0

Trial Taper with @DelaniesCoffee and Judit European Visage

Trial Taper with @DelaniesCoffee and Judit European Visage

I wrote this post about a week ago, and in all the flurry of trial activity, flat out forgot to post it!! A little late, but here it is…

Preparing for trial is kind of like preparing for a marathon. Except I’ve done both, and I can say that preparing for trial is way harder and more stressful. Well, maybe it depends on the trial. But the trial I start on Monday is one of those trials.

I’ve been working hard to prepare. And by working hard, I mean working so much that I’m losing my everloving mind. So today I needed to dial it back and take a little break. Sometimes, being in the office just ain’t gonna happen.

I started the day off at Delanie’s Coffee in the Southside, and I have to say, it’s such a comfortable, chill place. I had an excellent egg and cheese sandwich and a solid cup of coffee. I spent a couple hours working through my trial outlines, alongside a whole bunch of Duquesne students studying for finals (nursing students I think). There is free wifi, lots of seating and lots of electrical outlets. Basically, a prime spot for studying.

Delanie's Coffee

Afterward, I moseyed on down to my favorite local spa, Judit European Visage and treated myself to a facial. The last month has been a nonstop stress-fest and my face was showing it.

Judit European Visage

Judit is my favorite because the service is always impeccable and the prices are reasonable. PLUS they always treat you to a nice little glass of champagne. My husband bought me an all-day spa package their for my birthday last year, and it was just amazing. Now it is my go-to place when I need a spa treatment (which is frequent). Perfect.

After the facial, my face was glowing. And the scalp massage, aahhhhh so wonderful, I was so relaxed and felt so wonderful.

So it is back to more studying for the weekend. Showtime is Monday. Let’s do this.


Credit for the Pittsburgh Skyline illustration goes to Barry Gott and Smalltower Press. If you aren’t already familiar with it, the Smalltower Press shop on Etsy is fantastic.  And yes, I did reach out to him and get permission before using his illustration on BeezusKiddo, because that’s the cool thing to do, kids.

2

They Don’t Teach You This in Law School.

Back when I did medical malpractice work, a partner once told me that doctors and lawyers don’t understand each other because doctors spend their whole careers being told they’re right, while lawyers spend their whole careers being told they’re wrong. At the time I brushed it off, thinking that doctors and lawyers don’t understand each other (especially my kind of lawyer), because we sue them, and people don’t like being sued. But the part about spending your whole career being told you’re wrong stuck with me. It still sticks with me.

No one likes the litigators. Not just because some make bad commercials, or some represent unpopular positions, or because they operate in a very nuanced world that the public by and large does not understand (this is my diplomatic way of saying that the comments on any internet news article discussing lawsuits makes my hair go gray). We all spend every day explaining, justifying, and being misunderstood. The whole career is adversarial. Even if you start the day feeling on top of the world, it wears away through the hours. By the end of the day, I might as well go eat worms.

Sometimes I just want to be liked. Instead of someone fighting with me, for someone just to be happy with me.

I needed to be liked today. So today, when we got home, spoiled dinner be damned, I gave my kid a bowl of chocolate ice cream. And then she asked for another. So I gave her another.

ice cream

She liked me. And it felt good.


0

A tune-up for my headspace

I’ll start this post off by admitting that posting has seemingly slowed down a bit on my blog. The short answer is, I’ve been a grump. There is never enough time for all the things I want to do, and am told to do, and need to do. I’m sorting out the priorities, balancing the wants against the musts, and, to be truthful, sometimes being a brat about it. I do not like complainers. They drag me down and bum me out. But I’ve been full of complaints lately. Not so much on this online space, but plenty in person. As I climbed into my car to head home from work, I realized “I’m being one of those people I can’t stand.” And I can’t stand that any further. I’m determined to adjust my attitude.

My attitude is tied in with stress. Not long ago, I participated in a short seminar with Emily Bennington on the topic of mindfulness. (If you aren’t familiar with Bennington, check her out. She is brilliant.) She emphasized that when you are in a stressful situation, you should step back and separate the task at hand from the extraneous noise your mind is creating. She wisely taught, “The facts of the situation are the same, regardless of how stressed you are.”

Stress is pointless. Being stressed does not make you more efficient. If anything, stress clutters your mind, and leaves you more likely to make mistakes. Mindfulness involves letting go of that stress. Simply dropping it.

I get so wrapped up in the noise of all the things that are going on. I get frantic and stressed, and those emotions build on themselves. Settling in for my drive home from work, I realized that it’s not the facts I am facing that have soured my attitude. I’ve got plenty on my plate right now, especially with work. But I’ve had plenty on my plate before and I will have plenty on my plate in the future. At this stage in my career, this is a familiar to-do list. I know how to break the big tasks down into manageable pieces. I know how to prioritize the tasks. I know how to seek feedback. The facts aren’t the problem. It’s my attitude, and here is no good reason for me to have a bad one.

I got home from work, tossed together a quick dinner of soup and grilled cheese. I walked on the treadmill. I spent some time with my family. Instead of worrying about all the things I have to deal with tomorrow, I will accept that I accomplished some big things on my to-do list today and have a very brief breather. I will enjoy today, and leave tomorrow for tomorrow.

0

Number 5 in 10 to 10: Thoughts on writing, and how I’ve become a writer

Thoughts on Writing and How I’ve Become a Writer

August 21, 2011

Adjectives on the typewriter
He moves his words like a prizefighter
The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell

“Shadow Stabbing,” Cake

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer (also a pediatrician, marine biologist, and teacher….but I frequently came back to “writer”).

In high school I was especially driven by hopes to be a fiction writer. Friends would give me ideas or themes and I would write short stories for them upon request. I was the biggest most hardcore dork in the creative writing club. My proudest feat of the 10th grade was that I wrote a story that was 45 pages long. I’m pretty sure everything I wrote was garbage. My inspirations at the time were Stephen King and Clive Barker. I was fascinated by all things dark and morbid. I often felt like an outcast. This is a perfect recipe for angst and melodrama.

Of probably 20 or so stories I wrote in high school, I believe I have a copy of only one, buried somewhere in a box I never bothered to unpack after we moved into our house 4 years ago. I recall unpacking boxes, seeing the first page of the story, and thinking “I can’t bear to throw this away, but if I actually read it, I will die of embarrassment.” Every now and then I tinker with the idea of trying my hand at fiction again. I’ll come up with a theme or an idea, but have yet to put pen to paper.

I started college expecting to focus on chemistry, but hated organic chemistry so much that I abandoned the idea. I had taken German for a few years and liked it well enough, and ended up majoring in German. There was a part of me that still wanted to write fiction or creative nonfiction, but I never got around to it. I took a few film analysis classes, children’s literature analysis classes, folklore analysis classes, and pop culture analysis classes. I loved learning and thinking about all these topics, but really did not wrap my brain around critical thinking skills. I could write a decent paper summarizing something, but I had significant difficulty deconstructing things, analyzing things, or interpreting things. My professors tried to teach critical thinking, they really did. I remember getting my final paper back in my pop culture analysis class. I wrote about Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers.” My whole paper was about Oliver Stone’s vision of our bloodlusting, media-fervored society, and how he expressed this vision through extreme gore. The professor’s comments on the paper: “That’s all very interesting about what Oliver Stone thought, but what did you think of the film?”

In my third year of law school, when I was working almost full time in a litigation boutique, I finally wrapped my brain around critical analysis. It didn’t matter how many people explained it to me, I couldn’t really understand it until I found myself in a position, day after day, where I had to take an idea, parse it, and develop it inside and out in several different directions. I had to develop winning arguments, losing arguments, counter-arguments, and novel arguments. I often found myself in a position where there weren’t any authorities directly saying what I wanted them to say, but I had to interpret what was out there, justify it, and make it work as well for me as it possibly could.

I was listening to an old episode of the fabulous Filmspotting podcast today, and one of the hosts (I think it was Matty Robinson, but honestly don’t exactly recall…) was talking about a student who asked him what he should do to make it as a film critic someday. Matty’s advice was “Write. Write every day. Write about anything and everything. It doesn’t have to be about movies. Just write.” (ok, I’m paraphrasing)

I still have occasional moments of wishing I were a novelist, or writing clever investigative nonfiction books, or even a film critic. But honestly, I’m there. I’ve fulfilled my childhood dream, I am a professional writer. As a litigator, my job is to read, interpret, analyze, and write convincingly for my client. Sometimes when I feel gloomy about the 3 sets of discovery, appellate brief, 2 complaints, and research memorandum looming over my head, I remind myself that I am a writer. It doesn’t do much to get the work done, but it makes me feel better about it.

0

Post 6 of my 10 in 10: A Day of Transition

It’s easy to see why this entry has a special place in my memories.

Day of Transition

May 5, 2007

At 8:46 am yesterday I handed in my last final.
DONE with law school.
I went into work, and spent the day writing responses and motions for our upcoming trial
Then I went to the bar with the other associates for the first time
And then went to a dinner hosted by the trial lawyers association

Yesterday, I moved from the little kids table to the grown-up table.