Friday, August 28, 2009

In Defense of Lawyers

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
William Shakespeare, Henry VI, (Act IV. Scene II.)

So we have a bad reputation. We've heard the jokes, we've seen the shameless DUI defense billboards, we watched as OJ was found not guilty, and we've personally witnessed various other miscarriages of justice orchestrated at our hands. We get it. We deserve it. We're sorry.

Recently, however, I have been reminded why I am more than willing to take up the flag for lawyers. I like lawyers. Lawyers, as it turns out, are some of my favorite people. (That's not to say I don't have favorite people who aren't lawyers, of course . . .) As a general matter, we're funny. We are. You can't endure the circus that is law school, complete with the socratic method, existing and still applicable legal principles from the time of the covered wagon, and the mania that is class rank and law review, without at least a modicum of humor. Not to mention what you have to do to get through the billable hour and, in the case of women, the still testosterone laden practice, and the deadlines . . .oh the deadlines. I recently attended a small all-women, all-attorney party where the banter was faster than Usain Bolt, and (she says proudly) baser than any bachelor party. Love those lady lawyers. . .

And we're not just a funny bunch. Several weeks ago someone dear to me was in need of an attorney--and for something serious, and not of their own making. I wrote a few e-mails, made a few calls, and within minutes had helpful responses from, if you can imagine, several busy lawyers. So, you see, we're useful. Sure, kind of like flashlight useful or baking powder useful--you never think twice about us, but if you need us, you really need us--but useful nonetheless.

Then, of course, there's my writing partner Laura, without whom this blog, The Pecking Order, Done Fell Out, my razor thin margin of sanity, my love for Chico chai would not exist - and what kind of life would that be?

So as I sit looking into the future, after 18 months of voluntary unemployment, and see the practice of law on the very near horizon, all I can say is, put down the Shakespeare and bring on the jokes. I promise we'll laugh.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


If you scroll to the top of this page you're reading, you'll see the title and description of our blog. See that part that reads, "unrelated thoughts on . . . well . . . unrelated topics?" That's where this post is headed. I got nothing. My kid had the pukes this week (yup, woke me up at 5 a.m. to tell me he didn't feel good, then puked the previous night's spaghetti all over my feet . . . twice. I gotta learn to move) and school has started and work is nutty and we're writing like crazy on the new book and, basically, my creativity is all tapped out. Oh yea . . . and I haven't had a drink all week! What I'm trying to say, in a terribly verbose, round-about way, is that this post has no rhyme or reason, no structure, no coherent narrative. It's more like . . . say . . .well, the aforementioned spaghetti - I'm just going to spew my thoughts all over the page.

So, my gynecologist is really cute (told you I'd spew - no segue, no transition, just bam! Random thought). No, that's not an apt description. He's burn-your-retinas hot. So hot, in fact, that this week, when he talked to me for over 20 minutes about healthcare reform (of all things) after my annual exam, I batted my eyes and tossed my head and asked questions, not even caring that I was still in that dusty rose paper open-backed crop top with nothing but a glorified paper towel over my nether regions and some poor woman was probably waiting in another exam room to hear her baby's heartbeat. Classy.

Know what's not classy? Telling me about your ENTIRE DAY in one long Facebook status update. Do I want to know that you opened your front door and a goat was standing on your porch? Absolutely. Do I want you to quote some (a) obscure or (b) naughty or (c) nostalgic song lyric and wait for others to quote additional lines in their comments? Might be entertaining. Is the occasional one sentence update about your hot gynecologist interesting? Usually. But please do not do this: Had fried eel for lunch today, then fell asleep at my desk. After work went to the store. Preparation H was on sale so I bought three tubes. Then Hector and I got in the spa and watched the stars. My favorite was the big dipper. We just finished eating ice-cream sundaes and now I'm going to brush my teeth, use the Preparation H, and go to bed. Stop. Just. Stop.

And now, I will heed my own advice and put this post out of its misery. But first, I have to share one more thing . . . when I'm blogging, the tab at the top of the page says "Blogger." And every time I read it, my internal dialogue goes like this: "Blogger? I hardly know her." (I do the same thing with Twitter. Yep, just did it again.)

So now you know. I have a crush on my gynecologist, I'm not interested in the minutiae of your life, and my humor is base and juvenile. Pretty sure I'm about 12 years old. Thanks for still being my friend. I promise to write something more interesting next time . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can't (Probably Shouldn't) Touch This

So I'm of the age where, at least once a day, the passage of time is at the forefront of my mind. Whether its a new laugh line or the desire for neck surgery or the fact that I am now the coach and not the player, its there. Often. I'm also of the age where if I mention this to any number of my loved ones, they roll their eyes, call me a baby, and say "just you wait".

Today I am staking official claim on feeling old. I don't care if I am still occasionally carded when buying wine or that I wander into Bebe every now and then, which really should never be done by anyone larger than Twiggy (see, not really a spring chicken with that reference). Why, you ask. Because I've decided, after research and consideration, to opt out of fashion this season and I urge you women who also lived through the 80s to do the same.

I sat below the dryer at my salon, and, yes, its a salon, complete with tattooed assistants and uber-hip stylists in leather and 6 inch heels, although, in the interest of candor, I haven't changed my hair style in any meaningful way (save a mishap in Paris last year that cost 300 Euro [do you know the exchange rate!?] and a large measure of self-confidence) for over a decade. I was reading Elle's 20 must have fall fashion items and all I have to say is, in the spirit of Joan Rivers (just keeping the vintage consistent), can we talk? Of particular concern is the following:

Man Trousers: Okay, that's not exactly what the folks at Elle were calling them, but its close and it doesn't really matter, because what ever you call them is a mere euphemism for high-waisted, pleated slacks. PLEATED slacks, people! Did we not finally decide in the early 90s that, to our collective horror, a front pleat is never, ever our friend.
MC Hammer Pants: I'm sure there's a revamped name that taps into the collective conscious of the kids too young to remember "Can't Touch This", but they will always be MC Hammer pants to me. Not only is all that material a little less than comfortable to walk in, I'm not sure its ever a good idea to leave that much to the imagination in that particular region, if you know what I mean.
Neon: I think we called it fluorescent in the 80s, when I was 13 and it was okay to wear the particular shade of pink that sears the corneas. Fluorescent, neon, whatever you want to call it, its like a fling with the guy from the coffee shop--fun while it lasted, but it should never be revisited.
Shoulder Pads: Please refer to MC Hammer Pants comments and incorporate by reference comment from Man Trousers re: never being our friend.
And finally, my personal favorite:
Leather Shorts: And not just leather shorts, but high waisted leather shorts. There are so many things to say about leather shorts that if I have to spell them out, you might as well just buy a pair and find out yourself.

I emerged from the dryer and closed the Elle magazine, taking up silent arms against the fashion powers that be who are trying to bring back the mishaps that litter my old photo albums. And when I returned to my stylist's chair and she asked if I wanted something different, I looked down at my boot cut jeans and muted t-shirt, looked up proudly and said, no, don't touch it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Art in the Modern Age (Or, Does This Mean Pale Ale is the New Absinthe?)

When my family and I went to Paris last summer with Kris and her son, we stayed in the Montmartre. (And by the by, for anyone who thinks that sentence sounds snobby, please know that since that fabulous trip, we have been eating ramen and vacationing in Oroville while we pay off the credit card bill…). Our metro stop “sortie” funneled us past the Moulin Rouge, and the Place du Tertre was only a short, steep, smoke-filled walk from our apartment (about the equivalent of 6-8 blocks, or as I measured it, two crepe stands four boulangeries, one cheese shop, and about 15 cafes . . . sigh). Even though the area is now somewhat touristy and commercialized, the mention of “Montmarte” still conjures images of anbsinthe-addled artists communing to share vision and talent and wax quixotic on all things bohemian, of men like van Gogh, Matisse, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec living the artist’s life, of Picasso setting up his easel in the Place du Tertre. We’ve all seen Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s poster for the famous Montmartre cabaret, Le Chat Noir (yes, you know it, it’s orange and yellow with a large “artsy” black cat, can be found on postcards, canvas bags, and adorning the wall of at least one of your college friends, most likely the one majoring in theatre or dance), and maybe some of us (me) have wished we were part of the artistic community it’s come to represent.

Well, let me tell you . . . we are. The ideals the Montmartre have come to represent—a marketplace for creativity, the exchange of “big ideas,” a haven where emerging artists can rub shoulders with those who have paved the way—are alive and thriving and can be found . . . on Facebook. Artistic endeavors can feel lonely, especially in our modern world, where art is often relegated to hobby status—to something we fit in after work and the kids’ soccer practice and walking the dog and cleaning our toilets (my life is glamorous, no?). It’s not our “real job,” so we don’t bring it up in conversation, hesitate to ask for input from others, and often pursue it quietly and alone. But Facebook has changed that. In the past year, I’ve discovered many of my friends—not only those I’ve just found, but also those I know well—are artists. They are talented photographers, children's authors, video-game designers, choreographers, purveyors of cupcake creations, actors, models, tutu-makers, and rock stars. We may not live in the same place, but we can engage and innovate and inspire one another simply by putting our work out there. Nothing rips me from the banality of daily life and gets me back to the manuscript faster than reading about a friend starting a fashion/music/lifestyle company, or another friend touring with his band. So, for all its problems (no, I don’t care that you just bought a cow for your farm or that your fairy name is Princess fussypants), Facebook serves an important (I would argue necessary) purpose. Sure, it can be a time-suck, a voyeuristic escape, a narcissistic soapbox—but it can also be an artistic enclave without geographic constraint. To all the artists . . . let your light shine! Please, comment, and let us know about your creative endeavor.