31 December 2010

Passing the Time

We arrived down here in August 2009 and we won't leave until May 2012, so watching a new year switch over is a lot of fun as it marks another milestone toward the end of The Swampy.

I don't feel like there is much time left. In 5 months, we'll have the baby, at which point, we'll be rocking the summer internship. We'll come back in August 2011 from wherever we end up to complete a mere 4 months of school, then Christmas and 2012. Then another 4 months of school and voila: graduation. I very much realize that all of our problems won't end with graduation, but I am ready for problems that don't involve Florida.

In the meantime, we're enjoying Christmas break. I have Thursday (to make up for Monday) through Sunday off from work. (Although I do have to check messages on Sunday). And trust me, we have been living it up. So far we have spent some of our Christmas money at a gigantic outdoor mall in a few towns north. (Matt's idea even!) It was a bit odd for me though, the first time I've ever gone to a mall and not come back with new clothes. There were no maternity stores and walking into Hollister (the clearance section, of course) 5 months pregnant alongside a size 0 13-year-old just was not appealing to me. I did however make some very agreeable non-clothing purchases. We also plan to go to the zoo and spend lots of time gaming with our new computer games this weekend. (Starcraft 2 for him and Settlers 7 for me). Oh yes, plus tonight we'll watch fireworks on the beach. (Okay, so not everything about Naples is awful).

Okay, so where am I going with all this? IT IS SO NICE TO BE MARRIED AGAIN!!! We can seriously spend the whole day together, enjoy nearly every moment, come home still in love, and repeat it again the next day. I don't know if it takes more years or more kids, but at the end of a vacation, we are not eager for time apart. I have become so close to him that my previous overly-decisive personality has softened significantly and now I have a hard time deciding if a pair of shoes is cute or not unless I can go over the details with Matt. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but what I am trying to demonstrate is that we are very deeply entwined together. I suppose that's what we should shoot for in a marriage, though, eh?

24 December 2010

Anger Management Techniques

I would just like to state for the record that I am not good at dealing with my anger or with stress. I have come a really long way since the days of high school when I just used to blow up or passively aggressively burn in frustration, but I still struggle with finding a mature, Christian way of handling anger. During my first season at work, I particularly needed help with stress/anger and I posted about it on Facebook, employing my friends for some advice. The two most helpful pieces included knowing that if I could stay patient throughout the situation, I would be letting my yelling coworkers bring me closer to sainthood. Helpfully, but doesn't really tell you how to handle the current situation. The second piece of advice was to think about how quickly time passes. Remember when you started college? Or got married? Or even childhood? How quickly did the time pass until now? In the same way, this evening you'll be looking back at this afternoon's situation and it will only be a memory. This "big picture" method is wise. It did get me through season last year, but with oncoming frustrations of the approaching 2011 season, I am finding myself in need of some more powerful ways to deal with my anger. I also need to learn how not to take things so personally.

Internet research turned up little. I don't really have the opportunity to take a time out or go for a walk at work, the most popular suggestion I could find in my online searches. It took a while, but I finally found a technique I believe will work REALLY well in improving my ability to handle difficult situations. I read about it in a book called Don't Let Jerks Get The Best of You. The book overall was not very good, but it did contain one piece of VERY useful advice.

Step 1: when you are angry, ask yourself, "which one of my rights is being violated?" I was angry about work because I don't get Monday the 27th off for Christmas falling on a Saturday. To make matters worse, I have to do a photoshoot both Monday and Tuesday after I return. I was very frustrated and angry because everyone else gets Monday off, and not only do I have to work, but I have to work back-to-back 10 hours days! So which one of my rights is being violated? My right to have lots of vacation time at Christmas?

Step 2: ask yourself, "is this a legitimate right?" I really don't have the God-given right to have a long vacation at Christmas. Just because I was given that privilege in high school and college certainly does not mean that I will get it my entire life. It is not unreasonable for my employer to ask me to be at work two days after Christmas. As much as a vacation would be nice, it is not a right.

Step 3: If your legitimate right is being violated, voice your anger lovingly. There is another right being violated with this issue. My right to keep me and my baby healthy during my pregnancy. That is a God-given right; to raise one's children in a healthy environment. Photoshoots are very physically intensive, long days are very strenuous, and doing them back-to-back gives me little recovery time. That is a legitimate right. So, instead of getting mad at work and saying, "you are so inconsiderate for making me work while pregnant!" I need to phrase my anger in a less accusatory way: "I do not have the endurance to do back-to-back photoshoots." I could also say, "I am frustrated because I expressed to you a few weeks ago that I don't have the endurance to do these photoshoots after a long day at work, but you are still continuing to schedule me for them." My coworkers are much less likely to get angry and defensive back if I open the discussion with how I feel rather than what they are doing wrong.

Step 4: Forgive. I need to realize that my coworkers are not mind-readers. They cannot tell how I feel after a photoshoot. It is also not their job to keep me healthy. It is my job to make sure that I am properly nurturing my baby. I can't expect them to treat me how I want to be treated if I never tell them how I want to be treated. I need to forgive them.

So that's the technique. I have not taken it past step three yet, as my boss has been out of town and he is usually the one who takes me past my breaking point. The rest of the time, I have realized that it was not a legitimate right or the right was so minuscule that once I voiced it, I didn't feel as angry. But I do feel very empowered now. I think this technique will really give me the ability to say out loud what I am thinking in my head. Quite often, the two have little in common.

21 December 2010

Updates in the Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Advent

I can't stand it when bloggers talk about some big deal event or decision in their lives, but then never follow up in later posts to discuss the impact and consequences. So this post is dedicated to things I talked about earlier. I try to reference the old post when possible.

Health Insurance. We bought the shady student-geared policy. So far so good, but we'll find out how good the plan really is now that we are testing the bounds on the maternity policy.

Live Like You're Dying. I think my thoughts that day were very insightful. However, I have not done much to live it. Re-reading it was good for me.

2L Extra Curriculars. He did the Knights of Columbus and Law Review. He was also technically a member of two other groups, but his responsibilities included nothing more strenuous than showing up for one or two lunch meetings per semester. He really wanted to do a few other things, but I convinced him to make a list of everything he currently did (including class, studying, etc) and how many hours per week he should spend on it. I then encouraged him to plot the hours out on a weekly schedule. He quickly determined that he did not technically have enough hours in the week to do everything he wanted unless he didn't want to sleep. That was the end of that.

Seizure Cat is nearly seizure free. The herbal remedies work very well and are so inexpensive that they run us less than $5/month, including the canned cat food we use to mix it in. I have only witnessed a handful of seizures since the original post in early August, which is fewer than the number of seizures she used to have in one week. The hospital break down was actually a blessing in disguise, finally giving us an official diagnosis a pushing me to find a suitable treatment.

Remember that speed reading class Matt took that I talked about in my very first blog post? Well, it is one of those things that requires a LOT of practice and that you have to continue to use in order to remain fast. Needless to say, we didn't stick with it. We currently read at the same pace as we did before we took the class. Go figure.

If you're wondering about anything else that I forgot, just let me know : )

20 December 2010

Monday in the Fourth Week of Advent

As of tonight, all of the Christmas presents have officially been purchased/made, the Christmas cards have been mailed, the menu for Christmas Day has been planned, and all but two minor supplies have been purchased. Christmas cookies will be started tomorrow evening. I am glad to be out of the present stage of pre-Christmas, but I am kind of dreading the baking stage. I am at the stage of my pregnancy where standing on my feet leads to a sore back, hips, legs, feet, etc.

Matt's tests are all complete. He is working on a paper that is due tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5pm. He was hoping to have turned it in on Friday, but then he gave himself the weekend, then he gave himself Monday, and now he is giving himself Tuesday morning. He still needs to buy Christmas presents yet, which he is hoping to do after he turns in his paper. I would be surprised if the shopping doesn't occur until Wednesday.

Anyway, all this Christmas break talk got me to thinking about another blog post topic: breaks during law school. Now, if you'll remember back to your undergrad days (if there weren't any for you, just think of the stereotyped undergrad vacations), Christmas break is all about relaxing after stressful finals, unwinding, enjoying old hobbies. Spring break is all about partying and vacationing. Summer break is also about partying, late nights, and visiting friends. Well, picture the exact opposite during law school. Any mid-semester break (Thanksgiving, spring break, Easter break, fall break), is filled with just as much work as a weekend. Sure, maybe he gets his evenings free, but a law student's days are filled with studying for this class, outlining for that class, reading for that class, starting that paper, etc. Although he has yet to create his Christmas break to-do list, I do know that it will include researching firms for which he'd like a summer internship, working on his note for law review ("note" = long paper, just as if it were for class). It will also include doing the reading for the first day of class of his second semester. It will include several more things, which I'll blog about in the near future, I'm sure. Summer breaks are all about internships. Paid or unpaid, they are usually just full-time jobs. I have heard of some students who just had 4 week long internships, or only worked part time, so apparently there is some flexibility. Also, rumor has it that before the economy tanked, the second summer internship was a big deal because it was a law student's goal to have that firm offer them a job post-graduation. Although Matt would prefer to clerk for a judge after he graduates, we wouldn't mind the additional opportunities afforded to us by a job offer.

Anyway, as much as we would like to totally cut loose, our evenings of taking walks, playing games, and watching movies (yay, Netflix), will be shared with days of working and researching. It isn't exactly the carefree life of an undergrad, but I suppose it is better than the slave-driving days of a "real job."

12 December 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

Friday and Saturday were what you call explosions. I am the type of person who bottles everything up inside now and then explodes later. I recently exploded. I have since revised yesterday's blog post so that it is not quite so intense. The topic of explosions brings me to another topic: target audiences.

It was very annoying to me when I was first beginning the law school process to find blogs that billed themselves about law school, but then spent a majority of time talking about clothes and hair and makeup. This is a blog about me, yes, but me as a law school wife. Not me as person who loves crocheting. I don't have posts on here dedicated to an afghan I recently finished because my target audience are not necessarily crocheters. It is a very fine line. On one hand, I'm pregnant, and that affects my life as a law school wife very drastically. So it makes sense to talk about how we're preparing, what we're nervous about, etc. But it does not make sense to talk about how we were THIS close to having twins or how much the BeBand is not nearly as effective as they say. Again, it is a very fine line.

Anyway, I want to spend the rest of this post explaining how yesterday's post relates to life as a law school wife.

There are several mega-stressors going on in my life right now and I'm a stress and worry kind of person. 1. I am the sole breadwinner in my family and we are trying very hard to accumulate as little debt as possible. 2. My job is very high-stress, not inherently, but because of the way everyone treats each other when we are frustrated. 3. I'm a miserable pregnant. I've got all but one or two of every single "What you may be feeling" in my What to Expect When You're Expecting each and every month. 4. I live very far away from my family and my friends. I have made new friends since I've been down here, but I don't feel close enough to call them during an explosion. Those four stressors are constants in my life, they don't come and go. When work hit me in a soft spot on Friday, the build-up exploded.

I apologize if I offended anyone with yesterday's post, particularly the unedited version; it was not my intention. Part of life as a law school wife is being stressed out.

11 December 2010

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

The first thing I ever remember wanting to be when I grew up was a writer. It also just so happens that there has always been someone telling me I wasn't good enough to write. It started in the 5th grade when my teacher told me I was stupid and could never be a writer. Most recently, it happened yesterday when my boss had my coworker give me one of those underhanded insults couched as "help," that shouted again in my face: YOU CAN'T BE A WRITER. Yesterday, I was devastated. I spent the next few minutes in the bathroom trying not to cry and spent the rest of the day pretending I was absorbed in my work. The evening I spent in tears. That office has a way of tearing a person down and making them feel worthless. The comment followed on the heels of another battle we'd had and I'd lost the previous week where I was told I didn't know what good design was. Yesterday, I felt ready to give up. I was ready to believe him. But after a night's worth of sleep, I woke up with my fighting spirit back in working order. I feel sharper and clearer than I have since I found out I was pregnant.

If there is one thing that I have learned working in that office, it's that even if everyone around you is telling you that you're wrong, you have to keep speaking the truth.

05 December 2010

The Second Sunday of Advent

Begins the first of two weeks of finals. We're a bit lucky though, as Matt only has one this week and it isn't until Thursday. It's pretty nice because he is studying everyday, but he isn't in panic mode yet, so he'll still go grocery shopping with me.

My coworkers are all at least 10 years older than me (most are 20 years older) and they are all at much different stages in their lives than I am. Sometimes when they get to reminiscing about their youthful days, because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, they'll look at me and make some sort of comment about perfect life is when we're young. I usually just stare blankly at them, maybe give a bland smile and go back to work. For the most part, I am okay with them thinking my life is perfect because I really prefer to keep my personal life out of the work place. I want to give some sort of sassy comeback, "try putting your spouse through law school, and then tell me how easy my life is," but I've always refrained. When the reminiscing and comments reappeared last Thursday, I had my usual reactions, both public and private. But I kept thinking about it afterward. Of course my life has its difficulties and a heck of a lot of uncertainties, but I can't honestly say I'm not happy. We have a place to live and are in no danger of loosing it. I have a job. Our car still runs. We have a savings account. We have the opportunity to go to law school. Matt has his health. My health issues are under control. We're pregnant. Maybe things aren't perfect solely because we're young, but life could be a lot worse.