Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Break From Study

I was able to take a break from study yesterday because Andrew and I were invited to his boss’s house for dinner last night.

I had not met Andrew’s boss until last night, and neither of us had met Andrew’s boss’s wife until last night. They were gracious and welcoming hosts, and Andrew and I stayed until almost 11:00 p.m., watching college football games on television and visiting. It was a lovely evening. I liked them very much.

I have not bothered to try to follow college football this season. I have deliberately ignored it, knowing that—if I allow myself to express any interest at all—I risk submitting to my natural tendency to devote most of every Saturday to college football, and not to my work. I cannot allow myself to do that.

My life is one-dimensional at present. I study, devotedly, and do little else. Law school is demanding, and the first year is the most demanding of all.

Andrew knows what I am going through because he has gone through the same experience himself. He is sympathetic and supportive, and a source of invaluable advice. He has shouldered all household burdens, and seems to have no problem with that.

If I were in Boston by myself, I think I would have become depressed by now.

I am glad I am not alone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Halfway through our second week of classes and work, respectively, Andrew and I have sort of settled into a routine.

We leave home at 8:00 a.m. every morning and go our separate ways. I return home around 5:30 p.m. and Andrew returns home around 5:45 p.m.

We spend a couple of hours preparing and eating dinner, and after dinner I study and Andrew reads. Sometimes we study and read in the kitchen, sometimes we study and read in the living room on the sofa, and sometimes we study and read in the living room at our desk/computer/sound system unit, which accommodates two computers and two desk chairs. When Andrew and I have had enough of our studying and reading, we listen to music and Instant Message our friends and family members for an hour or ninety minutes before we turn in for the night.

Andrew and I love Instant Messaging—it allows us to keep in close, daily contact with those who are important to us who live far, far away. For instance, we learn every night about daily football practice from my brother, about life at Vanderbilt from my sister, about the day on Wall Street from Andrew’s older brother, and about every political development of the day from Andrew’s middle brother. From my parents we learn every night what’s going on in Oklahoma (generally nothing), from Andrew’s parents we learn every night what’s going on in Minnesota (generally nothing) and what the dog had for dinner (invariably some kind of meat and generally some kind of potato, too), and from our friends we learn what’s going on in Los Angeles, Washington and other places (including, if the hour is right, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and Vienna).

I don’t know how people survived before Instant Messaging!

Law school is serious business. Students are competitive, and serious and businesslike to a fault, and almost always keen to demonstrate how ultra-bright they are (but hissed if they carry these demonstrations too far). However, most students are collegial, too.

About ten to fifteen per cent of the class does not belong in such a competitive environment, and that particular segment of the class has already figured this fact out and is suffering isolation as a result. This is regrettable, but inevitable in a system in which the bulk of the class has been admitted based upon merit, but a small segment of the class has been admitted based upon considerations having nothing to do with merit. I witnessed this same phenomenon in my undergraduate years, and Andrew, too, observed this phenomenon in both his undergraduate and his law school years.

Andrew does not object to his new job. From colleagues, Andrew learned which downtown club to join in order to be able to play tennis twice a week over lunch, and he is now busy auditioning tennis partners in order to find a handful of regular players able to play at the desired level.

Andrew and I have not been able to figure out what to do about basketball yet. We shall begin to work seriously on that project soon.

Andrew and I checked out a prospective church last Sunday, but we did not like the minister or the service or the congregation, so we shall probably check out another church next Sunday.

We are settled in now, and accustomed to our apartment. It has almost become home to us, which did not seem possible the first time we opened the door and walked into the place. It is small, but comfortable enough for us, and a place in which we can read and study and eat and sleep and rest. It is our sanctuary from the rigors of school and work, and it serves that function well enough.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"I'm A Stranger Here Myself"

Today is Labor Day.

My classes begin tomorrow, and Andrew’s first day at his new job is tomorrow.

Andrew and I are resting, which is suitable, given how much labor we have performed over the last week.

Our apartment is now habitable.

Last week, we cleaned everything mercilessly, painted the walls and ceilings, steam-cleaned the carpets, and assembled furniture. We would not have been able to finish the project in a week if Andrew’s middle brother had not been here to help us. His assistance was invaluable, and so was his companionship.

On Thursday and Friday, I attended orientation for first-year students. Thursday was an especially long and exhausting day—I was gone from early morning until late at night, as a series of dinners was convened involving the entire first-year class—and I missed Andrew more and more as the long day went on and on and on.

When I left the apartment early Friday morning, our apartment was still without furniture. Alex and Andrew remained behind, waiting for the arrival of the furniture they had purchased on Thursday.

When I got home late Friday afternoon, Alex and Andrew were in the midst of assembling the furniture, which had been delivered in my absence, and I joined in. We had to assemble the kitchen table and chairs, the unit of bookshelves, the desk/computer table/sound system unit, the desk chairs, the end tables and the bed. Only the sofa had arrived fully assembled. We did not finish assembling the furniture until 11:00 p.m.

The furniture made all the difference in the apartment. With furniture, the apartment suddenly became suitable for habitation—with the added benefit that we no longer needed to sleep on the floor (Alex was more than comfortable on the sofa, which pulls out into a full bed) and no longer needed to eat standing up. Seeing the furniture in place was a welcome sight.

On Saturday, Alex and Andrew and I unpacked the boxes we had shipped from Minneapolis and we unpacked the things we had brought with us from Minneapolis. We followed that project with some SERIOUS food shopping, fully stocking our kitchen with everything Andrew and I will need for the next several weeks (except for perishables). Our final task was setting up the desktop (which is actually Alex’s desktop) and our new sound system, at which point we were officially settled in. We celebrated by cooking steaks and potatoes for our dinner and having a bottle of red wine with our food, as well as by listening to Ute Lemper singing Kurt Weill.

Andrew’s parents, spending Labor Day weekend in New York, as well as Andrew’s older brother and his family, came up to Boston yesterday to check out our apartment and to make sure that we are settled in comfortably.

We gave Andrew’s family a substantial late lunch—white bean soup, followed by a distinctive tomato salad that included cucumbers, onions and cheese, followed by roast chickens with two different kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and a cranberry-apple salad—and we entertained them for a few hours before they returned to New York.

There was just enough room in our apartment to accommodate everyone. There was just enough seating, too. Between the sofa and our two desk chairs in the living room, and the four kitchen chairs, everyone had a place to sit—but a ninth person would have been out of luck.

Early Sunday morning, Andrew went out to buy a couple of bouquets of cut flowers in order to add more color to the apartment. He placed one vase of flowers in the living room and one vase of flowers in the kitchen. He thought his mother would appreciate the flowers, and she did. They added a note of beauty and cheeriness to the place.

Our bookshelves already are home to one complete shelf of books, because last week I bought my casebooks for the first semester. The books cost a fortune. Alas, the spines are not colorful, so the books do not add much charm to the living room. Andrew’s father remarked that the living room should look perfectly fine once the bookshelves are filled with books—a project that will probably be complete about the time Andrew and I prepare to leave Boston three years from now!

I don’t think anyone was particularly impressed with our small apartment, but I think everyone was impressed that it was so clean and I think that everyone was impressed that we had done everything possible to make it as comfortable and as pleasing as possible. It will be suitable—just—for a three-year hiatus.

Andrew’s family left late yesterday afternoon and returned to New York, taking Alex with them.

We will next see everybody over Columbus Day Weekend, when we will all gather in New York for what will prove to be our final gathering in Manhattan. Alec and Lizbeth and Tim will leave New York and move to Minneapolis in November, leaving Andrew and me the only family members disbursed. Their move to Minneapolis will also deprive everyone of a free place to stay in New York, alas. Consequently, everyone in the family is bound and determined to have one last long weekend in New York in October.