Happy Mother’s Day!

Today we got an email from the mucky-mucks in the home office on the east coast.  It was the regular announcement of monthly holidays and which offices would be closed for said holidays.  Yes, we need to be reminded.  Shut up.  There are more offices all over the world than you can count on two hands.  And each one recognizes its own holidays.  From today’s email:

The BIG LAW Moscow office will be closed on Thursday, March 8 and Friday, March 9 in observance of International Women’s Day*.

Now wouldn’t you think since it’s called “International Women’s Day” that ALL the offices should be closed?  Of course they should!

However as the email advises in a footnote, International Women’s Day is actually a Russian holiday!  Not international at all!  Curses!  Reading a little further, we find that it can be “regarded as the equivalent of Mother’s Day” complete with gifts and flowers.

WTF?! Russia gets Mother’s Day off y’all!  Two days off for Mother’s Day!  That’s messed up. 

What do we get in the Seattle office?  We get to wear jeans tomorrow to celebrate Leap Year.

I. Kid. You. Not.

*International Women’s Day is a national holiday celebrated inRussia since 1913 on the eve of World War I campaigning for peace.  In 1917, on the last Sunday in February, Russian women began to strike for “bread and peace” in response to the deaths of over two million Russian soldiers.  The strike continued for four more days until the Czar was forced to abdicate.  The provisional government then granted women the right to vote.  This holiday was first declared as a non-working day inRussia in 1965.  It now celebrates women and their political, economic and social achievements.  It is tradition on this holiday to present women with gifts and flowers to express appreciation for their work, love and devotion.  It can be regarded as the equivalent of Mother’s Day.

Fit to be Tee’d

My friend Dana recently confessed that she spends a lot of time on the internet.  Even (shhh!) guerilla blogging at work.  I would NEVER do that!  [fingers crossed, whistling lamely] 

Dana included several links with resources for dogs in her post – their behavior, food, training, etc.  She and I are both doggy parents so we share some of the same interests.  If you do too why don’t you pop over there and check out her post?  I’m not posting on dogs today, but her post inspired me to share some of the online stuff I love.  Say it with me:  S H O P P I N G !!! 

To tell the truth, I browse more than I buy.  Especially when it comes to clothing; I prefer to try on clothes before buying.  One occasional exception I make is tee shirts.  If the size chart is fairly standard and the site provides tips or comments about the shirt running small (or large) I’m more inclined to buy from them.  And if they have really cool or cute shirts that’s a bonus! 

Over the next little while I’m going to share some of my favorite tee shirt sites (muttering about writer’s block) and I wonder how many of these you already know.  Disclaimer:  I do not get any sort of kickback or benefit if you visit these sites; I just like them.  However, if any of you want to contribute to my tee shirt addiction please feel free!  😀

Shirt Woot sells a different shirt every day.  They offer a variety of artistic, geeky and humorous patterns designed by individual Wooters.  Woot is a whole ‘nother shopping site that I love a LOT.  But we’re talking about tee shirts today. 


 

 Every time I see this first one I think of my youngest daughter.  She collects turtles but I’m not sure she has a wearable one.  I might need to put this away for her birthday.

 

 

Then there’s this lovely design.  I’m a cat fan from way back and this was so striking I knew it would be one of my favorites. 

The Artist

 
 
 
 

The Binge

Who doesn’t love the Cookie Monster?  Let’s take a peek into his after-hours life, shall we?  Uh…well okay then, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

Finally, the simplicity of this design caught my eye.

The Pen and the Sword

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the designs available at Shirt Woot.  I should point out that while you only see the Shirt of the Day on their main page, many of the shirts can still be purchased.  However, a shirt’s availability relies on its popularity.

Dream interpretation, the second

Joe Mantegna, Filming of the TV show Criminal ...

I think I’m watching too much crime TV.

In my dream the other night I was hiding in the bedroom of a mob boss’ daughter.  Really.  Apparently she was supposed to flip on her papa, but either she hadn’t quite made up her mind or there was a timing issue.  I’m not sure what I was doing there.  It felt like I was the point person who was going to bring her in but hell’s bells, I might be a legal secretary but that’s not even close to law enforcement.  Did I mention the daughter was in elementary school?  Of course I did raise four daughters so maybe I was there because I’m a mom?  No idea.  None.  Nada.

The rest was sort of blurred, like a lot of my dreams.  I recall the phone ringing which sent me running for the closet in her room.  Or maybe it was the doorbell, I’m not sure why a ringing phone would be a threat.  There was food at some point and I think we were on an airplane…or a bus.  Like I said, blurred.  Sigh.

In any case, watching Dexter, Criminal Minds, Castle, Blue Bloods, Unforgettable, Flash Forward and Grimm may be overdoing it a bit.  Especially since I only recently discovered Dexter and I’m watching at least one episode a day to catch up.

You guys have any thoughts on what the dream might mean?

[crickets]

Okay then.

Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan

I discovered Lost and Found on the uncataloged shelves at my library.  It has a black Lab on the front and that sold me on the book before I even read the back cover.

From the back cover:

“But then she meets Lloyd.

“A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky’s world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder.  And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast.”

Getting to this part in the story takes a little while, but it’s worth it.  Ms. Sheehan’s writing is moving and emotional; I cried along with Rocky at her loss.  You care about Rocky from practically the first couple of pages, which is something new for me.  It usually takes awhile for characters to reach me but I loved Rocky from the start.

And Lloyd!  Lloyd is such a sweetie and Ms. Sheehan gives him his own voice!  Lloyd remembers his previous human with sadness and pain, believing that he failed in protecting her.  As he bonds with Rocky he joins her in her unsettling dreams, understanding she needs “extra watching at night.”

Rocky’s relationship with Lloyd eventually leads her out of her grief.  She is able to move forward, not forgetting her loss but no longer clinging to it instead of living.  I realize I’m not providing a lot of detail here but I’m reluctant to give anything away.  In the end, they save each other.

One of the ways I rate a book is whether I like it well enough to have my own copy.  This one is going on my shelf.

You might be a legal secretary if…

…you alphabetize your spices and arrange your clothes in order of the color spectrum (not to mention your paperclips).

OCD much?  You too can be a legal secretary!  Your attention to detail is vital to your role in supporting attorneys.  If you are compelled to dot every I, cross every T and re-read to be sure you did so – TWELVE times – you might be a legal secretary! 

…if you want to meet the men in white coats sooner rather than later.

Do you possess sound mental health?  Not for long!  Working with anal attorneys and picky paralegals will quickly drive you around the bend.  The attorney will instruct you to complete a task one way while the paralegal is advising that you have it all wrong.  Your best option is to put them both in a locked conference room and whoever exits victorious can tell you how it’s supposed to be done.

…you find yourself proofreading e v e r y t h i n g.

 Seriously.  Every frakking thing!  Cereal boxes.  Junk mail.  Billboards.  Bumper stickers.  Tee shirts.  A little advice: do not try to dot the I on someone’s shirt!

…you don’t mind being a mind reader.

Mind reading is an expected requirement to work with lawyers.  Unfortunately, determining whether the mind reading is successful often requires its own element of mind reading.  Yeah, just try to figure that out!

…you actually know how to replace paper in the copier.

and the printer too.  You can also load the dishwasher, start a new pot of coffee and redline a motion for summary judgment with one arm tied behind your back. 

…you agree with the punch line of every lawyer joke you’ve ever heard.

            ‘nuf said.

 …you know how to spell some really odd words, like habeas corpus, amicus curiae, certiorari.

While this is a required trait for a legal secretary it does nothing for your social interactions.  Go ahead, just try to work certiorari into a non-work related conversation.  I dare you. 

This post was a joint effort among the legal secretaries I work with at BIG LAW.

All Shenk(ed) Up

With apologies to Elvis.

Nate Shenk of  Shenk It Up started this whole thing by shenking a couple of bloggers I follow – they aren’t the first either.  Apparently he shenks a LOT.  Someone should keep an eye on him, just sayin’.

Pamela Hart at Harts Beat figured I could use a good laugh or writing prompt or something and listed me as one of her shenkees.  Thanks Pam!

The way I understand this shenking thing is that I answer Pam’s 11 questions, I list 11 things about myself – wait, the 11 answers to the questions don’t count as 11 things about myself?  Weird.  But okay, I’ll be a good sport.  Plus I can use the writing practice.  Oh and then I’m supposed to tag 11 other bloggers.  See that?  There’s a pattern here.  Or something.  (I told you I could use the practice!)

11 Questions from Pam:

1.  What is your astrological sign?  Scorpio, and everything you’ve ever heard about Scorpios is TRUE.  Heh heh heh.

2.  What state do you live in? Would you rather live in a different state?  I live in Western Washington.  I wouldn’t mind living in another state but it has to be by the ocean.  Not necessarily on the water, just within a short drive.  Do NOT landlock me; it makes me crabby!

3.  What is YOUR favorite automobile?  Ooooh!  Give me a 1965 Pontiac GTO or Chevy Malibu!  Convertible please!!  So I can have those ocean breezes blowing through my hair!

4.  What would you do if your blog became VERY popular?  Laugh myself silly.

5.  What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?  Their face.  I’d like to say something deep here about meeting their eyes and knowing in an instant that we have a bond.  But really, I’m just checking to see if they have something in their teeth.

6.  Do you think Americans are over-medicated now-a-days?  This one is tough.  I prefer a more natural approach when at all possible.  That said, Hubs is on 2 prescriptions which he MUST take daily or risk debilitating gout attacks and elevated blood pressure.  And his Dad is on more than a dozen I think – he has pancreatic cancer after all.

7.  What was the best piece of advice you ever received?  My Mom recommended birth control when I was a teenager.  That was the extent of our talk about sex when I was growing up.  “Some day you’re going to want to be with a boy and you need to protect yourself.”  Or something like that.  We weren’t close so this was actually a pretty big deal for her if not for me.

8.  What is your dream job?  Some kind of volunteer gig would rock – if I was in better shape physically (in other words knee not bone to bone) I’d so go volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and build houses!  But since I need a paycheck if I could pick anything at all I’d work in a library!  All those BOOKS!  Doh!  (Sorry, I think I drooled a little.  Here, let me get that…)

9.  Who is your favorite actor/actress?  David Tennant hands down…or maybe hands on!  Favorite actress is a toss up.  I’m not a huge fan of today’s crop of starlets.  If I had to choose it would be between Sandra Bullock and Ashley Judd.  Now if we’re talking favorite in all of moviedom’s history, well that would have to be a whole ‘nother post.  (Wait!  What a GREAT idea, see Pam this is helping me already!)

10.  What is your favorite movie?  Again, I have to choose one?  Can’t do it.  But these two are right up there.  I can watch them again and again.

Stranger Than Fiction and The Man From Earth

Don’t freak when you see that Will Ferrell stars in Stranger Than Fiction; it’s NOT a typical Will Ferrell movie.  I avoid those like the plague.

11.  What type of books do you like to read?  When I’m not reading blogs I read a lot of fiction for the escape it provides.  All different kinds:  mystery/suspense – The Conspiracy Club by Jonathan Kellerman); contemporary – Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan (five stars!!); chick lit – ANYTHING by Janet Evanovich; and legal thrillers (I am a legal secretary after all).  I enjoy biographies too.  John Adams was spectacular!  All the historical references and descriptions plus how the language in his letters flowed – so cool.

So…11 things about me, hmm.  Are you sure I can’t just copy the list up there ↑ down here ↓?  No?  Okay then.  This may take awhile.

1.  I’m going to be a grandma again!  I know right?  I have 8 grandchildren already and our newlywed daughter has a bun in the oven!  August can’t get here fast enough!  Oh wait, strike that.  I don’t want to wish away my summer, we have so little warm weather here.

2.  Which leads me to this – I live in the Pacific Northwest.  I’d like to get all dramatic and say it RAINS ALL THE DAMN TIME but that wouldn’t be true.  It didn’t rain last Tuesday.

3.  I’m married to my soul mate, best friend and general pain in the ass.  We’ll celebrate 14 years this June.  It’s a second marriage for both of us but it’s the ONE and ONLY as far as we’re concerned.  Now if we could somehow ditch the Ex.

4.  Wow, this is hard.  How did you guys come up with 11 things about yourselves?

5.  I work in a law office.  It’s a humungous firm with offices all over the freakin’ world and they just keep opening new ones!  But I’m still not getting a raise this year.  Damn it.

6. I’m a fugitive on the run; I’m wanted in three states and also Canada.  (Just seeing if you’re paying attention!)

7.  I love to write but I don’t do it enough.  Sometimes it’s really a pain (I started a novel a few years back and it’s still not done) but mainly I enjoy it.  Blogging has made me actually sit down and write more regularly which is what I need I think to get back on track.

8.  I don’t like chocolate [ducks] unless it’s dark chocolate.  This might explain William (but that’s a post for another day).

9.  Wow, only three more to go!

10.  Well two, since I wasted that one.

11.  I’m grateful.  I started blogging late last year as a means to unload a lot of emotional garbahge and I’ve been made to feel very welcome by so many wonderful bloggers and readers.  It feels nice to belong to something so thanks very much.

I’m not going to tag 11 bloggers.  I will recommend you check out some of the blogs I follow.  See the list over on the right → I know you can’t see anything there but go to the top of the page the list is UP there!

They’re all fabulous (wave everyone) and would appreciate it if you stopped by.

The Vineyard

Barbara Delinsky is one of my favorite authors.  I recently finished The Vineyard.  It tells a parallel story of Olivia Jones and Natalie Seebring, women from two very different generations but each are strong in their own way. 

Olivia Jones is a single mother of a dyslexic child, struggling to provide for her daughter not only the material necessities, but also the best possible education.  At the same time she’s searching for her own mother who left when Olivia was old enough to be on her own.  Olivia badly wants a family and even daydreams about discovering she’s the long lost [granddaughter, cousin, niece] of the Seebring family.

Natalie Seebring on the other hand is completely sure of who she is and where she fits in her family.  Having grown up in the Depression era she understands the value of hard work and has made the family vineyard her life’s work.  She also understands sacrifice, having given up the man she loved to marry a man whose family money would bolster the vineyard. 

Ms. Delinsky weaves their stories together along with a taste of the bittersweet, some laughter and blossoming love.  The historical snippets felt genuine and moved me while the descriptions of the vineyard and its management were interesting – I DO love my wine!  I’d highly recommend this book!  

Somebunny to love

The other morning I was in line waiting for the 6:26 train to arrive and I was facing the parking lot across the tracks where my car is parked.  As I was looking in that direction movement caught my eye and I spotted a bunny!  He* was poised as though he knew I was watching him.  Having lived on the farm for umpteen years I’m no stranger to seeing wildlife but the last thing I expected to see at the train station was a bunny!  While I watched he hopped back and forth and eventually became hidden by some shrubbery around the base of a tree.  I found myself hoping he had a safe place to sleep and wondering if he had enough to eat.  That made me wonder what food he’d like if I could come up with the bucks to provide some. 

Whoa, what just happened?  I’m not usually inclined to nanny-moments but there I was thinking I needed to make sure that bunny had food.  On the one hand that makes me compassionate and caring; those are good things.  On the other hand though, that could make the bunny dependent on handouts when he obviously survives just fine on his own.  Once he starts relying on others to feed him what happens when the food doesn’t show up? 

This must be part of the mommy complex I’m starting to identify in myself.  There’s a deep need to take care of everyone; to make everyone happy.  I couldn’t do it when I was a “mommy” with young children (who, let’s face it, are usually pretty easy to make happy) so I don’t know why I think I should be able to do it now. 

Hubs’ folks want to see us this weekend.  This request was sort of tentative, no date or time was mentioned specifically.  In fact, Mom told Hubs they were going to try to talk SIL into bringing them down to meet us for a meal so we wouldn’t have to drive so far this time.  Thoughtful right?  But we’re struggling to keep gas in the car to get me to work this week so my first inclination is to bow out even knowing that if we could get there they’d probably  slip us some cash on the sly to help out.  Nice parents but I don’t like that I’m still needing help from family.  I’m not a bunny who needs someone to feed me.  At least I shouldn’t be.  I’m fifty-umcoughsplutter years old and I should be self-sufficient.  Forget that Hubs can’t work and we just lost the farm and we’re still in debt to the blasted I.R.S. 

Then, a couple days ago my best friend invited us to a going away potluck dinner for a couple who are mutual friends.  We haven’t seen these friends in a really long time and I so wanted to go!  But again, there’s the gas issue.  I told her I’d check with Hubs but I was pretty sure we didn’t have the gas.  She shot back an email saying she’d pony up some gas money (we’d done that for her so she could visit us last year so I don’t feel so bad taking money from her) and R & E would really love to see us since it had been over a year AND they’re getting ready to move out of state.  Nothing like the old guilt is there?  And did I mention I really, really wanted to go? 

Now I have a dilemma.  Do I blow off the terminally ill father in law to go see the friends?  Hubs has guilt issues of his own, heck he’s Jewish, of course he has guilt issues.  So I’m texting like mad all the way home last night trying to get the meeting with the folks moved up earlier in the day on Saturday so we can meet the friends, who’ve agreed to push back dinner.  Now you have to realize meeting the folks is half an hour to forty-five minutes northeast of us.  The friends are over an hour west of us.  It’s doable in a day but would be exhausting.  And there I am, trying to make everyone happy.

I didn’t bring up the weekend with Hubs until I was ready to go to bed.  Then I let him know how I’d tried to rearrange things so we could see both his family and our friends but that it didn’t work out.  The bottom line?  I made the decision to go to our friends and he could like it or not.  As I pointed out, I don’t ask for much and I really want this.  Now I get to call Mom and Dad to explain why we won’t be there Saturday.  But heck, I’m not Jewish.  Their guilt trips won’t work on me…much.  So much for making everyone happy huh? 

*Shut up.  I know it could have been a girl bunny.  I chose to use the male pronoun to avoid the whole awkward he(she) mess.  Deal with it. 

Work Identity Crisis

When I tell people I’m a legal secretary I get varied responses.  Some people are impressed.  Others not so much (these are the smart ones).  Still others want legal advice.  Yeah, really.  I don’t know what part of secretary they don’t get.  You’d be amazed at how easily people will start spouting off the details of their teen’s marijuana bust or their spouse’s DUI.  I’ve learned to give them the “deer in the headlights” stare and tell them I work in energy law.  What?  It’s the truth.  Yes there is too such a thing! 

While I sort of accidentally became a legal secretary, I believe it was my destiny all along.  Because of the way it all began I felt like a fraud for a very long time.  I sometimes still feel that way, worried someone will find me out.

About 26 years ago I was re-entering the work force when my youngest daughter was almost one.  I hadn’t worked in over a year and I didn’t have a lot of experience at anything in particular so I went to a temp agency.  The first place they sent me was a company that handled product placement in movies – very cool.  FREE Little Debbie’s!  Sadly I was just filling in for a secretary who was on vacation or something and I had to move on.  The last job they sent me on turned out to be a clerical position in the Human Resources department of a major insurance company.  They liked my work and arranged to hire me for a regular full time position once their temporary contract was up.  Woo hoo!!  Benefits!!

Because of an excellent in-house hiring process I was able to move from HR into their Legal Department in less than a year.  This was sort of pretend law.  Not that it wasn’t serious business, but the attorneys there acted more as mediators representing in-house insurance clients and consulting private practice lawyers on their behalf.  This meant we wrote a LOT of internal memos briefing clients on the pros and cons of their legal position as well as advising them how to proceed.  I worked there for about five years before moving on to a REAL legal secretarial position in an Attorney General’s office.

The AG’s office was my first introduction to drafting and filing real legal pleadings with the court.  I was a basket case for the entire first month, absolutely certain I was going to fuck up a filing or service or something.  This might not sound like a big deal but here’s an example – remember the big tobacco case that was going on in multiple states awhile back?  One of the AG offices working on the case overlooked a filing deadline and didn’t get their response in on time, which resulted in a HUGE bruhaha and almost got the state tossed out of the case.  I’ll bet heads rolled at the staff level after that snafu.

After five years there I was a little burned out.  My department defended the State and state employees when prison inmates sued.  And inmates sued at the drop of a hat.  Crumble their cake?  Expect to see your name on a civil rights complaint.  Step on their toe?  Unnecessary force.  Take away their pot?  Violating their religious rights.  Seriously – this happened.  An inmate claimed to be Rastafarian and said he was required to use pot in the rituals he had to practice.  Then there were the Native American inmates who complained about not having a sweat lodge.   Not to mention the mothers and wives and girlfriends who called the office to harass us because their little darlings were innocent!!  That got old in a BIG FAT HURRY!  I moved to the environmental department and worked there for a year or so before my new hubby and I moved on.  This time to Washington state, where I started working in an actual private law firm for the first time ever.  Talk about culture shock!

If you’ve ever worked for the government you’ll have some idea of the level of technology and equipment we had at the AG’s office.  They barely had email when I was there!  The fax machines used the thermal paper that came in rolls.  Plus in addition to transcribing dictation, proofreading pleadings and preparing exhibits we did the grunt work ourselves:  copying, filing, court runs, etc.  Working at BIG LAW was a revelation!  I had my own file clerk!  Okay, I shared a file clerk with the other secretaries in my practice group.  There was a photocopy center!  And messengers handled our filings and service.  Plus we had email and internet access on every single computer!  May we have a moment of silence in recognition of the awe this inspired in 1998?  I’m serious – just before we moved to Washington, we’d gotten internet at home for the first time using WebTV which used your television as the monitor. 

Can you say intimidating?!  Wow, I had no idea what a poor excuse for a legal secretary I really was!   Some of the secretaries I was now working with had been on the job for DECADES.  They could take shorthand, type over 100 words per minute, keep the coffee pot full, and file appellate briefs with one hand tied behind their back.  Alright, I made up the last couple.  But they knew their stuff and I was completely overwhelmed, certain someone would suddenly point at me and say I was a big faker.

Thirteen years later I’m still with BIG LAW.  I am at times overwhelmed by my To Do list and filing deadlines and I can freak out when trying to balance all the work for my four attorneys. But I’m still here.  Through thirteen years, two or three layoffs and one merger I’m still here.  That’s got to count for something, right?  If I’ve fooled them for 13 years maybe I am the genuine article.