Category Archives: travel

The Bunkhouse

This past week, my sister and I drove to Idaho to pick up our other sister and cousin from the camp where they worked this summer. We intentionally made the entire trip flexible. However, we still needed a place to stay at night so once we decided on Mount Rushmore as a good stopping area, I got on my phone and found us a place to crash. We’re a bunch of students. Cheap = good. So I found us a bunkhouse where they provide little cabins with bunk beds and a shared shower house. Bring your own bedding. 

For the record, I did ask the others for their input. The bunkhouse looked fine online. I booked it and received an e-mail reminding me to bring my own bedding. 

Check-in supposedly ended at 9 pm. We planned to arrive by 8:30. I got a call at 7:30 from the manager informing me she was going home and that she’d text me the code to get into our cabin. Also, did I get the message that they did not provide bedding? (I did.)

We arrived in the dark. And by arrived I mean exited the freeway, drove for fifteen minutes on abandoned back country roads, and turned too early on the dimly lit road to the cabins. If you can call it a road. No obvious parking lot existed so even after finding the correct turn we drove on the grass to reach our cabin. 

The place was abandoned. Not another car to be seen. 

Then we entered the cabin. To quote my sister, “I did not need to check for bed bugs because I could already see the dead bugs all over the mattress.” 

Instead of a four bed bunkhouse like we expected, we got a bunk with two queen size mattresses. We did not mind sharing, but the website definitely promised four. And it wasn’t just sharing with one another. We apparently were supposed to share with an entire graveyard of moths, beetles, and spiders. 

So many spiders. I’m not afraid to kill an arachnid but even I found the spider guarding our cabin intimidating. He was easily the size of a quarter. 

Some (I won’t name names) vowed to sleep in the van. I protested that we paid for the cabin so by golly we should use it! Anyway, we were leaving early the next morning. A few hours wouldn’t hurt us. 

We then went to the shower house. At first glance, it at least appeared clean. Second glance revealed even more bugs than the cabin. Live crickets and dead beetles hung out in the sink. Spiders clung to the rafters. But what finally broke me were the moths. 

The moths lived in the toilets. 

Imagine doing your business and all of a sudden a moth comes up from between your legs. Or reaching for toilet paper and a moth flutters out with the paper. I screamed. My sisters screamed. My cousin probably screamed. 

Lest you think us heartless to our fellow campers, remember, there were no other guests. And the staff all left way early. 

I am not going to lie. We ran back to our cabin, grabbed our stuff, dodged the giant watch-spider, and drove like a bat out of hell. No destination needed. Just out.

The next place we stayed at had a hot tub and continental breakfast.

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#Didn’tFailFundamentalRights

My grades from last semester have sslllooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyyy started trickling in. Most importantly, despite all the stress the class caused me, I can officially say: I did not fail Fundamental Rights.

Actually, I got an A. Which particularly matters because out of all my classes, Fundamental Rights worried me the most.

First, it was a freshman level class. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be as a law student to fail a freshman level class? My classmates were 17 year olds who spent most of the class wrapped in fuzzy blankets, eating snacks, and catching up on gossip. In fact, on more than one occasion, the professor quit talking because you couldn’t hear him over the sound of the students talking. 

Second, I kept missing classes because the school administrators would schedule it for the same time I had other classes. Like Law of Information Technology, a way more confusing class I felt obliged to attend. Missing the first time or two left me vaguely stressed. Five weeks in a row and I was convinced I would fail Fundamental Rights. 

Third, probably because it was a freshman level class, the professors’ teaching styles…ranged considerably. The first professor said “rice” instead of “rights.” (“Human rice is the basis of our society!”) The second professor ignored my request for notes when I missed the class since she didn’t teach during the scheduled teaching times. The third professor usually ended our 3 hour class after an hour. (Appreciated, but not conducive to learning.) 

I had no idea studying abroad would leave me so expectant for pass/fail grades!


Talking About Thailand (With My Prof)

For those of you who followed this blog over the last 7 months, you know Thailand was not everything I expected. It was hard. The school did not run a great program. I never got WiFi or library access. Classes ended in May but my last final was due July 25th.

I tried explaining all this to my professor who runs the program. In fact, I wrote a list before meeting with him so I would make sure he knew exactly what I experienced. 

It went something like this:

Me: “It was very challenging. They would change the classroom without warning, cancel class randomly, change the schedule often….”

Prof: “Sounds like a very challenging experience. But what a great opportunity to experience Thailand!”

Me: “Yes, traffic was terrible. Taxi drivers constantly cheated me. My friend also studying abroad would compare notes with me, but since she was originally from Thailand, she did not experience half of what I experienced.”

Prof: “But it sounds like you made friends!”

Me: “I made, like, three friends.”

Prof: “What an opportunity for growth! So glad you had a good time.”

Me: “I did not have a good time. It was very challenging.”

Prof: “But you got to see lots of Thailand, right?”

Me: “It was very hard to schedule times to travel because the school kept changing when classes were.”

Prof: “Isn’t that just like Thai culture? What an experience. So, what kind of student should we send next?”

Me: “One that can somehow deal with the constantly changing schedule and still be organized enough to keep track of when things come due because no one will them. I don’t think you’ll find that person in law school.”

Prof: “Great! I will be sure to put them in touch.”

…I tried.


Talk Radio (AKA I Am Becoming My Dad)

As a kid, I hated talk radio. Loathed it. I could not imagine anything worse than listening to to angry old men shout at their producers for hours on end. Silence ranked above it. I could not understand why my Dad listened. 

I understand now. You can only listen to the same 12 songs on K-Love so often before you do something desperate. 

The mini-van I drive every day lacks a working CD player so that leaves the radio. And as noted above, I can only take so much of the same music. My phone isn’t smart enough to play podcasts (what my friend calls “Millennial Talk Radio.”)

So, talk radio it is. And honestly, it isn’t so bad. I feel like it gets me thinking. I also enjoy the novelty of listening to something different but well-crafted and articulated each morning/evening. It wakes up my brain and engages me in topics ranging from local road conditions to women’s soccer to national politics. 

Talk radio always seemed to be something conservatives in Wisconsin politics relied on, but I never quite understood. I think I get it now, though. We’re a state of commuters. 

And you can only listen to the same songs so often before the guy on AM radio sounds like a better idea.

I guess my main point is…I think I am sorry, Dad, for all those years of thinking you were crazy? Also, help, I’m turning into my Dad. 


25: A Year In Review

I am spending my last day as a 25-year-old working on a Law & Information Technology final for a class that ended in May. It feels oddly symbolic–and utterly depressing. 

I also work today. This too feels symbolic. I spent most of the first half of my year in this office crafting my law review note and trying to squeeze work hours in while juggling twenty other commitments. 

Neither memory leaves me feeling particularly joyful. 25 is not a year I would willingly repeat. 

Colorado, Madison, Thailand, Madison some more. The real takeaway I see from 25 is that the second year of law school is somehow more terrible than first year. And I didn’t even think that was possible. 

I suppose I grew as a writer and traveler this past year. I overcame a lot. I think I also failed a lot. Or at least I fell flat on my face more times than I care to count. 

I am not sure what hopes to have for 26. It will cover one more year of law school. It feels a bit like one more year to ‘get through,’ which I don’t want to be the case. I love birthdays because they mean a new start. But with 2L year still nipping at my heels and 3L year looming ahead, I feel more braced than expectant. 

But you know what? Here is to 26. As my favorite poet, Tanner Olson, says: hope doesn’t let the story end.

And another year of law school is not the end of the story. So, that is how I want to approach 26. Hopeful. Even if I am not really sure what to hope for. Because it represents a new year and a new chance to kick law school’s butt. Or at least try not to let it totally kick mine. 


The Missing Final

Thought I was done talking about Thailand? Me too. 

But guess what Thammasat University finally produced this morning? The final I never received

As in, the final due June 15 that they never sent out? Yeah, it is now due July 15.

Good thing I didn’t get around to throwing out my notes yet. (That was actually what I planned to do this weekend because who expects a final at the end of June when school has been out over a month?)

To quote my Mom, it is like I’m back being homeschooled. School never ends. You just do it all summer.


Home Sweet Home

And so the plane touched down and I arrived back in the United States after five months away. My Mom and sister met me at the airport. I was so happy to be back I almost kissed the ground. 

And then I remembered, I was in Chicago. 

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