Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Married Ladies' Guide to Buying a Desk in 25 Steps

Remember when I said that I quit my job to live at 150% of the federal poverty level?  Yeah, I may have exaggerated a little bit.  Oh, the figure is correct – it’s the “living” part that was a bit overgenerous. So now we get to race against the savings to figure out how to cover the shortfall.  Fun!

Of course, for my part, I immediately stopped all unnecessary spending.  Right about that time, the definition of "unnecessary" became wonderfully fluid.  Spending money is just so soothing.  And a desk felt necessary.  

So, from the expert, this is how to buy a desk in 25 steps: 

Step 1: Resolve—you are buying a DESK.  Woo!

Step 2: Spend an hour Googling for the absolute cheapest desk possible.  It is time you learned to live on a micro-budget.  Gasp at prices.  Decide to leave husband out of this particular decision loop.  You don't need help for this particular project.  And by "help" I mean "supervision."  Or "input."  Are those the same?

Step 3: Decide to buy a tabletop and legs separately.  Congratulate yourself on this brilliant bit of frugality.  Hey, Ikea sells that stuff!  Let's be honest, Ikea sells garbage furniture, but it's good for ideas.  It can’t hurt just to go look.  JUST TO LOOK.

Step 4: Bring the truck. 

Step 5: Remember a recent discussion you had about “fake productivity tasks” – and how accomplishing irrelevancies is just an “elevated form of procrastination.”  Ignore the little cartoon thunderhead that starts to hover around you.  It’s going to follow you around, zapping you with uncomfortable little bolts of electricity throughout the day.  Screw that thing: you are buying a DESK!

Step 6: Have a breakfast of Swedish meatbølls and lingønberry juice boxes at the Ikea Café –you need your strength.  Get some for your portable shopping buddy.  Remember she doesn’t like meatbølls.  Bonus: more for you! Get her some macaroni. Wait, macarøni?

So good you'll use alternate character sets! Image (c) dennisandluba via flickr

Step 7: Follow the arrows through the showroom.  Play house in each little display room, and imagine living in a 384 sq. ft. house  Imagine living in a 10,000 sq. ft. house where your living space took up 384 sq. ft. in the corner.  Remember that you do not need to take up skateboarding just because you are awesome at it on the Wii. 

Step 8: Stop at the home office section.  Ask a salesperson to help with the furniture that’s labelled with a tag that says. “Ask a Salesperson For Help.”  Wait.

Step 9: Keep waiting.  Make huffy noises.  Send a bitchy tweet.  Feel like you're accomplishing something!  Swat the storm cloud.

Step 10: Chase down another salesperson, but take your eyes off her for ½ second when shopping buddy takes a wrong turn.  Lose the salesperson.

Step 11: Let shopping buddy play at one of those little toy stations so that she has something to do while you enter a rage-fueled dissociative fugue state.

Step 12: Figure it out.  Head for the warehouse. Yell at a guy who doesn’t look before swinging around with a heavy box, hitting your cart and very nearly wiping out your shopping buddy.  Smirk when, the next time he swings around with the box, he hits his wife.

Step 13: Realize that the desk requires 1,357 pieces to assemble.  Think more about your grandiose theories of gender and behavior.  Do women prefer assembling to building because it creates an empathetic connection with the kit creator?  Do men build from scratch to assert dominance over nature?  Think about implications of empathy-centered personality in light of recent catastrophic career move. 

Step 14: Full-on existential crisis.  Not even kidding. 

Søren Kierkegaard, you magnificent bastard!  I totally get you now!
Step 15: Almost wipe out your shopping buddy while swinging around with a heavy box.  Realize you’re going to harm your child if someone doesn’t rescue you from your ridiculous plan.  To buy furniture.  What did you think I meant?

Step 16: Summon the white knight.  Stay calm when he asks the following: “You want me to drive for over an hour to come help you load the car?  How much are you spending?”  In medieval times, he wouldn’t cop attitude with fair lady.  Although mouthy medieval ladies wouldn't get to go charging off to slay home-office dragons.  Resolve to treat white knight with cool noblesse oblige upon arrival. Wait, who are you kidding? You're serfs now.

Step 17: Settle into a deserted warehouse aisle for the next hour.  Pretend you are in a giant hamster cage. 

Step 18: Race up and down the aisle.  Lose on purpose half the time.  Lose once for real. 

Step 19: You left your purse at the end of the aisle.  Send your buddy to get it. (Mild language warning.)

Step 20: Have a talk about not having wrecks at the store anymore.  Play Fruit Ninja instead.

Step 21: Think about writing a blog post. Wonder why people read you.  Wonder what it would be like if lots of people did.  Wonder why your readers tend to skew libertarian. Wonder if you are too good for fan service. Curse the government. 

Step 22: More Fruit Ninja.

Step 23: Look, it’s white knight!  Brace for impact.  He says "You don't need to worry, everything's going to be okay now."  Realize that everything is going to be okay now.  Feel that.  Congratulate yourself for realizing this.  You are a strong, modern woman!     

Step 24: Checkout.  Load the truck.  Realize you forgot to buy a bookshelf.  Bid farewell to white knight and shopping buddy.  Have a really, really long laugh.  Go back to store. 

Step 25: Spend next six days nursing yourself and shopping buddy back to health, as you've both been wiped out by illness.  Ikea Protip: Do not lay in all the beds. 

And now you have a desk.*

*Assembly not included in this post.  That would take a few thousand steps, a few hundred thousand words, and will likely involve: four rooms, the Christmas tree, an epic marble run, tools, tears, and laundry—so much laundry.  So let’s all be glad that I plan to spare you the gory details to come. 

Ok, here’s a teaser.

Step 1: Resolve—you are building a DESK!  Woo!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brains: A Love Letter.

There are days I feel like a brain in a jar, fastened to electrodes that control my fast-typing fingers, dulled resistors directing the rest of the body.  Now I’m responsible for the care and feeding of another small human, another brain to tend to.  I hope she finds hers a more comfortable fit. 

Feeding a child's brain is difficult when you're only together for a few hours a day.  I think the next few months will be different.  Figurative brain food is handled--our stash of workbooks and readers should get us through the summer.  The actual nutrient-based feeding presents more challenges.  Optimal brain function requires a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, primarily from small species of oily fish.   

So in the fall, when she starts kindergarten, am I supposed to send her off to school with a lunchbox full of little fish? 
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain. Cold-water oceanic fish oils are rich in DHA. Most of the DHA in fish and multi-cellular organisms with access to cold-water oceanic foods originates from photosynthetic and heterotrophic microalgae, and becomes increasingly concentrated in organisms the further they are up the food chain. Text: Wikipedia, Docasahexaenoic acid.  Image: School of Sardines, by Tanaka Juuyoh

Kids don’t grow evenly.  At this age, we can almost see it happen.  She’ll stay the same for a few weeks, and then we’ll start to notice a little more chub in her cheeks when she smiles, a little pooch to her belly.  One week later, her pants are a half-inch too short and she’s back to beanpole.  I think her brain must grow the same way.  Every time I get used to talking to her, she’ll add a new verb tense, or jump a difficulty level on her puzzles, or read a book.  It’s inevitable, but startling when it happens.

I try to think back to when I was her age, to anticipate what she's in for when she starts school.  A good brain works on standardized tests, but did not, for me, lead to an optimal classroom experience.  When I was not much older than my girl is now, a teacher felt that my propensity for daydreaming was inhibiting learning.  The solution was to put my desk in a three-sided refrigerator box so that I could no longer see out the windows to the sky.  It was wonderful: quiet and private, with no one to object if I read a book instead of listening.  The following year, I tested into the new gifted program, which meant that I got to spend good chunks of each day playing Oregon Trail in the computer lab.  It was more fun than class, but not exactly a hothouse for neural development.    

A kid I went to school with had a real problem with his brain.  He had a tumor cut out of it, and you could see the giant scar winding around his head even after his hair grew back.  One year, we somehow ended up in a remedial math together, something my parents didn’t realize until most of the way through the year.  They were not entirely pleased.  The result of their discovery was one infamously intense weekend of studying followed by a sudden transfer to the advanced class.  Although I didn’t have many classes together with him after that, he used to come to my house every few months and ring the bell, or throw rocks, or train the sites of his replica rifle through my window until I came outside.  In all the years we were friends, I was always terrified that his brain would suddenly kill him.  
Several studies report possible anti-cancer effects of n−3 fatty acids (in particular, breast, colon, and prostate cancer).  Omega-3 fatty acids reduced prostate tumor growth, slowed histopathological progression, and increased survival in mice. High levels of DHA (the most abundant n-3 PUFA in erythrocyte membranes) were also associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. A 2011 study, however, found that men with the highest blood percentages of DHA have two-and-a-half-times the risk of developing aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer compared to men with the lowest DHA levels. Text: Wikipedia, Omega-3 Fatty Acid.  Image: 1940 Iceland Postage with Herring

Try to pack a nutritious lunch for an iron-willed preschooler, and you’ll start to draw conclusions about nutrition in institutional learning facilities.  Carbohydrates may not be necessary for health, but they don’t need refrigeration or heating.  Protein is the main challenge: the only meat she will eat is chicken nuggets, hotdogs, and pepperoni.  If you are what you eat, then my child’s brain is 90% cheese and crackers.  For brain-building nutrients, I buy the fancy eggs with Omega-3 fatty acids, laid by chickens who eat better than we do.  The child will not touch, so far, the milk fortified with algae oil.  When she was a baby, we bought her the fancy formula with DHA and ARA, “clinically proved to improve brain and eye function in infants.”  Years later, we got a class action settlement check for $6.  They overstated “proved.” 

It’s not as though its much easier to eat healthy food in an institutional work setting.  On a typical office lunch hour, the attorneys go out to lunch while the secretaries line up to heat their Lean Cuisines.  The Tortilla-Crusted Fish meal is decent, but whoever heats her meal in the microwave next will object.  The favorite place to eat out is a Mexican restaurant in a warehouse by the train tracks.  Their machaca is amazing, but the fish dish tastes worse than it looks, which is actually pretty surprising.  In the end, the easiest way I found to navigate lunch was to run by the drive-thru and eat in my office, with a book, where it was quiet. 
Every day before work, I draw a picture on her lunch bag.  I want her to know, in retrospect, that her bland and repetitive lunches are not the lack of attention or concern.  

Fish and shellfish concentrate mercury in their bodies, often in the form of methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound of mercury. Fish products have been shown to contain varying amounts of heavy metals, particularly mercury and fat-soluble pollutants from water pollution. Species of fish that are long-lived and high on the food chain contain higher concentrations of mercury than others.  The presence of mercury in fish can be a health issue, particularly for young children. Text: Wikipedia, Mercury in Fish. Image: Anchovies, public domain. 

There’s not even anything special about the fish, necessarily. Their little bodies process the oils from green foods--algae--and the fish fill with what’s left behind.  You could do the same if you ate algae all day long.  Your lunch box wouldn’t smell much better though.

You’re not supposed to eat too many of the bigger fish--the tuna and swordfish and salmon--because fish eat lots of other things besides the good green algae.  The bodies of the big fish retain poison.  The smaller fish have shorter lives, so they don’t accumulate toxins in the same degree.  For optimal brain function, you need to feed your body fish that die before they become polluted. 
As I was editing, she asked me what I was doing.  "I'm writing a story," I told her, "about how eating fish will help you grow up healthy."  She lit up.  "I love to eat fish."  It took her getting the box for me to realize what she was talking about.  She is munching her goldfish right now, snuggled in next to me on the couch. 

If we really try, and she still doesn’t want to eat fish, I’ll be okay with it.  If she doesn’t want to read the books, I will try very hard to be okay with that too.  I would rather we enjoy our time together, because fall will be here soon, and then she'll have to navigate her own little waterway alone.  

In the meantime, I worry about the omega-3 content in her nutrient profile so that I can pretend that's all there is to worry about.  I mean, I already know there's no diet for scared, no diet for lonely, and that the real question isn't what I pack in her lunchbox, it is "how am I supposed to let her go at all?"  Nothing I can feed her is going to make the ocean any less cold. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How are people supposed to be women?

I’m still figuring out this whole blogging thing, but one of the things I plan to do here is to document my attempts to change from Ambitious Litigatrix to Suzy Homemaker, to see if that makes for a happier and more satisfying life. To generalize grossly, women lawyers (especially moms) tend to be kind of miserable.  I suspect the reason is because they/we are socialized to want career successes that are incompatible with motherhood. 

I love being a woman. But I also really, really love to win. As a lawyer, I found that I got better results when I scrubbed all traces of sentimentality from my thinking.  Pathos-driven arguments still worked, but generally they were more effective when shaded as an appeal to ego rather than an appeal to empathy.  Male lawyers have more license in this regard—if a woman pulled the famous John Edwards’ “Help me, Mommy” closing she’d be laughed out of court. 

Physically, there’s a little more latitude. A hyperfeminized appearance works better for more aggressive settings. (I do not mean risqué.)  It disconcerts the unprepared. Aside from the distraction factor, it invites men to try intimidation tactics. That’s great: women don’t care the way men do about dominance displays, and efforts by opponents to “win” the interaction can be used later for strategic purposes. 

When your career success is tallied in terms of wins and losses, womanhood becomes a weapon in your arsenal. 

That does not seem healthy.

Also, repressed femininity burbles itself out in odd ways.  

Quick! They're coming.  Fly with me, now!

No. . . no . . .

YOU! You did this, damn you!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Civil Liberties, Celebrities, and Legal Academia

I was in trouble again. The client balked at a huge bill—my bill—for research and drafting on a really tricky indemnity problem. It was a tough one: very little controlling case law in our jurisdiction, and what there was seemed to contradict what we wanted. I read every indemnity case in our jurisdiction. Then 50 or so from our neighboring state, followed by every law review article I could find and cases from other jurisdictions as well.  The issue meant $1.5 million for the client, and it was my first oral argument.  We won.  And when the bill went half paid, half of my billed hours disappeared with it.

From a colleague: “We’re not academics. We’re plumbers.”

That hurt.


I’ve been wanting to write about the profound uselessness of legal academia, but the more I tried to muster up the appropriate sturm und drang, the more I realized that 1) that’s not really fair, and 2) Scott Greenfield writes on this much better than I do.  While attorneys learn their trade on the job, I don't think they can do high-level work without a deep, thorough, and, yes--academic--knowledge of their area of law.  That doesn’t mean other attorneys don’t try to do without.  I’ve met a few.  And I’ve enjoyed leading them down daisy-strewn paths before having my way with them and tidily disposing of the remains.*

Academic resources for lawyers aren’t difficult to find--so long as you’re not looking in legal academia.  The best legal education I’ve gotten in eight years of practice has been through a very few (expensive) organizations with and carefully selected (expensive) seminars.  (Bryan Garner’s seminar is incredible.) I’d say you get what you pay for, but I don't know the extent to which taxpayer money funds tenured professors at public law schools. My return on that has been effectively zero.   

Not that I haven’t tried! Over the years, I’ve had a few encounters with legal academic celebrities. From the practitioner perspective, they’re not all they’ve cracked up to be.  

I.  The Class 
I attended a two-week seminar with Chief Justice Rehnquist in law school.  For 10 minutes after class each day, hizzoner would chat with all comers.  By day three, someone thought to have the Justice autograph his books, and he spent all remaining after-class chat-time servicing the queue. I asked him to sign the one I bought new, “All the Laws But One: Civil Liberties in War Time." He was extremely frail, but very courtly.  His hand must have ached, but he still offered to sign my other books.*  As I recall, I stuttered, blushed, and ran away.  

The lecture consisted of him reading his same set of ancient lecture notes that, rumor had it, he'd read every year. They looked it. All students were under strict orders to not fall asleep during class lest we embarrass the school. It was good that they warned us.

II.  The Conference 
A few years later, I signed up for an academic conference in an area I was practicing in. Judge Posner as the keynote speaker, which I was excited about because, of course, I read his blog. I drove two hours to attend on my own dime. The “conference” turned out to be less of a practical education and more of an academic circle-jerk, each speaker presenting their own micro-area of potential future legal developments.  None expressed much interest in justifying how their little parts fit into the law as a whole.

Posner is a good speaker, but the substance of the speech was just better-presented utopian policy. I asked him a question after, because his policy goals seemed very different than the law I worked with every day.  He gave me a glib and unsatisfying answer before my courage failed and I ran away.

90% of the conference attendees were law students there for extra credit

III.  The Subway 
[Ok, don’t draw any conclusions about legal academia from this last one, or I’ll feel guilty for taking such a cheap shot. I’m including only because 1) legal celebrity and 2) funny.]

Maybe a year into practice, I flew to NY to depose a pediatric cardiologist in his Upper East Side apartment. My office paid for my flight, airport cab, and one night in a hotel. I stayed a self-funded extra day to visit a friend, which meant riding a subway to Bedford-Stuyvesant to sleep on his air mattress. It was the first time I’d ever travelled anywhere alone.

I lost the afternoon in a Manhattan candy store, and then panicked when I realized it was dark.  I didn’t know where the subway was, or what to do, and how long before I’d be stabbed.  I had a street map and a cell phone, but my friend wasn’t answering.  I stood on the street corner leaving increasingly hysterical messages when a nicely-dressed man approached me.  He said he’s heard me on the phone and when I found the subway could I show him too.  

I had him watch my luggage while I hunted for the entrance, which turned out to be a few blocks away. When I returned a half hour later, he was still standing there with my stuff, looking concerned. We walked to the entrance together and then parted ways. I got a ticket from the kiosk and then went looking for a restroom to change out of my suit and stilettos.  
Ten minutes later (having given up the search) and I saw him again.  He couldn’t figure out the ticket kiosk or the ATM swiper and was angry and frustrated that no one would help him.  I talked him down, swiped his ATM card, got him a ticket, and led him to the right platform.  Turns out, we were riding the same train.

We got to talking on the train.  He was apologetic for being so much trouble and he was very grateful that I’d helped him.  Eventually, we got to the “You’re a lawyer?-I’m a lawyer!” part of the conversation.  “Actually, I’m a judge now,” he told me.  When he got off the train, we exchanged business cards.  

He was a Justice of the International Criminal Court at the Hague. 

If I am ever tried for war crimes, I’ll ask if he remembers me.  


*Metaphorically.  What?  Quit looking at me like that.

**Ah, youth.  I sincerely believed at the time that a signed book by William Rehnquist about civil liberties in wartime would be something interesting and valuable, rather than an artifact of supreme irony.

***Ok, here’s a bonus celebrity encounter that also makes me laugh. I’d been to NY once before, as a kid, and my younger brother got in a shoving match with a girl in FAO Schwartz. My mother went to go apologize to the girl’s mother, only it was Christie Brinkley.  She (my mother) was not very happy about that. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I blog because, oh, how I hate it.

Four posts in, and this has already been a great learning experience for me.  The extent to which I hate everything I’ve written so far (typos, structure problems, general up-my-own-assedness) has been instructive with respect to the practical meaning of “fail better.”    

When I was maybe 9 or 10, I decided to go into business for myself making and selling greeting cards door-to-door.  I had seen some “kid artwork” cards that the children’s hospital gave to donors and knew that even though I wasn’t a great artist, I could make a much better product than those sick kids.*  I knew from Girl Scout Cookie-time that I could sell.  I hid out in my room, stealing office supplies from my parents to make my 200-card inventory.  After weeks of careful drawing, folding, and packaging my cards up in pretty ribbons, I was ready to go sell.  That's when I realized to my horror that my cards were ugly, that no one wanted them, and that I was stupid for thinking otherwise for even a minute.**  I saved the cards until I went to law school, and then finally threw them out.  I never even showed my mom. 

So, my current working definition of failing better means that I have to write like hell, and keep hitting publish, if for nothing else than to shove the other posts down the page. 

I am now going to indulge myself by posting a piece of writing that I do love, just for the sheer pleasure of it.  And also because I keep telling myself that it’s prophetic, that I’m not going to feel this sick and terrified—about writing, about life—forever:

     "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know--if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away."
     "I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
     "Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -  and there it was, lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.  And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment.  After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why.  I'd turned into a boy again." 
*Yes, I was that horrible. Even then I realized that I was basically the girl-version of Eustace Scrubb. 

**You know what the worst part is? The cards were---really, truly, honestly--that ugly. Who wants greeting cards made out of graph paper? So while grown-up me wishes I'd tried to sell them or tried again, I'm still a little flabbergasted that I once thought I would make my fortune selling greeting cards made out of graph paper. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I’m Going To Be On TV! Or, Reflections on Mass Murder

I’ve heard better. Today’s Gershwin matinee featured lovely performances of “An American in Paris” and “Porgy & Bess,” but the syncopation in “Rhapsody in Blue” was a bit too extreme. While it emphasized the acrobatic playing of the guest pianist, the notes felt choked. The orchestra merely served the piano, the roughness smoothed out of the brass and winds so much that I almost missed the opening glissando. In fairness, I was still reeling in my seat. I hadn’t expected to perform today, no less in a piece of political theater. 

The conductor held his camera to the audience and explained that three local channels would feature the footage. The audience stood and cheered—“Keep Going, Gabby!” How can it be wrong to wish a sick woman well? 

I can’t help but pity people in pain, whether from mortal wounds or wounded dignity. But empathy alone can’t guide my actions; empathy will not respect logic. I know that because my sorrow for the injured woman has no relation whatsoever to my outraged hurt for past and future victims of her weaponized tragedy. I felt I should be silent, a tiny Anabaptist to refusal to swear political fealty--which is exactly what they asked us to do. Not in the partisan fashion, of course. (Phoenician grayhairs don’t exactly lean blue, but they cheered all the same.*) But this little show was part of the eternal political struggle of free people.

For all our professed hatred of politicians, we reflexively honor them for the power they hold. While “Gabby” filled the hall and your TV, far fewer minutes were spent on the other injured. The reeling city. The dead children. None of them matter, except for their proximity to power. Do you remember the last mass shooting in Tucson?

The gunman entered the building in the late-morning, interrupting the exam. The first shot dropped the professor. Less than a mile away, a loudspeaker interrupted my class to announce we were in lockdown. So soon after September 11, we were all still jumpy. Within minutes, we learned from our networked laptops that there was a massacre in progress at the Nursing College. Soon after, it was over. The shooter dead, three with him. 

I can name the dead and wounded from the Giffords shooting, although it has nothing to do with me and I was hundreds of miles away the morning it happened. I spent a different morning in fear for my life, and I can barely remember it. Do you? Why not?

I’ll post the footage if I find it. I’ll be the dazed-looking one vaguely mouthing with the others. Or if they use the other take, I’ll be the one looking grim. 


*Of course they did. All good people believe that human suffering transcends partisan politics.  Everything transcends partisan politics.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I blew apart my high-paying career to live at 150% of the federal poverty line.

I am a lawyer - a very good one, actually.  And this morning, I had a great career.  This afternoon, I resigned.  At the end of February, I'm done with the full-time practice of law.  And then?  Profit!  Eventually.  The interim step still needs refining. 

Quitting a lucrative career is perhaps not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, if all you consider is my lack of savings and refusal to obtain alternate employment. And the fact that my preschooler requires semi-regular feeding, and my husband currently works at a temporary public-service fellowship* for the princely sum referenced above.  In the meantime, I stay calm by focusing on the fact that this certainly won't be the stupidest thing I ever do in life.  Rooftop unicycling still squeaks out the win (but only because it was a pitched roof).**  I survived that dignity intact, so I'm confident this will work out too.

So here's why I scuttled my career:  
  • Cognitive dissonance of the billable hour.  I love the law, but I hate the business.  Billing services in tenths of hours under rigid billing criteria results in an invoice that implies a false objectivity.  The bills make the work possible, but they are bullshit.
  • Parenting. If you are a mother, and you see your small children only 1-2 hours a day, you are neglecting them.  Even if they are well-cared for during that time, you are neglecting them.  Everyone deserves a mother, and the one my kid has is me. 
  • Appetite for risk. I was initially hired at my firm as a 24 year-old law student, and I stayed for 25% of my life. At some point, you have to decide whether you want a particular work experience to be your “life’s work.”  I decided. 
  • Scalability. Selling time is for indentured servants.  And with the competition for clients keeping rates low, the primary means of becoming “more successful” when your product is your time is to sell more time. Or to lie.  No.
  • Relationship experimentation. I am fascinated by Roissy/Game/PUA theories of male/female behavior, and have been doing experiments to test their hypotheses over the last few years.  I can’t wait to see what what happens to us (inter-/intra-personally and professionally) when we invert our earning status .  Marriage stays interesting when we do interesting things with it.
  • Self-assessment. I’ve led a pretty charmed life, one that includes lots of family and friends who tell me how awesome I am at regular intervals.  I would like to ascertain the extent to which they are blowing smoke up my ass. 

I have no idea what happens next.  This should be interesting!

*I know.  I'll get to that.
**True story, unfortunately.  The unicycle belonged to a yo-yo-er of some renown.