Thursday, May 30, 2024

I was never meant for the Oregon Trail

I have half-written at least five posts since my last one, which you all gave such beautiful comments and sent such beautiful emails after reading. I've been super busy at work and life and just trying to be fully present for all of it. With the holiday on Monday, I got really close to actually finishing a post, but there was so much to catch up on that I ran out of time. Plus we needed to have some lazy family pool time, and then Landon had a date that night and I wanted to be suitably unoccupied when he came home so I could hear about it.
Then on Tuesday morning at exactly 6:05 am we SHOT out of bed as our phones screamed at us at a higher volume than I thought my permanently-set-on-silent phone could go.


I jumped up to fully standing by the bed while James rolled over and silenced his phone. I went downstairs and saw a green sky. I ran back up and bumped into a Claire emerging with wide eyes from her room under a blanket. The wind was WHIPPING around the house, lightning was crashing right on top of itself, and the thunder was so loud our picture frames shook. I heard the tornado sirens and decided it was time to move the family downstairs. Cora popped up when prompted, but Landon took about five hard shakes and even then, as the entire world sounded like it was crashing down from heaven into his room with its wall of windows, finally woke up with an exasperated "what?!!!".

We assembled in our little cubby room hallway between the garage and the house. Plenty of room and no windows, with doors that close on both ends. At one point, we felt the pressure change. My ears popped. Milo went full poof. Maggie, our deaf dog who barks once a year, starting barking like crazy. It felt apocalyptic. I'm certain a funnel cloud was nearby.

A few seconds later, our power went out. Cell service was down. The storm raged. And so we sat on the floor. Eventually, the wind calmed a little and we moved out to the living room. Around 7 a.m. we all tumbled onto the couch and fell back asleep together. I woke up again at 8:15 and realized we still didn't have cell service or data or power and I really needed to get to work. And so I did, getting ready with my cellphone light as the sky outside was still black as night.

Once at work I had about a million emails that had come in between 6 a.m. when I lost cell service at 9 a.m. when I arrived in the office in jeans, very unwashed hair in a bun, and no makeup. Work was constant. No one I'm currently working with is in Dallas, so the day started at 100 mph and stayed that way until about 10 pm.

The girls joined me at one point, to borrow the office WiFi and air conditioning and cold beverages. James came for a bit and set up shop in a guest office. Everyone (but me) went home at 7 and James made dinner by lamplight because he is more frugal than I am and wanted to use up things in the fridge. The only things that work in our house are the cold water, the oven, and the stove top. He made some delicious burritos and washed everything in cold water. I got home at 10 and ate a cold burrito that was incredible.
Landon and Cora were able to sleep at friends' houses who had power. Claire, James and I were able to sleep fairly comfortably in the house, since the storm had brought in a semi-cold front. Claire needed all 3 lanterns in her room, but was able to sleep after some initial doubts.

On Wednesday morning, all 3 kids went to the airport to fly to Houston for a pre-planned, but now incredibly well-timed, trip to stay with my parents for a few days. They packed their suitcases with dirty clothes they couldn't wash before they left. I worked a lot and used some hotel points to make a reservation near the house in case we still didn't have power. James and I met for a 7:30 dinner reservation by my office and then headed home to deal with the pets. The house was pretty warm and stodgy, but we felt the pets would be okay for the night, so we packed our bags and headed to the hotel about 9:45 pm.

Where we were turned away at the front desk because they were out of rooms. "But we already paid for the room?" I though I very reasonably countered. "Sorry." said the front desk clerk who was not sorry. And so we walked back out to the car with our bags and our home printer under James's arm because he needed to print a bunch of shipping labels for Fike Swim orders. From the parking lot we were able to book another, pricier, hotel further away.

We finally checked in at hotel 2 at 10:15 pm and passed out immediately. Hot showers were enjoyed in the morning and then I was at work, wearing the same jeans and hairstyle I wore the day before, and James was back at our hot house taking care of the pets. As a side note, I will be wearing jeans on my person and my hair on top of my head until power is restored.
Another storm came through midday with tons of lightening and our estimated time of power restoration went from "end of the day Friday" to "hopefully by the end of the weekend."

Luckily (?) I guess, the new storm brought lower temps again, so James and I are back at the house, planning to spend the night with our animals like the pioneer people we now are.

Tomorrow is Friday and if we still don't have power I'm blowing all my Marriott points on a night at the Ritz. This week has been INSANE and this was supposed to be our special fun time without children and dammit we will enjoy it. Even if all my food is rotting in my fridge and my kids helpfully washed their dishes before they left without realizing the disposal doesn't work without electricity and so now things should start growing out of my sink drain any moment. Also our roof is leaking even though we just paid a roofer what seemed like an unreasonable amount to fix the leak (in this 4 year old roof) a month ago. But EVEN IF all that, we will have a nice Friday night, here in a house in the 21st century (maybe, yet increasingly unlikely) or in a very nice hotel that allows dogs so Maggie can live the luxury life she deserves.

In truth we're very lucky right now. The house is fine, other than the occasional smell, the kids are happily ensconced in Houston, and James and I can deal. My office has power and that's where I spend most of my time anyway. But would I still like for the power to be magically restored by morning? Yes, yes I REALLY would.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Tortured Poetry

Law School 3L year, 2007

I have so many pictures from the last two weeks as I've been launched back into the real world. It's been so busy it's hard to imagine that only a month ago I still had a uterus. Now I'm back to very much full time hours, multiple great, active cases, two work trips done with NY and DC scheduled for next week, cute Spring outfits ready to go thanks to a recent visit from Bonnie, squezing in walks before work (or after), and not having nearly enough time to blog or finish the TV shows I started. I write all these great posts in my head while I walk along the lake and I never get to write them down. So tonight, while Cora is finishing her "energy efficient house model GT project" to her insane perfectionist standards (I thought I had high standards, then I had Cora and learned that my standards are garbage), I am determined to get this one thought written down.

And that grand, incredible, must-blog-it thought is this: I really like "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart" by Taylor Swift from The Tortured Poets Department.

TTPD is not my favorite album of hers, but I do really like a few of the songs and this is one of them. It just speaks to me. And while I was walking today (after 9.5 hours at the office and before picking up Cora from swimming while James took Claire to the doctor to get a pink eye diagnosis), and listening to it on repeat, I realized why:

'Cause I'm a real tough kid, I can handle my shit
They said, "Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it" and I did
Lights, camera, bitch smile, in stilettos for miles
He said he'd love me for all time
But that time was quite short
Breaking down, I hit the floor
All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, "MORE"
I was grinning like I'm winning, I was hitting my marks
'Cause I can do it with a broken heart.

This is working mom life to me. Maybe it's all life, but I've experienced most of mine as a working mom and this is it. I am a tough kid. I do handle my shit. Lights, camera, bitch smile now rocks through my head before every Zoom call. I may not wear stilettos much anymore, but there are days when I'm walking out the door in my business clothes and I'm leaving one metaphorical mess or another behind me and it's just that: lights, camera, bitch smile. This is my job, it pays for our life and everything in it, and sometimes you have to walk your stilettos right around an emotional teenager, an annoyed spouse, a sad bulldog, and/or whatever else you know you're going to have to pick right back up when you get home again.

I've been pretty head over heels in love with James since 2001 so the romantic heartbreak I think our goddess Taylor is alluding to doesn't hit with me, but I have absolutely had pieces of me shattered on the floor with my emails chanting MORE. I've been grinning like I'm winning, I've been hitting my marks, and I've been doing with with a broken heart.

I've been in important on-the-record testimony in another city while a child was blowing up my phone, sobbing and terrified, in a full-blown previously unknown mental health crisis. I've had mornings when I have to leave things with James unfinished, both of us annoyed, neither of us able to fix it in the hectic morning rush and hating, absolutely hating, knowing that my marriage, which is the often taken-for-granted absolutely-rock-hard foundation of my life, is shaky and weird and I simply cannot fix it right now. I've missed things: not any big things, but plenty of little ones. I've worked through family drama, personal spirals, health issues, and more. We all do. We can do it with a broken heart.

I love my job. I mean, I wouldn't do it if I didn't both need money and get paid, but I do genuinely like it. I love being a counselor to my clients. I like the statutory certainty of the federal securities law framework combined with the persuasiveness of case law and regulatory interpretation. I like the order of working in my own office, I like spending most of my days reading and writing things, and I like being around other adults pretty much all the time. I love business development- I love speaking and writing in my area of expertise, and I genuinely enjoy making connections with people in the market. But it's hard. The actual work is hard, but FAR more than that is the hard of doing it while the rest of your life is being lived in and around you.

I never want to focus on the negative, and I don't. But I've found it's important when I mentor our younger associates to let them know that yeah, this feels hard because it is. I have missed things. I have had really hard moments where I was a better lawyer than a mom for that short time block, and while it makes me sad, I'm also still certain it was the right thing to do right then. None of us are doing this perfectly. We need to judge in broad strokes, and in my quiet moments of reflection, I do think I'm a good lawyer who serves her clients well, and I do think I'm a good wife and mother to the people who matter the very most to me.

But it's hard. And sometimes you're doing it with a broken heart.

Law Firm Partner Retreat, 2024