Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When I Should be Working...

I am sitting here at work after 5pm for no good reason.  There are good reasons to be here, but I am not currently here on behalf of those reasons.  I am here reading through old blog posts written by a person that seems less and less familiar.

Life is both cruel and kind in that it rarely meets expectations.  I feel much more in control of my destiny then the girl/woman who wrote most of the words on these pages.  I also feel more out of control then ever before because I realize how difficult it can be to get what you think you want out of life.

I have always been the person who can get by with doing too little.  Things come easily enough to me that efforts can often been at near minimum and I can still meet others' requirements.  However, my expectations of myself have always been somewhat undefined.  I have too often been overly content to drift along with the current or go where I am told I need to go.  Deciding what I actually want to work toward is something that I have struggled with since the moment I stepped out of school.  I am better at preparation than realization.  Much better at following directions than setting goals.

My life lends itself to being overly self-involved.  I don't have children to care for or a spouse to consider so I am really only responsible for thinking about myself.  Which, kind of inevitably makes you a little self-centered.  Sometimes I look at my friends with kids especially and wonder if I am missing some fundamental personal growth that exists from having your life centered around someone that is not you.  I wonder if I will never really be grown until I am someone's mother instead of someone's child. 

However, I think the benefit of my self-centered life is that I continually have the freedom to change without disappointing others.  If I don't want to be what I am or where I am then I can stop and change.  I'm still free to define nearly every aspect of my life on my own terms.  No one is really counting on me to be the same tomorrow as I am today. 

Reading through this time-capsule I realize that I have grown a lot in every way but I am nowhere near there yet.  Which is maddening and anxiety-producing but also so very freeing. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Digging Out

I've been reading through my blog archives a bit and I realize how severely I've allowed my creating writing skills to languish.  Writing legal letters and contracts and trusts and pleadings all day everyday does not seem to be conducive to good blog writing.  When I first started this blog, and during the period I most actively updated, I was in law school.  Besides writing this blog I kept journals, wrote (bad) poetry and read fiction on a near daily basis.  Now my creative endeavors are most often really clever contractual provisions in favor of my client.

It honestly makes me sad that I can't seem to find the blogging sweet spot anymore.  I'm going to make more of an effort because writing for pleasure is something I have genuinely enjoyed in the past and its something I don't want to lose as a skill, pastime or companion.

Perhaps I've written about this before but when I first started my job, my employer told me that it would take me about five years to really be useful as an attorney.  I've found that to be true in that it takes at least five years to develop any kind of experience, real competence, judgement and, most of all, confidence.  It feels a little like digging out of a hole for five years.

It could have been because of this comment from my boss or perhaps just an arbitrary decision on my part but I told myself I would give this job (and in a larger sense this career) five years when I started.  When I started this job I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to make my career being a practicing lawyer.  I was afraid I wasn't cut out for it and that I wouldn't like it.  Both of which fears have been true from time to time over the past five years.  Overall, however, now that I am developing a little more competence I feel like I could find a way to be good at what I do on my own terms.

Law is an overwhelming proposition for a lot of reasons.  Its an industry that, as a whole, outsiders have a strong viewpoint of which is not based on actual experience.  The Law and Order effect, if you will.  It's a profession seeped in tradition.  Mostly the traditional of rich, middle-aged, white men.  It's  full of strong personalities and personalities of a type to which I don't necessarily relate.  It's full of ego, bravado  and outright aggression.  It's intimidating, it's stressful and, at times, it's very unforgiving.

However, it's challenging and often worthwhile.  Lawyers, in general, are well respected and well compensated.  There are some truly remarkable and intelligent individuals in this industry.  There is always room for growth and learning.  There is room to make your own way once you get the hang of things.

I'm still figuring it out but I feel like, at least, I've started to figure it out.  I have written about this before but my IL Tort's professor once said (or perhaps quoted) that the law is art not science.  Perhaps I feel like these past five years have been a bit more science than art.  I've been trying to figure out the process much more than the art of it all.  However I do believe there is room for creativity and perhaps that is where the next five years are going.  A girl's gotta have some goals after all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Friendship and Time

Yesterday I had lunch at a sandwich shop I haven't been to in a really long time.  It isn't a particular favorite, I only went because a client gave me a gift certificate, but it does have a great memory associated with it.  One of my closest friends and I had lunch there on her wedding day.  I was the maid-of-honor in her wedding and we were headed to the church to get ready.  She stayed with me the night before, so as to preserve the tradition of the bride and groom spending the night before the wedding apart, and we were hungry so we had lunch before heading to the church.

It is probably my favorite memory with this particular friend.  The lunch was nothing special but it was this nice, quiet moment on a huge day in her life.  It was kind of a book-end to our single girl days together and the beginning of her new life with her husband.  Taking 30 minutes to have lunch with a friend on a day when time is a particular commodity and there are, quite literally, a hundred people demanding it, is a very thoughtful thing to do in my opinion.

One thing that I believe to be true is that there is nothing more valuable you can give a person than your time.  Quite often people give words in the place of time: I miss you, I'm sorry I haven't been around lately, You are so (insert positive adjective here), I love you, etc.  Words are nice and hardly indispensable but they mean very little when not paired with giving of your time.  

Ironically the friend from the aforementioned wedding day story had a baby this past year and has been very limited with her time since.  However, I can give her a break, in part, because she had a baby but also because of moments and memories like the one described above.  I know her to be a thoughtful person and while she may have become understandably distracted of late, that thoughtfulness is still there.

I'm hardly the perfect friend but I've spent a lot of time being one in my life.  More time than a lot of people who are focused almost solely on lovers and/or spouses.  Truth be told if you can't make time for a friend then you neither have one or are one.  Lots of things can be expressed by words but friendship is not one of them.  If friendship depended on the terminology then we wouldn't differentiate between the individuals we share our time and our lives with and the people we stalk on Facebook.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lurker at Law

I've never been much of a joiner.  There are things that I participate in- I volunteer at church, I am a member of a community women's volunteer organization- but I also guard my personal time.  Nothing is crazier to me than someone who has no personal time because his or her schedule is chock-full of voluntary activities.  Like, why do you hate you?  Usually I just assume that no one has told them about TV.

Further, I am horrible at networking.  I am genuinely hopeless at social interactions with strangers.  There is this thing that people do in conversation when they are reciprocal that I just can't seem to get.  For instance, I'm at church this weekend volunteering in a children's classroom.  There is a volunteer I've never met before.  She asks me, "How long have you been attending Church."  I answer the question and then just...crickets.  Loooooooong pause.  Finally she says, "I've been coming about 5 years."  Why yes, she was waiting for me to reciprocally ask her the same question she asked me and yes, I totally dropped the ball.  When someone does this it is so awkward.  Even so, despite the many awkward pauses I've endured in my life due to my failure to ask the reciprocal question, I can never seem to remember to actually just ASK THE QUESTION.  It kind of defies logic.

So, this non-joiner, social idiot has stayed away from substantially all activities related to my profession and involving my colleges around the city. I'm basically lurking in my profession and, honestly, it is a little bit weird.  It's odd that you can do something for years and be moderately successful and still not really fit in.  It's odd when you do go to stuff and no one really knows who you are or has met you before.  For me, though, it is no less weird then going up to someone and basically saying, "We share this one thing in common- our job- so I guess that means we need to talk and know each other even though I don't care about you and we probably don't have anything else in common." It's just so inorganic and painful.

My own discomfort notwithstanding, this does make me bad at one part of my job.  All too often I have a tendency to just write it off as who I am when, in fact, it is something that I need to work on.  To which I say, "Add it to the list, bitch!"

Friday, January 10, 2014


I haven't written in over a year.  It doesn't feel like that to me but that's because I have written, I just haven't published. Below are my unfinished thoughts from the last fifteen months or so. 

 On Friendship and Being "Bored"

Near the end of summer 2013 I went to a big annual house party thrown by some friends.  It has a cutesy name and is generally populated by a mixture of a bunch of people I genuinely like that I see all the time, a few people I genuinely like that I don't see often enough, a bunch of people I never see but like fine in small doses and few people I really don't like at all.  This year I was feeling really into this party.  Like seriously looking forward to it, pre-planning to get pleasantly (ok, unpleasantly) drunk and attempting to rally the aforementioned "friends I genuinely like that I see all the time" up to my level of excitement.  Truthfully, I was at one of those social low points where it felt like I hadn't done a single fun thing in forever, my life was boring, etc.  And internally I was blaming it a little (or a lot) on my friends.  My friends who mostly have spouses and kids and busy schedules and were failing to entertain me to the level I demanded.

I got an little insufferable at this party, calling everyone boring and generally airing grievances through a comfortable cloud of alcohol.  I'm not sure anyone really noticed.  It was definitely one of those times when my feelings manifested themselves through mostly excusable drunkenness. Still I did feel somewhat guilty afterwards since I knew that I was basically feeling unsatisfied with my life and choosing to blame that feeling on others.

A scant six months later and those feeling are all but forgotten.  In fact, probably the last couple of months I've been going through a real introvert phase where I have to make myself do anything social.  The truly odd thing is that I'm probably happier and more satisfied with life at the moment than I was when I was craving social interaction.  For me content equals alone time is great and unhappy equals hang out with me and distract me.

Reason and Imagination (I imagine this made sense at the time)

Reason and imagination don't seem likely companions. Reason equals fact based conclusions, measured analysis, sanity. Reason. Reasonable. Imagination equals flights of fancy, outside of reality, what is not real. Imagination. Imaginary.

Reason: the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking, especially in orderly rational ways. But how? How do you comprehend? How do you infer? How to you think? To comprehend you imagine the problem into perimeters that you can understand. To infer you imagine future events, consequences, reactions, possibilities. To think is to imagine.

Who says imagination can't be orderly or rational.

Why do we think that to be rational, reasonable, realistic that we have to accept, accept, accept?

Unlikely to Take a Husband

I am perpetually single and seemingly about 80% less interested in changing that then most single women. It's true that I have some barriers, which are obvious to people in my life, to finding a significant other.  However, surely if I were really serious about finding myself a big hunk of man I could work on these.

Fundamentally I think I do have less of whatever it is that makes people need romantic relationships. I do lust, but I think less than the average person.  I do feel lonely on occasion, but again, less than the average person.  More than the average person, I am very adverse to allowing a significant other control over my happiness and well-being.  In fact, I know that I have never met a man that made me think I could commit a month to him, much less the rest of my life.

Perhaps I am just weird.  Generally what I think, undoubtedly delusion-ally, is that I'm just really independent and self-assured.  That I look at couples and think, "that looks nice," and not, "I must have that now or I will surely grow old alone and die unhappy."  Also, I am scared.  Scared of opening myself up, scared of rejection and just scared of having someone possibly really fuck up my life.

Reading this it must seem like I have some serious issues.  Like I had some horror show childhood where I was abused and mistreated.  Some reason for being so guarded.  The truth is that I had more of a storybook childhood.  That I am blessed.  That I mostly like myself.  That I like to spend time alone.  I trust my own decision-making capabilities.  I require little input from others regarding how I live my life.

Arthur Jones is not his name

Arthur Jones was the name of the boy I chased around the swing set behind our Nursery School, or maybe he chased me, but I doubt it- I probably chased him. It is the name of the familiar, nerve relieving face I saw on my way into the first day of kindergarten. The name I idiotically gave when another kindergarten boy asked me who I had a crush on and the name that was subsequently repeated to the entire playground.

Had anyone asked me, I would have given the same name in first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade and eighth grade. The name of the boy across the street. The name of the boy who I helped with his homework and gave advice about his girlfriend. The name of the boy who would let his friends make fun of me and then apologized about it later, rudely disturbing my active campaign to forget . The name of the boy who told me his secrets while I kept my secrets to myself.

On Death

In January of 2011 my maternal grandmother passed away unexpectedly.  As unexpectedly as an 80 something year old can pass away.  I did expect her to die sometime, just not that month or day or hour.  It was sad but, in a way, not sad.  She wasn't a happy women.  Maybe ever, but certainly not for quite a few years.  She suffered from depression, which went untreated when she didn't take the medication prescribed to her.  Her marriage was not good.  It was never ideal but it had deteriorated with her mental state.  It was hard to see her unhappy, to see the lady from my childhood disappearing.  Death seemed like a kind escape.  Missing her would be a privilege as I'd started to forget the woman that I'd actually miss.  As time goes by I remember that women more.

My maternal grandfather followed her in death a little over two years later.  His death was expected, he was on hospice care for several weeks.  I saw him waste away from kidney failure and it is something that will stay with me for my whole life.  For a dignified death it was decided undignified.  As I'm beginning to expect is true of most death.  But still, perhaps it was a kindness.  He had a good life that he was no longer able to live.  The books he loved were lost to his diminishing eyesight and ability to concentrate.  His hobbies lost to his decreased mobility.  Even arguing about politics and religion had lost its luster.  Politics don't matter when you were on your way out and religion is maybe a little too close for comfort.  After all, you are about to find out about the afterlife firsthand.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Good Project

I do not know what the hell I am doing with this blog.  It is getting downright egregious.  Y'all are getting reader's whiplash from all the changes in subject.

Here's the thing, the more you are found the more you are lost.  The more you figure out the less you know.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon how you look at it I suppose, life has no real finish line (unless you count death.)  Generally if you gain some sort of understanding or even finality in one area then another area to be conquered opens up to you.  Like the TV show Lost where every answer creates five new questions.

Which, as frustrating as that can be, it's necessary because I think that we need to strive more than we need to accomplish.  To put it in a less daunting way- I am generally in need of a good project.  Life is a good project.  This blog is a pretty good project from time to time.

I've been getting back into church lately.  I never left God or "religion" (such as it may be) but I fell out of the institutionalization of it all for a time.  So anyway, as any person who has been to a good ole protestant Christian church likely knows- the church loves to talk about letting God direct your life.  You know, Jesus take the wheel style.  Which I have always found it a little difficult to tell when precisely I am following God's desires for my life and when I am following my own.  Anyway, in a recent sermon my pastor said that the first step for allowing God to direct your life where he wants it to go is to just follow God's will in the form of his commandments.

It was something I'd heard many times but never put quite like that.  If you do the specific little things that God has asked you to do then the bigger picture perhaps becomes clearer.  Which is pretty applicable to finding direction and success in any one area of your life.  Do the work on the little things on a daily basis and the bigger picture becomes visible.  Sort of like putting together a puzzle without looking at the front of the box to see what picture you are making.

In light of the foregoing theory that life really has no appreciable finish line, perhaps the real question is, "Does it really matter where you end up if all the work your put in getting there is good and worthwhile?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Involuntary Personal Growth

If I had the patience for it (I don't), I could probably do a month long series of posts on all the ways my viewpoint on life has changed since 2005 when I started writing on this blog.  The odd thing is, I don't really think that I have changed at my core, just that my perspective has evolved along with my priorities and therefore changed my thoughts and opinions.

The biggest change is that I went from a pretty strong conservative to really not much of a conservative at all.  I think the difference is that I used to lead with my brain in politics.  So I always went with what I knew about economics, capitalism, greed, personal motivation, etc.  Also I was idealistic and operated more based on the way things "should be." These days I lead with my heart.  I go with the truth of the way things are and ideologically the way that things should be for everyone, not just me.  The change of perspective, I think, came courtesy of my volunteer work and also an evolution in my way of thinking. 

If I had to break everything about me that has changed in 7 years down to its most basic component, I would say that comfort in this world is not enough for me.  For my parents, for me up until some point in the last 7 years, the goal has always been to make enough money to ensure your own comfort and security, to have some fun along the way, to accomplish most of the things you want to accomplish.  It's a fine, worthy goal.  But I've never really been uncomfortable or insecure.  I've spent little time wanting.  I have few unfulfilled goals.  I was so set up for life by my parents that the road to comfort was short and wide.  Now I want more.  I want to make some sort of difference, I want to help make things better, I want to be involved in directing not only my life but the lives of others.  And that has changed the way I approach life.