Friday, June 30, 2006

Justice Prevails

My client from Tibet was granted asylum!! I am so happy and so relieved. What an end to this intense month. My client is finally out of limbo and can start putting the pain of all that she endured at the hands of the Chinese behind her. Now we can start working on getting her work papers, and eventually, on assisting her with getting her children here. She is the mother of three and has not seen her children since she sent them out of Tibet for their own safety. Can you imagine?

Thank God, Tara, Allah, Yaweh, Ganesh, and Buddha. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In addition to feeling so happy for my client, I was psyched because the Judge gave me and my partner props, saying that we had done a great job and so thoroughly documented the case that she was able to go through the hearing quickly and spare my client the emotional trauma of having to recount all of the details of the abuse she had suffered. Not too shabby for my first time in Immigration Court.

I am so ready for a vacation now, I can't even tell you. Raj and I leave on a plane tonight and head down to Houston. The first order of business is to sleep and sleep and sleep. Then, I'm going to go running, read, relax with my parents, brothers and friends, and try to recoup after this insane month. I am so exhausted, and I still have to pack!

Picture courtesy of the Rigdzin Foundation.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


As some of you may know, I have a rather unfortunate job situation where for the last few months I've been forced to do nearly daily battle, again and again, with the Anti-Christ, otherwise known as Dragon Lady, Evil Incarnate, or FBH ("Fucking Bitch From Hell"). This week, the war raged on, but I added something new to my rejuvenation arsenal.

On Tuesday, I had to sit in expert meetings for nine continuous excrutiatingly agonizing hours with Dragon Lady and a male partner. As I mentioned, I was incredibly grateful that the meetings were going to be chaperoned by the male partner, because I knew that Dragon Lady would at least try to play nice in front of him. I've seen her in action; she tries to soften her voice and forces her lips to curve up into a twisted mockery of a smile. Sometimes she even tries to force a laugh. The awkwardness is painfull to watch and makes me uncomfortable whenever it happens, but it's preferable to verbal abuse.

The Dragon Lady was in rare form; not even the presence of the other partner kept her in check entirely. Throughout the meetings, she kept breathing heavily, muttering "fuck" and "shit" in angry bursts, twitching her body, and bulging her eyes out at whoever she was interrogating, whether it was me or the expert. I'm sure the expert thought she had Tourettes.

At one point she started flaring up about documents that had not yet been sent to our expert as I was handing him the documents not 4 feet away from where Dragon Lady was sitting. I was standing at the end of the conference room table bent over a bunch of legal boxes, had just given the expert two of the documents Dragon Lady had wanted him to have, and was in the process of handing him the third when she started raising her voice, saying angrily, "Well, what about all the documents I told you to give to him? He needs to have them NOW. Fuck." I turned to her and said in an icy tone, "Dragon Lady, I've just given him two of the documents, and am about to give him the third one." The other partner did not say anything critical of Dragon Lady, not even when she was swearing in front of our expert. Unprofessional, anyone?

The meeting was not as awful as it could have been. But even so, by the time I got back down to my office, I felt like crying because I was so stressed out by all the tension and negativity. The woman is flat out toxic, and not the pre-Kfed, Britney kind of toxic, but rather the slimy, fluorescent, disturbingly radioactive, found in the sewers underneath chemical treatment plants kind of toxic.

I also wanted to cry because the meeting had run late and, in addition to being forcibly subjected to the Dragon Lady's presence, I had also been forced to miss acupuncture just at a time when I knew I desperately needed some serious stress relief. As I was feeling sorry for myself and filled with passionate hate for Dragon Lady, Raj called and asked me to grab a cup of coffee with him. He had been working like crazy too, and we happened to catch each other at a break. I agreed to meet him and set out for the Starbuck's located midway between our offices.

When I got there, I still felt stressed, and even though I still had a ton of work to do later that night, I felt in the mood for something stronger than coffee, so I asked Raj if I could talk him into a glass of wine. I can be very persuasive, and Raj really is not that hard to persuade into doing something he wants to do, so it was no surprise that ten minutes later we found ourselves sitting at the bar in a little French restaurant sipping glasses of wine.

A few sips through my first glass, sitting next to Raj as he rubbed my shoulder, I was feeling immeasurably better. Memories of the evil witch were being washed away. In their absence, I felt something else. Shall we call it a flutter of desire? In truth, I had thought about sex a few times during the afternoon meeting, and at one point had blackberried Raj saying, "we need to have sex," and received quite a reaction from him. Something along the lines of "Now? When I have all this work to do and have to be here 'til late? Woman, you're killing me." Sitting at the bar, I mentioned it again, only this time I told him that he should take me home. Twenty minutes later, we were in a taxi on our way home. As I said, I can be very persuasive.

Here's the amazing thing I learned from that experience: Wine, great sex, and a really nice orgasm work just as well as acupuncture or yoga at relieving stress! It's amazing. Granted, the wine took a little time to shake off which impinged on my productivity a bit later in the evening, and yoga and acupuncture are obviously more healthy. However, the wine did destress me enough to allow me to contemplate sex, and thus was essential to my stress relief efforts, so it was unquestionably worth it. I'm pretty sure Raj agrees.

I've decided to try to have more sex during the week, even when I'm tired and stressed out (which is Monday through Friday), because wonders of wonders, it actually helps.

Dragon Lady can kiss my eff-ing ass. She can also kiss my ass because I have TWO, count 'em, just TWO more days left until Raj and I are off for Houston! I can't wait. We leave tomorrow at 8:30 pm, right after my hearing at Immigration Court for my Tibetan client. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gamla Mormor

On June 27, 2006, if my great grandmother had lived, she would have turned 100 years old. We called her "Mormor," which in Swedish means "mother's mother," because that was what my father called her, as she was his mother's mother. Technically, we should have called her "Gamla Mormor," which means "old mother's mother."

Her given name was Elvstrom. I thought sometimes about giving up my last name, my father's last name and his father's before him, and replacing it with "Elvstrom" as a way of symbolically connecting with my maternal roots. Ultimately, I decided against it. My last name now is my father's last name, a name shared by my mother, as well as everyone in my immediate family, and I like being identified as one of them. It would have been hard to reject that part of my father, even if he had not seen it has a rejection, and it would have been equally hard to choose one maternal root over another. How could I choose my great grandmother's name on my father's side instead of my grandmother's name on my father's side? Or, why not my mom's given last name, or my mom's mom last name, or my grandmother's mom's last name? You see the complications, but I digress.

I'm lucky enough to have many memories of my great grandma. Growing up in Sweden, and visiting during the summers, I remember picking wild mushrooms and blueberries with Mormor and Farmor in the same forests that they had picked mushrooms and berries in during World War I to support themselves. Before she moved into her apartment, she lived in the home that she had lived in for most of her life. It had a huge yard with a big tree and garden out back. I remember flowers and playing hide and seek with my brothers while my parents sat down for coffee and cakes. Everyone drinks coffee in Sweden 24-7, and guests are always greated with coffee and cakes. I like that custom.

When I studied in Lund, Sweden, I spent my weekends in Malmo with my grandparents and mormor. Mormor's eyesight was bad, so she had to squint at the crossword puzzles that she did in the morning papers. We would sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee, her with her crosswords, Farmor with a magazine or a cigarette (eventhough she was on O2 and not supposed to smoke) and me with a book or my journal, chatting in Swedish and me trying to soak in their collective wisdom. In the evenings, while we played cards, sometimes we had a glass of Madeira port.

I wish I had had more time to know her. Many of my memories are of her cooking with my grandma in the kitchen. I remember her peeling potatoes in my grandmother's sink like she could do it in her sleep, the skins falling away effortlessly in long coils. Both she and my grandma cooked with big chunks of butter, and made the most delicious cinnamon buns (kanel bullar) and cakes. They also made Swedish meatballs, pancakes, dill potatoes, cabbage rolls (which were actually awesome, despite the cabbage), tons of fish, and whip cream cakes for special occasions. At my urging, they one time made lutfisk - a fish soaked in ammonia for several days - which is a traditional Swedish dish served at Christmas time, all because I wanted to learn more about my heritage. Luckily, we also had tons of shrimp, herring, and potatoes a that meal.

My great grandmother was a strong, amazing woman. Until she passed away, Mormor lived on her own in an apartment that was covered with all of the beautiful embroidery that she had created over the course of her life. She ate a hard boiled egg each morning for breakfast, grew potatoes on her balcony, and told me that you have to accept things in life and go on because there is nothing else to do.

One time, when I was asking her about when she decided to get married, she told me that she had one summer which was wonderful and it was filled with dancing and fun. After that, she got married. When I inquired why she got married and how she felt about getting married, she said, "There was only one summer, and then I was pregnant, and that was the end of that." She was very matter of fact. That was just how things were, and there was nothing to be done about them.

Thinking about her today, I feel sad that she's gone, but grateful for the times I spent with her. I like to think that she and my grandmother, along with Farfar, my Uncle Thomas, and my Uncle Leif, are somewhere together and happy, in a place where my great grandma can see clearly, my grandmother can breath easily, and where Farfar is strong like he was before he fell off of the roof and hit his head.

One of the saddest thing about people you love dying, apart from them no longer being here to share this life, is that I always wonder if they knew how much they were loved. It seems so sad to me that they might have left not knowing what they meant to someone, or how much they are missed.

I like to think that I inherited some of my great grandmother's strength, and that maybe, just maybe, she looks down at me every now and then and approves of the woman I have become.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some Kind Of Crisis

I saw a snippet of an interview on the "Crisis in Boys" on channel 2 on cable today, and I couldn't believe that they were still whining about that. My god. If there is such a "crisis" in boys, then why is it that girls still get paid as a group less across almost all fields, are vastly outnumbered by men at the top echelons in virtually every profession except for modeling and porn, are not represented equally in any law-making, law-enforcing, or law-interpreting body, are the overwhelming targets of male violence in the form of rape, domestic violence, and murder each day, and are still forced to largely carry the primary - if not entire - burden of raising children, cooking and cleaning for no pay within the home?

For a crisis, boys sure are making out like bandits.

The fact that anyone can look at today's political, legal, and social climate and determine that there is a crisis in boys, underscores, yet again, the massive institutionalized inequalities facing girls. If we are to believe the proponents of this so-called "Crisis in Boys" theory, and take as a given that boys do worse in school, have more emotional problems, suffer from more learning disabilities, and are basically getting their asses handed to them on a platter by good little girls who can sit quietly in their seats, listen to the teacher, and learn, the fact that men continue to dominate over women politically, economically, legally, and socially begins to look even more starkly as if it is based on clear-cut gender discrimination.

If meritocracy was alive and well, and if we again believe the proponents of this theory, our society should already be a female-dominated paradise. Yet, sadly, this is not the case.

Here's what would put a stop to this so-called "crisis" in boys: Parents who discipline their boys, teach them equality instead of entitlement, restraint and communication instead of violence, and respect instead of arrogance.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Houston Countdown

I survived another Monday. Go me! Today was busy, but I was damn productive. Damn productive. I only looked at celebrity websites once. Impressive, I know. I did work for my Tibetan asylum case that I have a hearing on this Friday, sent out discovery in my contested divorce case, and did a ton of Case-From-Hell prep work for two expert meetings set to take place tomorrow. I have to attend with Dragon Lady and another partner. Kill me now. It could be worse, I could be bufferless. At least Dragon Lady tries to pretend that she's human in front of other partners. I also applied for another job - this will be number 4 - at a non-profit doing human rights legal work. I still haven't heard back from #3, but I think the chances are looking slim as days continue to go by. Ah, well.

I have only four more days and then I'm off to Houston to visit my Dad, Stepmom, Mom, and brothers for 4th of July weekend. My mom just moved from Savannah, GA to Houston so this will be my first opportunity to see her new house. She painted the living room "Martha Stewart Purple" (deep eggplant) and another room "Martha Stewart Terracotta." I'm sure it looks amazing, especially the purple (my favorite). I once had a gorgeous dark purple room in Washington, D.C. I covered the windows with wine colored sheets so that hazy pinkish light filtered through and bounced off the purple walls in the day time. It was awesome. Yes, I had just graduated from college and was bartending 'til 4 am and sleeping 'til 1 pm in the afternoon.

I haven't seen my Dad since Christmas and am so excited to see him again. It will also be great to see my brothers. The trip will be significant for another reason as well, it will be the first time that Raj is meeting my Dad. It's about time, I started dating the boy - originally - 2.5 years ago. I'm of course curious to see how they'll get along, although I'm sure everything will go well. I always find that you see people in different lights when they're around they're families. Usually, I feel like I have greater insight into and compassion for who they are and why. I'm sure it will be good for both Raj and I to spend the time with my family.

He, of course, has one major request for the weekend. He wants to see a game. As I may have mentioned, he loves sports and he has a not-so-secret aspiration to visit a stadium in every city that he goes to. Like a good girlfriend, I've put in a call to my brothers, and will see what they come up with.

My major aspiration for the weekend, along with enjoying some QT with the fam, is to Chill Out. My dad has a pool and I plan to plant myself out on the patio for at least three days with a good book and a great big bottle of water. I'm reading "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish author. I can't wait. I'm also looking forward to seeing Prue again! I may not have mentioned this but Prue is pregnant, so I'm going to get to see Prue's expanding belly. It's very exciting. I'm sure she is absolutely radiant.

I wish I could take my girls (two of my asylum clients) with me to Houston. How fun that would be to experience it through their eyes. They have so many questions and they are so warm and sweet. They're also very honest about what they are thinking. For example, on Saturday while I was hanging out with them waiting for the movie "Cars" to start, the topic of divorce came up in a way that made it clear that the girls had never met anyone who had ever been, or much less thought of being, divorced before. I mentioned that my parents were divorced and the older of the two sisters looked at me with a start and said, "But, you don't look like that, you look so happy all the time." So cute.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mission Accomplished, For The Moment

The last 72 hours were intense, and looking back on them now, it seems impossible that everything that happened within them happened only in 3 days. It seems like Tuesday was weeks ago, not days. My partner and I worked like mad finalizing the expert reports and my clients' affidavits, writing the brief, and getting exhibits together, while trying to get the girls into a safe location, prepped, and ready for their interviews. In between I had to fend off a few other demands for my time at the firm, but effectively and firmly put the kabosh on them.

On Tuesday, there was a time when we did not know what had happened to my clients, and if the interviews were going to happen. They were not at the meeting place we had arranged when they were supposed to be, and for 5 nerve-wracking hours, my partner and I sat in the back of our car waiting for the girls to call my cell phone and tell us where they were and if they were ok. We feared that had been unable to leave their home and were scared that they might be hurt or afraid. I felt like throwing up, and by the end of it had ripped my nails down almost to the quick.

Then, miraculously, they called and told us they were on their way to meet us. They had waited until they felt like it was safe, and during that time they had not had any access to phones. I cannot express the feeling of relief when I finally saw them and ushered them into the car.

My partner and I then got the girls settled, read through their affidavits with them, and then prepped them by asking them the hard questions that they were going to face the next day. After hours of that, we left the girls in their hotel room and told them to try to get some sleep. Of course, they did not. They were nervous, sad, and also excited to watch TV, which they had not seen in six months, and to be in a hotel, which they had never done. I would have felt the same way if I was them.

After leaving the girls at around 10:00 pm, my partner and I went back to the the office and started working on getting all of their papers together and finalized. We finished at around 6:00 am, which gave me just enough time to run back to my house, brush my teeth, throw on a suit, and kiss Raj hi and goodbye, before I jumped in a car to pick up the girls and take them to their interviews. The interviews went well, and we will hear the results in a few weeks.

After the interviews, there were details to take care of in terms of getting my girls to a safe location. When that was done, I went back to the office briefly, and then before anyone could see me, ducked back out and stumbled back home on the subway. By 3:00 pm, I was in bed. By 3:05, I was out like a light, and didn't get up until 7:30 pm when Raj came home.

Do you know what he did? He brought me flowers. Great big gorgeous red flowers. And he told me he was so proud of me. It wasn't until then that I started to cry a little, overwhelmed by the last few days, and my feelings of stress, relief, nervousness, fear, anxiety, and hope for the girls, along with feeling love towards Raj for being such a great support these last few weeks. After waking up, I relaxed on the couch, channel surfed for a bit, suddenly remembered that we had HBO, and then started to watch "Antz." I got up to make a berry smoothie, and to have some tomato-carrot soup. Other than that, I didn't move, and was absolutely contented. I was in bed by midnight, and slept for a solid 8 hours for the first time in what feels like weeks. Before going to bed, I talked to the girls and they were doing ok.

I am so impressed and amazed by my clients. Despite dealing with tremendous stress and a host of difficult emotions, they held themselves together. They are truly incredible young women, with an unbelievable amount of inner strength. I think they're going to make it, and I feel so lucky that I was given the chance to try to help them.

This is what life is about and how it should be.

Monday, June 19, 2006


72 hours. That's how much time I have to complete everything I need to for my asylum case. I haven't slept much because I am so scared and nervous about what is going to happen. I feel a bit sick to my stomach. In the midst of this, I ate a miniture box of Golden Grahams Cereal. Because my clients are young and don't eat oatmeal, I had bought them some assortments of other cereals to eat for breakfast. Because they can not take everything at once, and because they reject some food, I've had a pile of sugary cereals, granola bars, and the like sitting in my office for the last few weeks.

Today, at 4:30pm, after missing lunch, I turned to the pile and opened the box of Golden Grahams. My god is that cereal disgusting. Don't get me wrong - I was hungry so I ate it all. But good grief did it make me wonder about the state of our nation's cereals for kids. No wonder kids have cavities. That stuff is nasty. Like little sweet flavored chips of dried cardboard.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekly Goddess: Ma'at

Art Found Here

The Goddess Ma'at, is the Egyptian Goddess of Justice. She is the personification of "truth," "balance," and the "cosmic order." She is represented as a woman with wings and a curved ostrich feather on her head. She holds a scepter in one hand and an ankh in the other. When the dead face judgment, their hearts are weighed against Ma'at's feather.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fighting Stance

Although I was highly resistant, and close to teetering over the edge into visible, open defiance, I attended the meeting, but I came on my guard and ready to fight. Prior to the start of the meeting, when it was just I and the senior associate (who I like, but who dangerously happens to be a master delegator), the senior associate asked me how I was doing. I said, "fine," and bit the inside of my mouth to stop myself from ranting about FBH.

Then he asked me what else I was working on, and I frankly informed him about my asylum case crisis and the fact that FBH had been a nightmare, but that she had finally backed off a little bit over the course of the day. I told him straight out that I absolutely, under no circumstances, should be doing any work other than for my asylum case until Thursday, and that FBH was fully aware of the emergency situation. I was brittle, tense, short, and probably a little too expressive of my disdain for FBH. Oh, well.

The meeting started and I raced through disgorging all of the information I had in my head regarding preparations for tomorrow's meeting with our Expert. Shockingly, I knew a lot. A hell of a lot more than I ever wanted to know about our Expert's documents and the myriad of issues surrounding them. I managed to get everything pertinent out in under 45 minutes, eventhough a pesky new addition to the team - an associate who seems like a nice person, but who has only been on the Case-From-Hell for two days and thus has no eff-ing idea what she has gotten herself into - kept asking me substantive questions about the transactions at issue, questions that I had to wade through almost two years ago when I started on this monster of a case. She actually seemed genuinely interested in the issues. Poor thing. I give her three weeks before she starts cracking.

I'll be nice to her, of course, and lead her to the path of awareness and rebellion. Have no fear. But I sure as hell do not have time engage in a legal debate about various accounting issues at the the moment. I left the meeting with no additional work (success!), and made it clear to all of them that from my perspective I was not supposed to work on this Expert again until next week. That should at least forestall some b.s.

After the meeting, I raced back to my desk, continued drafting documents for my asylum case, and then hopped on a subway uptown to go see CG. I knew I didn't technically have time to go, but I thought it made sense to see my therapist after just having this massive breakthrough and professionally and strongly standing up to FBH. Sure enough, CG was delighted. She was especially delighted because of a specific shift in my thinking: Instead of internalizing FBH's b.s. and making myself sick about her displeasure, I'm not letting her make me feel bad. I know that she is a nasty bi-atch, and I also know that I am doing the right thing and excellent work. I know that there is nothing wrong with me. This is what I told CG and she said, "Buttercup, this is so great, you're going to make me cry."

After my mental health break, I zipped back home, ordered and wolfed down some so-so Italian food, and then continued working on my asylum case documents. I went to bed after 2:00 am and snuggled against Raj's warm body for a few minutes and tried to go to sleep.

Today's Battle: Today, at 2pm, is the Expert Meeting and I anticipate that FBH is going to harass me with numerous questions throughout the day. At 2:30 pm my asylum clients are possibly supposed to arrive, depending upon whether or not it was safe of them to come. I have 5 hours to crank out more of their affidavit. During the next 5 hours, my goal is to avoid FBH at all costs. Wish me luck.


God Damn It!!! I was already sucked into an email exchanged with FBH. Jesus! She already sent out 10 emails this morning, and I made the fatal mistake of trying to be helpful on one of them. Then, in response to my email she sends and email to the whole group, essentially stating the main points of my earlier email, stating that she wants someone to follow-up and find "x" document and she doesn't want to keep having to "map everything out." Keep in mind, I was trying to help the eff-ing bi-atch.

Well, NO MORE. I am not lifting a finger to type another response to her for the next 4 hours.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Brother Is Awesome

Last night I took a quick break to meet my brother, Ditter, at dinner at Bobbie Van's in Midtown, close to where he works when he comes into town from Houston. I arrived before him and waited at the bar for a few minutes. While I was waiting, the bartender, and older gentleman, struck up a conversation with me. I told him that I hated my job, but that I loved some of my work, including my pro bono asylum work. Later, when my brother arrived, I asked to settle up the check. He said it was on him, and I protested, saying he didn't have to do that. He said, "Hey, you do pro bono, I do pro bono too," and smiled. Pretty cool.

Ditter and I talked mostly about work. He's in banking and looking to get into investing. He's so smart, handsome, and strong. He has achieved everything he has set out to do, and he will continue doing so. I am so proud of him. He told me some horror stories from his firm, and I told him about the latest skirmishes with FBH. His advice was to burn her on the way out. As in, writing a letter to the head of the firm explaining that I am leaving because I have found working with her intolerable, and that it was a great dissapointment to discover that my Firm tolerates such ill treatement of associates.

After two glasses of wine, I came home and briefly saw Raj. We have had extremely limited QT time over the last 5 days. He's being remarkably supportive. Then I crashed and slept for 9 hours. Boy did I need it. This morning, I've been churning out work like nobody's business. I've had to stave off additional FBH requests, but I'm holding my ground, although, at her express order, I'm supposed to attend a b.s. meeting at 2:30 with a senior associate about the very matter that I told her I could not work on b/c of my conflict with the pro bono case. We shall see what happens.

We're making great progres on the asylum case, and that's the important thing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Email Skirmishes

Thanks for the hugs Gravelly and Wordnerd, and for the reminders to drink water. You just made me guzzle some.

Before, I continue, let me a give a shout-out to my Mom. It's her b-day. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

Now, back to the nightmare that is my work environment:

Earlier today I had an email exchange with FBH. I stood up for myself in a way I have never stood up against her before. I told her I had an ethical duty to represent my clients effectively, but that I could not do that if she refused to let me.

She responded and insinuated that I had trouble juggling tasks. I found this implication extremely offensive. Because I wanted to create a written record, and because I was incensed, I responded in detail to all of her bitch comments and false insinuations. This woman always does this, she tries to manipulate you and make you feel like you're f-ing up. But I know it's not me. It's her.

For the last hour, since my last email, she hasn't bothered me. There's a very real chance that those emails could be forwarded on but I made sure to be courteous and polite, so at least I will be able to hold my head high.

My colleagues and Raj said they were proud of me. They also don't think this will result in my getting fired. I'm dubious. I would only be upset if I got fired this week or the next because I really need to be here for my pro bono clients. After that Raj told me he would give me an allowance for cleaning. (He didn't even say nookie time!!).

I'd rather clean up my shit than FBH's. I'll keep you posted.

After my clients are in the clear, it might be time to take another stand and say I need to be removed from this the Case From Hell because FBH is intolerable. That will be a fish I fry after the asylum hearing are over, unless she continues to make it impossible for me to do the work I need to do.

I'm holding up quite well under the circumstances, although I can't shake the sensation that I'm in her cross-hairs and there's a scud missile pointed at me from somewhere up on the 28th floor.
More to come...

Battle of Wills

I went to bed last night at 11:00 pm but couldn't fall asleep until midnight, and then woke up at 5:30 am thinking about the girls' case, the FBH (Fuckingbitchfrom hell, aka "Dragon Lady"), and the other things I need to get done asap. After lying in my bed for an hour wide awake, with my body feeling tired and my head hurting but my mind not being able to shut off, I kissed Raj and got up from bed and had a shower. I got into work earlier than I have in months: 7:30 am. Probably not early for a lot of you, but NY Firm time (we usually start at 9 or 9:30) that's impressively early.

I feel a touch better today, after having a little sleep, and now that I know that there is a plan once again to keep the girls safe. Everything worked as Wood said it would. We just convinced them that their was no other option other than the one we were suggesting to keep the girls safe. No one wants to be responsible for endangering young lives. How lucky am I that I have smart friends who are their to brainstorm with me and work through these types of problems? Wood and Falk have my gratitude.

FBH is still a fucking bitch, but I've decided my will is stronger than hers. She's a miserable creature, and we are way past the point where she can intimidate me (although she still makes me sick... but I'm only human).

I'm armed with caffeine and a liter of water, and my plan for this morning is to crank shit out. Finish her worthless work, and then move on to my asylum clients' work. I'm down to 7 days, but really I need stuff done by this Friday. That's 2. Lovely.

If FBH left me alone, everything would be fine. I'm going to have an aneurysm or go ballistic if she gives me more shit today. I may have to tell her, as Tracy suggested some time ago, that her tone and treatment of me is appropriate. It's hard though because I have to choose my battles, and I think really taking on FBH should wait until after the girls case because I need to focus on that.

However, if by tomorrow I am still not able to focus on it because of FBH's demands, then I may have to adopt a more confrontational strategy. Like all bullies, she will probably cave when challenged. On the other hand, she is mentally ill (which is fine, as long as she was taking care of them, which she's not) and mean, and I don't trust that she wouldn't turn into a shrieking banshee and try to carve me up into little tiny pieces.

I could handle that fight if it's got to happen, but I just feel like it would be too distracting to have right now. We shall see how the day goes. I keep looking at my little Green Tara statue. She has a beautiful face. A type of beauty that FBH probably is not even aware of. My god, how miserable it must be to walk around in her skin.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Firm Is Trying To Kill Me

Because I am desperately trying to scramble around and do everything I need to do, while not having a complete breakdown, I can't go into the details, but the Firm is in fact officially trying to kill me. Ok, fine. So that's an exaggeration. I haven't slept more than 5 hours during the past few nights, and I'm having that swimmy and vomity feeling in my head and stomach respectfully. I broke down at my desk today and was hyperventilating and in tears.

The Dragon Lady is the biggest fucking bitch that I have ever encountered in my entire life. No surprise, but still I feel that it must be said today. She also has proven herself to not have any heart or soul. Again no surprise.

A crisis developed in my Middle Eastern asylum case during the last few days. It looks like we've fixed it, but in order to do so, we had to move up my clients' interview dates dramatically until next week. I know have a month of work (easily) to do in 7 days.

The Dragon Lady doesn't give a shit. She has asked me to do 5,000 things, in addition to yelling at me for working on a another case - a paying client no less - for 72 hours (from Friday through Sunday) after the Fucking Bitch (that's her new name) TOLD the other partner that he could have me for 72 hours. That's right, this is basically indentured servitude.


If I saw her wandering lost in the desert and she was without water and thirsty, I would not share my water with her. Instead, I would say, KARMA IS A BITCH, ISN'T IT?

Ah, if only impotent rage wasn't impotent.

Pray, chant, do spells, cross your fingers and appeal to all of your Gods, Goddesses and higher powers that justice will prevail and my clients will have a good asylum interview next week. I will be completely heartbroken if we do not get a good outcome on their behalf.

After that, I have one more asylum case, my Tibetan client, going to court the week after. Cross your fingers for her too. Thank God both of the people I'm working with on these cases are fucking amazing women.

Then, a month from now, I want to walk into Fuckingbitch's office and tell her that she can go fuck herself and/or make a complaint against her. Today she asked me when I was telling her that I need to focus for the next 7 days on my asylum case because there was a crisis and the girls are now in IMMINENT risk of physical harm she said in this nasty voice, "So, what do you want, to get of [the Case From Hell]?"


I did tell her, when she was blaming me for having to work on other matters that it was not my decision to have to work on these other matters, and it was not my desire that my asylum case would erupt into a crisis situation. I told the stupid fucking assigning partner that My Case From Hell was going into expert discovery and that I had a ton of work coming up and that I could not take on anything else. BUT THEY REFUSED TO LISTEN. Instead, they said that as much as they encourage associates to take on pro bono, it is not acceptable to do pro bono in place of work for paying clients.

WHAT AN ASSHOLE. Maybe I should tell that to the naive little summer associates who buy all the shit that the firm shovels with respect to how important pro-bono work is?

Ok, gotta go. This vent was helpful. I'm off to listen to "This Place Is a Prison," by Postal Service, do the shit in the most minimal fashion possible that Fuckingbitch wants me to do, so that I can do the work I NEED to do for my asylum case.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Holy Britta

Raj: [At the fridge] Sweetie, can you please fill up the britta after you empty it?

Buttercup: [Crouched over the computer] Raj, I do fill up the britta. I've been working the whole day. [16 hours straight, except for 1 hour of nookie time, to be exact].

Raj: It just takes a second. Please, sweetie, just fill it up. [Said as Raj walked over to where I was sitting at the computer, picked up the water bottle that I had painstakenly filled an hour before, and guzzled down half of the bottle while I looked on in disbelief].

Buttercup: That's my water!

Raj: Well, fill up the britta, and I wouldn't have to drink your water.

Buttercup: That's my water. You know I hate when you do that.

Raj: Well, if you filled up the britta, I wouldn't have to.

Buttercup: I can't believe you're giving me grief for not filling up the britta when you know I've been working the whole day and I always fill up the britta. I'm not going to agree to that. Don't drink my water.

Raj: I can drink that water if I want to.

Buttercup: [Becoming more incensed at his blatant display of male entitlement] No, you can't! Just because we live in the same place does not give you the right to drink my water.

Raj: [Laughing] You're acting like a 5-year old.

Buttercup: [Thinking he was laughing at me and not with me, and becoming very, very angry]. Oh, you think this if funny?

Raj: [Laughing] This is the most ridiculous argument we've ever had.

One minute later: Two threats to come on over their and show the other one, and we both started laughing. It's impossible to fight, even over the sacred britta once you've cracked a smile in recognition of how ridiculous the fight truly is. He was right, I was stressed. We snuggled and made up.

From The Mouths Of Babes

During my meeting yesterday afternoon with the two young women (ages 16 and 18) that I am representing in an asylum case, we spent a lot of time discussing their upcoming interview before the asylum officer. They are understandably nervous and have a lot of questions and concerns as to how their case is going to be handled, and who it will be handled by. Both girls are Muslim, and they face, among other things, forced marriage, forced prostitution, seclusion, physical abuse, and possible death if they are forced to return to their country.

During the last four months, while I have worked with them, I have learned so much from both of these girls. They continually amaze and inspire me with their tremendous courage and strength. Both of the girls are incredibly smart, and I am astounded that they have developed into such wonderful young women given the oppressive and abusive circumstances with which they have grown up. They continually surprise and sometimes delight me with their insights and perceptions. Even when those perceptions are often the product of the difficulties they have had to face, and reflections of sad truths.

Yesterday during our discussion, my 16 year old client turned to me with a look of pleading in her eyes and asked, regarding the asylum officer that will be assigned to the girls' case, "Can we get a woman?" And then solemnly added, by way of explanation, "They have feelings."

I love these girls.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Shiloh, Take 2

Due to an unfortunate and tedious insurance coverage memo that I must draft, the Dragon Lady, crunch time on my case from hell even though we SETTLED several months ago, and the fact that I still need to finish drafting my asylum clients' affidavits, there is no time to blog today.

This, however, is a good thing because all I did yesterday was sit at my desk, look through insurance docs, draft a memo, and eat really unhealthily (why is it that everytime I have to work for 16 hours straight I decide I must have Italian food and dessert on the firm?), and all I have to look forward to for the next few days is more of the same. Boo. Under these trying circumstances, I really don't have anything terribly scintillating to share.

Fear not, tomorrow is Friday, and it will be a better day. Plus, I have my therapist at 6 so I really only have to survive the next 6 hours, go to my appointment, and then please, please, please hopefully I can work from home tonight. If I have to come into the office I might just have to jump out the window. Did I mention I also have three zits, I think due to my facial - but still!! It's not fair to have to work all the time and to suddenly start breaking out. Yes, I want to be healthy and drink lots of water, and go to the gym, and cook healthy dinners. But people, I'm incapable of doing that if I'm chained to my desk. Doesn't my firm understand these things? Sadly, no.

Instead of blogging, I will leave you with these pictures, hopeful sans any forthcoming cease and desist letters.

Au Revoir, for now.

P.S. Since I'm bitching about work again, let me add another point. In the last 7 days, guess how much time Raj and I have been able to spend together, not counting time that we are asleep? 2 hours. I'm not kidding. Granted, he was away Thursday through Sunday. So I guess it's technically 2 hours out of 4 days. Still not a lot. It's depressing.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Brad and Angelina Saying Thank You To Namibia

Ok, so fine. I'm a chicken.

I got nervous that I would be slapped with a cease and desist letter, because I'm so sure that Buttercup & Bean is first on People's list of blogs to sue, and fearing for the fate of my blog, I took down the picture of Shiloh. I'll put her back up tomorrow after People has released it's 4.5 million dollar "exclusive" pictures.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Angelina looking beautiful and happy, and Brad looking... well, just ok. I'm not sure what's happened to him. He's almost gotten less hot since dating Angelina. Remember him in "Fight Club"?

Maybe she's so hot that she has been absorbing all of his hotness into herself? Like Rogue in X-Men. Brad still looks handsome though, and I like them together.

Btw, you can't tell in the picture but Angelina's boobs are each about the size of her head. One pregnant day, not any time soon, I too will have (relatively) gigantic bazoongas. Fun.

Viva Las Vegas

This past weekend, I drove down to Las Vegas with Tex to meet my Mom and brother. It was sooooooooo much fun! (Wish you were there Buttercup!) We arrived friday and went out for a late lunch, and hung out for a while. First off, I love Vegas...The lights, the liveliness...You can feel the energy right once you hit the strip. That evening we went to Celion Dion at Caesars Palace. I have always liked Celine because she has an incredible voice. She is so tiny but she can hit those notes like it's nothing. I loved the show and Tex enjoyed the performance as well. (He sings "All By Myself" and "Because you Loved Me" in the shower - He alone is quit entertaining but he really did love seeing her live).

After the show, we went to P.F Chang's in our hotel...The Aladdin and got some appetizers and drinks and then we escorted my Mom to the room. My Bro-han, Tex, and I went down to the casino and had a few more drinks. As we sat the bar and had some beers, a woman came and sat next to my surprise because 1 he's cute, 2 the bar was crowded, and 3 it's what you do to get a drink. She sat there for a while looking at my brother and then scoping out the bar's surroundings. At first I thought nothing of it but then a man approached the woman and my brother overheard the woman and man reference drugs, money, and sex. The woman and man left the bar and went where ever. We believe that this woman was a hooker and probably eyeing my brother... Ewe...Gross. I didn't realize hookers will just go into a casino and pick up men...Double Ewe...Gross. The night ended well. We made it back to the room and didn't wake Mom up.

The next day we went and ate at Margaritaville and walked around the Strip. It was a lot of fun. Both nights we watched the water shows in front of the Bellagio which was one of my favorite things to do. One show was to the song "Cause I'm Proud to Be An American, Where At least I know I'm Free" which was awesome, I think we all got goose bumps...It was so good with the water roaring up in the highlights of the song. We also saw the water show to Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas" which I think is key to hear when you go to Vegas. On Saturday afternoon, we went over to New York New York which is such a cool hotel. We went on a rollercoaster, which was fun (my mom didn't want to go so she watched and waited). And we went into a bar in the New York New York ("The Bar at Times Square") where they had "dueling pianists." We intended to stay for a short time and after having a beer decided to stay while longer. We requested a few songs including Meatloaf, and Bon Jovi. It was way fun! Then this girl asked me to dance and I figured sure, what happens here stays here. My mom brother, and husband were a bit shocked I think at the whole proposal but hell, I might as well entertain them a little bit. So I danced with this girl for a song and right afterwards, we shuffled out of there.

We went out to dinner Saturday night at the Bellagio Cafe where I had an excellent steak and a good glass of wine. Then we split up, My mom and brother went to Le Reve and Tex and I went to see Cirque du Soleil "O". It was the BEST show that I have seen. Mom and bro-han like Le Reve but I think were as well won over by "O." In my opinion it beats any Broadway show or anything. It was awesome, and Tex and I were spoiled because we had front row seats...seperate...but front row. I was dead center and Tex was about 8 seats down from me to the left. I would recommend this show over anything else I have seen. I got a little bit wet but I didn't care. There were no intermissions but luckily my Mom warned me so I used the restroom before the show. And along with this most spectacular show, I got 2 "O" drinks which were a blend of mango, captain morgan's spiced rum, and other ingredients. The drinks were awesome too! We got out of the show late so we went to the room and met Mom and bro-han. Since they were leaving in the morning, Tex and I went out for a quick bite and then straight to bed. We were all BEAT.

In the morning, we said goodbye. I didn't want to leave...I wanted to hang out for at least a week longer even if we didn't see anymore shows, eat at nice restaurants, or did anything. I would have been content sitting at the pool hanging. But we couldn't. My brother and mom took off early. So Tex and I packed our things up and started our drive home. Hopefully the whole fam can meet down there soon! Vegas Rocks!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Here Pussy, Pussy, Pussy

All hell's breaking loose at work today, which is no surprise because it's Tuesday and hell has a tendency of breaking loose on Tuesdays. I won't boor you with the details of everything that I have to do between now and the end of the day tomorrow, but suffice it to say that it's a lot. I'm freaking out just a little bit. Freaking out so much in fact that I can't even start my work. Instead, I'm blogging. As always, a true procrastinator. I can't even start the work that is due because I have to leave the office in twenty minutes for an appointment with Dr. M (and who can do anything substantive in 20 minutes? Not I, my friends) which I thought about canceling but decided (a) my mental health is more important than an f-ing coverage memo, and (b) it would be unprofessional and discourteous to cancel last minute. So I'm going to the appointment.

After the shrink, I'm headed downtown to observe an Immigration Court hearing. I'm not representing anyone, but I will be for the first time at the end of June and this is my one opportunity to observe a hearing before I have to participate in one myself. Needless to say, it's essential that I go and take note of basic things like how to introduce an exhibit and whether an opening statement is required. By the time the hearing is over and I'm back in the office, it will be about 4 pm, which will give me exactly one hour and a half to do some work before I have to leave again, this time for a benefit dinner and reception for a nonprofit organization with whom I work on some of my asylum cases. Here again, I could miss the dinner, but it's an important cause, my firm has already bought the seats, I'm dressed in my "festive cocktail attire," and I might have the opportunity to discuss my current cases with my nonprofit colleagues. And let's not forget the importance of networking and fishing for jobs. I'm trying to think about the big picture people, and trying to fight being swallowed up by this week's arbitrary deadlines.

Here's something that made me think about girls, feminism, and female anatomy: Yesterday while I was meeting with my asylum clients - the young girls - one of them told me that she had been called a bad name and she didn't want to repeat it out loud. We asked her to write it down, and the word she wrote was "pussy." She didn't know what it meant or how bad it was, so we explained that it's a slang word for "vagina." We (as in my partner and I) went on to say how the word annoys us because it is often used by ignorant individuals as a way of calling someone "weak." As in, you're such a pussy for not doing whatever it is that that person is trying to intimidate or shame you into doing, like lifting a heavy object.

That particular use of the word "pussy" is highly offensive to me, because the underlying suggestion is that girls are weak, (particularly when men call each other "pussies"), and that when a man acts "weak" he's acting like a girl (i.e. a "pussy"). It's also offensive to me that a slang word for vagina has a negative connotation. I know that you could come back and say that "dick" and even "cock" also have negative connotations, however "dick" and "cock" don't have the same type of almost exclusive negative connotation attached to them, and "cocky" for example can even have a positive meaning. "Pussy" however, just means one thing, pathetic weakness. All of these words exist against the backdrop of gender inequalities that make the words have different weight attached to them. The end result is that things associated with females have cutting negative connotations attached to them that can be used to efface women and tear down men (men who do not meet traditional expectations of masculinity - i.e. strength, stereotypically of course).

I believe all of this, and I have believed it for a long time. I believed this so strongly for years that I never let a single use of that word escape my criticism or wrath for the longest time. I still frown or at least pointedly raise my eyes if the word is used in a derogative fashion in my presence. However, over the years, my perception of the word has changed a little, mainly as a result of my interactions with Raj. He's taught me that the word can be used with exclusively positive connotations given the right circumstances.

I'm talking, y'all, about nookie time. There was a time - I'm talking years and years - where the use of the word pussy in the heat of the moment would have have caused my racing hormones to come to a screeching halt. Heated moments became debates about gender, the meaning of words, and what it means to truly respect a woman. I was uncomfortable with the term "pussy" because of the meaning our culture had attached to it. I was also uncomfortable with terms of endearment like sweetie, honey, baby, etc. The only person that called me a term of endearment was my Dad. He called me babe very occasionally.

I'm sure that my discomfort with terms of endearment came from a very different, and equally complicated place, than my discomfort with the term "pussy." With the terms of endearment, I felt like the words were too lovey-dovey, too mushy. When boys said them to me, it felt strangely awkward and often caused any desire I had within me to die. But when the boys weren't the sensitive types drooling over me with gushy compliments and protestations of love, when they were instead rough around the edges and focused on S-E-X and used words like "pussy" and "fucking" with abandon, this also caused my desire to die. I didn't want the mushiness, but I didn't want the lack of respect either. I was in a quandary.

Then I met Raj and we started a relationship, and a lot of things changed, including my perceptions of both terms of endearment and the the term "pussy." He probably has no idea that he impacted my thinking in this way. With him, love feels like love, and sex feels like sex, and all of it is the same thing all rolled together. When he calls me "sweetie" and "munchkin" it makes me feel happy, because I know those words come from a good place. Similarly, though very differently, when he says the word "pussy" it's usually referring to something nice and yummy, like what he plans to do to me shortly, and it never has any negative connotation attached to it. Plus, using the word "vagina" in bed is just not hot. It's way too medical text-book sounding for nookie time. And what else is there? Cunt? I don't think so. Faced with those options - pussy, vagina, and cunt - and resistant to naming my anatomy with cute-sy little names like "the little missus," I've embraced pussy, and it's taken on a new, positive meaning in my mind.

Did I say any of this to the girls during our meeting yesterday? Oh, hell no. They're young, and they need to figure these things out for themselves in the future. They have time. For now, it's good that they understand that it's not cool to make fun of a boy by calling him a girl. Later, when they become women, they can worry about reclaiming the words for girls (the words used by mostly men to insult other men by calling them "girls," i.e. skirt, sally, pussy, etc., not to mention the nasty names used by both men and women to attack girls and women like cunt, slut, and bitch), and making them their own.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's Only Water, Pepe

There have been all these things I've been thinking about the last few days that I wanted to write about, but for one reason or another, suddenly it's Monday morning and I'm at my desk where I'm supposed to be working, and there's no time to write about fun things. Boo. I'll make this quick and give you some more details later.

I had a lovely rainy weekend, even though I was working and couldn't go to Vegas with Bean, my mom and brother. Raj was away in Seattle and I missed him (and I'm very happy to have him back), but I did a lot of alone-time-take-care-of-myself-girly-things that have left me feeling rejuvenated and happy. Plus, I had a break from TV sports watching, which, truth be told, was pretty f-ing awesome. I substituted with a marathon of America's Next Top Model, the First Season (which I had not seen until this weekend!), and threw myself wholeheartedly into the delicious decadent drama. I actually like the winner of the First Season, eventhough I have no idea why she married the middle Brady brother.

My favorite line (from Tyra) was: "People think beauty is something that just is, and that it's not something you have to create. How naive." Spoken while a before and after make-up shot of Tyra's face are shown on the screen, displaying that even the bootylicious Tyra Banks has unmodel like dark circles and uneven skin tone (that's all I could come up with, other than that, she's pretty flawless). Watching hours of America's Next Top Model uninterrupted was something I could not have done, without having to turn back to the Pistons during every commercial break - how stressful! - had Raj been here. (I will admit, though, that I actually watched a little of the Piston's game just to see how they were doing because I knew he and his friend would be excitedly watching it in Seattle. Ah, love).

Saturday was my favorite day. I was uber-productive, but also relaxed and just feeling good. Among other things, I went to my second treatment of laser hair removal (more on that later), I walked through the park in the rain and had a great talk with my brother, went shopping and picked up lavender scented lotions and oils from Crabtree & Evelyn and a yellow and blue button down shirt at J-Crew (a lot cuter than it sounds and also Sweden's colors), and I went to a facial at my most favorite spa in the city, Ohm Spa. God that place is amazing. Bean is the one who found it. Go Bean!! My facialist, N., was awesome. She gave me a fantastic facial and also just boosted my spirits and made me feel even happier than I had been feeling. She told me that I had a beautiful spirit and we laughed together as she kneaded, hydrated, extracted, and made me feel like I was in heaven for a little bit more than an hour.

Also during the last few days I watched a few movies, including "Thirteen," "Just My Luck," and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." I've been thinking a lot of the movie Thirteen, and it's disturbing portrayal of young girls and destructive relationships between them. It's in stark contrast to SOTTP, which was a solid movie about girls that made me cry. I liked Amber Tamblyn's character and thought her friendship with the young girl was very moving. I saw Just My Luck on my TV, and not in the theatre, because I picked up a burned copy from people who were selling them spread out on blankets for 5$ in Grand Central. Don't make that mistake. Although the guy told me it was "perfect," it was actually filmed from in the movie theatre. In addition to having very distorted sound quality, it also had the dark shadows of people occasionally getting up and walking across my screen. I will refrain from shopping off of blankets in Grand Central for my movies in the future.

Speaking of La Lohan, the other day at the gym I happened to start watching "Freaky Friday" with Lindsay and Jamie Lee Curtis. If you haven't seen that movie, which I hadn't, you have to see it because it is so funny. I was trying to run and I kept laughing so hard that I almost lost my balance a few times on the treadmill. At one point, when Lindsay and Jamie Lee run into each other to try to switch themselves back, I laughed out loud and caught the eye of the girl next to me (because I was a bit embarrassed). The girl said, "I love that part," and we both laughed together. I've decided I have to add Freaky Friday, Parent Trap, and Mean Girls to my movie collection. They all make me laugh and Lindsay, despite all of her trying to be young in Hollywood while being on the edge of self-destruction issues, is a talented actress. Merryl Streep said so herself this morning on the Today Show (Bye, Catie). And speaking of Merryl, I'm looking forward to "Devil Wears Prada."

Now, a note about work. I was put on a new case, an Insurance case. Ech. It turns out that I was right, insurance work is not only evil, it's god-awful boring. My partner on this case is not a heinous bitch, so that's a plus. I had to do 13 hours of doc review over the weekend and was looking forward to hanging out with Raj when he came back last night. However, my plans were foiled by his firm. Though his stupid firm knew that he was gone over the weekend, they still told him he needed to work. When he got back he fired off an email to them and he was told, at 8:00 pm on a Sunday night, that he needed to come into the office to work. He was there until 2:00 am! Can you believe that? Ugh. Not the lifestyle I want for my future. So, after not seeing each other for almost 4 days, we had 30 minutes, of mostly nookie time and snuggling, before he had to leave again to work. To Raj's Firm: You suck.

Because I'm a fantastically awesome girlfriend, while he was working, I baked him chocolate chip cookies (ok, fine, they weren't just for him, they're also for one of my clients who had a really rough weekend, but that's a whole other story) and refrained from watching the last episode of the Sopranos so that Raj and I can watch it together. Yep, I'm awesome.

I hope everyone's Mondays are going as well as can be.

P.S. Prue, you would be so proud of me. I cleaned my whole freaking office on Friday afternoon. When I came in today I was mezmerized by the order and clean lines of the place. Having a tidy work environment really is a nice change. I pressed my "that was easy" button and patted myself on my back.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Morning Goddess: Ix Chel

Art Found Here

The Goddess Ix Chel, the "Rainbow Lady," is the Mayan Moon Goddess of pregnancy, childbirth, and medicine. She is often pictured as a wise old woman with a skirt embroidered with cross bones who has a snake on her head and carries a large water pitcher. She was worshipped throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, and there was a shrine to her in Cozumel.
When I was traveling in Belize and Guatemala, I came across many natural healing products emblazoned with the image of this Mayan Goddess. For example, bug repellent made of natural oils from the rain forest instead of DEET. It was pretty cool, especially since many of the products supported protection of the rain forests and brought funds to local workers. It's fascinating how many Goddesses are associated with snakes. Why would Goddesses, and women (think Eve) be associated with snakes and serpents?

Secondary Effects

Getting a divorce and a reasonable settlement is hard, especially if you were abused for 8 years by your husband, are an immigrant waiting for your greencard, have been out of the workforce for over 10 years, are psychologically traumatized to the degree that you believe your husband has cursed you and made you possessed by an evil spirit, your case is in front of a judge who, every time you appear before him, says that he doesn't want to hear about the abuse or the effects of the abuse or how they have affected your ability to find work, strongly recommends that you should give up your greencard dreams and go back to your home country and live with your mother, and appears to feel more sympathetic to your husband than to you despite the fact that you have 8 years of "domestic" incident reports, and your husband is a shady, manipulative, controlling liar who has dealt only in cash his whole life and left no paper trail indicating the extent or location of any of the assets you believe he has hidden away.

That's what I learned at court today. Amazingly, my client left the hearing in good spirits, grateful for the small amount of progress we were able to make. The fact that she is able to function, let alone hold down a part-time job, despite the incredible stress she has been under since she was forced to flee her home blows me away each and every time I see her.

I talked about the hearing at therapy today, because just as in the last hearing, I was really stressed by the time it ended. We spent a good deal of time talking about the emotional toll that working with people who have been traumatized can have on the people, such as social workers and lawyers, assisting them. I'm resistant to that idea. Resistant to admitting that I might feel hurt in some way by simply hearing the stories of my clients. They are the ones who have actually suffered. To feel as if I am suffering - to any degree- through working with them is disturbing. It seems selfish and weak.

On the other hand, I know I'm emotionally affected by my clients. How could you be human and not be? It affects me to walk into the courtroom with my client at my side, feeling how nervous she is and gauging her level of fear. Gauging whether she will be able to hold it together for one more appearance. It also affects me to get cold looks from her husband, and to picture in my head her husband pointing a gun in our direction. It affects me to work with my two young girls who are seeking asylum. They are abused and depressed and for their physical safety they need to leave their home soon. They are torn up about having to leave, even though their parents failed on all counts to give them any semblance of love. Even if they get asylum, they will be all alone in this country. I feel like I would be devastated if they didn't get asylum. It's an impossibility in my mind because they have to get asylum.

I don't know if that type of emotional effect is different from what I was talking about before, feeling like dealing with someone else's pain is too much for you. I guess I feel like someone else's pain should never be too much for me, because that pain is not mine, and so neither is the suffering that goes with it. If my clients can deal with the pain they are going through, then it seems the least I can do is to not fall to pieces after just hearing about their pain.

Then there's also the issue of guilt, or if not outright guilt, then sobering awareness. Last weekend, as I strolled around Central Park, ate brunch, went to the movies, and generally acted like New York was my own personal playground, I brought myself up short a few times wondering about what my girls were doing. When they go home they sit in their room. They are not allowed outside, and any time they go out into the rest of the house they are verbally or physically abused. Their parents do not give them food. They are treated like they are worth nothing. They get through the afternoons by sleeping or listening to music, which works to de-stress them because it blocks out the sound of their parents telling them that they are worthless or threatening to harm them when they get back to their own country.

It's awful. But it's not too much for me. Thinking about them just made me want to work as hard as I possibly could for them. Today at court, however, it almost felt like dealing with the whole contested divorce she-said, he-said nightmare was too much. I really don't know why that is. Maybe it's because I have more hope with my asylum clients? More hope in the case, and the law, and in my clients. They are young girls and giving them a second chance could not only change their lives, but the lives of others that they interact with. But, I could say the same for my contested divorce client... Maybe I just don't like family law. (I really, really, really don't. Even though it's very important for lawyers to assist clients such as mine, and I respect lawyers who do it full time a great deal).

I'm not sure exactly how, but I'm quite sure that super powers would be helpful to solving both of my cases. Oh, the things I could do with telekinetic powers. Or superstrength, magic bracelets, a lasso, and an invisible jet.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

3 Weeks Smoke-Free, Sunset, and Vegas Here I Come

Tomorrow will be 3...I repeat 3 weeks of being a NON-SMOKER! I feel awesome...I am awesome but that is another blog. I can inhale deeper and actually feel the coolness of Oxygen swarm through my lungs like bees parading through their hive. The 1st 2 weeks, I coughed up a good amount of phlegm with black specs in it which is a good sign of my lungs healing themselves and becoming more healthy. My asthma is much less intense than it was when I smoked. My skin...oh my skin!! If any of you never realize how much of your body is affected until you quit. My skin has gotten a lot worse since I quit but it is going through the healing process as well. I have gotten some new acne on my face but I know it is my skin clearing up, from receiving oxygen instead of the usual smoke engulfing my face. Right around my lips I had some wierd you have a picture of this nasty thing on my face, here you go. It literally looked like smoke stuck in my pores. Well, not anymore, the left side cleared up completely and the right side is following the trend getting red and puffy and clearing out! Soon I will have good clear skin along with clear lungs!!!

P.S. If anyone is trying to quit or wants to quit, I urge you to call the 1-888-567-TRUTH. They are very polite and supportive, and work efficiently to help you along the way to be a successful quitter. The last bit I will tell you, I was nervous about gaining weight even though a few pounds wouldn't hurt, but now that I can taste food again, I am finding myself more and more eating healthy because the other junk I ate doesn't taste good anymore. I can taste and smell alot better! I have actually been eating more food, gotten a little leaner, and lost 5 pounds in this past 3 weeks!

Along to more fun things, last night I saw the most beatiful sunset. Close your eyes (jk. you won't be able to read this but imagine)...Behind you is a gigantic mountainside rich with all the shades of green that mother nature has created. Now as you turn to see what is in front of you, you look out over this most beautiful green, lush valley filled with sage, alot of fields and trees, with a few houses, alot of horses and cattle, and even a few llamas! As you follow the ridgeline on the opposite side of the valley, within minutes, the sun escapes the sky and all the clouds become purple, violet, and plum. Streaks of Pink then appeared in this amazing picture outside my window. The pink moved with the wind dipping in and out of the purple. It was awesome to see these colors fill the sky. It was a perfect evening, Tex playing a video game (he doesn't appreciate the beauty of a sunset yet- I still have hope), Hazard lying on the deck enjoying the evening air, and myself in the kitchen watching the beauty of nature unravel outside my window enjoying some "alone" time doing a 1000 piece puzzle...(And what a night filled with purple skies and purple puzzle pieces.) PERFECT! And I didn't even make my own dinner, I gave Tex a hug while he cooked and told him I loved him. He then said he knows my love is true but my assistance would be much appreciated. I declined the invitation to help for the evening and relaxed.

Tomorrow we are going to Vegas to meet up with my Mom and my brother perhaps...brothers. I am very excited to have a day off and get away from Park City for a weekend...Let me rephrase, I am glad to get away from Utah! I have thought ahead and have enough gum for the weekend. I am not sure if I will even enjoy myself in a casino now that I don't smoke and if I am not inhaling the cigarette, I definitely don't want seconds from all the people gambling. So it will be an adventure and a new thing to try. I am sure it won't be that bad though because my mom and brother don't smoke which is great. Well, there are some tid-bits of what's going on and what I am going to do. Have a great day!