Archive for November 1st, 2006

The No A**hole Rule

November 1, 2006

I apologize for being so absent the past few weeks. I had an insane week at work two weeks ago and then I was out all last week. My friend Lucy got married this past Saturday and I was in my first wedding, in a fuchsia bridesmaid dress. (Lucy loves bright colors and had wanted a summer wedding, which scheduling issues did not permit). My hair did turn out well, though — everyone was complimenting me on it, which I took as a sign that my hair usually looks like crap. 🙂

I also haven’t had much to post on lately, but a colleague from work sent me a link to this blog post, a review of a new book with the above-mentioned title, and I thought, I need to go out and get this book. It is truly one of the most difficult parts of being a lawyer to have to deal with a**holes. (I include the asterisks out of respect for Al, who asked me not to curse on the blog in case his daughter reads it). And there are a lot of them. Occasionally they are clients, but most often they are your co-counsel or opposing counsel. Generally you get it most within your own workplace.

I’ve basically come to the conclusion that neither of my bosses has much respect for me, though one is definitely nicer than the other. The nicer one is the one I work with, the other one I have avoided since my last review when he said, in so many words, that he didn’t think I was cut out to be a lawyer. It was a completely unfair assessment of me, and he gave no specific examples to support his assertion, which, in fairness, was phrased as a question of “whether I really wanted to do this work.”

The truth is, in a lot of ways I’m not cut out to be a lawyer, but all of them are to my credit. I am honest, above board, and civil/kind in my dealings with people. I do not try to deceive through cleverness and I do not play dirty tricks. I have a hard time arguing a position when I don’t believe in it personally or when I know the law is not on my side. I hate schmoozing (even if it’s politely called “networking”) and am terrible at it. I don’t care about money and am more interested in helping people, which I have come to realize is not considered a valuable trait at my firm. I think the concept of the billable hour is an absurd way to evaluate employees, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I believe in the 40 hour week, also not a popular view in the legal profession.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, except to say that this post was sent by a colleague to all of the associates in my office. We’re all in a bit of a funk about the direction of the firm. Fortunately, there is one saving grace — we all like each other a lot and get along well. We just needed a little primer on how to deal with those we don’t.

The Quarterly Book Report: Daylight Savings Time (R.I.P.) Edition

November 1, 2006

Wulp, months after the first two installments on watermelons, I’m still not happy with my thoughts on immigration. I’ll try to post them before the end of the year. My thesis statement so far is: we need migrant farm workers, legal or otherwise; and, all consumers of fruit products in the US is responsible for this need, even those who oppose the idea of workers who are here illegally. Seriously, I’ll try to post an entire thingy sometime soon – that way JU can preach to me about social contracts and whathaveyou.

Short notes on books I’m either reading or have read recently that are worth noting.

The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue. This is a fairy-tale of sorts. There are these “changeling” creatures who steal children. A changeling becomes the child. The child becomes a changeling and lives with the other changelings until such a time as it is their turn to steal a child and become human again. Decent book, although the concept of it is better than the actual book (I didn’t really do the concept justice here, but whatever). This is Donohue’s first novel, I believe, and his idea for a book is good. Hopefully he’ll develop the writing skills to back up his very interesting concepts. It’s worth at least looking at in the bookstore.

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell. This is an excellent book. The narrator is a young boy, a nerd with a stuttering problem. Mitchell is an under-appreciated writer, I think. I’ve read a couple of his other books, and he seems to be able to write about anything and do it well. I love this book so far because you can feel the ache in the young boy – he wants to be accepted by the cool kids, he wants to be accepted by his family. I highly recommend this book.

Only Revolutions, by Mark Danielewski. This novel is proof that absolutely anything can get published. It is the lighthouse on the shore for any novelist lost at sea. That it is a finalist for the National Book Award, though, is just sad. Because it means that someone on Danielewski’s staff slept with someone from the committee. And I hate it that our literary awards have come down to prostitution. A brief exerpt: “Prairie Coneflowers glipper too while bristling Dandelions parachute away seed. I’m sooooo from these uplands, wide fell and dome. From corries and chines. From the freezeloss and slowwash slushgushing out of basins and brooks to miles of Nothern Rock Jasmine growing: – Hello.” I don’t like providing quotations without context, but really, there is no context to provide. It’s three hundred pages of these sorts of descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the sound of that line. Dandelions parachuting is a great image. But this is a book of images and pretty sounding lines. None of which actually make sense in relation to each other. As JU once told me, life is too short to read bad books. Maybe if I had time to try to make sense of this book, it’d be great. But I really just want my $25 U.S. back.

The Zero, by Jess Walters. Buy this book. That it is a finalist for the National Book Award gives me hope that the process of award-giving isn’t completely corrupted. The book is kind of mystery. But the mystery is really the lead character trying to figure out what’s going on in his life. He was a policeman on the scene when the planes flew into the WTC. His life has more or less gone to bits since then, and he’s hired by some secret agency to do some secret work. Problem is, he has “lost moments.” He’ll wake to find himself in a meeting with one of his bosses – a meeting he had apparently asked for – and not know how he got there or what the meeting is about. Even if the story weren’t good, which it is (again, I’m shortchanging the concept here in the interest of time), the characters are amazing. Some of the best imagined characters in a book I’ve read in a long time.

The Children’s Hospital, by Chris Adrian. This may be the best book I’ve read since One Hundred Years of Solitude. I love it. I have to make myself not read it. It’s kind of a re-telling of The Flood story and the Creation story. Except Eden is a Children’s Hospital and Eve is a woman named Jemma who does drugs and cusses and gets her swerve on outside the bonds of marriage. It’s a funny book. I’m only one-third of the way through it, but it’d have to go terribly wrong for me to dislike it at this point. It’s had too many good things happen so far. And Adrian is an amazingly talented writer.

A couple of musical notes.

I’m listening to a band called Big Silver (album: Afterlife) right now. I think they’re technically labeled alt-country, although they sound like a pop band to me. Good stuff. Give them a listen on iTunes, if you can.

The new The Killers Album, Sam’s Town, is worth listening to. I like them despite their not really being that good of a band. They’re fun. And they’re fun to listen to.

Jay-Z, in case you missed the commercials, has a new album coming out later this month. Am I the only one excited? Itching to buy it, is what I am. I’m a sucker for Jay-Z

A couple of Halloween notes.

I’m no longer surprised that the majority of costumes for women involve wearing very little clothing, although the “slutty angel” at school today did take me aback. Note to women: men have pretty good imaginations. It’s almost insulting. Costumes for men seem to revolve around dressing as someone (like a doctor, say) that allows them to ask if they can touch women. None of this is surprising to me. What is surprising to me is the number of people who think their costume idea is unique.