Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So You Wanna Stress Therapy Dog?

Yale law school now has a therapy dog available to students. A stress therapy dog. I guess it goes something like this – you take an absurdly difficult Torts exam (yes, for you fortunate non-lawyers, there’s a subject called Torts, and it isn’t remotely like tortes), after which you head over to the-well I’m not sure where they keep the therapy dog . . . wherever you must go to sign out Fido the terrier. (No, wait. This is law school. The poor pooch will have some dorky lawyer-y name like Habeas or Res Ipsa. And while I’m at it, a terrier? Really? Seems a bit of a yippy breed to be remotely relaxing, but I digress.) So you check out Habeas, take him home and curl around him in a fetal position. Problem solved? I don’t think so. And I’m not maligning stress therapy dogs. Or therapy. Or dogs. I’ve had plenty of both over the years and I’m a kinder, gentler Kris (or perhaps just a marginally less crazy Kris) for it. But I guess it’s the notion that the profession (as early as the poor budding baby lawyers in law school) is so inherently stressful that we need the likes of a therapy dog to get us through our days. It seems like a pretty clear case of treating the symptom rather than the condition. But how do you treat such an entrenched condition, with its white shoes and top tiers and all that? I don’t know. And in my defense (one can take the girl out of the law firm, but . . .) this blog only promises "tenuously related insights into the legal profession", not answers.

What I do know is that law firm culture, unless it experiences a significant shift, will continue to suck the souls from and ravage the bodies of those ambitious yet naive enough to pursue this path. It’s why David Kazzie’s Xtra Normal Video “So You Wanna Go To Law School” was not only a web sensation, but also reposted on Facebook by every lawyer I know. It’s why my former firm lost four brilliant women in a matter of two months, and shortly thereafter, every man who wanted to see his children, or perhaps just do some pleasure reading. It's why every third lawyer you know dreams of writing a bestseller and jettisoning the whole wretched practice, present company included. And yes, there is personal choice and responsibility, and sure, there are manageable firms and more mellow jobs, and fine, this post might be infused with a tad bit of hyperbole, but doesn’t the stress therapy terrier say it all?

Friday, March 25, 2011

It Was The Best Of Times

It's Friday, and it's been raining for 40 days and nights (not the proverbial 40 days and nights, people, I'm talking true blue rain) and I haven't had a glass of wine all week and I'm out of Taco Bell sauce (again) and one kid said the "F" word and the other brought home an "F" and I busted out nearly 6,000 words over the past 72 hours. So, yea, I'm a little punchy. Maybe that's why today's The Book or Bust post hit me so hard. The blogger sent the first 50 pages of her manuscript to a requesting agent yesterday. Sigh. Oh how I remember those days. Full of waiting and hoping and casting the movie and spending the advance. We wish her the best of luck - shiny pennies found on street corners, four-leaf clovers, and the feet of rabbits. And we also encourage her, and other writers in her position, to cherish this time, as nerve-wracking as it may be. Because it is a rich, rich time. A time measured in units of possibility.

For us, the age of querying agents and readying manuscripts for editors and crossing our fingers (and toes and legs and eyes and any other body part capable of crossing) began (believe it or not!) nearly 7 years ago. And, for The Pecking Order, it has come to an end. We are now entering a new era with respect to that book, one equally rich, equally teeming with potential. So stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the next few days. Long live The Pecking Order!

Oh, and p.s., to all you naysayers: I really didn't drink wine for a week. Not since St. Patrick's Day. Which I spent with Kris. I won't go into the sordid details, but her first words to me the next morning, via text no less (because neither of us could make the short walk to the other end of her house), were, "Dude. You with a tolerance is a bad bad thing." Cheers my friends:)

The Book or Bust: We're Off To See The Wizard#links

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All the Ladies in the House!

I love women. Not in the Sapphic sense (though there was a rockin’ mom at school pick-up last week . . . I’m talking ink, pixie-cut, yoga body . . .), but in the divine secrets/traveling pants/ride shotgun with Thelma sort of way. In the way girlfriends can sense a shift in each other’s moods over the span of hundreds of miles. In the way a night out with the ladies can act as an intravenous drip for the soul. In the way even the most gut-wrenching laments inevitably evolve into gut-busting laughter in the presence of certain women. Sisters, you know what I’m talking about. (And guys, in case you’re wondering, yep . . . we talk about everything. It’s a good thing. A necessary thing. Get over it.)

For some reason, though, women can be the harshest critics of one another. Who among us hasn’t judged or been judged by body type or clothing style or parenting choices? (My kid used a pacifier until he was 5, so I've received my fair share of snarky comments.) If you work outside the home, you’re likely familiar with that particular breed of professional woman, more senior to you, who views your ascent up the ladder as a threat and is more likely to step on your fingers than lend a hand and hoist you up a rung or two. It used to baffle me, this lack of gender solidarity, but I think I’ve figured it out. I guess maybe it boils down to a feeling, however misguided, that her success/happiness/ability to eat 17 bowls of ice cream without gaining an ounce somehow negatively affects my ability to do the same.

But that’s just crazy-talk. What if Kris—Kris my writing partner, my kindred spirit, the doppelganger of my very heart—what if she had refused to pass my resume on to the rest of the firm’s hiring committee because she didn’t want the competition? We’d have missed out on not only a deep friendship and rare creative partnership, but also on the little things that make life rich--late-night wine-fests in the office and Mah Jongg tournaments and repeated viewings of the O.C. (Seth Cohen, I still love you; Coop, I wish you’d died earlier; Oliver, I’ve erased you from my memory).

I guess what I’m saying is, other women gettin’ theirs doesn’t preclude you from gettin’ yours. In fact, I’d argue it serves as inspiration, a light to guide you on your own path. Case in point: the go fug girls, hilarious purveyors of my favorite website, have co-authored a novel, Spoiled, coming out in hardcover on June 1. The two-worlds colliding storyline appeals to every fiber of my young-adult-chick-lit-Pretty-in-Pink-loving being. (And, really, with characters named Molly Dix and Brooke Berlin, how can you go wrong?) But, aside from the book itself, I dig that two women have realized a dream. If they can make it happen, we can, too. And so can you. And you. And all of you. I hope they sell a gazillion copies. Love and luck to them . . . and to all my gurls.