Mudbloods and Murmurs (CoS 7)

Happy New years from the Wizarding world of Law School to you! It’s been a terribly long winter break. I know 3.5 weeks doesn’t seem long, but when you go to class 5 days a week and have nothing but time consuming reading and assignments, 3.5 weeks away are definitely way too long. What’s even worse is that we are waiting for grades, which should be posted tomorrow. That’s right, we’ve gone a whole semester without any real indication as to where we stand. We’ve gotten small insights into where we might be, but tomorrow should tell us exactly where we are. The scariest part is that relationships are already changing (because that’s what happens when you get thrown together with a bunch of people you don’t know and are trying to figure each other out over the course of a semester), and getting grades threatens to tear some relationships apart. Grades become a status indicator (if and when we let them)…

And HP Chapt 7, status is making things a bit confusing for our golden trio.

originalRecap: Harry is woken up by Oliver Wood to go to a sunrise Qudditch practice where Harry is followed by Colin, this pesky kid who just wants to take Harry’s picture and have him sign it still. The Gryffindor Quidditch team works to keep their eyes open through Wood’s incessant talk to drills and plays. As soon as the team embarks on an actual practice the Slytherin’s show up with a letter from Snape saying they can practice eon the fields to train their new Seeker, Draco Malfoy (whose father incidentally bought the whole team brand new brooms). An argument ensues between Hermione, Ron, Harry, Draco and the two teams, and Hermione is called a mudblood. Ron tries to curse Draco where he will throw up slugs, but Ron’s broken wand malfunctions and instead curses Ron. The trio scurries off to Hagrid’s hut where Harry asks what a mudblood is exactly. He learns that it is a a derogative name given to a muggle born witch or wizard by horrible pure blood families.

14980790_743331435818979_6484132883521494097_n-2You see, even at Hogwarts status is a huge indicator of where you stand. While this doesn’t have to necessarily deal with their grades and is more like the pedigree their families hold (which can sometimes be a status indicator in law school too), it is a way of separating people by class. Our grades coming this week threaten to do the same to all of us, because there are already cracks there based on perceptions of people’s intelligence. Which sucks because we are all smart. We all got into law school, and as someone pointed out to me this past week Joe Biden (our current vice-president for only a little while longer) didn’t graduate in the top half of his class and look where he is sitting now.

But then again it’s human nature, we constantly feel the need to classify each other, to compare ourselves against others, to make ourselves stand out, and to make ourselves better than other people. It’s something we can’t shake off no matter how hard we try or how much we say we won’t change to be that way. We always end up losing people over silly things like grades, perceptions of intelligence, and hurts. But remember this, you are no better than someone else based on status. Hermione may have not been a pure blood witch, but she was smarter than everyone else in her class. Harry may have had (unwanted) fame, but he still had voids in him that nothing and no one could fill, and not to mention that whole part about being hunted by Voldemort. Ron may have been a pure blood and poor, but he belonged to one of best, dysfunctional, loving families in the world.

37d82475a1c7298df7a272d7cddb7c00So while we await grades tomorrow, and then spend the next few weeks walking around in a stupor, judging each other, letting our heads either become big or our hearts break, remember all the good you still have. Don’t let these grades confuse happiness and success… Success is finding happiness and finding happiness is success. Hermione had her great friends, Ron and Harry, beside her to pick her up when called nasty names and judged for her blood status… who are you going to let pick you up when you are down, and better yet, where is your happiness rooted?

May the odds be ever in our favor tomorrow.

 

Until next time,

Mischief managed

 

Gilderoy Lockhart (CoS 6)

The perfect winter break, what does that even look like?

tumblr_m4an67rdzj1qmr4gpo2_250If you ask certain law students it’s taking an actual break from doing anything law school related until the last-minute. Others would say it’s taking about 2.5 weeks off, then getting back to the swing of things like purchasing books and getting ready for the next semester. Then there are those students who have used winter break to get other things done like resumes, cover letters, buying school books and supplies, looking for summer jobs, getting a head start on classwork and so much more. It’s funny to look on Instagram or Facebook and see what people are up to, which path they’ve chosen or at least which path they want you to think they’ve chosen. That’s the thing with social media, you never know if people are being sincere or creating a story about their lives, and looking back on this semester, the stories we tell each other in law school are very similar.

Which brings us to the theme of this Harry Potter chapter: perceptions.

We will start with the usual chapter recap:

It’s the first day of classes at Hogwarts. As the students are attending breakfast Ron receives a Howler from Mrs. Weasley and it yells at him in front of everyone. They then run off to attend Herbology where Harry runs into Gilderoy Lockhart who talks to harry about the taste of fame and Harry’s stunt of arriving to school in a flying car. Harry shakes him off, until heading to Lockhart’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts class where Lockhart overhears another student asking Harry for an autographed picture. Lockhart then tells Harry a little more about the price of fame. As class commences the students are asked to answer a questionnaire about Lockhart based on their required reading of all of Lockhart’s books. Before the end of class Lockhart release a bunch of Cornish Pixies on the class, unable to get them back under control before the end of class, he leaves letting the Golden Trio to clean up his mess.

What I enjoy about Lockhart is just how well he can attract people to him. There’s something about how people present themselves that make you want to be around them. Lockhart gives out free advice (unsolicited), tries to relate with people he marks as his equal or potential equal, flashes his brilliant smile here and there, brags about his adventures and his life, and the crowd is hooked (or at least most of the crowd). That’s the interesting thing about being able to control how people perceive you.

In law school the busier you make yourself seem, the more you may seem to have everything together. The more relaxed you appear, the less you seem to care. The more times people see you in the library, the harder you appear to work than everyone else… and the situations are endless. Social media offers us the same platform to create the perfect life perceived by others and the pictures posted during the holidays are especially notorious for being snapshots of one perfect moment during the craziness of an imperfect day. At the end of the day, it truly is your story to tell and present in whatever manner you want, but there is trouble that brews from telling an unrealistic story to the world.

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When you set out to control the narrative, control how you are perceived by others you run the risk of having to then stay stagnant and/or something even worse… becoming burnt out trying to keep it up. Perfection takes a lot of work, and maintaining the perception of a perfect life can become very draining on you. We’ve seen it time and time again portrayed in television and movies, and by the end of this Harry Potter book we will see what great lengths Lockhart has gone through to make sure his narrative is perfectly crafted.

The thing is, you don’t have to pick one way of life and stick to it. You don’t have to follow the same study plan and tactics as the semester before. You don’t have to always stick to the same friend groups and study groups. You can allow yourself to grow, to branch out, to change before people’s eyes and things will be okay. Make your failures somewhat public, be honest and raw with people, live your life out loud whether it is good times or bad… because if you don’t people will come to expect you to be perfect, to always have the answers, to be at every study session, to host the perfect dinners, to come to events looking perfect and so on and so forth. Create space in our life for the imperfect narrative. Give people a chance to perceive you for you… to get to know who you are deep down, because while it may not come to haunt you now, it may come to hurt you later.

So make sure to take time this winter break (or what’s left of it) to determine whether your authentic self is showing up in everything you do, or if some very closed-off, perfect shell is showing up… and then determine who you want to be…because the new year is coming!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

 

The Whomping Willow (CoS 5)

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Being hipsters with Paige!

Well I’m no longer in NYC, but after almost a full 8 hours (on Wednesday) of travel I am in my hometown of Las Vegas. I was nervous about returning to Las Vegas after leaving in June. Before heading off to law school I had a lot of responsibility from work to church and a good amount of friends, but I also had a lot of stress and bitterness towards all of the above. I had a great life: lived on my own in a great apartment, went to concerts and on trips regularly, had a lot of friend gatherings, a good paying job, made a home for myself at a great church which I loved serving at… I had a lot of great things going for me, but yet I still felt like I wasn’t enough, like everything around me wasn’t enough. Now, coming back after having time and distance from all my struggles and problems I noticed the major thread that connected everything together… high expectations.

In this chapter of Harry Potter a lot happens around the theme of expectations. Here’s the recap before we get into how expectations can help and hinder us.

Recap:

Summer break is coming to an end. Harry and the Weasleys head off to the train station running late after having to turn around many times to pick up forgotten items at the Burrow. They get to the station and everyone but Harry and Ron make it to Platform 9 3/4. Harry and Ron can’t get to the platform, so they take the flying car that the Weasley clan arrived to the station in. Ron denies to fly the car to Hogwarts after hearing his father talk about the invisibility booster. Desperate to get to Hogwarts Harry gets in the car and the two take off. Not too long after they head out on their journey the booster falters and they are spotted by muggles. The car starts to get tired on the long journey and as they make it to the school they hit the whomping willow. They are soon found by Snape and escorted into the school where they think for sure they will be expelled. Snape gets McGonagall and Dumbledore. McGonagall gives the two boys detention and then sandwiches, not expelling them from the school. Ron and Harry head up to their common room, being found and scolded by Hermione outside the Fat Lady’s portrait. Once inside the Gryffindor Common Room they are cheered by the rest of their house and then they head off to bed.

In this chapter Harry and Ron had three big expectations that did not come to fruition: (1) being able to easily access the platform to get to school, (2) the invisibility booster working on the car, and (3) being expelled from school. Each time something didn’t necessarily work out as expected they always had a small reactionary moment following the occurrence. Stress was always present in leading up to each moment as well. And that’s the thing about expectations. When we constantly have these mapped out expectations in our lives we are far more disappointed when things don’t necessarily work out or we stress ourselves out leading up to the expected moment. For me in my job I had expectations around every corner. I expected great things from my staff, from myself, from my customers, from my peers and from my leadership. Every single time things failed to meet my expectations or it felt like I was swimming against the current trying to meet my expectations I found myself extremely stressed out and upset. When my friends failed to stick to plans or act the way I wanted them to then I felt betrayed and hurt by their actions. My life was this one giant bubble of expectations that always popped and then resurfaced just to pop again later.

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Enjoying great coffee with my good friend Nicole… who had me pose for this photo…

When I went off to law school I brought that same mindset with me, except I didn’t know what to really expect from school, from people or really even from myself. I talked with a good friend one day about how she really was able to be so carefree about things. She responded with a simple thought: “I’ve come to only expect what I know people can give me and nothing more.” I’ve pondered on this idea for quite sometime and now being back in Vegas, back around all the things that used to stress me out, I’ve been putting that advice  to good use and amazingly things have been surpassing those expectations each day.

You see when you start to drop your expectations it allows you to relax, it allows room in your life for good things to happen, and it allows people to just be them and not feel forced to be something they are not.

I spent so much time trying to reach these high expectations and to hold people to high expectations that I missed out on just being able to sit back and live life with people. I let myself be stressed out all the time trying to keep people in these pretty boxes I wrapped up and put them in, that I missed out on seeing people for who they truly were, and I missed out on seeing who I truly was through it all. I crucified myself when things went wrong, taking the blame for not being able to be more than i truly was because people weren’t being who I wanted them to be. Looking on it now, I would have been perfectly happy with my life had I stopped trying to be the best, better than everyone already thought I was…

So my challenge for everyone this winter break and holiday season going into the time of making New Year Resolutions… drop the expectations and take time to just truly see the world and people around you. Don’t expect the holidays to be perfect, and laugh when things go not as planned. See the people around you for who they are and enjoy that person to the fullest. And most importantly… cut yourself a break. You are amazing. Take care of you, how you are now and drop the high unrealistic expectations you  place on yourself each and every day and just bask in your awesomeness. That’s what makes the world brighter, and that’s what has made my trip to Las Vegas such an amazing experience thus far. So you, yes you, go and relax into 2017 and see what happens, you won’t regret it.

Enjoy this holiday weekend, and look for another blog come our regular posting day this Sunday!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

 

At Flourish and Blotts (C0S 4)

15622661_10154200121711538_4856493357796337214_nThis week I’m writing to everyone from a New York City apartment where I’ve been lounging around and hanging out with one of the best people in my life. There’s always something magical about NYC and always something new to explore. This is the third year I’ve visited the Big Apple and every single time I’ve come to the city it’s been a different experience…mainly because it’s been a different me each time.

This week in HP: The Weasley’s and Harry go to Diagon Alley by using Floo Powder. Harry of course has never used it and messes up ending up in Knockturn Alley. There he overhears a conversation between the Malfoy son and father before being found by Hagrid and being shuffled to Diagon Alley and Gringotts where everyone got their money and headed to purchase school books. At Flourish and Blotts the gang find themselves at a book signing by their new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart. Soon after their brief run-in with him the gang have to break up a fight between Mr. Wealsey and Lucius Malfoy before heading back to the Burrow.

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YES.

Every character in this chapter faces a moment where they feel some kind of inadequacy. Percy feels the need to change his circumstances and hides away from his family reading books about rising to power. Harry hides his fortune from the Weasleys, trying to hide his money when he knows the Weasleys have very little. Ron apologizes to Harry for not remembering that Harry knows nothing about traveling by Floo powder. Draco complains about Harry and Hermione being smart and in the spotlight, clearly showing his feelings of inadequacy compared to them. Lastly, Hermione’s parents stand back, waiting to be introduced to all of Hermione’s magical friends.

You see, no matter what we carry our insecurities, our feelings of inadequacy and our shame with us wherever we go. It changes he way we interact with the people and places around us, and it changes the way we see the world. The first time I came to NYC I brought a tinge of jealousy with me. I was jealous of my friend who moved here and got out of Las Vegas. I  viewed every interaction with the city as an opportunity to move here and out of my current life position. I interacted with everything as if it was a moment to impress the city, an interview of sorts. I left with a mission to get back here, to follow my friend and in turn ruined a friendship by being judgmental about her every moment of living here as well as her leaving the city to return to Vegas. The next time I came to NYC I came a bit jaded because my friendship had ended with the girl I first came to visit. I came to the city feeling low while having a good time hanging out with a huge family doing extremely touristy things. I wanted to post as many pictures as possible hoping that old NY friend of mine would see them and be jealous that I was here without her having a good time. I wandered the city wanting to be wanted, wanting the city to just take me in and love me because I felt lost and forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, the city was just as amazing like always, and the company I came with was great, but all I wanted was something more, because I felt so inadequate .

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Out in front of Alexander Hamilton’s house!

That fall, I took the LSAT and applied for Law School, destined to get out of Las Vegas… and here I sit wandering around the city laughing and exploring without a desire for more. the thing is I faced all those inadequacies I refused to acknowledged before. Law school will do that to you. All semester long we sit in classes wondering whether or not professors are going to call on us and embarrass us. We face our own insecurities when grades start to come back and we realize we may be at the bottom of the curve. We start to develop a self-care toolkit of affirmations (for when we don’t feel smart enough), emergency snacks (for those stressful study sessions), playlists (for both pumping us up and calming us down), good gossip friends (because sometimes gossip is the best medicine), exercise plans (to beat out that stress) and carved out alone time (to relax and mend the mind). We spend a lot of time stressing, trying to relax and trying to laugh.

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TRY THIS BAKERY! The cookies are worth it!

I’ve had moments of breaking down and having to build myself back-up and through those moments I found myself finally releasing some major emotional baggage and major insecurities. Law school is definitely more than just learning the law, but it’s about taking a moment to learn more about yourself. Being in NYC this time around isn’t about dreaming of moving here, or trying to outdo my past and outshine past trips. No, it’s about being with a great friend, taking in new sights, eating at amazing places and just laughing…

And all of this wouldn’t be possible without leaving Las Vegas and learning the ins and outs of the law. Thank goodness though it’s time for winter break and a time to reflect about jumping over that first hurdle known as the dreaded first semester.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

PS Guys do me a favor and check out NYC’s newest, most fabulous blogger, my dear friend Lyn and his journey to explore a new life in this new city through his blog:

A Gay Man’s guide

It’s funny, it’s full of cussing and most of all it’s gonna have some great content and big thoughts… you won’t wanna miss out! CHECK IT OUT…

 

The Burrow (CoS 3)

It’s the eve of our last final of the first semester of law school. Tomorrow after a 4.5 hour exam we will finally be able to rejoice without any future doom of reading, studying or classes looming over us. It’s like breaking free from Uncle Vernon’s house… which is what this chapter is all about…. I’m going to keep this short and sweet and sending every law student an extra dose of good luck on their final exam of the semester!! Freedom will be sweet come tomorrow night!!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

Dobby’s Warning (CoS 2)

This past Wednesday we took our first final exam as 1Ls and the studying that led up to that exam was interesting. Last week’s post explored the four types of studiers in law school. Right after I wrote that post I headed to the school to meet with some peers and go over criminal law (our first exam). There in that room alone were all of the study types I just mentioned and I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

15326472_10154138209451538_6644078397780171056_nIt’s funny how law school takes over life these days. A group of us recently went up to Vail to “get away” from the stress and madness of school (bringing all of our school stuff with us in case we wanted to study). We did a pretty good job of not studying, but drinking instead, yet law school always found its way back into the conversation. They tell us not to work the first year, to really study hard, and to put our hearts and souls into it. The thing they don’t tell us though is how consuming it can become when you approach it in this manner.  It eats away at you, you end up craving it, needing to bed n the law building to have purpose, you can’t live without it, and the thought of it being taken away from you puts you so far into a panic that nothing else matters… ever.

dobby_o_298964Which brings us to this week’s Harry Potter chapter. The dinner party from chapter one is in full swing, everyone is in their places. Harry saunters up to his room to find a strange magical creature sitting on his bed, a house-elf named Dobby. Bobby is there to tell Harry not to go back to Hogwarts this fall, for bad things are going to happen to him. Bobby reveals that he’s been interfering with the mail from Harry’s friends and has been trying to make sure Harry has no incentive to go back to school. At hearing this Harry lunges at Dobby and a chase ensues down the stairs and into the living room area where Dobby magics a pudding to come crashing down on one of the dinner guests. Dobby disappears, yelling ensues and a letter comes by owl into the house. Harry has been officially warned about using magic outside of school. Uncle Vernon is enraged at both the night’s events and finding out that Harry has been lying about being able to use magic outside of school. Vernon is so upset he puts bars on Harry’s window and won’t let Harry out of his room, not even for meals. Harry becomes more and more desperate to get back to Hogwarts, and then one night, a car pulls up to his second story room window, with a familiar face looking at him.

This week’s theme: desperation and purpose.

15349604_10154140305596538_1291549508218082386_nIn the last book, Harry had finally found his purpose at Hogwarts. He finally found a place where he belonged. He made friends, found that he was good at something, and felt at home. Then returning back to his Uncle and Aunt’s house he found himself longing to be back amongst the crazy staircases and the Gryffindor dormitories. He longed to hear from his friends and to laugh with them. Having no contact from his friends, having no way to practice his magic or to fly his broom, having to keep Hedwig locked up all the time, Harry was starting to feel alone and desperate to return to his new life.

That’s the thing about law school too. Not having classes every day and a week in between each final drives each person to madness. There are people who have gone to the school each and every day to study and to feel that purpose they had when school was in session. Then there are others, like the group that went to Vail, who try to remove themselves from school but end up talking about nothing but law school. It’s expected though when we don’t have anything else going on in our lives. Without a job, without non-law school friends and the normalities of our old lives, we become consumed by school and everything it has to offer. The thing is, law school is not our only purpose in life. We have so much more to offer the world, to conquer, to explore, see and do in this world. Yet here we all sit consumed with the fear of losing something that wasn’t always part of our lives.

And sometimes the only way to stop being consumed with something is to add other things to life… As this semester wraps up, I know I’m looking to branch out a bit more. I’ve gotten a job (working at the good old Starbucks again) and I’m going to start looking for other things to add that are not law school related to my life before I become so consumed with law school that all other parts of life lose meaning… and I would challenge others to do the same.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

The Worst Birthday (CoS 1)

15037358_10154083719496538_8890789124630671730_nWell, there hasn’t been school in like a week and how odd that is for me at least. Thanksgiving break brought about a chance to relax and to enjoy our family and friends. Well… at least for some… a lot of people spent their breaks preparing for next week.

Before we get into what that looks like we first need to recap our first chapter of the second Harry Potter book! (Disclaimer: we are going to speed through this book… it’s my least favorite… so there will be two chapters a week until the end of it!)

Recap: We return to Number Four Privet Drive with Harry and the Dursleys. Harry is spending the summer back with his aunt and uncle, forced to keep all of his magical stuff to himself and locked away. Uncle Vernon is getting ready to have guests over for a big dinner and for some business talk. Everyone is preparing, rehearsing their lines, going over their moves and how they will greet, flatter and usher their guests around their home. And of course, Harry is to be hidden upstairs acting as if he doesn’t exist… on his birthday, of course.

Theme: As tribute to both Uncle Vernon and Final Exams starting this next week, this week’s theme is preparation!

In this chapter there are a few different types of preparation presented. You have The Uncle Vernon, The Dudley, The Aunt Petunia and The Harry Potter. The best part is they all relate to the different types of studiers I’ve seen this past week.557245bb7b0d0457bf20a7884eef4409

The Uncle Vernon: This type of studier is someone who plans every moment up to the exam. They study all the time in the days before the exam. They are independent, crafting their own study methods and advise others how to also create their own study plans. They make sure they take every past exam, work in study groups and then even harder when alone, have a meticulous outline full of all the info, and are at the school everyday studying (unless it’s a holiday then they study at home). These are the driven ones, the students who are going to stress out until they know for certain they are going to win big! They are devoted to their goals and want everything to fall into place, and will work till it does.

The Dudley: This type of studier is someone who lives under the motto: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” These are your charmers, your study group kings and queens, the people who are challenging others to help them learn. They are the smart cookies who work smarter, not harder. They work in groups to round themselves out and study with whoever they can find. They are devoted to helping others and themselves. The perfect mixture of charisma and devotion.

3dc3359c87bdd62aa4b6e6943b9633beThe Aunt Petunia: This type of studier is someone who sticks to the advice they were given by others who have gone before them. They keep to a laid out plan, following a strict plan of attack. They are quiet about their plans, about their outlines, and about what they do or do not know about the exam. They keep to themselves studying just the right way.


The Harry Potter:
This type of studier is someone who barely studies at all. They keep to themselves, hide away in a world of procrastination, have no part in the plans of others and tend to barely study. It doesn’t mean that they are slackers by any means. They just tend to stay hidden away until it’s time for the big test, working on not stressing.

Now you can be a mixture of these different study/ test-prepping types or just one, but either way it’s time to get our butts in gear and start getting ready for those first semester final exams!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed