Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 25, 2015 in The After-3L Life
You could probably guess from the “(Part I)” atop the last entry that the financial consequences of driving a 13-year-old car aren’t the only source of life-related drama over the past however-many months.
My family is also a mess.
Sister of TDot is back in a mental institution. She apparently went voluntarily this time around, which is a switch from her past visits. I’m told schizoaffective disorder is the official diagnosis — basically a combination of schizophrenia and bipolarism — but the particular reasons for her commitment don’t really matter; she gets committed, gets medicated, convinces doctors to release her, immediately stops taking meds, and the cycle of violence and craziness repeats until she’s committed again.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know something needs to change or she needs to be cut loose from the rest of the family. Just because she’s not responsible for her mental illness doesn’t mean she’s not responsible for going off her meds knowing what the end result will be. But my family tolerates it because (this is the actual response I get) “what are we supposed to do, let her die?” Like the thousands upon thousands of Americans living reasonably normal lives despite mental health issues are incapable of surviving…
My mom is (theoretically at least) finally waking up. I’ve obliquely hinted in past entries that I’d had some personal experiences growing up when it came to domestic violence. Evidently things have gotten totally out of control as the situation with my sister has deteriorated.
Mom has been talking about leaving since before I left for NC State — the first time — and I missed several events my 3L year while pacing the hallway listening to her on the phone as she gave me every excuse under the sun for why she just couldn’t get up and start over. And it’s been a once-every-couple-months conversation in the years since I graduated. But she started a GoFundMe page seeking help, which at least means she’s more-seriously thinking about dealing with things than before.
I love both of my parents, but their current environment is toxic as f*ck and they both need to start acting like adults. For better or worse, that likely means splitting up.
Nan is not doing well As callous as it probably sounds as you read it on screen, my heart hurts moreso from that than all the (avoidable) drama with my parents and sister. There have been various hints here and there over the years — her handwriting had gotten steadily worse when she sent birthday cards, for a brief period of time she’d lost a lot of her hair — but it didn’t really sink in until I went home to see Nan and Pops for Easter.
Some of the handrails added to Nan’s & Pops’s house
I usually try to go up 3-4x a year and had just been there for Christmas a few months prior, but when I arrived this most-recent trip I noticed there was a handrail added to the step up from the garage. And another running the length of the hallway. And a quartet of them in the bathroom. Turns out she’s had progressive trouble walking without assistance, had fallen at least once, and needs these to make sure she can move around on her own. Pops also bought a pair of short-wave walkie talkies in case she needed him while he was out in the garage.
The doctors say she needs her thyroid taken out. And then they had to scuttle the operation because of an anomaly in the pre-operation angiogram. A trip to the cardiologist revealed total blockage in one coronary artery and 60% blockage in another. So meds were prescribed for that and now we wait at some point for another trip to the original people to work on the thyroid. It’s a mess.
Now trust me y’all, I do realize I have little real reason to be upset. Nan’s mentally still in good spirits. I think even she would agree that she’s lived a long life. Her mentality towards old age and death is where I largely picked up mine (e.g. she refuses to take the aforementioned medications because they make her feel “yucky” afterwards. “What’s the point of getting older if I’m going to be miserable?” and all). And plenty of friends at younger ages than me don’t have grandparents around anymore — while mine have seen me graduate high school, college, law school, and become more-or-less financially self-sufficient.
But it still sucks. A lot.
The advantage to moving to North Carolina way back in 1998 — being able to escape my family — cuts the other direction when I’m reminded there’s inevitably going to come a day when I’m the only one here. I’m hoping that day is still many years off of course. And I try to deal with it by not thinking about it and pouring myself into my work. It’s just one of those things that weighs on you sometimes, you know?
Anyhow, Part III later this week. Good night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 12, 2010 in The 2L Life
Another month, another one of my sporadic weeklong disappearances
This has been a crazy week — spanning both final exams and a new job — but things are finally starting to get back into a rhythm so I can start focusing on the important things in life.
Including, but not limited to, the fact I’M NOW HALFWAY DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL!
My last exam was in Evidence last Wednesday and with it my 2L Fall semester officially came to a close. Professors at NCCU Law have until January 12th to turn in grades so it’ll be awhile until I find out how I did, but here’s my expectations on how things will turn out:
- Constitutional Law I: Unlike the midterm that I knew I knocked out of the park, I thought the final was pretty @#$%ing difficult 30 multiple choice questions and then 3 essays spanning a whole range of issues. There were a few multiples I genuinely had no clue how to answer, and I was typing on the essays right down to the very last minute. After talking with classmates after the exam I’m fairly certain I missed a good chunk of stuff on the essays so at this point I’ll just be happy if my grade doesn’t have a negative impact on my GPA. Hoping for: B+.
- Domestic Violence: History, Law & Practice: I drew a bead on this class early, determined to deal with the difficult subject matter and ace the course. I tried to avoid skipping class (difficult for an 8:30am time slot), intentionally went overboard perfecting my motion in limine, thought I was fairly well-prepared for oral arguments, and just generally worked my @$$ off to excel at everything. This is the only class where I’ll be legitimately irked if I don’t get the grade I want Hoping for: A.
- Legal Letters: This was another paper-based course along with DVLaw, and I got near-perfect grades on all the assignments… except for the research memo I postponed in favor of studying for ConLaw. That dropped me to the bottom of the pile grade-wise, so the only hope I have for a decent grade is that (1) other classmates turned stuff in late too, and (2) my grades on the other assignments were marginally high enough compared to everyone else that I can edge past a few folks into the middle of the pack. Hoping for: C+ or better.
- Evidence: This one burns. 10 true/false question, 30 multiple choice, 1 essay. I know I completely and totally demolished the essay, in no small part due to knowledge I cemented in my brain doing research for DVLaw and from watching all 7 hours of BarBri’s online lectures (something I highly recommend for future exams). But the answer options on the multiple choice weren’t as precisely worded as I expected, and I often found myself feeling like I was playing a game of “pick the least wrong answer”… which means I probably didn’t know wtf I was doing Fingers are crossed but this one falls into the ConLaw pile of “I’ll be glad as long as it doesn’t drop my GPA.” Hoping for: B+.
- ZombieLaw (Decedents Estates I): My feelings toward this one have changed a bit since the post I wrote just after the exam. Initially I likened it to Contracts and my 1L Spring final, where spending a ton of time on questions just to work my way to an “either of these could be right” coin flip meant I did pretty bad. But in this case, although it took me 2.5 hours to grind through the 30 multiple choice questions, I eventually found an answer for each one that made sense to me — there was no coin-flipping at all. So my hope of hopes is that it means I got all the multiple choice right ::fingers crossed:: Hoping for: A-.
- Expected 2L Fall GPA: 3.400 | Probability Factor: 18.2%
Why the added “Probability Factor” on this particular grade rundown? Well, if all these grades turn out like I hope, that means I’d make the Dean’s List… a feat I haven’t accomplished since Fall 2005, my first semester back at N.C. State
Back in undergrad I had an incentive to perform well, since I had a pre-existing agreement with the Dean’s office set up in 2000 where they’d retroactively wipe away my sophomore Spring semester once I finished a summer session with “satisfactory academic progress” to prove I wasn’t totally incompetent. Of course I dropped out that June because I couldn’t afford tuition, so that semester of solid grades never took place until I came back 5 years later.
But here in law school, the only incentive I’ve got to perform well in class is just the self-satisfaction of knowing I can do it… and truth be told that’s just not a terribly strong motivator to a guy who already has an outlandishly oversized ego So I figure the odds of me actually making Dean’s List this semester are about 2-in-11.
If any of you get the urge to cross your fingers, say a prayer, or bribe a professor on my behalf please feel free to do so. Until then, y’all have a great night — and best of luck to anyone still dealing with final exams!
From the grade-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 28, 2010 in The 2L Life
Finally put the finishing touches on my brief for DV Law and set to turn it in tomorrow morning. With my last day of Legal Letters happening earlier this week, that means I’m now officially done with 2 of my 5 classes this semester
If any of you get bored and want to read through the brief I wrote for the class, you can download a PDF copy here.
Spending the rest of the night catching up on reading for ConLaw. Have a great night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2010 in Weekend Roundup
I disappeared again, sorry!
Out of the 144 weeks from the time Orientation started until I get my J.D. in May 2012, something about the 2-day class week before Thanksgiving triggers a feeling of “omgwtfshootmeplzkthxu”.
Out of curiosity I checked the law:/dev/null archives for this same time last year, and sure enough there was this entry on panic setting in before finals. I’ve got the same feeling a year later, so blogging took a back seat for the week.
But, today was game day again — which means I got absolutely nothing productive accomplished and could properly get things updated here. Plus it gave me an excuse to tag an entry for the Weekend Roundup category for the first time since Week 8
Here’s a week-in-review look back at what’s happened in my life over the past 7 days:
- As I hinted before my disappearance, last Saturday was spent with 雅雅 as we watched the N.C. State Wolfpack stage an amazing comeback to defeat the Baby Blue Powder Puffs of the University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven — for the 4th time in 4 years We ended up winning by a score of 29-25, which included one of the most improbable touchdown catches I’ve ever seen in college football; check around the 2:13 mark of this NCSU-UNX highlight videofor the whole play. After the requisite celebrating and trash-talking, we headed out to go see Harry Potter VII Part I… and I was generally unimpressed. No hate mail please
My SBA colleague after her team lost last week
- Got to spend Sunday afternoon picking out a Wolfpack shirt for the SBA secretary, who happens to (1) be a UNCCH graduate and (2) have an affinity for making outlandish bets on losing sports teams The rest of the day was used to revise my brief in opposition to the State’s motion in limine for DV Law, then frantically figuring out what on Earth I was going to say during oral arguments.
- Monday was compartmentalized into three distinct phases. Oral arguments took place Monday morning and turned out fairly well, even though I didn’t get to use several of the pre-packaged zingers I had prepared just in case The afternoon was spent being annoyed about this UNCASG news piece in the Daily Tar Heel — and for once it wasn’t because of what the DTH printed. Bear in mind there is nothing at all whatsoever in any of ASG’s governing documents that dictates what amount (if any) officers have to be paid, yet these people are amending its Constitution and eliminating a constitutionally-mandated financial oversight position, purportedly to save money they’re not required to pay in the first place. “We mismanaged our budget, so let’s eliminate one of the key people responsible for making sure we don’t mismanage our budget” is the unspoken message being sent to the UNC Board of Governors and the other political players in North Carolina. Then Monday night was right here in front of the laptop banging away at my last Legal Letters assignment of the semester until the wee hours of the morning.
- Tuesday was my very last Legal Letters class ever, which called for celebration. Even though the professor was cool the material was just mind-numbingly bland and no amount of caffeine / cash / illegal narcotics could keep someone awake in it I also had an interview with the tech company I mentioned last week, which I think went well but honestly I’m not sure; I’m supposed to get a call this coming week with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The prospect of getting the job has me insanely nervous because everything I’ve done up until this point has either been trivially easy or difficult-but-practically-a-hobby. This would be a combination of being totally new, probably difficult, and sufficiently not-a-hobby that I’d be fired if I screw up. Which I don’t think I will, but you get the point. I’ve always been a high-risk/high-reward type of person, but I still get butterflies in my stomach in the process…
- In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I used Wednesday to finally clean my apartment thoroughly for the first time since the semester started getting crazy. Washed all my clothes, cleaned up the wasteland that was quickly becoming my kitchen, and so on. Stocked up on food for the holiday, donated $$ I didn’t have to the Durham Rescue Mission to help those who aren’t as lucky as I am, then went home, put all the food away… and ended up falling asleep in the recliner watching TV
- Thursday of course was Thanksgiving. It was only me this year, but I was blessed to have a handful of folks offer up their own meals if I wanted them — I declined though, because I wanted to experiment with cooking my very first turkey without potentially killing anyone It turned out well for a first attempt so I was happy. Followed that up with the obligatory mashed potatoes and gravy, some steamed broccoli and cheese, and a few rolls. The only downside is that I will be eating turkey-related leftovers for weeks In between cooking and eating, also spent about 8 (non-contiguous) hours sending personalized text messages to folks wishing them a happy Thanksgiving. Maybe a little crazy, but cheaper than sending a bunch of holiday greeting cards no one reads…
- And then yesterday was pretty much spent banging my head against the desk in the hope that something useful would fall out for this Evidence memo due on Monday. It’s ostensibly optional extra credit, but when (1) you’re graded on a curve and (2) a majority of your classmates are going to turn something in, “optional” isn’t really optional I’m in the position of defense counsel in a criminal case (sound familiar?) trying to block the State’s effort to get evidence introduced under FRE 404(b) about prior bad acts allegedly committed by my client. The only problem is that pretty much every case I’ve found that holds any weight for this particular factual scenario says the evidence needs to come in, and the more exotic theories I’ve come up with are even more thoroughly refuted I’m going to come up with something, but doggone it I hate making losing arguments…
NC State got Ron Cherry'd on UMD's 4th and 1
Which brings us to today. My Wolfpack disgraced themselves in College Park, Maryland, losing to the Terrapins by 31-38. We actually played far worse than the box score indicates, scoring 14 points in the first 9 minutes and 14 points in the last 4 minutes — making only a 3-point field goal during the 47 minutes in between. NC State got screwed when Maryland was given a first down they didn’t earn on 4th and 1 with under a minute left (see the photo), but the truth is we played so horribly that we pretty much deserved to lose anyway.
I’m not in a position to complain since I predicted we’d end the season at 7-5 and we’re actually 8-4, so I’m just gonna be happy with our bowl game and look forward to next season
The rest of this evening has been spent trading critiques with EIC about our various papers due tomorrow (Evidence and DVLaw for me, both of those plus Race and the Law for her). And finally writing this blog entry
All in all it’s been a good week… and now exams are upon us GOOD LUCK to everyone facing finals, and if you have a few prayers to spare feel free to send them my way
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 18, 2010 in Randomness
Law school life is hitting über-crazy status as we get into the final days of class before the Thanksgiving holiday… followed the next week by final exams
So rather than a properly edited entry, you get a few random bullets that crossed my mind today:
- Wednesdays this semester seem to be the day I just totally forget law:/dev/null exists — sorry for constantly bailing on y’all the same time every week
- I’m appreciative y’all still stop by though! Barring an unexpected outage (or a complete and total lack of all interest) we should cross the half-million pageview milestone today
- It took 10 months to rack up our first 250,000 pageviews, and only 5 months for the next 250,000. I doubt that growth trend is going to continue given my sporadic absences but it’s still pretty cool
- After she read the N&O article on my less-than-stellar academic performance in computer science, one of the senior academic folks at N.C. State sent me an incredibly kind email with her thoughts. Amid the other remarks was this snippet: “In light of your comments regarding yourself as a computer science student, I thought I would pass on what a computer science professor told me when he realized I was one of your fans. He told me that you were one of the best and finest students he had ever had in computer science.” I have no clue which professor she was referring to, but is it bad that my first two thoughts were wondering (1) what that professor must have been smoking to come to that conclusion, and (2) if I could find a hearsay exception to get it admitted in case I ever had to prove that I really wasn’t that incompetent?
- I also got a snarky email from some random person about that article. Might make it a separate mailbag entry just so I can be snarky in response. We’ll see
- If you haven’t done so already, I want you to check out two blog entries that continue last week’s posts on the value of law school: Keith Lee over at An Associate’s Mind has this entry on performing your due diligence, and Jack Whittington of World Wide Whit has this piece on how *not* to persuade people. They’re both excellent entries — and it makes me feel better not being the only one in the “realistic optimist” camp anymore
- Speaking of realistic optimism, in the span of one hour Wednesday morning I randomly got contacted to schedule two different job interviews — one in the CrimLaw arena, the other in the CSC-related intellectual property field. It was a reminder to me that I really need to figure out wtf I’m going to do with my professional life after law school. Look for an entry on that topic soon.
- My draft motion in limine for DV Law was the highest grade in the class… and now I have to pretty much re-do the whole thing I’m in the role of defense counsel (again) and the facts for my case suck (again). Even so, I thought I had a pair of exotic-but-still-pretty-compelling arguments — until the prosecution from a different team unintentionally ran a tractor trailer-sized hole through one of them during her own performance this morning. Back to the drawing board…
- I can’t wait for Saturday
Have a great night everybody!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 7, 2010 in The 2L Life
One of my friends at a law school on the other end of the country sent me a FB message pointing out I haven’t posted a mid-semester update for my 2L Fall semester at NCCU Law like I had done back in 1L.
The reason is that 2L year grade-wise is markedly different from 1L — where first year grades were 20% based on a midterm and 80% based on a final exam, only two 2L classes have midterms (ConLaw and Business Associations, which I’ll be taking in the Spring). The rest either make the final exam 100% of the grade or require various papers throughout the semester.
That lack of information makes grade entries like this one a lot less interesting
But given how totally riveting my recent commentary on daylight savings time and Verizon’s mobile phone selection has been, I’ll go ahead and bow to the peer pressure
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW I
There’s not much for me to say on this one that I didn’t already say after the exam. Constitutional Law is my favorite course and one of my favorite topics in general — even outside of the law school context — and it showed on the midterm. I ended up getting 35 out of 40 questions correct on the midterm, tying for 2nd place in the class (high was 36 of 40).
Haven’t had a chance to meet with Prof ConLaw yet to figure out what I missed, but maxing out the total points I can get on the midterm puts me in a good position heading into the final.
Expected Midterm Grade: A
Actual Midterm Grade: B+ (raw) / A (curved)
Synopsis: Just need to keep studying and make sure I can knock out the essays on the (4-hour) final exam. Given my track record last year, I doubt I’ll pull an A in this class — but I’m still going for it
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: HISTORY, LAW & PRACTICE
The subject matter in DV Law has been a challenge since the beginning, but as the semester has gone on it’s gotten slightly less agitating. There was even one class where we joined a section of Advanced Torts for a joint lecture on defamation vis-à-vis allegations of domestic violence, and I was comfortable enough to hold my own against the lecturing professor playing the other side.
On the grade front, this is one of those classes with numerous assignments for fractional parts of the final grade. The good news: I’ve gotten the max points so far for the community observation, class participation, and the annotated bibliography for my motion in limine. The bad news: the preliminary research memo for the motion was turned in late, so the A grade I had on that was dropped to a B+. And the “::shrug::” news: the remaining 75%ish of the course grade is still to come, based on the first draft of the motion last week, the oral argument on it next week, and the final motion due the week after that.
Expected Grades To-Date: A
Actual Grades To-Date: A-
Synopsis: Now that the preliminary draft of the motion in limine is done, the final should be easy to knock out. Not sure what’s going to happen with the oral arguments though. Hoping to finish strong.
The grading for this class is unique. We have 4 papers due — a client letter, a research memo, an opinion letter, and a settlement proposal — with each one worth a total of 100 points. At the end of the semester, whoever has the most points gets the A and it scales down from there. So even though I got a 95/100 on my first letter, I have no clue how that breaks down compared to the rest of the class; I’ve seen both higher and lower in roughly equal proportions, and it makes me slightly nervous.
As for the memo and opinion letter that were both turned in awhile ago? No clue, because we haven’t gotten them back yet We also haven’t gotten the required background info (medical expenses and such) for the settlement proposal, so this class is basically on hold for now.
Expected Grades To-Date: A
Actual Grades To-Date: ????
Synopsis: I’ll be glad when this class is over. The professor is interesting and I enjoy talking to her (she’s an adjunct who works as a public defender full-time), but this is one of those classes no one likes and we’re all required to take just because the ABA says so.
I’m totally lost in this class. It’s straight lecture-style with no assignments, no Socratic method, no midterm, nothing — basically the exact opposite of my learning style. I’m terrified about the final, and more importantly I’m terrified about how I’m going to perform in Trial Practice next semester when I feel like I’ve got only a minimal grasp on the Federal Rules of Evidence.
If anyone has any suggestions on an effective way to learn this material on my own, I’d appreciate it!
Expected Grades To-Date: N/A
Actual Grades To-Date: N/A
Synopsis: I have three weeks to figure out wtf I’m doing. Prayers are welcomed.
ZOMBIELAW (DECEDENTS ESTATES I)
This class is just like Evidence, except in addition to being a lecture-style course with no assignments or any real class participation, it’s also BORING AS @#$%. Prof ZombieLaw is hilarious and tries to keep it as interesting as possible, but I seriously find nothing interesting about divvying up property after you’re dead. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a poor family that doesn’t have much to divvy, but it’s (1) boring, (2) tedious, and (3) depressing.
I’m basically doing the bare minimum to keep track of where we are in class, then will be using our pre-final review time to learn enough substantive material to eke out a C in the class. As long as I don’t have to take it again, I’ll be happy.
Expected Grades To-Date: N/A
Actual Grades To-Date: N/A
Synopsis: Caffeine can’t even keep me awake in here anymore. At least I know I won’t be a probate attorney after law school?
That’s where things stand with me y’all. My first final exam is ConLaw on December 3rd, only three weeks and my second-favorite holiday away
Hope all of you are having an excellent semester, and that you’re in better shape going into finals than I am!
From the grade-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 3, 2010 in The 2L Life
- A laser printer
- A recycling bin
- A 12-pack of Diet Mountain Dew in the fridge
First draft of this motion in limine for DVLaw is finally done
Off to bed, have a good night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 15, 2010 in Randomness
I’ve been blessed with good eyesight since I was a kid, and when I visited 雅雅 in Memphis the future-optometrist even determined I’m part of a relatively small number of people in the country who would be classified as a “true emmetrope.”
After successfully making it through years of computer science and 1L year of law school without any problems, I guess I’ve been taking things for granted: between a research memo for DVLaw, a research memo for Legal Letters, and a midterm for ConLaw, this week I’ve developed this insanely annoying twitch at the outer edge of my left eye
Not sure if it’s plain ol’ eye fatigue or something serious, but I’m officially not a fan…
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 9, 2010 in The 2L Life
…when I no longer have my free “all you can eat” access to WestLaw and Lexis-Nexis?
Even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of writing legal memos, I still get a kick out of combing through the case law of different jurisdictions when I’m doing legal research (something I picked up during 1L year).
Random example: I learned Missouri is apparently one of only a few states that don’t have stated rules of evidence for criminal proceedings
Any post-Ls out there have advice on coping with freely-available-research withdrawal?
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 6, 2010 in In Case You Missed It
I’ve had one hell of a case of writer’s block while working on a legal memo for my Domestic Violence Law class, so I finally got around to editing+posting those six entries I mentioned about two weeks ago.
They’re a bit old at this point, but if you get bored and want to read them they’re now there for you
In chronological order:
Enjoy, and have a great night y’all!