Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Infertility Awareness Week: A Catholic Perspective

 **Note: This is a beautiful look into infertility written collectively by the members of a Facebook group that Aimee (the wife) is a part of, and organized by our friend Rebecca (who will be posting all week, if you're interested in more!) I know its long, but please, please if you have a few minutes to spare today, spend them reading this. Chances are, you know someone experiencing infertility; it is a complicated cross, and difficult to understand for those who have never experienced it.**

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective 

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey

The Experience of Infertility

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility.  At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our childlessness (primary infertility) or small family (secondary infertility) makes us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully.Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass on the second Sunday in May will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.

·         Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.

·         Do not make assumptions about anything - not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.

·         Do not offer advice such as “just relax," “you should adopt," “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.
·         Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.

·         Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this the tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.

·         Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.

·         Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say "no, thank you" to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.

·         Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person - or as Aimee says, if you're wanting to do it in a more immediate fashion, like in person, be prepared to see tears) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.

·         Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.

·         Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).

·         Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.

·         Do not say things like "I know you'll be parents some day," or "It will happen, I know it will!" Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to "just adopt and then you'll get pregnant" (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.

·         Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.


Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

Mary Beth @ Grace of Adoption                        

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at RebeccaWVU02@gmail.com.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The March for Life

On January 22nd I jumped into a vehicle with 5 other people at 4 AM and headed to DC for the March for Life. I had not been to the march for several years, mostly due to my frustrations with it. I had a mostly good experience with it but my frustrations are definitely still there.

An example of my frustrations: the march is always proceeded by a rally in which various people speak about abortion. The rally started off this year with a brief concert by Matt Maher, a Catholic musician. As he was starting to play he talked about how our country needed to come to a greater respect for life. His solution? We need God.

I didn't stay for the entire rally but every speaker that I heard mentioned God at some point. We even had a statement from Pope Francis. There was plenty of prayer during the rally.

Don't get me wrong, I love God. I love prayer. I love my Catholic faith. But the March for Life should not be a religious event.

Abortion is the greatest Civil Rights issue of the 21st century. It affects more people than any other issue. And yes, we need the grace of God to combat the evil of abortion. Prayer is important when combating evil. But in the political arena we should keep religious arguments out.

Why? I'm glad you asked! Allow me to outline a few points:

1. Religious arguments are not effective in influencing policy.
Our political system does not base decisions on what we as a country believe the will of God is. Some would argue that our nation was founded on Christian principles, but that is certainly up for debate. Regardless of the founding, it is obvious that we do not now base decisions on the will of God. Some individual politicians perhaps believe they are doing that very thing, but as a whole we are a secular country politically. Religious arguments are not effective in influencing policy decisions.

2. Religious arguments do not change hearts and minds.
Let's separate out people into a few groups here: people who are not religious, people who are religious and support the legality of abortion, and people who are religious and do not support the legality of abortion. Religious arguments obviously do not change the hearts and minds of those who are not religious. People who are religious and do not support of the legality of abortion do not need their hearts and minds to be changed. People who are religious and support the legality of abortion do not listen when you make religious arguments. There are many reasons here, one is that we tend to compartmentalize our faith and determine for ourselves what it means and what beliefs we agree with. People who are religious but are pro-choice are very unlikely to listen when someone makes a religious argument.

3. Religious arguments ostracize fellow pro-lifers. The March for Life is probably the only time and place I am ever embarrassed to be Roman Catholic. We Catholics turn a civil protest into a celebration of Catholicism. We talk about which dioceses are there, we read a message from the pope, we have priests and bishops speak, we have little Marian processions, one group even plays "Hail Holy Queen" with their brass band. The March for Life is a Catholic event. How do you feel a pro-life atheist would feel at the rally or during the march? How about a muslim, or a buddhist, or even a jew? Heck, I bet even the other Christian denominations feel somewhat awkward amidst all of the Catholicism present. Before the march I met a lady in my march group who was a buddhist. At the end of the march we were standing in front of the Supreme Court when a group of post-abortive women was beginning to speak. They asked Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life to begin in a prayer. As he started a (beautiful) prayer, the buddhist woman mentioned to me that she did not feel comfortable there and she was going to leave. Anecdotal, I know, but I believe it's indicative of how non-Catholics feel.

4. Non-religious arguments work better.
What is the goal of the March for Life and the pro-life movement in general? To end abortion, which we consider to be an evil killing of human life. To gain this end shouldn't we use the most effective arguments? I am no ethicist, but I believe that killing a human being is wrong. There are many arguments which more philosophically-inclined people can outline better than I, but my personal beliefs boil down to just that: killing a human being is wrong. Unborn children are human beings. The science of embryology tells us that. For that matter, unborn children have some political rights as well: they can inherit property and they can be considered victims in murder cases (killing a pregnant woman and her child is often considered a double-homicide). We consider them human beings except when they inconvenience us.

To me, arguments along those lines of thought are far more compelling than "God loves unborn babies," especially when it comes to atheists, agnostics, and just your average everyday non-religious person. To win the right to life, we need them on board.

(One last thing, if you would like to know more about secular pro-life arguments and the secular pro-life cause, I highly recommend checking out Life Matters Journal. I am, of course, biased in that I am madly in love with the Executive Director, who happens to be my lovely wife. Also the march meet-up group I was a part of that was sponsored by Life Matters Journal was featured in a buzzfeed article that you can read here.)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Update on life over Christmas break

Let's try this again.

My last post was an attempt to get back into blogging but it had the unfortunate luck to be right at the beginning of Christmas break. Between the work of closing the neighborhood and the traveling over break I just haven't updated here recently. Several good topics have popped up in my mind, but I feel like I need to do a life update to get myself back on track before blogging again in earnest.

A lot has happened since I last did a life update. To begin with, I took my last final and graduated with my Master of Business Administration degree from FUS. I managed to get two As in my last semester, which was one of my major goals for the semester. I ended up with a 3.98 GPA (one pesky A-, maybe I'll tell the story of that sometime). I'm very happy that I decided to get my Masters, but even happier that it's over. Having a semester with just work and no classes is going to be so incredible.

Right before I finished up my degree my mother finished her last classes necessary to get her Lay Ministry Certification from the diocese of Cleveland. She's been working at a parish in the diocese while she took classes for her certification. I'm very impressed at her willingness to go back to school and acquire this skill set for her third career (teacher, then mother, now lay minister). The diocese is lucky to have her, as is her parish. I'm looking forward to celebrating her new certification at an official mass later this month at the cathedral.

The wife and I (and the dog) spent a week at my parents' house right before Christmas. It was a great time, very relaxing. We had the dog with us of course, and this was the longest he had been at their house. He actually did very well. My parents are getting used to him, we've never been dog people but he's just so dang lovable. The backyard is big and unfenced so it was a bit of a pain to take him out and walk around with him every time he had to go outside, but on the whole it was easier than I expected to have him there. A couple of times he and I started the morning by running right to the end of the property because he was just so excited to get out and run!

We came back to Steubenville on the 23rd and flew out to California on the 24th to spend some time with the wife's family near Sacramento. Because Domino (the dog) is an Emotional Support Animal he was able to ride with us on our laps during the flights. Our strategy to have him behave was to keep him up all night the night before. We slept in shifts and whoever was up would just make sure he didn't go to sleep. It worked pretty well, he slept all through both flights. The only slight problem we had was misestimating his food consumption. I had to clean up a bit of a mess in the Houston airport, but luckily it was in an unused terminal so no one else was around.

California was beautiful, the weather was incredibly nice. We spent a lot of time with the wife's family, including some of her extended family. We also went to the casino for a bit and wasted $20 on video poker, good times. The wife's father is big into horse racing so we went to the track because I had never been. Can't say that I was that big of a fan, I prefer gambling where my decisions have an impact on the result. Oh well! It was interesting, and I do see why people like it, but just not my thing.

Domino enjoyed his time at the house with the nice fenced-in backyard, and we certainly enjoyed having a doggie door for him to use. My brother-in-law's dog Skippy was not a huge fan of Domino at first, but after a couple of days they got used to each other and had a great time. This was my fourth year visiting near Christmastime out there, and this was the first year that I actually enjoyed spending time with Skippy. Having a dog has certainly changed some things!

One of the most awesome things that has happened recently is that the wife got a job! She is going to be working at IKEA Pittsburgh at the returns counter. She's very excited, and I'm very proud. IKEA tends to hire from within, so it's not easy to get a job there. From everything I've heard (not just recently, I've heard a lot about IKEA) they treat their employees very well. Their retention rates are excellent, which is rare in retail. It seems like there is a decent possibility of her being able to move up in the ranks there if that's something she wants in the future. Her first day is this week, so we'll see how it works out. As always, I am optimistic!

I got my LSAT score back a few days ago and it was 172 (out of 180). I'm definitely satisfied with a 172, but I wouldn't say I'm ecstatic or anything. I knew I could do well and I would've been disappointed with anything below a 170. 172 is excellent, but had I studied harder and longer I'm sure I could've done better. I could probably up the score if I took it again, but I have no desire to. When I was in highschool I upped my ACT from a 31 to a 32, but I don't think that was really worth it. Still, a 172 is in the 99th percentile, so that's cool.

I'm still not sure if I actually want to go to law school. I've been thinking about it and talking to some friends about it. Where I'm at right now boils down to two points. The first is that we want to live in Pittsburgh, and the wife finding a job there just confirms that plan. The second is that the wife's job by itself will not make enough for us to live on. Therefore, if I do go to law school it would have to be in Pittsburgh and I would have to be able to make some sort of an income. I will be applying to the two law schools in Pittsburgh (Pitt and Duquesne) to see what they offer me, but I don't even know if either of them offers some sort of fellowship or living stipend. If so, it's a possibility. If not, then law school is most likely either not going to happen or just be put on hold.

As of right now I have RA training and Orientation over the next week. School starts up again in about a week (though not for me!). I will be applying to law schools and jobs in Human Resources. We are going to look into how much of a mortgage we would be approved for in order to buy a house. There are lots of possibilities, it's an exciting time!

(One last thing, in December I hit my 10,000th page view on the blog! Thanks for reading!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty debate

So my facebook newsfeed has erupted recently with comments from all corners about A&E firing Phil Robertson, the patriarch on the reality show Duck Dynasty. I for one have never seen the show (nor do I really have any desire to), but the controversy piqued my interest enough to read through Robertson's interview with GQ (available here). After reading it's clear to me that this is a very stupid controversy. Let me explain:

Robertson's comments on homosexuality are not intelligent. They do not adequately or clearly explain a Christian perspective on homosexuality. He makes no argument that would convince someone that his worldview is an informed one. His comments are those of the stereotypical bible-thumping backwoods hillbilly with a lack of compassion for his fellow man and a lack of delicacy on what is a very delicate issue.

Let me be clear: I believe that homosexual acts are immoral. While I will not go into an in-depth discussion here, I will say that my belief is formed by scripture and my Catholic faith. Homosexuality is an extremely delicate topic to talk about and require a lot of nuance that isn't quite covered by the typically-used phrase "hate the sin, love the sinner."

Regardless of what you believe about homosexuality, it is clear that Robertson's comments do nothing to help understand the issue. His comments sound very unintelligent, though I was previously under the impression that he had to be a (at least somewhat) intelligent man to successfully create his business empire (or is that his son's? I really don't know). Conservatives who defend his comments are hurting their credibility in the homosexuality discussion.

The cry I hear everyone making now is "But he has a Constitutional right to free speech!" Certainly he does! He was well within his rights as an American to make those comments. The thing with free speech though is you still have to deal with the consequences of your speech. A&E is well within their rights to fire Robertson if they don't want to be associated with his comments. They are under no obligation to continue to employ him (I'm sure there are contract stipulations that allow them to terminate the business relationship if he says something that will hurt their image).

Now, do I think A&E should have fired him? From a business standpoint, possibly. The outcry of those obsessed with political correctness makes him a liability to the company, but at the same time his show is insanely popular. Also, his show is popular exactly because they are bible-thumping backwoods good ol' boys. This interview actually helps his branding more than hurting it. A&E seems to have made the decision that the liability outweighed the benefits of continuing to have him on the show. It's entirely conceivable that whenever their contract allows them to do so the family will jump ship to another network, and that is also their right to do so.

Bottom line is: there is nothing morally or constitutionally wrong with A&E firing Phil Robertson. He made comments, they reacted to them. They are not firing him for being a Christian, they are firing him for making public statements that they want to distance themselves from.

There is a bigger lesson here. Reality TV is popular because it is an escape from our lives into other people's lives. Often these people are larger than life characters who start to become like family to their viewers. I'm not talking about game shows, talent competitions, cooking shows, talk shows, or home improvement shows. I'm talking about the Here Comes Honey Boo Boos of the entertainment world. People find entertainment by feeling empathetic with these people, mocking these people, or just escaping into their world. There is very little redeeming value here when considering the opportunity cost. You could spend the time you would normally spend watching Duck Dynasty with your family or friends, reading a book, or watching a fictional show. Finding entertainment in watching other people's families is unhealthy and slightly perverse. You have real people in your life. You have fictional characters that can lead you to a much better understanding of people than the half-real people on the reality shows who only show you the parts of their lives that they (or the network) want you to see.

Reality TV gains viewership by appealing to the voyeurism that is within everyone to some degree. Fight back - don't watch it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug review

Well, it's 3:20 Friday morning and I just got back from the midnight release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Seems like a good time to write a review!

There are no real spoilers in the following review, though my opinion may certainly influence your perception of the movie. Personally I feel that it is better to watch movies without reading reviews as they can unduly affect your enjoyment of the movie. If you agree with me, I'll just let you know my overall rating and you can skip the rest: 2 out of 5.

In a nutshell: I was very disappointed. The second Hobbit film does not live up to the promise of the first one. The number one complaint I had was that it was too absurd. The combat scenes in particular were just ludicrously unrealistic. With only two minor exceptions that I can think of, everything goes exactly right for the good guys. One of them can toss a weapon a few yards to one of the others who will then kill someone and toss it back in enough time for the first guy to kill someone else with it. Honestly, the orcs would have to be TRYING to be that bad at fighting. I know orcs are supposed to be numerous rather than skillful, but there's no way they're that bad (and there's no way the good guys are that good).

Another major complaint is that the characters are no longer likable. Even Bilbo, the hobbit we all know and love, is subject to corruption and shades of darkness. This is a fantastical story that requires a hero for us to be invested in. Due to both the absurdity of much of the movie and losing my interest in Bilbo I found myself not being immersed in the film.

The thing about the Hobbit is that (unlike The Lord of the Rings) the story actually already works pretty well for a movie. It's a hero's quest story with a linear narrative and a clear character arc for Bilbo. Peter Jackson destroyed the linear narrative and took away from Bilbo's story by adding characters and plots that are entirely unnecessary. The romantic subplot is particularly egregious in its absurdity.

There are a few things that I enjoyed in the movie. Smaug is quite good, as is the Master of Laketown (honestly, has Stephen Fry ever done anything that hasn't been excellent?). The Dwarven culture continues to be treated fairly well, but its treatment is balanced out by Jackson's elves, which are even worse than the elves in The Lord of the Rings.

By changing the story and adding superfluous story lines, the movie winds up losing the charm of the book. Jackson's hubris is shameful: it is clear that he thinks he can improve upon the masterful story telling of J.R.R. Tolkien. 2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm back!

Well loyal readers, it's been... wait. Do I have loyal readers? Interesting question. If so, I should start each blog post with "Well loyal readers...". Anyway readers, regardless of your loyalty, it's been about three weeks since my last blog post. Coincidentally, I started studying for the LSAT about three weeks ago. That ended last Saturday when I finally took it, so now I'm trying to get back into the swing of things blogging-wise.

The LSAT was interesting. I actually rather enjoyed studying for it, though I didn't study nearly enough. At the same time, I don't know if studying more would have helped. The LSAT really does test your ability to reason, so it's rather difficult to boost that. I think I did well. It's hard to tell for certain, and I won't know my score until the beginning of January. One thing that was interesting is that they're very strict as to what you can bring into the testing center (no phones, everything in a zip lock, no mechanical pencils, etc.), but they didn't actually have any kind of security checkpoint or anything to check what people were bringing in. They did have a proctor sitting at the back of the room looking at everyone, so I guess they would've caught it had someone been using something like that.

I managed to finish each section in time. The logic games section I actually struggled with when it came to one problem just because I was trying to go fast and missed the fact that there were only seven people involved, not eight. I skipped past it because it was giving me so much trouble, but came back after finishing the other sections and figured it out with five seconds to spare! On all the other sections I had enough time to go back through all of the questions I marked as being a little unsure on, so that was good. They also have a writing sample section which is not part of the graded score. It's mildly entertaining to me that I believe I'll get a very good score and then someone will look at my writing sample with my extremely childish printing. I can type relatively fast but I was just never very good at writing. I think I was just so stubborn that I insisted on making the letters the way I thought was best. For example, I write my "O"s by starting at the bottom.

I felt rather old taking the test. There were probably about one hundred and fifty of us spread throughout maybe ten classrooms, but it seemed like everyone was in their early twenties.. It made me realize that if I do go to law school I'd probably be one of the oldest people in my classes. Interesting. I suppose it would be different if I go part-time, which is more likely if I do wind up going. It would be very difficult to go to school full-time and just live on the wife's salary.

During the past three weeks the wife and I have come to a decision regarding our infertility. We currently will not be trying to improve our fertility medically. Our emotional wellness was suffering from constantly being reminded of our infertility and having our hopes continually dashed. The cost of tests, medication, and diet foods was also getting prohibitively high. In the end it doesn't make sense for us to spend so much time, energy, and money trying for something that has a miniscule chance of occurring. Maybe some day in the future we will try again, or start the adoption process. Right now we're going to spend more time and energy working towards future jobs and such.

Also in the past few weeks we had a very nice Thanksgiving with my family, work has gotten crazy, and we've been looking at houses in Pittsburgh. I intend to resume posting regularly. If you have any topics you'd like to hear my opinion on, by all means let me know! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Law school?

It's been an interesting few days.

On Friday I took a practice LSAT. I have toyed around with the idea of law school before but never really thought about it seriously. In a meeting a couple of weeks ago with Career Services here on campus I talked with the director about my interest in working in Human Resources. She mentioned that a lot of people who work in the higher jobs in Human Resources have law degrees. We then talked about the possibility of law school and she told me that the library here on campus has a couple of practice LSATs on their website.

Friday rolled around and I was planning on getting some new tires for my car. As the afternoon wore on I realized that I had absolutely no desire to go get new tires, so I decided to take the practice LSAT. I had never studied for the LSAT before, the most I knew about the questions was having looked at two in my friend's study book about four months before.

I rocked the test.

It really wasn't that surprising to me, test taking comes naturally to me. I did very well on the ACT and SAT back in high school. The LSAT has three main topics: reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and logic games. Reading comprehension is very easy to me. I didn't miss a question there and I didn't really find any of them difficult. The logic games section on the LSAT is similar to logic games I used to do for fun when I was growing up in a book my mom had. The logical reasoning sections are a little more difficult for me, but still were mostly fairly easy.

After taking the test I went back home, talked to the wife about it, and did some research online. The practice test didn't give me an exact score that I would've gotten on the LSAT, but it gave me a range of scores typical for someone who did as well as I did. The lowest score in that range is generally enough to get a full ride to many law schools.

I did a little more research about both the LSAT and law school. I looked at a bunch of the ways to do better on the LSAT and people talking about how they improved their score by 12 points by just doing such-and-such and that kind of thing. I came to the conclusion that there is a chance that I can get a perfect 180 on the LSAT.

I went to the library and skimmed some books about the test and about law school. I wound up borrowing "Advanced LSAT Practice" to have some questions to study up on. I then went back home and got back online to research more.

At 8:05 PM or so I looked into registering for the LSAT in December and found that the deadline was that night at 9 PM. Seemed like a sign to me, so I went for it. I will be taking the actual test on December 7th at the University of Pittsburgh. For the next three weeks until then I will be studying the questions. I basically already know most of the methods, I'll probably still research some but I don't really expect to learn anything new method-wise.

After registering I did some more research on law school. It seems that everyone hates law school (or at least everyone who is there or has been there recently). By far the most common advice regarding law school is "DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL." The reasoning seems to boil down to three things: the cost, the stress, and job prospects. Regarding the cost, I don't believe I would be interested in going to law school if I had to pay for it. If I get the scores on the LSAT I think I will, I most likely would not have to pay for law school. Regarding the stress, when it comes down to it if I can't handle the stress I would quit. If I am getting a full ride then quitting isn't as big of a deal, so I would still have that out.

Regarding job prospects, that is a very real concern. Law school are churning out graduates at a much higher rate than there are jobs for new lawyers. The difficulty of finding a job after graduation is certainly a very real concern. I do have a couple things in my favor over your average law school graduate. One is that I will have (very shortly) an MBA. The other, which is far more important, is that I have six years of professional job experience. Still, the statistics regarding recent graduates of law school are concerning.

It's been an interesting weekend of planning for the future. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts, I've already heard from some of my lawyer and law school friends, but thoughts are welcome from all sides.