Thursday, March 29, 2007

I need to brag

Today I received a courtesy copy of this week's "The Deal" magazine, periodical to which I do not normally subscribe. I was nervous and excited all at once - a feeling I can't say is normal for getting a magazine of this type. One title jumped out at me from the front cover and I followed its directions to page 48 and a business card with the name of the reporter I spoke with a few weeks ago fluttered to the floor as I opened the page. I quickly scanned through the three pages of the article hoping I wasn't misquoted or worse - wasn't accurately quoted saying something stupid - then I saw it: my name, next to my firm's name, next to my client's name. A good half a column of quotes followed - from me! Wow! There I was, in print, sounding like a real lawyer. These are the moments in my career where the humble kid from Utah inside me is shocked at where I am at in life. I never aspired to this, yet here I am.

The first thing I did was show the article to my secretary and she got excited for me and scanned it so I could email it to my family and save it with the transcript of my first court appearance. Unfortunately, the online publication requires a paid subscription so I can't add a link to the article and I am just not clever enough to add a pdf document to my blog so if you are dying to read the article, you will have to let me know and I will email you a copy.

Thanks for listening to me float for a minute. Also, if you happen to stop by my office or see me in the next few days, don't be alarmed if I suddenly pull out the article to show you my name in print. Don't worry, I don't expect you to read the entire article, just my name. I think it will pass soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Things you may not have known about me

My mom sent an email with this fun little game, instead of emailing it, I thought I would share my answers with you and ask you to post your responses on your blog as well.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Salt Lake Egg Company, receptionist/occasional candler of eggs
2. Gates Rubber Company, warehouse temp
3. Cinnabon, Cinnabon maker
4. US Bankruptcy Court, law clerk

Four movies I would watch over and over and over (In no particular order):
1. Pride & Prejudice (A&E version)*
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. The Saint (I think repeat viewings of this movie got me through law school)
4. About a Boy

Four random places I have spent the night
1. train platform in Pisa, Italy
2. crackhouse hotel in Nice, France with "Africa 2000" spray painted above the bed
3. BYU law library
4. a tent in the Uintas

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Heroes (I watch it mostly on itunes)
2. The Office (ditto)
3. Project Runway - if it would ever come back
4. Beverly Hills 90210 reruns on the Soap Network on Saturday mornings (don't laugh)

Four places I want to visit before I die:
1. Machu Picchu
2. Africa - the pyramids in Egypt, the Sahara, Tunisia, Kenya, South Africa, Mount Kilamanjaro
3. Outer Mongolia
4. Greek Islands

Four of my favorite foods:
1. sushi
2. gnocchi
3. Red Velvet Cake*
4. Popcorn*

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. At my parent's house chatting on the back patio
2. having dinner with friends at a sidewalk cafe
3. Beach or Mountain retreat*
4. on a boat in Mexico

Four people I wish I could talk to again:
1. my grandpa* (didn't get much of a chance to ever get to know him)
2. Gretchen (the rest of the slots are friends I have lost touch with or had a falling out with)
3. Febee
4. Matt

Four things I would like to do before time runs out:
1. Get married
2. have kids
3. Have a long weekend "girls" trip with my mom and my sister*
4 . permanently remove all hair below my neck (stole this one from my sister)

Four things I am afraid of:
1. this scary bug that lived in my shower in Salt Lake
2. someone showing up at my house with a cat and saying "it's time"
3. water rising in a toilet
4. online dating

Four people I think will respond:
1. Tiffany
2. Mickey
3. Michele
4. Nadia
(the rest of you should too, even if I didn't name you!)

*each of these entries were the same as my mom's, and she thinks I'm more like my dad. . .

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

best. message. ever.

I reluctantly returned to my office from a luncheon this afternoon where Godiva chocolates and pink nail polish were the favors nestled in between the dessert plate, water glass and entree. I say reluctantly not because the Celebration of the Power of Women luncheon was the inspiration I was hoping it would be (more like an ad by the President of Campbell's soup who greeted everyone with "mm, mm good afternoon" and a couple of spiels about low sodium soup and the new V8 drink during her award acceptance speech), but because the one block walk back to the the office was far too short given the 70 degree temperatures. Finally! It felt so good to have the sun shining, no coat and no stockings!

After handing out extra boxes of Godiva chocolates and nail polish to my secretary and a couple of co-workers, I noticed I had a voicemessage on my cell phone that I had left sitting on my desk. I hit the dial voicemail button without checking the caller. I wish I was high tech enough to capture this message and post it here because mere words cannot capture the effect. At first all I could hear was a loud squealing, skreetching noise but it soon became clear that it was just really bad singing. By the end of the second drawn out word I recognized the song: "Secret loooooovers, that's what we are. . . " I could not place the voice (or even the gender of the caller to be honest) until laughter erupted and a familiar voice said "okay, I'm hoping this is actually Alyssa's phone and I didn't call somebody else's. . . " My secret lover serenader was Hoang.

Hoang went to BYU law school with me - even though he is not LDS. Impressive. He claims it was great because of all the free dinners and attention he got from people trying to convert him. I'm not sure where else he would have had such success with his "Feed Your Favorite Asian" week campaign during which he plastered flyers all over the lawschool with a photocopied photo of himself. Hoang was a year ahead of me in school but I dragged him and another friend to the "hump day" party for my class to celebrate the half-way point of law school. For reasons that aren't entirely important, a couple of our friend's dared us (promising a free dinner if we followed through) to go and sit down with a couple who was secretly (but obviously) dating and get them to confess to their stealth relationship. The pair were close to the oddest two people in my class and basically ignored Hoang and me as we sat down on the love seat across from them. The deal was Hoang and I had to act like a couple and had to make enough physical contact to appear to be together. This turned out to be a ridiculous display with me close to 5'9" and feeling close to twice his size - he is Vietnamese and can't be over 5'2". I draped my arm across his shoulders and he made tentative and jerky attempts at resting his hand on my knee. Luckily for our friends who posed the challenge, there was a giant glass window that gave them full view of the act. The more the actual couple ignored us, the more ridiculous Hoang and I became chatting about how long we had been dating and confessing we hadn't told anyone before and how maybe my classmate's parents who owned the large home we were at in Maple(wood, dale, ton?, that's it Mapleton) would let us use the white gazebo in the backyard for our wedding. Or perhaps we would just live there. And on and on with zero reaction from the targets.

Eventually we gave up, joined our friends, ditched the party and collected our free dinner at Red Banjo pizza in Park City where we tried to spot celebrities among the Sundance Festival crowd. Little did we realize that we had concocted a 7-year and still running joke. The joke turned from us dating to us being secretly engaged at some point. I even had a couple of classmates ask if we were dating after the party - I have no idea if they were serious but honestly, we are the most unlikely couple.

Now, every six months or so I get a wacky phone call from Hoang who lives in Phoenix. I usually get a good Christmas card signed "secret fiance" and the occasional text message. The only time I have seen him in the last 7 years was a few years ago when my brother and sister and I went to the Fiesta Bowl. We all went to dinner and they were introduced to the non-stop entertainment of Hoang.

Seriously, I wish you could hear the message, it is so funny. Besides, it is good to know that somewhere out there I still have a secret fiance waiting to serenade me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

mid-morning adventures

This morning I had a doctor's appointment. My least favorite doctor's appointment, you know the one -- no, not the dentist (which believe it or not I am more afraid of) -- the gynecologist. Of course, because I had this appointment, last week my boss wanted to have a team meeting on this large project that has been consuming my life at the exact same time. Rather than make me change the appointment again (it was originally scheduled for a month ago), she pushed the meeting to 1230. Now, aside from the usual chaos of a Monday morning, I needed to prepare for the meeting and go to my doctor's appointment.

I opted to take a cab to the appointment on 77th and Columbus as it was definitely out of walking range and not particularly convenient by subway without a significant walk. I arrived early, filled out the usual new patient paperwork and waited only a few minutes before being called back to the exam room. The doctor was friendly and all of the uncomfortable stuff went rather quickly. She didn't even question my negative response to her query of sexual activity (I'm always hearing stories of shocked reactions after this revelation but never experienced it myself). Although she did indicate that they do a routine testing for various sexually transmitted diseases on new patients. I didn't object, I saw no need. I figure she can test all she wants, why make a fuss.

Leading up to this appointment I have had a few thoughts. Over the last year or two since I have gained an extra ten pounds that have refused to leave, I have sometimes entertained the idea that it is just a tumor and it has nothing to do with my love of chocolate or how long I sit at a desk each day. When I confessed this fear?, hope? to my mother, she laughed. Apparently we think a lot alike because she has had that same thought as well.

Each morning as I get ready for work I listen to the Today Show. I don't really watch it because I can't see the tv from the bathroom or my bedroom but I sometimes wander in to watch a particular story or the weather or to kill time as I brush my teeth. A few weeks ago this story caught my attention about a woman who had a 93-pound ovarian cyst removed - beware there is a photo of it. NINETY-THREE POUNDS! Not to make light of this woman's horrible ordeal (years of being misdiagnosed), I told my mom about the story and we had a good laugh because maybe our theory isn't so far-fetched. So over the last day or two leading up to today's appointment I wondered how I would react to the news of a possible 10-pound cyst (that of course has spread beyond my stomach and is distributed on my thighs, butt and hips). Because I think very logically and I like to be prepared for a variety of contingencies I allowed myself to think this possibility through. Walking into work this morning I wondered about the logistics of it all - who would pick me up from the hospital, who would stay at my house to help take care of me during recovery, etc. I felt reasonably sure I could find people to fill these roles, even if it was shift work, or that my mom or sister would fly out to be by my side. Of course, none of this ever came up in my appointment. And I don't believe any tests are being run on any potential lurking fat cysts. I guess I am just going to have to face it for what it is - excess weight to be removed by vigorous exercise and strict dieting.

After the doctor left the exam room and I got dressed, I had that moment of "now what?" that often occurs when leaving a doctor's office, especially a new, unfamiliar doctor. She didn't mention coming back and I had already paid my co-pay and handed over all my insurance information so I guessed that I was free to leave. I opened the door and wasn't sure which way to go so I tried to retrace my steps back to the lobby. As I was trying to figure out which of the 6 doors in the long winding hallway put me back in the lobby, a door opened and I saw the familiar blue carpet and chairs. I rushed out. I briefly considered pausing at the front desk but didn't see any need so I kicked into a brisk walk and dashed outside, headed for the corner and hailed a cab within 30 seconds, already thinking about my upcoming meeting.

The cab had not traveled a block when I realized the doctor said she was going to write me a prescription. Was she bringing it back to me? Was I supposed to pick it up somewhere? I didn't know. I wasn't sure what to do - I didn't know when I would be back up there again but maybe the doctor would call the prescription in to my pharmacy. I needed to get back to work to prepare for my 1230 meeting so that seemed the best option. Meanwhile, traffic was completely stopped on 76th street, exactly a block away from the doctor's office. I paused, should I jump out and return for the prescription? The cab driver was getting out of the cab and then turned to tell me he was going to back up the half block to go the other way. I told him to forget it because cars were piling up next to him and one SUV was driving up onto the sidewalk for some inexplicable reason. I handed him $3, jumped out and ran back to the doctor's office feeling sheepish for having forgotten my prescription but grateful I had left the not-as-cute-but-more-comfortable flat shoes on rather than the wedge heels waiting under my desk because I was literally running up the block. In the cool morning air of the upper west side, running felt good but out of place among the nannies pushing strollers and even the joggers who were dressed more appropriately than me in my skirt, trench coat, scarf and oversized bag. The front desk attendant was confused by my return but pointed me toward a back desk where I think I was originally supposed to have exited. There was my file with my prescription sitting on top waiting on the desk. After a brief pause, one of the women at the desk looked up from her phone call long enough to hand me the prescription and I rushed back out to repeat the process of hailing yet another cab. I don't believe the woman noticed the extra five or ten minutes it took for me to pick up the prescription. But I must say, it really would be helpful if doctor's would give better directions on where to go and what is expected at the end of an appointment because I feel this is a common moment of confusion after the doctor disappears. But maybe that is just me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Welcome Spring!

There may still be nasty, crunchy black snow on the ground but today, the first day of spring was marked by the delivery of my Girl Scout Cookies order. AS and I enjoyed a thin mint break and discussed other things we like about spring:

  • Cadbury mini eggs

  • tulips

  • sunshine breaking through the tall dark buildings out our office window (the sun is too low to do this in the winter)

  • trench coats

  • color - wearing more than black, gray and brown to work

  • the anticipation of summer and longer days

  • no more socks (my feet like to be free)

  • sidewalk cafes

  • shedding of layers

  • the awakening from winter hibernation - I actually want to be social again!
  • budding trees, bushes and flowers

Monday, March 19, 2007

where is spring hiding?

It certainly hasn't made an appearance in New York City. I took these yesterday on my walk to work.


I managed to get some work done today but continued to whine the rest of the afternoon and into the evening about my memo, about my favorite white shirt with the French cuffs that has somehow shrunk just enough that the sleeves are now too short, about how my pants do not have a belt loop in the back but require a belt causing the uncomfortable situation of my pants gaping open below my belt, about how sick I am of eating dinner at my desk, about how I think my office chair is giving me bruises on my legs similar to bed sores, about how I am turning into one of those obnoxious people who does nothing but complain about work, about how I need a vacation, about how I need spring, about how I need to leave the office by 8 on a regular basis soon and on and on.

Shortly before leaving for the night, AS brought me a sealed FedEx envelope with my name scrawled on the front in blue ballpoint. She explained that she just discovered it and it must have been delivered to her office by mistake. She had a big grin on her face and given our giggling fits of today and yesterday, it didn't take much for us both to start laughing before I even knew what was inside the bulging envelope. I pulled the tab and was greeted by a waft of sugary sweet bubble-gum smell. The envelope contained candy - several select pieces (including vanilla tootsie rolls, a mary jane, and a couple of bit o' honeys) from the candy jar we have dutifully avoided since January 1st. I always tell her how tempting the tootsie rolls look and she makes the same claim to the Dots. The first thing I did was pull out the box of Dots and ask if she would like them. She gladly accepted. We didn't discuss it but I do not think this counts as either of us technically breaking our resolution to not take candy from the communal bowl. I mean, these came to me via FedEx, so that is totally okay, right?

Now I need to stop complaining and get back to work. Afterall, I still have that memo waiting. . .

what do you like to do with jello?

Today is not my favorite Monday. To start with, I had to cancel my 7:30 pilates session due to an auction I needed to attend in Delaware which required me to catch an 8 am train. Before you get too excited about attending an auction, this was nothing glamorous. It was a bankruptcy auction of intellectual property held in an overheated conference room in Wilmington. There was a moment between bids when the trustee's lawyer (who was conducting the auction) tried to make a joke that there should be an attractive woman pointing out the attractive features of the property, this was followed by an awkward silence. Perhaps he realized his remark was sexist and inappropriate for the record being made by a court reporter, or perhaps he was disappointed when the other men in the room (everyone other than my boss and me) didn't respond but simply shuffled papers and avoided looking across the table at the two women in the room with only a short, stifled and uncomfortable laugh that was quickly supressed. Luckily the auction was short.
I tried to work on the train ride back to New York but my boss and I were seated across a table and I was facing the wrong way. After 20 minutes of typing on my laptop I knew I needed to stop or be faced with serious motion sickness.
When I returned to the office, I had no desire to work. Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm was linked to working a full 8 hours yesterday or maybe it was just being overwhelmed by the impossibility of meeting today's deadline on a research memo for which I am only producing bad news. A co-worker ("AS") with an office next to me was in a similar state - she was here yesterday from 9 am to midnight! So we spent a good 30 to 40 minutes discussing gross salads people bring to family events and other pot-lucks. Growing up in Utah we are convinced that Utah is the only place weird enough and Mormons are the only people odd enough to insist on combining jello with shredded carrots and call it a "salad." This is not the case. I am not sure how we landed on the subject but I mentioned that my grandma makes this carrot and raisin salad (that may or may not include mayo) at Thanksgiving that I always avoid even looking at. AS claimed that her grandma makes a similar salad that also includes walnuts! This led to some google searching of "rasin walnut carrot salad" which resulted in a shocking number of recipes - many including mayonnaise. Of course this led to sharing of various jello salads and my confession of actually liking my mom's lime jello, cottage cheese, cool-whip, walnuts and pineapple concoction that we had frequently growing up but appears to have fallen out of fashion in the adult years (it was usually a side dish with the standard Sunday pot roast and mashed potatoes). It is the only way I have ever enjoyed eating cottage cheese. AS had a similar affinity for a lime jello mix her mom made. But the one that had us laughing the rest of the afternoon is the "jello salad" that my cousin has started contributing to Thanksgiving in recent years.
A few years ago when I was living in Salt Lake, my immediate family was getting together at my parent's house for Thanksgiving. Dinner was small - just my family, my cousin Kristi and my sister's boyfriend. The night before Thanksgiving the kids had a big pie making party at my house (meaning, everyone peeled apples then abandoned me in favor of the tv) followed by a sleep-over. It is probably one of my favorite Thanksgivings. Kristi wanted to contribute some of her family's signature dishes and having grown up spending half our Thanksgivings with her family, I assumed these dishes would be familiar - I thought wrong. She made this "specialty" blend of jello (maybe pudding?), mandarin oranges, cool-whip, possibly cream cheese and Keebler cookies, youn know, the round ones with stripes. And called it a salad. My sister and I could not get over how weird it was. Cookies? And canned mandarins? What? I don't believe the rest of my family responded any better to it than we did.
Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was combined with my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration which resulted in a high volume of family emails circulating from late October through Turkey day. Sometimes I received these emails at two or even three different addresses. I guess no one wanted to leave me out. Seven children with their spouses and a handful of opinionated grandchildren resulted in a lot of unnecessary emails clogging the system. At one point in the division of food assignments, Kristi claimed she would provide her "mom's salad" (there's that word again), then a few emails later someone asked her dad if they would be bringing their "famous jello salad" and then everyone was clamoring for this strange dessert-like mixture masquerading as a salad! My sister and I had no idea how everyone knew about this alleged salad but us, and that they love it too! It was the first salad to disappear and my bowl of Dixie Salad was still full at the end of the evening. Baffling.
So my ramblings have a point - what odd "salads" make it to your family pot-lucks and which ones do you actually enjoy?

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Heart Darcy

Over lunch I read this article in the New York Times entitled "You've Read the Novels (Now Read the Footnotes)" discussing various annotations of classic literature. I cannot express how much I love the book "Pride & Prejudice" by Jane Austen. I have read every book she has written but "Pride & Prejudice" is the one that continually pulls me back for another read.
When my sister and I were traveling in Europe together several years ago, I finished a re-read of "Pride & Prejudice" in the middle of a long train ride from Amsterdam to Italy. We had agreed to exchange books when we finished but she still had a ways to go on hers. So after a brief period of gazing out my window at the beautiful Swiss countryside, I opened my book back to page one. Erin immediately objected "you're reading it again?" She had not yet discovered this incredible book so she could not comprehend why I would want to delve immediately back into Austen's words and Elizabeth's journey. She soon became converted. I must admit that I am most likely one of the "extreme devotees" who "do not simply enjoy the novels, they want to sit in the living room at Longbourn with the Bennet sisters, drinking tea and analyzing Darcy’s behavior." Of course, I could do without Mrs. Bennet's presence at tea. I cannot count the number of times I have read the book, or the number of times I have seen the A&E movie version but I can tell you it has been enough years since my last reading that I am ready to fall in love with Mr. Darcy again, especially since I did very poorly on this brief "So You Think You Know Jane Austen" quiz. Obviously, I need to read "The Annotated Pride and Prejudice" wherein "[e]ach and every page of Jane Austen’s text has a facing page of explanatory notes, more than 2,300 of them all told." I am also wondering why I never chose to take an English Literature class in college.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

green eyed

Do you ever get blog-envy as you browse around? I am guilty. I get jealous of the fun colors, the artsy layouts, the unique post ideas and the many comments elicited. Especially the many comments.

This isn't a plea for reassurance, just a request for opinion on what can be improved - especially on any useful blogger how-to instructions. Clearly, I get bored with my look often and can't seem to find anything I like.

Also, if you stop by, please say hello. Your comments always brighten my day. I love hearing from those of you who comment often and would love to hear from any others who might drop by for a visit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Because you know how much I love these . . .

Thanks Pepper for always pointing out the fun ones. I was hoping for cat woman since I dressed up as her for Halloween once but I think my body confidence has waned since then so Spiderman is probably okay, although I was really hoping I could be a girl. Don't ask about the giant space, I have no idea how to get rid of it.

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Let me know what superhero you are!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"I take my gender with me wherever I go." - Judge Judith Kaye

Tonight I was inspired by the words, advice and examples of four exceptional women: The Honorable Shirley S. Abrahmson, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Wisconsin; The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York; The Honorable Christine M. Durham, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Utah; and The Honorable Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. This panel of impressive women was introduced by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States at the Annual Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law. I have one word to describe the event: Inspiring.

When my calendar popped a reminder up on my computer screen at 5:15 this evening I looked at the amount of work on my desk and hit ignore. I didn't think I had the time to make the event. I pulled up the event a few minutes later and noted that the lecture portion didn't begin until 7 and I attempted to work and convince myself I couldn't go. At 6 I decided I had looked forward to this event for far too long to blow it off. I dropped everything and walked to the City Bar a few blocks down 5th Avenue. As I weaved in and out of the throngs rushing down 5th Avenue I was struck by 1) how light it was outside at 615 pm and 2) how many people get to leave work during daylight hours.

Justice Ginsburg opened the discussion by introducing the panel and giving brief remarks. She stated that there are currently 18 women serving as chief justices of their state supreme courts but quickly pointed out how lonely it is on the U.S. Supreme Court as the sole female justice since Justice O'Conner retired (this is still disappointing to me - Bush couldn't find ONE qualified female in the entire country???). My favorite quote from Justice Ginsburg was that "as women achieve power, barriers will fall" as she discussed the progress made in the state judicial systems and in the lower federal judiciary but the hurdles still remaining in other areas of leadership.

I cannot begin to summarize the riveting discussion that followed but I would like to point out some highlights although I am not sure exactly how to organize them so I will start with someone whom I have long admired.

Justice Durham was the first female judge appointed to the appellate court and then the supreme court in Utah, the latter in 1982. She has been the chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court since 2002 where she is a leader not just in Utah but nationally as a ground breaking woman. I know from personal exposure that she has a fantastic reputation for employing women and specifically mothers and actually encourages her law clerks to bring their children to work with them. A good friend of mine who worked in a large New York law firm had twins a year ago and was told she could not return to work part-time - only full-time. She was forced out. In 2006 she was forced out of her job because she could not leave her twins with a full time nanny while she and her husband worked the long hours required by Manhattan law firms. She is now clerking for Justice Durham and she and her family are adjusting to life back in Utah. One of the key things Justice Durham said is that women in law firms have been given a ticket to the event but the question is whether we'll change the rules. It is up to us to put balance on the national agenda.

Family and life/work balance was a point that was raised throughout the evening. Justice Marshall in her beautiful South African accent explained that when she lectures she often emphasizes that "families come first" and her audiences continue to be surprised by this emphasis. She said this should not stand out, it should be a given that families come first. She later explained how much her teen-age granddaughters enjoy calling her "Chief" instead of grandma. Justice Marshall also pointed out how much she enjoys seeing so many women moving into positions of power. She believes that our culture is not accustomed to having women speak with power and as more women gain power, people will react differently when listening to women because it will become more familiar and less unique. I loved her advice: hold onto your values and listen. She said if you let people define your career, you will not find satisfaction in it. She also advised young female lawyers not to be afraid to be ambitious - to have the desire to achieve. I loved that.

Justice Abrahamson explained that one of her greatest rewards being a chief judge of her state's supreme court is having parents bring their children to meet her to show them that they can be whatever they want. Her advice was great: relax, it is okay to have fun and take full responsibility for your errors but give credit to those it is due. Justice Abrahamson also stated that we should all recognize the value of being a homemaker and stressed that it is not a loss to see women leave the law because of the importance of the home. She also explained that many of these women will come back when given the opportunity. I loved this because I think that is the biggest change needed in the legal profession: an open door for women who leave for a few years to begin families.

I loved Judge Kaye. I have heard her speak previously and I have to say she is fantastic. I love how direct she is. The title quote of this post is from her. She said this when she was appointed to New York's highest court in 1983 and it became the quote of the day in the New York Times. I fell in love with it! She lamented the lack of progress in making significant reform in the quality of life in law firms and made a challenge to the younger women present to change the profession to accommodate personal balance. She also said it is okay and important to be ambitious and that you should have an expectation of success and be persistent because if you believe, you will be successful. She relayed a story about discovering her opposing counsel referred to her as "D.L." which stood for Dragon Lady. Instead of taking it as an insult, she took it to mean she was in the driver's seat and winning, opposing counsel felt inferior.

At the end of the hour panel discussion the floor was opened for questions from the audience. I had several questions but wondered if I had the nerve to stand up, squeeze past several people to the aisle, walk around to the microphone in the middle of the room and pose one to these incredible women. Did I mention there were a couple hundred people in attendance and that C-Span was filming with their giant cameras? Before I thought about it too much, I was sitting in a seat near the microphone waiting for the preceding question to be answered.

Mine was the last question.

I was nervous when I reached the microphone. I could feel my voice shaking as I stated that as a young female lawyer I want to accept Judge Kaye's challenge of making reform but need to know how. I explained that I am a native of Utah I am well aware of Justice Durham's reputation as a female-friendly employer and asked the panelists to share their advice for reform from both their perspectives as employers and from their experience in the earlier years in their careers as the mothers balancing young families.

Justice Durham responded first and to be honest I barely comprehended her response as I moved to a seat at the back of the room and tried to talk my heart into a normal beating pattern further away from my ears. Judge Kaye responded next and she looked directly at me sitting in the back of the hall in the empty seats between the cameras. She said "Be more demanding. Be bold." And then relayed a story from her associate days when she had 3 children under the age of 4 and after months of working on a case that required her to spend Monday through Friday in Florida she quit. When she quit, her employer was shocked that this had been a problem for her. Be Bold.

I am not generally the type to clamor for the attention of lecturers but I wanted to meet Justice Durham so I made my way upstream through the crowd moving in the opposite direction toward the door. Just before I reached her, I heard her state that she wanted to find the young woman from Utah. I was able to speak with her for quite some time. She was warm and engaging and very personable. She talked about my friend Julie and her adjustment back to life in Utah. She said she was glad I asked the question I did because it was an important point that needed more discussion. As we were talking, an older man finished his conversation near by and turned to join ours. Justice Durham pulled him into our conversation without effort and although I was not introduced to him I soon discovered he is Justice Ginsburg's husband. We were talking about women taking time off and returning to the law and still achieving a great deal. Justice Durham pointed out that Justice O'Conner did this successfully (I didn't know this) and that Justice Ginsburg went into academia. Mr. Ginsburg (?) advised it is best to stay away from academia and then commented that Justice Ginsburg doesn't cook - at the request of her children. Very funny. I did not overstay my lingering and soon parted ways without making an attempt to meet Justice Ginsburg.

As I waited in the lengthy line at the coat check I wondered why BYU doesn't try to engage women like Justice Durham to speak to their students or at alumni functions. She is not an alumni of BYU and I believe she does some teaching at the University of Utah but she is Mormon and she has the most prestigious position of legal power in the state of Utah - actually the most powerful woman in Utah. She is well-regarded and respected nationally as well. I don't understand it. I would have loved to have heard her speak as a law student. Hearing women of her caliber speak inspires me to push myself toward success. I am not sure whether I have mentioned here that I have sporadically attempted to organize a group of LDS women lawyers in NYC. I held one brunch last year, encouraged the group to attend a fireside last month and just recently started organizing another brunch for next month. Tonight's lecture encourages me to continue with efforts like that and to be demanding of my profession - it sure isn't afraid to be demanding of me.

My final thought is on ambition. When I entered law school I did not have the goal, the dream or even the desire to work in a prestigious law firm in New York City. I was ambitious and aimed for success and fell into a summer job in 2000 in Manhattan. I returned to New York after law school graduation envisioning I would only stay two or three years. I stayed less than two, but came back. Now I am a sixth year associate at a law firm consisting of nearly 900 lawyers world-wide. I am two to three years away from partnership eligibility and have been repeatedly told I am "on track", a position I never envisioned for myself. At various times, the prospect of partnership is both daunting and exhilarating. I am ambitious but I am also blessed. I want to continue to achieve in my career - whether my future is as a partner in a law firm, a law professor, a judge (yes, I've thought about it). a part-time lawyer balancing a family or a full-time homemaker - tonight I feel encouraged to desire success and to be bold in demanding it for myself.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

new discovery

After brunch with my friend JooYun in Chelsea, followed by a bit of shopping, we parted. I wanted to avoid Saturday errands and instead decided to visit my friend Brooke at the Jack Shainman Gallery nearby. The main exhibit in the gallery was interesting, but nothing that got me excited. Then we went in a smaller room and this painting leapt off the wall at me:
I was immediately drawn to its vivid colors, unique shape and the incredible texture. I told Brooke how much I liked it as I walked up to get a closer look. Brooke then told me "the artist is right here" and she introduced me to Leslie Wayne. One common thread in oil paintings that really jump off the wall and speak to me are those with texture -one of the reasons why van Gogh is one of my absolute favorite artists and why I can spend hours at the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (I've been twice, I would love to go back). Without 3d internet, you cannot see or appreciate, and I don't believe I can adequately describe, the incredible texture achieved in Wayne's paintings. Initially I assumed she used fabric or some other flexible material that was painted, gathered and bunched near the bottom of the wood canvas. Before I even asked, Brooke explained the effect was achieved entirely with oils - nothing else. The paint appears to come off the canvas nearly an inch and is full of intricate detailed ribbons of color. This one reminds me of a river flowing off a cliff into a waterfall. The fluidity has incredible life. Brooke took me down into the storage area in the basement and showed me some of her smaller pieces. I would love to buy one. A couple of them bulged out below the square confines of the canvas and I loved what appeared to be small air bubbles floating up onto the thinly painted portion. I have never thought so seriously about purchasing a piece of art. Here is another piece I like:
When we returned to the front desk of the gallery, the artist was there and I had an opportunity to talk with her a bit about her work. I marveled at the amount of paint she must use and the amount of time it takes to create each piece (a couple of months or so). I told her many of the pieces remind me of bisection diagrams of the earth in a science museum or of the bodies at the Bodies Exhibition. She said "you get it." She then asked me if I am an artist. Wow! I was flattered - maybe it was my hip new red framed glasses that gave me the artsy look. I received another compliment from her after I left. Brooke said after I left she commented on how young I look - Brooke told her I am a lawyer - that I'm "just a kid" or something to that effect. Two great compliments.

So what do you think, should I invest in one of her pieces?

scattered pieces

Do you ever feel as if the person inside of you is not being adequately portrayed to those around you? I don't mean physically because I am sure we all have a svelte and sultry image of ourselves that doesn't often make the public appearances we hope for. No, I am referring to the idealized image we each create inside our heads of who we want to become one day - the woman we want others to see us as. Sometimes we recognize this ideal realized in another woman and we react with jealousy, longing or feelings of inadequacy; wishing that inner version of self could climb out to manifest herself to the world full time. Other times this buried personae climbs out and presents herself as a mere amateur of what she could be.

I chose my blogger name based on the various versions of me who rotate from the back recesses of my imagination to the forefront of reality depending on the environment in which I am operating. You see, my soul - the stark, enduring essence of me - is comprised of a number of often conflicting versions of myself. I repeatedly find myself struggling to fuse these inconsonant pieces together.

I am sometimes reminded of one of the more neglected pieces and I struggle to understand why I continually evade and slight things I love to pursue another brighter, shinier image that may be closer at hand. This state of reflection is generally preceded by a mood of reminiscence and nostalgia which leads to introspection. The main version of my self who continually dominates is Workaholic Lawyer. She has great shoes, a nice apartment and fun toys but other components fall by the wayside. . . I begin missing Hippie, Rock Climbing me or Sports Nut me, Music Obsessed me, Baker/Entertainer me or yogi me. I also yearn for potential version of myself who seem unattainable.

Friday, March 09, 2007


This morning my weather guy, Chris Cimino (he is the slightly plasticy looking guy who subs for Al Roker sometimes on the Today show), claimed New York would have a high of 39 and a low of 33.

As he was saying this, down in the right had corner of my tv screen the current temperature read: 13 degrees. I've never been very good at math but I'm pretty sure 13 is a lower temperature than 33.

Then I went outside. Definitely closer to 13 than 30 degrees, even when I was away from the water.

The elevator at work also tried to tell me today's low was 33. I still didn't believe it after returning from a frigid 4 block walk to and from lunch - the temperature could not have been over 20 and was possibly lower.

Google claims the temp is a bit lower at 33 but still far from reality.

Even NY1, the most accurate weather in the City is off claiming an afternoon/evening temps of 32 and 33 while the current temperature in the top left of the screen of the same web page is only 21! is the closest to reality with a current temp of 29 that feels like 19 and a predicted low of 25.

I think all the weather centers are just trying to be overly optimistic for people because we all know that the temperature should not be in the teens on March 9th.

Spring, where are you? New York desperately needs your attention right now!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

apparently, I feel pretty

This comment from Mickey reminded me of a silly story I've been meaning to share. Of course, without the proper inflection I'm not sure how it will come across on screen as opposed to being relayed verbally. Here is the unnecessarily long version:

A few weeks ago I was talked into attending a party in Brooklyn. It was after 10 pm on a Saturday night and Brooklyn is far. It was also cold and I was enjoying a non-fat-vanilla-creme-no-whip at Starbucks with a friend after dinner. The idea was to finish the evening there and then go home because I am reclusive and prefer hibernation to social interaction during these recent cold weeks. I was not up for a party. I was not dressed for a party. Let alone a party in Brooklyn. But the guy who invited us was persistent and joined us at Starbucks after a couple of text messages and phone calls. Despite my reluctant whining about having already made the trek to Brooklyn once that day (for a bridal shower), I agreed to go.

To complicate the expedition our organizer Paul also invited my Starbucks companion's roommates who were on the upper east side (we were near Lincoln Center). We had to take the Q train (or some other random Brooklyn train) so they somehow decided that the girls from the UES could transfer to the Q at 59th Street and get in the first car and that somehow when we transferred to the Q at 42nd Street we would end up on the same train. As we waited on the platform for the Q train to arrive I asked my companions what we would do if the girls weren't on this train - I was extremely skeptical of their plan and still willing to march myself outside and hail a cab home. As everyone was mulling this question over, the Q arrived. I ran up to the first car to inspect and was about to get off because they weren't there when Paul and Emily shouted to stay on the train and they dashed into the next car just as the doors were closing. I tried to move to walk through the doors to move to the next car and discovered they were locked. So I was trapped alone in the first car with Emily waving at me through the window. I didn't see Kristen or Abby in their car either. At the next stop I got out and ran into the second car just as Kristen and Abby came running from one of the back cars. Miracously we all met on the same train.
We entertained ourselves all the way there, then I complained again about the long walk from the subway to the actual party locale. When we arrived at the party I knew I wouldn't last long. Not a single attractive boy in sight. We traveled all the way to Brooklyn for the nerdiest party ever. I did not find them interesting to talk to and the other girls seemed uncomfortable with the non-mormon nature of the party, meaning there was a lot of alcohol. One guy tried talking to us but I didn't find him interesting and there was some awkwardness so eventually I announced it was time for me to go. Everyone was ready (except maybe Paul but he insisted on leaving with us). So we made the long walk back to the subway which seemed much shorter despite the fact that I slowed down my pace so my shorter companions didn't feel like they had to run to keep up.
On the subway ride back, I was seated next to Kristen who is quite short. I was a little bit slouched but my legs were stretched straight out in front of me resting on the pole in the middle of the car. Kristen commented that she can't touch the floor when she sits back in the seat but claimed she was probably taller than me seated because she has a long torso. We both sat up straight and she proved her point. This was a bit surprising but not entirely since I know I have a disproportionately short torso. Here is the conversation that followed:
Me rambling, probably loudly something to the effect of: "There are a lot of things I have to avoid wearing because of my short torso. That is why I like low-rise jeans. Those high waisted things better not come back or else it will look like they are doubling as my bra. I'm also not so sure about wearing belts around my waist . . ."
K, very seriously: "Alyssa, I have seen pictures of you in a bathing suit and you are a very pretty girl."
Me, quickly, without thinking: "of course I'm pretty!"
I'm quite sure that any fellow riders who overheard our conversation assumed I was a bit tipsy when I proclaimed my prettiness to them all. Although I'm also pretty sure that I was the person most surprised by my reactionary and insistent response.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I hate making appointments - doctor's appointments, hair appointments, pedicure appointments, massage appointments. It doesn't matter if the appointment is for something I want or dread - I procrastinate the call. I even have a coupon for a free massage I received for my birthday last year that I have not used for the simple reason that I haven't called to make an appointment. I think I have a fear of commiting to anything more than a week in advance. I love pedicures but I often end up at the place I don't like as well simply because it doesn't require an appointment. I don't like going to doctors so making the phone call for those appointments is that much more difficult. Avoidance of appointments is half the reason it took me so long to make a dentist appointment - that and the fear of pain.

Once I break through the dam of making an appointment, I have a tendency to make a bunch of them all at once. For example, I was long overdue a return trip to the pulminologist and finally made the appointment last month after going two weeks without asthma medication - not a good idea. I immediately felt like I had a cold - wheezy, sneezing, snot nose, all of it. I then made an appointment with the dreaded gynecologist (although I think the dentist is worse!). I also made a hair appointment and a facial appointment (at separate spas) - all in one day! The dentist took a bit more time but I booked it within a few weeks of the rush.

Since I was on such a roll with three appointments made with three different doctors, last week I decided to follow-up with one more neglected doctor - my eye doctor. Luckily, they were flexible and didn't require a month of planning. They fit me in on Saturday with only two day's notice. That is my favorite kind of appointment to make. No time for conflicts to arise. Oddly enough, I probably have the longest relationship with my eye doctor of any other doctor I have seen. I initially chose him because he was a few short blocks from my first apartment in NYC over five years ago. I like the doctor, he is friendly and efficient and oddly enough his exam room is larger than most optomistrists (or is he an opthamologist? I can't keep them straight although I know there is a big schooling difference). Usually eye doctor's offices are small and dark and you have to sit in that big chair with the ancient contraption with all the mysterious dials that swings down from overhead squinting (okay, trying not to squint) at the letters projected on the far wall. My doctor's office is actually pretty spacious and doesn't feel quite as dark as most. I couldn't help but feel like a kid looking into the mechanical eye mask as the doctor loomed uncomfortably close to my face switching dials back and forth and asking me to read letters then shuffling the lenses a few times and asking "is number 1 or number 2 better or the same?" I still sometimes worry I might give the wrong answer.

When I first failed the school eye exam at age ten, my parents trotted me off to an eye doctor as instructed by the school. The doctor fiddled with the machine and gave me test after test then advised my mother that it was "all in her head." He accused me of lying to get glasses! Why on earth I would have wanted glasses is beyond me but I have to admit there was part of me that wondered if maybe I was making it all up if that was what the doctor thought. After one particularly frustrating appointment during which I was given some eye test (that I have never had again) in a tiny dark room with no room for my mother with a giant satellite-dish type machine that I sat in front of (it may have been testing my peripheral vision), my mom decided to get a second opinion. I think the doctor may have even suggested I get tested for a tumor or some other dreaded problem (I had chronic headaches so I think he was focused on that more than my inability to read a chalk board in class).

Instead, my mother took me to Standard Optical (or some equivalent). A very nice old man tested my eyes. He soon discovered a problem in my answer to the "number 1 or number 2?" question. School had trained me to find the "right" answer and I was somehow convinced that either lense number 1 or number 2 was right and I needed to give the correct answer. Not sure how this was discovered but once the doctor explained to me that there was no right answer and that sometimes there is no difference, he came up with the proper diagnosis: glasses. After all of that, I just needed glasses. My father claims he still has some residual guilt from the day I got my first pair of glasses. When we walked out of the Standard Optical store near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, I exclaimed "you can see trees on the mountains!" - not just patches of green. He was shocked that I couldn't see the trees.

Saturday was a bit less dramatic. My eyes managed to stay put, no prescription change needed. I ordered new contacts and at the last minute decided to select a new pair of glasses. Aside from the Saturday appointments and the convenient 9th Avenue location, one of the biggest reasons I continue my loyalty to Westway Vision is the woman who manages the eyeglass counter. This woman has a gift at selecting frames. Saturday was my third experience selecting glasses with her. I love my previous two pairs - and amazingly she remembers them! She is attentive and patient and picks out a variety of styles and will honestly tell you if the color or shape or style doesn't work. After I had selected a fun new pair of red plastic frames (despite flashbacks to my 7th grade giant red wire frames) over brown with turquise arms, she told me about the new magical-super-amazing-scratch-resistent-glare-free-clean-on-their-own lenses but also told me what I got last time and said she wasn't really sure what the difference was other than a hefty price increase. No trying to talk me into the expensive lenses, just letting me know they are out there if I want them. So if you are in the market for new glasses and want stylish frames that compliment your face - make an appointment, they can probably get you in tomorrow!

Now I just need to try and find a time to make that massage appointment!

Friday, March 02, 2007

appreciating the details

A list of my favorite details of today:
  • it is Friday
  • mentally checking out of work after finalizing my edits to a brief by noon and filing it before the deadline
  • getting a non-objection to a fee application (meaning next Wednesday's hearing will be cake - no frantic prep work, the weekend is mine!)
  • leaving work "early" by 6 pm
  • my eyes being drawn up toward the deep blue sky during my walk across town
  • my winter coat being too warm and my rubber boots superfluous without the morning downpour
  • arriving early to yoga class and having the luxury of choosing my mat placement instead of awkwardly squeezing in
  • discussing snowboarding in Utah with the yoga studio receptionist who just returned from a trip to both Solitude and the Canyons with fresh powder - very jealous. . .
  • accomplishing 3 head stands without assistance and not against the wall (only falling once)
  • lying in chavasana drenched from sweat feeling cleansed of the stress of work
  • not caring how ridiculous I looked walking home with half-wet hair in yoga attire - slightly cropped black sweats and a small gray long-sleeve t with holes over my sweat drenched tank -, rain boots, gray wool coat, yoga bag and large black purse
  • pretending the people who stared just thought I was pretty
  • the full moon - it is now just outside my window
  • enjoying sweet red grapes, a sliced tart apple, havarti and sharp cheddar cheese with triscuits for dinner and popcorn for dessert
  • watching Marie Antoinette as my Friday night movie courtesy of Netflix and loving it despite several warnings against it. This review kept me optimistic. I was prepared for the New Wave music (and even the converse sneakers in the background of one scene) but I didn't expect the beautiful opera and the Vivaldi that was also included and added so much. The colors were beautiful. My only disappointment is my failed memory for French revolutionary history - I found myself straining for dates and timing of major events (like storming the Bastille) and when she ultimately met the guillotine. I should have remembered some of these bits of trivia since I wrote my senior history paper on the guillotine in college - which I wrote exactly ten years ago! More accurately, I conceived the idea ten years ago but didn't turn it in until the very last second possible shortly before graduation in June when my boyfriend at the time soothed me as he raced down the freeway toward the University of Utah to turn it in with me crying about how terrible my paper was and what a waste after all my work simply because I had run out of time. He promised me I would get an A. I did.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

true confession

Today I made a dentist appointment. That may not be a monumental thing for most of you but for me it was huge. I will not confess how long it has been since I last saw a dentist but I will tell you I have a huge fear of the dentist which has resulted in an extended delinquency in check-ups.

I wasn't always afraid of going to the dentist. I have a fairly vivid memory as a child of driving up Highland Drive with my mom past the Yamaha motorcycle store, Neilson's Custard and all those photography places on the way to Sugar House to visit Dr. Miltenberger. We loved Dr. Miltenberger. I am not sure why other than the fact we got to choose fun little monster finger puppets when it was all over. Even after my first orthodontist required that ten - TEN! - of my teeth (including two permanent teeth, so I don't have any incisers) be pulled before he installed my braces, I still loved Dr. Miltenberger. I don't remember feeling anything during my two lengthy tooth extractions to remove all those teeth - and I was only ten year's old. I hope I got a lot of monsters for that visit, but I can't really remember. I do remember that I was too old to cash in my teeth for quarters - which was all my tooth fairy brought me (maybe 50 cents a tooth?).
Anyway, after three orthodontists and six years of braces, you can understand why I was turned off from going to the dentist - I was burned out! But that isn't the real reason. Dr. Miltenberger retired before I finished high school and my family was forced to search out a new dentist. We ended up with Dr. Seal with the fancy TVs on the ceiling and the fountain with the gold seals in the lobby. Those self-indulgent seals should have been the first sign of trouble. At my first visit and because I am one of those people who despite my dedication to brushing is plagued with cavities, I of course had to get a couple of fillings after my initial visit. I will never forget my next appointment.
For some reason my siblings and I grew up thinking that we were required to opt for the shot at the dentist rather than the laughing gas. An adult conversation among my siblings once revealed that we all had some sort of childhood understanding that the gas was "bad" and possibly against the word of wisdom. Upon relaying this to our parents, they are shocked and have no idea what they did to instill this somewhat righteous aversion in us. Nevertheless, it was there and I never quite recovered from it. So at my filling appointment I opted for the shot. But it wasn't enough. As soon as the drill started I complained of pain. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but honestly, if you don't have to suffer, why would you? The response? You can't feel anything, you are just reacting to the sound of the drill. The dentist deliberately rationalized away my pain. I flat out refused to ever see him again.
Since then I have had dentist visits that were less painful and less dramatic. The last dentist I visited was a kind man from my parent's old ward. He even fixed my front tooth that was chipped when my dog leaped up to greet me. When I told him my horror story he reassured me that some people just have more nerve endings so it takes more to numb the area and he gave me an extra shot, just in case - I still didn't ask for the gas.
My confession is that I have never visited a dentist in New York and I would be ashamed to admit how long it has been since my last dentist appointment. I have considered checking out one of those new spa-like dentist offices but instead decided to take the recommendation of a co-worker who claims no one could be more fearful of dentists than she is and I scheduled an appointment for mid-April. Plus the dentist is a woman and I have been gravitating more and more toward female doctors. Now I have more than a month to brush and floss and rinse to get my teeth in sparkly condition so the dentist doesn't take one look at my mouth and yell "Good God! Have you never been to a dentist?" Then upon recovering from the shock and taking a closer look she will say "It appears we are going to have to take everything out and start all over" just like all those dumb orthodontists who started over with my braces each time they got a hold of me. Wish me luck.
And oh, this time I think I'm asking for the gas . . .
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