Saturday, December 31, 2005

luckily I'm an athlete

So, now I have to explain this. First, I have to say that being unhappy is different from having regrets. In this case, I have no regrets, I'm just unhappy, just for right now.

I hadn't said anything to anyone at all about the fact that I was feeling sad and unhappy, and I hadn't blogged about it because I didn't want it to be concrete or permanent. And the reason I finally blogged it on Thursday night was that I had a moment where I realized that I needed to accept that I was sad and unhappy. And Friday morning, when I woke up and remembered, and found a mailbox full of responses, I immediately regretted posting. Just like I knew I would.

I thought for a moment about deleting it, but I knew I couldn't. Because it wouldn't make it go away - I had already put it out there, and I couldn't evade accountability for it. I had to start thinking through it.

I started thinking about why I was feeling this way. I didn't want to be unhappy, because I was in the midst of so many new things - new job, new location, new apartment, new lifestyle. I'm not supposed to be unhappy in those things, right? I worked so hard for it. But yesterday, I finally forced myself to accept that yes, these things are hard. Not being sure of what I'm doing, of what's next, being afraid and uncertain of what my future will look like, or how things will unfold - these things are all scary and difficult. And I finally realized that I didn't want to admit that I was unhappy because I know that it is only temporary, and since it was temporary it seemed foolish to be unhappy about it. I finally accepted that I was sad and unhappy and then I was ok with the fact that I know it's only temporary. Work will pick up, my new place will start to feel like home, I'll start to feel comfortable with where I am and what I'm doing. It will happen.

Today in day 2 of my epiphany, I started to realize a little bit more. This morning I was cut off from the internet for most of the day (gasp) and couldn't get on to the blog to say, "I'm alright! I'm oooook. I figured it out." Having nothing to do, I watched some Arrested Development on DVD, drank coffee in my pjs, wandered around my apartment bored and listless. I finally got around to catching up in my journal, which I've been both 1. meaning to do and 2. avoiding doing. Then I put together a photo album of my law school pictures, something I've been meaning to do for 3 years. All this efficiency driven SOLELY by the lack of internet!

As I put the photos in the album and wrote out my angst in my journal (a much better forum for such emotional outbursts) I realized that part of being nervous and uncertain about what's new is getting over what's old and familiar. I thought it sounded silly to admit that I loved law school more than anything I've ever done, and that I miss it more than I've missed anything. Whether that's foolish or not, that's how I feel, and I need to be ok with the fact that I loved the people and the experiences I had in law school, and that I miss them so very, very much. I cried a little bit, on and off, and I was distraught to realize that there were so many things that I never captured in pictures, there are so many events and moments and wonderful things that I don't have tangibly documented.

This same feeling has happened to me before. When I graduated from high school, I was devastated that all of my friends were scattering and moving on. I was, too, but I had moved around most of my life and was never close to my extended family and for the first time, I felt like I had a home and an extended family with my high school friends. But if you tell other people that you miss high school and your high school friends, and that college was disappointing and difficult at first, people mock you and think you're crazy. It took me a while to learn how to continue old friendships in a new, changed lifestyle. Yet, to this day my high school friends are still family to me, and I don't regret that they're so important to me or such an integral part of my life.

So it's like that, all over again. Except this time I think I know a little bit better how to be flexible about doing new things and being in new places while still integrating the people and things that have come before. I'm sad and unhappy and angry that the best experience of my life was finite, from the beginning. I'm sad that it had to end, and I'm pissed that nothing will ever be like that. But I'm delighted to have had that time and those experiences, and it was time for them to end anyway, really. As long as I can acknowledge fully what this transition means for me, I know I'll be fine.

And oddly enough, as soon as I finished shedding a tear or two over the photo album and the journal, the internet magically started working again. And it all coincides with bringing in A New Year.

My bestfriend&roommate from law school told me a story about her mom. Her mom is very friendly, extroverted, bubbly, and sometimes flaky woman, and I love her as though she's my own mother. The family was taking a walk one day while they were in a European city on vacation. Her mother tripped on the sidewalk and took a wicked digger - a hard fall, nothing graceful about it. As the family looked on in horror and amusement, she bounced up quickly and said breathlessly, "Luckily I'm an athlete!" - a comment to which the family was not really sure how to respond. I laughed my ass off when I heard that story, and ever since then, when I stumble or walk into a doorway or bash my knee or foot into some stationary object (I have terrible peripheral perception), that line comes to mind. And today, as I look to recover from this stumble and move onto what's next, I think, "Luckily I'm an athlete!"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

if you tell anyone else you're so dead to me

I have been avoiding chronicling it, I won't admit it, and I usually chalk it up to just being 'moody.' But after going out tonight, meeting with friends, doing new things, having a really good time, I've come back to the quiet solitude of my room and found that I can't escape what is, at this moment, my truth:

I'm unhappy.

today's news

Leniency Bid for Officer in Louima Testimony: let him rot, I say.  - NY Times
Life and Romance in 160 Characters or Less:  Washington Post on the culture of text messaging.  I've done my fair share of drunken text messaging - apparently I've moved past drunk dialing and drunk emailing and into drunk texting.  Drunk blogging?  It could happen.  It may have already.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

on being an attorney: how being a new PD is like being a Disney cartoon character or a drunk college kid

I didn't want to blog but I had to get that cheesey picture off the top of my page. So what occupies the thoughts of Woman of the Law?


I'm not sure how much I can blog about it. To be honest, there isn't much going on right now, which is understandable. I do have a few general observations about my own sense of what I thought criminal practice was going to be, and what it actually is. I guess my biggest observation about it right now is that I'm shocked how much it looks like my job is just to shovel shit as quickly as it gets dumped on me. A lot of it is just trying to move things along. I'm trying to guage from my peers what my role in the courtroom is, and I honestly thought the environment would be a bit nastier, a bit more acrid that it is. I really thought that it would be quite apparent that I was NOT a cog in this machine. But it's not really apparent at all, I don't think. That it isn't may actually be a really great thing. I'm not sure yet. It is important to me to be respected in the courthouse(s) in which I work, so I won't be visibly obstructionist just for the purpose of being so. However, the disrespect for other human beings in that courthouse is staggering. The way the DAs treat me as though I'm unwelcome infuriates me. To some extent, though, they're right. I'm not one of them. I don't fit in this system. I'm not here to make this system work. I'm here to make sure this flawed system doesn't pin its crushing foot on the neck of my client.

I'm getting more comfortable making 'arguments' that are actually legally irrelevant but sound good. Everyone knows I'm new anyway, so I might as well I start arguing things that are favorable for my client, and I'd rather look foolish by asking for something that is impossible or impractical than not ask for it at all. There's one judge I see frequently, and all I can say is, bless the sweet lord for patient souls like that. Also, I like to think that every time new attorneys come on, it's time to shake things up a bit. We're here for a fresh perspective, and I think it's our duty to keep that strong.

On the other hand, when I seek assistance from other attorneys, I frequently get a short, harsh, "Why are you doing that?" I'd like to chalk up all my youthful ignorance to just 'putting a fresh perspective on things' but that's probably not really true. I am just generally ignorant. Most attorneys have been practicing long enough that the way they doing things makes sense to them. I'm of the, "Why not give it a whirl?" mentality - because as long as it's not wrong, and even though it might be a waste of time, I've got plenty of time to waste. If it doesn't necessarily help but can't hurt, why the hell not try? I appreciate that each and every attorney tries to explain to me why, although it seems swell, some of the things I want to do might be legally irrelevant (see above). That type of information is generally helpful, really. Other times, I just get annoyed that the way I handle my cases depends on which attorneys are in the room. I don't have any particular individual who supervises what I do throughout the day, which is a freedom I enjoy but can sometimes be frustrating. One attorney will have one theory on my case, and rarely do two attorneys see a case identically. This often results in my progressing merrily on a case that looks like a case I've already done, so I'll go about handling it that way again, until someone stops and sternly points at me and says, "Stop being stupid." They don't really say that, but that's how I feel. Sometimes I get so turned around, trying to separate what is definite and what is just a preference for each attorney. It throws some chaos into what's already, unavoidably, a very bumpy learning process.

And now for the appropriate metaphors and similes. Let's see. It's like being Bambi, trying to get up on wobbly legs, and then trying to walk - unsuccessfully sometimes, wobbling, getting a few scrapes and bruises along the way. And then having your mother shot in front of you. (Just kidding. Ok, that's not funny. Yes, I am going to hell). OR, it's like being WASTED your freshman year in college, and you're just trying to get back to your dorm room, and somehow you've managed to trip over every tree limb or crack in the sidewalk or car parked on the side of the road, and the only way you get down the hall to your dorm room is because the walls are there for you to crash into them, left, right, left, right, as you stumble to your bed. I'm just crashing drunkenly into walls at this point. I'm really looking forward to being in bed.

And on that note, good night.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 22, 2005

iTunes fucking SUCKS

I always keep my iPod on "manual update" because I don't keep music on iTunes on my computer. I only keep my purchased music there. Well today I had the BRILLIANT notion of setting it to auto-update only selected playlists, but what that meant to my iTunes was that ONLY THOSE PLAYLISTS are now on my iPod. Which means the other 1200 songs are all gone. Done. No more. Just in time for my long trip home this weekend.

I've never particularly liked iTunes, and if I hadn't gotten an iPod as a kickass gift last year, I'd be using Napster. Listen to me, children. NAPSTER. $15/month unlimited downloading to an mp3 player of your choice (anything except an iPod). Fight the revolution. Fuck the iTunes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

another slow day

As my officemate toils away on the phone trying to get a client's car back from the prosecutor and police department, I'm sitting in my desk chair dancing like a muppet to "Little St. Nick" by the Beach Boys.


Johnny Damon, you are dead to me
You're going to look ugly with short hair. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

another heart-melting non-date

We were in the first row of the third balcony, which meant we had to lean forward a bit to see the stage through the railing. He and I were the only two in the front row. The balcony was dark but for the bits of light cast from the stage. The comedian we were seeing was great - I laughed the entire time. About two-thirds of the way through the show, I was laughing so hard that my cheeks hurt, and I heard him laughing next to me. At that very fraction of a second, I was about to link my arm through his and happily lean into his shoulder. I was startled by my own thought. Instead I turned to look at him and noticed that he put on his glasses when I wasn't looking. He has gorgeous eyes, a rich turquoise color, warm and reassuring, in a way that make you believe that he is sincerely only interested in what you are saying. I'm a sucker for glasses. Seeing his glasses framing his eyes, set against the dark brown curls of his hair, made me melt. It made me wish it could be more, but it gave me a pleasant hope that maybe there is someone out there with whom I will eventually link arms and kiss on the cheek.

I swore off this guy as a romantic interest after this incident but I'm failing to abide by my own vow. So now that you know who I'm talking about, how shocking is it that I saw him again, and heard his voice again, and melted again? We hit it off so well way back then, and we did so again that night. At his suggestion, we met up for dinner and beer before the show. I called him when I was in the neighborhood and he was just a block away from me. We agreed to meet at the corner. I walked toward the corner, trying to make it look like beauty just naturally exudes from me in my long, nicely cut red wool coat, with my shoulder-length hair bouncing off the shoulders and my cheeks red from the cold air. I was hoping I looked more like a Pantene commercial and less like I was so anxiously anticipating seeing him. As I approached the corner, I saw him peek around, and we saw one other. Too many people and too much distance still separated us. I couldn't help but smile at seeing him, and we both pretended to look away - but I saw him biting back a smile too. After an eternity I made it to the corner. We hugged, exchanged excited hellos, and moved on to the restaurant. It was perfect - we sat in front of the fireplace, had dinner and some good beer, and had such a good time that we lost track of time and ended up dashing out of the restaurant 8 minutes before we were supposed to be at the show. When we got there, we ended up waiting in line for an hour, outside in the freezing cold, shivering. After an hour of waiting, and mourning the loss of beer not consumed, we got into the theater, one of the last ones in line, and trudged through the historic old building to the tiny top balcony.

What I most appreciated about the evening was that it was not like that lunch in October but more like our previous interactions with one another. Our evening was filled with effortless conversation and an occasional comfortable pause. We get along well for no discernable reason. It's a great feeling, to feel so comfortable with someone that you feel like you know better than you actually do, while knowing that it's going to be so enjoyable to get to know all those things you don't already know. I like talking to him and trying to figure out on my own why it is I like him so much, to dig for a reason why we should get along so well.

Once out of the theater, we rushed to catch the train. As we cut through the cold wind, we agreed that it had been a great night. "We need to do this again sometime. We should definitely do this more often," he said. I'm so glad he suggested it. We were going in different directions. In departing, I instinctively gave him a kiss on the cheek as we hugged, and wished him a Merry Christmas. Right at that second, it seemed like the train station went into slow motion, like everything in the scene would have been black and white, and we were the only ones in color. Not in a passionate, "get in my bed" sort of way, but in a, "this is the guy that every woman wants to have as a best friend, husband, and father of her children" type of moment.

I like him a lot. I thought I had tried to let him know I was interested, and it never went anywhere before. I don't have it in me to try again, but that doesn't mean I'm still not harboring some hopes. If nothing else, it gives me a good idea of how I want to feel in a true relationship. I can't wait to hang out with him again, even if it does end this way every time.

Terrorism is: not having someone cart your ass around

In a Yahoo article about the subway strike in New York City, one woman says: "It's a form of terrorism, if you ask me," said Maria Negron, who walked across the bridge. "I hope they go back to work."
Are you KIDDING me?
(Let's set aside the argument over whether the subway employees should be blamed for this).  I'm sure that walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (an activity that I imagine many tourists do in a day) is excruciatingly painful to Ms. Negron.    However, why are we still throwing around the word "terrorism"?  I know the Bush administration equates everything with terrorism - Islam, library books, Cat Stevens, etc.  I insist, nay, DEMAND, that my fellow Americans stop using the word "terrorism" to describe when things do not go their way. 
In that case:
Terrorism is the toy aisle in Target last week. 
Terrorism is that Dunkins coffee now tastes like crap. 
Terrorism is paying $5.04 for a Venti Non-Fat Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (and using those precise words to order it). 
Terrorism is that I paid $1,694,325,27.00 for law school just to have my clients ask for a real lawyer. 
Terrorism is the faulty tupperware that leaked my leftover dinner all over the work clothing I had packed in my bag this morning.
If we don't let the government spy on its own citizens, says Bush, then we've let the terrorists win.  The fact that we even question that secret, previously undisclosed, government spy program means WE HAVE LET THEM WIN.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Here is a New York Times article on a women's prison in Minnesota that has no fence or walls separating the grounds from the rest of the residential community.  The community opposes building the proposed wall.  I do wonder what effect the no wall / no fence structure has on the inmates, and whether building a wall will actually create the feeling of the need to escape, or if it will create more tension and violence within the walls of the prison.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

woman returns to the net

I've been catching some heat for my lack of updates, and for that I apologize. You see, I was without a regular internet connection for a few months now, but I'm back. I think. I've rigged up a new connection with the help of some updated technology and my next door neighbor. I'll be back in action soon enough. (I haven't finished my Xmas shopping yet, no promises until after the holidays!)

The other problem with the blog is that I'm not sure I have all that much to write about. Sans internet, I don't even know what's going on in the world. What do you want to know, exactly?

I'm going to go catch up on my blog reading. See you soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

defending 'those people'

My supervisor, bless his heart, is adamant about not letting me take on cases right now that aren't easily resolved - for instance, cases that are pled or dismissed at the first appearance.  I appreciate this; however, starting in January, I will officially be on the schedule like a real attorney, instead of 1/3 of an attorney like I am now, and I anticipate that this will result in a lot of fumbling on my part.  So yesterday I begged him to let me take a few cases in the afternoon, cases that won't all be resolved by the first appearance but maybe by the second day in court, and he relented. 
One case turned out to be a classic case of alleged domestic assault.  The complaining witness showed up to court on behalf of her husband, who was my client.  She spoke with me directly and told me that she did not want to go forward with the charges and that she advised the District Attorney's office as such.  Up until she spoke to me, I had been working under the assumption that a certain plea offer would be made, if any offer were being made, and if not, then it would progress as cases do when they aren't resolved in the first two appearances.  Once she stated that she had no intention of going forward, I knew that the DA would not be able to pursue the case.  Thus, as far as I'm concerned, any plea would be a bad plea.  I explained to the complaining witness how the legal process works and what the DA needs, generally and from her in particular, in order to go forward.  She stated to me that she was not going to do any of those things.
I was talking about my day with my roommate, and explaining generally that I had a case that will end up falling short of the legal burden necessary to go forward, and how this excites my legal mind.  I didn't feel bad, or dirty - as a matter of fact, I felt like I was doing competent work.  And of course I still believe that this case is progressing as it should.  But I stopped when I realized that my roommate was grimacing slightly, and I realized it was one of those, "How do you defend those people?" moments. 

Friday, December 09, 2005

on being an attorney: growing pains

Yesterday was a crazy day, and I ended the day frustrated and tired, but in a good way!  I then decided not to keep my appointment to join the gym and instead went and drank beer with coworkers, and it was totally worth missing the OC and Reunion to do so.  Beer never tasted so good.
Today I have a whole bunch of cases that will be doing things I've never done before.  It'll be a long day and I can't wait to see what sorts of stupid things I do to embarrass myself today.  Nevertheless, I'm really happy to be working some new legal muscles.
I confessed to a coworker yesterday that I was getting frustrated because although I think I'm getting much better at asking questions, it seems as though I'm getting answers to questions other than the ones I ask.  This happened to me twice yesterday.  The first time it happened was in a group discussion regarding the use of a particular strategy.  I suggested that it's best to look at it as though it is an actual defense in the cases in which this procedure would apply, so you are considering that course of action just as you would any other defense - and then figuring out which one is best for your client.  The attorney leading the conversation then immediately warned us that we should never use it frivolously, that once we start using it on all of our cases then no one will believe us when it actually is the case, and that it's a bad idea to get in that habit.  I'm pretty sure that's not what I said, and I felt crappy that her response insinuated such.
Then I was asking another attorney that if there's no disposition on a particular date, at that time then... and he cut me off and told me not to let people rush me along or pressure me into a disposition.  He gave me very good advice regarding how to make sure the court doesn't rush me into doing something inappropriately or without enough consideration.  After giving some very good advice, he then took me to meet the next client.  However, I had another very specific procedural question that I never got to finish asking, and to which I still don't know the answer. 
I'm not complaining though.  I am very happy that all of the attorneys are so patient with us and so insistent upon us asking questions.  It's become a joke amongst us new attorneys, this question & answer phenomenon.  We've all experienced it and we're learning to consult with one another frequently to compare notes about what we learn in a day, because we all have the same blank slate and it's nice when someone who is equally in the dark can help you figure out how to piece our accumulating knowledge together. 

Thursday, December 08, 2005

getting over it.

It's been a tough few weeks.  Work has been hard.  It's difficult to adjust to a new workplace, with all the different personalities and practice styles and all the other things that go into office dynamics.  I had a few days where I was trying really hard not to cry at work, and one day where I had to hide in my office, listening to my iPod, and then just left early.  Nevertheless, I've tried really hard to stay positive and stay focused this week, trying not to worry about all of the gaffes and stumbles I make in a day's work, trying to remember that I'm here because I want to be here, and that I'm not going to know everything at once.  Like one of my favorite attorneys told me, "We've been here for 20 years, and it's insulting to think that you can learn everything I know in just a few weeks.  Accept that this is the first time in your life when you are not in control and you don't know everything."
Last night, I went to dinner with friends, and afterwords I stepped into a bookstore to look around.  I went to the bathroom, which is off the children's section, and while I was in there, a male and female entered the handicapped stall next to me and loudly and openly were using and exchanging drugs - either cocaine or heroin.  It was a really disturbing situation.  Then I got home, all depressed, and found that someone had broken into my apartment building, and had vigorously attempted to break into my apartment.  The doorframe is beat up pretty badly, although for some reason, they didn't actually make it into my apartment.  The locks on the door to the building were completely ripped off the door with a crowbar. 
And then of course, the landlord called the cops, who show up, and I have to listen to them talk about how there are a bunch of kids in the neighborhood, they're all punks, all rabble rousers, and I think back to the fact that just yesterday I was trying to take on all of the teen cases, because I adore them, I think they're angels, I love working with them.  It's hard to be in that position, yet again, where as much as I love my job, I also wouldn't mind kicking my attempted burglar in the shins repeatedly.  My car got vandalized, there's open drug use and dealing going on in a large bookstore bathroom in the children's section, and my little apartment in my little neighborhood is all torn up. 
I tried to remember what it was like to live in not such a big city.  Like when we discovered that our front door had been left wide open all night and our only fear was that a skunk or raccoon may have made its way into the house.  Or to have all your friends within walking distance, and to have a house and a yard big enough to have people over, and it didn't take so much effort to get everyone in one place.  Or what it was like to look up and see a sky full of stars, and the night was always quiet. 
I'm feeling really drained, and really lonely.  It's one thing to struggle to get accustomed to a job, but it's another thing when your support system is fractured too.  As per usual, the only thing that makes me feel better is to have one eye on the door - to have a Plan B, an escape route.  I don't like the fact that the only thing appeasing me right now is the idea of escape.  I'm going to keep trying to work through it all, keep trying to tell myself that it's just kind of tough right now, but that there are wonderful and amazing things on the other side.  For the first time in a while, I'm really not sure if that's true or not.  Maybe this is adulthood.  Maybe this is just how it is.