Wednesday, July 28, 2010

break it down now: a farewell ode to the bar exam.

monday was my anniversary.  i spent it like any other young couple probably spends their married anniversaries: studying for a bar exam, awaiting the beginning of the "strongly recommended" orientation session, silently cussing my pregnant bladder and, of course, running back and forth to the bathroom.  just another day in paradise.  (sidenote: i had a doctor's appt. that morning, and at said appointment, i discussed my concerns about my overactive bladder with the doc.  she looked at me and laughed, "you're pregnant, stephanie!"  and i was all like, "yeah, i know, but is this normal?  i mean, i don't know how a person could physically go to the bathroom more than this."  she assuaged my fears about gestational diabetes, and blamed the whole thing on the heat wave we've been experiencing.)

but anyway, i am not going to complain about taking the bar exam.  it was mostly my choice to take another bar exam, so there's no need for any whining.  i will, however, take this opportunity to share some observations i came into this week.

#1 open bar vs. open registration?  i am certain that some examinees missed the part of the letter where it said this was open registration, not cocktail hour.  there's really no need to put on thick layers of make-up, a short, slinky dress and high heels for a bar exam registration session.  we know you've spent the past two months holed up in your house/apt/condo/local library feverishly taking practice exams and memorizing outlines.  we know this is your one chance to show off your new "i'm so nervous about the bar exam, i lost 10 lbs." physique.  we know you spent the last of your remaining student loan funds on the sexy little number you're traipsing around in (treasure it because it's going to end up costing you 10 times that much by the time you pay back that loan, girlfriend!).  still, put your hair in a ponytail, throw on a worn college drinking team t-shirt and a pair of running shorts, and get in line.  this is not a miss america pageant.  you are not going to find your next serious boyfriend at the bar exam. 

#2 too cool for school.  at every exam, and thus, at every registration, you will find the group of examinees who want to make sure everyone around them knows how little they know, how silly they think this whole thing is, how much they have NOT studied, how absolutely "wasted" they got last night, how hungover they've been all summer, and how ready they are for this to be over so they can commence preparing for the february examination ("'cuz like they're totally not going to like pass this" (girl) or "dude, i'm so f'ed on this exam, dude, it's like, see you in february, dude.")  these people are the average to better-than average students in the room, and they're going to pass the damn test.  they just really want everyone around them to know how cool they are.  so when they get their passing results and you see their name on the list of newly admitted attorneys, you can remember how they "barely" even studied for the MBE.  wow.  they must be so freakishly smart that they could just remember all the exceptions to the exceptions, despite a two month diet of miller lite & jagerbombs!  suuuuuure.
#3 nervous guy(s).  at each bar exam i've taken, i've always been able to find the token nervous guy.  during bar exam #1, he was sitting next to me, chattering obnoxiously, but sweating so profusely that i immediately felt bad for him, so i commenced praying that he would pass because he needed this victory.  i saw a few nervous guys at bar exam #2 (they had not passed the first time around), and they were pacing, reading flashcards and mumbling to themselves.  at this session, nervous guy was standing behind me in line.  he tried to make some small talk related to being pregnant, "ohhh man, i'd never want to be you right now!"  (i didn't know what he was referring to, until he explained.)  i can't help but be overcome with emotion about these nervous guys.  i just want them to do well on the exam.  they're so friendly and sweet, and they just want this experience to be over with.  i feel for them.  and i wish them all the best on their respective bar exams this week.

#4 law school clique reunion.  when i took my first bar exam, i was taking it in a state where i did not attend law school, so i didn't know a single soul at the testing site.  however, most people were there with their law school buddies, slapping fives, talking old memories and discussing important business or, in other words, who's been hooking up with who post-graduation.  in this case, a group of couples descended upon the girl in front of me in line and began discussing "HIM."  "did you see HE'S here?"  "oh my god, really?"  "i totally turned the other way because i did not want HIM to start talking to me."  "i know, right?"  i was trying to get to the bottom of the annoying, terrible things HE had done, but it came time to move ahead in line, and i missed all the juicy gossip.  the group planed to have dinner in the hotel restaurant later, though, and for a brief second, i contemplated scrapping anniversary dinner plans with john, so i could sit near them and catch up on the news!

the orientation session.  first of all, what is wrong with people?  am i taking the bar with a bunch of illiterates?  ok, presumably we have all mastered at least basic reading and writing skills (since we've all graduated from accredited law schools).  surely this means that we can read and comprehend the exam instructions given earlier, right?  perhaps not.  the hand-out clearly states that only gum, mints and one water bottle/beverage is allowed into the exam site.  however, very anxious ginger kid excitedly asks, "can we bring a small bag of chips?" answer: "no."  "can we store snacks outside the room so that we're able to access them if we leave the room?" answer: "no."  "can we go to our hotel room during the exam to retrieve snacks?"  EXCUSE ME?!?  is this kindergarten?  do you need some designated nap time and a blankey, too?  the exam is broken into two segments of three hours each.  perhaps not the most pleasant way to spend most of the day, but certainly manageable.  equally annoying was the part where the lady conducting the session says something cute like "everyone breathe" or "MOST of you will pass," and everyone laughs as if we're sitting front and center at some sold-out comedy show.  c'mon people.  the woman giving us these instructions is not grading your exam.  there's no need to suck up.  even more annoying was the kid who, despite the BIG BOLD WARNING  on the handout given earlier that forbids the presence of cell phones and other electronic devices, asked "can we please bring cell phones into the exam room if we agree to keep them away from our person?"  are you kidding me?  you're just so important that you need to have your cell phone or blackberry in the room while you take the most important exam of your life?  really? 

i have my own ideas about things to keep in mind when taking a bar exam.  and i guess a lot of you probably don't care about this, but i include the following tips (which may be helpful for other stressful situations) anyway:

TIP #1 (the most important).  bring a husband, wife, significant other, TOLERABLE family member or friend with you.  you might be thinking that it's go time, you'd rather buckle down solo style in a hotel room for 48-72 hours and just get through this nightmare.  ok, step back from the ledge.  you need perspective.  you need someone who doesn't understand what you're going through to convince you that you do know this stuff, that you will pass this, and that everything is going to be fine.  because it is.  but you won't trust yourself or fellow bar examinees on any of this.  you need someone not connected to the situation to pull you out of the corner where you're bawled up, rocking back and forth, crying over your MBE practice book.  this person will tell you you're being ridiculous.  this person will convince you it's better to have a beer, eat a nice dinner and take a little dip in the pool.  and this person will be right, which is why he/she is a must-have during exam time.  (practically speaking, this person also serves as your own personal assistant during this time, making sure you have lunches waiting promptly at break time and running any other last minute errands you might need.) 

TIP #2.  do not look up answers to questions that you remember after the exam is over.  i did this.  it was a mistake.  this is why i can tell you without reservation: when time is called, put the exam out of your head.  there is no reason to torture yourself with the memory of what you should have written, the answer choice you should have picked.  you have to let it all go.  if you cannot do this on your own, you should enlist the help of your companion (see above), who can secure lots of alcohol or other necessities to aid in this task.  am i advocating getting drunk after the exam?  of course i am.  you don't need to get all 21st birthday crazy, there's no need to take exotic shots or make bad decisions you'll regret later.  but the right amount of alcohol designed to fade the memories of the past few days is important.  because the bar exam is just something you have to get through.  it's not your wedding day or the birth of your child or college graduation.  you do not need to etch the memory of the experience in your brain to keep replaying at later intervals.  (what are you, some S&M freak?) 

TIP #3.  internalize the concept.  i think a lot of people taking the bar exam don't see the forest through the trees.  and i totally get that.  because there are so many goddamn trees to worry about, who has time to step back and look at the forest?  but to preserve sanity, you have to do this.  the bar exam is just a test.  it doesn't test you on things that you need to know to practice law.  the results don't have anything to do with your self worth.  you can't let yourself get so wrapped up in this process that you lose sight of who you are, where you've been and where you're going.  it will take an enormous amount of work to prepare for the exam.  (i am not telling you to slack.  you do need to put in the work.)  but you also need to realize that this. is. just. something. you. have. to. get. through.  you will study hard for about 2 months, it will be miserable, you will take the exam, and it will be over.  there is no way around it.  you just need to be prepared and know that everyone has to do this.  and they do.  and it's fine. 

TIP #4.  do not be an annoying bitch when you get to the exam.  with the exception of the sweet nervous guys i mentioned above, don't be like any of the other groups of examinees.  be kind to everyone you meet (they're all just as nervous as you are, regardless of what they're saying/doing), smile a lot, volunteer information (if you know it) and pay it forward.  you don't need to get ahead by being an ass.  there are enough a-hole lawyers in the world as it is.  the bar exam is not an opportunity for you to become one of those.

TIP #5.  do not acronym drop.  the BarBri prep program is helpful, and you'll learn lots of tricks and pneumonic devices to help you remember the ungodly amount of crap you have to memorize for the exam.  "frank sinatra didn't prefer orville redenbacher" is one device i'll never forget (as much as i might try).  anyway, while these tricks are cute and useful for you, please do not come into the exam orientation/registration spouting off these fancy acronyms in an effort to bolster your confidence and freak out your neighbors.  you're just being an annoying bitch (see above).  i remember at the iowa session, i sat at a table of valley girls who were throwing out their favorite acronyms, "AIR," or "SEXYBUNS," among other annoying monikers.  i returned to my hotel room, defeated, about to sob to john about how i didn't have any fancy tricks and i didn't know what air meant, or what sexybuns was supposed to help me remember.  john rolled his eyes at me, told me i was ridiculous and reminded me that he was hungry and it was time for dinner (see tip #1, above).  you need all the good karma you can get, so don't allow yourself to be the reason people are back at their hotel rooms sobbing and getting hysterical.

TIP #6.  treasure the lull.  in between the time you take the bar exam and the time you receive your results and are ultimately sworn in, you might be consumed with worrying about whether you're really going to pass.  instead, you should enjoy the time when you're just a non-practicing attorney.  you won't experience that lull again until you're retired.  soon you will be busy all the time, a mess of files covering your desk, needy clients calling at all hours of the day with their own ideas about how their cases should be handled.  you'll spend a lot of time feeling slightly to horrendously overwhelmed, and you might find yourself wishing for some downtime.  treasure the lull, while you can.

this has been my written ode to the bar exam.  fare thee well.  i've taken three of you, and i can say with certainty, i'm DONE.  if this were a bad relationship where we kept breaking up and getting back together, this would be the moment where my friends have this intervention with me, and i realize i have to kick your sorry ass to the curb!  for real!  we're through!  thanks to all my family & friends who have been so supportive and encouraging over the past year-ish.  love to you all!

Friday, July 23, 2010

the world according to my clients.

i wish i lived in the world invented by the overactive imaginations of my clients.  no, really.  where a biased (in their favor) sense of what's right and just reigns supreme, everyone answers their calls on the first ring, and no one ever sends a bill for services rendered. 

i wish i could share with you some wisdom i've gleaned from clients this week, but, unfortunately it's all protected by that pesky attorney-client privilege "thing."  anyway, suffice it to say, it has been a long week. 

yesterday, i was hit with the realization that i am an attorney.  i am doing things that are affecting people's lives.  people trust me and expect me to get them from point a to point b.

this was a paralyzing thought.

i immediately dialed my friend and colleague at her extension and asked her to come down the hall to my office.  she obliged.  i had a semi nervous breakdown/panic attack, which she assured me was completely normal, and welcomed me to the practice of law.

i guess it's exciting to be at that stage where i have my own files, and i'm making the decisions about what to do and how to handle any and all crises that arise.  on the other hand, it is exceedingly stressful, and i have begun waking up at night, wondering if i've dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's.  it's also semi-intimidating to be practicing with lawyers who are more than double my age, and have been practicing law for longer than i've been alive.  this is all complicated by the fact that i can't even fit into a power suit to give myself some false sense of confidence (see my maternity clothes rant post). 

when john and i took our euro-trip whirlwind tour after the bar exam last year, we spent a day on germany's highest mountain peak, the zugspitze.  it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed the sights immensely (especially germany's highest biergarten!)  on a whim, we also decided to climb to the very tip top of the mountain, so we could touch the little cross monument designating the actual tallest part of the peak.  i had not expected that we were going mountain climbing (we took a ski lift up), so i was wearing a pair of flats from the gap.  not exactly hiking grade.  anyway, john, as per usual, pressured me and convinced me that i'd always regret not doing this, so we climbed in a single file line to this peak.  (it was a very disorganized process and people speaking languages i didn't recognize were grabbing at my legs, trying to hold on.  there was nothing protecting any of us from falling down the side of the mountain, and it was literally the most nervewracking, frightening half hour of my life).  but anyway, we made it.  we posed for a picture with the cross, and for two seconds i forgot about how dangerous this whole scenario was, while i smiled triumphantly.  as soon as the picture was taken, i looked down and immediately panicked, "oh my god.  we could FALL. ALL. THE. WAY. DOWN. THERE." 

that is sort of how i felt yesterday. 

the silver lining is that my malpractice insurance is paid up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

on being "normal."

last night, while sewing another "hooter hider" (i seriously LOVE that they're called that) for my very pregnant sister-in-law, john informs me that he's listing some items on craigslist.  i had recently been telling him that we needed to de-clutter before the little man arrives, so being the thoughtful, attentive husband he is, i'm sure he was just demonstrating active listening.

now, don't get me wrong.  if you know me at all, you know i love a good deal, and i have nothing against buying used merchandise for a good price.  (i've found many a treasure at thrift stores, antique stores and garage sales!)  however, craigslist in my little town seems... a little off.  it seems perfectly acceptable in larger cities like chicago, and i know my chi-town friends have scored many a deal after persuing their regional site, but here, it just seems like we better leave that idea to a larger metropolis.  honestly, the people who list on craigslist in my iowa town seem to have a really inflated idea of what their stuff is worth, and it's always cheap crap that you could buy brand new at wal-mart for less.  so, i'm just not a fan of my local craigslist.

but more than that, since i've started doing some court appointed work, i've become frightened that craigslist transactions might force relationships with some with whom i shouldn't interact.  i don't know.  maybe i'm being irrational.

well, anyway, i warned john to meet any potential buyers in well-lighted, public areas during the day and to accept only cash.  he shrugged my concerns off and told me i was being paranoid and that "of course" he planned to accept only cash. 

today he got an email from someone interested in purchasing all of his wares.  he's, of course, excited about this and eagerly shares the news.  me?  well, i react exactly how i expected i would.  overly cautious.  and suspiciously.  totally normal.

me: do you have this guy's name and contact information, john?
john: yes.  he e-mailed me back.
me: ok, well, i'm going to look him up on iowa courts online to make sure he's not a felon or something.  (*note: john is not selling firearms.)
john: stephanie, he works at a local computer technology firm.
me: i'll tell you what he does.  what is his name?
john: mike *****.
(i sign onto the public access court website to discover that buyer has a failure to wear seatbelts charge, a failure to control his vehicle charge that was dismissed and a failure to stop at intersections charge that was also dismissed). 
me: well, he seems to be a little negligent when it comes to operating his vehicle, but otherwise, fine.  just be careful. 

do other people do things like this, too?  i'm going to safely assume the answer to that question is no.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

on being a lady.

i've always wanted to head to new orleans for mardi gras.  it just hasn't happened... yet.  but someday!  i'm intrigued by the new orleans culture, and i've read several books about the city that have left me yearning for a NOLA vacay someday.  but until my future forays into the garden district, i'm just a simple gal from the midwest.  a gal who's not so much all about exposing my bits n' pieces in public.

now when my mother-in-law insisted that john and i get to registering for baby things, i eagerly started off on what i assumed would be a fun adventure.  within minutes, i was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of "stuff" available.  did i need a bouncer?  a swing?  a jumper?  an exersaucer?  a bumbo?  a boppy?  oy vey.  the list of "must haves" listed on "start your first baby registry" guides seemed endless.  but, at the insistence of some very persuasive relatives, we forged on, trying to sensibly and practically pick the things we thought we'd need.

while picking items, i, of course, consulted some expert mamas who had gone through the process a few times before.  by and large, they all said that a lot of the bigger ticket, supposedly necessary items were bulky, impractical and not as helpful as retailers would have expectant moms believe.  however, several of these moms recommended the hooter hider or bebe au lait.  in english, please?  that's a nursing cover.

i found lots of cute specimens online.

after a little consideration, i decided the nursing covers (selling for around $35-$40) seemed like a modified apron.  i wondered whether i could perhaps make my own for less.  aaaaaaannnnnd, one trip to joann's, $4, and about 30 minutes later, i had myself my very own nursing cover.

(please excuse the dark circles under my eyes)

as you can (maybe) see from the not-so-helpful pictures, the nursing cover is awfully similar to an apron (with different dimensions).  the only real difference is the addition of some corset boning at the top to push the fabric away from the baby underneath, allowing mama to watch what's going on with the feeding process.  

if you want specific dimensions, let me know.  this was seriously SO easy (like i said -- it took me about 30 minutes).  it would be a great addition to a baby shower gift for a friend or relative.  

UPDATE:  i was checking out bebe au lait's official website, and they sell a nursing cover made out of the exact fabric i chose last night at joann's! 

it is now time...

... for the rant for which, i'm sure, you've all been waiting.  and the focus of this rant is maternity clothes.  MATERNITY CLOTHES ARE HORRIBLE.  i'm sorry to disappoint you soon-to-be pregnant ladies, or those of you who are dreaming about the new wardrobe you'll acquire once you see those two pink lines, but any optimism you might have is misplaced.  better to focus on the fact that your hair and nails grow a lot faster (thanks pre-natal vitamins!), and you can make your husband bring you things at any time of the day or night simply by giving him that "but honey, i'm pregnant" look. 

i call bullshit on ann taylor loft, who likes to boast that her pregnancy duds are "so stylish and comfortable... you'll want to wear them for longer than 9 months."  puuuuhhhlease.  while i can admit that i have found things that are comfortable enough (meaning, i can stand moving, sitting, standing and walking while wearing), i'm not itching to trade my pre-pregnancy wardrobe for overpriced mumus.

shame on the millions of women who have put up with this injustice and done nothing to help their knocked up sisters!  i mean, really.  women have been carrying babies for how long, and our options are so severely limited, it's laughable.  there are more video game stores in this town than there are maternity stores.  and this town is something like 95% catholic.  practice what you preach, people!  if god wants us popping out babies every 9 months, then start outfitting us!  i've never understood the barefoot and pregnant thing, but, at any rate, i've never heard anything about "naked and pregnant" or "dressed in a mumu and pregnant." 

think i'm being dramatic?  i've come prepared.  and you should also prepare yourself... for the horror that is the modern day pregnant woman's wardrobe options.

i present to you, exhibit a.

ok, really?  i don't even like the term "baby mama," and i'm certainly not going to walk around wearing it emblazoned on my steadily growing chest. 

exhibit b:

is any explanation really necessary? 

at this point, you may be asking yourself if i'm just not looking in the right places.  surely there are wear to work options for professional expectant mothers.  ohhh you sad, silly, naive blog readers.  and now let me present exhibit c, something allegedly acceptable for the workplace:

are those silver studs?  in whose workplace is this appropriate?  do lawyers or stockbrokers or investment bankers ever get pregnant?  and if they do, what are they wearing to work? 

in my quest to find decent clothes to wear for the next 3-4 months, i have encountered the friend or acquaintance who ask why i can't just seek out regular clothes with empire waists that i can wear as maternity frocks.  i have a few things from before i was pregnant with which i've made do, but, for the most part, it's not really possible.  your body changes in lots of different ways, so trying to throw on that boho chic flowy top you loved pre-pregnancy just doesn't really work.  my pre-pregnancy work wardrobe was very tailored, very form fitting.  lots of pencil skirts and adorable fitted jackets.  well, fast forward to now.  my boobs have grown enormously and none of those jackets fit (even if i left them unbuttoned).  i suppose i'm pickier than most.  i tailor my clothes to fit me and i hate when things are too long, too short, too tight or uncomfortable.  in short, i'm not cut out for "making do" with anything. 

another annoyance on this journey has been the people who model maternity clothes online.  is it so much to ask that women who are actually pregnant model these clothes?  instead, size 0 models pose in an awkward lean to make everyone think there's a bump under their shirt.  ohhh, that's realistic.  because being pregnant looks (and feels) like you're just leaning a bit more!  i call bullshit again!  pregnancy changes the way your body looks, so it would be more than appropriate to have someone who's actually experiencing that modeling maternity fashions.

there seems to be a prevalent notion that women who are expecting want to look either cutesy or frumpy.  i don't need to tie my bump up with a bow, as if it's a little gift.  and i don't want to hide the fact that it exists. can't we find some happy medium?  maternity pants are the same as regular pants with a stretchy top panel sewed in.  i'm THIS CLOSE to cutting my pre-pregnancy pants and sewing my own panel in out of desperation.  it shouldn't be this hard!

and about this time in the rant, i start thinking... i should have been a doctor.  or a nurse.  or an optometrist.  or a dental hygenist.  that way i could wear scrubs to work, and my pregnancy could have been filled with oversized cotton prints.  really, how easy!  instead, i wake up every morning, praying that some ingenius combination of the four things i can actually wear to work will blossom into a fashion miracle before my very eyes.  (this has yet to happen).

on the weekends, my anger over this situations subsides.  i can wear john's t-shirts and shorts around the house, and if we need to make an appearance at any public location, i have several sundresses and other casual outfits from which i can choose. by the time monday rolls around, i've almost forgotten that i don't own a single thing that screams "yes, i'm a lawyer, and yes, i know you're paying me by the hour, but i'm polished and professional and i'm going to get the job done."  by tuesday, we're right back to square one again... and i remain angry til friday night. 

i recently had a lunch/shopping date with a friend, and we decided to stop at motherhood maternity because she was so excited to see all the cute pregnancy clothing options. (ha!)  she was shocked and appalled at the lack of choices.  we both groaned over the screen printed "pregnant is the new skinny" tee, and tried our best to keep from shuddering over the other specimens.  it's slim pickings, ladies!  trust me! 

but i truly believe, in my heart, that awareness is the most important step of this journey.  had i been prepared for the idea that maternity clothes suck, and they're not going to get better no matter how much they cost or where you try to find them, i might have hit acceptance awhile ago.  instead, i lived in denial for the first 4 months, believing that there were stylish clothes out there somewhere, i just wasn't looking hard enough.  let me be the first to tell you (again): maternity clothes are HORRIBLE.  AWFUL.  on the off chance you find a nice shirt or pair of pants that don't make you feel gross, buy them, no matter how expensive they are.  focus on the other happy moments of pregnancy.  like feeling the baby kick (which my little guy is doing all the time now!) or seeing the baby on screen at your ultrasound. because (don't shoot the messenger) you are not going to find any comfort in maternity clothes. 

this public service announcement has been brought to you by a very hungry expectant mother who really should get back to studying for the wisconsin bar exam...

Saturday, July 3, 2010


good morning to the dedicated few who read my blog.  why my body insisted on waking up so early on a saturday morning is beyond me, but it's an absolutely gorgeous day, the sun is steaming through the window and i feel peaceful and well rested... so, i'll take it.

it's been a pretty surreal week.  we had our 20 week ultrasound, found out the sex of the little peanut, put together the crib and changing table and i had my yearly review at work.  so now i'm sitting here, in what will become the little one's nursery, trying to figure out the perfect way to position this new furniture, and thinking how quickly the days, and months, and even years are flying by.  last night while we (okay, john) was putting the crib together, i was reading a copy of "love you forever."  note: hormonal pregnant women should not read said book.  i made it to the second or third page before i began crying.  john had warned me that i was going to cry (i  mean really, who doesn't cry during that book anyway), but i continued to thumb through the story.  i love that book.  it's such a sweet reminder to treasure the times you have with the people you love because time is ticking away, and you never know exactly how many precious moments you'll have together.

i guess it hadn't really hit me until i actually saw the baby's head, fingers, legs, toes, and furiously beating heart.  oh my goodness, i am going to be someone's mother.  that's my baby in there!  it's become obvious that i'm pregnant.  and i no longer fit into any of the clothing i wore a few months ago.  certain foods have lost their appeal and others have become more appetizing.  so while i've become accustomed to being pregnant, it's just not the same as seeing that little face and realizing, that's my child.

i tried to explain this to john after the appointment.  he laughed and said, "ohhh, so now you finally realize you're pregnant?"  i laughed, too, but i was serious.  i guess it's just a little different for us.  john's, of course, super excited for the baby to arrive, but the major changes this new adventure will usher in don't really take effect until sometime in november (unless of course baby decides to make an earlier debut... which, i just have a feeling, is pretty unlikely.  both of its parents are generally fashionably late, and i expect this little tyke will adopt that trait as well).  i've slowly been changing (physically, emotionally, etc.) this whole time.

(*sidenote: now that we know what the baby is, it's reallllly hard to keep referring to the little one as an "it."  butttt, the big family reveal isn't until later today, so i'm keeping my promise to john and keeping my mouth shut til afterwards.)

i've kind of (if i do say so myself) hit my stride with this pregnancy thing.  i feel about 700 million times better than i did in the beginning.  i have so much more energy, and i'm pretty into most foods, or food in general, i should say.  i guess it's kind of like the transformation i've experienced at work, too.  sometimes it seems like just yesterday that i started, still anxiously awaiting the results of the bar exam and feeling like i was so unprepared to do what i'd been planning for umpteen years: practice law.  it's a good feeling to be able to answer phone calls and advise clients without consulting caselaw or statutes, to know the answers, to be able to quickly draft the same documents that would have taken an hour or more several months ago.  it's a good feeling to have your colleagues recognize this transformation and offer you their praise for the strides you've taken in your career.  it's been a lot of hard work, and there's a lot more ahead, but it feels good to be on track.

and i think i've also hit my stride with this whole marriage thing.  haha.  that sounds funny.  i feel, in many ways, like john and i have been together forever.  i hardly remember my life before he was in it, and with the exception of childhood memories with my siblings, i sometimes can't recall moments when he and i weren't an us.  of course our relationship has changed.  it's gone from keg stands and thursday night dinners at el cap to law school and first jobs and careers and a wedding and moving and a baby.  and i guess i would be ignoring the truth to say that with all those changes, there haven't been some awkward periods where we struggled to understand who we were individually and as a couple in the face of these new challenges.  sometimes i think we're so different than we were 7 years ago... but yet, in many ways, we're the same.  the things we say and do, the jokes we tell, the way we interact... i could see us acting this same way back when we were at millikin.  and yet we're not the same people.  i could name a whole bunch of ways i know i'm different.  i could name so many lessons learned, so many experiences had that have completely changed the way i think and feel.  and he's been there for all of that.

the other day i got a package in the mail.  it contained a couple work shirts i ordered from ann taylor loft maternity.  when i tried on these new purchases, i felt more like myself than i had in a couple months, and i ran downstairs to show john.  "look!" i yelled, excitedly.  "i'm a real lawyer again!"  he was laughing, and i was laughing because of course i'm ridiculous... i've been struggling with feeling like i don't "look the part" right now because THERE ARE A COMPLETE LACK OF PROFESSIONAL MATERNITY CLOTHES. (but i'm not even going to down that path right now)  after this little exchange, though, i started thinking that every time i've started feeling insecure about the way i look or the changes i'm experiencing, john just intuitively knows what to say.  maybe he can sense that i'm about to have a nervous breakdown or something, and he immediately snaps into damage control mode.  i don't know.  but he really is always there with a compliment, a word of encouragement or a simple thank you and i start to think... "so what if i'm wearing elastic waist band pants to court???"  there really is nothing better than being faced with challenges and new adventures, but just knowing that you'll get through them better, faster, stronger (as kanye would sing) because you've got the support and love of someone who just gets you.

ok, let's move on.  even though i've gone through a lot of changes and am a lot more emotional than i would be normally, i prefer myself sarcastic to sentimental, and i think we all get the point here.

or what was the point of this?  i can't really remember.  but now i'm so hungry i'm going to have to end this.  i hope you all have a blissful 4th of july holiday with your families and/or friends.  treasure the precious moments with your loved ones, and, if the mood strikes you, embrace elastic waistband pants!  i might just be turning them into the "it" article for '10.