Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Career Choice

As many of you may know, my career goal is to become a Public Defender. This is a criminal defense lawyer paid for by the government, who represents those too poor to afford a lawyer for themselves. Anyone who has the possibility of jail time has a right to a lawyer to represent them, according to the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. People are often surprised and sometimes horrified/disappointed at my decision, so I thought I'd share a few of my motivations.

1. I love to be in the courtroom and go to trial. Public Defenders get to do this more than anyone else.
2. My mom always says I'm a crusader; I want to live up to her expectations.
3. I enjoy it so much that even when I had an internship doing criminal defense all day, I still went home at night and watched hours of Law & Order.
4. I'm good at it.

Now, you may be thinking that all of the above reasons could just as easily lead me to become a prosecutor. I guess that's true. But there are a few things I've learned about criminal law and about myself that lead me to believe otherwise. First, there are plenty of prosecutors in the world. Second, they say that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and prosecutors have a LOT of power. Finally, I just don't want to send people to jail all day every day. Judging people is not my thing. I prefer to hold out hope that they will improve, try to help them despite their mistakes, and believe that there is something good in everyone, rather than looking to condemn. Putting people in jail just sounds depressing.

Now I realize that most of my clients are going to go to jail, and that's because many of them are guilty. Doing the best thing for your client often means negotiating a decent plea bargain, not getting your client off. But I can be a friend to that person who is so alone, and I think that's important.

If you'd like to know more about the how the criminal justice system actually works and what sorts of things I'll be doing, I can suggest some reading and movies for you. Gideon's Trumpet by Anthony Lewis is the story of how the right to lawyers came about (this is a book and a movie). John Grisham's The Innocent Man is actually nonfiction and a very quick read. Actual Innocence talks about how so many DNA exonerations came about. If you don't know what a DNA exoneration is, the book will explain it to you. Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira follows the happenings in a Chicago courtroom for one year (be aware, the language is often quotes so it's not for the faint of heart). You can also watch Anatomy of a Murder and Twelve Angry Men. And while we're at it, if you want to know anything of the realities of criminal justice, you should not watch CSI, it belongs in the fantasy genre. But that's a topic for another day.... If you had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in school; it's also a great one. If you didn't have to read it, you should read it anyway. There's also a great movie. And if you think that sort of thing doesn't still happen today, you're absolutely wrong.

Monday, December 15, 2008

In Search of...White Christmas

I love old movies. I started watching Holiday Inn in November because technically it's about all the holidays and Thanksgiving is in November. James didn't buy my reasoning and refused to participate until the Christmas season officially began. Not surprisingly, I've been wanting to watch White Christmas ever since.

So, we checked a copy out from our amazing public library. Unfortunately, during the week that we had it, we only had time to watch the other Danny Kaye movie we'd gotten. We made it through the first ten minutes of White Christmas and then James' family called. We never made it back before the movie was due. Wouldn't you know it, I couldn't renew White Christmas because other people wanted its help getting into the Christmas spirit as well? Back to the library it went.

Fortunately, we babysat for some friends this last week, and it turns out they have White Christmas! We were so excited we ignored the rest of their movies, some of which we actually haven't seen. Sadly, because it's exam time, it was pretty late when we turned on the movie and we only made it about halfway through the first night. No matter, the babysitting job went for two fun-filled nights (and three exciting days, but that's another story). The next night, we started it up again. Sadly, two days of parenting two children had taken their toll. Before long, I fell asleep and we didn't finish the movie. We returned to our own meager movie collection about three dance numbers short of the end, not knowing whether Bob and Betty are ever going to work things out. Okay, we knew. But we still wanted to see the last half hour. So, I put us back on the waiting list at the library. We were Number 26, not very encouraging.

Saturday we were talking about going to a movie, but we couldn't find anything compelling enough to spend that kind of money. So, we decided it would be cheaper to just go buy White Christmas and watch the end. And thus our shopping adventure began....

Stop 1: Target. White Christmas is on sale, but it is also sold out.
Stop 2: Barnes and Noble. White Christmas is only available in a two-pack with It's a Wonderful Life, and it costs $30. We don't need to see it that bad. At this point, we had found some Christmas gifts and bought another movie that was really cheap. We couldn't think of anywhere else in the area to look, so we decided to give up and go home. Then James mentioned that Best Buy would probably have it. I remembered seeing one nearby, so we turned around and headed there.
Stop 3: Best Buy. They don't even carry it. What's wrong with these people? Have they no sense of history? Have they no holiday spirit? At least we didn't have to wait in the ridiculous line that looked like it was going to take at least 45 minutes. No, I'm not exaggerating. Fortunately, we saw a Borders on our way to the Best Buy.
Stop 4: Borders. We find the Christmas movie section (they know about capitalizing on the Holiday Spirit). They have it! It's $20. We're just not willing to part with that much money. And there's a Shopko next door.
Stop 5: Shopko. Searching, searching, searching. They have very cleverly hidden their Christmas movies nowhere near any of the other movies in the store. After a while, we find a clerk who tells us this information and shows us where White Christmas would be, if it weren't sold out. It would be cheap too. Oh well.

At this point it's late, it's raining, and we give up. Once we get home, I remember seeing that you can stream White Christmas online from for a nominal sum. Why didn't I think of this two hours ago? We excitedly pay our $9.99 and start watching. Every five seconds it pauses to buffer. We see every dance move twice. We hear most lines one and a half times. It's not exactly flowing like White Christmas should. So much for that "super-fast" internet I'm spending so much on every month. Next time I watch a movie off the internet, I'll take the hour to download it, then watch.

Sunday night, we were relating our woes to some friends, who announced that they own White Christmas! What's more, they had watched it that very day and were happy to loan it to us! I will be watching White Christmas again, uninterrupted, while I do my Christmas baking. No pauses. No breaks. No buffering. Just the entire, sappy, Christmas experience. Ballerinas and all.

Early Morning Laundry

3:30 am - Here I am, awake as can be. It might have something to do with the long nap I took yesterday afternoon. It might have something to do with the long list I made just before bed last night of things I have to get done this week. Or it might just be that about once a week I wake up really early. I don't know. But, I've learned to accept it.

Regardless, today I'm taking this "opportunity" to do laundry. Our hot water is going to be shut off today from 7am until, supposedly, 11pm for repairs. I'm not sure how strongly I feel about water temperature and laundry. However, I do know that doing laundry while there are men working in the basement is less than ideal. Waiting until tomorrow isn't really an option either, unless I don't want to wear pants today. So, I'm doing laundry while I know there's no competition for the washer. And in a while I'll take advantage of the still-hot showers.

Now I'm just hoping the hot water repairs don't shut down the radiators, which I'm pretty sure depend on hot water as well. The wind chill today is supposed to be around -10. I'm not interested in braving that without some sort of artificial heat. Maybe I'll bake, all day.