29 September 2010

Law Review and Keeping Busy

Life has been a strange mix of busy and slow for me lately. I guess that's to be expected as we're in the middle of the semester. I have been keeping busy a few nights a week with ladies nights, book club meetings, and working on the pro-life magazine. It's crazy how busy weeknights can be, but then over the weekend, I'll have nothing to do! I have started making some Christmas presents, plus I try to squeeze in a book of my choosing between book club books, but a few hours of reading followed by few hours of crocheting leaves me stir crazy. It's still too hot and humid outside to do much outdoors and a recent tropical storm is leaving us in a state of pretty much constant rain.

In other news, can firmly say that I hate law review. It sucks up ALL of Matt's time. Although law review is for a grade, it is a lot different than a class because all the work is done on Matt's own time and he has very short, strict deadlines, which means he is quite often spending the day before things are due trying to finish up. Since assignments are usually due on Saturday at midnight, he is always busy that day trying to finish things. We use to enjoy Saturday mornings together, spending a few hours at the zoo, going to a new park. If we got up at a decent time, we could spend a few hours together and still get home by lunch. 12pm to 10pm is ample time to do homework. But now with law review, our time together on the weekends has been eliminated. Pretty much the only quality time we spend together occurs when we eat dinner.

On a different note, remember the mock class that I attended last year? In sum, the law partners group (a student org for spouses of students) puts on an evening for the 1L spouses. They have wine and cheese, a mock torts class, a panel of 2L, 3L and recently graduated couples, and the parish priest gives a talk. Anyway, this Friday is the mock class and Matt and I will be on the panel! We volunteered, but I don't really think we are good candidates. We don't have kids, which is very unusual at this pro-life school, so I don't know how many questions on which we'll have any real insight. Also, some married friends of ours who are also 2Ls, but have a baby, are on the panel and I don't think 2 2L couples is enough diversity. I don't know, I guess we'll see how it goes.

21 September 2010

Geckos

My cat is obsessed with geckos. For a few days last week, there was a gecko on the screen of our window (said window was shut). Emma stood completely still and just stared at his white belly until he got bored and crawled away. She stood in that windowsill every evening for the next few days waiting for him to reappear. Yesterday I felt so bad for her that I took her out onto our front porch where one can always find a couple of geckos hunting around the porch light for bugs. She was so excited to see more geckos. Well, the skiddish creatures quickly darted away as soon as I stepped outside, so I brought her back in and locked the door. Bad idea, the whole thing. She sat in front of that door for the rest of the evening, meowling at the top of her lungs in her funny, deaf-cat way. As soon as darkness fell this evening, she was right back in front of that door, meowling. I want to take her back outside so she can see her beloved geckos, but I just know that it will end in more meowling. Oi.

On a similar note, I found a baby gecko under my desk at work today. I captured him and set him free outside. In Emma's defense, they are pretty cute.

A gecko that we found shortly after we first moved into our apartment last summer. Geckos that come out at night are usually white.

I found this guy earlier this summer. Sorry he is blurry.

The same little guy as above. Sorry he is blurry.

16 September 2010

Live Like No One Else

There I was, 9:00 at night, squatting down in the aisle way, cell phone in one hand and box of generic crackers in the other. Yesterday, I went grocery shopping and priced out the cost per serving of crackers. Generic brand Cheese-its and Wheat Thins are $.30/serving. I went with the generic brand Ritz and animal crackers, which are only $.14. I managed to score some cereal on sale (which never happens in Naples) and combine it with a coupon for $1.79/box for General Mills. Yup, that’s how we live. We are trying desperately hard to live within my paycheck for everything non-school related. We do not use credit cards, we pay for everything with cash. The only time we use student loan money is to buy schoolbooks or pre-enroll for the bar review course. Living inside my paycheck is hard because this city is one of the most expensive in the country, and I also have to pay for my own health insurance. Our monthly premium is equal to half of our rent. And it doesn’t cover dental, vision (and I wear contacts), or foot-related issues (I know, weird). Anyway, covering all of our budgets without going over is super difficult. Want an example? Our food budget is $130/month. I can stretch one chicken breast into two meals of two servings each. I buy large bags of dried beans and dried rice. I’ve gotten pretty used to pb&j sandwiches.

People around me talk all the time about “watching what they spend,” and “tightening their belts,” but then I hear them talk about going out to eat all the time or getting their nails done again or going out to another movie. Matt and I have an entertainment budget of $20/month, but we are currently deterring it to build some birthday money (for his that just passed and mine that is coming up). But if we want to “splurge” on something, we have to pull cash out of something else’s envelope. Want to go to a movie? Will it come from the household budget? The clothing budget? The car budget? What envelope is going to be short that week so that we can see a movie? It is a big deterrent for splurging.

It is hard, really, really hard. It is difficult when co-workers go out to Panera Bread (one of my favorite restaurants) for lunch and I have to pass. It is difficult when the book club meets at a pub instead of at someone’s house and I have to drink water while everyone gets a beer and an appetizer. It’s embarrassing. We get free-spending money (like an allowance), but I'd rather spend it on Netflix, a subscription to National Geographic, or make-up. Not french fries and a margarita.

Dave Ramsey says you have to “live like no one else so that you can live like no one else.” That’s what we’re doing. We’re trying as hard as we can to eat pb&j instead of turkey artichoke paninis so that one day we can buy kayaks and computers and not worry about the credit card bill. The other day Matt asked me, "Can you imagine finishing law school, getting a job, being 30, and not having any debt other than a mortgage?" Hell yeah.

14 September 2010

1L v 2L Year

Matt insists that he feels way different now that he's a 2L. Personally, I feel way different being a 2L wife too.

Grouchiness
I can attest to the fact that he is just as grouchy now as he was last year, but this time, the source of anger is much different. Last year he was frustrated because he didn't know how to read all those cases. This year, he is angry because he has too much to do in too little amount of time. Being on law review is hard; wicked hard. It takes a ton of time management skills, which Matt admits is not his strong suit. It is extremely frustrating for me to watch him spend 8 hours reading, only to not finish everything. He is depressed, unmotivated, and doesn't have passion for anything and it kills me. Lately, I feel like everytime I ask him, today was as productive as it should have been, his reading is going slowly, and he hasn't started the week's law review assignment yet. I really don't  know what to do. I want to see him thrive and succeed, but I don't know how to encourage him. I'm going to just continue to cook him dinner, keep the apartment clean, tell him he's smart, and pray for him. Hopefully this modest consistency will keep him stabilized and help him to grow--even if he is grouchy throughout the process.

Busyness
I think we are way busier this year than we were last year. Matt is more involved than he was last year, both in terms of quantity of groups and also in terms of responsibilities in groups he was apart of last year. I have the book club, the Law Partners (responsible for ladies' nights), and Maria News (the magazine for which I volunteer). We still have enough time for the occasional date night, and we almost always eat dinner together, but I still have serious concerns over the number of evenings we spend out-and-about instead of at home studying.

Climate Adjusting
We are adjusting to the climate, I can honestly say. Last year was pretty difficult, but this year is going much better. It is still wicked hot and humid, but it is much more bearable. We can stand to walk outside, it takes a few more minutes before we end up drenched in sweat. I've even learned how to control my hair (for the most part) when Florida is at it's most humid.

I think overall we've switched mind-sets too. We went from, "how on earth are we going to survive?" to "how much longer until this thing is over?" I read in Law School Confidential, a summary of the years:
The first year, they scare you to death
The second year, they work you to death
The third year, they bore you to death.

I don't know about the third year, but the descriptions for years one and two are very accurate.

12 September 2010

Being a Catholic Law School Wife

I realize that I don't talk very much about my religion on here. I'm not exactly sure why, since we attend a Catholic law school and everything. I think it is impart because I have fought long and hard for my religion, so I'm rather tired from all the fighting. Two reasons: one being that I converted from protestantism to Catholicism at a very unusual time: in college. I went to a liberal, public college and most students, partying, secular, experimental 20-somethings acted like choosing Catholicism was about as smart as jumping naked into Lake Huron in the winter. The second is that my family just about disowned me for converting. I was raised loosely Presbyterian, but we rarely went to church. I started attending an Evangelical church on my own late in high school and converted to Catholicism in my freshman year of college. I endured a TON of shit during the conversion process and dealt with a TON of fallout after I was formally confirmed. Although most of the dust has settled now, I am still walking a fine line between re-offending everyone to whom I am blood-related and being Catholic.

Anyway, despite my fear of pissing off the few survivors of the conversion, Matt and I are rather devout. We go to Mass weekly, say Rosaries, read encyclicals, have religious art around our apartment, use NFP, all that jazz. We used to go to Adoration, but there are no 24-hour Adoration chapels down here and the few churches that offer a monthly Adoration hour schedule it for the retired seniors in the community instead of the working class.

Anyway, we also go to a Catholic law school. The mentality and culture of the school is VERY family-friendly. Kids are invited to just about every school event. Wives are often seen in the school's chapel for morning Mass. Professors don't mind students taking a few days off when their wives give birth. There are prayer groups during finals week and bar exam time when families can get together to pray for their law student. Rather pleasant.

Religion plays a large role in our life. When I think about how far we've come, how many decisions we've made, how precariously we're perched right now, I tend to freak out. When I think about the future, wonder where we are going to go, wondering what would happen if I lost my job (real estate is suffering hard core with this most recent down-turn), wondering how we will survive if Matt doesn't find immediate work, it's pretty terrifying. I have to remind myself that we are NOT doing this alone.

Being down here has shown me how strong of a person I am and how utterly dependent we are on God. It sounds weird, but it's true. In a very strange way, you have to be strong to depend on God. By that I mean, it takes strength (discipline) to be humble and vulnerable and look to a being you can't touch or see; it takes strength to have faith. We have a lot of faith; without it, I would be a sobbing mess on the floor. We pray a lot that God might reveal His will for us so that we can follow it. We want to be sure we're laying our foundation out correctly so that we can build a holy family upon it.

Anyway, that's how my religion plays into my life, the law school part anyway.

05 September 2010

Birthdays

Today is Matt's birthday. We bought some donuts after church, read through the newspaper together, opened presents, went to the bookstore with our 40% off coupons to spend some of our freespending money (our allowance to ourselves), then we picnic-ed on the beach, went for a swim in the Gulf, came home, read our books, ate a DELICIOUS dinner and cake (homemade of course : ), and now Matt is playing Rome Total War (a Christmas present from a few years back). I was knitting while I watched, but I wanted to check something online real quick and one thing led to another...

Matt doesn't typically get excited by holidays/events, so, being the countdown queen that I am, I've had a countdown going on the white board since we were 2 weeks out. The countdown, combined with lots of discussion about the menu and the activities for the day upped his excitement level significantly. He was quite ready to tear into those presents today : ) I try to put a little extra into holidays down here since we have no family with whom to celebrate.

Anyway, I have more insightful blog ideas, which I will post shortly. Here is a teaser (plus this way I won't forget!)

2L vs 1L yr and the benefits of the summer internship
How religion impacts our life with relation to law school

Is it really only 10:07pm??? I thought it was already a little after 11pm and was contemplating powering down and heading to bed. Oi, I am such a light-weight.