My boss is on vacation…

I can’t seem to get motivated to work this week.

The problem with being one’s own boss is having to oversee your own work. When I am not in the mood to accomplish much, it’s very hard to crack the whip at myself and get myself into gear. It’s much easier to pretend I have a million other non-work things to do that are more important.

Dishes, laundry, taking the kids to the park, reorganizing their room, grocery shopping, facebook, blog reading, etc. They can all fit the bill when I am looking for a reason to step away from my desk.

This week has been full of reasons and the days I have cracked the whip have been full of conference calls between fractious opposing parties. It seems I have only gotten a few hours of actual research and writing done in a week when my goal was to finish.

Maybe if I give myself a promotion I will be motivated again…

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They’re back…

Damn.

I’ve been off the Topomax for less than a week and I already have a migraine.

It’s a doozy too, complete with photo-phobia, audio-phobia, and the general sense that my eyeballs are being pushed out of my head by angry little trolls. (Very angry little trolls. Curse you angry trolls!!)

Maybe it’s the weather. Too much pressure building up in the skies resulting in too much pressure inside my head. Maybe it’s the drug, some sort of withdrawal headache.

In the 21 years I have suffered from migraines, Topomax is the only drug that has ever prevented them. It is also the only drug I have ever taken that has stripped my vocabulary right out of my brain, leaving big vacant places where hard earned archaic English language used to be. It offers me a choice between pain or permanent brain damage.

As much as it pains me to say it; I think the migraines are better than the brain damage.

Damn.

Hurry up and wait…

Working for the environment has a sense of urgency to it. Last week I wrote a complaint for a species that hasn’t been seen alive in nearly a decade. Most of my species are very close to extinction, have vanished from most of their historic ranges, and are unlikely to recover without immediate and intensive action on the part of the government.

Which is why it can be very frustrating to file a complaint, and then wait sixty days for the government to respond. Then, of course, there is more waiting while we answer the response, motions are filed, etc.

All the while the species is degenerating, losing what little chance it had to be saved. Yet I have to fit my filings into my practice and my life, have to schedule savings these endangered species in between dental appointments and back to school nights.

Sometimes I feel as though I could lock myself in a room and do nothing but file complaints on behalf of vanishing species. Sometimes I wonder if my work has any positive effect, or if it’s too late after all. Most of the time I try to manage the sense of urgency that comes with my work, reminding myself that I have a life too and that this is my job, not my life.

Still, it’s mighty nerve-wracking to wait.

Here is the press release from last month’s case.

Diving down the rabbit hole…

Today I went to work at my favorite community center/coffee house. After the great loss of the laptop yesterday I spent frenzied minutes trying to come up with a quick money making scheme only to realize that working my ass off on the plans already under way is a more likely way to get Lee a laptop sooner, rather than later.

So this morning, infused with a new sense of purpose, off into the land of legal research I went.

One of the things I love about research is the sense of archaelogy I get when I am stuck in the middle of it. I often feel as though I am digging into the vastness of the earth, dusting off bits of information one moldy bit at a time and trying to piece together bits of information into a picture that turns into a cognizant legal claim. Today was a total Indiana Jones day. At one point in time I was buried under my laptop, fifteen tabs open in firefox, shifting back and forth between scientific publications about various types of insects and looking for references to the de-watering of the Ogallala Aquifer. I briefly wondered if my clients would be better served by an entomologist turned lawyer while I tried to understand the classification language I was sorting through.

Finally, glinting out from within the internet dust, there was an article I could use as a starting point to my claim! Success!! I delicately removed it from the pile of detritus surrounding it and emailed it to myself, feeling triumphant and happy that my diligence had been rewarded.

Of course tomorrow I have to look up the articles behind that article, so I will have to break out my virtual dust brush and leather brim hat once again.

Life’s not fair…

Struggle. We are in the midst of a fair amount of struggle. Between creating a business and paying for our existence on one salary, Lee and I have been clinging to edge for years now. We are hopeful, we remain cheerful most of the time, and we work really hard to try and improve our lives. However, each time we crawl up over the edge, each time we end a month in the black instead of the red, each time I get another client or another case, each time we get more money, something happens to smack us down.

It could be a medical crises for a dog, a broken pair of $600 glasses, a broken root canal requiring fixing, or any other myriad of things. Something always happens to wipe out our pathetic savings account and leave us teetering once again on the edge.

Yesterday it was the complete and utter destruction of Lee’s laptop and backup hard drive. His pricey system (understandable for one in his industry) was crushed into non-existence by the critical failure of the shelving system we put in place above his desk, placed there to manage the very tiny space we both work in. The shelves failed and came crashing down onto his desk and laptop sending all of his important things to the floor at breakneck speed.

Everything is wrecked. Destroyed. Kaput.

We came home from a lovely barbecue with friends to an office floor covered in all of his most important things, broken and scattered about.

All I could think was, “We know life’s not fair, we have figured that particular lesson out, why another example?”

My poor husband, the man who tirelessly works to take care of this family, has nothing left of his most important personal things. Worst of all, we can’t afford to replace them. We have teetered on the edge for too long. It will be months before we can get him a system that will allow him to do everything he likes and needs to do with it. He will have to make do with the old workhorse I used in law school, my six year old laptop we gave to Marlena when I got my new business computer. It’s old and slow, it will process word documents and connect to the internet. That’s about it.

We are defeated. It’s a small thing compared to a death in the family or a very sick child, but it’s our personal albatross. We suffer from an unending line of high priced emergencies, wiping us out time and time again. We can never seem to reach the point where these emergencies are simply something to handle and move on from. We are trapped in a cycle of scrambling and desperation.

And all we can do is keep on scrambling.

Pirate plunder…

Margot and I pose by the ship that love built.

Monkey had her pirate party yesterday so Saturday morning found Margot, one of my closest friends, and I knee deep in cardboard and duct tape building a pirate ship for the party. We began the plan for the ship with a fair amount of trepidation, certain that we were as likely to create a giant mess as we were to create a ship. However, we bought poster paint, we bought a used sheet at the Salvation Army, we got empty moving boxes out of the basement and we got our creativity on. Surprisingly we managed to create a rather respectable ship, for a pair of landlubbers.

This was the result:

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It was a hit with the kids, just enough of a ship to provide them with fuel for their imaginations. There were bits of ocean lying about, bits of shark and alligator, whale and fish. During the party they ran on and off the ship, which served as a great center piece for the party. The ship only took an hour to put together and paint. We even managed the sail with a rake, an old mop handle, some tape, and the sheet. We laughed and schemed, worked and plotted, talked and taped. We drank water and worked in the sun, painted bits of ocean or bits of plank, and throughly enjoyed ourselves.

I had more fun building the ship with Margot and decorating for the party than I did at the party. It was like being kids again ourselves, putting that silly ship together. I felt relaxed and energized in a way I haven’t for a long, long time. It didn’t feel like work, it felt like play, actual play, kid style play. Best of all, when we were done with our play, the kids got to have theirs:

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The party was a huge success for all attendees, parents and children alike. The generous flow of beer and margarita allowed the parents to relax and chill while the large expanse of backyard ocean allowed the children to play and scream to their hearts content. We provided each child with a pirate hat, eye-patch, ear-ring, and weapon of their choice and encouraged parents and children to dress in costume. Everyone arrived in colorful attire and shared hot dogs and hamburgers, chips and fruit, and sea serpent brownie cake with good cheer.

By chosing to make our decorations, Margot and I got to spend some really special time together. I think it is easy to forget how much joy can be derived from problem solving and how much simple fun can be had in creating something new out of something old. Birthdays have become such a huge money sink in our culture, and so much of the time parents are relegated to the role of money lender, grill master, and kitchen slave, while their children run around on someone else’s creation. We got to skip the money sink this year and join in the play, just by taking the time to make our kids party decorations, something I hope to remember for the years to come.

And now we are eight…

Monkey turned eight today. We celebrated with small gifts from Otter, Daddy, and me, as her large gift and party are next weekend to accommodate out of town guests she wishes to have at her party.

Otter got her a CD Player, and a card. He picked the card out on his own, a fire engine that made real siren sounds, and wrote on both the card and the envelope with no help from his parents.

Otter writes on the envelope.

I made her a mix CD of some of my favorite songs, and some of her favorite songs, so I could stand to listen to them played ad nausem.

Lee got her the worlds largest Journal, and some really cool color pencils to write with per her request. Then we all went out to Earl’s on the 16th Street Mall for a steak dinner on the patio. It was surprisingly fun, as was the climbing of the addresses on the way back to the car.

Monkey and Otter climb on 410 17th Street.

Monkey is an O.

Then we came back to the house, munched ice cream, and got ready for bed. A pretty mellow birthday, saving the madness for the pirate extravaganza to come.

I am amazed, awed, and surprised at the person my girl has become. I found this picture from our camping trip to Kansas:

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Monkey patiently walks Otter back to Mom.
To me it speaks so clearly to the patience she has mastered over the past two years. She rarely has a harsh word for her brother, even in high 90 degree heat and sweat pants. Even when she is tired and cranky she will often be the one to take his hand and provide the extra care that makes his life a little sweeter than it would otherwise be. I do not always acknowledge how lucky I am to have such a patient young woman in my house, easing the way for all of us by taking the hand of our youngest family member, and calming him down. While I am quick to notice when her behavior causes problems for me, I am not always quick to notice when it eases the way, and for that my dear, I humbly apologize. You have made the past two years much easier by entertaining your brother upon many an occasion, by providing extra love and support for him, and by being his friend.

Monkey accepts yet another ride from Otter on his scooter.

She has grown more caring in other ways as well. When our dog Bella was sick, Monkey brought a book into the office and read stories to her to keep her company, so she wouldn’t be lonely and scared. It was very sweet.
Monkey reads to Bella

She is daring and brave and is not afraid to ask for what she wants in life. She wants to be a singer, for example, and ended up helping the band performing at my Inn of Court end of year party in exchange for a chance to sing with them. She helped the drummer set up and then got to sing “Old MacDonald” with them during their set. She was a little nervous and told me after that it was a lot harder singing into a microphone in front of so many people, but she got up there and did it, and never once faltered.

Monkey sings with the Jehovah's Waitress Protection Program.

She catches ladybugs and lets them crawl on her hands, frees drowning butterflies and places them safely in high up flowers so their wings will dry, rescues worms from rain puddles when we are out after a storm, and is generally good about relocating spiders to the outdoors when they surprise her in the bedroom or bathroom. She is becoming aware of the delicate nature of other things and seems eager to take care to preserve them. I am proud of her for being this careful about the world around her, even when I huff in frustration sometimes at the extra time these actions can often take.

Monkey watches a ladybug crawl on her finger.

We have had our issues this year for sure. She is stubborn and I fear I may need to have her hearing checked, or maybe clean her ears out more, or have my vocal chords checked, for she often seems to lack the ability to hear what I say.

However, despite the growing pains of seven, as my dear girl turns the corner towards eight she does so bearing the makings of a capital little woman. I am proud of who she is and I am proud of who she is becoming. What mother could ask for anything more?

I love you baby, Happy Birthday.