Move over Jane Austen as my imaginary Best Friend Forever

April 24, 2009 at 7:50 am | Posted in read this, tax law is sexy | Leave a comment
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Too gorgeous out to write a long post — need to get my work done and get outside! But please click on this link to see the “Opinion” column — a fusion of art and photos and observation — in today’s Times. It is a subtly provoking and lovely musing on women and the law.


April 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Posted in not yet written, read this, wine | 5 Comments
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As some readers know, I traveled almost around the world from July 1999 through March 2000, armed only with an Arcteryx backpack. I have no pictures of that trip, only three journals, densely packed with my minuscule, typewriter-like handwriting. Someday I’ll get the nerve to look back at them and write something meaningful.

I don’t think of that trip either with frequency or urgency, but every now and again I’m pulled back. For example, just this past weekend, Little Bug and I were taking an early Saturday morning walk. Believe it or not, among the boutiques on Newbury is a Buddhist gift shop called Prem-La, and swinging over the door is a big sign with the “Buddha’s Eyes.”

“Owl? Owl!” pointed Buggy at the sign.
See, they do kind of look like owls’ eyes (isn’t my baby smart?). I don’t think I had ever really noticed that store before other than to perhaps note the Tibetan prayer flags out of the corner of my eye and wonder in passing how on earth a store like that stayed in business. But, now, those Buddha’s eyes immediately (I’m not being dramatic — the connection was intense) transported me to the wondrous and yet frightening three weeks I spent in Nepal, subsisting on garlic soup (for the altitude sickness) and staggering up some 18,000 feet to cross Thorung-La on the Annapurna circuit. Those eyes were all over Nepal — on stupas, homes, t-shirts — and were utterly otherworldly, mesmerizing to me then.

And then, tonight I stumbled upon this Times article on the revamping of European backpackers’ hostels into something a bit more upscale than the stereotype. Oh, but how I lived the stereotype for the first four months of that journey as I traipsed across Europe — in the first hostel I ever stayed in, in Amsterdam, where I was almost too tall for the stairwell and was almost electrocuted by a shower head that inexplicably shared space with the overhead lightbulb. Or at the hostel in Normandy filled with happy Brits and lots of very cheap, very good French wine, which was drunk into the 10 p.m. summer dusk as we relived the day’s tour of the D-Day beaches. Or the hostel in Sevilla, smelling like cat pee, and next door to potentially the best bar in the world, La Carboneria, where a group of Australians tried to recruit me to help them drive their ambulance across Europe (for real). Further east, the only bus or train out of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic left at 9 a.m., so travelers at the Australian-run hostel ended up staying days, weeks, or months past their intended departure because the amount of (real) absinthe consumed often made it hard to get out of the hard, wooden bunk beds before noon. (On my first night there I heard a distinct “thud” from one of the common bunk rooms. “What was that?” I asked another guest. “Oh, it must have been one of the Australians falling out of the top bunk again.”) One of my favorite hostels was the Mountain Hostel in Grindlewald, in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, in the shadow of the Eiger, where dinner was an almost cliched combination of cheese, chocolate, and French bread and the duvets soft and clean. One of the worst was in Budapest and was called, simply, “Back Pack Hostel.” Here, travelers slept on mattresses on the floor, seven or eight to a room. My room was in a musty basement, and I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night to see a random dog skulking around the floor (ugh!). (Check out the website if you have time — the pictures say it all…)

The Times article describes hostels filled with wi-fi, internet access, bars, and private baths. That sounds nice. The article, however, also had pictures of the hostels’ common rooms — much nicer than the ones I remembered — but what really affected me (and inspired this post) were the travelers themselves,  pictured relaxing over foosball, a cafe table, a drink. More likely than not, they had met only hours earlier. More likely than not they would head out together that evening for drinks and would stay up very late, sharing stories and perhaps shots of absinthe (take a teaspoon full of sugar, dip it in the absinthe, and then light it on fire; the sugar will liquify, then stir it back into the absinthe to cut the bitterness). They might even travel together for a few days, as I ended up doing with the aforementioned Australian ambulance drivers (we re-met in Tangier while waiting for a train to Marrakesh; re-meeting the same group of crazy Australians is not as random as it sounds). 

These pictures made me nostalgic — achingly so — for such spontaneous moments of camaraderie. I’ll never travel avec backpack again — I don’t particularly want to — but I also realize with certainty that neither will I stagger off an overnight train and explore the cobblestones of a new city at dawn. I actually would like to do that again, just as I’d like to drink cheap Italian (French, Spanish) wine outside, maybe gazing up at some European church steeples or some Alps, with strangers/new friends until the light fades away.

Weekend update

April 19, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Posted in little bug, weekend | Leave a comment

A beautiful weekend in Boston. Lots of action in our neighborhood — Newbury Street is thronged with marathoners in their florescent jackets and t-shirts. This morning brought the women’s professional mile championship — four very very fast laps from Arlington, down Newbury, to Exeter, then down Boylston to the marathon finish line. Tomorrow is the marathon. I’ll be at work instead of watching the runners take the turn down Hereford towards Boylston and then watching the finishers walk, run, and stagger in all afternoon from our bedroom window, but part of me will wish I were out there staggering in with them (has it been 12 years?).

A few shots from the weekend:

Dancing and singing with an a capella group from BU. (A future Tigression, I think!)

Enthralled by a dog statute.

The closest she’ll ever come to kissing a dog (I hope).

Sunny afternoon at the playground. Vroom vroom!


April 16, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Posted in read this, the media | 2 Comments
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Last night I attended a seminar on social media networking for journalists led by one of my former professors at Columbia J-School, Sree Sreenivasan, who has become a kind of new media/technology guru. At the time, he taught a course called something like, “New Media for Journalists,” in which we learned how to use the Internet for research and maybe how to create a webpage. In other words, there wasn’t much to the class (frankly, I remember finding it irrelevant — no offense Sree. You were just way ahead of all of us — I mean, I only acquired a legit email address in 1995…).

Of course, little did we know back in the mid-1990s how integrated journalism and the internet would become, and how this integretation would “threaten” traditional media. If I were still a print journalist right now, I would be fighting like hell to get as many Twitter followers as possible (Sree mentioned that some guy had just scored a book deal based on his Tweets — blogs are, like, so over) and would of course have a blog. Yet, were my employer a newspaper, they’d probably be fighting me every step of the way, lest I give my content away for free.
>My brother-in-law, the internet-savvy Pax Arcana, had a witty (as always) — but yet astute and insightful — post yesterday analyzing this impass and the looming failure of traditional media. Yes, it will cease to exist as we know it. And until recently I was one of the traditionalists who would argue, “You can’t let a newspaper fail.” But face it Bostonians: someone is going to buy the Boston Globe, sell off its cumbersome assets (printing presses, trucks), outsource weekend delivery, and move almost everything online.
Anyway, the overall point of the seminar was that the conversation (the big, meta conversation) is now online. It’s on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. So journalists have to get in there — to get story ideas, to make contacts. This may seem obvious, but if you think about it philosophically (or even from a marketing perspective) it can be kind of overwhelming.* And, of course, media companies have to be where the conversation is, as well, so they too need Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. (That’s why CNN and Astin Kutcher apprarently are locked in an epic battle to be the first to claim one million Twitter followers. For reals.)
And, to that end, Marbury v. Madison Ave. has to be there too — so you can now follow me on Twitter (where you’ll get a Tweet each time I have a new post, or with links to other articles and tweets, and/or whatever else I figure out you can do on there).

*And exciting. Last night’s event reminded me how passionate I am about the media on that very meta/philosophical level — as much about the industry and its scope as about the craft itself.

Pirates in Boston Harbor

April 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Massholes | 1 Comment


Well, no, but I am a little obsessed with them at the moment, and with this view from my office window, I spend my days watching the huge container ships come in and out of the harbor. Today brought a particularly large one (I hope you get a sense of the scale — notice the Harbor Hotel in the very foreground — despite the non-iPhone photo), and I just imagined it coming into port from way out in the ocean, dodging pirates on its way.

Spring in Boston

April 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Posted in little bug, Massholes | 2 Comments

What I will miss when we move to the suburbs: walking to work across the Public Garden and running into not one but two good friends.


And I will miss bringing Buggy to play on the ducks (dressed here in their Easter finest).


Real ducks (below).


Good Friday

April 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Posted in little bug, Massholes, running, the firm, weekend | 3 Comments
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It’s Good Friday, and I am at work. I realized this morning that I have never worked on Good Friday before. The good lord knows that I am hardly an observant Catholic anymore; however, I feel strangely guilty for being here (even though it’s not like I would be in church or something otherwise).

Good Friday used to mean those three hours Masses where you weren’t allowed to sit down. Catholicism is still a central tenant of my identity, more cultural than religious, but to this day if I go to a church service that is not Catholic, it doesn’t quite feel like church (even an Episcopal service — the Lord’s Prayer is just ever so slightly different at the end…)

We’re not going to church this weekend.* And I hadn’t really thought about making an Easter basket for Little Buggy (to my mother’s horror — but don’t worry: we have been invited to some Easter egg hunts with friends and their children, so at least she can observe that pagan ritual). I do sometimes wonder if I’m doing the right thing by not introducing religion to my child. Tim would argue that we are absolutely doing the right thing, but I think his more traditional (think: lots of kids, Catholic school) religious upbringing has scarred him more than it has me. Still, a nice, liberal, welcoming church with lots of music and stories of love and goodness (such as the church in which we baptized Buggy — see my prior post on that lovely day, here) would be something I could get into — if it didn’t conflict with naptime.

I’m surprised that today is not a holiday at the Firm — it’s a market holiday, and we are in one of the most Catholic cities in the country. The halls seem somewhat quiet today, and I haven’t received many emails, so even though this is no longer a religious holiday for me, I think I shall mark it in my own way by sneaking out a bit early, taking a long run on the river in the spring sunshine, and taking my baby to the playground.

*In addition to this being Easter weekend, it is also Master’s Weekend, a holiday in its own right that borders on the religious in our house. You think I’m kidding.

No, I’m not in Paris

April 7, 2009 at 7:33 am | Posted in law school, the firm | 3 Comments

Apparently, some people want to know where I have been. Am I not writing because I’ve run off on sabbatical and am now in Paris, typing this into my iPhone (because I bought one as soon as I ditched the firm-issued Blackberry) whilst sipping Cote du Rhone in a cafe on the Seine (with Little Buggy speaking fluent toddler French next to me)? Sadly, no. Well, sad that I’m not in Paris. Not sad that I’m not on a sabbatical (read on…).

A loyal blog reader (and friend) emailed me this morning to see what had happened to me now that I’ve disappeared from the Internet (as you might remember from last year, she is the friend who gave up Facebook for Lent. She has done so again this year, so she cannot keep tabs on me that way, either…) I sent her back a quick email and thought I’d post it here both in the interest of time and for a brief update:

Dear K,

Yes, the blog has suffered a bit as of late. I’m trying not to feel guilty about it (isn’t that ridiculous?) But I don’t really have the energy — by the time I come home, put Buggy to bed, cook dinner (sometimes), and do some work (and maybe even exercise somewhere in there — but not usually!) — all I can do is watch Gossip Girl or read one Talk of the Town before I lose all brain functionality. Being a working mom is hard! (But being a working-anything is hard, and being a mom-anything is hard, so I’m not really complaining.)
No, I did not take the firm up on the sabbatical offer. After talking to a bunch of people here, I realized that, while the firm was very happy to have people take the fellowship option, the sabbatical might not be the smartest move for a first-year lawyer. At least with the fellowship you could be doing something related to the legal world. I think the sabbatical is more for fourth-years who might quit soon anyway so that they can go take cooking lessons for a year; I also heard that this option was offered in response to a lot of guys who wanted more paternity leave (supposedly). Also, when I think about it, I have a MASSIVE [I used an expletive in the actual email] load of loans. That made me too scared!
Anyway, it was sort of a hard choice — but, rationally, not really that hard. Being in the tax department, I’m fairly busy (but not TOO busy, which is good!) I worry about the future of the legal profession. Well, no, I don’t — it’s a stupid model that has far too inexperienced people billing out way too much. But I don’t want it to change until  pay off my loans (and I’m retroactively pissed at BC for not giving me any financial aid…but that’s a whole other story…)
Please let me know how you are doing!
xoxo [I sign all my letters this way now. Guess why.]

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