Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two Sides of the Same Lawyer

When you're a lawyer, coming to Washington, DC feels like coming home.  You walk the streets and know that at least 50% of the people walking past you have passed the Bar.  They would probably get whatever dorky lawyer joke pops in your head and would also understand, without additional explanation, why deleting comments on your own blog violates exactly no one's right to free speech.  They're your people, or at least the people of one facet of your being, and you're in their mecca.  Also, the Home Office of your new job is very fancy and you feel fancier for being able to say you work there.  Even if your "there" is actually a regional office in Fort Worth, which is decidedly less fancy.

And for me, being in the city, even in sweltering temperatures 10 freaking degrees higher than the ones I left behind in Texas, felt like home.  Walking to everything, taking marvelously efficient public transportation, being asked by a homeless man to run away with him to California (yes, really) -- home!  On Tuesday night I met up with one of my best friend's from law school to travel to Alexandria, Virginia- another state, and yet a short metro ride away (having lived in Texas most of my life, it will always blow my mind that you can cross multiple state lines in a matter of minutes) to meet up with law school friend #2 and her adorable 4-month-old baby.  A baby I got to snuggle while he looked at me with very blue, very skeptical eyes.  You can tell both his parents are lawyers.  After hubby-lawyer came home, we girls headed out to a wine and cheese bar to chat and eat cheese and drink wine.  After dinner I rode the metro back to DC with Friend #1 to see her absolutely gorgeous apartment in Dupont Circle and drink more wine until we realized it was midnight and a Tuesday and holy crap I need to get back to my hotel to take advantage of the springtail free bathtub before my early day began on Wednesday.  And though I was (am) completely in lust with her little apartment, and I loved loved loved getting to see my friends, I think my favorite part of the night was leaving her place at 11:55 p.m. on a Tuesday, turning a corner, and finding cafes with people still in them, cabs circling about waiting for me to flag them down-- so much noise, activity, LIFE at midnight on a Tuesday.  I smiled the whole cab ride back to the hotel.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, but The City - Any City feels more like home than any suburb of anywhere ever will.  I used to think it was just Chicago, but now I know it's not.  Wherever we move next, we're downsizing even more and living downtown.  And after JP mows the grass every weekend during another 110 degree summer, I think I can get him to move with me.

Unfortunately, despite the late hour, long day, copious amount of wine, and FABULOUS hotel room (I think it might be the nicest I've ever seen, and I've stayed in some very nice hotels thanks to the BigLaw amex), I didn't sleep all night.  I canceled a much anticipated early coffee get together with my cousin, and patched together 3.75 hours of sleep before packing up, getting dressed, and racing out the door to my big meeting.  This was probably my second favorite moment of the trip: wearing my favorite dark grey slight houndstooth print suit, with super long pants legs that have to be worn with my 3.5" black hidden platform heels, and fitted jacket (and lilac colored satin shell underneath, and silver pearl necklace and earrings to complete the outfit), walking quickly out of the Mandarin Oriental with a suitcase and shoulder briefcase purse, and hailing a cab to headquarters.  In that moment, I felt like a lawyer fullstop.  I may be low on the totem pole of a large government agency, I may not understand half the accounting terms the guy I was interviewing kept saying, and I may not know much of any practical law (do not call me if you get pulled over by the cops, I have absolutely no idea what you should do), but in that moment, I looked and temporarily felt the part, and that made me smile, even on less than 4 hours of sleep.

Then the day got crazy - prep prep prep with the assistant director; interview, question, and take notes with the guy I was there to meet; successfully move up my flight home by 4 hours; RUN out of the headquarters to hail a cab out to Dulles where I fidgeted my way through security, staring at my watch every 2 seconds, still in my suit and very high heels.  At 3:20 I'd made it to the terminal of my 3:45 already-boarding-flight and realized I hadn't eaten since 7 p.m. the night before.  And that was the meal where I drank more wine than I ate bread and cheese, and before that I hadn't eaten since a snack in the DFW airport at 10 a.m. the day before, and oh, maybe that's why there's black dots hovering in the periphery of my vision and my hands are shaking. Right.  Well at least I profited from the per diem.  I inhaled some white rice and orange chicken, bought the first book I saw in the bookstore (Julie Garwood's the Ideal Man; it's terrible, cost me $8, and only took 2 hours to read on a 3 hour flight).  I re-read the first half of the (terrible) book to keep the guy next to me from talking to me the rest of the flight (he was nice, but oh so chatty, and while I am normally friendly, I see no point in investing in temporary airplane seat relationships).  But the mad dash and near blackout was worth it- I got home just before the kids went to bed and I got to talk to JP- really talk to JP- for the first time in many days.

All in all it was a great trip, minus the insomnia and total lack of eating, and I want to go back.  Friends, hailing taxis, super fun interviews of helpful experts, feeling like a power lawyer, and soaking in a springtail free marble-surrounded-absolutely-gorgeous bathtub in a room I cannot believe we get to book it with the standard government rate... it was a very fulfilling 36 hours in The City of Lawyers.

And then tonight, long after the power lawyer glow had worn off and I was in a normal lawyer skirt, cropped cardi, and open toed heels, I decided to make the tasty summer beer cocktail to go with our inaugural meal from JP's Father's Day grill.  I mixed all the ingredients- frozen pink lemonade, beer, vodka, water, sprite- and lifted the heavy glass pitcher and SMASH.  The bottom falls out, shatters on the floor, and liquid- sticky sweet pink liquid flies everywhere.  All I can think of are the bugs that are going to come over, drink my cocktail, and invite all their friends to come back and get drunk.  I must stop them.  I pull off my beautiful leather peep-toe pumps and skirt, both soaked in tasty beverage, and start mopping and scrubbing and mopping some more in my cardigan and pink thong and think, wow, what a change in 24 hours.  From suited up and out on the town, to half naked and scrubbing floors and hoping neighbors don't drop by- two rather extreme sides of the coin of me.  

But dinner was tasty, my kitchen is now very clean, and it's extra nice to be home.  


  1. I really think you should write a book. That is all.

  2. :)Pix of the fashion? Did you take any? You are my "lawyer fashion" guru!

  3. Also, having just recently defected to the suburbs from living downtown in a city (albeit a much less polished and "together" city - New Orleans), I will say I miss absolutely everything you mentioned - walking everywhere, having LIFE LIFE LIFE at my fingertips, public transport, variety . . . However, I don't miss the shootings, the deaths of children mere blocks from our home (most recently, a five year old girl shot in the chest and killed by an errant gang war bullet while she was at a birthday party), the ancient, crumbling, everything-breaks-always apartment. . . The ever-present danger brought a level of anxiety to our lives that I am finding difficult to shake. I lived in cities prior to having children and never felt this way. New Orleans is particularly dangerous, though, so living in a less war-zone-like city may not bring so much pressure.

    1. Mostly what I have heard about city v. suburbs for safety is that although the city violence is more dramatic it is actually more dangerous to live in the suburbs because of all the driving involved- particularly for teenage kids. On the other hand I totally get the anxiety that that level of violence must bring to your lives, and that on its own would probably be enough for me to opt out of a similar situation. I liked living in Northern Virginia because you could still be on the metro line and have the city at your fingertips, whilst also getting many of the benefits of great schools, samller community feel, safe neighborhoods etc.

  4. Did your cab driver know how to get to the SEC? I'm in DC and have had several meetings at the SEC HQ. About half of the cabs don't know how to get there, even with a street address. The Mandarin Oriental is my favorite hotel in DC, but I hate the location. On a completely random note, if you ever find yourself in Cleveland for work, the Cleveland Ritz has a really competitive government rate. It is fabulous.

  5. I LOVE D.C.! I grew up in Northern VA right outside of it, and to this day, whenever anything interested or exciting happens in politics -- including the entire year before the elections -- I find myself really, really missing it. It's true that there is no better place to feel like you're in the thick of things if you're a policy wonk, attorney nerd or overall political junkie! And I love that nasty, humid heat :)

  6. I can relate so much to this poist -- I know exactly what you mean about feeling like a lawyer, in your suit and hailing a cab to the SEC (love that image) and then frantically scrubbing the floor half-naked hours later. (Except to complete the juxtaposition, you should really be scrubbing up some sort of bodily fluid expelled from one of your children rather than a beer cocktail.)

  7. Is something in the air lately? We have had three spills in the last week, and I've found myself on my hands and knees sopping up some kind of liquid from the wood floors. Ugh. That cocktail sounds awesome, though -- hope you have another pitcher around!

  8. I had that same coming home feeling in Arlington, where I was staying near the NSF headquarters. PhD types everywhere you turn. Smart conversation in line at Starbucks. It was so nice. You have made me so glad I have business travel planned next month, though it is decidedly less glamorous than yours! :)

    That last part made me laugh (with you, not at you!). Glad you saved the shoes, they sound lovely!

  9. Sounds busy!!! Next time you're in town, I'd love to try and meet up. Hint hint. ;)

  10. I really miss DC, especially the late night cafe-chats-with-friends part you mention. But somehow, even though I know tons of working DC moms (hell, I started one of the first big meetip groups), it still feels like there is a juxtaposition between Mommy me and DC resident me. I don't regret moving south to give my son good schools, parks, playgrounds, etc. But the career and individual part of me really does miss the electricity in the air and the way you can experience so many different cultures in only a day trip. I particularly miss the federally-funded museums. I would wonder the National Gallery of Art for hours. Sigh... Thanks for the nostalgia.