Working out at work (?)

January 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Oprah, running, the firm | 2 Comments
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Part II of my quest to fit exercise into my new life as a lawyer/mom (Part I was yoga at work): I joined the gym in my office building. It would never, ever be described as a “nice” gym. That being said, the cost per month is less than half of my current, crappy gym, where there’s always at least one machine on the fritz, and all the treadmills have gum in the water-bottle-holder-places.*

I left my desk, rode the elevator down 27 floors, filled out the paperwork to sign up, changed, ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes (I know I hate treadmills, but I hate going for more than a week without running even more), rinsed off in the shower (again, it was towards the end of the day so I didn’t bother to wash my hair, nor did I mind “glowing” for awhile afterwards — I had no meetings left to attend), and was back at my desk exactly one hour later. Not bad. Had I not had to register, I might have been back at my desk in 50 minutes. Or could have run another mile.

Talk to me in two weeks and ask me how many times I have been able to pull this off. Still, even though I had quite a bit going on today (and so knowing that I’d be working after I got home anyway) I forced myself to go. The lesson learned is: if you can force yourself to make the time, you always feel better afterwards.  So mundane, but so important for a working mom (or working anyone) to remember. Not to sound too much like Oprah, or Jillian/Bob on “The Biggest Loser,” but you have to make time for yourself, too, even if it’s at the slightly shoddy gym in your office building.

*I actually kind of like my crappy gym better than my former, fancy gym.  When I run, I like to wear old t-shirts over spandex. I throw my hair up into an elastic and stick a few bobby pins in the layers. At the fancy gym, women wore expensive yoga tops on the treadmill. More often than not, they also wore makeup and, even worse, WORE THEIR HAIR DOWN. Long hair, blown out into waves. Flowing behind them on the treadmill. Why? And how? Sure, at fancy gym you might see Larry Bird, or Justin Timberlake, or Kate Hudson as they cruised through town for a night at the Garden or on a movie shoot. And it’s not like I feel self-conscious in my less-than-attractive workout attire, but I just cannot run next to someone on a treadmill whose hair is in her face without wanting to yank it into a ponytail for her. I’m not some aweomse runner or anything, but I cannot take someone like that seriously.

Blogroll addition: Mrs. O

January 26, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Posted in politics, read this | 2 Comments
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Several of the day’s little happenstances having to do either with blogs or fashion serendipitously culminated in a new blog favorite.

The blog-related:  There’s a new legal blog out there, Boston Common Law. The graphics (and some of the writing) are a bit JV, but it did break the story of layoffs in a well known Boston firm before Above the Law. The new blog is written by someone named Ms. P, and my law school friends and I spent part of the morning trying to guess her identity (while denying our own involvement, of course.)

The fashion-related: First, I noticed around lunchtime that one of my pant legs had come unhemmed, making me self-conscious for the rest of the day. (That’s sort of fashion related because I was thinking: how the hell could this expensive suit be coming unravelled after only a few months?) Then, a work friend emailed a query: could she wear these red patent stilettos, bought for her sister’s bachelorette party, to work? Apparently the saleswoman at the store had suggested she could.  “Where does she think I work?!” demanded my friend. So we had to discuss whether anyone (other than strippers, obviously ) could click around the office in these. 

These events — the blog speculating, the trashy-fashion trash-talking (not the unhemmed pants) — were the small highlights of a frigid Monday, so Lindsey’s link (that girl must read 100 blogs a day, I swear…) to a relatively new fashion-related blog was the icing on the cake. See for yourself:

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(Note to self — i.e., my graphic designer — I need to get me one of these little pictures/links for other people to download onto their sites!)

Yoga at work?

January 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Posted in the firm, yoga | 1 Comment
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I was tipped off to a yoga studio across the street from work called YogaPower Studio. It’s a lovely studio — high ceilings, wood floors, exposed brick walls. The classes are a quick 60 or 75 minutes long, and though the room is heated, there are showers in the changing rooms for quick rinse before you head back to work. How do I know this? I snuck out to the Friday 4 p.m. class yesterday. I have been billing about 10 hours a day all week, and already had billed a solid seven for the day (and knew I still had another hour or two to go).  I was kind of spent, yet still had to stay at the office until someone got back to me on something, which I knew they wouldn’t be doing so for at least another hour or two.  I reasoned I could either sit at my desk and surf around Facebook or investigate whether this studio might be a longterm, workable, workday yoga option. 

Exactly 12 minutes after I left my desk I was changed and on my mat waiting for class to start.  And by 5:25 I was changed back into work clothes (albeit somewhat sweaty — glowing? — as I skipped the shower. In my defense, it was the end of the day on Friday…) and back at my desk.  The class was good — a nice, hot room, but I prefer more of a consistent vinyasa flow. Instead, it was one of those classes where the teacher keeps interrupting class to demonstrate all these crazy poses, which really just let her show off what a great yogi she is and which you are then expected to do even though there’s no way you ever could — poses such as “Sleeping Yogi.” (Lie on your back, and then cross your ankles back behind your head, and and then clasp your hands under your butt. Seriously.) So your precious time is wasted feeling kind of defeated.

I’m wary of making a regular habit of heading to the elevator bank at noon with a yoga mat tucked under my arm (you can rent mats, but it costs an extra $4…).  However, I’m glad to know the studio is there for a quick fix. Maybe I’ll keep a spare set of yoga clothes in my file cabinet for windows of opportunity. 

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Anna Forrest doing Sleeping Yogi pose. (I should note that Anna Forrest is one of the foremost yogis in the country, and, yet, the instructor actually thought it would be a good idea to include this pose in our little class…)

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Posted in politics, the firm | 4 Comments

Everyone knows I am a politics junkie. I always have been. In high school I wanted to be a U.S. Senator. Now I want to be a speechwriter (and found out that a coworker is friends with wunderkind Jon Favreau, a little connection I’m going to keep in my back pocket…) I had MSNBC and CNN streaming desktop all day, and was one of the first to arrive in the firm’s conference room to watch the inauguration on the projector screens with dozens and dozens of my colleagues, not really caring when they saw me wipe away tears. And I was the literally the last to leave the conference room and head back to my desk — only after I had witnessed this:

Obama Inauguration

As much as I marvelled over the details and the entirety of today’s events, I continue to be awed by the absolute peaceful transition of power that took place at noon. No matter our political affinities, we should be grateful and inspired by this. And, I should note, how utterly classy of the Obamas to escort the Bushes to the helicopter, bidding them farewell with handshakes and hugs and a mouthed, “God Bless” from Michelle Obama to George Bush. I was pretty proud today — cliche alert! — to be an American.

And now, a running stream of commentary:  Craig Robinson wearing a Princeton scarf (I don’t care if it was some other school! It looked orange and black!); the Obama girls’ beautiful coats (especially loved the red and pink on Sascha!); I did love Michelle’s coat (and am loving her white off-the-shoulder dress at the balls); Rick Warren almost ruined it for me — especially when you compare him to the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery; Jill Biden’s boots and that short skirt! (If I ran five miles a day and looked like her, I’d do it too! My friend Kara thinks her kind of a hot mess and sure to be sporting lots of cleavage at the inaugural balls; I think she looked great, although we can debate the appropriateness…); Joe Biden has handsome blue eyes; John Roberts — wtf? Were you nervous? Also, do you think Justice Stevens is retiring, like, tomorrow?; if you want to see the funniest comment about Aretha’s hat, look here. Finally, I spent most of inauguration day texting and on Facebook, just revelling sharing in this moment. I loved today — like November 5, I woke up feeling it special, and I am finding it hard to tear myself away from the coverage more than 12 hours later.

Weekend

January 18, 2009 at 10:01 am | Posted in gastronomy, running, weekend | 1 Comment
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I hate the treadmill. 

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Despite the frigid temperatures yesterday, I just couldn’t bring myself to head to our gym, which is located in a dingy basement.  The cold sun on the frozen Charles provided much more inspiration!

It’s snowing again. Below, the view from our bedroom window over the rooftops of Back Bay.

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My Kitchen Aid mixer has changed everything! While the flakes continued to fall outside, Little Buggy and I spent the morning baking. “Chocolate chip or oatmeal butterscotch,” I asked Tim. “Both,” he replied. And so that’s what he’s getting: chocolate-and-butterscotch-chip cookies.

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My year so far…

January 17, 2009 at 10:04 am | Posted in gastronomy, little bug, running, Starbucks, tax law is sexy, the firm, wine, yoga | 1 Comment
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The first two weeks of 2009 have been frigid and snowy. I feel a bit guilty for not writing, but I’ll now do my best to catch up. Here’s a short list of 2009’s milestones thus far:

1. New Year’s in the Country

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Little Buggy and her friend, August, check out the snowplows on a snowy New Year’s Eve night.

We woke up New Year’s Eve day to a veritable blizzard but wouldn’t let that keep us from heading out to Tim and Isabella’s newly renovated farmhouse in Concord. (In any event, I was in charge of the wine for the dinner party, so I couldn’t let everyone else down, right?) We took the T to North Station and then the commuter rail out to Concord, and I have to say, when we stepped off the train and Tim, our host, was waving to us on the snowy platform in his Barbour coat and wellies, I felt as if we had arrived for a weekend in the English countryside. (However, note to self: in the future do not take a toddler on a train without adequate snacks.)

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From this…

There were four couples for dinner, exquisitely prepared by Isabella and her friend Lisanne (both of them true gourmets). We started with prune gnocchi (with a fruity and sweet Dolcetto d’ Alba that perfectly balanced the prunes — by far the best wine pairing of the night), then salad, then a pork tenderloin roasted with fennel and rosemary (with a Chateauneuf du Pape, which I picked really only because it’s my favorite wine, although it did go well with the pork…) I also had brought some cool dessert wines — a Bonny Doon framboise, a sparkling Shiraz from Australia, and some port to go with the chocolate fondue we were to have for dessert. However, we didn’t quite make it to the last course, as the evening devolved (evolved?) into a spontaneous dance party in the home’s detached studio, where we rang in the New Year as Little Buggy and little August slept away in the main house, peacefully oblivious.

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…to this

2. I bought a Kitchen Aid Mixer

I woke up New Year’s day to the sun sparkling on the snowy fields and low stone walls of Concord — picture perfect New England. Isabella already had baked banana bread; Little Buggy and August had pulled chairs up to the kitchen island to “help” her. I resolved right then to finally purchase the Kitchen Aid I’d been craving for years, justifying it with cozy thoughts of Little Buggy helping me bake over the years. And, indeed, in just two weeks I’ve made chocolate chip cookies and my own banana bread — more baking than occurred in all of 2008.

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Just as fun as baking: hiding in the box

3. Detox

Before all this baking happened, however, starting January 5 (a Monday — the real beginning of 2009) I went on a 5.5 day cleanse: no dairy, caffeine, soy, alcohol (duh), sugar, or grains. The first two days were rather painful only in that I was hungry. But I made myself a rash of healthy things in advance — soups, smoothies — and by Friday I felt great. My skin was clear, and I had lost about seven pounds (for real!) I’m back on the sauce: caffeine, alcohol, dairy, but I feel good about dropping that holiday weight, even if some of it creeps back on. I do sort of wish I could eat like that all the time, but frankly, it’s boring. Interestingly, I didn’t miss the cheese or wine all that much, and the hardest part for me was not stopping in the Starbucks in the lobby on my way up to my office. There is something innately comforting to me (Pavlovian?) about the routine of standing in line, grabbing that cardboard cup, and settling in at my desk to begin the day.

4. Yoga!

I’ve been to yoga six times! I’ve been getting up at 5:45 a.m. to get to the 6:15 class at Prana Power Yoga in Central Square. Even though it makes the mornings a bit more hectic, my days are so much better. I’d like to try to do it every morning — maybe that can be my next goal.

5. Running Club

The 2009 running club was inaugurated by Ellen and me last Saturday on an icy cold morning on the Charles. It was more like “adventure ice running” over large unplowed sections of the path on the river, but we felt rather proud afterwards. This morning’s running club has been cancelled due to the six degree cold outside.

6. Lots of snowstorms.

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Helping Daddy dig out the cars

7. Little Buggy is 18 months!

She had her 18 month doctor’s appointment on Thursday. She’s a healthy little girl. Weight: 24 lbs, 11 oz (50th %); Height: 33 1/4 inches (quite literally off the charts for height percentile — greater than 100%).  Both Tim and I were early growers, so that’s not surprising. Still, I wonder if she’ll end up being over six feet, like her Aunt Stephanie. She’s talking almost incessantly these days (wonder where that came from?). I can pretty much understand what she wants, and she can parrot back almost anything, making me realize I really do have to start curtailing my use of four-letter words.

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Cooking away…

8. Work

I’ve been a BigLaw attorney for four months. I feel a little bit like I did when arrived at Princeton and was surrounded by people who, like me, legitimately loved school, and books, and asking questions, and learning. In the tax department, I’m also surrounded by people who are unabashed about their nerdy love of the tax code and the problem-solving it presents. I think this is what makes practicing tax law a bit different from corporate or litigation. In corporate, some people love that rush of the deadline, of staying up late, of making huge transactions happen (well, to the extent that they do anymore…). In litigation, people love doing the case research, writing briefs, looking for that one clue that will turn their case. In tax, people like to sit around and discuss the freaking TAX CODE, inventing scenario after scenario of possible outcomes.

More to my specific interests, however, each time I have the chance to do the college and university tax-exempt work (that I went to my particular firm with the hopes of specializing in), I am reminded of my real passion for education-related issues. This week I attended a conference for college and university practitioners, as well as a firm-sponsored lunch on topics in this area. Many of the issues in this area are far from tax related — admissions, labor, etc. — and I do hope to get some exposure to these areas as well. I also was assigned a pro-bono case in which I’m going to represent the mother of an autistic child against the Department of Education to help extend the girl’s education-related benefits after she turns 21. I’m nervous, as I am going to be the lawyer — but this is the benefit (indeed, the point, I think) of doing pro bono work as a young attorney. You have client exposure and responsibility that you’d never have in your normal place at the very bottom of the pecking order (to wit: I will be spending part of my vacation day on Monday transcribing , word-for-word, a two- to three-hour conference call. Not really using my, um, legal skills…)

Oh, yawn! Was that so boring? (Told you I was a dork.)

Anyway, one more thought about work: if you click on that link to the right to “Above the Law” you’ll see that this must-read legal blog has been listing almost daily firms that are laying off workers or freezing salaries. My firm, while halving bonuses like all the other firms, is not freezing salaries, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, things are nerve-wracking, as they are for everyone in the country. If I have a job in 2010 — bonuses, salary increases or not — I will be truly grateful.

And with that, I embark upon the latter half of the month, promising to update a bit more regularly.

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