Friday, May 17, 2013

A sense of occasion is a wonderful thing

Right after I graduated from law school I had a job a large law firm in New York and one of the things about large New York law firms is that along with the regular legal nerds there are always some super interesting and memorable people. I'm still quite close with several of the "kids" who were in my starting class; two of them are among my closest friends on earth and know me at least as well as I know myself. Like pledges or plebs, junior associates bond with each other.

The day the New York state bar results came out was one I'll remember forever. Administered in July, the test results came out in early November. Ours was one of the first groups to have their results released online  and few of us had internet access at home, so my fellow first years and I decided that we'd all work until whenever that day and then convene at an Irish bar in Mid-town Manhattan, where we'd drink until 11:45, then scurry back to the office to check the results at midnight. 

The anticipation was so intense that the drinks could barely blunt our anxiety and fear! But at the appointed time we made our way back to 30 Rock (of yeah, our offices were in that amazing and historic building) and to our respective offices, spread out between the 32nd and 37th floors. And we logged in. 

Holy Mary mother of God, the connection was soooooo sloooooooooowwww! But as we started to call each other and run about the hallways we found out that the news was good. We'd passed!  And so back to (a fancier) bar for more celebrating and then, very early that morning, we all crawled home, happy, proud and most of all, relieved.

The next morning we all showed up to the office and were greeted with smiles and "Congratulations!" from the receptionists, the partners and our secretaries (the thing about NY is that the bar results are published in a trade paper that EVERYONE reads, so the whole firm know your business when you come to work that day). It was so nice!

My coworker Adam had a mentor named Veronique. She was a bit older than I was (and much younger than I am now) and as a Francophone Swiss woman from Zurich seemed to me to be impossibly sophisticated. When she learned Adam had passed the bar, she was genuinely happy and in recognition of his accomplishment, congratulated him with a bottle of champagne. Veuve Clicquot if memory serves. So thoughtful!

I will never forget the moment be then classmate now dear friend Angela told me about that. I was so impressed, and Angela said "Veronique has such a sense of occasion."

A sense of occasion.

What a wonderful thing.

I've thought a lot about that gesture and the expression used to describe it over the years. An understanding that some moments are special and deserve to be commemorated and set apart from others. I like it.

The next year, when I was a mentor to someone who passed the bar, I thought of Veronique and her gesture and bought my mentee a celebratory bottle of champagne. She'd earned it! And she was so tickled.

In the intervening years I've bought champagne, made cakes and made parties for people I love to commemorate their joyous moments. Because they've deserved it! And I love them! Their accomplishments, their milestones, their efforts and dreams. These things deserve to be acknowledged, commemorated, celebrated.

These things are occasions, and they're wonderful.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Staying Out of Trouble

Little fact about me: I love cop & detective shows.

One factor that I feel certain has impacted this prediliction is that I was allowed to watch almost unlimited television when I was a child, and in those days, tha halcyon days known as the '70's, there were lots of cop and detective shows on TV,  both first run and in syndication. The Rockford Files. The Streets of San Francisco. Adam-12. Hawaii 5-0. Starskey and Hutch. Police Woman. Kojak. Barney Miller.  Charlie's Angel's. Vega$. Hart to Hart. Loved them all.

Something else that I'm pretty certain influenced my viewing tastes was growing up in a virtual crime wave.  Kids reared in the 1970's amd early '80s were the first generation of children to come of age in an era of tremendous criminal awareness.  Stranger Danger, Officer Friendly, no candy from strangers, kinds snatched from school restrooms.  On top of that, we had the Hillside Strangler, Son of Sam, The Green River Killer, The Zodiac Killer, The I-5 Killer, Ted Bundy, The Atlanta Child Murders. And more.

So, I watched these programs for education as well as entertainment.  If I knew more about these people and their tricks and ways, I'd be able to avoid them and their traps.

My affinity for this genre of television programming continues to this day and includes shows such as Law & Order, MI-5, CSI (the original ONLY), Luther, The Killing and Psych (it's cute!).  However, I now also enjoy "reality" cop & investigative shows, such as The First 48, Solved, Wicked Attraction and Cold Case. The kinds of shows shown on that channel that used to be called Court TV, but for which they changed the name a few years back, and on which at least half of their current programs start off with someone whispering "Investigate!". There are lots of them and they provide me with many hours of diversion while I knit.

Watching these reality programs has actually taught me quite a bit about the criminal element and how terribly different most criminals are from me, so allow me to share my wisdom and offer up these

Tips For You:

1. Know your friends last names.
2. Know your friends' first names.

That's about it.  If you're the kind of person who knows the first and last name of the people with whom you spend the bulk of your free time, you're likely to stay free.  On the other hand, if most of  the people in your circle you know only as Man, "Cuda, Tron, Black, Whitey, Red, J. Roc, Goo Man, Money Mike, Murder Mike, Junior, Lil' (Pete/Joe/Jon/Whatever), Crazy 8 or Pretty, you need to re-assess your situation.

Home work

When I work from home, I tend to get sit down at the computer and get started right away, like two hours before I would normally be at my desk. A few hours into my day, when my pits start feeling clammy and I realize there's still sleep-crud around my eyes I realize that I've left some things undone. Some hygiene things.

Tip For You: When working from home, remember to treat yourself like the fully integrated member of society that you are. Brush your teeth! Wash your face! If you're feeling energetic, maybe even take a shower (confession: yesterday I didn't bathe [I always take a bath] until 4 pm and so after I washed my face, went straight to night cream, bypassing my daytime moisturizing routine entirely; it felt creepy) .

Doing these little things will make everything so much easier when you pop out to the local cafe at 1 pm for a cookie or to Taco Bell for a taco if you're already moderately presentable.