23. Only Human

We’re all only human.

We all have our own failings and short-sights and triumphs. We have our personal moments of greatness and of downfalls. There’s only so much each and everyone one of us can do within the limitations of time and space and possibilities. I’ve seen a few different people recently struggle with what to do with their lives given the parameters of their backgrounds, abilities, career goals, and passions, among other factors. I myself feel the different tugs and pulls of different fields and interests day from day.

So how do we do the most with our time and our energy? How do we manage to do as much as we can while staying sane?

I went to an interview for a legal internship for the Summer of 2018 this past week. It was an interview for what is essentially my dream job. I’m not going to say where it was, in case I don’t get it. Needless to say, I’ve been working towards this particular interview or something very similar to it for the past six years of my life. At the end of the interview when my interviewer was walking me out the door, I asked her if there were any classes I should be taking or anything I should be doing differently for this career path. She replied that I was actually doing everything exactly right and to stick with it.

I delegated my time in college very carefully for getting a bachelor degree in biology with a minor in economics. Apparently that worked. And now that I’m in law school, the classes I’m taking this semester all feed perfectly into doing ocean-related work: environmental, maritime, international law, and international trade law. These were the classes that I wanted to take more than any others and the ones I thought would do the most amount of good for trying to get where I want to go. And these were the same classes that really stuck out to those interviewing me and said I was the perfect candidate for their work because of these classes.

So on one hand, I think I’m doing a fairly decent job of striving towards my legal career goals of working on ocean-related issues. I only have so many law school classes and internships I can fit in.

On the other hand, I think the balance of ballet in my life is starting to figure itself out as well. This semester, I can only take ballet classes Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, because I’m either in law school classes, working at the EPA, or teaching at all other times during the week when ballet class is available. However, that still means I can fit in three ballet classes a week, which is what I was going last year. This year, I’m actually finding ways to rehearse and perform beyond just taking weekly ballet classes.

Firstly, I’m rehearsing for party parent for Adagio’s Nutcracker. Since they’re doing a restructuring of their Nutcracker this year, actual adults are coming in to play party parents. Ricardo was amazing enough to agree to do party parent with me, and it’s such a joy to get to dance next to him in rehearsals. All my students were darling and told me this week in class that he dances very well and he has a very nice face for being on stage. That just about made my heart burst.

Secondly, a few weeks back I saw that one of the dancers I’ve become friends with at Washington Ballet (she’s amazing and danced professionally for many years before graduating from Georgetown Law a few years back) was going to a small company audition. I asked her about it and if she thinks it would be something that I could do while in law school. She replied in the affirmative and so I went and auditioned for this group. This past week we had our first two rehearsals for their annual show they do in March. I came home from both rehearsals simply glowing with a new-found purpose that I haven’t felt since I was last dancing at BRT.

The group, called Classical Repertory Dance Ensemble, is a local group in DC comprised of all adults with over 20 years of ballet experience. (I think I might actually be the baby of the group since I just have 20 years, and most of them have between 20 and 30 years.) This is the first time since I was probably 12 or 13 that I have gotten the opportunity to dance in a group of all adults. It’s amazing. Both pieces we rehearsed for this week – one was Paquita (which I’ve never had the opportunity to do before) and the other a contemporary piece – were on pointe. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a room full of non-student dancers all on pointe and all working together towards a common choreographic goal. It’s amazing. I have seriously missed it so much. I am so grateful and happy to have found CRDE and I’m so excited to get to dance with them, hopefully for years to come.

I’m working within my limitations as best I can. I finally feel like I’m getting to a place where I am starting to balance everything together in such a way that I can actually pursue both my passions. It’s the first time I feel like I’ve actually been able to do so since I moved to DC. I feel complete in a way I haven’t since leaving Albuquerque behind. But in a way, I feel more complete now. I’m closer than ever to my long-term career goals. I feel like I’m so close to actually beginning to make a difference in the world.

This doesn’t mean I’m doing everything I want to be able to do. There are far too many limitations for that. If I could be doing everything I want to be doing, I would be getting scuba diving certified, I would be actively learning Spanish, and I would be writing, to name a few. But we’re all only human. So we’ve got to do what we can with the time we are given and hope that it all works out. We have to seize the opportunities we find and actively work towards our goals with the most information we can. We’ve got to keep in mind our goals that we actually want to meet and complete and keep sight of the path it takes to get there. We’ve got to follow that path, even if it means we zig and zag to eventually get to the signposts that tell us we’re doing right. And somehow we’ll make it, even if we’re only human.

 

21. Updates on a New Academic Year

Law school classes, externships at the EPA, ballet classes, and teaching have all finally started up and I finally feel like the semester has officially started. So here’s an update on what this semester is looking like for me!

Law School
Today technically marks the end of the second week of law school classes for the semester, but since we didn’t have Monday classes for labor day, it doesn’t quite feel like two full weeks have passed. This semester, I only have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Most of my classes are late afternoon or evening classes and my earliest class starts at 11:10am.

I’m taking Environmental Law, Maritime Law, International Law, International Trade and Regulations, and an Externship Seminar. I really like all of my classes this semester because these are all subjects I am actually interested in and feel are very important for hopefully doing some kind of law relating to ocean conservation in the future. I think Environmental Law might be my favorite class, although to be honest it is hard to choose between my different classes.

On Mondays, I have Environmental Law in the morning and then a break from 12:30-3:30. Then, if I’m unlucky, I have three classes in a row from 3:30-9:55pm at night. If I’m lucky and don’t have my externship seminar (it’s only every other week), then I have class from 3:30-7:45. Those will be very nice Mondays. On Wednesdays, I just have Environmental Law in the mornings and then International Law from 5:45-8:45. Luckily I have lots of time to go home and eat and study between my classes in the afternoon.

Externship
So this semester I’m externing (it’s the exact same thing as interning, just during the semester) at the Environmental Protection Agency, more colloquially as the EPA. I have to work there 15 hours a week to get three credits for it and am working 9-5 there Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ve only gone for two days so far, but the place is great. I’m nervous to work there just because I don’t really know what kinds of tasks or projects I’ll get assigned every day. But it will be a very good experience and I’m glad I get the opportunity to work there.

Bonus points: the main staircase at the EPA looks like something right out of the wizarding world. There’s even a time-turner-like chandelier hanging down in the middle of the staircase.

Teaching
Last night was my first night back teaching at Adagio Ballet and the first day of classes for the school year. I missed being there. It’s such a wonderful group of teachings and students. The girls are all so sweet and hard working. Last year I was only teaching two nights a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays – there, but this year I’m teaching those two nights at the same time and then also two additional classes Friday evenings. I feel like I really lucked out with finding an amazing place to teach and I really am thrilled to be back.

In past years, Adagio’s Nutcracker was essentially their winter recital for all the classes. So my class last year was Spanish, the class next door was Chinese, etc. This year, they completely redid the structure of it so everyone who wanted to dance in the Nutcracker had to audition back during the summer. They also needed some party parents from the faculty and interested adults, so Ricardo and I will both be party parents this year! I’m so excited. I’ve never gotten to dance on stage with my significant other before. He’s going to be just fantastic. I’ll also be rehearsing another role I’ll be performing for their Nutcracker. Hint: there will most likely be a tutu involved.

Ballet Class
I haven’t been able to go take ballet class since I got back into town because my car decided to die on me two days after we got back. Thus, I haven’t had a way to actually drive to ballet class and it’s a bit too far away by public transportation or uber. My car finally got fixed two days ago, though, so this morning was my first morning back in ballet class. I actually get to take class every weekend now, as well as Fridays and possibly on Monday and Wednesday mornings before darting off to Environmental Law. Either way, it feels so great to be back. There are some things that I feel rusty with, but overall I’m amazed that I haven’t gotten too out of shape over the course of the summer. I feel good and motivated now and being back in the school context just helped me get back into ballet class mood as well.

Other
So I think those are my main responsibilities that occur every week! On top of that, all I have to worry about are job applications and interviews for a legal job next summer, possibly auditioning for and rehearsing for the upcoming Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society musical, and other items that may or may not pop up.

But every night I am lucky enough to get to go home to my amazing boyfriend and amazing little cloud being of a cat. My life would not be the same without them and I am so infinitely grateful for their places in my life. Neither Ricardo nor I would know what do without Rumple. He’s such a sweet, crazy little cat. He loves playing. He’s become so vocal that he will just meow and meowl at us for apparently no reason whatsoever sometimes. But we love him and I’m pretty darn sure he loves us back.

Now that things are settling down, I’m going to get back to regular blog writing. So thank you for reading!

18. The London Chronicles: Part VII

Sunday, July 30th
After we arrived back in London from Dover, it was only noon. We went to the King’s College library straightaway so Ricardo could borrow a computer. After that, we studied at The Press, which was the really hipster-y coffee shop I fell in love with the week before. Ricardo went back to the library to continue studying; I joined him a few hours later after the coffee shop closed. We both continued studying and writing at the library until late, since our Human Rights & Human Trafficking final was the next morning. We had a nice dinner at The George and went home for more studying.

Monday, July 31st
We were up early and had a good breakfast before heading to Swan House. Since there were more people in our HR & HT class than there were tables, everyone voted Ricardo and I to sit at the same table for the exam. Oh my goodness, that exam was two hours long and handwritten. Thus far, my shortest law school exam has been around 4 hours long and all of them have been typed. To say that two hours for this handwritten test was too short a time is a gross understatement. My hand was cramping so badly by trying to fit so much information in such a short period of time that there were times I literally could not feel my hand or my wrist. But overall I think the exam went well!

After the exam, four of us girls went to go get lunch at Eats while Ricardo went to return the laptop at the library. He joined us for lunch a little later. After lunch, Ricardo and I crossed the river towards the colorful pier we had visited before. We went back to Foyles bookstore so I could go buy the remaining three books in this series that I had been reading called the Onyx Court. I had simply devoured the first book. It was the perfect series to read while in London because it was about the historical court (at least in the first book) of Elizabeth I, while at the same time the intrigues of the faerie court that lay beneath the surface of London.

We walked to the Tate and studied for a time with tea and scones in their tearoom that overlooks the Thames. What a wonderful place to study. The view – six stories up – is simply breathtaking. We also finally did the research to determine exactly which bridge in London was the bridge that death eaters blew up in Pt. 1 of the Deathly Hallows. It was, in fact, the bridge laid out right below us. Watching that scene with Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the back and then looking out across the actual scene in front of us was so incredibly awesome.

I returned to The Press for studying (since I work best at coffee shops with ambient noise), while Ricardo returned to the library (since he studies best at the library). We studied for several more hours in town before returning back home for further studying.

Tuesday, August 1st
Early Tuesday morning, Ricardo left for the library since his paper was due that evening. I studied at home for a while for our Corporations final that afternoon and then eventually left for Café Nero, my typical haunt.

After our Corporations final (multiple choice and so much harder because of it), I walked to the National Gallery in Tralfagar Square since I’d never been. Ricardo had to work on his paper for the rest of the evening so I had the day to wander around. In Tralfagar Square, before I entered the museum, there was a classical guitarist playing music. He was incredible. His name was Tom Ward and he really knew what he was doing. He introduced every song he played with some classical music history. The street artists in London are truly amazing. They are all trained musicians and you know they know what they’re doing. Oh, he was wonderful. It took me a good ten minutes to even leave the crowd listening to him and get to the museum. The National Gallery was incredible, but to be terribly honest, I’d seen so many art museums and museums in general over the past month that I more or less walked through a lot of it without spending too much time in any particular gallery. I did get a lovely snack in the café and got a bit of time to catch up on correspondence with some of my dear friends that I haven’t had a chance to talk to all month.

When the National Gallery closed, I walked down towards Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, got a sandwich at one of the local coffee chains, and spent some time just watching the Thames and taking artsy pictures of the London Eye. I took a photo for some tourists and they all thought I was a London native, which was pretty cool. On the way towards the library, I stopped for a bit in a park and ended up talking to this 17-year-old girl who was going through some issues. I think she honestly just wanted to talk to someone. So we talked for a good 20 or 30 minutes before I headed out again. I talked to Ricardo for a bit at the library and then headed on home to read books.

Wednesday, August 2nd
We got up fairly early and spent a majority of the morning packing. It’s amazing how much you can take over a flat by living there for a month. The thing that was hardest to pack was honestly all the books. I probably had bought at least 10 books myself over the course of the month. Regardless, I’m so glad we spent the time packing then.

As it was our last afternoon in London, we set out for Greenwich and took a tube into a part of the city we had never visited before. It’s a pity we waited so long to venture that direction, because it was really a lovely part of the city. Once we disembarked at the Greenwich station, we found our way to the Greenwich pier, were there was a magnificent ship on land and next to it stood a sweet carousel. The pier itself had flower beds everywhere, including flower beds of mountain flowers from Skyrim. Or at least flowers that looked remarkably like mountain flowers in Skyrim. There was a pub there called the Gipsy Moth, and while we loved the name, they served mainly burgers and it didn’t feel right to eat burgers the last day in London. We headed towards the Greenwich park and found a place called the Spanish Galleon; this was ironic because the Spanish Galleon was apparently the oldest English brewery in the area. We had lovely chicken and leek pies there and it was the best last day feast.

By then it had started to rain. We hurried towards Greenwich park and saw the little church where Henry VIII had been baptized. By the time we got to the park it was pouring rain, so we made our way to the National Maritime Museum on the north end of the park. A giant ship in a bottle stood at the entrance. Inside the museum there were actual figureheads that had really seen history, stories of people sailing to the poles of the earth, and replicas of the White Cliffs of Dover. The gift shop’s selection of books covered so many subjects that I’m fascinated by that I could have easily bought half the books there. But being as we were already out of room for any more books, I had to resist.

We left the National Maritime Museum, picked up our luggage at our flat, and said goodbye to our flat in Whitechapel forever. I am relieved to never have to go back to that particular area of London. I love London and it is my favorite city in the world, but Whitechapel is far from my favorite neighborhood. After leaving Whitechapel, Ricardo and I took a train down south to the Gatwick airport and made our way to Spain!

 

 

14. The London Chronicles: Part III

Sunday, July 16th
On Sunday, Ricardo left bright and early to attempt to vote. Venezuela, his birth nation, has been in a state of complete turmoil, to say the least. I’m not as informed about the present state of politics or political history of Venezuela as I should, but needless to say, I’m trying to learn. Anyways, an important vote for Venezuela took place across the globe on Sunday, so Ricardo did his best to make it.

We were supposed to meet up with a group of our classmates for brunch and then go visit the Tate late Sunday morning. I made it to the restaurant a good half an hour before anyone else showed up and had a really lovely time discovering these steps down to the shore of the Thames and looking for shells along the edge of the waves. Brunch was a delicious affair of a yogurt/granola/fruit concoction and the best cappuccinos.

After brunch, we all went to the Tate and split up into a few parties. Our party went through one of the multiple buildings and saw a good majority of the free exhibits. Modern art museums are now fascinating to me. I’ve been to more in the past six months than I’ve seen in the rest of my life and I have discovered that I really love seeing how creative people are and what ideas exist out there. After four floors of exhibits, our group went up to the café that looks out over the Thames. The view was absolutely breathtaking. So we had tea and scones and a view of lovely London.

After eating, we all dispersed our separate ways and Ricardo and I spent a good hour on the beach of the Thames collecting beach treasures. We found the coolest stones, an abundance of blue and green sea glass, and a few seashells. It was a really lovely afternoon. Did I mention it was our six month anniversary?

Sunday evening was a combination of studying, grocery shopping, and McDonald’s. London is all about real life.

Monday, July 17th
On Monday, we had a guest speaker between our two classes. He is an immigration and human rights lawyer and gave a truly wonderful and informative talk about human rights and the refugee children of Calle.

After classes, Ricardo and I went to Picadilly Circus with the purpose of going souvenir shopping. There, philosophy discussions and scarves of England intersected, because we are the scarf bystanders. We were both tired and hungry and grumpy and were trying to find somewhere to eat when all of a sudden we stumbled into a Rainforest Café. Just like that, we were transported back to our childhoods and had the best meal there. Who can resist the allure of jungle animals and thunderstorms that occur when you’re eating? We ate hummus and olives and chicken strips. It was such a happy meal. In the Rainforest Café gift shop, we got one of those little bags where you can mix and match little plastic animals and – I tell you – that was the best five pounds spent.

We left the café and decided to walk a little more. We passed a Waterstone Books. I almost didn’t go in because we’ve bought so many books already, but thank goodness Ricardo pulled me in. There in the front entrance hall was a poster advertisement saying Cornelia Funke, author of Inkheart and Thief Lord, was giving a talk and having a book signing at 6:30 on Monday. It was 6:40. We ran downstairs and I ended up getting to sit in on a conversation with Cornelia Funke. She was one of my favorite authors growing up. It was amazing getting to be there. It was so unexpected! No one expects to randomly run into their favorite childhood author. I got a chance to ask her if she bases most of her characters on real-life people (and she does). We got books signed by her and it was amazing.

We got home and watched the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, as it had come out the night before at 2am and Sunday evening was the first chance we had to watch it. Freaking Ed Sheeran. It was all amazing.

Tuesday, July 18th
Our summer program technically makes us students at King’s College London, but our specific program is actually through the Center for Transnational Legal Studies. Our Human Rights & Human Trafficking class meets in the Strand building on the King’s College London campus. Our second class, Corporations, meets in Swan House, which is up at the end of Chancery Lane about 15 minutes away. My whole point in explaining this geography is that between the Strand and Swan House lies the Court of Justice.

The Court of Justice is this overshadowing, sprawling building of stunning gothic architecture. According to our legal tour guide a few weeks ago, the building was made to intimidate everyone going to court; the Court of Justice is where most civil cases occur. You can go in and tour the Courts after passing through security. So after our first class down at the Strand, Ricardo and I went in and saw the courts. Inside, the building was beautiful. It really was like a castle or cathedral; I suppose you could call the place a cathedral of the law. We wandered around and saw both the display on legal clothing (lawyers in the UK have to wear wigs and robes every time they enter a court) and the Bear Garden, which did not have a bear and wasn’t even a garden.

After Corporations, Ricardo went and met up with one of his old friends that we had bumped into in Oxford. I joined up with them an hour or two later and we had a lovely conversation over coffee about our respective trips in London and Oxford. After that meet-up, Ricardo and I went back to The George and had hummus with olives and toast with avocado and eggs and a good period of very nice study time.

Wednesday, July 19th
Wednesday’s adventures started out after class with Ricardo and I going up towards Camden Market. The entire area is more hip than than area we’d seen in London so far. Lots of younger people roamed the streets and shops and stalls with souvenirs and cool gadgets, fidges, and clothing lined the streets. We first stopped at this pub called The Elephant Head for a delicious tuna sandwich and a light beer. The Elephant Head was definitely the most hippy-ish pub I’ve been in since arriving in London. There were elephant drawings and tads of tie dye on the inside and layer upon layer of flower pots hanging on the outside. There was a jukebox in the corner and our bartender had a ton of cool, artsy tattoos.

Camden Market itself is surrounded by some stream or river and you cross over a charming bridge to get there. The market is a giant, maze-like sprawl of various shops and stalls selling everything from food to jewelry to clothing to used books to antiques and everything in between. Man, it was amazing. There were amazing jewelry artists there. There was a stall with antique cameras. There was a stall of magic tricks. There was a stall with one last, remaining fluffy egg paste doughnut thing powdered with sugar that we bought and ate and the powdery doughnut thing was delicious. We wandered around for a few hours before getting lost on our way out.

Two of the girls in our program are from Italy and invited us all over Wednesday night to their apartment for a night of homemade Italian food. Ricardo and I got to the area early and studied at a little diner for a while before going over to their house. Just about everyone from our program showed up and the entire evening was lovely. I had so many great conversations over the course of the evening. They made two different kinds of pasta and homemade tiramisu. My goodness, that tiramisu (which is already my favorite dessert) was the best I have ever had.

At the end of the evening, we left just in time to get to the nearest tube station before the tube shut down for the night. But when we were close to the station, Ricardo realized he had forgotten his wallet at the house we had just left. (His oyster card – aka the way to get onto the tube – was in his wallet.) We started being followed back by some sort of crazy guy. He was making weird noises and followed us all the way to the gate of the house. When we got to the apartment, we called our friends to come let us in (they live on the third floor), and during that whole time this crazy man leaned on the fence staring at us and muttering in French. He finally left after Ricardo asked him what he wanted. But after that, we just took an uber straight home.

Thursday, July 20th
After class on Thursday, we headed home and packed and left on our way to Paris.

10. The Completely Uncertain and Brief Chronology to Bidding for Legal Firm Interviews

You know what’s terrifying? Seeing your life stretched out you in a single line. Seeing a life of conformity where you just get shoved into the lines along with everyone around you as if you were the same as a bunch of cattle. It’s terrifying to see the normal spectrum and range of lives that form the average standard of what people doing what you yourself are doing right now are expected to be doing in the future. This conformist life lends itself very well to many of those people and their wants and desires in life. This same conformity terrifies me.

Currently I’m in the process of ranking law firms for Early Interview Week (EIW). So Georgetown Law organizes this giant event for rising 2Ls (law students who have just completed their first year of law school and first summer of legal internships, typically) where the school brings in literally hundreds of law firms from across the country to come interview the current rising 2L students at Georgetown. These interviews are for summer internships that would occur between 2L and 3L; in other words, these interview are potentially for the only other internship a law student could get before moving out into the actual legal job market.

The way a lot of firms are working these days, if I understand correctly, is they hire interns for their 2L-3L summer and then at the end of the summer hire some of those interns on as full firm attorneys, provided they finish up their third year of law school strongly. This is terrifying for a number of reasons. Firstly, this timeline means that the firms I am interviewing for in a month and a half are potentially the firms that might hire me for a summer internship for next summer and subsequently have the option of hiring me on as post-law school. Essentially, EIW is an interview for not just an internship but also for an actual legal job as an attorney.

Currently I am going through the list of environmental law firms in D.C. and looking into which firms I should be bidding for. Essentially the bidding process allows participating law students to place a bid for whichever firm they want to interview with specifically. You have a bidding limit of 50 firms you can bid for.

I’ve currently narrowed down my search to firms that are only environmental firms in D.C., as I hopefully plan on staying in the D.C. area in the long term and have no intentions of leaving in the short term. As I’m going through these firms’ websites, I’m struck over and over again with how different every single one of them is from what I want to do. To be fair, I haven’t even managed to get through a quarter of them yet – and hopefully there are a few firms that might be good fits for me – but the environmental work most of these law firms seem to do just do not interest me in the least.

Part of the thing about EIW and interviewing for firms is that firms are not for everyone. Legal firms do specific things and have specific styles that don’t necessarily mesh well with a given individual’s personality. I very much suspect that I am one of those people. However, I don’t want to rule out the possibility and maybe I will find that firm life is actually something I really enjoy and I will simply through myself into it if given the chance. It’s hard to know without being somewhere whether or not you are actually a good fit for the situation.

I also realize now at this point how little I actually know about environmental law. I think my initial intuition – prior to even beginning law school – to pursue maritime law might have been a somewhat correct intuition. The sectors and fields under these law firms’ environmental areas have a lot to do with energy or chemicals or clean water or other such things. I’m in no way saying those things aren’t important. They are just things I have absolutely no interest in. And it’s scary to realize I have no idea how to get to a career I want to do, or even if such a career exists.

Bidding on these firms is just the first step in a whole process that may very well amount to absolutely nothing in terms of my life, but it could also end up being the first step in a process that decides the next several years of my career for me before I even fully understand what that career path entails. There is no learning like learning through experience, but even so, this whole process is definitely an anxiety-producing process that I cannot wait to be done with.