aphrael's Diaries
Print Story reflections on my fortieth year
Diary
By aphrael (Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 11:35:51 PM EST) (all tags)
My birthday is Friday, and that always triggers feelings of introspection and backwards-looking at this time of year; another year around the sun, another time to take stock of my life and see how things are the same and how they are different, how I am growing and how I am stagnating, etc, and to look forward to a new year.

This year is particularly hard.

The last year has been one of the worst years of my life. I don't say that lightly; i'm comparing it to the year I got thrown out of school, or the year I got burned out and quit my job only to have my resignation rejected, or the year that my relationship with my mother and her fourth husband deteriorated to the point that I ran away from home. I can say honestly that this year ranks with them. It's been a painful, soul-wrenching, tragic year. It included the first time in my life that I've actually contemplated suicide, and it doesn't get much worse than that.

And at the same time, it's been a very good year. I have learned more in the last year - more about myself, more about the people in my life, more about how to live, and how to share, and how to be with people without trying to merge with them, than I have in any previous year. I come out of the year stronger and healthier and smarter than I went into it, more aware of myself and my surroundings, better able to allow myself to feel empathy and love and experience the beauty in other people without needing to sacrifice myself in the hopes of making them like me. It's been a great development, and I'm a much better person for it, and I think that my friendships and relationships will be stronger than they were before this year, because of it.


(4 comments, 420 words in story) Full Story

Print Story In Memoriam.
Zombies
By aphrael (Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 09:56:28 PM EST) (all tags)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

A hundred years ago today, the German army, having swept through Belgium and into northwestern France, had been forced back from the Marne and had set up defensive trenches that they would occupy, across the killing fields of Flanders from the French and British trenches, for most of the next four years.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields
.

A hundred years ago today, the Austro-Hungarian army had finally (after months of incompetence and failure) broken the back of the Serbian army and were marching on Belgrade. They would take it, but they'd hold it for less than two weeks, and it would take another year for them to recapture the city.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields
.

A hundred years ago today, the initial Russian invasion of Prussia had collapsed, but the simultaneous invasion of Galicia had succeeded. Przemysl lay besieged, its inhabitants starving and dying of cholera.

A hundred years ago today, the Russian army and the Germany army engaged outside of Lodz, a battle which would see 280,000 killed, wounded, or captured in a meaningless fight that had no clear victor.

And this was just the beginning.


(9 comments, 2130 words in story) Full Story

Print Story Hobby Lobby
Law
By aphrael (Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 09:58:17 PM EST) (all tags)
The Supreme Court today handed down a decision in the case of three lawsuits challenging the rule, promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, which required those companies to pay for employee health insurance which included free coverage for certain contraceptive techniques the companies objected to. The decision ignited a firestorm of controversy and outrage, much of it not responsive to what the Court was actually saying or ruling.

This decision does NOT say that, broadly speaking, companies can avoid paying for the health insurance of their employees. It does NOT say that, broadly speaking, companies do not have to pay for contraceptive care. It does NOT say that, as some commentators have had it, women are second-class citizens, that contraceptive care isn’t important or isn’t health care, or that only Christian religious beliefs are protected. It is a very narrow decision, as we have generally come to expect from Justice Alito, and it deliberately calls out many of the potential extreme extensions of the law as things which the decision does not hold.

That said, in my view, it’s also a deeply flawed decision which carries grave and serious risks if it is not carefully cabined.


(25 comments, 1794 words in story) Full Story

Print Story Nobody expected the world to end.
Death
By aphrael (Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 12:58:54 PM EST) (all tags)
Nobody expected the world to end.

The victim didn’t expect it. I mean, he knew, on some level, that his world might end; just that day, someone had tried to blow up his car while he was riding in it. But he had no idea what the aftermath would be.

The perpetrator didn’t expect it. His expectation was that it would lead to freedom for his people; a small change in the world, important for those directly involved and irrelevant for everyone else.

External observers didn’t expect it. Sure, there was some unease – a general feeling that had been building as the world lurched from crisis to crisis that eventually one of these crises would not be resolved, and there would be war. But war, everyone believed, would be short, and glorious, and result in an easy victory, and then things would go back to the eternal peace of modernity.
Nobody expected the world to end. But it did, and a new world was born.


(9 comments, 2271 words in story) Full Story

Print Story A moment of silence, please
Zombies
By aphrael (Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 06:42:32 PM EST) (all tags)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


(8 comments, 1927 words in story) Full Story

Print Story The last several days
Diary
By aphrael (Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:27:08 PM EST) (all tags)
It's been an amazing couple of days, and while I'm still kinda tired and it's really unpleasantly warm, I'm in a really happy place.

The TL;DR of the last several days:

  • Wednesday, Supreme Court decision day. Proposition 8 is dead. I don't like the legal reasoning used to kill it, but it's dead, and I'm amazed at how happy I am about it.
  • Thursday, urgent work crisis day. A work crisis so bad I got email from the director of engineering at 9am asking me if i'd had a chance to look into a problem which had come in at 11.45 the night before and which was discussed entirely on an email trail I wasn't on.
  • Thursday night, practicing law for the first time.
  • Late Thursday night, great fun hanging out with one of my closest friends in the city.
  • Friday, official approval, the project I've been working on since late fall of 2010 has been accepted by our customer. Ding-dong, the witch is dead.
  • Friday night, dinner with a friend to celebrate his birthday; Jared was out of town for the birthday party and wanted a raincheck.
  • Friday night, word comes that the 9th circuit has vacated the stay of the court order enjoining enforcement of Proposition 8, and marriages can begin immediately
  • Friday night, hangout in a bar to celebrate two friends getting new jobs. This turns into an awesome karaoke party which runs until 3am. Jared stayed out for the whole thing.

(8 comments, 1702 words in story) Full Story

Print Story Juror #3
Diary
By aphrael (Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:02:51 AM EST) (all tags)
I spent the last week or so intermittently in a court room in downtown Manhattan, serving my one-in-every-six year requirement as a juror.

I have some ... complaints.

[I'm not posting this to everyone so as to preserve my ability to rant in person at my local friends].


(25 comments, 1839 words in story) Full Story

Print Story belated weekend update
Diary
By aphrael (Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 09:18:17 PM EST) (all tags)
Normally I try to do writeups closer to the event, but the week has been busy, and i've been exhausted. That's the sign of a good weekend, right? :)

Going to Coachella from NYC seems to take more time than it did from SF; it used to be that I could leave Weds after work and that I could do something - usually go to class - on Monday night, and neither are true anymore. Plus, I was sick before Coachella, which meant that I relapsed after Coachella; all in all a recipe for exhaustion.


(12 comments, 3993 words in story) Full Story

Print Story Decision points
Educashun
By aphrael (Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 10:32:41 AM EST) (all tags)
Nineteen months ago, my husband and I moved to New York City so he could go to graduate school.

Yesterday, we decided if he would be staying in graduate school - and, by extension, if we'd be staying in NYC.

The last four or five weeks have been more stressful than I could possibly have imagined.


(26 comments, 525 words in story) Full Story

Print Story Rambling: on change, and a question
Diary
By aphrael (Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 12:30:02 AM EST) (all tags)
On Monday, I will go to court; I will swear an oath. (I don't actually know what the o.ath says. I imagine I probably should). It will be the third time i've sworn the equivalent oath for the equivalent purpose. It will be the first time that I swear it to someone other than a notary public.

It feels different this time.

Some of it's the formality; formality makes everything different. Some of it is that it's the last one for the forseeable future. Some of it is that it matters in a way the other two didn't - ok, sure, being sworn in in California presented a nice sense of closure, but it's not like I'm going to practice there any time soon. And while being sworn in in NJ was correctly part of the plan, the odds are really low that i'll take a job that requires me to commute to NJ every day. (And besides, both were in front of notaries, and how real does that feel?).

This time, though: this is for the state I live in, the state that is currently home. (Home, a subject for another night). It means that it's time to get moving on finding a new job; it means that it's time to get moving on finding volunteer pro bono work that I can fit into my schedule. It means that the fallow season, the pause and the rest of the last eighteen months, is over.

And as such, it's running headlong into a question that has been plaguing me intermittently over the last several months: what does it mean, to be an adult?

WARNING: this is somewhat rambly and circular. I don't know if it has a point or if it's going anywhere. But in that it's sort of like life, and somewhat like any experience that's worth a damn - it doesn't matter where it's going, it just matters where it is.


(7 comments, 1873 words in story) Full Story

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