Thursday, July 31, 2008

Partisan politics.

Hey, McCain – grow up. Oh, wait, if you grew up any more you’d be dead. But really, this new round of attack ads is pathetic. I’m not the only one who has noticed that they don’t have anything good to say about McCain himself, just the same tired old horseshit of trying to paint one’s opponent in a ridiculously over-the-top, negative light. Well, it worked for Bush against Kerry, so I suppose it could work here, and wouldn’t that be great! We were so very, very lucky to get another 4 years of George Bush’s intelligent, thoughtful approach to leading our nation straight into the dumpster of history; I’d just love for us to do it again.

Because here are the risks of falling for McCain’s schtick, as I see them:

1. The Increasingly Supreme Court. I know all we over-educated folks realize the impact the president has on the makeup of the Supreme Court, and so we all get excited to think about the changes the president we support could make there. For conservatives, I guess that means an opportunity to drive a final nail in the coffin of affirmative action, “protect unborn children,” bolster the powers of law enforcement against that tiresome 4th Amendment, and make sure we all have our fair share of guns. Liberals see it as a necessity to protect the last vestiges of civil rights in this country. And then there are us left-leaning lawyers, who long to feel lifted up by the beauty of a well-written opinion that respects the human condition, instead of smothered by the contemptuous, arrogant trash that spews from the mouth of that vile troll, Scalia.

2. Endless War. Not only because of our presence in Iraq, but because of our bull-headed reliance on massive amounts of oil. As long as we continue to focus on that above all else and fail to switch the majority of our focus into the development of clean, renewable energy, we’ll remain beholden to the Middle East. And no, drilling off our coasts, a yearning first step toward the ultimate goal of plunging our pipeline-sized fingers into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, isn’t a long-term solution. Maybe if we embraced finding innovative solutions in this area, we could actually be at the forefront of something as a nation again besides distributing our brand of democracy to a world of unwilling recipients – since we’ve long since been lapped at manufacturing and generating technology and the kids smart enough to invent it.

3. All Women forced to Dress and Behave like Cindy McCain. Do you think once Roe vs. Wade is overturned that will be the end of it? Get out your tea dresses and vacuums, ladies, and yes, your pills, too, if you'd like.

4. Listening to Me Bitch for another 4 Years. Or less, if he kicks it early, but then we’d have President Romney so, no, I’ll still be here.

I know how ridiculously partisan I am, and I’m sure I piss off half of you, but I don’t know how to feel differently. I just can’t get my mind around a conservative perspective. We see things from such completely different angles; I know that sometimes we’re like exotic animals to each other, and not the cool, furry ones.

So I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from your fearless leader, and tomorrow I’ll write about kittens or babies.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First pass.

Have you noticed how testy some in the media are getting about Barack Obama? The group that was once ready to anoint him now has its claws out. Two columnists provide bitter and petty examples: Maureen Dowd in the New York Times and Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.

Maureen Dowd’s contempt for the presumptive Democratic nominee seeps through her sentences like syrupy poison: when Obama told her that he didn’t know the protocol for giving gifts to world leaders outside of state visits, she said “he could be forgiven for not knowing the customs of a trip that had never taken place before — a mere presumptive nominee of one party being feted like a president.” When he told her that on his stops someone makes sure to buy a snow globe for one of his daughters and a keychain for the other, she writes, “‘You have a snow globe aide?’ I marveled.” You can almost see Ms. Dowd curled up on her cushion like a self-satisfied cat, lapping up her sour milk with her acid tongue.

Mr. Milbank writes equally as if Obama had asked someone other than him to the prom. In his column he gripes that Obama has already elected himself president, and one can easily envision the petulant moue of his lips as he observes that Obama is outdoing the current president in “ruffles and flourishes” when his motorcade is larger than Bush’s and he meets with the Pakistani prime minister while “Bush held quiet signing ceremonies in the White House.” What a picture of our self-effacing current leader; riding alone with Laura in a Buick, or benevolently signing God-knows-what sort of destructive legislation into law while the Democratic nominee tries to build the kind of relationships that he would need to be able to draw on if he were elected president. Why is it presumptuous for Obama to act as if he will be elected (when he is, after all, one of only two candidates) and that some good can be had from setting the stage for when he is? That just sounds like good planning to me.

I don’t understand the press’ need to build up people seemingly for the sole aim of having someone to tear down. What drives this constant back-and-forth? Are journalists trying to prove their relevance by telling politicians that they helped enable the climb, and they can just as quickly yank them back down the ladder? Or do they simply imagine that they are so much more clever than the rest of us that they can say anything and America will buy it? In trying to seem so big, they sound very small.

Mommy, Esq.

Last night R. and I were sitting on the couch; he was working on our house plans and I was staring mindlessly at the TV screen where Tori and Dean were acting out some not-so-important scene.

R.: “What’s wrong with you tonight, honey?”

Kate: “I don’t know. I’m so bored.”

R.: “Bored?”

Kate: “Yeah, I just feel like my life is in total limbo right now. I’m bored at work but can’t look for anything else because I’m pregnant. I have pregnancy mush brain so I can’t get myself to focus on what I could do to make life more interesting. I come home, play with Eeyore for awhile and put him to bed, then I sit on the couch and watch TV, and there isn’t even anything on, then I go to sleep and repeat.”

I know I’ve said this more than once now, but I can hardly describe the mind-bending nature of my life compared to what it used to be. Having a child is one of the most wonderful things I can imagine, but at the same time the toll it takes on individuality is severe. I know intellectually that this will change in the next few years, when our children are talking and walking and reading and exploring, but right now and for the next 2 or 3 years at least, I think this limited horizon is how it’s got to be.

But that’s too bleak for words, and I know that some of this whining is coming from a lack of energy and ambition on my part – when you only have 2 hours a day to relax, and you’re tired because you’re pregnant with yet another gift to the planet, motivating to do something constructive takes an inner strength that I’ve yet to tap into.

So I decided (as I have decided before and not followed through on) that I will write a column. I don’t have a place for this column to be published, but of course there’s always right here if nobody else wants it. For now, though, I need a goal, and my goal is to write a few pieces, and then submit them to some papers and magazines and see what happens.

Next issue: what the hell should this column be about? Last night I had a ridiculous dream in which Broady and her husband had a column in their city’s newspaper called “Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood,” or something like that that wasn’t ever really clear. They wrote about being parents in their town, and it was a huge success. I was so jealous in my dream, and when I woke up I thought maybe that was a good avenue for me. The more I think about it, though, I can’t see writing a column only about parenthood, because I’m so personally conflicted about it. I’m hardly going to write a blurb in the local rag about the best ice cream shops and playgrounds unless I’m saying something nasty about the other mommies who frequent them.

So what do you think about “Mommy, Esq.”? Does a title like that allow for pretty much any kind of topic, political, cultural or parental, or is it just dorky? Maybe I don’t need a title at all, just an angle. Maureen Dowd certainly isn’t titling her New York Times column “I Think I’m the Greatest,” even if each entry has that particular bent.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Political Tuesday.

MSNBC says this morning that Obama is in “serious talks” with the governor of Virginia, some guy named Tim Kaine, for the position of VP. Really? No, seriously, are you kidding me? All this talk of the various no-named men that Obama is purportedly considering is making me ill. Evan Bayh, Sam Nunn, and now this guy. Who are these people? OK, obviously I know who they are, but only barely and mainly because I lived in D.C. for so long. I can’t imagine that someone as savvy as Obama is going to pick some random milquetoast to balance out his ticket – please, no? We have to actually win this election. Maybe he thinks having someone non-descript will put us on even footing with the Republican Party, which is comprised of white lumps with interchangeable, doughy faces, but I don’t think that’s going to work.

If he feels like he needs a boring white dude, John Edwards would have been an excellent choice, but I expect he’s down for the count what with the affair/love child and all. As an aside, what’s with politicians and their need to cheat on their wives when they’re going through serious illness (see, e.g., Newt Gingrich and John Mccain)? I would have thought Edwards was above that, but apparently not. Anyway, another white dude I like very much, but who is apparently not beloved by many other than Democrats inside the Beltway, is Joe Biden. But I don’t think Obama will choose him, because Biden is edgy and sharp, and that probably won’t go down well with today’s voters.

And then there is Hillary Clinton. The blood between them has got to be pretty bad. I’d never want to see her again if I were he. But… in my opinion, the only way he’s going to win this election is if he chooses her. She is the only person out there who has the ability to instill a renewed excitement into his presidential bid, which I perceive as flagging in the run up to the general election. The polls show McCain and Obama as running very close, with some polls showing McCain ahead. That’s not a good place to be at this turning point in history – are we going to regain some respect in the world, maybe even find a way to play a role in future society, or are we going to continue the path into oblivion that the Cheney administration has started us down? Hillary Clinton is the only person I see that can fill in Obama’s gaps and get us over the hurdle; she can bring the votes we need. The media seems to disagree with me, however, but as we’ve learned they are a pretty clueless group, so who gives a good goddamn what they say.

So anyway, that’s how I see it; it’s that black and white. Some of us see the path forward through being citizens of the world, and others want to live in 1950’s suburban America. That retro dream can’t cut it long term, though – the rest of the world is moving past us, and we’re not in a position to turn so inward-facing that we can exist on our own. It sure would be nice if we could make the leap forward now instead of inflicting God knows how much more damage on this country before simply annihilating its relevance in the world.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vacation as a career?

This morning on NPR there was a story that referenced the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, with respect to its determination of whether speculators had had any effect on the increasing price of oil. It seems odd to me now, but I worked at the CFTC the summer after my second year of law school; in the Division of Enforcement. I researched the law, wrote memos, and tried to befriend the real lawyers who worked there. But what sticks with me most about the experience is… how I barely remember it. I can conjure up a couple of blurry ovals with blonde or brown hair for the people I worked with, maybe a vague idea of the room, but I sure as hell can’t remember anything about the work I did. And the truth is, that applies to a lot of work I did before about my 3rd or 4th year of practicing law. In addition to the CFTC, during law school I worked in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, and interned for a D.C. judge. After law school I worked for a large D.C. firm doing M&A and securities work. I know I did a lot of work in those places, and that my employers were quite satisfied with my performance. So why is the substance of the work I did in those places so murky to me? It’s embarrassing when I think about it – does my brain have a higher proportion of Swiss cheese than most? I wonder if this has anything to do with why I’m not farther ahead in my career, even though realistically I know there are other, more important reasons why I’m kind of languishing right now.

This morning I was glancing through one of those silly rags that end up on lawyer’s desks: Super Lawyers. There were several profiles of successful women attorneys, each general counsel of a large company: TBS, Barnes and Noble, and I read the articles, and these women are clearly hard chargers. The articles made my stomach knot up and sink; I’m not like those women. I can’t even imagine sacrificing my life outside of work for the pursuit of interesting work and power, particularly now that I have a child. I wonder what it feels like inside to feel differently; to experience your job as so personally rewarding as to outrank being home for dinner with your husband and kids on a regular basis? I don’t feel guilty about my personal bent, even if I do have a $100,000 education that was presumably earned so I could rise to the top of something, but I do covet… well, the international travel. If I think about it, that’s actually the crux of it: it bothers me sometimes that I have such a “middle America” kind of job, with no opportunity to experience the world. As much as I disliked working for firms, I sure did like waiting in the SAS business class lounge at Heathrow for my flight to Stockholm (except that time I forgot my passport and had to go all the way back to my house to get it, thus missing my plane and my meeting), having dinner on a snowy night in the vaulted basement of a restaurant owned by the Swedish Academy, strolling through the Christmas markets

God, if I’m honest, it appears it’s indulging in the hotels, restaurants and city life of Europe on OPM that I like more than working. Maybe I should be in the legal department of some groovy hotel chain, except I don’t relish legal questions of what to do with the dead body in room 514.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I’m still here, continuing to exist outside of Blog World. Let’s see, what’s been happening around here since we last chatted? Well, as you know, my exceedingly virile young husband has knocked me up yet again and I’ve been getting acclimated to all that. So far, the upside has been that I haven’t been nearly as nauseated as last time, and that my boobs are finally perky again after that whole post-baby bummer where I learned about the havoc that having a baby wreaks on your body. Total frigging destruction; at least when you’re my age.

The other thing is that with little Esmerelda on the way, there is simply no way we can stay in our house. That is, of course, an exaggeration brought on by the greedy, entitled American way of thinking that says we need to occupy as much space on the planet as we possibly can – god forbid the kids should just share a room and guests can sleep on the couch (or just not stay with us). But no, I feel the need to thump my chest and go on about how 2 professionals in their thirties should be able to give more to their kids (and by kids, I mean themselves) than a 2 bedroom, 1 bath little bungalow.

So… we’ve been looking at houses in our neighborhood, which is where we want to stay, and there is pretty much sweet FA available. There is nothing in our price range that really suits our needs, which includes 3 bedrooms on one floor (!), so we’ve decided to redo our own house. This should suck pretty badly when we’re living in some corporate apartment when I give birth to little Hermione, but we would hopefully at least be back in the house during my maternity leave. We’ve been kind of opposed to the “pop-top” thing in principle, because so many people do it in Denver and it usually looks like complete shit. Nobody seems to be capable of integrating a new story into the whole, so it always looks like some kind of cheap, crummy afterthought, like shoes from DSW.

What with R. being an awesome modern architect and all, he’s already started thinking of potential ideas. We both really like stone, so one idea is to integrate the first and second floors by covering the part of the front of the house that recedes (on the left side) with pale stone all the way up.

We would paint the brick a similar, putty-esque color, and then the rest of the top floor would probably be wood of some sort (also light-colored) to contrast with the hard surfaces of stone and brick. Loads of cool windows, something interesting with the roof, and something different about the shapes of the second story so it’s not just this massive block sitting on the site. I’ll leave that part to the architect, but neither of us will be glad to wave bye-bye to that queer, merry roof we have now and that awning thingy over the front door. When you look at the base of the house, it’s actually quite a pleasant shape to start with.

Inside, we just want to add 3 bedrooms and 2 baths upstairs, and hopefully redo the kitchen. I’m not sure how much our budget will allow us to do, but even adding the top floor will be pretty nice, I think. I’m fantasizing about a fabulous bathroom with a huge tub I can soak in and drink wine and read novels.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures from Eeyore's first trip to California a couple of weeks ago: