My chronic absence has not been for nothing. In fact, I actually learned something while I was away. (Imagine that!) In light of my experiences, I think it was actually worth it to take a class in business law and get a little behindhand on everything else.
- The first thing I learned was that procrastination invariably leads to naps. This sort of nap, while infinitely enjoyable, almost always leads to odd situations. One day, in the beginning of the semester, I decided that I needed to be in a certain frame of mind to read my law book. (Poor fool, I had not yet learned that law creates its own frame of mind.) I waited until late afternoon and read the chapter in admirable detail. Unfortunately, the homework assignment for that chapter was due the next day, and it was already quite late. I worked into the night and finished sometime around two. The next morning rolled around at precisely five fifteen a.m. I awoke with great vigor. My vigor wore off sometime around ten that morning. I had to have a nap. But my dad was still in the office where I was encamped and I had loads of schoolwork to do. I would simply have to put it off. I awoke sometime later to find the edges of the last thirty pages of my chemistry text saturated with drool. (Fortunately for me, and my younger sister who will be reusing the book, the pages of the chemistry book are made of heavy, glossy paper–perhaps in foresight of such an occurrence.) Another awkward situation arose with student advising. My father is by now quite used to it, but the sight of a body stretched out on the floor, even if studying, has never quite lost its tendency to startle visitors.
- I also learned a thing or two about detail. I read everything in detail. I have never quite been able to loose that trait. But law added a whole new dimension to it. Since every. single. insignificant. word. is important, I began to ready even more slowly. This did not help my stress levels at all. Then, toward the end of the semester, although I still hadn’t properly learned the lesson about procrastination, I began to learn how to skim. I read several chapters the evening before the quiz. Although this was not due to skimming per se, I like to think that it was because I was getting better at seeing what was important. (Yes. My grade was lower than average that day, and I fell asleep on the floor again. Not recommended.) My normal reading is still a good bit messed up, but at least now I can skim.
- I learned how to look for what is important and honed my blather power. You focus on the issue in the case. You find the rule. You use the magic words to apply the rule and talk about contingencies. You recap in the conclusion. Period. In theory, at least. I tended to focus on the issue, find the applicable rule and any other rules which came into my mind. I talked about the issue in detail, the contingencies, the possible contingencies, and the contingencies had the facts been different. I find it hard to strike a balance.
- Around this time I discovered that the common man knows little about the law. My sister brought home a book from a friend’s favorite series, The Ranger’s Apprentice. It was indeed well-written for a kids’ book. However, the characters took to bashing lawyers. “The treaty was drafted by lawyers so there is a certain ambiguity to it, Baron Arald sighed.” Ha! Treaties count as contracts, practically, and those have to be reasonably certain. (In this case name, all the parties, the subject matter specifically, the consideration, and the time of performance.) The author goes on to confuse the origins of common law, and bewail lawyers as strange people who can’t make up their minds and adore paperwork. But then, perhaps the problem lies not with the author, but with myself. I started seeing law everywhere. I also saw an appalling lack of law. Basic knowledge ought to be required in our politicians.
- Another thing that happened connected with the law class was my glasses broke. As a result. I stumbled around for two weeks (For one of which I was on vacation.) in a blur. It is rather amazing what you notice when your eyes have to adapt to change. I noticed depth without my glasses. I noticed color and detail with my glasses. Leaves were razor sharp and vivid. More importantly, so was the whiteboard. As I am a visual/tactile person, I remember little of what I hear. The beautiful outline my father drew on the board meant nothing if I couldn’t read it. Be thankful for what your professors demonstrate. Also, be thankful that your professor writes legibly. If you claim that your teacher’s writing is illegible, you ought to see your own. My father graded everything from typed pages to Edwardian script to something very different. Yes, it was that bad, and worse. I learned that profs like your papers typed.
- Hallways are wonderful places. Old certificates and empty bulletin boards and cleaning people. Most of the professors either avoided eye contact or smiled at me like their favorite granddaughter, and most of the students looked like zombies in a rush. The maintenance people were fun, though. I know not what makes an enormous file cabinet being zipped down the hall, or a computer being delivered to a non-existent office so funny, but it is. Anyway, maintenance people don’t all dress alike, and they don’t look like they’ve been doing the same thing forever. I like them.
- Regardless of what I said about profs in the preceding paragraph, profs are really nice, generally. Merciful, I should say. I, for one, got more slack than I deserved. But I learned about work: plunging in and getting it done. And that, I think, about sums up my semester.
You can find some of my assignments from BLAW2200 in the writing section here.