the issues on the exam or if I didn’t write enough, but I feel like I covered the main points.  Maybe Shae is right – I’m a freak, Cylon, too efficient.  I don’t know.  But it’s interesting watching everyone else.  People seem pretty calm and collected, what I would expect from a group of this caliber.  Pretty much everyone is still going at it furiously, though, so I don’t know what to make of my finishing early.

Three exams down, one to go!  Contracts is going to be more painful than torts and crim in some ways, but it’s only three hours long, and I can’t do better than my best whatever happens, so it’s probably best not to worry about it.  I’ll spend most of the day tomorrow and Friday morning studying, but I don’t know that I’m incredibly motivated to pull out an H in that class.  If only I knew what grades I was going to get on my first exams so I could calibrate my effort accordingly.

I’m excited to go home!  I haven’t been home in a long time; that is, last winter break was more of an adventuresome vacation and less about family time, and last summer I only spent a few weeks with my family, most of it at a beach house with our extended family.  It will be really nice to spend some quality time with just Mom and Dad and Joseph and Rachel.  Andrew has been gone for a long time; it’ll be really nice when he’s part of the family again, even if we are all over the place.  I should probably work on my family relationships more than I do; think of good Christmas gifts for Joseph and Rachel, talk to them more often, make their happiness a priority.

What should I do in Beijing?  I’m probably not going to get any interview offers from law firms before I leave on Saturday, unfortunately, so that complicates things.  Of course Sunday evening I’ll make sure Leah and Josef have arranged dinner with whoever’s there.  So the real question is what to do on Monday and Tuesday morning.  I could email Liang Shuo and see if he wants to do lunch one of those days.  Or Li Xiao Ping, if he’s still in Beijing.  That would be nice.  I can go see the Temple of Heaven, since I don’t think I’ve been.  Although it will be cold.  Remember to pack a coat.  Shopping!  What to buy?  If I see anything cool in the silk market I think Joseph or Rachel would like, I could buy that.  Get Shae some silk pajamas.  Another pair for myself – if they have any in red.  A painting for Jenn, if there are small ones that aren’t too expensive.  Actually, maybe I should wait until Vietnam for that – I bet there are good, small, cheap paintings on sale all over the place there.  Whatever happened to the painting(s?) I bought in Cambodia?  Did I buy any?  I can’t remember.  I could also get 30 little things for my section mates.  Not sure what, but something.  And professors?  Huh.  Think about that one some more.

Things to remember to pack: all of the Christmas presents, swimsuit, cheese/salami/nuts, warm clothing for the three days in Beijing (one coat, which you can wear on the plane, long pants, thick socks, gloves/scarf/hat?).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random reflections

A word about blogs/journaling: I have never been a good journal-keeper.  Even on my mission, with a rigid daily schedule, I only managed to write in my journal maybe a quarter of the time, and the rest of my life it has been much sparser.  I think it's a systemic problem I have with motivation to stay on a schedule.  Every few months, I set goals.  When to wake up, go to bed, do my schoolwork, exercise, etc etc.  And within a few days, invariably I begin making exceptions and it falls apart.  I have enough internal motivation to get things done and be productive despite this shortcoming, but, apart from maybe my mission, I have never yet had a consistent way of accomplishing tasks in my life and sticking to a goal.  I tend to do things in bursts, and often this results in wasting time that I haven't planned carefully.  Something I should work on.

And now back to regularly scheduled programming: I love Stanford!  I really feel at home here, and my small section is really tight-knit.  I'm glad I still have a couple classes with them next quarter.  We've had several social functions, and last week we had t-shirts made with all our names on them, which we proudly wore to school on Wednesday.  Everyone here is incredibly smart; it's very liberating to be able to talk about anything and know that people will understand and be able to hold an intelligent conversation on the subject.

It is slightly repressive ideologically, but nowhere near as much as I thought it would be.  Being more conservative than liberal, I'm probably more conservative than 75% of the law students, but there's generally good discussion and everyone respects the viewpoints of others.  My professors are by and large all fairly liberal ("socially progressive"), but they don't generally let that influence the way they teach.

I also love being here because of the incredible natural beauty.  I went hiking in Big Basin Redwood State Park on Saturday, and it was lovely, not least because of the sun and warmth at the beginning of November!  I'm heading to Utah for Thanksgiving, and while it will be nice to see family and friends, and it will be fun to see real snow for the first time in nearly two years, I won't miss it when I come back.  Truly the Bay Area is a little corner of paradise.

I now turn my attention to finals, which end December 14th.  A month from today, but it feels so much closer.

Monday, September 24, 2012

3 weeks...

School started 3 weeks ago!  I can't believe it's been that long - it's gone by in a flash.  I suppose that's a good thing.  It's late, so here's a bulleted list for now:

  • 18 credit hours (we're only allowed to take 14 max every other quarter), 5 classes, boatloads of reading every day, mostly of judicial opinions and weighty legal doctrine
  • Great professors!  I think my small section lucked out - I love every one of my professors, and a couple of them are superstars in their fields, wrote the book, etc
  • Intense classes - a lot of Socratic method, professors calling on students and expecting them to know every last detail about each case and its legal significance
  • Good small section - there are 30 of us, and we have every class together, sometimes in combination with another small section; we had a pool party last week, and all the people in my section are incredibly smart and fun to be around
  • 4 other Mormons in my year - a pretty decent number when there are only 180 of us!  I've made good friends with one of them, a guy named Shae whose wife is still at BYU until December.
  • SoBar Review - every Thursday, hosted at my apartment for those who don't want to go to Bar Review (where the whole law school gets wasted every Thursday night) - we play party games and eat treats (cookies, banana muffins, zucchini bread all made by me)
Class is stressful at times, but it's really not too bad, and once I survive this quarter, it's downhill from there!  I don't know when I'll find the time to write blog posts; maybe I'll just do a highlights reel once in a while.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Of keg parties and new accommodations...

This week has been very long.  Don't get me wrong; it's been a great week, but it has been full of new people and places.  It almost feels like I'm back in the MTC - for those of you who've experienced it, remember the first four days or so?  How each day felt like two, and when Sunday rolled around you couldn't believe it hadn't been a month?

On Monday, I moved into my new apartment in the Munger Graduate Residences on Stanford campus.  These apartments are incredibly nice and only a year old, and the scale is almost megalomanic.  The doors are all ten feet tall and there's so much space in the bathrooms we joke that there's no doubt about their handicap accessibility.  I have my own private room in a four-person apartment, and all the rooms have private baths as well.  My room is in the corner of the building - it has sloping roofs (funny enough, just like my room a year ago in Nanjing) and lots more floor space than the other three, although it curves around and is very nookish.  But I like it quite a bit.

My roommates are Sam, Tom, and Jake.  Sam is from Salt Lake City and went to Georgetown for his undergrad; Tom is a Michigander and went to school in Maine; and Jake is from New York and went to NYU.  They're all pretty fun guys, especially with a couple beers in them. :) I attended my first keg party ever this week, along with sloshball before the football game and a party last night which featured whiskey and beer!  Probably more alcohol exposure in a week than the rest of my life combined.  A word to the wise: keg parties (or this one, at least) are hot, loud, and extremely dull without a few drinks in you.  I only stayed for 20 minutes.  Not everyone knows I don't drink yet, but my roommates do, at least.  They'll have a glass of wine or a beer in the apartment, but so far we haven't had any wild parties here, and I'm glad of that.

Orientation was good - I think I got the luck of the draw when it comes to professors, and I feel fairly comfortable getting around the law school already.  The new dean seems very competent and personable, and I feel much more excited about my next three years here after orientation.

Free food is ubiquitous; it sounds like there are catered lunch events nearly every day of the week, and I will definitely be taking advantage of them!

The weather is amazing.  It was a bit cold on Friday, but other than that it has been cloudless and warm.  I went running on Friday night after the football game, and it was the perfect temperature for running.  Speaking of football, it's amazing to me that Stanford gives free tickets to all students and there's an actual student section!  So much nicer than the system at BYU.  We only won the game by 3 points, but it was still fun, especially going with two friends who had never been to a game, Shae (also a 1L, member of the church) and Coco (exchange student from Germany).

This weekend: went to the food bank with about 65 other 1Ls yesterday to volunteer, and today was church.  I played the organ.  I hope that's not my calling, or at least not my only calling.  It probably will be, but I guess I don't mind that much.  It would just be nice to do something different as well.

Classes start Tuesday, and I have a lot of reading to do beforehand, so this is it for now.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beginnings and endings

Today is the end of my life.  But also the beginning.  I feel at once as if my life has no content, but at the same time it is brim with latent happiness and friendships waiting to happen.

I've been in the Palo Alto area for a week and a half now, staying with John and Trudy (John is my mom's older brother; they live in Redwood City), and it has been great.  Let's do the bullet point thing again:

  • I graduated from BYU two weeks ago yesterday.  I didn't attend the commencement in the Marriott Center, but I did attend my college convocation in the HFAC and walked across the stage to get my diploma cover!  It was a wonderful service, and seeing people I hadn't expected to see again was a nice bonus.  Grandma Ann and Wayne, my aunt Christa and some of her kids, and Paul and Rose and their kids were in town.
  • The Sunday after that, Daniel gave his missionary farewell address up in our old ward in Sandy.  He did an excellent job, and it amazed me how much that neighborhood always feels like home, even after not having lived there for seven years.  It was touching how many people still remember and love my family and how pleased they were to see Daniel going on a mission.
  • On Tuesday, Eve and I took Daniel to the MTC.  He was equal parts nervous and excited, and we didn't spend too long saying goodbye.  Right afterward, we snuck into the MTC by a back door and went to the copy center (where Eve works) to write Daniel letters and put them in his box.
  • Immediately after that, I left for California.  It took me from 2 pm to just after 1 am, with a stop for dinner and some construction slowdowns, so just about 12 hours.  I was falling asleep near the end, but I found another car who was going pretty fast to follow so I didn't have to think as much.  (moral: try finding other people to drive with from Utah to northern Cal)
  • I spent one day with Josef - he flew here when he was finished in China to visit his sister - we hiked in the Point Reyes National Seashore and drove along the coastal highway back towards San Francisco (stunning views, ridiculously windy road), and then we had dinner with Liu Laoshi, who was out here with her husband (he works in Sunnyvale), at a Thai restaurant.
  • Church, FHE, and Institute were all pretty good.  There aren't many people here yet, but I knew five people at church, each in a different way and from a different phase of my life, which was pretty cool.  The church is so small sometimes.
  • The weather here is perfect!  I've been out hiking, running, or to the beach nearly every day, and it is consistently incredible.
  • Went to the DMV yesterday and switched my Utah license for a California one, registering to vote at the same time.  I'm officially a Californian!
That's about it.  I can move into graduate housing on campus on Monday, and orientation begins Wednesday evening.  Hopefully I'll make friends with my roommates and others quickly; it's nice living here, but still pretty lonely.  I've been keeping up with friends fairly well, but it's different when you're not in the same place.  Hence my thoughts at the beginning of the post.  Looking forward to what Monday brings!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August already

It seems that long trips are the perfect place to write blog posts; they’re where I’ve written most of mine over the last year.  In keeping with this habit, I’m sitting on a plane to Salt Lake writing this right now.

The last two weeks have been wonderful.  After I drove up to Utah from Los Angeles via Phoenix, I spent a few days there and then flew out to New York City to spend some time with Hannah and Brent and travel a bit.  Some things that happened:
  •  Went to the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra with Hannah and Brent
  • Biked all around New York on Brent’s bike
  • Visited Jaren in DC – saw the new MLK memorial, the International Spy Museum, and the Hirschhorn and African Art and Sackler galleries
  • Went with Jaren to Annapolis, saw the state house and drove over the Bay Bridge
  • Drove to Boston with Hannah and Brent – walked the Freedom Trail, ate good seafood, drove out to Plymouth Rock, visited Harvard and MIT
  • Spent half a day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, could have spent three days – it was incredible
  • Sat in the studio audience of the Colbert Report with Ryan Kelly; a (hilarious) highlight of the trip!
  • Saw Ryan Teynor (this trip was full of Ryans) for the first time since high school – he lives with his boyfriend and has been in New York for seven years – only gay person I know fairly well
  • Went to the 9/11 Memorial with Jaren and his family (they all came to town for a family trip)
  • Saw Porgy and Bess with Hannah and Brent; Audra McDonald played Bess, and it was a powerful, moving show
  • Went to the Clinton Street Bakery for breakfast and Chelsea Market to look around after that

It was a really nice trip; relaxing, didn’t see too much but stayed pretty busy, and I got to see people I hadn’t for a while and spend more time with Hannah and Brent.  I didn’t feel like Brent and I had much of a relationship before this, so this has been very good in that respect.  Now I’ve got a week and a half in Utah, and then I’m driving to California!  Everything’s going by so quickly…

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Phoenix to Provo

I'm dead tired, but I would be remiss if I didn't write a post in gratitude for being alive after the longest solo drive I have done yet. Google maps said Phoenix to Provo would take 11 hours; I did it in 9. This was accomplished by generally going ten over and some competent passing, but I am very grateful to have been able to stay alert and aware all day. I got to spend the evening with Ben and Joel, which was nice as well.