Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Okay. I tried, and I tried, and I tried.  It was my pick, if anyone should finish it, I should, right?

I plowed through the first section, on Lolita...but it was a lot of reflections on a book I'd read, so I could more easily comprehend the parallels she was trying to make between life in Iran and the book.  Then I got to the next section, which was parallels between life in Iran and The Great Gatsby, which I've never read.  Now, it's part of my life goal to read all the classics.  I'm still plugging through Anna Karenina two years after I started it (the book is actually very interesting, that's not the problem...I have a whole diatribe on the classics and why people don't read them anymore, but that's for another time).  Although The Great Gatsby is obviously included, the fact remains that I haven't gotten to it yet, so this made it really difficult to understand the parallels she was making.  The parallels were quite clear in the Lolita section, which is what made it interesting.  I didn't even realize that they were only clear because I'd read the book she was referring to until I got to the Gatsby section.

Anyway, so I finished the Gatsby section, but I really had to force myself to do it.  After that, I started on the next section and then just gave up.  Not having read the books was really getting in the way.  I think I may try this book again once I've read some of the other works she talks about, because going by my reaction to the Lolita section, there are many interesting comparisons to the books when you've read them.

I'm a bit disappointed that even I couldn't get through my own pick for book club, but, well, we can't win them all.  I have four ideas I'm bouncing around in my head for the next time my turn comes up, so hopefully I'll settle on a good one next time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not just idly pondering...

No siree bob.  What I'm about to say is 100% serious.  I am genuinely certain that I am going to do this.

I. Am. Starting. A. Law. Firm.

That's right.  In a few months, I will be the owner, managing partner, and sole proprietor of the Law Office of Bridgete A. McAuley.  I will be taking on my own clients, setting my own fees, balancing my own caseload, and, within reason, deciding how I want to spend the hours of my day.

I've wanted to start a law firm since...I don't even know when, sometime during law school.  I'd intended to work for a while, get some experience, and then go into it, but, well, things change.  The economy is improving, but not fast enough, and because hiring a new associate is approximately a 3-year investment for a firm (more than 3 years if the firm is fairly small), most law firms aren't quite ready to start hiring just because the economy is finally just barely starting to pick up.  Also, I realized that although it's a bit scary to do it now, it might actually be scarier to do it when I've worked for 5 years and have built myself to a decent salary in someone else's firm that I would then have to abandon in order to do this.  At least now I'm used to just getting by from month to month, so I can live with that for a while longer while I grow the firm.

As for being inexperienced, well, I've looked at several books and other resources and have discovered that it's really not as much of a problem as I thought.  In terms of getting clients, I just have to exude confidence to my clients and they'll trust me.  After all, I'm the one with the license to practice  law, and I have it after 3 years of work in law school.  That's why they're coming to me for help.  Inexperienced or not, I still know more than they do.  As for doing the work, well, I'll draw on what experience I do have, and I can ask for help from other lawyers when I get stuck.  Solo practitioners ask fellow lawyers for help and advice all the time.  You're not really in direct competition with each other -- in fact, small firms and solo practitioners are really good for the legal profession -- so other lawyers are ready and willing to offer help to someone going out on their own.  And actually, on the subject of not being in direct competition with other firms, often these firms will even more directly help a small firm or solo practitioner by sending them clients or giving them some contract work (document review or discovery requests or something else they might be drowning in).

There's a lot more I could say to really hit it home that I am dead serious about this -- like where I'll get my start-up capital, how I plan to find clients, etc., but really this post is just to tell you all that I'm doing this.  Naturally, if you know anyone who needs legal help (in Mass, of course), once I open my doors, send them my way!  Oh, I plan to do general litigation for the most part.  I was going to specialize more within litigation, but I've been looking at what various small litigation firms in the Boston area do and they seem to just put it out there that they're a litigation firm and then do a variety of work within litigation.  The solo practitioners seem to do this the most, they probably all start with an idea like mine... "I just want to litigate!" and then let the specialization happen naturally.  I do have access to a huge client base with my connections to the local Brazilian community so I'll probably end up doing quite a bit of immigration work.  Marcelo is going to get himself certified as a Portuguese translator to help with that.  I'm sure I'll also do some tax work, because I know enough about it, but I'd like to try to mostly focus that on tax litigation (there's not a lot of opportunity for litigation in tax work, but there is some).  As for the rest, I'll just see what comes through my door and go from there.  So, there you go!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Club: Love Walked In

This book club selection brought to you by Ginger and Jenn. Ginger created the book club, and Jenn picked the book for this round. The book selected was Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos, and I have to say I liked it.  Really liked it.  Okay, I loved it.

Why did it take me three tries to admit I loved this book?  Well, I have a very high bar for truly loving a book.  Usually chick lit, while I enjoy it for something light and fun to read in between some heftier stuff, doesn't quite make the cut.  But this one was different.  Something about the way she drew you in right at the beginning, using first person to narrate Cornelia's voice so that you're immediately connected to her.  And then she narrates all Clare's parts in third person so that you really just feel like Cornelia is telling you all this over a cup of coffee -- she's telling you what was going on in her own life and then explaining what was happening to Clare at the same time.  And then she throws in such great little twists so that it's not just some story about how she fell in love with Martin and that was that and they had some problems and then it all was okay again. ***SPOILER ALERT:  From this point forward, the review is riddled with spoilers*** No.  Martin wasn't even the love of her life in the end.  He turned out to be kind of shallow and unlikeable, and then just when he was almost getting some depth to himself (such an artful way of writing a shallow character, too...he wasn't just flat on the page, he had life, but you could tell he was just one of those "what you see is what you get" people) he goes and dies.  And it was one of those deaths where you just say, "oh well, too bad."  No tears...there was no connection for the tears.

I also loved how the Teo and Cornelia relationship developed.  Or, rather, slapped Cornelia in the face, since, as she says, there was no process to the falling in love.  She just wasn't in love with him and then she was.  It sounds odd, even unbelievable, but I believe her.  I can believe that if you've known someone forever like that, and you know you love them in a certain way but you think it's just like brother and sister, it could easily happen that you look at them one day and something just shifts.  I think that's how it works for people who've known each other forever who suddenly fall in love and there they are.  I don't think they could have been in love with each other the whole time...if they had been, why did it take so long?  And in the case of people who've known each other since childhood, could they have really been "in love" at the start?  Can kids fall in love with each other?  We don't know exactly how long Teo had been in love with Cornelia, he doesn't say.  He just said it had been so long that he'd learned to hide it.  So maybe he did love her when they were children.  Either way, I thought this development was pulled off really well.  It was perfectly believable, because best friends DO fall in love, but it didn't feel like a cliché.  It just felt real.

I also loved how effectively she made us want Clare's mother to return, but then when she did, we weren't sure anymore if we wanted her there.  We knew she had to come back because Clare needed her, but they had formed this family unit for Clare that was almost better than what she'd had with just her mother.  I think the resolution of this conflict was appropriate.  Cornelia definitely couldn't stay as an additional "mom", I think that just would have been weird.  I liked the idea when Clare first mentioned it, but then as I thought about it I just thought it was kind of inappropriate now that Clare's mom had returned and was properly medicated.  But Clare still needed that network of people she could go to -- another house she could run to any time if anything weird started happening, people who would notice if something was wrong and would DO something, and people who would support Clare and her mom and get them back to a good place in their lives.

It was also good that we didn't have any "input" from Clare's mother.  Some authors would have had additional narratives from her, explaining where she was and what was wrong, but I think that would have taken away from the conflicted feeling I ended up with when the mother finally returned.  I would have fully wanted her back, knowing what struggles she had gone through to get better and see Clare again, instead of worrying that maybe she wasn't ready to come back, maybe she wasn't truly better.

So, anyway, I really did love this book.  Chick lit or's a lovable book.  I even got the sequel (which isn't so much a "sequel" as it is another story centering around Cornelia, now married to Teo and recently relocated from NYC to the suburbs, dealing with new struggles and new characters) and I'm pleased to report it has the same effective writing style.  So thanks to Ginger and Jenn, without whom I never would have picked up this book.  :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good, Bad, Happy, Sad

Aside from my recent book review, I think it's been a while since I posted.  It's definitely been a while since I posted about life in general.  See, I started this blog at the beginning of law school.  It's supposed to be about me, sure, but really it's supposed to be about me and my interaction with the legal profession, and ever since the bar exam ended, my life has been decidedly non-legal.  So I would come by to the blog to post some kind of update, recall the essential theme of the blog, and feel sad because I'm still not working as a lawyer.  I'm not even a paralegal or a law clerk or something.  I'm working in retail.  Victoria's Secret, to be exact.  As retail goes, it's really not bad, and I'm actually thinking about keeping it as a very, very part-time job even when I find my legal job, but that's not the point.  The point is that I'm not doing ANY legal work.

But, I'm hoping that will change very, very soon.  I'm pretty sure all of you readers know that I passed the bar exam (!!!) so at least now when I apply for jobs, I can assure them that they won't be taking a gamble when they hire me.  It was different before I got the bar exam results, everyone I talked to said it was a "dead zone" for most people because, especially in this economy, employers don't want too many unknowns.  And not knowing if this person you're about to hire will even be able to practice law is a HUGE unknown.  But, there are still very few job postings out there to apply to, so it's still going to be tough.  But I keep saying, all I need is to attract the attention of just ONE employer.  I'm pretty good in interviews, so I think the job will come.

Meanwhile, this lack of a legal job is really taking a toll on my finances.  So, Marcelo and I are moving.  With my little minimum wage job, I can't even come close to my half of the expenses, and he can't cover it anymore.  It makes me sad; I've lived here for two years and have really settled in and fallen in love with this wonderful apartment, but today we found another nice place and it's in our budget.  It's smaller and it's only one bedroom, but all the stuff we care about having should fit and it's still a nice place.  And there's a fitness center at that complex, which should be pretty cool.  There's still a pool, and we'd still have a balcony too.  And a little gas fireplace -- actually, gas heat and stove too.  I'm excited about the gas stove.  As for our intent to maintain our separate bedrooms until we were "ready" to combine, well...I guess that's now.  The idea of going down to a one bedroom doesn't scare me, and I was the one who was the most concerned about it, so I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be.  Besides, even though we're only at the three-month mark in our relationship, we were roommates for six months before that.  So we know each other (and our living habits in terms of cleanliness and such) pretty well.  And he knows when to leave me alone because I'm busy or feeling quiet or irritable or whatever, he's not going to forget how to do that just because we're in a smaller space.  So, it will all be fine.  Besides, the move FEELS right, and you all know how much stock I put into what feels right and what feels wrong.

Well, I guess that's all my good/bad/happy/sad stuff lately.  I will say, it's a real testament to my eternal optimism that I've been going through all this and I'm still positive about the future.  And I'm not utterly depressed about the current state of my life, I'm just accepting it as a rough patch.  We all have to deal with those.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

For Ginger's Book Club for September/October, we read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  I actually finished it a while ago but I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say in my review.  I agree with others who said that the lack of quotation marks drove me crazy, but that's not a review of a book.

I think this review is hard for me to write because on the one hand, the story kept me reading, but on the other hand, the book left me feeling about as empty as Rose's mother's cooking.  I think that I, like Jenn, wasn't connecting with the characters.  What I think kept me reading was the fact that I wanted, so badly, to connect with this family and so I kept going to see if that connection would happen.  But it just didn't.

I also really wanted to connect with the book because I thought I was going to be able to connect with Rose and what she "tastes" in her food.  My favorite sense, by far, is taste.  I have very discerning taste buds, so if I say food is good, it really is GOOD.  I can tell when the measurements were a little off or that milk was almost too old or that substitution you thought would work just didn't quite cut it.  This often makes it difficult to eat food made by others, and it also makes it difficult to prepare food for myself.  When cooking for myself, I get so wrapped up in trying to make sure the flavors are balanced so that I'll enjoy it when it's done that I can't enjoy the process.  I'm stressed and flustered and trying to make sure the onions don't burn while I'm pouring the spices into the measuring spoon because I bought this stupid container without a removable lid so I can't just SCOOP them...and I think, while it's not quite like the way Rose tasted people's feelings, I can taste that frustration in the food when I'm done.  The only food I cook that I truly enjoy is the stuff that I can cook from memory and without measurements.  Then I am enjoying the process, probably singing and dancing in the kitchen, and I can taste that enjoyment when I'm done too.

As for others' food, I think I've been spoiled by people who can try a recipe once or twice and then do it from memory, because I can tell when someone has tried to do that but they just don't know what they're doing.  I've also been spoiled by people who know how a recipe is supposed to look and taste and know what adjustments to make when it's not.  So then when I get food from someone who just threw stuff in willy-nilly and now the alfredo sauce is a little more like warmed up cream with some's just disappointing.  All of you reading this who have cooked for me -- don't worry, this is not my way of saying your food lets me down.  Your food is what has spoiled me so that NOW I feel let down by other food.  And this other food is not BAD by any means, it's just more like eating to survive, not eating to enjoy.

My point with all this discussion on food is that my discerning taste buds and my attachment to the enjoyment of food really made me want to connect with Rose in the book.  I really wanted her to learn something about food because of her special talent, but instead she just ate factory food since it wouldn't taste like feelings.  Only at the end did I start connecting with her, when she finally decided to start visiting restaurants and trying to enjoy food and allowing the feelings to be part of the flavor.  And then the book was over and I was left hungry for something more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New Social Circle

I remember when the internet first appeared.  It was lauded as the new way to bring people together from around the globe.  But it didn't really do that as soon as everyone expected.  For the business world, yes, it was great, and it was great right away.  But for everyday people like you and me, we learned quickly that we had to be careful.  Yeah, it was a cool idea, and you might have some "'friends" in chat rooms or bulletin boards (remember when those were the only ways to "connect" outside of email?) but there wasn't much of a connection beyond that.  Everyone was wary of sexual predators and serial killers, especially when their teenage children were exploring the internet.

Over time, people got more relaxed.  I know my mom has been part of an email movie discussion group called The Balcony for years.  She visited friends or had friends visit her when I still thought it was creepy and weird to make friends through the internet.  How do you know who these people are?  How do you know that the person they're presenting is the real thing?  How can you trust them?  Of course, this was during my late teens, and I'm a smart one, I knew that I needed to be cautious at that age.  But even through college and for a while after, I didn't really branch out.  I had an early version of the blog for a while, I think the site was called Diaryland...or maybe that was later.  Anyway, the whole idea was that it was similar to your private journal, and you could make it private, semi-private, or public.  I remember mine was public, and since I never really kept a diary of private thoughts, it just became a place to talk about my day (kind of like this blog).  I had some regular readers whose journals I also read, and I thought it was pretty cool that I sort of knew about all these people writing from all over the world.  But I didn't really consider them friends.  I always felt like I needed to keep some distance.  And eventually I got tired of the servers overloading on that site and I stopped writing.  When that happened, I didn't worry about keeping in touch with my readers.  A few of them had already gotten sick of the servers or stopped writing for other reasons, and even though we'd been reading each other's journals, we didn't feel THAT close.  We were just a bunch of teenagers -- we had our real friends, and our readers were just these people who happened to be permitted to read the minor, sharable details of our lives.

After that, I went back to using social media solely for keeping in touch with people I knew in real life.  It was nice to have MSN chat when my friends and I all went to different colleges.  I'm not sure I'd even still know my best friend if it hadn't been for chatting online a few times a week.  Even just a few years before, college was known as the time when you drift away from your old friends and make the friends that you know you'll have forever.  Granted, I certainly made some wonderful friends in college, and I believe I will have them forever.  I just didn't end up drifting away from the old friends, and it was all because we could chat online.  Why doesn't just calling work, you ask?  Well, when you call someone, you feel like you have to talk.  When online, especially when you can make a group chat window (which we did all the time), it's more like you're just hanging out.  You don't feel like you have to keep the conversation moving the whole time.  It might even hit a lull and then you don't talk for a couple hours, but then something funny will happen and if they're still online, you can tell them about it.

So, great.  I stayed in touch with my friends who were really still just a few hours away.  And I'd have online conversations with some new college friends if it was late at night and we were in our separate dorm rooms.  But that's still not connecting "around the globe."  Where's that amazing socialization that we were supposed to get?

I know by this point in the post you're all saying, "duh, Bridgete, it's here."  And you're right, it is.  My mom just told me that she's showing one of her Balcony friends around Portland.  Like I said, she had that connection thing long before I did.  But now I've connected too.  Blogging finally did it.  I don't know why blogging is so much different than that online diary I had, whether it's because I'm older or because now most of the people you meet have a blog or two so it's just normal, but it's different.  Jenn and Matt are part of my Boston family, and I never would have even met them if it hadn't been for blogging.  I'd feel perfectly comfortable flying to Colorado and staying with Ginger or Kate.  Bree made her blog private but still welcomed me into the inner circle of permitted readers.  And that's just the people I know through the more personal blogs.  Then there's the author of You Suck at Craigslist.  Those people got me through the bar exam.  Well, let's hope they did, they might have just served as a distraction. ;)

I've added these people as friends on Facebook.  I stoically add only "real" friends as Facebook friends.  So I guess my blog friends are "real" friends.  In fact, I don't even distinguish between blog friends and real friends anymore.  Sure, certain blog friends are part of a particular circle and they don't really interact with the other circles, except maybe with an occasional reply to someone's comment on one of my statuses.  But when I talk about something funny someone said, I just say, "Oh, _____ said the funniest thing the other day!" and that's that.  No need to explain that I've never actually met this person.  That's not important anymore.  We know each other, and that's enough.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paris, je t'aime...

Okay. I've been trying to figure out what to say about Paris, other than I loved it, I wanted to stay, and now that I'm home I miss it more than I ever thought I could miss something as simple as a location on the earth. But it's not just "a location". It's Paris. Everything about Paris is beauty in its purest form. The food, the wine, the architecture, the art -- it's all beautiful. The ugliest building in the city was built in the 70s, which was a strange time for architecture everywhere -- even that is at least more attractive than the buildings that appeared in the US at the same time.

And then there's the people. Everyone is quiet and polite. You don't have to holler at the top of your lungs and throw your elbows around to get off the Metro. A single, fairly quiet "pardon" and the crowd parts. All the restaurants and cafes are fairly small with tables crammed in as close as they can be, but you still cannot hear the conversation of the people next to you. Unless they're American tourists -- who I quickly became annoyed with as if I was already Parisian. And oh my goodness, the children. You all know that I don't like children. Well, I had NO problem with Parisian children. And at one restaurant, I learned why -- if the child is throwing a tantrum or otherwise causing a disturbance in public, you know what the parents do? They leave. They go home, taking the fussy child with them, and after a while, the child learns that disruptive behavior in public is not acceptable.  I swear to you, even the pigeons were polite.  You throw a pigeon a crumb and instead of begging for more or calling out to his 20 friends nearby that he found someone gullible, he'd just eat the crumb, bob his head as if to say, "merci," and move along.

I know you all want to know the specifics, like what we did, what we saw, what we ate.  But I just can't make myself reduce Paris into a chronicle of experiences.  It was simply THE experience.  So, for what we did and saw, you can visit my mom's chronicle on her blog, starting with day one.  You can also see what she ate -- I didn't record what I ate.  I just ate.

As for photos, my mom has a few in her blog.  You can see my photos on Facebook.  I've already checked, you will be able to see those photos whether you're my Facebook friend or not.

I now know that I MUST return to Paris as soon as I'm able.  So, on that note, to my dear Paris -- À bientôt!