Monday, June 29, 2009

In preparation for my birthday...

I just surfed my way over to this amazing blog. This woman started the blog on her 28th birthday in order to track her progress in completing 30 things she wants to do before she turns 30. I LOVE it! I am going to spend the next few days brainstorming about what kinds of things I want to do before I turn 30, and maybe follow in her footsteps. When I was in high school I created this long list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. I was really into writing every New Years Eve about the passing year, and collecting all my trinkets into boxes for each year, and reflecting on my birthday about the highs and lows. In other words, I was a total sentimental, nostalgic sap. And I miss that part of me. These days, and for a long time now, it seems like I've just gone through routine, day in and day out, stealing laughs where I can but mostly just floating on. I want to take a cue from my younger self and try to live more in the moment, and appreciate things more. And by "appreciate things more" I don't just mean look around my room and say "nice!" but actually DO the things I want to do, and strive for the life I want to live. So, yes, I think this will be a nice project. Hooray! My birthday is on Friday, so I have some time to think this through.

By the way, I am trying an experiment here. Hopefully this won't blow up my blog. But part of the experiment involves this link. Click if you like, but it's really apropos of nothing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


The fact that I don't feel like writing right now makes me suspect I should just write. I had my bridal shower this weekend, which still just blows my mind. I just can't believe I am going through this: the shower, the attention, the gifts, the wedding. Seriously. I mean, this is aside from the whole "how lucky am I?" train of thought about having found someone I am so compatible with and who I love so much. Really, I just think it's so weird that the tradition in our culture is that when a couple of people decide they want to promise each other in front of all their friends that they're going to commit their lives to one another, their friends buy them something for their kitchen or bedroom. Can I write about this without sounding rude or ungrateful? I am absolutely thrilled that T and I get to create a home together, and have all this stuff to build new traditions around, and hopefully one day have a family to share it with. It's just so hard to wrap my mind around, right now, that this is actually happening, and that it's okay to have a pile of presents to rip through while everyone watches. It makes me so worried that I'm going to mess up and say the wrong thing, and do the whole tradition wrong. I feel like I was never schooled in this stuff. I'm having a lot of fun though!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spanning time

So the internship is going pretty well. Yesterday, my supervising attorney said they'd like for me to stay on in the fall if I'm interested. Today, she and the paralegal were planning for next year's tax clinic when I was leaving. I popped my head into SA's office to say goodbye, and asked if they wanted me in on the planning call tomorrow. "Well, we were thinking that if you're here in the Spring you could help us at the clinic again next year, so... yes." Cool! Not the tax clinic thing, which doesn't thrill me, but the whole sticking around and working for them thing sounds pretty good. Not only do I like working for a legal aid organization, and not only do I like working with farmworkers, but I especially like the idea of having a "workplace". To keep me grounded when school starts up again, you know? To have something other than law school going on in my life, even if it is law-related!

In other news, T's grandma's service is next Friday (a.k.a. my 28th birthday), so our plans to go camping will have to be postponed. On the other hand, it means that my bridal shower will go on this weekend. It is just SO WEIRD to have such a joyous occasion marked by so much family tragedy. I mean, it's surreal. This was supposed to be the summer of wedding planning and romance (or, more realistically, wedding-related stress). Instead, it's been a summer of health issues and loss, with wedding planning somehow getting squeezed in and coloring the background of everything else. And that's okay. It will be a memorable summer, and I think that all the things that have happened are only serving to remind me and T of all the love we have in our lives, and all the things we should not take for granted. Even more than it did a couple of months ago, the thought of having all my friends and family gathered together in celebration really lifts my heart these days. Even if my Tio and T's grandma can't be there, their spirits will certainly be with us on that day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blurry vision

It's not that nothing is going on in my life. It's not that life is so exciting or busy that I can't update, either. It's just that I don't want to get into it. I don't want to write any more about the sad things that have happened. And I don't feel like writing about the happy things is the best way to enjoy them. In short, I'm avoiding self-reflection. That seems like such a daunting task.

My bridal shower is on Saturday. I can't believe my bridal shower is on Saturday. Like, this is actually happening to me. It's actually my turn to be going through this age-old ritual. Come to think of it, that's how I remember feeling about being in college, at the beginning.

T's grandma passed away yesterday. We knew she was really sick before all the stuff with my uncle started. In fact, when I heard my uncle "had a stroke" I thought it was a blip compared to T's grandma's sudden and unexpected cancer diagnosis. That turned out not to be true. But in either case, both T's grandma and my uncle have left us for a better place. Sigh.

Life, and all that comes with it. Since I got back from South America, I've been really trying to enjoy it. And I think I've done a pretty good job, all things considered. I'm just not writing about it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The dog in the well

It was about 5:30 when I got a call from T letting me know he was downstairs at the entrance to my building. We now work two blocks from one another in the center of the Big City, and since my first work week has been very erratic, a new routine has not yet been established. I was just finishing up my first memo, which I'm still not sure if I actually needed to do.

"I'll be down in five or ten minutes, or you can come up," I offered. How quickly I slip back into work mode.

He opted to stay downstairs, probably smoking and people watching, while I finished cite checking and entering in case notes fourteen floors above him. Just as I was powering down the computer and getting ready to head out the door, my phone rang. It was T again.

"Best Man just called. Their dog got up in the attic and she's stuck. He needs me to come help."

I told him I was on my way down.

Thus was the start of a long afternoon of trying to rescue a very old dog from a very deep chute. The utterly frightening lightening storm this morning had apparently driven Best Man and Best Woman's dog up into their trinity loft, where she nosed her way into an unfinished attic with doors the size of a microwave, and promptly fell down a bricked-over chimney at the back of the house. Given that the storm was over by 9:30 this morning, and that the poor dog's predicament wasn't discovered until Best Woman came home at 5:30, and that nobody showed up to help until 7:15 and the wall wasn't finally torn down until nearly 8:00, it's quite a miracle that she was alive at all. The night ended with a three-hour long wait at the animal hospital and a giant hole in Best Man & Woman's rented home. But the old lady dog that they adopted two years ago is still alive, albeit with an ulcer in her eye and too much brick dust in her lungs to know what will end up happening to her.

As I was driving the car around to their block to take them to the hospital, just after the dog was pulled from the rubble of the bricks and drywall, I panicked for just a second, thinking that if I didn't hurry I wouldn't get there in time. After all that work to get her out, to have her die on the way to the vet.

She made it. Thank God. But today's victory feels somewhat hollow. My uncle died as I was waiting for my connecting flight in Georgia. He wouldn't have wanted us to see him that way, so I know it's for the best. I'm grateful that he knew how much I loved him, even as I'm sad I never got to tell him one last time and angry that he had to go so suddenly. I want to stop taking so much for granted.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

passport? check.

everything just feels wrong. i'm calling the same family. i'm flying into the same airport. i'm staying with the same people. it's all the same motions. except, this time, i'm not going to the valley. i'm not going to stay with my uncle. we're not going to swim in his pool and he's not going to give me advice that makes me feel simultaneously annoyed and loved. and i'm not going to get to appreciate him the way i should have been doing all this time.

i'll fly in with my brother and i'll finally get to introduce him to the country where we are from and the family that always asks about him. he's never been before. we'll get in late, and go to bed. we'll wake up and go to the hospital. we'll see our uncle. i was warned by cousins to brace myself. but my dad says to stay positive. he says to tell my uncle that there's hope and to be patient. he admits to me that this is a little lie. he says to tell my uncle (his brother) that he'll be down soon. as soon as he gets his passport. he says we must give him hope, even if there is none. even if his eyes are closed, my dad says, i should stay positive, and give him hope.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

consolation prize

well, i got my ticket. finally. for a while it was starting to look like i might not even get it. an angel at delta airlines basically told me how to fuck with the system and get around their stupid $150 72-hour booking fee. the work around (which involved booking farther in advance and then switching my date) only saved me $50, but it took the fare down to just below the threshold of what i could afford in order to fly down to see my uncle this weekend. so, between my amazing cousin who gave me all those frequent flier miles and the woman on the reservation phone line who helped bring the cost within my reach, i am miraculously going to be able to fly to south america and back in one weekend. (assuming i have no problem at the passport office tomorrow.)

usually when i make this trip, i'm at my happiest. i love going down there to see my family. it happens so rarely and a piece of my heart is always there.

today, i just want to get shit-faced drunk. bring on the aguardiente.

So far so good

Well, thankfully, I talked to the paralegal who was very encouraging about my situation, and then I talked to my boss. She said it was no problem at all for me to go to the passport meeting, and to leave work early on Friday to fly out of the country. Now I just need to make sure I can get a ticket and my passport, neither of which is a guarantee at this point.

So much is happening right now. I started my new job on Monday, but really I was just in training for the last two days. Along with people from about four or five other organizations, we had a training all about farmworker law, including tax issues, housing, field sanitation, H2A & H2B workers, the Agricultural Workers Protection Act and much more. It would be a lie to say that I was captivated and sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. It's hard to stay focused for 8 hours in the same moot court room, two days straight, even when the subject is interesting, there is plenty of free coffee and you've had many breaks. Still.

As I sat in the room and looked over the agenda, and listened to the lawyers give their presentations, I was struck by how perfect this whole situation is. Three years ago, I was working for a mom-and-pop company training spanish-speaking laborers on how to avoid electrocution in a wet crawlspace or keep from being buried alive while digging a trench. I was helping co-workers complete workers comp forms when their backs gave out or the trench did collapse. I was calling landlords to ask why rent checks were never cashed, and handing out pamphlets on the free neighborhood clinics run by Duke. I loved it. Going to law school was my best guess as to how I could continue to do this type of work as a career. I didn't want to be a social worker. I didn't want to be a translator. Human resources was never going to work. This is it. And I feel so lucky. I'm excited about this summer!

Meanwhile, my uncle is laying in a bed somewhere far south of here, unable to move anything but his eyes. Six months ago, he was flying helicopters in Afghanistan, a fact that I was never comfortable with, but which speaks to his health and the manner with which he approached life: fearlessly. I am completly baffled and frightened by the fact that my macho, overly-protective, doting, hard-drinking, fun-loving, physically fit uncle, the oldest surviving son of my grandmother, the man who used to tell me I should have one boyfriend for every day of the week, who only just met T for the first time over Christmas, but immediately liked him and welcomed him into the family only two weeks ago... that he is now bed-ridden for life, and that he is stuck in this horrible medical, legal, ethical limbo. It makes no sense. It seems unreal. I can't believe this is actually happening to us.

At the same time, T and I went out to dinner tonight, where he brought up a concern that he had. He shared a story with me that he didn't have to share. The kind of story that is easier to keep to yourself to avoid questions. But because I am dating a wonderful man, and because we have learned the hard way about radical honesty and trust, he came to me and we talked. We're not a perfect couple by any stretch. I know that T and I will weather our fair share of storms in the future, just as any couple will have to do. We've been through some hell of our own already, which we were fortunate enough to have been brought together by, rather than getting torn apart. Sometimes I don't think I stop often enough to think about how lucky we are.

I was saying to him how as I've grown older I've grown more self-confident. It's true. It's not that I feel prettier (I don't) or smarter (I don't) or even wiser (I don't, usually). The difference between who I am now and who I was when I first met T has a lot more to do with how much more I believe in myself. And because I believe in myself, I don't walk around feeling fearful all the time, like I used to do when I was younger. Now, when I feel bad, whether it's insecurity, anger or disappointment, I believe my reasons and I trust myself enough to bring those feelings to the table. And I trust T to take me seriously. Because of that trust, I don't feel guilty bringing things up, and I usually feel better after we've talked. It's awesome. It's not perfect. It doesn't always work. But it's awesome.

So it's a mixed bag these days. Wedding planning. New job. No summer funding. Family illness. Sadness. Love.