Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sweet Home

(If I were cool and hi-tech like some people, I would have Sweet Home playing right here while you read this. Unfortunately, I am not. If you are cool, then you can put it into your IPOD and play it while you read this. )

I have a theory. Well, I have many theories as you have probably realized, but I have one in particular that I will share with you today: Where ever you go in the world, when you tell people you are from Alabama they will say something about "Sweet Home Alabama."

This theory arose after years for travel and experiencing this phenomena from Bali to Bequia.

Sweet home Alabama, where skies are so blue. From Gamelin players to Reggae jam bands I have heard a million versions of the song.

And I have to say, I LOVE this song. Yeah, I know, it is cliche at this point, but still, its political (Watergate does not bother me, does your conscience bother you?) and challenging (Now, we all did what we could do.) and nostalgic (Sweet home Alabama, Lord I'm coming home to you.) and fuzzy all at the same time.

Some of my best memories of other countries and trips I have made revolve around this song. Being in England and hearing it play out someone's window while walking across campus. Definitely having the street musician play it in Bali when he saw MadDog's shirt with the word Alabama on it. Being in college and having the Alabama contingent all singing it while standing on stage at our favorite bar- All 5 of us that is. Being in college and yelling for Sweet Home and having my friend play Sweet Home Chicago instead...
Or just last week when my French friends came to visit and the husband had made Sweet Home his phone ring.

I remember on long trips home from college I would scan the radio to try to find it and when I finally do it is always turned way up. I think, I know the stuff in this song, I know what they're talking about, this song is about MY state. The song always made me proud to be from Alabama, which I embarrassedly admit, I have not always been. Alabama has a difficult history and reputation. I won't name here the several states that keep Alabama from being at the tail end of the national rankings in all but the bad things, where we Almost lead...But suffice it to say it bothers me that we are 46th in infant mortality, and something like 3rd in births to teen mothers when we need to be opposite in both of those categories. We have terrible poverty (I read in the paper today that my city schools have a 46% poverty rate), and crazy prejudices.

We also have amazing natural beauty. Driving from one end of the state to the other and across it over Thanksgiving I looked at it through a visitor's eyes- and I saw it fresh and clean, with fall color still clinging to the edges of the mountains, clear blue skies and happy kind people.

I guess, like any place, there are pros and cons and you can focus on one or the other. Alabama will always be my home state- wherever I may roam, and I will always love her and do what I can do to make her a better place to live.

Thanks to all who wrote and asked me to write some more. I truly appreciate it and I'll try.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Tornado is gone and I'm safe... a very nice little break with some of my friends who live nearby in their bathroom....cozy : )

The great slow down....

Law, unlike many professions (CPA, Teaching also work on the same model), is cyclical. It follows a strange pattern, all the more strange because I am not sure why the pattern is true. Naturally, CPAs are going to be more busy between February and April 15, Teaching will ebb and flow with the school year and so forth. But there is a cycle-- In the fall, right before Thanksgiving everyone tries to get all their work off their desks and get everything shifted around so as not to interfere with family vacations and children being out of school. In the New Year everyone works really hard to catch up on the things that didn't get done during Thanksgiving and Christmas and then they slow down again during summer and speed up again in August-October in preparation for slowing down for the holidays again.

Just thought I'd share that. It also leads to my next observation: I'm tired of blogging. This business of writing down all this stuff about my legal life is becoming tiresome. I have also become addicted to reading all kinds of other blogs in my "on line" life which is draining my legal work. Plus, a few people are making this less fun for me. Long story short, I'm going to cut way down for a while and the blogs you do get are going to be more philosophical and less lawyer.

Because it is a job, and like most jobs it does become monotonous and that's perfectly fine, because that's life, but it doesn't make for good reading. Trying to turn my life into interesting reading several times a week is getting in the way of my living my life, and in my book that's when its time to say, "thanks but I'm going to take a break." My life, like everyone else's who doesn't live in some pseudo reality of uber wealth or some such, is really about the day in and day out. The rhythm of rising, working, going home and working and going out with your friends and being tired from working.... Becomes boring. (At least to me...) You don't want to hear, "Got to work today and did 5 petitions for child support. Then I called 10 people back and left messages for 5 of them. Then I wrote a complaint. Then I filed some papers. "

And really, there are only so many times that its fun to bitch about people who are incapable of leaving messages, after that it actually starts to bug you instead of making you laugh. And I like to laugh, I am a very happy person.

Which brings me to my philosophical point to ponder for the day:

Do you think human beings are born more happy than sad? One of my favorite philosophy proffs and I used to debate this point continually and he always told me that I was just flat wrong that I believed that people were by nature happier than sadder. I was 21 at the time, and the intervening decade has not changed my mind as he said it would. He believed that we were by nature unhappy... Kind of the "nasty brutish and short" philosophy of life. I always felt that sadness comes from outside influences- guilt, stress, ect... These are all human emotions to be examined and understood and once done, happiness was at the core: the natural state of things. I guess I would concede that some people are not predisposed to be happy, but I do believe happiness is the default setting for humans and that our unhappiness comes from our reactions to the outside world.

I have been called Pollyanna for this. I have been asked "Why are you always so damn happy?"

And I'll tell you- because life is nasty, brutish and short and that's can either react with cynicism, rudeness and anger or you can laugh and look to the little things. I Laugh. I giggle. Lots of things amuse me...oh heck, most everything amuses me. I laugh- sometimes, when the going gets rough, like Kitty from That 70s Show. Most of the time, just because something struck me as absurd. I am in fact, easily amused and I'll take it as a compliment when you tell me that, because this is my life, and its not out of shallowness, nor lack of comprehension, but because I have better and finer things to pay attention to.

Ok, so now there is a tornado headed right for me and so I'm going to go and figure out where to hide.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Things that make me happy...

1. Cleaning junk out of my house. Kind of psychically lifts you and you can see the results/product of your cleaning. This weekend I cleaned three big black leaf bags out of my dressing room alone.

2. Actually, Cleaning anything that is really, really dirty.

3. Fall foliage. Spring leaves. Winter trees with ice on them. Summer shade.

4. Clean sheets.

5. Chocolate.

6. Puppy snores.

7. When its a good temperature to go for a walk and not get so hot or so cold its uncomfortable.

8. Seasonal cooking-- summer ice cream, winter chili....

9. The smell of old books.

10. Sitting outside for lunch.

11. A really icy cold drink in the morning when you're hung over. Or in the afternoon when you've been working really hard.

12. A great song on the radio.

Ok, that's enough for now.

Friday, November 04, 2005

How tree sap can get you 5-20

A while back a friend of mine had a really weird little case. Defendant is charged with possession of an imitation controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Here are the uncontroverted facts: Dude starts talking with police. He tells police he has fashioned some imitation crack from tree sap and flour. He is going to try to sell the tree sap to a crack addict for money. Heh. He thinks its funny.

Unfortunately, in Alabama they passed a law that possession of an imitation controlled substance is the same as possessing the substance.

Yeah, so they arrested the dude for selling (possession with intent to distribute- a felony.) She did get it down to possession of paraphanelia (a misdemeanor) but still... I thought it was pretty crappy of the cop. He should have just told the guy, hey man, you can't do that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A few thoughts about obesity...

I know a woman whose husband is a doctor. She was having a procedure and while waiting for her doctor, she decided to review her chart. On the chart was written, "Subject is an obese white woman in her 50s."

There it was in black and white: she wasn't just overweight, she was obese.

It embarrassed and upset her so much she did something about it. She started exercising. She ate healthier. She gave up eating the whole pan of brownies and stuck with having just a couple. She is now in the range of a healthy weight for her height and age and healthier and happier.

And then there are the people like the woman I saw on TV who was screaming at the airline because they insisted she purchase an extra seat because she would not fit comfortably in one seat.

I am pretty sure she felt the same embarrassment and shame over her weight but instead of turning to herself she lashed out and blamed those around her. Of course, maybe she was neither embarrassed nor ashamed, but rather a member of this growing fat acceptance movement. I do know there was liberal use of her lawyer's name in vain. (As an attorney I always cringe when I hear someone doing that, "I'm going to call my lawyer and we're going to sue you!" yeah, please don't tell people that. IT NEVER MAKES THE SITUATION BETTER.)

I have heard a lot of talk lately about weight and discrimination and about weight and our society. Not only are more and more women (and men) in their 30s and 40s developing eating disorders, but more and more men and women are becoming fatter and fatter. People are obsessed with diets and food fads and seem to be fixating on controlling their diets to such an extent that they wind up flat out obsessing about food.

I happen to be a fairly thin person. I would describe my body type as athletic. My body, like everyone else's, is a product of three intersecting factors: heredity, food consumption, and exercise.

Not everyone can look like Brooke Shields, or Paris Hilton but everyone can be a healthy weight. Allowing yourself to be actually obese, as medically defined, is a personal choice. I am always in favor of your personal choice, but, like all personal choices there are and should be consequences, which is why the anti-overweight discrimination movement bugs me.

Sure you have every right to weigh what you want- but why should I have to squish up in a plane seat because you are coming over on my side? Why should I have to subsidize your diabetes medication when you wouldn't need it if you lost that weight? Why should I pay for medications directly related to your choice? You speak out about how you shouldn't have to pay more for insurance to cover all these smokers and I agree with you! I smoke and I know its an unhealthy choice and I think I should pay more for insurance because of it.

At the same time, I feel incredibly guilty for my stance here. I work with a lot of overweight women. I am constantly fielding questions about my weight and how I stay thin. I pass along my healthy habits, like always taking the stairs. My favorite healthy meals. And a whole lot of "heredity" pass offs- "I'm lucky, I picked skinny ancestors." Most of them lament their weight, but then describe dinners that would make a lion choke-- junk food, entire pizzas for each member of the family, pre-cooked convenience foods- not a vegetable mentioned. "Have some respect for your body!" I want to scream at them- but how do you say that to a family where both parents work and stopping to get McDonalds gives them that precious 20 minutes of together time?

And then there are the obsessives- like the girl I know whose doctor made her stop exercising because she stopped getting her period and couldn't get pregnant. She did, and became pregnant- but then she snuck off and exercised anyway because she didn't want to get fat- putting herself and her unborn baby at risk. Then there was my roommate in college who was a vegan. For Lent one year she gave up diet Pepsi which was a major food group for her. She ate basically 750 calories a day and ran five miles and walked five miles each and every day. Her body was in such starvation mode I think she could have not eaten for a week and not lost an ounce. She would sit in the room and tell me how many calories each French fry I was eating had. She couldn't believe I could eat the turkey bagel with Swiss cheese (200 turkey+350 bagel + 150 Swiss cheese +25 lettuce tomato and mustard= 725 calories) and the plate of French fries for lunch. And the regular mountain dew. And the cookie. By the time our year was up, between her and my other sorority sisters, I had trouble eating in front of other people because I felt weird for being able to eat as much as I did and as normally as I did.

I think a lot of people would benefit from having way fewer food choices. From thinking about food a whole lot less. From eating normal, balanced meals. In other words: a healthy dose of moderation. At the same time, I'm not going to force them to live in a manner that I know would be to their benefit. Just don't try to sell me on obesity as a special status that should be given legal protection: you're welcome to be fat but I'm also welcome to not want to hire you because I think your weight reveals something about you. The airline should be able to charge you for 2 seats if you take up two seats- just like they won't let me smoke for your safety and comfort.

This has been the Philosophicalawyer's politically incorrect rant on obesity.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Overheard in Court

Judge "Mr. Doe, your attorney has reached a deal with Prosecutor where he will only revoke 30 days of your 180 day sentence for going into the Wal- mart in (neighboring town)."

Mr. Doe "Uh, yes sir."

Judge "Now Mr. Doe, you understand you are banned from ALL Wal-marts for life. Not just here in _______. Even over there in ___________. No matter how low the prices are you are not allowed to go back there. "

(Court erupts into laughter. Defendant begins laughing.)

Judge "You're just gonna have to pay more somewhere else."

Even the prosecutor laughed.