August 29, 2007

Recipe Free Deliciousness

One of my favorite things about having put in time learning how to cook is that I can do it without guidance. I can just look at a bunch of ingredients and come up with an experiment that will be edible.

Just how edible... well, that's where the fun lies. Sometimes, it's an investment to be paid off later. And sometimes, like tonight, those investments pay off.

So, if you ever happen to have these random ingredients lying around (doubtful, we certainly never have before tonight), then by all means, enjoy. If not, feel free to improvise.

Okra Serrano Crustless Quiche

First, pre-heat an oven to 400F.

-1 lb okra, washed and chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds.
-1/2 white onion chopped
-handfull of serrano peppers, stems removed, chopped finely, seeds left in (note: be sure to remove your contacts before this step, or wear gloves)
-olive oil, for baking
-1/2 can stewed tomatoes (full can would probably be fine)

1. Mix ingredients above in a pyrex dish (10X13 or so) and toss on the top shelf of the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or so.

-3 eggs
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-2 T garlic salt
-4 T polenta grano turco
-1/8 block of cotija, crumbled
-other half a can of stewed tomatoes (if the whole can was used in step 1, no worries).

2. Mix ingredients above. Pour over roasted vegetables in pyrex dish (which has been removed from oven) and stir until evenly coated.

3. Return pyrex dish to oven. 15 minutes later, check with a toothpick and if clean, remove. If not clean, return to oven until toothpick is clean in all soft areas, then remove. Allow to cool.

4. Use a spatula to cut squares for each person to be served. Serve warm.

Mmmm.... comfort food. I can't express the sense of satisfaction I feel when I am able to create something new that feels old and comfortable and delicious and nurturing for E and me. Tonight, it had the fun property of being just on the edge between healthy food and not-so-healthy food. Okra is a vegetable, albeit a high glycemic index one. Tomatoes are healthy. Olive oil? Check (at least in moderation). Salt? Well, we won't tell anyone. And the polenta? Well...grano turcro is very healthy... or so I'm told.

So truly, this meal is a dream. It looks and sounds and even reads like a healthy meal, but at the end of the day, what's stickin' to your ribs is heavy cream, egg yolk, salted soft mexican cheese, and some corn grains.

Well... if that doesn't send me off in search of nirvana...

August 26, 2007

A word to the wise

If your so-called car-kit for your phone came with a phone charger and a two-ear-bud headset, beware.

At least in California.

After almost a year of using the thing, today I received a ticket.

Apparently, I broke the law.

August 23, 2007

Why are you doing it?

Lately, I've been thinking about motivation and how it moderates and defines human action (specifically mine), and, more importantly, perhaps, how it doesn't.

For example, I've got three friends going through some tough times. Two of them haven't reached out to me beyond the initial heads-up about their situation.

The one friend who said, "I need X" is easy. I am in a place where I can provide X. I want to help. I can give and they are in need, so it works well. I feel good. They feel better. All is well.

But, the ones who don't ask for something specific that I can help with...that's more difficult. For them, I'm left in a place where I have to decide whether I should reach out to them to offer support, and if so, how, and what exactly this support should be.

After confronting the bit of adversity that's come my way, I know that so much of dealing with life's difficult stuff is a personal battle. Often, it's one you must fight alone. Truly, no one can comfort you, and it sucks, because you wish they could. In fact, often the people who offer comfort and make the biggest effort make you feel more alone, because they make you realize how alone you are in your perspective and situation.

So, I'm left in this place where I must admit that I have made it clear that I support all three of my friends. I have offered my time, my thoughts, and my idea of what might be comforting actions from me, if they want them. And two of them don't.

5 years ago, I imagine both of these friends probably would have reached out to me, and I don't know if it's how I've changed, how they've changed, or just these particular situations that made this time different. Regardless, this time, both of them have refrained from taking me up on my offers.

Part of me wants to reach out again. To try to be even more nurturing. To force my way into the support structure for the ones who won't ask for help. But this additional outreach, if I am honest with myself, is at least partly for me, not them.

And then I get to the title of this post. Why would I reach out again? Do I need to feel like my friends need me to feel valid? Do I need to feel like my friends need me to feel like my hours at the office haven't made me a worse friend? Do I need to be there for them to compensate for my other perceived shortcomings as a friend?

If any of those are the reason, then I shouldn't reach out. None of these things are unconditional love. None of these things are the highest level of compassion. None of these reasons are why I'd want someone to reach out to me.

But I also don't like the idea that people I love are in pain. I want to be involved in fixing it for their sake and I don't think that's bad. When dad was ill, he didn't ask, we all just pitched in, because he was our dad, brother, and friend. We all did what we thought was appropriate and he was very appreciative. The motivation for my behavior back then was simple -- because he's family.

But with friends, it's more difficult. The initial outreach -- that was because they were my friends. The response to the one in need who needed help -- that was also because they were my friend. But an additional gesture to people who haven't responded to offers to help? Why would I be doing it? And if I can't figure it out, maybe I just shouldn't do it?

August 22, 2007

Heirloom Tomato Potato Cheese Bake

After camping, I found myself with leftover potatoes and cheese.

After last weekend's visit to the Fairfield Tomato Festival, I also had several heirloom tomatoes to eat.

After we enjoyed several of the tomatoes (a white queen, a moon glow, a carbon, and several cherry tomatoes), we found ourselves with a few almost over-ripe leftovers (2 carbons and an unidentified orange beefsteak-shaped thing).

So, I tossed this recipe together and served it for dinner. It was very filling, relatively healthy, and extremely delicious.

5 russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped, skins left on
8 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
olive oil, for cooking
italian seasonings
garlic salt
red chili pepper flakes
3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/4 block of queso fresco
4 slices of provolone torn into small pieces

1. Pre-heat oven to 475F.
2. Mix all ingredients except the cheese and tomatoes in a pyrex brownie dish (9X13 or so) and place in top shelf in oven.
3. 30 minutes later, toss the contents of the dish, and then cover them with the tomatoes. Place back on the top shelf for another 20 minutes.
4. Add crumbled queso freso and ripped provolone to the top and let brown for another 15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven when it is appropriately browned to look like a cheese-covered casserole of lasagna-like happiness and serve when it has cooled to be edible without burning.


Probably the hardest thing about being a lawyer for me right now is the lack of time and the choices that it forces.

I just don't have enough time to get all of my work done, sleep, eat well, train for my races, be a good wife, and have a reasonable social life.

I'm constantly juggling.

Yesterday morning I opted for more sleep instead of my run. After work, I opted to babble on the phone with R and go for a walk instead of doing the run I should have done in the morning. Then I opted to go to dinner with E and then do relaxing stuff instead of work before bed.

This morning, I couldn't get out of bed for my run. I have a stomach bug. So after hitting snooze for an hour, I opted to stay home, drink some soda and work from home 'til I feel better.

I'm starting to feel better, so I'll be back on the treadmill soon. But, man, if things could slow down just a wee bit, I would not complain.

I can not WAIT for labor day vacation.

August 19, 2007

Full Circle

Today, I found myself at the local nail salon for a pedicure.

I should have been working, but I'd handled all of the emergencies and I just couldn't motivate myself to start handling the things that hadn't yet become emergencies. They will evolve, of course. I can see the emergency cloud formation and the storm it promises to bring this week. I know the names of the clients whose emergencies are brewing, and I like them, I feel for them, and I will likely sacrifice sleep or relaxation on their behalf in the midst of the storm.

But, the storm is not yet here.

So, I did what any self-respecting woman with a serious case of procrastination and an even more serious case of runner's toes would do (the flip-flop display of toes I made at the Fairfield tomato festival was sub-par). I closed my email, I pulled out my home todo list to evaluate what I could do outside of work, I poured myself a glass of wine, and I called the salon.

When they said they could take me on short notice, I took it as an omen. E offered to put my half-glass of white wine in the fridge, while I drove the mile to the salon. For the next 45 minutes, I sat in one of the highest tech chairs in the world and let it massage me while Linda worked on my feet. I wrote thank you notes for birthday presents, which was a task that had been hanging over my head. The difficulties of my life slowly dissolved into the tub of hot water and the machinery behind my back and under my legs. Those few annoyances that stayed with me were massaged away by skillful strokes on my calf muscles.

In short, I indulged and now we (both myself and my newly periwinkle toes) are more prepared for the coming week than we would have otherwise been.

As my feet were drying I considered whether I should return to the house to do more work or just call it a day. On the work side were the emergencies growing. But team relaxo had the ingredients for chilled avocado soup just begging to be made and the reality that not a single email had arrived on my PDA during my hour at the salon despite several I had sent out in the hours prior.

As I debated my decision, I couldn't help but overhear the two women at the drying station near me.

He's in a better place now. No pain. No sickness. You can miss him, but he's not hurting. Which is good.


I know. And you know he wants to be there. I think they get to decide. I think my mother made a choice to go. They told her my sister died. I didn't want them to, but they did. And then, she changed. Before that, she told me she'd seen the light but that it wasn't her time. That the light didn't have any sorrow or pain or separation. And that when it was her time it would be nice. And I swear, when she found out about my sister, she just wanted that light. She was tired. And she deserved a place with no pain.

I couldn't help but think of a similar trip I made to a salon , almost exactly a year ago, under unfortunately similar circumstances.

There is something comforting about a pedicure. Like Jesus in the parable, the esthetician lovingly washes your feet, plus, they clean your nails and massage your muscles.

I think I needed to see and hear those women today. They reminded me how far I've come and how much less I hurt when I think of Dad, but how many other stresses and slight annoyances I've acquired since I was so singly focused on the sharp pain of his sickness and eventual death, which was all that mattered at the time. Their discussion today was so open and yet so oblivious. At one point, one of them literally stared through me and didn't hear a question I posed to her as she reached over me to claim her shoes. She was raw. She needed care.

They were in a place of pain similar to the one I know I was in, where I didn't realize how much my humanity imposed upon the room and furthermore how much that humanity makes people want to make it easier on you. I wanted to reach out to these women. To comfort them. I loved them for their sorrow and their desire to comfort themselves in one of the ways that I had chosen. And yet, I remembered the need to be alone. So I did not speak to them. Instead, I silently thanked the cosmos for the luck of running into them and the reminder that life goes on and comes in many flavors.

We, us humans, are more alike than we realize. And we all deserve to indulge and take care of ourselves, no matter what the situation.

August 15, 2007

Night Owls

In case you were wondering, the occasional all-nighter in law school is good training.

It's weird to join the land of those who work in the dark again.

But that is me tonight. I'm up. Working. Caffeinated. Waiting for a turn of documents from opposing counsel.

August 14, 2007

Best Surprise Present in a Long Time

Tonight, after I spent about 2 hours in the office, E wheeled my chair around and pointed it towards the corner.

I twisted back to look at him.


He just firmly held the chair in place with his body and with his hands gently rotated my shoulders to face the way they'd face if I wasn't like a kid squirming to face him and understand why I had to sit still in the spinny chair.



A brand new printer!!!!

Several months ago, my printer started printing stripes. A few pages, and it added screeches to start its long, angsty descent into its blackened goth phase, just prior to a successful suicide.

Needless to say, I haven't worked from home when I've needed to print in several months.

And that's fine. I enjoy working from the office. It's where the majority of people I need to interact with are located. They walk over and find me. Being in the office is generally more efficient than working from home, if you need to collaborate.

But, sometimes, you just want to bust out work without distractions. And as a lawyer, this likely means you are gonna have to print. Plus, I just like printing things: Receipts; Letters to companies: Running training plans to go on the bulletin board. I love paper and ink and letters and all that crap, actually.

So E's surprise present to me is the best of both worlds. First, and foremost, it's a loving and thoughtful present from the category of one of my favorite things in the world (instruments that allow me to communicate). Second, and almost equally cool, it's going to make my life much easier.

For example, I doubt we'll try to check into the wrong hotel next time we're in SLO because I couldn't print the confirmation. Because, basically, what it comes down to, is this:

If you are the kind of person who won't notice a brand new printer next to your desk for two hours, you *NEED* to print evidence of where you are going, what you are doing, and what you have done on a regular basis.

August 13, 2007


Two nights in nature are good for the soul.

True nature has no connectivity, so you can't check your email. In my rebellion against technology, I didn't even shower until we got home even though we took a 6 mile hike (and boy are my calves sore).

Of course, we brought a coleman gas stove, and next time we discussed how we should bring the aerobed, so I guess it's not really a rebellion against technology.

Shocking, but it's more of a rebellion against work. I'm in the middle of two huge projects and several smaller ones at work. But I needed to get away. I needed it so much that I left on Friday morning by telling E that I'd be home by 4:30 PM to camp, even if it meant that I got fired.

It didn't even come close to that.

But there's something about the practice of high-intensity law that makes me feel like I need to be ready to quit at any time. I need to be ready to get fired. I need to remind myself that I don't need the job as much as they need me, so I can draw some lines.

Perhaps I'm overdramatic. Maybe this mindset isn't needed. But I find it comforting and oddly necessary. I have to constantly remind myself that I *choose* this life and therefore I get to have quite a bit of say in how it all goes down.

Now if only I could convince myself that the 8 AM Monday conference call I'm headed to wasn't a bad omen for the rest of the week, I'd be in good shape.

August 7, 2007

A Random Thought

Anytime I want to complain about something relating to my job, it's very easy to find a way to do so without breaching confidentiality obligations.

But when stuff at work is really cool... well, it's not really kosher to talk about it.

I wonder if lawyers aren't actually as sad, bitter, depressed, frustrated as we may seem, but rather, that our professional obligations require us to appear that way?

Probably not. But still, an interesting question.

August 5, 2007


Saturday, a partner walked into my office with a bill. Luckily, I happened to be there.

He asked if I knew where a particular charge that was allocated to one of his clients had come from. I didn't *know*, but I could guess.

I think the summer associate I supervised on a project severely over-utilized some of our more expensive research services. How, exactly, one can rack up several thousand dollars of these particular charges, I am not certain.

But, I will find out on Monday and the firm will most likely have to eat the cost, since it never should have been incurred in the first place.

I assumed the summer associate knew how to avoid unnecessary charges. I also assumed the summer associate wouldn't do unnecessary work.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions...

So, while I'm over here making an ass out of you and me, and feeling sheepish, I've also got some good news to report.

I didn't freak out when the partner showed me my mistake. The constant fear that I'm fucking up at work is apparently at bay, because when confronted with an actual fuck-up, I took it in stride.

Also, he didn't seem to be overly critical of me, he just wanted me to handle it. It turns out, he was finishing up details before leaving for vacation, and the fact that I was there on a Saturday made his life a little easier because he could explain what he wanted me to do to fix the billing issue and leave with the comfort of having successfully handed it off instead of sending an email and hoping I understood.

I *rarely* go in to the office on weekends. When I work on the weekends, I do my best to work from home.

But this time, I'm glad I was there.