Friday, November 23, 2012

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them" – John F. Kennedy

Well, I am long overdue for s a new post! Things have been crazy (per usual) but in a good way, of course. I'll try to touch on the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

It was really interesting being in a city at the time of a national election. You definitely see a lot of mixed visions. There were a lot of campaigns trying to encourage people to register to vote and of course to actually vote. My office was closed on Election Day as it aligns with the mission of our agency to have your voice be heard. I had mailed in my absentee ballot so the day was relaxing for me and a chance to catch up on sleep and LSAT prep. That's where the majority of my life has been these last few weeks - between work and LSAT prep I don't have a lot of free time. But the test is in a week from tomorrow, eek! I think I am as ready as I'll ever be. Standardized tests have never been my cup of tea unfortunately, but it is what it is. I am excited at the prospect of attending law school with either an international focus or grounded in the public interest/pro bono sphere. I am sure at some point in my life my passions will merge and I will find the right path. For now, I have both direction and an open mind, which I think are two valued components of starting the admissions process and then seeing what opportunities present themselves.

I should mention that one of my community members and I watched the Election results with a few of the friars who live next door. They were so funny to listen to - I think I had the preconceived notion that they would be very old-fashioned and also very conservative, but it just wasn't the case. All in all, an entertaining evening. I won't get into any political views on here because it's not the place, but I was really happy to see how many people took the time to vote and valued the importance of democracy. There are so many people in the world who fight and die for the chance to participate in an election like ours, so if just for this reason alone I feel you can not throw away the opportunity to be simply go to the polls and cast a vote.

Things at VIP have been great. I have a lot more cases now but I am learning to time manage better. It seems the day ends and I am so surprised, as I have barely noticed the clock creeping to the evening hours. I even have some different types of cases right now, like a fraudulent deed transfer and an adverse possession claim. I have become more comfortable and confident speaking with clients and attorneys. There is still so much to learn but I enjoy knowing that every day I will be speaking with new people and working on old projects as well - so it's a great mix. I also volunteered to help a coworker with Corporate Pro Bono Day. It was a training for small business and corporate attorneys to meet with young women who are in a business class. They all are wanting to start different types of businesses so the attorneys met with small groups and helped them to get started and answered their legal questions. I don't typically see our volunteer attorneys working directly with clients so it was a really rewarding opportunity. So many volunteers give their precious time to help the marginalized and it's such a humbling thought. I know that when I am an attorney one day I will remember this and hopefully dedicate some of my time to people who really could benefit from the expertise but cannot afford the price tag of the service. If you go into law, there has to be some desire to help people, I just never want to forget that grounding!

I went to a party at a coworker's house last weekend with one of my roommates. It was an adventure getting there, as she lived in a different part of Philly. But we had a lot of fun and it was good to get out and actually meet some new people. There are two girls that I work with who just graduated from college in May and although they are not working at VIP in a service capacity, we still have a lot in common in terms of our age and interests. I am beginning to be more comfortable with the people that I work with and also look to them for support and guidance. Many of the attorneys on staff have gone to a wide array of law schools and had many different types of experiences before coming to VIP, so it's great to talk with them as I am in this transitional part of my life. And hey, there's always some networking and connections to be made, right? :)

My coworkers Cindy & Mariana

I guess it's time to discuss Thanksgiving weekend! I was so excited to have a four day weekend. Tuesday and especially Wednesday at work were just so strange because a lot of people were out and there was the anticipation of the break. We actually had about 6,000 envelopes to stuff for fundraising so the entire staff worked on that for pretty much all of Wednesday. Needless to say, I don't want to see another envelope or letter for a while! Paper cuts galore. Wednesday evening one of my community members and I went to see Breaking Dawn Part II. I usually see the Twilight movies at the midnight premiere but now that I am a working woman I am just too gosh darn tired! It was really nice to relax and watch a movie at a theater though. Thanksgiving Day morning we went to the parade in Philadelphia. It is the oldest Thanksgiving parade in national history, though Macy's kind of outshines it, haha. Nonetheless there were thousands of people there and I saw Boyz II Men and Justin Guarini perform. And no holiday parade is complete without Santa at the finale! Then we came back and cooked up a feast. I was surprised it only took us about two and a half hours to prepare everything. Cooking for just three people is not too much of a hassle, but we certainly have a ridiculous amount of leftovers. We bought a six pound chicken breast, although I think it came with two breasts, but I am not complaining since I only eat the white meat anyways and it made it cook a bit faster. I also attempted to make a chocolate pudding pie by myself. It's still in the fridge but I'll let you know how it tastes today. It was sort of strange not being home for Thanksgiving. It only kind of felt like the holiday, but we set the table nicely and drank good wine and feasted and said what we were thankful for. We watched the Charlie Brown special at night and took after-dinner naps. We had brownie sundaes and ate some more. All in all, it was a great time. If you can't be at home, as long as you're in the comfort of other people you care about it's a good feeling. Here's some photos from Thanksgiving:



OH! I also got my business cards on Wednesday at work! It was pretty exciting to receive my first business card set.

Well, this post was a good distraction from my LSAT studying, but with the test being about a week away and this next work week going to be busy and having a site visit from our Augustinian Volunteers supervisor during the nights, I better make really good use of the next three days. Wish me luck!

I hope you and yours had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Flexibility makes buildings be stronger, imagine what it can do to your soul" - Carlos Barrios

It's been two weeks since I have last written! It's been such a whirlwind of craziness lately, so I will attempt to remark on the major events of the past couple of weeks...

When I last wrote I was busily preparing for my big event at VIP - Pro Bono Opportunities Day. After the copying debacle on Friday evening, I was a bit nervous for what Monday would bring in terms of preparation. I spent the entire day until 6pm at work preparing all the last minute things that go into such a big event. Possibly the most frustrating (yet rewarding) component was finally, successfully printing name tags for the judges and trainers. Who knew how difficult it could be to effectively produce labels, name tags, and the like from an office printer. Luckily, I started early on that feat and was finished by about 3:00pm. I dropped all of the materials for the event at Philadelphia Bar Association on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, I arrived at the Bar Association at 7:45am and set up. Participants, judges, and trainers began arriving around 8am for a networking breakfast. Then it was the poverty simulation and the Ethics training. All in all, it went well and there were no major issues. We ended up with about 35 participants, which was no where near the goal of 60 the Executive Director had, but a quality number of people nonetheless. It took A LOT of advertising and creative thinking to broadcast the event. I felt good after cleanup was done, and my boss was nice enough to give me the rest of the afternoon off. I didn't fight her on that - with all the extra time I had been putting in, I needed a solid nap and some R&R time alone at my apartment.

Here are some photos from the event:

The rest of the week I was able to catch up on some of my cases and other work that I had neglected a bit to PBOD. Once Friday rolled around, a lot of the office was worried about Storm Sandy and its potential impact on our computers and other electrical equipment. We were instructed to unplug all electronics and surge protectors before leaving on Friday evening. The impending storm was a pretty scary thing. It was supposed to hit hardest between Delaware and New Jersey, so living in Philadelphia we were obviously worried about what impacts it would have on our apartment and work sites. I was all prepared with extra water and flash lights, and was certain that we would lose the power at some point. Because it was Halloween weekend, though, we were determined a full weekend of fun!

On Friday night, my roommates and I went to Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia because it was Harry Potter weekend! The cute strip of stores, bars, and restaurants transformed magically into Hogwarts and the names of the places all resembled places from the books. They had an opening ceremony, a sorting hat, and a pub crawl. We mainly just walked around, tried butter beer, and had dinner at a local pizza place. It felt very Fall-esque! On Saturday, there was a quidditch tournament with a lot of local colleges participating. Unfortunately we did not get the chance to see this because we had been invited to a volunteers gathering at Villanova on Sunday afternoon. It was a chance to meet other volunteers in the Philly area and have a Halloween potluck dinner and party of sorts. So we needed to work on our Halloween costumes!

 Butter Beer! :)

Because of the uncertainty of the storm, the volunteer gathering was postponed. Sadly we had spent the majority of Saturday working on our costumes! My community and I were the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2. Luckily, it was not an entire waste, because we went out to a local bar on Saturday night who was hosting a Halloween party!

On Sunday I did LSAT homework and we mentally prepared for the storm. My work was closed both Monday and Tuesday. It was a good time for me to relax and get some more LSAT work done. Luckily, though, we never lost power. I will say that my apartment is FRIGID, but that's another story. We need to have the heat turned on in here because we are wearing gloves in the house and doubling up comforters just to stay somewhat warm! As for the storm, it definitely poured and the gusts were intolerable and loud, but we lucked out. I know a lot of surrounding areas, especially NJ, was hit badly. As I talked with family and friends, I realized just how much a natural disaster can shake parts of the world and cause destruction and damage. As I read a lot of statuses from college students excited that school was closed and classes were canceled, it dawned on that it's sort of sad that a natural disaster is being celebrated by some. I began to think of a lot of my clients who are facing homeownership issues. Many of their homes are in only liveable condition, with a lot of unsteady roofs and leaking. A storm like Sandy may have been detrimental for them. So, I took my two days off to catch up on LSAT preparation, but I also made a point to think about how lucky I was and how some people are not as fortunate.

Wednesday was Halloween and a busy day at work. After being closed for two days, we all had a lot to catch up on. It was nice having such a short week, but it only means there will be more to accomplish this week. I actually have Tuesday off from work for Election Day. I happily sent in my absentee ballot already!

This weekend was very relaxing. We ate frozen pizzas and watched Mamma Mia on Friday night. on Saturday I slept in and did some LSAT prep. Then we hung out with a fellow AV who lives in the area. I was excited to set the clocks back, because getting another hour of sleep is always so uplifting! Today is dedicated to more LSAT prep and relaxation before another work week. Busy but happy - things are going well! Happy November :)