October 31, 2007

I'm gonna be a lawyer for halloween

Today, I had a lawyers' lunch of dim sum goodness with 2 other women from law school. After our first year as lawyers, it was pleasant to finally meet up after 6 months of scheduling and hear that we are all doing well in our careers and relatively happy with the decisions we've made.

Anecdotally, I hear that's not the norm for women in their second year of practice in BigLaw. And yet, there we are. We're all happy and we feel lucky.

J travels every other week and lives from 4-star hotels. She travels for pleasure on the weekends between traveling for work. She's taking depositions solo and having a ball. I admire what she's doing but I would be miserable with the demands on my time and the constant time away from home.

T is a completely different story. She never travels. She wishes she did, just a little bit, but other than that, she likes her practice. She loves the control she has over how she gets her job done. She already is being aggressively head-hunted by firms that compete with hers and clearly is on a path for success. But, I think I'd pull out my eyeballs if I had her job because the content she looks at every day just isn't interesting to me.

And then there's me. I do tedious things like review contracts as diligence projects where it's binders upon binders of deals. I look for comma placement. I also advise small start-ups on how to structure their business to increase the value of their IP and avoid the typical pitfalls. Believe it or not, I have fun with the big picture deal structure and client counseling but I also love the tedium of comma placement, liability limitations, warranty disclaimers, and just the general logic puzzle of the world of contracts.

I think the thing we all have in common is that we love the type of law we practice. None of us is thrilled with the lawyer lifestyle. We all wish we could have a little more time and balance. But, we all enjoy the things we do for hours upon hours each week. And, it doesn't hurt that none of us work in environments where assholes run the show. That probably means quite a bit as well.

October 28, 2007


BEA is now the second ex-employer of mine to be put to on its deathbed by a combination of its biggest shareholders working in conjunction with Larry Ellison.

Add a start-up that gave its money back to the investors in 2002 and the sole proprietorship consulting service I briefly ran before shutting operations to take a full-time gig at the other prior employer to be destroyed by Larry and pals.

What do you know, other than the law firm, the only full-time employer I've had since college who is still in a positive trajectory is a small boutique consulting firm that hired me while I was still a student and kept me on full-time after graduation.

Things move very quickly in the valley.

October 27, 2007

Eggsellent Resource

If you are a food nerd, and you love eggs, then you should check out the American Egg Board's eggcyclopedia. (Arvay, I know you love this!)

For example, today I wanted to know how reliable the sell-by dates on egg cartons were because we have two eggs that are fairly old and I wasn't sure I could use 'em for breakfast.

Turns out, there is a 3 digit number on your egg carton that is the pack date. It is the number of the day of the year when your eggs were packed out of 365 (or 366 in leap year, I would assume). If you are lazy, you can use a date calculator and plug in 1/1/07 and the number to figure out what the pack date is on the gregorian calendar.

The eggcyclopedia says that eggs, stored properly, should stay fresh 4 to 5 weeks from the pack date. Guess we'll be going out for brunch.

(As an aside, I've never met a food nerd who didn't love eggs. In fact, I used to not like them, but my love for them has been growing roughly in proportion to my food nerdiness. Souflées, breads, sauce thickeners, soups -- they are just so versatile. Plus, according to folklore, the one hundred folds on a properly trained chef's hat are supposed to represent the 100 ways they know how to prepare an egg. How cool is that?)
Working for Myself

I have to work today. It's Saturday.

As short a time ago as 5 weeks I lived in a world where this was expected and normal. But, as the passage of a short time will do, that life seems far away and now I think it's normal not to have to work on the weekends.

This morning, I woke around 8 AM without an alarm. I was out of my bed and dressed to work-out by 8:30. Now, I'm at my desk, leisurely sifting through mail and getting settled.

I'll be working on the contract I have to turn by 9 AM.

So, basically, I'm starting my Saturday at work roughly around when I start my work-week days at work.

Only I feel so much more relaxed. It *feels* like Saturday. It *feels* like I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and that I'm *choosing* to work. Granted, I am waiting for my treadmill to be delivered and when it arrives, I may opt to use it in the middle of working on my contract. But technically, I always have the choice to restructure my day.

Oddly, this means that I will enjoy working today more than I enjoy working during the week. I remember feeling this Saturday feeling about all the work I had to do for school. I remember feeling this way about running my own business. I even remember feeling this way about various engineering and tech writing jobs I held, at times.

But, there have been other times in my career when I felt pinned down, working for someone else and not myself, and uncomfortable with the lack of control and freedom I had in my performance of the work. Often, I grew out of that feeling as I became more comfortable with how people perceived me and my work, so I felt that it was appropriate to take more liberties with working from home and doing my job for myself, not them.

I'm much more comfortable at the law firm after a full year there. (CAN YOU BELIEVE I'VE BEEN A LAWYER FOR OVER A YEAR?) But I still don't have the feeling of control that I've had at all of my favorite jobs. I wonder if I'll ever have it, or, if the structure of the law firm and billable hours means that it is impossible.

I am more than willing to put up with some short-term discomfort in exchange for the great training and experience I'm getting.

But, this morning's excitement to work solidified it for me: I want my ultimate career, that undefined thing I'm working towards, which I will find myself doing at the very end, to feel like Saturday work every day I'm working.


October 26, 2007

Way... Wha???

I was on the call with our partner and then, out of nowhere, the VP of engineering walks into the room in a Fatsuit.

I thought I had a weird day. But after discussing it, we agreed, E's was weirder.

Halloween is on its way, apparently.

October 21, 2007

Comfort, all around

After a couple of months of much weekend travel and general hecticness, this weekend was a welcome change. We only spent one night away from home, and it was in San Francisco, attending the wedding of a family friend where we had a blast hanging out in a mansion and eating miniature food with brother, sister, and mom and D. The after party was a bit over the top, and even though we were quite the sticks-in-the-mud by comparison and left at 2 AM, this morning was still slow and difficult. Thank goodness for the healing power of Crèpes-a-Go-Go (mmm...nutella strawberry crèpe...).

The next several weekends promise to be even more mellow. In fact, starting tonight, we have twenty-seven nights in a row where we'll be sleeping at home, in our own bed, together.

This means I have time for some comforting lifestyle changes. I'll be doing more shopping for fresh ingredients since I'll have time to use them, there will be more cooking and less eating out, and, after my treadmill arrives (next Saturday! Woo Hoo!), I won't miss any more training runs on my marathon training schedule due to weather and work, which should decrease my stress levels even more. Also, I'm holding out hope that the list of home chores may actually see more things scratched off than added for the first time in a long time.

In celebration of the coming calm, I present tonight's very comforting dinner. Per the norm as of late, there was not enough fresh food available in the house to construct a proper meal from scratch. So, here is the latest in my "use whatever's in the pantry and freezer soup" series. It was surprisingly filling, healthy, and delicious.


-1/2 box farfalline (any small pasta will do)
-2 cans condensed tomato soup
-1 small bag frozen chopped broccoli
-italian spices
-chili garlic paste
-hard cheese for grating
-extra virgin olive oil

1. bring approximately 4 cups water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil with a drizzling of olive oil over the top of the water until the pasta is almost al dente.
2. Add both cans of condensed soup to the water and pasta and bring to a simmer.
3. Add spices and chili garlic paste to taste.
4. Add broccolli and remove from heat. Stir for 5 minutes until brocolli is bright green.
5. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated cheese over the top.

Mmmmm...warm, hearty, and healthy. Enjoy!

October 18, 2007

Jargon Help

So, for those of you who've heard these terms and don't know what they mean, be happy. No one *really* knows what these terms mean. Anyone who claims to is lying because they aren't well-defined terms.

After too many interactions with them, I thought I'd give my favorite examples:

The best of web 2.0:

Is it Christmas? (There's an RSS feed).

The best of web 1.0:

Just Fucking Google it.

And the best of Web 3.0?

Yeah. When I figure out what it represents I'll add a sarcastic example of this one too.

Also, I'm aware that I'm making fun of the valley but I'm also aware that I live in the middle of this ecosystem and it supports me, pays my bills, brings me joy, and more-or-less defines my professional existence. Let me just admit that I'm now home from a weeknight "party" where I ate and drank for free while taking a tour of a data center and schmoozing, and I even (*gasp of embarassment*) handed out a few cards.

I live here. This is my life.

But really? It is a bit silly when we have to start assigning numbers? Non?

October 16, 2007

Slowing Down

After my fourth weekend in a row traveling to a gorgeous race or long run, and a wonderful weekend of hanging out with R and accompanying her on her first half marathon, I'm just exhausted. (For those looking for a beautiful, flat, run along the beach where the organizers give out lots of good schwag, I highly recommend the long beach half or full marathon. The crowd support was less than some races I've run, but it was a very well run race. If you do go, do NOT stay at the Coast Hotel Long Beach, it has walls that magically amplify every nighttime noise so that you will get no sleep the night before the race.)

Friday, I stayed up with E 'til 2 AM, finally getting in some quality time for the first time last week. Unfortunately, I had to wake at 6 AM to get to my flight. Saturday, thanks to the aforementioned hotel from hell, the people in the next room over who spoke in some moon language at approximately the level of a rock concert until midnight and then again starting at 5 AM, and the party in the room above us who threw beer bottles on the ground in front of our room, I woke at least once every hour from 11 PM 'til 5:45 AM. Last night, I put myself to bed at 11 PM despite many things left undone. And, I was still very grumpy at my alarm at 6 AM.

But, I had to get up because I have work that must be done before a 9 AM call and I've got a run to fit in. After all, it's not raining, and I can't look gift weather in the mouth (or however that metaphor would go for weather). And, of course, now that I'm up and annoyed, instead of working, I'm blogging, which makes perfect sense...

Lately, I hate mornings during the week. I detest that I can't just stay in bed with E and sleep in until I'm fully rested. On the weekends, in contrast, I have no difficulty jumping out of bed to go for a long run in the dark, even if it perpetuates the sleep deprivation cycle.

Clearly, subconsciously, something inside of me knows that even though I'm not crazy busy anymore, and I'm just normal lawyer busy, which I enjoy, my job is different from pure pleasure activities and finds it very difficult to cheat my body of sleep to appease work, even when the reason for early waking is the combination of work and running or social obligations for the day.

I'm very much looking forward to this weekend where we're only in San Francisco for one night for a wedding and then the next weekend, where we're home for both nights, and together, with no plans with anyone else for the first time in 2 months.

October 12, 2007

I think I'm going to have to buy a treadmill

This AM's rain and work surprises mean that I am 12 miles short for the week as of right now.

I'll probably try to hit a gym today after work, so that I'll only be 4 miles short by the time the week ends. This will mean I will get home late on the one night this week I'm supposed to hang out with E without distractions.

If I could just go to the garage and bust out my miles any time it was raining, or, better yet, when I got home from work and it was too dark to run safely, I suspect I'd be much better about maintaining my mileage, and, I probably wouldn't feel so frustrated with the effort of balancing my life.

October 10, 2007

Cheater Bolognese

True Bolognese sauce, like most delicious Italian meals, requires at least a day of effort. And it is worth it.

But, for those of us who wish to experience close to the truth for significantly less than a day's effort there are many options.

For example, tonight, E2 and J came for dinner. Like the good lawyer and bad wife that I've been lately, we had nothing to feed guests for dinner. So, we dug into the freezer and defrosted the second half of the frozen gnocchi and we served it with a make-shift bolognese composed of ingredients purchased 2 hours prior to serving alongside blanched asparagus spears. It was quick, easy, and delicious. Amazingly quick, easy, and delicious, if I'm honest. In fact, I often avoid meals of this nature when they might be easier than others for which I opt (Granted, the true effort for the gnocchi had been completed, and we were living off of that glory, but with boxed penne, the sauce still would have been excellent.)

Short-cut faux-bolognese

-1.25 lb lean ground sirloin
-1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
-3 to 8 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 T butter
-dried parsely
-cayenne pepper
-dried chili flakes
-mustard powder
-sea salt
-1 large can stewed tomatoes
-3 small flavorful fall tomatoes from your plant, sliced (okay, so this ingredient is probably unnecessary)
-dried basil (or the real thing, but if so, don't add it 'til the end)
-hard but medium-aged cheese for ribbon grating

1. In a large saucepan or pot, melt the butter and sautée the onions and garlic until clear and fragrant.
2. Add the meat. Stir and cut with the stirring implement until evenly browing.
3. Add spices as you like (we chose oregano, basil, dried parsely, cayenne, dried red pepper, & mustard powder). Stir until evenly absorbed.
4. Add tomatoes, stir and simmer.
5. Finish cooking pasta and remove it and the sauce from heat. After both have cooled slightly, toss the pasta in the sauce pot.
6. Serve immediately. Top with grated cheese.

This meal is guaranteed to make your house smell like amazing Italian food and herbs. It is also guaranteed to taste fabulous. Sure, it's missing long cook times, wine as an ingredient, and all sorts of other stuff (mushrooms!). But I guarantee (again!) -- This is the basics of a good meat sauce. If you like, you can sub in pork, veal, or better yet, add 'em to the mix. But regardless, this is the max bang for the effort you will achieve. And, as an eater, it's delicious.

This is when it gets hard

I was pissed when my alarm went off this AM. There just isn't enough time in my day to sleep, do all of my work, hang out with E, have a social life, keep in touch with my family, and train for my marathon. Something always has to give. Every day.

Yesterday was very well-aligned with my priorities. I fit in my run, a doctor's appointment, lunch with a former colleague, 4 hours of volunteer work, calls with my brother, sister, lucky_girl, and R, a brief chat with E upon my late arrival home, and a full day of work between a couple of hours at home in the AM, a few in the office, and a few more to get almost caught up before midnight.

But, of course, I have to pay for it today. Because when you are a lawyer, often a full day of work isn't sufficient. I had more than a full day's worth of work to do.

After the whirlwind day yesterday, I'm exhausted and hit snooze a couple of times, feeling guilty about it each time -- both because it annoys E and because there's stuff I should be doing. It's raining right now and I'm supposed to do 8 miles this AM. Also, I have work due to a partner this AM that I opted not to do last night at midnight in lieu of sleep before my run.

So, I'll do the work now instead of run in the rain. I'll go to work and eat lunch at my desk (which is a serious sacrifice for me) in the hopes that I can get enough done to get out of the office in time to fit the run in before dark. But, experience has taught me that when I miss the AM run there's at least a 50% chance that the PM run isn't going to happen due to work.

I'm not burnt out right now, at all. I've had a couple of relatively mild work weeks and some relaxing weekends. But now that things are picking up on all fronts (unfortunately, the wonderful lull at work seems to be coming to an end), I'm starting to be frustrated. I just wish I had more time. I find myself thinking, "If only I'd done X then..." But, truly, I feel like I maximize my use of time as well as I can, and it's STILL not good enough.

October 8, 2007

The Tenth Circle

E2 [Curious] -- What are you reading?
BT -- The The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult.
E2 [Even more Curious]-- Is it a *graphic novel*?
BT [laughing] -- Oh, no. One of the main characters is a comic book illustrator. [Holds up pages for E2's view] These are his work...

Leave it to E2 to know the technical term for a book filled with comics.

*Graphic Novel*

Who talks like that?

Well, it would seem that I'm going to have to start.

I could try to explain to you why I couldn't put this book down this weekend.
How my weekend was so fabulous partially because it was interwoven with my enjoyment of this book. How it told a story of such truly good-intentioned, hurt, and flawed humanity that I fell in love with all of the characters and found myself cheering for them individually, even while they took actions that eventually (and predictably) hurt each other.

Or, I could just point you to the reviews: http://www.jodipicoult.com/the-tenth-circle.html.

It's just a great story. AND, it's got cool comic drawings.

What more could you want?

October 7, 2007

Surprising Speed

This weekend, I ran a gorgeous race with E2. I cannot say enough about this beautiful course. Except, of course, that the initial 6 miles uphill, aka the last 6 miles of the marathon are a bit of test, both physically and mentally.

Lucky for me, E2 is a mountain goat in a human's body and all I had to do was keep up 'til the turn around, when it was all down-hill. E2 was with me on my first half marathon and approximately 40% of the "official" races I've run since then, not to mention at least 30% of the long training runs I've done.

So, I feel like I know what to expect out of E2. Imagine my surprise when I looked down at the garmin just before the turn around and realized that E2, who had been setting the pace, had put us in position to clear 2 hours, at above 4,000 feet, at elevation, where the first 6.5 miles were uphill. All of this while she claimed to be having allergy issues, un-trained, and I planned to be lazy.

Yeah, I was shocked too. So much for lazy.

Around 6 miles, I tried to explain her bad-assedness to her, but I suspect it fell upon deaf ears. As I explained what I perceived to be an amazing option for a personal best, she calmly took her elevation-doesn't-phase-me-goat-like gait and rhythmically bounded down the hill.

I followed and enjoyed the faster-than-expected training run for my marathon, the fall colors, the views, and the opportunity to cheer on those behind us, who were many, thanks to E2's goat-like super-powers.

We finished a half at our fastest shared half-marathon time. Just over 2 hours, but if you believe my garmin, we cleared the *true* 13.1 around 2 hours, exactly.

Regardless, I was surprised to find that I finished my fastest shared run with E2 this weekend. That was not my plan. By no means am I complaining. In fact, I'm thankful.

What a great weekend!

October 1, 2007

Some Advice

If you are trying to be supportive of a co-worker's baseball team, and you think it would be a good idea to send a supportive email of congrats when you see their team up 8-6 in the top of the 13th (!) inning, in what must have been an amazing game...

It's probably best to wait to *after* the bottom of the 13th to send the congratulatory email.

That is all.