Sunday, March 25, 2012


If you hang out on Facebook with me, you already know this. I found out on Tuesday that I got into law school at BYU.
I had an interview Tuesday with the dean of admissions for BYU's law school. I bought a new navy blue pinstripe pencil skirt in an attempt to look lawerly. I sat on the bench outside his office, braiding and unbraiding my fingers, pulling on the joints to release the tension. A girl walked past and told me that I looked nice. She said it like she knew what was about to happen.

After a few minutes of waiting, the dean opened his door and ushered me in. He directed me to a couch, where I obediently sat, but on the edge. Throughout the interview I kept sliding back inch by inch, settling in a little more. He asked me about Northwestern, about MHM, about my dad's practice. He asked where I was from and we had that awkward conversation where he knows one person who used to be from Bountiful before I was from Bountiful. And then he asked me where else I had applied to law school.

I had promised myself that if and when he asked this question, I would be upfront. I only applied to BYU this time around, because I decided to take the LSAT late, and then found out I could apply with less than a month to pull everything together. I told him if I didn't get into BYU this year, I would apply again next year, along with other schools.

And then he told me I got in.

I've had exactly one conversation like that before in my life. It was the morning Reg Gibbons called from NU to tell me I had gotten into the MFA program. I had applied last minute in July, was accepted in August, and moved to Chicago in September.

I didn't tell the dean of admissions that. I thanked him. I may have said "Wow," but I know I thanked him.
I spent years preparing for a PhD program and months preparing applications. I keep muttering to myself that if I had known law school would be this easy, I would have applied years ago.

But that's a lie. I can look at my life and honestly say that there wasn't a time before now when I would have considered or been prepared for law school, or for the life that comes after law school. An MA in English lit was a challenge I could tackle without fear of failing, although I came pretty close. An MFA was difficult, but I did it and I'm more proud of that thesis and a few research papers there than anything I've done in my life to date. If I had chosen law school six or seven years ago, it would have been the past of least resistance. Now I can't think of anything more terrifying or difficult or satisfying to do with my future.

There is the sting and the sadness right now that all of my best laid plans have been abandoned, that getting into law school was so simple when getting into PhD programs were a lesson in working hard for a one-page rejection letter (or worse--the rejection email). But I also know that law school is a blessing, that it will be a new way to think and to write and that I'll come away from it ready to do what I'm supposed to do. When I said I would follow whatever path the Lord had in store for me, I never even thought it would be this one, but I'm ready to walk it.

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.

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