Saturday, September 1, 2012


Late nights and leisurely mornings had been my norm for so long that I thought waking up early would certainly be the hardest part of my new routine, so I am happily surprised at how easy it is to answer the alarm clock's call.  So many things are changing for me now but I wanted to keep some things as normal as possible. I get up a little earlier than I have to so the dogs and I can still spend our morning coffee time together.  I'm surprised at how much I truly miss them throughout the day.

Noelle is in the early stages of heat, which means she's changing too, along with the dynamic between her and Gideon. They've been best friends and partners in property crime for months now, but Gideon's doggy instincts have alerted him that there's something different about Noelle, who is still blissfully unaware of what's happening to her body.  Noelle is still very much a puppy, and has brought out the puppy in Gideon, but I still can't help but get a little saddened by the idea that she's growing up.  She is still as diligent as ever in her quest to catch a bird, though.

With resignation, I go inside to dress for the day after I've fed the dogs.  Heels and make-up have also become a part of my daily routine, as well as my goal to get to work a little bit earlier every day, until ultimately I'm there by seven.  It's hard to get used to the idea that no one is really telling me what time to be there every day, that I'm responsible for making sure I put the work in to meet my billable hour requirement.  I'm taking my cues from one of the firm's top billers, and my colleague now, Ken.  Ken's there every morning at 7, works through lunch, but is rarely there after five.  Ken makes a billing requirement look not so bad.

Billable hours.  As an aspiring criminal defense attorney, out to save the world from injustices like the death penalty and overly aggressive prosecutors, I assumed I'd spend my professional life with the Kern County Public Defenders and never have to deal with things like billable hours.  The legal profession is the most noble, and we're supposed practice law because we are passionate about it, not because we're getting paid to. But the thing about a bleeding heart is that eventually you bleed dry.  I'm less worried about everyone else these days, and a lot more concerned about myself.

The concern has paid off.  At the end of the day I am exhausted, overwhelmed by the amount of new information being thrown at me. . . and happy.  I'm thinking, and solving problems, and learning new things, and getting excited about an area of law I never would have thought of as exciting.  Slowly, my ability to focus is returning.  Every work day goes by a little bit faster, and I feel a little bit more accomplished.

In the evenings I take time to notice every day how Gabriel's blueberry bush is thriving before greeting two dogs who are overjoyed to see me.  I also usually come home to some new handiwork of theirs - a new hole in ground, a newly destroyed patch of grass, or another shredded geranium.  It's hard to get mad at them, though.

I take that back.  It's pretty easy to get mad at them.  But the anger fades away easily.  "They're just dogs," my mom says, but they've borne the unfair burden of filling the void in my life since Gabriel died and Ben left.  They went from living in a home with two parents, to a single-parent home with a working, emotionally strained mom.  So while I get angry at the broken fence boards and chewed-up water hose, I'm thrilled to be able to unwind with them in the evenings after a long day.

The nights have become harder.  Though getting up early hasn't been a problem, getting to sleep early has been.  I find myself laying in bed, and for the first time since Ben left, feeling lonely in it.  Maybe it's the impending fall and winter months that have me longing for someone to sleep beside.  Maybe the realization that I'm alone is finally sinking in.

But the loneliness is, for now, fleeting.  As my schedule becomes more regular and I scale back my evening shifts at the bar, I look forward to the freedom that having a "normal" schedule will bring: Dinner with the girls, an upcoming weekend visit with my law school roommate in Oxnard, a holiday off from work, and getting to watch American Idol as it airs next season.

My restlessness, coupled with my fear of gaining weight in a sedentary job, keep me moving about the office frequently.  I've welcomed the tips on weight maintenance from others who work in a professional setting.  I park my car in the far end of the lot so I have a longer walk to and from the building, take the stairs when I'm not shadowing another attorney, and stand up as much as I can reasonably get away with.  Once in a while, though, I sit back in MY chair, and look at MY desk, in MY office and think to myself, "Life is pretty sweet.  And I'm a lawyer."

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