Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

Dear Single Parents: You Are Seen


Dear Single Parent: You are Seen | The Champagne Supernova

I was annoyed when I received the text.

Hey Jen. I won’t be at the office this morning. Emma woke up with pink eye and I need to take her to the doctor. I’ll see if my babysitter can watch her this afternoon. I’ll be in as soon as I can. 

I’ll admit I probably rolled my eyes.

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    What Childhood Poverty Really Looks Like


    Being raised in poverty in America | The Champagne Supernova

    My grandmother was an elementary school teacher in Cambria County, Pennsylvania (Read: poor!) for over 30 years before she retired. One of her more noteworthy memories happened at Christmastime nearly 40 years ago.

    Her students participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. While all of the other students were opening up neat presents like baseball cards, knock-off Barbie dolls, and Silly Putty in the middle of the class party (schools were allowed to have Christmas parties back then), one kid, John, gave his assigned pal, Donnie, a small bag of potato chips because that’s all his mother could afford.

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      You are Where You’re Supposed to Be


      I was sitting in the Courthouse cattle-call room waiting for a hearing to begin when my colleague’s casual statement left me hurting for days.

      There’s a group of ten of us going to dinner over Labor Day weekend since Lauren Strickland and her husband will be in town. Any idea where I can rent a party bus to drive us around?

      “Wait, what?” I thought.

      As background, I went to law school with Lauren and we were close friends (in my mind) before she and her family relocated to Houston to accommodate her husband’s job in the oil industry.

      Until she moved three years ago, Lauren and I spent a good amount of time together. I hosted her son’s first birthday party at my house when her own home was under construction and arranged a meal train when her mother was in a car accident.

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        What an Eighty Year Old Wished She Knew in Her Thirties


        My grandmother turned 83 years old in May. She was born in the bedroom of a small house in Minersville, a lower-income neighborhood of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, highly populated with workers of the then-thriving Bethlehem Steel mill. Despite her own parents’ lack of education, my grandmother and her brother went on to earn college degrees and both of them subsequently became elementary school teachers.

        My grandmother served her local community as a teacher for three decades before she retired in 1993. Always passionate about politics and making a positive influence, she was on the local Housing Authority and served as the Johntown’s Deputy Mayor.

        Despite all of her successes, my grandmother also faced many hardships. Raised a devout Catholic, my grandmother has been married three times, which was taboo for her generation from a religious and social standpoint (although it is worth noting that she and my step-grandfather have been married four decades- third time’s the charm!) Her first husband, my biological grandfather, left her with year-old twin daughters on Christmas Eve in 1957 when he told her he was heading to the grocery store to purchase cream soda and he’d “be right back.”

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          Prank Calls: Don’t Hate the Prankster, Hate the Prank


          Funny stories about making prank phone calls | The Champagne Supernova

          There are many reasons why I didn’t get into a Top-10 law school and prank calling during my undergrad days is one of them.

          I mean, seriously, what else did we have to do?

          In the true spirit of being a freshman and “how college ought to be,” I lived in the dorms during my first year at the University of Florida.

          (For all you Gators, this was Trusler Hall… right across from Hume. It had a Blimpie Sub shop in the common area and it was walking distance to the Reitz Union… where we would use electronic funds from our Gator 1 cards to buy booze at the Baja Tortilla Grill – sorry, Mom and Dad!)

          It was 2000 and I was fresh out of high school and equipped with important things like body glitter, butterfly hair clips, an AIM screen name, and was “living on the edge” by downloading music illegally on Napster.

          In those days, we didn’t have cell phones, social media, or other distractions.

          Each dorm room was equipped with a land line. For whatever (dumb) reason, the University published a “phone book” that included the telephone numbers of each student who was living in on-campus housing.

          So if you wanted another student’s phone number and that student lived on campus, all you had to do was look up their name in this phone book and viola! you had it.

          Our dorm was quite social and I met some of my best friends there, two of which I still see and speak to regularly.

          In lieu of doing responsible things like studying and doing homework, we would often gather around each others’ rooms in our pajamas, get fat from Pokey Stix, and prank call the shizzz out of other people, courtesy of this phone book.

          Our pranks were so good that they deserve a regular blog feature. I really wish I could make a living out of prank calling.

          One prank stands out in particular.

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            How to Embrace the “In-Between”


            How to embrace the "in-between" times in your life as a mother | The Champagne Supernova

            In between.

            Haven’t we felt it before? The emotional purgatory of not knowing what we want from our lives?

            Adults are not immune.

            Career women are not immune.

            Mothers and wives are not immune.

            These feelings are real, but what do we do about them? Freak out or embrace the emotions? Do something for just ourselves?

            This is a guest post from my friend, Molly James, who reached out to me about the topic based on her own personal experience. Yes, yes, yes- I thought- as so many women can relate to these feelings but feel shame and not want to acknowledge them.

            Thank you, Molly, for sharing your truth.

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              The True North: Be Who You Are


              True North:

              North that is calculated by using an imaginary line through the Earth rather than by using a compass: the direction that leads to the North Pole.

              [Merriam-Webster dictionary]

              The direction from any point along a meridian toward the North Pole. Also called: geographic north.

              [The Free Dictionary by Farlex]

              Non-negotiable, since the compass will show where it is, relative from your current position, and it will never change.

              [Urban Dictionary]

              In his 2007 leadership book with the same name, author Bill George describes the True North as the internal compass that guides a person successfully through life. It represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point- your fixed point in a spinning world. It helps you stay on track toward authenticity.

              Nobody seems to know or care which way is north these days.

              The last week in the news has been particularly unsettling and my own True North tells me to avoid the television. In the wake of the white supremacy rally in Virginia that left several dead, watching the news and reading the divisive information feeds on social media is disturbing.

              It might be reality, but it doesn’t feel good to see or hear and I’m sick of the negativity. There are plenty of wonderful things going on in the world to choose to listen to.

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                Adventures in Lawyering: Being Right


                Photograph from To Kill a Mockingbird from pbs.com

                I got sucked into one of my more notable cases shortly after I finished law school and entered the work force.

                It involved feuding next door neighbors and was venued in Miami-Dade county, which meant I had the treat of riding on planes, staying the night in swanky hotels, and eating at fancy restaurants when I had to travel from Tampa for hearings and other case-related events.

                Both of these neighbors were wealthy beyond comprehension and had money to burn on legal fees and costs.

                We will call them Hatfield and McCoy.

                Hatfield grew up poor and made a ton of money in the phosphate industry in the early 1990s. He was dishonest, generally disliked, and was on his fifth marriage by the time I got involved in the case.

                Hatfield accompanied his wife to her deposition (along with their private chauffeur), and introduced her to the group as “Lydia… my Trophy Wife.”

                (Lydia looked like a Playboy Bunny, so I guess she really was his Trophy Wife.)

                Hatfield only stayed at this home in Miami for two months out of the year and lived in California for the remainder. It was my understanding he also owned property in Martha’s Vineyard.

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                  Adventures in Lawyering Part Deux: Cleanup in the Garden Center


                  Funny moments stories about being a lawyer | The Champagne Supernova

                  Disclaimer. This story is crude and disgusting. But I just report the facts. 

                  Where many attorneys feel they are “too good” to work on the less “sexy” cases like slip and fall matters, I have a confession: They are not beneath me and I love them.

                  99% of the time, slip and fall cases don’t involve sad things like death or catastrophic injuries. The person falls down, goes boom, gets back up, hires an attorney three days later, and starts treating with a chiropractor for “soft tissue injuries.”

                  Absent complicated health issues or outrageously high medical bills, slip and fall cases usually aren’t stressful and are a nice respite from the fatality, traumatic brain injury, or child molestation cases that are also found in my assignment list.

                  So I’ll take ’em with a smile.

                  Slip and fall plaintiffs are often “career plaintiffs” who make nice little wads of cash making claims in connection with other accidents including fender benders and other premises liability issues.

                  Why work when you can get something for free? (I once had a plaintiff tell me it was foolish for him to work when he received disability benefits and could sit on the couch all day. He was young and fully capable of working a desk job but I guess he had a point…)

                  Reading through their medical records is equally hilarious.

                  I worked at a law firm that represented a large international retail chain. Most of the cases involving this client involved slip and fall events that happened in the stores.

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                    Loose Lips Sink Ships: You Can’t Tell a Kid Anything


                    Kids have the biggest mouths and will say the most inappropriate things at the worst times | The Champagne Supernova

                    Teachers always seem to have the best stories.

                    Laughing through tears, one of my longtime friends, an elementary school teacher, told me about how one of her students provided her with a detailed play-by-play of their family vacation the Monday after Spring Break.

                    Gory details the student’s parents would likely die if they knew she had disclosed.

                    About how dad got locked out of the rental house in his “tightey-whitey” underwear when he went outside in the morning to get the newspaper.

                    About how the student hated applying sunscreen to her mother’s back because of “all her moles that look like Cocoa-Krispie cereal.”

                    And about how mom and dad got into an argument during dinner and mom called him a “stupid ass clown” in front of the student and her siblings.

                    Really.

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