Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Apathy

As the economic apocalypse looms, and the job market is quickly closing off to even those at the top of our class with big firm offers being rescinded, I find myself oddly apathetic and detached from the state of affairs. It's incredibly strange, because normally this is *exactly* the sort of thing that would have me developing ulcers. While I'm apathetic and easy-going about almost everything else in life, job security is the one I'm uptight about.

Yet... I can't make myself care. I can't figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing yet. Maybe it's because the prospect of working for some giant asshole for $40,000 a year (or less) while working 60 hours a week, just reinforces a secret desire for unemployment.

Of course, I'm still concerned. I will do whatever's necessary to find a job, if there are any out there. But I'm not losing sleep over it in the meantime. Maybe I'm getting to the point where I just trust myself enough to know I'm resourceful and will figure something out. And actually feeling confident in my ability to practice [very basic areas of law] on my own if it comes to that.

My mother-in-law is convinced she can get me something at their Army base. Two hours away. I don't want to live in BFE, especially not in this state. (Remember my previous misadventures at the in-laws? Ugh, and the terrain isn't even the worst thing about the area.) Husband absolutely will never move back there. I told her I'd be willing to do contract work for awhile and commute, but we're staying here. (Or at least going someplace better.) But at least it's something. Otherwise, I'll wait tables. Need a will with your bourbon and coke? I gotcha covered!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey

We had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. Husband's parents came in, my mom was there, Cora's godfather, and a friend from graduate school who couldn't go home this weekend because he has his comprehensive exam on Monday. We've had Thanksgiving at our home since we moved in together in 2003. It's always been important to us to invite people over who don't have other plans, we almost always have at least one person who isn't a family member, like a classmate, colleague or friend. Particularly to me, because until we started dating, I was one of those people. My family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving (they're all in a crazy cult that doesn't celebrate holidays), so I was always grateful when a friend would invite me to have Thanksgiving with their family. So, I don't think Thanksgiving is so much about family as it is about just coming together with others and sharing an exceptional meal. And a significant amount of alcohol. My friend had to crash on our couch, because my husband kept refilling his glass of scotch.

Today, I slept in (yay!) while Husband got up with Cora. Then Oma took Cora shopping and bought her a ton of new clothes and shoes, and party decorations (we're celebrating Cora's birthday a week early, since Husband's parents are in town). Now Oma's changing Cora's diaper and putting on one of her new outfits. Then they're taking us out for sushi. Double yay!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Being public

Ooh, scary, I'm putting myself out there as, like, a real person with an actual identity. Using my real name, I've cross-posted over at Ms. JD.

But I'm still going to remain anonymous on here, even though I think the vast majority of you know my real name and what school I attend. I don't really care if any prospective employer or whatever reads this blog. I'd just rather it not be the *first* thing that pops up in a google search.

"ProtoAttorney: Breeder. Gets crappy grades. Fangirl with an unhealthy obsession with The X-Files and Doctor Who. Overweight gym bunny. Blogs during class." I can hear the shredders eating my resume as we speak... hmmm... okay, maybe I care after all...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bitching and mooting

I am currently a very unhappy law student. In fact, I'm pretty damn angry. I'm angry that I made the wrong decision in which law school to attend. Angry that my efforts to make this law school a better institution are met with indifference and even hostility. Angry that my problems are met with indifference. Angry that I've incurred a significant amount of debt for a degree that I honestly feel I could have completed by correspondence course with greater success.

I had this big plan when I applied to law school. I wanted to do work in international law. I honestly didn't know what form that might take. I figured I'd find out what I liked while in law school. I applied to four schools, and had two more applications ready as a last resort (two lower-ranked schools I knew I could get into easily). I was accepted at three of the schools, and wait-listed at one. The four schools I applied to had international law programs. Or so they said. Three of those schools seem to have international law programs. One of those most definitely does not. Guess which one I chose?

Granted, I'm glad I went to this university because of my graduate program. That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being a state school, the expense was minimal, and what I received from the program is worth ten times the law school tuition I paid. However, I should have gotten my master's and then gotten the hell out and gone to law school somewhere else. Somewhere that isn't more concerned with using every penny to construct a new building that won't even break ground until after we graduate. Somewhere that currently has a real dean. Somewhere that doesn't have a record number of crappy adjuncts teaching courses next semester and record number of faculty on sabbatical (probably because they're trying to secure new gigs). I had a half-way decent undergraduate gpa, and a fairly good LSAT score. I had offers of scholarship from other schools. I had a significant scholarship offer from a school in Chicago, which would have made my tuition cheaper than what it is currently. I obviously make extremely bad choices. I have no doubt I would have gotten my money's worth from the other schools, even the two that would have cost more. The only thing I'm getting out of my tuition here is a diploma.

All of these feelings are nothing new. I quickly realized my mistake 1L year. Even so, I've done my best to be involved and try to fight for changes. But today I'm extremely upset by the acting dean's complete dismissal of our efforts to compete in Vienna. There are eight of us working on this moot. Three of us are willing to pay our own way to Vienna to compete. We've put in a lot of time working on the first brief, and the time we'll put in to write the second brief and prepare for oral arguments will be significant. She flat out told me she thinks this is a frivolous activity and it's nothing more than our desire to take a European vacation, which completely pissed me off. We aren't asking for money from the law school (heaven forbid we take money away from the new building we'll never get to use). We just want to be able to raise the money ourselves. She told us we aren't allowed to do it, because that would be money that those lawyers/law firms would otherwise give to the law school (even if they don't give money to the law school in the first place!), and we aren't even allowed to raise money from local businesses that aren't law firms. Which is complete bullshit.

This competition might not be the most important thing in the world, but it is important, and I'm angry at such an incredible opportunity, and the hard work of our team, being so quickly dismissed. It's important because it's *something* international, it's *something* concerning alternate dispute resolution, which are two programs that our school is completely lacking. Only 16 students each year get to take a course in ADR, and there have only been three international law courses offered over the past two years. After concentrating on diplomacy and conflict resolution in my master's program, in the context of international organizations, I was so excited to translate that into legal work. Which most certainly didn't happen here.

However, the experience we will gain by participating in this moot and the contacts we will make will be worthwhile, and certainly something we will not get from our school otherwise. And it's tough work, I know it is. The teams spend 12 to 15 hours a day preparing for the competitions. We'll be spending a lot of time preparing before we go. The only "vacation" time we get will be once we're out of the competition, and frankly, I don't intend on getting knocked out so easily. Not to mention that I pointed out if this were just about a vacation, I'd wait until the semester is over so I could go with my husband and child (and not the dude on my team, who I will probably spend most of the time bickering with).

Anyway, if my law school thinks they'll ever get another penny from me after next semester, they're bloody insane. I will gladly make large contributions to my graduate program. I would even make donations to my undergraduate program (directly to the department, not to the school itself). But the law school can suck it. I'll even make donations to student organizations, and will send a letter accompanying it every year reiterating that the law school itself can go suck it.

So, we're left with footing a 600 Euro registration fee ourselves. Any creative fundraising ideas? I'm going to the gym now to punch and kick things. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Follow-Up Question

This one will need to be answered by those of you who already had children when you entered law school. (You know who you are!)

A fellow mom/future MILP [with a school-age child] asks us:

How has spending so much of yourself on school affected your relationship with your child?

I'll start with my thoughts, even though my kid came during law school, so I have no real reference point for change.

Law school is entirely possible to get through without it consuming your life if you manage your time well, and as a parent, you probably already do that. As your child is school-age, I think it would be easier in some ways and more difficult in others. For me, my child is pretty high-maintenance at this point. She can't walk, feed herself, go to the bathroom herself. She constantly demands attention, and even when she doesn't, she's seriously loud as hell. But on the other hand, she doesn't really care that I'm not there all the time. She really likes her dad, she likes her Grandma, she likes her teachers, and she has several "uncles" and "aunties" she can spend quality time with. And she never whines about how I'm neglecting her needs, and hasn't started to keep a journal of my poor parenting skills to someday publish (yet). She doesn't require being transported to soccer practice or ballet or friends' houses, and I have yet to transport any of her little friends. (At this point, she's not really a big fan of any of her little friends, because that's someone else trying to chew on her toys.) So, of course there are big challenges for raising older children while in law school. But I've seen my classmates do it, with great success. One gal's daughter started kindergarten the year we started 1L. She brings her to the law library and they do homework together.

There are definitely going to be sacrifices. If you're coming from being a stay-at-home mom that goes to all the PTA meetings, makes cupcakes for the kids, goes on all the field trips and directs the school plays, then yeah, it's going to be a big adjustment for everyone. You can still do some of that stuff, but you won't have nearly as much time! But honestly, if you've been working 40 hours a week, it won't be that much of a lifestyle change. There will be times (finals, and the couples weeks before), where life will be hell, but the rest of the time if you stick to a schedule and make good use of your time, it won't be that drastic.

I also think there's a lot to be said for quality versus quantity of time. If you only have two hours with your kid in the evenings, instead of four, maybe you don't watch TV or check your email, or make any phone calls. Maybe you say, hey, this is family time, and we will spend it together.

I think if it's something you really want, then the sacrifices are worth it. Ultimately, while your child might have some trouble adjusting to you not being there as much, or eating TV dinners instead of a home-cooked meal, it won't be detrimental to your relationship. She will eventually look to you as a role model, as someone who showed her that she can be whatever she wants to be. And you'll still be there for the important stuff. You can still tuck her into bed, take her to and from school if you want. Help her with her homework, read her books at bedtime, and attend soccer games and ballet recitals. 1L year for us was only 4 classes a semester, 13 hours of class time a week. The rest of the time was studying. The further you get into law school, the more efficient you get at studying (and more apathetic, so then you stop studying). Some people study best on campus, but personally, I have to get the hell out of the law school to get anything done, the place drives me crazy. So I come home, make myself a cup of tea, plant myself on the couch and do my homework while watching the episode of General Hospital that I DVR'd. Most of which happens after a certain little bunny is tucked into bed.

So, I'll let the other MILPs chime in now, and actually answer the question! I'm going to try to finish my soup, I'm at Panera relaxing until it's time to pick up Cora from daycare. (Still no appetite, ugh.)

Ask a MILS

A new reader asks:

I just found your blog after googling "taking the bar exam while pregnant." I'm not in law school, but I am in the dead middle of a PhD. What is your take on the possibility of being pregnant during a major exam (in my case my "orals"). Terrible idea? Disaster? Not as bad as it sounds?

Just reading these comments on your blog makes me feel better about the prospect of pregnancy - so nice to see a bunch of women thinking about families and careers happening at the same time!


Congratulations on being a PhD candidate and not a law student! You obviously make better life decisions than I do. (I'm only half-kidding.) But I certainly understand the hard work involved in pursuing advanced degrees, in both graduate school and law school. To choose to become pregnant during such a time takes a special kind of determination, a special kind of insanity, and keeping a balance between the two.

The most important thing to realize is that your pregnancy could be a breeze, or it could be the most horrific experience of your life and you opt for immediate sterilization after it's over. Mine was somewhere in the middle, I think, although there was certainly emotional turmoil aplenty. Even the healthiest, lowest-risk women can have bad pregnancies, whether it's "morning" sickness the entire pregnancy, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or a random congenital defect in the fetus that requires prenatal surgical intervention and modified bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy, and results in delivering four weeks early right in the middle of final exams. Yeah, sometimes things just don't work out like you plan.

Also, during the later stages of pregnancy, I ended up with random baby parts shoved into my lungs. (I believe they were feet. Anyway.) I was incapable of standing up and speaking in front of a group of people without literally gasping for air from about seven months on. So, the timing of your pregnancy should also be a concern. You will likely feel your best between 16 weeks and 26 weeks. After that, you will likely feel like a beached whale. But again, every pregnancy is different, so you might feel like ass the whole pregnancy, or be one of those annoying people who "glows," still runs 5 miles every day up to delivery and leaves the hospital in their skinny jeans. You just never know. I certainly could have completed my oral exams for my master's degree during the latter stages of my pregnancy, but it would not have been good. On the other hand, I'm sure my program would have taken my physical condition into consideration, and it wouldn't have made a difference.

It's important to have flexibility and a back-up plan. If the pregnancy goes awry, can you postpone your exams? If the answer is no, I wouldn't take the chance. Do you have a job lined up that depends on you completing your degree requirements by a certain date? Yes? I wouldn't risk it. But what I've found with graduate programs (at least mine), and even with the law school, is that they will work with you if there are circumstances beyond your control. Personally, I do not plan to be pregnant during the bar exam. I'm a huge slacker as it is, and I don't need anymore distractions than I already have to study for that nightmare. I also can't afford to wait six months to take it on the next date if something were to happen. So, we're waiting awhile for the next kid. And personally I'm in no hurry to be pregnant ever again.

Overall though, I think having a baby while still completing your degree is a better alternative than doing it as you're just starting out in your profession. The legal profession, in particular, is not pregnant-woman friendly. It can be outright hostile, in fact. I've seen several women pushed out of jobs after having a baby. (Oh wait, I was one of them.) Especially in this time of recession, places will cut, or at least marginalize, the weakest link. And in the legal profession, that's going to be the lawyer who didn't bill for two months because she was on maternity leave. It's wrong, sexist, discriminatory, and even illegal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still happen. And it happens frequently.

Also, depending on your situation, you might have the flexibility to take more time off or spend more time with your child. Although I didn't get much of a "maternity leave" after my daughter was born, I was able to spend a lot more time with her than I would have if I'd been working instead. The timing was really good.

So, yeah, it's definitely possible, and honestly, it's very unlikely to be disasterous. I'm one of those "worst-case scenario" survival people who has to have a back-up plan for everything that could possibly go wrong, so that's what I recommend doing before you make a decision. Most likely though, you'll go through the pregnancy with no hiccups, take your exams, and at the end you'll have a baby and a PhD. Which makes you totally awesome.

Hope this helps! I'm happy to answer any other questions!

***

In other news, I have recovered (mostly) from The Plague. Husband has since contracted it, and spent all last night violently ill. I was nice and got up extra early this morning to take Cora to daycare so he wouldn't have to.

If anyone has any tips on learning BA over the next three weeks, I would certainly appreciate it. I'm about 1/3 of the way through outlining for the class, still don't know anything, and wonder if I should even be wasting time outlining for a class that I'm guaranteed to get a bad grade in regardless. Perhaps I should be spending more time working on my immigration paper, or outlining for Con Law, in hopes of getting a better grade in there. Meh.

My lit skills trial is coming up. We're going up against one chick who's on our school's trial team and she's really good. This is something I'm pretty competitive in, so we're working hard on it. Also, we're hoping to finish up our memo for the international moot court competition this week so we have time to do a few revisions. It's due the first week of December.

Busy busy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend FAIL

I feel like ass. I have finally stopped vomiting (hurray!), so that's a bonus. I made a nice romantic dinner last night for Husband and I, which I promptly threw up an hour later, and proceeded to continue to experience in reverse all night and today. (Eggplant Parmesan is now completely ruined for me.) Romantic evening FAIL! I apparently caught a stomach bug that went around daycare. Cora has it too, but she isn't vomiting, fortunately.

I asked Husband if he would call in sick to work tonight, but he didn't think it was necessary and asked my mom to come over instead. Except she got stuck at work and was four hours late getting here. So while he was asleep, I got to alternate between dry heaving and entertaining an extremely pissed off baby. He went to work leaving me sick with a sick and pissed off baby, before which he accidentally deleted the episode of The Office I was watching, and left the baby gate open on the top of the stairs (fortunately my Spidey Sense knew the kid was up to no good, since she had snuck off and was being quiet, and caught her before she had the chance to take a header down the stairs). Ugh. Husband FAIL.

My head is killing me, as is my back (probably from spending half the night on the bathroom floor praying to the porcelain goddess). My mother finally got here about a half hour before Cora usually goes to bed (yeah, thanks for all the help), after continually telling me she'll be here "soon" since 3pm. (I could have called someone else to help me out if I'd known she wasn't ever going to show!) I made her take the baby with her so I can die in peace, and not change any explosive diapers in the middle of the night.

So, I decided to take a whining break and make a call for pity from the blogosphere. (No pity to be found from my classmates, they'll be sorry when I go lick all of their locker handles, mwahahahahaha!) Anyway, I've emailed the office and the profs, now I'm going to bed to suffer alone.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Babies, law and nerdom

Yes, it's official. My child believes she's a dog. She:

- carries toys around in her mouth, while walking on all fours
- thinks dog food is tasty
- drools a lot
- licks the dog
- eats food off the floor
- thinks the dog is much more awesome than her parents

Seriously, she loves the dog. I'm concerned she'll stop uttering coherent syllables and start barking instead. Bernie, of course, thinks the kid is awesome. She "pets her" (as in, pulls on her ears and grabs her face parts), climbs on top of her, and drops a ton of food on the floor. This last one, the dog especially enjoys. I think this is why she is happy to share her dog food with Cora. Sigh.










So, that's what's going on here. I got a reasonably good grade on my first assignment for Immigration, so now the pressure's on even more to do well on the big paper (the one I previously discussed). I like having good grades. It doesn't happen very often! My Non-Human DNA evidence paper? Not coming along at all. Total writer's block. Sucks. And we're up against the deadline for the first memorandum for the int'l moot court competition. That sucks too.

Also, I'm currently bitter against law school because there is a 1000-page book on the history of American foreign policy that I desperately want to read, just published, by my favorite history scholar. (Yes, I had a total nerdgasm over it. Yes, I'm truly an unbalanced individual.) I doubt I'll get to read it until after the bar exam. Over Christmas I've got the second memo to work on for the international moot court thingy. Next semester's reading load is going to totally suck, even though I have fewer actual classes.

I did get the internship (unpaid) with the local prosecutor's office, so I'll be getting my limited practice license and making the city safer. Yay! I don't know if I'll like criminal prosecution, but I definitely like the idea of getting some actual court experience. I'll get to argue motions and participate in trials. Should be fun. The question is whether I'll be able to keep my current job. I only need to work 8 hours each week at the prosecutor's office, so I have the time (if they'll let me, which I think they will). It's more of a question of whether I want to, or if I want to wait tables instead. I'd make more money waiting tables. However, it would suck. On the other hand, it would be some mindless work, whereas my brain is currently in overload. Even though I could keep my current job over the summer until I found something permanent, I'd probably end up waiting tables anyway, because it won't be enough money to pay the bills since it's part time. Oh the choices! I desperately need to start networking and bugging people about jobs. Not that there are any jobs. At this point I'll take insurance defense and like it. (Okay, so maybe not like it. But I'll take it.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Church and State

The protests in California to Proposition 8 have specifically targeted the Mormon church for its role in the campaign. The conflict has taken a dangerous “gay vs. religion” turn.

I have little sympathy for the Mormon church itself. Frankly, if you put your church in the middle of a highly emotional political conflict, on a side that seeks to deprive your fellow citizens of their civil rights, and you end up with angry protesters outside of your church… good. But I do feel bad for the Mormons who weren’t involved and just want to practice their religion and not be harassed by protesters -- the Mormons who are tolerant, and I have many Mormon friends who are. Who, even if they believe homosexuality is a sin, think that it isn’t their place to make decisions for other people and decide what rights they should get under a secular government. But I hope these protests will cause a rumble within the church of "See what happens when you butt into politics?!"

The actions of the church in calling upon its members to rally to this cause, is despicable. At a time of economic distress, at a time when unemployment has reached its highest levels in 14 years, a church that actively encourages its members to have as many children as possible wants its members to donate to a cause depriving people of their civil rights. Not helping its members who might be struggling in these tough times, not doing good in the world, but just spreading bigotry. Shame on them. But I don’t think the criticism should be just targeted at the Mormons, even if they were the most active in this campaign. Also, shame on the evangelical Bible thumpers, and other religions rallying to this terrible cause. But mostly shame on the Catholics.

The Catholic Church’s official stance on homosexuality and gay marriage is no different than the rest. However, individual parishes, and priests, have a great deal of autonomy when it comes to what they actually do. No, they won’t perform any gay marriages, but a large number of parishes have opened their arms to gay parishioners. In San Francisco, a significant portion of the parishioners is gay. Which I think is wonderful. I’m glad that so many priests in my religion have chosen to welcome gay members and understand that God loves them just as much as straight people. However, there is something especially wrong about a Church that welcomes a group of people to come worship, partake of the Eucharist, and in particular, give the Church money, and then support an effort to strip them of rights under secular laws. At least the Mormons aren’t taking money from gay people and then discriminating against them. (They’re just discriminating against them.) I just think it hurts a little more when it comes from your own religion.

Granted, it probably wasn’t the more tolerant parishes that were heavily involved in this effort. The Knights of Columbus, a group that donates considerably to charity but is mostly involved in political activism, had the biggest hand in this. It’s shameful and a complete disgrace that an organization that is supposed to be centered on “charity” chooses to spend its valuable resources on campaigns of discrimination.

Anyway, this issue isn’t about religion at all. Some people are just rallying behind it as an excuse to support discrimination and invoke God to do it. How often has religion been invoked when arguing why something horrible is justified? Slavery? Oppression against women? War? But it isn’t the time to blame religion. It's a time to separate religion from this conflict and not allow people to hide behind their Bibles (or Book of Mormon) as a justification for their bigotry.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Watching History Unfold

I have never been so proud to be an American citizen as I was last night. Americans came out in record numbers and cast their votes for our first black president. To watch the scenes on the news across the world, people celebrating in the streets, it was a wonderful thing. When was the last time that the world celebrated (that wasn't a scheduled holiday or a sporting event)? I'm not usually a big crier, but I was definitely all choked up last night.

I'm honored to have had even such a small part in volunteering for his campaign. While I voted for Gore in 2000, and Kerry in 2004, I didn't really believe in either man. I supported their positions, and I rather like Gore (moreso now that he has done great things in environmental awareness), but I didn't believe either man had the potential to change the world. I really believe Obama can change the world. Maybe he won't; maybe he'll fail like all the others. (Although I doubt he could be as much of a massive fuck-up as Dubya, so that's something at least.) But he has the potential to do great things, and I hope he will have the wisdom and the ability to seize the incredible opportunity that is before him. The dialog has been about the difficulties that are ahead, and that's painfully true. He has more problems to face than could be bullet-point listed in a 10-page memo. But he has momentum on his side, and I hope he'll charge through his first days in office in such an incredible way that history barely remembers FDR's first 100 days. Right now, he's made history for being the first black president. I hope he'll make history for being one of our greatest presidents.

I'm incredibly excited that our reputation in the world has improved just for electing Obama. (I have a lot of American friends who work, or serve, abroad. Their stories are similar.) The world's leaders are scrambling for the chance to work with him, friend and foe. His popularity won't solve all our problems, but I really believe that diplomacy is strengthened when our leader has the respect of the rest of the world. I hope he uses that advantage wisely. He has excellent judgment in foreign relations, that's the basis of his appeal for me. His presidency makes me want to sign up for the foreign service exam right now!

Anyway, I'm incredibly disappointed and disgusted that California voters passed the gay marriage ban. Bigotry prevails again (as it did in a few other states -- an especially big "fuck you" goes to Arkansas voters). However, there is a silver lining. The race was close, incredibly close. Just eight years ago, California had banned gay marriage by large margins. Times are changing. There's a long road ahead, but we will arrive at equality for our gay citizens. I have faith. It wasn't that long ago that it was illegal for people of different races to marry. I have faith that by the time Cora is an adult, if she wants to marry a woman, she will have that legal right. Even in our state. Although probably not in Alaska. (Another "fuck you" goes to Alaska for possibly re-electing a convicted felon to Congress. Apparently the only vote Ted Stevens lost after his conviction was his own.)

And someday I will tell her about how she got two "I Voted" stickers on the day Barack Obama was elected president. How her father stood in line with her for an hour and a half to vote for Obama, when she got her first sticker. And how, later that day, when I stood in line with her for only 45 minutes to vote, she peeled off and ate her "I Voted" sticker. (So we got her a new one.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

From debate to insult

I'll be glad when the election season is over, mainly because I'm tired of reading incredibly offensive email forwards and such written by classmates, family members, etc.

I love a good debate, and I usually take it good-naturedly. I think two people who are friends (or spouses!) can be on opposite sides of an issue and debate it respectfully. However, what pisses me off is when other people resort to disparaging comments to make their points.

My soapbox today has been the issue of taxes, and who should pay more.
I don't believe "trickle down" economics has been effective the past eight years. We're in a difficult economic time and a tax cut for the middle class could really help ease the pain of rising costs. Although I don't necessarily feel that the rich should pay higher taxes, a small tax increase for those making over $250,000 per year will not break the bank, and I feel very little sympathy for anyone making that much money crying that it will. Even so, I respect the other side's point of view. My expertise is not in economics, but I do understand the idea that higher tax burdens on the wealthy does stifle economic growth.

But my problem isn't the issue itself, it's the way it's being argued. The dialog on that issue has moved from the merits of fiscal conservatism in strengthening our economic system to, "Well, I worked hard, you didn't, why should I give you a handout?" If I see one more asshole comment from someone I know about how "lazy people" shouldn't get tax cuts, I'm going to block them.

Sending out messages that disparage Americans who work hard for little payoff, in order to support your view that the wealthy should get taxcuts: not cool. You know, I want to make lots of money so I can take lavish vacations and eat expensive meals (and drink expensive alcohol). I want my kids to go to whatever college they want, with no worry about how much it costs. But if I'm lucky enough that my hard work pays off and I make a lot of money someday, I promise, I won't act like those of you in jobs that don't have high earning potential don't work hard. I have friends in the non-profit sector, and who work in government, that barely make a living wage, and they work their asses off. Their salaries are so low, that even in their early 30's, they live like they're still in college. They entered those careers because they believe in the work, and they fill important roles. So it makes me incredibly angry when the notion of giving them tax cuts is described as "handouts" and "charity" and "undeserved."

It's this whole tone throughout this campaign that there are two types of Americans: rich and poor. Hard-working and lazy. Pro-America and Anti-America. Real Americans and, what, Fake Americans? It's insane, and it's asinine, and if McCain and Palin win today, it's four more years of this crap.

Anyway, so I'm tired of certain crazy wingnuts sending out these messages, as according to the messages coming from the McCain campaign. (There's one person in particular I absolutely cannot stand on a personal level. Several of my law school friends are far-right Republicans, and we get along just fine. But there's one person in particular I would not call a friend that I just find completely repulsive. It isn't the political positions, it's the way they're presented. And the overall nasty attitude, but that's beside the point.)

So here's hoping that divisive, nasty, slimeball tactics aren't rewarded today. I haven't gone to vote yet, I'm going this afternoon and taking Cora to cast our second vote for Barack Obama this year. Hoping we'll have a chance to vote for him a third time in 2012.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Choices

I'm breaking a personal policy of "Don't bait the trolls!" to write this entry. In a recent post, Lag Liv published an anonymous comment she received, criticizing her and her life choices. Let’s just start off saying my personal reaction to this woman’s statements included a lot of obscenities.

LL stated in her blog, and in private conversations, that she doesn’t care about these criticisms. She’s confident she is making the right choices for her and her family, and they are all happy and thriving. So, what anonymous people on the internet think, and comment, about her choices is completely irrelevant to her. However, it's extremely relevant in a larger sense. Anonymous idiotic opinions might not matter to us personally, but they do contribute to the dialog involving families and, in particular, working mothers. I classify these comments as idiotic, because when you make comments that not only disparage someone’s choices but also personally insult them, that isn’t intelligent dialog on any issue: it’s just ignorance.

The fact remains that different people choose different ways of living their lives. Whether you are a single mom, or a mom in a committed relationship with a partner to help raise the child; a stay-at-home mom or a working mom; or maybe you’re not even a mom, maybe you’re a dad instead: the fact remains that we are all parents who struggle every day to do what’s best for our children, for our families and for ourselves. There are serious social, legal and economic concerns for all of us depending on our different situations and choices, and any dialog that concentrates on “my way is best, your way is selfish/wrong” is not only offensive, but counterproductive.

If you are sitting at home on your computer, anonymously commenting that a woman is selfish and immature for having a child and still pursuing an education and a career, you are single-handedly contributing to the problems that face mothers in the workforce: reinforcing a culture that still views women in the workforce as outsiders who don’t belong. You are saying it doesn’t matter that women don’t get paid as much as men, or that pregnant women get pushed out of jobs, or that mothers get marginalized in the workforce. You are saying that women shouldn’t be in the workforce in the first place if they want to become mothers (and an overwhelming percentage of women in the workforce become mothers at some point in their lives). You are saying that fathers are irrelevant to the care of children, because they have a spouse at home, and it marginalizes their involvement in childrearing. You sabotage the efforts of decades of feminism and the rights of mothers (and fathers) in the workforce.

Keep in mind that (I know this is shocking) there are those of us who actually don’t believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the only way, or even the best way, to raise our children. I think what makes Mom happy is beneficial for the whole family, and if that means pursuing a career and dividing parental responsibility with the other spouse (if there is one), and utilizing professional childcare workers (or family members) when necessary, then that’s what’s best for them. Children don't suffer irreparable harm because Mom isn't there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are situations where always having a parent home with the child might be necessary, but that also does not have to be the mother.

However, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally don’t go trolling blogs of stay-at-home-moms and anonymously comment how they’re all selfish and immature because they didn’t make the same choices I have made. That would be ridiculous. Further, it would contribute to the problems that face stay-at-home-moms, such as being undervalued by society, facing poverty should they divorce and marginalization in the workforce when they attempt to return. If I’m using language that degrades the choices of a certain group of women, I’m in effect limiting the choices of all women.

This “mommy war” nonsense hurts all parents. Instead of bickering about whose way is best, and judging others for their decisions, concentrate the dialog on bettering the situations for all parents. So, I beseech you, Anonymous Internet Troll, instead of crawling up on your cross and bragging about your “sacrifice” of being a stay-at-home mom, and berating those who make other choices, I would suggest you ask yourself how you can pursue positive change for families of all kinds. While you view staying at home with your children as a “sacrifice,” there are women who would love to stay home with their children but can’t because of financial reasons. And there are women who would prefer to work, but stay home with their children because they can’t earn enough of a living to pay for daycare, and have put their careers on hold to do so. Those are the women who make sacrifices, because in order to support their families they have to make choices they wouldn't otherwise make. If you choose to stay home because you want to stay home, you haven’t made a sacrifice at all: you’re doing exactly what you want to do. So, why don’t we work on making sure that other parents can have these same choices, and that our choices are honored and supported by society, rather than disparaged?

Women, especially mothers, have a hard enough time without being attacked by other women. Even by Anonymous Internet Trolls.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween

I have a rough draft due tomorrow of my "spore" seminar paper, so I'm just going to post these pictures and not blog anymore tonight, even though I have lots to blog about, and would rather blog than write said crappy paper:


Cora as Chewbacca


Cora and one of her favorite toys -- a balloon I've been waiting for her to accidentally pop, but surprisingly enough has been quite resilient.