10 Things I Was Able to Do Because I Got Dismissed from Law School

Not gonna lie, I’m still a little sour about being dismissed from law school. I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid, and let’s be real, I had been in school since I was three so I didn’t know what else to do with myself. But I made myself sit down last night, and think of things that I was able to do since I got dismissed.

1. Go to all of my brother’s events his senior year of high school. 

My brother is painfully smart and talented. To the point where he did jazz band, got his Eagle rank for Boy Scouts, made Phi Beta Kappa, the works. And everything he did had its own little ceremony, which I would have missed if I was still in Baltimore. I don’t get much time to spend with my brother, so it was nice going. I even made it to his high school graduation. Which was kinda weird, I have to admit.

2. Move to Texas and see all my friends.

I moved to Texas to start grad school, and as a result was a drivable distance from most of my friends from OU. I was able to drive up to see them, and they came down to see me, and most importantly, they’re coming down for OU/tx weekend. For the last few years in undergrad and while I was in Baltimore, I was growing apart from my high school friends, because not only was I always hundreds of miles away, but our interests were diverging, and no one was really making an effort to meet up anymore. And that’s okay. People grow up. But for a while, I felt like I had no friends. But now my friends are close, or they get on Skype/Google Hangouts often enough, even though they decided to go to grad school in Germany (*cough*Anna*cough).

3. Meet the cutest toddler ever.

In January I started a nanny job, watching the sweetest little girl. She’s such a happy little person, and I’m so glad she’s a part of my life. With her, I get to go to the playground and library and aquarium and take a break from being an adult and play for a little bit. And now she has the most adorable baby brother, and is so excited to be a big sister.

4. Spend time with my family.

While I was doing my undergrad, I was in Oklahoma, and my family was in Ohio, and I didn’t go home much, because going home for a weekend meant spending most of the time in airports, and was super expensive. But I was able to spend a lot of extra time with both my parents, and while at times it felt like I was a kid again, it was nice being around them.

5. Be happy.

This is important. I was miserable the entire time I was in Baltimore. I felt lost, behind, and unwanted. Not just in the law building, but in the city as a whole. I had zero friends, didn’t get along too great with my roommates, and cried basically all the time. Getting out of that environment was fantastic for me.

6. Started grad school.

When I started my current program, I actually felt like I belonged. I felt smart again, which was great, and the professors and other students are all so supportive of everyone. If someone gets published, the department head sends out an email and while it’s annoying at the time, it’s really sweet how the professors will hit “reply all” and send heartfelt congratulations. And they genuinely care about helping everyone, and take time to sit down and talk to students. When I was transitioning from the non-degree program into the full master’s program, one of my professors was the Associate Dean of grad students, about to move to a position in the Provost’s office, and had just accepted a vice presidency in ACJS, but she took time out to pull me into her office and tell me to quit panicking, write me a rec letter that got me accepted before I even submitted the application, and gave me a hug. If I had asked my torts professor to give me a hug, she’d have rolled her eyes and laughed while plotting to cold call me seventeen times the next class.

7. Cook more.

In Baltimore I was eating either straight up spinach or gluten free spaghetti almost every night. Not only because of the workload, but because I just didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen. Part of this was avoiding my roommates, but also because I just didn’t care. I was miserable, so I honestly could not give a shit about what I put into my body. Now I’m able to plan out healthy meals, and actually cook fun things. Yesterday for dinner I made roasted vegetables, and they turned out amazingly.

8. Create this blog.

The very first post on this blog is about how I got kicked out of law school. This was started as an outlet, as a way for me to vent because I had no one to vent too. That’s changed, and this project has evolved over the past year and a half. Which I’m proud of.

9. Research things I’m actually interested in.

In Baltimore my life revolved around law, and that was pretty boring. That should’ve been my first clue that law school wasn’t for me. I just wasn’t interested in anything. But now I get to spend time reading about narcoterrorism and drug trafficking and it counts as doing work. So the emails full of links to bbc.com with titles involving terrorist is totally legit graduate research, Desiree.

10. Drive on the highway without panicking.

For whatever reason, I used to be awful at driving on the highway. I would avoid it at all costs, and white knuckle it the entire way. I once pulled over on the side of the highway passing through Indianapolis during rush hour to make my dad drive because I just could not handle it. But now I’m totally fine. I take the turnpike to school every week and basically going anywhere in Texas requires you to go on the highway for at least ten miles because nothing is within a reasonable distance around here. So I got used to it, and now I only shriek a little bit when a semi truck gets too close to my lane.

Ultimately, I think I’m a better person now than I would have been if I had been allowed to stay in law school. I’m happier, and that’s what counts.

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Six months later and everything is going to be okay.

My first post on this blog was how I left law school, and I’ve spent the past six months trying to figure out what I’m doing with myself. 

Well. About that. 

I’ve been applying to grad schools, since I have to wait two years before reapplying to law schools, and now I’m super excited to say that I got into the one and only program I applied to. 

It’s a non degree program, but eventually once I have a few good grades to deal with I’m going to apply into Masters programs, and get another degree in Criminology. At that point I’ll see if someone wants to hire me for a grown up job, but if not, I can always go back to law school. I’ll keep accruing debt until someone pays me enough money to get rid of it all. 

That said, if you want to help me pay off a semester’s worth of law school debt, or just want overpriced crap you could probably find at the dollar store, my Zazzle store is right here.

So yeah, I’m pretty excited. If you want quick reaction .gifs about the whole grad school thing, my Tumblr is graduateschoolblog.tumblr.com and I post things every few days. 

xoxo

“Listen here, asshole,” and other ways to win class debates.

For those of you that have been reading from the beginning, I used to be in law school. For those of you that haven’t been paying attention, go catch up with the rest of us. We’ll wait.

Ready to go? Perfect.

So while in law school, we periodically had class debates. Especially in my criminal law class, because the professor was just as lazy as the rest of us and enjoying pitting us against each other to see what would happen.

One such debate was about whether a non-biological adult had a legal responsibility to a child they spent a lot of time with. Like if mom and dad split, and then mom had a live-in boyfriend, would the boyfriend have a legal responsibility to the kids. Not in a step-parent sense, because then there is a legal responsibility. The specific scenario was that a baby was injured and mom’s boyfriend knew mom was abusing the baby but did nothing, and then the baby died as a result of the injuries. We were debating whether or not the boyfriend should be criminally charged. This doesn’t matter right now.

Whatever we started debating, somehow the debate between me and this guy in the class (let’s call him Lt. D. Bag.) turned into an argument about reproductive rights. He was very conservative, and seemed to agree with Rep. Todd Akin’s theory of legitimate rape. When I pointed something out that completely derailed his argument, he came back at me with this gem:

“Of course you’re biased…you’re a woman.

You’re honor, this is the part where I leaped across the room and ripped out his throat and strangled him. No I didn’t.

His poor debate partner, a very sweet Southern gentleman from Georgia who was very good friends with me, threw up his hands and sat down, jumping ship. My debate partner, a wise cracking 80’s punk rocker wannabe, glanced over at me. I paused, raised an eyebrow (in that way that makes Indian boys who know what’s what dive for cover), and very carefully asked Lt. D. Bag if that’s the route he wanted to go on. Unfortunately for him, he was adamant to insist that women are too close to the issue to present unbiased and accurate opinions on reproductive rights.

I took another second, and looked at my professor, who gave me an amused nod to continue.

By that very same logic, I argued, wouldn’t men be too far removed from the issue to present unbiased and accurate opinions on reproductive rights? Wouldn’t the lack of a uterus and the ability to get pregnant detract from how carefully they evaluate reproduction? If erectile dysfunction is covered under insurance, shouldn’t birth control be as well? If birth control is unnatural, shouldn’t a chemical enhanced erection be as well?

 I ended my diatribe with “Just because you have a dick doesn’t mean you can act like one.”

My professor lost it, laughing his ass off as he awarded me the win. Lt. D. Bag looked over in frustration, and pointed out that I had been giving him a series of “mean looks” during his time to speak, effectively distracting him. My professor, his voice dripping with sarcasm and derision looked him in the eye and said,

“Son, if you, a large, tough, military man, can be so utterly terrified by a little girl raising her eyebrow, I suggest you rethink your legal career.”

And that’s how a bitch face won me extra credit.

 

 

That Time I Got Kicked Out of Law School

Two weeks ago today, I packed up my little car and drove six foggy hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get back to Baltimore in time for the Spring semester of my 1L year. The first semester had been more than tough. I had been dealing with constantly changing dosages of happy pills, and my dad had told me he and my stepmother were divorcing right at the end of Thanksgiving break, and as a result of all this stress and tension that had been building up from this awful semester, I did not do as well on my finals as I had been expecting to. But I definitely did not expect a curt email from the Associate Dean’s office in my inbox on Sunday afternoon telling me that my GPA was .939, which was not enough to continue for the spring semester. If I wanted to appeal their decision (which had already been made) I could petition them to give me a hearing.

First of all, who does that?! They wait until the day before class starts, when I’ve paid my tuition and bought all my books, and send an email out at 3pm on a Sunday telling me they’re dismissing me, and then NOBODY ANSWERS THEIR PHONES. Granted, in my sheer panic I may have left too many missed calls and frantic email messages, but let’s be real, panic. Secondly, I think they might have timed this out on purpose, so I couldn’t get them on the phone and babble at them in a variety of languages.

So I drafted a letter explaining all the issues I had had the previous semester, got a letter from my psychiatrist explaining the bit about my medication, and sent it all in the first chance I got. Which was Monday. I also spent Monday morning camped out in the Dean’s suite, waiting for the woman whose name had been tacked onto the dismissal email. She finally waltzed into her office at 10:30, and promptly told me that she didn’t know what I should do now, that she did not have all the answers, and her job was to send emails.

Fuck that shit.

Having found no answers in the Dean’s suite, I went up to the Academic Support office, where the awful woman with cold dead fish eyes and bangs from the nineties told me it was “a shame we’re meeting under such circumstances.” This woman was a gem. And by gem I mean useless waste of time. She essentially told me that I should just drop my petition and forget about law school because I wasn’t cut out for it. Bitch please. I am fucking brilliant. Don’t even get me started on how goddamn brilliant I am. You were lucky to have me. Sensing I was getting no help or sympathy from her, I called my parents. Mom was all on the “Okay let’s figure out your other options let’s take more tests and apply to more schools” train, while Dad was “Fuck these fuckers they don’t deserve you anyway.” Both supportive in their own way. My aunt however, called hysterically a couple times telling me “Calm down. Just calm down. You NEED to CALM DOWN.” I think she was more freaked out than I was. I kept going to classes, on the off chance that they wouldn’t dismiss me, and by Tuesday I got another curt email telling me when my hearing was.

The hearing itself was comical in how they tried intimidating me. They put me in a windowless room, at one end of a long table, with the Academic Review Committee on the other end. Very adversarial (I learned that word in undergrad, FYI). I explained why the semester was an anomaly (I had straight AP classes through high school, finished my Bachelors in three years, and had a $10,000-a-year grant to THIS FUCKING SCHOOL), and how I had already made plans to improve my grades. They weren’t very interested, and ten minutes later said they had all the information they needed and that they would email me a decision shortly.

Shortly meant Thursday, right after I sat through another Contracts II class. They dismissed me. I walked back to my apartment in a fog, called my mom and then my dad, and started packing. I couldn’t leave that night because I was more than a little emotionally compromised, and had so much shit left to do. I packed up three big bins, two suitcases, and four reusable shopping bags, and then I fell asleep. I put everything into my car, and almost a week after I had gotten there, headed back through Pennsylvania because I just could not be in Baltimore any longer.

What I realized during the six hours it took me to get back to Ohio was that no matter how much schools or other institutions preach about how they’re a family and will do anything for their students, that just is not true. It’s not feasible. They can’t reach out to everyone and make sure they’re okay. And when you’re most decidedly not okay, it’ll show up in your grades, even though you think you’re strong and can handle everyone else’s problems. And when you’re not strong enough to put out the grades they can publish, to brag to all the other schools that their students are the smartest, they drop you. They cut ties and every email you send asking about what you’re supposed to do next is ignored for a few days and then gets an impatient reply. They won’t stand by you when you’re down. So don’t expect them to.