Unexpected consequences

This chair. Ouch. Who knew a $15 booster seat could do so much? (click for Amazon link)

I have two kids, ages two and almost-one, and they think it is hilarious when little things and big things go together. For example, they cannot get over how funny it is when an adult wears a tiny baby hat. They laugh til they fall over.

We have a former booster chair that is now just a chair. It is a small chair and I am a full-grown adult. I think you can see where this is going.

I was sitting on the floor with them when suddenly my older son pointed at the chair, pointed at me, and said, “Mama sit! Mama sit!” His little brother soon joined in. The idea of the impeding humor was so great for him that even though he isn’t quite one yet and doesn’t even know the words, he was able to mimic his older brother. Soon they were chanting and giggling together.

“Mama sit! Mama sit!”

So, to humor them, because there is little greater than making babies laugh, I decided to sit in the chair. This is the type of booster seat that has a leg-divider thing in the front of it. I’m not totally sure what the point of this mound of plastic is, but it’s on most little kid seats.

I lowered myself slowly, slowly, into the chair…. exactly wrong. Suddenly, PAIN.

I could feel the pinch in the back of my throat from the pain shooting up my backside and I could barely move. I had to tip myself slowly sideways and lay down on the floor on my hip because my tailbone hurt so bad.

The kids were laughing so hard they’d both fallen over by this point. Odds are good the younger one peed his diaper. There were tears in all of our eyes.

Turns out there isn’t much you can do for an injured tailbone other than ice, Tylenol, and take it easy.

It also turns out that hurting your tailbone can have some unexpected consequences. Among these are having to watch “Happy Feet” twice a day for a week because I can’t sit on the floor and play with the kids and can’t take them outside to play because I can’t bend and run and do all the things necessary to keep them safe.  So “Happy Feet” it is, on a loop, with a little “Top Gear” thrown in to change things up once in a while. They play fine by themselves, too, I make sure of that, but the time when they should be playing with me got swapped out for the TV. I feel guilty, but I think I’d feel more guilty prolonging the injury or risking their safety.

Another unexpected side effect of taking seating advice from giggling babies is the challenge it adds to studying. This is where this ridiculous story gets back around to the theme of this site. It’s been a week since I hurt my tailbone and it still hurts to sit. For the first two or three days I couldn’t sit at all; I had to lean or stand. Even today at the library I had to constantly shift my weight. I can sit better now as long as I lean forward a bit and keep my weight off my tailbone, but not for long, and the constant shuffling makes it difficult to focus.

Fortunately, I go to the chiropractor tomorrow and I’ve heard they can fix this. I really hope so. I was getting good at the “games,” and after a week off they were a disaster. Before hurting myself I was missing only one or two per “game.” Tonight was such a disaster I had to quit several times because I was getting so frustrated. The best I did tonight was getting one or two right per “game.” I reached a point where, between frustration with failure and being distracted by the book I’m reading, I had to set a timer. Twenty minutes of reading, do a “game,” twenty minutes of reading, thirty minutes reading about “games”…..

It worked, well enough at least. I was able to get enough novel reading done to satisfy myself to refocus on studying and I was able to get through the grouping games chapter of the book. The next chapter is on “games” that are linear and grouping, and since I don’t feel I have a good enough grasp on those two independently to combine them yet, I’ve started over at chapter 2. The second time through the first several chapters should go more quickly and be more fruitful.

Anyway, the moral of the story is Do not take seating advice from giggling babies.

Advertisements

Choose a book

Click for source

I’ve already gone over why I study at the library: To minimize distraction. Part of being a mother, for me, is that I am alert to sounds of my kids’ distress whether I like it or not, whether I need to be or not. Even with my husband caring for them, I can’t tune out their sounds. So I go to the library.

But. I knew that the library itself would be a distraction. I like books, I love reading, and I always have. I have my master’s in library and information science for crying out loud. Books and ideas are a love apparently similar to what I have for my children, or at least nearly equally distracting. This means that being surrounded by books, especially nonfiction, which is what the study carrels are next to at my local library, is a distraction.

I tried not let the shelves get to me, but it didn’t work. As I plodded through page after challenging page of lesson and practice in my book, I couldn’t stop thinking about what might be on those shelves. Since we’ve only lived in our house a little over two years and with new items being added regularly, there’s no way I’ve read through even a tiny portion of what’s there. I can’t keep my mind off the possibilities.

I suppose with time and effort I could train myself to focus and let go of the temptation to wander, but I don’t want to. Just as I don’t want to train myself to be indifferent to the cries of my children in any context (though compartmentalizing this may be a healthy thing to do, I don’t know), I don’t want to become immune to the cries of books.  The desire to respond to these things, to care for my children and to pursue new ideas and perspectives, are good and healthy things. I should be tempted by new information and a broadened worldview, by the expansion of compassion and empathy that should naturally grow from exposure to new information.

Maybe I’m just poetically justifying a distraction, or maybe what I’m saying here is legitimate, I don’t know. But I do know that for today it holds true for me, so when I’m not currently in the midst of a book, I wander the stacks before I sit down to study. I walk up and down the aisles until I’ve found something new or something old I just need to experience again, and I check it out. Once the book is checked out to me and in my bag, I can sit down and focus on today’s work.

Mischief managed.

Visiting

click image for source

My mom was in town for a professional conference last week, so we decided to meet for dinner when she’d finished all her sessions one day. Since I got to my mom’s hotel about half an hour before mom finished her last session, I got brave and walked a couple blocks to one of the three local law schools.

It’s located near downtown, which is a little scary for me inasmuch as I’m terrible at driving in that area, but the pretty building and nice landscaping made it more acceptable. It is immediately noticeable that the campus tries to set itself apart from its urban surroundings. Whereas the rest of the neighborhood is (or at least seems to be) concrete and glass, the school has neatly manicured lawns and pretty gardening (as much as this can really be seen in March) .The green areas come off as though they’re trying a little too hard to be pretty to compensate for their scarcity, though they do help add a bit of charm to the otherwise grey environment of the campus.

Standing outside the building, I was intimidated. It’s nowhere near a top school (ranked nearly 150th), but it has the air of small-scale prestige.  A large glass front, while not seeming to be the front because it more or less faces the center of campus and not a street, gives a sense of modernity, which is tempered by beige stone that softens the appearance a bit. Still, it’s intimidating.

I stood in front of the doors for a few moments debating whether to run away, checking my clock every few seconds, hoping that I couldn’t go in because time wouldn’t let me and I’d need to get back to Mom’s hotel. No such luck. There was plenty of time and the doors were unlocked. So I walked in, pretending that I’m the sort of super awesome person who would never spit gum into a lawn or onto a sidewalk and so just needed the nearest trashcan to spit my old gum into and what do you know?! I just happened to be near the law school, so I’ll wander in here to spit out my gum, not to check out the place and risk being seen by someone who may question my presence.

I’m just not ready to answer that question in person (I rambled horribly the first time I was asked in person and even worse when asked online). I’m not prepared to risk being taken on a tour or to meet people who could decide my future. I feel like there’s a risk that someone I meet on campus could remember me (how?! I don’t know) when/if my application comes through and recall what a bumbling fool I was when I was creeping around campus.

I looked around to make sure there was no one around, saw a custodian who didn’t seem to care I was there, then spit out my gum in a trashcan by the door. I was there long enough before quickly walking out to see what I think was the back of the library and the front doors of the moot court room.

I have been very comfortable with public speaking since I started waitressing when I was 16 and then worked in classrooms for the next ten years. I have no fear of speaking in front of crowds, but that room could make me throw up. I didn’t even go in it. The doors were locked (I assume) and the lights were off, but I was intimidated. Very intimidated, and I’m not even sure why. The thought that I could be graded on how well I can think and speak in that space is frightening, but with a few years to contemplate it and most of a year/semester(?) to actually work on it, I’m sure I could be fine.

I got the feeling in my few moments on this campus that while it’s not prestigious, it is a place where I could succeed, even if its low rank means some of my goals might be harder to meet.

This local school was small but imposing, and everything I expected in the first-step-on-campus experience of a law school.

The Library

Today was my first day studying at the library and it went as well as I’d hoped. There were a few distractions from my phone and a brother and sister near me fought over a toy for a few minutes, but other than that, I’d say I got over two and a half hours of good studying in.

I think this will be a good way for me to get more done.

Challenges

I love this Paper House Luminary by Just Something I Made (click for source)

I knew when I started this project that there would be some challenges. Learning the LSAT is and will continue to be difficult. The law school application process, if the LSAT goes well enough, will be difficult. Actually doing law school if both those things go well will be a challenge probably like none I have had to tackle before.

One challenge I anticipated but didn’t fully realize the weight of is studying at home with two kids. I do most of my studying in the evenings when my husband is home to watch the kids. I have an office in our basement with a table and a folding chair and I sit down here and wade through my book slowly but surely. My husband and kids play upstairs or in the playroom in our basement.

I knew there would be some issues with the noise of the children playing and getting upset, but I didn’t realize just how unable I am to tune those out. I don’t know if that’s a natural maternal thing or if it’s just my anxious and nosy nature, but it is what it is. I cannot seem to concentrate well enough here, and trying to concentrate on learning to tune out certain sounds while trying to concentrate on trying to learn difficult material is just too much for me.

We live less than two blocks from the public library and I’d love to go there every night, but my husband doesn’t get home until 5 and we’re not done with dinner until after 6. The library closes at 6 Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, so on those days, studying must be done at home. I know I get less done and have to repeat things far more when this is the case.

Monday and Wednesday they’re open until 8, but for most of winter it’s just way too cold to walk outside (since the library is so close, driving is ridiculous) after dark unless there’s no alternative. It’s just not worth the pain of the cold hurting any exposed skin. Now that it’s starting to get nicer out, the library is a real option for me and I’m excited to see how much more quickly I’ll learn when I can focus for longer periods of time and am not distracted by constant unintentional scanning for sounds of distress.

So, while the studying is going well and I definitely feel like I’m doing better and learning something, it’s going slower than I thought. Spring will be great for my LSAT score, which is something I did not anticipate.

I should also mention that there is no way I could do this without my husband to take care of the kids while I study, especially with the risk that it may all be for nothing (if the LSAT does not go well enough). He’s totally supportive of my efforts and does whatever needs to be done to help me try to meet my goals. This is why my studying only occurs from the time he gets home until the kids go to bed. The time between the kids going to bed and us going to bed (~8p-1030p) is reserved for us to spend time together. Not only is this something we enjoy, we have learned in nearly a decade together (with over four years of that time long-distance) that it is something we need, both as a couple and individuals.

With all these restrictions and conditions this is starting to sound like one of those awful logic “games,” but I think it’s worth the work to make it work. More than anything, now that I’ve sat down to think it all out, I am grateful to be in a situation where I can even take on these challenges. To be able to devote this time and energy to studying and trying to pursue a career while being a mother to two small children and working (extremely) part-time is a privilege I do not intend to abuse.

Building excitement

I’ve read and worked through most of the first real chapter of the Logic Games Bible (chapter 3, the first two are more introductory (though definitely recommended reading)), and now that I’m only a few pages from the final exercises of the chapter I’m excited.

I looked ahead a few pages yesterday afternoon while I was reading and saw that the end of the chapter is several pages of “games” and their solutions and instead of fear and dread, I felt excitement. I know I won’t be able to answer all or even most of the questions and that most of them I do answer will probably be very wrong, but I can approach it with a little more calm now. I’m eager to try this time, to test what I’ve learned and see if I’ve actually learned anything. I want to conquer the “games” and my own stupidity.

In other news, I’ve solicited advice from three lawyers now, and the third, the one I was most intimidated by because of her impressive accomplishments and my personal relationship with her, asked me flat-out why I wanted to be a lawyer. I waited a few days before responding, not so I could come up with a clear answer, but because I was afraid I’d say something stupid and she’d think I’m stupid. Basically, I feel about this interaction the way I used to feel about the “games.”

When I did email her back, I think I got in most of the ideas, thought processes, and reasons for pursuing this, but they came out so jumbled and rambling I’m not sure I did myself any favors. We’ll see. She hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Though, honestly, I don’t know how I’d respond to someone who sent me what I sent her.