Friday, December 30, 2011

How many is too many?

It is entirely possible I have a problem. I am running out of places to keep books in this house. I have an entire room dedicated to books, with two giant bookcases. (There's also a treadmill and a comfy chair in there. It occurs to me that if I got rid of those things, I might have more room for bookshelves. But Maddie really likes the chair. And I really like to run.) I have another bookcase in a hallway. And a small stash in the front room. And a bookcase in my bedroom. Most of these bookcases have shelves that are 2, or even 3, books deep. And there's still not enough room. So there's a bookcase in the guest room. And then the overflow shelf on the entertainment unit in the living room where the newest acquisitions go. Most of these books have been read, but oh so many of them are still waiting their turn. I want so desperately to give them each their turns. They all deserve to be read, appreciated, handled. But I still add more. Just tonight, a nice dinner with friends led to a coffee shop which led to browsing at a bookstore which led to yet another new book...

I'm not an addict. It's cool. I can stop anytime I want. Really. No, really...

While we're on the subject of addictions, we should probably talk about the shoes...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All I want

Want is such a tricky concept. It can lead to great things. Like vaccines or medical treatments from ambitious, smart people who want to find cures for the disease they saw destroying family members or friends. Or to the grand experiment of democratic republics from those who saw life under a monarchy and wanted something better.

But it can also be a destructive force. On some simplistic, basic level, isn't addiction a form of wanting? Wanting Helen led to a war. People can bankrupt themselves with wanting. Wanting bigger houses, brighter jewelry, procedures that will keep them young. People can make themselves crazy, break their own hearts every day, with wanting things out of their reach. When applied carelessly, want can be the most painful emotion out there.

What I want most for this new year is, quite simply, to stop wanting. Want has not been my friend of late. I have not felt the good kind of want, the kind that can make a person push herself or leave her comfort zone. No, I've been stuck with the futile wanting of something that is out of my grasp. And the further removed I am, the more desperately I want it. I never knew it was possible to miss a person this much. (And missing a living person is so very much worse than missing a dead one.)

So since I can't be a sensible person and stop wanting what I can't have or find something new, better, to want, all I can hope for and work on now is to stop wanting. Because if I don't want anything, I won't keep feeling so hurt and raw and cut open every damn day when I can't have it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


When is sentencing a rapist to prison utterly and completely pointless? When the rapes occurred 30 years ago and the rapist is now a diabetic, blind, wheelchair-bound double amputee who has suffered a stroke.

Now I may be a defense attorney, but I'm not exactly a huge fan of rapists getting a free pass. So ordinarily, I would approve of a man who broke into homes and raped women in their beds doing a little time. But I don't think throwing prison terms at any and all criminals is very sensible crime and punishment policy. If I had my way, a whole lot fewer people would be in prison because I'm just not sold on the idea that it's in society's best interests to incarcerate that many people. And I'm also a pragmatist.

In Mr. Brewer's case, the pragmatist in me wonders what on earth anyone hopes to accomplish by putting this man behind bars. He has now admitted guilt in two rapes from 1981. The man who was originally wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison has long since been released, exonerated, and financially compensated. That man, Eddie Lowery, actually seems to be doing quite well. He is married and has two children with his current wife. He has also been able to reconnect with the daughter he lost when he was sent to prison when she was 2. So sending Mr. Brewer to prison isn't necessary to make anything up to Mr. Lowery.

MSNBC aired a special about Mr. Lowery's case last Friday. Mr. Brewer was interviewed for that special. He is truly a pathetic specimen at this point in his life. He does not have prosthetic limbs to replace the feet he has lost to diabetes. I'm not sure how much good prosthetic limbs would do  him, anyway, as he is blind and has had a stroke. He quite simply does not pose a threat to anyone.

But he does require a great deal of medical care. In prison, he may well be confined to the infirmary. From a cost standpoint, it seems likely to me that taxpayers will pay for his medical care whether he is in prison or not. But in prison, he will be a drain on limited prison resources. An inmate with such serious medical issues will take up more time from the overworked staff that is already stretched too thin.

And what do we as a society possibly gain from punishing a man like this with prison time? I don't really feel like letting him serve some kind of house arrest or probation would be letting him get away with his crimes. The reality is that the ship sailed on that one a long time ago. I'd say once he got to live over 20 years without facing consequences, he's pretty well gotten away with it. Sometimes, we just need to accept that there's really nothing we can do about a crime that happened so long ago. This is one of those times.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So, yeah. That just happened. Merry Christmas, Chiefs fans!

Friday, December 16, 2011


My days can be very depressing sometimes. There is nothing like wrapping up a Friday afternoon by being confronted with the very real human consequences of my clients' interactions with the criminal justice system. Realizing a dad can't go to a child's high school graduation even though he's 30 miles away. Knowing a broken-hearted mother or wife faces a birthday or a Valentine's Day or a Christmas alone. I'm kind of a cryer, so this stuff gets me.*

But I think it's a good thing that my job can still leave me this bummed on a Friday evening. Because it means I still care. Deeply. That I haven't lost sight of the very human component of the work I do. I'm not close to turning into just a cog in the machine.

So I'm glad the plights of my clients and their families still make me so blue. The day I don't feel this bad about it is the day I should think about finding a new line of work.

*It ought to go without saying that I am also keenly aware of the very real human consequences for the victims and their families. I ought not need to express how sad it is to think of children who must graduate from high school without a parent or sibling because that loved one was murdered. But undoubtedly some people think it's outrageous that I care about my clients' parents or children. Or even my clients themselves. I have enough compassion to feel horrible for everyone involved. But since I work with defendants, that side is what I see and am more often touched by.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I know, I know. Where have I been, right? Well, I've been busy. Not socially, mind you, but with other stuff. I've been reading and preparing to host book club. I spent some days sitting by the ocean, celebrating with my closest friends and a baby. (And a toddler. Not fair to leave out the adorable toddler, but I'd met her before. Hadn't met the new baby yet.) But mostly, I've been knitting. I started out so well, long before December. But now here we are, less than two weeks from Christmas, and I'm not done. I feel like I'm not even close to done. I know it will all get finished, and it's not even the end of the world if it doesn't get finished by the 25th as I will see these people again and there is this fascinating thing known as mail. But, still, I feel like I'm back in law school in that awful last week of the semester.

Then there's the fact that I'm just so sick of it all. I'm sick of this endless race for the Republican nomination. They're all awful. And now the guy who is leading is the scariest of the lot because of his delusions of grandeur and visions of doomsday scenarios. I'm sick of things like today's news that Lowe's has pulled its advertising from a show meant to show that it is possible to be a patriotic, "real" American and a Muslim at the same time. I'm sick of the nonsense that passes for politics and governance in my state. (Really, someone in my governor's office cares that a teenager tweeted that he sucks?)

I could go on, but I really must get back to my knitting.
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