Because I got my new camera during this period, I was taking more “real” pictures, so pure instagram posts were a little sparser. but Sadie the cat is ever present, as are some travel-related pics and some minor clues as to my political leanings.
On the fifth anniversary of September 11, I wrote about what I saw and experienced that day, living in New York and seeing the buildings on fire. Not on TV, but actually from the street. And then on TV, because that’s how we share experiences as Americans. I was by no means nearest or most affected by the events, but like every New Yorker who was here on that day, it will always be a part of me. I sometimes find myself stopped in my tracks by a random thing. Yesterday I got weepy several times for “no reason”.
As we move further and further away from the day, some of the continued reminiscences begin to feel maudlin. like rubbernecking. I don’t want to begrudge people who don’t live here, who never lived here, their own feelings, but there are times when I start to get offended by the meme-ification of the events scattered through various feeds, most often seemingly posted by people from far-off locations, and then I try to stop myself, because it was such an overwhelming event and people have their own ways of dealing with things. The New Yorkers post tangible, sometimes terrible, actual memories, because we have those, not that we want them.
Things that made me cry yesterday, in order…
– Completely randomly, based on my OCD podcasting queue habits, when I got on the subway yesterday morning, Episode 4 of Mystery Show started playing. The description in the link is intentionally vague (I had no idea what it would be about when it started), and if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to the next bullet. The episode involves Starlee trying to solve her own mystery – of a license plate that she saw that read “I Luv 911”. Did it refer to EMS? a radio station? or well, 9/11? A lot of people have theories, and the fact that the conclusion made me cry on yesterday of all days should probably clue you in to the answer.
– Towards the end of the day, Sars posted her fourteenth anniversary essay on the events. And the fact that she never found Don. And that she even considered, yes, contacting Mystery Show to look into it. I commented on the post itself, but the essay, plus the callback to my own morning, left me a little weepy.
– And then, of course, on the heels of renewing my commitment to photography, I dragged my camera to work yesterday with the intention of finding some spot to actually take some good pictures of the tribute in lights. I think I’ve gotten one halfway-decent iPhone photo of the lights up until now. After doing a little online research, I decided to head over to Roosevelt Island. I figured downtown and Brooklyn Bridge Park would be too crowded, and there was just no chance I was going to New Jersey. There was a lot of opportunity to simply stand around and wait, in relative quite and solitude, and it was the right choice. (Side note – the last time I went to Roosevelt Island, the half surrounding the old smallpox hospital was all overgrown brush. It’s now been converted into a quite lovely park and they are still developing a whole “Four Freedoms” center on the island. The only downside is that I couldn’t get a good shot of the Pepsi sign because access to the path to get a good shot was behind a locked gate at this hour).
I’ve been a bit down lately about my status as a second class citizen since the recent Supreme Court decisions, and have been thinking about tangible things I can do to at least make myself feel like I’m doing something, even if it amounts to spitting in the wind.
In the meantime though, my family is celebrating a very rain-sodden July 4th in the Berkshires and our barbecue got waylaid by the incessant rain. So…flag, and and barbecue trimmings being cooked in the kitchen.
For the 4th of July, a closeup of the flag that draped my WWII-veteran grandfather’s coffin in 2002.
Thanks to a well-timed reminder from a friend the other day, I managed to snag a ticket for this weekend’s opening of Discovering Columbus. Artist Tatzu Nishi has done this with other monuments around the world, and here’s he’s created a living room set piece surrounding the statue of Christopher Columbus so that he becomes a really large coffee table display. Sure, it’s a little weird, but it gives people a rare opportunity to get up close to a piece of art (and views!) that is ordinarily out of reach at the top of a 70-foot pillar. It also serves as a preservation effort – once the exhibit is done, the scaffolding will remain so that the heavily worn marble statue can undergo its first restoration effort in over 20 years (why people continue to think that a soft, easily-worn stone like marble is a good medium for statues that spend all their time exposed to the elements escapes me, but the choice was made well-before the current decision-makers were born).
In any event, the photos are a bit repetitive, what with there being the one statue (and the 3 good views out the windows), but hopefully they’re enjoyable. I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance – it’s free, but you need to get a ticket to reserve a time slot for crowd-limitation purposes. The public art fund website appears to have crashed (or they forgot to pay their bill!), but tickets are also available on the third floor of the Time Warner Center.
I normally try to dig up something inspirational for independence day, but today I didn’t get around to digging through my Thomas Jefferson reader or inspirational letters from Washington on freedom of religion. Instead though, here’s a pic of the flag my family of godless liberal heathens still feel inspired to hang on our front porch. Because this is America, where we have the freedom to be godless liberal heathens.
Apologies, but I need to have a little digression from the photography, and while I’ve posted a few links on twitter and Facebook, I have too many thoughts to get out.
Approximately three years ago, I got laid off from my job as a lawyer at a big new york firm. At the time, I was devastated, because I LOVED my job. Sure, it had its stresses and its late hours and its…personalities, but by and large, I liked what I did and I was good at it. The story at the time was that, since I wasn’t going to make partner, it was time for me to leave. In a recession. As I understood it at the time, they were trying to avoid getting tarred in the legal press for mass layoffs, so they started with the most senior associates and tried to tie it to ‘other’ explanations. The decision was made by someone (or someones) in upper management without consultation with the team I actually worked with, as the partners I was actively working on deals with had to find out from me that I had been canned. That made things a bit…awkward, particularly given that one partner had a ‘state of the relationship’ meeting with the GC at one client only a day earlier, where the GC apparently spent time talking about how glad she was that I was back on the team after returning from overseas.
I spent two years unemployed, looking for a job. Happily, about a year ago I started working again at an ‘alternative’ legal services firm that seconds its employees full time to companies, so I spend my days doing interesting work up in Stamford at a big multi-national company.
In the past few weeks, the firm that laid me off, Dewey & LeBoeuf, has been in the news quite a bit. Because they’re imploding in a spectacular fashion. On the front page of the New York Times. From what has been reported, as well as what I’ve heard from a few former colleagues that I remain in touch with (who have all managed to find new firms, thankfully), it’s largely due to gross mismanagement on the part of the post-merger firm.
Some background. I worked for Dewey Ballantine, which merged with LeBoeuf Lamb in 2007. As the story went at the time, Dewey had a bunch of debt but a stellar name, and LeBoeuf had solid financials. Even though the Dewey name came first in the post-merger firm, that was due to a quirk of Thomas E. Dewey’s estate requirements, and the merger was really a takeover by LeBoeuf – as evidenced by the fact that the post-merger leadership was headed by the LeBoeuf team.
So – to the current day. In order to attract some top talent from other firms, the leadership handed out a few payment guarantees. A few of these things are typical at any firm, but they should be limited because they otherwise undercut the entire nature of a partnership structure. But the vaunted, fiscally conservative post-merger management apparently decided to start handing out these guarantees left and right, including to incumbent partners. When they did their unusual bond offering in 2010, they didn’t disclose this. They apparently DID disclose that they ‘eliminated’ 300 lawyers post-merger, so their attempts at obfuscation discussed above were clearly just that. The Dewey debt pre-merger pales in comparison to what was apparently run up in the post-merger environment. As the story has been reported, none of the partnership were informed of the guarantees until last October, at which point there was mutiny. The Manhattan DA is apparently investigating the leadership to see if they did anything criminal.
What’s come out in the press is that they gave out 100 of these guarantees, then ran out of money to pay them as the economy took time to recover and more and more clients got stingier with external legal spend. So guarantee-less partners stopped getting paid altogether. Those partners, obviously, were going to look for any reasonable exit plan, creating a vicious cycle where the firm had less and less income (because a law firm has no ‘assets’ other than its legal talent). Earlier this year, FedEx apparently cut them off and the cafeteria stopped accepting the in-house payment system. And as partners start leaving, the chances that their clients (who move with them) will continue to pay outstanding bills to the old firm drops dramatically (sure, they have an obligation to pay, but they’ll focus on the new firm that they want new work from).
I’m torn between extreme sadness for a 100-year reputation that I helped contribute to for a few years, and the schadenfreude that comes from seeing the people who decided that I was an expendable resource that they could brag to investors about cutting get hoisted on their own petard. Mostly sadness. And horror at watching the slow-motion train wreck wreaking havoc on peoples’ lives (particularly the staff) because a few people were so freaking greedy.
What a shame. I now count myself lucky because at least I got some severance and COBRA coverage during my unemployment. In any event, I’m not spilling any secrets at this point, given how much of this has been written about in the press, but I just felt the need to get my thoughts down on (virtual) paper.
I’m also starting to feel a little weird, as I moved to Dewey from Thelen Reid & Priest, which went bankrupt about 3 years after I left there as well. My resume is starting to look like a graveyard.
Happy new year everyone (all 6 of you who continue to read!). Due to the fact that, in my soul, I am an 83-year-old woman, I managed to fall asleep at about 10 last night, not even getting woken up by the fireworks at midnight. Assuming there were fireworks this year!?
While 2011 was certainly a better year than 2010, what with becoming a gainfully employed member of society again, I’m strangely glad for it to be over. Here’s looking forward to 2012, when we can finally disprove those mayan calendar prophesies once and for all!
I didn’t think it was going to hit me the way it did today. And today isn’t even the day. Tomorrow is the day. But this morning, I woke up and NPR was playing a variety of follow-ups and StoryCorps pieces from relatives and survivors, and I just completely broke down, by myself in my apartment, in wracking sobs.
But that was early in the morning. I pulled myself together for my day of running errands downtown, from getting my hair cut to buying shoes and doing all sorts of things that I end up doing when I have any reason to go visit my old neighborhood between Union Square and the Flatiron…
And as I was walking through the greenmarket, making my way up towards that same Flatiron building, I looked up and saw a giant billow of smoke going up to the sky. Only a few people seemed to notice it, but the screaming fire engines and cop cars and…smell…of burning air just about caused me to lose it again. Particularly when I realized that I was standing almost exactly in the same spot…on 20th and Broadway, that I was standing when the first plane hit the first tower 10 years ago tomorrow (back then I was walking down 20th from Broadway to Fifth, and saw the first tower on fire, not on TV but with my own naked eyes when I reached Fifth Avenue). I had such a sense of deja vu, and I realized almost an hour later, even though I had managed to get on with my day, that I was still visibly shaking.
And I say this as a person who, on that day, was safely several miles uptown from ground zero and didn’t lose a single person that I knew.
Tomorrow is going to be rough for a lot of people in this city, and I just hope that everyone gives people the space they need to get through the day.
I’ve seen a lot of people doing “where were you” pieces, but I wrote mine 5 years ago. I can’t say it better now than I did back then, so I’ll just link.
(oh, and the fire today? apparently just a transformer on the roof of a building)
I noticed these popping up out of the ground. I’m seriously hoping this means that winter is really ending.