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Thursday, February 25, 2016

"A Loaf of Bread . . . Apples . . . Hearsay . . . Milk . . . "

Back to blogging with my three co-bloggers!  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, mostly.  Sometimes?  Don’t judge me.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

            This week, Merryland Girl chose, and she referenced an online story about a man who asked his wife what was on her mind, and she drew him a picture in response.  Merryland Girl (Melissa) asked us to write about what’s on our minds. 

            Oh, so, so many things, Melissa.

            After Merryland Girl suggested the topic, I tried to be more mindful of what, exactly, I’m thinking about as I move through a day.  I could have easily drawn a picture much like the one in the story (though not as cleverly) because, at any given moment, I have at least thirty things flying around the great space between my ears. 

            I could write about those, but they’d be what you’d expect:  work, my grocery list, what I forgot to add to my grocery list, what I need to do that day, what I didn’t do the day before, whose birthday I missed, which therapy we have today, etc., etc., etc.  The cacophony inside my brain is long and relentless; my inner dialogue shuts up only when I fall asleep (which is never easy, given all the activity up there), and sometimes my dreams merely pick up where consciousness left off.  (And I wonder why I never feel rested.)

            Of course, if I have any legal work to do, I think about that, too.  A lot.  And that got me thinking about a conversation I had a few years ago with a law student who clerked at the firm where I used to work:  a conversation about the mental relentlessness of the practice of law.

            It was late April, and the clerk, Zach, had brought me something – mail, research, exhibits, who knows.  I knew he was finishing up his third year of law school, so I asked him how it was going, if he was looking forward to graduation, how he felt about the looming bar exam.  He looked at me wearily and said, “I’m looking forward to going home at the end of the day and not thinking about the law.”

            Oh, you poor misdirected young man.

            I’ll admit it:  I laughed.  Zach furrowed his brow in confusion.  I told him that although law school homework might end, he would never, ever, ever again go home and spend any significant amount of time not thinking about the law.  It just wouldn’t happen. 

            I told him how I – a mother of three kids – often found myself walking through the grocery store, pushing a cart and staring at shelves of stuff all while trying to work through a legal issue with which I struggled.  I told him stories of law dreams I’d had and stories of other lawyers who actually solved legal issues while they slept.  I told him of watching television but seeing and hearing very little, because my brain was still thinking about something I had done that day or needed to do tomorrow.  And I told him of the time I stopped working for a few months and I missed it so much, I called my practicing lawyer friends just so they could tell me about their cases and I could think about the law again.

            Not think about the law?  Absurd.

            My lawyer friend Karen and I often talk about wanting a job that you leave at work when you walk out the door.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether such a job exists.  Sure, there are jobs that start exactly at 8:00am and end exactly at 5:00pm, but does that mean the people who work those jobs don’t, in some way, take those jobs home with them?  I imagine a nurse who works a twelve-hour shift (in theory, anyway – I’ve heard about the paperwork); does s/he go home and just stop thinking about the patients?  Doesn’t a retail store manager still think about the store and the employees and corporate baloney after s/he’s left for the day?  I wonder.

            And then I wonder whether it’s the jobs themselves that cause the endless thinking, or whether it’s the employee, with the job being nothing more than the symptom.  I have a feeling that no matter what job I chose, my endlessly churning brain would not just “forget” about it during my off hours.  Perhaps I could find a job where I wouldn’t be trying to solve complex legal issues, but I doubt I would just somehow stop thinking about work simply because I’m physically not at work.  Certainly, when volunteering for hospice, I never stopped thinking about my patients, even after I went home from their bedsides, even though I was in no way medically responsible for their treatment.  There were no problems to solve, nothing I could do, yet I didn’t just “forget” them until my next volunteer shift. 

            I even do it with this blog, spending days mulling over this week’s topic and what I’m going to write and then mentally writing (and editing) it.  I grow frustrated when nothing comes to mind, and so I spend even more time going over it in my mind.  And this blog is in no way a job, but I still can’t switch the over-thinking piece off.

            It’s just the way I’m wired.

            I know I’m not alone.  I would venture to guess that all of you, My Five Loyal Readers and my co-bloggers, are guilty of this same level of thinking and mental restlessness.  I imagine you nodding as you read, understanding exactly what I mean, even though most of you have never practiced a day of law in your lives.  I do know that I am, indeed, in good company.

            But, sometimes, I sure am tired.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

And Then He Kissed Me

Back to blogging with my three co-bloggers!  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, mostly.  Sometimes?  Don’t judge me.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

            This week, Moma Rock chose, and she said, “That first kiss …

            Now, before I write about any kiss, I want to share my thought process when I saw the subject.  My first thought was that at least one of my co-bloggers would not be super comfortable with this topic, as there is often hesitation when we get to the subject of past romantic relationships.  My second thought was that those of us in committed relationships would probably feel compelled to write about our first kiss with our significant other, in case the men actually read the posts.  I decided I wouldn’t buckle under the pressure.  Or, maybe more accurately, I’d write about that, but I’d write about another first kiss, as well.

            It’s not like there was anything wrong with my first kiss with my husband.  It was a wonderful kiss in a romantic place.  It was our first “night” date – we’d been on a couple of lunch dates, but somehow those weren’t the same.   (In fact, to this day, I still tease my husband because after our first lunch date, he shook my hand; we’d met at a restaurant near his work and had eaten outside, and he was afraid a co-worker would see him.  I got a hug on the second date.)  Chicago’s Navy Pier was the site of our first night date; it’s right on the lake and has an absolutely gorgeous view.  We had a few drinks and strolled the Pier, and at one point we found a bench away from the throngs of tourists and looked out over the lake.  It was there we kissed.  My husband likes to joke that I kissed him, though I didn’t.  I like to remember it as mutual.  It was a good kiss on a good night, the beginning of a relationship that has now exceeded a decade. 

            Obviously, I remember that first kiss, perhaps because it was my last first kiss, perhaps because it was romantic and led to a life-long relationship.  I don’t know.  And I wonder because, when I really think about it, there are several other first kisses I cannot remember.  I’ve done my share of dating, and it’s a little mind blowing at how many of the first kisses I’ve forgotten.  It makes me wonder why I remember the ones I remember, and why the others simply slipped away.

            As I dwelled on it, I realized that, for me, anticipation and expectedness play a huge role in what stays in my mind.  I seem to remember the kisses I really wanted, or the ones I wanted but didn’t expect; the ones I thought would never happen but somehow did.  Several immediately come to mind.  I will share the story of one.

            When I was in my early twenties, I lived in Los Angeles/Hollywood.  I fell in lust on a regular basis, a habit fueled by the fact I often helped out my friend Harry when he set up rock shows at local clubs.  I was in long-haired musician heaven.  I’ve always been a fan of pretty boys, and they were everywhere.  You couldn’t throw a drumstick without hitting one.

            I spent a lot of time with the long-haired boys, but I didn’t date too many of them.  I made friends and we hung out; I wasn’t the groupie type.  The crushes came and went, usually extinguished when the guy opened his mouth to speak – or to introduce me to his girlfriend.  Eventually, of course, one crush took hold and morphed into something more like affection.  And, of course, he had a girlfriend. 

            For some reason, this time I held out hope.  We became friends, and I had no beef with his girlfriend, who was pleasant if not particularly friendly.  I waited for months, not wishing anyone heartache, but absent-mindedly hoping maybe he’d realize he liked me better than her.  Our friendship grew in spite of the girl, largely because we hung out in the same circles.  I was ok with that, even if my heart hurt a little each time I went home alone.

            A few months passed.  He and his band travelled to Colorado for some shows, and I didn’t see him for a few weeks.  Upon their return, they scheduled a show at the club down the street from my apartment.  Friends with the whole band by then – and still in my state of suspended emotion – I showed up.  I found a table.  I sat alone.  I watched the door. 

            He walked in.  He was alone.  My heart leaped.  He looked around.  He saw me.  He strode over.

            He told me he was happy to see me, he was glad I had come.  He said he had to load equipment, but would I stay after the show?  He had something to tell me.  He seemed serious.  I said I would; I hoped everything was ok.  He said, and I remember this all these years later, “Well, [girlfriend’s name] and I broke up.”

            Heart.  Pounded.  Hard. 

            I sat through the show, all the bands preceding his.  I don’t remember their names or their songs.  His band came on last.  I vaguely remember parts of his band’s set; I know they ended with a cover of Wish You Were Here.  I remember heading to the club bathroom to check my hair and lip gloss.  I remember heading backstage to find him, helping load equipment – totally a girlfriend move.

            He didn’t have a car, and somehow he ended up in mine.  He lived in Laurel Canyon, crashing on the couch of a friend who just so happened to rent Jimi Hendrix’s old house, but we somehow ended up at mine.  I remember sitting on the living room floor, because my roommate and I didn’t have a couch.  We talked for hours, about everything.  It was kinda like the end of Sixteen Candles, sitting knees to knees, but without the fancy house or birthday cake but with lots of long hair.

            I remember talking and talking, the night flying by.  And then, while I was mid-sentence, rambling about god knows what, he kissed me.  A kiss I’d wanted for months but never, ever thought would come.  A kiss I clearly have not forgotten.

            And maybe that’s it.  Maybe a kiss is more than just that moment in time – it’s the build up, the anticipation, the expectation, the wish.  Perhaps I don’t remember the other first kisses because there wasn’t much to remember.  Maybe I saw those coming.  Maybe I didn’t wait so long, or work so hard.

            L.A. guy and I remain friends.  I’ve never asked him whether he remembers our first kiss, whether he remembers much at all of our relationship all those years ago.  In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter.  Although our dating relationship didn’t go very far or last very long, my memories of it are good.  They are sweet.  And I’m happy about that.

            It’s as it should be.  That first kiss . . .


Thursday, February 11, 2016

It Takes One to Know One

Back to blogging with my three co-bloggers!  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, mostly.  Sometimes?  Don’t judge me.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

            This week, I chose the topic, and I said:  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Discuss.

            I became interested in this topic about a year ago, after my friend and writing mentor Wade made an observation about me that took me by total surprise.  I wrote about Wade’s comment in a blog post last year, but I’ll repeat it.  I have been working on a book, a memoir, for several years now, and I had sent Wade the full manuscript for his input.  We FaceTimed after he read it, and I asked whether I did an ok job of honestly presenting myself in the book.  He said yes.  He said, “You come across as smart, funny, and – ” and then he took his hands and put them out in front of him, as if to keep someone at a distance.  I physically flinched.  I’ve known Wade for three years and have spent handfuls of hours with him over that time.  In those hours, he has seen in me a tendency to keep people at arm’s length.  I’ve known myself my whole life and I had no idea I did this. 

            So surprised was I by Wade’s comment that I reached out to a few friends – friends with whom I was comfortable enough to discuss this – and asked them if I’m like that, or if I’d been like that when we met.  The friends could see it; if not now, then when we were first introduced.  I had no idea.  I truly didn’t know I kept people at bay, now or in the past.

            Of course, as I always do when I learn something new, I thought about it.  I paid attention when I met someone, or when I was in a social setting with people I didn’t know well.  Sure enough, I felt the stress.  I literally had a visceral reaction:  chest tightening, hands sweating, inner monologue racing.  God forbid if a new person hugged me – I am sure they could feel me stiffen up.  I noticed myself attaching to one or two people, almost as if they could protect me from the others.  I wondered how I’d never before realized this about myself.

             I think what threw me off, at least in part, is the fact that I am somewhat chatty.  I will and do talk to strangers; hell, as I wrote in another post, I once made friends with someone on an airplane.  However, I could explain that away.  I mean, I’m likely not going to see the person in line at the grocery store ever again.  I’m not discussing anything “real” or heavy when I make small talk.  It’s a filler, a way to kill awkward silence and boredom.  I’m not exactly letting the other person in very far.  But, yet, I wondered whether there was more to it all.  How did my tendency to chat fit in with my newly discovered introversion?

            And then, a few months ago, I read an article about “extroverted introverts,” and hell if I didn’t meet almost all of the criteria, things like, “You seek out social situations but feel alone in a crowd,” and “You screen all your calls, even from friends,” and “You need to be alone at the end of the day.”  An extroverted introvert is an introvert at heart, but she also wants and requires social interaction and the company of others.  She finds a way to put on a social face because even though she enjoys being alone, she craves human contact.  I see myself in this description:  although I love and need my alone time, I do want social interaction – I just want it on my terms.

            I’ve read that extroverted introverts use the extroversion (i.e., the chattiness) to cover or hide the introversion, because introverts always feel like they really don’t fit in.  That would explain my chattiness; it also explains my tendency to make plans and then stress out with dread when it’s time to fulfill them, it explains the tightening in my chest and my preference to just stay home and read a book – and my conflicting desire to then go to a book club and chat about it.

            An odd mix, indeed.  But one I feel the need to understand and synthesize.

            Froggie, Merryland Girl, and I were messaging after I sent them this week’s topic, and Froggie said that she’s come to realize that being an introvert affects all of your relationships.  I’ve never really thought about it before, but she is obviously right.  I married an extrovert – something introverts commonly do.  I have close friendships, but not a ton of casual ones, and I’m sure that’s because of my introversion.  I don’t want to let people in, and so I am choosy.  True closeness takes time, for me, anyways.  I have a few “fast friendships,” relationships that developed quickly because I just clicked with the other person.  But even in those, I can look back and see that the other person opened up first, that it took me longer to feel safe and ready to really share.  My introversion made moving to a new city very tricky; I’ve gone to many social gatherings in my new community, but even after more than six months, I can’t say I have felt fully comfortable at any of them.  Mid-sized groups are especially rough, and I much prefer one-to-one get-togethers, or even a small group of three or four.  Anything larger than that, and my pulse races and the dread flows (unless it is a huge crowd and I can break off into a smaller group).  I am so much more comfortable taking my daily walks with only my friend Kym, or my evening walks with only my friend Christine, or a trip to Target or a flea market with only my friend Ang.  I don’t need a posse.  A posse sounds exhausting and overwhelming.

            I’ve come to believe that society, as a whole, views introversion as a negative, something to work on, something to fix.  I disagree.  I do believe people can change in some ways, but I don’t believe this is one of those ways.  I can act extroverted, I can force myself to be more social, but I can’t change my true nature.  And, anyway, I think there are benefits to being an introvert.  Introverts have been shown to be thoughtful (pensive, not kind – though we could be both).  We tend to see the big picture.  When I make a true friendship, I cherish it and I put a lot of energy into it; I’m not spreading my time across the surface of numerous, less serious relationships.  All of which means that I cannot honestly say that I wish I were an extrovert.  Honestly, just the thought of it makes me nervous.

            And so, although I don’t see myself changing my introversion, I am grateful to Wade for pointing it out.  Now that I am aware of it, I understand my hesitation in certain situations, and I know which ones to avoid.  I can remain conscious of how I might be coming across when I meet someone new; although I don’t mind being an introvert, I certainly don’t ever want to make anyone else feel like I don’t like them or don’t want to get to know them.  I realize I might have to “work” a little harder in a social setting, and that that’s ok – sometimes. 

            All of which makes me grateful that I opened up and let Wade in, allowed him to really look at me and tell me what he sees, scary as it seemed at the time.  So, thank you, Wade, for pointing it out, for being honest with me, for putting out your arms in a gesture that spoke volumes without you uttering so much as a single word.  (And for the record, I pegged you as an introvert the day I met you, friend.)

            And now I ask you, my Five Loyal Readers, how do you see yourself?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert, or a weird mix like me?  How did you first perceive me?  I would love to hear your feedback!


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Girl on Film

Back to blogging with my three co-bloggers!  Each week, one of us chooses a topic and we all post a blog entry on that topic, usually on Thursdays.  (Usually we are on time.  Usually.  Ok, mostly.  Sometimes?  Don’t judge me.)

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

            This week, Froggie chose, and her topic came with a visual.  She attached this video/article, (which shows a Miami doctor assaulting an Uber driver and then kicking at police) and stated the following:  This individual is now on administrative leave until her employer can determine if there are grounds to terminate her.  This brings up the question as to whether or not an individual’s job should be in jeopardy because they had a meltdown (indiscretion) in public, outside of work hours, that was recorded and posted online.  Share your thoughts on this matter.

            The lawyer in me (that evil witch) reared her head almost immediately and answered for all of me, yelling,  “Should she lose her job?  Of course she should!”  The reason is simple, if not purely “legal”:  liability.  By doing what she did – even outside of work hours – this doctor has shown herself to be a liability.  And her employer has to protect itself.  It’s that simple.

            It comes down to this:  if something were to happen where this doctor lost her cool at her job, she’d be sued and the hospital – as her employer – would also be sued.  After this video, there would be no way for that hospital to say it did not know this doctor had the capacity to behave this way.  The hospital knows.  Hell, the virtual world knows.  The doctor has now become a liability, or at the very least, a potential liability.  In our litigious world, the hospital needs to be smart.  It needs to investigate what happened and, if need be, discharge her from employment.  I wouldn’t want to be treated by her, and I don’t believe I am alone.  That’s not to say that I was not aware that even doctors make mistakes, it’s that I’m not a fan of being seen by doctors (or any professionals) who have shown that level of loss of self-control.

            I realize the bigger question involves the “should” posed by Froggie.  My answer was easy to give, but do I like my answer?  As I said, I know people make mistakes, that people sometimes do one thing and never do it again.  I like for other people to have the capacity to forgive and move on, and I want to be able to do that myself.  So, in that way, no, I don’t like it.  And, yes, I hate that the world is as litigious as it is.  I spend chunks of my days defending some of the most ridiculous lawsuits you could imagine, and it sickens me.  Lawsuits used to be about being made whole; now they are seen as lotto tickets.  I hate that corporations have to worry about being sued over everything, that liability is first and foremost on the minds of people on both sides of the fence.

            But that doesn’t mean what happened to that doctor shouldn’t have happened.

            I’m going to cheat here and bring in the topic I missed from two weeks ago, when it was Moma Rock’s turn to choose and I was laid up with some virus that wreaked havoc on me.  Moma Rock’s topic was, “Respect,” and I think that plays a role here.

            Sadly, we live in a world where personal responsibility is virtually nonexistent.  People seem to apologize now only after they are videotaped misbehaving, after they are caught.  There’s no respect for each other; really, there’s little self-respect, either.  Even apologies are qualified:  “Yes, I did it but it wasn’t my fault because ... ”  The Internet has become a policing agent of sorts; you have to assume anything you do can be caught on video and shared with the world.  It’s not a comfortable way to live, but if it helps even one person learn a lesson as to respect (self or otherwise), then maybe it’s not such a bad thing. 

            I know my view is tainted, both by law school and a decade and a half of practicing law.  To even be admitted to the legal bar, I had to fill out an unbelievably long and thorough application – and you can be sure that if a video like that of me had been floating around, I would not have the ability to add “Esq.” after my name.  Maybe I want others held to that standard.  If we no longer, as a community, possess the ability to control ourselves, maybe, just maybe it is okay for that control to be applied externally, through YouTube or Facebook or wherever else people post videos like this one. 

            I hate to think that someone’s entire career will be destroyed by a single act of bad judgment.  And I hope that isn’t the case.  But I can’t fault the doctor’s current employer for protecting itself, and for protecting its patients.  Were I representing the hospital, I would have advised them to do exactly what they did.  An ugly outcome, a bitter pill for sure, but no worse than an episode of drunken rage aimed at a stranger and caught on video.