Sunday, March 18, 2012


I know that thinking about blogging doesn't count, but sometimes I wish it did. Sometimes I wish I could just think through these things and skip the process of having to write them out before someone else can comment on them. Does anyone else feel this way?
I've made some interesting decisions. And by "interesting," I mean unexpected. And by "unexpected," I mean what everyone else thought I was going to do 10 years ago is happening now. Could I be more vague? I took the LSAT. I've been working at a law firm in Provo, doing mostly document prep, and realized that I could be a lawyer. So I took the LSAT, but without really intending to apply for law school. The day before the LSAT I decided to check what range of scores BYU is looking for in an applicant, and discovered that I could still apply for law school for the upcoming school year. I fought that a little, but in the end, I applied.

I'll find out in the next month or so if I'm in, but I'm not terribly concerned, because for the first time I have a back-up plan to grad school (or maybe in this case grad school is the back up). If I don't get in, I'll be annoyed with the amount of time, energy, and money spent testing and applying, then go back to teaching and working for a year, and then try again next year, along with a round of PhD applications.

I've received a few responses to this new development. The first is "How many degrees do you have again?" The second is "Are you still going to write?" The third is unwavering support. And the fourth is the response I expected, the response I would have given another writer: "Sell out."

I'm grateful for the unwavering support, although I'm concerned that this is not yet earned. I can prep a petition, but could I really argue in a court? Or work with clients? I'm also a little concerned that some of this support comes from the aforementioned law firm, where they are convinced I want to practice divorce law. I'm not sure I could handle a lifetime of other people's marital problems. I would like my own marital problems (not problems that lead to divorce, but when a client is my age and on her second divorce, I'd like to ask her to slow down and give the rest of us a chance). I do want to practice family law, and I will practice divorce law, but hopefully I'll be able to follow in my father's footsteps for at least a little while and learn how to put families together through adoption law.

As for the first and second responses, this would be my third graduate degree ("I'm going for a full set") and I'm definitely still going to write, although it won't always be poetry. The secret about lawyers that they don't show you on whatever legal drama your grandma watches is that lawyers spend most of their time writing and researching, which are two things I happen to be very, very (very) good at. But I suspect that my mind is trained to write poetry and I will write poetry. Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams and a host of other people wrote poetry while in a job that didn't pronounce them poets. I hope I can follow them.

And finally, the sell out. I suppose I just answered that to a certain extent, but I realized that I have always accepted the position of the poet in academia--but who says that poetry is the right of the academic? A VIP (very important poet)--at least, one of my VIPs--taught me that art is as evident in the everyday as it is in the academic world, and I think poetry lives in both places. There is a language in the law that I'm fascinated, that I could learn to love, just as I love the language of literature and criticism and everything I've devoted my mind to for the past 10 years. Another VIP taught me that a poem is an argument, and the law is argument. They're not as far apart as we'd like to think. And if I can bring them closer together, at least in my own career, I think I can be happy and make some difference to someone.
I keep thinking about that Jay Hopler quote I keep on my blog. I heard him say it right before I moved to Chicago, and I've held on to it. "Language has to be beautiful in a way the world cannot be." I still think that's true, but I also wonder if that limits the work language can do. I am honestly approaching this new endeavor as a writer--you can read my essay if you don't believe me. The law requires specific language--we're always discussing what language needs to be incorporated into a document at the office--which makes it all the more intriguing. What if you had to write a poem with a specific word or phrase for it to function as a poem? How would you approach that? How would it change the very definition/essence of what a poem is? Is that why we think the law is a place for the sell outs, the failed poets? What if it's a new challenge, a way to make arguments that confronts the very truths we embrace in poetry?

Maryn is home from her dance, so my late night rambling is at an end. She had fun and she looks beautiful in her painted t-shirt and red skinny jeans. And I blogged, so tonight must be a success.


Maryn said...

so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow...

I love you, sister.

Kristen said...

So much depends on red skinny jeans...

Anna B said...

"where are our divorces?"

eg, you are totally incredible. this is a beautiful blog post. you are not and never could be a sell out. also, and unrelated, academia is not the epitome of not selling out, in my opinion. like you say in this post--it's about how you do what you do. it's about making a difference. not all academics do that. i think you'll be so fantastic at law (as you would be in anything you do). and maybe a phd is still in your future.

i am SO happy that you'll be at BYU!! i'm hoping to make my way there--wait for me!

plus, this way at least one of us will make some money.

Lekili said...

Call it whatever you want...I think its fantastic that you have been accepted into the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at BYU!
I have a feeling you are going to rock!

You will always be a poet at heart. Maybe with a law degree you can still eat while writing your volumes! I for one am waiting eagerly.


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