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
Tags: BigLaw, cleanse, detox, eighteen-month-old check up, Kitchen Aid mixer, New Year's Eve 2008, tax law
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
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.)
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.
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.
Just as fun as baking: hiding in the box
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.
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.
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.
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.