Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Davis Filibuster

One of my favorite episodes of The West Wing is one towards the end of season two called The Stackhouse Filibuster. It's Friday night in The White House, and the West Wing staff and White House press corps are awaiting the Senate passage of The Family Wellness Act. What looks like a sure victory is thrown into chaos when Senator Howard Stackhouse commences a filibuster that lasts for hours, so that he can get an amendment added to the bill.

On Tuesday night in Texas, a real life filibuster took place that Aaron Sorkin himself couldn't have written better.

It began, as so many political controversies do these days, with a piece of legislation in Texas that sought to limit abortion rights. The bill was called an omnibus bill, which means that rather than take up a specific issue - say, mandatory ultrasounds or waiting periods - it bundled nearly all the anti-choice legislation that had been introduced during the Texas legislature's regular session into a single measure to be voted on during a special session called by Texas Governor Rick Perry with the sole purpose of passing this particular bill.

In addition to a ban on all abortions after twenty weeks, the bill included, among other things, requirements that all abortion providing doctors have admitting privileges in a hospital within thirty miles of where the procedure is being performed and that all abortion providers be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

According to Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the requirements of the bill would be so costly for existing Texas abortion providers to implement that all but five of the state's forty-two abortion clinics would close, essentially wiping out access to abortion for women living in poorer, rural areas of the state.

By all accounts, the bill was going to pass the Texas Senate, and, having already been approved by the House, it was almost certain to become law, something Governor Perry and the Texas Republicans were counting on.

But there was something they didn't count on.

They didn't count on Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis.

At 11:18am on Tuesday, Senator Davis stood up and began to speak. In order to become law, the bill had to be voted on and passed before the clock struck midnight and the special legislative session ended, so Senator Davis vowed to hold the floor until then.

In Texas, the rules of a filibuster are a bit more complex than those in the federal legislature. You won't hear cookbooks and phone books being read. In Texas, the representative conducting the filibuster has to speak to the topic of the bill as long as she wishes to hold the floor. She can yield for questions but can't leave the chamber for any reason. Not to rest, not to eat, and not to use the bathroom. She can't lean on anything and she can't sit down. And in a "three strikes and you're out rule," once she amasses three rule violations, her opposition can end the filibuster.

Clad in pink sneakers for comfort, Senator Davis stood for hours and read testimony from abortion providers and personal accounts of Texas women and women from around the country. She explained what the effects of the proposed law would be, answered relevant questions and stayed ruthlessly on topic, determined to outlast the session.

And all over the country, people were watching via a live feed from the chamber.

They watched as she received her first strike - called out for going off topic by discussing Planned Parenthood's budget, despite the fact that budgetary issues for abortion clinics were a central effect of the Texas bill. And they watched as she received her second for getting assistance by a fellow Democrat in fastening a back brace.

As the day wore on, and the word got out over social media that something amazing was happening in Texas, the numbers watching the YouTube live feed grew and #standwithwendy was the top trending topic on Twitter.

I followed the Twitter feeds all the way home from work and when I walked in the door around 8pm eastern time, I went straight to the TV and turned to CNN, where I was certain they would be reporting on this. Anderson Cooper's regularly scheduled show had just started and it seemed he was reporting on everything BUT Texas.

So it was back to Twitter, which stayed open on my phone all night as the news from Texas continued to pour in.

Around 11, I read that she had received her third strike by mentioning sonograms. Even though Texas and twenty other states have some law on the books regulating sonograms by abortion providers, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who was in charge of the vote, ruled that sonograms were not related to the bill in question, and moved to end the filibuster.

Twitter went crazy. Protesters started filling the chamber and the Texas state house chanting "let her speak." Fellow female Democrats jumped to Senator Davis's aid in protest to how the filibuster was ended. Senator Davis stayed standing, unsure of whether the filibuster was over and determined not to yield the floor. And still, people around the country were getting their news from Twitter and the live feed because all the 24 hour news networks were airing reruns of their evening shows.

At midnight on the east coast, the debate was still raging on whether the filibuster was over, a new Republican took control of the vote, and after trying desperately to be recognized, Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte stood up and said "At what point does a female senator need to raise her hand and her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?"

The gallery in the Senate chamber was on fire, Twitter was manic, and the chair couldn't restore order. With only fifteen minutes left in the special session, it looked like the orange-clad Wendy Davis supporters were picking up her filibuster where she was forced to leave off, and carrying it to the end.

Then the clock ran out. At midnight Texas time, 1am on the east coast, Twitter exploded with victory tweets that were suddenly peppered with reports that a vote was being held, even though it was now after midnight and the legislative session had expired.

Then the AP reported that the vote was over and the bill had passed, 17-12. All over social media, people were going insane. It seemed the strict parliamentary procedures only applied when something was happening that the Texas Republicans didn't like. Because when they wanted to get something done, little things like time and rules and science didn't seem to matter.

Same story, different day.

Assuming that it was all over, and that it would probably be better if I wasn't an absolute zombie at work in the morning, I fell asleep, in awe of Wendy Davis and what she attempted to do. Outraged that yet another bill championed by Republican men was passed that gutted our rights to control our own bodies and minds.

Turns out, I probably should have stayed awake.

Because when I checked Twitter in the morning I was greeted with the news that the bill did not pass and, in fact, was dead.

I spent my entire commute to work reading stories of protesting Wendy Davis supporters taking over the state house, broken rules, falsified legislative records, and hours long closed door meetings.

It seems that the Texas GOP decided that they could hold a vote after midnight, change the legislative record  to make it look like the vote took place before midnight, and no one would notice. But this is the age of Twitter, screen shots, and instant news, so everyone noticed. Scrolling back through my feed to see the overnight Tweets, there were hundreds of side-by-side screenshots with two different versions of the legislative record, one showing the bill passing after midnight, and one showing it passing just before. There were links to Vines showing throngs of protesters in the state house. And, finally, links to a video of Cecile Richards announcing that the bill was dead and Wendy Davis coming out of the chamber, smiling.

And unexpectedly, I found myself close to tears as I sat on a train hurtling towards Manhattan. Because for a minute, I wasn't outraged by yet another bill gutting women's rights. I wasn't infuriated by the Texas GOP lying and cheating their way to a victory. I wasn't thinking about the fact that Governor Perry would almost certainly call another special session later in the summer for another shot at this legislation. And I wasn't thinking about the hypocrisy of the Texans who desperately wanted this bill to "sanctify life" cheering the state's 500th execution that was, quite literally, hours away.

There would be time to think and feel all of those things later. But not just then.

Because for a minute, I was inspired. I was inspired by a woman who stood for more than twelve hours to protect the right to choose. I was inspired by masses of people who gathered in the Texas state house to protest injustice. And I was inspired by people all around the country who stayed up all night so that they, too, could join the fight.

I know that the victory might be short-lived, and that there are certain to be more fights ahead. But for the first time in a long time, I'm hopeful. Because a fierce Texas woman is standing up. And we are all standing with her.

Thanks Wendy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

24 Hours That Changed History

"Today was democracy in action...You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor"
-Wendy Davis
 Texas Democratic State Senator

Edith Windsor
Plaintiff, United States v. Windsor
"The power the Constitution grants it also restrains. And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. What has been explained to this point should more than suffice to establish that the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.... 
DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."
-Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority
 United States v. Windsor

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If I Was Asked About My Most Embarrassing Moment, This Is The Story I Would Tell

I ran blindly up the stairs, tears of panic and humiliation clouding my vision and my mind playing the same words on repeat.

Have to get away. Faster.

For a second, the voice of my teacher calling my name cut through the refrain, but I kept moving. I didn't look back. Couldn't.

I hated last period English in eighth grade. Actually, I hated all of eighth grade, but last period English was particularly awful.

I only had five minutes to run from my seventh period class to my English classroom down by the lake on the outskirts of campus. Every day I got to class sweaty and out of breath and spent forty-five minutes trying to be invisible in a classroom filled with the popular kids. And when English was over I had another five minutes to get up to the bus that would take me to the high school campus where my mom picked me up.

Every day I was gripped with anxiety about being late for English or, more terrifyingly, missing the bus. No matter that shuttles to the high school left every ten minutes. If I didn't make the 3:50 bus, obviously something catastrophic would happen.

On this particular day, at 3:38, I had to go to the bathroom.

The closest one was up on the main campus, so I couldn't go and come back before the last bell. I had spent the past fifteen minutes wondering if I could hold it until I got home, because I also knew that if I stopped on the way to the bus I would miss the 3:50 for sure.

But I couldn't hold it. I had to go now, even if I missed the bus.

I raised my hand per classroom policy and asked if I could please use the restroom. My teacher said that I could, and since there were only a few minutes of class left, why didn't I just take my things with me.

Feeling like I had won the lottery, I hurriedly gathered up my backpack, turned to leave, and walked straight into the classroom's closed sliding glass door.

After a beat of silence, the entire class - including five football players, three baseball players, two members of the girl's soccer team, an actress and the student council president - burst into wild laughter.

The tears rose faster than I was able to battle them back and, unwilling to be any further embarrassed, I wrenched open the door and fled.

I was halfway up the stairs when my teacher yelled, "Samantha, come back. I'm so mad at them for laughing at you."

But I didn't go back, and her coming after me didn't make it better. It made it worse, and so did the notes of apology that she made the entire class write to me the next day.

I wish she would have just ignored it and pretended it didn't happen, just like I tried to do.

Even if I never quite managed it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unanticipated Delays Make For Happy Mornings

Eight minutes outside of Grand Central station this morning, my Metro-North train shuddered to a stop.

We were in the darkened tunnel that leads straight into the train station from just after the Harlem-125th Street stop. We weren't moving and inch, and the roaring of the engines at full throttle had quieted to a hum as they idled.

The first car of the train where I sat was silent. Designated as the quiet car during the morning commute, no one in this car makes phone calls, has a conversation, or turns up the volume any louder than is necessary for that person to hear his or her own music through headphones. There is barely even any shuffling around to get comfortable in a seat. The people in this car take their commute seriously, and it is a glorious way to start a morning. In complete silence, I drink my coffee and I read my book from the time I sit down in White Plains until the doors open in Grand Central to a brand new workday. I adore these 31 minutes, and have come to depend on them to set the tone for my day.

But this morning, something was different. My 8:01 peak hour train generally sails through the tunnel without stopping even once. In fact, I often don't even notice that we're in the tunnel until the train pulls up to the platform and the doors slide open.

Idling just inside the tunnel is rather unusual behavior for the habitually reliable train.

Two minutes after the train stopped, the shuffling began. All these serious commuters started checking their watches incessantly as the minutes ticked by and still, we remained stopped. They progressed to taking iPhones and Blackberries out of briefcases and suit pockets to check e-mail, and sighing audibly when they remembered that there is no cell service inside the tunnel. Some enterprising - and incredibly impatient - commuters even stood up and started lining up at the door, as if the mere act of rising to their feet in preparation to disembark was enough to make the train start moving. Apparently these people plan their commutes to the exact minute, and an unanticipated train delay throws their perfectly calibrated morning into chaos.

Not exactly a stress-free way to live, in my opinion. Sometimes I feel like a candidate for a heart attack myself just watching people plow through their morning commutes, while I generally float through mine in a haze of contentment that comes from caffeine and a good book.

And what, you might ask, was I doing as the collective blood pressure in my train car started to rise? I was thousands of miles away, racing through Venice, Italy with Robert Langdon and the enterprising Dr. Sienna Brooks as they unwound a mystery centered around Dante's Inferno. Not only was I unbothered by the delay, I was actually hoping it would last awhile. A good half hour or forty-five minute delay and I probably could have finished the book, rather than having to wait until my commute home to pick up where I left off.

As my fellow commuters stared out the window wondering if they could jump off the train and just walk through the tunnels, I plowed through the book and found myself hoping for a mechanical failure or a good old-fashioned train derailment - without any injuries of course. Anything to give me a little extra time with these pages, and these characters.

Dan Brown really knows how to tell a story.

Alas, ten minutes later the engines roared and the train once again started moving. The car was filled with more sighs and muttering as more and more people rose to take their place in the line to get off the train, preparing to fly as soon as the doors opened, only to get caught up in the crush of people trying to get out of Grand Central and up to street level.

But not me. I stayed in my seat, reading, until the very last person got off the train. When the train was empty, I gathered my things and, with reluctance, marked my place and closed the book, saving the final few chapters for later.

My commute home can't come fast enough.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When It's Thursday, I start thinking about Friday Night

When my alarm goes off on Thursday morning, I'm already thinking about Friday night.

And when I come into work on Friday morning, my mind is already on the magic hour between day and night, the hour when Shabbos - the Jewish Sabbath - begins.

The hour where I light candles, say a special prayer, and leave the week behind me as I relax into the day. The day that is for reading and relaxing and friends and family.

For more of my musings on Friday night and the 25 hours that follow, check out my guest post today on my friend Christine's fabulous blog.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Sister K

Happy, happy birthday!

Thanks for giving me my first brother, lots of laughs, and babies to love.

Still amazing that both of these, belong to you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Surviving The Dreaded Cocktail Hour

I groaned inwardly when I saw the invitation detailing the coming evening's events:

7:00pm - 8:00pm     Cocktails
8:00pm - 10:00pm   Dinner and Presentations

I hadn't been particularly excited a few days before when I was asked to attend the black tie dinner for work. I wasn't dreading it exactly, but since it meant bringing a dress and all the necessary accessories to work, changing in the bathroom, and not getting home until close to midnight, I wasn't really looking forward to it either.

But when I saw the invitation on the morning of the event I wished desperately for a violent case of food poisoning. Or Swine Flu. Or a nice bout of Ebola. Anything that would be an excuse to skip it.

It wasn't the dinner portion of the evening that I found problematic. That was easy. Sit at a table, eat, periodically smile and clap politely, and leaf through the program during breaks in the presentations to avoid having to make conversation.

But I had been to enough events to know what the invitation meant by "Cocktails." A cavernous room. Hundreds of people standing in small groups. Lots of talking and laughing. The discrete exchange of business cards over small talk. Nary a table or chair in sight.

Or, for a lifelong introvert such as myself, an hour akin to one of Dante Alighieri's circles of Inferno.

The thought of trying to find enough people to talk to to keep myself from standing awkwardly alone was exhausting. The mere idea of an endless hour of small talk had me longing for a quiet night at home with sweat pants, my couch, and hours of TV.

But I gave my word.

So at the appointed hour, I touched up my makeup, put on the dress, and clasped the pearls that would transform me from "regular person" to "sophisticated lawyer who attends cocktail parties." And I walked the six blocks to the hotel where the event was being held like a death row inmate taking his final walk to the execution chamber.

The scene at the hotel was exactly as I thought it would be. I entered the room, following my colleagues through the crush of bodies and the vague scents of perfume, light sweat and expensive alcohol. The potpourri of parties. As they each found someone to talk to I found myself, as predicted, standing alone amid the chattering groups, anxiety rising.

As a fiercely proud introvert for whom Susan Cain's words are gospel, I knew this was unacceptable. I needed a change of scenery. Immediately.

I asked a nearby waiter for the closest ladies room. I followed his directions to the beautiful bathroom, locked myself into one of the generously sized stalls, sat right down on the toilet seat fully dressed, and sent a prayer of thanks to the God of introverts that I decided to bring my normal bag to the event instead of a smaller clutch.

Romance novels don't fit into clutches.

And the cocktail hour was lovely.

Monday, June 17, 2013

When in Doubt, Choose Romance on Monday Morning

When given a choice between a memoir and a romance novel for your train ride to work, always choose the romance novel.

Lesson learned.

The memoir seemed like a really good idea when I ordered it on Amazon a couple weeks ago. Although I don't often read non-fiction, this was the memoir of a blogger whose words I read from time to time, and I know from her blog that she has a really compelling story. I know that her story is heartbreaking. Immensely so. But while it is sad, I have read her blog, so I also know that she came out on the other side of it a thoughtful, compassionate woman and a truly gifted writer.

I was really, really interested in reading her book, so I decided to break my longstanding rule to never read anything that isn't happy and uplifting.

It came in the mail last Thursday, and I was already in the middle of some other books that I carried over into the weekend, so I didn't get a chance to start it. By last night, I had finished the other books, and this morning I scanned my "to-read" bookshelf, searching for the stories I would read this week. My eyes landed on the memoir, and on a book of Nora Roberts short stories, sitting right next to each other. Unable to make up my mind, I grabbed both and headed out the door.

As soon as I got to the train platform I opened my bag and grabbed the memoir even thought somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain a voice was shouting, "ROMANCE NOVEL."

As I knew it would be, the memoir was written in gorgeous prose, despite the less than uplifting subject matter. Her words and her story transfixed me, and before I knew it I was turning pages like a woman possessed, eager to get to the next chapter, the next scene, her next journey.

When the conductor pulled on the brakes as we arrived at Grand Central, I was startled out of my trance, surprised that we were already in the city. I had read nearly sixty pages without ever looking up.

I waited in my seat until the train was mostly empty, then gathered my things and slowly made my way off the platform, dogged by a vague melancholy that is extremely unlike me and trying to ignore the now-bitchy voice in my head saying "I told you so."

Monday mornings - really any morning - and heavy, mostly sad memoirs are like Diet Coke and Mentos in my world. Put them together and you are bound to end up with a hostile and unsettling reaction. Only instead of lasting only a second or two, I feel it all day long.

I knew better. I have no one to blame but myself.

If I'm going to read a book that is certain to be sad - and I rarely ever do - I need to read it sitting outside in the sunshine. I need to read it slowly, in small doses. I certainly need to look up from time to time to pull myself out of the sad. Devouring almost half the book on Monday morning while sitting on a train hurtling through dark tunnels on the way to work is a bad idea. Even a book as beautifully written as this one.

I'll finish the memoir at some point, but I learned my lesson this morning. No more heavy reading on the train.

This afternoon, it's the romance for me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Healthy Dose of Confidence With My Afternoon Snack

I bought a bag of candy last week.

I was in Duane Reade picking up something else, and the Dove Dark Chocolate Bites were on sale. I don't normally keep candy in my office, but I really love dark chocolate, and when I'm craving something sweet in the middle of the day, I figure it's better to grab a piece or two of dark chocolate than hit the vending machine and down an entire bag of Peanut M&Ms or some other inferior, but still incredibly delicious snack.

So I bought the bag, put it in my office snack drawer, and gave myself a little lecture on portion control - two at a time. No exceptions.

And surprise, it actually worked.

Because this is no bag of M&Ms. This is really, really good candy. So good, in fact, that two pieces is enough. And I am not a person for whom two pieces of anything is ever enough.

Anyway, when I opened my very first piece, I was surprised to see that the delightful people at Dove printed a little message inside each wrapper.

Now I am generally not a person for whom self-esteem is a problem. But, after almost two weeks of eating this chocolate and reading these Dove messages, I feel like the most self-assured person to ever walk the planet. I feel like I could scale mountains and run some seven minute miles. I feel like I'm good at everything and bad at nothing.

Mission accomplished, Dove marketing department.

So if you are ever hurting in the confidence department, pick yourself up a bag of Dove chocolate. Then you, too, can be greeted with messages like these upon opening your afternoon snack:

My Favorite

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Running

The temperature is rising, and that only means one thing...

Time for summer running.

Now if you know me at all, you know I'm a little bit of a polar bear. Fall is my favorite season, but I love when the weather turns cold and it starts to snow. I especially love to run in the winter, when I can don my pink fleece running jacket and run the streets as the frigid air sears my lungs.

I never feel quite as alive as I do when I am running in the cold.

But, since being a runner means running all year round, and not just during the seasons that please me, I have finally pulled my running shorts out of hibernation (and invested in a season's supply of body glide), located my singlets, and mentally prepared myself to sweat through the summer. 

Summer running means carrying water on shorter runs, hitting the road on Sunday mornings practically before the sun comes up to beat the heat, and lots and lots of sunscreen. It means fewer races, more people crowding my favorite running paths, far more time spent lying on the floor after my runs out of sheer exhaustion from the effort it takes to slog through the summer heat, and snarky blog posts because while running in the winter for me is practically a religious experience, in the summer it's usually just something I have to survive.

I don't particularly like it, but since I recently decided to run a full marathon that is exactly ten months and three weeks from today, I just have to do it.

So, as the temperature starts to rise, I declare my summer running season - and the beginning of my marathon training - open. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I stared into my t-shirt drawer last Saturday morning as if the secrets of the universe could be found among the folded fabrics.

The only short sleeve shirt left in the drawer was the grey one David brought me back from his Texas trip in March.

I don't wear that one anymore, because of the last time.

It had been a beautiful April day and we spent much of it outside. Happily exhausted, I changed into the grey shirt, and we settled in for the night. David was flipping through On Demand to choose a movie, and I went into the kitchen to get dinner ready.

I was opening the drawer to get a spoon when I heard the ominous sounds of water hitting the basement floor.

I went down to assess the situation, and when I got there I saw sewer water and bits of toilet paper streaming from the top of my washing machine's discharge pipe.

I fumbled out my phone to call the plumber I practically have on speed dial. Of course, he couldn't come until morning, so David managed to free huge clumps of toilet paper, and then, thinking it would hold until the plumber came, headed up to take a quick shower because, sewage.

I stayed in the basement, eyes glued to the pipe as I heard the shower start. A couple minutes passed, and just when I thought we were ok, a new clump of toilet paper rose to the top of the pipe and before I could react, it burst free, and gallons of water and poop geysered out, covering the washing machine, our basement floor, and my clothes.

We spent the next five hours cleaning it all up, and couldn't run any water in the house until the plumber came the next day to clear the clog.

When the ordeal was over, I shoved the grey shirt into the hamper, and vowed never to wear it again. I'm a little superstitious, and that shirt was now bad luck.

So for the two months since, the shirt has lived in my drawer. I was certain that if I wore it again we would face another plumbing nightmare, and I really wanted to avoid that.

And for two months, our pipes behaved.

With that in my mind this past Saturday morning, I considered borrowing a shirt from David's drawer before I came to my senses.

A shirt does not cause your pipes to clog, I lectured myself.

Pull yourself together and put it on.

I did.

Feeling righteous and very adult for facing my anxiety-ridden superstitions, I headed downstairs for coffee.

When I walked into the kitchen, the sound of dripping filled the room. Certain it was my imagination, I went down to the basement to confirm.

It wasn't my imagination.

Sewer water and toilet paper were once again streaming onto the basement floor.

While David called the plumber, I peeled off the grey shirt and shoved it straight into the garbage can.

Monday, June 10, 2013

End of an Era

I spent yesterday afternoon at my youngest sister's apartment in Manhattan.

For four hours we boxed and taped up her New York City life, cleaning out closets and pantries, and got her ready for what comes next.

Because on Wednesday she leaves New York for a long and fun vacation, after which she will be unpacking her boxes in Cleveland, Ohio, where she and her husband move in July. A few weeks later she will don her scrubs, and start her first year of dental school, fulfilling a dream of hers more than ten years in the making.

And I'm so proud of her.

And also a little sad.

Because for the best part of seven years, we have lived in New York together, and this week, that comes to an end.

She was a junior in high school when I moved to Manhattan for law school, and the big city seemed just a little smaller, and a whole lot less scary, because she was in it too. She spent weekends in my various apartments, we shopped together, and watched lots of football games together. She introduced me to David right here in New York, and when we got engaged late one night, the rest of my family may have been far away, but she was there to celebrate in person. When I moved into a house with no kitchen and covered in construction dust, she came right over to help unpack my books, set up my kitchen, and make my new house feel more like home.

So today. Today I'm thinking about the past seven years, and I'm thinking about all the fun, excitement and good things ahead for her. This move is good and right and exactly what's best, I just can't help but wish it wasn't so far away.

Cleveland doesn't know how lucky it is.

Safe travels, Sister L.

New York, and I, will miss you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

I am a lawyer. A trusts and estates lawyer to be exact.

Every morning I get up and I head to my office at my big, big law firm in Manhattan, and it is there that I spend most of my hours.

And most of the time, I really like it. I like the firm where I work. I like the people with whom I work. I like the actual work that I do. 

I realize that I am incredibly lucky in all of this like, as there are a great many lawyers who are not nearly as happy in their jobs as I am in mine.

Truth be told, I never imagined myself in a huge law firm like this one. It was always this kind of law for me, but I figured I would practice in a boutique firm, which most trusts & estates lawyers do, and besides, those huge firms scared me in a major way. But life rarely turns out the way we think it will, which really is part of the fun. Because of a 2008, mid-economic meltdown law school graduation, my post-law school path was a winding one, but when Big Law came ringing exactly two years ago, I answered the call.

And even though it was a little scary and a lot intimidating for my first few months here, I have since gotten used to it, and there are some lovely perks to working in a firm of this size. Oh, I could go on and on about the beautiful office, the smart and interesting people I get to meet, the book club I'm a part of filled with women lawyers, and even our summer outing to the Central Park Zoo, but I won't. 

Because the very best part of working here actually has nothing to do with any of those things. The best part about work here is breakfast.

Yes. Breakfast.

My firm has a cafeteria, and they serve the best breakfast you could imagine. 

Feel like scrambled eggs, or an omelet with the fillings of your choice? They'll make it for you while you watch.

Hungry for a bagel? They'll toast it for you, and you can choose your spread.

There are muffins and donuts, an oatmeal bar, and all kinds of fresh fruit ready to fuel all the lawyers and other firm employees that walk through the cafeteria doors. 

Most people take their breakfast back to their offices to get started on the day, but the cafeteria also boasts many tables, and TVs that broadcast all the 24 hour news networks, in case you feel like a bit of relaxation before facing the day.

Make no mistake. We work hard. We come in early and sometimes we have to stay late. We put out fires, take calls from clients, and try to solve the many, many issues that arise over the course of our days.

But we are lucky enough to do it all fueled by a really spectacular breakfast. And that's not nothing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day

Although you wouldn't know it by my re-setting of this morning's 6am running alarm for a 7am non-running alarm due to exhaustion and lack of sleep, a few times a week, I run. I run short distances on weekdays, and long distances on Sundays. 

I learned to run and to love to run in Manhattan's Central Park, and when I left Manhattan seven months ago and moved to the Westchester suburbs, it was running that helped me get acclimated when I felt like our new place would never be a home.

And today, on National Running Day, we celebrate running, and the people who love it.

Since I started running, one of my favorite things to do is to snap pictures as I go. It helps the time pass, and it helps me remember my runs, both the good and the bad, and the journey that I have taken through this amazing, frustrating, beautiful sport. 

So here, in celebration of National Running Day, is a collection of my favorite shots. A photoblog, if you will, of my running journey to right here.

Half Marathon #1
May 2012

A Rainy Central Park, 72nd Street Entrance

Central Park Road: My First Favorite Running Path

My Very Last Central Park Run
October 2012

Inaugural White Plains Run
November 2012

First White Plains Morning Run
November 2012

Beginning of Winter Running Season
December 2012

First Post-Snowstorm Run of the Season
January 2013

First Bronx River Pathway Run, My Second Favorite Running Path
February 2013

Snowy Pittsburgh Run: Panther Hollow Bridge
February 2013

Flag Flying at Half-Staff Post Boston-Marathon Bombing
April 2013

April 2013

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Weekend
May 2013

Pittsburgh Proud, Boston Strong
May 2013

Running the Bridges: Pittsburgh Half Marathon
May 2013

Half Marathon #2
May 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Putting the Pieces Back Together

I sat in the car, eyes closed, summoning the courage to do what I had come to do.

The October sun beating through the windshield seemed strange and out of place and I thought how a gloomy rain would have suited my mood far better than the glorious New England fall day.

I didn't know what I was going to say, but hoped that the words would be there when I needed them. I wasn't even sure if there was anything I could say to make it easier. To explain it to him.

He probably wouldn't understand anyway. He thought he was perfect. That I was to blame for everything. It had been that way since our first date at the beginning of my sophomore year of college, and it took me more than two years to finally understand.

He was never going to change, so I had to.

Until that day, it never occurred to me that our relationship would end, and certainly not that I would be the one to do the ending. I thought that if I was agreeable enough, and clairvoyant enough to anticipate his moods and his whims, we could really make it work. That if I could just stop making mistakes, he would stop getting angry, and we would stay together, and happily.

But that day, my eyes opened for the first time in twenty-six months. The words of caution from my sisters and friends that I had been ignoring pushed to the front of my brain. That day I glimpsed my future, and I did not like what I saw.

I didn't recognize the girl I had become. The one who was insecure. The one who walked around with her stomach in knots. The one who waited by the phone for her boyfriend to call. The one who put her boyfriend's needs far above her own. The one who sat silently through torrents of verbal abuse. The one who probably tanked the LSAT just four hours ago because she was too consumed by her boyfriend's moods to study properly.

The most important parts of myself had fallen away so slowly over the past two years that I barely noticed they were gone. But sitting in front of an important test for which I was woefully unprepared, I suddenly felt the missing pieces so acutely that their absence stole my breath.

I opened my eyes and looked up at his dorm, imagining him inside, oblivious about what was about to happen. Thinking about how he would respond when I said what I had come to say. Waiting for the guilt and fear I would always feel when I knew I was making him unhappy.

But for the first time in more than two years, I felt neither.

A glimmer of the girl I was before he walked into my life was still inside of me.

I opened the car door and stepped out into the sunshine, ready to find the rest of her.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On The Joys of Binge-Watching TV

I am a woman of many interests.

Law, writing, running, romance novels, reading blogs, baking and cooking are all things that occupy my days in some combination. But as a mostly normal and generally healthy person, I understand that I can't fit it all into every day. I don't usually work or write on the weekends. I don't run every day. I would like to be able to say I make an actual dinner every single night, but it doesn't always work out that way and besides, that's why grilled cheese and cold cereal were invented.

But there is one thing that I do every single day, without exception. I've been known to stay up late or wake up extra early to make sure I get my fix. I spent a huge amount of my leisure time doing it, and have been known to skip nights out or cancel plans in favor of this critical activity.

And what is it, you may ask?

I watch TV. I love TV

From the time I get home at night until the time I go to sleep, the TV is on. I watch while I'm making dinner, while I'm eating dinner, and while I'm doing all manner of other things and nothing at all. 

David, of course, shares this obsession of mine, and it's entirely possible that his love of TV surpasses mine which is lucky because if we didn't have this in common, we probably never would have gotten married in the first place. It's impossible to count the number of hours we have spent together in front of the TV, but sufficed to say it is definitely an unhealthy amount. And we love it.

During the height of our TV season we probably watch a combined 40 shows and are never without a show to park ourselves in front of, either together or separately, but once summer rolls around and our favorite shows are in re-runs, what is this TV loving couple to do? Well, I don't know what anyone else does, but our answer is usually to find a few shows that neither of us have ever watched, download all the seasons, and spend our summers catching up.

If you've never watched anything this way, I recommend you come up with something you haven't watched, and get to it immediately, because it's an amazing way to consume a show. Normally you have a wait 7 whole days in between episodes, but when you're binge watching, all the episodes are right at your fingertips.  If you're a normal TV watcher you can probably make a decently sized series last for quite awhile, but if you're anything like us, once all those glorious episodes are just a mouse-click away you will lose any semblance of self-control.

Take the time we decided to watch 24. Neither of us had ever seen it, and the series was long over, so one day a few summers ago, we downloaded all eight seasons. We watched the first episode, and we were hooked the very first time Jack Bauer shouted "dammit" into his cell phone. You would think that it would have taken us all summer to watch the series' 192 episodes, but you would be wrong. Because once we started we couldn't stop. We rushed home from work every day to start watching and kept right on watching until it was approximately three in the morning and we were propping our eyes open with toothpicks and saying "just one more" over and over again like drug addicts jonesing for a fix. We consumed all 192 episodes in three weeks, and stopped caring about mundane things like eating and sleeping and working because there were terrorists to kill, and CTU moles to uncover, dammit.

It was, without a doubt, our finest hour. 

We've watched The West Wing all at once, the first three seasons of Fringe before we caught up to real-time, Netflix's sublime House of Cards and most recently, I myself watched the twenty-four episodes in the inaugural season of NBC's Chicago Fire in just five days. 

A quick word of caution...Watching TV this way can lead one to dispense with reality to the point where one forgets that the characters are actors playing a role and starts to think of them as living and breathing people. For example, somewhere around the middle of season 5 of 24 we had started to really believe there was actually Sentox Nerve gas hidden somewhere in the country and that Jack was the only person who could find it. Binge watching can also lead to a minor bout of depression when the series finally comes to a close and there are no more episodes left to watch. But, in my humble, TV loving opinion, the risks are far outweighed by the satisfaction you will feel at having watched an insane amount of TV in a very short period of time, and the bragging rights you get when you can say, as I can, "I watched 8 seasons of 24 and 7 seasons of the West Wing in two months. What did you do this summer?"

So you may all be out and about doing hot weather things like swimming and hiking and sitting on the beach. But not us. We'll be bringing our hamburgers and hot dogs into our air conditioned living room and eating them in front of our exceptionally large TV as we consume episode after episode of an as-yet-undecided TV series.  

I just love summer.