Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A note sent too late

Source: via Margie on Pinterest

I just received an email letting me know that a professor at my law school, Anne Dupre, died early this morning. She had been battling cancer for many months, and I'd found out about it from another instructor back in January.

My sister and I had made the drive to Athens during one of my visits home, and I was excited to stop by the law school when classes were in session. We poked our heads into the courtroom where the moot court and mock trial teams practice, and my old moot court coach was working with one of her current teams. After we caught up for a bit, I told her that I wanted to make sure to stop by to see Professor Dupre; did she know whether she was around today?

Haven't you heard?, my coach asked, knowing that Professor Dupre had been my favorite, and she went on to tell me what she knew about the diagnosis, the surgery that revealed the massive extent of the cancer, the aggressive chemo. I determined that I should write her a note, and I stopped by her secretary's office to get the address.

* * * * *

Professor Dupre had been my contracts professor during my first year, where she regularly scared our newbie-law-student pants off. She was always meticulously prepared, and she expected us to be equal to her careful Socratic questioning. Her class, though exceedingly difficult, quickly became my favorite, and I wasn't alone in appreciating her care for and her challenge to her students. She knew what we were capable of, and she demanded--and obtained--excellence.

The summer after my first year, she hired me as her research assistant and began pushing me to apply to serve as a federal law clerk after graduation. Although we were confident that my grades would land me a spot somewhere, we weren't sure whether I'd end up at the trial court or the more prestigious appellate court level. But I applied for both, with Professor Dupre as a reference, and when a federal appellate court judge in Florida expressed interest, Professor Dupre made it her mission to get me hired. This judge had never once hired a University of Georgia graduate, but my dear professor spent more than an hour on the phone with her, convincing her that I was worth taking a risk on. (It didn't hurt that Professor Dupre knew personally the quality of a Georgia grad; she herself had graduated first in her class from UGA's law school, had clerked for the court on which this judge sat, and had gone on to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court.)

Professor Dupre could be exceedingly persuasive, and I got the job, a job that would change my life forever. Nearly any clerk will tell you that her clerkship was the best job she ever had, but mine was especially significant; the man who would become my husband was one of my fellow clerks. There's a toddler sitting next to me who quite literally would not exist but for Professor Dupre's persistence on my behalf.

Professor Dupre wasn't just a scholar who happened to teach classes, although she was certainly a first-rate legal scholar. She was a passionate educator who always put her students first. Her undergraduate background was in education, and she had a passion for issues involving education and the law and children and the law. Her education law seminar was, by far, my most interesting law school class.

Professor Dupre left her mark on hundreds, if not thousands, of students, and I count myself fortunate to be among them. It seems fitting that she died on the feast of Saint Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, because she inspired in her students the same determination to stand for what is right, regardless of the cost.

* * * * *

I never did send that note. Professor Dupre's address sat in my purse for months as a reminder that I should put pen to paper, but I could never bring myself to draft a letter that felt like it would say, Sorry you're dying, but I wanted to let you know how you changed my life.

And so today I'm feeling like a monumental jerk. I should have put my own discomfort aside and let this tremendously influential woman know the extent of her influence on me. And it's too little, too late, but nevertheless:

Professor Dupre, you were an incredible teacher and an inspiring woman. You made me believe in myself, because you believed in me. My life is forever changed because you took a chance on me, and I will always be grateful.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I don't really have bad taste. I just don't know what to do.

It's hard to believe it, but we've lived in our "new" house for a year this month. This time last year, we were up to our ears in boxes and wondering how Nate would handle the transition. This year, we can hardly remember what it felt like to live in the old place. This house is just home.

Home, though, with two wholly-undecorated and nearly empty rooms. And while it's nice to have so much space in this house that we're not packed to the gills, one of the rooms in question is, unfortunately, the front entryway.* That's right, the first thing everyone sees upon entering our house is an embarrassing assortment of three unrelated furniture pieces that don't even look like they belong in the entryway.

Glass-and-iron console table from David's bachelor days. Round side table from my grandparents' house. Black pull-down desk from my parents. This shot is taken from the doorway.

The bones of the entryway are gorgeous. It has big windows and plantation shutters and lovely wainscoting. I love the light fixture. I love the floor. So that's all really good.

The previous owners had a bench at that back wall, which might be a good idea for us.

The previous owners have a very traditional decorating style, and they had a bench, an antique standing desk, and a big dresser-as-console-table in the entry, plus one other piece I can't remember. It's a big enough space that it really does need several items, but they all have to make sense just being up against the walls, so as not to block the pathway.

They also had very distinctive red Asian-themed toile wallpaper above the wainscoting. I love it, but concede that it doesn't coordinate with our style at all. David hates it with the firey passion of a thousand suns.

Taken from the opening that leads to the dining room. We MUST get a rug in here, because it is currently an echo chamber. Oh, how I hate the mod glass table and red lamp in this space.

So here's what we need to do: We need to rip out the wallpaper and paint the top half of the walls. We need to find some sort of rug that will work in a long-ish, heavily-trafficked space. And we need to figure out what sort of furniture to put in there.

That opening to the right of the front door is a French door that also goes into the dining room. I think this entryway used to be a porch, and that was the door that led into the house.

Any suggestions? I'm kind of at a loss.

*We lovingly refer to the other empty room as "the red room," for two reasons. First (and most obviously), it's painted red. But second, we don't really know how to classify it. It used to be the dining room, before the previous owners added an addition to the back of the house. After the addition, they started using what had once been the living room as their formal dining room, and they turned the much smaller former dining room into a little sitting room, with a loveseat and a couple of chairs. For now, it's Miriel's yoga studio.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

- 1 -

Last week, I had a crisis of fashion and decided that I hated almost all of my casual summer clothes. I have lots of things I like for church or a dinner out in the summer--white pants with bright tops are my go-to for date nights, and I have plenty of lightweight dresses and skirts for church. I'm the opposite in winter; I have tons of casual jeans-and-a-sweater-and-boots options, but I'm at a loss when it comes to dressing up.

Hallie at Betty Beguiles recently began offering personal shopping services, and so I decided to go for it. I told her that I was interested in cute, SAHM-friendly everyday outfits that would work in our DC heat and humidity. And boy, did she deliver. She put together seven complete looks for me, along with links to purchase each item. And the outfits are adorable. You can see a few of them here. I'm going to be doing some major internet shopping this weekend.

- 2 -

I received an invitation to attend a casual dinner for a few alumni from my university, as well as some current students who are interning in DC for the summer. The honors program coordinator who is organizing the dinner made a point of saying she thought the students would be particularly interested in my work with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I felt obliged to tell her that, although I'd be delighted to attend, I was no longer working on the Hill, and that I'd been "just" a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years now. And after I hit Send I was honestly afraid that she'd respond with a "thanks, but no thanks," and rescind the invitation. Thankfully, she didn't, but it was one of the first times I've felt like I might be a disappointment because I've chosen to forgo an interesting and desirable career for motherhood. I know the only people's opinions that really matter here are (1) mine, (2) David's, and (3) Nate's, but it's still hard sometimes in a city like this to be off the career track.

- 3 -

For the first time in--well, ever--I completely cleaned out my Google reader. David convinced me to download feedly onto my iPad, which somehow makes it easier for me to flip through posts quickly. Between that and the Google Reader "Next" button that Manda just talked about, I think I may finally stay on top of my feeds!

- 4 -

Our pool might be able to re-open in a couple of weeks! It looks like the county is very supportive of allowing them to open with temporary measures--like a trailer for the men's locker room--in place. Summer is saved!

- 5 -

We might have just lucked into a beach vacation for later in the summer. Some good friends of ours--our goddaughter's parents--mentioned that they are renting a house in the Outer Banks for a week in August. When I asked who they were going with, they said, "No one. Unless you want to come." We've been talking about taking Nate to the beach at least for a weekend this summer, and it would be wonderful to vacation with these friends. We need to look at the dates and discuss whether we think Nate could do a long-ish car trip, but I think we're going to go for it!

- 6 -

Speaking of trips, I've told David that, if I'm not pregnant again by vacation time next year, I want my consolation prize to be a trip to the Napa Valley. And I want to stay here. Obviously, I desperately hope we end up with a baby instead of a wine-tasting vacation, but it's sort of nice to have something to look forward to in case Plan A doesn't work out, right?

- 7 -

I need a new TV series to watch on Netflix instant. I've gone through Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights, Damages, and Downton Abbey. Any suggestions?

More quick takes at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer plans, up in flames. (Literally.)

Taking Nate to the pool regularly was probably the single activity I was most looking forward to this summer. I mentioned in my last post that we'd bought a membership to a local pool, and that this was the only pool I found that was open during the week throughout June (instead of a weekends-only schedule until the public schools let out), and the only pool that opened early enough to take Nate before his afternoon nap.

David and I took Nate for the first time last Saturday, and it was wonderful. We hit the baby pool around 10:15 or so, then got in the main pool from the time it opened at 11:00 until the mandatory kids' rest time at 11:45, when we headed home for lunch. Nate loved it, we loved it, and I left patting myself on the back for finding the perfect solution for us.

And then, on Monday morning, I opened my inbox to find a message titled, "LHP closed until further notice." There was a fire in the building that houses the locker rooms, lifeguard room, and snack bar, and it took out half of the building and the electrical system for the entire property. Thankfully, it occurred in the middle of the night, and no one was hurt. You can see photos of the damage on the pool's facebook page.

And that's it. They don't know how long it will take to rebuild, or replace the electrical system, or get the pool up and running. It will likely be closed for the entire summer. And, y'all, I know this is such a freakin' first-world problem to have; woe is me, I can't take my toddler swimming whenever I'd like. But it's already in the mid-90s and humid this week, which severely limits our outdoor activity options. I lasted about 20 or 25 minutes at the playground yesterday morning, at 9:30 a.m. And all Nate wants is to go outside. He loves it.

I'm just really, really disappointed. Maybe it's stupid, but there it is.

I bought a twelve-dollar baby pool yesterday. It's not the same. It's not the same at all.