Thursday, June 28, 2007

Adios Austin

Today is my second-to-last day at the Austin Firm. JP flies in around 5pm tomorrow and we're leaving as early as possible Saturday morning to drive the nearly 1200 miles back to Chicago.

In many ways I'm sad to leave Austin. My time at the Firm as has been wonderful- I've gotten lots of exposure to corporate projects and I'm certain this is the right place to embark on my legal career. I've also fallen back in love with the city itself. It's different looking at it from the grown-up "I'm going to be a lawyer, wife, and mother" perspective than it was as a student. It's a Fantastic college town, but it's also a great place to have a career and raise a family. We can live in one of several beautiful neighborhoods minutes from my office, afford a house right after I graduate, and even have time to take advantage of all this outdoorsy, athletic city has to offer. Even within the Firm, the Austin office is just a little different- more relaxed, more flexible, kinder. Everyone has hobbies (time consuming ones!) and most have young families (and spend time with them!). I have no illusions that it will always be easy, but I think it will be doable. I even have the facts on my side- the attrition rate for the Austin office is significantly lower than that of the other Firm offices and the overall number nationwide.

However, I'm also thrilled to be returning to Chicago. I love the Windy City and Chicago in the summer is something everyone should experience it at some point. It'll be wonderful to be with JP everyday, pet my chubby cat, and see my law school friends. I'm also getting anxious to unpack the apartment and furnish and decorate the baby's room. My due date is exactly 6 weeks from today and we have a LOT to do. Because JP moved while I was in Austin and he's been so busy with work and flying down to see me, he really hasn't had time to do much unpacking. We haven't bought much baby stuff because we didn't want to have to move it, so right now the little guy has nowhere to sleep, get his diaper changed, or put all his varied accessories. I'm glad I've been unable to prepare for this long- it'll keep those final weeks flying by! I start work at the Chicago Firm on Monday, so hopefully that will go as well as my Austin pregnant associate experience. I worked for them last summer, so I'm not too worried about it.

It's hard to believe that a year from now I'll be a law school graduate (madly studying for the Bar) and we'll both be Texans, home-owners, and parents to a 1-year-old!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Unfortunate "Air Quotes"

I've been meaning to post this since Sunday. While driving back from my parent's house I stopped at a Pizza Hut for dinner- I was starving, wanted something cheap, and there really aren't many options between Houston and Austin on Highway 71. I had a scrumptious personal pan pizza, but was a little disturbed by this sign on the bathroom door:

Why the apostrophes?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poor/Needs Improvement

That used to be a grade category on our early elementary report cards. The only P/NI I ever received was for penmanship in third grade. I still have bad handwriting, but luckily the laptop has since taken over the world and I am a Very fast typer.

Today I would receive a P/NI in listening to advice. I suck at it. I like to be the expert and I hate looking like I don't know what I'm doing. In almost everything in my life I appear quite competent- it's somewhat strange to be on the receiving end of advice at all. I don't get outwardly mad or argumentative, but I usually get irritated on the inside and I don't know how to respond properly. Do I just nod silently? If I disagree but have no basis for it (like on all parenting advice since I'm not actually a parent yet and all my ideals are based on things I've read, gut instinct, and hope), should I keep quiet? Even though I know I don't know anything, I hate being spoken to like I don't know anything.

I actually really like the practical advice and tricks of the trade, it's the parenting philosophy type of advice that irritates me. I may not have my son yet, but I already have some basic ideas about how we want to raise him. Regardless, pretty much everyone talking to me just wants to share their mothering experience and I need to stop getting all internally worked up about it. I managed to get my penmanship grade up to an "S" for satisfactory, perhaps I can do that with taking advice. It's not like it's going to go away and if I listen, I'll probably find some of it quite useful.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Firm's social whirlwind has finally caught up with me- I've caught a bit of a cold. I'm treating myself with pregnancy-approved Sudafed, orange juice, and snicker doodles. I've discovered that the baby goes nuts when I drink OJ- he immediately does some type of rhythmic gymnastics routine. My whole stomach shakes! It's lots of fun- I like picturing him dancing around in there.

This weekend I go home to my parent's house for a bridal luncheon my mom is hosting. We have plans to see at least one chick flick (complete with large popcorn, diet coke, and mike & ikes) and pack all the baby shower gifts from 3 weeks ago into the back of my car. I think I'll just leave it all back there for the 5 days I'll have left in Austin- there's nothing that can melt and my parking spots are pretty secure. I can't believe JP and I will be driving back to Chicago in 8 days. I've enjoyed my time at the Firm so much- it feels so good to know I've found a place I think I can be happy (and a kick ass lawyer ;) Despite my sadness at leaving all the Firm fun behind, I can't wait to start unpacking, decorating the baby's nursery, and, of course, spending lots of quality time with JP!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

33 Week Update

While in law school all I did was post about pregnancy, but now that I'm working I'm blogging about it less. Maybe because law school isn't as fun or interesting to me as working? Or maybe it's just because I post less in general. Anyway- I had my 33 week check up yesterday at my Austin doctor's office. My weight is frighteningly high- it's still in the range of normal and 95% of it is in my stomach (or so I am told by Everyone around me, including random strangers)- but it's a very high number and that freaks me out a little. So far the few baby dreams that I've had involve me looking at my stomach and being relieved that it's flat again. This may reveal a troublingly shallow side of me. Other people have dreams of leaving their baby somewhere or not being able to take care of him or her- I dream about fitting in to my old clothes. It's not that I'm supremely confident in my (lack of) parenting skills, I think it's that weight struggles are a very familiar thing to me whereas taking care of an infant is so foreign that my subconscious hasn't even processed it enough to dream about it.

When I was in the early stages of pregnancy I was desperate for information about what it would be like near the end. All the books and articles speak in such generalities about stretch marks, swelling, hemorrhoids, etc., apparently "many women" and "some women" experience these things. Here's my personal 33-week observations: I do not have stretch marks yet. I do not have any trouble sleeping and still use one regular old pillow. I wear high heels to work every day and haven't noticed any swelling. I don't feel any hungrier than normal (unlike the 5th month where I was hungry all the time). My skin looks the same and is not any drier, oilier, or more prone to break outs (and I'm pretty sure any remarked upon "glow" is just Austin heat). My hair is not thicker (pregnancy books love to mention that one). I have not had any other unfortunate side effects: constipation, hemorrhoids, gas, heartburn, etc. I don't know if I'm really lucky or if the pregnancy authors just paint a bleak picture to make you feel good when your pregnancy goes well. However, I still have 7 weeks to go, which leaves plenty of time for a few of those observations to change for the worse.

The doctor did mention that my blood pressure was oh so slightly elevated on Monday. I'm normally 110-120/60 and yesterday I was 130/70. After reading Shelley's blog, I'm acutely aware of preeclampsia. I'm supposed to keep an eye out for any other symptoms and they'll be checking me closely at my next appointment.

So that's about it. I'm getting more and more excited about holding our son in my arms- I think about it quite a bit. He's so real now- I feel him squirm around and can make out elbows and limbs when I press my stomach. I don't think much about the labor and delivery part. Not because of any delusions of any easy labor, but because I just don't think there's much I can plan for or worry about. JP and I are going to a class at the Chicago hospital when I get back- we'll get a tour of the maternity wing and learn the basics of labor, c-sections, and baby care. If there's one things I've learned from people's birth stories it's that anything can happen. I have no real plan except for the epidural (which is written in big red letters at the top of my chart). I have preferences, but no deep convictions about any particular kind of birth, so whatever has to happen to result in a healthy baby and a healthy me is fine. At least for now I'm much more concerned with getting our baby's nursery properly outfitted! (and apparently fitting in to my old jeans ;)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

2 More Weeks

Another wonderfully busy weekend is over. I can't believe I only have two weeks left at the Austin Firm. JP flew in friday afternoon- we've been spoiled after seeing each other two weekends in a row. He'll be back Friday the 29th to drive back to Chicago with me on Saturday. Two weeks from tomorrow I'll be starting work at Chicago Firm. While I'm excited about being back with JP, seeing our new somewhat unpacked apartment, and finally starting the baby's nursery, I really wish I had more time in Austin. I don't feel like I've done enough projects or talked to enough associates to know what practice area I want to be in when I start at the Firm. This whole year I just assumed that by the end of my 2L summer I'd feel more settled on the issue, but if anything I'm less settled! I know I don't want to do litigation, but that's about it. I haven't done anything in health or employment or labor or securities- I wish there was more flexibility when you start out as an associate. Yeah, you can move around some, but I'd like some sort of rotational system for my first few months. I haven't figured out which partners are flexible and which ones expect you to do all your work in your office. If I was starting out with a plan to have kids in the future I would have time to figure this out. Instead I'll be starting with a one year old and would like to work under someone who understands that not every hour needs to be billed from your desk. In general I think the firm has a great attitude and culture toward working parents, but it's really all about who you do most of your work for.

Anyway, the weekend was lots of fun. My college roommate got married and I was a very pregnant bridesmaid. The wedding was beautiful, she was stunning, and it was a very happy occasion. Of course I spent most of the wedding being reminded of my own- it remains the most fun, most amazing weekend of my life. If I could get married all over again I'd do it in a heartbeat (same guy of course). I've just never felt that much happiness at once- I was really worried I'd burst. I kept trying to soak it all in, but when we looked at the pictures a few weeks later I saw there were already things I forgot. One of my biggest wishes for my friends who are planning weddings is that they can let go and enjoy their special day- it's hard to do after putting that much time, energy, and money into preparing for one event, but it makes the memories so much better. My other thing is planning for and talking about the marriage itself- after all the wedding is only day 1 of what will hopefully be thousands.

Well, I'm exhausted and have a sore throat- I think my crazy social schedule combined with being 7.5 months pregnant is starting to catch up with me. Tomorrow I fly to Another City for a Firm event, but I'll be back Tuesday night. I have another OB appointment tomorrow and am planning a pregnancy update post when I get back from my brief travels. I'm 32 weeks and 4 days pregnant- getting closer every day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Soliciting Cell Phone Advice

My irritation with Verizon has grown to epic proportions and I absolutely hate their phone choices, so we've decided to switch to someone else. Our options seem to be T-Mobile, Cingular (now AT&T), and Sprint. Does anyone have an opinion on the service, coverage, etc for those? It would be great if you had info on the coverage in Chicago and/or Austin, but any insight would be wonderful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Big Firm Weekend was a blast and I continue to love The Firm and its inhabitants, but I'm starting to face the sobering reality that is working full time with a family. My summer schedule is ridiculously light, but it's not as flexible as my student schedule and Monday through Friday most of my daylight hours are occupied. As a student I have so much free time during the day- I'll be able to see our baby pretty much whenever I want. Once I start work, I'll leave in the morning, be gone all day, and come home at night to see him for a few hours before he goes to bed. My sadness at realizing that schedule doesn't change my desire to work, but it does give me a better understanding of what it means. I believe the Firm is as flexible as any BigLaw firm (if not more so) and I believe that it's the right place for me and the right move for our family, but on the occasional day when I have to work late and I don't see him at all it's going to be really hard.

This whole issue has me thinking about my childhood and the quantity and quality of time my parents spent with us. My mom stayed home from when I was 3 until I turned 16. My dad always worked full time- he was gone when we woke up in the morning and got home around 7. Our bedtime was 8 when we were little, so that means we only saw him for about an hour a day- and yet, I'm equally close to both parents and both seem to have equal footing in my childhood memories. I don't really remember my dad not being around during the day. Instead I remember our family dinners every night, our Sunday bike rides after church, our camping trips every summer, our one-on-one talks when he came up to my room to say goodnight, and our backyard adventures on the weekends. It's shocking to quantify how little time he actually had with us during the week. When I think of having 2 or so "awake" hours with our son as a young associate it seems horribly insufficient- and it may be, but there's definitely something to the fact that all I remember when looking back is my dad being there. I knew that he went to work, but when he was home, he was ours.

For the first time I wonder if it was hard for him to leave and go to work in the morning. Was he jealous that my mom got to spend more time with us? Why don't I feel closer to my mom than my dad when she was the one home all day? Not for the first time I wonder if my baby will feel closer to his daycare provider. How will I going to feel when the nanny gets to catch all those wonderfully random things my toddler says? Will my child(ren) remember me being there? or remember me being gone?

I can feel my son moving around right now and I worry about being there enough for him. Every decision I've made since high school has been made in light of my desire for a family and a career, but will that mean anything when he grabs on to my leg and begs me not to go in the morning (or maybe worse- if he doesn't)? The future is no longer phrased in hopeful generalities about "the flexibility of a law degree," "flexible work arrangements," and "the work/life balance"- it's real. The people at the Firm work hard and so will I. I can be a feminist with a fancy law degree and have a husband who changes diapers and vacuums the floor, but there are going to be times when I'll be a mother who wishes she was at home with her kids.

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Weekend of Fun and JP!

After two days out of the office, we were told to come in for about 2 hours before the Big Firm Weekend begins at noon. All my projects have been taken from me due to deadlines I couldn't meet (summers don't get remote access log-ins, so I couldn't work from home), and I won't get my new assignments until Monday. I've organized my outlook inbox, found a pretty desktop background, and stopped by other attorney's offices to say hello. There is actually a billing number for "attorney down time", so I think that's what I'll be using today. I really hope there's no other reasons for me to miss work during my last three weeks here. If I was in Chicago I'd be thrilled about a day off, but there isn't much for me to do here (besides shop for things I don't need) and I really want to work on assignments in the other corporate practice areas. My time feels so short and I still have no idea what area of law I want to practice!

The Firm is flying JP in for the Big Weekend, so I get to see him in about 4 hours- I can't wait!! This is the longest we've been apart since I spent several weeks exploring Europe before we got married. I think the distance has been harder on him because I'm kept in such a whirlwind of social activity I really only miss him when I get home at night (although I miss him a LOT then) whereas he has the same old schedule and feels my absence more. It's going to be a wonderful Weekend filled with Austin-y things and the Firm picking up the tab!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Day Off

My cell phone rang right as I got out of the shower this morning at 7:30am. It was the Attorney Employment Office letting me know that work was canceled today because our building lost all power. That's right- canceled! I didn't know that could happen in the grown-up world. I felt like I was in elementary school and we'd just found out there was an inclement weather day. The timing could have been better- I was already awake (and now all wet) and I have a big project that I was counting on having all day to work on. My blackberry also decided to break last night so I have no way of checking my work email to see if the two attorneys I'm working for have contacted me about that assignment. I'm going to be a little scared to check my email when I go in tomorrow.

Regardless, I got a free day today and I quickly realized that I had no idea what to do with it. If I was back in Chicago I would be unpacking, decorating, and running errands to get things for the new apartment and the baby. I did have a list of errands to do- returns and such- but I knew that wouldn't take me all day. So I took my time driving around and exploring all the new shopping centers that seem to have popped up in Austin overnight. After a few hours I reached a grand conclusion, my working full-time is going to bring us double the financial reward: (1) I'll be earning a substantial paycheck, and (2) I won't have time to browse through stores. It's amazing what I find I "need" when I do that. I bought two new pairs of black heels today. I already own at least 7 nice pairs already - now I have 9. Who needs 9? Apparently I do. I also found a cute wallet and immediately decided that my current wallet needed to be replaced. I wandered through Target and bought a new eyeshadow color that called out to me, but I'm pretty sure I have the exact shade in a different brand sitting at home. Free time is expensive, dangerous stuff.

I also looked through baby clothes. I didn't get too many clothing items at my showers so I know that I need more, I just get overwhelmed by the variety and options. I don't know what I want. Normally I'm a decisive shopper, but this baby stuff is totally foreign. Several times I picked up a set of onesies or rompers, carred them around the store, and then put them back and left. My baby might have to be naked a lot- or just dressed in one of his many UT infant t-shirts with a diaper. But seriously- how many clothing pieces should I have? I keep hearing how lots of babies don't even fit into the newborn stuff so you should buy big, but shouldn't he have a few things that fit for those first few weeks? Is it easiest to have the one piece sleep 'n play outfits? onesies? where should the snaps be? and do babies wear pants with onesies or just run around with bare legs (well not so much run around as lay down)? I'm not even sure they sell baby pants, but I did get an email from "Urban Baby" about baby leg warmers to wear with onesies- seemed rather stylish in a retro-80's way. There was too much indecision and uncertainty, so I just stuck with the shoe section. It's a familiar, happy place for me.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Corporate Practice Areas

I know that I don't want to be a litigator. I enjoyed the research memos as a summer associate last year, but the thought of managing a case makes me cringe. I don't think it's wise to go into an area where you would prefer to stay at the bottom of the career ladder. I adored my corporations and securities regulation classes- the subject is fascinating to me and those were also my best grades. So basically I know that I want to be on the corporate/transactional side of things. What I don't know is what specific type of corporate law I'd like to practice. I feel like I should be interviewing all the associates at the firm. My Chicago firm doesn't have a corporate practice in their Chicago office, so my few weeks remaining in Austin are my only chance to really "try out" each practice area. It seems like there's several niche practices that could be really interesting- we just don't hear anything about them in law school or during career panel lunches. The lifestyle issues matter a lot to me, as do the exit options should I want to go in-house later. I know that my yearly hours will be roughly the same regardless of what practice I pursue, but it seems that some are more predictable or flexible than others. It fascinates me to hear how individual attorneys chose their specialty- so much of it seems by accident or circumstances not really in their control. Do they ever wonder what another area is like? Will I? How much do people move around? Do you think I can get all the corporate attorneys at my firm to fill out a detailed survey on these issues? Probably not, but perhaps I can interview some of them at the next happy hour. I'll be sober, they'll be enjoying the margaritas, and I can hear what they really think of their practice!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Texas Thunderstorm

For those of you who haven't experienced a Texas Thunderstorm- it is truly something to behold. I was driving back to Austin from Houston a few hours ago and the National Weather Service announcement came on the radio: "There is a severe thunderstorm warning for X county. Expect penny-sized hail, severe winds, tornadoes, and heavy rains capable of producing flash floods. If you are on the road, get to a safe spot. Lie down in a ditch or area of low elevation. If you are in your home, stay in the interior away from windows". This was repeated every 5 minutes. You could see the black sky up ahead. All I wanted to do was get home to Steve's and curl up in bed. Not being a cautious person by nature, and having experienced several Texas-sized storms, I decided to plow on through. I stayed at about 20 mph, had my wipers on high, and both hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel. It was insane. Lightning struck a light pole right next to me and sparks went everywhere. Tree branches were flying across the road. The wind was blowing so hard I had to fight to keep my car on the road (to say nothing of in my lane). The rain was being kicked up into swirling circles on top of the road. As I sit here all safe and cozy in my bed, I'm thinking- what the HELL was I doing still driving on the road? Any other person with half a brain had pulled over. But honestly at the time I felt okay just driving slowly and steadily through it. Isn't it funny how many times you do something that seems somewhat unwise or possibly unsafe and then later look back and think how bad things could have been (or am I the only one that does that with any kind of frequency)?

Anyway- the whole weekend home was fantastic. The baby shower was so much fun- the gifts ran the gamut of darling and useful (some getting high marks in both areas) and it was really wonderful to see all my family and friends. I sometimes wish that we had moved more (or ever) growing up, but now I'm so thankful that I have a whole community I can truly call home. I have known most of the people at my shower for at least 15 years and many of them for nearly 20- and that's a pretty wonderful thing. We spent today up at my parent's lake house enjoying the boat, water, and a fantastic Texas meal of brisket, baked beans, and pasta salad. On Saturday I finally succeeded at finding a maternity swim suit that didn't make me burst out laughing when I looked in the changing room mirror- it's a one piece, black with a white strip under the bust. It actually looks (almost) flattering when viewed straight on. There's a firm event with a party barge on the lake, so I really needed to get one. I also found a cute sundress to wear over it. I have to admit that I really love some of my "maternity chic" clothing- there are several pieces I wish I had in a non-maternity version.

I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep- there's lots of great work stuff ahead of me this week and on Friday JP will be here to visit! He moved us this weekend- an event that really deserves it's own post along with "husband of the year" award as it ended up being quite a debacle- I've never been so happy to be far away in Texas. On Saturday while he was drowning in boxes, packing tape, and botched mover schedules, I was getting my hair cut, a pedicure, and attending a baby shower. For at least one day I didn't feel like I was the over-burdened one because I was carrying the baby around!

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Madness Continues

I haven't been hungry since Tuesday morning. I swear we get fed every hour and so far my time sheets reflect 2.5 hours of actual work in the past 3 days. It's been a blast and looking at my schedule it doesn't appear to be slowing down for at least the next 2 weeks. I thought I'd have all kinds of time to read, do a few projects on my laptop (like finding a pretty blog template), watch movies, hang out with Steve, etc., but I get home, take off my makeup, and fall straight to sleep. I can barely even talk to JP at night. Today after work I'm driving home to Houston because a family friend is hosting a baby shower for me tomorrow. I'm really excited about seeing all my Texas friends and family- many of whom I haven't seen since our wedding! (And of course, opening all the cute baby gifts!)

As far as being pregnant and a summer associate- I think being pregnant is actually working in my favor. The expectations for me are so low! We had a bowling event the other day and I did okay (scored a 118- the last time I bowled I was in middle school), but everyone was so impressed! And every other female associate wears uncomfortable heels all day, but when I do it, it creates a buzz about how tough I am. It's great! Like I mentioned before- people either don't care and don't say anything about it or they get all excited and ask a bunch of questions and share their new mommy/daddy experiences. Both responses are great and I definitely don't think that anyone thinks less of me or my legal abilities because of "condition".

And a brief pregnancy update: he's now squirming around like Crazy. After being a very lazy baby, the little guy has decided to take up dancing, swimming, and possibly gymnastics. My stomach is constantly moving around and it's so fun. He doesn't really "kick", it's just more of a squirming around. I imagine things are getting a bit crowded in there. I'm now in week 31, so he doesn't have too far to go!