Monday, January 31, 2011

London calling

(This is an awesome picture of the London skyline for 2 reasons. 
1. It is overcast.  All those pictures of the London skyline with a brilliant blue
sky must have been taken on the same day, because it rains every.
freaking. day. in London.  2.  Look at the 4 fake-looking UFOs
photoshopped into the sky! Maybe Kathy arrived on one of them.)

Kathy left last night for London, for a business trip.  She does this to me about once every 3-4 months.  I hate it.  Partially because I always miss Kathy like crazy.  I mean, an abnormal amount considering it is only 4 days.  But also because her trips to London seem to coincide with strings of bad luck. 

Remember last year, when that volcano in Iceland erupted, and all those travelers got stranded?  Yeah, Kathy was one of them.  Her 4 day trip ended up taking over 10 days.  C was drawing pictures of volcanoes at preschool with "Mommy" written on one side and little stick figures of himself crying on the other.  It was horrible.  Also, while she was gone, the car broke down.  And the neighbors not-so-subtly implied that our bushes were out of control so I had to spend an entire Saturday with the electric hedge trimmers.  Also our lawnmower broke that weekend.  And also the basement flooded and I had to have the restoration people come in and pull up the carpet and dry it out, and then I discovered there were asbestos tiles underneath the carpet and those had to be ripped out too. All in one week.  Kathy and I used to joke that if our lives were a soap opera, the viewers would watch us that week and yell at their TVs, "Come on! Leave those poor people alone, it's not even realistic anymore!" 

Friday, January 28, 2011

girls just wanna have fun

(one of the top 5 movies of all time)

A friend of mine from work is having a dinner party this weekend.  It's a "no boys allowed" dinner party.  Which, for most people, means they can't bring their significant other. 

Part of the reason that girls want the girls night is just that the dynamic of the group is different when it's just one sex.  The conversation can be very different.  But, on the other hand, part of the reason that girls have the girls' night out is that the dynamic of the group is different when no one's other half is there.  It's hard for me to complain about my relationship when she's sitting right next to me.

So, when it comes to the girls' night out, we are always stuck in the middle.  On the one hand, we are, in fact, both girls.  But on the other hand, we are, in fact, in a relationship.  So whenever girls' night out comes up (or girls' night in, in the case of a dinner party) we always have to sit down and try to figure out which kind of girls' night out it actually is.  This involves a complicated, multi-factor test.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Emma Pillsbury Pic

I mentioned earlier this week that Kathy and I watched part of the State of the Union before falling asleep.  During the portion we were awake for, President Obama noted that times, they are a-changin'.  Gone are the days where you get up every morning, go downtown to your office by 9, leave at 5, work reasonably hard, get a few promotions, and make a decent living.  Now, it's all "career development" and "networking" and "marketing yourself."  But what if I don't want to do any of those things?  What if I just want to get up, go to work, come home, be there in time to make my family a dinner that does not come out of a box or the freezer, spend some time together, go to bed, and repeat?  One of my biggest gripes about being a lawyer is that my job encroaches so much into my life that it's gotten to the point where it is my life.  Yuck.

The way I see it, there are two alternatives that I could live with.  (1) I could find a job that doesn't encroach so much, or (2) I could find a job that I like enough that I don't mind some encroachment.  But I don't even know where to start with that.  I wish there was someone who would sit me down, give me a multiple-choice career assessment, tell me what would make me happy, and then tell me how to accomplish it.  I need a guidance counselor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

soup, or how to feed a family of four on one chicken breast

Kathy's youngest child, C*, is obsessed with making soup.  His grandma bought him the book Stone Soup last year, and after successfully feeding the family stone soup, he asks pretty much weekly whether he can make soup.  Since Kathy and C are both home sick today, and I am stuck here because of the snow (I actually tried to drive to work today, and turned around and came home because the roads were so bad), it seemed like a good day to indulge C's inner chef.  In case you're interested, this is how a kindergartner makes a very basic chicken soup.

Date Night: Home

(where we spent our date night)

Last night was supposed to be Date Night:  NYC.  We were going to start off the evening with meeting a friend/client of Kathy who was in from out of town, followed by dinner at a favorite West Village Italian restaurant (which I will not rave about in this post, because I'm sure it will be a date night post in the future).  Then, because it's the end of the month and we are on a budget, after all, we thought we better just head home after the client meeting.  Kathy promised to cook me a romantic dinner, and I was really looking forward to a cozy night in.

All day, Kathy had been complaining about not feeling well.  While we were out with the client, Kathy got a text that her son was throwing up.  Just at that moment, she had turned an unfortunate shade of green herself, and whispered to me "I'm going to puke.  We have to get outside NOW."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011



I bet you thought I wasn't still planning to quit, since I haven't talked about it in a while.  Not so.  And what will I do when I quit?  Well, yesterday I read on APW about how great it is being a wife.  Specifically, the kind that takes care of the house.  I think I may have a somewhat romanticized notion of what it must be like to be a stay-at-home-wife.  Yet, on any given day, I would rather do stuff around the house then go to work.  So.

Things I like to think I would do as a stay-at-home-wife

1.  Wear A-line dresses while vacuuming.
2.  Work out on a daily basis.
3.  Happily fix all the stuff broken in our house, even if it requires going to the specialty hardware store.
4.  Read all the books I've been wanting to read.
5.  Bake.
6.  Plan healthy and interesting meals for the family.
7.  Grow an amazing vegetable garden.
8.  Start wearing makeup and actually doing my hair.
9.  Pay all bills on time and have a perfectly balanced checkbook and budget.
10.  Decorate my spotless house in a creative and vintage-y way that really reflects my personality by refurbishing items of furniture I purchase at the Salvation Army.

Monday, January 24, 2011

consensus building

Last week, as you know, was the week we realized how thoroughly we suck at sticking to our imaginary budget, and also the week where we determined that was actually fine.  I also happened to read over on Laptops to Lullabies about the her plan to try to eat all the old crap that has been hanging out in the kitchen for who-knows-how-long.  I wanted to try it ourselves.  Then came the tricky part.  I had to get Kathy's buy-in, knowing that she has told me that one of the great things about being an adult is you can eat what you want, rather than what is put on the plate in front of you.  This idea does not mesh well with "Hi Sweetie, we're having canned tomatoes and three month old Rice Chex for dinner!"

I concocted what I thought was a really great plan for getting her on board.  We would utilize the "eat all the old crap out of the kitchen" as a challenge, which would inspire us to cut our grocery budget by $300 (a random amount I picked out of nowhere).  With that $300, we could buy one round trip plane ticket.  That, plus a coupon I got for a free companion fare, would get us a weekend away, anywhere in the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii, per the terms of my free airfare voucher), for the measly price of some canned tomatoes and old Rice Chex.  How exciting and fun!


Friday, January 21, 2011

making plans

Sometimes planning is easy and fun.  Kathy and I both need to go to our "yearly" appointment with the woman-doctor (I put yearly in quotes because it has definitely been more than a year since either of us has gone) but we don't know where to go out in Westchester.  In our researching, we tried to pick a place that seems like it might also be good for the baby-having portion of our lives, even though that is in the future.  (Yes, more babies.  For a total of five children.)  That is the fun kind of planning.  Hooray, more babies someday!

Last night, though, Kathy and I started writing down what we had actually spent on the budget.  We are both over our "discretionary" amount by a percentage which is shocking and embarrassing to admit.  So I am not going to.  But suffice it to say, it was a lot.  In a moment of frustration, Kathy was all "WHY DO WE HAVE TO TRY TO SAVE SO MUCH MONEY?  I DON'T WANT TO HAVE A MISERABLE LIFE," which is how she feels if someone tries to take away her morning-commute coffee.  Because I also don't want to have a miserable life, I also do not want anyone (or any budget) to take away Kathy's morning-commute coffee.  Or my own, for that matter.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Date Night: Tuckahoe

Tuesday night is our date night, every week (whoops, this is a day late).  It's the only night we consistently do not have the kids, and it allows us to spend time with friends on the weekends if we want to.  Lately, we have been trying to explore different Westchester towns, in an attempt to feel a bit more like part of our community.  This week, we went to the Tap House in Tuckahoe.

(Tap House, and me, blurry.  These pictures were taken on the iPhone, which does not have a flash. 
We have a camera, but it's a pain to hook up to the computer, so the iPhone is the default.
Could they make a digital camera that has email capability?  If they make one, could I have one please?  Thanks.) 

     (Tuckahoe, through the windshield of the car)

First of all, doesn't Tuckahoe sound like it should be a ski resort in Canada, not a town just outside of New York City?  When we were trying to pick our restaurant, Kathy said, "Where's Tuckahoe?"  I responded "Up North"* without even thinking about it or actually knowing the answer.  Turns out it's about 15 minutes or so away from our house.  Whoops.

View Larger Map

*FYI for you non-Michigan types.  "Up North" is how people refer to any part of the state north of Lansing.  It encompasses most of the Lower Penninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula, and probably could be used to describe northern Wisconsin, Canada, Alaska, and the Arctic Circle.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

the budget

Last week, Kathy and I went to a local sportsbar, sat down with our bank statements and a sheet of paper, and hammered out our budget.  Yes, I had to bribe her with beer and football to get her to do it, but it was definitely time well spent.  We came up with a live-able budget where we can set aside a decent amount of savings each month, as long as I don't freak out and quit my job on the spot.  It will give us flexibility later in the year if I do decide to freak out and quit my job on the spot.

Then, we taped our budget to the inside of our closet door, and starting on the 15th, we're tracking expenses.  Earlier this week, I said to Kathy, "You know, in the kitchen at work they cut the sponges in half.  I mean, really, you never need the surface area of the whole sponge, and then you only have to buy them half as often."  So we cut our sponges.  We have also started washing out our ziplock bags.  I am constantly on the lookout for other tricky little ways to cut costs.

Now, considering the size of our monthly grocery budget, saving $2.39 on sponges every other month is not likely to make much of an impact.  Even adding in the washed-out ziplock bags and our other money-saving ideas is not likely to make much difference.  But lately, we've kind of been feeling like our entire life is out of control.  And so, reclaiming some control by cutting our sponges in half feels really good.

Cut Sponges in Half

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yes, Michigan!

(Aren't these mittens adorable?  You can get them here, in case anyone wanted to get me some.)

Over the long weekend, I was in Michigan attending a close friend's wedding.  I grew up outside of Detroit (which is very different than growing up inside Detroit) and I went to Michigan State for college.  After college, I lived in Lansing for a couple of years, until I moved to California for law school, when I was about 24.  I also spent part of my bar-studying summer in Michigan living at my parents' house (so cool, I know).  So I have lots of friends there, still, and my brother and my sister-in-law, as well as their tiny twins, live in the metro-Detroit area. 

The trip to Michigan was too short.  They always are.  New York has not, ever, been "home" for me.  But this is what always happens, when anyone from someplace else finds out I live here, or someone I meet here finds out I am from Michigan:

Other person:  Oh my god, don't you just love living in New York?
Me (if I'm being honest):  Not really.
Other person:  WHAT?! (shock, incredulity) What do you mean?  WHY NOT?
Me (this is where it gets tricky):  Um, it's really loud.  And the work ethic is sort of crazy.  And... I don't know.  There's a lot of smog?

For some reason, it's impossible for me to articulate what it actually is I don't like about New York.  I can find plenty to complain about.  And there are actually some things to like.  But what it really is, is that for this Midwestern girl, it just doesn't feel like home.  I routinely get lost.  People shout at me when I'm indecisive about ordering my sandwich.  People make fun of my accent A LOT (which I did not even realize I had). 

But more than my love-hate relationship with New York as a city, there's also law firm life, which is completely foreign to most of the old-Erin friends. It's hard to understand it, really, unless you live it. Not that my friends don't accommodate my crazy work schedule, they totally do. But they don't really understand how it grates on you to do it day after day, with not even a close friend's wedding weekend as sacred non-work time. And complaining and explaining gets boring.  For others, yes, but I have also started to bore my own self with complaining about work. It's not only the work schedule, either. It's things like the Diamond Olympics, vacations on tropical islands instead of Niagara Falls, judgement over the '99 Jetta we drive to work, and not knowing how to pronounce pretty much anything on the menus at half the restaurants I find myself in (I'm always asking, "Is that some kind of cheese? Why don't they just say it's cheese?").  And for crying out loud, I do not want to spend $100 on dinner and only get three raviolis.  I want enough to take home for lunch. (I still do not understand why that is not done.  Why is being wasteful more polite?)

This is the surprising part, though.  Michigan doesn't feel like home anymore either.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

weather wimps

New Yorkers are weather wimps.  I'm sorry, but we are.  The kids had a snow day from school today, and had several last year, too.  Pretty much every time it snows, they have a day off school.  Last night we got about a foot of snow.  But it was overnight, and the roads were pretty much plowed by the time the kids would have gone in this morning.  Also, there are no buses in my town.  So the weather should have to be bad enough that the kids can't walk to school to justify cancelling it.  Wimps.  In Michigan, where I grew up, it pretty much took a one inch layer of solid ice on the roads before we got a snow day.  And the layer of ice had to be on the roads by 4 am, when the superintendent looked out his window.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


A while ago, a work colleague of mine circulated the Jung/Briggs Myers personality test.  I am, according to this quiz, an INFJ.  In fact, before I wrote this post, I just took it again, and I'm still an INFJ.  As a general matter, I spend a lot of time thinking about myself.  Not in a self-absorbed way (I hope) but more that I like spending time trying to get to know myself.  Perhaps that is why I am inclined to take the same personality quiz twice, on different days, for accuracy.  And why it ended up the same each time.  So what, you ask, is an INFJ?

being quiet
(via this blog, which I do not read, but was the only
 place I could find a cute cartoon about being an INFJ)

Friday, January 7, 2011

I haven't seen Evil Dead Two, yet

There are a few things that haven't happened in my life, yet.  Continuing in my recent High Fidelity-related obsession, I'll give you the Top 5 things that haven't happened in my life, yet.

5.  I haven't successfully grown a vegetable garden, yet.
4.  I haven't been to Paris, yet.
3.  We haven't bought the house across the street, yet.
2.  I haven't figured out what my next career should be, yet.
1.  Kathy and I are not engaged, yet.

Does that mean I will definitely do them?  How the fuck am I supposed to know, probably.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One of those "what does it all mean" things

(I am indirectly lobbying Kathy to watch High Fidelity with me
by showing her what a culturally significant movie it is.)

Yesterday, I wrote about how I suddenly realized that it was possible that I was not miserable because I hated my job, but maybe that I hated my job because I was miserable.  The advice that I had gotten at that time was that it didn't really matter, but that breaking the cycle of unhappiness was important, and leaving the job was a way to break that cycle.  True.  But also.

There are other areas of my life that need work.  One I ranted about frequently during the holidays was that I didn't have enough time to myself, to do the things that I wanted to do.  This has actually been true for a long time.  It occurred to me last night that perhaps part of the resentment I feel toward the job and it's all-consuming nature is that I spend a good portion of my "free time" also doing things I don't want to do.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What came first: the music, or the misery?

People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of
violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands
of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I
was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music? - High Fidelity

This morning, I had a horrible realization.  It is possible, as I have been saying, that I am miserable because I hate working in Biglaw.  But it is also possible that I hate working in Biglaw because I'm miserable.  Maybe it has everything to do with my temperament, and nothing to do with my job.  Maybe I would hate any job that I had.  It's not like I was all sunshine and smiles when I was working at the jewelry counter of a department store before I went to law school. 

I've raised this issue with both Kathy and a close friend today.  They both had the same reaction.  Who cares?  Whether the job is making me miserable or I'm miserable so I hate the job, the cycle has to be broken.  Something's gotta give.  And so, since I can't just not be miserable anymore, it looks like the job is what gives.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Not the tired kind of yawn.  The bored kind.  Yesterday, as we were sitting down to watch DVD number 3 of the first season of Glee (which we bought for a child for Christmas, then decided was completely inappropriate and have been enjoying ourselves ever since), I asked Kathy whether she thought I was a genius, and if she thought maybe that was why I am so bored at work.  I said it as a joke, but she took me somewhat seriously.  "Well," she replied, "You aren't as bright as this one roommate I had.  But you're up there." 

Monday, January 3, 2011

happy new year

Well, I have been a bit remiss about posting.  I guess that technically, I have kept my promise to myself, because I mentally committed to posting to this blog every workday.  And with maybe one exception, I have.  So I didn't post last week because I didn't work last week.  But I have been missing it, and I'm back at work, so here I am.  With a really, really long post.

(I struggled to find a Baby New Year/Father Time picture that wasn't creepy,
to symbolize how I tend to view the new year.  This is where it would have
gone, had I been successful.  Instead, I chose this generic, but glittery, picture from here.)

It's a new year, which means it's New Year's resolution time.  Can we talk about that, please?  I am a resolution-maker.  I am constantly making resolutions.  I'm a big self-improver.  I think it stems from the fact that I am naturally an introspective/introverted person.  It makes sense, right?  If you spend a lot of time on your own, thinking about things, you become more aware of your Self (or at least, you spend a lot of time thinking about your self).  If you are more aware of your Self, you tend to dwell on the things that you wish were different, or the things that would make you happier.  Hence, the self-improvement urge.  Maybe it is not this way for everyone who is a loner by nature.  But it is the case for me.  So I have some New Year's resolutions.