Friday, July 31

My Last Day of Work

Today will be my very last day of work at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and I think it's safe to say I am having a lot of feels. From the moment I came to my interview, I felt appreciated and understood, which is a feeling I don't think people get a lot in big, corporate firms. 

I posted on my Facebook the other day that I was really surprised by how much I've changed over the course of the last two and a half months from working here, and that's the biggest thing I'll be taking away from this experience. I mean, I did a lot of legal memos and research and stuff law clerks really have to do, but even those taught me so much about areas of the law I had never known or experienced before. Who would have known that I really like property law? NOT ME, that's for sure. But I've been up to my ears in property law, going down weird legal rabbit holes, and loving it.

Besides all the memos, I've been brought along to represent NHLA at a charity fundraiser, an unemployment hearing, a settlement negotiation, and (of course) I did my own hearing.

But more than all of that (or at least most of that), what's going to stick with me is how we treated people at NHLA. NHLA deals with a lot of clients who are mentally ill, disabled in some way, going through some of the worst times in their lives, in complete panic from some disaster... and they are always treated like a priority - like human beings, with dignity and respect.

We went to play softball a few weeks ago with some female inmates at a local prison. Now, I'm a pretty big social justice hippie, and logically, I know that people who end up in prison are not necessarily "bad guys." A lot of them are there for drug charges, got raised in bad situations, etc. But while I wasn't nervous about going to the prison (I'll be honest, I was thinking about "Orange is the New Black" the whole time), I was so surprised by the women there. They seemed so normal

When my teammates and I got back in the car, one of my co-workers said, "Oh my gosh, I just realized who our pitcher was. She was involved in a highly-publicized murder!" This was the woman I had been the most shocked to see there - she was young, beautiful, extremely polite, and even charming. I kept thinking, "I wonder what she did to be here. It must be a drug thing, because she is just too nice." I wouldn't have known most of the other women there were inmates had we not been playing in a prison.

That was a big moment for me - I realized (really realized, despite all of my social justice dogma) that these were real people, not cartoonish villains. I hadn't realized how much my semi-subconscious stereotypes had affected me until that moment - that in some way, I expected them to be "bad." I know that some of those women probably did really bad things and our justice system probably put them in prison for good reasons, but they're still real people. They're people who made mistakes and did the wrong thing, or people who got mixed up in drugs, or people who were caught up in a society who didn't take care of them. They still deserved to be treated with dignity and respect, the same as all of us.

At NHLA this summer, I got to work with clients who could not be described except as "the little guy." It really changed my view of the world from this hypothetical social justice to a reality. I had to take a hard look at myself and say, "I know you're not necessarily comfortable with this, but do it anyway," on more than one occasion. I had to look at my own prejudices and stereotypes head on. I had to take charge and do real lawyer things that scared me. I had to basically put on an entire trial (with lots of help and advise from my supervising attorneys, of course) and execute it while hoping that no one saw my legs shaking. I had to trust myself when making objections or not making them. I got a hell of a lot better at doing cross-examinations, which had been my biggest issue in Trial Advocacy last year.

And once again, I felt so appreciated. Everyone would always come up to me and thank me for working so hard, or doing a good legal memo, or taking on a lot of work. I made plenty of small mistakes and turned in a legal memo or two I wasn't super proud of, but everyone seemed to treat my time there like a learning experience - which it was. I learned how I like to be communicated with and what information works for me in order to give the attorneys the work product they're looking for. It was so nice to go to work every day and feel like you're not only making a difference, but that the people around you appreciate you for it.

Today's my last day at work, and I still have a lot of feels.

Monday, July 27

Recipe: Ginger-Garlic Salmon

One of my goals for 2015 was to make two new recipes each month, which I've been fairly good at keeping up with. One of the recipes I tried in June was this amazing recipe for ginger-garlic salmon, which I've made two more times since! It's a really easy recipe that I can't wait to make again and again! J's pretty happy with whatever I cook, but this has been a huge favorite of both of ours!

I really prefer to make this with fresh salmon, but I got a whole frozen side for really cheap this month and I just couldn't say no! This last time I made the recipe, I had two portions left that I thawed in warm water. There was a side that was slightly freezer-burned, but I just cut that part off when I was taking the skin off.

The next thing I did was marinate the salmon! J prepared a marinade of (based on the linked recipe):

  • 1 whole head of garlic, chopped up
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon syrup (from Vermont)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 heavy dashes of white pepper
  • Pinch of salt

We marinated the salmon in that mixture for about an hour and a half, and then pre-heated the oven to 375. When the oven was ready, we transferred the salmon to an oven-safe pan, along with all the excess marinade! We both tend to like more of the marinade that is really called for because I've been serving it over cilantro-lime rice, and it just tastes sooo good together!

It cooks in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and then is ready to eat! We piled the cilantro-lime rice into bowls, placed the salmon on top, and then poured the excess liquid on top. SO. YUMMY!

Honestly, this isn't the easiest recipe in the world because the marinade does call for a lot of preparation... but it's so, entirely worth it! J and I both love Asian food, and this salmon really encompasses what I love so much about it - tons of garlic, tons of ginger, and tons of flavor! I hope you love it as much as I do!

Have you ever made this recipe? Would you? Do you have a recipe that you could make over and over again?

Wednesday, July 22

Restaurant Review: Yuki Sushi

When J and I first came to Concord two years ago, one of the first things we tried to do was find "our" sushi restaurant in the area. We had only been here a few days, so I looked on Living Social. The reviews for the places around Concord seemed pretty "meh" at best, but there was a sushi restaurant in Manchester that was well-reviewed: Yuki Sushi. It was around 30 minutes away, but J and I wanted to get to know the area and decided to make a mini-adventure of it.

From the original trip to Yuki! J was kind of enough to take outfit pictures for me afterwards.

The first thing about Yuki Sushi is that you would probably never know it's as good as it is from where it's located. It's not in downtown Manchester at all - it's down a few side streets and located in a dying strip mall. It's kind of hard to find, but follow the directions of your GPS and you'll probably make it there just fine.

The next thing you should know is that their lunch deals are fabulous! They have a bunch of deals on the fancy and basic rolls, and almost every special comes with soup and salad! Plus, every appetizer I've had there has been amazing, and by sharing a few of everything, everyone can leave full without feeling like their wallet's been emptied. I've eaten there for dinner before too, and while it's more expensive because it's dinner, I do think you get good food for the price you're paying!

This last time J and I ate there was for our anniversary, and J ordered Ginger Calamari as an appetizer for himself (don't worry, he shared some, aka I stole some). It wasn't something we'd had before, but we both loved it! The calamari was tender and super flavorful, and the sauce was dynamite! There was more than enough for J on his own, and that kid can eat like nobody's business. I had to fight him off to get a few bites in! ;)

Every time I got to Yuki now, I have to get the Agadashi Tofu. I got it once with my bestie Erica, and I haven't been able to resist it since. It's even good heated up in the microwave, which seems like madness! It's basically just fried tofu, but the sauce they put on it has some kind of black magic in it. I have no idea how they pack that much flavor into one sauce, but wow.

Overall, I've been really pleased with their sushi. They don't skimp on the rice-to-fish ratio (you're definitely getting your money's worth), they have a good variety on the menu, and it's comparatively pretty affordable! It's by far my favorite sushi restaurant in the Concord/Manchester area.

To be fair, I've been totally unimpressed with all the other sushi restaurants I've been to so far in Concord. The ones I've been to either give out tiny portions, charge a ton, or some cruel combination of the two. I've been totally spoiled with Oyama Sushi in Iowa City, which remains my favorite sushi restaurant of all time despite the fact that, yes, it's in Iowa City. Yuki Sushi here in Manchester is by far the best I've found in the area, especially for the price!

Don't be fooled by the strip mall - Yuki Sushi is serving some seriously delightful food, and their lunch specials make it affordable for even the average law student!

Have you ever been here? Which is your favorite sushi restaurant in the area?

Monday, July 20

Exploring New Hampshire

If you've been reading my blog this summer, you know that it's been really important to me to get out and actually explore New Hampshire this summer! My grandpa has been scolding me for the last two years for not going to see the parks and wilderness, but during the school year, it's just not possible for me: I'm exhausted, I'm busy, and when I do have free time, I really want to use it to relax, not to run around the state.

I've been doing my best this summer to explore new parts of New Hampshire, and I got another great opportunity a few weeks ago when my grandparents came to visit! They took J and I to this adorable bed & breakfast near Plymouth, and then we explored The Flume, The Basin, the Mount Washington Hotel, and the landmarks leading up to the Hotel! It was such a great weekend - I loved seeing my family, spending time with them and J, and exploring all these new, beautiful areas in my adopted state! Check out my pictures from the trip!

I learned so much of New Hampshire history during this trip, and it always amazes me (even when I'm just driving through) that people actively decided to settle here. It still seems like such wild country, and I can't help but put myself in their shoes and try and look at it from a settler's point of view. Would I have the balls/ovaries to look at this wild expanse of land, full of rivers and lakes and mountains and ridges and waterfalls and been like, "Oh yeah, this is definitely the land I'm here to conquer"? No, probably not. I'd probably try and find a nice field to live in. Like Iowa, haha. Point being, I have the most respect for the immigrants who came to this land. New Hampshire is a beautiful, wild country, and I couldn't have lived here before cable and air conditioning. :)

What parts have you explored of New Hampshire? Which are your favorites?