Friday, April 30, 2010

Are we Working or Eating?

I like to get to the office "early." Early for lawyers is before 9am. Most of my group gets in around 8.

But no one is working. Or at least I finally noticed that today. As I walked down the hall to get my 8am Diet Coke, I noticed everyone sitting at their desk...eating.

Is it just Americans who eat at their desks? Why don't we stay home and have breakfast with our families? Do we rush out the door to beat the horrid DC traffic then catch breakfast at work?

Is this healthy? Strange? Or Just American?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

When it's so good you cry

I'm a crier. I cry when things are good. I cry when things are not good. I cry when things are sappy and sentimental. So naturally I cry when my kids' band plays so well .... well, it makes me cry!

Last week I chaperoned their "Performing Arts" trip to Toronto Canada. What would posses me to get on a bus with 90 High school kids, 6 teachers (4 of whom have no kids of their own, 2 of whom are too young and inexperienced to really understand high school kids), and 4 parents and drive 14 hours each way? Because my kids asked me to.

We stopped at Niagara Falls on the way up - cold in April, let me tell you. But truly spectacular.

Then we drove "80 minutes" to Toronto. Unless it's rush hour. Then it's 2 1/2 hours. With Hungry Teenagers. Bad combination.

Toronto was beautiful, although we didn't see much of it except outside the bus windows.

Friday we went to Toronto University for the competition. First our acapella group took the stage - they were amazing. My twins aren't in that - just my "other" kids. I was so proud!! Then the Wind Ensemble took the stage. After the first song I let out a "Holy Crap!" And Brother Mark was sitting in front of me....oops sorry Brother Mark. (Yes they go to a private, Catholic school). But seriously? They were that good. Then the second song Blew. Me. Away. Including Daughter's solo that she failed to mention. And so? I cried. They were that good. And I was that proud. And this is their last trip. And they're graduating in 36 days.

So yes, I cried. And my Daugther mocked me. Go ahead. Some day you will see when you have a Daughter of your own.....

excuse me, I need to go find a tissue.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oh No I Didn't

Well, I knew it but hoped I'd get lucky. I didn't pass the Florida Bar Exam. But it's ok because somehow I managed to pass 1/2 of it, which is more than I thought. Yes I managed to garble enough blah blah blah to pass the essay/multi-choice part for the Florida piece. The Multi-State, which I didn't even open a book for, I failed. Good news is Florida lets you take just the 1/2 you failed. And considering I passed that multi-state 1/2 a looooong time ago when I first graduated, I know I can pass it again - if I study.

So what did I do on the bus ride back from Toronto with all my Band Geeks from the High School Competition? (What Band Geek Competition you ask? Yeah I'm a little behind....) Yep, I studied. Just 3 months left til I take it again. And this time? I'm PASSING.

But I'm still getting truffle fries anyway....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Amazing dayz in Jamaica

Sometimes teenagers can surprise you. They can be funny, loving daring all at the same time. And with their momma.

This week we are in Jamaica. I have cajoled my kids into loving Dominoes. They have ridden horses with me over sugarcane plantations and into the sea; they have tried scuba diving and tonight they entertained they club with their karaoke. I love my kids. I love hanging out with them. I love laughing with them. I love shopping with them, eating pizza with them, snoring with them.

They are simply the best kids in the whole world.

Sorry to all of you who have kids. Mine just rock.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When a Friend Isn't a Friend and It's time to Tell Her

I have had this Friend. We've known each other for years, starting about 10 years ago in Sunday School. Friend always seemed to be in the midst of a calamity - financially oriented. She's sweet and nice and well educated, but something about her, something about her life, invites financial disaster.

About 4 years ago she came to me in despair, asking for a "loan" if I could just spare it. She laid the guilt trip on me, too, because I am comfortable financially although not without my share of bills. But I have been blessed never to wonder how I could possibly pay the mortgage/rent. At the time I was married and so had that extra layer of financial support. So I wrote her a check. And not a small one. She assured me it was a "loan" and that when she got on her feet, she'd pay it back. I never expected to see it again.

About a year later she came to me again. Again in despair. Again begging for help. Again I wrote her a check - smaller this time, but still enough for her rent. I was still married and Ex had a cow. I told him it would be the last time.

After the divorce, she came to me again. I said No. I said I had my own difficulties and now I as a single parent and No. She was relentless - showing up at my office, calling me, telling me how outrageous it was and not her fault that she ended up in this situation. She showed up at my church where I was teaching Sunday School under the guise of "I've always wanted to come to your church" but after class she just wanted a check. Her situation was a mess. And so, I rented her a car (she had an accident and totaled hers, her fault, and no collision insurance). Without a car she couldn't work. Without work she couldn't pay the rent. 1 week of rental was all I gave her. And I demanded that we sit down with her bills and her finances and talk about budgeting and how to get her out of her situation. I do have financial training and thought that rather than just write her a check, I could help her with my other skills. She was very angry and didn't want to talk about it. I insisted but we didn't get very far.

OH and by the way, did I hear from her in between? No. Not really. I was busy and didn't care if I'm being totally honest. But it got to the point where if I saw her number pop up (thank GOD for caller ID) or got an email or a voice mail at work, I avoided it.

Last month it started again - she called under the guise of "How are you?" And I laid it on thickly - all the financial struggles, the pay cuts at work, the layoffs, impending college bills, possible home repairs because of the monster storm. On and on. Of course she was really calling for money and I fortunately gave her the impression that I couldn't possibly give her money. Then this week she called again - not intent to leave a message, but texting, calling, urgently tracking me. It wasn't enough for me to tell her I was busy and couldn't talk.

Finally today I called her back when I had 5 minutes - literally 5 minutes between calls - to let her know I had no money for her. And I told her, "The only time you call me is for money. That's a one way relationship that can't continue." Boy did I get the wrath of God thrown at me - she challenged me to "Find that in the Bible." And I said, "Find what - the fact that you only call me when you want something? I don't think that's going to be in the Bible." She said, "All the other people don't accuse me of this" and I said, "Maybe you give them more time and attention than you do me, or maybe they are just afraid to speak the truth." She tried to tell me that "this" was not in my heart. I said, "You don't know what's in my heart or my head so don't try to tell me what is there."

Plus? I'm out of town and going to be out of town until the 12th - how can I write you a check? She had the nerve to tell me I could wire the money to her!!!!

She said I was "pretending to be too busy to talk to her." I said, "WHAT? You don't think I work 60 hours a week, am a single parent, am dealing with my own strife? You don't think I was in a restaurant having Lunch yesterday with my Daughter, taking time out of a hectic travel/college visit when you called? You don't think I was in a Meeting with Big Potential Client today when you texted me? You don't think I'm on a train right now and have a conference call in 5 minutes?!!" The NERVE.

It was hard. This is a person who I don't think is a "bad" or "evil" person. I think she has incredible strings of bad luck. I do think she is a person of Great Faith. I don't know why all these things happen to her. But I did decide that although God does ask us to help each other out, that there comes a time when I get to decide (not her) if I should help her. And somehow helping her hasn't helped her. Once she demanded that I "had" to pay for her Real Estate license so that she could supplement her income. I told her 1) a real estate license is a bad idea right now [about 2 years ago right before the house/mortgage crash] 2)I don't HAVE to provide such things for her - I'm still paying off my own law school debt 3) if she thinks it's such a great idea, get a night job at McDonald's, save the $600 in a month and get the license herself!!

It was hard to tell her No. It was harder to say, "This is a one way friendship and I'm out." It is harder to wonder if perhaps God does expect me to take care of her. I don't know. There is a lot in the Bible about "whatsoever you do for the least of my Brother, that you do unto me." My own family has serious financial struggles but no one has asked me to pay their rent or demanded I buy things for them. Perhaps she is in more serious and desperate straights than they are. But something about this is telling me, "Enough is enough."

Is it Guilt telling me I'm wrong? Or just that I have lived my life as a Pleaser and let people manipulate me? I don't know....

I do know that my own 17 year old Daughter said (yesterday), "Mom this is a 1 way relationship - you need to tell her about the 4 kinds of relationships and tell her that when 1 person is doing all the giving, that's not a healthy relationship." Wow. out of the Mouths of Babes.