Rock and a Hard Place

August 12, 2011 2 comments

This week I had two interviews – one with a lawyer I met on Twitter, and one for a doc review agency.

Both were in DC.

The first interview was for the lawyer I kind-of knew. I got in the car. I drove to the metro. I walked to her office. And without traffic? That took 2 hours. Coming home in DC traffic took almost three and a half.

I live too far away from where the jobs are.

This isn’t news. I’ve known it for a while. I just didn’t know HOW far. And as I sat in traffic on 270 at a standstill yesterday, it became painfully obvious how far out of my reach all of these jobs were. It became obvious why no one was interested in looking at my resume. It was so obvious.

And for the first time in months, I just cried. Big, fat tears in my car, stuck in traffic, like an idiot. I called a friend. I cried some more. And I lamented that I had done everything right, worked hard, and done well, and this is what my situation has come to.

It got so bad that I called my dad, still crying, and told him that I felt like a big fat failure. I felt like, in my zeal to make the most responsible decisions that I could, I’d screwed myself. That I had no idea what to do next. That I was so scared and angry and frustrated that all the things that I wanted were so far out of my grasp. And like the fantastic father that he is, he just sat and listed for about fifteen minutes. And when I was done, he told me that maybe it was time for The Fiance and I to think about moving. That yes, it was more money. But that he’s got our backs. And did I still want to go to New York for my birthday?

Today I’m still going to the doc review interview (in fact, about the time this is published I’ll be walking in to it – wish me luck). And I’m going to look into what it would take to break our lease out here, get a subletter, and move into Northern Virginia, where I might have a prayer of finding a job, no matter how small. Where I can be in DC in under 2 hours. Where I can get to the Metro without driving an hour and twenty minutes (without traffic). Where John could also find something to  do in the short-term until the government actually hires him. I’m going to keep looking for administrative/paralegal jobs until I get my results. I’m not going to give up.

I tried. I tried really hard to like it out here, and in some ways I do. I tried to get excited about small town life. But, when it comes down to it, it’s too much. It’s too far. And there’s nothing I can do to fix it but change my location.

And in case you were wondering? My father is the very best father in the entire world. I’m so lucky.

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Categories: job hunt, The Apartment

Looking Back, Looking Up

August 10, 2011 2 comments

It’s been a rough couple of years.

I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. A lot of lawyers and workers in general are feeling down and out. A lot of people are out of work. Even more are underemployed. And really? I know my story isn’t anything as bad as a lot of people’s. It’s August after my May graduation. I’ve been officially “unemployed” for about a week. I’ve got some money saved. I’m soon to have health insurance again. And eventually, one of these days, The Fiance is going to have a job that will comfortably pay our bills.

I’m very lucky.

I’m also feeling very lucky to have my circle of real-life and internet friends. In the past few days, I’ve been given some interesting resume building opportunities and short-term or part-time opportunities to get my feet wet in the legal realm. And even though I wasn’t (and am still not) sure that I’ll end up being a practicing attorney, it’s no longer because I think I’m somehow not good enough to do it, or that I would be amazingly and horrendously bad at it if I were given the chance.

How did I get to the point of believing, despite the fact that I worked my butt off in law school and my internships and clerkships during school, that I would be terrible, and that I was somehow too stupid to do this? Looking back on it now, I realize that I was in a job that was a bad fit for me during law school. This isn’t to insult my former employer. I got good experience, and learned a lot of things from attorneys who are great at what they do. I liked them. But I also dreaded coming into work. I dreaded the “emergencies” that weren’t emergencies. I feared being yelled at for something I couldn’t control. I resented never being given feedback, even when I asked for it. I hated never having a clear picture of what was expected. I hated feeling ignored and like the work I was doing was never good enough. I was sure I didn’t fit in, and that it was a problem with me.

It wasn’t until spring of my third year, almost two years after starting my job, that I suspected it wasn’t my fault. I ran into a former professor in one of my clinical-type classes who was a partner at a local firm. He stopped me and told me that he was impressed with my work, and that if I ever needed a recommendation I could call him. When I said my firm wasn’t retaining me, he seemed shocked, and said that if I were to stay in the city (I didn’t), he’d be glad to help me find something that would be a good fit. I’d been turning in the same work to him that I’d been giving to my employer.

My lawyer friends tried to tell me that it was just a bad firm experience and not to give up. I didn’t want to hear it. I studied for the bar, freaked out, and convinced myself all over again that this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know anything. Who would ever want to hire me? Why would I want to go back to feeling the way I did while I was working during law school?

I don’t feel that way anymore, in part because of an email I got from an attorney after day 1 of the bar exam. She’d listened to me lament, complain, and get angry about my career. She’d listened to my hissy fits, and hadn’t given up on me. Instead, at a time when I’m sure she knew that I felt the dumbest, she sent me an email telling me to keep my chin up, and that the profession could use more women like me. I sat in my hotel room and read it over and over again.

After that, I actually started listening to my attorney friends. I’m beginning to realize that my experience wasn’t normal. It wasn’t my fault. It was just a bad fit. I’m not dumb, I’m not incompetent. I’m still learning, but that’s normal. I’m not supposed to know how to do everything right now.

So for now, until results come out and probably after, I’ll piece together my new career with part-time gigs, contract work, and volunteering. I’m lucky that my network of legal and non-legal people is so supportive, open, and warm. I’m lucky that they kept telling me, even when I didn’t want to hear it, that there’s nothing wrong with me.

I think I’m starting to believe it. Things are looking up.

Categories: job hunt, the law

Applying Myself

August 7, 2011 2 comments

Let’s talk about unemployment, shall we?

It’s boring. It’s really, really boring. I even have a fiance and two kittens to keep me company. I have no idea how people who don’t have those things do it.

Because of this boredom (and because of, you know, money) I’ve been applying to everything in sight. Retail, non-retail. If there’s a job within an hour of my apartment, I’ll consider it. Including waitressing at the casino. I need to get out of the house.

However, that’s not the kind of applying I was talking about in the title of this post.

No, I’m talking about the blood, sweat, and tears kind. The “I gained a ton of weight during my last semester of law school and the bar exam” kind. During 3L and during the bar, there were constantly things vying for my attention. There were things that I had to do for my job and for school that wouldn’t wait. There were endless lectures and practice questions. There was an increased amount of stress and panic.

And now? I have nothing to fill my days except for job applications and the activities I make for myself. So, in addition to cleaning my apartment, I’ve decided to use this time to get healthy. I’ve got new bike shorts, new workout pants, and a plan to bike and jog (and eventually run) my way back into fitness.  Before the Great Employment SNAFU of March, I was able to run 4 miles without stopping. I was about 15 pounds lighter. I felt better. I looked better. I had a waist. I want to get back there and to keep going.

But just training isn’t enough. I also have to stop the ridiculous eating habits I’ve developed. And to help out there, I’ve started making green smoothies, or a spinach-based fruit and veggie smoothie for my breakfast and after-workout snack.  I know in theory it sounds gross, and that they definitely look gross. But I assure you, the one I ate today was heavenly.  Here’s what I used:

The Ingredients:

  •  2 handfuls of baby spinach
  •  1 cup passion blend frozen fruit (peaches, pineapple, melon, and strawberry)
  •  1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  •  6 baby carrots
  •  1 tablespoon peanut butter
  •  1 cup vanilla soy milk

I just put it in the blender and hit “puree.” In about a minute, I had something that looked like this, and was able to be easily poured from the blender into a glass.

The end product was a little more textured than a regular fruit smoothie. It wasn’t really sweet, but tasted like vanilla, with a hint of peanut butter.  The recipe will yield 2 servings, if you’re using 12 oz glasses.  And, according to MyFitnessPal, each serving contains:

  • 192 calories
  • 24 g carbs
  • 6 g fat
  • 13 g protein
  • 6 g fiber
Since I have a hard time feeling like I get enough veggies, I think I’ll be adding these to my morning routine. I ate it along with a single egg, and felt full and satisfied. And I have one more serving to use as a post-workout snack this afternoon. Bonus? The Fiance doesn’t like them, so unlike the rest of the things in the fridge, I don’t have to worry about him stealing it.
Categories: health, Photos, recipes Tags: , ,

Tests, Kittens, and Uncertainty.

August 4, 2011 4 comments

Once upon a time, a girl moved four hours away from a city she loved to be with a boy she loved. She started studying for the bar exam. She started a blog. She even got a kitten. And then? She fell off the face of the bloggy earth.

Whoops.

Not surprisingly, a few things have changed since I last posted over here.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter know: the kitten is a girl. Oops. Her name is Tessa, and she’s twice as big as she was when we got her a month and a half ago.

But we’re not a one-cat household anymore.

Hello there!

Meet Gus. Much to Tessa’s initial frustration, when I was in Roanoke for the Test That Shall Not Be Named, I stopped in Lynchburg to pick up a kitten that my college friend Mary Jo rescued from a gas station but couldn’t keep. He’s the sweetest kitten on earth, and incredibly laid back. He loves water, loves to cuddle, and loves to lick. He’s kind of like a little puppy in cat form. Because of his look, temperament, and size I’m pretty sure he’s at least part Ragdoll. While the two of them weren’t super good friends at first because Tessa flipped out, they now love each other. Observe:

Let me get that off your foot for you!

In the next few days, I’ll catch you up on the other random happenings. The MIL is currently not really on speaking terms with us.  The Fiance’s job has been delayed, so we’re both frantically searching for anything that pays. We’re trying to figure out when and where to get married. And, I’m trying out new recipes and workouts to lose all the weight I put on during 3L and bar study so I don’t look like a whale anymore.

Until then, let me just say: my stress level hasn’t decreased after the bar exam like I was promised. It’s just changed. I’m bored, and yet overwhelmed by how few jobs are out there for people like me who are just starting out. Things are hard, and we’re not entirely sure what’s next.

Right now, my life feels a lot like it feels to drive on a country road late at night. I know there are bends and turns, but I can’t see them. I don’t know what’s coming up, and it’s scary. I’m not sure how to prepare, or really where I’m going. I can only see the little bit that’s illuminated in the headlights. Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll find something to do for money and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Until then, I’m going to finish my glass of wine and snuggle some kittens.

Categories: Photos Tags: , , , ,

A New Addition

June 23, 2011 3 comments

I’m not so great at this regular posting thing this summer. It’s almost like I’m buried in books most of the time.

But, for the last two days I’ve had another excuse for not being around here as much as I’d like. The Fiance and I have aded a new member to our little household. He’s tiny, furry, and has an adorable orange spot on his forehead.

His name is Brennan (and yes, he’s named after the former Supreme Court Justice. We’re nerds. Deal with it). We got him from a high school friend of The Fiance’s whose cat had kittens unexpectedly, and we’re so glad we did. He’s 8 weeks old, and alternates between dead to the world and OMG SUPER EXCITED MUST KILL EVERYTHING. He’s extremely cuddly, and already completely spoiled.

He may not be the best thing for my productivity, but he sure does improve my sanity and mood.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bad Blogger. Bad.

June 9, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been pretty silent here the past week and a half or so. I’m sorry for that.

The truth is, it’s not because of bar prep or a lack of things going on (though both of those would be convenient excuses). Rather, I’ve been having a hard time adjusting. I miss home. The internet was really buggy for a few weeks, which cut me off from what seems like my only connection to the outside world. Basically, I’ve been throwing a giant hissy fit over here. Fiance has had to deal with it because he lives with me, but I had the good sense to try to keep it off the blog.

The past day or so, I think I’ve turned a corner. I’ve settled into a little bit of a routine, and buckled down on prep, because I’m getting into the harder subjects that I know less about. And, last night we went out with the neighbor across the hall to participate in trivia with some of his friends. It was a really good time, and restored my hope that we’re going to make friends.

So, with that little pity party out of the way, how about we talk about what’s being going on here in West-By-God-Virginia since we last saw each other. Last week was iPhone week, so this post is complete with iPhone photos. Incidentally, I have NO idea how I lived without this little piece of heaven before. No idea.

A few days after my last post, Fiance and I had lunch with The MIL at her favorite restaurant – Bob Evans. If it wasn’t clear from past posts … the MIL leaves me feeling very conflicted. On one hand, I know she’s old and lonely, and I don’t want to be mean, because my parents raised me better than that. On the other hand, she’s oppressive, and sometimes really mean to me. Despite my best efforts to make excuses to The Fiance (food poisoning! Migraine! Eaten by a bear!) I was forced to attend this lunch.

Much to my relief, The MIL seems to understand that perhaps we’re not so keen on the way she’d been treating us, and seems determined to suck up, which I am 100% fine with. To this end, she showed up with gift cards for graduation, and some additional presents for me. The most useful were the keychain with my name engraved (very sweet) and the red tote.

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The Huge Red Tote. I think it's meant to be a beach bag, but I love it for my bar prep stuff.

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To show how big this sucker really is. That's my Redbook for Kaplan. It's probably a good 2 inches thick. Still plenty of room in there.

Those of you who don’t live in the WV/MD/VA area may not know, but the summers are evidently humid as all hell, which is a definite adjustment from Pittsburgh. To combat this, we went to the diner down the street from our little apartment and got cold deserts. I’m not sure they even still make sundaes like this anywhere but small downs. I felt like I was back in the 1950s. An aside: there’s a drugstore down the street from us that still has an honest-to-God lunch counter.

 

 

 

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Delicious. Very, very delicious.

 

There’s another local business I think you should know about. It’s the coffee shop in Shepherdstown, called The Lost Dog.  It’s … well, I’ll let the picture speak for itself:

 

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The inside of The Lost Dog. Cluttered, blaring indie music, and full of hippie, environmentalist (and sometimes Anarchist) art and propoganda.

 

The photo simply doesn’t do it justice.  The coffee and drinks are amazing, and the reusable mugs cite its location as “Shepherdstown, Best Virginia.”  And if you were wondering about the ownership’s attitude? You should read this Yelp entry in which Garth, the owner, responds to Jessica M’s review of his coffee shop.

And finally, did you know that Sheetz gas stations are basically the best gas stations ever? For instance, not only can you get Made To Oder (MTO) sandwiches that are actually pretty good, most locations actually sell fresh fruit. Observe:

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And it wasn't rotten and gross, either!

 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ll try to keep my hissy fits to a minimum, and keep up with the regular postings.

Categories: Photos

Memorial Day Weekend

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, the abysmal news re: Fiance’s iMac has been semi-resolved. We checked, and it’s still covered under Applecare until August, so we’re going to be taking a trip to the nearest Apple Store to have a conversation with a Genius and decide what can be done to fix it.  To highlight the difference between my life in Pittsburgh and my life here: in Pittsburgh, a trip to the Genius Bar would have meant a 4 block walk. Here? We have to drive an hour and twenty minutes (assuming we don’t hit traffic) into Reston, VA.  However, all the major components of his machine are covered under the extended warranty and the consultation is free, so it’s worth the drive. While we’re there, we’ll also have the joy of getting our iPhones, which are a very generous present from my parents for our graduations.

Anyway, it’s been a relaxing Memorial Day weekend here. The Brother-in-Law came over on Sunday to hang closet bars, so we’re in the final stages of unpacking, now that we’re able to sort clothes meaningfully. We also spent our Sunday night over at Other Mom’s, which is always an enjoyable time.

I didn’t bring the camera, but their house is magical in a way that I don’t think pictures would capture.  They’ve essentially rebuilt the house since they moved in in 1984, and made it their own. It doesn’t have air conditioning or a furnace (they use a wood stove), but it’s perfectly them. And on hot summer nights, like last night, everyone sits out around the fire pit playing Scrabble, drinking good beer, and talking about everything and nothing, and alternately petting or cursing the cats, depending on if they’re behaving or not.

It’s a little family, the people who show up regularly, and Other Mom mothers us all. We were sent home yesterday with a CD of Patent Pending (the bluegrass band Other Dad is in), a book, and a pineapple.

Today was significantly lazier, and consisted mostly of putting things away, and some studying. We did, however, make a trip to Lowes, where we picked up more permanent pots for our two little fledgling herb plants, as well as a more mature basil plant and some sage.

Mature basil, rosemary seedling, basil seedling, and German sage.

I’ve consulted with my mother, who has the green thumb in the family, and she assured me that there was very little I could do to kill these suckers. I’m hoping to prove her right over the next few weeks, but I am solidly skeptical.

Here’s hoping that your MDW was also relaxing and productive. And to those families of those service men and women who have given their lives: my thoughts are with you.

Categories: Uncategorized