RIS (Repetitive Instruction Syndrome)

“Your Dad is on the phone with a client, so I am going to need you guys to play quietly in your room and the living room please.” I instructed the children, as I set out a basket of oranges, graham crackers, grapes, and cheese slices, placed “Over the Hedge” on their little t.v. screen in their room, and provided them with juice and two different colors of clay, with various implements of clay creation to entertain them with.

“Sure mom!” Monkey said “I will keep Otter in our room and play quietly!”

Otter smiled, sat on his chair, grabbed a piece of cheese and the play clay knife and began industriously sawing away. Pleased that my plan to entertain the children seemed feasible, I went to the bathroom.

My mistake.

As soon as my pants were down, literally, both children were screaming their heads off in the kitchen, mere inches from the office door and Lee’s phone call with the all important client.

Rapidly interrupting and cleaning up from my heretofore necessary, but now less important, bodily functions I sped out of the bathroom and hustled everyone back into the kid’s room.

“What on earth is going on?” I demanded from Monkey, exasperated that my careful providing of snacks and two distractions had failed so quickly and dramatically. “Didn’t I just finish telling you that Daddy is on the phone with a client and you both need to play quietly in your room?”

“Well, Otter was fine until he took some of my yellow clay and ran off with it so I decided to go get it back and make him play with his own yellow clay but he didn’t like that so he ran to the office to get daddy but I knew you didn’t want him to so I stopped him in the kitchen and yelled at him so he yelled back. ” Monkey replied, in one breath.

Hmmm.

“Okay, let me get this straight. Your brother, who is two and doesn’t really understand the whole your clay/his clay concept, ran off with your yellow clay. Instead of simply letting him go and taking his yellow clay, you chased him into the kitchen, where you weren’t supposed to go, and took it back, thereby making him yell and cry. Then when he wanted to go get Daddy, you yelled at him outside the office door, making him yell and cry again. All this right after I explained to you that Daddy was on an important phone call with a client and needed the house to be quiet. Do I have that right?”

“Yes” Monkey responded, hanging her head. “Sorry mom. I won’t do it again.”

Oh, but she will. For you see, mere minutes after I deposited the children in the bedroom with new snacks, a restarted movie, new play clay, the option to paint with the “no mess” paints and paper, and NEW instructions to play quietly because Daddy was on a phone call, Monkey engaged Otter in a game of “Who can scream the loudest.” (Otter won by the way, he has a scream that can break glass.)

Then, when I blocked access to the kitchen off with a baby gate and locked the bathroom door in an attempt to at least keep them physically further away from Lee, Monkey thought she and Otter should ride around the dining room, nearest the baby gate,  on Otter’s loud new scooter, singing loudly into the volume enhancing microphones they bought with their allowances yesterday. The microphones I am now the proud temporary owner of.

I told her to get off the scooter, that she wasn’t allowed to ride it until her Dad was off the phone. She pushed it over and loudly stomped into her room yelling about how unfair it was. Then, when I followed her into her room, she screamed her head off, horror movie style, because “I scared her.” I asked her if she would like me to lock her in her room for the rest of the day and cancel the day’s activities, because I had just about had enough of her unwillingness to listen, follow instructions, and behave like a sane person. I then told her to remain in her room, on her bed, silently watching her movie until I came and told her she could do otherwise.

Of course, when I told my husband about the trials and tribulations I suffered while providing him with some semblance of peace for his phone calls this morning, he told me that my mom and dad were probably high fiving it and laughing hysterically upon reading this, well revenged for some of the shit I had pulled on them growing up.

I informed him that statements like that were only wise if he was attempting to have a long and happy marriage with my mother.

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Taut

stretched tight, skin aching,

heart beating, loud and frantic.

Afraid if the slightest rip appears, the band will snap!

The page will tear, the fragile hold we have on life will be no more.

So many of the people I know, or know of, seem to be desperately holding on to what they have, blindly putting one foot in front of the other, simply so they can continue to exist. Certain that this sort of blind continuing is what is required in order to survive.

I have discovered recently that the problem with this blind moving forward is that one doesn’t seems to be able to remember that sharing our burdens with each other lessens them, eases the weight they place on our shoulders. When the world seems to be crushing you with its unceasing ability to push your head underwater while you desperately try to breathe, calling a friend is often the best way to catch your breath. Even if that friend is going to spend as much time telling you about their personal suffering as you spend telling them about yours.

Actually no, I would say especially if that friend is going to spend as much time telling you about their personal suffering as you will spend telling them about yours.

I have been swimming underwater without air for so long now that my chest hurts with an almost constant longing for breath. Yet, regardless of how much I know my friends and family love and support me, I can see how tautly they are stretched too. I shudder at the thought of further burdening them with whispers of my troubles. So when asked how I am, I say “fine.” I soldier on. I choose not to burden them with my troubles, which means I also don’t make much time for theirs.

But the other night Hatchet and I took our girls out for an evening date. We set them loose on the park and she and I talked. Really talked. We talked about how much life sucks. She shared her life suckage and I shared mine. Suddenly, there were bubbles of air in my dark, oppressive pool of life. They tickled up around me, caressing my face, arms, legs, like a natural spring sauna, bringing with them life and laughter, smiles and breath.

Three hours of being sad together. Three hours of walking in our muck and shit together and I was lighter.

She and I aren’t stupid people, so we did it again last night, and today, I am lighter yet again.

My life is more possible based on three hours a week of shared suffering than I ever imagined it could be.

So I offer up a challenge I suppose,  make time for each other again. Break out of the routines you have locked yourself in, find that friend you have been convincing yourself you were saving from having to deal with your troubles. Call them up, share your burdens, and ask them to share theirs.

You will find yourself loosening up again, better able to breathe, simply by sharing in each other’s stories.

(Oh and Hatchet dear, this one is for you.)

Bye bye Mama milk…

Last week Otter and I said goodbye to nursing. He was two months past his second birthday.

The decision to wean was not made lightly. He had been growing more independent for quite some time, blossoming the way breastfed babies do. Then suddenly he began to regress, demanding more and more milk, becoming less willing to eat solid foods and becoming violent and angry when I wouldn’t let him nurse. I started feeling as though keeping him on the breast was doing him more harm than good, a feeling that started inside me, and grew. One day he and I had a huge fight about nursing, and we decided, together, that it was time to stop. I told him, in one week, we say bye bye to Mama milk.

That week we snuggled a lot more, we nursed for longer periods, even though we stayed on our three times a day schedule, mornings, naptimes, and bedtime. When weaning day came, we woke up and I invited him to have as long a nurse as he wanted, because it was our bye bye to Mama milk nurse. It was a wonderful nurse. We nursed for a long time. We smiled at each other, patted each other’s cheeks, played with our hair, smiled. He would sit up and talk from time to time, and then settle back in to nurse some more. We snuggled close, took our time, really said goodbye.

Then we got up, got dressed, and went out to Target to get Otter his very first “Big Boy” toy. He picked out a plasmaglider, this very cool self propelled glider. He was very proud of it, rode it through the store, the checkout line, and under my very paranoid eye, even out to the car. He has ridden it around the house constantly ever since. He is thrilled with it, because sister even likes it, a sure sign that it is, in fact, a Big Boy toy.

This week has been surprisingly easy for my boy. We have had a few times when he has asked for milk, and then gotten sad when I have reminded him that we said goodbye to it, but for the most part he has not missed it. He has been co-sleeping again to make up for the lost closeness, and has been less willing to be away from me during the day. He has been needier. However, it seems the milk was more a comfort thing for him, than it was a source of food, as he doesn’t miss the nutrient as much as he does the snuggles.

As for me, I have found it very hard. I have not only said goodbye to nursing Otter, I have said goodbye to nursing. I have said goodbye to babyhood. I am no longer the mother of infants. All those silent moments of communication, spent staring deeply into my baby’s eyes while they greedily drink away, every swallow bringing satisfaction, knowing I am personally responsible for making them healthy and strong. All the soft, fuzzy head snuggled against my arm moments. All the hushed nursery moments. All the first balloons, and baby chortles. At thirty three years of age, that magical part of my life is behind me. Otter was my last baby.

I am on to the hustle and bustle of noisier children, busy children with questions and activities, and the certainty the Mommy doesn’t hold the world in her hand and certainly doesn’t always know what she is doing. I am on to PTO meetings and playdates, boyfriends and girlfriends, allowances and driving permits. I am on to children who don’t have time to snuggle me, and won’t want to spend an hour on Saturday morning cuddled in bed with me, just talking and playing with my hair.

Otter took well to weaning. Me, not so much.

Another “Topo” moment…

I borrow the above lingo from my friend Kate. I have been experiencing an increasing number of unpleasant side effects from the Topomax. (My medication of choice for controlling the Dr. Strangelove style seizure accompanying my form of Epilepsy.)

Yesterday and today I have been trying to ignore a ridiculous level of joint pain and the sense that someone took a whip to the bottoms of my feet for several hours. My gums are super sensitive to pressure, bleed at the drop of a hat, and the inside of my lips feel as though I have been sucking on sour candy for days on end. The most frustrating part is that my doctor is refusing to consider that these problems may be caused by the drug. As if, in addition to suddenly coming down with Epilepsy, I have also simultaneously developed sudden onset rhumetoid arthritis, gingivitis, and a number of other ailments.

I asked her if she had ever heard of Occam’s Razor, or the law of parsimony, and then promptly scheduled an appointment with the University of Colorado Advanced Neurology Department. Thanks to a friend’s Mama, who works there, I will be seen at the end of the month. It usually takes four to sixth months to get in to see these doctors, as this is the national leading clinic for the treatment and care of Epilepsy. I am happy there are people who love me and are willing to call in favors for me right now. Bless them.

I am feeling less scattered, but still seem to be forgetting words. This terrifies me on so many levels, because I rarely if ever forget anything. One of the reasons the law appealed to me, litigation in particular, is my ability to recall, with nigh perfect clarity, conversations, things I have read, etc.  It has helped me in the courtroom on more than one occassion. This “side effect” of losing short term memory and being unable to remember words is making my job very difficult to do indeed. I am going to have to stop this drug for that reason alone if it gets any worse, regardless of how effective it has been at preventing migraines and seizures.

I only have two weeks until the new doctors examine my files, my tests, and me. Maybe they will have a different take on medication. Maybe Topomax is not the one for me, despite being 22 pounds thinner and headache free, I am thinking the downsides outnumber the up.

Jaguarundi lawsuit goes live, June 17th…

On behalf of my client, WildEarth Guardians, who has graciously granted permission to discuss the details of the case in the press and blogosphere, I filed suit against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on June 17th for failure to prepare and implement a recovery plan for two sub-species of Jaguarundi.

As we chose to file in Texas, I filed pro hac vice, through local counsel Pete Thompson of Thompson Marsh. Filing Pro Hac basically means Pete kindly agreed to let me file under his license and reputation with the Texas bar, as I am not licensed in that jurisdiction.

To summarize our claim a little; the Endangered Species Act requires the Secretary of the Interior develop and implement recovery plans for endangered and threatened species as ultimate purpose of the Act is to recover species to the point that the protections of the Act are no longer necessary. Well, these two sub-species of Jaguarundi were listed as endangered one year before Star Wars, A New Hope hit the big screen, and the Secretary still doesn’t have a recovery plan in place to help insure these species survival. We are arguing that this is undue delay and are asking the court order the Secretary prepare and implement such a plan posthaste.

There is a lot more legalese in the complaint, which you can read in the press release linked to above or again here. (You really don’t have to read it though. I won’t be hurt if you choose not to. I promise.)

Wish us luck!!

ESA Recovery Plan World Cloud

* ESA Recovery Plan word cloud created using Wordle

I’m equal to it… fuck that… I am more than equal to it.

I used to believe I could do anything.

Over the past few years I began to realize that belief was born more of my youth and ignorance than it was of any innate capability or superhuman ability. I began to doubt myself, curb my own enthusism, stop tooting my own horn.

Well, as my dearly departed godmother Arie used to say “If you don’t tooteth your own horn, your horn will remain untooteth.”

So today I decided that realization was just plain wrong.

Clearly, whily my youthful self was woefully mistaken about things such as choosing first husbands and the wisdom of pairing three inch heels with stretch pants, she was wise beyond her years in the believing in myself department. This current me could stand to learn a lot from the sheer unmitigated temerity and chutzpah that younger me had when it came to believing what she deserved. Why is that?

Why should a teenaged girl with no credentials be more determined to believe she deserves the world on a platter than a thirty something with a resume peppered with successful interships and clerkships, a pile of degrees, and licenses lining her walls? If anything the roles should be reversed. I should be more willing to demand the world now than I have ever been, or at the least, more willing to believe I deserve it, should my hard work and diligence result in a nicely sized slice.

Yet, here I am. Can I?…. Should I?…. Have I paid enough dues?….Worked hard enough?….Do I have enough experience?…..Is everyone else out there better than me?/smarter than me?/more prepared than me?/better connected than me?…

Oh how that list drones on.

Today I decided to throw the list out. Tear it up, throw it out, tell my older, “wiser” self to shut the fuck up, and start believing in myself again.

Let me tell you something my teenaged self knew intrinsically; no one else out there in the world is going to come along and reinforce you. Your boss isn’t going to come along and tell you how amazing you are, and how much they need you at the company, and hand you a promotion. If you want to get ahead, you are going to have to believe you deserve it, and then make the people with the power to promote you believe you deserve it.

And if you are like me, and you have your own business, no one is going to walk into your door and tell you what an amazing business you have. You are going to have to sell them on it. Opening your doors to the world is like opening your heart and soul. You have to push them open, and them gather the world into them, so you had damn well better believe with ever fiber of your being that you are absolutely amazing. I have never met a client who went out of their way to tell me what an amazing lawyer I was, unless they started out as an old family friend.

So today marks the start of a new era of temerity and chutzpah.

Yes, I can do anything. I have my own business, I have a license to sue, and damn it, I am just that damn good.

Cats, Mussels, Insects, and the air you breathe….

Environmental law is a strange legal creature. I like to imagine it looks a little like a hybrid car would ten to fifteen years in the future, still in pretty good shape, but with some parts held together with duct tape here and there. Our environmental laws require businesses to clean up the toxic messes they made in the past, even though it used to be legal to make them, prevent business and government from making them in the future,  protect and recover species from extinction, try to prevent or at least unravel the mess that is environmental racism and inequity in this country, lower the particulate matter in our air and clear the toxins from our water, to name a few.

The hodge podge series of laws that make up our nation’s envrionmental legal arena often seem hobbled together, in part because they were. Many of the laws were written in haste and enacted in response to seeming environmental disasters during the Nixon administration. They often refer to each other, instead of being whole laws unto themselves, requiring those who practice environmental law to flip between statutes to get the exact meaning of certain terms and conditions.

But they are, I believe anyway, fun.

Which is why my summer will be spent fighting on behalf of some cats, some mussels, some beetles, and the air we breathe. Sound like a party to you?

The guest list is a distinguised one, as the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be invited to dance with me at each and every one of my shindigs, well, everyone but the Clean Air Act case, I think that one gets to go to someone else. I will find out soon.

My first case goes live on the 18th. Once the press release goes live, I will copy it here so you all can read up on it.