Thursday, November 27, 2008

Special Day

Today is my 9th wedding anniversary. Plus, of course, Thanksgiving.

Kinda poetic, really.

It's especially sweet that hubby is still asleep and the most recent conversation we've had occurred last night when he was insisting that reading other people's blogs about law school was a terrible approach to this whole business and I should stop it and get to studyin' the LSAT and not worry about other people's journeys, experiences, observations, the definition of avulsion, etc. I told him, as I left the room in order to end the conversation, that I didn't want to hear it, but that if he wanted, he could continue sharing his opinions with the cat.

We are both Last Word people.

Ten minutes later, he found me sitting quietly in the rocking chair in our daughter's room, listening to her sleeping sounds, and said (Last Word freak that he is), "I hope you enjoy sharing our anniversary with the cat!"

Don't worry though...I'll pop open a can of green beans to share with him at some point today and it'll all be alright. He's a good guy and I love him. Very much.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


LagLiv showed some impressive, and effective, assertiveness recently by re-assigning some work so she'd have time for other things, like Thanksgiving cooking and in-laws, etc. First she re-assigned, then she cleared it with the higher-up. Very impressive example of how to establish a balanced workload. I'm intrigued that there actually exists another first year associate "who had nothing on her desk." But that's another discussion for another day.

Today's discussion is about assertiveness. Basically, is it required of law-types to take initiative? What if you like to keep all options open? What if you just don't have an opinion? That would make for an ineffective lawyer, wouldn't it?

Can law school teach you to be more assertive? Is it something that happens by default as you traverse the stressful, competitive waters of a legal education?

I mean, look at Proto Attorney. She is being heroically assertive. But did law school drive her to such bravery, or was she always like that?

What happens to those who didn't start out like that? Are those the ones who drop out?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I want that

"...there is something thrilling about working late...with a bunch of other brilliant people..."
I have done several all-nighters for my career, but always alone. I had company with me once, because my husband had to bring my then-infant daughter to me at 3 o'clock in the morning in the server room so I could breast feed her while I was reconfiguring the networking equipment's physical connections. That was totally hawt. Nawt.

I don't mind the long hours, the working late, the running home for dinner and night-night, then going back to work (at least, I didn't mind it 8 years ago). But I do mind it when I'm doing it alone, and the evening is spent verifying that the backup tapes have been successfully logged, cleaned, archived, reset, or waiting for downloads to finish and machines to reboot. Or even when I'm drafting a Best Practices how-to for the client's executive team in language they may - but probably won't - bother to read.

I am so over it.

I'm sick of giving hours of my life, in the quiet belly of the middle of the night, to a bunch of stupid, inanimate, pain in the patoot machines that somebody else built and designed. I'm tired of proving a woman can be just as hard-core, can work in heels and a skirt with a screwdriver* in one hand and a bunch of cables in the other.

I want my long hours to include "a bunch of other brilliant people" instead...I want that.

* a metal one - not the fun, liquid kind

Monday, November 24, 2008

Best Lunch Ever

I had the most uplifting, fabulous lunch with the most fantastic, amazing women today and I am both humbled and inspired and in awe and more determined than ever. Thank you Shero!!! You are constantly showing us the way. With grace, style and class. I am in awe of you.


Update on Elvis: at the sleepover, I polled the mothers of the other 8-year-olds to see if they had educated THEIR daughters about pop culture icons from the 50's, and they all acted like that was a stupid question. Then it turned out that they were just ASSUMING that their kids knew who Elvis was, because, c'mon, who doesn't know who Elvis is?

Long story short, my daughter will be spending part of Thanksgiving break watching Blue Hawaii or whatever else constitutes a proper education in Elvis-ology.

I'm taking votes: please vote for which Elvis movie I should make my daughter watch...I mean...share with my daughter.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hangin' with the In crowd

This is for the mommies out there. And the nerds. Those nerds who managed to procreate. I'm one of ya'll, so I know what I'm talking about.

Anyone who is a mommy knows what it's like to be a girl. Even
the pregnant man. Girls are often not nice - not to each other, anyway. Do you know what happens after these girls grow up, after 20 years have passed by? They are still girls, often not nice to each other, only now they're in their 30's and chaperoning field trips.

Friday night I slept on the floor in a public building. My daughter's Brownie Troop was locked in for the night. There were about 10 girls and 6 adult-girls (aka mommies) from our troop, plus an additional twenty-seven bodies from two other unrelated and unknown Brownie Troops. We were all stretched out on sleeping bags, some nestled atop queen-sized air mattresses, others with nothing to soften the crunching of bone-on-stone full-body contact.

Did you know little girls snore?

This was my first field trip with this group. I really like the leader of this troop and feel lucky that we were invited to join. Many of you have yet to experience the problem of finding the right group for your child to join. It can produce a lot of problems in a lot of ways if you end up in a group that's not a good fit. But heckuva lot of good material for posting! Oh, the drama. Oh, the angst. And the one-liners as you turn on your heel and walk away. Not that...ahem...I've ever had to do that...

You know why I like this leader? Because SHE DOES NOT YELL. I, on the otherhand, yell quite often. Just in case you couldn't figure that out for yourself. Yep, I'm a yeller. Although I've made great progress (huge!) in curbing that inclination. But being around other yellers does not help me or help the situation. Being around quiet people who know how to keep control of a bunch of 8-year-old girls without using a coach's whistle: priceless.

This trip included the 2 leaders, both of whom I like and both of whom are quiet and probably not so high on the "cool" scale or on the "in crowd" list, then there's me (ditto except for the quiet part), and then three other mommies. Not ditto for them. Their "cool" rating might be mid-range, their "in crowd" rating also somewhere around a 7 or 8 out of 10. Yeah, yeah it all depends on who and where...context is everything...they may have been total losers at YOUR school. Exactly my point: out of the 6 adults that were part of this group at this event, these three mommies were the cool "in" crowd. First, because they were already friends. That's the biggest factor. Second, because they are all fairly hip and very tongue-in-cheek about everything. You know where that left me? Dependent upon their generosity of spirit. The two leaders automatically fell into the leader category together and worked as a team, the three friends had their little clique, and then there was me. This is a situation I find myself in over and over again. I guess that means I never get my friends to join the same groups with me. I'm really going to work on that.

The event was uneventful as far as interpersonal drama goes. Which is a big stinking victory. The girls all had a good time. Nobody cried (scouts or parents). Nobody tossed out any zingers. The "in" crowd was gracious enough, not too many inside jokes or overly obvious whispering, etc. (Yes, such behavior is not uncommon on trips like this, especially when everyone is sleep-deprived.) My favorite leader's feelings were hurt, I think, when the cool mommies played with their phones, updating their facebook pages, during the lecture part. As we were getting ready to pull out of the parking lot the next day, the leader made a point of thanking me for coming, saying that she thought I was the only one who enjoyed that part. But of course I enjoyed the lecture/learning part! I'm a nerd! I'm still reviewing the facts the guy went over so they'll stay in long-term memory. I want to know those nerdy little facts. It's cool to know them.

Unless you're a cool "in" crowd mommy. Then, not so much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"...there is no normal anymore..." - not my words (sure wish they were)

So Imbroglio blew me away today. (Not to take anything away from him, but some say I AM easily impressed, so there's that to consider.) But anyway, to begin at the beginning, you should read his entire post. But what most interests me is my comment/query :

"I had to buy a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s classmates last weekend. As is typical, I asked my daughter what her friend liked, such as Barbies or whatever, and we concluded that a cd would be a big hit - all these elementary school kids have ipods, etc. The birthday party had a 50’s theme, believe it or not, which is very strange when these kids were born in 1999 or 2000. Anyway, I figured, well, it’s a 50’s theme…so I got her an Elvis cd of his #1 hits. My daughter has never heard of Elvis, so she was strongly disapproving of this choice. She wanted me to get the High School Mucical 3 cd (I actually bought both…at Sam’s Club…a bit cheaper). Anyway, the girl LOVED the Elvis cd. So should I conclude that my daughter’s musical/cultural development is being stunted because we haven’t thrust the music of by-gone eras upon her? Or is it just Abby Normal for an 8-year-old to host a 50’s-themed party and love Elvis?"

and his eloquent, perfectly articulated response, the shining gem of which is quoted below:

"...maybe what this suggests is there is no normal anymore. There are so many media outlets and so many choices that the idea of some sort of monoculture for each generation, something “we” (people of a certain age) all share, is breaking down."

He said it best. That is EXACTLY the impression I've been getting.

Although, one must be willing to acknowledge the ubiquity of the Disney Channel and its influence on today's American youth, perhaps even international youth (if anybody can attest to what other kids in other countries are watching, I'm very interested to hear it). So, while the Millennium Babies such as my daughter (High School Class of 2018) may or may not know who Elvis is or who the Beatles are (and whether they SHOULD know is a very relevant tangential point to the discussion here), they SURE DO KNOW who Hannah Montana is and who the Jonas Brothers are. So there is a bit of cultural/generational identity happening there, I'm willing to bet. I'm saying there's a Disney Channel generation brewing right under our noses. But please don't hold back if you disagree with me on that point.

Regarding cultural uniformity: Three of us (in our thirties and forties) were talking today at work and I referenced Chewie/Chewbaka (sp?) from Star Wars, and 1 of the 3 of us did not get the reference because, she openly and unashamedly disclosed, SHE HAD NEVER SEEN STAR WARS. And I don't have to ask if I'm the only one who thinks that's bizarre because the 2 of us who weren't living under a rock all our lives and HAVE seen the film were literally shocked into silence with the big, wide-open eyes expression, staring at each other like she'd just admitted some preposterous thing. Like we thought we knew her. Like we thought she was one of us. But now we knew the truth. I mean, ya think you know somebody, and then they tell you something like that. Talk about not normal!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I just had lunch with my 74-yr-old father. He drove into town to meet me. We went to one of the fancy downtown places with stained-cement floor and square plates and cucumber-scented water glasses.

He wants to know how I'm going to make the mortgage and the 2 car loans and the cost of food and the school-supplies-for-the-kiddo requirements magically disappear while I'm enjoying my midlife crisis in law school.

Thanks Dad.

Beginning with the end in mind

Folk tales and other narrative devices that utilize the expression "Begin at the beginning" have a sort of folksy wisdom that I find appealing. This is a personal preference, obviously, and stems, I'm sure, from my tendency to do the exact opposite. For example, at work, when I write a 2 or 3 sentence email in response to someone's query, before I hit Send, I review it quickly. My review almost always reveals that I've started my response with the final point, and ended it with background information that would lead you to the final point. In other words, I write backwards. This is not good. People often do not read my emails. This is annoying. It causes me to have to repeat the information in a hallway conversation. It feels a little like my input is invisible, at least initially. [Note: which is (just one part of) why I can relate to Shelley's recent post.] This is why I spend time re-writing my emails, even simple ones. That also is annoying.
But necessary.

I was struck last night by a thought, a moment of hope and inspiration. To wit: What about Policies and Procedures? What about "Contracts"? These are seemingly things that I could get truly excited about. If only I knew how they translate into a real-life job! I am seeking information about this. I will post more specific questions (and email my questions) later, because work is actually needing me to pay attention to it now.

Why Contracts/Policies-n-Procedures: I know the local law school has a course entitled "Contracts" that is required for 1L's. I bet all law schools do. I always enjoy knowing there are rules, or wanting to establish policies/procedures/rules if there aren't any, and so...and so...and so wouldn't it be cool if that were my JOB? I wonder if that means employment law would interest me. I wish I knew more!!! Or business law? Crap. Someone help me. Tell me what to read. Fine. I'll find it without your help, you invisible-reader-that-doesn't-really-exist. I'm like a one-act play, performing in front of an empty theater.

Point of this post: my whole law school should-I-or-shouldn't-I quandary MUST BE PREDICATED ON the final outcome: working as a lawyer. And so, like all goal-oriented people, I will focus on the end, in order to decide if there will be a beginning.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


My daughter advanced by two levels in MathFacts today! Wahoooo! I've been bugging her for weeks to get on that thing, to move past her current level. Rock on, sweetheart! I'm proud of you.

And yes, you get the $2.

Bloggers Anonymous

"Hi, everybody. I'm gudnuff, and I'm an addicted blogger."

[Crowded room, smoke hanging in the air from all the cigarettes hanging from the corner of each person's mouth, every metal folding chair occupied, room responds, "Hi gudnuff!"]

How many of you have blown off a committment in order to play around with your blog template?

@#$#@R%$! I said, "I'm going to embrace the networking opportunities inherent in the world of IT. I'm going to a user group meeting tonight."

Well, the darn thing started an hour ago, and yet here I sit.


I'm just gonna go home and tell my husband it was cancelled for lack of attendance. "I can't believe I drove ALL the way over there! What a pain! Plus it's freezing outside." Are you buying it?

So, you like the new template?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

work/life balance applies to ALL of us, not just LAWL of us

[This is in response to some of the comments people posted to the interview from of Barry Landsberg, Partner, Manatt Phelps. But, like most of what I'm finding online, it was over with a long while ago and I'm sure no one will read my comment, so I'm repeating it here, which also will prove inconsequential because no one's reading this.]

As someone completely outside the field of law, I can only say that working long hours goes into being a success in any field. Why do people get so crazy angry about that part? I work as part of a team, and the one guy on the team (not me) who answers his phone WHENEVER it rings, nights, weekends, in the middle of the airport, or even in the middle of a meeting, is the guy that everybody wants working for them. He is the #1 choice. Why? Because he has no kids and his ego depends entirely on feeling like everyone's hero, so he makes himself available 7 days a week, and guess what? He is everyone's hero. It's not rocket science. You work hard, it shows. I don't work as hard as him, but I have a family and other committments and people call me only if Guy #1 is unavailable (which occasionally happens), and they hope I'll work magic like him, and sometimes I do, but really, he is the one they want. And that hurts a little, but at the same time, so what. I get what I deserve, including family time, and he gets what he deserves, including the admiration and respect of his peers.

Bitter Lawyer, Not


What’s the best advice you ever received as an associate?

A partner I worked for years ago gave me a private pep talk once. I was just starting my second year and had billed something like 2600 hours my first year. I was feeling overwrought, and it showed. The partner handed me a thick case file and said, “Barry, there are two kinds of people in this world—those who get it done, and those with perfectly reasonable excuses for not getting it done. Which one do you want to be?”

And I ask you, gentle reader (of which I have none): What the ??? Sorry, guess he's just so incredibly intelligent that the "advice" he received was trivially obvious to him. Could someone explain it to *me*, though? Was the advice to slow down and allow himself to have reasonable excuses for billing less than 2600 hours? Or was it to suck it up and keep being the type of person who gets it done, despite being overwrought? Eh? Anyone?

Yeah, OK, yes, I should have continued reading. He speaks very plainly and directly when answering another question a little further down:

Q: What makes an associate a superstar?

A: ...a superstar associate almost never offers a “perfectly reasonable excuse” for declining work. He or she just “gets it done.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thinking and Driving

[Update: I found the answer to my question at MetaFilter...]

Nim's Island: OK, the metaphor of an island is like, duh, totally blatant, but the point FOR ME TODAY is that for years and years now (yes, I'm that old) the part of my brain that would anaylize a mainstream media movie - you know, one that is released into your local theater, one that is intended for the masses to flock to (as opposed to something on the Sundance channel or IFC, which we don't get anymore since MOH - My Other Half - quit his job and we just don't have the money...sigh) - I just don't think about them beyond whether I liked the storyline and whether I liked the actors' performances. I keep it simple. Mentally, that is. I view. I walk away. I replay, perhaps, the pretty pictures. That's about it.

So I'm driving home from work yesterday, and suddenly Nim's Island pops into my brain because of this whole blog-wanna-be-a-lawyer thing and why I'm so motivated, sort of. And I realize, part of what's going on here, is that I see the sense of community that exists among the lawyers here. And of course, I am seeing this community because I've been hanging around my-local-shero (henceforth MLS). Helping on her campaign. Watching her interact. Seeing ALL THE PEOPLE. And I am aware of my desire to reach out, to belong, to be included. And BING! the whole Nim's Island thing jumps into my brain. And so I'm all impressed with the fact that it's the WRITER who lives on an island, an island of isolation. Yeah, I know. DUH. So I'm both impressed with the fact that this is where my brain goes in the middle of the evening commute, for no good reason, so I'm kinda proud of my brain for that. And of course, instantly embarrassed that this is some kind of intellectual revelation to me, what, like a year or more after seeing the film? So I'm smart and not-so-quick, both, in the very same instant. And aware that it's my own feelings of isolation that even gave the come-hither signal to this revelatory Nim's Island analysis. All of this while driving home. I'm typically thinking of what to buy for dinner, and how to pay for it.

You know which emotion wins out, a day later? There's a close competition between feeling embarrassed and feeling impressed. Two things embarrass me about this. One: that I didn't consciously consider this who's-on-an-island-really metaphor immediately upon watching the film. Two: it's embarrassing that I'm proud that my brain spontaneously did this while driving home from work. And really only one thing impresses me: that my brain spontaneously did this while driving home from work.

So, you'd think embarrassment would be the prevailing sentiment? Nah. It's right there at the top, but really, mostly, the evidence that I am not completely brain-dead is so compelling, so necessary to my sense of worth right now, that pride wins. It's not pride per se, so much as a pleasurable acknowledgement that, again, I'm not completely brain-dead. Which is important when you're thinking of studying for the LSAT.

A decade ago I wouldn't have been concerned about this. Am I the only one who is clutching at any evidence of neuron activity? Is there anyone else out there who is thinking of a second career, who is wondering if they are too old mentally to hack it?

Friday, November 14, 2008


Welcome. I have finally hit some magical moment of critical mass and done this thing, this blog thing, this unoriginal, everybody's-doing-it thing. Ta da!!!

I have CM to thank. Two lawyers, of all possible incentives, have reached my suppressed ambitions and jostled my creative embers. Anyway, I can't believe I'm here, but here I am. Would Prufrock be proud or chagrined? Whatever. I'm here.

I want to sing the praises of CM and my-other-local-shero. They have both shown that you can be human and be a lawyer. And each is a mommy, so there's that little morsel of awesomeness. Today the glass is half-full.

from: The inevitable call of civilization and its demands brings him back: “human voices wake us and we drown.” He may have well said: “I had to shit and realized I am not a God.”