Law school isolation

Law school is a very isolating experience. When I first joined my sorority (or rather Fraternity) I was told that from the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out you, can’t explain it. Law school is exactly like this. I briefly touched on this during my bar prep survival post but it seems to extend far beyond what I thought it did. People outside law school can’t understand obsessing over exams, ┬ábeing overwhelmed by loan debt, and job searching. It’s just not possible.

I’ve recently realized how isolating law school is when I started studying for the bar. For me, bar prep nightmares have already started and I’m constantly stressed out. Naturally, I lean on my family and friends when I’m stressed and no one outside my law school friends seem to grasp how important it is. When I talked to Patrick about everything, his only response is to not worry because I succeed at everything that I put my mind to. Ok, so that’s mostly valid but the bar is like nothing I’ve ever done before and if the past round of results showed me, no one is immune from failing.

Even outside the bar, non-law students have a hard time understanding exactly what you have to do to be successful as a law student and future lawyer. I constantly try to make notes about judges or attorneys, network when I can, do well on exams, etc. It’s constant work and I never take time for just myself. Somehow, this blows peoples’ mind. But when you talk to other law students, they understand completely.

Law school to non-law students is just another year of school, not a completely different way of learning. How have you dealt with the isolation of law school?

My Bridal Shower

This past weekend was my bridal shower! I’m officially (un-officially, I guess) getting married in just over three months. I was a little afraid for my bridal shower because I don’t like being the center of attention but it was actually an awesome time. In fact, the whole weekend was just a wedding weekend!

Untitled

On Friday, we babysat my adorable niece. Ava is about 18 months now and is the cutest little munchkin. It was great to see Patrick actually interact with her and read and play with her. He is still in the “babies are scary” part of his life so the experience of taking care of a kid is good since we’re only a few short years away from having our own. They were adorable together and it was nice to spend time with her.

Saturday was a crazy wedding day. We went flower girl dress shopping and MOG (mother of the groom) dress shopping. I was so excited to see Ava in adorable dresses and figure out which one she’s wearing for the wedding. She obviously looked precious in them all, but this was hands down the winner:

0307150936

Then we went to my bridal shower. I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who came to the shower. It’s not often that I get to see my family and I loved having time to spend with them. My sister did an amazing job with my shower, too. Patrick and I are so fortunate to have family that are helping us create a home. We have so much new stuff to furnish our first real home with and I can’t wait to use it all. The first day we were home, we got our bed all set up with new stuff from the shower. It looks so cozy and home-y now.

This past weekend we also got all the final details from our reception hall, including extending our reception! Before we left, we met with the new priest at our church to get and give all the final details for the wedding. We were asked a bunch of questions about our lives and had to get all the details figured out for the wedding. But, it’s finally all taken care of. Patrick and I still have to do the FOCCUS test and send in some paperwork but we should be all set to go for the wedding.

Now that we’re home, we have 2 dogs with kennel cough, my spring break, and a million thank you cards to write out!

Staying connected from far away

long_distance_love_c

I went far away for law school, about 6 hours far away. My closest family is at least 2 hours away and I rarely get to see or talk to them. That being said, it’s still important to stay connected to family and friends even when you are far away. I see myself as some what of an expert on this. I’ve lived away from family for almost 5 years and did a long distance relationship with Patrick for 3 years. So far, my family doesn’t hate me and Patrick and I are married so I have to be somewhat good at this.

One of the keys to staying connected when you’re far from home is to actually take the initiative and know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives. I know my cousin Jess just had a baby at the end of December. I know my dad is trying to quit smoking. I know my cousin Sam is going away to college (and I know which college) in the fall. I know these things because I pay attention to social media and make an effort to ask about other peoples’ lives when I do call home. My family is important to me and I like knowing what they are doing. If you are going to make the effort, a lot of times no one really will.

We’re lucky that we live in a time where cell phones are common, skype and facetime exist, and our main source of communication isn’t letters anymore. I remember one of the last trips to Middletown to see my great grandma before she passed, we were going through some of the things in her house. We found a letter my great grandpa had written her where he talks about the hotel he’s staying at and how nice it was. I still have a love for old letters and getting mail but it’s great to know that those aren’t the only source of communication we have.

Social media and skype make it easier to know what’s going on at home or with your friends. I used to skype home all the time to see my parents dog. Unfortunately, small town Wisconsin doesn’t have great internet service so that was short lived. I frequently snapchat (yes, I know it’s not as common as it was) with my cousins and get to see what they are doing. It sucks missing baby showers or family BBQs because you’re away at school but keeping in touch with family is easier and easier. Those people who are so far from law school can be a sounding board and help keep you grounded. I can’t tell you the number of times I call my best friend or my mom or facebook message my two best friends from college to complain about law school related things. They have no idea what law school is like but let me vent to them and help me realize life is bigger than what goes on in these four walls of law school. Take the initiative and see what your favorite cousin or aunt is up to. You may be surprised how much they want to hear from you and how much easier law school can be with friends and family supporting you.

Family traditions

I love traditions. I’m a very traditional girl and once a tradition is started, there is no ending it with me. If you don’t believe me, wait for our wedding pictures. My family has interesting traditions. They’ve somewhat changed over the years and have definitely morphed in the past 5 years with Patrick’s family’s traditions being brought in too but I wouldn’t trade family traditions for anything.

Here’s a definitive listing of my favorite family traditions:

1. Christmas brunch: After my parents divorced, my mom would get us Christmas Eve and my dad would pick us up Christmas day around 12. My mom started this tradition where we would get up and have Christmas brunch, just the three of us, before my dad came. Obviously, it’s expanded to 6 now since we’re all married, but the concept remains the same. Every year, she makes a cheesy hashbrown casserole. Last year, she thought about not making it. I threw a hissy fit and she ended up making it.

2. New Years Eve with the boys: Last year was my first time taking part in this tradition but it’s definitely one of my favorite. Patrick has been friends with the same guys for years and basically their entire life they have spent New Years Eve together. They used to have nerf fights and watch TV and things, which they still do, but now it includes alcohol, pool, and baggo in the basement. At midnight the boys all make one giant dog pile. It’s so entertaining for me to be there even though I was the only girl last year and I love seeing Patrick happy.

3. Christmas cookie making with Ava: Last year, Patrick and I decided we wanted to start a tradition with his niece, Ava. She was only 5 (ish) months at the time but since we rarely get to see her, it was important that we spend time with her, just the three of us. We decided to make Christmas cookies with her, which at 5 months old was Patrick and I baking and babysitting. Hopefully, this year, Ava will be able to help more with cookies and we can keep the tradition going. Eventually, after we have more nieces and nephews and our own kids, we’ll have a big Kids Only Cookie Day with Uncle Patrick and Aunt Cassie.

4. The lights at Cuneo Estates: This is one tradition that we’ve fallen behind on. When I was little, my parents would take us to Cuneo Estates to see the Christmas lights. Cuneo Estates is this huge mansion and grounds run by Loyola University. Every year, they put up a million Christmas lights with cut outs, displays, and the 12 days of Christmas. It’s gorgeous and I used to love going there. Recently, we’ve substituted Cuneo Estates for Grand Geneva resort, not far from my mom’s house. It’s the same basic premise, except Grand Geneva is a high end resort, not a mansion.

5. Christmas Eve presents opening: Since my dad would have us Christmas day and we would have Christmas brunch, my mom started having Christmas with us on Christmas Eve. We would go to my mom’s family’s Christmas celebration, come home late at night and spend time opening all our gifts. Somehow, even though we don’t get picked up at a set time and basically show up to dad’s family’s Christmas whenever, we still have our mom letting us open gifts on Christmas Eve.

Wedding Weekend

This weekend was my first weekend home since I left for law school SIX weeks ago! It was crazy going home, partly because of the seven hour drive and partly because it was my sister’s wedding. Being home was great but it definitely made me realize how glad I am to not have the distraction of my family around while I’m trying to get through school.

The wedding was awesome! Now, my sister and I aren’t the closest but I was really excited to be in her wedding and get to do all the fun maid-of-honor things with her. I’m so happy for my sister and glad she found someone to spend the rest of her life with.

Image

Being home and being there for a wedding meant I got to see my family. I do really miss my family when I’m here and I am always so surprised at how old everyone is. My cousins that I remember being 6 and 7 are now almost 16, other cousins can talk and walk now; it was great to see them but I really do miss being around for all of that on a regular basis.

Image

My family is so awesome about wanting to be there for everything for one another. I couldn’t ask for a better family sometimes, even when they drive me crazy. Being away is difficult and it has its downsides a lot of the time. Being away is difficult and I hope that it will be worth it in the end. I hope that when it comes time to move back home and start my own family, I can have just as great of a relationship with them as I did when I used to be there all the time. But I guess for now, it’s alright to be able to focus on my work load and Patrick.

Image

Having it all

So today my (future) niece was born. I’m absolutely thrilled and loved going to the hospital to see her.

image

I can’t help but be a “typical girl” and put together the timeline of when I’ll have my own baby. Don’t worry, I have zero desire to have one soon; I’m good being the awesome aunt. I just wonder if I’ll ever be able to balance my career goals with being a parent.

I have three years of law school, the Bar, then starting out in a practice. I’ve wanted to have kids somewhat early my whole life but it’s almost slipping away. Being a partner at a law firm is an ultimate goal of mine and it’s going to take a lot of work. I’m not sure how to balance that with having my own family.

For now, I’m ecstatic to have my adorable niece and the future that is ahead of me. But I can’t help but wonder if a career and family can peacefully coexist.