Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend warriors

The past two weekends I have discovered a whole new way of living -- weekends without homework. In my final weeks as a clerk, my hours were much more regular (as I'd promised Rob they would be), so I didn't have to throw any work in my bag to take home at night or on the weekends. Obviously (or maybe not considering no one who knows me would be surprised to learn the contrary) I didn't bring any work home after my last day of work on Friday.

So on Labor Day weekend, Rob and I got to clean our house from top to bottom including the things we never do -- organize the pantry, clean the fridge, sort through our clothes to fill a box for Goodwill, etc. Normally our cleaning is just an hour of mad scrambling and shoving things into closest before company arrives.

This past weekend we had lots of company. Our friends Bill and Claire were going to a wedding in South Bend on Saturday, so they flew into Chicago on Friday and stayed with us for the night. We got to try out a great Mexican restaurant in our 'hood (Agave Bar & Grill), which we highly recommend. We always have a blast with Bill and Claire and Friday night was no exception. (We also learned that a "ramp" is indeed a vegetable. Who knew? Well, apparently Rob and Bill.)

Then on Saturday, my twin sister and brother-in-law were in town for my brother-in-law's, cousin's wedding out in the Chi-town suburbs. Colin had arrived on Friday, and crashed with us as well, while Libby wasn't getting in until about two hours before the wedding. Since they didn't know if Libby would make it on time for the ceremony, Rob and I picked up Libby at Midway, drove her to the hotel where Colin's family was staying so she could shower and get ready, and then drove her to the ceremony, while Colin drove to the wedding from our place on his own.

After successfully completing our mission to get Libby to the wedding somewhat close to on time, and finding ourselves in the suburbs, Rob and I hit Ikea. We bought a great dining room table and chairs, which we've needed for a while. Yup, spending that law firm money already. Although I'd imagine most of the lawyers at my firm don't have dining room sets from Ikea. :) We assembled the table and half the chairs before heading out to meet Rob's friend Erin, who was turning 31, for her birthday dinner. Then Libby and Colin met us back at our place around 11pm.

We (me, Rob, Lib, Colin) went to Resa and Nick's house in the morning for brunch before Libby and Colin headed back to the suburbs for the wedding brunch. After they hit the road, Rob and I ran errands -- got Rob a new suit on sale, picked up the last of my stuff from the courthouse, bought new kitchen cabinet hardware at Home Depot, which we then installed when we got home. By 2pm, the last of our chairs were assembled, our kitchen cabinets looked sleeker, and we got to sit and watch football the rest of the day. Libby and Colin stopped in for another hour before heading to the airport, so Resa and Nick came over. Then when Libby and Colin left, Rob and I went to Resa and Nick's to watch the Giants. (Eli played great... if only the G-Men's D had shown up as well...)

I can't even remember the last weekend we had when we got to check off so many things off our to do list and still had so much free time! Amazing! Even with guests in town! Maybe I won't get another weekend like this for a long time. This weekend we're off to Napa for Roxanna's wedding, and I'm sure law firm life will keep me busy on weekends from there on out. But wow... it was good while it lasted.

It was especially nice to have such a busy weekend with lots of friendly faces around because I am so sad to be finished with my clerkship. I started crying when I said goodbye to my judge on Friday. When I first decided to apply for clerkships, I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a clerkship. I thought I'd like to clerk on an appellate court; I thought I'd like to clerk for someone whose ideas about the law somewhat aligned with my own; and I thought I'd like to clerk for a woman -- someone whose career path could give some extra insight about what mine could look like in some ways. My judge certainly fit the bill, and the fact that she was in Chicago, some place where I have family and Rob and I would be happy to settle, was a bonus.

A couple months before I sent in my applications, I accidentally met my judge at an ACS conference. I was at a reception, ended up in a great conversation about the law with a female lawyer, and then Judge Wood wandered over. Of course I knew who she was, and it turned out the woman I was talking to was Judge Wood's sister. Then I had a great conversation with the judge and her sister and women in the law, etc., etc. Needless to say, I knew I had found the right judge for me. Magically, the fates aligned, two months later she invited me to interview with her, and a week later I'd landed my dream job. When I said goodbye to my judge on Friday, she said she hoped that the year had been what I'd hoped it would be. I laughed. I could not have dared hope for a year this good!

I don't mean to gush, and I don't mean to say the year was all roses and sunshine. The hours were often grueling. The work could be too difficult, tedious or both. It was hard and there was more than one bench memo I dreaded. But I got to spend a year helping a woman, who I consider to be one of the smartest and most dedicated federal judges in the country, make the law. It was an honor. If I look back at my career path, I can honestly say that I've loved all my jobs (although disliked certain aspects, of course) and I've enjoyed each job more than the last. As much as I am confident I will love being a litigator, I don't know how it can top being a clerk for my judge.

Anyway. Enough of this long, rambling post from this unemployed woman. Back to my "things to do while unemployed for a week" list! For anyone who doesn't know, my new job starts Monday. I'll be working here*. (I don't want to post the name because I don't want anyone googling the firm to stumble across my blog. :)

*Edited this post to delete the link.

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