Thursday, April 24, 2008

There is no getting over it

Justice Scalia says to 60 Minutes about Bush v. Gore, "Get over it."
It irks me so, so bad.  I don't care that it's Bush v. Gore that we're talking about.  The fact that a Supreme Court justice would hand down a decree of constitutional law and then, in response to public scrutiny, dismiss it with the wave of a hand... ugh. 
I know that judges are in an unenviable role.  Local judges have to worry about making decisions (to release or not to release?  bail or no bail?  suppress or not to suppress?) that look bad to the public and make great tabloid-like headlines in the newspaper, even if these judges are making decisions that are legally reasonable.  But that's part of being a judge.  Being a judge means making tough decisions.  That's what a judge does.  Our system is an adversarial one, so two parties take opposing positions and the judge rules.  Now, some of the judges I work with prefer not to make decisions, and that type of judge is the one for whom I have the least respect of all.  WE ARE NOT HERE TO AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.  I hate judges who want everyone to just talk it out.  Well, I think the cop's a fucking liar.  You may be surprised to learn that the prosecutor disagrees.  So, no consensus.  Now your turn judge.  Oh, don't want to weigh in?  Don't want to have to decide who wins this round?  Thanks, judge, my barista at Starbucks makes harder decisions in a day than you do.
I have several cases that haunt me, cases that I know I was legally in the right, cases in which my clients lives were devastated.  And when I get up there to yell about how unfair it all is, the judges have the response equivalent to Justice Scalia's - Get over it.  So here's my response, here in this empty little tin can of the internet I'm shouting into - NO I WILL NOT GET OVER IT.  You know what?  You made the decision.  You made a bad decision.  You made a decision that ruined innocent people's lives.  YOU DEAL WITH IT.  Don't tell me to shut up to make the problem go away.  Because I'm going to come back every day on every future case and remember what you did.  And you are going to try to make my life miserable because I can't let you forget that I think you fucked up.  I'm not going to get over it, never ever.  And neither will these people whose lives have been ruined.  You made the decision.  The responsibility of the decision lies with you.
I know it's hard sometimes to make the legally correct decision.  But if what you're doing is truly following the law, it shouldn't be so hard to take responsibility for that, right? 
Justice Scalia's "get over it" response to a decision he made, interpreting constitutional principles, just infuriates me.  Every decision the Supreme Court makes is a big one.  His job is to clarify the most essential rights of our existence.  To try to evade or dismiss as trivial the impact or response to those decisions is not only patronizing but appalling.  This is your job.  If you cannot accept the responsibility of your professional actions, then you don't belong there.
There are cases that haunt me, and I will not get over it.  And maybe, judge, you shouldn't "get over it" either.

Friday, April 04, 2008

superrelationships, monogamy, and please stop asking.

A few years back, the Utne Reader had a cover article about SuperRelationships.  I found the article compelling because it explored the question of whether we expect too much from relationships.  This is a question to which I keep returning.  Is it realistic to expect so much from one person?  Can we expect that one person will "get" every aspect of us?
In October, I was at a wedding and catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in some time.  I was telling my friend about my recently acquired boyfriend.  I felt compelled to explain that I wasn't sure that he was the love of my life, because even though he was my boyfriend, I feared that people would infer too much from it.  I then began confessing that as much as I adored my boyfriend, I also felt drawn to a coworker with whom I got along very well and who shared a similar sense of humor and approached work much in the same way I do.  I was confused by what seemed to be conflicting feelings - how can I feel that way towards one if I feel the way I feel towards another?  My friend shared something that I thought was so insightful and intelligent that I reflect back upon it often, particularly when the issue of relationships come up in conversation. 
What my friend shared with me was her belief that perhaps our society is so wildly monogamous that we cannot accept that there might be one person, not our significant other, who gets one part of us so much better than anyone else, and we feel guilty when that happens.
Over the holidays, I again found myself in a discussion about my current relationship status.  When asked whether it was serious, I responded that I couldn't tell.  I knew I cared very deeply for my boyfriend, and I felt that his laid-back, upbeat approach to life balanced out my high-anxiety, intense, sometimes moody self.  I liked spending time with him, but liked that we both kept separate spheres, and were able to join or not join the other when we felt like it.  What I didn't feel, however, was that firecracker emotion, that tingle in the back of my neck, the excitement that comes when you meet someone who sparks some dormant or quiet part of you.  I wasn't sure that he really "got" me, and that we didn't have enough in common for that to ever realistically happen.  So things were good, they were really good, but I wasn't sure they were great, but I also wasn't sure that any relationship ever has that capacity.  My friends shared their stories, of friends who were together but then broke up, no reason other than it just wasn't The One.  It was good, but it wasn't great, and good isn't good enough.  And here we are, embracing or about to embrace our 30s, and still no answers or discoveries with respect to The One.
It came up again last week.  A friend who was considering some of her own relationships started asking whether I saw myself marrying my current boyfriend.  She asked if I was happy, or just content, and was being just "content" settling for something less than love that we each deserve?
I don't have answers.  I do sometimes wonder about my relationship, and it pains me to admit that.  But for as much as the questioning around me increases, my own questions subside.  The longer I'm in this relationship, the more I see that he gets me much more than I gave him credit for.  He might not debate my socio-political philosophies with me, and we may never be capable of having such esoteric discussions.  But there are other people with whom I can have those discussions, and I don't know anyone else who can calm me or keep me company in the day to day drudgery of life the way that he can.
If we expect the superrelationship, then we are looking for one person who gets every part of us, to the exclusion of the people around us who are very capable of providing those connections.  I have seen couples who are good examples of superrelationships, but I am not sure it's for everyone.  And it's not that I don't wish the best for myself or others who haven't found a superrelationship, and I'm not even sure whether I think there is a superrelationship for everyone or not.  But I think it's ok to be in a committed, long-term relationship with someone who gets most of you, and respects that the rest of the parts of you will continue to explore and develop, sometimes or even oftentimes with other people in your life.
So am I going to marry the boyfriend?  I don't know.  I'm not anywhere near that place.  The question makes me uncomfortable.  Would I be, if I were in a superrelationship?  Maybe.  There's no way to tell.  I'm not in a rush to resolve the question.  There's so much more fun to be had first.  I know we're good together right now, and right now I think that's enough.
What do you think?  Are we expecting superrelationships and supermonogamy?  Are we expecting too much?  Or are we discarding a formerly economic and social contractual approach to marriage and relationships in favor of a true, deep, one-of-a-kind bond approach to marriage?