I Seem Not to Be Crazy… Yet…


I’m super afraid to say it because I don’t want to jinx it, but maybe school is going well.

2L is a really strange thing. You see, I barely feel like I’ve got a handle on anything. I walk around worrying that my blood pressure is going to get out of control again. I worry about meal prep and stocking my locker and the fridge at school. I worry about deadlines and meetings. Yoga.  Friendships. Church. I worry about technology. Basically, I’m a wad of worry and worry is what law school has been for me.

And yet… 1Ls ask me how to do things.

It’s such an abrupt shift from feeling like, “Okay… I’ve survived the first year. I’m one third of the way done and I haven’t lost my mind just yet…” to having others come to me as if I have a wealth of experience and wisdom that will aid them on their journeys.

For the record, I don’t know how to do things. I’m still just trying to get by.

Even so, school seems to be falling into place and running smoothly. I dropped a class after a minor intervention from a couple of friends who pointed out that I may have been a little too ambitious with my schedule. Besides that minor hiccup, I’m really enjoying things.

Most of my time is spent on Wrongful Convictions stuff. I’m in the clinic and have been assigned to a client whose story really matters to me. Another chunk of my time is spent on normal classes, my favorite of which is First Amendment. Journal work takes up the rest of my time, and after making a change to the topic I’m writing about, I’m pretty happy with my choice to do a journal. I was a little concerned that it would be too much. I’m also on the board of Pride Law, which I’m sort of inadequate for… I haven’t spent much time at all really learning the things that should probably be prerequisites for such a board position, but I’m learning, and the other board members are letting me learn.

In other news, I’m dating someone and I feel like I learn things every day about what it can be to partner up. I didn’t know how stabilizing it can be… to check in each day… to hold hands (I love holding hands)…  to have someone text to make sure I got home okay… someone who tells me it’s okay… who listens and is on my side… who fills me with peace and calm…

I’ve seen a lot of the volatility of relationships and I struggle to trust that my person and I aren’t that… that it’s possible for us to make each other better and build each other up, rather than tearing each other down.

 

In other life update headlines:

Kate to Visit Family Over Fall Break: Moose’s First Flight

Semester Starts Amid Accusations of Sexual Harassment*

Learn to Drink in Moderation: Believe it or Not, Moderation is Possible

Hanging with Noam Chomsky: Campus Speech Event

 

And that’s all, folks! Take care of yourself and drop me a line when you get a chance. 🙂

________________________________________________________________________________________________

*This one blew my mind a little bit, and you should ask me about it in person… it’s a story.

 

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Shouting “Abba, Father” from the Stage


Several years ago, I was a member of a tiny church that met pretty regularly to pray out loud together over breakfast.

I loved praying with that group, because it was one of the few places I felt comfortable praying out loud.

Prayer is difficult for me. I am among a minority who find it easy to open my Bible and read it, but really hard to open myself up in talking to God.

I do a lot of things to work with myself on this struggle. I let myself write my prayers out, like letters to God. I sometimes sit on the floor in the dark to pray. I pace my apartment talking out-loud. I yell at God in rage. Cry out to Him from my knees. Try to be flexible and let myself talk however I need to talk. Let if be okay if I can only get two sentences out. Forgive myself the struggle and trust that my imperfect prayers still matter. Are enough.

The greatest accommodation I make for my prayer struggles is to address God as “Abba.”

Calling God “Abba” is my way of reminding myself of how God cares for me. That there is tenderness, love, and understanding in Him. There are, of course, other aspects of my relationship to Him. He is Lord. God. Alpha and Omega. Yahweh/I am… I sometimes call Him something other than “Abba” to highlight a different godly attribute, but He is usually “Abba” to me.

When I was praying with my tiny church several years ago, I didn’t really explain it to anyone, but I started to let them hear me calling God “Abba.” I was feeling tired of the unnaturalness of praying differently when others can hear me than I pray when I am alone.

A little while after I started letting my friends hear me pray the way I actually pray, one of the men was giving a talk to a bunch of 20-30 year olds. In it, he mentioned a girl he knows who addresses God as “Abba.” I don’t remember the details of what he said, but I remember the gist being that we should all approach God more like that… with a greater intimacy and affection, like that of a child approaching her daddy.

I honestly didn’t think he was talking about me. I assumed there must be tons of people who pray, “Abba, Father.” It’s not a new idea that I invented. It’s right there in multiple books of the New Testament. It’s even there in red letters. I thought my friend must certainly have been talking about some other girl he knows, because I am certainly not the only one who needs to talk to God as my Abba.

Afterward, a friend teased me about being mentioned in the talk. She implied that this man must have had feelings for me to speak so complimentary of me and so publicly.

I just said he was talking about someone else… not talking about me at all.

She gave me one of those pitying looks, like I was being really ridiculous not to see what was right before my eyes. Like, “Pfft. You can’t possibly be that dense.”

Ever since my friend looked at me like that, I’ve felt really self-conscious about prayer. My Bible study prays out loud together every week, and I usually pray silently. If I do pray out loud with them, I make sure to address God as “God” or “Father-God.” Never Abba.

I hate the idea that anyone would hear me call God “Abba,” and think it signifies a special intimacy with God… It’s the opposite of that. I call Him Abba, because I struggle to believe He is my Abba. That He loves me. Wants me. Cares. Supports. Protects. He seems much more like Lord. God. Alpha. Omega. Yahweh.

Not Abba. Anything but Abba.

Not praying out loud with my Bible study almost certainly isn’t the right answer. Nor is it right to change the way I talk to God when I talk to Him in front of others.

Yet, I get so afraid sometimes that something which is an integral part of prayer for me, something which is important and close to my heart, might again end up on stage.  Might become something upon which others comment. Might lose all its intimacy and power when entrusted to others.

Law School Can Change a Man


“Hey – law school can change a man.”

A couple of the lawyers in my office were doing a Sorkin – style walk and talk and I caught that one last, grave comment. The lawyer who said it was being both serious and absurd, and it made me smile.

I am done with my internship. I learned so much. I met really great people. I did work that matters. I’m not any closer to figuring out if I want to do that kind of work in the future. It was almost exactly what I thought it would be, and I think I could do it and be okay, but I’m not sure if I really want that to be my daily life… crack-addicted babies, tiny, broken bones, and 5 year olds with PTSD. We’ll see…

My last day on the job was Thursday. Yesterday was a nice day to rest and recover. I also have something like three weeks between now and when I go back to school.

I should feel pretty great about that. Woohoo! Three weeks, right? But I hate myself a little bit today, because fear and dread hit me the second I woke up, and three weeks seemed oh-so-very short.

I go back to school in three weeks.

“Law school can change a man,” is really an absurd thing to say, because it’s an implicit comparison between school and war.

I spent the summer working on legit scary situations, where death and injury are real things…

And all I can think in light of that is that I’m such a spoiled, rich moron for feeling scared to go back to school. I’m so ridiculous…

“I’m signed up for too many credits…”

“Why did I agree to do x/y/z?”

“How am I going to keep myself from dry-heaving?”

“Can I do this for two more years?”

I fluctuate between self-loathing and self-pity.

Last year was so hard.

So hard.

Before I fell to pieces last year, I honestly thought I was pretty decent at self-care.

Now, I feel like I should  stop by the Crisis Response Center and fill out some paperwork so they’ll know who I am and what’s wrong with me when I turn up in mid-November resembling Gollum in pigment, body composition, and style.

Of course it will be okay. I know that.

Also, I love law school. I hope and pray that the friendships I’ve gained from school will be lifelong, because I really love the people. They are so smart. They care about the world and they haven’t given up on their dreams. It’s so rare for adults to still believe that justice can be achieved and that it’s worth fighting for. Of course there is also a certain permeating cynicism that’s unavoidable, but it’s paired with a crusading beautiful idealism. I get to spend my days reading and talking policy, justice, politics, textual interpretation.

I honestly can’t put into words how much I love school.

Just a few weeks ago, I actually had the thought, “I’m ready to go back to school now. I miss school.”

I wish that could be today’s thought.

Today, I want to continue my internship in perpetuity. I could just keep writing the easy parts of appellate briefs. Keep researching and writing memos. Keep being helpful, but ultimately not responsible. Keep being able to sleep and feel normal and not be a lunatic.

In three weeks, I’m going to go back to school and it’s going to be fine.

I’m not going to go crazy.

It’s nothing like war.

Law school is listening, reading, writing, and learning.

Law school is a stressor, but I can totally do this.

I can totally do it.

Can’t I…?

The Humble, Hopeful Lawyer


I had a wonderful, terrible moment this week.

I was sitting in the back of the courtroom, and I was struck by the achy questioning:

“What if I can’t do this? What if I’ve wasted a year and tens of thousands of dollars… what if I waste two more years and a hundred thousand dollars more… only to discover I can’t do this? What if I can’t do this? What if I can’t?”

I don’t have an academic fear. I’m not worried that I won’t be smart enough or competent enough. Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of times I don’t feel smart enough. What’s worse for me, though is knowing what it is to work a job like this.

You see, there was this eight-year-old. He is my boss’s client, and it was my job to play with him a.k.a. keep him distracted while the grown-ups talk.

He is so smart. Like SO smart. I think he should be an engineer when he grows up. He’s adorable. He’s scared. He’s shy.

And I got to play with him.

There he was, wearing a fireman’s helmet and coat, sitting on the floor with me, talking about robots.

And his life was falling apart.

He didn’t understand a lot of it, but he understood enough.

And for the first time in my life, I legit wanted to take a kid home with me and feed him cookies and adopt him.

That’s why the doubt and fear in the courtroom – it was a hearing for this kid, and even though there were a shitload of smart, caring people trying to make things better for him, his life was and is still falling apart.

It’s the lawyer’s job to be one piece of overwhelmingly complex situations – situations where things have gone very, very wrong. It’s the lawyer’s job to try to make it better.

I almost cried in court that day – for the adorable, smart, shy kid, who I wanted to take home and feed cookies… I don’t even eat cookies.

I asked my boss after the hearing how she keeps from crying in the court room. She jokingly said, “I’m a little bit dead inside.” Then, more seriously, “I guess I’m just so focused on the job that I don’t have time to think about the emotions of it.”

That was so incredibly helpful to hear.

I’ve felt so much doubt lately about whether I even really want to be a lawyer. Whether I want to work with kids. Whether I’m enough.

I used to know I was enough.

With Victim Services, I never shed a tear on-scene or even while debriefing with my team in the van.

I saw horrific things.

I went into the darkest moments, held people’s hands while they cried, helped them arrange for someone to come and pick up the body, watched hospital staff pump them full of pain meds, stood by as DCS removed their children, told them their loved one was dead.

In the courtroom that day, I wondered if I’ve just lost whatever ability I used to have to be what was needed in the moment.

I don’t know if I want to work with kids anymore.

It’s been a question for almost a year.

I see so much value in representing kids, but I also know how bad it can hurt.

Having done the teacher thing, it would be a natural progression of my career to work with kids in the law.

Also, I’m masochistic or something, so I know I’m going to end up practicing some sort of heartbreaking law – DV, sexual assault, wrongful convictions, civil rights. Only the saddest of stories for Lawyer Kate.

But kids…

?

It was humbling sitting in that courtroom, seeing how good my boss is at her job, how much she cares. She’s actually not dead inside at all… but I think maybe she says things like that because she wants to be dead inside.

Victim Services took an enormous amount of self-care.

You have to constantly nurture humility and hope. Humility to know you cannot fix it. No matter how hard you work, the outcome is always out of your hands. Hope that even though it’s not okay and you can’t fix it, maybe your life, your presence in a difficult moment will matter. You might make things just a little bit better for someone, somewhere.

Working with kids would be that all over again. Humility. Can’t take him home, feed him cookies, and adopt him… and even if you did, that won’t fix it. Hope that someone does take him home, feed him cookies, and adopt him, and that the little bit of time I spent playing with him made his day or someone else’s a little bit better. Hope that what I contributed to an overwhelmingly complex situation was and is enough.

 

Summer Lovin’


Karen suggested that I should blog about dating. Because she knows. I’ve been leaning on her a lot lately. But I’m not writing this for her. I’m writing for me. 🙂

Thanks, Karen.

 

You know, I completely understand why people stick around in shitty relationships. Why it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to stay in love with him, even though he’s sleeping around. Why it doesn’t seem so terrible that she’s controlling. Why you might stay with him even though he hit your kid. Why one E.R. visit never seems quite as bad as everyone else makes it out to be. Why she went back to him after he choked her and slit her throat.

When I was volunteering with Victim Services, the constant thing was this question of why victims stay in shitty and abusive relationships, but I totally understand it.

 

I dated someone this summer. Yeah, we’re not even halfway through with the summer, but I’d like to file this relationship away as if it’s a summer romance that happened a long time ago.

 

My Person works with the blind. Has a kid. Is stable in life. Smart. Funny. Recently rescued a puppy.

I liked that I beat My Person at Scrabble by about 200 points every time we played. I liked that we texted throughout the day. That we held hands all the time. Lounged on the couch together while watching tv.

I liked the relationship-y things that we did.

I felt like in this particular relationship, I was making a good choice. I haven’t really had a relationship before. Most of you know that. I’ve dated a lot, but haven’t really done the long-term thing.

So I decided I need to give it a try.

And you know, My Person seemed like a pretty decent one to try with… right up until My Person broke up with me because I wasn’t ready for an overnight in Phoenix.

I know, right?

It blew my mind, because that’s the sort of thing that only happens on 90s television. 90s tv was always trying to help us be better people. Teaching us not to do drugs. Not to have an eating disorder. Not to date anyone who would pressure us to have sex.

I miss 90s tv.

My Person discarded me because I didn’t provide a pleasure My Person felt entitled to have.

When I was initially invited to go to Phoenix, it was to the tune of, “No pressure… open invitation.”

Then, when I said no, it was a week of not-so-subtle hinting and teasing and even some outright pressuring me to go.

Then, when it became clear I really meant no, My Person broke up with me. Over text.

Then texted me the next day to apologize.

Then texted me the day after that to see if I would like to get coffee to talk and to see if we can still be friends.

 

I get that we were only together for a month…

But it meant something to me…

People so often act nonchalant about stuff like this… like it’s no big deal and we should all be able to emotionally handle the one-month breakup oh-so-very easily.

Just for the record, it’s not easy.

It’s never easy to deal with someone discarding you.

That’s why rejection in dating feels so terrible.

Even if I ignore all of the hopes and plans for the future that never came to fruition… that day I requested off of work, because we were going to spend it together… the plans to see this or that movie, do this or that activity together…

All of those things have to be grieved, but even if I ignore everything else that hurts in breakups… there’s still, always, that terrible, terrible truth that someone else shat all over my identity.

 

Sure, sometimes breakups are logistics or geography… timing or incompatibility… but mostly they are a commentary on the person being dumped.

 

Not worth the effort unless there’s sex.

 

That was the commentary on Kate.

 

And you know what is the craziest thing ever?

I want My Person back.

Not really… but sometimes, in the stupid part of my heart that wants to go back and re-have what we had.

 

I’ve watched most of the women in my life stay in shitty relationships. I’ve also watched a complete stranger want to go back to him after he shot her son, choked her, beat the hell out of her, slit her throat, and cut off the tips of her fingers.

 

Because there is something about the way a romance impacts identity… validates identity… destroys identity… builds up… magnifies… reveals… reflects… identity.

 

That’s why DV victims can’t leave him. Identity.

 

I was proud of the choices I made in my summer fling with My Person. I did a truly spectacular job setting boundaries and paying attention to what was really going on in the relationship and why.

On day one, I was aware enough to suspect that My Person wasn’t used to hearing no. I was careful. Payed attention.

I also had a lot of fun. I allowed myself to really try. To be vulnerable. To hope. To have secrets within and about this relationship. To kiss.

Prior to this relationship, it had been more than ten years since I’d kissed anyone.

This is totally a side-beef that I have, but not kissing is one of those things that I think married people don’t get. They can’t. Some of them probably don’t have a ton of sex, but it’s impossible to explain to a married Christian how painful it is to try to “kiss dating goodbye” Joshua Harris style. And, okay, not all Christians do the no kissing thing, and I honestly wasn’t even trying not to kiss… but the Christian dating world is a bleak, bleak place. There was nobody I even wanted to kiss, nor would they have been on-board for a kis on or before the one-month mark.

And yes, I admit it, My Person is not a Christian. Had my person been a Christian, we would have talked a lot about marriage and baby-making and predestination… but we definitely wouldn’t have kissed.

 

Side-beef rant ended.

 

Yes, the correct question right now is how all of this fits into my faith. I don’t have a good answer for you. My beliefs about Who God is and how to read the Bible and what God expects from me have changed a lot. However, I’m not having a crisis of faith. As has been my habit since I was 17, God and I talk nearly every day. I read my Bible. Journal. Listen. Ask Him questions. He’s teaching me things… but I haven’t got it figured out just yet.

 

I will say I think I’ve learned that it takes a remarkable sense of self-worth to do the relationship thing well. Were I the type of girl who doesn’t see any value in herself, I would have gone to Phoenix and I would still be with My Person.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to consider others more important than myself. That’s what Jesus would do, right? That’s what the Bible legit tells us we should be doing… Phillippians 2:3. And you can qualify that ish all you want with talk about appropriate boundaries or how Paul was only telling us to be that way within the church… but Paul didn’t qualify it that way, nor do I think he meant us to only take on a humble posture like that with other Christians. And had I considered My Person more important than myself, it would have been disastrous.

 

On that note… I have a date with a New Person this weekend. New Person seems nice. Is interested in theology. Doesn’t drink. Doesn’t like texting. The rest will have to be discovered over time. Here’s to hoping New Person and I do better than a 90s tv breakup… over text message (which I understand didn’t exist in the 90s).

🙂

“Yet” is a Beautiful Word


It’s been a rough semester year.

I’ve been thinking back to the time when I first heard the once-trendy Piperism “God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in Him.”

I remember that time as sort of magical, when each week, I would sit on a couch stacked on a table the boys had built because they wanted to have stadium seating in their living room. They were the type of boys who let maggots grow in a half-eaten Dairy Queen Blizzard left on a dresser for God knows how long… but they were also the type who invited us over each week to talk about God.

Prior to that Bible study, I honestly didn’t like God very much. I obeyed Him, because that’s what you do… but I couldn’t fathom that He wanted more from me than an pouting drudgery.

That Bible study changed me forever. Revealed the tenderness, affection, mystery, and safety of faith. And yet, my heart is back to drudgery again.

I don’t know how I got here, nor do I know how I made it out of the drudgery hole last time. It seems to have required a direct intervention from God. Intervene, please? Now?

Life right now seems like a pendulum to me, swinging from drudgery to reckless abandon. Nothing in between. Nothing ordinary. Nothing like John Piper’s God-glorifying satisfaction.

One moment, I am defeasible fees/contingent remainders/shifting future interests/the rule against perpetuities (no wonder so many lawyers have substance abuse problems). The next moment, I’m a late-night run chased by zombies and listening to “We Owned the Night,” b/c I feel like I actually own the night.

No in-between.

Drudgery. Overjoy. Drudgery. Overjoy. Drudgery… the pendulum swings.

I was at a Christian Legal Society meeting a few weeks ago, and we were reading Psalm 42, which is very back and forth between “My tears have been my food day and night…” and “The Lord will command His lovingkindness…” and “Why have You forgotten me?”

It’s really a beautiful passage of spiritual pain and stunted praise.

While CLS was talking about it, I was having a lot of trouble seeing it as uplifting.  Everyone except me seemed only to see warm fuzzies and positivities.

Then Matt pointed out the one hopeful thing that resonated with me.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you disquieted w/in me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”

He pointed out the word “yet.”

“I shall yet praise Him.”

It’s a future tense thing. In the future I shall praise Him.

I found that so incredibly comforting.

Christians so often put on an obnoxious fake praise. Because it feels like something we’re supposed to do. After all, “God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in Him.” And we’re supposed to glorify God, right? Therefore, I must be satisfied. I must show everyone how satisfied I am… right?

Also, I always feel like I’m about to get a lecture when I don’t at least pretend to be satisfied… when I have the nerve to ask Him why…

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world… Have you commanded the morning… Have you walked the recesses of the deep…?”

Whole chapters about where I was when God put leviathan in the ocean and set the stars in the sky… Well, God. You obviously are God, and I am not. I know that.

Matt went on to say that the word “yet” hints at those times when we don’t feel like we’re even Christians… we can trust that it won’t always be so. We shall yet praise Him. Even if it isn’t ours in this moment, we will reclaim satisfaction.

I can’t make my heart be satisfied. Can’t plant joy there and cause it to grow. Sometimes I can wrangle my emotions into a corner and make them do what I want them to do, but most of the time, if the drudgery/overjoy pendulum in my heart is to be reinvented, God has to intervene on my behalf. I can’t do it on my own.

While I’m stuck here, though, torn between drudgery and overjoy, sometimes not even feeling like I’m a Christian, isn’t Psalm 42 comforting? Isn’t the word “yet” the most comforting word in the English language? Because after I’m finished complaining about my tears and asking God why He has forgotten me, I shall yet praise Him.

 

How Much of My Sin Can God Handle?


I first felt the fear in 2014 – there was a major, major sin I wanted, and I truly didn’t have it in me to walk away.

I remember thinking, Is this it? Is this the time when God isn’t going to hold onto me? Is He going to let me go?

By the grace of God, I did eventually walk away, but I toyed with that sin. I fantasized about it. I caressed it and fed into it. I nourished and protected an affection for it in my heart.

 

It happened to me again this semester. I longed for sin. Temptation came in the form of lies, selfishness, betrayal, arrogance, envy…

Even as I see those traits within myself, I long to indulge them. I long to have what other people have. I’ve been so good for so long, right? Don’t I deserve a break? Why doesn’t God love me enough to give me the desires of my heart?

Please, Abba. Stop doing this to me. Just hit me with an effing car the next time I go for a run. End this. Please. Your plans for me are too hard. I’m not enough. I don’t want to do this anymore. I hate this place. It would be better to die now. “To live is Christ. To die is gain.”

No, I’m not suicidal. I promise. I know it sounds like I am, but I’m not. I’m not even sad, really.

After about six weeks of caressing and guarding my sin this semester, the other thoughts hit me again: Is this it? Is God about to give up on me? Was this just a temporary grace, dependent on my ability to be a good girl?

In the Bible, there are sort of paradoxical and, dare I say it… conflicting… passages when it comes to the perseverance of the saints. The question is usually posed in the abstract: can a person really, truly be a Christian and eventually lose her salvation?

It isn’t an abstract question to me at all. It is the question that haunts me. Each time I come up against the broken and blackened parts of my heart, I ask that question.

God, is this the time when I’ve gone too far? Am I beyond Your salvation now? Don’t let me walk away. 

I am not a Christian because I want to be one. If my faith was dependent upon me to maintain it, I would have walked away long before now. I am sure of it.

There are really beautiful things about Christianity. There are parts of the Bible that are so shockingly delicate. So rich. So mysterious. So flowing and soft.

However, the beautiful is often obstructed by Fox News and the 2nd Amendment. Also, there’s that grotesque problem that Christianity is ultimately about the murder of God.

Partnering alongside the beautiful and the hideous that are both ever-present aspects of my faith, the honest truth about Christianity is that it’s the hardest thing in the world. Christianity requires me to entrust everything about who I am to a God I can never fully understand. It requires more than I have. More than I can ever give. It requires so much more than anyone can articulate or imagine. It requires the death of God. Yes, His resurrection too.

 

Coming up to the edge of myself is a humbling reminder that I am not a Christian because I have done anything to be one.

I am a Christian because I need Christ.

I am a Christian because I do not have it in me to walk away from sin.

I am a Christian because Christ intervened and intervenes on my behalf.

“Perseverance of the saints” is a nice, sanitized, and intellectual way of trying to figure out what happens when a Christian isn’t enough, within herself, to save herself… and shouldn’t the answer to that question be self-evident within a faith that’s entire canon seeks to answer that question…

 

 

School update: it’s Spring Break… my blood pressure is 142/73. My resting heart rate is 52. I’ve got a ton of reading to do. I’ve got papers to write. I have secured a summer job with the Office of Children’s Counsel (represents kids in custody battles). I continue to lose weight and have days in which I can’t make myself eat even close to a normal number of calories. I’ve admitted to myself that I can’t do all of the things I want to do, and will thus need to tell people no. Yet, I haven’t yet told anyone no. I found out I made the dean’s list last semester. I love two or three of my classes this semester. I hate one of my classes this semester. I continue to build amazing friendships with my peers. I love being surrounded by people who think about everything and engage their community with the hope of making it better.