Random thoughts, ideas and pictures of a multi-tasking, yarn-addicted Lady Lawyer

Yes... I really DO have 5 kids

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Lost Month -- a/k/a June 2009

Wow!!! What state am I in? What time zone? Does that thermometer REALLY say 107 ????? WHAT day do you want to put that on my calendar??? I put time into the court nine weeks ago!!! I'm melting!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was June. Two and a half days in Harrisburg. Five days in San Antonio, Texas. Five days in the Poconos. Unfathomable heat. Pouring rain and hail. If I wasn't withering from the sun, I was drowning in the incessant rain (gonna build me a boat... Jenny wants sheep on it). Court dates. Briefs due. Swim meets. My blackberry almost rebelled completely. The people who matter all knew and understood that June was going to be a nightmare -- those who didn't know June was going to be a nightmare...? Well, you can read the last two posts to understand how little I care about those who aren't on the card list. Add two more people (or subtract 2 people if one is being specific since they are OFF the list) with no further comments. I'm over that part of 2009 and it is ALL good.

The funniest thing about last month was that it really was NOT that different from Junes before it. I go to Harrisburg every year for this one excellent seminar. One if the kids or the other have been swimming for years now so that schedule is the same. But then there was San Antonio... and Mark's BMT graduation. Hotter than the fires of Hell doesn't even begin to describe the temperature. It was 103 when Chip and I landed. Yes... I got onto a plane WITH my knitting needles... twice! Of course, by the last day of the trip in that CRAZY heat, I would have offered to fly the damn plane just to get home! I have never felt heat like that in my life and if I HAVE felt heat like that, I wasn't 45 and having hot flashes when it gets above 70 degrees.

I guess I am now supposed to do the typical Proud Air Force Parent post about how wonderful BMT graduation was -- and parts of it WERE wonderful -- but after a lot of thought, I am NOT going to blow sunshine at anyone reading this. That was one of the most HORRID weekends of my life. It was ghastly hot. There was virtually no shade. The base was going through an inspection (that happens every 3 years) so we had to stand in line for "Base Access Passes" in addition to the passes we already had -- outside, in the heat and no shade for close to two hours. Those passes were not checked a SINGLE time while we were there despite dire warnings at the parents' briefing about how if you didn't have an access pass you would be "on the ground with an M16 to your head." REALLY???? In 103 degree heat, Chip and I waited in that line. At least the passes could have been checked ONE time. Mark Jr's TI also decided that limiting base liberty and town passes (even for Honor Grads) was a great idea -- his squadron had a different schedule than every other graduate and we spent the vast majority of Thursday afternoon standing in line for ice cream and then had to RUSH back Friday because his liberty had been shortened and then his squadron had an hour less than others on Saturday too. It was CRAP... and have I mentioned the HEAT?????

I've missed Jr. -- I firmly believe that time limitations shouldn't be permitted during graduation weekend unless there has been a SERIOUS (not some b.s. power kick) infraction of the rules. It was not a good initiation into military life for the families of the new Airmen. And as badly as I feel for myself and Chip with the limitation, the fact that this TI also told honor graduates that, instead of the Sunday town liberty they had earned AS honor grads, they could only have base liberty...? That is just plain wrong. The six men in Jr's squadron who made honor grad earned that extra town pass. Frankly, the time problem when added to the sickening heat ruined the trip for me. As proud as I am of Mark Jr. (and I think I forgot to say that), I was unimpressed with the experience.

But on the high notes... I saw Shamu!!!!! On Saturday, we went to Sea World, rode a couple roller coasters, walked around a little bit and saw Shamu!!! When Sea World first opened 100 years ago when I was a little girl, I wanted to see the killer whale. I never got to SEE the big killer whale. I saw Shamu!!!! Actually, I should say I saw "ShamuS" because there were 4 whales in the tank at one point -- SO cool !!!! Also cool was that Sea World lets military and up to three family members in for free AND recognizes the service men and women and their families before the Shamu show. Sea World was AMAZING!!!!!

Also amazing was the Alamo. When Jr. had to go back from town pass early on Friday, Chip and I were definitely feeling down so I randomly said "let's go into San Antonio and see the Alamo" which we had both wanted to see. Almost everyone who has been there has said how disappointing the Alamo was -- not to a couple of history geeks!!! What an incredible experience the Alamo was! And then we took a boat down on the Riverwalk (which made the temperature drop about 20 degrees) and it was lovely. We went back on Saturday with Jr. and did the boat again -- it was a very interesting experience in architecture and history and culture. The Riverwalk is worth seeing -- sometime between October and April so as to avoid the HEAT. I am in the process of putting pictures up in my facebook albums of the trip. Chip took a lot of those pictures and really showed a talent for photography.

And then there were the Texas highways. Holy Mary, Mother of GOD!!!!! I'll state it very simply for those of you from the Philly area: I would rather drive on the Schukyll Expressway every day in rush hour traffic for the next ten years, twice a day, in a VW beetle than to EVER need to drive on a Texas road again. Any questions??????

I am proud of Mark Jr. and what he has accomplished. He is doing great -- thriving in the Air Force and talking possible career. My heart quite literally almost broke in two when I saw him in his dress blues, accepting his Airman's Coin, marching down the Bomb Run at graduation, looking VERY dapper in his uniform and straightening it if it was even a fraction out of place! I took the requisite "underwear drawer" pictures and pictures of his bed. Say what you like about the Armed Forces (and you BETTER not say it around me or the other moms), they teach a kid to be tidy!!!!!!!! I'm debating a new method of child-rearing with Ryan and Jennifer: SCREAM at them for eight weeks straight and give them less than 5 minutes to eat a meal and make them run in 100 degree heat... apparently, it teaches them to make their beds!

The Poconos the next weekend were wonderful as always. I had gotten Mark (Sr.) the trip for his 40th birthday (which ended up being the day Chip and I left for Texas so our long weekend getaway was postponed a week). By the time we got up to the mountains and into the pool in our room (Caesars.... yes, the one with the champagne glass hot tubs. No, we don't stay in the champagne glass room), I was nearer to collapse than I have ever been. I thought April had been difficult???? June, which was almost over, had eaten me to pieces. We got there, we ate breakfast, we drank a little (uh huh... that's my story and I'm sticking to it; five drinks is NOT a little) and then we vegged. We played a little bingo, ate delicious meals, but mostly we read, knit and watched "West Wing." I have accepted that I am middle-aged when I go to a couples resort and knit a sock while my husband re-reads Harry Potter. It was the best five days I have had in forever. I came back and felt human -- right as the 1st half of 2009 ended (we came home on June 30th). Coming back in a hailstorm with only 20 minutes to get Ryan to a swim meet wasn't great, but it WAS still the first half of 2009 so it was expected to have SOMETHING irritating.

I was planning on the rest of 2009 to be a LITTLE more low-key. I was really, really hoping that 2009, Part II would provide a noticeable improvement over Part I. I should really know better. The second half is already proving to be just as ridiculous as the 1st half of the year was; maybe I'm just numb that I am not getting AS upset as I would have in June. I won a big criminal case on appeal -- I actually won it on June 26th, but didn't know until July 1st -- YAY ME!!!! Or not. My client, against whom all charges have been dismissed and who has been discharged from state prison because I won on appeal, is still sitting in a maximum security state prison as I write this post. I am NOT going to say much more about what I "feel" about this turn of events... at least not right now... except to say this: I won. You lost. Once in a VERY great while, a criminal defense lawyer wins a case... let my client out and stop playing games. I would have enjoyed the win (which really does NOT happen very often in what I do) SO much more if my guy was out of prison right now. Not to mention that my client is blaming me. My client's family is blaming me. I am utterly powerless at this moment in time so it is a completely hollow victory that once again destroys my faith that the criminal justice system works for everyone.

Again, I remember that although I go to sleep with the Constitution as my pillow every night (an old Dennis Miller rant against defense lawyers) when I represent people I know to be guilty, I continue doing so because the system NEEDS people who are willing to fight for the rules and the procedure that are there to protect ALL of us. Pollyanna much? Maybe, but it's what I believe in and it's why I do what I do. Guilt or innocence HAS TO BE irrelevent to me -- my job is to hold the Commonwealth's feet to the fire; to make them follow the rules against unreasonable searches and seizures or Speedy Trial; to make them prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt; to argue for clients who have received an illegal sentence. I believe in our Constitution... most of the time. Not today. Because no one says to an assistant district attorney: you lost. It's time to stop now. No one has the ability to FORCE them to stop. Instead, it's more of a feeling of "what a shame Bonnie won." No one says that... it's just a feeling. I am made to feel badly for doing my job which is necessary to the orderly management of our justice system. I have to be ABLE to win or our system fails -- I am going to lose 99% of my criminal cases in some manner (I can and do call a good plea offer a "win") and that is completely acceptable to me because Society is protected and so are our rights. But every five years or so, I am going to win a case outright. This case is quickly turning into a wholly unecessary drama because the "1%" happened.

I knew from the moment I made my customary timeline in this case (because I truly am a geek) that I SHOULD win at some point. That's not arrogance, it's the case law on Speedy Trial. This was a crystal clear-cut case of a guy not being brought to trial within a year (no boring the readers with excludable time and excusable delay explanations... it's not really a year). Sadder still is that I didn't expect to win the case at the level that I won it -- I thought it would require more appeals because I would lose at this level even though the law is really clear. But the judge did the right thing (this judge does that which means 99% of the time I lose and I try not to take that personally) because he is a good and honorable man. To win the case and to have my client against whom there are, right now, no charges, sitting in a state prison is wrong. At some point, I need to be into practicing law for the money rather than for my belief in the system... this case may just tip me over that edge. I never wanted to be THAT lawyer and it's a shame that the latter part of my career may become one without belief.

But other than my "win that isn't a win", the 2nd half of 2009 is better than the 1st half. Chip is still job hunting. Ryan is still swimming (until July 25th... then we get the six week break Yippee!!!). Jenny is turning into another Keagy Fish (a very special species) -- over the past week she has decided to swim underwater. On purpose... she LOVES looking at things underwater so she submerges herself. It is absolutely terrifying as a parent to watch a child who is barely three hang out underwater for up to 10 seconds at a time. There's some video on facebook... going to get more on there later. Mark Jr. is in Biloxi, Mississippi at tech school (where apparently it makes San Antonio look cool) and we'll be going down to see him there in a few weeks.

And my knitting and crocheting have been prolific. Socks, almost done a blanket for a friend's 1st granddaughter, random projects that call to me and I am making the time for myself to listen to the calling. I am very close to choosing a sweater pattern to make for myself (down to about 3 patterns now and have the yarn for them). I knit and crochet where I used to smoke (and STILL smoke-free, almost 5 months, WITH Mark smoking thirty packs of cigs while we were in the Poconos... I just had no interest) and I like that change. However, I'm really randomly knitting; I find it very hard to focus on a specific project or choice of a pattern which is not my normal knitting "style." If I can find ONE day where somebody doesn't have a claim (or a leash) to me, I plan to spend a day scrapbooking. I'm sort of in an place right now where I go where God/Goddess/Spirit/the Universe move me when I am not working 50 hour weeks into 30 hours of time.

And it is ALL good because it is now the second half of 2009. And it is a sunny, dry day with a cool breeze. I'm going to the pool. Forward my calls.