Monday, March 26, 2012

If at first you don't succeed . . . .

So I'm doing this thing where I'm trying to become a lawyer. Most people follow the normal path to this goal. They attend law school. They take and pass the bar. They get a job and someone pays them to practice law. 

But not me. Oh, no. Never let it be said that I would follow the norm. I did, in fact, attend law school. Wayne State University Law School, class of 1987. And I did, in fact, take and pass the bar exam in 1987. 

But I was pregnant with JTG at the time. Out he came, 7 months later. I took on the role of stay-at-home mom. 24 years later, I've still never practiced law. Until now. 

Now, I'm volunteering with a wonderful organization (which will remain nameless for its own protection) that provides low-cost and free legal services. Many organizations are able to do this by a quid pro quo: lawyers volunteer their time and the organization trains them in new-to-them skills. Everyone wins. 

This organization has, surprisingly enough, agreed to take me on as a volunteer. And today, I attempted to file my first case as attorney for a petitioner. Need a laugh? Listen to my day. 

First of all, there are a hell of a lot of papers involved. Oh my gosh. There is, of course, the petition. And the notice. And the notice of the notice. And the rights. And the notice of the rights. Not to mention Exhibit A. Thank goodness there was no Exhibit B.

This results in printing and printing. And organizing. There is the going to the court clerk pile and the mailing to the respondent pile and the mailing to the petitioner pile and the mailing to the . . . well, you get the idea.

And, God forbid I screw it all up. Because this is really important!! So I am checking and double-checking and checking my double-checking. During all of this, I am pestering the poor woman with whom I am working (let's call her S): who gets this form? what floor? how many? what color?

The piles have passed their final inspection. The list of stops is made out (12th floor to file, 18th floor to schedule, 6th floor to ask the sheriff to serve papers.) I'm riding the rails, er, taking the el down to the Daley. 

Don't I sound cool, calling it "the Daley"? Like I've been there more than a handful of times in my entire life? Probably real lawyers have another nickname for it, entirely unknown to neophytes like me. The Courthouse? The Ugly Brown Building?  The Picasso Perch?

I just googled "daley center nicknames." There are none. I am not cool. Never mind.

So, I traipse up to the 12th floor. Plead ignorance to the official-looking officials standing behind the tall desks. They direct me to other official-looking officials. Who are officiating something, I'm sure. I wait in line. 

Officialdom does not smile upon me. He says, "You can't file this petition. The petitioner needs to sign it, and the signature has to be notarized. Come back when it's signed and notarized."

Groan. I did note the line strongly suggesting notarization. I thought that perhaps it would be MY signature notarized. At the clerk's office. And the wonderful S, who has covered every other conceivable issue I might face, missed this particular one. 

Really, S must feel like she's trying to teach someone how to brush his teeth, trying to cover the most basic and mundane of lawyering routines: hard to remember what someone might not know when it is all so second-nature. 

OK. I assess the situation: Is the petitioner with me? No, therefore she cannot sign it and I cannot file the petition. Never let it be said that I am incapable of logic. Ha. 

Logic dictates that I go home. I get on the el. Except I was a little distracted. I looked at the front of the train and it said Harlem. So I thought it was a Green line train to Harlem. 

But savvy transit riders also look at the SIDES of the el train. Because there could be a MISTAKE on the front of the train. It would say HARLEM when it really meant to say KIMBALL, thus enticing unsuspecting riders to climb onto a Brown line train instead of a Green line train.

So unsuspecting rider me got off at the Merchandise Mart, climbed to the other side of the tracks, and hopped the opposite Brown line train. Because that's what one does when one takes the wrong train. And, viola, one should be able to go back one stop and get back on the correct train.  And go home. And have a drink.

But, nooooo. That's not the way the Brown line works. In order to get back to my Green line stop, I had to take a tour of the entire Loop on the Brown line. 

That's ok. I have the time. It's not like I'm going to be filing a petition or anything today. I used this time for enforced eavesdropping on a well-preserved 25 year old who was regaling a cell phone with her anti-aging beauty regimen. In excruciating detail. You'll be pleased to hear that I restrained myself from smacking her with MY cell phone.

Finally, I arrive at Clark and Lake, get off the accursed Brown line (Brown? Really?) and wait forever for the Green line. Did I mention that I was freezing? Gotta wear a jacket in court. And, even though I wasn't actually appearing before a judge, I figure it's good practice for me to wear something other than blue jeans and a t-shirt. 

Since I was wearing a jacket, I just couldn't face putting a coat over my jacket. Because I am a 50 year old woman. And, no matter what else happened today, I know that if I wore a coat over my jacket, I would have had multiple hot flashes. And, they would definitely have happened either in front of Important People or in front of Young People. 

So I was standing outside in 45 degree weather, waiting for these various el trains, in a little jacket. You may imagine just how happy I was when the Green line train pulled up. And, should I have become too comfortable on the train, why, the fact that the 86 bus up Ridgeland Avenue never EVER shows up when I am in need of it means that I walked up Ridgeland (yes, in the dress boots with killer heels) for 7 blocks. 

Which resulted in a hot flash without the coat.  

Going to get that beer now. ;-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The philosophies of morning

There are two--and only two--sorts of people when it comes to mornings. There are those people, those very annoying and slightly superior-acting people, who get out of bed before they have to. They actually shed the bed clothes because they want to. Because they enjoy the thought of doing so, of observing the bright new day springing forth, unbidden.

Then there are the other sorts of people. These sane individuals time their rising down to the last millisecond. They know exactly how long they can snooze without the lose, when they simply MUST get their heads off of the pillow and into the shower. 

These latter folks, the sunrise-challenged, these models of rationality, understand that morning is for sleeping, not waking. There is no joy in Mudville once you are out of bed. Nirvana exists in those misty moments when you lie oh so quietly, sleep clinging to your brain like a damp fog not quite ready to lift. 

These moments are not unlike my brain on two glasses of Riesling. Reality is blessedly blurred, merged with the last dream of the night. The bed is still warm, my dog still curled next to me, respecting the morning pattern of Liz lying comatose through two snooze smacks of the alarm clock. 

But those other people, those morning people? Some of them get out of bed before their alarms go BLARING off. Some of them--get this--some of them don't even USE alarm clocks. They bound forth to greet the day as though it was a particularly special one, as opposed to the one that happens every day at this ghastly time of the morning. 

Morning people sip their coffee slowly, gazing out the back window, reveling in the bird song on a quiet summer morning. Morning people think deep thoughts while reading the paper, composing editorial responses that are cogent and pithy. 

The sunrise-challenged? We suck down our caffeinated beverage of choice, hoping desperately that the caffeine kicks in NOW before we run out and kill the damn birds that are making so much noise. We read the newspaper and swear quietly under our collective breath, muttering incoherently about Democrats or Republicans and how stupid they are.

Yet we, the rational, the sunrise-challenged are frowned upon in our society. Imagine that. Being a morning person is clearly a superior form of being, more perfectly made, more efficient. Sometimes sunrise-challenged people are actually accused of responding inappropriately toward the annoyingly preternaturally perky morning people in all of their perfect splendor. 

I'd like to propose a detente between the two camps. Why can't we adopt a live and let live attitude toward one another? A let sleeping dogs (and people) lie tolerance of one another's life choices without judgement or self-righteous preening? 

I'm fine with you all chirping away over your coffee at 6:19am. I don't think there's anything wrong with you, beyond a constitutional inability to enjoy the bliss that late-rising people savor. Maybe you morning people could cast a similarly less judging eye over me as I snore contently when I could be writing a novel and negotiating world peace. 

It might be easier to broker peace in Israel.