Two Out Of Seven

Weekends haven’t been a thing I’ve been able to enjoy the last two years. Between studying and podcasting and the training contract application process, they were just an extension of the working week.

And boy am I glad that’s over with.

I missed sleeping in, and to do lists that shrink instead of growing ever longer. I missed having time to let my brain wander while I walk home, and whittling away at my To Be Read shelf. Second pots of coffee over comic books on Sunday morning. Not constantly pushing. Planning, instead of reacting.

I’ve watched three movies in the last four days, two of them in the theater. For the curious, Mazerunner was excellent and Dracula Untold was boring / ridiculous. I’ve been planning out a possible November spa weekend while Alasdair’s at Thought Bubble. And I’ve resolutely refused to make plans for my two weeks off at Christmas beyond experimental baking and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

This year, as the world slows down and prepares to rest through the dark months, I’m going with it.

Published in: on October 19, 2014 at 17:21  Comments (1)  
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Procrastination

I’ve reached that part of the school year I always hate. Ninety percent of the work is done, and I can’t seem to muster any energy or enthusiasm for the remaining ten percent. There are still exams to take and coursework to finish and my research project to finalize, but the drive just ain’t there.

Maybe it’s my “the perfect is the enemy of the good” philosophy. Maybe it’s the fact it’s snowing on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s that I’ve booked airfare back to San Francisco for the end of next month and I’m counting the days.

There are a lot of things on my blogging list, but it’s clear devoting time to each one separately isn’t going to work with any degree of speed. So let’s return to my old friend, the bullet point.

Games

  • Finishing the Mass Effect trilogy was emotionally rough but I’m very, very pleased with the ending. Green, for those of you in the know. It was the only logical choice.
  • The Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC is the best one yet, and not just because Wrex uses The People’s Elbow on a flying car. It’s even better than Lair of the Shadow Broker. You know all that fantastic inter-character dialog you love so much? It’s four hours of that. Plus a mission that blows your socks off. Plus arcade games and a battle arena that will ALSO blow your socks off. It’s bittersweet and energetic and the perfect send-off.
  • Shepard is one tough lady. She’s literally gone through death and everything you can think of to save the galaxy. She never sheds a tear. Unless your romance option was Thane. And that was perhaps the most perfect moment of all.
  • After finishing Mass Effect I devoured Musaic Box, a fun music puzzle app Alasdair found me. I’m poking at the hard mode now as a palate cleanser between school work. I really, REALLY love the game and I hope they expand it in the future. I’d love to see fugues and rounds, for example, as well as more of the familiar classics they started with.
  • Now I’m playing the new Tomb Raider. Holy COW this is not your 90’s Lara. It’s very different stylistically, and is focused less on the story and more on how you play with interactive quick-time cinematics and weapon and skill customization.
  • Which is good; after having finished Mass Effect, another story-driven game would undoubtedly fail in comparison.
  • Now that I have the ability to use my climbing axe in combat, I’m much happier: having only ranged attacks isn’t my thing, especially when being rushed by a pack of wolves or a madman with a riot shield.

School

  • This next week is the last week before Spring (or Easter, as they call it here in a country without a phobia of associating seasons with religious holidays) Break. I have a single land lecture to go, and four more weeks of sessions, half of which are consolidation and mock exam question reviews.
  • I’m frustrated with coursework. My grades are trending down, and I can’t figure out why. I’ve got a meeting request in to my tutor to see if she can help me understand.
  • Part of it, I think, is the differences in US versus UK grading systems. Last coursework I made a bone-headed and probably time-pressure based mistake: I swapped two terms. In the States, that would be a one-time point deduction. Here in the UK, however, it functions as a mark CAP: there’s only so high a grade I can receive for having made this mistake. Frustrating, to say the least.
  • However, all my mock exam grades so far have been squarely in the Commendation and nearly Distinction category. Since exams are 70% of my grade — and none of my course work has been anywhere near failing — I’m trying to let it go and keep focused on the big picture. Finish strong, and keep moving.

Voice Work and Cast of Wonders

  • I’m incredibly happy with the quality of Cast of Wonders since taking over as editor at the beginning of the year. Graeme and Barry are a pleasure to work with, and we’ve run an amazing range of stories, with some of my favorites yet to come. The schedule is starting to solidify far enough in advance that we’re discussing Halloween and Christmas projects, and the turn-around time on submissions is staying under 30 days. Plus we’ve arranged narration swaps with some of the best names in fiction podcasting: The DrabbleCast (Norm Sherman), PodCastle (Dave Thompson), and Clarkesworld Magazine (Kate Baker) with I hope many more to come.
  • For my part, I’ve been behind the microphone again recently with “Mercurial Skin” and “Now Cydonia“. Plus I have my swap with Norm appearing shortly on The DrabbleCast.
  • And I’m planning to resume longer piece auditions with ACX this summer after exams.

Life In General

  • Snow. In March. *sigh*
  • The cooking apathy has passed at last. I spent all of Friday cleaning the kitchen and inventorying the pantry in a cathartic burst of energy, followed by baking two loaves of bread (rosemary ciabatta and banana) and making pizza for dinner.
  • Alasdair’s becoming quite the cook in his own right, and is picking up on my knack for re-purposing leftovers. We had some fantastic grilled turkey goujons (that’s tenders to us Americans) marinated in sage and olive oil served with leftover mushroom risotto. It made me think of Trader Joe’s amazing butternut squash ravioli. Sooooooon!!
  • I miss clothes dryers, and the feeling of warm, wrinkle-free sheets. I’m convinced England’s grumpy national character could be cured if people drank more water and had fresh-from-the-dryer clothes on a regular basis.
  • This weekend we’re going to a spring pops concert at the Royal Hall. Hurray for cheap student symphony tickets!
  • During Easter Break we’re having two visitors. Alasdair’s parents are coming down to visit for Ian’s birthday, and our friends Whit and Melissa are staying over a night with us on their trip through the UK and Portugal.
  • It’s hard being on a fixed budget, mentally more than physically. We don’t lack for any basics, but when I’m gloomy it’s impossible not to remember what having a six figure income was like. Gym memberships, weekend trips, disposable income. Anyone who makes big decisions struggles with them, and I’m no exception.
    But I wouldn’t change anything. Not even when it snows in March.

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First of Four

Reading Weeks are a smart idea, I wish we’d had them when I was in college. My course is broken into four chunks, each divided by at least a week off from lectures. They’re designed to allow you to consolidate, the British term for “catch your breath and stop freaking out it’s okay you really can do this.” Schooling is approached differently here, and is based heavily on independent study. I can only imagine what the other students with none of my legal background are going through.

Have I studied enough? The answer to that question is going to be “No” right up through my last exam. But I definitely feel I have a stronger grasp on the sheer volume of memorization required on certain subjects. The flowcharts I’ve been working on aren’t finished by any stretch of the imagination, but putting them together is helping. Next up: case law flashcards.

We took some time to have fun this week as well. Last weekend we went to Dublin to watch Alasdair’s sister’s boyfriend run in the marathon, and attend a Dead Can Dance concert. Tonight is a late Halloween – early Bonfire Night party at Nadine and Paul’s house, and the tomorrow night we’re going to WWE Raw, my first live wrestling show since I was what, 11? I can’t WAIT, even if it is going to be a late “school” night.

Next week is a DOOZY, too. I have my first round of mediation on Monday, a mentoring meet-and-greet event at Freeth Cartwright on Tuesday, the Student Fora meeting Wednesday as well as an amicus presentation on the US death penalty, and then an inquest Friday morning followed by some student rep training. I get tired just writing it all out! Good thing we stocked up on soup, pasta, and sandwich supplies – there’ll be a lot of grab-and-go/work dinners this week.

I’m still dealing with a few last issues back in California, but my crate should FINALLY be delivered next week! All the boxes are probably going to live in the lounge, but that’s fine – I’m setting aside a FULL DAY next weekend to put everything away. Shoes! My kitchen knives! Lap blankets and couch pillows! My PS3! Yay!

The other thing I did this week was catch up on writing messages to people back home, and even a couple of phone calls. And I’m putting together a Christmas wishlist which is mostly filled with American foods – ranch dressing, Clif bars, taco seasoning, peanut butter, graham crackers, and canned pumpkin. I found a SINGLE can at Waitrose this week, and I’m hoarding it for Thanksgiving weekend.

When Last We Left Our Hero…

Three months, huh? In my defense, I have been REALLY busy…

I’m finally starting to settle in here in Nottingham. The first month was the roughest, especially getting used to being without a car and adjusting to the rainier weather. Now that I have decent waterproof boots and the house is mostly stocked with essentials (there always seems to be at least one I forget EVERY shopping trip) things are settling down.

The course is amazing. ROUGH, but amazing. I don’t think I was prepared for how much career work is involved at such an early stage. In a lot of ways I’m a year behind the other students, many of which already have trainee contracts lined up or are waiting to hear back on applications. On the other hand, I have lots of work and life experience in my favor, so it’s a balancing act.  I attended my first law fair this week and feel much more honed in on the firms I want to target.  Vacation scheme applications are starting, so that’s my next career priority.

Part of the up-front load has been the differences in the way a UK course is structured. It’s taken a while to adjust to having NO control over my class schedule, and the much higher level of prep required going into small group sessions. Not to mention the long hours it takes just to get and stay organized, and keep on top of the administration. Mooting starts up in a few weeks (eee!), plus I’m one of my group’s reps to the larger school board.

On the course work side I’m still struggling with the sheer volume of memorization involved, especially in tort case law. I keep telling myself that, like EU law, continued practice will make things easier and that right now it’s literally first exposure. Some days it even helps. I think I’m going to need flash cards! *chuckle*

My pro bono work at the coroner’s office started last week, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. I’ve had my courtroom procedure training now, so I’m all set to marshal / bailiff / clerk next time. Next week is an “office” week (no inquests) so I’m going to follow up on some of my ever-growing list of questions.

I’ve also caught the “Strictly bug” and I can’t wait to watch tonight and cheer on Lisa Riley! Plus the Halloween decorations are out and a whole new batch of scary movies are in theaters. But not until I finish some more revision…