Sunday, September 30, 2007

Girl Friends & Eye Candy

I had a lovely weekend spending time with my girl friends, doing yoga, and practicing my Swedish. Saturday night, I got drinks with Lakshmi and another close girl friend of mine at a great lounge in the East Village called Angel's Share. The entrance is unmarked at street level; to get to the lounge you have to climb a flight of stairs and go through a tightly packed Japanese restaurant.

Angle's Share is cool because there's no standing room and they do not permit groups larger than 4. Strict rules that they vigorously enforce, but they're worth it because they makes for a very relaxing, intimate atmosphere. The lounge has delicious drinks, including the best sake I've ever tasted, which isn't saying that much because I really haven't sampled all that much sake. However, the one I had last night - a milky, floral sake - was delish. They also have ridiculously cute waiters ala the barbarian desert warrior, Lo, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, who kidnaps Zhang Zi Yi and brings her back to his sultry love den in the desert. Remember this?

I have such a weakness for men with goatees. Sigh. Pirates, buccaneers, desert warriors, Spanish swordsmen. You would think a girl would run into at least one of them in New York amidst the hordes of lawyers, bankers, and other professionals.

Speaking of outrageously attractive, fall-to-the-floor-in-a-panting-quivering-mess, hot men, when does the next season of LOST begin?

Girl friends are awesome, but I still miss my boy friends.

I'm off to bed. Wish me luck that that shot of Sawyer makes its way into my dreams. Yow-za.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Little, Happy, Blue!

I've woken up to delicious smell of coffee every day this week. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation, or visiting my parents - I feel very adult. I've also saved myself approximately $25 dollars at Starbucks (the cost of one cup of coffee, gum, and a raspberry scone - items I am frequently compelled to buy upon entering a Starbucks location right before work), spared my body the extra calories of the raspberry scones, and saved the environment from being assaulted by 5 paper cups. Not bad, Buttercup. Not bad at all.

I talked with my friend Sammy-B (fka "Prue") last night, and she reminded me of our early days at the Firm From Hell. We're like war buddies who are eternally bonded after surviving some unspeakable horror (no disrespect to actual soldiers intended). I started telling her that I was feeling a little blue and that I was spending all this time thinking about being out of balanced, blah, blah, blah, and how I'm pretty sure I'm boring all of the people close to me along with all the readers of my blog. I mean seriously, how much can you hear one person talk about their efforts to change their life, going out in NYC, etc. Vomit. Just be already. She said, "You're crazy. You're life is about so much more than that. You're just a contemplative person. Don't worry." Contemplative, I like that. Way better than "over-analyzer." She's coming to NYC in November and I can't wait to see her. Yay!

I had an impromptu drink with my cousin last night after work. There I was kvetching about how I don't have things together in my life how I want them to be, I don't have the level of balance and motivation that I want to have, dating sucks, thinking about dating sucks, I need to find an activity, I'm boring and bored and I have crow's feet, blah, blah, blah. Are you detecting a pattern? She said, "What are you talking about? You're crazy. You're my hot, feminist cousin. That's what I tell everyone. You just over-analyze." I said, "Actually, I'm just contemplative." Point for Sammy-B. And, point for my cousin for being so cool and for thinking I'm cool. Very refreshing.

See how important girl friends are? They tell you when you're being crazy. Something I really need in my life - apparently.

One more little thing happened that's been making me smile. There's a boy at work that I'm friends with and there had been a moment of weirdness at the end of last week. As it turns out, I think I was over-analyzing - um, being too contemplative. He's cool and I really like him, so I'm glad things are back to normal.

All little things, none of which are blue, but all good.

p.s. The title and pic are for Pas and Bubbles and in honor of the game we played at that bar in Chicago.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen (Ghengis Khan)

Thirteen Facts About Genghis Khan (13th Century)
(From the fascinating book that I'm currently reading, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World)

1) He was not a "barbarian," and he did not command barbaric hordes.

2) He was an innovative military commander who excelled at battle, plains warfare, and sieges, and his army of Mongol horsemen was composed of tightly organized units of 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, and 100,000.

3) Genghis Khan was the son of an outcast family that was left to die on the steppes with his mother and siblings at a time when warring tribes fought one another across the steppes.

4) From his humble beginnings, he gradually and methodically conquered every tribe on the Mongolian steppe, unified them under his sole control, and then took his armies to conquer what would become modern-day China, parts of India, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

5) In 25 years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans conquered in 400 years.

6) At its zenith, the Mongol empire covered between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles, an area about the size of the African continent and considerably larger than North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean combined.

7) Every where the Mongols went they collected (either as slaves or as new members of their empire) people of learning such as scribes, teachers, religious persons, and crafts people - and used their knowledge and skills to advance the empire.

8) Genghis Khan recognized that religious disagreements created strife between people, so he instituted complete religious freedom throughout the Mongol Empire.

9) The Mongol penetration into Eastern Europe in the 1200s decimated 100s of thousands of knights and the European aristocracy, brought new learning to the Europeans, and seems to have played a pivotal role in ushering Europe out of the Dark Ages and setting the stage for the Renaissance.

10) While the Mongol men were off conquering foreign countries, often on campaigns that lasted several years at a time, women ruled over every facet of the Empire.

11) The Mongols ate a diet consisting mainly of meat and dairy, and as a people they were stronger and hardier than the grain-fed soldiers of foreign nations that they fought against and repeatedly destroyed.

12) Genghis Khan's cavalry redrew the boundaries of the world, consolidating little kingdoms into united nations that still survive to this day, such as China.

13) At a time when most rulers considered themselves above the law, Genghis Khan insisted on laws holding rulers as equally accountable as the lowest herder.

Bonus: Genghis Khan abolished torture; instead he offered the people that he conquered two choices: die or swear complete loyalty to their new ruler.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rape Conviction Leaves Polygamy Unchallenged

The polygamist Warren S. Jeffs, a prophet for fundamentalist Mormons, was convicted of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year old girl for "orchestrating the marriage of the young girl under duress" back in 2001. The victim testified that she had been forced into a "celestial marriage" (plural marriage) that she did not want, to a cousin that she did not like. Prosecutors argued that Jeffs knew that the forced marriage would lead to "nonconsensual sex," i.e. rape, and the jury agreed.

What's most interesting to me about this case is that it was not about polygamy. Instead of charging Jeffs with polygamy per se, prosecutors went after Jeffs for statutory rape. The conviction is unquestionably positive with respect to its definition of rape. Though the article mentions no allegations of physical force, the jury still found that a rape had occurred based on a lack of consent and/or sex that occurred under duress. Of course, we're dealing with the rape of a minor, and the whole premise of statutory rape assumes a lack of consent on behalf of the minor, so perhaps I'm being too optimistic in terms of applauding the jury for their progressive definition of rape. Not knowing the applicable state law, I don't know whether an adult woman would have received the same level of justice had she been forced into non-consensual sex, i.e. rape.

That's one of the most fascinating aspects of rape law: Young women under a certain age are presumed not to consent - in fact, they are legally not allowed to consent - while women over a certain age are presumed to always consent, unless proven otherwise. If your below a certain age, the assumption is that you kept your legs closed; if your over a certain age, the assumption is that you willingly opened them. That's why so much of rape law - which continues to be quite antiquated - focuses on the issue of force. Instead of assuming that it's rape unless there is affirmative evidence of consent, our legal system assumes that it was consensual sex unless there was evidence of force. (Not all states, but many continue to have this assumption at the core of their rape law).

The problem with that is that sex continues to happen in our society in the context of inequality, and the reality of sex for many girls and women is not always, or even usually, an experience of equality. Set against the backdrop of inequality - gender, economic, age etc. - it's ridiculous for our legal system to assume consent when sex happens. At least in the case of minors - who are protected by statutory rape but also denied the ability to consent by that same law - our legal system approaches sex from a more realistic perspective that recognizes at least some of the power issues involved.

The conviction of Jeffs is a victory for the victim and a general victory for women's rights advocates. However, I'm disturbed that Jeffs was not also convicted under the anti-polygamy laws for polygamy. Although there are enclaves of fundamentalist Mormons spread out through the country flagrantly practicing polygamy and its attendant forced, child marriages against the law, the authorities consistently fail to take a stand against polygamy. Instead, the enclaves are allowed to exist relatively unmolested, despite the molestation and abuse that - by many accounts - goes on within those communities.

In America, we don't have to look to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan to find examples of female oppression. It's right here in our own country and appears in many different forms, one of the most blatant examples of which are the fundamentalist Mormon enclaves led by men like Jeffs. In convicting him as an accomplice to statutory rape, our society has taken a step towards protecting the rights of children growing up within those enclaves. However, his conviction for rape leaves the broader issue of polygamy and its implications for the rights of women (in a patriarchal society) unexamined and unchallenged, and offers no clear protection for adult women within those enclaves. To offer protection to all women within those communities, in addition to enforcing the law of statutory rape, the authorities would also need to enforce the laws against polygamy, something which they have thus far been reluctant to do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heroes Recap


They're back! Tonight's season premier of Heroes was awesome. First things first, Mohinder looks hotter than ever. It's so nice to have him back in my living room. Better than how hot he looks is the fact that he's teamed up with Mr. Bennet to bring down The Company and their minions with the Midas Touch. Parkman's in on it too because he's living in Mohinder's flat with the little girl that's being terrorised (by Sylar?) in her dreams. There's something so perfectly wonderful about the picture of Mohinder and Parkman raising Molly together.

I feel bad for Claire, having to pretend she's not special in her new high school, but I have faith in her and I can't imagine that's going to last too long. Especially not when her new friend appears to have flying abilities. Although, he could be a trap set by the company to lure her out. I miss Zach though. He and Claire were cute. I also want her to sock it to all of the cheerleaders at her new school.

Is half of Nathan's face totally burned? Wow. I'm not digging the beard but it's understandable that he would be drowning his sorrows in a liquid diet after thinking that he had allowed Peter to die. What's up with his mom being part of secret society with Hero's dad? And Nathan's father and Linderman? Who's killing them off and why? The Company?

Hero in Japan with the samurai is thoroughly enjoying. The great samurai warrior is a British guy in search of easy cash! So much for the heroes of legend. I bet Hero convinces the warrior to give him his armor and then Hero does all of the deeds that late become legend. That's why the warrior's sword is meaningful to Hero - because it's actually his sword, the sword he used when he became the stuff of legends 400 years ago. That's my guess anyway.

What did the girl trying to cross the border with her brother do to all those people? Maybe the sound of her screams melted their brains and made them bleed out of their eyes? Or just her emotional pain? Either way, fascinating. I like her. She's a keeper.

The best surprise was Peter chained up in the box. Poor Peter, but he's a live! And adorable! And, from the looks of things, way more powerful. He shot a blue fire bolt out of his hand. If only I could do that - my legal day job would be a distant memory.

The only ones missing that I really wanted to see? Nicki and Jessica. They're my favorite.

Awesome start to the season. What did y'all think?

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Grind At A Time

As many of you know, I've been trying to create the type of life that I want to have, one in which I feel in tune with myself and my ideals, where I nourish my soul and feed my passions, where I'm at peace in the present, balanced, and completely happy with me. It's harder than one would think. I date the beginning of this effort to around the time I eliminated two major causes of toxicity - a job and a boy - from my life. With those two negative elements pruned away, I was free to focus on making positive changes for me (many of which were kind of about rediscovering me), and that's what I started to do.

I found a new job that I really enjoy, built new friendships, and took a trip that I had been wanting to take for years. I tried a diet, started going to the gym more frequently, and opened myself up to new social experiences, dating, and enjoying this amazing city and all that it has to offer in the way of restaurants, clubs, museums, outdoor space, and, of course, shopping. Kidding (kind of). I assumed a new motto, which though not neatly encapsulated in any little phrase, is about living life in the present, trying to focus on being happy now, and making each moment the best that it can be. It's about making the changes that I want to make now, at once, and not waiting any longer to be who and what I want to be. A worthy goal.

Though I have accomplished a lot, there's still a lot I need to do. I'm still far away from where I want to be, and I don't know why. Attaining balance, for example, has proved elusive. I understand that many people, including yogis, struggle for years and entire lifetimes to attain a state of balance, and I recognize that I'm in good company in my current state of failure (or current state of partial success). However, I want it now, and it frustrates me that I haven't done a better job of reaching that point.

Part of it is the city. There's so much going on here all the time - much of it fantastic, pleasurable, and stimulating -it's hard not to feel stretched thin on a regular basis. Part of it is my job. I'm a lawyer for a large corporate law firm in New York. Even under the best of circumstances, working with the best people, it's stressful, and it's a challenge to make good choices to deal with that stress (such as yoga instead of happy hour). Part of it is being single. I'm on my own - along with my friends and family - in this journey at the moment; I don't have that sense of stability, security, or added strength that comes from being involved with a loving partner. I'm also dating, which with its ups and downs, uncertainties, doubts, and unknown future poses its own challenges, many of which, on occasion, pluck away at my best efforts to be wholly happy in the now.

I don't like that dating does that to me. I don't like that I'm the type of person who could have my center pricked and bruised and thrown off kilter by the unknowns of the dating world. As I think I've expressed before, I'd like to be impervious, invulnerable, and perfectly and absolutely one hundred percent happy in my singledom. I hate, loathe, and despise more than words could ever say that sometimes I feel like I'm missing something from the present by the mere fact that I'm not in a relationship. Ugh, did I just say that? I don't want to be that woman - the type of woman that needs a man to be happy. I know that I'm not that woman. But yet, I also know that I'm not completely 100% happy in my singledom, and I must admit that I think it would make me happy to fall madly in love with someone terrific. Or to go on a date with someone terrific. Or someone remotely interesting, for that matter.

I don't like nor want to get emotionally caught up in the dating thing. I realize that's a funny thing to say for someone who also says that she wants to fall in love, which would presumably involve the embroiling of emotions. That raises the question of whether I truly want to fall in love right now. Good question. The truth is that I just don't know.

No, that's not right.

The truth is that a part of me does not want to fall in love right now. I haven't yet attained in my singledom the life that I want for me. I want to fully maximize and appreciate this time when I'm on my own (and that's why it irks me that sometimes the pitfalls of dating make me blue). I want to make more of the changes that I've been trying to make forever. I'm sure your familiar with the litany by now: yoga, going to the gym regularly, meditating, being healthy, etc. I want to prune away the rest of the negativity, get my shit in order, fill up on positive elements, and make my life how I want it to be, now. Before some boy waltzes in and mucks things up.

This weekend, I took some much-needed me time and turned something that could have been negative and discombobulating into a positive wake-up call. I spent Saturday cleaning my room, sorting though piles of paper and boxes that I hadn't gone through since moving out of my Ex's place, getting rid of old clothes, and reorganizing. The end result was a far less cluttered bedroom that is actually quite cute and inviting now that a portion of the junk has been cleared away. Internally, I feel less cluttered as well. On Saturday night, I went out but kept my alcohol intake to one drink and then called it an early night (1:00 am) so that I could wake up refreshed on Sunday morning for yoga and church.

That's right. How much to I rock? I did yoga and went to church this morning, and I'm not even religious. I did yoga on my newly de-cluttered floor from a DVD that I had bought months ago but never opened. The DVD is called "Yoga For Happiness," and the guy who leads it is not only hot, but also really funny. His name is Eoin, and I think I just might make him my new imaginary boyfriend. To give you a taste of his sense of humor, while I was leaning into pigeon pose, Eoin said, "Feel the honey in your hip." Recall that pigeon is not the most comfortable pose to hold for more than a few seconds. He encouraged us to lean into it more, and while I summoning my energy and grimacing, he said, "it should feel good, like someone licking ice cream off of your body." What?? Bent over my knee, I burst out laughing and then easily leaned in to the pose more.

This is what I need more of in my life. Eoin. OK, fine, not him. Someone like Eoin? No, focus. I need yoga and other activities that give me something positive in return when I put my energy into them; activities that make me feel happy, healthy, grounded, and balanced. Things that cultivate and nourish the happiness that I have within me, and build a sense of security, peace, and satisfied joy. Visions of hot men licking ice cream off of my yoga-fied body are also perfectly acceptable.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this weekend, though it started off with a little emotional dip, I managed to turn it into something really great and productive that ultimately made me feel balanced and happy - exactly what I've been striving for! Granted, it's how I feel now, and tomorrow may be a totally different story. But, for right now, I'm proud of me. Along with cleaning, yoga, and church I also bought a host of new kitchen appliances that I've been meaning to get for ages, including a super fancy blender and a programmable coffee-maker.

One of my dreams has been to become the type of person who has her life so together that she wakes up each morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, and then sets out to face the day with her non-Starbuck's coffee-filled, eco-friendly, reusable mug in hand.

Sometimes it takes big changes to become the person you want to be. Other times it takes small ones. Tomorrow at 8:00 am, barring some technical malfunction, I will be just a tiny bit closer to becoming the me that I want to be. I can't wait.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For The Inquiring Minds

I had a nice time, but my date tried to hold my hand.

Ok, he did hold my hand. But, only for a minute until I could comfortably reach for my wine glass.

I have this thing about men being overtly affectionate on the first date. It weirds me out. Hand holding, cheek stroking, and other romantic, sweet, deliberate gestures that say "I like you and I want to be close to you," - instead of the more usual "I want to rip off your clothes" - when there's no way the former sentiment could have had time to develop.

I understand the latter sentiment and men who sleep with women on the first date. Although I'm not personally in to that, I generally understand why people do it and what they get out of it. When I'm faced with that, it's fairly easy to deal with. Either I say no, blow the guy off, or say yes. It's relatively simple when it's clear that it's just about sex and nothing more, and though it can make me feel many things, awkwardness is not one of them.

But, hand holding on the first date is a different matter, and it usually makes me feel super awkward. For me, holding someone's hand is about feeling a connection to them, genuinely liking them, and having a certain warmth for them, feelings that take more than a few hours to develop. When someone takes your hand when you're not expecting it, when you've basically only just met them, it's a little off-putting. It's like they're stepping too quickly across an emotional chasm that exists between two strangers for good reason.

Looking at my hand last night as it was being held by my date's hand, I felt like it was a strange thing disconnected from my body, like a dead fish. I was aware of feeling vaguely uncomfortable, even though the experience itself was fine. I mean, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with physical touching and affection. As a general matter, I'm quite affectionate. But, not on first dates, and not with people I don't know.

My brother Frey understands my feelings. He called today from London to see how I was doing. When I told him that my date had held my hand on our first date, he paused for a second to ponder it, and then said, "Weird."

It is weird.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Drink Time

I have a date tonight with a guy that I met last weekend while out with a bunch of my girl friends at Pravda. One of the girls in my group picked up my date and his friend as they were walking by on the street outside of the club, and they ended up hanging out with our group for the remainder of the night. While his friend was canoodling with one of my friends over vodka martinis, he and I started talking and then ended up dancing until 3:30 am at Vig Bar.

It's good to have proactive girl friends like that.

The evening ended with him walking me to a cab and asking for my number. A couple of days later, he emailed, then I emailed, then he called, then emailed, I emailed back, and ta-da, we have a date for this evening. We're meeting up around 8 pm for drinks. I think we might go to an outdoor place as it's beautiful out today, and it's probably one of the last days we'll have like this before summer fades away.

In terms of stats, he's a lawyer, but as I explained to my Dad, so are half the men in New York so it's a hard thing to avoid. He's also a few years older than me, a partner (gasp!), taller than me by a few inches (nice), and he appears to have a sense of humour along with being a friendly, decent guy. I think he also might be environmentally conscious - which would be a pleasant surprise - based on a comment that he made about riding his bike as a means of trying to limit the burning of fossil fuels on the weekend. It was cute; I liked it.

I think I'm looking forward to it. If nothing else, I'm sure it will be fun and it will be nice to be outside. Worst case scenario, I'll leave after a drink and resume watching Season 1 of Heroes on DVD. I can't wait for next week's season premier!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Excellent Evening

Today was a good day because... I went running. I motivated and left work at a little after 6 pm, and then ran for over 4 miles. I'm psyched. I've noticed that though it's sometimes hard to make myself go to the gym, usually once I'm there and running I end up feeling great. It's probably the endorphins, but I think it's also just being proud of myself for motivating. While I'm running I'm also aware of my body in a way that I'm not throughout most of the day, and that awareness usually leads to an appreciation of its strength, and how cool it is that my body can do things like run 4 miles. It makes me want to nurture and care for it and feed it lots of protein and green leafy vegetables (not fudgsicles).

I think women, including me, need to do that more, think about why they should love and value their bodies, as opposed to focusing on what's wrong with them. I don't spend enough time valuing my body for everything that's great about it and treating it the way I should. It's a superb machine and it needs certain things to function at an optimum level, and too often I deprive it of nutrients and feed it semi-toxic things like sugar (and spoonfuls of peanut butter).

After I went running, I stopped by Origins and bought plantidote face serum because I really digg Dr. Weil and all of his mushroom-based potions. One of the new things I saw there today that I want to try some time are mini herb flavored honey-ies. So cute, and I love that honey can be so beneficial for the body. Yum. After Origins, I went to a little boutique for some more hanky panky undies. I've decided to throw away almost all of my other underwear because all I wear anymore is hanky panky. The rest of my undies just sit in a pile smushed together in the pack of my drawer. They need to be pruned. It's on my list, as is purging my closet of any piece of clothing that I haven't worn for the past year. Egads! I don't know if I can do it, but it's on the list.

Another thing that made me happy today was that I bought a "calm to your senses" lavender and vanilla scented candle at Origins. I lit it in my bedroom and then went downstairs to make dinner. An hour later, when I went back upstairs, my room smelled amazing! So luscious and relaxing. I love it. Every time I light candles, it makes me happy. I think it also makes me feel calmer and more at peace. I need to remember to light candles more often. It's a nice way to really be in the moment.

Photo by Buttercup - Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Powerpuff Girls and Mojo-Jojo In Chi-Town

I just came back from Chicago, where I had a wonderful visit with my girl friends from law school whom I had not seen for almost 10 months. The last time I saw them was for Pas's wedding, a wedding that I had been supposed to attend with EXBF. However, we broke up a day before the wedding, so I made the trip alone. My girl friends - Pas, Bubbles, and Wood - saved me that weekend. They distracted me from this, with this, gave me hugs, brought me tissues, made sure my wine glass was always filled, and made it clear that in their minds EXBF was the lowest form of pond scum on the planet. A sentiment which is not unappreciated, even now. I tried to be strong and to hold it together through the wedding.

Remembering that last trip to see them, I recalled things I hadn't thought about for a while. The journey to see them and the wedding are a blur. It was after all of that, while I was on my way home to face the emptiness inside our apartment, that I clearly remember not being able to hold it together any longer. Waiting to board my plane to New York, I couldn't stop crying. I wasn't sobbing or making a spectacle of myself in the airport, but I couldn't stop the tears from leaking out of my eyes and streaming down my face. I kept squeezing tissues against my eyes and face, trying to will the tears to stop, but they kept coming.

I must have looked a mess, because at one point, while I was sitting on the floor leaning against a wall, a man approached me to see if I was all right. He leaned down towards me and asked if I was OK. I looked up and saw that he had brought me a glass of water. I tried to muster up a reassuring smile, but then got emotional all over again at his kindness and started crying while at the same time nodding to him that I was OK.

I think about that now and it no longer makes me sad. Instead, it stands out as an example of how caring human beings can be to one another (if they want to be). I have no idea where that man got the glass of water or for how long he had been watching me cry that day. But, to this day it amazes me that a perfect stranger was so thoughtful. It's comforting that people like that exist, and it's pretty incredible.

As are my friends, and that's what this post is supposed to be about: My Amazing Girl Friends. The official purpose of this trip was to surprise Bubbles, who turns 30 this coming week. The little 3-0, how cute! Wood and Pas organized all the logistical details (my only job, which I carried off successfully, was getting to Chicago), and we set it up so that Bubbles knew that Wood was coming in to town, but had no idea that Pass and I were also going to be there. On Friday night, I texted Wood after landing at Midway, got directions to the bar where she and Bubbles were at, and then hopped in to a taxi to meet them. On the way to the bar, I was positively giddy. I love surprises!

Thirty minutes later, I reached the bar, located Bubbles and Wood sitting at the bar, and sidled up into the seat right next to Bubbles. She turned to her right to glance at me, and I stared directly at her not saying anything, waiting for her reaction. For a few seconds, her expression was a big, "Oh!" Exactly the reaction Wood and I had hoped for.
The next morning, after walking around the Japanese Garden and down by the Lake (so beautiful!) in Hyde Park, we pulled a similar stunt when Pas and her husband arrived, and just like that the four of us (+ 1) were together again, talking about everything, drinking beers (or in the case of Pas, $9 martinis), and being silly. As always happens when I see them, the visit left me with the overwhelming feeling of wishing that we all still lived in the same place.

I'd love it if we all lived closer together, but barring that ideal scenario, I'm just really glad that I have them as friends. 10 months is too long to go in between visits, but there's something wonderful about the fact that even though 10 months had gone by, it still felt basically the same to see each other as it had the last time we were together. We talk on the phone, over email, and through our blogs, so even though they're far away, they're not. The best part of seeing them was that it wasn't all about catching up. We didn't need to catch up because we basically knew what was going on in each other's lives. It was more about just being together, knowing they were right beside me instead of half way across the country for a change.
I already miss them, but more than sadness I just feel really happy that I was able to see them. They're awesome, and I'm lucky to have them in my life.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Being a Gentile Is The Bomb

Jewish holidays are the best. Being the non-believer that I am, I didn't realize today was Rosh Hashana until yesterday afternoon when my partner informed me that our office would be closed today for the Jewish holiday. Could anything be better than a free day just dropping out of the sky like that? At my old firm, all the non-Jewish folks had to work on Jewish holidays. I love working for a firm full of Jewish lawyers. It is awesome.

I took full advantage of the windfall by sleeping in, going running down by the river, doing a bit of work from the comfort of my bedroom, and meeting my friends at a boutique champagne sale downtown. I bought a sparkly purple party dress from a Japanese designer that made me feel slightly like a giant blueberry but in a fun celebratory, fashionista sort of way. It's all about confidence and with a banging pair of silver heels, I think I can pull it off.

Today was so good, I hardly need a daily dose of positivity, but here goes:

Thursday's DDP: My therapist called me and I called her back. We talked about the bad session we had on Thursday and I decided to go in another time to see if we could repair the relationship. I'm seeing her next Tuesday and I'm glad about it. Very mature of me, I must say. It made me happy because I know that if I lost this relationship, particularly on such negative terms, it would have made me really sad. I've been going to her for over 2 years! I also texted Bacchus, who texted me back. It's a baby step, but a step nonetheless.

Hope everyone else had an equally positive Rosh Hashana!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Leaves

I'm turning over a new leaf, two of them actually.

I feel like, especially lately (when I've had the chance to write), I've been spending a fair amount of time on the blog regaling you all with angst-filled stories (Exhibit A), hopefully with touches of humor amidst the emotional turmoil. It's therapeutic, interesting to me, and often times enjoyable to write. However, I don't want my life or my blog to focus just upon the angst-filled moments. I want perspective.

I've decided to change - the blog at least - in one small, but positive, way. For the rest of the month of September, I'm going to try to post about at least one positive thing each day, in addition to the usual stuff. I think it will help me keep a bit of perspective, and I think it's more of what I'd like my blog (and me) to be. I mean, emotional turmoil is entertaining and all, but it can look negative (especially if the dark, dry humor is missed) and I think it's important to balance the craziness with some pure positivity.

Daily Dose Of Positivity: That's the first leaf. The second leaf is also the subject of today's first positivity post: I've decided to start waking up earlier during the work week and today - drum roll please - I did it! I set my alarm for 7:30 am this morning and actually got up on the first buzz. Due to my diligence, I was showered, blow-dried, and out the door by 8:30 and in the office by 8:50 am. That's the earliest I've been in for a while. Go me!!

I want to wake up earlier mainly because I think it will help me organize my days and weeks better. If I wake up early, I'll get in earlier and I will have a few extra minutes to get things together for the day before it begins in full force. On days when I don't have to wash my hair (I wash it every other day), I could do pilates. That's the plan so far, and I'm going to do my best to stick to it.

But, for today, I'm just proud of me for waking up at 7:30 am. Awesome.

Photo found here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Post-Emotional Meltdown

It turns out that I jumped the gun a little bit when I said I was back to relative normal. What would have been more accurate was to say that I was emotionally spent, physically exhausted, and teetering on the edge of an emotional meltdown.

I suppose 5 days of massive emotional stress trying to care for two high risk teenagers, a ton of work, my period, taking the red-eye and then going to work, and total physical exhaustion will do that to a person.

I had a fight with my therapist last night.

Have you ever even heard of such a thing?

I love my therapist. For over a year and a half she's been an integral part of my support system, an we've had an extremely positive and productive relationship. But last night, I came very close to writing her a final check and storming out of her office. Honestly, I wanted to curse at her, tell her to fuck off, and slam the door in her office so hard that the frame shook. I have a lot of experience doing that sort of thing from years of fights growing up.

I'm not going to go into the details other than to say that it was about scheduling. What a completely stupid thing to have a meltdown over, right? But, because of they way she brought it up, and (mostly) because of the emotional/exhausted state that I was in when I saw her I ended up feeling attacked, vulnerable, and like she didn't care at all. And, I couldn't handle it. What I needed was some support, not to have more bullshit dumped on top of me. I actually needed her. It wasn't about boys or food or stupid shit. It was something where I actually could have used some support. Do you know what I did? I completely closed down and withdrew.

It's like reaching for something and having someone slam down a window on your fingertips. You withdraw your hand and don't reach out again.

Fuck. A year and a half of therapy and I still can be pushed to that point. So much for progress. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I basically acted out a hard-wired response that would no doubt be fruitful to discuss if we are able to repair the relationship, which I don't know about right now.

I'm really upset about it. It's like a disturbance in the force.

I actually have two disturbances in the force right now, in terms of my web of relationships. My younger brother, Bacchus, and I aren't speaking to one anther at the moment, and now a fight with CG. It's awful.

You know what, I'm just too exhausted to deal with any of this right now, and plus I can't because I'm at work and I need to take care of a bunch of things. She made me really angry last night and today I feel hurt (I also feel bad because I may have hurt her). For the first time, I think I truly understood how my clients feel when they talk about hating their therapists. It's a relationship where you are, out of necessity, completely emotionally vulnerable, and because of that, you can end up hurt.

I'm sad.

I'll process this weekend. Rumi's back. The apartment is clean, which is nice, and we stayed up until 1 am catching up. Me with my puffy eyes and her dressed to the nines talking about breaking up with her boyfriend in the same breath as she's saying he's taking her to Europe in a few weeks.

The good news? I'm going to have a bath tub all to myself in less than two weeks. God, do I need that. Oh, also, I started knitting again. I'm knitting a scarf for one of my little teenage friends. A turquoise scarf.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back To Relative Normal

So, I'm out of the rabbit hole for the time being. In the end, the only way to stop feeling like I was being devoured by work was to finish the work, and that's what I did through a series of consecutive 17-billable-hour days The anxiety and my inability to cope (without eating trash) with it is another issue. I dealt with that too just by pushing through, doing what I needed to do, and trying my best, along with one or two strategically placed Clonzapins.

The suggestions about kittens, yoga, 15 minute walks, healthy snacks, and incorporating all of those things into my daily life as my life, not just the things I do to cope with my life were all excellent. They all speak to this struggle I've had now for years to attain (or reattain) a sense of balance. Although I procrastinate, on the flip side I regularly function like a workaholic - throwing myself completely into my work during crunch times, with no time or ability to make time for non-work things (the things that, if I did them regularly as part of my life would give me a sense of overall balance). In that regard, I'm no different than a lot of lawyers working for large New York firms (and many others in many different professions and cities, I imagine).

Recently, a friend of mine, a lawyer at my former law firm, described the situation of being a type-A personality at a New York law firm as similar to being "an alcoholic working in a bar." There's some truth in that analogy. I like doing well and I like pats on my head. I am in a sense addicted to working hard, doing well. Put someone like me in an environment that defines success in their employees, defines "doing well," as working 300 hours a week and I'm in serious trouble because there's a huge part of me that wants to do it, that has trouble not rising to the occasion, at least without being overcome by near-crippling anxiety and guilt. It's hard to refrain from drinking, particularly when you've been brought up to believe that you are supposed to drink, that you are good if you drink and weak if you refrain.

So, how does one cope in that situation? In my case, I jump into rabbit holes where nothing else exists except for work and I don't come out until I've finished the work. It's similar to how I've approached studying for final exams for most of my life. It was fun while a student, but now, not so much - particularly when it messes up my gym schedule or leaves me too tired to motivate.

I don't know what the answer to any of this is yet. A few days ago, I mentioned to a women's rights lawyer twenty years my senior how I still hadn't managed to attain a sense of balance since leaving law school and starting to practice. She laughed and said she hadn't figured it out yet either. Then she suggested leaving New York and moving to San Francisco.

Art found here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stuck In A Rabbit Hole

In the saga of my life, the last two weeks will hereafter be known as the Digital Ash In Underground weeks, because I've been listening to the Bright Eyes album, Digital Ash In a Digital Urn in a constant mini-loop. I've been jumping over the first three songs, mainly because "Arc of Time" is so upbeat it's distracting.

I've been starting my loop with "Down in a Rabbit Hole." It's dark, intense, and kind of sad and the perfect backdrop against which to make scads of tables and charts. The lyrics start with, "I heard you fell into a rabbit hole, covered yourself up in snow. Baby, tell me where'd you go for days and days? Do they make you stay up all night? Did they paint your face that pasty white?" Lyrics are very important to me, almost more important than the actual sound of a song. This song has been speaking to me, because that's how I feel, like I've fallen into a rabbit hole for days and days.

It's dark and cramped in the rabbit hole and there's only room for a few things including work and the pro-bono work I've been doing for my two young friends. The rabbit hole is deep and it's hard to climb out of it. Instead, I've used any down time in the rabbit hole to fatten myself up on candy, yogurt covered pretzels, and disgusting quantities of junk food, as if there was a siege coming on that I had to be prepared for. Anxiety is like that, it fills you with fear about what is to come, and makes it very difficult to exist in the present. Anxiety in a dark, super intense rabbit hole is even worse because there's no counter-balancing influences. A few of my friends and family have tried to call, but it's been too much effort to stop what I've been doing and to reach out to them from the depths of the hole.
Not that this is necessarily bad. It's definitely not like when I was working at my old firm, and instead of rabbit holes I was constantly adrift in a toxic, putrid sea of despair and frustration. Here, the rabbit hole is not the product of evil. It's just a place I've fallen in to while trying to get everything done that I need to (with the exception of the ridiculous jaunt to Fire Island which only worsened things by making me hungover, sick, and so tired).

I'd prefer not to have to sequester myself in rabbit holes when in super-stress mode. I'd prefer to be able to take breaks, do yoga, and eat healthfully, while working around the clock. But, that's so hard for me right now. It's been hard for me for a while. It's so hard when I'm in the middle of a mountain of work to force myself to take time to relax. It's actually basically impossible.

I think it's one of the reasons I've been eating more than usual. I think I've been using food to force myself to relax. I think I've been using it as a coping mechanism to sooth my anxiety. Do any of you do that? I've been toying with this idea for a while, but the more I think about it the more I think there's some truth there. For example, during the past two weeks, other than my brief, drunken jaunt to Fire Island, I've taken no time away from work and I've been working very late, and I've had almost no time at all where I felt genuinely relaxed (I also wasn't relaxed in Fire Island, just inebriated).

For most of the two weeks, I've been a ball of anxiety. It's been hard to get to sleep. I've had intense dreams and have had to rely on sleeping pills to get my mind to quiet down. I've been going at this constant level of intensity, and again, it's not bad, I don't feel at any kind of breaking point, but I do feel kind of exhausted. And, I'm just realizing how difficult it is for me to relax in the midst of all of these demands. It's hard to relaxed when immersed in a rabbit hole. Particularly, when teenagers are depending on me, and when I don't have a bath-tub.

I leave for California tomorrow and will have an intense 5 days of work there. I'm taking the red eye back in the middle of the week and am already internally cringing at the amount of sleep I won't get that night. Thursday and Friday will be rough, mainly because I'll be sleep deprived and I might have to play catch-up at work.

However, next weekend, things should be better. By next weekend, my two young friends will be resettled, Sven will be gone, Rumi will be back, and a series of deadlines in my cases will have passed. I can't wait. I just want to relax.

But, I want to really relax (like I was supposed to be doing right now in Detroit). I want to run and be healthy and enjoy my time sitting still. I'm so sick of going, going, going until I have to drug myself to shut down. That's the dark side of the rabbit hole. I'm thinking of cutting out caffeine and alcohol, starting a gratitude journal and fasting. My friend Simone said I am capable of change and that it is only me who is holding me back (I thought that was slightly unnecessary, though true).

Ok, I've got to go jump back down into the hole. When I poke my head out next, I would be very interested to see if anyone has any non-drug and non-food related ideas for how one can force oneself to relax in the midst of work-related anxiety and stress. Please don't say meditation. There's no where to sit comfortably down here.