A Quick Word

While I remain completely devastated at the monstrous individual the United States has as it’s supreme leader, I have not forgotten about Puerto Rico, nor have I accepted silence in Las Vegas. Diversity makes this country best, and I believe that we are stronger together.

I’ll be back to updating and blogging soon. But for now, midterm season is upon me.

Stay safe out there and know that regardless of whether an orange man with fake hair thinks so or not, all people have a right to life in a way that provides them with hope and love and the pursuit of happiness.

 

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Live From Law School

Hi there everyone!

I wanted to give you all a little blurb about my first month of law school. I’m starting week four with a bang-or rather, with a really horrendous cold! Because of the attendance policies of law school, I was able to miss one class this morning, but showed up for my afternoon class. Honestly, I’m not sure it was helpful to me, but my name was on the attendance roster, and that’s a start. Now, I’ve been very good about medicating-I’ve got some serious DayQuil/Advil action going on, and I’ve been hydrating and other self-care recommendations. But I didn’t come here to talk about my cold!

What they tell you: Law school is hard-in a different way than undergrad. It’s supposed to stretch you as a human being and make you think like a lawyer. It will prove useful in all facets of your life, not just the ones that you would think. It will make you more annoying to be around, because you’ll analyze everything. It will force you to work on yourself in and out of the classroom.

What they don’t tell you: You will think about quitting every day for what feels like forever. You will feel completely worthless. You will hate the amount of homework you have. You will debate changing your life, settling for a career that is “kinda” what you want.

And then you’ll get out of the first two weeks and realize that this is something you can handle-it was all just an adjustment period, testing the unfathomably steep learning curve. And you’ll grow accustomed to the labor intensive study patterns, the crappy food plans and the weird cravings for comfort food in the middle of the night. You’ll discover a coping pattern for mornings-which usually require copious amounts of caffeine. You might even discover that you like mornings (I think that day is still a long way off for me, but we’ll get there).

Law school is this weird place where you bring a hundred people and on the first day you’re all strangers, but by the second week you have a core of friends who know everything about each other. You spend all day every day with those same people and suddenly you have friends that you respect, trust and celebrate with-even though you have no idea who they were before.

I came to law school thinking I was a good student. I have decent grades from both high school and undergrad. I thought I knew who I was, what I stood for and believed and that this would just be a quick two or three years of teaching me the requisite knowledge to become a legal professional. Read: this was a means to an end. And if I made friends, that would be great. If I managed to find people that I could enjoy coffee with-who also shared my passion, great. But if none of those things occurred, I would not be upset. 

My first month here has been, well, eye opening. I’m a good student-but I was not a good law student before. Now, I understand the change I needed to make. I’ve found that in the last few weeks, I’ve discovered more about myself than I have since my freshman year of high school. I have a new perspective and it shifts slightly every day, as I learn more. And friends? I have a group of them-5 people in fact, who I believe are the foundation for the best years of education of my life.

Life isn’t all about the expectation. You can plan and plan and in the end, it may not be the way you thought it would. And that was the biggest lesson of all. That no matter how much I thought I knew, how much I planned, some things are just gonna happen-without your permission. Your job isn’t to fight it, but to adapt.

Lawyered.

Life Hands You Lemons

Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.-Tyler Kent White

I promised myself that one thing would happen when I went to law school: that I would become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Here’s my reflection so far.

One of the first things a person learns after a bout of depression, or a suicide recovery is that waking up each day often requires a constant choice. I’m not talking about “I will live today”. I’m talking about “I will get out of this bed and keep fighting, even though I’m exhausted and I really would rather just go back to sleep.” And it’s hard. At first, it’s like listening to the most grating sound on repeat inside your head. “I will get out of this bed…I will get out of this bed…I will get out of this bed…” And you have to keep updating it as the day goes on. Getting out of bed soon becomes “I will make myself look professional and keep fighting…” which in turn becomes “I will keep fighting.”

Then one day, you don’t have to scream those words at yourself so loudly. It becomes less of a command and more of a mantra. “I will keep fighting.”

So too it is, as I found out, with my current life choices. I chose to go to law school, and suddenly I found myself in a world I didn’t seem fit for. I feel like an outsider, like everything is designed to keep me out. And each day I woke up with my mind screaming at me “I will get out of this bed and keep fighting, even though this is really hard, I’m exhausted and I really need more sleep.” Each day felt a little bit more like a battle and a little less like an academic exercise. Until it didn’t.

I woke up this morning and sat in silence for a moment. I had spent the past two weeks drowning out the fear that I felt bubble up from the moment I woke up. And I stopped and listened to it. Why was I afraid? Why was I struggling?

The quote at the top of today’s blog comes from a poem (which I heard about from one of my favorite celebrities). Fear and shame are some pretty powerful things when it comes to the human condition. They will trick you out of opportunities to change the world by simply making the world uninviting to you.

But here’s the thing.

The world isn’t unwelcoming to you. The world is everything you are willing to be uncomfortable enough to do. And trust me, it will be uncomfortable. But it will always be worth it.

 

Te Cuidas..En Dos (o Mas) Idiomas

I read an article once about a man coping with his wife’s mental breakdowns and how she would switch languages whenever she became depressed. I remember thinking “Wow! I can relate!” and not really understanding that there were people who suffered in only one language. I mean, obviously it’s entirely acceptable and completely normal to use the language you are comfortable with and fluent in to express yourself.

For me, bilinguialism is a tip off that I’m about to become depressed.

Think of it like listening to the radio. When you’re happy, you listen to songs about fun and happy times. When you’re sad, like when you’re getting over a break up, you listen to sad songs, songs you can cry to and scream at. But my “playlists” turn to a whole different language.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to use multiple languages in a general setting. It helps me professionally, it gives me access to other cultures and some really excellent foods. But when my heart is breaking, when the deep clouds of depression are hovering, my own language fails to live up to my needs. English leaves something to be desired.

I notice the change very abruptly. Instead of involving myself casually in another language, I will switch entirely from English into the other one. My music will become entirely Latinx, for example. Or I will only read in Cyrillic. Sometimes it will be a little more gradual and I’ll switch my recipes to all Kenyan, then start writing myself notes in Swahili. And then I will refuse to speak in English, I’ll write my grocery list in something else and I will immerse myself in this entire other state of being. It is then that I realize I need to double-down for some self-care time and take care of myself. When I start pulling out of my depression, I can go back to enjoying those same activities, but without the despair that anti-mania brings. Those extra cultures give me a safe place to go so I can start to heal.

In the realm of mental health and self-care, it’s really common to hear about things to look out for: an increase in impulsive behavior for mania, apathy for depression, paranoia for psychotic episodes and more. Physical symptoms take a really forward presence in your overall health, the life threatening symptoms next and then the ongoing symptoms. Signs you’re about to enter into a “danger zone” come in lists, self-help articles and off-handed comments. But it’s much harder when no one talks about potential tip offs that aren’t as common-but still just as serious.

When I was learning other languages, I was told that they would be keys to a door. I didn’t ask what that door would look like because I thought it was “to other cultures”. It turns out, it was a door to self-expression and the way I know I need to prepare myself for the pending breakdown.

Whatever your tip offs, you shouldn’t doubt yourself. And you should always invest in your own self-care. You know yourself best.

This is How

Everyone always asks what you want to do with your life. No one really asks how you plan on accomplishing those goals.

I always wanted to save the world. I held on to the hope for the longest time (and truthfully, to some degree still do) that I would be given powers or gifted something that would help me on my mission. I’m talking like superhero/X-men/mystical gift type stuff. Because I thought that that was the only way I could ever save the world. I didn’t want to do it for glory and fame and money. I told people I wanted to “leave the world a little less shitty than I found it”. and for the most part, that’s true. As an adult that sentiment has morphed into: “I see what our species could be, could do and we’re just not there yet”. All of this is still true.

Reading books was a really big thing in my house growing up. From a young age, it was a treat to spend a summer afternoon reading (because I lived on a farm where chores were never ending). I never viewed it as uncool or as homework, because I loved it. Reading gave me meaning. And it was there that I first learned to hope that I might be able to indeed, save the world.

I adore big thick books with multiple stories in a series. Countless tales whizzed through my mind on hazy afternoons and silent nights. They all brought me the notion that a person did not have to be rich and strong and powerful in order to make changes in the world that would impact others greatly. And I waited.

A constant reminder as I made my way through compulsory school was that soon, I would be an adult and that meant that people would take me seriously, listen to what I had to say. A little naive, perhaps, but it is in part still true. People do not listen because I speak, they listen because I have something to say.

I’ve come across the following argument a few times in my life and I think that it’s a pretty defining feature by this point:

If you were wondering what you would do in (the Cuban missile Crisis, the Revolutionary War, World War II, the Civil Rights Era, etc) this is it.

You cannot travel to the past (yet??). You cannot insert yourself into a scenario and think about your life as it happens, sometime in the distance. You only have now and the possibility of tomorrow.

I think that the thing people get wrong about changing the world is thinking that they have to do it alone. That’s only for comic book heroes and Hollywood. The real secret to changing the world is that you have an incredible amount of people who are wanting to see that change too. The only thing is, they’re waiting for someone to step up and get things started.

So while I can’t say that having superpowers wouldn’t be cool (because if I had the option, I would DEFINITELY have them) but maybe my power isn’t telekinesis or shape-shifting. Maybe my power is standing up and speaking out-so that others can tap into that power as well.

Great Migration Analysis

Moving across the country is not for the faint of heart. Especially when that moves comes at a double eclipse month with several retrogrades and no money. But for posterity’s sake, I want to detail our time-even if it’s just to laugh about in the future.

My husband, dog and I left Ohio on August 3-just one week ago. What should have been about 12 hours full go turned into a 15 hour car trip. And it wasn’t without incident. We made it out of Ohio with ease (although it felt like it took forever) and into Indiana, actually a little early. We hit overnight construction and it ate up half an hour, but that wasn’t so bad. We made it to Terra Haute and stopped for gas. By then it was drizzly. We left the gas station and it began to deluge. And in the middle of a one lane construction zone highway, our driver side windshield wiper flew off. We waited for the rain to subside, but ended up spending over an hour just inching up between construction cones until the next exit when we searched for a Walmart. In the pouring rain, in a Walmart parking lot, at 2:30AM, my husband got out and changed the windshield wiper-something neither of us had done before. The rain slacked off soon after and we returned to our trip.

Missouri came much later, but we reached St. Louis and I had to make a stop. The first gas station’s bathroom keys were stolen and the second gas station had no restroom at all. So I waited until Columbia-quite a long drive later. We got out of Missouri as soon as possible-especially with that ACLU/NAACP travel advisory going on. The whole state just seems…troubled. And you’d really have to be there to understand.

Kansas came as a relief, honestly. It meant we only had about two hours left to drive and then we could get out and about. But they were long hours nonetheless. We get to our apartment (finally!) and it’s, well, it’s something. The people were very accommodating, but compared to Columbus, it just didn’t compete. There are huge stains in our carpet, we spent almost half an hour going over things in our apartment which were defects from the last tenant. Then we are charged for 2 months upfront (which I planned for, but hoped against.) Then we took an emergency nap (because we hadn’t slept in going on 36 hours) and it was off to do errands. We made it to the utility office to turn on our water-success!

My dad had thoughtfully booked us a hotel room for that night (because we had no bed). The hotel told us when we arrived that they would not be able to charge his card and needed mine. I didn’t budget in that kind of money, but desperately needed rest. We order pizza and then sleep until the morning.

We return to our apartment and begin putting things away. Our appliances look like they’re maybe 20 years old, are incredibly loud and our water squeaks. I almost jumped out of my skin when the washing machine turned on. And while we’re on the subject, our washing machine holds 5 pairs of jeans-total. So laundry is going to be fun this year. Sunday, we went to the store, picked up some essentials and began to make our life in our little apartment. The walls are thin, the people are polite-but too much so. I suppose that’s a weird thing to note, but it’s like being in the deep south without the drawl.

Internet didn’t get turned on until yesterday. Our bed got delayed until today. My financial aid is up in the air currently because I have to go through extra verification. And I need to stop on that for a moment.

My financial aid is due (at the LATEST) September 1. I logged in and saw a flag on my account. I was told I needed to do some extra verification steps-which could take 3 weeks from receipt of all forms. Which puts finality at August 31 if all papers were received today. But I have to deal with the IRS-so that clearly won’t happen. I called the school and asked what I could do, because I’m not trying to cause trouble, I just want to change the world. I was told that if my paperwork was late, and they didn’t finish it, I’d be charged a late fee-even if they had everything received. And so, last night, with money I couldn’t afford to spend, I went to the store and bought a printer and started filling out my paperwork. Here’s the kicker though-they didn’t put the flag on my account until August 3. Which means that I was already screwed before I had a chance.

And that’s about when the panic kicked in. Because I am just one person and the universe has not been kind.

I wish this was everything. It’s not-not even by a mile. But I want to stop there because I know it sounds like I’m just having a bitch session. And while it’s helpful to list complaints, that’s not everything.

Because when I decided to come here, I asked myself what my goal was. And yes-law school is important to me. But I wanted a personal goal. And I decided upon the following:

I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Those were my exact words. It’s felt like I’ve eaten them since I got here, but I had in mind going to new places so that I could get over my social anxieties. I imagined a life of friends and cordial interactions. I imagined a little nest in a red state in which I could plant myself and allow blue flowers to grow. I thought about all the diversity I could bring this little Christian corner of a country that flourishes in differences.

I feel overwhelmed, under prepared and honestly, I just feel like I’ve made a really big mistake. But at rock bottom, I have no where else to go but up. And I find peace in that. I’m not saying that I am just oblivious to this struggle. I feel like I’m in survival mode 100% of the time. But each day brings me a little closer to being completely okay. And I think that’s important. I kept pushing this frustration and rage and anxiety into the closet I’d labeled “Adjustment”. But it’s more important to admit to myself that I’m in over my head and that’s okay. Because if this is the worst that comes at me, I’m dealing. And that means my goal is gonna be accomplished and law school can’t be harder than that.

 

Hiatus

This blog post has been written three separate times, with three separate ideas and tones-none of which were posted. I thought this post would speak to fear, to doubt, to the way things just feel out of place when you’re on the verge of change. But I don’t think that’s been the entire picture. Instead, I find that much the way depression clears from the sky, so too have my struggles come to perspective.

When the clock hit “30 days”, I felt a surge of panic. I was getting ready to move away (almost a thousand miles) from the only life I’d ever known, make a new life from ground up. That’s a lot to commit to, especially when I had ever manner of nervous breakdown when I moved just an hour away to the university I just graduated from. But in the past two years, I’ve become someone new, and I think that’s been something I needed very much.

When the clock hit “20 days”, I felt the waves of doubt. I was entering a new lifestyle, one which I didn’t fully understand, one that I was sure wasn’t something I was prepared for. I was leaving behind all sense of security and stability because I wanted change. I was throwing my caution to the wind and letting my life float down white water rapids.

When the clock hit “10 days”, I felt depleted. I was unable to come to terms with the reality of the situation. I had just a fraction of time left before I was ready to go on my journey. I met with everyone I needed to, spent time debating with myself, talking myself out of the fears and doubts that had come before. I touched weakness and reaffirmed that I was doing what I absolutely was destined to.

When the clock hit “7 days” I finally caught a glimpse of excitement. It was small, a flicker of a fire I thought was completely out. I felt things coming together and I realized that I’d been waiting for permission to be excited.

Truth be told, I know I have a long way to go. Big change is scary, and I’ve done my share of going back and forth about being afraid. But if the fear doesn’t go away, you just have to do it afraid. And it was when I came to terms with that idea that I felt like it would be okay. I put down my constant hovering, let go of my trust issues and I told myself that I would make it work-even if I didn’t know how to yet.

I have a little less than a week left in my apartment. There are boxes where memories stood, bags filled with parsed down essentials and just a couple things splayed about, waiting for use. Each day I look at my calendar-a dry erase one which has been erased numerous times-and I remember that life isn’t meant to be static. Change is inevitable. After all, when I started this blog, I was determined to become a doctor. If that had been my life, I’d be writing you from a much different perspective. Instead, I am right where I need to be. It’s been tough-sometimes too dark to see where I’m headed, but I kept going. I’ve got more boxes to check, but for the most part this is goodbye.

I’m not sure I’ll have much more to say (or time to say it) before I leave for my last tour around the state. I won’t have much internet, apart from my phone, and even then we’ll have to see. That means the next time I will be here will be the first full week of August. I know I’ve got plenty to say, plenty to do, but I think that for now, the world is finding itself again.

Please keep fighting.

Fight for your life, your right to it.

Fight for your love, your ability to give it away.

Fight for your rights, your unalienable rights.

Fight for each other, the ones who don’t know they need you.

Fight for peace and love and happiness and hope, because the world is made a better place every time someone believes that they make a difference.

But fight for yourself, because you matter-especially when others tell you that you don’t.

You do.

Here’s to a glorious road trip. See you on the flipside!