Grammar and Usage Rules that Aren’t

An abstract image of crumpled fabric.
Monotype, 2004.

As a lawyer, writer, and general nerd, I consider myself a bit of a grammar and usage stickler.  Language is always changing, though, and there are many rules to keep straight, so when I’m not sure about something, I look it up.  That’s what I did recently when I came across a post on social media declaring that people shouldn’t use the word “entitled” when they really mean “titled” (when referring to the name of a book, for example).  This person vehemently insisted that a book could not be “entitled” anything, but could only be “titled.”  It turns out he was wrong, though I’m not sure he could be convinced. Read more

How to Pack for a Two-Week Vacation with Only a Carry-On

A carry-on-size suitcase, tote bag, and water bottle - all you need for your vacation

In response to my last post, several people expressed surprise at my ability to pack for an international vacation with only a carry-on suitcase. As a follow-up, I thought I’d share some details about how I pack. Most of my longer trips have been in the summer, and some of these tips apply best to warm-weather travel, but others are useful year-round.

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The Bar Exam: Perspective and Self-Care

A stack of law books

Across the United States, recent law school graduates have begun studying for the bar exam, a two-day (sometimes three-day) test offered during the last week of July and also in February).  Each state gives its own version of the exam, which usually includes a day of tricky multiple choice questions and a day consisting of some combination of essay questions, short answer questions, and a closed-universe performance test.  Intensive test-prep courses usually begin in late May, and many test-takers study full-time and then some.

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Learning a New Language: Why You Should Do It, and How to Get Started

A word cloud of Greek words from a newspaper article

As I mentioned last weekend, I recently began studying the Greek language.  My husband and his family (who hail from Athens) had previously taught me a few basic words, but until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t tried to learn the language in any disciplined way.  The main reason is that my husband and his mother, sister, and brother-in-law all speak English, so I can communicate with them just fine in my own native language.

Still, that felt a bit lazy on my part.  And now that we are planning a trip to Greece, I want to be able to read street signs, say hello to any non-English speakers I encounter, and ask the kinds of questions one often needs to ask when traveling.  My husband will be there to translate for me, but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from being able to speak and read at least some of the local language when traveling.

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Reflections on Time and Impermanence

Still life painting of photos arranged on a tabletop
Neoma, 2005.

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” -Confucius

My second life began when I was twenty-six. I at once became keenly aware of how short life is, how it can end suddenly, how none of us is promised tomorrow. This realization was not triggered by a near-death experience or the loss of someone close to me. It came about in the aftermath of divorce, while struggling to build a life for myself and to sculpt an identity. It arose during months of counseling sessions, self-reflection, trying to lift myself out of the hole of depression. I read the words of Eckhart Tolle, echoing the sentiments of the Buddha and other wise people over the millennia: “the present moment is all you have.”

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