The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Possibly Boring Journals: Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on June 3, 2011

I was cleaning out a closet and found some old journals from the mid- to late-90s, when I was living the life of a single young attorney.  I’d describe these diaries as Adrian Mole meets Ally McBeal.  It might be the procrastination talking (I’m supposed to be getting ready for our upcoming summer travel right now), but I am finding them strangely riveting.

You know how after you have kids, you can’t even remember what you used to do in your other, previous life?  It’s kind of like that.

Perhaps the most striking thing for me is to read these knowing that I hated (HATED) my job.  In 1997.  This is a job that I hated continually to varying degrees until I finally quit under a cloud of stress and anxiety.  In 2000!  So I HATED it and knew it was killing me, yet kept at it for over three more years.

The “me” I am today wouldn’t keep at a job I knew was destroying me for three days, to say nothing of years.

March 9, 1997

Today was a nice, relaxing weekend day.  I went on a short hike in the Sycamore Canyon wilderness area first thing.  I really like it up there.  I saw bunny rabbits, and somebody’s tail disappearing down a hole.

I am attempting to overcome my fear of going downhill on hikes.  I’m afraid of slipping and falling.  My heart pounds whenever I start to lose my footing.  I’m working on it.

We went to South Sea Chinese restaurant in San  Bernardino for lunch.  They have a large number of vegetarian dishes.  Then we went to Much Ado About Books in Redlands to browse.

I got back to find a message from L___ on our machine at home.  She and B__ are going to come to Corona tomorrow to help.  Thank God!  

I was the lone public defender of the city of Corona.  When Scott got to be one of two public defenders assigned to Banning, he had total autonomy over his work.  The Corona assignment, by contrast, was a hoodwink because you got to do all of the regular day-to-day work of a downtown deputy public defender, but your Mondays and Fridays (traditionally slower days in the downtown misdemeanor court) were huge marathons.  It was just one long, angry, sad parade of people.  I’d arrive at 7:15 a.m. with my big box of doughnuts and not leave until 6 p.m. most days, working through lunch.  Anyone who wasn’t in trial was supposed to lend support to the poor sap who drew the Corona assignment, but that rarely happened, hence the petty jealousies and resentments that brewed in this job.

I have been anxiety ridden about work.  I am now obsessed with how I have not been promoted in the office.  I don’t know why, but it sort of hit me all of a sudden how inequitable it all is.  Maybe it’s coming up on two years with the office that’s getting me thinking.

I decided on a game plan.  I pretty much came up with this after a very anguished past week.  

1.  Look at the Daily Journal every few days to see if there’s anything promising I might apply for, but be very selective.  There’s something ironic about how the best job opportunities come along when you don’t even need a job.

2.  Continue to do a good job at work, but don’t kill myself with the long hours.  When I need to do the Corona stuff, do it.

3.  Talk to G___ about my desire to move to prelims or dope court as soon as possible.  Ask if he knows when moves are likely — but he’s probably totally out of the loop as usual.

4.  Talk to M___ about my desire to move.  Go to her office when I am in a positive, self-assured frame of mind, and let her know that I am ready for a move.

5.  Enjoy where I am now and relish its benefits while I have them.  Get as much valuable trial experience as I can.  Enjoy the fact that the price of a loss is measured in days, not years.  I have no in-custodies to interview like downtown.  I have independence in the Corona office.

Anyway, I feel better now about my job, just writing about it.  I am getting training in jury trials, at least.  Who knows what I’ll wind up doing when we go back east.

We were planning to move to Boston so I thought “all of this” was temporary.  We never did make that move though we both went through the whole rigamarole of getting admitted to practice law in Massachusetts.

I was very disciplined.  To wit:

I am proud of my achievement in the SELF (Magazine) Challenge.  I need to do some weight/strength exercises tonight.  Then I need to meet next week’s goal, then I’m 1/3 finished.

And it continues.  I journaled like this, chronicling the highs and lows in a somewhat tedious fashion.  But tucked in between the “I ate a bagel” updates and “I feel angry about work” rants, are interesting insights into how life used to be, pre-kids, pre-internet, pre-marriage.

March 10, 1997

It’s early a.m., after breakfast (shredded wheat and banana with soymilk) but before getting ready for work, I will write.  Huge Corona day today – ugh.

Yesterday evening Scott talked to M__ and D__ then L__ and S__.  I got on with L__ and was amazed at how happy she sounds.  Motherhood really agrees with her.

I could not imagine that having a baby would make a person happier.  I think I thought she’d sound crazed.  I remember how satisfied she seemed.

Thursday is yoga night.  I am so pleased to have found Blue Mud.  Maybe I’ll take advantage of their other classes (meditation?)

From this journal I can see that I went to classes at this yoga studio all the time, but I have very little memory of it.  The only thing I remember, frankly, is the owner/teacher warning me that with my posture, I was at risk of becoming a “crooked old woman” when I got older.

March 10, 1997, 5:40 p.m.

L__ and B__ were surprisingly helpful at work today.  They pled just about everyone they talked to, which means several fewer files to deal with the second time around.  There were 31 actual people in our office today, not counting 977s.

A 977 is a form that lets your attorney appear on your behalf.  For one attorney to see 31 people in one day is ka-razy.  No wonder I was ripping my hair out.

I came directly home from Corona, rather than going back to the office.  I am not going to continue to put in the killer hours that I’ve been doing for the past few months.  I doubt any of tomorrow’s trials will go.  Maybe Q__ will be out sick; he looked horrible today.

I am burning a candle.  It’s one of the many grab bag candles Scott picked.

Our family has an annual “white elephant” exchange and for a few years running, Scott could reliably pick all of the candles, even if the package didn’t actually look like it contained one.  It became really uncanny, actually.  He hates candles.

I like to write in a journal even though nothing of consequence ever seems to come up.

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One Response

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  1. Jill said, on June 5, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Thanks for posting this. We don’t often get a chance to reflect on our younger selves and see how age and motherhood give us a completely different perspective.


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