“THUMP”

Published on November 25, 2007 by Michelle Wirth

…is the sound my blind cat makes when he leaps smack into my lap…top.

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Manic Monday

Published on November 25, 2007 by Michelle Wirth

I had a really, really, really great break. Which means that somehow, between when I return to Carlisle tomorrow afternoon and 9am Monday morning, I will finish and submit my motion in limine assignment and my self-evaluation of the “advanced direct examination” I did before break, and write and rehearse a closing argument. I swore I would get all that done at a leisurely pace over break, but instead, I took a break. This will be my fourteenth Monday of the semester, and what I have learned is that somehow it all gets done, on time, and often rather well. I’ve been there for all of them, but I still can’t explain how it all gets done.

The actual Monday kicks off with my 9am “filing deadline” for Advocacy class, and two hours of Electronic Evidence, from 9am-11am. Then I’m at the Clinic from 11:30 – 4:30. I go home, eat something but not too much (pre-presentation jitters), put on my suit, and cram for Advocacy, which is from 7-9pm. After two hours of oral-advocacy presentations and public feedback, I unwind by walking home (4 blocks), and by the time I put on my pj’s, I’ve completely unraveled.

Tuesday’s schedule is lighter: three meetings and one class, and their requisite prep-work.

Wednesday is thrilling and scary: two hearings. Enough said. I will have Tax class afterward, but I imagine flashbacks from the morning’s hearings will keep me from hearing much of anything. Fortunately Tax, being tax, moves slowly. It shouldn’t be too hard to catch up.

This week, I applied for a job. I’ve been anxious about not being employed by the time I graduate. Today it occurred to me that if all goes well, someone will actually hire me to be a real lawyer. I’ve wanted this since I was fifteen, and I feel exhilarated – bordering on terrified. It’s as if I’m about to go from having a learner’s permit to a full-blown driver’s license. They’re actually going to let me on the highway. Amazing.

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Simmering

Published on November 20, 2007 by Michelle Wirth

Last night at 10pm found me content in the kitchen, throwing together a recipe I thought Love would like. By 10:20 I couldn’t keep my eyes off the clock. By 10:30 my fickle anxiety vacillated between images of Love dead in a ditch, to picturing her at a coffee house spending time with someone who doesn’t live three hours away most of the year, unlike me, why the hell isn’t she home with me and why the hell am I home cooking for someone who can’t be bothered to be with me on the few days I’m home? By 10:40 I remembered that this woman has truly earned (the hard way, over and over again), the benefit of the doubt, and so I resolved not to sound like Insane Girlfriend, even if I was stuck with her in the kitchen (because surely, this isn’t the real me): I would wait until 10:45 to call her and make sure she was okay.

At 10:44 she called, and said, “I’m just calling to let you know that I’m not dead in a ditch somewhere and I’m not taking you for granted. They closed down one lane of traffic on 376 and also closed our exit. I’ll be home as soon as I can find an open road.”

At 11pm she walked in the door and handed me a card that ended, “You are so foreign to me in so many ways, but you are the stranger I know best and the only one I want to know completely.”

I am so grateful.

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Losing It: Motion in Limine

Published on November 20, 2007 by Michelle Wirth

Twelve weeks down. Two weeks and one semester, and a lifetime, to go.

I’m sitting on a couch in Pittsburgh. The sky is that ashy shade of purple that portends snow. Curled on my lap sleeps a blind cat with the gift for knowing exactly when to walk in from the night and knead his cold paws on my belly, against my bladder. It’s two days before Thanksgiving and I am grateful, warm, wary, poised in mid-stride.

My own mother was rushed to the hospital this summer. My mother-in-law and father-in-law both kept their scheduled appointments today at their respective hospitals. I picked my Love up from the hospital where I hugged both of her parents before whisking her back home to work. We stopped at the park along the way, to relieve our patient dog. My Love forgave me for losing $150, straight from the bank. I had stopped in to make a deposit, and a withdrawal, and order new checks, and discovered what looked like a $2,000 transfer to an unknown account. After an hour the bank cleared up the confusion, I stopped into Mira’s to buy some chocolate for a friend, then went to pick up my Love, and it seemed that along the way I entirely lost the cash and my account information.

After we returned home I discovered that I had locked the money in the glove compartment for safe-keeping. We’ve come such a long way. We skipped the fights about my (supposed lack of) attention to detail and my Love’s past propensity for handling everything perfectly, in contrast to and with the stark exception of me. She forgave me instantly for the lost money, and acknowledged it as an indication that I was rattled about the news of her mother’s health. When I found the money, she appreciated that my first instinct was to lock it safely in the glove compartment, even when I was so rattled that I acted automatically, unthinking. We’ve come such a long way in such a relatively short time.

I’ve been gone for two and a half years, completing my law degree. I have two weeks and one semester to go. The adage is that in law school, the first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death. I’ve never been bored. I knew when I applied to law school that I was going to meet the Wizard – walk down the yellow brick road, throw open the curtain, and behold. It’s silly, and self-indulgent, and it’s been worth every penny.

Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, recently died of a brain hemorrhage that resulted from hepatitis C she contracted from a blood transfusion she received after giving birth to one of her children. She had gone thirty five years symptom free before being diagnosed. I imagine her surveying her estate, drinking her homemade organic champagne and thinking about her amazing life, contemplating the time bomb she had been living with unwittingly since moments after she gave birth. So much sacrifice for something that becomes the death of you and that you would never in a moment regret or take back.

Forgive me for the comparison, but at the moment that’s how I feel about my law degree. Six figures worth of debt I will work to repay, with not a job in sight. I have not become a parent, and my parents and in-laws might not live to see their grandchildren, and I may be too busy earning money to pay for my law degree to travel to all those foreign shores I wanted to see, and all I can say is that it was entirely worth it. I know there are facts I will never know. There are mysteries I may never untangle for myself. Learning quantum physics and exploring the mysteries of energy – if I were to do it all over again, I might start there. Sculpting again; learning how to use my own kiln; to play mahjong; to finish knitting that damn hat; and raising a kid to be a decent human being even as an adult – these are things I would still like to get around to. But 5/6 of the way into my law degree, I feel like I’ve satisfied some fundamental itch. I see how the world works. I “get it” in a way that I hadn’t before. Now I know, and I get it. I’m 33 years old, much older than I thought I would be by the time I had this much figured out, and yet, it works.

Before I left for home, I put Ray’s photo on my bedside table, lit a candle, poured his memory a drink and had a glass of wine. His idea of fulfillment was a hell of a lot more fun than mine, by conventional standards; he fell in love in New Orleans. After they broke the bed, he went home to pack his bags and break up with his girlfriend. He was a vegetarian who worked in a laboratory taking care of animals who were study subjects; he knew he would take better care of them than anybody else ever would. He loved his Love, the music, the debauchery, and being able to be a big burly man with a goatee wearing a dress – he loved life and never looked back. The blinding headaches drove him to the doctor. He died a year later from a stage IV brain tumor. One of the hardest things I ever had to do, and one of my greatest gifts, was getting to say goodbye to him for the last time. I had known him for over half of my life. I got to walk out and he didn’t. We couldn’t pretend we would see one another again – Ray was an atheist and not prone to bullshit.

I left my home and my Love to go to the middle of nowhere to go to law school, racking up significant debt, putting off parenthood, leaving my partner to care for our home, the critters and the network of friends that I land in every time I return. She keeps my life going for me here, and I get to step back into it so easily because of her efforts. I know there are amazing things one can do with a law degree, but there are amazing things people across the planet do every day without a law degree, or massive debt, or leaving others to keep everything afloat. I think I’ve done the most selfish and self-fulfilling thing I could ever imagine doing, save reproduction. I have no regrets, but I am a bit daunted. Here goes nothing, and everything.

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Perspective

Published on October 27, 2007 by develop

“The singles’ scene always sucks when you’re single.” ~S.P.

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