Author Archives: holtfan

Future Nun In Denial

Last Sunday my Catholic roommate took me to mass at her church. The new University Catholic Center on State Street is beautiful and includes lovely, soaring spaces, interesting mosaics, and ornate bookshelves without enough books. (I did spot a few works by C.S. Lewis, though, so it passes muster in the end.) 

My other (non-Catholic) roommate also came along. She was a bit slap-happy from lack of sleep. When we walked into the sanctuary, she looked at the large mosaic of Jesus and loudly said, “Jesus wasn’t white!”

I was more puzzled by the peacock designs everywhere. I still haven’t gotten an answer about why those are a thing. 

Then the priest began speaking and he sounded just like Thor.  

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To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to what he was saying because I was so distracted by that. There was guest priest also present who looked like a movie actor, but I couldn’t remember which one. Maybe Rufus Sewell. 

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(I’m pausing here in annoyance because that isn’t what he looked like at all but I can’t figure out which actor he does look like. It was someone villainous. And dark haired.) 

The service ended with a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. I wanted to know how an archangel could also be a saint so I asked a priest (not the one who sounded like Thor or the one who looked like a movie actor but a third one.) He gave me a half answer about how the word saint = santos = holy and then told me I should become a nun.

This statement came so abruptly that for a few seconds I wondered if I had stumbled into a charismatic Catholic church and if this was a word from the Lord. Then he suggested my roommates also become nuns. And the girls around us waiting their turn to talk to him. In short, all young women should become nuns. He went on for some time about the benefits of celibacy. 

I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’m probably not going to become a nun.

Catholicism does run in my veins, though. One of my ancestors was the child of a Catholic priest and his housekeeper. I told this to my roommate but she didn’t get it. She kept asking how a priest could have a child. I didn’t feel like explaining that one. 

Overall, I enjoyed my experience attending a Catholic mass. They gave out dark chocolate at the end. I don’t particularly want to go back, though I enjoyed the theological discussion (and the chocolate.) Also I can also now answer people who ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend with, “I’m supposed to become a nun.” 

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I use my sister as an excuse to eat spinach

Whenever I do something healthy, I blame my sister. 

People: “Spinach as a snack?”
Me: “Yeah, my sister eats kale.”

People: “Did you just eat the skin on that kiwi?” 
Me: “Yeah, my sister does it and she is hardcore.” 

People: “You walk to class every day?”
Me: “Yeah, you should see how far my sister bikes to get to her class.”

People: “Did you just go for a run?” 
JK, I don’t run. My sister does, though. 

My sister inspires me. If Anna does it, I assume it is healthy and I should probably do it too. 

Usually, though, I just use her as an excuse. Whenever I feel people judging me, I mention Anna. “Oh, you think I am being healthy? Ha! If you only knew my sister…”


Reformation Day Adventures

Happy 500th’s Reformation day, everyone!

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It may only be 9 am, but my day has already gotten off to an…interesting start! I attended a Lutheran church last Sunday but was disappointed when no one mentioned it was Reformation Sunday. After all, this is the 500th anniversary. I assumed every church would celebrate!  An announcer did mention, though, that they would have Bible study on Tuesday morning, “actual Reformation Day.” 

He literally said “actual Reformation Day,” so I showed up to Bible study this morning assuming the pastor would at least mention it. But…

Nothing. Not one word. Not even a very good Bible study, either. The pastor read from the hymnal and that was about it. Afterwards, he let his dog out of the office and the dog promptly peed on my shoes and then licked it up.  No one found this strange. 

Throughout the study, the 20 somethin’ year old guy sitting next to me kept pulling out a legit, cotton handkerchief and loudly blowing his nose. I am pretty sure he had a cold. It added to the oddity of the situation. 

With a such a morning, I expect great things from the rest of this day! 


Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

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A man is accused of committing murder, and only his wife can save him. However, she has her own agenda and has decided to become a witness…for the prosecution. 

Witness for the Prosecution is an Alfred Hitchcock movie based off an Agatha Christie play. I love those two and had high expectations for this film. However, at least initially, instead of the twists and turns I expected, the movie primarily revolved around an old, fat lawyer yelling at his nurse. 

It eventually picked up as the movie went on but often veered off track with random side stories. There is a great story here, but it is too padded with “extras” to be truly entertaining. 

However, the ending was brilliant and unexpected and everything I hoped for in Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. I found the fat lawyer endearing, though most of the other characters were annoying. This is one I would go back to and re-watch, but I don’t necessarily recommend if you don’t already love black and white movies with veering plots. 


College v. Law School: Office Hours

Professors’ office hours confuse me. I think I used them wrong during my undergraduate. Either that or Bryan College had an exemplary open door policy. Office hours here at the law school baffle me somewhat. 

You see, during my senior year of high school I read an article that said graduate students should make sure to stop by and chat with their academic advisers on a regular basis. I figured if that held true for graduate students, it ought to hold doubly true for undergraduate ones. In college, I visited my academic adviser at least once a week. As long as his door was open, I marched in and struck up a conversation. Topics ranged from Starbucks ice cream to Biblical restitution to the state of Virginia politics. I went by myself; I dragged friends with me. It never occurred to me this was unusual. I built relationships with all my professors in a similar way, though perhaps not so specifically. Office hours, to my mind, meant an opportunity to get to know the professor outside of the classroom. 

Office hours here at the law school look somewhat different. You go in, ask your very classroom-specific question, and move on. You might fit some small talk in, but dropping by just to drop by is an alien and discouraged idea. 

In a sense, I get why. Even my smallest law school class rivals the combined student numbers of the Politics and History department at Bryan College. If all of us wanted to drop by for a chat, the professors would have no time to do anything else. They aren’t my academic adviser. In the big picture, they churn out a lot of future lawyers, and I am just one more. I get it…

Yet it still throws me. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced Bryan College was unusual. The school set a policy that sought to value each student and each interaction with them. Whether they always succeeded is up for debate. However, being in an academic setting away from it, I am doubly grateful for it. Bryan College gave me quite a sense of entitlement! 

What does this mean for me here law school? If I want individualized attention, I will just need to put a little bit more effort in. I am sure it will be easier to find specific mentors once I have more direction. Until then, it is up to me to seek out the people who can help me find that direction and sit in those stale office hours until I get it! 


Midterm Musings

I accidentally gave up coffee again. I really didn’t mean to, but here a week has gone by and I haven’t had a drop. I used to drink at least three cups a day. There is something comforting in the thought that I can fall out of my bad habits quite as easily as my good ones.

The problem started with midterms. I had my first ever law school exam on Monday. The Thursday before, I started throwing up and blamed a 24 hour bug. By Saturday, I acknowledged that it was probably nerves (and possibly coffee withdrawal.) I remained nauseous through Tuesday morning.

I have never been someone with test anxiety so it is rather embarrassing to experience it now. I find it perfectly understandable that someone else might be nervous, but me? The thought takes me down a peg.

Or six.

So goes law school. I want to blog more but attending law school is a lot like walking fast up a steep hill in high heels. I know I am getting somewhere, and I will have great calves when I get there, but in the moment I am afraid that if I try and talk about it, all you will hear are my gasps and sobs. 

My brain knows that this all part of a bigger process, but I am not sure my heart does yet. I am broken down to be built up. I will eventually reach the top of the hill and it will be worth it. However, here in the weeds, it is easy to forget that. Emotionally I feel drained. My habits, good and bad, are erratic and the thought of quitting crosses my mind at least once a day. I feel socially isolated and academically unmotivated. The future seems dim and uncertain. I have always been the girl with a goal, now my goals shift and flutter and fall apart. 

Everyone tells me that I am normal, that this is just the way law school is. Sometimes that knowledge helps, sometimes not. After all, I did not come here to be everyone else. Yet, at the same time, it is comforting. The faculty and staff here get it. They went through this. The 2 and 3Ls may smirk knowingly, but at the end of the day, they survived. I will too. 

Amidst my  angst and uncertainty, there still remains an unshakable confidence. I like being here. I am happy. I am challenged. I don’t want to quit (usually.) The law is fun and I am learning interesting things. This is a world I enjoy being part of. I like the fast-paced learning style and the substantial amount of stuff I know now that I did not know two months ago. I can see my progress quite easily.

The disconnect comes when I turn around and try to see my future. People at the law school always ask me what kind of law I want to practice, and then tell me that no one actually knows anyway, so if you do know, you don’t know, so don’t stress. Simple, right? If only. It is a weird mix of “don’t have a plan” but simultaneously “try everything so you can make a plan.” Oh, but also, “don’t overwhelm yourself.” Yet while not overwhelming yourself, “MAKE SURE YOU GET GOOD GRADES.” Ahhhh, but there is a curve, so statistically, you won’t make good grades. But that is okay, because everybody gets a job eventually. (Probably.) Now go figure out what kind of law you want to practice, so that you can network in that area. But remember, don’t have a plan.  

Is it any wonder the law is full of alcoholics? 

In this mess, I got nauseous and stressed and accidentally gave up coffee. Now I think I should make a concerted effort to stay off it. The last thing I need is another stimulus. We’ll see how long this good intention lasts!  With the way life has been going, I may be downing six cups tomorrow. 

I think I will make it a little longer than that, though. 


Badger Game!

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I had a BLAST today at the Badger Game with my brother! Who knew football could be so fun to watch?