Archive for October, 2011

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Crazy Weather!

October 28, 2011

Yee ha!

Man, I love me some good weather.

My local friends think I’m insane, because I just shrug when they complain about the cold or the snow.  I honestly prefer the cold and the snow to the heat and the humidity.  I like sweaters.  I like curling up in a blanket.  I like my collection of gloves, hats & scarves.  I don’t like sweating, and I haven’t figured out how to appropriately commute in the nude because it’s too f’ing hot out.

Last night was the earliest snow we’ve seen since we moved back east.  There were small patches of accumulation – on a roof over here, a patch of grass over there, a porch railing now and again.  So it wasn’t a big deal, but it was remarkable that it was SNOW!  On October 27th!

Our first Halloween here, back in 2004, we had snow the day before Halloween.  Like last night’s it was a rain that turned white and fat and melty.  But this was still earlier.

And now we have a forecast for more!  Saturday night may bring us a “freak October snowstorm!”  My home town in Connecticut is potentially bracing for up to a foot of snow, but here in the Boston area, we are looking at 3 inches, more or less.  And none of it will stick around.  Halloween (Monday) is supposed to be 55 degrees, with evening temps in the high 40s.

Which means there’s really no reason to whine about it.  Enjoy the fluffy white while carving pumpkins and making last minute adjustments to the costumes.  It may feel a little discombobulating to be prepping for Halloween against a Christmas-like backdrop, but I think it’s fun.

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Her Flashback

October 27, 2011

Last night, I was sitting on my butt writing my Halloween preview post when Mouse came in to the room to show me a You Tube video.

First, a background:

When Mouse turned six, we still lived in Berkeley, CA.  Writer Dude was solidly in our lives, but we weren’t living together. We were getting ready to move back east for law school, etc., and he really wanted to take the girls to Disneyland before we left the west coast.  He grew up in Disneyland’s back yard, and has a huge fondness for the place.  The place, specifically, not all of the Disney paraphernalia that has become so prevalent – especially for young girls –  and which I spent many, many years shielding my daughters from.

He had the bright idea to make the trip a surprise.  FYI, “surprise” isn’t really a word in my vocabulary.  In my world, thoughts = words.  Why would you hold some back?  Surprises = agony (maybe because I’ve really never had a real surprise, so it’s really just been waiting to find out what my gift will be, which isn’t very fun, in my opinion).  It wasn’t easy for me to go along with him, but I knew it would be a priceless experience if we could pull it off, so I did my best.

Finally, after MONTHS of plotting, we picked the girls up from Kindergarten and 2nd grade on a Thursday afternoon to get on the road and drive south.

Because we were going “couch shopping.”  Yes, that was the best we could come up with.  I don’t remember exactly why we settled on that pathetic story, but the girls swallowed it. Our couch (actually a third-hand futon . . . I was a single mom, remember, in one of the most expensive communities on the planet) was on its last legs, and we were getting to move, so I guess they thought it made sense.  We told them there was a big outlet store in southern California, and we wanted to go look for a couch.  They shrugged and got in the car. We drove south, past their bedtime, and carried them into the motel (not an in-park hotel, because again, with the single mom-ness).

The next morning, WD went out and got us all some breakfast and we ate in the room.  Finally, at 9 a.m., we went out and crossed the busy street.  The kids were kind of confused, ‘where’s the store?” and we sat them on a bench and told them “um, look over there . . . ” to the entrance gate to Disneyland.

They were thrilled, over the moon, happy.  And we still, to this day, laugh about the time we went “couch shopping.”  The kids are now old enough to roll their eyes at us (for the silly story), but always with a smile and with appreciation.

We’ve been one other time since then, that time for Lemon’s birthday.  The girls were a little older and got a little more out of the trip.  We were also better off, financially, and were able to stay in a park hotel and have a generally less-stressful time (not that the girls knew about our $$ stress the first time).

Every now and then, someone will bring up a repeat trip.  I will say, “but aren’t you too old now?  don’t you want to go somewhere new?” and Writer Dude will balk and say “you’re never too old for Disneyland!!!” and the girls will say “Yeah!!!”

And last night, Mouse brought me this video:

It was fun to watch, and had me laughing and with tears.  Mouse, too, was teary-eyed.  Ten minutes later, she’d ransacked her room looking for her souvenirs.  Her Disney pins, her now-way-too-small t-shirts, her hooded sweatshirt.

It was really sweet.  Her rifling through her own memories.  It also left WD and I with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.  Look at what we did!?!   We created a memory for her so when she watched this crazy-happy-overwhelmed 6 year old, she could think “that happened to ME, too!!!”

We did have good trips, both times.  I hope we do get to go back.   Fortunately we also have friends and family in California, so it may not be impossible to plan a visit/Disney trip for some time in 2012.

 

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Halloween Planning

October 26, 2011

The Rundown:

Me:  Black cocktail dress; gorgeous maroon-glisteny-ralph-laureny shrug; very pretty mask that is white but with black (like the dress) and maroon (like the shrug) and glisten (because it’s a holiday).

Writer-Dude:  Bauta mask; hooded cape in black velvet.

Mouse:  She is Eeyore. I bought her tights tonight, they are greyish-bluish-purplish.  I also bought her thigh-high socks that are the same color.  Then I bought her gray shorts. And WD bought her Eeyore ears and a tail.  We keep teasing her that she’s “sexy eeyore” but she’s denying it, with a passion and with anger.  You tell me:

[in your mind, add Uggs]

Lemon:  No costume.  She will bake for a Halloween homework & treats extravaganza.  Halloween costumes are beneath her.  {she didn’t say that, but still.  she’s not doing it.}

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Never Easy Anymore

October 25, 2011

When the Ex and I divorced, I carefully planned our holiday schedule.  I would have Christmas during odd years, Thanksgiving during even.  This was important to me, because around the same time our divorce agreement was being finalized, my sister and her (horrible, pathetic, wretched person of an) Ex were separating.  We were craftily finding a way that we could still spend holidays together, with our kids.

[In my opinion, our joint divorces are 1000% a testament to the sheltered upbringing and college educations that we both had. There was no reason for either of us to get married at 21 or younger, and no reason for either of us to have children half a second after that.  But, whatever, moving on … ]

This year, for the second time in three years, my Ex is forcing a reschedule of that carefully laid plan.

The first time was when his first child with his new wife was born, in 2009, the last time he was supposed to have our girls for Christmas.  The baby was due on 12/27 – or something like that – and it just felt too close for comfort for him. (Understandably – if his wife went into labor in one small city while the girls were due to land in another smallish city an hour away, it would have been very hard for him.  As it turned out, the baby was born 3 weeks early, and there was no conflict.  That wasn’t foreseeable.). It was fine with me, because I’m always thrilled to have my kids around.  He wasn’t able to swing Thanksgiving instead that year, because of ticket costs, so I just had Lemon and Mouse for all of the holidays that year.

Last year, Thanksgiving was his, and the girls went as planned.

This year, he had them for April vacation.  But then Lemon had a conflict.  He was quicker to accommodate than I anticipated, and it went okay. I got some me-time in, and my car got some additional miles.

Then this past summer — it was also a bit odd.  First, he said they shouldn’t go there, he would come here. Then he couldn’t come here, so he wanted them to go there.  But we’d already made plans to keep them busy because he said they shouldn’t go there, so it was tough.  But, again and as usual, we worked it out.

This coming winter, the schedule again says it’s his turn to have them for Christmas.  But in the universe of My Ex Is a Weirdo, his kids are in Turkey (not the part that was just devastated by an earthquake), even though he and his wife are in the Middle of THIS Country.  His son (who will be 2 this December) has actually been there since April.  His daughter since May (she was 3 months old when she left the U.S.).  The Ex left Turkey in June, and his wife left in September (or August?).  So . . . he really hasn’t seen his baby girl since she was 4 months old. Hasn’t seen either of his babies since June (maybe July?).

I do not understand.

But he and his wife want to go visit them (the babies are staying with his wife’s family; his wife is finishing her dissertation in the MIddle of THIS Country, where the Ex works). They plan to visit at Christmas-time, which I suppose makes a lot of sense, since the Ex and his wife are currently operating in line with a college academic calendar.

Therefore, he cannot (will not) have a visit with Lemon and Mouse at Christmas.

Again.

This time, we figured it all out in time for reasonable Thanksgiving airfare prices. Very reasonable. But his budget is so-very taxed (as one is wont to be when flying across the Atlantic  several times a year . . . visiting Europe and the Middle East) and so he could not afford 50% of tickets that kept the girls from missing meaningful school time.

We went back and forth several times about the best travel time.  I balked when he suggested they fly on Thanksgiving Day.  Really?  What kind of holiday is that?  He pushed back, insisted I ask the girls.  I was again pretty appalled when they just shrugged . . . but shrug they did.  So the tickets were bought.  Thursday to Monday.  They would miss school on Monday.

So we said in September.

Since then, Mouse got the lead in her play. Lemon’s dream-team was going to be missed. And the trip has seemed a burden to both girls.  WD and I looked into a repeat of our amazing Thanksgiving of a year ago, but the timing was too tight, and prices were too high, and things just too tense. So we can’t do anything with the time, except to stay home and – well – breathe (not such a bad thing, when you stop & think about it).

But it recently became clear that the Monday that Mouse was going to miss was a crucial day for her play rehearsals.  The play is soon after Thanksgiving, and the dress rehearsals start right after Thanksgiving.

I said too bad.  It’s the only day she’s missing, it will need to be fine.

She was miserable over it.

So I tried to swap some rehearsals around — we have two casts, because so many kids are involved in our shows (everyone who wants to participate gets a part … this is elementary/middle school, after all), and so I checked with her  counterpart, after talking to the director, to see if a switch was feasible.

It was not.

I said too bad again.  Mouse remained miserable.  I told her it was up to her to raise it with her father – and she did.  She wrote him a very kind, loving email, asking if the tickets could please be changed.

Once again, he’s being relatively accommodating.  Of course, it’s after I offered to pay the full change fee (stupidly).  But we still don’t know if it’s something I can even swing.

Maybe he’s being accommodating because in the same email that he discussed his semi-flexibility for Thanksgiving, he also discussed his already-changing plans for the summer.  Probably reducing the girls’ time there to 1-2 weeks, rather than the 3-4 that we worked out.

It’s just getting harder and harder to make this work across state lines.  And the distance that geography has brought* makes the relationships harder to prioritize.  Not by me – not at all – but by him and by the girls. I wonder, also, how much their relationships with him are treated as a lesser priority now that he has more children that are shared with a person he is actually married to.

* I maintain that his personality brings more distance than geography. But that’s just the ex in me talking . . . or not.

 

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Nervous, I Think – But Look! Dragons!

October 25, 2011

Rumors are afloat in my firm: We are over capacity.  We have too many lawyers (esp. in my department) and not enough work. Cuts Will Be Made.

Gulp.

As I believe I’ve mentioned here in the past, I had a very slow summer.  It started in April.  Which is Spring.  But I’m still calling it summer.  It didn’t feel good while it was happening, but it was so very widespread throughout my department (i.e., everyone I spoke to), it was hard to take it too personally.  Nevertheless, it was clear to me (through the amount of reading and sleeping I was doing) that I was escaping the situation, and putting my head in the sand.

For a while I felt that my biggest issue was going to be Bonus Season.  That I would – perhaps – not get one.

In my field, in my type of firm, bonuses are commonplace.  Before 2009, they were commonplace and they were large.  In 2009, they were smaller, but still the norm.  2010 brought another smaller bonus, but the bigger firms found that their overall profits had become public(ish), and they could not get away with keeping the lower bonus without some backlash from the Top Law Graduates.  So they supplemented, effectively bring 2010 bonuses on par with pre-recession levels.

For me, a bonus is a nice way to pad the college fund without tightening the belt.  Pretty soon, however, (even with this grossly overpaying job) with Lemon’s college breathing down our necks, the belt will be tightening.  It actually has already been tightening.  The bonus – instead – makes paying for college feasible.  Or at least – it makes paying for the first YEAR of college feasible.  (The first out of 8 ….)

In the meantime — as a backdrop of the lack of business in my department and the worries about the bonus — a lot of people in my class and those classes right above and below me have been leaving.  On their own.  They’re doing the things I should be doing: looking at the job market, at their interests and their experiences, and sending out resumes.  They haven’t been told “hey, it’s time to get out!” but they do not have their heads in the sand, either (I still do, though).  Our slice of the economy has allowed for this, for which we are grateful.

Instead of lighting a fire under me, this has made me think, “Oh, well.  This means enough people are leaving, and I can stay here, all fat & happy.”

Another little education for those who do not work in large law firms:  When I was hired, I was one in a class of approximately 200 lawyers.  None of us are up for partner until our 9th year.  Currently, there are approximately 65 of us left, across all departments.  The attrition is fast & furious, and expected to be.  In a typical year, 9-10 people are made partner.  So, really, that’s 9 out of 200.  The business model relies upon people coming to large firms for training & experience, and then getting the hell out.

It’s no surprise that the day will come, nor is it a surprise that it might be soon.

But my head, and the sand, and the college tuition.

This week, people in the know have been talking about the fact that Cuts Will Be Made.

And I’m kind of shitting my pants.

And kind of reading Game of Thrones at a frantic pace.

It’s tough to focus.  Because the summer was slow.  But the fall has not been.  I’ve been working my ass off, and things have been going well (and, really, other than the slow-ness, things haven’t gone poorly, ever).  But I know that in a firm of hundreds upon hundreds of attorneys, and a review process that is not really all that personal, it doesn’t matter how things are going today.  What matters is the bottom line.

They need to make cuts.  My hours have been low.

I caught wind of the reality of the cuts on Friday.  It may be happening within the month.

I was up from 3 a.m. – 4 a.m. on Friday night, and from 3 – 4:30 on Saturday night, and from 3:30 – 5 a.m. on Sunday night.  Last night (Monday), I gratefully slept a little sounder, but I also decided to work from home today.  I slept late, but still logged onto the system at an appropriate hour and stayed available.  I did do some work, but I was in yoga pants.

And I felt disconnected, and stressed.  When I wasn’t working, I was updating my iPhone to OS5 (will I still be able to afford an iPhone?); I went shopping with WD to purchase a mask for a work-related masquerade ball on Friday night (I couldn’t get the mask I really liked, because then I’d have to buy a new dress, and I don’t know that I’ll have an income in 3 months . . . ) I came home and did work and responded to emails, but then … I read Game of Thrones (Book III).

 

I don’t even have a resume.  

 

 

 

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Commuting in the Rain

October 20, 2011

Yesterday was pretty much a day from HELL.  I am going to share it with y’all.

Work has been pretty crazed lately, but we sent a big thing out on Tuesday night, and I thought that maybe – maybe – Wednesday would bring a lull.  I had a meeting at 9:30, where a few of us were discussing development of a new practice group, and thought carefully about what to wear.  Didn’t need to wear a suit, but needed to be short of sloppy.  Decided on a sweater over an oxford and nice slacks, and some loafer-ish flats.

I also have a standing meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, but this week, we weren’t dealing with issues that involved me, so I did not let the 10 a.m. people know about the 9:30 conflict (which is appropriate for this meeting).

But then at 9:20, the 10 a.m. people wrote and said, “let’s add these new issues [mine] to the agenda!” Then I felt all flustered.  I had to let them know that I had a 9;30, and I didn’t think it would be over by 10, but probably shortly thereafter.  It ended at 10:15, and I did get to the second meeting in time to discuss my issues.  Phew.

But also, at 9:25, I got a “reminder” email about a meeting with a bunch of lawyers from other firms about  pro bono project that I’m heavily involved in.  For some reason, in my mind, this meeting was on Friday.  (It was on my calendar for Wednesday … but not in my mind.)

And I suddenly hated my outfit.  I should have had on something dressier.  Crap. I tried to justify the fact that I was on the casual side by reminding myself that it was a pro bono meeting, and that often, that can justify a dress-down. But I wasn’t comfortable.

Then I had to meet with a partner to discuss my development as an associate.  We just reshuffled our mentor/reviewer process, and so I had to sit down with my new person for a “getting to know you” convo.  It was intense, but not problematic.

I got back to my desk to a flurry of emails – the big thing we sent out on Tuesday night had already resulted in a response – which we needed to respond to NOW.  At 1:30.  I had to be getting in a car for the off-site meeting (with my stupid clothes on) at 3!

I did frantic research for 45 minutes, fortunately found a decent case, shot off a few choice quotes and said, “I’ll be back around 5:30 and can resume then.”  [See that?  I said “5:30.” ]

Of course, when we first scheduled this off-site meeting due to end at 5, which was located closer to my home than to my office, I had grand visions of going straight home afterward.  Those visions persisted right up until the frantic emails received at 1:30.  So I was already in sad-mode.

The meeting went well.  It was good to meet the faces to go with the email addresses, and progress was made on our pro bono project. We ended at 4:55.

But then we had to chit-chat.

Then I had to go back to my colleague’s car, because I had left my umbrella in there, and it was POURING out.  Then the valet lost her car, so we had to stand around and talk for a while.  She was able to go straight home, so after I got my umbrella, she went home, and I went to call a cab.

I was in the part of Boston known as the medical area.  It’s very busy.  There’s lot of traffic and lots of cabs.  There are T stops, but not so close.  And it was POURING.  Really, really pouring.

In retrospect, I should have had my colleague take me to a T stop.  But I thought “we’re in the medical area, there will be a cab.”

Heh.

There was no cab.  Several of us were waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.

Guess what time I got in a cab?

6:25.  I waited for an hour.

And traffic was still heavy. So even once I did get in a cab, it crawled.

It crawled until it rear ended the car in front of me!!!

Seriously?  I have to wait for an hour, with a partner sitting back at the office practically peeing his pants with anxiety about these stupid research questions, and my cab rear ends someone??

Fortunately, it didnt’ require a call to the police or me standing in the rain for another hour trying to flag another cab.  It only required my cabbie getting out and being yelled at by some pretty young thing in a Burberry coat and skinny jeans.

Finally, at 6:55, I get back to the office (decidedly NOT 5:30).  Just to realize that back at 3 p.m., I left in such a rush that I did not bring with me my i.d. badge.   I need my i.d. badge to get past the security in my building, and to get out of the elevator lobby on my floor.  It’s easy enough to check in with security to get a temporary pass, but when I’m returning to the office at 6:55, it’s not so easy to get someone to let me in on my floor.  I’m in litigation, not corporate.  People go HOME (for the most part) in my department.

So I waited in the elevator lobby for a little while, until someone else was going home. They let me in.  I ran into my office, dropped my bag & umbrella, grabbed a notepad and ran down one flight to the partner’s office.  Who was all, “Oh, hey there, ” like there was NOTHING going on.  We chatted about the issues in our case, teased out some nuanced legal issues, and he said, “so, let’s just think about this more before Monday.”

And that is what I rushed back for.

So I went home.

Grrr.

 

 

 

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Solo and Floundering

October 19, 2011

Since May, I’ve been running/walking at least 4 times a week, often 7 times a week.  I haven’t lost much weight – which is the real goal – but I’ve been out there, and I’ve been increasing my stamina (i.e., no walking breaks), and I’ve felt good.

10 months of close-to-daily running?  That was unheard of.  Let’s just remember that it was happening at 6 a.m.  I was getting up at 5:15 and out the door by 5:45, and meeting my running partner at 6.

See that key phrase?  Meeting My Running Partner.

Last Wednesday, we went running.  I took a walking  break at one point.  Usually, if I take a walking break, she keeps the time and starts us running again within 30 seconds.  This time, she didn’t.  I was about to start running  but wasn’t sure why she wasn’t ….

Her foot hurt.

She’s not a whiner or a complainer.  Even if she does whine or complain, she runs through it.

We emailed later in the day – her foot was feeling worse and worse.  She didnt’ think she could run on Thursday.

I slept in on Thursday.  (To be fair to me — it was POURING rain. Not that I can’t run in the rain, but this was extreme.)

Her foot hurt enough on Thursday that she made a doctor’s appointment for Friday.

I didn’t run on Friday, either.

The weekend came with sporting events, sleep overs, etc., etc.  One sporting event that required a 5 a.m. wake up call even without running.

I met my running buddy at one of my weekend activities (the Boston Book Festival, where the author of our last book group book was speaking), and she shared the bad news:  Stress fracture in her foot.  Will take 4-8 weeks to heal.

And so far, I haven’t been running one time without her.

If this happened a month ago, I could have probably slept in a little later and still gone running without her.  But now work has picked up, and I don’t have as much flexibility to show up at 10 (or 11 … during the slowest of times).

I need to get my stupid fat butt out of bed in the morning.  At 5:15 or 5:30. And I need to go out there and RUN.

Grr.