Leveling Up: Decade in Review.

I am not usually a New Year’s Resolution person,  but even I can’t resist reviewing the past decade.

I started law school (2010), graduated law school (2013), got admitted to the NY bar (2014).

I hated law school. It was not a good time for me. I was unhappy and resented the fact that I was still in a library studying and not out in the world building new things or helping people. What can I say, except that I was in my early 20s, and didn’t like being cooped up.

I am happy to be a lawyer. Law school is the only path to that, so I can’t rightly say that I regret the decision, but it was a trial (haha – and yes, a privileged one at that), but as I will mention below, it did open up the possibility of eventually helping people. I would be lying if I wasn’t also proud about having taken that oath, and how lawyers have stood up in this current moment of Constitutional unrest and abuse of power.

Note: The Fourth Department Appellate Division of New York deemed, in its wisdom, that they will admit people to the bar only at a certain cadence. Thus I took the bar in July 2013, found out I passed in October 2013, and was admitted in January 2014, the nearest date to my passage.

I moved from New York to Seattle.

This was a big one for me. I had never lived outside the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the US. Mostly I was in western or central New York. I moved across the country for two reasons:

  1. Work. There was less opportunity for young attorneys in my state.
  2. LOVE. My now-husband and then-boyfriend lived in Vancouver, and this allowed us to see each other every other weekend. Ultimately it allowed us to have THE CONVERSATION and now we are married.

I love Seattle and it would take a lot to get me to leave. The weather is wonderful – it doesn’t rain nearly as much as media would have you think – and there is so much to do outside. The vibe is more my pace; I can always tell when someone is visiting from the east coast because they are wearing khakis, and the business casual world is truly one I do not miss navigating.

Further, there is an entrepreneurial spirit here. It was a bad year for tech and the start-up world looks like it will harden, at least for a bit, as venture capital realizes that sometimes companies truly do need to make money at some point. That said, moving here really was eye-opening. You use apps for everything and there is a mentality that if you can build it, and it’s useful, you should give it a whirl. There’s an experimental tone to everything that is 100% lacking where I’m from, which has ossified considerably, and while I think the rose-colored glasses are slowly coming off, I’m grateful that it’s still present.

I ran a LOT, then I took a break and lifted heavy.

Graduating law school was soon met with near-crippling, undiagnosed (at that point) anxiety. I was looking for work, and eventually found work, and desperately trying to manage my monthly student loan payments. Finding control over something became imperative. Enter crazy amounts of running.

Running Mile Totals

Year Total Miles
2015 1,980
2016 1,992
2017 1,123
2018 1,158
2019 391

Bit of a dive between 2018 and 2019. My key successes (you can, if inclined, see a tally of all my races here):

  1. Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series. I came in top 3 for every race and came in 2nd overall, i.e., a tally of the cumulative time across all races. This was HARD. Trails are simply harder to race than roads (fact. I will not dispute this. I refuse) and it was hot, I rolled my ankle, and was stung by a bee. On the final race, (bee sting race), I actually contemplated quitting around mile 8, realized I was in the middle of a mountain, and the only way to end it was to finish. I never felt better after a race, except maybe…
  2. Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I met my fundraising goal and had a PB of 1:39:52 for the half marathon.
  3. Viking Trail Dash Half Marathon. I was undertrained and won 1st place, and a Viking sword (made in China). This says more about the field than me, to be honest, but hey, a sword!
  4. Spartan Beast. Truly this sucked but I did it.

I kept running – you can see a series mish-mash of trail runs in 2018, but I was burned out. Around this time last year I was running a ten miler and got caught in a snow storm (“storm”) halfway through. I returned home cold and in the dark, wondering what my training goals were, realized I had none, and decided I needed a break.

I slowly began running less, weaning myself off of running, no longer needing it to self-medicate a lot of the stress I had previously experienced (a diagnosis and actual medication for anxiety helped), and turned to lifting heavy. Progress for the past few months can be seen here.

The top was when I was running quite a lot in 2018-ish, and the bottom is now with 3 months of heavy lifting and two leg days (I weigh less on the right, interestingly enough).

Liz - SeattleRnRLiz-LegDay

I’m excited to see how much heavier I can lift in the upcoming months, but I’m definitely squatting more than my own body weight, and my deadlift has increased about 79%, which is cool.

Christian got his green card and we traveled more.

As one could imagine, it was a struggle with immigration. We had to spend money on an attorney (I was not handling this in the current legal environment) and Christian couldn’t cross the border lest he risk his pending application. This meant no visiting his family in Canada and definitely no cross-border travel. Prior to this, he couldn’t even work for a bit, which was just an unhappy experience all along, but thankfully that was resolved sooner than the green card.

It was a huge relief when he received his green card. We’re able to visit family and, for the first time since we were married, went on a real, live vacation to Quebec City. I have a Facebook photo album that I assume no one but friends and family can see (and the government, and Facebook itself, and …) but here is taste:

Let me mop up the rest here:

  • I did a lot more pro bono work. I did a few Nationalization and Citizenship workshops, two asylum cases, one veteran’s status change case, and some DACA work (my weak spot).
  • I was more politically active. I’m awful about knocking on doors and making phone calls for candidates. The past few years I’ve gotten better – not great – about that. I’m technically the POC for my legislative district and I’m awful at it but the spot was empty and I’m trying to do better this year.
  • I paid about 1/2 of my federal student loans back. The interest is killer. Anyway, I was interviewed by the WSJ about it so rather than retread old ground, you can read about it here and enjoy this picture summary.

Loans2019

  • Finally, last but not least, I started a company with some fellow moderators of the subreddit r/changemyview, called ChangeAView. I left after a little over a year because I felt like I contributed all I could in its nascent state and, truth be told, I have grown a lot in my assumptions about what dictates a good conversation and what must be done to improve how people interact online. Ultimately, I land that most of these are either (1) systemic, and can only be fixed through institutional and/or regulatory change, or; (2) about scale, and can only be self-policed by the largest companies with the biggest footprint in conversations (i.e., your twitters, Facebooks, and so on.) I actually remain more optimistic than pessimistic about this landscape today and where it’s going, but that’s another blog post for another time. You can read about our coverage here, and what my theory of the case as to what a “good founder” was here.

Goals for 2020? I don’t generally do resolutions because I find that they are good for setting one up for failure. It’s exceptionally difficult to do everything in one magnanimous, yearly push. I prefer small, bite-size chunks, and preferably at a cadence that isn’t immediately associated with failure (hahaha oh those silly resolutions I never keep!) But here are some rough contours:

  • I want a job that engages directly with issues of communication law and product law in the social media (maybe even “trust and safety”) sphere.
  • I am fine with a compliance specialist role but ultimately I’m a lawyer doing the same work streams as associate counsel at large companies, so I want my role to reflect that and become counsel;
  • Keep lifting heavy, see where it takes me;
  • Continue traveling more;
  • More pro bono;
  • More activism.
  • Complete my 12-in-12 video game list.
  • Build a wild new computer.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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