13 September, 2014

The day I met Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Disclaimer: fangirling.

I met Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The notorious RBG.

She came to my school for a Constitution Day event they hold annually. Naturally, when a Supreme Court Justice comes, us law students go crazy.

Last year, they brought Scalia. This year, it was Ginsburg. Nice symmetry, the announcer said. And it is, I've heard they are friends in real life. Like, good friends. Despite their differing ideologies.

Anyway, how did I get to meet her?? Why was I so lucky? Well, I applied for a little research assistant position over the summer. Apparently, I chose wisely because my prof was the one who conducted the interview with RBG. 

I did some research for this event in particular and then she says, I'll get you VIP tickets. I'll get you on the list to meet her, she says.

To be honest, even just sitting two rows away from greatness would have been fantastic. The interview focused on women and the Constitution from the late 1800s to today. She deftly made her way through case after case, instances where women were treated as second class citizens and the landmarks when the Supreme Court gave women what they deserved: equal protection under the law. 

She even touched a bit on Hobby Lobby at the end and I really appreciated her in that moment. There wasn't a word against any of the justices. She calmly said: "As long as one lives, one can learn." She said her dissents are adamant and present for a reason. Some dissents of Justices Holmes and Brandeis have since become law which shows that where great minds differ there is room for growth and change. 

The interview only lasted an hour though I could have listened to her talk about her work with the ACLU and her arguments in front of the Supreme Court for hours. She was so instrumental in the fight for equal rights for women and to hear her speak on the subject was inspiring. 

So then I got to meet her. 

I got about 15 seconds in which my professor introduced me (they know each other from way back) and then I blathered on about researching and the Equal Rights Amendment. I wish I could say I had some really great question to ask her or that I dazzled her with my intelligent remarks but really it was nothing like that. 

I can't say I am really that disappointed in myself, it is Ruth Ginsburg, after all. Some hyperventilation was to be expected.

07 September, 2014

DIY ::: Spice Jars

So, like six months ago I was in Target and the dollar section beckoned me and I found these cute little jars. For, yep, a dollar a piece. {I tweeted my excitement - that's how life-changing this find was).

Well, duh: I bought ALL OF THEM. Literally cleared them out. They would be perfect for spice jars (because I've wanted to replace those janky plastic ones for, um, ever).

But, six months, and they were still in their plastic bags, tucked away into a kitchen cabinet because Law school.

That's not totally true. I also couldn't decide how I wanted to label them. Inportant decisions, people! So, add creatice indecisiveness to the list of reasons it took me six months to get my lazy butt in gear and just make the dang switch.

Well, in a moment of annoyance with myself and the fact that I had a shit-ton of jars just laying useless, taking up prime real estate in my already inadequately-sized kitchen, I was like, "Whatever, I'm going to do this and I'll just use masking tape for now. It's like washi tape, right? Isn't that hip to use?"

These are the conversations I have with myself. 

Anyway, I did it. I made the switch and I love them. They'll probably get more permanent labels later in life, but for now they're cute and functional AND they fit, standing up, in my spice drawer (the drawer I had previously stowed the lesser, plastic spice jars in). 


30 August, 2014

I'm really excited about 2L

It's great. I get to take classes and freak out about the job search. But the one actual nice thing about the second year of law school: there are people here that I know more than. They are called 1Ls. I used to be one and now I'm not. And I know more than them. It is a fleeting yet wonderful feeling.

There is one big sucky thing about 2L.

You see, in the first year of law school you are assigned to a section. This is the section of people you will take all of your classes with. There will be gunners* in you class but you get to know them. You know who they are. And in weird ways you might even like them. They are your gunners. Poor things.

In this new world of classes with people you have never met before you will have many new, numerous gunners. They will annoy the hell out of you and you feel no emotional connection to them because you didn't experience the hell of 1L with them. I spend a lot of my days glaring at these new people. And I am not subtle about it. 

Woot. 2L. I'm almost done, right?

*The Urban Dictionary definition of Gunner: "Law school cocksucker. I raise my hand just to tell my life experiences. I think I am smart but really have no life skills besides being a bigot and asshole. My opinion is the only one that counts. I am pretty sure I have been everywhere in the world. I am smarter and know more than my professors.I am in the bottom of my class. For some reason the teachers still call on me even though they know only my stupid fucking opinion is going to come out."

26 August, 2014

"Do not fear, for I am with you."

{{This entry on Grandma Nellie is written by my mom, Lisa Herrington.}} 

First the two verses that have helped sustain me and remind me that God is here in this with me.

Roman 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This is the actual verse but I sang the chorus all year.  Although my pain has been incredibly deep and difficult, I have lifted my arms and praised God believing with all my heart He makes ALL things work together for my good.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I sent this verse to mom the night before she started her first round of chemo.  We found it after she died in her cell phone, saved and locked so it couldn’t be erased.
Last year right about 8 am I arrived at my sister’s having been prompted by God to leave work immediately. I knew before I arrived the time was here.  I knew before I saw her that she was dying. I wasn’t ready. How do you really prepare for someone dying?  I had no idea the huge void that would exist for me, for us, until mom wasn’t there.  It is felt every time we get together as a family.

My relationship with mom was complex. I won’t pretend or imply it was like a "Leave it to Beaver" experience.  But the love I have for my mother is deep.  The respect I have for her is huge. My mother was a living example to me of what it means to persevere in the face of adversity.

I struggled with addiction for 29 years and every single relationship I had was affected significantly.  I have been overcome with thankfulness to the Lord for helping me find my out in time.  In early recovery it’s almost impossible to be available for anyone else.  It took all my effort and strength just to not get high. Add to that my family had lived those 29 years and understandably it took time for them to believe the change was real.  Hope had been shattered many times over the years when I would try to stop but just could never manage to stay sober for long.
I was 4 years clean when mom was diagnosed.  I am in tears writing this because I am so thankful.  I was never dependable or could be counted on for anything including telling the truth. I was a hopeless mess. But I had the privilege of coming alongside my mom and my sister as we walked this path together.  I was given the opportunity to care for and love my mother in a way I had not done the majority of my adult life.  I was able to share fully in this experience and be supportive to mom and Laur.  Words do not adequately express how much that meant to me and how incredibly thankful I am.

It would be so easy not to celebrate this but instead be consumed by guilt over all I have not done for many years. There’s a lot of guilt and regret that piled up from those 29 years of hell. But focus on that kept me stuck. The only chance I had at becoming the daughter, sister, mother, wife, or friend that I desired to be was to forget what was behind and strained to press forward, no matter what. And the undeserved gift that resulted; I was able to be there for my family fully throughout this whole experience.

God allowed me to participate in caring for the woman who had fought so hard to raise me and my sister as a single parent. My mom was the hardest working person I have ever known.  My mother was incredibly proud of my sister and me.  She was even more proud of our girls.

Back to this day last year.  Mom was conscious and struggling until about 12:30 and then medication and sleep eased her discomfort until she passed at around 7:30 I think.  Mom was not afraid of dying but she did not want to die alone. 

God gave my mom and us a wonderful gift in those final hours.  She was surrounded by 11 family members who loved her and stayed with her all day.  I pulled out my guitar and we sang, we told stories, we laughed, we cried, and we told her constantly we were there with her, and that we loved her so much.

You know instinctively as someone is drawing their final breaths.  We all stood up and surrounded her, placed our hands on her and watched as she took her final breath.
And I believe as my mom’s spirit was departing that she saw all of us laying on her and crying.  And I believe in that moment my mom saw a room full of deep love for her.  And I will forever be grateful for the privilege of participating in the most painful and holy moment I have ever known.

Mom, I think about you every single day.  I miss you more now than I did 6 months ago. Things will never be the same, different, but not ever the same without you.  Discovering all of these pictures of dad and seeing for the first time relationship existed between us even though I don’t remember anything has me grieving over him as well.  You both looked so happy together in many of the pictures, and who knew how cool and hip you guys were!

Mom I consider it a privilege to be your daughter.  I am so proud to call you my mom.  I love you with all my heart. I miss you every day.  I hope to honor you in the way I live my life.  I am incredibly thankful for the gift of family and memories.  Thank for leaving us with so many to cherish.  I miss you so much mom.


I knew all day that Gram's was going to leave us that night. I got the call from mom, "We're all here with her - she's struggling."

I held back tears in my classes as my new friends encouraged me to go home. It was well-intentioned but going home wouldn't help. The only place I wanted to be was in Gram's room, holding her hand. But I couldn't.

My mom held her phone up to Gram's ear as I told her how much I loved her. She had stopped speaking by that point but I was assured that she nodded her head in acknowledgment. She knew.

I didn't want to be home alone, so, while I waited for Dan to leave work, I went for a run at the gym. The new Civil Wars album had come out and Dust to Dust was on repeat while I tried to hide my tears on the treadmill.

We went home that night and I was mostly quiet over dinner. Dan poured glasses of wine and we sat in the living room. Stories of Grandma Nellie poured out of me. It was the only part I could play in her passing: I prayed for her and I remembered her.

For the first few months of her absence there were constant tears. Tears in the shower as I remembered beautician Gram's orders on how to wash my hair correctly. Tears when I stumbled on the text conversations where cheerleader Gram would tell me how proud of me she was. Tears were easy and forthcoming in those months.

Now, it's been a year and most the tears have dried up, at least they aren't as frequent, and it's just a sharp pain as life carries on and I realize that this is the new normal. That pain will likely dull over time but I don't want it to because my job is to remember her and, if nothing else, the pain won't let me forget. So tonight Dan and I will share a bottle of wine and I'll tell stories of Nellie.

I love you still, Grams, and I'll remember you always.