Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trial, day 11

Actually, it was a half-day of trial. The rest of the day -- including right now -- was spent doing "prep." Which means that, as I type, I'm printing out a whole bunch of deposition designations.

But the weekend starts tomorrow, and I'd rather think about something else. So here's a list of things I like about staying in a hotel -- or more particularly, this hotel.

  • Never having to make my bed or clean the bathroom;
  • Room service, particularly grilled cheese and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches;
  • The cookies they have at the front desk, particularly the M&M cookies;
  • The Dunkin' Donuts downstairs; and
  • The 42" widescreen flat pannel tv.

Still, it'll be nice to go home tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Trial, day 10

Today, we started putting on our case, and the first witness was my witness. Now I have no more witnesses until we get to the plaintiff's rebuttal case.

Tomorrow, the judge has an emergency criminal matter to take up in the morning, so we don't have to be in Court until the afternoon.

With no witnesses and a late start, I am looking forward to finally getting a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trial, day 9

I was only in court for half the day today -- I left at lunch to go meet with one of our expert witnesses, before his testimony tomorrow. Basically, he told me what he wanted to say, and I figured out how to phrase the questions. That's pretty much backwards from how it works with a regular witness, so I'll have to see how it plays out in Court.

In the meantime, I have decided that, but for the Kids' Menu, eating a steady diet of this hotel's room service (and the cookies they put out at the front desk) would be intolerable. I mean, some things sound good -- Lobster Ravioli, BBQ Ribs, Fish & Chips -- but they're too heavy to eat in my room, late at night, while I'm working. And, other than the burger, the sandwiches are not particularly attractive. Plus I can get a Philly Cheesesteak or a Turkey Club just about anywhere and not have to spend $10.95, plus tax, tip, and $3.00 room service charge. So, Kids' Menu it is -- except for the Spaghetti-O's.

And, for the record, the only thing better than this hotel's Grilled Cheese is the Peanut Butter & Jelly. Mmmm.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trial, day 8 -- and most of a weekend at home.

Friday was a good day. My cross-examination went just about as well as it possibly could have -- especially considering how late I had been up working on it, and how little sleep I had over the several days leading up to it. And it was really good to end the week on a high note. I actually used the word "Boo-ya!" to describe it.

Then I got in the car to drive home. I decided, though, to stop along the way to have dinner with my Aunt, Uncle, and little cousin.

When I walked in the door, they took one look at me, and decided that they weren't letting me drive the rest of the way home that night.

So, I got back on the road at about 10:30 Saturday morning, and walked in my front door just after 2. I then did laundry, caught up on Rock of Love and Project Runway, did a little bit of work, and went out to dinner. I spent today in the office, and now I have to go pack my suitcase. My train back to Newark leaves at 8.

At least I got to sleep in my own bed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trial, day 7

Not like anyone is still reading this, right?

Last night, I was up until 2 a.m. working. And today, I started my cross-examination of their main expert witness. Who is pretty much a professional expert witness. And it sucks, because this guy can't answer a yes-or-no question with a simple "yes" or "no."

Tomorrow, it'll be more of the same. And in the meantime, I have to make the big decision as to whether I'm staying here or going home for the weekend. Because, as much as I hate Newark, I hate the thought of driving 3.5 hours and then having to turn around and get back here even more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Trial, day 6

I stayed up late last night working on my outline for today's cross-examination. In retrospect, I think I should have taken the "simpler is better" approach, since I made all the points I would have made even without the last-minute revisions, and now I just have another witness to prepare for anyway, and less time to do it with.

But forget about all that. The most interesting thing that happened in today's installment of the kabuki theater that is trial involved a bomb threat. And the requisite bomb-sniffing dogs.

The officers were wandering around the halls of the courthouse, flashlights in hand, accounting for all of the stray bags and boxes. The dogs were especially interested in our paralegal's leftovers from lunch. And, when we asked, one of the officers said that the dogs' sniffing and barking was meaningless -- but that if the dogs suddenly sat down, the officers would run.

Then one of the dogs sat down.

No one ran, though. And nothing exploded. Yet. My head is still a prime target.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trial, day 5

The trial started off great today. I had two witnesses on cross-examination, a fact witness and an expert witness. I kicked ass on the expert witness. I made all my points, quickly and effortlessly. And the best part was that it was over and done before he even knew what happened to him.

In the afternoon, I had the fact witness. It was going so well. And then, I made two mistakes -- and in the process, did three things that a lawyer should never do.

First, I violated the "one question too many" rule. It's a pretty basic concept. You work real hard to set everything up perfectly, and the witness is going along with it, agreeing with everything you say -- and then you ask the one question that clues the witness into where the questioning is going, and he starts to rethink and backtrack from everything he said previously.

At that point, the judge needed to take a break to take a phone call. So, instead of taking the break, I rested, which was bad on two levels. First of all, taking a break instead of resting would have given me the opportunity to confer with my co-counsel to go over things I may have missed. And second, it was stupid to end on a note that wasn't great. I could have redeemed myself.

Rookie mistake. I'll have to make up for it tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend in Newark

Things I did for the holiday weekend:

  • See my brother (Friday, Saturday and Sunday!);
  • Work;
  • Drive into New York via both the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel;
  • Park in Manhattan;
  • Eat dinner on the Upper West Side;
  • Walk around in layered polar fleece;
  • Eat paella in the Ironbound;
  • Watch football while working;
  • Get the sniffles;
  • Work more.

Right now, I'm leaning towards going home next weekend, even if it's only for a day. I don't know how how much more hotel living I can stand.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trial, day 4

I'm already tired of blogging about my trial. And today was all about accounting, which even bored the accountants in the room.

Instead, I could write about how they threatened to take away my internet access for running too many computers -- but that's because I have more than one computer with me.
Indeed, right now, as I type, I have three computers and a printer in this hotel room. Imagine how many we'd have if we were sharing hotel rooms.

So, suck it, wireless people. Just because most people only bring one computer to a hotel room. . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trial, day 3

The bed in the hotel is comfy. Me, not so much -- but at least I'm keeping down some food -- mostly soup and some mashed potatoes for dinner. Which is good, since my brother has decided to come to town late tomorrow night, and he probably couldn't handle it if I'm all barfy and grumpy.

Of course, the fact that I'm not still throwing up is all thanks to the magical cure-all that is red Gatorade. Or, as I emailed my coworker this morning, "The Gatorade has indeed aided this former Gator." It's a wonder drug.

As for the trial, it's going sloooooooowly. Which, on the one hand is good. On the other hand, I'd like to leave Newark sometime soon. Because it totally sucks here. And, as comfy as the hotel bed is, I'd rather be sleeping in my own.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Trial, day 2: puke and funerals

I would blog about trial today, but I was only there for a couple hours. Apparently, when you've been puking for hours, your co-workers really don't want you sitting at counsel table with them.

Yesterday, we told our opponents what was going on, and they said that none of my witnesses were going to come up today, so I could take off for the funeral. This morning, one of their attorneys cornered me on one of my frequent trips to the vomitorium (aka bathroom) and smarmily told me that, "Well, I guess we'll have to readjust our schedules, and you'll have to hope that we don't have to call {your witnesses} while you're out."

I told him that we had cleared the schedule with his co-counsel the day before and that had been assured that there was not going to be a problem. I then ran off to puke, and when I came back, relayed the prior episode to my co-counsel. The only word we could think of was "Dick," but feel free to add your thoughts on synonyms below.

So, when the judge got back, my co-counsel asked the judge that I be excused to attend my grandmother's funeral. She agreed. And while I didn't need for it to be on the official record, it was a good protection against them pulling any shenanigans.

Then I left the courthouse, puking all over beautiful downtown Newark on my way back to the hotel, where I tried to drink some red gatorade, puked some more, and went to my grandmother's funeral. Conveniently enough, the cemetery is only about fifteen minutes away from my hotel. Then, everyone went back to sit at my aunt's friend's mother's house, and I stopped in, drank some more red gatorade, and scurried back to the hotel, for another round of puking.

I am hoping to be done with the puking by the morning. And on that note, I'm going to sleep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Trial, day one

For about five minutes, I thought it would be fun to blog about my trial. Every day. But then I thought that, even though it may be interesting for the lawyers out there, it would totally ruin the whole mirage for the non-lawyers. I mean, everyone should think it's like an episode of Law & Order. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of people in suits belaboring small points about whether or not a document is being used to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

On a personal and unrelated note, my grandmother died this morning. I found out during the lunch break at my trial. I'm sad, but ultimately okay with it, I guess. I mean, it's not like it was unexpected. And she did make it quite convenient for me, since I'm already up here and all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Travel day

Today was a travel day. Actually, today was a (1) go to the office; (2) get computer fixed; (3) pick up car from body shop; (4) drive to New Jersey in crappy weather; (5) get settled in conference room; (6) get settled in hotel; (7) visit Grandma in hospice; (8) eat a sandwich; and (9) meet brand new baby cousin day.

Trial starts tomorrow, for realz.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Planning in advance

Come hell or high water -- or in this case, car or no car -- I leave for New Jersey sometime before noon tomorrow, for what looks to be at least three weeks of trial. Which means three weeks in Newark, New Jersey. (If it goes any longer than that, I'll come back for the weekend. And actually, I may come back for the weekends anyway. Depends on how I feel. But I digress.)

While packing, along with trying to figure out how many pairs of shoes to bring, I spent some time trying to figure out what I would need for two weekends stuck in a hotel in Newark -- understanding that the best thing about Newark is that it's a fifteen minute train ride into the middle of Manhattan. (The second best thing is that I have a significant amount of family in the vicinity.)

It's good to have a plan, and the New York Times gave me an idea: A library-themed weekend. Every time I've ever gone past the Library Hotel, I've thought about it: A vacation of books, books, and more books. Sounds like it's totally up my alley. So, that's what I'll do. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just do work, and go to the gym, and read, and watch t.v., same as I do when I'm at home -- only with none of my friends around.

But that's the weekend. There's a ton of work to get through between now and then. First things first.

Presidential Candidate Quiz

Found this quiz on Kimmie's blog:

89% John Edwards
89% Barack Obama
87% Hillary Clinton
87% Chris Dodd
85% Dennis Kucinich
85% Mike Gravel
80% Bill Richardson
78% Joe Biden
43% Rudy Giuliani
29% John McCain
23% Mike Huckabee
23% Tom Tancredo
22% Mitt Romney
16% Ron Paul
14% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Pretty much confirms what I already knew.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Feminism vs. Individualism

First, let me make this abundantly clear: I am, in all likelihood, voting for Barack Obama in the primary. I've hinted at it before, and I've said it, quite plainly, on Twitter.

My mom, my Nana, and my aunt are all ardent Hillary Clinton supporters, as are some of my friends -- who assume that I'm one too. And they all seem to express surprise, shock, and/or disappointment when I let them know otherwise.*

Recently, I twittered that "On some innate level, I feel guilty for not supporting a female candidate." Justin gave me some grief over this sentiment, and I explained, "I feel like it's a tiny betrayal of my gender, the whole sisterhood thing. It's not going to make me change my mind, though," and that "I would like to one day see a woman president."

It's hard to work through this cognitive dissonance, but in reading an article in the Post, I think I'm starting to figure it out.

Do you vote for a woman to shatter the glass ceiling and further the cause? Or do you make an empowered, individual decision that is not confined by gender?


"It's like I'm ruining this great opportunity for women by not voting for her, but honestly I'm not too worried about that," Keller said. "I don't think gender is a good enough reason on its own to vote for or against anybody. I'm sure there are going to be other women in my generation, soon, who are able to run for president. This isn't like our only chance."

Her stance is what some professors on campus refer to as an "inevitability attitude," and they say it marks a generational divide. Women who experienced Wellesley in the 1950s and '60s, such as Clinton, enrolled at a time when some Ivy League schools still refused to admit women. They believed, intrinsically, that they would have to scrap and claw for every opportunity in an unfair world. Wellesley functioned as their cocoon, a place for camaraderie and support before they were sent off as graduates to break barriers and challenge stereotypes. As feminists, they were linked by a cause.

The women of that generation now vote resoundingly for Clinton, poll numbers show, as if still bound by the urgency instilled 40 years ago. It's an urgency that their daughters, products of a less-sexist time, sometimes lack.

So, I'm not the only one who is torn. But having company doesn't make it any easier.

*Don't get me wrong: If Hillary wins the nomination, I will undoubtedly vote for her in the general election. There is no Republican running that would make me change my mind, and, after the 2000 election, I came to realize that voting for a third-party candidate is essentially a waste.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Only in New York

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6:00 am, to catch a train up to Newark, New Jersey. This morning, I woke up at 5:30 am in Riverdale, New York, and, before the sun rose, was on a shuttle flight back to D.C. By 9:30, I was sitting at my desk, in my office, just like any other day.

It's been a whirlwind.

Anyway, I mostly slept on the plane. But I did stay awake long enough to read this story in the New York Times:

After Mr. Cintron recently died, Mr. O’Hare, 65, and another friend, David Daloia, also 65, whose last known address was in Queens, tried, without success, to cash a Social Security check of Mr. Cintron’s, the police say. They realized that they needed their dead buddy’s help.

So on Tuesday afternoon, the police say, they dressed Mr. Cintron’s corpse, carried him down a flight of stairs and heaved his body into a computer chair with wheels. Outside, they rolled him over the uneven sidewalk, pulling the chair toward Pay-O-Matic, a check-cashing shop on Ninth Avenue.

My last thought, before I drifted off to sleep was, "Hey, I saw that movie before."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where I'm at

Six days to trial . . . and eight hours until I have to make a 36-hour long trip up to New Jersey to, among other things, attend the pretrial conference. But my head's not in the game right now -- it's about 17 miles away from the courthouse, in the hospice in Hackensack, with my grandmother.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I was going to write something personal, but I can't do it. Suffice it to say that my stress level is close to unbearable.

Instead -- mostly to amuse myself -- I'm going to share with you my weirdest work email of the day, sent at 9:40 this evening:

"On an unrelated matter, I am currently on a Metro train surrounded by hoardes of Hannah Montana concertgoers. It is quite surreal."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The madness to my method

I don't know why I don't really write on Fridays or Saturdays or even Sundays (until it's dark outside) or on most federal holidays. It makes no sense when you think about it. I mean, I purportedly have extra time on the weekends, what with the days off and everything.

Well, then again, it's not like I don't work on weekends. (At least right now, until my trial is over.)

But whatever, the point still stands. On a typical busy weekday, I should have less time to spend lost in my own thoughts, typing away at the computer. The weekend should present more of a leisure opportunity -- not to mention more stories to tell, more clarity, and more time for reflection. Like now, for instance. It's not hard to type away while the laundry is drying.

I hope it doesn't mean that subconsciously, I feel like writing is an adjunct of my job, and therefore, something I can only do on school nights.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dear Pat Robertson

Dear Pat Robertson,

Once upon a time, while I would disagree vehemently with everything you stand for, I would have to grudgingly acknowledge your brilliance in managing to unite evangelical Christians for political purposes, i.e. electing Republicans, and turning it into a largely influential political movement. Hey, Mike Huckabee won Iowa today, and he's one of your guys, right?

But word on the street is that you're back to your old shenanigans, making random predictions and thinly-veiled threats of chaos and violence.

On the plus side, at least you're not trying to predict the weather or terrorist attacks, sans computer models or highly-classified intel. And guessing that there's going to be a recession and the stock market is going to crash when there's a "downturn" in the market isn't really putting yourself that far out on a limb.

Still, a word of advice: Evidence has shown that people who claim to hear the word of God are either (1)lying, (2) crazy, or (3) high. Sometimes they're a combination of more than one.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep quiet.


Stupid camera phone

On Metro earlier this evening, I wound up sitting directly behind a woman in a fuzzy royal blue coat.

I looked at her and did a double-take. It looked like her coat was made out of Grover.

Or maybe Cookie Monster.

Heck, maybe it was both of them.

Seriously, though, wearing fur is a fashion faux-pas. But wearing Muppet fur? Ridiculous. (Not to mention challenging. I mean, what kind of shoes would one wear with a Muppet-skin coat?)

So, of course, I tried to take a picture.

Lo and behold, my camera phone picture was totally crappy, a fuzzy-blurry mess. So you're just going to have to take my word for how funny this coat was.

But, while waiting for my dinner, I tried to fix the problem. After several tries, I managed to get one halfway decent picture of this sign:

Eh, it's still not that good. Clearly, my camera phone is shit.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Leisure sickness

During law school, I would get sick almost immediately after exams. It was as if the second I stopped being busy, the germs would take hold, and I'd be incapacitated for a couple of days. And not just the sniffles. Really honest-to-god running-a-fever can't-get-out-of-bed non-functioning sick.

At the beginning, my mother was frustrated by this phenomenon. Then she started thinking that it was funny. She'd make comments like, "Well, I'd plan on doing {insert activity here}, but you're going to be sick anyway. . . ."

When I started working, it was like that whenever I had a major deadline or a trial -- as soon as it was over, I'd be sick. And right now, I'm about 98% sure that it'll happen after my big trial this month.

So, last week, in The Washington Post, they had a whole article on the phenomenon of leisure sickness. Apparently, I'm not the only one who gets sick the second she relaxes.

Ad Vingerhoets, an associate professor of clinical health psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, calls it "leisure sickness." Just when you take a break from your busy schedule to enjoy a little relaxation, your leisure time becomes anything but -- full of aches and pains, cold- and flulike symptoms and other health complaints.


The underlying cause of the problem, according to Vingerhoets, appears to have a lot to do with stress.


But Esther Sternberg, a researcher of neuroendocrine immunology at the National Institutes of Health, disagrees. Sternberg, the author of "The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions," calls leisure sickness a real condition, tied to the release of hormones under stress and their interaction with the nervous and immune systems.

In times of stress, the body's adrenal glands release adrenaline, which makes the heart beat faster and causes you to feel sweaty and anxious. Adrenaline gives a boost to the immune system, the body's defense against infection, Sternberg said. But while adrenaline is pumping, so is cortisol -- a potent anti-inflammatory hormone also released by the adrenal glands.

"The reason [cortisol] works as an anti-inflammatory is because it's turning off the immune cells," Sternberg said. ". . . You're no longer able to effectively fight infection."

The two hormones are timed differently, with adrenaline starting up and shutting down within milliseconds, much faster than cortisol, which takes five to 10 minutes.

"What happens when you stop doing what it is you were doing that stressed you is that the adrenaline shuts off first," Sternberg said. "You are left with this cortisol floating around. And if at that moment someone coughs in your face, you get sick."

I feel vindicated. Take that, Mom!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Last year, around this time, I dismissed the notion of New Year's resolutions. This year, I'm taking a different approach. I'm going to resolve to not make the same mistakes in 2008 that I already made in 2007.

So, in true obsessive-compulsive fashion, here's a list of things that I am going to try my hardest to NOT do again:

I'm sure I'm missing some things, but this seems like a good start.