Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Hi everybody.  Thanks for the kind emails and messages while I've been away.  Here's a bit of an update for you:

Shortly after my last post, I was put on a trial team (my favorite type of assignment!!) for a case that was supposed to go to trial less than a month later.  As you can imagine, life got extremely hectic very quickly.  I don't like to post on the blog while on trial, because I have to assume:  1) opposing counsel is crazy and has researched everyone on our side; 2) they have found my blog; 3) every post I make during trial prep and trial is a window into how busy or not busy we are, which in turn is a window into our strategy.

The trial was grueling, but I did have a weekend or two during which I got to enjoy the city of Boston (where the trial was taking place).  Neptune's Oyster?  Holy geez, that place was incredible.  Plus, we were staying at the Ritz, so it's hard to be too miserable (even when facing down your third 20+ hour day in a row) when you can go "home" to a fluffy bed, a whirlpool bath, and free room service.

Still "trying" to lose the trial weight, but it was totally worth it.

Our trial concluded at the end of April (we won!!).  I made my way back home almost reluctantly.  Over the course of the last year or so, my six-year relationship, which had typically been very loving/functional/rewarding, had become difficult, rocky, and downright painful.  The relationship needed to end, which as you can imagine was an extremely hard and fraught decision to make after being with someone for so long and developing a shared future with that person.  I still struggle with whether this was the correct decision, and I don't really know what to do or how to act going forward, or whether to give in to the desire to try again, hoping that things might be different after the self-improvement work we have both done in the months of separation.

The closest I've ever come to posting my ex's picture on this blog.  (Incidentally, I TOTALLY recommend this bobblehead company if you are looking for an awesome gift for someone.  They were incredible to work with.)

Those of you who have ended long relationships with the person you thought was "The One*", how did you know it was time?  Did you ever try again with the same person?  How did that work out?  Was the other person able to change?  Were you?  Have you found new love since then?  How is it different?  Do you have some kind of clarity regarding whether you made the right or wrong decision in ending that previous relationship?  Basically, what do I need to hear, being in the place I am now?

*  I don't actually believe in the concept of "The One."  I don't think there is only one person who is the perfect end-all-be-all fit for us.  I think there are many people with whom any given person could have a happy and loving life.  I use "The One" here really to mean "[One of] The One[s]."

Despite the whirlwind incredible trial experience at my firm, I'd been feeling a growing dissatisfaction with the work since last summer.  See, I love trials.  Trials are the driving force that pumps my lifeblood and gives my work-life meaning.  And although my firm is notoriously awesome at giving attorneys trial experience (and indeed, I was on five trial teams, saw four jury selections, and three winning verdicts in my three years + one summer at the firm), the problem with a big firm is that you are never going to be the person giving the opening and closing argument in a big trial.  And even more, the hierarchical structure of a big firm means that for your first five or six years, you don't really get close to talking in court on a paying matter.  There's something about that process, in which the work you do is just pieces of a whole that were divided up and doled out by something else, that makes you start to atrophy in some ways.  You learn a TON by watching more experienced attorneys run these trial teams, but you start to lose that ability to see the whole forest, to think ten steps ahead, and to look at the bigger picture, because your more immediate job is on the smaller scale.

I have always wanted to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney ("AUSA").  It has been my dream job since at least the ninth grade --- or whenever I learned that the job existed.  AUSAs represent the United States, prosecuting federal criminals or defending U.S. agencies when they are sued.  AUSAs get to run their own cases, try their own trials, and enjoy all of the perks of federal employment.  These jobs are notoriously difficult to get, and for the past several years, a hiring freeze has been in place that made it nearly impossible to find an open position.  In fact, many districts began hiring Special AUSAs to work FOR FREE, and PEOPLE ARE STILL TAKING THOSE JOBS.

The hiring freeze lifted in December, and around February I started throwing out a few applications to various districts in which I could see myself living.  (Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Chicago, California...I almost threw my hat in the ring for the Virgin Islands but that just seemed way too extreme of a change.)  I didn't expect to get anything, since I'm still relatively junior and I lack some of the credentials I'm told are important for a position like this.

But sure enough, in March, I got an interview in Baltimore.  Everything about the position was perfect.  The position was in the civil division --- so I would get to practice the type of civil defense law I'd come to love at my firm (for example, civil division attorneys do a lot of medical malpractice defense and employment discrimination defense) --- but civil division attorneys are permitted to take small criminal cases in addition to their civil caseload, so I would have a taste of both types of law.  (Plus, criminal cases typically involve more court time than civil cases.)  The division was small, like my old firm, and filled with incredibly friendly and non-competitive people who loved that I bake pies and play poker.  It is close to D.C., so even though I would get the fresh start I craved in a new city with a lot going on within its borders, I would be close enough to my old town (~30 miles, or 50 minutes by car) that I would not have to say goodbye to any of my friends.

After three rounds of interviews, I was offered the job after a particularly brutal day during our trial.  My tears of frustration with the case turned into tears of gratitude and happiness that I'd had such an amazing experience at my firm, without which I surely could not have made this next step so soon, and that I would soon be starting a new adventure in my dream job.

I cleared my security check at the end of July, moved to Baltimore at the beginning of August, and now I'm starting a new chapter here.  Not only am I in a new city, making new friends and exploring a new life, but I've also said goodbye to my lavish law firm salary (this job was a 60% pay cut) and all of the associated luxuries.  I'm living in a house with two other girls now.  I have a huge living space to myself (I have my own floor of the house, along with my own bedroom, living room, and bathroom), but I'm sharing a kitchen and facing the fact that I have two mid-twenty-somethings roommates at a point in my life when I figured I would be married or engaged.  Ahhh, life, how funny you can be.  Luckily, my roommates (random craigslist people) are lovely and my house is comfortable, and it's only a fifteen-minute walk to work.  It is also only a fifteen minute walk from the new casino opening up in downtown Baltimore, which makes me sad to have my lush salary no longer.

But my new job has been incredible --- pretty much everything I hoped it could be --- which at the very least makes me feel validated in the choices I have made to get me to this point.

Anyway, there's a lot to share and a lot to write about.  I haven't figured out whether I want to continue writing or not, though; again, I must assume all of my opposing counsel have found this blog now that I'm the lead counsel (!!!) opposite them.  While I have not posted anything on here that is personally embarrassing or that I would not be happy to talk about in person, I have to rethink my online presence a bit.  Out of curiosity, are there any AUSAs or trial attorneys out there amongst my readers?  Do you have any thoughts on this subject?  Are any of you my opposing counsel?  :-D

I'm sorry to have left without a word so many months back.  There were so many changes in my life all at once, and some of them I'm sure you can understand I do not want to talk about in great detail on the internet.  My domain name comes up for renewal in a few months, so I guess I will make a decision about whether to continue by then, but in the meantime:  Hello, and I hope you are all doing well!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Did you know this was a thing?

I took a mini-mini road trip to Annapolis this past weekend and learned: people give crazy names to hot sauces, apparently?
 
 
 
Did you know that "Cooter" is another word for turtle? Me neither.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day

 
 
If you were thinking that today would be a good day to have matzo ball soup for lunch and experiment with a pork and lentil stew for dinner while working from home, you would be right.

What Jewish Girl doesn't like pork and matzo balls in the same day? What's this "kosher" thing of which you speak?

Do you guys have a snow day today? We've got what looks like six to eight inches here.
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Zone of All Probability

Have you ever had one of those days that is so horrible --- just one bad thing after another --- that you arrive at a point when you think that nothing worse could possibly happen?  And then something worse happens?

Have you ever felt your tether to your own tragic reality break at that point, not in the sense of having a nervous breakdown or anything, but such that you no longer feel any sadness, fear, anxiety, or any other negative emotion, neither at the wreckage of the day already laid waste in front of you nor the possibility of yet another bad thing improbably finding its way into your universe?  You go from panicked and depressed to completely calm in a blink.

I have days like that periodically, and I had one of them yesterday. I felt that little "snip" in my brain when my thoughts go from "ACK THIS IS A TERRIBLE DAY" to "Of course this other terrible thing has happened, how entertaining."


Every time that happens to me, I think about this passage from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which just so perfectly captures that feeling:

I pull up to a light, next to a bunch of young black kids.* Maybe they’ll shoot me. I’m in the zone of all probability. I cannot be surprised. Earthquakes, locusts, poison rain would not impress me. Visits from God, unicorns, bat-people with torches and scepters–it’s all plausible. If these kids happen to be bad kids, and have guns, and want to shoot people like me, it will be me, the glass will break and the bullet will come through and I will not be surprised. With the bullet in my head, I will drive my car into a tree, and as I am waiting to be pulled from the wreck, nearly dead, I will not panic or yell. I will think only: Weird, this is exactly what I expected.

Here's to a new day.


*  ETA, in response comments expressing alarm at this passage: To be clear, this passage is a piece of literature.  In the context of the book, the passage is discussing completely crazy and improbable things happening.  As the author describes it, the likelihood of kids shooting him in the head just because they are black is crazy and improbable, and in the broader context of the book is not a statement on race (i.e., it is not a commentary that young black kids shoot white people), but is rather sort of a tongue-in-cheek jab at perceptions of race.  I encourage you to read more about the book, the author (who does an impressive amount of work with youth in under-served communities), or to read the book itself (not an affiliate link).  It is a fantastic piece of storytelling and one of my favorite books.  If you're upset (or not upset) by the passage, I encourage you to discuss it in the comments.  Hopefully folks who have actually read the book will chime in as well on either side of that spectrum.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A few nice things to start your Monday

1. Check out this cute little fox cookie jar I found at Target!
 
 
2. I went on a hike this weekend! We went to Bull Run, which is about an hour outside of DC in a town called Haymarket, Virginia. The hike was about two hours total, so not too long, but long enough to work up a good appetite for brunch!
 
Hiking OOTD. I am such a newb. Also I was wearing Kate Spade earrings because see also, newb.
 
3. My second round of foster kittens were adopted this weekend! They were pretty much the perfect cats and I was so sad to see them go...
 
KITTY SPOON, PEOPLE.
 
4. A woman at BJ's Wholesale Club almost beaned me in the head with a 20-pack of ramen noodles! My crime? I nicely asked the lady behind me to allow me to put my purchases on the conveyer belt before she did, a request that seemed necessary since she bypassed me and started loading up her own stuff on all available space. Drama be following me around lately, apparently.
 
How was your weekend?
 
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