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.

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Save The World

I think that for a great many people, there comes a point when your dreams are forgotten. And I’m not talking about asleep dreams. I’m talking about passion. About what wakes you up to push hard enough to fall asleep in exhaustion.

I think it looks far too specific when we’re young. What do you want to do when you grow up? requires a specific title. Doctor. Lawyer. President. Ballerina. Veterinarian. But what is lacking from that question is the follow up: Why? I think it’s there that people (myself included) run into trouble.

If you’d told me, at the ripe old age of 5 (or 10 or 15 or even 22) that I was going to be a lawyer (student) at 24-what would my first question have been?

Why?

Image result for passion free

When I was younger, I would answer that first question with mortician. Not because I particularly liked the idea of working with dead people, but because I’d seen a couple close up at funerals and they looked terrifying. I wanted to make them look like they were sleeping, to catch the bad guys, or something like that. I wanted to help people. I was told that that wasn’t a proper job for a lady (which is absolutely wrong), and looked further. Doctor? Pediatrician? And then much (much) later: Lawyer?

It was hard for me to give up the idea of working in medicine. By the time I was old enough to decide what field to go into, I hated the idea of going into it. I was still trying to fit my heart and soul into that lab coat I’d been metaphorically carrying around for more than a decade. Why was it so hard to let go?

Because no one told me that there are a thousand ways to save a person.

I wanted to change the world, save lives, help people. No one ever really explained to me that saving people is possible in nearly every job-you just have to see the possibility. I learned that saving the body may not save the heart and soul, may not heal the pain and ease the burden of the baggage they carry. I learned that while I wanted to fix bodies, there was much more to a person than just their skin.

So in the wake of all the bad news that’s burst through televisions, over radios and across paper these last few weeks, I have to ask.

How are you saving people? Are you living your passion?

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.

I’m Only Human

 

I did a LOT of research when I first decided I wanted to go to law school. Like, obsessive amounts of it. And I think I needed to. I planned for every option I was interested in, found places that would accommodate my husband’s academic interests and then found schools where I would thrive, but also where I would be challenged. I went big-picking places I’d always wanted to go, places I never thought to look at, places I wasn’t sure I’d love but thought I’d try anyway.

I applied to a college in Kansas, Ohio and two in Washington (state). Ohio was my “not sure I’d love” school; Kansas, my “never thought to look at”; and the two in Washington, my “I’d love to go”. It was a journey getting accepted, to be sure. So when I found myself in a pressure zone, I applied one more time. This time, to a place I never even bothered to look at, because it was lower on the rankings, it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever heard of and I thought I’d hate it. Wouldn’t you know it, they were the place I accepted an offer from?

So I took a chance. They took one on me, I might as well return the favor. And so a new wave of research took me over. What were they like? Did they cater to their students? Would I fit in? Drawbacks? And I began making calls to apartments.

No one said anything bad.

And that’s not to say that I expected them to, but I’ve been looking into American Gothic stories and seriously-it began to sound like a cult. “The school is so wonderful.” “I have a relative who went there.” “We just love the school.” “The school has done so much for us.” And the list goes on like that. That’s the thing. I wasn’t expecting “Oh it’s terrible. You’ve made a mistake.” But EVERYONE had something nice to say. And they said it. You’d think *someone* would have just said nothing, but no. And a little flag popped up in my head. Maybe I was jumping into something WAY over my head.

So I did more research.

And either I drank the Koolaid, have fallen under the curse or something mundane, I have actually come to love the idea of moving there.

They have a chocolate festival, a library that’s decorated as giant classic books, a lantern festival (like floating lanterns-like in Tangled) and it’s in the capital, but it’s a fraction as populated as the one here. Plus, they have trees-a luxury I am currently not afforded.

Each time I get nervous about it (and it happens quite a bit), I sing “Defying Gravity” to myself. And it’s kinda fitting, but more so, I need that reminder that the only thing holding me back is me. It’s my choice to “close my eyes and leap”.

Now, when I announced I was going there, a good many people came to me and told me I was making a mistake. And while that could be true, the reasons were pretty limited to “it’s so far away” and “their political action right now is very damning”. And I have had some time to come up with responses.

First-I know it’s far away. That’s what I wanted. I want to see the world. I’ve lived in the same state my whole life, never seeing much of anywhere else. That doesn’t set me up to help people, does it? And my parents were both from Ohio, met in Colorado and then came back. My husband’s dad was from Ohio, met hubby’s mom in Arizona and came back. Wandering is in my blood-and there’s no way I’m letting other people run my life. I’m too old for that and I don’t have enough time for it anymore.

Second-there is a kids movie called Robots  (with Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams, may he rest in peace) in which a single line pops up repeatedly: “See a need, fill a need.” I knew from a very young age that I was meant to change the world. That sounds crazy, but it’s something I have never truly doubted. I thought I was meant to do that through medicine, but it was justice. And although I’ve had several talks with myself about my capabilities, I know that I can do this. So yes. Each state has their problems right now. Does that mean I should move in with my parents and hide away from the world until someone fixes it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. If I see something needs fixed and I have the ability to do so then it quits becoming a concern and starts becoming a duty. So while I know I’m moving to a pretty conservative red state, maybe I’m meant to change the world starting with them. And if this is but a stepping stone, I’ll have gained some lessons at the very least.

I saw a post in a Facebook group about the Bill Cosby case being a lesson in rape culture. The response was “if I had been on the jury….” and while I appreciate the sentiment, being on a jury isn’t the only way to make change. Being a lawyer isn’t the only way to make change.

It’s our duty as citizens of the world to be passionate. To be passionately involved, to be passionately informed.

Change is hard. Life is hard. But if we all pitch in, at least we’re all together.

Manchester

I’m saddened, as many are, by the events of the past few days. As has been news across the globe, an attack on a concert occurred, killing almost 2 dozen people and injuring almost 60. And as I was coming across the tweets, messages and prayers, I found something along the lines of:

Never forget, this was an attack on children, and on young ladies.

Which gave me pause, but ultimately I couldn’t find any fault in it. As someone who’s been to a few concerts, a great majority of the participants have been presenting female individuals. That’s not to say all of them, or even that I can assume their gender, but that a large majority were children and their parents. (I’m thinking Katy Perry, here, who I went to see in 2014.) That concerns me a lot.

But I’m not here to discuss politics, conspiracies or anything of that nature. I’m merely pointing out a point I found interesting and relevant, while hoping that those affected are found, healed and at peace. As I said in a tweet earlier: May the lost be found, the gone be at peace and those responsible suffer immensely for eternity.

I’m sorry Manchester. May the divine bring you hope and peace.

For the rest of the world, take note. Through pain, healing. Through hardship, resilience. Through fear, unity.

The Department of Anthropology

Today’s post is just an appreciation post. For people who don’t see me often, this will not mean anything to you. But it does to me. I’m sad because at the end of the week, I have to leave my job. It’s a work study position and because I’m graduating, I’m no longer eligible to be there. And so, today is my dedication to that.

When I applied to work for my department, I was terrified. I needed a job, I thought I was going to have to go back to fast food and be miserable for the rest of my time in Columbus. I was terrified because I didn’t know my way around campus, I didn’t know anyone in that office and I had no idea if they’d like me. I remember a young woman talking to me in a cheerful, sing-song voice, being introduced to the stern looking keeper of things and information and being introduced to the fiscal officer who appeared strict and dauntingly professional. And as I said “hello” in what I can only assume was the most pathetically timid voice I could, I was employed. I would meet my coworkers-a young man with an inviting smile and a knack for forgetting things and a young lady who had the most infectious laughter and a great eye for scarves. She intimidated me because she got on so well with my new boss. A few weeks later, we gained a sassy newcomer with the coolest hair I’d ever seen.

How silly that all seems now.

Although I thought that I had only applied for a job, what I applied for was a position as a member of a reliable, close-knit family. And that’s why it breaks my heart to let it go.

My boss has the most impeccable taste in clothes. And not only that, she believes the best in everyone. She’s willing to start each day on a completely new page-no matter what. She laughs everything off, offers advice as sincere as any person can and she goes out of her way to help people. She has this thing for fountain pens and it’s hilariously superb. No matter how many times we worked on her desk, it was always filled with work-not because she was lazy, but because people know how great she is, so they give her more. I’ll miss the way she always gets coffee and baked regular Lays-because they never carry barbeque, and the way that no matter how crappy her day may be, she always has time for you.

The keeper of things? She’s the biggest nerd I’ll ever meet-and I mean that with the utmost respect and awe. We chat about books, politics, television, you name it. She completely understands what I’m talking about when I discuss farm life, she’s wicked busy and even though at first I thought she hated me, it turns out that she’s been on my side since day one. Her phone ringer is usually something from Star Wars (or Doctor Who) and if you can do it yourself-she can do it better (that’s not her saying it, I’m telling you so that you know). She’s got that Italian sass (which is hilarious) and she inspires me so much. We laugh about preparing for the zombie apocalypse while we run, she has a Harry Potter Christmas tree, she shows her dogs and is hands down the most interesting person I will ever know. She calls me “mini-RBG” and not once has she made me feel like I’m just young and naive. I’ll miss the way she keeps me on my toes, shares her popcorn with me and reminds me that I can absolutely be myself and help other people-no changes necessary.

If I ever thought that my enjoyment of the undead and the fact that my husband and I spent our honeymoon watching Game of Thrones could lead me to being on someone’s good side, I doubt it would have been the good side of our fiscal officer. He works so hard-and his attention to detail is on another level entirely. His granddaughter is adorable, and you can absolutely tell that he has a heart of gold-dedicated to just her. He always listens intently to my stories of field dressing the deer we hit with our car, no matter how many times I laugh about it and he makes me feel like I’m at least moderately funny. He’s absolutely always reliable, he always finds a way to make things work and even though we don’t interact as much as the others, I know that if I were ever in trouble, he’d be the first person I asked for help. I’ll miss the way he hates spoilers, so I have to edit out my reviews of the shows and the way he’s loyal to a fault.

I didn’t know the guy work study long, but he was a gentle soul. And I hope he does well in his life.

The scarf-clad work study and I greet each other each time we work as each other’s “favorite person”. We snap each other (on Snapchat) and she still absolutely has a great taste in accessories. The thing is though, when I met her, I thought she was super affluent-because of the scarves. She’s one of the only people I’ve met since I moved to the capital that knows about Liberty’s Kids and Sagwa and PBS Kids television-hallmarks of the parental types who didn’t pay for cable because it was a waste of money. Her laughter, as I mentioned is super infectious, but it’s also sincere. And I love that-because so often there are reasons to forget how to be sincere. She’ll still be there in the fall, and I hope that I can stop by some time-because she makes my day so festive. Plus, she totally sang Happy Birthday to me in Swedish-and we all need to have a friend like that.

The newest coworker is (hooray!) going to have a baby in the fall, and I think that that makes me some bizarre form of fairy god-aunt, but titles schmitles. Her hair still rocks, even though she totally cut it all off. When she first came in, I was told that she was shy and that was about it. I’m here to tell you, that is a lie (thank goodness our snaps aren’t public-we’re a riot). We usually don’t end up working together, but when we do-not much work gets done because we are chatting and getting into trouble (probably), but everyone knows that we’ll get everything done along the way. She shares my delight of all things Tim Burton and she convinces me that it’s a great idea to order lunch so she doesn’t feel alone. We also absolutely will be running for president/vice president some day and it’ll be the most epic thing humanity has ever seen.

There are, as with any family, the extended members-the janitor lady who is always exceptionally nice-so we save her donuts and brownies and cake. She’s so nice and she even called to let us know that she’d be away for a few days because she sprained her hand. There’s the tech guy who has more fun hanging out with us than he does other tech guys, so we pull up a chair and listen to him talk about deli meat, life in Upper Arlington and crazy news about life in general. And of course, a host of faculty that will forever hold my favor.

I know that I was only there a short time, and that I have no reason to be so attached-but I am. They’ve been the support, the driving factor behind not flaming out of the big city. Any time I have a problem-with life, school or in general-I know that they can help. And I think that’s what family is. I can only hope that I may be so luck as to find a similar set up in law school, but I can’t hope for anything better, because my Anthropology family is the best there will ever be.

So I won’t say goodbye, because families don’t do that. I’ll just say that the next time I see them, I’ll be a lawyer/social worker and I’ll be ready to take on the world-just like each of them prepared me to do. I’ll miss them, I’ll think about them often, and I’ll carry this honor of having shared my time with them with me.

Single Digits

So if you follow me on instagram, I’ve been doing a daily photo with #HowIMetMyGraduation. I try to take pictures of things that sum up my day, mean something to me, or otherwise spark my interest. And Because I’m now officially just 9 days away from finishing my degree, I wanted to do something (probably hard) fun. I’m going to describe my undergrad degree using all 26 letters of the English alphabet. So uhm, here goes nothing.

A. Anthropology-my major. I focus on Cultural Anthropology, because I like to people watch.

B. Biology-This is what I spent two years of my degree majoring in. Because I was afraid of change.

C. Clergy-I am not only a wedding planner, I can officiate marriages too.

D. Diversity-I became Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Diversity for the micronation of Flandrensis

E. Education-which included the Calculus sequence, Chemistry, Psychology, Social Work and Political Science.

F. Fat-I gained some, but learned that my worth wasn’t a number.

G. GISHWHES-I learned how to cross the line between comfort and adventure.

H. Highway driving and conquering the fear.

I. Impair-we went through 4 (5?) cars in undergrad.

J. Journal-I started bullet journalling as a way to manage my symptoms.

K. Knick Knacks-I had to downsize 5 times since starting undergrad-for moving purposes.

L. Liberal-as in, I got liberally involved in politics.

M. Marriage-I got married in a classroom on campus just about 3 years ago.

N. Novels-I’ve started MANY, finished few.

O. Ohio State-this is where I’ve gotten my degree from.

P. Phlebotomy-I got my national certification by going to 2 colleges at once for a while.

Q. Queer-because I learned that it’s okay not to fit a gender binary-or even a standard array of sexuality.

R. Religion-I changed religions in college: from southern baptist/nondenominational Christian to earth worshipping pagan/hoodoo.

S. Subway-my first job. Followed by Rural King, Giant Eagle, and OSU.

T. Tattoo-I knew I wanted one, and for graduation, I finally got it.

U. Unhappy-I spent a long time being unhappy, because I lived in the shadow of the expectations of others before finding myself.

V. Victim-or rather, how to become a survivor of sexual assault.

W. Washburn-this is where I’ll be going to get my JDMSW (Law Degree and Masters in Social Work) in a little over 100 days.

X. Xenial-by definition, accepting-especially of strangers and foreigners.

Y. Youth-I’ve been in college the entirety of my early-mid twenties, and will be there until I’m nearly 30.

Z. Zombies? Zodiac? Zenith-meaning the most important moment, which for me is coming quickly.

 

Well, that wasn’t so bad:)

We’ll speak soon.

M.