And This Is Harvard…

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The Old Yard, which is collection of undergrad dorms, is one of the most tourist-infested areas on campus. The focal point within the Yard is the statue of John Harvard, a minister who donated money and books to the college back in the 1600s. Every time I pass by, a clump of tourists are there taking pictures. Undergrads at Harvard allegedly rub the statue’s foot for good luck before exams, and so the tourists like to pose with a hand on the foot. Just this morning, I saw a man rubbing on the statue’s foot for over a minute while someone snapped his picture.

If you ever visit Harvard, I highly recommend not doing this.

The tourists are apparently unaware of the real tradition of John Harvard’s foot, a tradition that I witnessed firsthand on Friday night. Yes, I am ashamed to say, as I walked through the Old Yard on my way from Harvard Square back to the law school, I saw a young man perched atop the statue surrounded by a large group of kids with cameras. And yes–as the cameras snapped, this young man deposited a stream of golden liquid directly onto John Harvard’s foot.

Journals and Java…

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This is just a quick, non-substantive update:

I enjoy my pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, and I refuse to feel guilty about it!

I’m getting tired of sushi and have moved on to falafel. Yesterday I got a falafel and hummus wrap from a restaurant across the street from the JFK School of Government, which is a couple of blocks from the main Harvard campus. Then I walked to JFK Park, just down the street, and ate my lunch on a bench by a wonderful stone fountain. JFK Park is very close to the river; from the fountain benches, you can see past a row of thick trees to the Harvard Boat House across the Charles River. The trees there are still very green–maybe slightly yellow. In a couple of weeks the whole park will be absolutely gorgeous and bright. And then everything will turn brown.

For now, life is pleasant. I’m ahead in my reading, got three new pairs of shoes yesterday, and have plenty of extracurricular activities to keep me busy. I’ve joined the Journal of Law and Public Policy, which is the official journal of the Federalist Society and the leading conservative/libertarian law journal. My job is to check the citations in a few footnotes. I have to locate the source that is being cited, print out the cited portion, and put together a binder collecting all the sources. Then I have to check to make sure that the source actually says what the footnote claims it says, and I have to check the technical formatting of the citation by the rules in The Bluebook. I will be doing pretty much the same thing for the Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT). I think I’m also going to be on the submissions committee for JOLT, which is kind of funny: I’m just a 1L, three weeks into law school, but my opinions on whether articles should be published in the journal will have at least some value.

From Bangkok to Calgary…

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Not unexpectedly, I’ve been too busy to post.

That said, 1L year isn’t entirely overwhelming yet. But then, I haven’t gotten involved in journals yet and haven’t done much with FedSoc besides attend panels. I’m hoping to go to the FedSoc convention in DC in November–it will be the 25th anniversary convention, and I can’t wait.

Right now, however, I am extremely tired. I made an excursion to MIT this afternoon with a friend, which turned into a walking tour from MIT to Harvard Medical School, also hitting up the Boston Public Gardens, Commonwealth Avenue, Berklee College of Music, and Boston University, and making it back to Cambridge across the BU Bridge, into Central Square, and down Mass Ave back to Harvard. Our estimated journey length (aided by Google Maps): 11.9 miles. And I was not wearing walking shoes.

It was worth it: I suspect Boston in the winter is going to be uniquely miserable, but Boston in the fall is absolutely glorious. I can’t waste the fall indoors. I worry about not fully appreciating the colors of the leaves before the fall is over, which is pointless–the colors have only just now begun to change.  However, this amazing weather will not last, and even careful observation of the seasonal changes will not halt anything. The worst thing I can do is waste the fall worrying about the winter. But that’s just life, I guess.

Slight Regression

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Two full days of classes and I still haven’t been called on. That’s fine–I feel comfortable now, and I’m not worried about it–but I kind of want to get it out of the way. I have returned to moderate caffeine usage: I have a cup of coffee during my first class. HLS provides coffee in the halls. It’s much too easy.

I feel normal and comfortable here now; the neighborhood and the campus seem really familiar. I wrote before that the Harvard campus doesn’t seem “magical” the way some people might think, and this is increasingly true. After only a little while, it’s just the place that I go to school. It helps in maintaining sanity, I think, not to think too much about how my law school compares to other law schools, or how I compare to the other students here, or anything like that. I’m trying to focus on my work, think through the issues in my class reading, and figure out what I’m doing here. In some ways, it doesn’t seem so different from anywhere else.

But obviously it is different here in Cambridge–I can walk to Starbucks and hear three or four different languages along the way. I had dinner in the law school cafeteria tonight with a visiting researcher from Japan. I run into tourists all the time around campus and in Harvard Square. Apparently I look like I know what I’m doing; after a whole week’s residence here, I am frequently asked for directions.

Meanwhile, my CrimLaw professor, Jeannie Suk, saw Justice Breyer (who lives in Cambridge) at breakfast the other day, and he wished good luck to my section. And that makes me a little giddy.

Detox

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I haven’t had any coffee in two days. I think I’m past the worst of the withdrawal headaches, and my sleeping patterns now seem to be pretty normal. I will probably resume moderate use once classes kick in, but the stuff was starting to have very little effect on me aside from alleviating the discomfort of not having it. I had lost any real enjoyment of coffee.

Meanwhile, I’ve had two major mishaps during orientation. Both of them turned out to be, I think, helpful. First, I lost the cases that I was supposed to read for the mock class on Friday–I think they fell out of my notepad somewhere. I was already a bit nervous about being called on, and I wasn’t sure how I would work out the issue at all. Anyway, I knew the basic facts of the cases, so I ended up using a combination of Google and Westlaw to locate them. This worked very well, and didn’t even take that long. I got the cases briefed, went to sleep, and got up two and a half hours before class to take care of some business. I actually feel better now knowing that I do have some resourcefulness to draw on. Also, class itself was not especially frightening. I wasn’t called on, the the professor was extremely nice to those who were. Maybe this was just to reassure us that he wasn’t lying when he told us that HLS is a “happier, fuzzier place” than it used to be. We’ll see.

My second major mishap occurred yesterday, when, predictably enough, I locked myself out of my dorm room. I live in a little 8 x 12 room in one of the law school dorms, and my door locks automatically when it closes. I left the room for just a minute to drop some paper into the recycle bin, leaving the door open. Of course, when I came back, the door was closed. My R.A. wasn’t around. I waited in the lounge area for many minutes, walked over to Harkness Commons for a little while and talked to a section-mate, and finally ended up back in the hall, where a 2L explained to me that I just needed to go to Holmes Hall and get the spare key from the mail center. So I did, and I unlocked the room. Now I don’t have to worry about getting locked out on a snowy day or anything, because I know the procedure for getting the keys. (I don’t know why they don’t tell us useful stuff like this in orientation.)

The little details are mostly settled now. I’ve finished unpacking, despite nearly drowning in a sea of styrofoam popcorn. My books are arranged on the shelves, notebooks bought (my section’s professors have banned laptops during class), and laundry washed. I’ve set up my Westlaw and Lexis accounts and gotten my first batch of free stuff, including Westlaw’s “Essential Collection for Law Students” (little books of the Constitution, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, and Resources for Conducting Research), Lexis’s own copies of the Constitution and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a Lexis water bottle, and, best of all, a Westlaw bag. And the weather is fantastic, for now.

The British Are Coming

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My feet are sore.

Over the last two days, I have moved into my dorm at HLS, seen a large portion of the major historical sites in Boston, and walked about 300 miles (more or less). Mom, Dad, and I walked the Freedom Trail this afternoon, which begins at Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument (which is actually on Breed’s Hill). In between, we saw, I believe, every possible Paul Revere site, including his grave, his house, the Paul Revere Mall, the Old North Church, and all kinds of markers in between. Paul Revere is okay, but I was more excited about seeing Sam Adams and Cotton Mather’s graves.

Along the way, I’ve figured out how to use the subway system, and I’ve learned that all the stores on State Street in downtown Boston close at 7:00 PM. (How lame is that? Even Alexandria isn’t that bad.) Fortunately, everything around Harvard Square seems to stay open late.

The book I’ve been reading, The Egyptologist, has some scenes set around Harvard University, and it’s kind of odd to compare the idyllic academic setting in Harvard-related novels and movies (even Legally Blonde) with the relatively ordinary atmosphere here. Harvard is very nice, but it’s not magical–not in the way I imagine Oxford or Cambridge or even Yale must be. Maybe I’m just conditioned by the Harry Potter films to think that Gothic architecture is somehow more fantastical and academic, but the sturdy red brick buildings that make up most of the campus here are, even when quite grand, more familiar than imposing–very American, I guess. Maybe any campus seems ordinary after a while. (Even just a few days?) In any case, I wonder why, with its $26 billion endowment, Harvard can’t manage to put some air conditioners in the law school dorms.

Orientation begins tomorrow. I’m not at all sure what to expect.

The Things I’m Carrying

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I haven’t finished packing yet, but I will leave my house in six hours and go to the airport to catch at 5:30 flight. By lunch tomorrow, I’ll be in Cambridge. Actually, I’ll be honest: I haven’t even started packing my luggage yet. Fortunately, I shipped most of what I’ll need to Cambridge early last week. (Seven boxes, packed by UPS. Total cost: $330.)

This seems like a decent place to begin this blog. I don’t want to be too ambitious about the content of this blog; if I don’t keep it simple, I’ll never write. I wanted a law and literature blog, but I think that would be a bit too involved: I can’t count on manufacturing novel (or remotely insightful) thoughts on law and literature often enough to warrant a blog. Instead, this is a blog about reading–specifically, reading within the context of my first year of law school. When the semester kicks off and I’m reading very little besides casebooks, I expect that this blog may evolve into an account of procrastination, feeling guilty, drinking coffee, and occasionally reading snippets of poetry and N.T.Wright.

But for now, this is a reading blog. I’m bringing a novel for plane-reading tomorrow–The Egyptologist, by Arthur Phillips. I’ll write more later when I’ve actually started to read it. The items I will carry onto the plane tomorrow, including the novel, are:

  • Toshiba laptop
  • blue iPod
  • pad of graph paper
  • sketch book
  • set of pencils
  • red Parker Jotter pen
  • The Egyptologist
  • Motorola Razr
  • driver’s license
  • Kodak digital camera

I won’t sleep tonight. I should start packing soon.

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