Tuesday, April 24, 2012

you´re not drunk if you can´t stay in your lane

The reason why I love bad days is because the next day is always so much better. Sometimes, you feel like the sky has exploded and only you know (Age of Rockets). Or according to Jack´s Mannequinn, "alone in a crowded room." I firmly believe that life functions on a very carefully calculated balance and contradiction, where unless that balance is somehow maintained via whatever force, everything would totally fall apart. To be honest, I cant quite erase the images provided by The Adjustment Bureau when I think about whatever or whomever controls the balance. There is this quaint little tale in Spanish about a cicada and an ant. In the summer, the ant works really hard to store up for the winter and the cicada mocks him from his lounge chair laying in the sun. The cicada explains to the ant that he must enjoy the summer! The ant retorts, when you have no food in the winter, don´t come cryin´ to me because you should have worked during the summer! I´m sure there is some fable in every language along these lines, where the moral of the story is "don´t build castles in the sky" literal translation from Spanish. This is a balance that I am trying to grasp fully and the entire law school application process juxtaposed with living in Madrid has been operation teach Stephanie to appreciate the now AND prepare for the future simultaneously. I can confidently say that as I look back over the hours I spent pouring over research, websites, books, advice columns, though I am sure it prepared me in an inmeasurable way to make the decision that I did, Pepperdine wasn´t on my beautiful color-coded Excel spreadsheet. I don´t know what the faculty to student ratio is, or how many volumes are in the library but that doesn´t mean it wasn´t an informed decision, because it absolutely certainly was. It´s just that, sometimes the BEST things in life, you cannot plan. And when you look back, you will see that you really had planned it all along and it all followed that plan better than you could have ever imagined. And that my friends, is a truly spectacular thing. Life is unpredictable, ridiculous and beautiful all rolled into one mess. Who would have it any other way?

"Well, you´re not brave if you still keep the letters
and you're not sane if you don't want to get better
and you're not drunk if you can´t stay in your lane
 Well you're not awake but you haven't been sleeping
 and you hate God but you don't believe in him
and you're not scared but you still got you're eyes closed
the sky explodes, and only you know
Well it's not fixed if you love it broken
 you're not lost but you're missing your exit
 and you're not scared but you still got your eyes closed
I want you to worry when I don't call you back."
-Avada Kedavra, Age of Rockets

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

in awe of what's in front of me

“California, guilded crowns.
Mile markers counting down.
Somewhere down, down in the ocean of sound, we’ll live in slow motion
And be free
The door’s unlocked and opened
The door’s unlocked and opened.”
–Death Cab for Cutie, Doors Unlocked and Open

Bear with me here, because this is a loooong post. Posted first on my blog about my experience living in Spain, www.defineyourdestination.blogspot.com but equally applicable here. 

I sincerely hope you can find the time to read every word.
First: the headline—I will be attending Pepperdine University School of Law in the fall! Now, allow me to fill you in on how WE came to this decision and the revolution it took to get me there. Or, I should say, here.
Wow, what an incredible and ridiculous trip this has been and these past two weeks have indeed been particularly ridiculous. I was able to accomplish quite a bit in a short, short period of time. The first few days I distinctly felt like I had only revealed that I had more questions than I did answers and more and more I felt an increasing pressure to make some sacrifice on what I wanted for these upcoming years. I didn’t feel like I found a school that “had everything I wanted.” No, I felt like that didn’t exist. Instead, I was choosing which things I was willing to give up and which things I wasn’t going to compromise on. This was a suffocating feeling, but at least the decision was slowly approaching and becoming clearer. I ended up applying to 26 law schools and I was overwhelmed with blessings at the many, many schools that offered me a place in their 2012 incoming class of future JD students. I never expected to get into so many places and in the end, the great choices that I had increased the difficulty of my decision.
         The burning question this entire decision process has been, “Where do you want to live and practice?” And, flatly, I do not know. I simply do not know the answer to that question. Where you want to live and practice is incredibly important for where you attend law school. That city is where you establish a network, where the most alumni live, where your school will have the most connections for job placement, the state where you will be the most prepared to take the bar and not to mention, the city you are committing to live in for at least three years and most likely through your first job or two.
             I need to rewind. One of the reasons why I have always loved Death Cab For Cutie (a band) is because of Ben Gibbard’s (the lead singer and lyricist) remarkable ability to capture this idea of never quenching wanderlust. Many of their songs discuss “falling in love with an open door” and it is their “You Are A Tourist” that this blog was named after. Read its lyrics in full and then I’ll explain why it’s been so strongly on my heart throughout this entire last few months journey.

“This fire, grows higher…
When there’s a burning in your heart, an endless yearning in your heart, build it BIGGER than the sun, LET IT GROW.
When there’s a burning in your heart, don’t be alarmed…
When there’s a doubt in your mind, ‘cause you’re thinking all the time, framing rights into wrongs- MOVE ALONG.
When there’s a doubt within your mind, when there’s a burning in your heart and you think you’ll burst apart, well, there’s nothing to fear. Save the tears. When there’s a burning in your heart and you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born, it’s time to go and define your destination. There’s so many different places to call home.
Cause when you find yourself a villain in the story you have written, its plain to see that sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemption, would you agree? If so, please show me.
This fire, grows higher…”

Those last few months in Tuscaloosa, I felt like a tourist in this city where much of who I am now was born. I knew that fire to get out of the city and dream chase and live in Europe for a year was something real that had to be pursued. My plan after studying in Spain was to enjoy my senior year, retake the LSAT, live in Europe for a year and then go to law school. It would be a boldfaced lie to say that at times that plan has seems farfetched, out of reach and absurd. But hindsight is always crystal clear, and it’s such a blessing to look back on the tears cried over missing application deadlines or the disappointment with my LSAT score and think, “woah, it all has gone exactly according to plan.” And it really has.
        My months in Spain have taught me many things and in many ways, the most significant thing I have learned has been about myself. Though the fairly recently developed Brown nomadic lifestyle is now deeply ingrained in me, my definition of home has been crystalized.
Home is not Roswell or Tuscaloosa or York or Madrid.
Home is not in Irvine or seat 17F.
Home is a strange combination of all of these places.
Home is in the people that I love that revitalize me, encourage me, bless me, make me happy, make me laugh until my stomach hurts, allow me to call them venting, hold me when I am crying, that read my emails, that listen intently to details of my day, who Facebook stalk my photo albums and who I can pick up with wherever it may be that we left off.
Home is a collection of these places because the people that I love are spread out all over the world. Literally. And so, as for where I want to live and practice law? Well, I want to be a little closer to “home.” That is, the definition of home according to Stephanie Brown. Augustana has a song where he belts, "Do you want to see it, the place where I am free? It lives INSIDE me."

The morning of April 6th, I slept in for the first time in weeks. I woke up to Dad having read all my hours of research and all the brochures and viewbooks I had collected over the last few months. I listened intently as he was on the phone explaining to a friend that the day before after touring two schools fifteen minutes away from his apartment in Orange County, I had crossed them both off the list. He snuck in a few words of disappointment to the man that was the best man in my parents wedding saying, “I would really like her to come to school out here, but it just doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.” I left to lay by the pool and call a friend to explain, whether it was NYC or Miami, they were both incredible options, but they were both so far away from “home”. I was hell-bent though on not sacrificing a better education and better option for my future just because I have friends and family in California. All these thoughts about home and proximity to people that I love and need were not separate from this decision. As ratios, percentages, dollar signs, images and descriptions were all swirling around in my head like a broken radio I couldn’t turn off in my mind, behind all that were these feelings of being sick of being SO far away from everyone.

Friday afternoon, Dad and I were out running errands and we were having a discussion on “THE DECISION.” I had been leaning pretty heavily to New York Law School and imagining walking the halls of the sleek, new building and sharing with strangers on a plane that I live in Manhattan. It’s certainly a dream to live in NYC but after further research and review, University of Miami is just a better fit. Miami Law has everything I could possibly want and more. Though large and with a huge faculty to student ratio, the clinic offerings, the academic programs, the Latin population, the study abroad options, the notoriety, the connections and alumni network are all ideal. And before we knew it, Dad and I had reached a decision. Miami.

We ran into Best Buy for a few things and when we returned to the car, I had an email saying “CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve been accepted to Pepperdine University School of Law!”
I just kept repeating, “DAD!!” I had no other words.
This changed everything.
I delayed my flight to Europe for a week to fly back to LA to see Pepperdine and attend an Admitted Student’s Open House to make my final decision.
At church on Easter, this was my most exciting news to share with anyone and everyone who would listen. Each person made it clear their preference for where my tuition check should go. And who can blame them. Pepperdine has epic things to offer and being accepted feels like a dream. Feels like a life that isn’t actually mine.

After a full day of the Admitted Student’s Open House, it was even clearer than before that Pepperdine is the place for me. Several really incredible interactions took place. I spoke with students who told me they are praying for the incoming class and one girl looked me dead in the eye and said, “You’ll make the right decision and God will lead you here, because Pepperdine is a place where God leads people.” When we met the dean and she introduced herself to us, Dad said, “Well, I think she’s decided to come here!” The dean shrieked in excitement and gave me a hug. Completely thrown off, I stood there, thinking, “Wow, this is the community I am being welcomed by and I can’t wait to get back here.” It was a powerful day and I am so confident that this is the right decision.

I seem to be incapable of finding words profound enough to explain how my blood feels like it is running smoother in my veins. I am incredibly confident that Pepperdine will nurture, feed and build my dreams in a way that no other community would be capable of doing and its such an exciting thought to know the steps that lie ahead may be hard work, but are on the exact path I have been envisioning. Now, its time to go back to Madrid and enjoy my last few months before I sell my blood to the library. I’ve got a new pep in my step feeling like the doors are unlocked and open. I can’t wait for these next few months to be the best yet.

“I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me.” –Empire of the Sun

Looking back on a conversation I had several weeks ago with my boss in Spain, I said, “Pray that I see the name of the school in the clouds.” I can honestly say, it really did feel like God’s answer was indeed that clear. I cannot thank you enough for the prayers, support, encouragement and awesomeness that you all have offered me along the way. I simply could not be here without you.

And you’ll have a HOME in Malibu in the fall!