The Quidditch World Cup (GoF 8)

This post we are doing something a little different: we have a guest writer! I asked my friend Jessica Cordero, a 2L at the University of Denver, to write a little something about finding passion in law school and how sometimes that passion can bring out a competitive side she didn’t know she really had until then.1618565_10156514455540573_2412351853380138579_n

Take it away Jessica:

“When I got into law school, I was just excited to be a student. It was not until Derby Days that I realized there were 309,48,528 ways of being a law student. I signed up for more information about a few, mostly to get swag, but was only really interested in one.

There was something exciting about doing a whole run through of a trial that only occurred the 1st year of law school. One shot opportunity. Hazily, I filled out the information sheet filled with a montage of sepia-tinted memories of being in speech and debate in grade school. It would be similar, right?

Wrong. There were expectations and a sudden urge to be competitive. Even though I was unbelievably out of my comfort zone integrating into law school life, I didn’t mind putting in the work to learn what would eventually lead me to be a part of a nationally competitive trial team at the graduate level.

I never thought I was capable of having a “passion.” I tried a few sports and hobbies throughout the years, but I am somewhat of a dabbler. But I have realized being drawn to a specific activity is exactly how passions are born. They call to you. Being surrounded by people you admire tends to make you a better person. You don’t mind practicing for hours to be a real competitor in the loop, you don’t care about lost Saturdays, and you don’t worry about game day: you anticipate it.” (THANK YOU JESS!!)

QuidditchWorldCupGame Day is here for two of the wizarding world’s best quidditch teams as they face off in the Quidditch World Cup! Harry watches in awe as these two teams go head to head in a competition. Harry watches Krum, the epitome of a seeker, perform a perfect fake out, injuring the Irish seeker, his antagonist in the game. The gang also has an encounter with Barty Crouch’s eccentric house elf, Winky, in the stands (someone who becomes important in the next chapter). The match ends with Krum catching the snitch, but overall losing the game. The crowd turns on Krum with great animosity. Harry and the gang gets a chance to meet all of the players at the endow the game and then heads back to their tent.

Jessica’s story is a great depiction of how law school works. Most people come into law school uncertain about their future paths but by 2L year a majority of students become adamant about being a trial lawyer or a transactional lawyer. Trial Team students are hard-working, they put in long hours for their passion! Much like Quidditch players. Harry watches these professional players pull off tricks and plays he’s only heard about or seen attempted in practice. Harry’s passion calls to him in that moment, much like Jessica’s did when she joined STLA during our first year of classes.Quidditch-World-Cup-harry-potter-vs-twilight-17930427-500-201

You may not come to law school with a passion in mind, and don’t fret about this! Passions sneak up on you. Passions derive from inspirational moments. Passions are created when you try something new, something outside your comfort zone. Passions are found in the strangest of places. So keep your eyes out as you go through law school! You may stumble onto your passion without realizing it!

Thank you again to Jessica for taking the time to write for this week’s blog!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

Bagman and Crouch (GoF 7)

One of the biggest events of the year at the law school is Law Stars. Its a night where lawyers, alumni, and students mix and mingle, award four people prestigious awards and eat a delicious dinner. Last year I got to attend for free, usually these tickets cost about $250 a person. Being part of Student Ambassadors means you attend without paying. Instead, as an Ambassador you either check people in or usher people to their seats. It’s one of those events where networking is abundant…unless you have a panic attack before dinner.

Screenshot_-_10_3_2013_,_7_36_24_PM.pngIn this chapter, the gang has all arrived at the Quidditch World Cup Finals campgrounds. Harry is in awe of the mix of people he runs into as Ron, Hermione and Harry walk around. They see people from school and their families while also seeing key individuals who work at the Ministry of Magic. Getting water takes forever as they stop to make small talk with people throughout the area. On their way to the actual game, they run into two key people Ludo Bagman (who is the director of this event and commentator for the game) and Barty Crouch, Percy’s boss at the Ministry. Percy reacts to seeing his boss in the most Percy way. Percy “idolizes him.” As for everyone meeting Bagman who is wearing a jersey a few sixes too small, the Twins jump in on a bet with Bagman regarding the game.

This scene reminded me of networking. Percy is so starstruck with a desire to make a good impression that to the others who know him he looks like a nut. The Twins, on the other hand, have bigger plans in mind and make bets with Bagman to further those plans, not intimidated by Bagman’s position at all.

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My Networking face 

Everyone has a different reaction to networking. In law school networking is one of the best ways to get a job whether you are in the top 10% of the class or not. During my 1L year we were given ample opportunities to network. It all began during orientation. Scheduled into our packed week was a networking night. Even though I work in the service industry, the thought of making small talk with strangers is something that makes me nervous.

Growing up in a lower income family during high school and growing up as a military brat until middle school, I was taught to not speak until spoken to and even when spoken to I’m afraid to say the wrong thing. We didn’t learn the art of small talk at my high school. Social skills of lower income schools cannot compete with those skills acquired from better educational institutes. My family never held great dinner parties with business partners. Fancy words, great conversation topics, and the art of being politically correct were not part of my childhood. My mom tried to teach us manners and how to be polite. Somewhere along the line, maybe as a survival tactic, I became sarcastic and very blunt.

Even after years in the service industry, I was called the cynical barista aka the soulless barista. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I just don’t want to make small talk. Small talk feels forced and fake 99% of the time. It’s a means to an end. It’s used to fill a void, to kill dead air. Nobody really cares what you think about the weather and if your barista asks you that at the drive thru window, it’s because your drink isn’t ready, there’s probably someone new on bar, and the barista need to distract you so you don’t get mad. the other part of small talk that kills me is having to ask so many questions while listening in what is probably a very loud room for the answers. It’s so hard to hear what someone is saying when there are 100+ people making small talk in a medium sized room. I sometimes just have a hard time hearing people standing next to me in a quieter room. Trying to hear someone and then following up with questions when you only hear half of what they were saying is draining.

IMG_0002Networking at large events for me is painful. It can cause panic attacks. I can come off impolite and insincere. Now, sit down over coffee, one-on-one with me, invest actual time and I’m there, fully engaged, only slightly nervous. Now don’t get me wrong, at most large events I can make myself network, I just hate the way it feels.

For a lot of people networking at any level comes naturally to them. Some people have been groomed to talk to people their whole lives. Some people just ooze charisma. Those are the people I am jealous of at events. They have interesting stories to tell, they care so much more about PC topics (and less about Harry Potter, Taylor Swift, Pop Music, and Foodie topics — all which I care about immensely).

Last year at Law Stars I had a panic attack. There were so many people in such a small place, I felt as if I wasn’t going to make a good impression, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Since that night, I have worked hard to overcome my networking fears. I no longer feel starstruck by the important people that come through the law school. Instead I respect them and see them more as aspirations. It takes some of the pressure off. No longer am I trying to impress them, instead I want to learn from them. Networking isn’t always just about making connections that will help you rise in the ranks, it’s also about making mentor/mentee relationships. It’s about learning from people who have been in your position for years. It’s about realizing that one day soon, these people around you will be your peers.

If there’s one big difference I’ve seen in myself from 1L year to 2L year it’s that I have grown more confident in my position. I’ve come a long way from graduating 3rd in my high school class, a class at one of the worst high schools in one of the worst school districts in the nation. I have a long way to go, but that’s part of the learning process here at law school. And boy is there still a lot I hope to learn by the end of my journey here.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

 

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and The Portkey (GoF 5&6)

We are a month into the new school year, and boy has it been a wild ride already. Being in a clinic, taking two classes, being on a law review, running a student org, applying for summer jobs, and helping out on a national food law board. The work can be tiresome, but all in all its been very rewarding thus far. However, there are times where I wish I would have taken a little more time off this past summer than I did. Since finals in May I have gone non-stop. After finals it was preparing for Italy and my externship for when I returned, then it was Italy, then Externship and working as a part-time barista AND all of my Italy finals, and then it was school and moving. There haven’t been many chances for a nice long breather, which we all know (or at least should know) is important for one’s mental health.

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In these chapters of HP we return to the Burrow (the house of the Weasley family). The twins are scolded for their actions at the Dursleys and their new venture the Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. The family is chaotic and loving as usual and Harry welcomes the nice break from his depressing summer with the Dursley family. Everyone is home at the Weasley house including Charlie and Bill, the eldest sons. The next day Hermione, Ron, Harry and the rest of the Weasley clan head out to a portkey to the Quidditch World Cup Finals, one of the biggest events in the Wizarding World, a welcome break before school starts.

Everyone in these two chapters all welcome a much needed and exciting break from their regular jobs and lives, everyone except Percy, who is working away on writing briefs supporting a change of laws regarding cauldron bottoms. To me, Percy represents our average law student. While everyone else is out having a good time, enjoying each other’s company, Percy is worrying about his work. Well, more than just worrying, Percy is obsessing over getting his work done.

This summer I found myself torn between being a Percy or the rest of the family. With so many things on my plate with an externship and the abundance of school work, I would pass up on chances to unwind and hangout with friends, obsessing over my work. Obsessing in law school is almost a normal occurrence. It’s a learned trait of 1L students who tremble with fear and stress. It’s a trait that we carry with us into 2L year at a somewhat lesser degree but enough to keep people on edge. It’s a dangerous behavior at any degree though.

Portkey_PM_B4C6M1_BootPortkeyToQuidditchWorldCup_MomentObsessing over the work you have to do, having nothing else but work to fuel you can lead to some major issues in your career and life. This past summer there was a New York Times Article illustrating the addictions that can come with the legal profession. The amount of stress law school can have on a person can follow them into their careers. Constant stress can lead to drug use, alcoholism, or other destructive activities. Obsession over work leads to a need for perfectionism which leads to stress, stress leads to a need to escape which leads to destructive behaviors.

As the Harry Potter books progress, one of the things we see if Percy’s loyalty to his job and obsession over his work cause issues for him. It’s something I hope to keep an eye on as we go forward.

The key however is to make sure you are taking breaks. Make sure you are carving out time each week to truly sit down and relax. Make time for friends, events, and relaxation. Make time to laugh, to cry, to watch a movie and destress. Find a way to unwind and get out of your work obsession. You’ll thank yourself later. IMG_0116

As for me, since school has started I have been to numerous BBQs, a baby shower, two concerts and enjoyed time with my friends from out of town. I have made time to unwind each week and enjoy life a little more. I may not feel 100% stress free or rested, but I do know I have the start of a healthy balance between work, school, and life these days. So take a look at your life… where are you lacking balance? Figure it out and make the necessary changes, your life will thank you for it later!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

The Invitation and Back to the Burrow (GoF 3&4)

Making friends in law school is hard. Last year when we started everyone was new so everyone wanted to make new friends and find their “family” that they fit in with. Orientation through the first semester became a trial period. It was an interesting time where everyone was friends, everyone wanted to hangout ALL the time and everyone seemed to get along. But that changed come finals and the beginning of second semester. Suddenly, the groups were made, the friendships solidified, and reputations created. It appeared that if you didn’t hangout with people all the time, you didn’t know the right things to talk about in conversations, if you weren’t smart enough, if you pretty much didn’t meet a group’s qualifications you were left to wander around alone.

Out of that madness I realized that I wouldn’t be invited to my small section group’s girl’s nights, that if I wasn’t around for a lunch invitation people wouldn’t invite me (and by around I mean standing with them in the moment, even if we had just discussed them coming back after class, no mention of lunch), that no one would invite me to their study group since I was clearly not competition and that’s apparently how certain study groups were formed, and that I would have to initiate all hangouts if I wanted friends. Eventually all of us misfits became friends. We studied together. We stopped and talked to each other in the halls. We made lunch plans together, and we made friendships out of our similar outcast status. These became my people…and this week, another group of my people came to town…a few of my friends from home. IMG_1976

This week’s HP theme is “Revisiting Who You Are.”

These two chapters pick up with an invitation in the mail addressed to the Dursleys and covered completely in stamps. The invitation is from the Weasleys asking if Harry might be able to join them for the Quidditch World Cup in the coming weeks. Of course Uncle Vernon is mad about this invitation, but after a long debate and the mention of Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black escaped convict, Vernon agrees Harry can go. The Weasleys make arrangements to pick Harry up at 5pm on Sunday and are late when trying to get through the fireplace (using the Floo Network) which has been boarded up since Book 1. The two families meet, the Weasley twins leave a trick toffee for Dudley who then winds up with an enlarged tongue and the Durselys are hysterical trying to deal with Mr. Weasley, the state of their living room (covered in ashes and debris) and Durselys new issue.

I love these two chapters because they combine old with new. They combine the constant need for the Dursely family to be seen as normal. Uncle Vernon is worried that the Weasleys will drive up in long robes and pointy hats and that the neighbors will see this and think differently of the Dursely family.  Yet, the Weasleys come using the floor network and no one outside the house has a chance to judge the Dursely family.

Dudley is terrified of being given another pig’s tail and attempts to hide, and of course the Weasley twins decide they are going to play a trick on Dudley anyways, solidifying his reasons to be scared. Dudley doesn’t suspect a thing because no magic from a wand is used on him, just the simple use of a toffee.

Ron and Harry have learned to stifle their laughter instead of busting out laughing at the sight of Dudley.

But my favorite part is when Mr. Weasley scolds the Dursely family for not saying goodbye to Harry when Harry says goodbye to them. The Durselys have never been made to show any sort of compassion or even consideration towards Harry. To Harry it’s no big thing, but to Mr. Weasley its not okay that the Durselys treat him this way and he asks for them to change it, which is new to Mr. Dursely who never gets told what to do. IMG_1977Having old friends come to a new town that you’ve made your new home can be sort of scary at first. Then add the layer of law school and never leaving the university area, it can be a little sad realizing you haven’t explored much of your new city. One of the  most interesting parts of the nights though was seeing my old friends connect with new friends by chance on the street. Having my old friends, Ben and Paige, my true friends, around made what would have now been an extremely awkward chance meeting with this friend on the street on a Friday night downtown a funny coincidence. Paige and Ben made it fun, Ben asked anyone he met that I knew all about their law school journey and future while Paige tried to get everyone to go dancing with her.

Having friends from home in town makes the hard times, the times where you feel like a misfit, where you don’t feel good enough to be here with your peers, feel long gone. I have so many friends back home that I miss SO MUCH. They are some of the most amazing people. My friends back home understand when you have a rough day and lash out (they don’t like it and may take a few days to let you cool down). They want to hangout, they invite you to things even if you are going to talk about nonsensical things they don’t really care about. I mean I can’t tell you how many times we’ve listened to what Gary has heard on NPR that morning or some random Celebrity Gossip Tonya is following this week, or about some musical Lyn and Nick are into this month or about some very strange Harry Potter facts that I know.

IMG_1979The thing is, having old friends in my new city has been amazing. It’s been one of those experiences where you remember who you are. You no longer fret about whether the people like you in this new place but remember you have friends and family all over the world who love and adore you, who care about your well-being and not your grade point average or class rank. There are people in my life who want me around and don’t want me to have to initiate every hangout. There are people in my life that others don’t see.

So, my challenge to all you law students  and non-law students alike, look around you and attempt to look through those friendship walls you’ve built up. Look at the people outside your inner circle and try to see them in a new light. Sure, you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you could at least attempt to tear down the reputations of people you’ve built up in your head. You could invite someone to lunch with your group even if they are weird or you don’t really want to hear about their views onto world. You could get off your high horse and invite someone new to your study group. You could stop viewing the world as your friend group vs. everyone else. You could realize that everyone around you is human… including yourself and everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.

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But even if you don’t, because 9 time out of 10 we don’t branch out, we don’t try new things, we don’t want to have to change (myself included), know that those people will be okay. Those people you ostracize and send away because they said no to invites when they truly had work to do, or that had a few rough months and lashed out hoping you’d take them in and help them, those people have good people in their lives who will stand up for them the way Mr. Weasley stood up to the Durselys for Harry. For me, the people who love me unconditionally, the people who will stand up for me when the rest of the world seems to much me away… the people who have seen me through rough patches… those friends can never be replaced. Those friends are the people I cherish more than anyone else in this world. Those are the people I wish that would move here or move closer, because those are true friends.

Making friends in law school is hard, but when you make new friends who remind you of your friends back home… things tend to be a little easier, and boy am I glad that I found the other “misfits” and friends that remind me of those I have in my corner of the world a few states over.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

The Riddle House and The Scar (GoF 1&2)

Starting a new book is always a fun adventure, but starting a new book the same time you move into a new place on the one year anniversary of this blog is the BEST ADVENTURE… oh and there was some sort of eclipse thing today too if you were like super interested in that.

IMG_1814Well ladies and gentleman and scholars and muggles and wizards and aliens alike… we did it, we’ve made it to book 4 of the Harry Potter series. The Goblet of Fire is where things start to take a truly dark turn in the series. It’s also the movie that I punched my sister in the arm after because she made fun of me for crying at it. Anyways, like every book, JK Rowling reconfigures the story for us, setting it off on the right path, picking up from where she left off. Except, in true Rowling fashion, this book doesn’t start off with Harry… instead we get a little story about the Riddle family and their gardner.

The Riddles were a nasty rich family who one day all fell over dead into their dinner. The gardner was taken in by police and questioned, since he was the only other person seen at the house that day. His release only happened after the autopsies of the Riddle family came back clean… no signs of poison or violence as the cause of their death. The whole family seemed to be terrified to death! Years later and the gardner still worked on the premises, paid by a man who did not live at the house but instead owned it for tax purposes. One night he is awoken by knee pain and sees a light in the old house. He assumes its just brave children who snuck into the abandoned place and lit a fire. He goes to check it out, only to find its 2 men planning the death of some person named Harry Potter and discussing the recent murder of a woman. He tries to escape but is caught by a snake which one of the men can communicate with. He is summoned into the room, only to be murdered with a flash of a green light. Harry awakes having dreamt all of this. His scar hurts. He searches his mind to make sense of it all, identifying the two men as Wormtail and Voldemort. Uncertain as to what to do next he writes to Sirius explaining the pain of his scar. IMG_1572

What’s interesting about law school is listening to the stories people tell. Having just finished the first week of school and now starting the second week you hear a lot of stories from 2Ls and 3Ls recapping their summers and discussing their class schedules and you hear the woes of 1Ls talking about their classes, teachers, classmates and bragging about their resumés. It’s fun to catch up, to hear about people’s jobs this past summer, to hear about their adventures, and to share my Italy stories. It’s also good practice to get back into the swing of advocating and presenting information in an intriguing but to the point way.

AS part of my classes this year I will be participating in a Community Economic Development Clinic, which is fancy way of saying we help people start businesses and non-profits that help redevelop low-income communities. As part of our orientation we went down to Five Points, a “dangerous” part of Denver. We took a tour of this historic city, known as the “Harlem of the West” and heard about the great Rossonian Hotel which once saw jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. We listened to stories and hardships belonging to the neighborhood. We visited an exhibit showcasing memorabilia collected from residents in the neighborhood. We asked questions. We digested the stories, and we took them with us back to the classroom.

IMG_1287While digesting these stories and feeling inspired by the work that lies ahead it made me think of one of my own stories. Now, I’m talking about a book I wrote, but also about a time in my life where I wanted to make a difference so bad I rushed through the process of writing, editing, publishing and marketing a book. I quickly started a not-for-profit business to sell this book and ended up selling 64 copies. I used the money to then purchase 64 books for a local elementary school (books they needed for classes). Eventually, I felt like it wasn’t enough, I need to do more, I needed to crank out another book, keep a blog going, sell more copies of my current book and keep going and going and going…. until I ended the whole thing altogether. But the desire to do more for local communities never ended… and look where I am now.

Stories are what drive us in law school. We collect stories from clients. We take in and reframe stories into arguments. We weave together sentences and calculated pauses to create a narrative that will hopefully help us win our case. We have stories that push us, motivate us to go further than ever before. Everything we do is tied up in a greater story. We live for these stories. We feed off these stories… we are always looking for the next one. It’s what we do. It’s who we are, even if we hate it.

At my core there is a writer. I’ve spent my entire life piecing together stories. From playing barbies, to playing in the woods, to sitting alone at my desk creating new worlds… for a second last year, I though for sure I had lost my drive to tell stories. I thought I lost my ability to create new worlds, to truly get lost in the worlds hidden in my mind. I thought I would only ever be able to reach them again in movies or if I stumbled into some free time to read for fun. Even with this blog, I still felt as though my desire to write these grand stories was fading away… and then I went to my clinic orientation and there stood a neighborhood, a hidden jewel of history and stories. There stood a hotel full of music and life, waiting to be re-released onto the people rushing past it. There stood my inspiration. IMG_0892

I tell you this because I think it’s important that we never lose sight of the story inside us. The story may seem out of focus, it may seem to get a little off track, we may stray from the usual patterns and rhythms of our normal stories, but in the end, it all has a purpose. Rowling started this book with a different beginning than the last three. She started it with a brief backstory, a brief insight into a few not so new characters. She started it with a purpose in mind. And while we may not see that purpose unfolded in the first two chapters, when we get to it, when we watch it completely revealed to us, we won’t be disappointed.

So, as the new school year begins, what stories are you telling to the world and yourself? What stories are you collecting and reframing? What voice are you using? Dig deep. Find your story if you lost it. Check in with your story if you’ve been adding to it. Enjoy your story as it unfolds and keep writing… you’ll never know who needs the inspiration.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed