Thursday, August 11, 2011

I am here

I just got a comment asking, "Where are you?!?!" (actually, it may not have had exclamation points, I don't want to overstate the importance of my whereabouts, but I am a big fan of the "?!" combo, it just expresses so much with so little). It's a fair question- I've been gone from the interwebs for 8 whole days, which is one of my longer breaks in my nearly 5 years of blogging. And where I am is right here, in Austin, sitting at my kitchen table, not working, with my dogs at my feet, drinking a diet coke and eating a folded over peanut butter and honey sandwich with country radio playing in the background.

You see, this is stolen time. I am supposed to be on a plane home from Seattle right this very second, but I'm not because I made it by 1 second on to an evening flight home last night and landed at 1:00 this morning. And after billing 112.5 hours so far this month (that's billed, not worked, and I didn't bill anything last Saturday), I've decided I can give myself a morning of laundry, errands, blogging, and a pedicure. It feels delicious. I'm going in to work for less than two hours this afternoon to sign an affidavit and do a few other things for a motion we're filing tomorrow and then I'm picking up the kids super early and taking them to the pool.

Out of habit, I was about to write how much I missed them on my trip, but the truth is I was in Seattle for 34 hours and I billed 28 of them. I never left my hotel room, ate room service, walked the 1 block to opposing counsel's office for the deposition, and then hailed a cab from their front step to race to the airport when it was over. There wasn't time to miss them, and the surreal feeling of the whole one-night trip left me feeling like time wasn't actually passing, so there was nothing to miss. But I am extremely happy to be back to them early- it was a judgment call at 4 p.m. yesterday: race to the airport to get in after midnight and be exhausted today because I can't sleep on planes, or spend a leisurely afternoon and evening exploring Seattle and take my original flight which landed in Austin at 5:40 p.m. today. I think I would have enjoyed the afternoon and the on-the-client dinner by the water, but by nightfall I would have felt guilty that I wasn't on my way home and by then I really would have been missing the kids. There needs to be more flight options between AUS and SEA. Well, there just needs to be better flight options to/from AUS period. Travel is the only time I realize I live in a small city.

I've had a few realizations in my last few days of working and traveling so much. One, I love cities. Really, really love them. There was a moment when I stood on the 10th floor balcony at opposing counsel's office (complete with patio furniture, an outdoor kitchen, garden, and putting green; if we move to Seattle, I'm totally applying for a job there and the head of their litigation section already said he'd hire me at the depo, though it's possible he was kidding, I should have gotten it on the record), staring at the streets below and the water just 100 yards away- I decided, we have to move. Not today and not this year, but I have to live somewhere else. I loved living in Chicago for those 3 years, and while I do love Austin and will miss it, I'm not ready to be in Texas for the rest of my life. And not just because the soul-sucking heat is crushing my spirit (though it is), but because there is so much else to see and experience and I don't want to have lived in one state for 98% of my life. But with my family here, and JP and my jobs here, neither of which have any possibility of a transfer, there's nothing to make us go. I didn't talk about it here at the time, but JP made it to the 3rd round of his dream job with Boeing in Seattle back in March of this year. If he'd have gotten it, we would have moved, and a part of me was truly sad when the opportunity didn't work out, even as another part of me was relieved because I really do love Austin and we have a great life here.  My new goal is to search out opportunities over the next few years and not let complacency make decisions for me.

My other realization is that I like this, what I'm doing. I don't love the travel, but I don't hate it, and this is a highly unusual month for me. It's exciting to be in the case strategy meetings, the preparation, and the depos themselves. It's also hard and stressful as hell, but it's fun and I'm nowhere near ready to leave this yet. Being a mid-level associate has been much harder than I anticipated. I now know what I'm doing (for some stuff anyway) and that feels good, but the responsibility is much greater, and the client contact, while nice, adds another level of stress and need for constant availability. But I like it. My little family of two working parents has figured out a new rhythm, mostly by adding a new player- a very part-time nanny who picks the kids up from daycare early 3 afternoons a week and brings them home. JP and I still get home at the same time, and we all still eat dinner together and everything else, but I no longer worry about racing out the door at the exact last minute before daycare close and I no longer feel like the kids have too long a day there. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, they're home at 4:00 with Miss Natalie and when JP and I get home at 6 or 6:30, the dogs are fed, the daycare stuff is put away, and dinner is in the oven (a tray from the Casserole Queens, or one I made over the weekend). She started two weeks ago and I can barely describe the difference it's made- I'll try in another blog post, later. The point of this one is to say, everything is good. This month will end and I will have gained invaluable experience and client/partner exposure through it. My kids are wonderful- happy, healthy, safe, secure, and loved. I don't get enough sleep, I don't exercise, and I don't have any hobbies, but I have a job I enjoy that challenges and occasionally scares me and a husband who has the same and is the happier for it. I'll still have days where I'll worry about our schedule and where our careers are going (and whether we want them to go there), and days where I'll decide in that moment, this isn't worth it and I want more hours at home and Claire is getting too big too fast and I need to stop it -- I'll write about those days too.

But this morning I hugged my little ones as JP took them to daycare, looked around our home with bleary eyes, and just felt happy that we've built this, JP and me- this family and home and life. I'm proud of it, and that's where I am right now.


  1. Move to Boston!

    Part-time nanny... I hate the idea of paying someone else to take care of the kids on top of full-time daycare, but the schedule you're describing sounds so much more sane for everybody. How did you find her and make the arrangements?

    Enjoy your me-time! You definitely deserve it.

  2. Good for you!! I made the same decision when I was in Boston last week for a deposition--I wanted to tour a fantastic city I had never visited, but wanted to make it home to sing the goodnight song even more (love the East Coast to West Coast time change bonus). And my husband and I are in the same boat with wanting to live elsewhere, although I live in California, not Texas...and he would move to Austin in 1/2 of a second and I am flatly resisting...but Seattle and Colorado are in our distant future radar. Congrats on the nanny too, it sounds like you have your new rhythm established for now! What a nice change from the craziness of the past few months.

  3. I've never lived in a small town, but I fantasize about how easy and stress-free it would be. And cheap. But I am right there with you about not being ready to live in the same place for the rest of my life. Yet, I can't think of a good reason to go anywhere else in particular.

    So glad the part-time nanny is working out. If jobs/commutes are the same for my husband and I when I return from maternity leave, I am seriously debating looking into help some mornings in addition to the babysitter that does pick-up every afternoon. It's hard to make full(plus)-time jobs work with rigid daycare schedules.

  4. As the anon "Where are you???" commenter, I am glad to see a new post! (plus, I only regularly read a small handful of blogs, and I was looking forward to one that wasn't about BlogHer). As a northern Virginian, might I suggest that DC is a lovely city? And I have a 3 1/2 y.o. daughter who would make a lovely playmate for Landon. :)

  5. I was proud of myself for billing 80.4 hours already this month - but you blew me out of the water. I don't know how you do it because I am EXHAUSTED!

    The part-time nanny sounds like a fabulous idea! I hope it all continues to work out for you guys :).

  6. What is it about this time of year and working long hours? I'm not a lawyer however my hours have been hideous this month too. Well-deserved pampering break for you. Although I too am glad to see a new post!

    Yay on hiring the nanny. That's a great solution. Oh and the Casserole Queens - are they as good as they look on TV?

    LEO - I don't know that I'd call Austin cheap....

  7. Sweet . . . I'm happy you guys are happy. I love it when my blog world is a harmonious world.

    And yes - how did you manage to find this part time nanny? Next year we will need one for three days a week, and it will be helpful to know how you went about it!

  8. Seattle is awesome! My husband works for Boeing as a programmer (just went back after being at Microsoft/other smaller companies for ~5 years). I don't work the crazy hours that you work but I do have a full time/fairly intense career as an actuarial consultant. We have a 1 yr old and a 2 yr old - so it is actually cheaper to have a nanny than daycare for the two (daycare for < 1 is minimum 1300 and 1-2 is 1100) so we have a live in nanny and it makes all the difference in how well our lives work. No daycare pick ups/drop offs/time crunch/packing stuff + our nannies have all done the majority of our cleaning/laundry.