Monday, February 28, 2011

water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

(an ancient mariner)

Last week, while we were skiing, we got a call from the local fire department.  They let us know that our sprinkler pipe had burst and was flooding our yard and pouring out into the street.  So the fire department broke in and shut off our water, and turned off the gas to our hot water heater.  Apparently the water was just starting to seep into our basement.  That's not that nice of a call to receive while on vacation. 

When we returned home Friday night after dropping the kids at their dad's for the weekend, we found that the basement was on the verge of flooding and that the water was, in fact, shut off.  We couldn't just turn it back on, because then the ruptured pvc pipe (which went to the sprinklers we didn't use last summer) would pour water back into our yard, and our basement would definitely flood.  We have these two holes in the basement that fill with water when the groundwater level is high.  They are probably sump-pump holes, but because our house's previous owners did not seem to do anything correctly, there is no sump-pump installed.  Anyway, one of these holes was about to overflow, and the other one was overflowing and the water was slowly seeping toward the carpet we had to replace when the basement flooded last spring.  We sighed, rolled up our sleeves, and began frantically bailing out the gross holes.  They instantly re-filled with water.  So we did what any lesbians in this situation would do.  We went to Home Depot.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I found out some more information for one of the steps in my grand master plan yesterday.  It's not exactly what I hoped for, but it will help.  But this kind of thing is why I'm not saying exactly what the grand master plan is yet.
Yesterday, Kathy and I started talking about the grand master plan with the kids.  They asked if it was a secret, so we had to explain the nature of uncertainty, and why grownups don't like to share their plans with the world right away, necessarily, when they aren't sure it's all going to work out.  I am not sure they got it.  I'm not sure I get it.  Why is it that it is so scary to let people in on things that might not exactly, precisely, work out how you hope or plan?  Is it scary for everyone, or just for me?  I don't know. 

ski vacation

Hello!  It's been a while.  That's because we were surprised to learn, when we arrived at our ski house, that it doesn't have internet.  I'm not kidding.  There is a vacation rental house in the United States without internet access.  For real.  So, I have a little catching up to do.  The drive with the kids went smoothly; they loved Harry Potter (and we still have half the book left for the drive home).  We saw Kathy's dad in Pittsburgh and spent some time with our friends.  The weather did not really cooperate on Monday for skiing, so instead, we went rollerskating.

(my feet)

I haven't been rollerskating since well before college.  It was so fun.  The kids kept asking me how I knew how to do it.  I kept telling them that really, people used to go rollerskating all the time.  Whatever happened to rollerskating?  How is it not popular anymore?  Also, I find it so fun that they have not updated rollerskate styles since I was a young kid.  I don't even think they make rollerskates with anything other than orange wheels and brown laces.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the only days that we had signed the kids up for ski lessons.  Remarkably, they were also the only two days that the weather was decent for skiing.  Monday night we got about 8 inches of new snow, and it stayed cold enough through the end of the day yesterday so that we could get in a full day of skiing both days.  No one was sick, either.  It was kind of remarkable.  Is it possible that our luck might be changing?  We can only hope.

I have to be honest about skiing.  You would think, from all the chirping about skiing on this blog lately, that I love it.  I do not.  It's fun for about a day, but then I am definitely done.  Yesterday I took one for the team and put in a full day of skiing when I wasn't really that into it.  But Kathy loves it so much, I figure a couple of days of skiing more than I would like is a small sacrifice for how excited she gets about it.  Anyway, I fully expect her to tolerate more beach days than she would otherwise be excited about, come summer. 

Anyway, I am pretty sure I am being charged by the minute to write this, but I will try to post at least once more this week.  Tomorrow we are driving home, and Kathy discovered that Hershey, PA is not too far out of our way.  1 car.  7 hours.  3 kids.  And a tour of a chocolate factory.  Wish us luck.

Friday, February 18, 2011

on messing up at work


Generally, I don't mess up at work. I'm not trying to be all full of myself, it's just true.  I'm good at my job.  I generally don't miss things.  But yesterday, I had a big work mess up.  It was horrible.  By the end of the day, after hours of trying to fix it, I felt like I had been wrung out like a dishtowel.  I was getting ready to pack my stuff up and head home, when my phone rang.  I stared at it for a second, then decided that since I was there, I had to answer it.  I got a "please stop by," and when I stopped by, I got two new assignments.  Small assignments, but still assignments.  For those of you keeping track at home, yes, I got 2 new assignments with one day to do them before vacation.  Blech.

A friend of mine stopped by my office today and said, "I saw you in there talking to [the guy who called me].  You looked so SAD."  It's probably true.  I felt like crap, and I don't really handle making mistakes all that well.  After I met with phone call man, I just went home.  I brought all the work with me, with the intention of doing it from home.  I just needed to get out of the office.  But the mistake of yesterday was pretty much all I could handle in one day, so I just gave up and went to bed (after drinking 2 beers and leaving my glasses at a local pub).  This morning I got up, got myself ready for day 2 of mistake fixing, and came to work.  Leaving all my notes and papers that I had brought home on the hall table by the door.  Nice one.

So in trying to do phone call guy's work today, I had to try to remember what we discussed without my notes.  Which means that I looked at the issue for New York, but forgot to look at Delaware as we discussed.  Mistake number two.

For a perfectionist, this adds up to a pretty unbearable work week.  And yet.  I am trying to keep perspective.  It's impossible to do this job without making mistakes.  So here is what I try to do/remember when I make them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

sick day(s)

I've been sick all week long.  I thought yesterday that I was finally feeling better, but when I tried to go to work for the afternoon I was so exhausted and felt like such crap, I turned around and came home after a few hours.  I have a meeting with my pro bono client this afternoon, so I have to go in, but for now I am taking advantage of the silence of my house and doing my work in bed, with coffee and my cat, in my pajamas.  So I can nap intermittently if I want to.  I'm just going to say, I am NOT a person who enjoys being sick.  I cannot run.  I don't like being tired.  I like to do things myself, thank you, and I can't stand looking around at chores that need to be done when I don't have the ability to do them (hello, sink full of dishes).

(Breakfast in bed is one of the few perks of being sick.
Yes, the mug says blogging queen; isn't Kathy cute?
She got it for me shortly after I started this blog.
Note the novel and bottle of Advil just peeking into the frame.)

But this week has been the best sick week I have ever had.  I developed more of the plan I hinted at yesterday.  I'm super-slow at work, so (until today) I could actually take sick time off which is something I haven't been able to do in three years.  Not working from home, off.  And next week, we are going on a family vacation.  Which is, I suspect, when being sick will stop being quite so much fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This morning, I made a marinade for the pork loins we'll be having for dinner.  It consists of this:

3/4 white onion, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1Tbsp water
2Tbsp vegetable oil
Dash hot red pepper flakes

I blended it all up with my immersion blender until it was a disgusting paste, and spread it over the meat, which I then covered and put back in the fridge for the day.  Kathy's going to brush it off with a pastry brush before grilling it tonight.  This is what it looks like now:

I'll let you know how it goes.

I've been home from work for a few days, sick.  I'm going to go into the office later this afternoon, then try to resume normal life.  The time off sick has given me time to consider what it is I'm going to do with my life, given this post from last week.  After thinking, and researching, and talking with Kathy, I think I've actually come up with a plan. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines day "skiing"

Well, I'm back from our Valentine's day skiing adventure, which did not involve much actual skiing at all.  And not because I just fell on my ass and bum-slid down the mountain, which did happen last time I went skiing.  But instead, because of the following:

1.  I got work to do over the weekend.  I got the assignment at 5:15 on Friday night.  Which, for those of you keeping track at home, is 15 minutes before I was scheduled to leave.  So I had the option of either staying until 9 and then having to find our hotel in the wilds of upstate New York in the middle of the night, or printing a bunch of stuff and working on the romantic weekend away.  I chose the latter.

2.  Kathy got horrendously sick.  Actually, she got strep throat.  I didn't even know grownups got strep throat, but apparently, they do.  None of the kids have it, so who knows where it came from.

Nevertheless, we did get in some drinking skiing before disaster struck.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Date Night: Friends, plus Upstate

Ha, I bet you thought we didn't have a date night this week because I didn't mention it.  But we did!  We just had it with two of our friends.  One was visiting from London, and one is a friend I work with.  We went to this favorite haunt for "a drink."


We like this bar because it has a decent beer selection (for me and Kathy), decent cocktails (for the friend from London) and decent food (for my work friend).  Then Kathy and I headed back to our neck of the woods and had snacks.  I do believe time alone together is important to a relationship.  And time alone, with your friends.  But also, time together, as a couple, with friends.  It's how you integrate into each other's lives.  It's also fun! 

But this weekend is where the real date night comes in.  I am actually usually against having date night involve any friends, or it slips away from us.  But given that our friend was in from another country, I thought we could make an exception.  Especially since we have a Date Weekend coming up.  This weekend, we are going upstate (one word?  capitalized?  I need a native New Yorker to advise on this please) to go skiing and stay at a hotel.  Away from chores.  Away from work.  Away from other people.  And with each other. 

Happy early Valentines day to us!  I promise to post pictures of me falling on my ass and getting stuck in a tree expertly swishing down the mountain.  Sorry to say, though, no heart-shaped hot tub.  We are on a budget, people.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


(this means no.)

One of the worst things about being a junior associate at a law firm is that you aren't really allowed to say "no."  Ever.  To anyone.  It's horrible.  It's like you are not even a human being, let alone a professional.  I mean really, even two year olds are allowed to say "no" sometimes!  It's because everyone in the world is above you.  Frankly, sometimes even my secretary thinks she is senior to me.  I once had an office manager from work say that she outranked me.  She was joking, but it was actually probably true. 

But it's not just the explicit "no" that isn't allowed.  It's any kind of no-like behavior as well.  Like making plans for after work that you aren't super-excited to cancel.  It's bizarre.  Everyone knows it freaking sucks to work until 2 in the morning.  And yet, you have to pretend like you like it, at least to the person who is making you do it.

Like this e-mail exchange that happened recently, when I was out of town for the wedding of one of my closest friends in life:

From: Secretary
To: Erin 

You received a phone call.  Please call X Partner.

From: Erin
To: X

I received a message that you called.  I'm actually out of the office today, and am in a noisy location.  Could I call you back in about an hour?
Best regards,

[Which really means:  I am on vacation.  Do I really need to call you back?  For real?]

From: X
To: Erin

Erin, I was going to ask you to do a short research assignment, but it can wait until early next week.  When you are back in the office, let's touch base and I will let you know if the research still needs to be done.

[Which really means:  Oh, you're on vacation?  It isn't important, actually, and maybe it will just go away.] 

So, this time, it worked out fine.  X is, actually, a pretty decent person.  These interactions do not always go that smoothly.  And isn't it weird, that I have to pretend like I am willing to do the work, even when I'm at my friend's wedding?  Wouldn't it be so much simpler if I could just say to X, "I'm on vacation.  Can it wait until I'm back or is it an emergency?"  But instead I have to pretend like actually I can't wait to call you back from my friend's bathroom, which is the only quiet room in the house, and would be thrilled to do legal research while all my friends that I see about once every 6-9 months are drinking and getting ready to go play laser tag (ahem, a lesbian bachelorette party if I ever saw one).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

feline terrorist

This is our cat, Bella.  Bella the Cat (which we always call her, because the neighbors used to have Bella the Dog) was named before I had ever even heard of the Twilight series (because I know you were wondering that).  I have been trying to avoid posts about my cat because I think it's a little weird to spend a lot of time writing and thinking about your cat, but it's unavoidable at this point.

Doesn't she look innocent?  She's not.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

quittin' time

Today, my office mate at work just quit.  Just up and quit, with no two-weeks' notice, nothing.  He is sending his files to records and will be gone by the end of the day.  I wish I had that kind of courage and that kind of security.  He's such a badass!  He doesn't have a job lined up, he doesn't know what he is going to do next.  He doesn't know if he wants to practice law, he doesn't know if he is going to do something else instead.  I have to say, it rocked me a little.  If I had those £500 a year, I might do the same thing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Room of One's Own

But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction -
what has that got to do with a room of one's own ?

Today, via The Happiness Project, I learned about a blog called Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking, written by a woman who wrote a book with the same title.  Given how much time I spend thinking about what it means to be an introvert (since, actually, I have only kind of recently realized I am one), I was drawn to it.  I think one of the great truths about change is that in order for a change to feel right, you have to make sure you are not struggling against your own nature.  Hence, the thinking about being an introvert. 

One post I found particularly interesting and relevant is entitled 5 Tips for Finding Work You Love.  The tips are (in a nutshell, and as applied to me specifically):

1.  Pay attention to what you envy.  I do not tend to envy other lawyers, unless I happen to come across a lawyer working part time.  I am envious of friends that I have from college who have jobs involving books.  Reading them, writing them, writing about them, editing them. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

hi, want to be friends?

(from this flikr photostream)

I have talked before about how important I think it is to have a regular date night to sustain a healthy relationship.  Time together alone is essential to work through your issues, talk about your problems, hopes, and dreams, and do other things that can be little awkward with other people around (if you know what I mean).  But there is something else that I think is essential to a relationship.  And that other essential thing is friendship.  With other people.  Not as a couple.

This one is much harder for me than staking out time alone with Kathy.  This week, while Kathy was in London, would have been a good time for seeing my friends.  Except that I had a stomach bug over the weekend that had not quite worked its way through my system, so I cancelled a cardio class I was supposed to go to with a friend from law school.  I had dinner with my sister on Tuesday night (yes, she counts as a friend in my book), but again cut it shorter than I would have liked because I kind of felt like crap.  Then, Wednesday rolled around.  It was supposed to be a rescheduled friend-date with the law school friend from Monday, but the weather hit and I was trapped in the house all day.  Blah.  A whole week of Kathylessness, and I only got to see one friend.

Making friends is not, and never has been, the easiest thing for me.  I can be outgoing, and I do talk kind of a lot.  But that doesn't mean that interactions with people I don't know well are easy for me (they're not) and, frankly, I am kind of picky about who I will create a friendship with.  I am one of those people who would rather have a few close friends than many not-so-close friends.  If you're only going to have a few friends, it makes sense that you would want them to be people you thoroughly enjoy, right?  Everyone has people in their life that they like "only in small doses."  To me, that kind of feels like a waste of time.  If I only like someone in small doses, I don't really like them that much, do I?  Why, then, would I waste my time creating a relationship with a person I don't like that much?  Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but it's really how I feel about it.  So, to all my friends out there reading this, Hi, I like you a lot.  :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Why Pastors are Like Turtles

Do you want to know why I haven't written anything about work in a while?  Because I haven't actually been doing all that much work in a while.  It's slow.  Not just me, all the associates in my department are pretty slow.  Which means we come to work, screw around for a couple hours, try to do the one thing hanging over our head, and then leave.  It is worse than being busy, because we're just sitting here in our offices, wasting time.

At least, in my department, there is enough camaraderie that we all just sit around and gossip and/or complain about how slow we are, rather than trying to pretend we are busy.  But is it just me, or does being slow make it pretty much impossible to focus on the few things that you actually do have to do?  Inertia, or something.   A body at rest tends to stay at rest. 

The worst part about being slow?  Provided that we remain working here for the rest of the year, at some point, we will be expected to make up all these hours that we are just sitting in our offices doing nothing.  So for every day I bill 3 hours now, I just know that there is a day in the future (probably a day that is 75 and sunny) where I will have to bill 13 hours to make up for it.  Ew.

The best part about being slow?  Two blog posts a day, baby.



I love living in our small town.  I think it's apparent to anyone who reads this blog that I do.  I also love having kids in my life (especially A, B, and C, Kathy's kids).  I love living with Kathy.  I love doing things around the house, I love cooking, I love books.  I do not love crowded bars, nightclubs, or general admission concerts.  I don't like the city, and I don't like hipsters (sorry, but I don't, being around them makes me all nervous and self-conscious.  It's why I won't go to Williamsburg).  I like turtlenecks.  I don't like loud music, other than in the car.  I know myself pretty well.  Why, then, do I have a hard time surrendering to who I really am

When I was younger, I used to chirp to my parents all the time about how I wanted to live in a city.  I said it so much that I started to believe it.  Specifically, I wanted to live in San Francisco.  My sister said the same thing (only failed to name her city.  Sister, you lose points for specificity).  I talked about how wasteful it was to commute by car, when mass transit would be available if only you lived in the city.  I talked about how selfish it was for people to want their own little plot of land (to do what in, I asked my parents).  I mean really, you can walk one block and throw the ball in the park, right?  And community gardens, people! 

I also used to say that it's really important to be single, so you can find yourself and really know yourself before committing to a long-term relationship.  I glorified the idea of single-dom.  All those friends I would have, all the late nights at bars talking about interesting things (and, no doubt, complaining about the losers in the dating world).  All the lovers, with no strings attached.  The freedom of it all. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

what happens when you leave me home alone all day

Lately, work has been s-l-o-w.  So slow.  Incredibly slow and boring.  So today, when there was about 1/2" of ice encasing everything in Westchester, including my house, my car, and the road, I stayed home.  And barely had to work at all.  I still woke up at my usual time and couldn't get back to sleep.  Kathy isn't here (she's still in London) so I had the entire day stretching out in front of me, with nothing to do.  So I decided to take advantage of this rare luxury, and started doing chores like nobody's business.  You see, with Kathy out of town, and the house to myself, things had sort of... slipped.  You'll see what I mean.

First, I cleaned the kitchen.  This is what it looked like before:

And this is what it looks like now:

In case you're failing to appreciate what I was working with, this is a different view before:

And this is what it looks like now:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

boys will be boys

Today, Meg at APW wrote a brilliant post about being a self-full wife.  Which means, roughly, being a wife that doesn't feel the need to sacrifice everything while husband walks down the street whistling with his hands in his pockets.  Which reminded me of a topic I think about often enough that I actually don't need to be reminded.

I have had enough of letting men off the hook.  I have seen some of my favorite women, otherwise strong, independent women, women with careers and families and lots of opinions, women who kept their names when they got married and marched on Washington for women's rights, sacrifice for men because of gender stereotypes. 

This is the thing.  Men actually can figure out how to wash a shower.  They can also do a load of laundry without destroying clothing, and load an unload a dishwasher.  Without having to be "reminded."  They can also tell you when they are upset instead of just walking around sulking and cranky until you pry it out of them.  They can fulfill your emotional needs.  The reason they don't is that it is not required of them.  Because we, as a culture, let them off the hook. 

(I would like to put Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus into the Freedom Trash Can.)

My grandmother passed away when my grandparents were in their late sixties.  My grandfather was diagnosed with cancer a short time later. In addition to the pain and loss at the death of his lifelong partner, my grandfather was faced with a terminal illness and a house full of machines he did not know how to operate.  Like the washer, the dryer, and the stove.  And guess what?  Within a pretty short period of time, he figured it out.  The man was not going to walk around in dirty pants and eat nothing but peanuts (although he actually tried the peanut thing for a while, until his doctor told him he wasn't allowed to do that).  I'm not saying he was perfect, or that the women in his life didn't step in and show him the ropes a bit.  But if that old dog was able to do these new tricks, all men can.