Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When times gets rough, the poets get blogging

It's July 2013, a good time to get back to blogging.

I have to get back to writing in my blog because that's what a poet does, they fucking write in their blogs. They can't just go on walks, smell flowers, write about crushes in their diary, survive oppressive struggles. They must also follow the prompts from their hearts, "Please dear one, spend a few intimate hours with your own words before you stare at facebook."

When the vaka came to Treasure Island, and she stood on the beach with other Pacific Islanders, when she saw the vessels that were once trees, designed in the old ways, crewed with men and women from the islands, come right up to her green Adidas w/ the orange stripes, shy, nervous, she has never been the same.

The vaka came from the Pacific in August 2011. I had to take a break from law school applications. I fell in love with a navigator on the Cook Islands vaka. He said, "I voyaged 10,000 nautical miles to meet you." I have flown to San Diego 5 times, flown to the Solomon Islands and Atiu, his home country, to meet him and this August, in 4 weeks, my son and I will be going to Atiu to live with him for a year.

Although I am still thinking of reapplying to law school, I applied in 2010 and was rejected from all schools I applied to,  I don't want this blog to be preoccupied about going to law school. I do not think about law school everyday anymore. I've moved on. I should change the name of this blog.

I have many stories to tell and my body and my spirit has guided me here to tell them. So here I am again to tell more stories.    

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Judy Clarke, defense attorney

The shooting in Tucson of the Congresswoman and her constituents, including a nine year old girl, a man just reaching his 30s and elders in their 70s, has brought my family and I to think deeper about our own lives with each other and with the larger communities we belong to. We have gathered in our living room and watched the news reports on my sister's lap top and listened to the events on the radio.

The other event that my family and many of my friends and I are entrenched in is sending in my applications for law school. I have sent out the applications for the particular schools I want to attend, but, since the deadlines are Feb. 1, Feb. 15 and some even in March 1, and since I have an LSAC fee waiver, I am applying to more schools. In this environment of applying to law school and the Tucson shooting, my sister Fui said, "I wonder who is going to defend Loughner...that's going to be an incredible case. You should follow it Loa." That's exactly what I was thinking.

Yesterday, I was surfing the car radio at Hollis and 40th in Emeryville and a law professor at Virginia and Lee School of Law, David Bruck, was being interviewed about his friend, Judy Clarke, the defense attorney asked to represent Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman. What Bruck said about his friend Judy really resonated with why I want to be an attorney and how I want to be an attorney.

Bruck said that Judy is a thorough attorney who has represented Susan Smith, the "crazy welfare mother" in South Carolina who drowned her two children and said they died in a car jacking, the "anti-social weirdo" Unabomber and "terrorist" Moussaoui, the 9-11 Co-conspirator. Most of us automatically decide that these folks rightly so will be executed for their heinous crimes and we go on with life as usual, imagining that the world is now safe. However, it's the job of the defense attorney to stand up and say, "Wait, this is not right, everybody has the right to a fair trail and a lawyer who will fight all the way for them." That's the calling of a lawyer. In hearing Bruck's interview about Judy, that's the kind of lawyer Judy is.

So I googled Virginia and Lee School of Law and found an article on Judy and read up on David Bruck, who works tirelessly to overturn the death penalty in the U.S. I read that Judy Clarke taught a Criminal Practice Simulation Class where students were given different scenarios like a who-done-it murder and an immigration smuggling case that ended with a death. The students then followed through the entire procedure of that case playing particular roles, such as prosecutor or defense. I know that law school will not be that exciting every moment, but such a class sounds amazing and I can't wait to attend such a class!

Judy Clarke was able to get Susan Smith life in prison with a parole coming up in 2024. Clarke's defense of her clients is her direct protest against the practice of the Death Penalty in the U.S. All the litigation fees that Clarke earned from defending Susan Smith, $80,000, was donated to a fund to provide free defense services for poor people like Susan Smith. Clarke saves people from the Death Penalty and also helps people to live better lives while they're alive.

In the interview, Bruck's description of Judy hit home for me. He said, "Judy really believes in the power of the personal story, she strongly believes that everyone has a story and that story is what makes a monster into a human being." As Bruck said that, I also understood that he too believed strongly in the power of the personal story. Wow, all this time I thought that only creative writers and artists care about stories and I thought the legal profession abhors and dismisses personal stories. But here is Judy Clarke and David Bruck, attorneys and law professors who hold a deep underestanding, like creative writers and artists, of knowing that at the end, it is only our personal story that we have, it is our personal story that can save us.

In writing my Personal Statement, Diversity Statement and Addendum, I know first-hand that my personal story is what I have to falala on, to depend on to get to law school. I have a low undergraduate GPA and LSAT score. However, when I wrote my Addendum and saw all the challenges I overcame that brought me to knocking at the doorstep of law schools, I fully accept and have a deep love for my struggle that has brought me this far.

Please check out the link below about Judy Clarke, an attorney I want to emulate.

The Legendary Lawyer Who Will Defend Loughner: Judy Clarke

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the golden hour

The LSAT test is coming up on October 9. I feel alright about that. I've taken it once before so I know what to expect. I'm studying harder each day and fighting to stay focused.

There are difficult things happening in my own life right now. My partner and I have been misunderstanding each other for many months now. We were in a place where we couldn't communicate kindly with each other. But I lived 9 years with a husband without ever feeling satisfied with my communication with him. However, my partner said to me, "We're the kind of women that would stay together forever out of loyalty to each other, but I don't want that for you, I don't want that for me. I don't want you to only stay to be kind to me, I want us to be able to get what we want." I thought for a while and said, "You're right, I want to be free, I want you to be free."

We agreed to break up on a Friday night, after a long day at work, and right before taking a LSAT practice test at 10:00 am the next morning. I took the practice test, but by section 3, it was reading comp, I lost my concentration. I just sat at the desk for the rest of the session, wiping my eyes with my fingers.
It's been 11 and a half days.

In the last week, I've reasurred myself, "We'll get back togther." I even call her still and ask if I can go over, like last night. I leave voice messages. In the mornings, I hope she's alright getting to work and hope her day is going well in the afternoon. When the sky is a golden hue in the evening, I think of her, she told me that it's called the golden hour, excellent lighting for photographers and a time we loved walking by the water.
I call to wish her sweet dreams, and leave phone messages.

Since I first shared with her my goal to go to law school, she told me she would help me get there. She provided me with funding for private lessons. She helped to raise my son, practicing trumpet with him, doing math homework, attending school events and being his friend. She drove me to take my first LSAT test last year. I finished the test and walked next door to her job, where she was facilitating a retreat. I was hungry and she saved me two lunch boxes from the retreat.

This is the kind of partner she has been to me.

I was given this meaningful relationship as I prepared for law school last year and as I'm about to turn in my applications this October, my relationship ended. Right now, I think this is unfair to me and her, we don't deserve this kind of sadness and pain. We both gave our all to make this relationship work.

Now I'm going outside. I'll stop by the post office to pay off the other half of rent, very late this month, and going to do more LSAT practice.

I'm re-reading this post as my LSAT buddy Ruby and I are about to time ourselves on logical reasoning.
It's been another week since breaking up and my heart is still raw. Last night, I felt so angry at the pain I'm feeling. I wanted to throw rocks at buildings and break the glass walls of those tall skyscrapers. So I defriended my former partner from my Facebook. Silly, but I had to get some kind of control in this sadness. I thought, "Everything I want from this life, I never get."

I walked to the water this morning and sat under a tree. I was greeted by dragon fly, humming bird, butterfly, egret and seagull was standing calmly on a wooden post, floating on the sea.

Here I am at the library. I was blessed with a beautiful relationship to a wonderful woman for one year, and feeling so shitty today, all I got from this relationship is....staying the path to reach my goal.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Before I go to the market

I must be really nervous about applying for law school because this is my second post in a week.
It's overcast today in Berkeley, which is, I guess, the common weather around here. Just took Niko to school and back home to go grocery shopping. We need some fruits and vegetables.

I'll be going to the library today to do some logic games. At this time before app deadlines, I find the most solace in the library studying and getting my personal statement ready. I feel so sad when I have to leave the library because I know I won't be able to work on my stuff outside the library. I just can't do my studying and applications at home. Perhaps I bring all my anxiety home and leave all my anxiety at home before going to the library. Hmm, I should try to change that. My sister and my son live with me at home so if I'm bringing and leaving a lot of my stress and anxiety for apps here, that must affect them too.

Today, I will be conscious of shedding my anxiety at the door before I enter my apartment. I will enter my apartment with gratitude in my heart for a job and for compassionate co-workers, for the opportunity to apply to law school and to live with a supportive sister and an amazing son. I also think of my good partner who is at her grandmother's funeral in Arizona this week. And my companion of the road towards law school, the fierce Melissa Gant.

As I write, I watch a green hued humming bird flying around the neighbor's cherry tree, picking on the dried pits. Whenever I witness a humming bird with my own eyes, I feel very blessed. In my indigenous knowledge, which I constantly unravel each day, I learned that the humming bird is a manifestation of little people and little animals, like faeries. Part of my ancestry are little people and little animals, faeries. When I witness a humming bird, I am reminded that the ancestors are walking with me in this journey, this difficult journey, and their presence makes me humble and grateful. Their presence gives me compassion and I am reassured that law school is not just a possibility, it's mine to claim because it is a tool I will use to help my community. This is the promise of my ancestors, the little folks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Applying for Law School

It's September 1st. The stress is settling in. For People of, the nonprofit org that helps prospective students of color to apply to law school, set the law school application deadline for Oct. 1st. The majority of law schools' deadlines for application are Feb. 1st or 15th, but most schools are rolling admissions, so it's to a prospective student's advantage to apply as early as possible. Many schools open for applications on September 1st.
I'm studying for the LSAT. Revising my personal statement for the 30th time. I need to send drafts of my personal statement to professors I've had so they can send my letters of recommendation to LSDAS. Some schools have extra essays to write beside the personal statement. Trying to start on those. Right now I'm also reviewing schools' applications online and calling their admissions's offices and asking questions about fee waivers for apps and if they're rolling admissions or not, etc. Yale is not rolling admissions. Josie at admissions told me that around Thanksgiving is a good time to turn in Yale applications.
We can use the letter of recommendation questionaire with our letters of rec. It's provided by LSDAS and it's optional. I'm thinking of not using it. I still don't know.

I'm getting short tempered at work. I'd rather study for the LSAT and work on my personal statement then do work right now. Work can wait for one month but I need the pay. It's nice that my son is back at school. We'll both have a lot of homework.

My LSAT score is still not up to what I want, but, unlike last year, I'm not scared of the LSAT and I enjoy studying it. And, I'm improving each day as I study. Right now I'm taking a Kaplan prep course that I won from one of the FPOC events. Although many prospective students told me that Kaplan is useless, I find it helpful, although I must admit that I use the Testing for the Public prep course strategies instead of Kaplan strategies.
Testing for the Public is super amazing, particularly for people of color who are women and queer and immigrants! Hehehe, but for real! It's an LSAT prep course that teaches you how to think like a white straight male who has lived in the U.S. all his life! It doesn't do that by hypnotizing you or make you deny your ancestry and personal histories. It just teaches you strategies that help you to understand how the test makers and those who do well on the tests think. Because, for real, I don't think like that. Unfortunately it's only offered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
But I'm enjoying my Kaplan class. Particularly because I take it with Ruby, a Samoan/Tongan sister who is amazingly positive and enthusiastic about life. Even when our homework isn't done, Ruby praises the fact that we at least made it to class. Even when we don't make it to class, Ruby points out that at least we're at the library studying. When we should be in class and we're not at the library, Ruby praises the fact that we're somewhere having fun instead of being unhappy. She's a great LSAT buddy!

I just wanted to write this brief post to alleviate some stress I had from not posting anything on my blog for the last four months. I hope to post more often as this process becomes more stressful. Blogging can help me keep my cool. Much love!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Traveling Seed, a blog post from April 25th

I started this post back in April 25th and added to it today.

Tonight we went to see Cherrie Moraga, one of my favorite writers!, and Celia Herrera Rodriguez's mixed medium production, "La Semilla Caminante/The Traveling Seed: A Multimedia Performance Work," in a theater in The Mission. It was a play about ceremony, particularly the kinds of gatherings indigenous women in the U.S. deliberately initiate to heal together using indigenous medicines, art and knowledge.

The central narrative in this play was the story of a middle-age woman struggling with coming to terms with healing herself. She attends ceremony after ceremony and doesn't wake up to what her role is in the ceremony yet.

As a young Tongan woman growing up in Utah, my friends and I held tight to the idea of ceremony. We imagined and dreamed with all our hearts, with all our might to gather with other Pacific Island girls in Utah who immigrated to this new country, just like us and who knew so well, just like us, how lonely it was to grow up in the shadow of memories that happened in the homeland.

Meeting at an Eek-A-Mouse show, on the steps of the Liberty Wells Mormon chapel or the Indian Walk In Center, those nights at the parking lot of the 'Unuaki Tonga Methodist Church on 4th South. When we met, we always tried to seize the moment, to continue the ceremony that is always created when we meet at the same parking lot to drink, bump music from our cars, just to be with each other. The ceremony that will fill the empty void in our lives for a moment before we returned to our white suburbs, our poor working class neighborhoods, the tokenism of our presence in white schools, the colonial teachings of our churches, the letters from our brothers in prison. We lived for those nights when everyone around us was Tongan and the jokes were Tongan; the perfume, strong and heady, smelled like a Tongan; and the hot breath of desire on the nape of the neck spoke Tongan.

It was in these gatherings that I held ceremony with Tongan and Pacific Island sisters. We stood in circles, wearing heavy coats in winter and sweatshirts in summer, with Big Gulps of Rum and Coke, passing around joints or sheets of acid, laughing out loud at Yellow Man's advice, "Girl, you can't do what the guys do you know and still be a lady."
This kind of ceremony lasted all weekend, doing beer runs after using up everyone's money. We wanted to to prolong being together, the feeling of belonging together. Everyone worked hard to pitch in and take care of each other but the void we wanted to fill with each others' presence just grew larger. Soon enough the void was partying together with us, which is no fun. You don't want to party with histories of your own pain.

I wonder what kind of ceremony would have helped to fill the void of isolation and self hate that was so prevalent within me when I was in my early twenties growing up in Utah?

What kind of indigenous Tongan healings are there available for young people in Utah, the Bay Area, the homeland today?

What role does ceremony play in my life today?

An ongoing post I'm working on: Why do I want to go to Harvard Law School?

it begins with my dad. it begins with my dad for me. all the places and things that my dad began with, is also my beginning.
i was seven, weeding my cousin Hiu's and I's taro plants in the garden. we lived in Kolomotu'a in Tonga. I saw a man standing down the road watching my home, the two room house my mother and two of my sisters lived in. this is before the two youngest siblings were born.
the man stared intently at our house, so i knew he was my father. he looked like he felt he had to come back home but really didn't want to do it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

rest in peace Howard Zinn

howard zinn passed away today. i have always felt a warm reassurance that "A People's History of the United States" existed and that it was written by a caring, smart white American male historian.

when i lived in east boston in the mid-2000s, there was a rally for the U.S. to get out of Iraq almost every other week at boston commons. i remember howard attending many of these rallies. he was the tall thin man with beautiful gray hair, constantly surrounded by students. i think i marched passed howard at 3 different marches. there was always someone talking to howard and someone waiting to talk to him. not wanting to interrupt his conversations, i touched his back and thanked him quietly. he never flinched or shrugged away because he didn't know me. he always smiled and welcomed me.

i feel very blessed and humble that howard and his work was a part of my intellectual, cultural and spiritual development. i bought my son niko the "People's History" graphic novel last year. the stories in it helped niko, who is now 11, as he continues to shape and hone his consciousness of being a boy at this time in america.

i thank howard for giving his life to the struggle for people to live meaningful and equitable lives in this country.
with howards' passing, i think about my own life and what i will leave younger generations when i die. i've been thinking a lot about my calling in life.
with missing the law school application deadlines last year and receiving a low lsat score, i've been thinking, "what if law school is not for me?" i should just be a poet. i'll put more time to writing poetry and tour as a poet rock star.
my son said to me, "but you are already a poet mama." "oh, hmm," i thought. in his prayer tonight he asked the gods, "please help my mom find out what she wants to be."

on saturday night, my sister fui and i were part of an asian artist showcase. at this event, i met a classmate from my lsat prep class last year. he's vietnamese, an undergraduate student at cal and he will be graduating this spring 2010. when we met at our lsat prep class, we were very nervous about the class expectations and the test and we talked about where we wanted to go to law school. this friend told me that he wanted to get a high score because he planned on going to columbia university. at the event on saturday, i asked him how his applications went and he told me that he was accepted to columbia and is waiting to hear from harvard. wow, this was great news from my classmate!
i thought about his great news when i came home. i did think about our differences: he's a traditional student, he's doing his undergrad at a top school, and I assumed that he does well on standardized tests. i also remembered how kind he always was to me, an older woman in the class. he is always genuine in conversation and talks to me when we run into each other in public. when i first met him, he seemed awkward to me and shy, but as i see him more, i realize that he's young and still coming into himself.

i saw my own reflection in my young classmate. i saw that i too, although much older in age, am awkward in this process of applying to law school. I am very nervous and am still coming into myself in my journey to get to law school.
talking to my classmate on saturday woke me up from my stupor of self criticism and self doubt. my classmate shared his news with me with kindness and by doing this, he allowed me to imagine myself in his own accomplishments, that his great news is an example of great news that i will receive one day too.

i'm still a little beat around the edges and my heart is still broken from not making last year's law school application deadlines, but, after hearing from my classmate that he's going to the school of his choice, i remember the great joy i felt when i realized i wanted to become a legal advocate. i'm feeling that great joy coming back. i'm scared to capture all that joy back again though because, since recently being disappointed with myself, the self doubt comes back and i say, "what if you don't do it again." sure, i guess there's always that risk that i may not apply again this year, but there's a promising possibility that i can do it and that i will get into the school i want, just like my classmate! i must choose to pursue joy, not failure.

i remember a fellow americorps legal intern i talked to back in 08. he was a young man like my classmate, but he was italian/irish from the historically irish southie neighborhood of boston. he was finishing his senior undergrad year when he applied to 50 law schools. no one accepted him. then he served as an americorps legal intern, retook the lsat, finished undergrad. and applied to 37 schools, including his dream school, bc (boston college). he got accepted to 7 schools, including his dream, bc, where he is starting his second year. it's an inspiring story!

i'm really proud of my classmate and am grateful for how his example of kindness, hard work and commitment, helps me in my struggle to pursue joy in my life.

i think of howard zinn and how his work brought joy to people, how he made it easier for us in this country. how did howard find his calling in life?

my calling for right now is to wake up to myself, my kind and hard working, committed self. to greet myself in the morning and when my heart sinks and shrieks away from the everyday chores of living and hides away from the law school process, i will hold my heart and carry her steadily with my own hands. each day, my strength will return and, each day, i will forgive myself and trust myself again.
while i do these things, i will not hate and blame people around me who see that I am engaged in a fierce struggle with myself. i will not be angry at them because they see that i am vulnerable and exposed and that they offer to help me. i will not dismiss them because i am ashamed that they witness on a daily basis how difficult it is for me to return to my own joy. i will let them help me to stand up. i will find joy in transforming my self hatred to reflect, instead, the great love my companions have for me.