Friday, February 03, 2012

Rightful places.

[Written last night by hand. And yes, I do put footnotes in my handwritten drafts.  I live for footnotes -- or haven't you noticed? I'm weird that way.]

Sad to say, there are not a lot of things which will draw me out of my hermitage (other than spending time with actual friends).  My social anxiety -- bordering on mild agoraphobia -- has become too acute.  I'm working on overcoming it.

One of those things, however, would be "The Privacy Paradox: Privacy and Its Conflicting Values," a day and a half symposium at Stanford Law School.  The first session covers drones, which are interesting, but for me the meat of the symposium is tomorrow, with discussions on medical records and privacy; data gathering and politics; and privacy, tort law and the first amendment.

This is why I am sitting one of the large classrooms in the law school.  I know no one here; I cannot figure out if this is a bug or a feature.

I am trying to appear invisible.  Maybe that's why I wore all black. On the other hand, on a whim  I wore my most outrageous earrings, red chandeliers with drops that fall almost to my shoulders.  They were my effort to reclaim my unique sense of self.  They were to give me courage.

They're not working.

Returning to Stanford Law School is always am emotionally fraught experience for me.*  I am proud I went here:  a degree from Stanford, in any discipline, is most decidedly not chopped liver.

Yet that pride competes with a vague shame, a sense of failure for the direction my life moved in that I did not use my degree much.  I feel like I've let the side down, so to speak.**

This symposium, which covers so many areas of interest for me (medical records privacy! data gathering! politics! the First Amendent!) is one of the few things to overcome my reluctance to revisit what actually was a very good place for me. I learned a lot here, and not just law.  I learned a way of thinking and being in the world.  Regardless of where I went after, this place changed me, for the good. I need to get back here more often, if for no other reason than to remind myself that, yes, regardless of whatever I have done with my life, I am intelligent enough to have belonged here once.  To belong here today.

*There is also a more defined sense of panic.  The last time I was in this specific classroom I was taking Tax, a class in which I did not do particularly well (I ended up taking it pass/fail, if memory serves) and which I hated every minute of, Professor Bankman's skill as a teacher notwithstanding.  I have to keep reminding myself that I also took Evidence in this room, which I loved and in which I got an A.

** I feel the same way about Wellesley.  My alma mater is also the alma mater of secretaries of state, astronauts, high-profile journalists, and Miss Manners.  Had the Democratic primaries gone differently in 2008, it would have been the alma mater of the first woman President of the United States. (It was also the alma mater of the best teacher my sons had in middle school.) It's a heady thing to live up to. 

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