Thursday, May 15, 2003

Rites of Spring

Sometimes it seems like having a job is more trouble than it's worth. What really is the purpose of having a job? Isn't it supposed to improve the quality of your life and allow you to accomplish the objectives you have set out for yourself? And yet in reality it just sucks your lifeblood and leaves you with no time and no energy to pursue your dreams. Instead of working for yourself, you give your heart and soul to the pursuit of abstractions and solving other people's problems and you end up sidetracked from your true path. Then again, every once in a while you catch a break.

I've been working on a case that was fast-tracked to trial and the past month has been pretty grueling. There are a thousand things to prepare before trial and a thousand things for which you can't prepare. And just when things were getting heated, I had an East Coast wedding to attend. I had already asked for the time off, but when the actual day came to remind my boss that I leaving for a long weekend, he said "I'm not going to tell you not to go. But I'm not going to forget this either." Sounded like a threat to me.

Threat or no threat, nothing was going to keep me from seeing Brian Nesin marry Romy Smith. Brian was my roommate back in Brooklyn before going off to Harvard to become an architect. After Harvard, Brian moved to L.A. where some architects actually find jobs. When I decide to move out here, Brian was one of the people who made it feel like I wasn't so far from home. Our weekly hikes together grew into the legendary "Hike Club," a dedicated group of adventurers who roamed the canyons of L.A. county in search of the perfect trail.

Brian met Romy through the Continental Network of Jewish Mothers (Romy's mom knew someone who knew Brian's mom) and soon Romy and her dog Sasha were Hike Club regulars too. Even after the once mighty Hike Club faded into misty memory, Romy, Brian, Sasha and I carried on the proud tradition on our own. In fact it was on a hiking trip that Brian proposed to Romy ­ (I wasn't along for that one.) After they got engaged, they moved to Brooklyn, back to the same neighborhood where Brian and I once lived.

The wedding was in Washington D.C., another of my old haunts. Most of the wedding guests stayed in a lovely old hotel downtown and were treated to an excellent dinner on Friday night. I sat with a group of architects from LA whom I'd met when Brian was in town. The ceremony itself was held at the Ronald Reagan Building in the heart of Federal Triangle. It was very moving, with the Rabbi recounting nearly the whole story of Brian and Romy's courtship. The bride looked stunning and surprised everyone a the reception by serenading the groom with a beautiful love song. Brian, never the most effusive guy in the world, wore the biggest smile I've ever seen and truly looked like the happiest man on earth. He's a lucky guy.

Being in D.C. provided me with a bonus opportunity to stop in and visit with the incomparably hospitable David and Shellie Todd, their amazing son Avery, and their weekend houseguests Dan and Rachael Haar. Rachael is Dan's seven-year-old daughter and she completely stole my heart. Hard to believe that a stubborn, cantankerous grouch like Dan Haar could have produced such wonderfully charming offspring, even when taking in to account the many fine qualities of Rachael's mother. Nevertheless, everything that is good and honorable in Dan has been magnified and highlighted in his daughter and it she does him nothing but credit by sheer association. We spent a glorious day touring the sights of our nation's capital which was the perfect corollary to the wedding celebration.

When I got back I walked right into a shitstorm. For the next three weeks I dealt with crisis after crisis, worked late every night and through the weekends. Everything was urgent, last minute and problematic. People kept repeating the phrase "Someone needs to..." or the variation "Someone should have..." and every time that poor someone would turn out to be me.

The night before trial I was told I needed to prepare a set of exhibit notebooks for opposing counsel. Unfortunately we had only just designated the exhibits that day and there were no copies. I stayed until 1:30 a.m. putting the damn notebooks together, drove home for four hours sleep and then drove back to be ready for trial at 8:30 the next morning. I was running around preparing the judge's and witnesses notebooks when the call came in from my boss. The case had settled.

That was just the break I needed, because I was scheduled to fly the red-eye to Burlington Vermont that weekend to see my niece Annie graduate from UVM. Instead I was able to fly standby and arrive in Burlington Friday evening. I spent the next two days with my family enjoying one of the most beautiful weekends in the history of Vermont. Annie was totally cool and gets more beautiful every time I see her. We lunched attended receptions, and had a fancy dinner party with Annie's roommate's family. It was so great to be rid of the burden of trial and have the chance to just hang out and relax.

On Sunday we all went to the big graduation ceremony together and then another smaller ceremony just for Annie's college. I had to cut out early to make my flight home, but I'll get to see Annie again very soon. She's coming out to LA for the summer. I'm really looking forward to spending some time with her while she's here. It makes all the work and stress and other people's problems seem pretty unimportant. As long as you can stay connected to the people you love, all the other stuff doesn't really matter. It was good to be reminded of that.

No plans right now for any more trips, but there are lots of people here in town I need to catch up with. Maybe this weekend I'll go visit some of them.

Hope everyone is doing well. I miss you.

Love, Rich

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