There’s Snow Time Like Your First Time

If you’re currently situated somewhere in the Northeastern United States, then you’re well aware of the current state of the weather union. But, if you haven’t yet been briefed on the situation, here it is in one word: SNOW. While this isn’t my first snowy rodeo, it is only my second real New England winter (Yes, I get it, I know I missed the real big winter of 2015 and nothing we’ve seen even compares to that). This means that even the lightest of snow flurries still gets me overwhelmingly excited and I still don’t think it’s a hassle to put on a huge coat and snow boots for a trek outside.

However, last Thursday marked the most exciting day thus far in my whole two-winter experience: MY FIRST SNOW DAY! I couldn’t believe I was actually waking up to an email that BU would be closed due to large amounts of snow pouring down all day long. While other people were thankful for a day off to catch up on work, I was busy googling “things to do on a snow day”. I didn’t even mind that when I told all my friends in Florida about my snow day they were leaving to go tan by the pool. (Okay, that’s a lie I was actually very upset and still confused how it could be hailing down snow here and like 10 states away it’s a perfect beach day…).

Donning two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, boots and my coat, I walked all over the deserted town and couldn’t believe that no one else wanted to go outside and play in the snow! Granted, it was understandable when after 10 minutes of trying to make a snowman my entire body was numb and tears were streaming down my face from the wind. But nevertheless, it was still the most exciting and snowy magical day I’ve had in Boston. As crazy as it is to admit after being born and raised in South Florida, snowy winters are exactly why I wanted to move to Boston. I can’t imagine waking up to snow falling ever getting old…but maybe talk to me after 100+ inches of snow happens.

 

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Real live view right outside BU Gym.

Snow Day!

Today my fellow Terriers awoke to this delightful bit of news:

“EMERGENCY BU ALERT: Boston University’s Charles River Campus is cancelling daytime and evening classes on Thursday, February 9, 2017 as of 6:00 AM. All academic and administrative activities (e.g. classes, seminars, student activities and meetings) that are scheduled to take place are cancelled. Academic and administrative operations that are normally scheduled are also cancelled.”

feb-blog-pic_snowy-streetToday has the honorary distinction of being the first snow day of the year. What does one do on an unexpectedly free day? An informal poll revealed that my friends are using the extra time to (1) work on their Albers Moot Court Competition briefs; (2) catch up on schoolwork; (3) apply for summer positions; or (4) indulge in self-care. As for me, I’ve devoted the day to #4.feb-blog-pic_outside-sbux

For me, a great day starts with espresso and steamed whole milk. I rolled out of bed and ambled to my local Starbucks. Despite not encountering a single soul on the snow-dusted streets, the place was packed with students feverishly working away on laptops, gaggles of gossipers, and fellow people-watchers. I quietly sipped my ambrosia and soaked in the community buzz.

Upon returning home I comforted Mittens, who is truly horrified by the frozen wasteland outside her escape window. She has since retreated into her Amazonian castle.

feb-blog-pic_mitts-castleI then cranked up my guilty pleasure playlist, VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘90s, and attended to oft-neglected chores: washing, folding, scrubbing, and tidying.

Feeling lighter, I made a pot of tea and proceeded to write letters to my West Coast pen pals and make Valentines. What better time to break out stamps, markers, cardstock—and the first installment of my sticker subscription!

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If one isn’t careful about tempering the demands of law school, it’s easy to spiral into threadbare, academic subsistence. To Do Lists never reap the satisfaction of completion because there’s always more to do. I could review class notes or crack open next week’s inevitable assignments—but that’s what tomorrow’s for. Or at least, that’s what Snow Day tells me.

Surviving Boston Winter 101

As a born and raised New Englander, I feel like I should share some ways to get through the (mostly brutal) Boston winters without losing too much body heat, fingers to frostbite, or sanity. I’ve compiled a list of things I think are absolutely essential to surviving the “Artic-tundra-then-monsoon-then-fifty-and-sunny-in-one-week” day to day life in New England.

  1. Down Coat

As part of a New England family of 4, I think we collectively have amassed enough jackets in enough sizes to outfit an entire hockey team. Why? Having a good coat is a major key in New England. And, more often than not, just one coat won’t do the trick. But if I had to pick one jacket, I’d pick a down-filled parka (preferably of a longer length). These are mostly water-resistant if not water-proof, which is great for the wet heavy snow, and they’re pretty warm. Also, a longer jacket can really make a big difference in keeping your legs warm. Trendy brands to get one: North Face, Canada Goose, LL Bean, Lands’ End. See also: Costco (This is where mine is from and let me tell you, it’s fantastic). 

2. LL Bean Boots

These have become somewhat trendy in recent years (much to native New Englanders’ chagrin) but the fact of the matter is that you cannot successfully survive winter without a good pair of boots- and LL Bean makes very, very, good boots. These boots come in all sorts of heights, colors, and levels of insulation and are unisex. Regardless of the option you pick, these boots are durable, waterproof, functional, and essential. I’ve got the regular 8” ones with no extra insulation and my feet are always warm and dry, but I can’t say I haven’t been jealous of my sisters’ fleece lined ones. Get them at: LLBean.com. Competitors: Sperry duck boots; Sorel.

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3. Accessories: Scarf, Hat, Gloves

I’m a firm believer that your experience with the outdoors can be made or broken by the correct accessories. Soft scarves are key to keeping the wind chill out, covering your ears can make a world of difference, and your hands will be basically useless without gloves. My personal favorites include cashmere-feel scarves (so soft against your face!) and these mittens-without-fingers-that-my-boyfriend-makes-fun-of. 

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The above pair is from Sterlingwear of Boston, but you can find similar pairs almost anywhere. They keep your hands warm, lock out the cold that snakes up the sleeves of your coat, and are probably the softest things I’ve ever touched. Oh, and you still have fingertips free to use your phone. 

4. Wool Socks

To go with your boots and act as sweaters for your feet. Plus they come in super cool colors and patterns. I’ve got some from LL Bean and other outwear stores, but TJMaxx usually has the best variety of selections and brands. 

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5. Sunglasses

“Wait, I thought this was a winter guide…?” Yes, yes it is. But here’s a little recognized fact until it’s too late: when the strong mid-day sun hits off a massive white snow bank, you will be BLINDED. I find myself wearing sunglasses more frequently in the winter than in the summer, solely because the snow banks maximize the strength of the sun and my sensitive green eyes just cannot take it. Also, the wind can do a number on your eyes, mostly making them water so you look like you’ve cried the whole walk to school. This leads to having to repeat “I’M FINE I PROMISE I’M NOT CRYING” for the first half hour of class. So if you’re like me and have sensitive eyes, a good pair of sunglasses is essential for the winter too. Personal favorite: RayBan Clubmaster.

Taking a Break…

Winter break is a sacred time for law students – finals are over, there are no homework obligations, and you can finally just breathe. A three-week break from classes, casebooks, and computer screens is a treat in itself. Although having time off is gift enough, having the opportunity to revisit hobbies and to try new things made this break even better. When I’m not learning about law, I should be learning something, right?

Naturally, my first task was to bake cookies. A lot of cookies. Perhaps it was finals, perhaps it was the holiday season, or perhaps it was a combination of both, but I soon found myself swept up in a number of recipes. First, I conquered the family classics – the cookies that make an appearance every Christmas (and seem to taste better every year, even if they are so familiar by now). Then, I figured it was about time to introduce some new recipes. I decided to think outside of the (recipe)box and look for some international cookie recipes. I settled on a German recipe and an Austrian recipe in the hopes of spicing up the Christmas cookie roster. In the end, I think I introduced a couple new cookie varieties that will become tradition.

The next thing I set out to learn was how to make one of my favorite Christmas ornaments. When I was a kid, I got a Moravian star – a folded paper ornament that looked simply impossible to make. Luckily, in a world with an infinite number of craft blogs and YouTube demonstrations about how to make just about anything, the task ended up being easier than I had imagined. Though I have yet to perfect the technique, I was quite happy to add to my collection of Christmas ornaments.

Why stop at making an ornament? Some friends and I decided to go to a studio that provides all the supplies you need to paint a piece of pottery (think a pottery version of wine and painting studios). It was a perfect way to catch up with friends and do something totally different. I then decided to take on another project – a challenge, but one that I had been curious about for a long time. Tatting, a traditional form of lace making, was something that my great-grandmother had skillfully done. Luckily, it has been quite unlike my prior misadventure in knitting. In my experience so far, it’s been a nice way to take a break from reading and to do something completely unrelated to studying.

Overall, I was happy to take a break by relaxing after the stress of finals. It was also nice to take the time to try new things. It’s necessary to get absorbed in law school, but it’s also important to take a break here and there.

…Servare Rem Publicam

If you approach the state house from Boston Common, you will pass Augustus Saint-Gauden’s stunning tribute to Robert Gould Shaw and the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Unveiled 120 years ago this May, its official name as a National Historic Site is the Shaw Memorial. But locally, and perhaps more appropriately, people know it as the “54th memorial.”

If you’ve ever seen the movie Glory, you’ll instantly recognize the massive bronze sculpture from the final credits of the film. As a kid, it was my favorite movie—and even today the 1989 movie stands the test of time, telling the story of the first African-American regiment to be raised to fight for the Union following the Emancipation Proclamation.

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I am moved every time I see the sculpture. When I am looking at it, in the shadow of the state house dome overlaid with copper by Paul Revere, standing on land that was once John Hancock’s cow pasture, I feel that I am confronting a part of our nation’s complex and challenging history. The sculpture reminds me of why I am not just proud to be studying the law, but proud to be studying the law in a city like Boston.

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment came into existence due in no small part to the tireless efforts of Frederick Douglass to convince the powers-that-be that black men should be a key contingent on the union forces. The Governor of Massachusetts at the time, the abolitionist John A. Andrew, was the first in the Union to raise a regiment comprised entirely of African-American soldiers. Douglass was critical to the effort, recruiting over 100 men from out of state to join the unit—including two of his three sons. The 54th distinguished itself in battle when it led the attack on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Nearly half the regiment was killed, but the courage the unit showed on the battlefield became a rallying moment for the Union.

So what, you may ask, does that have to do with the law?

I believe that the monument is a reminder of the lengths to which mankind will go to seek and preserve liberty. It is a reminder that the test of whether our nation “can long endure” (to borrow from Lincoln’s famous words) is not complete—that we must continue to challenge ourselves to live up to the ideals that we aspire to and acknowledge that we have fallen short too often. The law can be the vehicle by which we achieve those goals.

It’s a big idea to confront when you are standing there in front of the monument—too much for any one person to take on. But when I come back to campus, surrounded by the students who volunteer their time to help immigrants navigate our legal system, or file documents for veterans, or advocate for underserved families, I am reminded of how powerful the law can be in striving towards a more perfect union.