Archive for the ‘thoughts (& lack thereof)’ Category

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Facebook: Family Losses and Gains

October 30, 2012

During the time that I was doing a lot of traveling for work, others in my life were dealing with major issues. Arresting issues.  Issues that made me stop in the airport, while trying to run between connections, and find the wall to support myself to breathe and to cry. And to cry.

First:

Last spring, I was thrown off by a facebook post by an old friend from high school (we’re the class of 1990, FYI) where she said that she took her oldest son (approx 2 years older than Em – i.e., 17 yo) to the doctor for what they saw as Swimmer’s Ear.

The Swimmer’s Ear was treated, the doctor asked extra questions, the son said he’d been feeling off.  The doctor ordered tests.

Leukemia.

Just . . . inconceivable.

My high school classmate shared her journey via a facebook page from the start.  There was a point where I told a local friend about the page and she thought “so public! that can’t be right!” and I said, “no, she is doing this so well, doing such a good job.”  And it’s true.

The journey was long, and it wasn’t easy.  There were 4 rounds of chemo, each one 29 days.  After the third, he was cancer-free.  It was amazing.  He was a fighter, he was amazing.  There were so many stories of his strength, his perseverance, his grace.

Despite the remission, he needed the 4th round to ensure that the cancer was truly gone.

I don’t know for sure how far in, but it felt like a very little bit into the 4th round, Tucker started to have some medical issues.  Not cancer-related, but infections and fevers and nausea.

it didn’t stop.  Time was odd to me, as an observer.  I’m not sure I realized, as I had trials and arbitrations and hearings and deadlines and briefs, that 6 weeks had passed, and Tucker was still in the ICU.

I think it was October 8, maybe the 9th.  It was around the Columbus Day when I was walking through the airport and received the news that Tucker didn’t make it.

I sobbed.  I was in the airport in my suit with my fancy lawyer-rolling bag, and I just stopped walking and I just cried.

I still cry.  At first it was every day.  Now it’s at least once a week.

It’s just . . . he went in for swimmer’s ear.  He was vibrant, he was connected, he was talented.

I have a couple of those.

And my classmate!  A mom.  She was so close with her son, so dedicated.  So – in love.

It hurt so much.  For them so much more than the tiny trickle down that hurt me, and honestly?  It hurt me a lot.  My classmate and her family are continuing with their amazing attitudes and their love of Tucker.  But without curling up in a ball and becoming absent from life.  I can’t imagine resisting that temptation.

I remain devastated.

Second:

I have another high school classmate.  We became friends after I had a social upheaval in my junior year, and she was just so very accepting and kind.  So widely beloved, and just an amazing person.

It was fun to reconnect with her on Facebook.  I think we both had fun.  We played games and traded witty comments.

She went to Ethiopia.  I think two years ago.  She worked in orphanages.

This year, she shared that she was adopting a baby she met in the orphanage.  The baby was wee when she met her in 2010 (I think), but continued to grow as my friend went through the application process.  She made the situation public this summer, just before she was heading to pass court in Ethiopia.  She was adopting this baby-girl.

I watched the process through a trip to see the baby-girl, seeing the baby-girl’s ambivalence at these near-strangers {i.e., parents} who had traveled oh-so-far to spend time with her.

I think that trip was in August. And then came a waiting-game.  It was so painful.  To watch my friend prep her daughter’s room, to buy her daughter clothes, to see her other children (ages 7 through 13, I think) prepare for their sister’s arrival (and conduct amazing, fantastic, effective fundraisers to help pay for the airfare to fetch their baby-sister) – but yet have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  For the ok.  For the passport.  For the medical exam.  And the baby-girl’s 3rd birthday (3rd birthday!!) was approaching.  But the waiting continued.

She’s there.  Right now.  The baby-girl is coming home.

_________________________________

 

I cry a lot, lately.  Some is sad, some is happy.  But I just feel like there’s so much going on.  I just — I just love.  And I want to find more ways to let people know that.  The people who are in my immediate life, and in my extended life.

 

 

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Inequities

June 6, 2012

The other day, I was commuting into work.  Happily, I ended up with a seat pretty early in my ride, near to the front of the train.  The train driver and another MBTA worker were chatting.  (I was on the second of 2 cars, and in that situation, my “train driver” is really nothing more than a glorified fare collector and announcement-maker; the chatting was not a safety issue).

I found myself eavesdropping.

Me, one of many people in suits or other business dress.  iPad or iPhone in hand (for many, like me, it’s both).  Well-regarded literature or magazine in hand, to read when the mindless games on said devices become tiresome.  Checking our email every moment that we get reception in the tunnels, because work may need me, they may have Important Questions.

But the eavesdropping:

Male MBTA Worker-Dude:  I just want to travel, you know?  I want to go all kinds of places and see all kinds of things.

Female MBTA Driver-Lady:  I want to go on vacation, but I don’t really care where I go.  I can’t really afford to go anywhere far away anyway.

Male MBTA Worker-Dude:  You know what would be so cool?  To go to D.C.  And you can drive there.  They say that in D.C., there’s a lot of museums.  Like tons of museums! Man, I would love that shit!  I would love to go and see all the ancient Egypt shit.  That would be cool.

Female MBTA Driver- Lady:  I don’t wanna go to no museums.  If I go on vacation, I just want to rest on my hotel bed and go to the hotel pool.

Male MBTA Worker-Dude:  Man! Are you kidding me?  What’s the point in that, you might as well stay home!  Don’t you want to see stuff?

Female MBTA Driver-Lady: [some quiet mumbling about having three babies]

Male MBTA Worker-Dude:  yeah, that’s hard when you gotta deal with all of that.  But then they’ll grow up and move out, and then you can do other shit.

And that stuck with me.  All day.  The privilege, which I don’t always see, every now and then becomes overwhelming.

 

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My New Colleague

March 27, 2012

Before I started at my new firm, I spent a lot of time on their website, checking out everyone’s bio.  Of course, my first look was before I even applied.

When I was applying to firms, one of the first things I would do is check the bios to be sure that the firm hired from my law school.  Living in the Boston area, and having gone to decidedly not-Harvard, I do worry sometimes that my school will be shunned.  Objectively, this is a stupid concern.  If any firm was going to shun my not-Harvard school, it would have been my ex BigFirm. And not only did they hire me, but they kept me around for almost 5 years – there were many Harvard and Yale grads who did not make it that long.

But I digress.

Point: I looked at my new firm’s website, and the only other attorney who’d graduated from my law school did so in 1974.

So I was concerned, and thought it was possible that submitting my resume was going to be a waste of time.

Interview / offer / acceptance / hire.  During all of that time, I continued to spend time on the website, to try and get a sense of who I would be working with.  I noticed changes (someone quit, someone else was hired).

Then my first day rolled around.  On my first day, there was a party.  It would have been nice if it were for me, but it was not.  It was because a trial had been won the previous Friday.  The party included the entire firm (attorneys, paralegals, assistants, office services, etc.) as well as a champagne toast.  As the firm came flooding in, I noticed a familiar face.  But I couldn’t place where she was from. She walked over to me, and as she did, another attorney joined us, and the familiar face said, “Hi, Suz!” and I said, “Hi! How are YOU?” And she said, “I didn’t know you were coming here!” and the other attorney said, “Do you two know each other?” and familiar face said, “Yes! we went to law school together! We graduated together!”

Oof.

She had just started, was in her second week, and hadn’t made it to the website.  Hence my not spotting her and being prepared for this.

No doubt, when I was in law school, I was not the most social person.  I kept my head down. I did my work.  I went home.  I didn’t have much patience for the high school-esque antics that went on around me.  I was that old lady who was shocked to see these little whipper snappers spending their class time IMing across the room.  They annoyed me.

New Colleague is not and was not of that ilk.  Actually, as it turns out, she’s my age.  She had a full-on impressive career before law school.  I think she also was a head-down type of person.

And it’s not like we were closer than I remembered – that I forgot someone with whom I had a close friendship.  The first time she stopped by my office at work, she noticed a photo on my desk.  “Who are they?”  “They are my daughters.”  “You have KIDS???!!!!”  And that was far from a secret at school. Anyone who I did talk to knew I had kids.

But then last week we were again at a gathering with other associates, and one of these (also a relatively new hire) graduated from our law school a few years ahead of me.  She said to us, “so you graduated the same year?” and my New Colleague said, “Yes, we did.  Actually, we had a fair amount of classes together.”

Oof!  Again!!  I didn’t know that!  I didn’t remember that.

I really need to start doing some sudoku.

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Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.

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A Little Bit Awkward

January 1, 2012

In the past month or so, I’ve been applying to jobs as I see ones that pique my interest, but haven’t gone whole-hog.  My firm has provided me with a professional career consultant, and I’ve started that process, and our plan is to really kick things up after the new year (you know, tomorrow?)  But when I see things that I don’t want to go by me, I send my stuff.

Last night, David and I went to a New Year’s Eve party where one of the other attendees was one of the bosses of a job I applied for.

It’s an odd situation I find myself in – I socialize with people who are far ahead of me, career-wise, because of my gap between undergrad and law school, and because I had kids at a (relatively) young age. I’m 39, and several of my peers here in my hometown – fellow parents of kids my kids’ ages, are 50 and up.  10 years older, plus my 10 year gap – they’re 20 years more advanced in their careers.  So when I was graduating law school, attending a school fundraiser, I was seated next to someone who had just been appointed as a federal magistrate judge. One of the volunteers for the play I just produced is a senior Attorney General in my state, and another is a Senior AUSA who is close with one of the partners at my firm.

It’s not that I’m not used to this difference. I am.  But it is the first time that I’ve been on the job market, and these people who are much senior to me may be potential employers.  So when I reviewed the invite list of the party I’d already RSVP’d for, I developed some butterflies.  What if he’s seen my resume? How do I talk about my situation?  Do I say that I’ve been laid off?  Do I mention that I’d applied?  My “career consultant” thinks I need to be very open about my situation, as it’s valuable networking – but if this person knows I’m not leaving my firm voluntarily, will it hurt me?

In the end, it didn’t really come up.  The party was big enough that while I did intersect with and chat with him, we didn’t have a detailed conversation. We laughed and joked a couple of times, and I chatted with his wife (also a lawyer).  I had a couple of conversations with my close friends about the situation and the job search thus far, and at one point, I did think he was tuned into what was being said – but I had to let it go.  I wasn’t going to shove the job search in his face at a holiday party — if he has seen my resume, he already knew who I was (I have a pretty public presence at the school, because of the plays and other volunteerisms).

But it was a little odd.  More so conceptually than in how it played out.

 

 

 

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Taking Stock of 2011

January 1, 2012

Yesterday’s realization that 2010 sucked, and then 2011 sucked, was kind of daunting. It’s also a little weird, because I’m far from being an unhappy person, or thinking that my life sucks.  How can my years suck, if my life doesn’t suck?

Looking back at last year’s end-of-year posts, I see that I was right about 2010 – it wasn’t a great year for me.  2011 wasn’t really a bad year, except for work.  And work didn’t leak into home in the same ways that it did in 2010.  When things weren’t going well this year, starting in April, it was because I had so little to do.  That resulted in less time at work over the summer.  I spent more time reading, I took a day to go to the beach with a friend, I came home from work earlier.  So the effect on home was a good one.  So that’s something, at least.

According to last year’s posts, I had the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight.  I didn’t, really.  I went up and down with the same 10 pounds, but didn’t really make much progress here.  I need to step it up.  I did run a good bit, starting in April or May.  So I have habits in place – but I need to kick it up a notch.  I need to run more, run harder, and do more than just running.  I need to do some strength training, and I need to be more careful about food.  I’m not letting go of my “fit by 40” goal.  I can do this. I have 11 months, and I can do it.

2) Draft my resume.  I did that.  But not until I was up against the wall and on my way out the door.  But it’s written, and it’s been reviewed by professionals, and it’s in good shape.

Then my littler areas of focus:

My extended family: My sister and I are definitely back in touch and things are good there.  I do try to be better with my parents, and I think I’ve been less irritable with them.  My brother is no different, but I’m not taking responsibility for that.  He and his wife are a bit too overwhelmed by having young children and a job (him, not her) and bills to pay, and I have a very hard time  commiserating with them.  Because – really?  Who DOESN’T have young children and a job and bills to pay?  At least at some point?  You’d think that they believe my teenage daughters sprung fully formed out of my forehead and that I somehow have a trust fund and pretend I’m a lawyer for show, for the way they’re convinced they’re the ONLY people with young children and a job and bills to pay.  If I hear either of them reference my brothers “10-12 hour days” one more time, I may barf.  Instead, I hold my tongue, and don’t try to “one up” them with stories of my years in their shoes – with a husband who was in grad school and making NO money (but still working 12-20 hour days . . . he was clever like that), or the years where I was a single parent with young kids, a job, bills to pay, and no second parent in the house.  I just say “yeah, it must be hard.” And don’t call again.

So, no.  No improvement there.

Family (home):  Like I said – this year’s job stuff  gave me more time with my family, not less.  Lemon was a bit of a snarky kid last year – and this year, she’s in a groove and easy to manage and thriving.  Mouse is starting with the snark, but it’s less constant than Lemon’s was, and so far, we can deal.  She’s still thriving, and that makes us happy. They’re very good kids.  David and I are good – of course some months we’re totally in sync, and others we are “off,” but overall, we’re very good.  I’m still grateful every day for being married to a partner.

Community:  Well, I just wrapped up producing the Best Play Ever, and I delved into it more than in years past, because I had more time (the good side of no job . . . or transitioning out of a job).  This spring, I plan to be involved in the planning and executing of Mouse’s 8th grade graduation (I know, I know, “graduating from 8th grade is STUPID!” But these kids have been in this K-8 school since, well, K.  It is a big milestone, and I would like the stupid-callers to do so elsewhere.  Thanks!)  I know I should do something else, now that I’m wrapping up my volunteer efforts at the kids’ school, but right now, less than a month after producing the play, I don’t want to.  I want to say I’ve put in my time, and I’m done.  And as far as the kids’ schools are concerned, that may be my final conclusion.  I think I’d like to shift my focus to the town-level.  Not sure what yet, but I still have time to explore and figure it out.

Finances.  David and I did, in fact, see a financial advisor this year.  It was illuminating.  Depressing, but illuminating.  We do NOT have a house fund.  We are perma-renters.  We did start aggressively socking money away into savings, and our 401k has been doing well.  If we hadn’t done that, this job-news would have been a lot more devastating.

Travel.  We did some.  Not enough. We did New York City in February, I went to Wisconsin with Mouse in April, we went to the Berkshires. We went to Vermont.  We went to Maryland/Virginia/D.C. (when my Outer Banks vacation was thwarted).   But I still haven’t brought these girls to Europe.  And we still haven’t gotten back to California.  I want to see my friends, and my sister.

Some positive outcomes from 2011 that I cannot overlook, and that I hadn’t included in my list:  Friendships.  I have enhanced existing friendships and found new ones.  This was especially obvious with the job-issues, as my support network was so very  strong.  While two of my three most supportive friendships at work have been in place since my summer associate days, another is one that has really taken shape this year.  I’m very grateful for this friendship, and glad that I got over my assumption that she and I would never really “relate” to one another, because she’s young and has no kids.  Not the case.  I’m very glad to have made this friend.

Another new friendship on the home-front, in my running partner.  We’re very like-minded (and our mini-me older daughters have found this in one another, as well), and clicked instantly.  I have a comfortable easiness with her that I haven’t had with someone in a very long time.  “Wanna come over?” without caring at ALL that there’s dirty laundry on my bathroom floor.  A really great find this year.

Still to come — looking ahead to 2012.

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Notes from a Cafeteria

October 14, 2011

My firm has a cafeteria.  It’s pretty nice, and offers a lot of options.  Better yet, it’s subsidized by the firm, so it’s cheap.

The problem, though, is that in order to get there, I have to go up 7 floors on one elevator, then walk around the corner and get on another elevator and then go up 13 more floors. The wait time for the second elevator is usually downright obnoxious.  I hate waiting.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.

So often, I choose to go downstairs, instead.  To the mall.

Like with any mall, there are several options (like with the cafeteria).  Some of them are healthy (like with the cafeteria). None of the healthy ones are also cheap (unlike with the cafeteria).  For example: the new grilled cheese place (YUM!!) is very cheap.  I can get a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and basil for $3.50. They coat the bread with butter and put 10 slices on cheese on it … not healthy.  Or, I can get  salad, fresh-made to order with dressing mixed in for $10.  Not cheap.

But I do it anyway (usually choosing healthy over cheap … and I wonder why I’m broke at the end of the month).  Because it’s quick.

Yesterday, however, I went downstairs to find insanely long lines — for every single food option. Healthy, cheap, gross – you name it.  (My building is not only connected to a mall, it’s also connected to a convention center.  When the conventions break for lunch, we get inundated.)

Remember how I hate to wait?

So I went back upstairs to the cafeteria.

And I had an amazing lunch, for $5.75.  Grilled cajun talapia, a cup of tomato soup, and a bowl of caeser  salad.  It was delicious.  And $5.75. (half the cost of the salad I would have otherwise purchased … that salad that I’m pretty bored of, by the way).

The cafeteria is also pleasant.  It’s on a very high floor overlooking the Boston Harbor, the Charles River, Fenway Park, my town – all kinds of things.  It has large windows, and it’s always clean.  I am resolving to eat there every day.

Today, by the way, was the sushi bar.  I had a tuna roll and a salmon roll made fresh to order.  And it is, in fact, very fresh and delicious.  If I wasn’t up for that, I could have gone to the grill station and had a fresh-grilled flank steak, or a burger (with bacon and onion mixed into the ground beef), or a grilled chicken breast, or some more fish.  If I wasn’t up for that, I could have gone to the wood-oven station and gotten a slice of pizza, or a calzone.  If not that, I could have gone to the sandwich bar, where today’s specialty was the “Rachel” (like  Reuben, but with cole slaw instead of sauerkraut).  Or the double-sized salad bar.  Yeah.  It’s really dumb of me to keep going to the mall.

Cheap, healthy, fresh, made to order food?  Or over-priced, nasty chain fast food-food?  Duh.

There’s at least one aspect I’m going to have to get the hang of:

There are trays for your food, which is pretty typical of a cafeteria.  There are the black plastic ones, which are meant to be used if you are eating in the cafeteria (ha!), and also cardboard-like ones, for those of us (all of us) who are taking it back to our desks.  There’s a note up that says “please help the environment, use a plastic tray or re-use your cardboard trays!”

I’d been seeing a lot of people getting onto the elevator with their cardboard tray in hand, so I thoguht, “oh, I’ll get a cardboard one and reuse it!”

Yesterday, I got a cardboard one and promptly got salad dressing all over it.  Eew. I threw it away.

Today I got a cardboard one and thought to myself, “Dude, try and keep it clean this time.” But while eating my sushi, I got soy sauce on it. I have to throw it away.

I guess I need to either (a) learn to eat like a civilized person, or (b) get a freaking plastic tray.

[Although, the plastic trays confuse me.  I certainly can’t wait for the elevator 2 more times, just to return the tray.  But there also isn’t anywhere to clean it down here. I’ve seen some people just leave it on the counter in our mini-kitchen on our floor, but does someone pick them up?  Or are the people who leave them being obnoxious for assuming that there’s a maid service that comes around after them to discard their trash?]