Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On partisan relationships ...

I'm pretty sure I know which way the people we're house sitting for lean politically.

This is about the fifth phone call I've gotten from the Republican Congressional Committee for the husband. I just keep saying he isn't available.

Is it ridiculous that the lecture I got when I was six about never revealing too much about your house and who lives there to someone on the phone is still ingrained in my head and so I don't have the guts to tell them the guy they're looking for is gone for a year just in case it's some axe murderer or house thief is posing as a Republican and trying to get a confirmation that the house is unattended some of the time and that the owners are away?

Anyway, I'm tired of making up excuses so I'm thinking I'll have Dave answer next time, pretend to be the man they're looking for, and tell them he's decided to be Democrat.

That should do it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Whose idea was this?

Just in case you wondered, writing a moot court brief during Christmas vacation is about as fun as it sounds.

Skiing with your in-laws on Christmas Eve, however, is REALLY fun!

As is getting a food processor for Christmas. Vegetables are way more fun to pulverize than they are to eat.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On procrastination ...

(I'm totally cherry-picking Reverb10 prompts.)

It's finals time and apparently, somewhere in the world (at least that's what I was told in an e-mail today), it's almost Christmas.

Dave made the most amazing pumpkin pie yesterday. From scratch. Short of growing the pumpkin himself, he did everything else -- the crust, baking down the pumpkin to turn it into what other people buy in a can, mixing it by hand.

It was delicious! He'd tried once before around Thanksgiving, but forgot some of the sugar. This time it came out perfectly sweet.

We still have our Thanksgiving decorations up. There is cornstalk on the porch. I have yet to exchange the orange colored candle I put out as a centerpiece with a red or green one. We're still making Thanksgiving-like desserts. By all accounts, it is November, not December around here.

And it probably will be until finals are over. Preparing for tests isn't the only thing I procrastinate. Switching seasons is difficult, too.

But when November means that you're cuddled up with a blanket and a textbook on the couch while the smell of homemade pie drifts through the house -- you can't help but enjoy it when it stays around a little bit longer.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On etiquette...

So it's two days from finals, I am scrambling to get everything together, and I'm starting to come down with a cold. I've been popping echinacea and vitamins all day.

I have a question for you readers: I walk into a study room yesterday and my friend greets me with: "I'm so sick!" Immediately all I want to do is run out the door. It's finals time, I'm thinking. I know I'll catch it because I'm running on no sleep and my immune system is low. I can't afford any more lost time. We could study by Skype instead, right? But I can't figure out a way to say that without sounding like a complete germaphope and a really insensitive person. I mean, we only have three days till the final and I know she'd put a lot of time into preparing for our review session together. I was in the same situation a week or so ago when I couldn't think of a good response a friend I drove who got in my car with the words "I don't feel good at all." What was I going to do? Tell her to drive herself? Nope. So yesterday I stayed and studied and, sure enough, I caught the cold just like I thought I would.

Anyway, here's my question: What should I have done? Is getting sick just the cost we pay for interacting or is it fair to ask that people let you out of your commitment because they're ill? Does it matter what kind of illness? I mean it was just a cold. It's not like she showed up with swine flu, right? What do you do in situations like this?


(Please! =) )

ALSO, just in case you want more ways to participate in my survey, the friend I drove last week told me proudly that she's never missed school for being sick. that she always finds a way to power through illness and be at the lecture. She talked about how important it is to keep commitments, turn in assignments, even when you're sick. Not being a flake is her most important priority. I wanted to respond with how selfish that was ... that infecting everyone else was really not worth not having to ask someone else for the notes. But am I way off base? Does anyone else get upset when people show up to things sick? Do I lack compassion for the ill or are they rude for getting everyone sick? What kind of person are you? 1. You power through the cold and make sure you get done as much as you can that you promised to do? 2. The kind of person that gets frustrated when others show up sick, but when it comes right down to it, and you're the one with the cold, you probably show up to class, work, whatever? or 3. The kind of person that stays home -- not just because you don't want to go to class/work but out of consideration for others? 4. My husband, who has an immune system of steel and never gets sick?

Tis the season ... for wizards?

I love Christmas music.

I love Christmastime.

I love Christmas movies.

I'm still not sure how showing the Harry Potter series was in line with a certain television station's "weekend of Christmas movies" but I'm glad it was because it was the most entertained I've been while studying for finals in several days.

P.S. For some reason, Professor McGonnagal reminds me of Justice O'Connor. Has anyone else made that connection?

Friday, December 3, 2010

On pieces ...

#reverb10 -- Prompt: What one word sums up your 2010 year?


I'v alluded to it in past posts, but early January turned my world upside down. Our marriage, my biases, my life views, my expectations, family relationships -- everything went topsy-turvy. The details haven't, and won't be discussed in this forum. It's too personal. But the beginning of 2010 left everything in pieces, and the rest of it was spent rebuilding. Some parts of life have been rebuilt even more beautiful than before. Some parts are still under construction. And some things -- well, one thing I've learned is just because something is fractured, maybe permanently, doesn't mean it doesn't have worth. In some cases, it becomes more precious.

I chose the word shattering, not shattered, on purpose. There were some definitely earth-shaking revelations that occurred. But things are not in the disarray that they were, and for that I am grateful.

Not all of the shattering that occurred was negative either. As soul-rocking as the experiences were, a lot of impatience, intolerance, insensitivity, and prejudice were shattered and shaken right out of me. I'm better equipped to handle future upsets, and I'm far quicker to offer a sympathetic heart to others who are shaken. Also, there's no doubt the fabulous education I've been blessed with this year formally, and with the crime victims I assisted and in Samoa, shattered misconceptions I didn't even know I had and replaced them with beautiful truths.

All in all, its been a painful rebuild. All growth is. I have NEVER felt so much despair. The best way I know to describe it is that sometimes when you're trying to piece back the shards, you cut yourself. My understanding of depression has significantly and permanently changed. But I would be ungrateful if I didn't acknowledge how generous God was in every other area of my life. It was like He knew how focused I was on rebuilding a few key pieces, and so He quietly managed the rest. So quietly, it took me looking outward to realize how blessed we've really been. For example, in the year that may go down in many people's books as a financial nightmare, we never had a single economic worry. We were blessed with a home to care for, a fabulous job for Dave right out of college, and two internship opportunities for me. There were no significant health problems, no massive car breakdowns, and no deaths. We have been so amply blessed. I truly believe it's because of these blessings that we were able to start healing so well and so quickly. It's because of these blessings that the year progressed from shattering to strengthening. It was a long road here, but I finally think I am ready to face 2011. And I'm excited. There is so much good ahead.

My hope for next year? Balance.

What's your word?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On morality and censorship ...

I'm competing in a law school competition in Minneapolis in February. The topic? Whether or not limiting marriage to heterosexual couples is constitutional. I feel like I'm on Prop 8/Gay Marriage overload. Multiple speakers, panels, and education conferences about this issue have been hosted by the law school over the last few months. It is, after all, the great constitutional and legal question of the decade. So I should be thrilled I get to be part of the discussion. And that I'm required to analyze and argue both sides. But for now, I'm weary of it. There's only so much inner conflict this student can handle. So I was a bit disappointed when I was assigned that particular competition, and not the one discussing immigration reform or student speech rights. I mean, really, who wouldn't want to argue on behalf of a hypothetical 14-year-old blogger who made critical comments about her principal?

Anyway, researching different viewpoints about sexual morality led to finding one blog post that led me to THIS blog post and then finally to THIS web site.

I like this idea. I've always felt a sort of tension between my own standards of what I choose to view in my own home and my support of the First Amendment. I've also defended the rights of people to look at whatever they want as long as it doesn't involve crimes against children. And I don't just mean in theory. In college I got called just about everything you can think of (I think liberal slut was my favorite -- especially because I was working on my mission papers when I got that e-mail) for allowing a lingerie ad to continue to run in the college paper I was editor of. By opposing censorship and protecting the rights of people to look at what I might consider smut, I believe I am protecting my own right to view things that other people may disagree with -- like minority religious or political viewpoints. I also concede that while some of what I consider porn is absolutely trashy, some of it is in a context others may consider art. And I'm not about the government getting involved in telling me or anyone else what is, and isn't, art.

So this approach ... reducing the demand for porn by talking about the effects it has instead of calling for reduction of supply through censorship ... appeals to me. It's felt like I've either had to accept pornography as "healthy and positive" or join ultra-right-wing groups calling for the prosecution of Playboy. I wasn't comfortable with either option. Providing an additional voice into the "marketplace of ideas" discussion (rather than trying to drown out someone else's) while simultaneously providing support for those that are seeing pornography use damaging their real life and human relationships. Sounds like a win-win to me.

I'm not totally sold on this organization. They look pretty new and upstart. And I'm just enough of a skeptic to withhold endorsement until I know who exactly is backing and funding them. Where exactly does the money from their "Donate Now" button go?

I did like these talking points from their site: "We are fighting against the demand for pornography. Through education, we believe people will no longer want to use porn and those with addictive behavior will seek help from professionals. AND "[W]e want to infuse more sexiness into the world. Two committed people together, that is sexy. A lonely, addicted person sitting in front of a computer is not sexy."

I am not on board with government censorship. I am, however, totally on board with creating a culture that doesn't demean women into sex objects and celebrates fidelity in both thought and action.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saw Harry Potter last night. Came home wanting an adventure. Decided finishing the semester might be good enough for now.

I've been thinking about the film all day so I spent a good part of tonight's homework aversion tactics on websites learning about what the Harry Potter kids are going to do next, particularly the charming Emma Watson ... have you seen her new hair??!

She seems so grounded and so drug free. And that's weird for someone with millions of dollars at the age of 20 and lots of fame. At least for us Americans it is. She's roughly the same age as American counterparts Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus, and yet she turned out so differently. Do you think that has anything to do with the difference in American culture vs. British? Or just that these are very different young women?

Anyway, now I just feel kind of depressed for two reasons: 1) I love the Harry Potter movies and I think I will feel partially responsible if my (along with the other 6 billion people on the planet) financial support of the dynasty in any way contributes to the ruined life of another child star. Am I a horribly cynical person for thinking this whole illusion of stability from the young trio can't possibly last? I'm going to feel horrible in five to ten years if one (or all three) of them is on drugs and making the talk show circuit about how all those fans and money ruined their life. And 2) I am going to be the most uptight parent ever. If my reaction to a celebrity only five years my junior when going through their slideshow of fashion shoots over the years is "Put some pants on young lady" and "That is WAY too much eye makeup for a 17-year-old -- you look so much prettier with your hair out of your face" -- can you even IMAGINE how bad it will be when I'm looking through my own hypothetical children's Facebook accounts? I'm not even pregnant yet and I'm pretty sure they already think I'm not cool.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you ....

"10 year vet," the sign read. "Please help."

The man had a slight smile on his face. He didn't seem to care that we were all trying to avert our eyes. That's what I struggle with the most ... knowing what to do or say when I walk past someone begging when I'm in my dress coat and heels, looking the picture of money and feeling heartless for not helping. He was clean shaven and younger than most of Salt Lake's panhandlers. Too young looking to be from Vietnam, maybe Desert Storm or Afghanistan.

I'm OK not giving the handout in most cases. Salt Lake City officials have specifically asked people not to give in to panhandlers -- instead, asking us to donate our money to homeless services and shelters. I'm not OK with the fact we pretend they're not there ... walk past as if they are invisible, ignoring not only their request for money but trying to avoid their existence as another human being in need as well. So I did something brave and made eye contact and smiled at him. And instantly felt guilty that the smile wasn't accompanied by some cash. Like always, I wanted to justify myself to him with my litany of excuses and the conversation that goes like this in my head:

I'm sorry, sir. I REALLY want to help you but I don't carry cash and I can't just hand over my credit card. You don't believe me when I say we don't have the money? I know it's hard to believe because we look rather fancy. Please don't let the fact we just came from the ballet in our Sunday best deceive you. We could only afford our seats because we bought them with Groupon and you have no idea the student debt we're fighting and the long hours my husband is working to make ends meet and to pay for little extras like these date nights. The fancy coat I'm wearing is a gift from my mom. My husband saved for months for these pearls. Don't look at me like that!

We kept walking across the street and I couldn't get his sign out of my head: "10 year vet. Please help." It made me think of THIS article. Did you know the word "tramp" originated from all the homeless veterans who "tramped" home from the Civil War? Or that Iraq and Afganistan veterans are already showing up in homeless shelters? From the article:

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.


Keaveney said it's difficult for his group to persuade some homeless Iraq veterans to stay for treatment and help because they don't relate to the older veterans ...

"They see guys that are their father's age and they don't understand, they don't know, that in a couple of years they'll be looking like them," he said.

I lived near an Army base in Tennessee for several months, working with families in an LDS congregation. It was at the height of this most recent war. There were men on their third deployment in as many years. The divorce rate was staggering among infantry. It baffles me that many of the people who gave the most to protecting society end up reaping the fewest of society's benefits ... warm shelter, three square meals a day, and a productive job. But in other ways it makes sense. Without a college education, the skills combat gives you aren't exactly marketable in a civilian economy. Culture shock, mental illness caused by the stress of combat, physical disability, and the toll of deployments on familial relationships are not a good recipe for success once you return home.

Today is Veteran's Day and I've been thinking a lot about that man I saw.

If I had had cash last weekend after the ballet, I probably would have given it to him, regardless of the city's request. But we didn't and so I wanted to invite him to dinner. Dave said no. He was uncomfortable with the idea. So we kept walking and he kept on being ignored. I wish I would have run back and at least told him "thank you." Because our veterans deserve at least that much.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cutting back ...

Life needs to be simplified this month. So I'm not going to blog. And I'm going to do my very, very best to limit how much I read other's blogs. Which is going to be hard because I sincerely find many of you interesting, entertaining, and enlightening. I'll be back in November.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A tale of woe ...

Hi friends,

I have a sad, sad story to tell you about moot court.

What is moot court you might ask? It's this really fabulous law school cocurricular activity. Not extracurricular like football (though I'm doing that this year, too ... the law school has one of the most dominating ladies flag teams around). Cocurricular like we'll give you school credit for doing something more fun than listening to a teacher lecture and you might actually learn to be a lawyer along the way. Moot court is something I've really looked forward to being part of. Something I worked really hard to get invited onto. And something I've been working very hard to do well at.

And then yesterday, I'm pretty sure I blew it. And I took it way harder than I expected. I realized that maybe my relationship with law school has become unhealthy. Unbalanced and life controlling perhaps?

So instead of telling you about the details, I think I'm just going to wrap this up and go find a life instead. Because seriously, I woke up REALLY happy this morning after some fabulous support and recovery from family last night when I realized things were going downhill fast. And because sleep is amazing and I didn't have to wake up to an alarm. And it's October and should be freezing, but it's sunny and beautiful and SO WARM!!! outside. And there's no class today. So I'm going to take a break from law school today and give it some distance. It will get all passive-aggressive on me when I return by giving me a list of double-duties tomorrow for my neglect. But I think the health of our relationship demands it. Maybe I'll go on a hike.



Right after I finish this edit and go to the hearing I promised to.

Law school is so needy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On increase ...

Some food for thought at this back-to-school-time:

In the past 25 years, minimum wage increased 216 percent.

Tuition increased 400 percent.

Twenty-five years ago, more men graduated from college than women.

Today, more women graduate than men.

Just over twenty-five years ago, I did not exist.

Today, I do.

If I applied the logic some of my classmates try to use in class, it would mean that I am reasponsible for the increase in tuition, minimum wage, and the number of women earning college degrees.

You're welcome.

*I realize it's tangential to the point of this post, but I'd also love discussion on the tuition/wage increase issue as well as this article about how efforts to boost the status of women have worked (yay for lots of college degrees),but now maybe men need the boost back .... Link courtesy former professor at Thoughts???

On career options ...

The words left my mouth and I instantly knew they'd come out too hastily. I had snapped back at a classmate who, in her own frustration, accused me of talking to the one attorney in the clinic that night out of turn. I immediately tried to apologize but she was too worried about her client who had been sitting with no answer for at least 20 minutes. So I sighed, turned back to the attorney who was ignoring my classmate for the moment, and wrote down her instructions.

Every Tuesday I volunteer to offer legal help to domestic violence victims. The first week or so the questions were simple and basic. What form do I need for a protective order? Can I take my child out of the country if his dad has custody and refuses to sign his passport? Where is the courthouse? I was cocky enough after this experience that I actually told a friend it was somewhat frustrating to do all the work and have the supervising attorney take credit.


This week was a doozy. And I realized just why being an attorney requires three years of intense study, bar certification, and a few years of practice in a firm or under a mentor before you're ready to go it on your own as a solo practitioner.

Because as a second year student, I had absolutely no idea that if your ex-husband got you to sign divorce papers under fraudulent pretenses the next step is to submit a motion to dismiss with a supporting affidavit. I also had no absolutely no idea what your client should tell the judge if your abusive husband has been deported and so you can't find him to serve him with divorce papers. And I definitely had absolutely no idea what to say when a woman my age, a stay-at-home mom with a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old and no education and only a few months work experience at Petsmart whose husband has all of their money in his name and cheated on her so she now has zero money and zero job prospects, looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "This isn't how I thought marriage was going to be."

And that's when I also knew divorce law probably isn't going to be for me..

One field of law down, 100 to go. I'll figure out what I'm doing eventually.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On overcoming denial ...


I watch Dancing With the Stars while editing law journal articles.

I secretly wish I was on Dancing with the Stars.

I find Bristol Palin adorable and refreshing.

Congratulations American Broadcasting Corporation. You can take away my "I think I'm too smart for pop culture" award now. No one's been able to do that since Gilmore Girls ended. I miss Rory.

Monday, September 20, 2010

On stamping...

I've spent a lot of time in the law library lately. So I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to notice the disclaimer on the large "stamp" used at the circulation desk where I check out research materials. (I say "stamp" because really it's not a stamp in my mind. A stamp is what my Young Women leaders would use to decorate homemade greeting cards. This thing is a spring-loaded, foot-tall, complete-with-interchangeable-date-plates-ink dispenser of doom; an apparatus only the true librarians can handle.) Anyway, here's what the label on top says in red capital letters.

"Please do not stamp personal items. Stamp is for library materials only."



Why on earth was this disclaimer necessary? Who would want "Howard W. Hunter Law Library[DATE]" stamped all over their stuff anyway? Is wildly stamping anything in reach really such a temptation for law students that it happens frequently? And was that really so offensive to the librarians they felt the need that the stamp must be made exclusive? That the sacred name of the library not be allowed to touch non-library materials?

I think what this really means is that I've spent too much time in the library. And that I very possibly need a life outside of law school.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On sleeptalking ...

Remember THIS? It just keeps getting better:

I turn out the light and Dave rolls over reaching for my arm.

"So," he says touching my elbow. "How are things going for you guys?"

Guys? Since when am I plural? Hmm ... I think. This sleep talking thing has been going on for a year but it's never been interactive. Maybe I should check that out. Maybe he's dreaming about the next day when we'd see some friends at another friend's wedding? But before I can say anything he interrupts me.

"I don't mean personally. I mean with the load."

Ah. He's dreaming about work where he manages semi-truck drivers.

"What load?" I respond.

"I don't know. Maybe I'm too tired to ask this question. Maybe I should ask you tomorrow."

I search for another response when he starts in again ...

"Really good, thanks for asking. Things are great with me and my wife."

That's happy, I think. Even unconscious he's happy with our marriage.


"What time will you arrive with the load?"

"10," I say, searching my brain for a number.

"And what time is it due again?"

"11." If I'm going to play truck driver, I might as well be a really punctual one.

"Great. Sounds good to meeeeeeee," his drags out the word in a tired sing-song voice."Maybe I'm too tired to ask this question. Maybe I should ask you tomorrow. But it was really important I know before I go to bed for some reason."


I wonder what else I can get out of his subconcious.

"So, what's your favorite thing about your wife?" I ask.

"There's so many things!" he says enthusiastically. "How could I choose just one?"


"Do you know who you are talking to?" I am suspicious from his last answer he is starting to wake up. "Who am I?"

"You are ... You are Brooke," he says somewhat uncertainly.

"Yes. So why are talking to me like a truck driver?"

"Because you drive a truck."

"No I don't."

"Have you ever considered switching vocations?"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On panic ...

Panic is looking at your "absolutely-must-have-finished-before-class-at-9a.m.-Monday" list at 1 a.m. Sunday and then realizing all your books are at school in your carrel. In the library. In a building that is locked on Sundays because it is owned by a religious organization.



BYU may be able to keep my from my books on the Sabbath but they won't exactly be forcing me into a day of rest. More like a day of stress.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 links ... We will never forget

I liked this collection of photos:

Also, I love that First-Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush spoke together today in Pennsylvania.

P.S. American journalists and legal scholars ... Can we please, please stop using the acronym OTUS for "of the United States." It took me a long time to figure out what the heck articles were talking about in law school when they referred to the Supreme Court as SCOTUS, and in looking for a link about the First Ladies' speech, I just came across an article that referred to Michelle Obama as the FLOTUS. Really? That phrase sounds like some kind of quasi-sexual flower to me. And strikes me as slightly demeaning. Does that mean her husband the president is the POTUS and that as a resident and citizen I am a ROTUS or COTUS? Typing out U.S. before something takes less time than writing OTUS after it and will save my poor eyes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

T-shirt goodness ...

The BYU Women's Law Forum has had some rocking T-shirts the last couple years. Lady Justice stands proudly wielding her sword with the scales of justice hanging in the balance. Two years ago she was surrounded by the words: Women belong in the House .... and in the Senate."

Last year we gave our gal pal Judge Judy some screen time. "I'm here because I'm smart, not because I'm young and beautiful ... although I am."

This year's quote has a lot to live up to. I just got the list board members will vote from and I thought I'd share some of my favorites. (Feel free to comment with your insights or your own favorite quotes about the law, achieving your goals, women, feminism, or to help me balance this discussion out a little, men.):

"Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex" - Abigail Adams

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank, writer

"Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads." -Erica Jong, author

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"A woman's work is never done." - Proverb

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." -Helen Keller (editor's note: can't you just see this in vinyl?)

"Feminism's agenda is basic: It asks that women not be forced to 'choose' between public justice and private happiness." - Susan Faludi, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

"Women are the real architects of society." -Harriet Beecher Stowe

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." –Mother Theresa

"We are all pencils in the hand of God writing love letters to the world." -Mother Theresa

"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers." - Susan B. Anthony

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" -Eleanor Roosevelt

Prop 8 ...

The lead counsel for the defense in Perry v. Schwarzenegger spoke today. His speech, followed by intense debate (yes, there are people at BYU Law on all sides of this issue) and discussion with classmates left my head in knots.

Every time I'd attempt an argument in any direction, I'd end up in a circle. And after a crash course in tax break regulation, I'm convinced there's a lot more to this argument than people from either side are letting on and that acknowledging those untalked about incentives (*cough! cough! **FINANCIAL!) would actually simplify the debate enormously. And I also wanted to completely ***overhaul the tax code.

I believe in tolerance. I also believe in morality. But discussion and studies about homosexuality and its impact or lack thereof are irrelevant here because that's not what the case is about. Those things may be what Prop 8 were about and they are certainly what all the buzz and debate and exchange within the marketplace of ideas surrounding the case are about. The actual lawsuit, though, has to focus on legal, not social principles. So it's about whether or not a referendum held to a public vote and then passed by only a slight majority (52.24 percent) of Californian residents does or does not violate Constitutional guarantees. And for law students, legal scholars, and hopefully, for all Americans, that is a very important question to have answered.

I know where I stand on the irrelevant stuff -- morals and tolerance and the balance between the two. But I still haven't decided what I think the Constitutionally-acceptable solution should or will be. Good thing I'm not in charge.

Thoughts? Does someone out there have a better grasp on the Due Process clause and is certain they know how it should be interpreted? Is anyone else as lost as I am? Or does no one want to touch this?

** I am not referring only to proponents of gay marriage here -- financial incentives play into both sides. Nor am I implying the only reason homosexual couples want to be married is because of a tax break. There are certainly important emotional aspects to this issue. I am referring here, however, to the fact that one of the main arguments that current marriage laws are discriminatory is that heterosexual couples who are married are given different tax breaks than heterosexual couples that are not married and that current marriage laws force homosexual couples into the unmarried category.

***(Warning: I ramble here. You may want to just read the main post and move on to the comments if you're not in the mood to make sense of confusion.)
Marriage as an institution has historically been about children. That does not mean that your marriage has to be about children. You may choose to be married and not have children (my husband and I are fully in that category at the moment) and you may choose to have children and not be married. But governments and societies have typically offered incentives (and really, what other form of incentive does the government have other than tax breaks and some sort of government-recognized title distinction) to people who are willing to commit to long-term relationships because it is an effort to reduce the number of children born to single parents.
If the incentive works (or if the incentive creates a culture where marriage is valued), this reduces the percentage of children who will need government assistance to make up for a missing parent and significantly reduces other social ills that have been statistically linked to poverty due to single parenthood. That's good for society as whole. The government recognizes that not all married couples will have children. But they do recognize that the majority of heterosexual people will procreate and they want to encourage as much of that to happen within committed and stable relationships as possible so marriage has traditionally been offered to heterosexual couples.
This line of reasoning is used as by some as an argument against extending marriage to committed homosexual couples: The only reason the government cares at all about heterosexual marriage is because heterosexual marriages usually produce offspring and governments have a valid interest in parental care provided to the children born into their country. If children were not usually a product of heterosexual relationships than the government could care less whether or not the two adults in the relationship wanted formal recognition of their lifelong commitment to each other. Because no homosexual couple will ever spontaneously reproduce, the argument is there is no valid reason for the government to get involved. Homosexual couples may adopt, just as others who are not married may adopt, but other tax credits are offered to parents regardless of marital status and if unmarried people (regardless of sexual orientation) are willing to go to the lengths that it takes to adopt a child, then their families are probably not the kind that threaten societal harmony like lots of children from uncommitted relationships do and so there is no need to offer incentives against it like there is with unmarried couples.
The Supreme Court, in some cases, seems to agree with at least the line of reasoning which leads to this argument because it has repeatedly let the American people know that they can have sex and be committed and spend there lives with whoever they want, but marriage the institution is about children and families, not just about two adults who love each other. That does not mean they won't extend marriage to homosexual couples at some point, because they might. It just means that they say the reason America cares about marriage is because marriage is about kids.
Now how does this all relate to financial incentives and a complete overhaul of the tax code? I follow the purposes and reasoning for tax breaks for married couples to a point. But I also see where it seems completely unfair that when my friend's dad bailed on her mom and asked for a divorce, that her mom now pays more in taxes (because she doesn't get to file jointly with anyone), which actually leaves her with less income to support her daughters just when she needs the extra income the most. It also seems totally bogus to me that I get more of a tax break than my unmarried friends who are dating. How is that fair? And it seems bogus to me that heterosexual couples without kids should get more of a tax break than homosexual couples without kids. But I also think the government should be encouraging marriage because it is good for kids and what other ways can the government do that than offering tax incentives? And can we really afford to offer ALL parents, regardless of marital status, the same huge level of tax breaks? It's not like this money just magically appears if it's not collected. The people who don't qualify end up making up the difference. So now everyone who is childless would be footing a much larger bill. But, on the other hand, then the tax break would be even for all parents regardless of marital status. It's one reason this friend is against gay marriage because the money lost to all the new tax breaks for married homosexual couples will fall largely on unmarried people, a large portion of them single parents. Why should they get a tax break when the whole purpose is to benefit kids and right now unmarried people WITH kids don't even qualify. But don't we want parents to be married, so shouldn't we continue to give tax breaks to married couples because they most likely will have children? Most married people do have children. You could argue that we should only give it to couples who are married with kids if kids are the ones we're trying to help in the first place. But is it fair for one marriage to receive a tax break when another doesn't based on child status? Do we give a tax break for people trying to have children? Or only once they actually have a child? What would would happen if we just overhauled it all and didn't give a married tax incentive? What if, since kids are the ones we are trying to help, we just gave a bigger child credit? Would that somehow be interpreted as government approval of people choosing to have children outside of committed relationships even though that has been shown to be bad for society? Would Prop 8 have even have happened if there was no married tax break? Would as many homosexual couples want to be married if non-marriage wasn't keeping them from equal treatment in the eyes of the law because not even married people were being given the break? The fact I can come up with so many questions and I absolutely loathe talking about tax law is a big sign to me that there needs to be some kind of tax reform. But, again, I won't be the one to do it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On anticipation ...

I laid awake staring at the ceiling. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I checked the clock ... nope. Not time. I would roll over, trying very hard to think of something so that I wouldn't be tempted to get out of bed. When you're seven it's not OK to turn on the TV and make yourself a bowl of cereal at 2 a.m. Usually thinking about my new backpack or the neatly packaged pencils in my Lisa Frank box was enough to bring a new wave of giddiness and I was back to looking at the clock. The night before school started was infinitely more testing than the night before Christmas.

I am a nerd. I love school. As a child I would lay awake thinking about recess and math time and reading time with endless glee. As a teenager I would picture the outfit hanging in my closet over and over again -- each time coming up with a new improvement or finding some social flaw in my choice, but ultimately pulling it on the next morning with the satisfaction it was the best that six hours of sleepless analyzing could come up with. And then there was college! I couldn't wait to get back to my roommates, setting up in a new apartment, journalism classes, and freedom. I still smile when I pass that last curve in the canyon and Logan comes into view. It feels like I'm coming home.

School starts again on Thursday. But this doesn't feel like school. It feels like lawyer boot camp and I don't want to go back. My husband and I discussed our schedules for the week while driving last night. I got to the part about school starting on Thursday. "I'll be done at 4 p.m.," I said. And then there was a silence. "I don't want to go." More silence. My husband looked over at me, wondering if everything was OK. It wasn't. I was crying like a scared three-year-old approaching preschool for the first time. "It's hard. I can't do it. I don't want to go." Even I knew how pathetic I sounded. I didn't care. The last two weeks have been delicious and all I could think about was every golden thing in my life slipping back into the dark-paneled walls of the third floor of the law building. I feel like I'm drowning and school hasn't even begun. I'm already behind on reading, I've already failed miserably at school-life balance at least twice this week while just preparing to go back, and I have no honest idea of whether or not my loans will come through in time to pay for tuition.

Buck up, I thought. It's just school. No it's not, I retorted to myself. This isn't just school. This is school with bullies and a curve and no validation and no recess and no .... You sound like an idiot, I responded. Whine, whine, whine. Do you honestly think anyone cares that you think law school is hard? Or that they have absolutely ANY sympathy? You signed yourself up. You're a grownup. And grownups do hard things.

My inner three-year-old just whimpered defiantly.

So when I woke up this morning with a desire to organize my binder and set aside some things to put on my carrel, I saw that as a good sign. Maybe I'll even start picking out an outfit and go buy some new highlighters or pens. Because I really do love school ... even when I'm three.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm back ...

Goodbye tropical island and UN initiatives ... Hello law school and organizing the garage.

And finishing thank you notes. Miss Manners says you have one year in which to complete your wedding thank you notes. I'm giving myself a year and two weeks.

P.S. I owe many of you visits, e-mails, blog comments, and phone calls. I promise I'm getting there! Be patient with me as I catch up, please.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Unforgettable ...

My list of unforgettable Samoan moments:

Watching the fire dancers

Watching the fire dancers set a table on fire

Watching the fire dancers stand frozen staring at the table they set on fire

Watching a tourist walk up and throw the table in the swimming pool

Meet Eti ...

This is Eti ...

A couple weeks ago he took us up here ...

Around here ...

And through here ...

So we could see this ...

Lake Lanoto'o

I got to feed wild goldfish on Saturday! The hike to Lake Lanoto'o was slippery and steep but passed through some amazing greenery and flowers. The lake was created after a volcano erupted and eventually the crater filled with water. Germans introduced the small fish to the lake and they've been spreading like crazy ever since. My friend and I had the lake to ourselves while our guide did some work on the land above.

Our guide has been helping uncover the remains of small huts that a German doctor built and lived in during his time in Samoa. He found the foundations as well as a few remaining day-to-day items like old wine bottles and a teapot. The doctor's grandchildren have been visiting from Germany and want to place a headstone marker there. A bit tricky since it's an hour walk up steep and slippery terrain and no one else lives nearby, but our guide is determined it will get done somehow. He had amazing stories about the doctor who lived there a century ago and was finally driven out by New Zealand planes around WWII.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Trouble in Paradise ...

The man kicked the fence angrily, his face grimacing with the effort, and the arm that held the baby coming back towards the street. I wondered what the fence had done to deserve his rage until I saw him begin to strike it, over and over, and I knew. Something was hidden by the fence -- something soft, something human.

I called out to my coworkers. Our truck pulled up further and we could see a woman, her full weight bending in the fence around her, her assailant ready to strike again. We didn't want to believe what we were seeing. His leg came up and he pushed it hard into her stomach. She doubled over and slid down the fence toward the ground.

"Help her! Do something!"

The words came out of my mouth, but my body was frozen. L.i. urged our driver forward further, rolled down her window and immediately began to try diffuse the situation in Samoan, simultaneously asking the woman on the sidewalk if she was all right. He looked right at us, still holding the baby, then turned with a look toward the woman and punched again. This time there was blood and she was down on the ground. B. jumped out of the driver's seat and ran to her. L.i. was out of the truck trying to reason him, doing anything to stall him and get him to hand over the baby. She fired a string of Samoan at him ... who knows what she said. Insults? Reprimands? Pleadings? I had sat in shock watching the commotion until my body finally caught up with my brain and my hands scrambled furiously inside my bag for my cell phone. I dialed the police.

"We're sorry, but the number you're trying to reach is busy now. We're sorry, but the ..."

I hung up and silently cursed the robotic voice and lack of a dispatching system.

I stood near L.i. half-frozen, unable to say or understand anything in Samoan. My fingers were still fumbling with the keypad. A few people started walking toward us from across the street and E. was cradling the woman's head, keeping it off the concrete. The man grabbed a rock and started back toward the woman. L.i. came toward him. A taxi pulled up and the man, dropped the rock and began climbing in. He hesitated. L.i. was staring at him.

"Hello? Hello?"

I finally got another voice on the other end of the line.

"L.i. I've got the police, talk to them," I said pushing the phone toward her, sure that her Samoan would get us further and faster than my English.

She looked at me confused, told me to talk to them and continued to stare at the man climbing in the taxi with the baby.

"Hello? Yes. We've just witnessed an assault."


Are you kidding me?

A crowd was starting to gather and the man and the baby disappeared inside the taxi which quickly drove off. I memorized the license plate number and couldn't believe that the taxi driver, who could clearly see the woman lying bleeding on the street, hadn't held him back.

"Let's get her to the hospital," L.i. said.

B. and some other men hosited the half-conscious woman into the track while E. and I gathered her scattered belongings off the pavement. We climbed in the bed of the truck. E's eyes were wide with panic. My mind raced through every bit of domestic violence research I'd completed in Samoa. I was anxious to get to the hospital. But partway there, we turned around and L.i. reluctantly agreed to take the woman to her family's house instead.

E. and I walked in a daze back to the office after L.i. and B. went to track down the assailant's employer. She had been staring for a reason. She recognized him from a local bakery. She and the police would be waiting for him when he got back to work. It didn't take long before he was booked in jail, the baby safely with grandparents. Committing public assault with four employees from the Attorney General's Office as eye-witnesses is a sure way to get caught.

In the meantime, E. and I couldn't get the image of his fist sinking into her head out of our own. Months of work with domestic violence victims, and weeks of research on specific protocal for domestic violence reporting, did little to help cushion the experience. I felt helpless. What good was trying to stop violence against women if it didn't help me stop violence against women? I had just sat there. By the time my fingers had found the number for a limited police force, the punch had already been thrown.

My first reaction was to call home. It calmed my nerves to hear a comforting voice on the other end of the line. But it was awful to realize that while coming home might offer me some personal comfort, it wouldn't help. It wouldn't offer an escape from the violence. Millions of American women are being battered in their own homes the same way a Samoan woman was beat in the street today. So I'll keep working. Even if I can't actually stop anything. At least she knows we tried.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I have Internet access again, so let's get to it, shall we? The last two weeks have been full of cultural experiences -- some planned, and some not-so-much.

Let's begin with THE GOOD ...

Manono Island is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, made even more beautiful by its lovely people.

You can walk around the entire island in about two hours. Kids follow you shouting "Malo!" and "Buh-bye!" and begging you to take their picture so they can see themselves on your digital camera. By far, the coolest part of my trip so far.

THE BAD ....

Dogs here are crazy. They hold the island hostage after dark and I fall asleep to howling and snarling as they attack each other in the streets. They're also really fond of biting tourists. Check out my coworker's awesome battle wound.

One night I took a taxi back home to avoid being attacked in the dark streets only to be greeted at the back door by a couple of dogs. They were not as happy as me that I was home and began growling and barking at me. Terrified, I started shouting "Halu! (stop) Halu! Halu!!" Home-away-from-home-Dad heard me through the window and came and rescued me, laughing at both my accent and the fact I was only two feet from the door when they cornered me.

And THE UGLY ....

Nothing sexier than mosquito bites on pale legs. I must be unusually yummy to the blood-sucking insects because more than one well-meaning Samoan woman has implied that I have a skin disease or asked what happened, half-expecting to hear that I was attacked with a knife.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No escape ...

It follows me. Everywhere.

By about the third time I had tripped out of the van and fallen on my face, Luke caught onto the fact that I'm clumsy.

"You're just like Bella!" he exclaimed.

"Excuse me?"

"You know ... Bella from Twilight? She's such a clutz."

And the only movie showing last night on the island's sole movie theatre (where, by the way, they have to turn off the air conditioning half way through the movie because electricity is a luxury)? Eclipse.

Sigh ... Thank you Stephanie Meyer for my new Samoan nickname and for infiltrating the world. Like fast food and celebrity gossip, you are some of the best our culture has to export abroad.

Benefits ...

Government attorneys aren't paid very much. But this is the view from the back entrance ...

Independence Day

I celebrated July 4th at an Australian club (and when I say club, I mean a tiki hut with a bar surrounded by tables with candles) with an Aussie and a Kiwi.

Palagis, as foreigners are called here, are few in number.

Most are here as aid workers or tourists and most are very young. I have yet to meet anyone who is older than 30 and not a doctor, medical staff, or a political science major.

I came for an authentic international experience, so I panicked a little Saturday night when I realized I was sitting in an Australian club drinking Sprite with two of the few non-Samoans on the island. But the few Samoan friends I've made so far at work had plans that didn't include watching out for a foreign girl's safety in seedy bars while binge drinking. Besides, hanging out with Australians totally counts as an international experience, right?

Introductions ...

An elderly grandmother ordered me in broken English to stand next to her at the luggage terminal. At 5:30 a.m. the airport was buzzing to a soundtrack of live music provided by performers in matching tropical shirts and lava lavas. I stood next to my new friend and followed her direction in taking my luggage off the conveyor belt and making my way through customs.

I must have looked like I had never travelled before. Funny, considering how comfortable I feel in airports. Not that you would have known from the way I bungled security when leaving Salt Lake. There's something about kissing your husband goodbye for the last time before a five-week absence that makes you forget to take off your belt or put your sweatshirt in the right bin and look back instead of forward and almost trip over the mat.

But anways ...

So Luke puts my luggage in their family van and I'm hurled across the coast line at sunrise. It's now 6:30 a.m. and the island is already very much awake. Kids are walking in crisp polo shirts and colored lava lavas on their way to private church schools and adults are waiting on the side of the road to cram into yellow and red buses and taxis. There are colors everywhere. The houses, the flowers, the sunrise, the clouds, the ocean reflecting all of it.

Luke points out traditional villages with fales (thatched-roof homes with no walls) separated by the Samoan version of suburbs. Small roadside stands selling beer, cell phone credits, and packaged foods crammed into jungle along with small single-level European homes.

Yellow signs, some of the only signs on the roads declaring "NO to rape and indecent acts" are attached to the string of telephone and electric poles that follow the coast line. I instantly wonder if they are a product of the government agency I'm here to volunteer with.

Within a half hour we've passed the LDS temple and a chapel or two and my amazement gives way to a feeling of familiarity. Even in Samoa with their open buildings and lush vegetation, there's a "look" to LDS chapels that feels like home.

The van pulls up to the house I'll be staying in for the next five weeks and a few men look up from cooking that's already been under way for an hour in stone ovens under a thatched structure. I'm welcomed in by warm friends and shown into the house. So this is Samoa. Everything around me reminds of a mixture of South America, the states, and pictures I've seen of the Pacific in travel magazines. Chickens and dogs run loose in the yard. There are pigs in the back. A modest kitchen boasts running, but not heated, water. The house is basically a huge screened porch divided into rooms. Curtains hang in a continuous wall of fabric eye-level and down and room is a different color. I'm staying in the pink room -- Princess Pink complete with an old Tinkerbell poster taped to the wall. More later on my adventures on trying to sleep.

P.S. My access to the Internet is not always constant so I have a feeling some days there will be multiple posts I've had waiting to put up, and other days that I won't be able to connect. You, of course, are under no obligation to read them all at once when that happens. =)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Absent ...

I've been gone from cyberworld for awhile. One day I might find the words to explain where I've been in quality and quantity since January. But for now, that doesn't matter. Cyberworld, meet the other side of the world ....

Talofa from Samoa.

More coming.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TOADY awards

Check out this link --

for the worst toys of the year. My favorite part: "Because as we all know, second grade is about occasions." What toy did you pick?

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's not over till the fat lady sings ...

I wish I could say that the hours since finals ended have been refreshing, or at least spent away from the law school. My brain was pretty fried and I was/still am desperately awaiting some time to think about something different because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a fresh brain to start an internship next week.

Instead, though, I spent the rest of the day on campus in law review information meetings, most of the next day in classes about externships and ethics (just in case you wondered, having sex with your client is against the rules and so is representing both sides in a case), packing everything we own with the help of family and friends, moving all that stuff to a new place, and attending our new ward where we were given callings within 15 minutes of church ending. I spent the rest of the remaining weekend crying uncontrollably because the last year has pretty much maxed out my emotional limit and it's the first time I've had time to cry in awhile, unpacking, giving up on packing and deciding that Dave and I really are better off with the mattress in the middle of the living room with no bedframe if it means not having to deal with more moving anxiety till he's done with finals, stressing over the news our apartment managers didn't get our 30-day notice so we are now responsible for another month's worth of rent we definitely cannot afford, keeping feminist rage simmered at the Utah Valley Women's Expo, and prepping for the law review competition.

Finals may be finished, but apparently that doesn't mean that law school is.

I love that they didn't even give us a whole three hours between one year "ending" and classes for next year. Has anyone else's school/work/family been this unrelentless at the end of something significant? I would love to hear your stories so I'm not the only one whining.

Anyway, so now the weekend is gone, and today (Monday) felt remarkably like every other day during finals -- procrastination, some decent cooking to keep myself going, and lots of time reading cases and footnotes. It's obvious now my celebratory "finished!" post was a little early, but I am determined that one way or another this school year will finally end.

(Stay tuned ... despite the week-long writing competition, rambling post documenting the epic battle "Feminism v. Women's Expo" coming soon.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Links to similarly minded people ...

I downloaded THIS song in honor of Denim Day. Madonna and I have very little in common, but we see eye-to-eye on those lyrics.

And check out these excellent posts for more on Denim Day:

Now it's back to finals prep. I found it fitting the last hypothetical I had was one on rape. He took her keys (but she was drunk so he claimed he was just keeping her off the streets), she said no (he claimed the fact she stuck around to get her keys back was consent), and she didn't resist (she was told he wouldn't hurt her if he could just get what he wanted). Rape? Unfortunately for this woman, it would depend on where she lived and how much resistance was required on her part for that particular jurisdiction. There is still so much to change. I think I got the answer right for purposes of the exam, now if only society and the legal system could get it right. Isn't it sad that was even a question that could be debated?

P.S. Remember my gushing about how grateful I was we don't have to memorize the missionary discussions, feel guilty about going to grad school, or store two years worth of wheat because we have current prophets with fresh information? Check out this post by Mormon Child Bride on fashion sense.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

EasyMac ...

Finals are here. I procrastinated as usual. But instead of fighting it this time, I've embraced it. I love eating tapioca pudding. And I love sleeping in. Finals will not conflict with those two past-times. Everything else, however, has been put on hold.

Which is why this exchange, during a blissful, much-needed few moments with my husband over some almost-instant-mac-and-cheese, was so awesome:

Dave: (lists everything that has to get turned in the next few weeks so that he can graduate and a million other things going on) [heavy sigh] I'm just feeling overwhelmed. [heavier sigh] It doesn't help that I'm feeling overweight since I don't have time to exercise anymore.

He looked really depressed. So I tried to cheer him up.

Me: [putting my hand on his knee, giving him my biggest, most sincere smile of encouragement] I believe in you! You can do it!

Dave: [mutters]Great. Now I just feel like Free Willy. (mimicking me, while pumping his hands above his head) You can do it. Be free!!!

Suddenly my brain was superimposing Dave's head into a whale shape.

It was the best moment of my day.


And speaking of things that you may or may not find as hilarious as I did, Sunday in church we were singing the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much." Dave leaned over and whispered, "Because I have been given mulch." I leaned back and responded "That he too may be composted."

Yay garden humor.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Something short as promised ...

Dinner on Thursday:

Chili-flavored ramen, pan-fried, with crab substitute.


So much better than it sounds. I ate the whole package.

Possibly slightly pathetic side-note: I was preparing packaged food that cost 19 cents and adding cheap meat substitutes, but I still felt gourmet and like a Food Network star because I was using "crab" and I added a little flourish to my application of the olive oil being poured from my very fancy looking olive oil bottle I probably got from Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More long blocks of text ...

I totally get that my last post was probably visually intimidating. I don't know about you, but my brain shuts off when I see long blocks of text. Especially long blocks of text just like the one I pasted in last time from a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley. So I'm impressed if you read my last post all the way through. And I really, really wanted to give you something short and snappy this time to make up for it.

But I'm going to do the long quote thing again anyway because you know how marriage/law school/family balancing issues have been on the brain? Well, this made me happy:

(You can read the full article here):

Albeit not yet dramatically visible across all firms, practices, or geographical areas, there’s a strengthening quality-of-life undercurrent in the profession. Men and women alike are increasingly refusing to adhere to the law’s cultural rules. ... They are drawing attention to the ways in which the profession is failing its lawyers. Some are even breaking the rules by refusing to settle for a life marked by professional dissatisfaction, opting instead to chart a new satisfying path in the law or to step away from the profession altogether to attend to what many consider the most important things in life: personal interests such as family and the pursuit of individual dreams.

A new generation of lawyers
Work/life issues aren’t only of concern to lawyers already admitted to the bar. Current law students and lawyers born after 1976 are members of the so-called Generation Y, and they stand together demanding a better quality of life and increased flexible work options. ...

Reacting also to the profession’s grim notoriety for inflexibility, many law students are even coming to view the law school years as the perfect time for starting or growing a family, while their schedules allow considerable flexibility. In fact, so many students share this view about the profession and childrearing that a “parent boom” is reportedly taking place at law schools across the country. According to one media source, the parent-boom phenomenon is no secret to officials at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where even school officials acknowledge the boom. ... According to that same source, “Careful logic is apparently driving a parent boom among the student ranks. . . . What working attorneys and firm managers are just beginning to understand is that there is a generation entering the profession who don’t plan to pay someone else to watch their children.

Current law school students aren’t the only ones planning ahead, though. Reports suggest that prospective law students who have their sights set on the JD are hoping that the credential will eventually be the key to meaningful work and will open doors to flexible work possibilities after they have taken time off to raise children. A recent study discovered that as many as 60 percent of Ivy League female graduates hope to stay at home to raise children. Many of the participants reported a desire to obtain a law degree, believing it would afford them the best opportunity for finding meaningful part-time, family-friendly work.



Still there??

I probably lost some of you, and a lot of you that are still here may have just skipped past the article part, but even if you didn't read it, what do you think? What generation do you belong to and do you really think Gen Y is figuring out this whole work/life balance thing any better? Do you even buy into "generational categorizing" to begin with? (Who does those studies anyway?) (And since when did Gen Y go back to 1976? I thought they were Gen X, but that shows what I know.) And sixty percent of Ivy League women?! Do you feel like this is a step backward or forward for feminism, or does this have nothing to do with feminism at all?

Future/current lawyers, have you tried this out? Has the workplace been more friend or foe to those of you trying out new paths? What about other professions?

What about you dads and guys out there? Regardless of profession, has your profession/employer been flexible in letting you be involved more at home or pursue other goals like travel or service? I've heard of some employers that give paternity leave now.

Other thoughts?

Monday, April 5, 2010

On power ...

I needed this weekend. Family, Easter and General Conference. I have some thoughts about specific quotes from this year's LDS General Conference, but they aren't ready yet. It got me thinking, though. A lot was said about womanhood, motherhood, and gender roles. In short, a lot was said about feminism.

I loved Julie Beck's talk. Loved. Loved. Loved. And ever since Saturday when Elder Ballard spoke about the special bonds between mother and daughter -- family, children, work/home balance, child care, law school, marriage -- well, it's all been on the mind a lot more than usual, sneaking into the small breaks my mind gets during school between Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure and sometimes distracting me from Torts and Criminal Law. Then at home it's all I want to think, discuss, and read about.

Loving Julie Beck's talk so much, I Google'd her name. Most of the hits referred to the "Mothers Who Know" talk she gave a few years ago, which apparently caused the biggest stir since 1987 when women were instructed to come home and stay home full-time if possible. I read the 1987 talk for the first time tonight. Interesting stuff which left me flustered because it seemed incongruent with what I'd been taught. How could that be? How could such iconic advice, repeated so often in church meetings be so different sounding than what I'd heard growing up? It got me thinking more, and the more I thought, the more I was grateful for modern prophets. Because guess what? I'm not a mother in 1987. I am a woman in 2010 and will be a mother in the 21st century. I barely even existed in 1987. Maybe that means advice given to mothers in 1987 was not meant specifically for me. While basic principles and commandments remain true (have children, love them, teach them good things), the only specific counsel I am concerned about is that of my current leaders. (And thank goodness. Otherwise, we'd still be storing two years of pointless wheat instead of working toward a 3-month financial emergency fund or memorizing missionary discussions instead of studying from Preach My Gospel.) But surely, women, wives, and mothers in 2010 need some guidance, too. What is the counsel for me? What specific advice has my generation been given? What have we been asked to do? What were we told to plan for and plan on when we were youth, beginning to work toward all these goals?

I still remember this meeting. The incredible feeling of empowerment and light that went through me as he spoke. I remember coming out of that meeting feeling like I could take on the world. I remember feeling like there was someone in my corner. As a sophomore in high school, a prophet told me exactly what was expected of my generation and this was it:

Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it is very difficult to settle on a vocation. You are hopeful that you will marry and that all will be taken care of. In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.

Study your options. Pray to the Lord earnestly for direction. Then pursue your course with resolution.

The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.

I was in the hospital the other day for a few hours. I became acquainted with my very cheerful and expert nurse. She is the kind of woman of whom you girls could dream. When she was young she decided she wished to be a nurse. She received the necessary education to qualify for the highest rank in the field. She worked at her vocation and became expert at it. She decided she wanted to serve a mission and did so. She married. She has three children. She works now as little or as much as she wishes. There is such a demand for people with her skills that she can do almost anything she pleases. She serves in the Church. She has a good marriage. She has a good life. She is the kind of woman of whom you might dream as you look to the future.

For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way. You can be first class. There is no need for you to be a scrub. Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you. Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you. He is no better than you. In fact, he has already belittled himself by his actions. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities, and forever and always be loyal to the Church.

Guess what? We did it! I remember feeling strongly that I would serve a mission. I remember resolving to earn a graduate degree. I remember committing to nothing less than a temple marriage. I remember wanting to be a mother. I remember feeling relief and thinking "Did he really just use a working mom as an acceptable role model?" Covenants, education, excellence. THAT is what my generation was asked to do, and now we are doing it. All around me, I see my peers striving to improve their minds, their testimonies, their families, their communities. And this weekend, we got new sources of support and counsel to help us keep doing it. I love conference.