I'll be forty-four years old next Sunday. I don't know why, but every time I think of this birthday and its number I picture 44 blackbirds flying out of a pie. It's an odd age, 44...so close to 45 and 45 being almost fifty. Weird. I don't feel old. I do feel wise, after a fashion. And happy. Not even happy, so much more than happy. I am blissful.

I got a big promotion at work that came with a fancy schmancy new title. I have a new attorney working with me. Everyone is very happy with the change and feels like the cases are now being handled better. I think I did the right thing in accepting the position. I'm the Chief of the Family Justice Division. See? I told you it was fancy! It's still all the same Creeps & Perverts cases, but the name sounds so much more civilized.

In other news, my man gave me the best Valentine's day gift ever last month--a beautiful new sewing machine. It wasn't anything I was expecting, but it was more perfect than he could have ever imagined. It was the ultimate gift for a holiday marking love. Sewing, for me, is so connected to both of my grandmothers, how they loved me and how much they taught me. When I sit at a sewing machine and work, I can picture both of them sitting there next to me, heads nodding, both of them smiling at how much I can do now. It may seem silly that sitting at a sewing machine binds me to that wonderful universal light--call it love, grace, god, whatnot--but it does. It conjures every good thing I ever had in my life that is related to being loved and loving without reserve. I'd never talked about this with him, so it wasn't anything intentional. But whether happy accident or intuition, it was one of those sublime acts that struck such a heart chord in me that I wanted to melt. I sure do love him.

Last week we drove in a borrowed pick-up to the boonies south of San Antonio and picked up some wrought iron patio furniture. Next week we're heading out on a road trip to the bayou country of southern Louisiana for my birthday. Spring is going to be a season of all sorts of movement and travel, but home for both of us is becoming the little house here at the lake and that makes me grin like a kid.
catelin: (Default)
( Aug. 14th, 2007 09:36 pm)
It's been a long week at a child abuse conference. Imagine a week of classes filled with all the horrible ways that people can hurt children. It's awful, but probably one of the conferences I most look forward to every year. It's always amazing to me how much I still have to learn after doing this for such a long time. And it's nice to have a week where I can see that there are literally hundreds of people who speak my language, have the same nightmares, the same frustrations....

The only disappointment I had was overhearing a DFPS worker (from another state, thankfully) talking about the families she deals with as "those" people. She was talking about the kids too. "Those" kids. It was a jarring reminder of how marginalized these poor wee things are, how fucked from the very beginning, and how there are still bureaucratic creeps in the world who truly believe that these kids should be able to just get their shit together. Never mind all the issues of poverty, class, race, etc. I really wanted to punch her right in her puckered, self-righteous face. Instead I just politely asked her name and where she worked. Heartfelt and disappointed letter to her supervisor to follow shortly.

It's when I spend weeks like this that I realize why my writing tends to be sappy and focused, perhaps overly so, on love and loyalty...on every corny beautiful thing in the world. It's because I tend to write as a counterbalance to what I see that is heartbreaking and monstrous. It is my soul's cure for all the muck.

So please forgive my sometimes annoyingly keen eye for the loveliness in all of you. It truly is what keeps me breathing most days.
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catelin: (durgapink)
( Jan. 29th, 2007 10:28 pm)
It’s funny how sometimes the things of most consequence to us happen so slowly that we hardly notice them. I lost my voice and I can’t even remember when it happened. I just know that I reached a point where I had nothing to say. I suppose it was not so much nothing to say as nothing that I wanted to say out loud. I didn’t want to say out loud how ashamed I was—about my failed New York minute marriage, about the fact that I’d walked away from my life here so cavalierly and gave up a job I loved for something that quickly turned into nothing at all. I was working so hard to get back to being myself again, but it never seemed to get any better.

Being a defense attorney for the last two years was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I did the best I could, but my heart was never in it. I turned down more work than I took, some by choice and some because I was simply conflicted out of it. Most of my best friends are cops and prosecutors and there was a lot of work that I couldn’t take because I still had people calling me for advice on cases in the middle of the night. I still worked teaching cadet classes at the Sheriff’s academy. But because I was on the “other” side, I nonetheless endured the slights and snubs of a lot of people who’d once had nothing but good things to say about me. I had no benefits, no health insurance, and no steady income. I woke up every morning worried about money and dreading the work I had to do to make ends meet. I finally cashed in stock that had been a gift to me from my grandfather—money that I had earmarked for my kids and sworn I would never touch—just to pay the bills. I kept telling myself that I was learning from this, that difficulty is always a test of character. I had been through harder things before and come through just fine, but over the last couple of years I felt the buoyancy that I’d held to so tenaciously through other hardships slowly seep out of me. It was a slow leak that came dangerously close to leaving me flat.

For months, there had been the possibility of going back to work at the D.A.’s office, but it was never a certainty. There were elections to get through, changes to be made no matter what the outcome. The worst part of it all was how badly I wanted it, how badly I feared not getting it. If it had just been me, I wouldn’t have been so worried; but with kids to provide for and no safety net, it was difficult to practice any sort of detachment from the desire for a place that was home to me for so long. Starting up the roller derby league probably saved me. I took a leave of absence this season. I was worn out, both physically and emotionally by all the work I’d put into it. Still, I was glad for the escape it offered me from my problems. I am proud of what it has become and the fact that I created something that is still going strong without me, like a child that I managed to raise well enough in spite of all my bumbling.

Aside from my children, the cases I deal with have been the focus of most of my days. I work exclusively with persons crimes now and I love what I do so much. I look forward to Mondays again. It’s no wonder I missed it as much as I did. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’m back, even now that I’m settled in to my new office and have been gleefully slogging through the mess of cases that were waiting for me.

I went to lunch with a friend the other day whose path has mirrored my own in a lot of ways, though for very different reasons. He’s finding his way back to the fold as well, hopefully sooner rather than later. We talked about how I learned a lot of hard lessons over the last three years. I almost lost everything that means anything to me—professionally and personally on a lot of levels, but I am finally feeling things settle back into place.

I still get the occasional flashes of fear that something will come and take it all away—that having my life back again is just temporary. I have learned from this, though. That seems to be the one thing that I can always do in any situation. I endure and I find ways to be better. I’m much more measured in the way that I see change in my life now. I hold more to the things that are precious to me and am not so quick to sacrifice familiar rhythms for the transient rush of the next new thing. I am still fearless in the ways that matter, and I still believe in myself. Every day fills me up now and confirms what I have always known...that my particular odd combination of tenacity and hopefulness will always be what saves me in the end.
catelin: (Default)
( Jan. 11th, 2006 10:52 am)
I’ve been making my peace lately with something so profoundly difficult and painful that it’s taken over a year to even be able to talk about it. I finally have had to let go of the idea that I will be going back to my old job. When I left Texas, I left behind a career as a senior felony prosecutor at an office that I loved. One of my best friends took over my position, and I was happy to know that my cases were being looked after by someone I trusted to do a good job. Even after I left, I still had people calling me for advice on cases. I still worked on appeals when they needed me. I still talked to everyone and knew what was going on from day to day. I still was connected, even from over a thousand miles away.

I came back and went into private practice out of necessity. I had a house payment to make, children to provide for, and no other real choice for a way to make a living and still have something that looked like my former life. I have done well enough. Still, I have spent the last year or so with one foot in my old world. I suppose that was to be expected. Most of my best friends still work at the D.A.’s office and my own cases take me there at least a few times a week. I walk by my old office and see my things still there—my old Persian rug, my silly Saturday Night Fever light switch on the wall, all the various odds and ends that I left to mark my place in some way. I still go out to lunch with everyone just like when I worked there, I still banter with my old boss, I go to the conferences with all of my old friends. It’s like I never left. Except I am not there.

So I’ve lived and worked every day with this awful yearning to be part of my past. I’ve watched people move up and around, knowing that if I’d stayed I would have likely been at the top of the small county ladder. I have felt stupid for leaving and too proud to ever admit to anyone how much I missed it, how much I missed the work and the rhythm of it all. There are only a couple of people who know how much I’ve wished things could go back to the way they were. There hasn’t been a day when I didn’t think about it. I really was making myself sick about it—resenting each new hire, trying their cases in my head like a sad little armchair quarterback.

But the truth is, you can’t go back…not to any place that you’ve already been. Even if I got a call tomorrow offering me my old job, it wouldn’t be my old job. It would be something entirely different from what it was, something entirely different from what I remember. The reality of it would probably be a bitter disappointment compared to the version of the job that I’ve held in my head all these months.

I realize now that it’s time to let go of my past and move ahead. What I’ve been doing to myself isn’t healthy or fair…it’s been very much like sleeping with an ex-lover just often enough to keep old wounds from healing. It’s time to put my whole heart into what I’m doing now. It’s hard to let go of something that I loved so much, but it’s time. I’m more than a little disappointed with myself that it’s taken me so long to move on from all this. I have been so blind to the benefits of what I have now that I’m ashamed to have not appreciated it more. I don’t have to stop loving what I did, but I have to put it where it belongs—in the past—so I can get on with the present. I’m lucky to have so many beloved old lives to look back on. I’m blessed to have the opportunity for new lives ahead of me that I can’t even yet imagine. I don't have to let go of the people, but I have to let go of that place in my memory where we were all together in a certain way. I have to let all of us find our new ways to be with one another. Spring will be here soon as a physical reminder that things begin again and again. And so will I, begin again, with who I was in better perspective with who it is I am becoming.
catelin: (durgared)
( Nov. 11th, 2005 07:24 am)
I was just interviewed the other day by the Texas Bar Journal and they are coming to the bout on Sunday. It gives me immense satisfaction to know that all the stodgy old coots I deal with will soon be reading about my derby exploits in their...ahem... professional journal. Nothing like a subtle, subversive finger to the establishment's face--love those!

The rest of my news is the usual mix of awful sad and giddy happy. My dad is coming to town for our exhibition bout, and tonight we will all be taking in Wurstfest for the first time. I've never been in all the time I've lived here, so I'm looking forward to it. I have made the decision to put my oldest kitty to sleep next week. I'm having the vet come here so he won't be scared. It's time, and there's no way for me to keep telling myself it isn't. He's almost 20, but suddenly it seems like a very short time, even in cat years. Love is treating me nicely these days, making me feel like I won the lottery. I'm always happy for that sort of thing. Lawyering stuff is hard again...still struggling with people who can't see me as anything but a prosecutor, even though I've been gone for a little over two years. One of my clients, a man who was arrested on his stepson's say-so that he threatened him with a knife and forced from his home with a protective order that was based on the same thing...his daughter is dead now--murdered yesterday by the stepson. A 14-year-old girl butchered to death. His only child dead by the hand of the person he was most worried would hurt her. I'll be drinking beer and listening to polka bands tonight. Life works that way, and thank goodness for it. Bitter and sweet, as my grandmother would say. We couldn't survive one without the other.

Bout Sunday in San Antonio, for those of you close enough to make it over there. Doors open at 6:30 and all the info you need is on our website, which is in my user info.

Hope everyone has a good weekend, a spectacular weekend. We could all use that, couldn't we?
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catelin: (Default)
( Mar. 12th, 2002 04:16 pm)
I would ask that you take at least three minutes of silence, and sit there in silence and realize, realize how long it takes for a child to lose voluntary control of their body,. --Kaylynn Williford--one of the prosecutors in the Yates trial

Maybe I've seen too many dead kids to have compassion for the people who make them dead. Perhaps I am too familiar with the physical mechanics of what it takes for a little body to give up and quit working. I know more about this case than I care to and I'm not going to argue about my views on it. I've seen plenty of monsters and Mrs. Yates is the worst fucking kind.

Oh...wait...scratch that...her husband's worse.
catelin: (Default)
( Apr. 30th, 2001 10:19 am)
For those of you who've been wondering if I've been kidnapped by one of the many right-wing nut job paramilitary groups that I'm always ranting about, no need to worry. I'm still here. Just had a rough week. Highlights?

Monday 4/23: Physically threatened by a berserk old crusty defense attorney at work. My instinctive thought was to stab him in the balls with my pen (hmmmm...something suggestive about the term "ballpoint?"). My rational side won out since I just bought a new house and can't lose my job for beating the shit out of someone at work. Nevertheless, it was upsetting...more so because I had to behave myself instead of stomping this fucker's head in. Oh, yeah...and I got home to discover that my modem was kaput from a big electrical storm (which is why some of you haven't heard from me...should be fixed this week sometime.)

Tuesday 4/24: Woke up to find the pop-off valve in my water heater had blown. There was about an inch of water in the garage. Normally wouldn't have been a problem, except that's where all my boxes were from the move...yeah, the ones I still hadn't unpacked.

Wednesday 4/25: The electrical storm messed up something in the house and some of the plugs weren't working. It took me two days to figure it out.

Thursday 4/26: Had to go to Kerrville for a speaking engagement...that meant getting up about two hours earlier than normal. This was actually the best day of the week.

Friday 4/25: Woke up to my youngest son's gasping for air at about 2:30 am. He had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Turned out that he had the croup and his throat had swollen almost shut. Needless to say, this made everything mentioned above seem of no consequence whatsoever compared to my kid's well-being. He's fine now, though, but I'm sure that's another 5 years off my life span from the stress.

Saturday and Sunday were uneventful, but the fun was still not over. I locked myself in the garage last night at about 12:30 am. Sometimes I am such a moron. I made it to work alive, though...so perhaps that's a sign that this week will be a little better.
catelin: (Default)
( Mar. 20th, 2001 10:18 am)
I am actually supposed to be working on a brief (why the fuck they call them briefs is beyond me--they are anything but) today at home, but a girl's gotta take time out for coffee and procrastination at some point. If anyone asks, it's Danny's fault. ; )

Fave Board Game:
Careers (I haven't seen it in ages. My grandparents had this game and we'd play it in the summers. I always got to be a miner and discover uranium.)
Fave Magazine:
Interview before it turned to crap, and Sunset
Fave Comic:
I have a collection of scary comics from when I was a kid...any of those I loved.
Now I am obsessed with Red Meat
Fave Food:
Anything spicy or laden with garlic and cheese
Fave Ice Cream:
Mint chocolate chip
Least Favorite subject/class:
Hmmmmm...it's been so long, I don't remember.
Fave thing to drink:
Coffee, margaritas, and mead
Fave weekend thing:
Kids/gardening/painting/reading/playing
Best advice or tip:
Never say "yes" to something you don't fully understand.
If I could meet one person it would be:
Frida Kahlo
Do you have a crush?:
Surprisingly, yes.
Who was your first crush?:
Jack Wild from H.R. Puffenstuff
Have you ever been in love?:
More times than I should have been

~*~*The Past Side*~*~
What do you remember most about the '00 year:
How fast it flew by
Memory (thing) you miss the most:
The way my grandmother smelled--a combination of Wrigley's spearmint, Max Factor, tobacco, and love to last me 'til I see her again.
What's the first thing you thought of when you got up this morning?:
I've got to get that damn brief done TODAY.

~*~*The Future Side*~*~
Where do I see myself in ten years?:
I never think about that...I always end up right where I'm supposed to be.
What is your dream car?:
One that comes with a chauffeur
Where do you plan on living after college?
Hmmmm....yet again a reminder that I'm outside the demographic of most surveys.
Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?:
Only when it's brought into my bed by one of my children.
Anything pierced?:
One hole in each ear is plenty, thanks.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime:
Ha! No.

~*~*The Feelings Side*~*~
Do you believe in yourself?:
Yes, I'm quite sure that I exist.
Worst Feeling(s) in the world:
Outliving your children
Best Feeling:
Being sure that you've done right by your stay on the planet.
What religion are you?:
Pagan
One thing I'd change about myself:
I'd try to be less cynical.
Are you a health freak?:
I smoke Camels...next question.

~*~*The Left Over Crazy Side*~*~
Have you ever been attacked by a big dog?
Only of the human sort.
Fingers or a fork?:
I find both useful, depending on the circumstance.
Made it back from New Orleans last night...just in time to escape the absolute pandemonium that was beginning. It was a very good trip, though. We got all that needed to be done on the case wrapped up and then spent the rest of the time wandering around the French Quarter with all the other turistas. My brain's still not functioning well enough to coherently piece everything together so I'm resorting to the list of highlights.
1. Got called "honey" and "sweetie" by almost everyone I spoke to...and didn't mind it at all.
2. Lit a candle for my grandmother in St. Louis Cathedral.
3. Had the obligatory one-sided (they talk, I nod my head) conversations with the freaks sitting next to me on the plane (I attract those sorts when I travel and am usually too polite to tell them to fuck off...I'm convinced, however, that businessmen belong to a secret society of the most perverted humans on the planet.)
4. Wandered through old cemeteries.
5. Talked to a guy who paints tits & asses on Bourbon Street for a living.
6. Met a nice pagan boy and left him smitten.
7. Caroused with some of New Orleans' Finest.
8. Graciously fended off drunken dickheads of varying degrees.
9. Harvested a bunch of Mardi Gras beads, whooped and hollered with all the parade-goers.
10. Decided against having my tarot cards read, but purchased a new set for myself.
11. Got to bed at a semi-decent hour almost every night.
12. Drank lots of good coffee and ate lots of good food.
13. Let my hair kink and curl in the humidity with no apologies.
14. Admired all the Goth kids in their self-conscious attempts at casual finery. Something poignantly sweet about that--trying so hard to look like you're not trying.
15. Smelled the flowers.
16. Missed my babies.

It was really a wonderful trip, aside from the business part of it. I am glad to be home and looking forward to napping with my kids for the rest of the weekend.
Getting ready for a trip to New Orleans next week to interview some witnesses for a sexual assault on a child case...actually on multiple children, but this is the beginning of my preparation for trial. Love, love, love New Orleans! Even though it's going to be pretty much all business, just being there will be great. I spent most of my adolescence in Louisiana, so I always have this feeling of homecoming anytime I go there. But the main reason I love it so much can be summed up in one word: CRAWFISH. : )
I can't remember whose journal I saw this in, but I thought it was an interesting idea:

On My Desk: 5 candles, Magic 8 Ball, candy dish with three Hershey's Kisses, 35 criminal cases, Dilbert mints, Zortz (a funny looking orange rubber cow head on a stand with a green nose and blue horns--you can stick phone messages in his mouth that opens with a wooden clothespin in the back of his neck.), flowers, Moroccan vase, vintage ashtray, phone, notepads, pens, paperclips, stapler, keys, one rubber band, a dozen photos of my kids

On My Credenza: Sumo wrestling lunchbox, Statue of Liberty replica, rolodex, boxing lizard puppet, Texas Narcotics Officers Association coffee cup, dinosaur megaphone with flashing lights and sound effects, wicker in/out basket, CD player, computer speakers, monitor, calculator, jail phone call tapes, Elmer's glue, junk mail, another dozen photos of my kids

On My Walls: Rage Against The Machine poster, Harold & Maude movie poster, Gaugin's "La Orana Maria," hand-embroidered fishing scene tapestry from Patzcuaro, Frida collage, Frida painting, Frida print, old print from 1928 that my grandmother gave me, another Gaugin print (Tahitian women), Lotería poster, 3 of my own paintings, M.A. in Spanish Literature & Linguistics, law degree from CA, law license from CA, law license from TX, certificate from FBI school, large photo of my kids

On My Shelves: Law books, book on Día de los Muertos, Physician's Desk Reference, about 15 little boxes of all different shapes and sizes that I've collected over the years, Chac Mool, Spanish/English Dictionary, French/English Dictionary, Greek/English Dictionary, Russian/English Dictionary, old copy of "Interview," Texas Police Journal, 100 or so CDs, more photos of my kids, plants, candles, trial notebooks.
.

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