Friday, March 30, 2012

Things Fall Apart

I've been really trying to stay above the ocean of despair, depression, and bitterness that I'm currently swimming in. I am trying to stay afloat and not get overwhelmed. But things seem to continue to pile up and pile on. I'm running on empty and I'm feeling incredibly haggard.
I'm still hurting from being carelessly tossed aside by my husband and still trying to deal with the emotional trauma of that whole ordeal.  That alone should be more than enough for one person to deal with. But on top of that, work has been just running me into the ground since the first of the year. I had to total up what I did from Feb. 14 through about March 23 and I had 92 court hearings, including 5 contested omnibus hearings, and three briefs due within 18 days of each other. One due on Feb. 28, one on March 5, and the last due on March 16.  So work has taken on a whole new level of grueling. 
The combination of heartache and being run into the ground at work has bleed over into almost every other aspect of my life. I'm more tired than I normally am; I am frequently later in paying bills bc I've been forgetting to pay them bc my brain is in such a fog; my house is a disaster zone that I never have time or energy to clean except the very minimal, basic things.  I rarely have time to actually go grocery shopping, instead stopping at the Target on my way home from work to grab some milk, cereal, and Totino's party pizzas.
Then of course there is the problem of my finances being a hot mess, since I can't afford to cover all the bills I'm stuck with on my own. So that is another stressor to deal with. And it appears that my Option A living arrangement is now unlikely to pan out, since I have cats. So, that kind of just fell totally apart rather suddenly.
I'm trying as hard as I can to keep trudging along and not let myself get totally overcome by despair but I am not sure how much more strength I've got in me. I feel like I'm coming undone.
People have told me that I'm handling things well but the truth is that I'm really not handling things well. I'm just really good at putting up a convincing facade. I pretend like I'm fine, I pretend like I can laugh and have fun and be carefree and that at the end of the day, I'm content with my life. It's all one enormous lie. I'm not okay in any way. I'm just a skilled actor.
I'm miserable, I'm unhappy, I'm scared about what will happen, I'm anxious, I'm stressed, I'm tired, and I'm feeling defeated. I can barely drag myself out of bed on some days. I go home from work with just enough time to eat something, crawl into bed and do crossword puzzles to keep my mind off the pain I'm dealing with until I pass out.
Supposedly things will get better. That's what everyone keeps telling me. But I have yet to see any improvement. The only difference between now and when my life first exploded is that I'm better at lying about how I'm doing and I'm better at hiding how I'm really feeling.
But other than that, nothing has changed. Things just keep falling apart and as a result, I'm falling apart.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"We All Live in a Yellow Submarine"

I'm trying to decide where I should move once my lease is up at the end of July. My options are a) remain in the same city I am now or b) move to a town closer to work.
Option B is an apt that a friend of Golf's is renting out. He is specifically looking for a "young professional." Hey, that's me! And the apartment is GORGEOUS! And way cheap for what it has. If I took Option B, I would only move into that specific apartment.
Option A is to stay in my current city and stay in an as-of-yet-unknown apartment. There aren't a lot of spots in this area ti rent. Everyone buys. I can't afford that nor do I want to buy anything right now since that's very permanent and who knows what I'll be doing in a year or so. So my renting options are limited.
The pros and cons of the two options are the exact inverse of each other. Essentially, Option A keeps me closer to my family, my friends, and the metro area. Since I'm a city girl, that's a big plus. I also get to stay on my same church ward. The ward has been incredibly supportive of me during this whole ordeal so that's also important. However, Option A means renting some place that either sucks for amenities or is too expensive for me. Call me a snob, but I worked my butt off in school to get ahead and I do not want to go back to schlepping my laundry to the laundry room or laundromat. I did that when I was poor as a kid and when I was poor in college. If I don't get any other benefit from 7 years of post-secondary education, I WILL get an in-unit washer and dryer! I'm a lawyer, damnit. There has to be some benefit...
Option A also is about 30 minutes from my regular courthouse and 40 minutes away from my office.  Gas is almost $4/gallon now, so this is an expensive commute. Especially when you factor in driving from the office to the courthouse and back again.  Plus, my 2010 car that I bought in February 2010 with 79 miles on it is now already at 68,000 miles in only two years. So my car takes a beating with this drive. And, of course, the drive time means I have to get up earlier. Puke.
Option B is a fantastic apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer. No oven though... It really only has a kitchenette, not a full kitchen, which kind of sucks but I could work around that. It's only three blocks away from my courthouse, which is awesome. And it's like 20 minutes from the office. So I've save money and time. And my car would probably be happy. I could run home on lunch easily. But, I'd be about an hour away from my friends, family, and the metro. And I'd have to move to a new church ward.
This is a tough decision....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fun Fact:

According to the Words with Friends dictionary, "jews" is not a word.  "Dildo" is a valid word, however. 

Because that makes sense. Clearly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"But you didn't have to cut me off,
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing,
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough.
No, you didn't have to stoop so low,
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number,
I guess that I don't need that though,
Now you're just somebody that I used to know."
-Gotye, Somebody That I Used to Know

Monday, March 19, 2012

Overheard in Court

As I waited for my case to be called this morning, I got to watch a contested Harassment Restraining Order case.
The best part of the hearing was when one person said, "I have been on my best behavior...except for the threats."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I am amazed at how much this separation still hurts after this many months.

Yay for sunshine!!

It has been in the 50s, 60s, and 70s lately in good old Minnesota. Warmth and sunshine!  In March! I can sit outside to eat dinner, open my windows and let fresh air in, and drive around with my music loud and windows rolled down. This never occurs in March in Minnesota. Mother Nature must be out of the office, otherwise she would have noticed this error and corrected it.
Until she is back, we Minnesotans are going to bbq, play outside, and enjoy the beautiful sun. Weeeeeeeeee!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I believe the term for this is "indentured servitude"

I worked 12 hours today. This is the second time in 2 weeks I've put in a 12 hour day. Lately I'm generally doing 9 or 10 hour days, in a futile and failing attempt to stay on top of things.  My case load plus my court schedule since the start of the year have been untenable. No matter how much I try to keep up, I can't.  I spend almost my entire day in court Monday through Wednesday plus two Fridays each month. I'm allotted 6 office days a month-every Thursday and the second and forth Fridays of the month. 
In those 6 days, I somehow have to find the time to meet with clients at the office and at the jail (the jail is 25 minutes away from my office, in a separate city).  Sometimes, the jail gets over full and my clients end up in a different jail because of space issues. That jail is an hour and a half away from my office.  I also have to find time to return phone calls and emails, read new documents that come in, prepare for trials or contested hearings, fill out requests for the paralegal and investigator, do legal research, write morons and memos, and review countless hours of audio and video.
What do I most commonly end up spending my office time doing? Filing paperwork. Mountains of paper lands in my inbox every day. I average 5 new files each week. Paperwork that I need for some hearings doesn't get to me until the day before the hearing but I don't know that I have it because it's not a Thursday so I haven't gotten to my inbox.
In any other office, support staff would do my filing.  In our pitifully underfunded office, we don't have enough staff to do that. So, I spend countless hours just filing, making copies, mailing things, and doing other tasks that I should have assistance from support staff on.  Which means that I'm not able to do other things, things that only I can do because I'm the lawyer and can't delegate those things to someone else.  Thus, my lawyer-only things aren't able to be done because the other, secretarial stuff needs to be done by me.
The real bitch of it all is that I end up working without compensation.  As public defenders, we are allowed to "bank" overtime, rather than getting paid for it. The idea is that for every hour of overtime we work, we get 1.5 hours of "comp time", to cash in later on. So, if I want to take off early on a Friday, for example, I can clock 6 hours of regular work hours and take 2 hours out of my comp bank.  Since I already worked those two hours as october but didn't get paid for them, I get to use them in place of 2 hours of non-overtime work. Sounds like a good trade-off, right? I mean after taxes come out, actual overtime pay isn't ever really enough to justify actually working overtime.  Plus, when it's a nice summer day, I'd much rather leave work early and enjoy the sun.
The problem is that we are only allowed to store 40 hours in our comp bank.  After 40, we can't store anymore.  Which means that if you have 40 comp hours already and you end up working overtime, you don't get any kind of compensation for your overtime hours.
And, before you ask, no, we are not salaried.  We are hourly.
When I filled out my most recent time card, I had 36.5 hours of banked comp time. I had 8 hours of overtime. I got no compensation of any kind for 4.5 of those hours. Unless I take some time off soon and use some of my banked hours, I will continue to not receive compensation for any overtime I work. Given that I'm scheduled into April right now for court, it's unlikely that I'll be taking any time off soon and also unlikely that things will slow down enough that I won't need to keep working 9+ hour days just to try (but not succeed) in keeping up with things.
Maybe I should start wearing a button on the days I'm at the office and in court and I'm on unpaid overtime that says, "Be nice to me. I'm working for free  today."

Friday, March 02, 2012

Funny Conversation of the Day

Me: I finished my brief yesterday so it's going in the mail today. You should have it soon.
Prosecutor: When was that due?
Me: Monday. March 5th is our deadline.
Prosecutor: So when is my brief due?
Me: Monday. Same as mine.
Prosecutor: Monday?! Really?!
Me: Yeah, remember? You told the judge you would just do a simultaneous brief so yours is also due on March 5. That's Monday.
Prosecutor: (groaning) Oooo but March 5 seemed so far away when I said that...