Friday, January 22, 2010

Talent, or lack there of

I have a personal "bucket list" of things that I would like to do while I can. Since Katrina, one of those things has been to help out in a disaster in a meaningful way. To be clear - I do not want a disaster to happen, at all, to anyone. But immediately after Katrina, I visited bizarely in concrete city, along with justsomeguy and TFry. The trip had been planned for awhile, so we were basically all meeting up (as we tend to do about every 6-8 months) to booze, laugh, dance in windows and see if bizarely whipped out an outfit that makes us all ask if she was having a Chico's kind of day.*

But then there was Katrina. We all arrived in Houston the Friday before Labor Day, as did some of the first people bussed from New Orleans. So we all put down our mimosas that morning and went to volunteer at one of the arenas that was operating as a shelter.

Our basic task as volunteers was to sort donated clothes in preparation for the arrival of people to the arena. We were happy to do this task. We also did some other things, putting water on the cots, getting together toothbrushes, etc. The medical professionals set up their station, various social services were there too. There were also groups of people there NOT helping, but just taking pictures of themselves in front of the chaos, presumably for us in publications about how they "helped."

And then the first bus full of people came in. These poor people - some of them were caked in mud (and the hurricane had hit days before - and we all know about that), kids clinging onto their parents, you could tell that they had been through alot by the time they came up to get some used clothes and maybe a smile.

Obviously the focus of the day was not (and still is not) 4 twenty somethings with a butt load of education and paying jobs. At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder what it might have been like to really help. To be a doctor or nurse who saves someone's life, or a musician who can go on a telethon and raise millions (along with other famous people). I felt like I couldn't give more that what I did on that day** - a bottle of water and an encouraging look, even though I had no idea what the future held for those people. And cash, I could give money to assistance funds.

Now with the earthquake in Haiti, I feel kind of the same way. I can only give money. I would like to help more. I wish I had a skill to do so.

I will continue to do pro bono work locally, but the next time that something like Katrina or Haiti happens, I want to get on a plane and really help. Although I hope that I never achieve this goal because there isn't something like this in the future.

*To be fair, bizarely does not dress like she shops at Chico's, or at least was not doing so in September 2005. She didn't start that kind of stuff until October 2009 when she interpreted "Ninja" (it was Halloween in Vegas) to involve cropped pants and high heeled mary janes. It was a far cry from ninjas circa 2002, which involved us in pleather pants from Wal-Mart.
** Now I have the legal knowledge to assist with obtaining insurance coverage for those affected (if they had insurance, which opens a can of worms, because that limits who you can help). In 2005, I could have helped with someone who had their DRAM chip design misappropriated or something along those lines. I was still a very baby lawyer and didn't even know about insurance recovery.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Day Rambles

For the first time since becoming a lawyer, I started a job and was excited. Ok, that is a lie. I was excited when I started my clerkship, but my last firm and my first day at the Philly office after transferring were not particularly exciting. Today, even though I sat through such thrilling things as "phone training" and "benefits," I was happy and ready to go. I think I made the right decision. I hope once I start really working that holds true.

I am not sure borrowing J's outfit from above was the best move though....

Tomorrow I have to go to a portrait studio to have my bio picture taken. They put up full length body shots of us, so I am NOT looking forward to it.

And I finally came up with some resolutions for 2010. They are to (1) use and enjoy things that are sunk costs, such as jacuzzi tub, piano, and pricey candles, (2) remember to bring the freakin' reusable grocery bags when I go shopping. I always forget and then buy new ones because Whole Foods employees judge you with their eyes, and (3) enjoy my kid, because she is pretty cool. And it doesn't matter if she is cool because I am a good mom or because nature is overcoming nurture. (and now for the rambling)

When J was 9 weeks old, we starting going to a mom and me group just so I had something to do and a reason to leave the house. The group leader was a nice, older woman who had raised two kids of her own. She told us that the first kid was awesome and everything a parent could want in a child. Then her second kid, was (and was still at the time) a nightmare. Obviously she loved him, but you could tell he put her through the ringer - drugs, booze, bad decisions in general, required a large amount of financial support, etc. She always said (to console the moms with OOC kids) that she thought she was a great mom with the first kid but was contradicted by how the second kid turned out. Her conclusion was that she hadn't done anything wrong in terms of raising the second kid, so she must not have done anything spectacular in raising the first.

My point is, since that time over three years ago, I have never once thought that J is great because of anything I did. If this sweet, motherly, SF bay area retired nurse with a penchant for clogs and "wacky" socks had a terror child and an awesome child then there was nothing I could really do to make J an easy kid or a hard one. And that is the honest truth. As much as people have said J is awesome, I never think "aw, yeah, that's because I rock as a mom."

In fact, I have an "adequate parenting rule" that I guess I have never shared. That is as long as my kid is clothed, fed, and warm and moving forward with education in some form 85% of the time, I am an adequate mother.

Today, I decided I am going to start taking a little credit for J being a good kid. Yeah, most of it is probably innate in terms of her nature, but that nature comes (in part) from me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Return of the Chubby 5th Grader

Today was my last day of work at my now "old" job. It reminded me of the last day of 5th grade at the Catholic school my mom forced me to go to for one year. I hated the year there. One of the girls in my class had her mom bring her in lunch from a restaurant every day (remember my home town has recently been featured in the "Real Housewives" series). So for my last day, and in order to make an obviously miserable kid a bit happier, my mom brought me lunch from Grosso's, including Cool Ranch Doritos. Shockingly, it didn't make everything better.

Anyway, when I left school on that final day in June 1987 or 88, you would have thought that I would have been thrilled. But I wasn't. I cried and was sad. To this day, I have no idea why.

Now in January 2010, I am sitting on my couch, done with a job that I have really enjoyed for most of the time, but have struggled with for the last year or so. And I am remarkably sad even though you would think I would be nothing but happy.

As with the chubby 5th grader, sitting in an awful plaid jumper (our uniform) in the back of my mom's station wagon, I am not sure why I am sad. I think some sadness is normal, but the amount I feel is somewhat unexpected. The intervening 22+ years since 5th grade have given me the wisdom to surmise why I am sad. Here we go:

- I have worked there for my entire career. It is weird to hand in my laptop, blackberry and building pass and walk out the door. And in this age of constant communication, it is hard not having that email address because that is how I communicated with many people.
- some people didn't take the time to say goodbye, even over email in response to my farewell email. People that I thought I was friends with or would have thought to. (I stopped by but they were not in). And the person I probably was closest too has kind of ignored me for a few days and then at the party tonight didn't bother talking to me. Like many things in life, it reminds me of X in that it is another way to passively show that I really don't matter to them. But whatever. It makes me sad, but I will deal.
- the exit interview had some really tough questions and it was hard to answer them honestly without coming off as bitter.
- I am detoxing from zombie meds and I feel physically terrible. Literally like a drug addict. Plus, I am feeling less like a zombie and am thus actually feeling emotions instead of nothing. (the flip side is that I feel truly and actually excited to start my new job, I feel positive emotions as well as negative ones now).

More Jillian related posts to follow. Promise.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Smooth and Happy Transition

Every new year I think the upcoming year has to be better than the last year, and even though over the past few years I have gotten divorced, experienced adultery first hand, nearly died in childbirth, blah blah blah, it never seems to hold true. Admittedly, 2009 has been another tough one. Worrying about keeping my job during a time when firm management could basically do whatever it wanted due to the economic conditions, X being X, general loneliness and sadness medicated with various pills that caused a variety of awful side effects and eventual zombification. So I ventured into 2010 without thinking anything other than whatever happens, happens and I will try to deal with it and be happy.

That all being said - some highlights of 2009:
(1) I quit my job. This has been one of the most awesome experiences of my life. I have been playing bad Santa and passing off horrendous cases to other associates. And since I do work that no one else at my firm really does, these unwitting associates are screwed. I feel bad, but I hand the stuff over with a smile on my face and suggest a treatise or two for them to read. And as clients shout that they want a motion for summary judgment filed immediately if not sooner, but don't want to pay more than $X, I just laugh. Especially because I am the only litigator that understands the deal that they are suing on. Client service be damned. Bridges be burned. (Ok, not really. I have been helpful and make it as easy as possible and there are plenty of people that I will miss after 5+ years at my firm.)

(2) Jillian got into pre-school. I know that this is kind of lame, but she got in early (she wasn't three yet) and it was pretty competitive.

(3) Developing and interest in Tudor era British history. Dorky I know but at the same time, reading about it is like reading US Weekly from the 1500s. So if I was to draw a venn diagram of history and gossip, the Tudors would be right there in the overlap. Anyway, this interest has saved me a lot of grief as it is one of the few things that occupies my mind completely.

(4) Many awesome trips to visit friends - Houston TX with J and TFry to see Britney, DC to find a tricky shark and debate whether or not mermaids have lady parts, San Francisco for Thanksgiving with J-town and letterpaperflower, while working the week in the office with justsomeguy, London to see jbux during my trip to Paris.

(5) The departure of X's first girlfriend after me. Well, not technically AFTER. I mean after cheating on your wife, I guess dating someone while you live in her house and she takes care of your kid may be during. But potayto, potaaato. I did not like her. She was a terrible person, probably still is. The new girlfriend entered the picture about 1 month after the breakup. I don't know this new one, in fact I just met her for the first time last week. But she has been in cahoots with X to be a bit mean to me at times (like when she "plays mom" they will rub it in). Anyway, while shaking her hand I realized that she was probably surprised I didn't have horns and a tail given what X had likely told her about me. Also, I realized that I just felt bad for her. She lives in a filthy house with X and probably thinks that she is in a great relationship. I wanted to tell her to call me up in a year and half and we can go get a beer. Or 75 beerosos. Whatever works.

This post is really long. I don't really have any goals for 2010. Just be happy and healthier, maybe less tv (but let's not kid ourselves), take things as they come. And go into my new job with a good attitude.

Now I am off to open a bottle of wine and put a fire in the fire place. Nothin' wrong with that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Alittle late, oh well! Happy Holidays!

Here is J performing a holiday song. As you can see (hear?) she has inherited my keen sense of interpreting song lyrics. Hope everyone had a happy new year!