Thursday, October 30, 2014

Training

All-day training session today. It was more fun than work. By the end, I was surprised to find myself slipping back into old habits I thought I had left behind long ago. There were team exercises throughout the day. I took on the role of group coach, tasked with keeping us on track and redirecting when appropriate.

The last group activity was a problem-solving exercise. At first I was actively participating, but after a while I got tired of having to loudly interrupt and be loudly interrupted whenever I wanted to say anything. The group was six people, including one other woman (who didn't say much during this) and all software developers except me. Nobody was being rude, just communicating in the way they were used to. A way that was very familiar to me from my engineering days. Now I have the social skills to speak up and hold my own in a group like that. But by the end of the day I felt depleted and I didn't have it in me to make that effort anymore. So I just sat back and let the guys take over.

That hasn't happened to me in a long time. I thought it was because of my aforementioned development of social skills and confidence. But I realize now that the problem wasn't that I couldn't handle it, it's that I don't like it. It's tiring to have to constantly fight to be heard. One thing I value about being a lawyer is that I have automatic credibility.  People assume that I have something of value to say. They can bloviate and bluster all they want, but in the end they need to listen to me. And if I speak quietly, they lean in to hear me.

On the bus again

I have been on this bus for half an hour and I'm a mile and a half from home.

So now is a good time for us to get reacquainted. I haven't been blogging much because I'm increasingly reluctant to put lots of identifiable details here. I guess I don't like the idea of having years' worth of my life be so easily accessible. Who knows what they'll dig up about me at my Senate confirmation hearing.

Plus, now that my Biglaw angst is gone, life is pretty ordinary. Then again, I just read something saying that people should focus more on chronicling their everyday lives and less on special occasions. They did a study showing that when people looked back, they got a lot of pleasure out of reading journals about mundane parts of their lives. When they looked at journals and photos describing major events like weddings, they didn't feel the same sense of curiosity and surprise because they had already spent so much time thinking about and rehashing those events.

So here is my chronicling of the everyday, set to the background of my commute.

There's a nun who sings pop songs operatically in the Harvard T station. She always has her eyes closed. She may be blind. I have to admit, I don't appreciate her singing. But she's better than the guy who plays the one-stringed Chinese instrument that sounds like a cat yowling.

That's all for now. Maybe more on my way home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bus blogging

Started my day with checking my work email at 6:30 am, on my way home around 11 pm. It's like old times. I even ran into a partner at my ex-firm in between.

I had a work event which was fun, but lasted forever. I got to get my picture taken with the governor.

I'm reading "Marriage, a History" by Stephanie Coontz. It's interesting, but academic. Lots of big words. So I'm doing some bus tunnel blogging to stay awake.

I also read "The Charisma Myth" by Olivia Cabane Fox recently. It was much better, and had a smaller fluff to substance ratio, than I expected. She said that charisma is the ability to convey power, presence, and warmth, and that it can be cultivated but can't be faked.

And the "Archie: the Married Life" books (as in Archie comics) which are amazing. Two alternate storylines, one where he marries Betty, the other Veronica. Both timelines dark and filled with woe. And there's a suggestion that they are actually parallel universes, bridged by scientist Dilton Doiley.

I have a Kindle with ads and Amazon is always suggesting I buy terrible romance novels. Today it was "Almost Like Love." Tagline: "Kate's boss never gave her a second glance until he saw her out dancing the night after he fired her."

Now I'm on the bus. It only took twenty minutes of waiting in the bus tunnel.

Our car is filled with water. You can hear it sloshing around and there's a warning message saying it needs service urgently. The shop said it would cost several thousand dollars to fix. This is a second car that we don't strictly need, since I love taking the bus. So we are contemplating donating the car and joining Zipcar.

Our babysitter got a new job that involves a lot of travel, so she suggested we find someone else.

And our bathroom has a worsening mildew problem.

Nothing major. I guess things were going too smoothly and the gears of our lives had to start slipping a little.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

5K

Bill ran his first 5K today! It was a fun run, so he didn't get an official time, but I think he came in around 35 minutes. Not bad considering he walked about a third of it.

He just decided two weeks ago that he was going to do the race, which was sponsored by the school PTO. I was skeptical, given that he has never shown any athletic inclination before. But I told him that if he was serious about it, I'd help him train for it.

For the first week, at least, he was serious about it. We ran together every night after dinner. The first two nights, Bill ran over a mile easily. He sprinted ahead and only took breaks to wait for me at every corner. 

I started taking him to the track, so he could run as fast as he wanted without me slowing him down. For the first mile, we were like the tortoise and the hare. He would sprint half the lap, walk the other half, and still finish ahead of me. After that he'd get tired and I could keep up with him. But he loved it. After our runs, we stretched and did pushups and situps together, taking turns holding each other's feet.

The second week his enthusiasm flagged a bit, and he opted to skip some workouts. Still, he was a good sport when his crazy mom woke him up one morning at 5:30 for our longest pre-race run. I took him to a local trail by the water, my favorite running spot. Unfortunately, I forgot that since the last time I was there for an early morning run, summer had ended. It was dark and cold. We could see about five feet in front of our faces. We had planned to run three miles, but he gave up after two. The sun had just risen when we headed back to the car. I made it up to him by taking him for a post-workout donut.

I was proud of him for following through and running the race. And it was fun having a workout buddy, whether or not it continues.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Movie night

Tonight was my first-ever attempt at family movie night. I wouldn't call it a disaster, but it wasn't a success.

We had technical difficulties: the "Wreck-It Ralph" DVD from the library kept breaking, and I had to update my Amazon app before I could rent the movie from Amazon, all of which resulted in the start of the movie being pushed back until after dinner.

I had told Bill it wouldn't be scary, but I didn't do my research. I should have known that every Disney movie has a gratuitously terrifying moment. Bill freaked out, hyperventilated and cried. He managed to watch the rest of the movie, but whimpered through a lot of it and asked me to stay in his room and keep the lights on at bedtime. Little brother Ted took the scary parts in stride, but fixated on one sad part where one character was mean to another and made her cry.

Both kids went to bed late due to the late start, and since JW was out I had to put them to bed one at a time. I read a funny book to Bill at bedtime and tried to keep his mind off the scary movie scene. I sat in his room after singing to him, only to hear Ted crying. This turned out not to be movie-related. He had poked himself in the eye. He insisted on extra snuggles, and moved over so I could lie down next to him with his face as close to mine as possible. Meanwhile, I kept an ear out for when Bill started crying.

At 9:30 I finally extricated myself from both kids' rooms. Crossing my fingers that nobody wakes up in the night from residual movie trauma. I will not be planning another movie night for a while.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Evidence that Bill is growing up

He wants a glass instead of a plastic cup.

He wants me to drop him off about a block away from the school entrance, and doesn't want a hug. After school he runs at me with a big hug, but no other kids are around.

When we get home, he wants me to give him the key so he can open the door.

He says things "suck." (I told him this is inappropriate to say around grown-ups, but it's okay to say with your friends. I have no idea whether this is a good message, but I think it's realistic.)

When we're out and he sees a friend, he immediately runs off with the friend.

He and his friends punch each other for fun.

He says "OMG."

He introduces me to new music, increasing my understanding of pop culture references. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pie

Ted went on an apple-picking field trip this week. He brought home six huge apples. Every day, several times a day, he asked me if we could make pie. "Today, Mommy? Can we make pie today?" "Not today. This weekend."

Today we spent half the day making pie. He woke up asking for pie. After breakfast, we made the dough and put in the fridge to rest. When we got back from the playground, we peeled and sliced the apples. He squeezed a lime over them and tried to mix them with a whisk. After lunch, he rolled out the dough under my supervision. Before naptime, the pie went in the oven, and after naptime he ran down to the kitchen to look at it. "It's beautiful," he sighed. Daddy said, "No, that's ground beef. The pie is over there." He looked, and was equally pleased. "It's a great pie!"

Pie privileges almost got taken away when the game of Mad Scientist Detectives went awry and he hit the neighbor girl. But he repented, and went back to her house to apologize, and ate a good dinner, and finally got his pie. With the pumpkin ice cream that we had bought earlier at Trader Joe's.

If you have ever parented a three-year old, you already know what happened next, so I don't have to tell you that he ate all the ice cream and about two bites of pie.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MILP Roundup #364

The weekly Mothers In the Legal Profession Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis at the Butterflyfish, Grace, BJJ, Law, and Living, Mommy and the Sin City, Magic Cookie, The Reluctant Grownup, and Perspectives of a Hard Boiled Egg blogs.

This edition of the Roundup covers posts from September 8-September 14.

  • Mommy and the Sin City got a ruling in her favor and entered her third trimester. 
  • Lag Liv is shoe shopping and dancing. (Unwanted commentary: "It's not good when you move like that Mommy.") 
  • Kderoll's title says it all: "surfacing from the depths of the first trimester" with baby #3.
  • The Queen of Hats wishes more people would just say they care, instead of asking intrusive questions.
  • Alice's son drew a family portrait: "In this picture you are mad, I am sad, and Noah is confused." (Don't worry, Alice. Bill recently told me I have three moods: happy, disappointed, and grouchy.)
  • In the Full of the Dickens household, the first day of school brings excitement and fear of wedgies. 
  • Izzie is adjusting to a new school year too. 
  • Perfect Yellow Yolk is having a rough transition to preschool.
  • The Reluctant Grownup has a packed kid schedule and teething issues.
  • BJJ, Law, and Living started her first post-JD job.
  • Daisy, JD quit Twitter and Facebook.
  • Here at Magic Cookie, I'm still rehashing my biglaw days.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Getting over biglaw

I've been at the new job for a year now. Not sure when it will cease to be "the new job," but that's still how I think of it.

And I still think about the old job, not constantly like I used to, but more than I expected to after a year.

I had my performance review today and afterwards, I was thinking what a relief it was that at this job, I always feel like I am good enough. What I can do, and what I can give, is good enough. Better. I get a hell of a lot accomplished even with the sick kid days and the snow days and the bring-my-kid-to-work during summer vacation days. And I probably make mistakes sometimes, but meh, we just handle it and move on.

This, of course, triggered thoughts of my time in biglaw. Because I never felt good enough there. No matter how glowing my performance review, I could always be billing more, could always be more available. There were always five things I was supposed to be doing at that very moment, and every screwup was a crisis, no matter how minor. At my exit interview, I told the managing partner that in a firm full of high-anxiety Type As, they should lay off the messaging that everything you do absolutely must be perfect, and a typo in an email was a huge problem, and for first-years especially, since you don't know anything about the law yet, perfection was the only way you could be useful to the firm. I don't know if he understood what I was talking about.

I also started thinking, as I have thought many times before, about boundaries. Back at the firm, everyone kept telling me I needed to set boundaries, and I tried, but it didn't work. And for a long time I blamed myself, for not being effective enough at setting boundaries. Today, for the first time, I think I finally realized that it wasn't my fault.

Because, imagine you're a teenage girl, and you're dating a guy you really like, but he wants to be more physical than you're comfortable with. (Unexpected direction, but go with me here.) And he assures you that he's totally okay with the limits you set, and he would never try to force you to do anything you didn't want to do. But every day, even several times a day, he keeps asking you to do more. And it seems like everybody around you is doing it. You're the only one who wants to be different. And he won't let up, he keeps asking and wheedling and telling you he really needs this and reminding you that everybody else does it. So you probably go a little farther than you would like, because it's just wearing you down to keep saying no, no, no. And you probably get more and more unhappy and conflicted, even though you believe he's sincere when he reassures you that it's your choice and he'll still like you.

That's how it felt to me. And when I think of it that way, it seems a lot more clearcut. If that's not an abusive relationship, then I think we can at least all agree that that dude sucks.

On a more systemic level, I wonder if one reason women leave biglaw at higher rates than men is that, even when they set firm boundaries, their boundaries are being ignored. If partners and senior associates are more likely to push that girl where she's reluctant to go, and farther than they would push a guy.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Summer recap

I got tired of "what I did this weekend" posts, yet still wanted to chronicle what we did with our free time, so here's my recap of our summer.

Weekend #1: Birthday party at the cousin's house; Lego Movie; lots of hanging around the house.

In between: First sleepover with Bill's BFF, at our house. The next day we let him play hooky from camp for a day and BFF's mom took them to the beach.

Weekend #2: Visit to my family. We went to a library festival one day (where the kids saw a dog show and Bill discovered the Peyo Smurfs graphic novels) and an aquarium and fish hatchery the next. It was adorable to watch my nephew and Ted together. Baby R followed Ted around and copied everything he did, and Ted kept hugging him and giving him toys. I hoped they would become as close as Bill and my niece, who have the same year-plus age difference, but I thought it would take another year or two.

In between: Ted got sick. Came home on Tuesday with pinkeye and mild fever, and got progressively worse but was still in a good mood between treatments. One day we went to the playground, another day to the Museum of Science. Played a lot of Octonauts.

Weekend #3: Stayed home. Saturday we went on a farm outing, Sunday to the ER.

In between: Ted still sick. I got sick. Ted got potty trained.

Weekend #4: I was sick Saturday and JW took the kids to the Museum of Science. Sunday my parents came and we all went for a walk at the local nature preserve.

In between: Anniversary getaway! Bill had the week off and got to hang out with the grandparents at home.

Weekend #5: Returned from Vermont Saturday. Grandparents left Sunday, and we had dinner at a friend's house. I baked Fiori di Sicilia ricotta cookies and brown butter rice krispy treats. Bill saw a healthy cooking segment on TV and, inspired, made yogurt pops with fruit that he cut up himself using a real knife.

In between: Bill went to a week-long art camp.

Weekend #6: Castle Island.

In between: Bill had the week off and I scrambled to find things for him to do, which included sponging off friends and taking him to work with me. (His imitation of me at work involved me typing, talking on the phone, and scribbling on a piece of paper all at once.)

Weekend #7: Labor Day!