Late-night tennis is deeply comforting to me. The way I can sit on my couch in my pajamas, living room lit only by a vanilla-scented candle and the blue glow of my TV, my 2017 Wimbledon towel wrapped around my shoulders.
It’s 3 a.m. The back-and-forth of the ball nudges me awake, gently. Tennis is a profoundly solitary sport. It’s just the player on the court. From the crouching ball kids to the umpire’s towering chair to family, friends and coaching staff high up in the player’s box, tennis players are literally on their own level — always alone.
Although I love going to tennis tournaments, there’s something pure, transcendent, even, about watching tennis in the middle of a cold, January night in Iowa, mug of tea in hand. The way “Quiet, please” echoes through my apartment, giving me space to watch undisturbed, to be still.
It turns out that studying abroad in Europe for two weeks did not actually help me deal with a recent disappointment — I know, truly astonishing.
Healing, I find, happens in unexpected, even mundane places. For me, it didn’t happen as the sun set in Paris, rain smudging the city’s famous lights, softening their glow as my friends and I walked along the Seine. Continue reading
My design aesthetic: scented candles and Iowa basketball bobbleheads.
I wandered around Target on Saturday looking for matches. That was all I needed, really. OK, and some wine, a crop top, eye shadow and a planter. It is Target, you know.
I’ve gotten really into scented candles recently. I have one named “Baltic Amber.” I’m not sure what the hell that means, but I like it anyway.
When I asked an employee at Target where I could find matches, he said, “Uh, no one really buys matches anymore. Most people use the plastic lighters. They’re over here.”
I wanted my damn matches.
There’s something about the sound of lighting a match, the way it burns a little too close to my fingertips, the way the smoke lifts its way into the air, hanging on for a second too long, clouding everything else in gray. A matchbox costs 92 cents at Target. I wanted my damn matches. Continue reading
I don’t see a lot of movies, maybe two or three a year. I rarely plan ahead to go to the movies, instead spontaneously scrunching my still-damp hair as I shuffle to my car on a Saturday night.
“Kedi” was the first movie I saw alone. It’s a Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. I saw it when I was trying to decide which law school to attend. The sound, screen and subtitles kept me occupied, restored me to a feeling human being as I reconnected with the cats I encountered in the same city, my favorite city in the world, a few years ago.
Last Saturday I saw “Crazy Rich Asians” by myself here in Iowa City. I had forgotten how heavy the silence is in law school, the way hours and hours of quiet reading sink into your soul. The sensory overload of going to a movie — the screen, the speakers, the inescapability of it all — comforts me, as if it’s possible to refill the silence, to pour sound and light and feeling right back into my emotionally drained spirit.
I sometimes joke that I was a person for a few years before I came to law school. I had a full-time job, a side gig at the state’s largest newspaper, volunteer commitments and hobbies. Sometimes I feel stripped of that personhood here. I am instead a machine who reads and studies and outlines and color-codes. Continue reading
I still feel personally attacked by how beautiful Ithaca is.
I don’t trust summer. I’ve said it before. The heat, the mosquitoes, the humidity. The boldness of a season that blazes on, burning skin, igniting old flames, blurring deadlines and routines in simmering heat. The sunlight never seems to dim in Minnesota, clinging to the last sliver of brightness.
I’m on a plane right now, and I’m bonding with an adorable toddler in the row in front of me. Summer is like that. You’re friends with everybody, suddenly, wholeheartedly, as if the warmth and sunscreen somehow unite us all. I don’t trust summer.
My Minnesota summer has been amazing. Rife with long, meandering runs and meaningful legal work and crushes I can’t get out of my head.
Catching feelings was inevitable, really. I swear the sun and sand and heat and humidity conspired against me. Summer, as usual, is beguiling, cunning. It wanted me to feel things, damn it. Continue reading
It was the kind of frigid January day where my breath seemed to suspend in the air longer than usual, droplets hovering, obscuring everything around me for a moment too long. OK, maybe that was just him.
I walked into his palatial house, high ceilings and curved banister towering above me, even above him. He was tall. I was into it, of course.
He told me that his mom might come home at some point while I was there that afternoon. If she saw me, he told me to tell her I was a medical student in his class. That I was about to take the boards, too.
I’m a law student. I have bachelor’s degrees in journalism and writing. I managed social media and marketing at a museum for three years after undergrad.
I do not study medicine. I am not in his class. Continue reading
My box of beloved cards feat. the stack of letters from my pen pal, who’s a friend from undergrad.
I said I needed to deposit a check; that was it. The store with all the cute cards and crop tops and feminist trinkets and houseplants was just a block away. I *needed* a snarky pin for my backpack, maybe one of those velvet shirts with corset-style lacing up the front. A party shirt. Yes. I needed a party shirt.
That’s why I was walking a block out of the way to the store where the cool, edgy birthday cards also happen to be. Yes.
I didn’t buy a single crop top, feminist trinket or houseplant, but I bought a birthday card for a man I really, really liked. The kind of crush that had overwhelmed me.
As I walked to the store to make a questionable decision, naturally, I gave myself the kind of pep talk I reserve for such situations: You’re amazing! You’re out here doing the damn thing! You’re in law school!
It’s perhaps a balancing of factors: I reminded myself of all the things I was doing right to balance an ill-advised walk blocks out of the way to buy a $5 birthday card for a man who had treated me like an option at best.
I had let it last for too long, of course, drafting increasingly elaborate excuses for his behavior, the kind that stretch reality and anxiety and hurt into a pale taffy of emotions, one that has been tugged too far, too long. All the sweetness had gone away. Continue reading
The full moon illuminates my room, its edges softened by a thin layer of clouds. Moonlight isn’t as harsh here, as if it doesn’t want to startle me; it just wants me to think, meditate, reflect. Maybe, it wants me to dwell. I’m good at dwelling, overstaying my welcome in my own thoughts.
I leave the ceiling-to-floor-length curtains open. I’m getting up early enough that it’ll still be dark when I leave — the kind of darkness that wakes you up gently, distant lights nudging you into a new day. This past week in London was like that: nudging me to adventure on my own, do whatever I want to do.
It was the perfect way to end 2017 and enter 2018, capping a year of dramatic, somewhat daring changes and starting one in which I’ll continue adjusting to law school and exploring what I could do as a lawyer. Continue reading
The quiet in the law library pulses almost — the kind of silence that asserts itself. I want to be like it, I sometimes think: unapologetic, ruthless, unwavering. It’s a bit extra in the best possible way.
Silence like it used to suffocate me. I wanted to fill it with people and stories and questions and words. Anything.
Since starting law school in August, I’ve gravitated to the quiet, letting it swallow me, or maybe “embrace” is the better, gentler word.
But this past year has been anything but gentle. There is something about actively taking control of my time and energy that still feels a little dangerous — like the time I told my parents I was going to the neighboring town to play tennis when I was 17, but I really went to see the boy I liked at the time. (Sorry, Mom.)
That’s what I did this year. A lot of cool, scary shit.
I got into my top-choice law school. I quit my first full-time, post-grad job. I went to Europe for 10 days and visited three countries. I battled my insurance company because it didn’t think my IUD was a medical necessity (and won). Continue reading
The fourth floor student lounge offers a beautiful view of Iowa City.
I keep thinking I should get a curtain for my kitchen window, something teal or maybe patterned like a picnic basket. I imagine light peeking through the folds of fabric. Maybe I’ll sew the curtain myself, I think, dreaming of spare time and the fancy Singer sewing machine I once used in middle school.
But I like watching the light shift from season to season, shadows softening in the fall. Already-orange leaves blow from the trees into my open windows, wedging their way between the glass and screen, as if they know they’ll soon enough dissolve in snow. It’s October, and I’ve officially started outlining everything I’ve learned in law school this first semester. There are wayward exceptions and clauses and cases that don’t fit into my bullet points yet.
There’s a certain grad school loneliness for which I want to insert a footnote, the kind of thing that doesn’t catch your attention right away, but hell, you know you’ll have to deal with it eventually. I find myself retreating to my carrel in the law library before, between and after classes, the hum of fluorescent lights and rustling papers my company in the maze. Continue reading
There’s something steadying about braiding my hair, about trusting myself to somehow hold it all together. Shaking it out, I watch my curls fall in every direction. As I braid, I fold structure into something that simply doesn’t have it.
Five weeks into my first semester of law school, I find myself seeking out structure in unexpected spaces. I focus for a moment on twisting my hair into a crown, tucking in loose strands throughout the day, checking to see if it’s still in place.
The breadth of new information is almost dizzying, my head spinning with new terminology, Latin words, commas in places my essayist brain can’t comprehend. Focusing for a moment on something like braiding my hair, something I taught myself in middle school, is restorative in its simplicity and innateness.
As if I can do this one little thing really, really well, certainly I can get through 1L year. Continue reading