Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Not Just One Dog; It's a Pack

I was served with a subpoena today.  It seems the opposing counsel in a case in which I was involved wants me to testify against my former client.  Really?  Are you that desperate?  I guess the answer is "yes."  There are numerous reasons why that is not OK.  We can start with attorney-client privilege, the confidentiality of the settlement process and follow it all up with the Rules of Professional Conduct, all of which say I shouldn't have to testify.  The other attorney doesn't care.  Winning for their client is everything, and I guess the end justifies the means.  I followed that by a case in which the other attorney did next to nothing throughout the entire representation, including drafting documents he agreed to do so that I had to.  Did he apologize?  Did he seem the least bit repentant?  Nope.   The not so surprising thing is that their clients are just like them.  I wish I could say this type of behavior is confined to lawyers and clients, but I can't.  It's wrestling season, and as mom of the coach, I attend all the matches.  The first match of the season, our boys were doing very well.  Then two wrestlers from the other team faked injuries so they could get a rest and their second wind during their match and a third purposefully untied his shoelace for the same reason (if you've never seen a shoelace on a wrestling shoe, trust me that it can take a few minutes to get it trussed up right.).  The rests turned the tide on the matches.  It was obvious that their behavior was sanctioned by the coach. We know what kind of attorneys and clients they will make, don't we?   Here in the Trenches.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cookies Again

I so apologize for my absence over the last few weeks.  There have been two contributing factors:  Christmas cookie season, and more computer problems.  Writing my blog on an iPad is doable, but not easy.  Christmas cookies take every bit of my "free" time over a two week period.  The computer was fixed today, and the last of the cookies were delivered, so I'm back.  Thanks for your patience.

Today was our second favorite day here in the Trenches - the delivery of Christmas cookies in Frederick County.   In a lot of ways, the welcome is even greater and warmer there.  It's a smaller court, so I know all of the judges a lot better than in Montgomery.  The offices of courthouse personnel are smaller as well, so I know lots of those folks as well.  They know me....and my cookies.  In fact, when I would be making my deliveries and everyone's favorite cookies were the topic of conversation yesterday.  I know because everyone told me so.  We need happy days in the Trenches, especially at this time of year when tensions run high in families with custody issues.  So do the people at the courthouse.  Happy holidays - Here in the Trenches.

Monday, December 9, 2013

One of Our Two Favorite Days

Today was one of my two favorite days of the work year.  It was the day I deliver cookies to one of the two courthouses in which I appear most often.  It is the one time of the year I can count on people being happy to see me.  In fact, they really look forward to it.  More than that, however, it's an opportunity to catch up with people I don't see all that often because I settle most of my cases, and to chat with those people I only see in a formalized setting.  Because of all that, it takes hours to deliver cookies.  It's not just me.  I ran into a colleague today who makes English toffee (known around the courthouse a "crack" because it's so addictive).  She was also delivering her wares, and I noticed that it took her about the same amount of time in each chambers as me.  I also love this day because I deliver cookies to the courtroom clerks, the clerk's office and a number of other behind the scenes departments.  These folks make the courthouse work (and when it doesn't work, it's usually because of problems in these departments.  They don't get paid a lot.  They don't get a lot of credit when things go right.  They have to deal with a lot of unreasonable people all day long.  They are beyond happy when people recognize the hard work they do and remember them at holiday time.  Our little Erin is now part of their ranks, so we know how wonderful these folks can be.  Oh, and did I forget the security guards?  No.  A lot of those folks have been there for years, putting up with people who don't want to empty their pockets.  Yet, they usually have a smile and a kind word.  Every courthouse contains a lot of hard working people doing their jobs.  They have more power than you think, and can make your experience in the courthouse more pleasant or more unpleasant by the way they do their jobs.  It's human nature to try harder to be fabulous and pleasant for those who appreciate what they do.  I think they have tough jobs and for the most part do them well.  I tell them that a lot.  The cookies let them know I value what they do every bit as much as I do the people in positions of power.  They truly are Here in the Trenches.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's Here......

On the first day of Christmas Cookie Season, I bought:

25 boxes of butter
6 dozen eggs
3 quarts of heavy cream
30 lbs of flour
20 lbs of sugar
32 oz powdered sugar
120 oz of pecans
40 oz of walnuts
104 oz chrystallized ginger
6 bottles ground ginger
4 bottles corn syrup
3 jars molasses
11 bags of coconut
3 bottles vanilla extract
36 oz unsweetened chocolate
9 bags chocolate chips
1 container of cocoa powder
assorted spices


the box full of Christmas movies.

Let the baking begin!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Who's the Parent?

The holidays are a lot on my mind right now, as it is for a lot of us here in the Trenches.  It is, historically, a time when we're very busy.  Everybody wants the children with them.  Mom's holiday celebration is more important than Dad's.  Dad's holiday celebration is more important than Mom's.  The parents think how horrible it will be to be at a family get together and be the only one without their children.   What about having to leave a family celebration early so the children can be with the other parent? Those situations must be avoided at all costs, and the only way that can happen is if the children are with them.  Then there are the folks whose parenting agreement isn't written with sufficient detail.  When, exactly is the halfway point of winter break?  Is it on Wednesday or Thursday?  Is it at noon or midnight?  The other parent can't have more time with the children, so these measurements must be exact.  Really?  Who's the adult here?  Normally, I would say it's the parents, but not here in the Trenches.  In the Trenches, the adult is usually the child.  Why do I say that?   Most families have a holiday tradition.  They usually spend the holiday with one side of the family or the other.  Not so after the divorce.  The children miss what they know, but they don't want to worry their parents - mom and dad have enough to think about.  They stoically endure the new holiday reality so that their parents don't feel bad.  Shouldn't it be the parents who endure so the children's holiday traditions are preserved?        Shouldn't it be the parent who spends somewhat less time with their child so the exchange doesn't have to happen at midnight?  One would think so.  Unfortunately, here in the Trenches, one would often be wrong.  How hard can it be for a parent to put the children first?  Harder than it seems.  Here in the Trenches.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ah, the Holidays

I've been gone for a few days.  I went home to be with my Mom for Thanksgiving.  It was a tough holiday, the first holiday since my Dad died.  We didn't have a big dinner.  Just "My Cousin Vinny" and Steak Diane.  Christmas will be worse. It was his father's birthday and his favorite holiday.  I had lunch with a friend today.  She's suffered more loss and pain in the past decade than most people undergo in a lifetime.  She lost her husband the same week I lost my Dad.  She spent Thanksgiving with friends instead of family.  She's going on a vacation for Christmas.  We're having new people join our family celebration this year.  The point is, we're both doing the holidays a bit differently this year.  Doing everything the same would be just a painful reminder that Dad's missing.  Not that we need any reminders.  Nor does my friend.  We need a few new memories to ease our way through the holiday season, to make us smile and laugh instead of cry.
And the Trenches?  Well, the holidays are the time of year when families gather.  Because of that, it is the time of year when divorcing people feel the loss of their extended family most keenly.  Thanksgiving at the in laws?  Gone.  Christmas morning with the children?  Only in alternating years.  Your brother in law's daughter?  Never again.  The losses pile up, and most people don't realize what they are until they're gone.  It hurts - a lot.  The nuclear family breaks up and the losses are felt through the extended one as well.  All of the family connections change and the traditions are lost.  Some people spend the holidays mourning what they no longer have.  Others are determined to create new memories.  Is one way more correct than the other?  No.  Everyone deals with loss differently.  What works for one person isn't necessarily right for someone else.  I wouldn't feel right going on vacation instead of being with my family over Christmas.  That doesn't mean my friend's choice is wrong - it's just not right for me.  We all grieve in our own way.  Just because someone else's way isn't yours doesn't make it wrong.   Here in the Trenches.