Friday, April 26, 2013

Cue Cards

Scene: Last Saturday, at Vot's work party. Keep in mind, these are IP people.
Cast: Me, a partner, and bystanders (Vor, one other partner, newish associates)
Topic: Interview questions

Partner: Yeah, the guy seemed okay, but I really just wanted to ask that killer questions, the one that just gets to the ESSENCE of a person.

Me: You've found the ultimate question? For life, the universe, and everything?

Partner: YES. Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings?

(I inhale my wine, laughing)

Partner: Let see if I would have hired you, Grace. Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

Me: If it's just me, I'm going to watching Lord of the Rings.  That being said, I CANNOT wait to show my daughter Star Wars.  It's opening up an entire universe to her in a way Lord of the Rings doesn't. To put it simply, Lord of the Rings is clearly a clearly superior trilogy all round, but Star Wars has the untouchable classic status.

Parter: Hired.

End scene.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Hypothetical (Normal) Child

A friend of mine from college sent out an email the other day.  She works full time, is considering going back to school, and she and her husband want a baby.  She wanted to know what we all thought—some of us who have older kids, having had them either in college or right afterwards, some who don’t have kids, some who are pregnant with no kids, and some of us in the trenches of poop and vomit and newly mobile babies who get sick all the time from daycare. 

The responses ranged from “YAYAYAYAYAY BAAAAAABIES!” to “OMG NO.”  One girl and I were silent on the whole email chain.  Her baby is only 4 months younger than Lis, and we are the only two who are lawyers, working full time at notoriously stressful jobs, like the original email sender, with young children.  The rest have older kids, or not yet born kids, or no kids. 

Obviously, our silence went noticed, and she eventually asked—what about you two? What do you think?  I held my breath, then put on my big girl panties, and waded in.

The actual living breathing child is always worth it, even when so you’re frustrated you want to cry and scream and throw things.  That child will always be worth it, and you will always love him or her.  The hypothetical child is another question.  The hypothetical child gives you none of the “benefits” (smiles, hugs, and snuggles), and all you can see is the struggle.  That struggle is very real, and even more so when the hypothetical child becomes the actual one.  Your schedule, your life will be disrupted in ways you can’t possibly imagine.  So, in my opinion, there’s never a good time to become a parent, because it’s always inconvenient.  It’s never worth it, until the hypothetical child is a real one.  Then all of a sudden, it is. 

Well, you can imagine how that went over.  Perhaps I should set aside my crazy career and bask in the glory of being a stay at home mom and be all things to all people, but especially all things to my daughter.  Perhaps I am selfish.  Perhaps I am a terrible person for even suggesting something like this.  Perhaps I am a terrible mother for not loving every minute of this.  Perhaps I am a disgrace to working mothers, since I obviously can't handle this grace and aplomb. Perhaps I should never utter a complaint about working and being a mom, because I am doing a disservice to feminism.

Perhaps I need another child, a sibling for Lis, to—I don’t know what the point of that suggestion was.  To make me more humble? Embrace motherhood? Give Lis a sibling? Make things easier because there is a playmate?  I’m really not sure.

Actually, the whole conversation after that didn’t bother me, because, whatever.  I’m not judging their choices—it’s great that they feel that way about being a parent.  That works for them and their family.  This is what works for me and mine.  SO, mommy wars, whatever.  It honestly didn’t bother me.

What bothers me is the suggestion of a second child.  Now that Lis is over one, I’ve been getting that suggestion quite a bit.  That bugs the hell out of me.  I’m not ready.  Vor’s not ready.  Maybe we never will be ready.  That, other people of the world, is none of your business. 

But, by way of a PSA, let me explain something to you, the public at large who may or may not be reading this.  If you say something to the effect of “When are you having another?” and you either get no response, a vague one, or a response indicating “never” or “not any time soon,” That is your stopping point.  By way of a further PSA, if you know the person well, and you know that the babyhood was hellish for some reason—bad pregnancy, horrific birth, surgery on an infant, never sleeping screaming colicky baby, NEVER say anything to the effect of “That wasn’t normal! It will be normal next time! It won’t happen again!”

Normal.  Normal.  Normal.  When you say stuff like that, that’s all that rings in my ears.  The echo of the ringing sounds something like this: Not normal. Abnormal.  You’re not normal.  She’s not normal.  Not right.  All wrong.  And then, for the final kicker: INVALID. 

Listen. I get it’s not too likely that will have another cranio kid.  I get that not all babies have such major sleep issues. Every parent out there of a “not normal” child or experience gets that too. But that is OUR NORMAL.  That is my life, and that is what is normal in my life.  You don’t get to invalidate my fears and my experience and my life with a wave of your hand and the use of the phrase “not normal.”  So when you tell me that I should have another kid, and not worry, because things will be normal this time, I kind of want to take your head and rub your nose in my experience until your face is absolutely steeped in the terror and exhaustion of the whole thing.  Normally (NORMALLY) I would not wish what I did on my worst ENEMY, but by saying that, you almost take yourself to a whole new level of worst enemy.   When you tell me I should have another kid, and not to worry, because things will be normal, you sound like an insensitive idiot who needs a good dose of reality and what is actually normal in the world.

When you tell me my life is not normal, you tell me it's invalid. It's not invalid. My experiences aren't invalid.  They make up a decent percent of the population, and it's normal for that percentage too. 

You don't get to tell me that that my life isn't normal--it's my life, and it's my normal, and I'm not ready for any more normal right now, hypothetical or otherwise.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Russians Are Coming

I spent yesterday totally immersed in child molestation cases and the CPS/criminal case that came out of them. It sucked. Fortunately, I got to end the day on a lighter note, presenting to a group of 3rd-4th graders at a local public school. I go to three public schools once a month, and present on different law topics. Generally, I avoid my area of law since (a) its boring to anyone outside it and (b) these ARE kids, and at least some of them are likely in the system, and they get enough of that in their home life, thankyouverymuch. So one month was animal law, then it was sports law, and then movie law, and this week, it’s laws in and about national parks.
For the most part, it’s about creating national parks, and what you can do in them, and federal law, blah blah blah. But I have a section on weird state laws that apply in the national parks. Did you know that in Indiana, it’s illegal to catch a fish with your bare hands without a permit? Alrighty then. Also, in Alaska, it’s illegal to push a live moose out of a moving airplane. I’m glad someone told me, I might have accidentally done that. In Arizona, cutting down a cactus can be punishable by 25 years in prison. I’m sure some of these edge closer to urban legend line, though I did look them up, and there are lots of exceptions, and’s, and or’s, but there you have it. NO CACTUS FOR YOU.
Also very cool about my job today was meeting with a delegation from the Russian equivalent of the department of child services. Yeah, that’s right. The Russians came to my office, and I got to tell them about our program and how the Indiana DCS is set up and the non profits that back it up. I got to learn about their system as well. We were talking for two hours, and it was really great. It was awesome. I can’t even tell you how TOTALLY FREAKING COOL it was.
They were amazed at two things about our system—(1) the fragmentation, both between the states and within the states and (2) the volunteers. From what they were telling me, volunteerism is not really a concept that has caught on in Russia, and instead, there are government agencies that employ massive amounts of people to take care of things that volunteer agencies take care of here. They were amazed that my nonprofit and DCS do similar work—apparently, there are NO nonprofits in Russia that overlap with what the government does. They were in turn baffled by our system—there’s us, on the civil end of things, and then there’s CPS, and there’s DCS, and there’s the foster care system, and there’s the residential treatment facilities, and so on. All these systems, although they work together, are separate. Not so in Russia—it’s all one massive department.
I’ve never taken a single Russian language class. My language was (is) French. I have always known that I had a gift for language, and to this day, I kick myself for not doing that in college instead of English/Biology/Psychology. I lived in Finland for summer, and by the time I left, I could get by. I spent three weeks in Germany, and in that time, I learned enough that I could get myself unlost and find the bathroom or whatever. Even as I was sitting there, listen to them and the translator, I quickly got “yes”, “no”, “child”, “government”, “money”, and “thank you”, as well as a few others. I miss languages. I miss having time to learn and read them, and I miss being able to flip on the TV or radio in another language and just listen. I would love to go audit a class at one of the local colleges in another language, but I barely have time for a ten minute workout right now.
Well. Maybe someday. Until then--Do svidaniya!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Which Grace Displays Her Loss Of Mind

The Grace court decided that writing this book [prospective publication date of 2014] can be extremely depressing at times, especially when working on Chapter 10 [Sexual Abuse and Child Molesting]. Id. at 1298. See also In Re Paternity of Poor Kid Who Has Craptastic Parents Who Beat The Hell Out of Her, 123 N.E.2d 456 (Ind. 2013) (holding that these parents sucked and the trial court was totally right in terminating their rights, go away and stop appealing this case, no you can’t have transfer to the U.S. Supreme Court, don’t you know anything about how this works).

The Court opined that I, Grace, am fantastic for coming up with another word besides stated or held, and that opined is a really great word to describe what they are doing in their opinion. Grace the Fantastic v. The Evil Publication Taking Over Her Life, 789 N.E.2d 123 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013); but see In Re Grace Loses All Memory of How to Bluebook, 456 N.E.2d 789 (Ind. 2013) (noting that Grace totally forgot how to use contra, infra, and supra, and started making this shit up).


Obviously, this Deskbook that we are writing and publshing has invaded my brain.

Friday, April 12, 2013


It's been... difficult. Interesting. Lively. Exhausting.  All those things--it's been all those things around here, and more.

This new job is running me down, fast.  I love it--I love all the research and writing and presenting at CLEs, etc.  It's just really hard to be doing that, still carrying my own (much smaller) litigation docket, and training my replacement, which means going to court on all my old cases.  It also involves quite a bit of gentle redirecting opposing counsel.  They automatically come to me, because I was the main litigation for so long, so I have to nudge them to right people now.  I'm getting to the point where I am more firmly and less gently nudging them.

I've also taken on a huge commitment at work in the litigation end of things--a new case that is only a week old and threatening to swamp me.  Bonus, I've gotten us signed up for insane amounts of conferences in October, and I have myself committed to a series of presentations at local schools for teachers and students.

In baby land, I no longer have a baby. I apparently have a toddler who toddles and runs and climbs and spins and sticks things electrical outlets (or rather, tries to) and makes off with the remotes and climbs on the dog.

Also, she doesn't stay still for a picture anymore, so all the pictures I have are blurry.  I much MUCH more enjoy this stage than small baby land.  Now that I am in this stage, I feel free to admit that I kind of hated non mobile baby stage.  This stage certainly has its challenges--the sense of a fruit fly, the strength of an angry grizzly bear, the determination of a bulldog, the complete lack of reasoning, much like a Dalmatian--but she is so much more enjoyable than the non mobile must always be entertained baby she was.  

Oh.  We're back to not sleeping. So that might have something to do with the lack of posting and huge exhaustion.  (see below for a rare moment of sleep)

Lots of people we know, couples we are friends with have kids her age, and they're either pregnant or trying to get pregnant.  I know there's a bunch of my fellow MILPs out there doing the same, or maybe you already have second kids.  I just... I can't.  When some tells me the good news, yes, I am happy for them--it's fantastic!  

But when I try to consider it in the context of my own life, I feel like throwing up.  I really never thought I would feel this way. I thought, I always thought, we would have (at least) two kids.  But the thought of a second child is the stuff of nightmares right now.  It's everything--it's my job, it's our marriage, it's his job, it's and how jealous I am of my time with her, it's the terrible pregnancy, it's the surgery, it's the not sleeping.  It all is just too overwhelming to even consider. 

I also have four unpublished drafts for blog posts, so I SWEAR I will get around to that.

In short, I'm keeping my head above water, barely, and using a straw to reach the air when the water passes over head.