Things Change, and So Will You.

Speak your truths, even if your voice shakes. -Maggie Kuhn

If you ever find yourself a stranger to your own heart, I hope you find your way back and remember that things change, and you will also. -Zaim Ricochet

I’ve been bouncing between these quotes lately, and I think that there’s no better a time to do a mental purge than when your path is opening and closing doors simultaneously. It starts with a card.

I felt this great change coming, but I also felt kinda stuck, and knowing that I was going to psych myself out over what it was that I was missing, I pulled a card. And of course I pulled the Devil-which is actually way more helpful than I was expecting. I was standing in my own way. I was blocking my own opportunities. A classic Micha move. So I began opening up. Saying yes. Giving myself opportunities to explore. And I was allowed to see just how I was stopping myself from living.

I told myself that I was going to take this semester and live, not just get by. I would go out and see Topeka, make it my home. I would go use the gym, something that gave me great anxiety. I would do my best to be a human. And so in this first month, I went to a chocolate walk with friends, I worked out on machines I still don’t know the name of, I donated power red (instead of whole blood) and I am in the final stages of being vegetarian (next up-vegan!). I am giving myself room to grow. And that’s when doors started opening.

I heard back from my program: I’m now a JD/MSW candidate, and I start my MSW prep this weekend. I’m making exceptional strides at the gym (and even ran for the first time yesterday). I’m reinvesting in my spiritual health and even, finally, have moved beyond soda. At long last, I am treating my life the way it should have been treated all along.

Which brings us back to the quotes.

I let Kansas get to me. I allowed Kansas to claim my passion and my strength and I succumbed to the “blend in” mentality. And I digested it so much that I began to forget my truths. The very things that made me who I am. And I recognized that as my Devil. I should never have compromised.

I think that’s the real lesson of year one of law school. How much of you do you retain? How much of it are you willing to reclaim?

I’d finally gotten to the point where I was done with being pushed to the side because I wasn’t fitting in to the “standard” or “socially constructed as acceptable” point of view. I was done with being told that my ideas were stupid and impossible. I was done with being marginalized because I was the only representative of my truths at the table. And that is when I started closing doors.

Closing the door to being brushed aside. Closing the door on inequality. Closing the door on permitting close mindedness.

I didn’t come to law school to be a mouse. I came to save the world.

And I’ll be damned if that doesn’t start by saving myself.

All At Once (The Semester was Over)

I made it.

It’s hard to believe that 116 days ago, I was anxious about not having friends, being in a new state and trying to take on an entirely new career trajectory. I asked myself how I could possibly have thought so many changes was a good idea and before I knew it, it was time to set my morning alarms to get up for my very first day of law school.

Sure, it was orientation-so not entirely my first day, but you have to start somewhere and for me, that somewhere began at the North wing of Washburn Law. I was greeted by smiles and for the first time in the three weeks since I moved here, I thought “huh, maybe I didn’t make such a big mistake after all”.

I told myself that I was going to make at least one friend that day. Turns out, I was being strongly pessimistic. I made three friends that day, and four more before the week was out. I began to release some of that doubt that had done its best to burrow inside my head and tell me I wasn’t good enough. We were asked to give an introduction and people were speaking of their legal experience, where they were from and how excited they were to be there. Seriously. Everyone mentioned being excited. I knew I was only going to get one shot at being authentic so my introduction was a little different.

Hi, my name is Michelle B-B, and as if that weren’t pretentious enough, I also went to THE Ohio State University where my focus was rape culture and mental health. I got here because in a caffeine binge watching Supernatural session, I decided I would Legally Blonde it and apply to law school. And speaking of caffeine, if I don’t have a coffee cup in my hand, it’s probably best that you start running-there’s probably an emergency.

This garnered a few laughs and I figured, well, at least I’ll be memorable.

When classes actually began, so did the panic. Why was I so bad at reading? Why were 10 pages of cases taking me an hour to digest? Was I going to finish the work? Had I made a mistake?

It took a month before I found a rhythm and then BAM-midterms. I held my head high, even though my eyelids drooped. And just when I had readjusted to the learning curve, grades were released. Another stepping stone in the path of doubt. You see, I’d never experienced bell curve grades, where a 36% could be an A and a 99% could be a C. The math made no sense and I had no way of knowing it would be that stressful.

The last week of classes came and went and finals stared me down. Suddenly reading cases didn’t seem so bad. Surely we weren’t done yet! And that’s true. Because in many ways, school was only beginning. I relied on that group of friends and began quizzing each other. Sometimes this would go on for 14+ hours (and I wish that were an exaggeration). This was my week last week. The first final down and I felt invincible.

My birthday was last weekend and that’s when everything went a little off kilter. I spent most of the weekend praying I would stop being sick long enough to study. It was my unlucky fortune to suffer from cross contamination and a bad case of shellfish intolerance. I walked into my second final with a fever high enough to make me delirious, made it half an hour without walking out to throw up and then finished it as best I could. The seeds of doubt were replanted. I finished my last final this afternoon, and thankfully have recovered from my little excursion with death (I probably wouldn’t have died, but I remain unconvinced.)

And that, dear friends, brings us back. 116 days ago, I was an undergrad with questions. Today, I’m a law student with answers. I’m exhausted, I’m proud of myself, and I’m completely convinced that I deserve this break. I’d be a liar if I said I did it alone. I met some fantastic 2 and 3 (and 3.5) L students, other 1L’s, some J sectioners and learned a bit about myself all the while.

My next semester starts in 31 days. And you’ll see me walking confidently in those same North doors, coffee still, very much, in hand.

Law School Month 2.5 (3) In Review

I’m taking a moment from my homework to reflect on how far I’ve come in three months. That sounds absurd on the surface, I know, but if you consider that there are almost a thousand miles between who I was an who I am now, I think that’s a pretty reasonable thing to sit down and process. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but why not procrastinate with a little self-reflection?

The Road So Far:

No matter how many blogs/articles/lists/prep worksheets I absorbed, not one told me that moving 15 hours away from my whole life would be lonely. I know-again, on the surface obvious. My husband, dog and I all made the journey and I thought once law school started, I’d make friends, enjoy life and blah, blah, blah. What I didn’t expect: times when I felt jealous that people could see their families on weekends and mine only existed in phone calls. Things I knew-but the gravity of was lost on me.

I hated change. The first week or so here, I hated it. I hated the way it smelled, the way my face puffed up because I’d never been exposed to the extreme quantities of prairie grass pollen, the way everything had seemed so cheery online but so dim and sad in person. I hated how unfamiliar everything was.

Then I started law school.

I loved how new everything was. I could be exactly who I wanted to be, no baggage, no debates, no one to call me out for embarrassing things I’d done in middle school. I was Misha-the coffee guzzling, pop culture referencing student who just wanted to fit in. I found a group of friends who were delightful and I immediately loved all the change.

I settled into the first month the way I think runners collapse into bed after a marathon. (I don’t know, of course, because I don’t run, but I like to think this exists.) I was exhausted, I felt that I had no time to do anything and I couldn’t manage to convince myself that I really could go to school and volunteer or work or anything else but sleep.

Month two was filled with secrets made open. This group of friends I’d only met a month before suddenly knew things about me that it had taken years for my “home” friends. We began to rely on each other for things outside of law school-clothes shopping, excursions to parks and for coffee, funny snaps to brighten days. We knew that there wasn’t so much competition between us: it was us against everyone else.

And now, month three is coming to a close.

I’ve gotten through my first round of exams (and man-what an eye opener!), managed to hand in a legal memo, survived a couple law induced break downs (and helped friends do the same), helped a friend move, and met a ridiculously cool mentor (who makes me feel like I don’t have to change everything about myself in order to succeed). But what’s more-I’ve learned how to debate, draft concise documents, read a bajillion pages in a few hours, set aside time for myself and how to swing a couple splurge moments that helped save the day. I know it’s wildly early to say “I got this.” but it’s a lot better than it started out as. I have a rhythm, I’m making it work.

At the end of the day, I’m not sure how I feel about Kansas. But I do know that I’ve had my eyes opened more often than I thought possible and I don’t hate change anymore. If you recall, my goal for this adventure was to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

And for three and a half months, that’s pretty good.

Reminders from the Universe

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in life, in the way it makes you feel or overwhelms you. And I’ll be honest, I have those pestering thoughts about where I’m taking my life. I worry that I burn so brightly that I’ll burn out and be of no help to anybody. And I thought about what I might do if I walked away from everything-from justice, from law, from my home and just started over some way. I think that you think about that a lot when you have depression or anxiety or whatever. Just starting over. Taking the knowledge you had and using it to make better choices. But to that effect, I offer a quote:

“But then I wondered how I’d feel… Would I feel relieved or would I feel sad? And then I realized how many stupid times a day I use the word “I”. And Probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s like seven billion other people out there on the planet…But then I thought, if I cared about the other seven billion out there, instead of just me, that’s probably a much better use of my time.” -Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

And in the grogg of all that, a news story came across my FB feed. Now, before you roll your eyes, let me just say that I don’t take things at face (lol pun!) value-I investigate. So when I saw the article, I left Facebook and began my search. It was like getting punched in the face. 

If you search “16 year old received no jail time”, there comes a list of stories that aren’t for the faint hearted. They range from racial bias to toddlers to every manner of monster available. And that was when I stopped thinking about myself for a minute. I detached as much as I could and just thought. No amount of me feeling sorry for myself or scared of what the future holds makes any difference. I know that what I want is difficult and scary and it means that I need to be able to hold my own at all times-even in the worst of my bad days. Why?

Because if I don’t keep burning brightly, how will these problems be illuminated? If I don’t keep speaking up, who will speak for the children who can’t, for the people who are scared? They deserve their justice, their safety-just as much as I do. And if no one will help them, I will.

I force myself to read each news story that comes across my feeds. I read them and I burn a little brighter, a little stronger. I don’t know if that’s good or bad-but as far as I can tell, it’s how it has to be. Why? Because this cannot be. There are judges across the country who aren’t holding up the law. They’re letting criminals of the worst kind fall between the cracks. I can’t sit by, in my fear and worry while the last stronghold of justice fails.

And that’s why no matter how scared I am, no matter how frustrated and tired I will become, I have to keep fighting. If not for me, for the people who need me and for the future. So stay tuned for a blog in the future where I tell you which law school I will be attending.

Bullseye

I woke up this morning and could just smell the injustices of the world. You know, it just hung like smog around the earth. And I knew I had to do something about it. What did I want to do? Blog? Eventually. Protest? Protest what? Spend my money where my alliances lign up? Yes indeedy. I decided I was gonna don the robe of justice and bring my voice to the masses.

I went to Target today. I’ve been there, but never bought anything from the store before. I “dressed up for justice”.. I did my hair, my makeup, put on my nicest clothes, grabbed my “power” heels, my husband and my wallet and drove to the store. Did I need anything from Target? Not necessarily. But what I needed was to make sure that I supported a business who supports equality.

Now I must add some comments about my attire, because the choices were very deliberate. I decided I was gonna rock the body I so seldom ply truly love. I was proud of the way I looked. What you may not be able to see are the three rings I am wearing. One is my engagement ring/wedding band combo. That one is very obvious as to why I should wear it (and he’s the one who took the first photo). One is a moonstone, which represents femininity and one is just a piece of costume jewelry that I love and use only on special occasions-with this being a holiday and all, I thought it was a good enough reason. On one of my wrists I am wearing a blue and pink bracelet and the other I am wearing a rainbow one. Obviously the rainbow one is for gay support, but the other one is for bisexuality support. I have many friends who are L/G and I belong to the “bi” category. I chose a black and white striped dress because a white and black flag is the one used by straight allies. As I have said, I do not fit in the “straight” category, but I am an ally and I’m not transgender or transsexual, so I thought it was fitting. And grey leggings because grey is the color for asexuallity, which brings us almost completely to all the letters of LGBTQIA. And the heels? Those are my “I’m gonna sue you” heels. My eyes have teal eyeliner, because that is the color for sexual assault awareness. All in all, this is my first day of dressing up for what I believe in, and it marks the start of my career in human rights.

I needed to know what it felt like to look business professional for something I truly believe in, because that is going to be the rest of my life. I’m adding pictures as proof that I actually went there-and bought stuff, because words are just words, you know?

 
The model looks like she’s resting on my head. And I’m pretty impressed with the amount of frizz that is absent from my hair!


There’s the frizz! In the mirror! But ultimately, I took this picture in the bathroom aisle because that’s what this is all about (and I really didn’t have to pee). I’m really pretty pleased with my selfie game here. Classy.

You know, I posted a status on my Facebook page about how I was going to go to Target today and if that offended anybody, they should unfriend me. I’m a big girl, it won’t hurt my feelings to lose “friends” whom I do not agree with on issues of human rights. It honestly should not come as a surprise that I support bathroom equality. Because it’s all about human equality. I do not identify as transgender nor do Iidentify as a transsexual. But I identify as a human being. And the thing is, statistically speaking, trans people are the ones getting attacked and sexually assaulted, not doing the attacking. And you know what else? If parents were worried about their kids being in situations which might be dangerous, why aren’t the parents going to the facilities with their children? My parents did up until I was old enough to know that I could use the restroom without help, and with the understanding that if something happened, I’d scream like murder (I’d say I was about 8, maybe 10).

The thing is, people are afraid of what they don’t understand. And that’s not how we should live. This blog is my stance. So to all you Chrsitians and Catholics who say that you love like Jesus did and then immediately cry for the persecution of transgender and transsexual individuals, you are the problem. Jesus didn’t only love the people just like him. He just loved. The end. No qualifiers, no categories. And you’re doing Christianity wrong if you love any other way but unconditionally. And you know what, that goes for all religions, including having no religion at all. If you’re for equality, for safety, for love, for humanity, for the future, for living to the fullest and you are anti this topic, you’re not living your life to the fullest capacity. You are, in fact, holding everyone else back. I know, I’m a radical millennial (I was born in 1992. I call myself everything but a millennial, but whatever.) and I haven’t “experienced” life yet. But you know what, I don’t need 40 or 50 or 70 years of life to know that there are good people and bad people in the world and that chances are, you’re only assuming that someone belongs in a certain category because you don’t understand it. Do I know what it’s like to be a trans individual? Nope. But I have friends who do. And I treat them like human beings. Period. Because that’s what they are.

I can only hope that if one of my future children identifies as a member of the trans community, that they know how much I love them as a person, not as a prescribed way of being. And I wish this “issue” were more personal for people. Because until you have seen and heard and been a part of the life of someone who is trans, you really don’t understand what the “big deal” is. And that is half the problem.


Forgive the mess! This is my favorite selfie of the day.

So thank you Target, for allowing me to enter your store, for placing store representatives who smiled at me and asked me if I found everything okay. Thank you for supplying products to a less than straight pagan woman in Ohio and her husband. Thanks for letting me wander around and take some selfies. Thanks for having the products that I was wanting to pick up and for putting those discount stickers on stuff.

But more than that, thank you. Thank you, Target. Thank you for serving the people of our fair country to the best of your inclusive ability. Thank you for ensuring that customers and patrons feel that they are protected and appreciated enough that they can be themselves. Thank you for remembering that we are all human in the end and that there is inherent good in the people of our human race. Thank you for embracing the things that make us all unique-even when there are so many who do not understand. Thank you for opening your hearts when others would have you open the door to bigotry and fear. Thank you for ensuring that the bullseye symbol which you have chosen as your brand does not stand for the way in which you “target” people different from you, but for the way it encircles all walks of life in one unified stance. And lastly, thank you for not giving in. I can only imagine what trans people feel when they see the hatred and fear coming from their fellow humans and I am so glad that you have provided a light in the darkness.