Finding the Rhythm

Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi softly whirred in the background as I put the finishing touches on my very first motion for summary judgment. Whoosh! With the push of a button, the draft sailed out of my hands and into the warm embrace of my Writing Fellow’s inbox. Relief and a dull sense of accomplishment washed over me. I switched from passive listening to active engagement with the music emanating from my headphones. The bass line seemed to linger on the same note for centuries. A solitary flute layered on a looped arpeggio. Enter the trumpets, elevating the intensity with a string of incessant eighth notes. This mesmeric masterpiece carried on for over an hour. I completely zoned out, and by the end, an epiphany had blossomed.

I’ve read numerous depictions of the law school experience—many of which detail its inherent stresses and demands—but I’ve never encountered any describing its delightfully zen nature.

To me, this adventure can best be described as a Philip Glass symphony: some gleefully embrace the minimalism and revel in the covert dynamism of a narrow routine, whereas others only see oppressive monotony.

If you fancy regularity, you may thrive in this environment. Daily readings are the reliable ostinato that propels each week forward. Each subsequent five-day phrase builds upon on everything that came before it—especially in Constitutional law—adding new layers of complexity without deviating from the tempo. The ebb and flow follows this braided ritual: Monday evenings are devoted to Constitutional and Administrative Law; a 6 hour block midday Tuesday offers an opportunity to ponder Criminal Law and Property at Pavement; Wednesday brings a variation on a Monday theme; Thursday I tinker with my writing assignment at the Super 88; Friday I’m in raptures. Then comes the weekend, which can only be described as the symphonic bridge that inevitably leads to the piece’s central motif. Extracurricular indulgences, such as off-campus outings with classmates, are colorful timbres sprinkled throughout this opus.

Four weeks into second semester, I am grateful that I’ve found my rhythm. It just took a bit of zenning out to realize that things had fallen into place, one phrase at a time.

New Year, New Things

Do not let anything fool you—grad school is NOT a continuation of undergraduate schooling. Grad school is most comparable to a full time, full encompassing job. I’m not even sure that 9-5 job your friend luckily snagged right after graduating that she snap chats you from everyday is even an accurate comparison.  Grad school is a job that’s all day, well into the night, continuing onto the weekend, and boiling down to stressful busy season we students call finals. That being said, every job gets vacation days and everyone should take those days–grad students included.

This past weekend I remembered how great it felt to not be living within the four walls of the law school building when I took to exploring Boston. Thanks to some avid Boston-lovers in my classes, I learned that Boston—among being home to some crazy sports fanatics—is also home to some great breweries. In particular, I recommend taking a trip out to Somerville Brewing Company. Not only is is across the river so you get to explore a new place, but it supports small business if you’re into that sort of thing of giving back to business owners in the community. Plus, their beers are actually delicious and very affordable on a student budget.

Seeing as it was my first time across the river, I decided to go all out and even make a visit to Harvard. There is a reason Harvard is such a tourist attraction and that reason is because the area is so beautiful and historic. If you have a thing for bricks, old buildings, and an atmosphere that just feels like you gained some IQ points, definitely go take a stroll. There’s even the world’s smallest ice skating rink located right in the middle of Harvard Yard that offers free ice skating! (You’ve been warned though it is literally a 10 ft. by 10 ft. squared off slab of ice).

Spring semester is shaping up to be even more strenuous than last semester. Between new classes and the grueling process of securing a summer job…we’re definitely not in fall semester anymore, ToTo. But with a new year and a new semester comes new opportunities to explore this new city and that’s something to get excited about!

 

What, like it's hard?

What, like it’s hard?

Down Time for the Mind

In the past few weeks, I have noticed that my mind tends to keep going. Even on late nights deep in the week, after reading and writing and extracurriculars, my mind keeps churning when I want it to slow down. I lay awake for a while and try and settle the thoughts. I tried counting sheep. My sister recommended an exercise where I try to close my eyes and name five things that are in the room and where they are located. My girlfriend recommended a similar exercise where I try and identify three things I can hear, feel, and see. These types of things, I believe, are all close relatives of “mindfulness.”

Usually, my thoughts will sort of dissolve into non-sensical vignettes similar to dreams, and I know when that happens, sleep is quick to follow. A few hours later, an iPhone alarm goes off and it’s a new day.

I am not sure why I decided to write about this particular phenomenon, but I have been interested in how my mind has adapted to the law school lifestyle. Over the course of a given day, there is plenty to keep the mind busy. Whether it is reading, or a networking event, or talking with classmates, or applying to jobs, or working on a memo, the mind is constantly engaged in different ways. Even in the down time, there is a phone or a computer or a television in front of our faces. So, I have wondered, when do our brains get their down time during all of this?

I do try to take a little break every day, free from a book, or a conversation, or a phone, or music.

A walk along the Charles. A ride on the T just watching the world on Comm Ave. Some time in the gym.

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Of course, there is nothing particularly novel or notable about such an act, but when I look around and see how plugged in we are to our various iPads and iPhones and iPods, I do wonder how many others lay awake at night with a mind churning when it should be slowing down…

Something, perhaps, to think about while I drift off to sleep this evening.

Starting Second Semester

Between finals and the end of break, life seemed like a blur. Before I knew it, I was on my way back to Boston for Lawyering Lab. Lawyering lab is a unique, week-long opportunity to put skills into practice. Students are divided into teams that will work together all week representing one side or another. At the end, two teams will be paired up to take part in a final negotiation. Lawyering Lab consists of a simulated deal between two companies looking to either merge or contract. Teams counsel their client, edit contracts according to their client’s needs, and negotiate a final contract with a team representing the other client. By the end of the week, the deal is concluded. A couple days later, second semester starts.

The beginning of second semester was even busier than the beginning of the first. Instead of having three classes plus writing, my section now has four classes plus writing. Though I didn’t imagine that this would make much of a difference, it certainly does. Time is flying faster than ever and there can’t possibly be enough hours in the day. However, I believe that it is crucial to take time away from schoolwork, job applications, activities, and everything else to have some fun and stay grounded. That being said, I thought I would include a few things I’ve been up to since returning to Boston.

The Boston Athenaeum

Located downtown, just a couple blocks away from the Common, the Athenaeum is a fantastic, historical, private library. Better yet, they have special exhibits that are open to the public for a small fee. Their recent exhibit included old (very old), rare maps. Additionally, the first floor is open to the public and is definitely a Boston landmark worth checking out. Even though I found myself once again surrounded by books, the Athenaeum and its exhibit offered a nice break from everything law-related.

The Museum of Fine Arts

A banner advertising a Vermeer and Rembrandt exhibit sparked my interest in the museum. One of the Louvre’s two Vermeer paintings was traveling when I visited Paris. Traveling, in part it seems, to Boston. I decided to go track it down and found so much more. The Museum of Fine Arts (free to BU students!) is a great place to spend a day and has something to offer everyone. Moreover, it’s a nice distraction from casebooks for a few hours.

Wandering Around Boston

The Boston Public Garden, Newbury Street, and Beacon Hill are my favorite places in the city to wander. The Public Garden is like an oasis in the middle of a busy city. Newbury Street is constantly bustling and has great spots for coffee, treats, nice dinners, and shopping (of course). Beacon Hill is classic. The historic cobblestone streets are surprisingly peaceful the further into the neighborhood you walk. These spots, and many others, are great places to go walking with friends. It’s always fun to choose a spot and see what you end up finding! Tackling tourist traps is another favorite, especially when guests are in town. However, I will leave the details of these spots up to the guidebooks.

First year is flying by, and it is sometimes easy to get swept up in all of the work that second semester demands. Sometimes, it is necessary to stay in for a weekend to get everything accomplished. However, when possible, getting away from it all is important. Boston has a lot to offer and can even feel like a mini-vacation. Law school can be stressful, but there is still plenty of time to go out and explore a bit in the midst of it all.

The Space Saver Conundrum

With the first major snow event of the season occurring last weekend, space savers once again entered the stream of conscious for many Boston residents. Residents who must park their cars in crowded neighborhoods such as Allston, Brighton and Jamaica Plain often use a variety of items such as garbage cans and lawn chairs to save the spot that they originally shoveled out. However, after Boston received approximately 6 inches of snow last Saturday night, the Boston Public Works Department began removing these space savers from spots. Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been largely inconsistent in his treatment of space savers, stated that space savers should only be used on a short-term basis during a snow emergency. The city’s regulations of this issue remains largely inconsistent because most Boston residents do not shovel their cars off during the immediacy of a snow emergency and instead, make use of space savers only once they attempt to travel by car after the snow has ended.

Last winter, space savers were used seemingly throughout the entire winter as a string of storms from late January throughout February made parking in many neighborhoods nearly impossible. A number of violent incidents occurred when people removed space savers and then parked in that spot. The original resident who shoveled the spot would then come back and see the space saver removed and often caused damage to the vehicle. This past Monday in Dorchester, a 34-year old man was shot over what was believed to be a parking dispute. This type of violence led some neighborhoods such as the South End to outright ban space savers last winter.

In my opinion, the arguments on each side of the issue are fairly understandable. The resident who uses a space saver did the hours of work shoveling the spot and believes he or she is the rightful “owner” of the space saver. However, if you do not live in the area or choose not to use a space saver, you feel like you should be able to park where you want because the street is a “public space.” Unfortunately, the already shrinking space that is Boston parking becomes an even greater premium during and following major winter snow events. It becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle when if you don’t use a space saver, you have no place to park your vehicle and have to then walk an unreasonably long distance to get to your car.

Throughout last winter, the Mayor’s Office would often attempt to regulate the use of space savers or limit the time that space savers could be used on city streets. However, these regulations and loose rules were rarely enforced. If the Mayor does want to regulate this issue and not have parking turn into the wild west, then the Boston Public Works Department should be active throughout this winter in removing space savers. A clear policy of no space savers throughout Boston should be easy to enforce and will provide a clear rule for all Boston residents to follow.