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Posts Tagged ‘work’

Wow.

Work has slowed down in the past few weeks, as a discovery deadline has passed, and major motions have been filed.  I knew the slow down was coming, and quite frankly, I have been very grateful.

Beloved and I plan to go to New York City over the long weekend, and I’m taking Tuesday off as well.  I’ve been using my slower time to get back into the good graces of a doc review team that I am on, but have neglected due to the insanity on my “main case,” and to clean up a few other odds and ends that have been put off by the insanity.  Today, while not stressful, was a solid work day.

As a result, I didn’t have or take the time to check one of my usual bookmarks.

Holy shit!  You have to click on “older” posts jsut to get through today’s layoffs.  Today’s!!  Layoffs!!

This firm-wide letter left me feeling especially shaky.  I felt like it was so full of universal doom and gloom, that it was speaking directly to me!  “Zuska!  We may not be your firm, but just wait!  Next month, you will be wondering where your kids’ food will come from!!  Heh heh heh!!”

There are many, many things that I can ground myself with, to steady my breathing and stop the shaking.  The relative health of my firm (because is anyone all the way healthy?), my practice group ….  but I know that before today’s massacre (I haven’t looked close enough at today’s data), it was my seniority-year that was being hardest hit in most firms.

See what it takes for me to come out of the blogging-woodwork?  Despair.  Ruination.

What would I ever do???

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The Scene:  Harried working mom on her way home after a 12+ hour day, about an hour longer than she planned with.  The mom is wrought with guilt, feeling the pressure of months of a heavy work load.  She is concerned that her family is starting to get sick of it.  At the same time, said Mom is kinda tickled over her new iPhone, and is fussing with it in the backseat of the taxicab when she receives a text from her daughter:

E:  When are you coming home?

M:  I should be there by 7:30. Why?

E:  I just wanted to know.

M: Are you mad?

E:  No.

M:  Sorry that I’m running late.  It was a busy day.

E:  It’s okay.

M:  Are you sure?

E:  MOM!  I’m watching Heroes!  Stop texting me!

M:  So, here I am, feeling guilty that you’re missing me because I’m working too much, and in reality, you just want me to stay gone long enough for you to finish your television show?

E:  That about sums it up.  Now can you stop texting me?

Harumph.

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Beloved is in graduate school.  He attends a pretty cool low-residency program in Vermont specializing in children’s literature.  He’s doing really well, and is accomplishing VERY long-standing goals.  However, we (you may have noticed) do not live in Vermont.

Because it is low-residency, he only has to attend school twice a year, for 10 days.  January and July.

Last January, I was such a baby-lawyer, I could barely open my eyes.  I was a little busy, and it made me nervous when he was gone.  What if something comes up?  What if I get a new assignment?  But it was fine, and I think I left at 4:30 every day.

Last July – the girls were in the Middle of the Country with the Ex, and Beloved and I had already started our moving process.  There were no difficulties.

This January – total different picture.

I’m fully engaged in a case that is culminating this month in every way.  Discovery is closing, summary judgment is being filed, experts are being hired, court hearings are happening.  It’s insane.  INSANE.  And I’m heavily involved in every aspect of it.

I was already nervous – that getting out of work at a reasonable hour was going to be difficult.  Of all months, this is the one where deadlines happen.  I was nervous.

Then, ha ha!  What made me think I knew what nervous was?

It looks like I have the great honor of traveling to a very different part of the country to tend to one of the many aspects of the case that is my Life, even though it’s a bit beyond my seniority level.  It just so happens to be during Beloved’s absence (and over days that are (a) a national holiday, and (b) inauguration day.  Feh.)

At first, it looked like it was just one day, and it was a day that was a school holiday, so I knew that the kids would be fine with friends.  Then it ended up two days, and two long days – long enough that once you add in travel, it may affect 4 days.  Yikes.  Beloved’s only gone for 10 days — I’m having issues for HALF of them?  Unbelievable.

I was going to post about how my decision to make my community one of my many priorities with my time becomes oh-so-valuable in times of need.  I have friends that I can ask for a hand – friends who I’ve given a hand to in the past, and who know that I’m an active and engaged member of our community.

But now, it seems like my needs are too big, and instead, I’m turning to family.  I’ve begged my mother to (re)arrange her work schedule so she can come while I’m gone.

E is mad at me – she overheard me talking to a friend who is my back-up plan, and insists that I hadn’t told her the whole story about next week before telling the friend.  She is mad about the options I have considered for her while I’m gone.  Some friends are out of favor, and others are just plain old “annoying.”  Humorously, she thinks she should be left home alone.

It was hard not to laugh at that one.

All in all, the stress levels are high.  I keep thinking about how, in the past, I’ve looked forward to certain things – or dreaded them – and then they happen.  And before I know it, it’s behind me.

I keep telling myself … it will be January 22nd before I know it.  Beloved will be home, and this difficult time will have passed.  i have a lot of friends.  I am very lucky.  The girls are well-loved, and people are happy to be supportive.  We live in an awesome community, where people are nearby and hyper-willing.

It will be okay.

And I will miss my Beloved.

And I am sad that I should be more supportive, and excited with him about his exciting time, and instead, I’m kinda on the verge of tears over my own stress and fears.  He gives so much, and deserves better.

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[This post has been sitting in draft-form since mid-December … largely because of the things explained here – I was too busy to finish it.  I find myself coming back to continue the theme, but realized I hadn’t followed through on starting the theme.]

I’ve read on several blogs that us lawyer moms are too close-to-the-chest with the reality of our work-life balance issues.  I have always hesitated to say much in that regard because my job is important to me, and I’m not willing to have a bitch-fest in a public forum.  Not that I’ve had much to bitch about, really, for the most part.  I also don’t think “oh, things are going so well!  I come home at 5:30 every day!” sounds all that genuine.  Even though for almost my entire first year, it was true.

Now, however, I am willing to share my recent challenges.  I am challenged because the case I am working on is in the throes of a discovery deadline.  I am challenged because this is what I went to school to do.  It is no fault of my firm or the partners and senior associates that I am working with that the opposing party filed a motion to compel that required our response the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Everybody on my team (a small one) is working as hard as I am – likely harder.  The senior people are certainly juggling more cases than I am, and they are adding in a ton of travel on top of the things we’re doing together that have me running ragged.

The past few weeks (or so) have been hectic, chaotic, harried, stressful and generally insane.  I feel like the first year of easy-breezy first year associate life came to an abrupt end somewhere in October.  Or so.  Or maybe before – I’m not really sure, because it’s all a blur.  

A big reason for the all-out chaos, however, is because I refuse to put certain things aside.  E was in a play during this madness, and I prioritized that.  Not only attending the play (all 4 performances), but fulfilling my commitments and responsibilities  to pitch in to the parent-run event.  I was completely unwilling to let her – or my community – down.  I informed the partner and the associate that I work with early in the week, and assured them that I was willing to work late nights (at home, after the play) and early mornings in order to make up for the lost time.  

In retrospect, I could have worked during the play, late nights, and early mornings, and done a better job.  But I don’t for a second regret that I kept that time sacred.  

I have been exhausted.  Before the holidays, I had been functioning on very little sleep during the weeks.  I was setting my alarm for 5 and 6 a.m. on the weekends, and parking myself and my research at our dining room table for the entire day.  Or at least until the latest possible moment before stopping to cook dinner for dinner guests, or to dress for a holiday party.  

During the holidays, despite making very early announcements that I planned to take the week of Christmas off (because my sister was coming to town), I ended up working almost every day that wasn’t a real “holiday.”  The stress levels were high, and there was a lot going on.  

So I guess now I know what it really means to be a lawyer.  To juggle at a frantic pace, to see 7:30 or 8 p.m. as a perfectly reasonable dinner time for a family of four …  and a couple of times, to miss dinner time (as many times in the past month or two as I had in the entire last year).  And now, to top it all off, travel is starting to creep in as a possibility on a regular basis.  

It’s been tough.  But I knew that going in, and I enjoy having work that keeps me mentally engaged.  I also am more than aware of the fact that layoffs in law firms are becoming almost routine, and I’m grateful to have this job.  I do not think it’s irrational to work my ass off right now in exchange for a feeling of security and stability.  I hold onto the reality of peaks and valleys.  Once we hit our deadline on January 30th, I may find myself twiddling my thumbs.*

And, as always, I can’t really talk about my comfort level with the situation without talking about Beloved, and his daily presence.  The girls are not alone – they are not knocking around an empty house.  If that were the case, I would be much less comfortable.  But instead, they have help with their homework, they are helping him and learning to cook, they are working on projects.  

Anyway.  These are my balance struggles.  Which I should likely keep dumping onto this forum, rather than whining to everybody in my day-to-day life about how busy I am.

* which could also be read as: putting all my time and attention to the school play that I am PRODUCING.  What the heck?

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Shopping

I went shopping today.  My wardrobe has been feeling oh-so-tired, and I really needed some new things.

Unfortunately, so did the girls, so the bulk of the clothing budget went to them, and I was not left with much to toy with.

Also unfortunate – I can’t find the perfect clothes for Lawyer-Zuska.  I am trying to find the right style, the right look.  Hasn’t happened yet.

Well, I found some stuff I absolutely LOVED.  But I can’t afford it.

I feel stuck between a hip young thing and a stuffy old maid.  I can’t pull either off. I’m looking and looking for a place that I can find affordable classic pieces that mix and match and don’t make me feel like I’m pretending in some way to be someone that I am not (like Ann Taylor makes me feel).  I need Ann Taylor on Tweed.  Or something.  I wish I knew.

I ended up at Gap.  I bought a few pairs of trousers and a few sweaters, and felt like I took care of the immediate need, but that’s about it.

I shall keep searching for the perfect Zuska attire …

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The third coat.

I had to dash out of work at 5 p.m. today (not a normal leaving time, in my line of work), despite the fact that I’m dealing with a pretty tight work deadline.

I used to have to do this once a week during the kids’ school year, because my husband used to work late on Thursdays, and J needed to get to soccer practice, and both kids needed to eat, and you know, be parented.

But tonight, it was not a human being who was waiting for me – none were.  They’re all gone.  It was some crappy looking unevenly painted walls.  An exciting bedroom project gone horribly wrong, needing the next phase of repair.

And I was it.  Tagged.

Our bedroom in our new place came with mint-chip-ice-cream (the kind with nasty food dye in it) green walls.  When we first saw the place, we thought it was nice:  refreshing, even.  But as J was picking colors to cover the pepto bismol that exploded in the room that was to be hers, i got jealous.  I don’t want food-dye colored walls.  I want pretty walls.  The landlord said painting was fine with her, as long as we repainted any dark colors before we left.

So, the husband started looking at colors, and thought perhaps we would do what we started talking about back when we lived on the other ocean, and do a Moroccan color scheme.

How about red walls, a tan ceiling, and dark brown trim?

Sounded fine to me. But first I asked, “are you sure the room is big enough to carry off the dark colors?”  He said, “yes.”  And, b/c he went to art school, and knows his colors, I trusted him.

Should I say it here?  Or later on in the story?  The “trim” in this particular bedroom consists of 3 doorways (and, he insisted, the doors themselves), 3 large windows with intricate trim, a really nice moulding along the [entire!] celing, and – get this – a fireplace.  With a mantle.

Before he left for his 10-day trip out of state, we went to Home Depot and chose our colors.  They looked nice near each other.  I found me a Home Depot Paint Dude, and told him what we wanted.  He said, “you need a primer with reds.”

Now, if I’d done some research ahead of time – instead of believing the commercials where the Home Depot Paint Dudes are actually Home Depot Paint GODS – I would have known to say, “yes, I know we need a primer.  We would like a [dark grey] primer, or perhaps, a primer [the same color as the paint].  I would not have just nodded and smiled.  I would have done more than thought “how weird” when he handed me a can of PINK primer.

Light pink.

Let’s flash forward about 5 days.  The husband is gone.  The parents come to town.  My father paints E’s room.  “oh!  it’s so pretty!  It’s so easy!”  Then they move into J’s room – where my mother has a minor freak out that I’ve bought “day glo blue” paint.  She calls me at work, demanding some kind of answer from me.  Not sure what kind.  But then she called an hour later and said, “oh, I think it’s just the way it looked next to the pink, or else it just dried softer, it’s a nice color.”  thanks, mom.  Then they did the 1/2 bath, and it came out great, too (even though I did get a phone call saying “this yellow is really BRIGHT!” just to be predictably, at this point, followed up with a “oh, it softened, and now it’s really pretty!”)

Saturday brought a first stab at my room.  The reds!  The tan!  The brown!  Oh boy!  First some primer …. huh.  The red isn’t very red on top of that.  It’s more of a pink.  Let’s set that aside and do the tan ceiling (more of a sand color).  It was beautiful.  So soothing, and warm.  Very nice.

The pink primer was so horrible that we may as well have skipped the primer stage.  The red went on uneven and wimpy.  The first coat looked wretched.

but while it dried, my dad tried the trim.

Oh.  Ew.  Gross.

On top of the pink primer, the trim looked …red.  Just a different, bloodier red.  Or, perhaps cherries next to strawberries?  Or something else that just looks totally UGLY.

So we went to IKEA where I spent $700 on new furniture, and that made me feel a little better.

Then we went to Home Depot to figure out what the fuck was going on.

“The guy gave you PINK primer?” said the Paint God, who apparently took the day off when Beloved and I were there the week before.  “Oh, that’s bad.  He shouldn’t have done that.”  So we got a new primer, and went back on our way.

We tried it again – just the primer first, but it was the color of the paint.  Now the brownish-red looked more brown, but it was dark.  And it didn’t really look good. So in one small place, I went ahead with the glossier real paint.  It at least matched the color chip at this point.

But standing in that room, with the deep red walls and the pretty sand ceiling, the dark-dark-dark of the trim already felt oppressive.  And it was only covering a 1 foot piece of baseboard.

Shit.

If I were to cover the fireplace, 3 doors, 3 windows and the moulding with that, the room would close in like a dirt-packed cave.  The red would be lost.  The tan would be useless.

And in the meantime, the second coat of the nice, deep, red did not finish the job.  There still wasn’t total coverage.  And dad had to leave.

So they went back to Connecticut, leaving me in a room with pink trim in some places, white remaining in others, and dark dark brown in others, and strawberry mush, still in others, and walls that were streaky and uneven.

I was so upset.  I had spent so much money on re-buying and re-doing the paints to make this work.  I needed a second gallon of ceiling paint, and second gallon of wall paint, a new gallon of primer …. it just felt like I spent the whole weekend buying paint and paint accessories, watching my new bed fly out of my checking account with it all.

So I decided I was done.  Since Beloved picked the color for the trim, he could deal with it.  I had worked my ass off all weekend, and I was so stressed out.  I had spent every day all day walking up and down multiple stair cases carrying boxes and then scrubbing the new kitchen, and packing the girls’ current bedroom, and stressing over my parents, and spending money and more money and more money …. the bedroom mess was pushing me over the edge. I was doing my best to release it, to pass it on and let it go (unbeknownst to him, b/c he is not here, and has not called even ONE TIME.  Which is fine.  I’m fine with it.  Really.  He’s busy.)

But then it dawned on me that the Paint God (not the Paint Dude, who was wholly inadequate) and my father both said that we needed one week in between painting the walls with their third coat, and then putting tape on them to protect them from the trim-paint (which, as far as I’m concerned, and which Beloved does not know yet, will be the color of the ceiling.  It is a beautiful, soothing, complimentary color that will not shrink the room, and which we will not need to cover over when we leave – I can’t live with that dark brown suffocating me every time I walk in my room). Or else the tape will take the paint OFF.  Which would really piss me off.

Which meant I had to paint.  Because if I didn’t, and I left the whole thing for him when he got home, then he couldn’t paint until Saturday, at the earliest, and then the week wouldn’t be up until AFTER the movers, which would mean AFTER all our stuff was in our room, and the whole thing would become infinitely more complicated.

I had to tackle the bedroom demons, and apply the third coat.

And, since it’s – you know – paint.  Which is a color.  I thought perhaps it would be good to do it with light.  Preferably from the sun.

Which is why, deadline be damned, I scurried out of there at 5 p.m., wrestled with the 9,000,000 people in Boston who did the same, squished on the T with the 6,000,000 of those who take the Green Line, go to the dry cleaner to spend 1/3 of my spending allowance for the month on the privilege of having clean clothes to wear tomorrow, carry 8,000 pounds of plastic and clothes home – which is not near the dry cleaners – in 87 degree weather, put on crappy painting clothes, gather my phone, my blackberry, both sets of keys, my wallet (in case today – unlike every other day this week – I would actually have time to EAT something for dinner), and start painting with as much daylight left as possible.

And of course this was the night that a partner called me (in my office) at 7:15. I don’t need to return the call until tomorrow, but it at least momentarily added to the stress.

Daylight dwindled, but I think things look good now.  (other than the pink, the brown, the white and the smooshy strawberry trim).  The walls are rich, the paint is even, and it’s shaping up. The room really can carry the red.  Just not the red and the brown. Now it can dry for a week, and then someone else can take over to figure out what color primer is needed in order to make a tan look the same when applied over a pink, a brown, a smooshy strawberry, and white.

Now it’s 10 p.m., I’m back in the messy house, and no – I haven’t eaten dinner.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow brings a training until 6 (so I can do family law pro bono work), and then the much-needed cleaning and emptying of the girls’ room.

What a week.

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my weekend – my evening – my health.

1)  J was gone this weekend.  I thought it would be nice.  She’s younger, less independent, a little more needy.  I thought it would be a break.  It wasn’t.  It was a hole.  I missed her.  I worried about her – camping with the girl scouts in shitty weather.

And I didn’t feel good.  My stomach hurt.  As tends to be a constant lately.  It’s getting on my nerves.

2)  This evening, I took E for her first appointment with a counselor.  It went well.  She was a little tentative, but she warmed up toward the end, and I think she’ll do well with me out of the room, which starts next week.  I was thinking very much that my daughter is stellar and has no Issues and did not need to be in that Room, and then her father came up, and the summer.  Then I ended up thinking I needed to get J in that room as well as E, since J had her first “I cannot go there this summer” tantrum last night.

And then tonight …. times 10.  which is why the evening was crap.  She cried and thrashed and held my face in her hands telling me “I CANNOT GO THERE!”

It’s so hard.  Hard to know when she needs advocating, and when she needs pushing out of her comfort zone.  The past few times she’s come home, she’s been happy and good.  But now she’s repulsed by the idea of seven weeks in the Middle of the Country, and is miserable over it.  She wanted me to write the following:  “Dear [ex]:  J has decided she is unable to travel to ____ this summer due to her own emotional considerations.”  But then she realized that he would be MAD at her, and feared he would take it out on her.  So we re-wrote it.  I wrote this:  J feels like the summer has shaped up to be too long.  The girls request the following ….”  [insert 3 week visit followed by 3 weeks at home before the blasted cruise.]

But then I had to freak out, because even though I needed to respond to my kid’s anguish … uh – I work full time (pesky job).  Beloved is in school.  What are we going to do with the CHILDREN??

But as usual, Beloved saved the day.  Yeah, he’s in school, but he’s not IN SCHOOL.  he’s doing school work at home.  He said he is happy to balance the school work and the children, and will look forward to being sure that they’re kept track of and fed and healthy and happy.

So now I hope the ex says “uhhhh, okay.”

3)  I never feel good anymore.  I constantly feel like my intestines are trying to process lead boulders.  Sometimes the scale says I’m 16 pounds up from the fall … other times 6 pounds up.  The 10 pounds are there when I feel like crap, but not when I don’t.  I don’t know what’s going on.  I have excellent insurance, but not insurance that makes me anything but a new patient at any non-law-school provider, and so I can’t get in to see a doctor for another month.  I feel like the things I’m feeling are just exacerbations of things I’ve dealt with since at least high school on a low level, and it is just starting to be constant and to affect my life.

I’ve hugely altered my diet.  I’m currently (for 2 weeks now) trying a gluten-free diet, and I’m also (less strictly) restricting myself from all white carbs.  I am considering going lactose-free, and sugar free, and perhaps – eventually – solids-free.  I feel like everything – even innocuous things (hello?  apples?) – hurt my belly.

I am unhappy, and I think that something’s wrong.  I hate that I’ve gained weight while eating almost nothing.  I hate the feeling of discouragement I have every time that I look at weight loss programs, and they’re all focused on reducing appetites … I have no appetite.  Food hurts my stomach.  I never want to eat.  Yet I gain weight.

I look at these f’ing magazines with their “tips to incorporate exercise in your every day life.”  Take the stairs; leave the car home; get off the train a few stops early and walk.  I don’t have a fucking car.  I walk to work rather than make train connections.  I take a LOT of stairs.  I lug groceries around town by foot.  I walk EVERYWHERE.  Constantly.  Up hills, down hills, downtown, through windy paths.

No – I haven’t made it to the gym, but is it really right that I have to exercise up to 3 hours a day in order to NOT GAIN weight?  When I eat very little, and very wisely?  When I lead a far-from-sedentary life?  I’m sure I walk an hour a day – if not more.

Crap.

I can’t believe I just wrote such a whiny post when, honestly, there’s so much good in my life.

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