This will only get the lawyer's panties wet, but it's hard not to have felt a bit of schadenfreude at Wachtell's unfortunate guarantee fubar that might have contributed to the quintupling of JP Morgan's bid for Bear Stearns today. Looks like all those speculators who kept Bear Stearns' stock in the $5-6 range last week in anticipation of better offers just made a killing.
Now the question is whether, in their haste to save face, JP Morgan and Wachtell have in fact strived too farto make this renegotiation contractually more of a done deal and a good deal, therefore, re-jeopardizing the deal all over again.
Yesterday was a long day. I left the house at 6:55 am and didn't trudge back in the door until 2:43 am (the next day). Not the longest work day I've ever had, but everyone was sleeping when I left and sleeping when I came back, so that makes me sad. I don't even know if Loo and Kali played in the snow today.
October was an absolutely exhausting month. I billed almost 400 hours last month, which included 5 days (in a row) where I did not go home. I have gigantic bags under my eyes, and there were moments when I was so tired, I thought I was going to puke just from the sheer exhaustion.
This work life is definitely killing my family. Hubs and I are seriously talking about him quitting his job, partly because things are not going as well for him as he would like (there has already been talk that his contract won't be renewed) but mostly because of the strain that having an absentee mother is having on my kids.
Hubs and I are fighting a lot. He tries pretty damn hard to be supportive, but I have a ridiculous job right now that demands me when I'm in the office, when I'm at home, all the time and constantly. I am a slave to my blackberry. He doesn't understand why I don't call home when I'm stuck at the office at 10pm, and all I can say is that the last time I was working in a case room w/ other associates, and took some time out to call home, I literally had someone track me down and give me a reprimand for being unavailable for too long (it was like 10-15 minutes).
My job is psychotic.
I think I've become a little traumatized by this whole experience. I know that other associates at the firm are not billing or working nearly the same hours as I am - I think - either they are trying to make me quit, or they're trying to drive me insane. Well, they're very nearly succeeding. I think I need to stick it out to get my bonus, but then I have some serious retooling to do.
On the good side, I managed to plead my partner to give me two normal days last week (normal, as in leaving the office at 7pm instead of 5am) so that I could (1) celebrate Loo's 3rd birthday and (2) take the girls trick-or-treating. Loo was dressed as a disney princess (I'm not going to mention which one, because I'm too damned embarrassed that she even knows what a disney princess is) and Kal was a duck. Kal has finally started walking after many half-hearted attempts (she's 14months, so that's late-ish, right?). It was cute ushering them from doorstep to doorstep doing the trick or treat thing. We only went down like 3 blocks, but Loo got more candy than she's probably seen in a lifetime and Kalista had no idea what was going on (except that she hated, HATED her duck hat).
As for Loo's birthday party, it was also disney princess themed (ugh, I'm vomiting a little in my mouth just thinking about it), and I ordered about 20 mini-cupcakes (the most amazing flavors - there was oreo cookie topped, red velvet, pistachio, coconut, gourmet hostess, and a ton of others) from a local baker. We had kids from the neighborhood and from one of Loo's playgroups, only 8 kids showed up, but I think a fun time was had by all. Loo got some serious stash for her birthday: her first tricycle and an easel. She's keen on the easel, not so much on the trike. Oh well, so she's an indoorsy type like mommy.
Along with Loo's third birthday seem to come a whole new view of life. There is nothing that is not a negotiation with her anymore. It's really funny interacting with her on this level, but hubs and I know that we have to be careful, because although as one offs, her negotiating prowess is cute, I really don't want to encourage it as a general matter.
She did two things last week, one with me and one with hubs.
She had been really disobeying hubs all night one night, and he was getting pretty darn sick of it. She had two time outs, which did nothing, so finally he warned her that she was asking for it. She looked at him coyly and said, "Are you going to spank me?" When he had no response to her, she asked again, and got no response again. So then she said, "Ok, but not too hard."
Then a few days later, she put on a sleep sack in the middle of the day. It was one of those new fangled sleep sacks that has holes for the foot so that a toddler can still walk around in it. I told her not to put it on, but she was insistent. So then I told her to be careful while wearing it, because the sack was clearly restricting her ability to move and balance properly. Of course, Loo heard nothing of my warnings. She promptly tried to climb up a dining room chair, and promptly fell down and bumped her lip hard against the table. I scooped the crying girl to my room to calm her down, but also to give her a bit of talking to.
Me: "Loo, what did mommy say? Did mommy tell you to be careful when wearing your sleep sack? Look at your feet, see how you can't see your legs? Well, if you want to climb, you have to take off the sleep sack because you don't have legs in the sleep sack and you need your legs to climb. So if you want to wear your sleep sack, then you can't climb up the chair by yourself.
Loo looked at me intently, and looked at her little feet sticking out of the sleep sack holes. Then she stretched the holes of the sack way up her leg and thigh revealing her whole leg. She didn't say a word, just looked at me in a very old, knowing way.
I don't know what I am going to do with that girl.
I love the calm before the storm. Everything is slowly broiling up to a big ol' bruhaha at work but right now, the work is manageable. It should all implode (I'm guessing) towards the end of October. Meanwhile, all of us (un)happy associates are scrambling like mad around here, boarding up the windows, stocking emergency rations, buying the back-up generators. But how much you wanna bet that it will all be for naught. Because if I've learned only one thing in my few months as a lawyer, it is this - that no matter how prepared you think you are, the clients will always fuck it up for you right at the end.
My BFF at work and I have had a long, on-going discussion about the work-life balance and how big law basically doesn't believe in it. But the more I scurry behind the scenes picking up gossip factoids, the more I think, no, it's not the firm, it's my attitude towards the firm. Because even as my partner and senior associates tell me to jump increasingly difficult (and ridiculous) hoops, there are other associates in this very building that are billing a fraction of my hours, and stopping insane requests dead cold in their tracks.
Their secret? (And can I have me some of that?) Some would say that they know how to set boundaries. That life in biglaw is all about abusing those who can't draw a firm line. But some would also say that these are the young'uns who have no sense of shame (or pride). Being Asian, I have both in ridiculously overblown proportions (now, don't get all, she's so racist, on me, I'm just saying that in my particular situation, my sense of shame and pride come from being raised by my very Chinese parents, that it's not some innate personality thing) and that seems to prevent me from drawing the line time and time again. Because I always feel so goddamn responsible for the tasks set upon me, and when they don't come out right, I take it pretty damn personally.
Law absolutely revels in minutiae and perfection. It is absolutely true that the more time you spend doing something in the law, the better it is. Every misplaced comma that is found, every time you use the ideal preposition, is a step toward document nirvana. (Because you wanna know who cares about this shit? Lawyers do.) So when I get requests to stay longer doing this or fixing that, I know that the time spent will make the document, the brief, the memo, better. I know that if I leave, that someone else will have to pick up the slack, or that it'll just have to remain imperfect. And for the life of me, I just cannot do a half-assed job, even when its a job I don't really give two crappers about.
I wonder if being a mom hasn't actually honed my sense of responsibility. I demand a lot more of myself now that I'm a mom. Where I couldn't have cared two figs about what I put into my body when I was just me, I now scour the nutritional guidelines and sweat inordinately about feeding my babies the right thing. Where I once was known to do laundry only when my underwear stash (and I have a LOT of underwear) ran out, I now do it twice a week, religiously. Had I gone to law school and taken the bar right out of college, I would have treated it as I did college - did absolutely nothing until the day or week (if I was feeling particularly motivated) before finals. Instead, I was incredibly self disciplined, treating both as a day-in-day-out 9-to-5 job.
I have never experienced guilt in all its exquisite agony until I became a mom. Now, it just spills into every aspect of my life. I feel guilt in not having enough to give to my children, guilt in not having enough to give to my spouse, guilt in not having enough to give to my job.
What about it, mamas? How do we get off this guilt treadmill?
I used to think that those stories of associates hiding out in their offices late at night bawling their eyes out, not because of vicious bosses but because the stress of their jobs was getting to them, was mere hyperbole. I mean, c'mon, crying? Seriously? Over contracts/briefs/memos?
But no more. I billed (that's billed, not worked, which was at least another 20% on top) almost 140 hours over the last week and a half. That's inhuman. No, it's more than inhuman, it's sadistic. Part of it is my own goddamn fault. I was joking with some folks about the slowdown in the past two months, cheering on the bad economy, and clearly, this was my karmic retribution. But it wasn't just the hours that got to me, it was some of the coincident circumstances. First, last week was K-peas birthday, which, well, I missed. I missed my baby daughter's first birthday. I could kill myself. I did what everyone tells you to do - I warned my partner, and my senior associate that K-peas birthday was that day in advance, and kept warning them as the date drew closer. But on the day of, the client was relentless, sending us a constant stream of work that had to be done the next day. And, unfortunately, the partner was elbow deep in the work too, so she felt entirely justified in demanding my presence (ok, *bitch*, whew, got that out of my system). Under other circumstances, I would have worked from home, but there are certain kinds of work (and this case was one) where it is just not practical to work from home (most of them involving documents that are several hundreds of pages long).
Second, I've been on and off sick for the past month. Part of it is readjusting to the NE climate. Particularly in this transition season when tempertures are as mercurial as the stock market (yeah, f*&^ thou Bernanke). So finally, after not sleeping for several days, my body has had it. Right in the middle of the day, I start getting chest pains, I have a hard time breathing, I'm feverish and achy. I'm thinking, where's the nearest hospital, while my colleagues are doing their very best to pretend that I'm not various unsightly shades of green while trying desperately to catch my breath. When I suggest that I should probably go to the doctor, I'm very curtly informed that it's not going to happen, because the client needs this done now.
I probably should have just thrown in the towel at that moment. But I don't. I just keep working. For two more solid 14-16 hour days. Because I'm a friggin' trooper.
Anyways, so I have pneumonia. Something called walking pneumonia.... yupity yup yup. And the doctor said that it would have been mere bronchitis had I just given it some attention a week ago...
So we're going to Philadelphia for a wedding this weekend and decided to turn it into a family vacation. I'm supposed to be one of the bridesmaids at the wedding and Leeloo is a flower girl. Since we think that Kali is probably too small to be good for a whole wedding, it'll be me and Leeloo at the ceremony and then J and Kali will join us for the reception.
We'll drive down tomorrow, visit with friends on Friday, the wedding is on Saturday, then we'll take a leisurely four day drive back to Boston, stopping in Lancaster, Hershey, and the Catskills. Hopefully, the weather will be better than it was today, which, given how completely crappy it was, shouldn't be hard.
Leeloo is going through a particularly belligerent stage of her terrible twos. It's become extremely hard to handle her. I know that it's a phase and she'll grow out of it, but sometimes I really have to stop myself from just walking away from being her mom. I read so many mommy blogs online, and it seems that when other mommies have misbehaving children, they misbehave in cutesy, "oh isn't he precocious" manner that is calculated just to make you tisk tisk in pure affection. Leeloo is not cute at all when she misbehaves. She gets inconsolably upset at absolutely everything. This morning, it was because I cut her peanut butter sandwich in the wrong way. She fell apart, demanding that I put the sandwich back together, and when I wouldn't she threw the entire sandwich on the floor. She whines whenever she doesn't get her way, and at the same time, when we give in to her demands, she's satisfied for only seconds at a time.
Also, an associate that I've gotten to know at my firm is quitting. She gave notice this week. We thought she was a "lifer" but she's decided to go on to something better (we all think) in San Francisco. I've known her since I was a summer associate at this firm, and she has been a wonderful resource for me here. Needless to say, this is a real loss to the firm.
So I'm chilling at work. It's strange, but the truth is, once I have to stay late at work, I really don't care if I get home at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2.... I figure if I can't put my babies to bed, then I might as well stay late and get work done. Maybe that's just me. Of course, one must not neglect the sleep factor. Extra hours at work = no sleep = grumpy me.
It's been Ok at work since I started (just a bit over a month ago). This is the latest I've been at work, and this sucks. What sucks even more is that, apparently, I have to work this weekend - and not just like one day this weekend, but all friggin three days this weekend. The partners tried to make light of the whole situation "*hehehe* guess we'll have to bring in a grill *hehehe*". So not funny. I think it is supposed to be beautiful this weekend, but I wouldn't know, feel like I haven't seen a newspaper, or any news for that matter, since this whole work thing started. Hubby and I are still trying to figure out a routine of dealing with our job schedules and the nanny's schedule.
The nanny is working out well. But we knew she would, since we were basically using her on a "trial basis" when I was studying for the bar. Which meant that I was always around for the first 2 months that she worked for us, and so the kiddies never felt like we were just dumping them with some stranger, and I got to know the nanny as a person. She has a daughter of her own, in college. But she leaves at 6, which means that hubby has to be home at 6, since he works much closer to home, and I can barely make it home by 7, much less 6. Can we say that as much as he professes his desire to "share" in the childrearing, he is not particularly thrilled with this turn of events. Given that he's gonna have the kiddies (hmm... kidsters? kiplings? kidkins?) all weekend long, I am going to guess that he's gonna be one bad-ass, unhappy papa by the end. Maybe we have get my mom to come for the weekend (hmm....).
I've been thinking about the bar recently because I've actually seen a couple of people on the T with their wickedly heavy BarBri material. I remember shlepping that stuff home *yikes*. I thought to myself, welcome to a new life of killing trees for profit. I've got to get out of this profession before I think about this particular facet too deeply. (On the other hand, another hippy dippy lawyer friend of mine reminded me that because we don't contribute in any real way to society, we also don't do things like: pollute the air, pollute the waters, create poor labor conditions (nb: must think about that one), contaminate the land with poisonous chemicals, &c... Anyone ever do a foot-print analysis on lawyers? Curious lawyers want to know!) Anyways, I think I was lucky to have been able to take the bar in February for a myriad of reasons. (1) Much much fewer people take the bar in February than in July --> fewer people at BarBri --> less stressful environment. (2) The weather sucks in February, so why not study? (3) If you fail in February, the fail rates are much worse, so maybe you don't feel like you're the only schmuck that failed (this is not a dig at those who failed - this is actually what was going through my head when I left the test after taking it.)
The worse thing I remember about taking the bar this February is that we had a really really bad sleet storm the night before the 2nd test day, and it meant that there was ice everywhere that morning. I was walking to the T, trying to remember the Mass Tort Claim Act (do I even have that right? I've already forgotten everything), and !WHAM! I literally had my feet swept out from under me. I was on my butt, with my foot in a puddle of slop. What a wonderful way to take the bar, with a sore ass and wet feet. Thinking about the misery that is the Bar, it seems almost fitting.
Anyways, for those who are about to embark on the dreaded journey, I salute you.