27 April 2009

How to pick a law school

We received a counter offer from MSU after we told them we'd be going to Ave. It was a very tempting offer, and it made me want to re-vocalize the questions you'll need to ask yourself and your husband when choosing a law school. (In what I believe is the order of most importance).

1. Your husband needs to be able to clearly define what kind of lawyer he wants to be and what kind of law he wants to practice. If he can't answer to himself and to you, how will he be able to sell it to an employee in his competitive market? Also, this way you'll spend less time floundering and more time succeeding in getting the classes and clubs you need on your resume.

2. How are we going to afford school? If you need scholarships, that will affect which schools are worth applying to (some just don't give money), and what schools you'll be able to afford. Also remember that most scholarships require the student to keep a certain GPA, so make sure it's an attainable/sustainable one.

3. Can we live in/near the city of the school? How is the crime rate, the living expenses, the environment, the culture of the surrounding areas? If you have a family, this will play an even more important role.

I am also realizing that I may need to add to this list once I've spent some time in the law school life and gotten some time to feel regret.

20 April 2009

Moving is hard

As I am writing this while I'm living it, I've noticed that my advice is fading to experiences. I sound more like I am writing in a journal than preparing a book and that is not the reader-experience I wanted to give. There are just so many things I'm trying to figure out as I live the pre-L1 life.

They say that moving is one of the most stressful things people will ever do in their lives.

I completely understand why and we still have 101 days to go.

There is so much competing advice from our friends and family who've moved long-distance, that we don't know what to follow.
We've heard that we shouldn't take anything we're not attached to because it is cheaper to buy new in Florida than carry old from Michigan. But we've also heard that if you are going to take some of the furniture, you might as well take all of it, since it isn't that much more expensive.
So we know we want to take our bed, with it's very new queen-sized mattress, but that's about all to which we're attached. I wouldn't mind taking my dresser and desk, since they're both of good quality. At what point does it become worthwhile to ship everything?
We've also heard we shouldn't take all of our books (Matt won't have time to read his). But if we take half of them, is it worth hauling down the other half?

There are so many questions to ask, to answer. As soon as we think we know what to do, we change our mind. In addition, there are so very many unknowns, like how long it will be until I start work, how much money we'll have, how will we transport large-ticket items until we meet friends with pickup trucks, how will the July heat affect us as we carry a one-bedroom apartment down and up countless flights of stairs?

This is my current summation: we can either fork over $1000+ now to move everything, or we can fork over $1000+ in increments of $40-$100 to buy new furniture. I will only know how accurate I am once we arrive.

My other advice to future long-distance moving law-school wives: revisit the school you'll be moving to with the explicit purpose of determining how to live there. We can't afford to fly down again before we move, but I wish I knew how expensive it was to buy new dressers, dinner tables, and how to move them back to our apartment after we purchase them.

16 April 2009

Too many thoughts

I think once I get through three years of Florida, I will create a club that publishes brochures and hosts online chats to help incoming students learn about life in Naples.
-How easy/cheap is it to buy new furniture in Naples if we leave some of our things here?
-Are there any nearby schools so that I can get my teaching certificate?
-Where will we go grocery shopping?
I periodically wonder something like, "are there Borders Books in Naples?" Then I quick hop on Google Maps and look it up. There are JCPennys, Macys, Borders, Barnes and Nobles, Joann Fabrics, Old Navys, Targets, and Bed Bath & Beyonds in Naples. The nearest Potbellys is in Texas and the nearest H&M in Georgia.

I would create a section in our group dedicated to helping spouses job hunt. Personally, I've already talked to someone during our visit to find ways to get a job. I'm now in the process of hunting.

I think it's crucial to understand the difference between worrying and wondering. My husband thinks I am treading the line too closely.

It is also crucial that I lose 5 more inches off my waist before July 31st. I'm 3.5 inches down from November.

Sorry this post is more journal-entry than book-material.

09 April 2009

We finally made a decision!

We finally chose a law school: Ave Maria! We've known for a little while, but we were trying to wait for a good time to let everyone know. Moving 1300 miles to go to school is really stressful. It wouldn't be nearly so bad if I had a job to go to down there. But since I don't, and obviously my husband has to quit his job, we'll be without health insurance and without an income for an unknown length of time! I already have a pre-existing health condition, who knows how many ways there are to get hurt in a cross-country move, and what if we get pregnant? The fears are abounding. And in a person who already has a tendency to over-stress and over-worry, the summation is not good.

I've been pumping my friends who've done long-distance moves for ideas, and I've already been in contact with a variety of moving companies to see what we're talking in terms of price. To be honest we're talking about $1000. If I had a job already secured, it would be way easier to pay that kind of money.

We wanted to rent a house, but we're willing to settle for an apartment the first year. I have a "back up" apartment picked out, close to the school, cheap rent, nice apartment layout. The plummeting market is opening up nicer complexes that we would otherwise not be able to afford. Even with all this research, we may be living on campus. They have apartments for married students and the price is very right! It would eliminate the need for a second car (which is good, because we're living on one right now). It would mean we're living in a very safe environment (as you can imagine, a Catholic community has a very low crime rate). We're on the list (although I don't know where), but they have yet to release the terms and conditions. We have two cats and we don't know if they allow animals.

If I could get a job at the school, I'm not sure our lives could get much more perfect.

Another serious thing to think about is our summer location. My husband really wants a particular fellowship during his first summer in law school. It is a religious-based one with the Alliance Defense Fund called The Blackstone Fellowship. He would report to DC for two weeks, be shipped out for six weeks to any location in the US, then report back to DC for one week. This fellowship is extremely prestigious and I really want him to have it. Then the logistical problems arise. Where will we live for 9 weeks? Presumably, the arrange something for you. Does it accommodate married students? What will happen to our house while we are away? A little over two months away leaving our house and kitties with someone we've only known for an academic year worries me. How will I get the time off work? That is a very long time to take off. Maybe I can get a job with a school. Schools have summers off. Otherwise, I figure I would have to stay in Florida holding down the fort not seeing my husband for 9 weeks straight. Not a pleasant thought.

There are so very many things to plan, arrange, accommodate, prepare, explore. I am trying to be extremely positive whenever I talk to my family or friends (I foresee another post-worthy topic) in an effort to soothe them. If they are calm, then I won't feed off their anxiety. So here is another last ditch effort to relax my fears.

This is an adventure that no one else will be taking with us. Once we arrive in Florida, we will begin to meet other couples who've had to do the same thing we did, and we'll reminisce together. But first it will be just him and me. Two days on the open road, then three years in The Swampy (what I affectionately call Naples). Great life stories come from great adventures. Great adventures come from him and me and two days on the open road and three years in The Swampy. Just us, trekking our way through life.

After 22 years of no great life stories, I'm ready.

07 April 2009

Preparing to be L1s

We're taking it public, so be prepared for more updates : )

Since I told you all to research in preparation and realize your fears, I thought I ought to do the same.

What I “know” law school will be like
My husband will spend more time at the library than he will with me
My husband will change as a person
He will feel overwhelmed, swamped, like he is drowning, and there will be nothing I can do to help except listen
My husband will get angry and depressed as a result of these feelings
The first year and the bar-prep time will be the most difficult
Not only will school demand his time, but also dinners, events, boards, and panels
I will not be able to go with him to all of those
We will have no money, no time, and no one else in our family will understand what we are going through
I will feel very alone
We will feel very discouraged and doubt our ability to survive all three years

My biggest fears
My husband will meet some intelligent, sexy female law student and like her more than me
I am too selfish and will demand too much of his time; he will fail school as a result
I won’t get a job and we’ll have no money
Being a bit of a academe myself, I will be too jealous of all the graduate-level students around me

Our #1 Goal
My husband is in the top 10 of his class (note, not top 10%, but actual top 10). He needs to keep his grades up for his scholarship and we want him to get good jobs.

But I actually know
A friend of mine, who also happens to be a law school wife, said something in her blog that I found very comforting, “Finally [at the end of law school] it becomes clear that this crazy stress-filled, family + law school life is livable and you toughen up a bit. And maybe, just maybe, if by God’s grace you are open to God’s grace, you begin to turn that corner between feeling sorry for yourself and becoming a more virtuous wife.”

When we got married, our priest told us that our number one goal in our marriage should be to get each other to heaven. That is only possible if I am moral, upright, and holy: virtuous.