The half-promised snow failed of its promise, rendering today merely cold in that "should have snowed" sort of way. I got up reasonably early and drove to Turtle Creek, a neighborhood just "uptown" from "downtown" Dallas, to work on a case with a co-counsel. On the way downtown, I set the AM radio on Dale Groom, the Plant Groom, in which the discussion seemed to center on leggy jasmine plants and nitrogen fertilizer highs for magnolia trees. We worked until roughly noon on one case, after which I adjourned to the SMU law library to do some research for another case. Even in this age when legal research is available by database, there's something to be said for the tangible feels of books and the experience of researching using case law digests. In just under an hour, I found a number of precedents I can use in drafting a motion and a response on a matter. I love bankruptcy law, because it is so needlessly complex.
For lunch, I stopped by Dickey's Bar B Q, where I ordered the bbq chicken breast dinner, no sauce. Unfortunately, chicken breast is not Dickey's' strong point, unlike its competitor Spring Hill Barbecue, which does a perfectly amiable half chicken. In addition, the Dallas Observer alternative paper is no longer available outside the restaurant, which required me to buy a Dallas Morning News to stave off boredom. I read the news today (twice), but oh boy, I'm not sure anyone was truly lucky enough to make the grade, whatever "making the grade" means in this context. I did make sure that I received my complimentary giant yellow plastic Dickey's complementary drink cup. I have this fantasy of someday having service for forty eight, with each diner having a separate plastic Dickey's soda cup.
I was just driving out to the Heard Nature Preserve for a hike when my wife called on my cell phone, and told me about an exciting lunch she'd had with new friends. We decided to take a walk together, so I headed home and we headed out through Glendover Park into the Twin Creeks neighborhood. The weather was too cold for much more than a forty minute walk, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Tonight we dined with my brother and his wife at Two Rows, one of those Texas-y chain places with a decent menu and endlessly flowing soda pop. We discussed various of those "family things" which work much better around a dinner table of relatives than they do in a public journal, then headed back to their house to watch a movie. They had "The Bourne Identity", a "spies and amnesia" film which was surprisingly much better than I had thought it would prove to be. I had worried that it might be too violent for my tastes, but its violence did not bother me (and perhaps did not bother me as much as it should). I like suspense movies, when they are well-paced.
The notion of the "spy game" people as incredibly talented and amazing seems to have taken a good bit of beating in the past two years. I wish we lived in a world in which we did not have to worry with such things at all, but my wishes are not generally consulted by the powers that be.
On some level, I'm glad that I live the sort of life that does not require me to be secretive about very many things, other than client secrets. I could never imagine going in for clandestine adventures in a big way, as I imagine personal duplicity to be enervating rather than thrilling. I have had friends who get a charge out of the thrill of the undisclosed affair or the walk on the wild side, but I must admit that the main charge that inspires in me is a fear of metaphoric electrocution.
I tend to write what happened, and my own goofy musings on same.
At the same time, so many things don't make it into my journal, as I'm sure is true of most journals. I think that the term "journal" is in some ways a misnomer, because it implies a level of inner revelatory diary that I find rarely present. Even the more "confessional" journals have a mild staginess to them; a desire to embrace rather than deny that "performance art" aspect of the journal is why I've always referred to my intention as more "musical comedy" than confessional. I'm not fond, by the way, of the term "blog", because it is not euphonious enough. "Weblog" has a much nicer ring to me. But "journal" is perhaps not a bad descriptor if one envisions is as "writing journal", a writing exercise, rather than "personal journal". I tend to applaud journals which seem to me to be brave, and yet is it courage, or is it exhibition? The rhetorical question is much more pleasingly melodramatic than the attempt at an answer.
Perhaps what makes the internet so fascinating is that sense of the obscure written record. In one of my legal database services, I ran a search for Arkansas cases which mentioned the word "Gurdon", my old home town. I found a fascinating murder case involving the slaying of one watch merchant by another. There was a hint in the evidence that the motive was revenge for competitive price cutting. What a curious thing to kill someone over, though--as if there is anything which is not odd. I reveled a bit, though, in finding such an odd thing--surely the basis for a story.
That's what all life is, really, sometimes--the basis for a story.
Indeed, part of my search was to find things that might be fun to fictionalize.
What are the great secrets that one can find about another? An affair? A shortcoming? A conviction? A marriage? A confession of personal flaw or health condition? I'm glad they have privacy laws to protect so many things, but overall, even the many public things are so commonplace. They are all so mundane, the sort of fodder that gets people bored and writing books like the drearier author of Ecclesiastes. We read the journals because they are stories, and we love stories. But I submit that contrary to the opening lines of Anna Karenina, happy stories are just as varied and odd as unhappy stories. What we want is not so much controversy--we can get that everywhere we turn. We want input, pure satellite feed--things unprocessed, that we can try to process and define. But we don't really get pure data feed, do we? The stories are all editorialized. We can appreciate the finesses, but they are all edited. Yet, I'm never sure if the editing is a barrier--or the season that gives everything its flavor.
I think sometimes about the editing of this particular journal, and the ways in which the journal shows an idealized person. I am not at all an ideal person, and what is worse, my flaws tend to run toward the boring and petty rather than the Heathcliffian or
Byronesque. I try always to put who I am on the page, and yet the effort is so removed from vibrancy. I am not sure if this is just because I am not particularly vibrant, but I have my suspicions.
Lately I get dissatisfied with my journal because it becomes clear to me that I have roughly seven things to say in life, and I say them over and over. But although I have the once in a while urge to delete to see if my journal would be missed ("poor Jud is dead", and all that), the sheer self-obsession of that notion bothers me. So I think I will continue to write my seven notions, and see where they carry me. I figure at least the writing practice will help, and perhaps I can aspire to an eighth theme.
I tend to use my personal e mail for everything, so it amused me when another lawyer, surprised I don't have a more "formal" e-address (actually, I have one but never use it), asked me if I officed in my house. Now that would be the life! Fire up the fax machine, because I'm going to become a living room lawyer! In fact, though, I'll keep working in my little office in Garland, until the day when I stop practicing law.
I fantasize about a new career sometimes, but so far, the JD is stamped on my identity as surely as my middle name. My middle name, Howard, was given by my father's parents to my father in honor of a Baptist minister. They soon fell out with the minister, but by then the name was given. I've always found some symbolic significance in that, even though I got the name one generation removed.
I will work a bit more tomorrow, but I plan to have some fun tomorrow, too. I'm excited that I still have those odd snowman 37 cent stamps from the holidays, and I must use them to write somebody or something.