Month: January 2015

What I Miss

I’ve seen many people I used to work with in the past few weeks. Inevitably, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you miss it?”

Not really. Nope. No.

Oh. Am I not supposed to answer that quickly? And with such a big smile on my face? Sorry.

(But not really.)

I do not miss working and I have no regrets about leaving my law firm. But I admit to missing a few things:

1. Being involved with more people. Many days, I only talk to one other person. In my past life, a slow day was talking to five people. A normal day was 10-15.

It is the biggest source of feeling disconnected. The range of things I know about people is narrower. I’ve missed the casual discussions about what vacations people are planning or what books they’ve read. I’ve also missed the not-so-casual conversations about people moving or unexpectedly being pregnant with a third child.

2. Problem solving. My job was fundamentally about solving problems. Some were little, “Who can take this new pro bono case?” Some were big, “What new project should this office adopt?” Some were political, “How can we navigate this potential conflict of interest?” Some were personal, “When can I find five minutes to grab lunch?”

Now, the majority of my problems are personal. Recurring ones include, “What time do I feel like eating lunch?” and “Do I really need to shower today?”

3. Being helpful. At my office, I had the answers. From entirely random to very useful things, word on the street was to ask me. While I grumbled about people needing to learn how to find information and use the systems on their own instead of always calling me, I am resourceful and liked the appreciation I (usually) got in return. My life now just does not offer nearly as many opportunities to be helpful to others.

Work space

Work space

4. Office accoutrements. Some days, the things I most long for are my ergonomic desk, two large computer monitors, and the office’s industrial-strength machines.

Printing at home and shredding a (very) few pages at a time make me impatient. And don’t even ask about my one-page-at-a-time scanner.

I’ve jerry-rigged a computer set up on my dining room table, using my lap desk from college as a keyboard tray and a stack of cookbooks on a folding chair for my mouse. It works well enough for now, but it makes me appreciate what I had for the past 12 years.

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I’ve enjoyed the past few months. It’s not that every minute is pure bliss, but I like it for what it is—slower and less stressful. I’m still a morning person, but “morning” now means waking up in the 7s or even 8s, as opposed to 5s and 6s of my working days. And, this is after 7-8+ hours of sleep, instead of 5-6. It is definitely an improvement to life without yawning multiple times per hour.

A Read Down Memory Lane

The bottom drawer of my nightstand has been the collection point for cards and letters I’ve received over the years and couldn’t bear to part with. In my memory, I go through the drawer every few years to see what I want to keep and tie the items into neat bundles with yarn grouped by year.

Piles of cards

Piles of cards

Memory is deceiving. I found items in the drawer from the late 90s. Either I haven’t done this at all since moving into my house in 2003, or I missed some in the process.

I spent many hours of the final days of 2014 reading through everything in the drawer. What a gift to take this walk down memory lane. Some of the finds were so good, I scanned them in order to share them with the original senders.

Some of the highlights:

Many cards from my grandmothers, both of whom passed away in 2010. Grandma Mother (that’s what we called her) in particular was a great letter writer. Mixed in with updates about life and who was coming to visit were expressions of emotion and pride in me and other members of the family. Really touching to reread.

Holiday card from 2011

Realizing how many cards and letters I have from a college friend. Not only do I have every one of her holiday cards, which are usually original works of art by her former or current husband (here’s the 2011 card), but also dozens of cards that came with newspaper clippings or other small gifts. I always think of her as one of the most thoughtful people I know, but seeing the hard evidence made me appreciate it again.

Being a little sad about the people I’m not in touch with anymore. One mailed me a Halloween care package while I spent a semester of law school in London. This won’t lead me to get back in touch with everyone, but certainly with a few.

Intern's thank you

Intern’s thank you

Remembering former interns. Each spring, summer, and fall semester I “hired” an intern to work on pro bono cases. Free labor for the department + academic credit and great, practical experience for the students = serving more clients, primarily those seeking disability benefits. Many of the interns wrote heartfelt thank you cards (much better than an email).

Trying to figure out who some of these people are. Among the unidentifiable: someone who sent me flowers at the office in 2003, someone who thanked me for staying at my house in 2005, and more than one birthday card from the late 1990s/early 2000s.

My New Year’s Resolution is to try and emulate my grandmother and college friend by sending more handwritten cards. But not ones with glitter. They make too much of a mess.

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