The Best Laid Plans

I got my official acceptance letter from the school on Friday followed by a binder of welcome information on Saturday. Definitely the most information that I've received from any of the schools. I did appreciate the t-shirt from DePaul though. I looked through the paperwork and noticed that I have until July 6th to have my deposit received. Given that the earliest that I could mail it is Monday that is completely impossible. Mail to Alaska, as evidenced by when I received my acceptance letter, takes at least 7-9 days from whenever it is mailed in the states. Same goes the other way. I think I'll call them and ask for an extension, because that is just impossible. I don't want to mail my acceptance until after I've already tried to negotiate my financial aid. That means there is no time for a letter of negotiation. Perhaps an e-mail plea or a phone call so that I can get an immediate sense of whether I will get any aid. I'm sure they won't give me any more aid after I have sent in a deposit.

I also need to decide whether I want to go down early enough that if I want to establish residency for 2L and 3L years I will qualify with enough time in the state. As an Alaskan resident I could probably get a clerkship if I maintain my Alaskan residency until after graduation, but I'd have to pay a bunch more in tuition if I don't become a local resident. Would a clerkship be worth 20k in extra tuition for years 2 and 3?

Hubby waivers between hating the idea of moving and resignedly accepting it. He knows it would be better for me to be busy and being near his family will be better for me than being by myself or in Anchorage with my family. He probably won't be there for too much of school anyway. He is thinking his deployment will be fiscal year '08, which starts in October. But if he doesn't leave until say December, he won't get back until the following December to March time frame in which case I'll be 1/2 way done with school and only have another 1.5 years to go. This makes him feel better about it. It just makes me freak out. He's been my best friend since freshman year of college, even before we were dating. I don't know how I'll handle the stress of law school without him.

Move or no move, either way, we've decided to take advantage of being in Alaska while we can. Even if I'm not in school, this will probably be our last summer together here for awhile if he's off playing Army. For our 3rd wedding anniversary we're taking an early trip. It always turns out that we have holiday leave from work over July 4th weekend so we do something early for our anniversary and save our personal leave for later. So we're going to drive to Valdez, take a cruise to see the whales, glaciers, puffins and other wildlife, go on a hike to see the Bridal Veil Falls and spend a night camping on the Denali highway. It should be a fun trip. Valdez is one of my favorite places in Alaska and it's somewhere that we've never been together. I will enjoy sharing it with him. We'll still go out to dinner together on the actual day of our Anniversary, but this trip will be the main celebration. Enjoying a combination of outdoors, nature, wildlife and a balance of camping and hotels so as to not stress us out too much will be good. It will be an intro to camping as a couple which should be interesting. One night can't hurt too much even if I'm not very outdoorsy.

In preparation for the trip we tried to buy a tent today. We spent an hour and a half in the store today. One of the nice things about going to a local gear shop rather than a big retailer like Outdoorman's Warehouse is the personalized service that you get. We learned more than I ever wanted to know about tents and fabrics and we set up two different models in the store to see wether we liked them. They won't let you leave the store without having set it up. One of the tests of a good tent match is apparently whether it is intuitive enough to be set up correctly without reference to the directions. Hubby being a naturally outdoorsy Eagle Scout took the lead while I dumbly looked on. I helped when I could, but listening to him talk to the salesperson was like listening to a foreign language. I had no idea what they were talking about for the most part and in the end hubby left with a tent on hold to go home and sleep on it. I just think that the blue one with the metallic red poles looks better than the yellow and beige one with the silvery poles, but I'll be glad if he's happy. I don't really care about the tent.


Paying for It

Sooner or later I was going to have to figure out how to pay for law school. Up until now school was a remote possibility or the schools I was getting into were offering me gobs of money. I have a feeling this won't be the case at any school that I actually decide to attend. The mere cost of moving from AK is a staggering amount, 5k minimum and topping out at 10k if we ship the car and take all of our stuff. I'd almost rather pay less and spend that money on all new stuff once we're there. As a matter of fact I'd almost rather sell everything, fly down on miles, live with relatives and spend nothing to move. Not reasonable considering that I would never be able to pare down my clothes to two suitcases let alone get rid of my wedding album, nice dishes or my 800 thread-count sheets.

Does anybody know whether financial aid is negotiable? Has anybody had any luck convincing a school to offer you scholarships when none were previously offered, especially this late in the cycle? Fat chance. I know. Well then, here's another question, I know that for undergrad there are scholarships everywhere you turn, from writing a new commercial jingle to poetry contests to female engineering scholarships (my personal favorite); do these exist for law school? Or is it all just loans, debt or savings wipe out? I will definitely be trolling the archives of frugal law students: Frugal Law Student, Running With Scissors and Laws of Finance for advice. it's not that I totally can't afford school, but having a savings account and an emergency fund feels really good. Being able to make my Roth IRA grow is also nice. Wiping out 10k to move to school, followed by $26,320 for just tuition for a year is a hard pill to swallow especially when taken with the one-two punch of the loss of one income (mine) and the serious decrease of another (hubby's, Army doesn't pay as well). It all reminds me of a scene in the movie White Christmas. The characters scheme up a way to do something nice for the old man who taught them how to peel a potato in the Army, the forgotten general. When Danny Kaye asks Bing Crosby what it's all going to cost the reply is the now classic: "Somewhere between ouch and POING!" That's exactly how I feel right now.


Mind Over Mattress

One aspect of going to law school that I'm dreading is the fact that at some point or another I'm going to have to become a better person at time management. I am a night owl through and through. During my undergraduate years a 9:15am class was considered ungodly early and I switched out of Calculus III to correspondence half-way through the semester in order to save my grade after having missed most of the 8am classes. Having a job which I have to attend every day at 8 am is ok once I get into a routine, but try getting me up any earlier than 7:45am and you'll have trouble on your hands. Getting up at 7:45 gives me enough time to put on my laid out clothes, do hair and face and drive to work squeaking into my cube on the dot. I live a mere 5 minutes away by car. No amount of good thoughts the night before has ever been able to get me up in time to be a morning exerciser, breakfast eater, or fancy make-up wearer. I know that I'll need to be more disciplined in law school and it's something I dread. I currently use a combination of my alarm clock with its two alarms, my husbands alarm clock, my travel alarm clock and my cell phone set to ring in the other room and yet I still got to work at 5 minutes past today. Hubby on the other hand wakes at 7, eats a healthy breakfast, watches the news and then rides his bike to work quite faithfully. *sigh* It's only an extra 45 minutes a day, boy wouldn't it make a big difference if I could do that.

I saw this gadget on Popgadget today and thought, "Aha, I need one of those." Designers Sofie Collin and Gustav Lanber have developed The Carpet Alarm Clock, which only goes off when you get up and put both feet on it, but I would still probably find a way to flop back onto my pillow after deactivating the latest alarm in my armada. Must be more disciplined, must enlist hubby's help. Unfortunately every time he tries to wake me he ends up messing up his routine and being late as well as getting snapped at by me. *sigh* I think the first step must be going to bed when I am tired not when we are tired. I always read a book at night before bed and that means that I am usually asleep 45 minutes after we head to bed and thus 45 minutes after he is asleep. Maybe that is where my mystical 45 minutes can come from. Either I head to bed 45 minutes earlier and start reading (aka shutting off my brain from the day) or I cut out reading. Tough choice...


Hitting the Open Road in a Semi?

Moving costs an arm and a leg, especially from Alaska. Gone are the days when Hubby could fit everything he owned into his 1991 Dodge Spirit and hit the open road. We have accumulated, first through gifts (people feeling sorry for us then the wedding), then inheritance (a whole house worth), now actual purchasing (two incomes, no kids) a 3 bedroom house full of stuff. Albeit there are just the two of us so we are using bedrooms two and three as an office and workout rooms respectively. Our dining room is also empty save for a china cabinet full of misc. things that I don't want to dust. We could probably pair down a bit. But, since I wasn't expecting to move this year I have recently acquired some real furniture. Not the typical mismatched Salvation Army stuff, but a real sofa and chairs. *sigh*

This little rant is in response to recent realizations I've made. In trying to make the best decision possible about this move I've been investigating movers, car transportation, how to move cats. It's all quite overwhelming. Probably around 10k just to move our stuff, almost worth ditching it all for cash and re-buying. Then we have to move the car, that's either a 5 day drive or a couple of thousand. We also have two cats, one of whom is very old and will definitely have to move by plane. Does anybody out there have good suggestions for cheap cross country moving? Already checked, PODS does not service my zip-code, not surprising. A road trip in a big ass Uhaul doesn't sound appealing, especially with gas prices today.



I received a call from the Dean of admissions at one of the schools I applied to. They are calling everybody off of the wait list to see whether they are still in a position to accept an offer before they send the wait list back to the admissions committee. She wanted to know why I wanted to apply there and basically if I was still interested. I told her my reasons for wanting to attend, family in the area, I like the school and had a good visit and she said that actually she has the authority to make a limited number of offers directly and that she would like to go ahead and offer me admission! I was floored that I basically talked my way off of the wait list. Wow! This changes things a bit.

On top of this Hubby came home yesterday and over dinner he broke the news that the Army has moved up his deployment date. We have been planning on Fy'09 which begins October 2008, now it's looking like Fy'08 which is like 3 months from now! To say the least I was upset. I went through the range of emotions really quickly and ended up crying myself to sleep for the first time in years. Poor Hubby, there is nothing that he can do about it, he's locked in until at least 2010 whether we like it or not. I definitely wasn't ready for this. But if he's going this October, school is looking like a very good option. 1L will certainly keep me busy rather than bored and feeling sorry for myself. Instead of taking the LSAT this October I might be hanging a blue star in my window.


Peer-to-Patent Project

From IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online: June 2007

"On 15 June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) opened the patent examination process for online public participation for the first time.With the consent of the inventor, the Peer-to-Patent: Community Patent Reviewpilot, developed by the New York Law School Institute for Information Law andPolicy in cooperation with the USPTO, will enable the public to submit prior artand commentary relevant to the claims of 250 pending patent applications inComputer Architecture, Software and Information Security (TC2100). This historicinitiative connects an open network of community input to the legaldecision-making process. Peer-to-Patent involves 1) review and discussion ofposted patent applications, 2) research to locate prior art references 3)uploading prior art references relevant to the claims, 4) annotating andevaluating submitted prior art, and 5) top ten references, along withcommentary, forwarded to the USPTO. The goal of the pilot is to prove thatorganized public participation can improve the quality of issued patents.Participation is open to the public -- members of the scientific community areespecially encouraged to participate by becoming a reviewer, a patentapplication facilitator, or providing a qualified patent application for openreview in the pilot."

Peer-to-Patent was also featured in the IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online MarchIssue (03.07 The Perspiration of Patenthood http://bmsmail3.ieee.org:80/u/6475/101653)


Blog Rained Out

It has rained over 4 inches this month and its only half-way through. As a result I have been rained out of my running routine and my couch to 5k plan is now stuck on week 3. In the meantime I have been inspired to do something about the 1970s wood panelling that covers most of the walls in my house. So far I have filled the cracks with Spackle in the living room and done a coat of primer. Today will be the 2nd coat of primer and tomorrow will be paint. Hopefully that will give me enough time to put the room back together on Sunday before hubby gets home at 1am Monday morning. I wanted to do something nice by working on the house while he was gone. I definitely don't want him coming home to a trashed house. Right now all of the other rooms in the house are full of furniture and books from the living room. The only room that is livable is the bedroom, although the cats no longer have any other furniture to lounge on so my bedroom sheets definitely need to go through the wash before Sunday to get the cat hair off. Even the bathroom is torn apart. As I was walking through Lowes waiting for my paint to be mixed I spotted a great brushed pewter bathroom fixture. The very last one of its kind. It being the floor model it was marked down from $60.00 to $8.72. Great I thought, cheap upgrade to the nasty gold and weird warbled glass thing currently sitting above my mirror. 10 trips for different sized screws, parts and pieces and an equal number of different wiring configurations and the fixture still isn't up. If I wire it so that the light comes on it isn't switched. If I wire it so that it is on the switch it blows the fuse when I switch it on. And if I try other combinations either the fan no longer works or the outlet doesn't work. Brother-in-law is coming over tonight to take a look. *sigh* You'd think an electrical engineer could wire up a simple bath fixture. Instead I'll stick to paint. Hopefully the rain will clear out this weekend and I'll be able to mow my foot tall lawn and weed the garden which are both growing like mad with all of the rain. Better get the house in order first. So much to do and I'm studying for Ethics and Justice and Mass Media Law and Regulation on top of it! Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. Return of regular blogging once house is usable and I've reconnected my cable Internet. Blogging from work is always a bad idea.


Portion Distortion

Some people claim that cooking for two (or more) people makes them healthier because it makes them actually cook as opposed to warming up pre-made food or eating out. I guess that is true sometimes. Lately I've found that the opposite is true. With hubby gone off to be a Lieutenant for awhile, I have been eating far smaller portions of our same normally healthy fare. Instead of cooking dinner and scooping half onto his plate and half onto mine, I am serving what I want and packaging the rest up for healthy lunches and sometimes dinner the next day as well. I guess I was eating enough to keep a 6'2" man healthy and being a 5'6" woman, that was too much for my body. With only making this minor portion size change and keeping my equivalent daily steps above 10k a day I've lost 10 lbs since he's been gone! I haven't been depriving myself at all. I guess I am cutting out some things. For instance the only reason why we have carbs at every meal (rice, pasta, or potatos) is because he adds them to every meal's plan. The type of foods I've been eating has changed slightly. Last night instead of having a steak and baked potato, I still had the steak, but added a big bowl of broccoli on the side instead. I still felt full at the end, but I was eating more South Beach and less Outback. I must remember this for when he gets back. The running might be helping too. It makes it easier to hit my daily step count on days when I run. My 20 minute runs easily add 4k steps. Now if only I didn't have another 20 lbs to lose.


Harry Potter Season is Coming

Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

I saw this quiz on Butterflyfish and thought that since the new movie and the last book come out next month this post would be timely. I agree with Butterflyfish in identifying with Hermione.


Single Army Wife

I saw Paragon to Pieces post "Belated Memorial Day Thoughts" today and it almost made me cry. I hope that she lets blogger create individual web pages for each of her posts so that I can link to them directly in the future.

The reason I was so touched is because I could relate to what she was saying. On top of this, my husband is on Active Duty until the 18th of June for training. I am having all of the typical paranoid thoughts of what could happen, etc. The problem with this particular training is that he won't have any phone access. He gave me a call when he got to the Seattle airport, but I probably won't hear from him again until he gets back. Also, in typical Army fashion, they refuse to communicate with the spouses, so I don't even know what his itinerary is. I'll basically know when he's home when he calls me to pick him up. This doesn't make sense to me since they are flying on commercial flights. I really hate it when he's gone, not only because I worry about him, but he's also not just my spouse, but he's my best friend. I don't really have any girlfriends yet where we live, so when he's gone I'm basically alone.

Like Paragon, I and many other military wives/girlfriends/husbands/boyfriends/etc. go through many stages in our emotional state. She mentioned: denial, anger, bargaining and depression. To these I would add numbness and pride. I tend to just ignore world events when he's off doing Army stuff. When September 11th happened I knew that I would upset myself if I watched the news, so for literally 3 months I didn't turn on the TV except to watch TLC or other non-news cable channels. To this day I have not seen a single clip of that day. If I think that someone is going to replay a clip of anything more than smoking towers, I switch the channel. I have a sort of emotional detachment to that day. I did not see any of the news coverage because I didn't want to feel anything, I did not want to upset myself. My husband, or at that time my fiance, had just signed away the next 10 years of his life the month before September 11th happened. 2 years while in school, 6 years active reserves and 2 years of inactive reserves.

The pride feeling comes and goes. I know why he joined the reserves, in fact there was a time that I considered it myself. Believe it or not, I did two years of ROTC myself. We joined the ROTC program together, but because he was closer to graduation he was eligible for a 2 year scholarship and had to contract himself earlier in order to get the scholarship. I had 3 years left before graduation so I didn't want to contract unless I was getting a scholarship and decided to wait a year. In the meantime, we got engaged and 9/11 happened. The idea of being dual-military, even if it was reserves, wasn't appealing to us, so we decided that only he would join. When he signed up, there was almost 0% chance he would be deployed. His unit's job was to go to Korea in the event anything happened over there. We were also told that the IRR (inactive ready reserves) were the reserve for the reserve and would never be deployed. Then 9/11 happened and everything changed. The whole reserve has probably been deployed at least once and its actually easily to get deployed as an IRR soldier than as an active reservist because they can individually deploy you whenever they need somebody that has your MOS, rather than deploying your unit as a whole.

Also, he was always way more into it than I was. I was constantly frustrated with the culture of "hurry up and wait" and having to accept stupid or inefficient leadership solely based on rank. I'm also a pretty outgoing person and that didn't settle well with the leadership of our ROTC program. My husband has natural leadership skills and he can also work with a wide variety of people. I am not the most tolerant person when it comes to dealing with silly people, he's always been better at that. Unfortunately, in the Army, you have to work with people no matter what. It's a volunteer force and you can't always pick who you want to work with. His quiet leadership and non-stressed demeanor works well with others. I'm proud of him...most of the time.

Unfortunately, the pride only is there when I'm being logical. When I'm being emotional I'll blurt out things like "I hate the Army! You need to get out!," even though I know that he can't. He takes a real sense of pride in what he does, and even if he doesn't agree with the politics of our nation's leaders 100%, or even ...% (better not speak for him), he really enjoys being an officer and taking care of his soldiers. He takes a real sense of pride in working with his soldiers and I have seen him develop some really great leadership skills as a result of his service.

I try to be logical and supportive, but more often than not I jump to the worst case scenario. I know that he's going to end up being deployed and I selfishly bounce from, "What if you die? Do you really support what they're doing in Iraq? How could you live with yourself if you kill somebody who is innocent?" to "What will I do while you're gone for a year? You know I have no friends, how could you leave me? There better not be any females in your unit!" I know, I know, I sound illogical and silly, but I still try to negotiate with him to see things my way. More often than not I end up stressing us both out about something we really can't do anything about except to accept it and get through it as best we can.

I don't know why I am posting this. The process of typing it out makes me feel better to express myself. At the same time it makes me feel selfish and unpatriotic. Is it wrong of me to wish that he won't get deployed, that he'll never have to be in harms way, or as he says never do what he's training for? And of course Lifetime is introducing its new series Army Wives tomorrow night which I have every suspicion will be a soap opera-esque military version of Desperate Housewives with all of the spouses absent most of the time. After watching two ROTC cadets with active duty spouses and children, divorce their spouses and marry each other creating 4 active duty parents of two sets of kids, two divorces and two cases of infidelity while their spouses were deployed and all sorts of other situations, sometimes I just want to shake military spouses. I know what it's hard on all of us, but it really angers me the way that some spouses act. We're often young, our marriages and relationships are often fresh and the military is a MAJOR relationship stressor, but you don't have to turn a military base into the Springer show! The whole rank thing also bothers me when it comes to spouses. I don't care if your husband is a Lt. Colonel, you aren't and I don't think its right for me to treat you any differently because your spouse can make life hard for my spouse. I really hope that Army Wives does not go into that, but I'm sure they will.

On the other side, I know that there are a lot of great military spouses who support their spouses, take care of themselves and their families and do it all with amazing grace. To those spouses I say Hurrah, you amaze me and I wish I was more like you. I'm still having a really hard time dealing with this. The idea that he's probably going to Iraq next October is paralyzing sometimes and I don't know if I'll ever be ok with it.


Alan Johnston abducted (2)

I posted back on April 20th about Alan Johnston a BBC reporter who had been kidnapped and missing for 39 days at that time. Today a video was released of him, apparently alive and well although there was no date on the video to determine how long ago it was made. It is my hope that this situation is resolved successfully. Prior to this incident journalists from around the world felt safe wandering the strip and reporting on the events going on there. Johnston's kidnapping, who has reported from the area for 3 years, has certainly discouraged this freedom of movement and subsequently the coverage coming from this important area of the world. I hope that for his family's sake he is released soon.