Sunday, February 27, 2005

You're Fired! (update added)

A note on antibiotics: some will make you sicker than sick. There’s a reason for the saying, “The cure is worse than the illness.” Or something like that. I had to stop the ones I was taking because on Friday I was on my death bed on the verge of throwing up…like all day, like I was in tears and dying from the worst nausea, paying for something I must have done in my past. My goodness, there must be badness there.

Anyway, on said day, I received a letter from the school where I teach, the envelope addressed to me personally in handwriting no less, the letter addressed to “part time faculty.”

The letter was from the head of the business division saying this was the third warning, that if we didn’t turn in all the required paperwork we’d not be rehired for the coming semester.

In my fevered state, I panicked. I crawled to the computer and picked off an e-mail, sending, “Wha…? I turned it all in I swear to god but now that I think on it maybe the syllabus isn’t turned in ohno ohno do I e-mail it to you or should I mail it to…I don’t want to get fired, please don’t fire me, I’m a bad girl, a bad person, and is that you in the bushes with the pink slip getting ready to fire me from the only job in law I’ve liked since 1997, never mind, I think I’m going to vomit now in the family-throw-up-pot-cum-vegetable-cooker. Sincerely all the best very truly yours, Adriana who loves her job more than life itself.”

Well, I didn’t exactly say that, but you understand the fear that struck me.

I lost my first job as a lawyer after I had my first child. What happened was that the glow of pregnancy had lessened the appeal of working for a cranky older man on a bunch of cases I couldn't care less about. With my burgeoning belly, I’d grown to dislike the way Mr. Bob-who-shall-remain-nameless chewed on nothing as he listened to my analyses of cases, with his eyes peering above the steel eyeglass frames. I’d rush to doctor appointments, not caring that he was unhappy over my missing a client consult. He began to yell at me, find errors in everything I did. By the time I went on maternity leave, I was fully a battered wife. I thought, I can’t quit, it's the only job I’ll ever have in my life, I'll die out there in the real world. I came back with milk-leaking breasts, a three-month old in the care of complete strangers, a father just-diagnosed with terminal cancer, my heart broken, determined to screw up what was left of the job I'd come to hate.

I remember being told I was dismissed, right before the Christmas blitz. I was glad the torture was over, but the moment of being fired still haunts me, strangely.

This past Friday night, I dreamt for what seemed like all night about chasing the job, about being so angry over losing my teaching gig. I was dreaming of rejection. Employers’ faces blended with familial ones – offices blended with my childhood home, in particular the grand baby-blue carpeted living room.

When did my “job” become the most important bit of my self-esteem in my subconscious? Why has being kept on by an employer taken over all the things I truly love and care about? I can live without the job, working outside the home doesn’t mean much to me other than a small paycheck. And yet, there it is, the essential “me.” Fear of being rejected by strangers overpowers the acceptance by my very own children who say from their beds in the dark, “Come sleep with me, mama, and tell me a story.”

Update: As I suspected, the letter I received turned out to be a general letter sent to all part-time faculty. The contact person at the office informed me that I have complied with all the necessary deadlines. After I read the e-mail note, I could hear my mother's voice as clear as if she were sitting next to me, "You have a guilty conscience." I believe a better word is, "paranoia."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sick, sick, sick...

Well, I'm on antibiotics and really, truthfully, I feel very crappy. Make that very, very. I'm plopped in front of the computer and thought to type something in the hopes that I can escape my misery.

I've been blog hopping over the past week. One article in particular by Richard Cohen has been occupying my thoughts in my quieter moments. The post (and resulting comments) dealt with questions I've been wondering about, the impact of blogging in our society, the value of my own type of writing. In the end, I found myself asking, at what point does a fictional piece become a memoir? Where is that fine line?

I've always liked writing "creative non-fiction" (the term slightly repulsing Matt Bell). I enjoy telling my personal tales in delicate language, decriptive language. Sometimes, I go farther though. Sometimes I take an event from my life and use it as fodder for short stories, or the beginning of the occasional unfinished novel. "Secretary" for instance...I was that girl in the door one time. I turned the situation around, making commentary on certain problems that might never be remedied no matter the law. My experience was the influence for the short story, but not the script. On the other hand, I wrote a story once about a woman who had a penchant for killing off her dependent boyfriends. I never did that. But the character drove a VW Bug that was very much like my best friend's Bug that she drove. And the guy...well, he reminded me of myself in some ways, giving, dependent, oblivious. And the poem...that never happened, but I do remember feeling sad, losing love, realizing that all the poetry in the world would never bring him back to me.

Where is that line though, and what of the "blogging world?" Is it really leading to the decline of fiction? Just because so many can now post their own stories in their own unique styles, which all might be just prettied up personal experience? Which is not that much different than what Dante did or James Joyce. Those authors were heavily dependent on their personal experiences. Their work pulled real-world experience and, thanks to their creative genius, spat out those experiences in the form of fantastic fiction.

They used an already-existing medium and ventured into new territory with their particular works. They raised the bar for fiction, for creative writing.

I tend to think blogging is simply another medium. Yes, it's accessible, but not all that widely. It's accessible only to the technology-friendly folks, first off. Navigating the blogs itself takes experience, takes time. Getting read by others takes real effort. You have to get on other Blogrolls (new term), you need to get on bloggie (made-up term) search-engines, you need to get out there. Ultimately, you have to have something good to say to make an impact. Good writing, good fiction, good poetry, good memoirs.

Blogs are not going to take the place of literary journals or the small presses. I do not believe that commercial fiction will take over. There will always be the revolutionary reader and writer who will seek out something different and special. Something better than the best-selling non-fiction and fiction.

So, to get anywhere, you're going to have to raise the bar. Or...get fired for saying something really, really bad on your blog.

In the end, I don't feel worried about the future of fiction or memoirs at the hands of the blog. All fiction in my opinion comes from our real lives in some way or another, whether it's from observing the world from freight cars or experiencing it ourselves while driving our kids to school and back. The line between great fiction, great memoirs, and the common boring blog will be found. Good work is going to come from those who rise above the rest, like the cliche cream. The "good" writers will do it no matter what the medium.

As they say...this is all just my little old opinion.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


For some time now, this story has resonated with me. I'm more than familiar with a family member being in a coma. My mother passed away in 2001 from a neurological disease and in 1995, my father died from cancer. Both had been in comatose states before their deaths. I understand the parents in the Schiavo case, I can imagine their refusal to stop hoping. I know I never stopped hoping for a miracle, even in the face of inevitability.

I remember clearly the adjustment to the "new state" of my parents in both instances. On some level, I could have lived with them that way forever. Anything was better than losing them entirely to death. I was happy to continue to talk to them, to look at them, to hold their hands...even if they couldn't give anything back. I just wanted another day.

As a mother, I believe I would be fighting, too, if in my heart of hearts, I saw my child as "alive" with a sliver of a sliver of a chance at change for the better. In my opinion, I believe the husband is wrong and should leave his wife to her parents. Something in me just aches at the thought of fighting for the life of my child as against a spouse. Who are they? They didn't birth this child, they didn't raise the child, they don't love the child like a parent can. I'm reminded of too many other cases where womens' lives have been ended by their husbands/lovers.

Now, the lawyer in me accepts that perhaps all isn't as it appears. I grant that. And if such is the case, I bow out of my position and concede to the spouse.


Off my soap box for now.

In the meantime, today was a quiet day spent grading papers, letting the kids play on the computer. J was home sick...though he did skateboard during the breaks in the rain, his desperately terrible cold apparently in complete remission during those times. Free time is amazingly curative, I suppose. On the other hand, A had a bit of a rough day at school, more inattention, more frustration for the teacher. He's on a second medication for tics (he has a number of them) and it makes him sleepy which compounds his struggle to stay focused on school-oriented tasks. This side effect is supposed to go away after a while. Insert a heavy sigh.

He slept in my bed last night, awakened at two in the morning for some reason. I found him out in the living room watching t.v. He said, "I woke up early."

"This isn't early, honey, it's in the middle of the night."

I had to laugh a little because there I was, squeezed in between A and my husband, both snoring and both using me as a kind of pillow. I was intensely uncomfortable, but I was soothed by a memory of my mother. I remember her telling me that motherhood was defined by discomfort. She used to take care of A when he was a baby - she'd lie down with him for naps and she wouldn't dare move away from him, lest she wake him up, even if he had his little elbows dug into her ribs. She took care of my sister's boy, T, and she'd sit in the rocker for hours while he napped because it was the only way he'd sleep. "He's pinned me," she'd say, happy as a lark, happy to be sweating in the sunlight seeping through the blinds in the livingroom.

So last night, in the midst of discomfort, I found myself happy.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Poetic Effort: Silken Paper

Splendid silken paper ‘neath a pen’s point
Tells of fragile love’s weeping wounds.
Prayers carried close and slipped inside her blouse,
She runs in the rain to reach him, touch him,
To reverse his heart’s impaling choice.
A stream rushing across concrete
Halts her splashing steps and quickens her breath.
The windows show a dance of a mother
And a father and their chirping babes,
Perfection, idealism, wished-for bliss.
She stands observing and left,
An incidental memory now,
Silenced, torn and floating away,
Away to an ocean’s worth of humming black lines.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Spa Night

No, the spa night wasn't for me, but for the kids.

M, all four years of her little being, has taken an extreme dislike lately of bathing. She has ultra-curly hair and in order to avoid impossible tangles, we have to shampoo frequently. At least every other day. She hates it, I understand, the brush hurts, the shampoo irritates. One evening last week, I came up with a plan.

We had spent an hour or so playing her favorite game of "Beauty Parlor," which involved nail polish and makeup. I said, "Little M, Little Me, we're at a spa. My name's Clarissa." Her eyes lit up and I knew she was remembering the word used by her aunt, who sells body lotions for a living. One time we had a party at my house, we had bins of hot water for our feet, colored, scented soaps, lotions, towels...we were all at a makeshift spa.

With M trailing behind me, we went to the bathroom and lit a green, perfumed candle, pulled out a pink terry-cloth robe from my closet, and clicked on instrumental Chinese music on the portable cd player set up on the toilet. I dimmed the lights as she came in, carrying her fluffy Barbie chair...I smiled and welcomed her to the first official Spa Night. Ooo la la!

Faster than I could say, spa soap, M was undressed and in the tub that was full of bubbles. We spoke softly to one another in the low light, I told her new persona, Ms. Chloe, to relax, to meditate, and I managed to wash her hair and soap her little body with narry a complaint. Even A got into the game. He brought M fishies in a toy tea cup to add to the ambiance. When she was done and robed, I quickly threw HIM in the tub and he was happy to meditate, too. I gave him a special eye pad, meant to reduce the puffiness, and he lay back in the water, cucumber-colored, foamy plastic on his eyes.

M happily sat in the Barbie chair, enveloped in the too-big robe, and let me brush the tangles out and dry her hair.

Not too long later, the kids were was all so easy, so sweet. I almost felt as if it had been me in that spa.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Fiction: Secretary

The girl, because in this way she seemed no more than a girl, stood in front of my desk, tears lining her face, telling me she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry that she’d gotten fired by my partner. I listened, my hands intertwined in a show of importance. Her belly fell over her skirt’s belt. A string poked upwards off the side seam, peeking out above beige.

"It's wrong," she said. Of her reasoning, only a few words wormed their way to me. Screaming. Every task assigned. Harassment. Deadlines always met. The best.

Stories down, the coffee cart scooted from side to side, from tree to tree, seeking shade. Easy world, that, a taking of money, a giving of a filled cup. Clean, no strings attached. No sides to pick. Vanilla shot? Fifty cents extra. Foam? Free.

“We’ll make sure you get your vacation paid out no longer than 72 hours from the close of this business day,” I said, a phrase pulled out of the employee handbook.

"More than that," she argued. "The firm is responsible for the things he did." More worms I sensed, slime beginning to touch me. Hostile work environment. Late meetings. No warning. Good evaluation. Lawsuit. I noticed a tiny run in my stocking, at my knee, and smoothed my skirt.

Back when I was a secretary, when women dominated the field, before the days of the "administrative assistant" and sexual harrassment, a former boss thought it was fun to flick rubber bands at me while I typed his correspondence. He thought it was funny to snap my bra as he passed by. He always stared at my breasts when he talked to me. The day I learned I passed the bar exam, I felt permanently empowered.

“I told you about him,” the girl said at last. “Why didn’t you do anything?”

“We held a meeting where I presented your complaints. You had no evidence - no witnesses, no documentation. It was your word against his. We have thoroughly complied with the employee handbook and the law. You're free to retain counsel, at your cost, of course.”

Page 78, paragraph 2.

The girl glared one last time, then chuckled, throwing me a distinct spray of bitterness. She turned sharply and left, wiping her eyes. I caught sight of her unpainted fingernails. Her rubber-soled shoes didn’t make any noise on the brand-new marble hallway of the Wilshire office building.

I opened a trial notebook so I could start work on my opening statement for trial the next morning. My coffee was cold now. I buzzed my assistant and told her to come in. When she reached my doorway, I told her to get me more coffee with non-fat milk, to make sure it’s decaf. Use money from the jar.

As I spoke to her, I noticed her nipples showing through her blouse. One word slid down my throat. Powerlessness.


One of my goals with my blog is to keep on writing, no matter what it is, a sentence, a paragraph, a string of emotion or images. I still have a particular dream I curl up with at night, the dream that sits with me as I read the best of the best. I still hope for certain successes that have so far eluded me - a dream that's part of the twelve miles of my marathon. So the way, I hear, to reach those goals, is to always write, to always work on what I want to do.

Too Young

Last night, Friday night, a night that is often a night of celebration - where there's no work for a couple of days, no homework, a break - my eleven-year-old asked me if he could go to the mall with his friends (in particular, a girl who's in eighth grade in comparison to his sixth). I slammed shut the door on that possibility without any hesitation.

"No, you're too young."

Woweeeeee...whining and upset followed. I explained he can go to the mall when accompanied by parents, parents we know. Us. But unfortunately, being that I was feeling (and still am) under the weather with a cold-gone-wild and his father had long settled into the couch for a relaxing tour of the television's line-up, we had no intention of hanging out at any mall.

More whining ensued, yelling that we never let him go anywhere, impassioned claims that we "don't trust" him! To which I couldn't help but laugh because everyone knows it's not that we don't "trust" the eleven-year-old but that we don't trust all the child killers who stalk the malls on Friday nights and are just waiting at every Hot Topic store and dank bathroom hallways for yummy, vulnerable eleven-year-old prey.

So the six o'clock hour stretched into seven with J on the phone, then eight rolled around, and near eight-thirty he stumbled into our room and said in the sleepiest voice, "I'm going to bed, mama."

When he collapsed into sleep, along with his brother and sister in their respective beds, I glanced at the clock and saw it was a minute or so to nine.

So much for that party-party night. He's still so little, so young.

"There's plenty of time for all of that, my little chickadee."

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Rain broke through the clouds this afternoon – a surprise to me. The morning had been lovely, white clouds in the distance, the bluest skies. I left the house without a coat or an umbrella. The kids were easy, happy to take a day off school to visit my sister, even though A had to spend the time at his doctor’s office for a check-up.

While at my sister’s place, eating our favorite junk food (burgers and fries), she commented that she felt badly about what she’d done with herself, or rather, what she hadn't done. She said she didn’t feel accomplished even though she’s raising three young children, even though she’s the most stable of my siblings, even though she has her master’s degree in education, even though she volunteers her time at the children’s schools, and even though, due to all the patient time she spends with them, her two school-age kids are doing so well. Even though…even though…

Where does that feeling come from, that desire to “do” something? And why is it we have to “do” this something by the time we’re 40?

She was sweet to me, commenting on my teaching at the community college, proud that I write even though I never finish anything, pointing out that my teaching used my law degree. But so what, I asked? I don’t make any money. We can’t add another desperately-needed room onto our house because of it. We live in debt because we love nice things too much. I should be working downtown, making the bucks, using that J.D. Even though…I’m raising the Three Beauties…

Often, I feel incredibly unaccomplished, unfinished. Time seems to be outpacing me, leaving me breathless and tired. Like I’m at mile twelve of a marathon and the winner has long completed the course. The sun’s in my eyes and it’s so hard to see those twelve miles behind me, but I should see them. I mean, who else can run twelve miles? It’s a huge thing…a huge deal. And yet…even though…I’ve still got so many miles to go. The medal seems so damned unreachable.

I shouldn’t feel this way. I must not feel this way. My sister and I should feel accomplished.

Today, A’s doctor was pleased with how the medication regimen is going, glad to hear he's not breaking down at the smallest thing that doesn't go his way. "It's a good sign," the doctor assured me. I agreed that our household is no longer under siege. A's taking "no" much better, he’s following through on instructions without my having to literally lead him by the hand to do the simplest task, and he seems a wee bit more like himself. He wants to cook with me, again. He wants to take hikes, get out a little. I’m glad I noticed things were awry with him. I'm thankful I hadn't sunk into my own pits and missed what was happening. I’m hoping the path he’s on will be markedly different from my mother’s depression-tinted path. It led her to so many dark places. I hope A never sees them.

The rain isn’t letting up and I’m glad for it. M pointed out to me as we drove home that the clouds “had turned upside down.” I loved that image. Hundreds of grey-painted tea cups in the sky, spilling sugared, tasty rain. Made me want to stick my tongue out and catch the drops.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Egg Shells - Morning Stream of Consciousness

I woke up this morning not myself, wanting to crawl or slither to the kitchen for coffee and then crawl or slither back to my bed to turn the tv on to watch some Lifetime movie or maybe perhaps even slide through the kitchen with coffee in hand to the computer to stare at pages, searching for nothing really, just stuff to liven my mind, to come to, to stop myself from being a slug. I tried to be my smiley self with A but ended up angry when on our way out to the car he wouldn't stop grabbing his sister and taking her things after I'd told him to just get in the car - touching her, annoying her, making her screech, pushing her to the floor in the entryway. Once outside, I gave him a gentle push to get into the car and he reacted to that poorly, starting to cry, as if I'd shoved him but that's A, perhaps that's how he saw my urging.

I am perplexed on what to do when the two fight that way. I want to stop A, he needs to respect boundaries, I am saying, "Do not touch your sister." Problem is that my attempts to restrain A feeds M's reaction to his touching her - she gets ammunition - it's okay to get upset when A moves anywhere into her space because Mommy gets upset, too. So I end up, just boomeranging with their names...alternating...and trying to be...positive. Ending up wanting to pull my hair out.

I am walking on egg shells when it comes to A. Any shift in my upbeat mood seems to rock him. I am reminded of living with my mother, where I had to be perfect, say nothing, keep it together, or else I might trigger a bad reaction. But then the time came where my own mood would slip and I would say something that challenged her and whoosh, there's the fury and sadness and she'd reach for a drink or whatever was nearby to express whatever that thing was that lived inside her...all she needed was the unlatching.

I hate the similarity.

Today, I'm going for a bike ride with M and my sister and her babies. We'll pedal around her quaint, rich neighborhood and avoid the peacocks and slow-moving Asian couples that walk in pairs with their hands behind their backs and nod their heads when they see us, seeming so pleased to be breathing the air of life and seeing the leaves sway to the ground. We will joke about our failings and talk baby-talk to her littlest one in the buggy. M and T will ride side-by-side on their small bikes perfect for four-year-olds and head for the peacocks and leaves.

I'll do my deep breathing before I go...and try to let go of the bad mood. I'll not worry about breaking the egg shells because I have found if you paint them silver or gold you can use them as bits of art - stick them on black paper next to macaroni and pink fluffs and cotton balls and old buttons.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Valentine's Day Eve

This morning was a great example of the power of positive energy.

J woke up and for the third Sunday in a row, argued about going to Religious School. Now, let me explain. I'm only half-Jewish. Last year, my son talked so much about being "a full Jew," that we decided to give it a go. Send him to school to learn about Judaism. He was so good, so interested, until regular school started to get tough and he just wanted to play with his friends. He kept at it...then second semester, he just didn't want to go. It's funny...even though I never attended religious school, and even though I am not a "good Jew," I wanted him to give it his all. I'm disappointed, but because it's a leap for him, he's doing something that is not traditional for us, he's doing it on his own, I think I can't put my foot down on it. I have nothing to back it up with.

So...this morning, rather than fight, I just gave him a hug and suggested he write a letter. And moved on to the next battle.

A woke up and started picking on M immediately, M starting in with her mind-blowing screeches. Instead of giving in to the chaos,I roped A into helping with breakfast and sat M on the countertop to play with egg slop. I talked to them and played with them, while indicating they were all grounded for the morning, meaning they had to read and talk to me instead of playing with their friends.

They all ate their breakfast happily and right now I can only hear Sponge Bob on the tv. Peaceful, quiet...quiet enough for me to write this.

A note: I just heard A ask his dad to read and D rebuked him, claiming frustration - giving in to the aggravation, but D caught himself. Asked, "You really want me to read with you?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"Okay...let me get my coffee."

Ahhh...see...the power of positive energy. I'll let you all know when the whole thing falls apart. Which I'm sure is bound to.

Tap, tap, tap....

Tonight, D and I will go to dinner for Valentine's Day. He did something different - he had my sister send me an e-mail from "him." He dictated a sweet note, asking me to pick a place to eat. It was so sweet, so surprising, I got all teary. Like such a chick that I am, for all my grousing about the husband's inadequacies. I was reminded much of the old days...before giving birth to the Three Beauties.

Intention for the day: I want to enjoy the children, love them, be happy, firm and supportive. I want to enjoy dinner to the fullest, be happy-go-lucky. Enjoy the freedom while K, our babysitter, manages the kids.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Death of an Otter Pop

We live in confusing times. On one level, life seems to have lost value. The media reports so many murders and war victims that we don't notice from one day to the next. On the other hand, the ridiculous gains in value. Today, I read that an Otter Pop was actually rescued from the seas (they never told us what flavor it was) and then after being rescued had to be promptly euthanized. My god. A popsicle! Since when are lost popsicles worthy of government action, media attention, and my very own time. And to actually think the re-freezing and eating of a popsicle is comparable to EUTHANASIA! I eat popsicles all the time - what is today's rightist media suggesting, that every eaten popsicle is like murder? Is this some subversive way of getting me to become seduce me into turning pro-pop because once you go pro-pop, anti-choice is only a step away? The nerve of the Pro-Poppers to suggest Otter Pops "squeal" like living things or need a mother, like living things. They're popsicles!

Well guess what, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, W. Bush, I'm not buying it. I'll damn well eat a popsicle any time I want, without a hint of guilt. Otter Pops are good eating, especially the blue raspberry.

For your own proofing and consideration, here's the link on this bit of absurdity.

Oh oh...wait a minute...never mind.


Friday, February 11, 2005

More Rain Today

The weather turned during the week and now it's pouring rain - the school parking lot was jammed with parents running their children to class, carrying Valentine's Day goodies in bags and projects, and holding the hands of the too-young. Me included. I do love the rain despite the traffic mess. I accept that Southern California can't handle rain. People die whenever it rains. Don't know what it is about the water on the roads and hillsides, but it seems to exceed earthquakes as far as damage goes. We bolster buildings and freeways for when our earth rocks, and forget about how the extra water will flow through our cities. Every year the rain seems to take So. Cal. by surprise.

Rain reminds me of sprinting into movie theaters, standing under a tree's limbs as a makeshift cover and waiting for the break so I can walk to the next museum, tea at a table next to a window while staying at an inn and watching my lover sleep still. I think of quilting for my new baby and being sad that Papa wasn't around to enjoy him, I think of running in the mist to my blind date's car with a thought that maybe this was the guy, the ONE. I think of typing on my computer, a story, a bit of a novel, late, late into the night and listening to the rain tap the windows. There's so much promise in the grayness.

I used to love the mood that would fall on Loyola Law School's campus when it rained. More students filled the library and there was a kind of joy that permeated the air. I liked to sit at the large tables and study, periodically looking outside the huge windows next to those tables, the water creating streams running through the open areas in between the lecture halls. We were all working so hard, getting so ready for that big, bad world. Being lawyers. Again, so much promise in the darkened skies.

I thought about those days when I watched this late-night program last night - the host had ripped on lawyers and got the audience to say, "Thank you, Lawyers." The thing is, the host was thanking the lawyers for a series of cases brought on by members of the public - a few people probably spurred on by greed. The laywers didn't come up with those cases, they were not solely responsible for getting the skewed judgements. The clients that asked to bring the cases are the ones who bear responsibility, the juries that agreed with those clients, and the judges that approved the results did. A case doesn't live due to lawyers alone and it's ignorant to point fingers at the lawyers - we're easy cannon fodder because people don't want to take responsibility for their own shortcomings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm okay with bashing lawyers for realistic items - the high billable hour requirements which prevents lawyers (especially women) from having real lives (especially the lower-end working lawyers), the old-school, good-old-boy system that remains firmly in place, the antagonistic trial system that often prevents settlements from taking place, clogging up the courts and furthering aggression between opposing sides, the higher-than-normal tendency of jerks to become lawyers (they're at the law schools from the get-go). Fine, bash away. But don't bash lawyers for cases the public dreams up, for having a system that allows people to have their "say in court." The blame for the ridiculous, high-cost cases lies squarely on the shoulders of the clients.

There's more...but I have to take A's homework to school. In the excitement of the rain, he forgot his backpack. Such the rain.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Addendum: Balance of Power

The Girl, M, and J, her older brother.

A Back Rub

My husband, D the teacher, popped home this morning during his conference hour to play a little with M, our daughter. While they rolled a ball back and forth, wildly I might add, he rubbed my back as I sat next to him - I was like his pet cat. In a good way. I needed that rub, being that A, my middle son, woke up in the foulest mood and tried my patience to the limit, ending up late for school. I had to really work at not getting angry at him, to be as positive as I could, as I got him dressed, fed and brushed, all the while playing referee to break up the skirmishes. I cannot tell you how nerve-rattling it is when he bothers M because she SCREECHES as a response. Try hearing that several times each half-hour. Whenever the two are at home together.

The back rub was good.

One other thing I'm doing to alleviate the stress, to raise the positive energy in our household, is something called meridian therapy or EFT - it's fascinating, strangely and amazingly effective at getting rid of negative thoughts. A story about the method - last year, I started teaching legal research to paralegal students at our local community college. Now, I know research. I lived and breathed it during my lawyering years - it was the only thing I loved about being a lawyer. At the minimum, I should have been comfortable explaining the concepts. A little nervousness about being in front of people was expected.

However, because it was a such a tough course to begin my teaching career with, I ended up mid-year with confused students and a massive case of panic attacks when lecturing in front of the class. I was seriously facing NOT getting a second chance to teach at the rate I was going. And I desperately wanted a second chance, and a third, and a fourth...etc. I wanted to teach - I liked it. It fit me and our lifestyle.

Not only were the panic attacks killing me and my future in teaching, the anxiety the rest of the week was so intense that I wasn't enjoying my "time off." I turned to my former grief counselor and she turned me on to positive energy. Silly at first. Tapping on parts of your body and saying things while you do it, even if you don't believe what you're saying, was a bit...ridiculous. But, as you probably suspected, the method worked. The panics ended entirely. It was the craziest thing, miraculous even. I stopped believing the negative and tuned into the positive and I was able to get that second chance at teaching. And a third.

So, I'm at it again. This time I'm hoping the negative reaction to the kids will go away, that their reaction to my negativity will go away.

That life will be the best it can be.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Crock Pot

Being that a person does not live on junk food alone, I decided to make for tonight's dinner roast-in-the-crock-pot. Easy enough - cut veggies at the bottom, seasoned roast on top, beef broth thrown in. Turn on. Go play on the computer, watch Battlestar Galactica, or take a hike to the creek with the girl.

I had class last night and I'm relatively pleased with how it went, considering that I seriously did not want to be there - the students didn't throw tomatoes or claim that they were sooooo confused. I told them I was into "feelings" and if they "felt" they were getting to the edge of understanding, that was good enough for now. I gave them the answers (going over with them) to half the homework and gave them another week to work out the problems. I also postponed the exam so they could get another boost towards comprehension. They seemed to appreciate my flexibility. It's not that I'm insensitive to their whining (being the whiner-expert that I am) but I do get impatient when they don't want to use available material as a means to learning. I also get frustrated when they don't ask me to help them, choosing to point fingers at me rather than tackle the problem.

My 7-yr old might have childhood depression according to his doctor - this morning he was happy, having eaten all his French Toast of course, and actually wanted to listen to classical music in the car. He likes our routine - I play classical music every morning on the way to school to "feed our collective brains" instead of playing his latest craze: speed metal rock. The rule of classical-music-only has totally eradicated early-morning arguments for radio-control. I was glad he noticed the silence - I hadn't turned the radio on at all.

My daughter was being a supreme 4-yr-old thang this morning - demanding, sassy, yelling, inflexible. I definitely contemplated dropping her off at the pre-school even though she was wearing stockings, elephant slippers, and baby-doll pajamas with polka dots. It's a little cold? Stand close to the teacher. Hold a guinea pig. Hug a block. She redeemed herself when she told me about the monsters in her dreams with the big eyes and that I had to rescue her.

My 11-yr old called from school this morning to tell me he has morning-detention tomorrow for failing to get his progress report from math class signed by a parent. I wonder why he wouldn't show it to us? Insert gnashing of teeth.

I'm still searching for a life recipe easy as roast-in-a-crock-pot.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


It's raining today and I've been a lazy flower, absorbing the wet and trying to ease the various skirmishes in the house here and there by smiling. I vacillate between sadness and exhileration at the rainy weather. On the one hand, the dark mood keeps me in the house and on my bed watching television as I write on my laptop, pretending that I don't have a household to run. On the other, I'm reminded of traveling through England and am dying to go outside and do something that might involve picture taking and running to the nearest eave to stay dry. Admittedly, I'm not thinking about a family trip.

I'm working on a novel - as I typed about emotional angst in Chapter 2, drawing from memories of my father's funeral in 1995, I half-watched the Rundown, focusing on a comic scene where the Rock (the definition of "guilty pleasure") falls down a cliff in an agonizingly long clip and survives in perfect form only to face a now-coming-down red Jeep. I'm sure there's something deep buried in that clash of concepts. I just had to laugh and get back to the wind whipping the girl as she buried her mother and thought she'd never be happy again. Later, ironically, the kids giggled at Sponge Bob - all I kept hearing was a fish saying, "I'm going to kick your butt."

Tomorrow, I go to my son's second grade class to help for an hour or so. Then I'll come back and prepare for teaching my evening class. I'll make dinner after the homework crunch. Then I'm off to school - I'll face students who are "frustrated with the material." Which always translates into, "Teacher, you're not doing such a great job." I'll try not to believe that.

Why do these bits of responsibility feel so butt-kicking?

I'm ordering pizza. Screw cooking.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Strange comments from an American General. Wait, hear me out.

I made French Toast this morning, I ate some, and I'm basking in its efficacy against depression. The other morning, I'd awakened too early and spent the better part of an hour in the darkest place, thinking the lowest of thoughts. I fell asleep and dreamt about getting trapped in my too-big SUV at the bottom of a traffic-filled hill. When I popped open my eyes, I wanted to make French Toast for the kids and all the negativity was gone. I figure, French Toast is the new St. John's Wort.

So, having eaten French Toast, I feel like riding my beautiful red bike. M is too slow on hers, it's just too pink and pretty, so I'll have to wait until the afternoon for the boys to accompany me. The weather here in Suburbia, Southern California, is positively springy. The birds are singing, the drivers are smiling, parents are dropping their kids at school and speeding away with glee. The mountains are snowy - I want to take a picture of a palm tree with that snowy backdrop but can't get to a place which adequately shows the contrast.Really, the weather is gorgeous.

So I peek in on and find a little gem of a story about a general who said, "It's fun to shoot some people," referring to guerillas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, I'm not doubting the strength of this man, his service to the country of which we all as citizens appreciate, but I'm a little stunned at his being THIS indiscreet in his feelings about battling in a war zone. I get that he "speaks with candor," I get that. I imagine he loves his job. You'd have to enjoy the skirmish on some level to make a career of it. If he sat and cried every time he shot an insurgent, where would the military be? I know this even though I consider myself basically a pacifist.

But still...

This reminds me of a woman I saw at the pediatrician's office who had no sense at all of how society feels about corporal punishment. Her toddler was being a pain and crawling under the seats. She didn't hold back when she said, "If you don't get up here, I'm going to spank you." Not too bad. We all say that.

The child didn't stop crawling at her feet.

In a flash, the woman grabbed the child up by his arms and gave him quite the whoop-ass. The child screamed...loudly.

"I said you'd get it. You want another?"

What was funny was her candor. Never in my wildest dreams would I have done that in a public place. I'm just too self-conscious. I suppose I'm trying to counter my own childhood experiences. My mother did spank, she used a shoe when we got too big. It's not that I feel spanking is abusive, I just don't do it. For one thing, spankings never worked very well with my kids. Time out was much better.

Back to the candor...I'd never be that aggressive in public. I'm too aware of society. We don't like spanking. We feel we're too zen and modern for that. And we especially don't spank in a doctor's office where one imagines that people there are experts in child-rearing. Where you're being watched by other parents. You know, Society.

So here this hefty woman was handing out the whoop-ass without as much as a blink of her eye.

Like the general.

On a related note, my sister called me today to tell me her once-every-two-weeks housekeeper got into a car accident in which she totaled her car. The lady, who's around 55 or so, drove up this morning in her new car: a 2005, black Corvette.

Now...yeah...the only thing I can think is that this woman LOVES her job. She really likes cleaning. She doesn't do it for the money, she does it because it makes her happy to come into a home and clean the hell out of it. Issue some major whoop-ass on all that dust and grime.

Like the General.

I suppose that there are some people who cannot believe I enjoy sitting down and writing. They think it's sort of can something so unpleasant and brain-straining make you so happy...or be so much fun?

Mmmm...I need more syrup for my French Toast. Then I better get my ass on that bike.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Me and the girl.

Why pink and am I really blissful?

Some time ago I started a blog and quit. I've purchased clean paper journals and quit after two entries. I have five or six novels sitting on the computer that don't go past chapter 2. My short stories end at peak moments. I thrive on incompleteness. Which is why I'm here again, reaching for an unfinished project.

Am I blissful? Not really - it's a state of mind I think about, always hoping to scratch its underbelly.

Do I love pink? Not at first. When I learned my third child was going to be a girl, the other two being boys, I cried, surprised and joyful, shocked that I'd done so. I never got the "girlie girl" thing, preferring jeans to skirts, preferring books to dolls, disliking anything to do with princesses, and my favorite color was deep blue. When my daughter was born, my world altered - suddenly, I liked pink. I craved pink.

Pink is everything you never thought you could or would be. Bliss is just over the fence.