Monday, December 27, 2010

the great blizzard

So, Christmas is over.  I managed to get all the gifts I needed, although it involved shopping on the morning of Christmas Eve.  My parents and Kathy's mother got along great (we knew they would).  We didn't have the kids yesterday, so we planned to take all the parents into New York City to do Christmasy things like see the tree in Rockefeller Center and have a drink in the Waldorf's bar. 

When we woke up yesterday, Kathy checked the weather, and was over at the computer cracking up.  "It says 'BLIZZARD'!"  "Blizzard?" I replied, "That's ridiculous."  We got our new running pants and shirts on, and went for a run.  There were flurries coming down.  We got home, showered, ate lunch, and got ready to go into the city.  "If it's going to snow, maybe we should take the train," Kathy suggested.  So we did.  "It's really coming down," my mom observed.  Undeterred, we put on our coats.  "Do you want a hat?" I asked my dad.  "Nah," he answered.  "It's not snowing that hard."

When we arrived in Grand Central, the people coming in from outside were covered in snow.  "They must have walked a long way to have that much snow on them," I thought.   We shopped, had a coffee in Grand Central, and plotted our course through the city.  When we emerged from the subway at 51st and Lex to walk to the Waldorf for our happy hour drink in the lobby bar, Kathy said, "This snow is great!  It's so Christmasy and romantic!"  Within a half a block, my mom said, "I'm freezing."  It was still snowing, and the wind was blowing.  We had our drink at the Waldorf and headed to Rockefeller Center to see the tree.  We were all covered in snow by the time we got there.  My dad's hair was covered in ice.  Our faces were wet and red.  Our pants were soaked through.  "Take a picture of the tree!" my mom exclaimed.  My dad, grumbling, pulled out his iPhone, removed his gloves, and snapped a picture of the tree.  We barely made it to the subway.  We were soaked and frozen.  My dad's hair was melting into his eyes.  "What a great adventure!" Kathy's mom said.

We went to the Soho Grand, and had another drink in their lobby.  It was kind of a hotel-lobby-bar-crawl.  When we were ready to go to dinner, Kathy said, "Maybe we should take cabs; walking to the subway seems kind of miserable."  My mom was in the bathroom, so I headed down to get in the first cab with Kathy's mom, and Kathy said she would follow with my parents.  After one block, our cab got stuck in the snow.  Our cab driver, who seemed unfamiliar with the frozen white stuff falling from the sky, tried to just push the accelerator.  The wheels spun, and the meter ticked up.  He tried, unsuccessfully, to reverse.  The wheels spun, and the meter ticked up.  When it hit $7.10 after going less than 2 blocks, I said, "Uh, sir, I think you might need a tow truck."  He replied, "You should get out."  That's the thing about New Yorkers, they are direct.  We got out, and saw Kathy and my parents drive by us.  Fortunately, we got an SUV cab, and made it to the restaurant.  But my parents and Kathy weren't there yet.  When they finally arrived 15 minutes later, they were, again, soaked and frozen.  "What happened?" I asked.  My mom could not answer because her face was frozen.  So Kathy said, "Our cab driver had another fare, so he made us get out 3 blocks away and walk here!" 

After dinner, we walked to the subway, made it to Grand Central, and took the train back to the suburbs.  That's when the real fun started.  The car was buried under about 20 inches of snow, and the parking lot to the train station had not been plowed.  After a half hour of Kathy, my dad, and me digging the car out and pushing it, a random guy stopped and helped.  The snow was blowing horizontally, and my shoes were untied. My pants were crusted with snow up the middle of my thighs.  I had been digging in my new leather gloves that Kathy's mom gave me for Christmas.  The car slipped and slid home, and we took our shoes and snowy clothes off.  I hadn't noticed, but my dad had been taking pictures with that iPhone the whole night.  We stood in the kitchen in our slippers and looked at them, cracking up.  He had pictures of our frozen mothers, pictures of that damn Rockefeller tree, pictures of Kathy and me laughing with almost our entire faces covered by scarves and hoods and hats. 

Our hotel bar crawl would have been fun in nice weather.  But it was really excellent doing it in the great blizzard.  And the best part is that the blizzard continued through the night, and there is no way I am making it into the office today.  It's nice having a job that has snow days.  Working from home might still be working, but at least you're at home!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the reason for the season

Yesterday, I was frantic all day at work (which is why I did not post).  I was wrapping up a hundred little details so I wouldn't be bothered over the holiday.  I was arranging for a delivery to a partner's home tomorrow, since the firm's mailroom is closed and apparently he planned on reviewing a document over the weekend (!).  I was doing all the small projects I could so that I could work from home today and not have to carry home a huge stack of paper.  After work, I had errands to run, gifts to pick up, etc. 

And somewhere about mid-day, someone I went to high school posted a facebook status along the lines of "If you are stressed out about Christmas, you're missing the whole point of the glorious holiday season!"  Um, excuse me, but eff you. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

love shack, part II

Last night, I was putting photos into the photo album.  I don't know why this was an urgent holiday task, but it suddenly felt like it was, so while Kathy sat there writing out the last of our holiday cards, I put pictures in the album.  I like printed out photos, and I like them arranged in books, rather than just in shoeboxes.  I think they're so much easier for people to look at that way.

The majority of the pictures that I was putting into the album last night were pictures from this past summer, and the majority of those were pictures from our Fire Island "house."  As you will recall, we can't really afford it if I quit working at the firm.  Even if I don't quit right away, with quitting on the horizon, there are probably a million smarter things to do with the money.  But still.

Kathy mentioned when I brought up the idea of letting go of the house how much the kids enjoyed it.  It's true, they did.  Looking back at the pictures, we had so much fun!  There are pictures of the things that I remember doing as a kid, when I visited my grandma's house on Saginaw Bay.  Like playing Uncle Wiggily and having "happy time" (aka happy hour, through the filter of a 9 year old brain).  Or exploring the beach and imagining drift wood is a sunken pirate ship.  I do think that is one of the best things about having kids in your life -- it makes you remember your own childhood, and all of it's adventures, misery, joy, and wonder.

Monday, December 20, 2010


(via here)

This weekend, we went to three parties.  One of them was at our house.  We had a holiday party Saturday night, my sister's birthday party Saturday night, and hosted some friends for the Steelers/Jets game on Sunday.  But let me back up.

As I have said, one of the biggest issues I have with life in general, and this holiday season in particular, is how busy I am and how I never have time for myself.  A wise friend told Kathy recently, "Try to give Erin a couple of hours to herself over the weekend."  So Kathy said to me, "You know, you haven't been to yoga in a while.  Why don't you go on Saturday."  I woke up Saturday, and went. 

Then I came home, and Kathy and I ran errands, then it was immediately time to go to the mall to do Christmas shopping.  I totally melted down.  Kathy very nicely took the kids and went to the mall with her mom and the kids, and I stayed home and napped, then wrote Christmas cards.  It was very nice.  Then it was dinner time, and Kathy asked if I wanted chicken burgers or beef burgers, and would I mind going to the store to get whichever I wanted?  And I melted down again.  Yikes.  Something was so clearly not right. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

the Hotel California

File:California Hotel (Oakland, CA).JPG
You can check out any time you like.  But you can never leave.  Photo via Wikipedia.

I think every Biglaw associate talks about quitting.  Kind of a lot.  But doesn't it seem like not that many of us actually do it?  I have a friend who is in her 6th year.  She has been talking about quitting for all of the 3 years I have known her.  I have another friend that I went to law school with, who has been talking about quitting for at least the last year, maybe longer.  And as you know, I have also been saying that I am going to quit.  So, why are we all still here?

I think the golden handcuffs are part of it, but not the whole picture. There's also the busy-slow-busy-slow problem, where you either don't have the time to look for a new job, or you don't have the motivation.  But I think it goes deeper than that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the sabbath

(via Sabino)

In my view, there are two kinds of tired.  The first one is the kind you are from lack of sleep.  New parents and law firm associates are familiar with this kind.  Sometimes, when I have been working late several nights in a row, I wake up and cry because I'm so tired.  Then I think, "When is the next time I can sleep?"  If it's more than a day away, I cry again.  I know, sad. 

The second kind of tired is further from the surface.  It's the kind of tired you are when you have no time to relax.  Kathy once said it's like you have a raw nerve inside your brain, and everyone you interact with keeps rubbing that one exposed nerve.  (Actually, now that I think of it, I'm sure new parents have this kind of tired too.)  Even if you get enough sleep on a raw-numbers basis, this kind of tired wears you down. 

A pigeon shooting day

Some days start out like this:

(Come on now, Betty Draper from Mad Men. 
If you don't know that, you need to get the first season from Netflix.)

And some days start out like this:

Betty Draper shooting pigeons.

Today was one of those pigeon shooting days for me.  The car wouldn't start.  I was so rattled I drove around a "Do not enter" sign and got pulled over.  I was so rattled by that, that I left my wallet in my car and my friend who owns the coffee shop had to give me my coffee for free.  And that was all before 8:30 a.m.  All I am saying is that it's a good thing I'm too liberal to own a gun.  Because this would have been me.  Shooting at pigeons.  For lack of a better enemy.

Don't fuck with Betty

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the house across the street

It's time to talk about the house across the street.  It was built in 1890, and is an absolute monstrosity.  I'm talking thick red shag carpeting covering the original wood floors, asbestos, a refrigerator weirdly placed in the middle of the kitchen, an entirely dark brown exterior.  In fact, it looks like this:

And I want to buy it SO BADLY.  I should not give it any publicity, because now you will want to scoop it up and buy it out from under me, won't you?  It needs so much work, which I would love to do.  It's got 6 bedrooms, so when Kathy and I have more kids (yup, more kids) we'll have enough room for all of us.  We could lovingly redo each and every room.  I could take classes on Saturday mornings to learn to fix the wiring and plumbing myself.  It appeals to me so much.  This is probably my parents' fault, as they were big do-it-yourself-ers.  Whatever, thanks mom and dad.  It's been empty for years, and has been on the market for ages.  I think this means it is meant to be.  I would rip all that ivy off the front and paint it a lighter color so it's not so dark and imposing and unfriendly.  We would fill it with love.  All this, and we would still get to be neighbors with our favorite neighbor, who currently lives across the street from us, but who would live next door to us if we moved in here.  I think about it all the time! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

love shack

(what I would be giving up)

For the most part, when I think about changing careers, I have talked about things like regret if I make the wrong choice, concern about dissatisfaction even if I change, ensuring that my new career lines up with my values, and the stress caused by a lack of work-life balance.  All of these intangible things are important.  But there is one big, fat, tangible pink elephant in the room.  Money. 

The salaries of junior associates at big New York law firms is public information.  If you're a halfway decent googler, you can find out roughly what I make each year.  I've narrowed my alternative career path options down to a select few, and if you just look in terms of raw numbers, it represents about a 73% pay cut.  SEVENTY-THREE PERCENT.  That means that if I move to the career I'm contemplating, I will make about 27% of what I am making now.  To be honest, even when I realized that, I thought, meh.  So what?  I've lived on less, rather happily.  I would have time to do the things I want to do.  You can't put a price on happiness.  Etc.  I convinced myself that, despite my enormous load of law school debt, I was not, in fact, wearing the golden handcuffs you hear so much about in law school.

Today, I was faced for the first time with the hard truth that if I wanted to quit my job on the timeline I am contemplating, and put into action some of the plans that Kathy and I have been making, I would have to give something up.  Something big, that I enjoy a lot, but which I can only afford on my lawyer salary.  Worse yet, it's not just me that has to give it up.  It's the whole family, Kathy and the kids too.  I have to ask the people that I love to make a sacrifice of something that they really like, so that I can have the potential (not the guarantee, just the potential) to be happier. 

This thing is the vacation house that we rent on Fire Island each summer.  I use the term "house" loosely.  It's actually a converted garage.  I affectionately call it a shack.  But it's been our shack for the last two summers, and we all love it.  And if I quit my job, we really can't afford it anymore.

Last week I alluded to a book by Joe Dominguez and V. Robin called Your Money or Your Life.  In this book, the very smart authors point out that you don't actually make what you think you do at your job.  Actually, you have to deduct a bunch of expenses from your salary, which represent things that you wouldn't need to spend money on if it wasn't for your job.  Then, you have to add together the hours you actually work, plus the hours that you spend doing work-related things. Like commuting.  Or checking your blackberry.  As we near the end of the year, and I looked at my billable hours, I am reminded of all the nonbillable stuff that I do.  So I decided to do a little experiment. 

Friday, December 10, 2010


Last night, Kathy and I talked about me leaving the law firm.  We have talked about this before, but last night's conversation felt a little different, a little more serious.  Today, after a string of absolutely horrible workdays, I am having a good day at work.  Enjoying it, even.  And because I'm me, it has got me thinking, "WHAT IF I LEAVE AND THEN REGRET IT?"  So the question I have is this:  Am I having a good day at work because I finally decided, deep down, to leave the firm, or does the good day mean I should not leave the firm after all?  Because I am from outside of Detroit, this makes me think of the Red Wings.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

the cold

I have both kinds of cold.  It is FREEZING outside today.  And also I have a completely stuffy head.  Both of these things make me really homesick for my time in the Bay area. 

It's so cold I wore Kathy's coat today, since I couldn't wear my ski jacket to a meeting of an industry group I had to go to for work, and after three winters in New York, I still do not have an appropriate coat.  When it's like this, I always find myself thinking, "Come on!  50 degrees and foggy in the middle of August isn't so bad, is it?!"  There are things I like about winter.  Like skiing, and getting to stay home from work for snow days.  But when it's not snowy, and the city is crowded with tourists sauntering down the street without a care in the world (and blocking my way!), and I have to walk to work because there are no cabs, I just want to scream I get so cold.  And.

-.--.-Variations of the common cold virus.
(look at these cold germs.  via here.)

I have a head cold.  That means no getting up and going running, boxes and boxes of Kleenex, and embarrassingly blowing my nose in the aforementioned industry group meeting.  And that horrible red chapped nose thing.  I never got colds when I lived in California.  I do not think it is because they are any less common, I just think my immune system was a lot stronger.  Stress and lack of sleep tend to wear it down a bit.  I have gotten sick so many times in the last 3 years since leaving California that I can't believe it.  When I lived in California, my yoga teacher had a policy that if you had so much as a sniffle, you should stay home, and avoid spreading your germs all over the props.  I missed one class because of sickness the whole 3 years I lived there.  For real, one class!  I have had about 7 colds per year since moving to New York and joining this rat race.  Yikes. 

And so, what is the solution to this?  I haven't the faintest idea.  It's not like I can move back to Berkeley and go back to law school.  Although that does sound fun. Perhaps some Emergen-C is in order.  And a nap?  Not likely, but sounding so very appealing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the winter of my discontent

(via MSNBC's photo blog.)

A while ago, the NYT published this article about 20-somethings, and how none of us know what the hell we are doing with our lives, other than moving back in with our parents.  When I was studying for the bar and going through my divorce, I did just that.  I think this article resonated with me, because it so accurately described what me and many of my friends are going through. 

This article describes the 20s as a period of "identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic [reasearchers call] 'a sense of possibilities.'"  Perhaps.  But this "sense of possibilities" has a darker side too.  I, and my sister, and others I know, might call it "fear."  In the article, the researchers describe feelings of "dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game. More than positive or negative feelings, what [researchers] heard most often was ambivalence."  As we struggle with our identities, trying to figure out what to do with our lives, many of us are hopeful, but we are also afraid.  I know that I am.  Afraid of getting stuck in something I don't like, but also afraid of never finding something I do.  Or growing tired of something that once energized me.  I feel like every week I have a new career that I want to embark on.  I'm not lazy.  It's not that I don't want to do anything.  It's that I want to do everything.  Maybe this is the "sense of possibilities."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The chain goes like this:  A friend mentions Ani Difranco, circa 1996 (Untouchable Face, specifically).  I listen to the whole album (Dilate, specifically).  I hear the song Napoleon.  It reminds me of two things:

(1) A time when I was in college, and went over to visit a friend (no cell phones, people, we used to just stop by without warning).  She was listening to Napoleon so loudly that she couldn't hear me pounding on her door and I had to just turn around and go home.

(2) How I used to actually want to do things with my life.  Big things.  Bigger-than-me things.  And now I just make a lot of money.  And am totally unfulfilled and used up by the institution that I've chosen as my employer, with no time or energy left for the bigger-than-me things I used to want to do.  All I can do is write checks.  And how dare I complain about it to my college friends, some of whom are barely making ends meet, but doing something bigger than themselves.

I went to law school with a dream.  I thought it would be a way for me to do something that I am passionate about (work for LBGT rights) as my career.  I shopped and chose a law school with a strong public interest program (BERKELEY, for god's sake, it doesn't get more activisty than that).  I interned at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (the other HRC).  Then I interned at another Bay-area LGBT rights organization.  Then, I interned for BigLaw.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December Sundays

(photo via this blog.)

Yesterday Kathy and I put up Christmas lights across the front of our house.  This required 2 trips to Home Depot, 2 different ladders (the first one was 16 feet but wasn't tall enough!), 7 hours, 200 LED bulbs, and 1 very large bruise on my arm where we dropped the ladder on me.  But our house is looking good.  Last night we went to a holiday party, and today we got up and went to the Palisades mall, a four-story shrine to commerce in Nyack, New York, which might as well be in New Jersey.  We got lots of Christmas shopping done, and I even got myself a ski jacket -- my first coat that is actually warm, my third winter in New York.  After the mall trip, we put the Christmas lights on the bushes and had a classic Sunday dinner of roast beef, potatoes, and veggies with the kids.  Doesn't that sound lovely?  It was. 

Enter, Sunday Night Feeling.

Friday, December 3, 2010

ms. popularity

See full size image
I joined twitter about 20 minutes ago.  So far I already have two followers.  Both of them want to skype me and/or have sex with me.  And assume I am a guy.

just like a picture print by Currier and Ives. really.

Christmas Snow

  (Picture by Currier and IvesWho apparently believe in child labor. 
Our kids would never go just cut Christmas trees down by themselves.)

Kathy and I went to visit her family in California for Thanksgiving.  On the way there, we were both so excited to see everyone, and go to her uncle's almond farm in the central valley for the turkey eating part.  We also had plans to hang out with our friends in Berkeley Saturday night, go into San Francisco on Sunday, before flying home Monday.  As an ex-East Bayer, I was super excited to be on my old stomping ground with my old friends (as in they were my friends when I lived in the Bay area, not that they are old).  The kids were excited to see grandma.  But then, the thing that always happens, happened.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the yellow zone

(From Graph Jam.  Warning: if you go to this website you may never leave.)

That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

worth 1,000 words

Last night, I was making fried rice.  I was cutting the vegetables using one of these:

Only without the guard, of course.  Very dangerous, apparently.  I made it through the broccoli, peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.  But when I got to the onions, I got distracted and cut the hell out of my finger.  It was bleeding all over the place, and Kathy made me a makeshift bandage consisting of a gauze pad and two band-aids, fortified with scotch tape.  I almost passed out.  I continued cooking dinner (which was delicious, if I do say so myself - the secret is really in the white pepper).  As I was eating I noticed my finger was bleeding through Kathy's bandage.  Oops.  We loaded up the kids and headed to the ER.  After giving me a tetanus shot, the doctor informed me that the cut was like taking a divet out of the grass when you golf -- a chunk of finger is missing, and it's not the kind of thing you can stitch shut.  There are 3 consequences to having this kind of cut that I can see so far.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I don't know anyone who would say that their family is anything but dysfunctional.  If they said that, they would probably be lying -- either to you, or to themselves.  All families are a little nuts.  Families are great at things like criticism, guilt, denial, etc.  My family of origin is no exception.

Popular wisdom tells us that this is because our parents messed us up.  Then, we mess our kids up in similar ways.  It's a cycle of dysfunction.  But, with the help of my brother and sister, I am bound and determined not to let this be the case for us.  And after today, I think we might finally be making some progress on breaking the mold when it comes to my family of origin's dysfunction cycle.

This is us, circa 1989. 
I am the one rocking the mullet with my hand on my hip in a really sassy kind of way. 
Yes, we are wearing matching shirts.

Monday, November 22, 2010


me woman girl portrait shadow silhouette beach magentastar

This weekend, my computer crashed.  Because of how I downloaded a virus onto it trying to watch a Scottish lesbian BBC series.  Yeah, I know.  So embarrassing.  Of course it crashed exactly when I was sitting down to work, so I used the desktop while distractedly clicking at my laptop trying to get it to work.  I'm not horrible with computers, but I'm not great, either.  It got itself all into a tangle and now Windows won't start.  Sigh.  This is why people use Macs, I suppose.  Or at least don't use Internet Explorer.  Anyway, this crashing was the genesis of a larger feeling of uneasiness when I realized that there was something completely irreplaceable and of indeterminate value on the hard drive.  My wedding pictures.

Yes, I was married before.  It's something no one knows how to talk about with me.  Whenever I mention my ex-wife, people try to change the subject or talk about her like she was my best friend who moved away or something.  The thing is, no one knows what to do with someone who is 29 years old and divorced.  But if you think that's bad, try being 29 years old and GAY divorced.  If same-sex marriage is a taboo topic, try same-sex divorce.  So far I have met one person in my entire life who can talk about same-sex divorce comfortably.  And she's a divorce attorney.

Photo Credit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

moving in, the final chapter

Today, I dropped off the keys to the apartment and paid the final rent.  It is finished, as they say.  As I rode the subway to the management office, I thought about my time in the apartment.  Warning: this is very sentimental.  I always get like this when I close a door.

When I first moved in, the dishwasher broke (which was one of the reasons that I chose the apartment in the first place).  Then, the fridge broke.  It was December, so I kept my perishables in plastic bags on the fire escape.  That meant that if I wanted salad dressing, or garlic, or veggie burgers, I had to go into the bedroom, open the window, get the correct plastic bag, brush off the snow and soot, bring it to the kitchen, root around for what I needed, and put it back.  It was such a pain.  But I did it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Sometimes, the misfortune of others makes me so grateful for all I have.  Sometimes, remembering the hard stuff I have already been through makes me so grateful for all I have.  I think that this is why hard things happen in life.  To teach us gratitude.

Photo via Father Goose.

Carlos the garage man

Last night, around 12:30 a.m. I went to the garage to pick up my car after work and drive home.  There was a huge, enormous scrape all along the passenger side rear bumper.  I have had problems with the garage dending, dinging, and scraping the car before.  I point it out to them, first a little irritated, and then progressively more irritated each time the car comes back with new damage.  I always point it out to the same guy, who always says to me, "It was like that when you brought it in.  We didn't do that."  Now, I drive the car home, and park it in the driveway.  The next day, I turn around and drive it back to work and park it at the garage.  Unless someone is sneaky rubbing white-painted cement poles on the side of my car while we're sleeping, I'm pretty sure I know where the damage is coming from.

Last night, I totally lost my temper on the "we didn't do it" man.  I was sarcastic, and yelled at him about "playing bumper cars" at the garage.  I can try to blame it on New York, but as you know, I haven't gotten much sleep, work is stressful, and this was pretty much the last straw.  It was really just me, losing my temper.  Finally, "we didn't do it man" says to me, "It's not my problem.  Talk to Carlos."  Carlos?  Apparently, Carlos is the manager.  I yelled something about how Carlos is there during the day and I have a job, thankyouverymuch so I can't just be trotting over here to chat with Carlos.  Then I drove away.  And squealed my tires.  I know, not my finest hour.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

worse than being a garbage collector?

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, anxiety-ridden over work issues.  I could not get back to sleep, so I did what every person who is half of a couple would do.  I woke up Kathy.  Our conversation went like this.

Me:  Kathy.  Kathy.  Kathy, wake up.  Kathy.  Kathy.
Kathy:  Wha-- huh?  What's wrong?
Me:  I can't sleep.
Kathy:  Oh no.  What's the matter?
Me:  I don't know.  I'm stressed.  [Exhausted crying starts.]  We seriously have the worst job in the world.  [Have I mentioned Kathy has the same job as me?  She does.]  Seriously.  For real.  It's so awful.  The worst job in the world.  Why didn't anyone tell me it was the worst job in the world?  Oh wait.  They did.  In law school they said that lawyers have lower job satisfaction than anyone.  Anywhere.  That's why so many lawyers are alcoholics.  Are you sleeping?  Why did I think that I would be any different?  It's like how everyone thinks they're an above-average driver.
Kathy:  I am an above-average driver.  I'm a really great driver!
Me:  No, you're not.  You're probably average, you just think you're above-average.  Just like how all law students think that somehow, magically, they will be the only lawyer who actually likes their job. 
Kathy:  No, I'm really a good driver. 

I was up for a total of 2 1/2 hours.  Finally I got up and just worked for a while in the middle of the night, so that I could relax enough to actually sleep.  For the second night in a row, job related stress = sleepless night.  So.  I would like to introduce you to my new best friend:

Because I got 4 new assignments today, all due before Thanksgiving and one big one due tonight.  Yipee.  Looks like this exhaustion-related headache is going to stick around for a few more days.  But at least I have the benefit of a partner who totally, completely understands what it's like.  And actually is an above-average driver.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the associate interview, part II

Since I know you are dying of curiosity.  The review went fine.  I told them I got boring work that I didn't like.  They were all, "Oh, of course, blah blah blah."  Maybe it will get better.  Maybe it won't.  But at least I did it.  At least I said something. 

They did manage to work a criticism in there, but you know what?  I didn't even care!  IT IS SO LIBERATING NOT TO CARE ABOUT SOMETHING!  Now, really, I do care.  I actually try really hard to do a good job at work, even though I'm not crazy about it.  It's just who I am.  I want to be the best.  At everything.  Or I don't want to do it at all. 

But I have never experienced the feeling of having someone say to me, "You know, you could really work on X," and thinking to myself, "Oh that's interesting.  I'm not doing that."  Especially since the "X" in this case was "more weekend face-time at the office, rather than doing the work from home, just so people see that you're around."  Yeah.  That's what I thought.  You wouldn't do it either.


the associate interview, and Walden

Today I have my "associate interview."  I had planned to write the first half of the post now, before my "interview," and the second half afterward.  But the first half seemed like a stand-alone post.  We'll see if I'm similarly inspired later.

(Photo of Walden Pond)

The "associate interview" is actually my review.  I think that calling it an "interview" is supposed to make us less concerned about getting fired.  Last night, I slept 4 hours.  I worked until midnight and worried until 2, then woke up at 6.  I had a nap from 6:30-7, so I suppose the grand total was 4.5 hours, but still, not much.  What I was worried about was not getting fired, however, but the fact that I do not like a single project I am working on right now (other than my pro bono stuff).  It's all the same type of work, and all stuff I find boring.  And hard.  Boring alone is one thing, because you can turn on music, sit with a friend, and still get the work done.  Hard alone is also fine, because you can dig into it and focus.  But boring and hard together? 

I have not spoken up about my dissatisfaction with the work I have been given to the powers that be.  When asked, I would say that I think it's futile.  The people in charge don't care if I think this work is boring and hard.  They don't care if I am getting pigeonholed in an area of law I don't want to practice.  So what is the point of bringing it up?  Besides, the partners giving me these projects are not going to be at my review.  I absolutely hate feeling like my own life, my own career, is out of my hands, but it is.  In my experience. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tom Terrific

So, my dad's birthday was last week.  I forgot it.  I feel absolutely terrible about it.  My dad, softy that he is, has forgiven me.  But still. 

My dad e-mailed me, my brother, and my sister this weekend with some advice in the form of a poem.  All my life, my dad has been chock-full of advice.  Sometimes, I didn't want to hear it.  Usually, that was when I needed to the most.  Now that I am an adult, I hear his advice coming out of my own mouth.  So, in honor of my dad, here are ten things I have learned from him.  Some are direct quotes, and others are things that I learned by his example.

1.  The job's not done until you put your tools away.  It is very convenient to have your tools in the drawer where they belong, isn't it?  How do you think they got there?
2.  Wiping off the counter is part of doing the dishes.
3.  Sunburn is bad for your skin.  Sun is not.
4.  Your friends will come and go, but your family will always be there for you. 
5.  Shine the flashlight where I'm looking, not in my eyes.
6.  You should spend your money.  That's the reason you make it.
7.  You should not fight with your brothers and sisters.  There are times when they will be the only ones who understand.
8.  Pitching in and working hard is part of what it means to be a family.  Sometimes, that means you will have to do things you don't want to do for the good of the whole.
9.  Being physically tired is different than being mentally tired.  At the end of the day, you will sleep best if you are both.
10.  Check the oil before you go on a long car trip.

And this, which he shared with me once when I was in high school, and again this weekend (so I guess technically, there are eleven things).  It is, as he said, a reflection of his spirit:

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."  (Desiderata)

Thanks, Dad.  I'm sorry I forgot your birthday.  At least I remember all the things you taught me.

(This is my awesome dad, at the zoo.  I know, I know, I look exactly like him.)


(Photo by Peter McIntosh)

This weekend, for those who have been following, was moving-in weekend.  The truck came at 9 am on Saturday, so I was up and at 'em bright and early Saturday morning.  Kathy single-handedly did the soccer thing (last weekend of it, yay!) while I went to the apartment and met the movers.  That night, some friends from work had a dinner party, and when we got home after 2, our bed was covered in unfolded laundry instead of sheets.  So we were folding laundry and making the bed at 3 am.  Kids don't sleep in, although ours very nicely played games and put a puzzle together Sunday morning before waking us up, so we didn't have to get up until nearly 9. 

All of this -- moving, plus party, plus laundry, plus waking up -- means that I was tired, cranky, and headache-y on Sunday.  Sometimes I think I am significantly older than Kathy, because at one point, I said, "You know, going out isn't really worth it if you feel like this the whole next day.  Maybe we should not have the babysitter spend the night, so that we will have to get home at a reasonable hour."  Yeah, I'm not even 30 yet.  Adult moods wear off on small things, so all the kids were a little bit testy as well.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't all that pleasant either.

After lunch, the kids wanted to go for a bike ride.  I could not thing of anything worse, but one of them told me it wouldn't be fun if I didn't come.  So I came. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

thank yous

Don't you think that we take our significant others for granted, so much of the time?  I do.  So today, I am saying thank you to Kathy...

Printable Thank You Card - Box Thank You
(Adorable printable thank you card from e.m. papers
You should go buy it now and send it to someone you love.)

...for allowing me to publicly talk about her and our life together on this blog.  She is much more private than I am, although many people wouldn't know it from meeting the two of us.  She is not the kind to just go ahead and put it out there that we fight about our towels (ahem.  Discuss our towels).  But she indulges me, because writing this blog gives me so much joy.  So thank you, Kathy.  And if you enjoy reading about our "discussions," you should thank her too.  If you know her.  If not, you can just mentally send good vibes her way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the uptown salon

Today I got my haircut.  I go here:

(I have no idea where I got this picture from, and now I can't find it again.  Whoops.)

And here's the inside:

(Photo from New York Magazine, and courtesy of Bumble and bumble.)

Bumble and bumble (the uptown salon).  I know, right?  Fancy.  According to New York Magazine, it has been "trend setting since the late seventies" and is an "arbiter of hipness."  And that's just in the first sentence of the review.  The woman who cuts my hair (Laura Jean, for those who are curious) is amazing.  One thing I like about her is that she does not make me feel like I am not quite cool enough to get my hair cut there, which is how I have felt pretty much everywhere else I have ever gotten my hair cut in my life, other than the Bo Rics I used to go to as a child. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

moving in, part II (or, organic tater tots)

(What self-respecting lesbian does not know what this is?  It's what you bring on your second date, of course.)

As you can see, we've progressed from suitcases to U-Hauls.  That means it's time to move more than just the birds.  This weekend, it's furniture time. 

The appearance of my stuff, and the reality of moving the furniture to the house, has resulted in resurgence of a more extreme version of a particular aspect of myself that I always new was in there -- Erin as domestic goddess.  Since Sunday, when we brought the non-furniture items from the apartment to the house, I have claimed ownership over the house in a way I didn't really even realize I hadn't before.  What's that, Kathy, you think you are in charge of laundry?  Think again.  I have mixed all the laundry soaps into one bottle.  Oh really, you think we should call the repair man for the thumping noise that the furnace is making?  Not so fast.  I have a plan involving home depot, masking tape, and a new filter.  I have become, suddenly, even more opinionated about all things house-related that I ever was before.  When you have an equally opinionated partner, as I do, this can be an issue.

We, as as couple, have always had an issue with relinquishing household control.  Our nanny drives us nuts on occasion, only by not doing things exactly as we would (sorry, Amber).  For example, she once bought organic tater tots.  I saw them, and said "WHAT?  ORGANIC TATER TOTS?!  If you're going to eat frozen, processed potatoes, why would you pay extra for organic?"  It's not the $0.50.  It's the principal, you see.  Ranty, ranty rant.  Then Kathy said, "But oh my god, they are so good.  So good.  So much better than the ones we buy."  She was right, they were so good.  The other thing is, we think Amber is pretty universally great.  The kids love her.  She helps them with their homework.  She communicates with us via e-mail.  She backed me up when I thought a compost bin was a great idea and Kathy was afraid it would be stinky.  And okay, now she has opened us up to the wonder that is organic tater tots.  But put a plate on the wrong shelf when you unload the dishwasher?  Watch out.  You should see what happens when we have a house cleaner come, and we can't find something.  That house cleaner is suddenly satan's long-lost cousin.  (E.g., "Why would you just throw someone's empty box away??! I had that sitting there, in the middle of the floor, full of garbage, for a reason.")  Anyway.  You get my point. 

I realize this is a rather privilege-y rant, but it's our reality.   And it's the reality of lots of dual-income families where both wage-earners have all-consuming jobs like we do.  I leave the house at 8, and stop working somewhere around 10 or 11 at night, on average (though, to be fair, often with a break to cook and eat dinner).  Kathy is the same.  And we have three kids.  And one cat.  And a house.  When, exactly, do I buy the tater tots myself during all of that?  For the record, we do not openly criticize the people who make our lifestyle a possibility for these horrible transgressions.  We mostly just mentally fume and stomp around a bit.  But think about this -- what kind of person decides to go out and get themselves that kind of job in the first place?  That's right.  A control freak.  And our house is now the full-time residence of not one control freak, but two.  It's really hard to be a control freak and hand over the running of our house to others, no matter how competent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

watching tv

(And speaking of rotting your brain.  Or at least, having weird effects on it.  Photo from here.)

Kathy has often told me she has a fantasy life.  It involves the great American pastime -- no, not baseball.  Watching TV.  I've always resisted this.  I would rather watch a movie than TV, and I'd rather read than do either.  I hate commercials, it rots your brain, etc.  I've "compromised," and agreed to watch the occasional HBO series.  Or Showtime series.  But in general, no.  We both work long hours.  We live with 3 kids and 1 cat.  We have a house (although not an apartment).  We almost never have time to read or watch a movie, let alone watch network TV. 

But tonight, right now, in fact, we are living this dream life.  We're sitting here, watching TV, like an old married couple.  And she's right, it is actually kind of nice.

Monday, November 8, 2010

worth waiting for (?)

Kathy and I are not engaged.  This does not stop me from thinking about getting married to her all the time.  Some of my friends are rather impatient for us to get married.  One threatened to show up at our house with my sister in matching dresses if we didn't get a move on in some reasonable amount of time.  Their impatience does not even come close to matching my own.  There are a bunch of reasons, which I won't go into here, why we are not engaged yet.  They are all annoying.  However, there is one thing that I think might actually be worth waiting for.

(On wedding cake toppers.  I don't think anyone actually uses them anymore, other than as an illustration in a post or article about same sex marriage.  For real.  Also, if you google image search for wedding cake toppers, there are an appalling number where a bride is dragging a groom off.  But that is another post entirely.  I found this picture here.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

More New York

Okay.  Just for fun, here are two pictures of me acting crazy this spring in the city I love to hate.

(No doubt you recognize this one from my profile.  Not just the top siders that made me so smiley -- also the new jeans and the diet coke I was about to buy from that hot dog man.)

And now, I really have to get some work done.

I love/hate NY

Alright.  Well, anyone who knows me -- not even just those who know me well, this pretty much includes everyone who has ever made 5 minutes of casual conversation with me -- knows that I have a love/hate relationship with New York City.  And by love/hate, I mean I love to talk about how much I hate it.  Today, I came across this list of 50 reasons why I should like living here.  It stands in stark contrast to this article in the Onion about all the reasons to hate it.  The truth is that the number one feeling that comes up when I think about the big apple is "ambivalent."

So, here is my own personal list.  Five things I love to hate about living in New York City.  Appropriately timed, because of how, in two weeks, I will officially no longer have a New York, NY address (unless you count work, where I spend most of my time anyway).

5.  Being totally, completely New York-centric.  You know.  Like this:

(Does this really need a credit?  Come on, it's obviously the famous cover of the New Yorker from 1976.  Read about it here.) 

A law school professor once pointed out to me that this was a completely unrealistic picture, because would you look at all those open parking spaces?!  Right.  After a certain, unspecified amount of time living here, you tend to start a lot of sentences this way whenever you travel:  "WHAT?  In New York, you can...."  I swore to myself that this would never be me.  But I have to confess, when I travel now, and restaurants stop serving food at 10 pm, I cringe.  When the person in front of me takes 25 minutes to decide what they want on their salad, even though they had the whole time they were standing in line to decide (or on line, if you're from NY!), I tap my foot impatiently and mutter under my breath.  And more than once, Kathy has said to me, "You're not in New York.  Stop honking at people." (See Number 2).   

Thursday, November 4, 2010

moving in


I moved in with Kathy a long time ago.  I'm not sure when, exactly, because it has been gradual.  I brought more and more clothes, and we spent less and less time at my apartment in the city (I say "my" because it was mine, before, although really, the lines are blurred there too).  Over the summer, I started chirping about how we should just let go of the apartment.  We spent our summer weekends in Cherry Grove, not Manhattan.  Manhattan is unbearable in the summer -- the whole place smells like garbage and urine.  Then, fall came, and we still didn't spend any time at the apartment.  I forwarded my mail.  I changed my address on work and tax forms.  Finally, we decided.  No more apartment.  It was a financial drain, and an energy drain as well.  When we were there, the to-do list we were neglecting nagged.  When we weren't, we felt guilty for not "taking advantage" of the fact that we had this apartment in Manhattan sitting empty.  So, I wrote to the landlord and asked that they put the apartment on the market, so that we could break the lease.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day

I did not post yesterday, because it was election day, and insanely busy.  Kathy and I went to the polls on our way to work.  I ranted for a while about how I think they should use public schools as polling places rather than churches (our polling place was our lady of the sacred heart, or something, and had statues of  crying Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus all over the place).  The poll worker got himself all confused by the fact that Kathy and I have the same address and he couldn't figure out what our relationship was.  I voted, and sent my ballot through the scanner.  BUT.  I did not get one of these:

I mean, what the heck.  That is half the reason I vote, to get one of those stickers.  And I don't know who this is, but according to this person, I could have gotten all manner of free stuff for having that sticker (like coffee!  and donuts!).  Free stuff aside, I think those stickers are important.  Unbelievable as it may be to me, people actually forget it's election day.  When you see people walking around with those stickers, it's a helpful reminder to do your civic duty.  Also, we needed to make sure Paladino didn't get elected ( I mean really, he runs around with a guy in black face and says "It's just a funny face in a picture"?), and I wanted people to know I had done my share on that front.  The sticker just makes me feel sort of proud of myself for the rest of the day. 

On top of all that -- as if that weren't enough -- I volunteered yesterday with Election Protection and I did feel a bit weird volunteering without evidence that I had voted myself.  Although I suppose that if they don't hand out those stickers in New York, then no one would have had one. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

the raven (or the crow, depending)

On Saturday, I went to a new yoga class.  I was inspired by my sister, who said she went to yoga last week.  I haven't been in ages.  I used to go all the time, and it was always time for myself, time I could pay attention to my inner promptings, if you will.  Also, time I could turn off the cell phone and just relax.  I started going waaaaaay back when I lived in Michigan. 

Anyway, I haven't been going for a long time.  In fact, I haven't really been going consistently since I moved to New York.  I tried different studios, different teachers, different classes, and didn't like a single one of them.  All the classes I tried in New York City shared one major drawback:  the energy was so competitive.  Several of the teachers used it as show-off time, bending themselves into impossible poses.  Many of the studios offered free classes to other teachers at the studio (maybe to make the classes look full, I don't know) and the result was that there was always at least one person in each class who weighed about 115 lbs., was wearing a sports bra as if it were a shirt, and was up in the front doing the "advanced" variation to every pose.  I always spent the next 3 days in pain from pushing myself too hard.  I never left with a feeling of zen, usually just with a vague sense of failure.  And most importantly, no one was ever friendly.  This includes the teacher.  So gradually, I stopped trying to find a class and stopped going.  I started running more and more, and just decided I would get my exercise/me-time that way. 

Then, my sister said she was going, and I was totally and completely overwhelmed with pretty much everything in my life.  And, conveniently, I found a class that conflicted with the Saturday morning recreational soccer that the kids all play (which is my own personal hell).  So we had a winner.  I put on my stretch pants and went. 

When I got there, I was nervous.  I hadn't practiced yoga in months, and I hadn't practiced consistently in over 2 years (how did I let that happen?! I asked myself).  My legs were tight from running without stretching.  My arms were weak.  I felt out of practice.  And the teacher made me sit front and center.  Because Halloween was approaching, she asked us to think of a pose that frightened us.  My first thought was "all of them," but when I had to say it out loud in front of the class, I went with the basic arm balance that I have never been able to do, even when I went to yoga every week and could stand on my hands.

The crow.
(This is a raven, apparently, not a crow.  It turns out they are different birds. 
From Curious Expeditions, which has an interesting discussion of the raven in literature.)

Friday, October 29, 2010



Thank you, Meg, once again.  While strolling through your archives, I came across the observation that "you really don't want to write a negative blog, as you will get a negative readership, and that's a heck of a lot of energy to put into creating more negativity in the world."  What a nice reminder.  So.  Here's to trying to take all of the things I would ordinarily just complain about, and make them into a positive inspire-change type thought. 

By the way.  I know everyone is sick of emoticons.  But I love them!  Especially the smiling ones.  So there! :-) (see how that emoticon tranformed the "so there" from nasty to kind of teasing?)

* * *

Update, 11/3/10:  I found another smart lady talking about the same thing (toward the end of the post she talks about positivity and blogging specifically).  How great is that?

identity crisis

So, today I changed the name of the blog.  I actually wasn't sure what to call it when I first put it up, but I wanted to put it up and had to write something.  So for the last three days, I  have been pondering and rejecting various names, and kept coming back to this one.  But, I feel like taupe and lime needs a little explanation.  It all starts here:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jiminy Cricket

(probably there should be some kind of credit for this graphic,
but I got it from someone I'm pretty sure "borrowed" it as well, with no credit given)

When I was a kid, I was watching some Disney cartoon, and our friend Jiminy Cricket ended the cartoon doing a voice-over, and said something that I have never forgotten.  It's not particularly profound, though it seemed like it was to my 8 year old brain.  I can still hear his wise-cricket voice, saying, "That's human nature for you.  Never satisfied."  I think this sentiment pretty perfectly sums up what it means to be working in Biglaw.  I'm a junior associate, but I understand this runs all the way up the chain.   

When you're busy, all you want is to be slow.  You're billing 70 hours a week, which means you're working 80.  You're bloated from all the take-out you eat sitting at your desk at 11 pm (broccoli always seems like a good idea, but almost never is).  You wake up in the morning, after 4 1/2 hours of sleep and try to figure out in your head the next time you can sleep more than 6 hours.  Usually it is about 4 days away.  And yet, the expectation is that you will nevertheless turn out perfect work product in a minimal amount of time.  You haven't seen your significant other (awake) in about 2 weeks, and your "weekends" consist of sitting in your home office, listening to your family laugh and play in the next room. And then....

When you're slow, all you want is to be busy.  You're billing 15 hours a week, and 5 of them are made-up pro bono tasks.  You sit in front of your computer from 9 (okay, 10) until 5:45, when you finally decide you can leave and have it still be almost respectable, and then inevitably your phone rings, and you have to stay until 8.  You recognize that 8 is not late, but FOR GOD'S SAKE YOU HAVE BEEN SITTING THERE DOING NOTHING ALL DAY.  You begin to question your existence, because you aren't contributing anything to society, and there is something extra-depressing about reading blogs and online news all day about people who are out there doing things.  It's not that you're not contributing in the make-the-world-a-better-place kind of way (although you're not doing that either) it's that you're not contributing AT ALL.  You find it impossible to pay your bills, because you can always do it later.  You don't make the phone calls you should, you don't e-mail your mother.  It's like the inertia of slowness at work makes it impossible to stay on top of the rest of your life as well.  Then, when you haven't bought the gift/made the plan/paid the bill/called the person back, you can't even blame being busy at work!  One of Kathy's friends actually got her cell phone shut off, and I suspect it was during one of these slow patches.  And on top of all of this, you're stressed out about your hours being low.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Page one

This is the first page of the journal. Every time I make the well-intentioned gesture of buying myself a journal, I stare at the blank first page for a very long time. I often can't write on it. Usually what ends up happening is that I turn the page and start the journal on page 2. I don't think that this is uncommon. But on a blog, it turns out, there is no page 2 to start on, you have to start on page 1. I didn't really think of that when I decided to take the leap and start this blog. Especially since it is, for now, one of those no-topic-general-musing-on-life blogs, which I can't imagine anyone other than my own self, and maybe my girlfriend, reading.

But. I am tired of feeling as though I am stuck in a job I don't like (a lawyer for a New York City Biglaw firm), with no shot at having the job I want (a writer, who works from home). I'm tired of feeling like, for a myriad of reasons, my life is stuck. I'm tired of feeling like happiness is one step away, just out of reach. Then, yesterday, Meg over at A Practical Wedding wrote something quite lovely and jolting about the bravery of facing rejection that has been rattling around in my head since I read it. And so, I am going to attempt to focus on the nearness of dreams, rather than the distance. I will write, even if no one but my own self and, occasionally, my girlfriend reads it.