Thursday, February 28, 2008

Work, Work, Work

I've been putting in long days at work. I've gotten a lot done though I'm nowhere near being caught up. I don't expect to reach that for at least a few weeks, if at all.

A fun moment at work today. Our international applications are handled by one secretary. I left her a file to send instructions for an allowance. She only sent our instructions that a divisional would be filed, not the actual instructions for the allowance. When I showed her the file with the reply e-mail from the foreign associate (requesting instructions for the allowance), she got angry with me. Apparently I shouldn't have filed everything in the file and instead should have left the allowance loose. Such would have comported with her "system" while the former filing away comports with mine. How was she to know, this is why I shouldn't leave stickies, etc., etc.

As she was in the middle of her verbal warpath, I fired off: "Look, just please send them the allowance instructions, okay?" And as she drew in a breath to raise the argument to the next level, I quickly added: "I'm sorry, alright. I'm sorry." It was fantastic. I watched the wind literally fall from her sails. I put down the file, turned around and went back to my office.

I cite this as an example of a successful (if not good) negotiation strategy. She was looking for a fight. She was angry with me, with what I had done, and, as I well knew, she was predisposed to be pissed at me for asking her to do other things last week. I also knew that I needed her to send the allowance instructions (I couldn't) and that arguing with her would accomplish absolutely nothing. So I apologized.

Did I think she was right and I was wrong? No. Did I need to apologize? No. I probably could have let her get more angry and raise the verbal confrontation to yelling. I'm positive that nothing truly bad would have come from that, other than angering her more, but there was no reason. If I apologized with some amount of apparent sympathy (which I can easily pull off), then what could she do? She could try and continue arguing, but it would no longer have any reasonable purpose and, despite indications to the contrary, she can be reasonable. When I apologized, she deflated, having nothing more to say to me.

I also cite this in reference to Sunday's car escapade with movie.girl. In that case, I was looking for an apology back, or at least some small recognition of my opinion/view. Instead, she did the complete opposite, using my apology to validate her position while further asserting mine was entirely invalid and incorrect.

Hint for the day: If someone apologizes to you, they are likely trying to lessen the conflict and work towards a resolution. The appropriate response is to acknowledge this direction. For example, provide a counter-apology or recognize that their position may have merit. You don't need to do a 180 or relinquish your position, you only need to acknowledge their apology and take a step towards the middle, common ground.

I'm tempted to write a post about conflict resolution or negotiation strategies. I very well may do so at some point.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Evil Deadin' It In Toronto

Obviously title-crafting is at an all-time low.

Thursday, we drove up to Toronto. More accurately, movie.girl drove while I napped. 4-4.5 hours sleep the previous night + hectic work day = tired.

Friday, we hit the CN Tower. Went to the top thingy. Ate in the spinning thingy. Saw the late-night show of Evil Dead: The Musical at the Diesel Playhouse. Excellent.

Saturday, we walked (for 1-1.5 hours) to Medieval Times. Yay green knight! Immediately thereafter, we got a cab to night 2 of Evil Dead. This time we had front row seats in the splatter zone (which means we got splattered with cherry-flavored stage blood during the second act). We also put on the Medieval Times crowns, waved the MT flags and went "Yay!" when Ash mentions "medieval times" at the end of the show (in S-Mart). The actors looked at us and paused. The audience cheered. "And I was worshiped as a god." (So sayeth Ash.) Very awesome. Afterwards, we drove (we = movie.girl driving) to Niagara Falls and crashed.

Restless night for me. Repeatedly waking up. Read my graphic novels from 5am-6:30am.

Sunday, breakfast/brunch/lunch at the most expensive Denny's imaginable. Went to Niagara Falls. Yay. Went to shoot ghosts with lasers. Odd bit about NF - there's a whole carny-esque street with rides, haunted houses, fudge and games. We went on 2 rides then left.

At which point we had an argument. I think she was out of line and she thinks I was out of line. I later apologized. She did not. In fact, she apologized for me being mistaken. Not much of an apology and she will not admit that she could have been wrong.

Yeah so that was that. I'm still pissed at her. Hello, compromise? Meet me half way? Acknowledge that there is an iota of merit to my position? But noooooo. It's her car and she is master of all concerning it and none shall brook her authority. Nevermind we're on a trip together? Nope. Her way or the highway. Her car, her way, her rules.

So fuck that. We're equally stubborn, obstinate people. I extended a laurel branch only she refused to meet me half way. According to her, she was right, I was wrong, and none shall argue otherwise. Period. Q.E.D. And according to me? I may have been wrong, but she may have been wrong too. And until she can admit that she may have been wrong, pfft.

We'll see how long this lasts. A bit childish to be sure, but I'm sticking to it anyways. I feel like it. If she can't budge an inch, then how can there ever be any negotiations or agreements? Friendship is always give and take.

So except for that bit on Sunday, was a very fun weekend. Evil Dead was excellent. Twice! Too bad the weekend ended on a sour note. As for now? I'm just going to wait. I've got enough to do without trying to placate her fragile car-ego. Besides, I'm sure we'll be fine again by October's Europe trip.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quick, quick! Like a bunny!

I just apologized to the managing partner for taking tomorrow off and not coming in this weekend. I told him that, given this week, I would otherwise cancel it except we already bought tickets and I didn't want to run out on my friend. He said it was fine as I'd given plenty of notice. I also said that I would be putting in long days next week to get done what I needed to. So no worries about this weekend's trip.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today was much better. Probably in league for best day in a long time. Billed nearly 10 hours. Got a few ugly-ish things done, reported 2 things. In good shape for tomorrow. Two board game orders I placed arrived. Small Amazon order should arrive tomorrow. Tomorrow we also leave for leg one of our weekend venture to Toronto. Must double check Bonine supplies. Also must pack tonight. Going to be a short but busy day tomorrow – must file one thing, make at least 4 phone calls to Examiners and review one draft thingy, not to mention doing more if I possible can. Busy, busy, busy.

Also heard back from doc today about bloodwork. My triglycerides are high. Going to retest in a week or two after fasting and see. Else diet and medication will follow. [Wikipedia break] "In the human body, high levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been linked to atherosclerosis, and, by extension, the risk of heart disease and stroke." However, triglyceride levels are temporarily elevated after eating, hence the fasting before next test. "Moderating the consumption of fats, alcohol and carbohydrates and aerobic exercise are essential to reducing triglyceride levels." I can hardly wait.

It's funny. When I get more work done I feel better, and when I feel better I get more work done. It's a vicious cycle that's taken years to perfect. (One of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes quotes.)

Anyways, time to fly. Might get a post tomorrow, might not due to the shortened work day. If not, next post probably on Sunday or Monday. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And The Next Day

Today was a fun day. The junior partner and I spent two hours going through my files. You haven't lived until you misread a date on an office action. "October what??!?? Oh, that's January 20th..."

At this point, it's about minimizing the problems I've caused and doing as much as I can to "fix" things. That means I have a ton of things to do in a very short timeframe. This is the very essence of "oh shit."

I've already addressed a few things today. Not nearly enough, mind you, but a few things. I have an EP response that I'm currently trying to work on, but I don't know if I have it in me to finish it up tonight. Drinking half a can of Diet Coke was probably a bad idea. I'm a bit out of sorts and that's very hard for me to recover from, particularly so at 6pm.

Tomorrow I get to report a bunch of things, begin updating my personal docket with additional overdue and nearly-overdue items and work on responding to a Non-Compliant Appeal Brief. The junior partner set some goals for me – specific things I have to have done by this Friday and by the end of the month. Considering I won't be around on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, my time to accomplish these goals is more limited than I would prefer. Even so, I should be able to hit them (assuming I actually work).

The junior partner said two reassuring things. One, that the partner I work with is aware of all the files/work I have and that things are going to get a bit worse (as in discovery of more things that are very late) before they get better. Two, that if that partner didn't fire me on Saturday yesterday, he's probably not going to fire me now. While a little reassuring, I wouldn't bet the mortgage on my survival here.

For my part, I've come to the conclusion that based on the shit I've pulled, they can't reasonably keep me indefinitely. I've screwed up a lot and, while none of it is irrevocable or unfixable (yet), that's not something I or they want to have to gauge. I'll stay for as long as they let me and try to clean up as much of this quagmire as I can. I really don't want to cause more problems, and if I left or were fired (at least right now), the firm would be in a ton of trouble trying to absorb my work. There's just too much. I've said it before and I'll say it again now, (temporary) job security by necessity.

Personally, I'm barely on speaking terms with the partners. I can't and won't avoid them, but I'm not going to engage them in chitchat. I fucked up royally and, while there hasn't been a single item necessitating my firing, I'm due. I readily admit it. Now it's all about damage control and trying not to fuck up more.

Can I do it? Can I hold up my end of the (temporary) bargain and help shovel this shit? I don't know, and that scares me a bit. Part of me says: "Of course I can! I'm strong! I can do it!" Then another part of me says: "You thought that before. You fucked up before. Hell, you're already fucking it up a little now by not staying until 10pm. Something's still wrong with you and you're not as strong as you think you are. You. Are. Fucked."

Gah, I feel completely off right now. I'm on edge a bit, tense, my stomach is a little ugh. I think I'll post this then shove off shortly. Get a good night sleep and plan on tomorrow being interminably long. This is so not fun.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today's Installment

I'm at work today (even though it's a holiday). I figure it'll help with last week's infractions and with me taking this Friday off for Toronto. A few others are in today, including the partner I work with. My other, previously-unknown "really bad thing" came to light today. I got a comparatively smaller/shorter reaming out for it and my lack of hours. I pretty much hung my head and said "I know" once or twice. I also included an "I'm working on it," for whatever that's worth.

I think that's the last unknown "bad thing." As far as I know, everything else is just undone and not that "bad" per se. I still need to go through my inbox, though, so this is not a known fact yet.

In one way, it's a little funny. I had around 3 "bad things" all pending at one time (that would be about 2 weeks ago or so). They've only come out one at a time. If they'd all come out at once, I bet I would have been fired on the spot. As it is, I'll have to work hard to keep my job, but at least it's a possibility (or I think/hope it is).

I already got a few things out today. I'm working on a preliminary amendment and have been for a few hours now.

Besides starting work, another hard thing for me is to continue working. Right now, a part of me is whispering: "It's a holiday. Only half the office is in. Take off once you finish the preliminary amendment. You can do the other stuff tomorrow."

That's always been one of my problems – putting things off for tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. I always do it, even with paying my bills (which I'm also late on this month). I always try to be prompt if not early when meeting up with someone, but inevitably I'm late when it comes to almost anything else.

So today, as with most days, it's not just a battle to start the work, but also to keep doing it.

Hopefully I'll do okay today. I'm going to try not to leave early. I don't plan on catching a movie in the theater any more. I'm even hoping I'll go through my inbox and leave late. But will I actually follow through on that? I'll know in a couple hours.

ADDENDUM: Just sent out the preliminary amendment. Not going to do inbox today. Not leaving early, not staying late, not seeing a movie. Not quite a holding pattern but closer thereto than before. It's hard to stay when there's no one else here. Peace out. [5:11 PM]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Day After The Day After

Saturday and Sunday have come and gone. Went into work yesterday and got that application draft out. Didn't do all that much today, relaxed mostly. Even though tomorrow is a holiday, I'm going in to work. Need to get things done and I'm going to take Friday off to go to Toronto with movie.girl (we're going to see 2 shows of Evil Dead: The Musical). Haven't spoken with either partner yet.

Upon further contemplation, I may have overstated my likelihood of being fired. We're short-staffed as it is, and they kind of need me to work. On the other hand, I can't screw up any more because if I do then they really will shitcan me. So maybe I didn't overstate anything? Maybe they just wanted to put the fear of G-d in me (which, if that was indeed their goal, they successfully instilled).

I'm afraid of failing. I'm afraid I won't be strong enough not to fail. I managed to pull law school together and graduate. I managed to not totally screw up my life thus far. But this is really bad and there's a nagging shred of self-doubt that wonders if I can do this - if I can pull it together or keep it together. And I don't have an answer for that. Only time will tell and I am scared shitless that it will show me to be a failure.

Sometime yesterday or today I had this brief thought of "Boy, I wish my dad were still around. I think he would understand." See my dad was unemployed for 3 years in a row. He spent his time sitting around the house, watching TV, playing some Tetris on the computer. At the time, I didn't understand why he didn't go out and get a job, any job, just to bring income in if nothing else. I still don't think I really understand, but I'm a lot less critical now. I might have an inkling of how he felt (or at least I can imagine I do). It would have been cool if he was around to talk about this with me.

I can't talk about it with my mom. For some reason, I just feel like she wouldn't understand, at all. I'm sure she'd be supportive, at least somewhat, but--well, she wouldn't support me being a lazy ass and that's what it feels like it boils down to.

It's really hard for me to get up in the mornings, to get ready and go to work. Most mornings I really just don't want to. I want to lay in bed (and many mornings I do that for 15-60 min.). I want to not go to work.

See, it's not the direct consequences of my actions that really bother me. They're bad and horrible and rotten, but they're only the symptoms of something else, something deeper. It's that sense of... inertia that bothers me. That part of me that doesn't want to get up or doesn't want to do work or doesn't feel like doing anything. That's what really bothers me and that's what causes the rest to occur.

Bah, I'm just babbling at this point. Time to head to bed and get some sleep for tomorrow's work. I might yet catch a movie tomorrow night - depends how work goes. I'm thinking that if I can make it through the next 4 days and do my work, maybe I can wait until early April. Maybe I can pull it together myself or at least manage an acceptable approximation thereof. If so, I'm betting it'll be painful and extremely difficult, well, it'll be that way regardless of my success or failure. *sigh* To sleep, perchance to dream.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Last Warning

Thus far, today has been a bad day. Very bad.

The partners chewed me out. The trigger was/is an overdue application draft (fourth draft), though the discussion went beyond that. I don't blame either of the partners – they're completely in the right here.

His opening question was: "What the fuck is going on?" I didn't have an answer for him. I think that may have been my answer. The managing partner impressed upon me the severity of my conduct, how dangerous the consequences could be – not consequences for me, but the consequences for everyone at the firm (i.e., "whose livelihood depends on the firm").

The other partner (the one I work with) basically called me on everything – it's clear you don't want to be here or you're not happy with the work. If you're not going to do the work, I'd rather you just leave – don't mess things up for the rest of us. (I believe his phrasing was different – I'm probably imposing my own views on his words above.)

I'm pretty sure this was my "last warning."

I had lunch with the junior partner (he asked me if I wanted to go get some food with him – Wendy's). I told him almost everything (where the "almost" means I told him I couldn't focus, but nothing about any timeframes). He really didn't have anything to offer, but it sounds like everyone at the firm is wound tight due to the workload. He also suggested that one reason the partners are having trouble finding new people is that there's basically a national shortage of patent attorneys.

I'm in deep. Oh so deep. I suspect that I'm at the point where I would have to do a complete 180 and work very hard in order not to get fired. And of course I'm typing this little love note when I should be working. I'm in such a bad, depressed, scared mood/mentality, it's a little-- I don't know, bad, for lack of a better description.

At lunch, on the drive back, the junior partner joked tried to joke with me: "Well at least it can't get worse." But he's wrong. This might be only the beginning of the downward spiral. I'm not going to expound further on that because I'm hoping I don't have to, that I don't go that way. I know, without a doubt, that that is the absolute wrong way and I'm hoping/praying I don't head down it.

But in the meantime, while I wait to figure out whether I can recover, I need to get back to work. And so I shall.


[afternoon] Appointment with referral scheduled for early April. Contemplating finding someone quicker next week (Monday is a holiday). Not sure I can or should wait until April.

[4:35pm] I just thought of Jim Breuer's exit in Half Baked and smiled. ("All I want to know is who's coming with me?")

[4:47pm] Earlier this afternoon I was in bad shape – frantic, scared, worried, shaking a bit, possibly a touch nauseous. Now I'm better and feel moderately normal.

Incidentally, I think "everyone" (or at least most/all of the support staff?) know that I got chewed out this morning. The partners haven't said a word to me since. The support staff have been extra nice to me.

[5:06pm] Current plan is to try and finish up the application draft today/tonight. (Unless I get tired and/or decide to quit for today, which I may.) Work tomorrow morning to tomorrow afternoon. Hang out with friends Saturday night. Hang out with movie.girl on Sunday. Work Monday.

I contemplated not hanging out Saturday night, but I've been trying to meet up with these friends for over 3 months and I don't want to cancel again.

Before today, I contemplated seeing movies on Monday. I may yet do that, but it will be secondary to getting things done at work.

Back to work.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Make-Single-People-Feel-Bad Day!

Because really, isn't that the net effect if not the overall goal?

I opined on this back in '05:
You know what? Although Valentine's Day, in theory, is supposed to be a celebration of love and relationships and all that fuzzy stuff, I think it's also, in practice that is, a kick in the teeth to those of us who are single. []

e.e. cumming's Ever-Ever Land excerpt:

down above all with love
and everything perverse
or which makes some feel more better
when all ought to feel less worse

Warren Ellis suggests another interpretation:
And to those who hate the day, I say this: Valentine’s Day is a Christian corruption of a pagan festival involving werewolves, blood and fucking. So wish people a happy Horny Werewolf Day and see what happens.
I could get on board with that.

Bonus Links:
Surviving Valentine's Day If You Are Single (BBC, H2G2)
Dear Valentine's Day (tinuviel)
Dear Valentine's Day (vetusangelus)
Ugh, It's Another Valentine's Day and I'm Still Single (Yahoo! Personals)
Valentine's Day: Holiday from hell (CNN)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Crap Crap Crap (aka The Descent Into Madness)

At work this morning, I screwed up a bit and, more significantly, really pissed off one of the main partners (the one I work with). Further to my previous post, I am screwing up more these days, not less.

This is bad. Really bad.

My goal was to make it another year. I'm not sure I can do that / that it will happen. It's become a matter of what they're willing to put up with from me. And so far, in the past 8-10 weeks, my situation/performance has not improved as it needs to.

I'm having problems. I can't articulate them – the best I can do is describe the symptoms. I don't know why they exist for me, though I have a few notions/ideas. I hesitate to put either down in words here and will refrain from doing so, for now. You'll have to forgive the generalities in view of the foregoing.

Sometimes I wonder if/how much my ulcerative colitis affects any of this. But then I recall that I had some similar mental processes and/or tendencies prior to any diagnosis of UC (i.e., in high school, college, law school).

My head is so messed up for work and my backlog is so massive and the items so urgent that it makes me want to cry. I know how to "fix" things or, more accurately, how to start making things "right," but I seem unable to actually follow through with any of it.

Why can't I focus on my work? Why? What is wrong with me? Aaaarrrrgghh.

I wonder if I'm not headed for some sort of nervous breakdown. I've always prided myself on being a rock, on being steady and calm even in the face of--

I'm staring at the computer screen, trying to will the words to make sense. I'm trying to will my brain to work. "Come on, brain. Work!" It's just not happening. I'm here but I'm not here. I'm sitting at my desk, the lights are on, but nobody's home.

[Time lapse]

Better now. Calmer. Head racing less, able to focus more. Better.

Two thoughts. I wonder if I have ADD. I wonder if it's at all related to my eating (eating pattern, food consumption, nutrition, whatever).

Slight headache at the moment.

I think I'll make an appointment with my GP and see what he thinks.

I'm having a really hard time keeping things together. On the plus side, only 20 min. to lunchtime.

[Time lapse.]

The other partner just came in and talked to me. Today was the second conversion I almost missed and that's really unacceptable. Also, my hours for Dec. and Jan. were low. I really had no answers for him. He asked that I go through my office/docket and see what else is coming up in that vein.

He also came back in to let me know that we have a patent agent with 3 years experience starting up with us in late March and a fresh recruit (straight out of law school) joining us in August. Hopefully that will help with the workload.


This is going to be a really long post by the time I post it. (Assuming I do, which is likely.)

Tried the doc twice – line was busy both times.

Worst part about all of this is that it's self-reinforcing. I don't do my work, I feel bad about it, I get depressed a bit, I still don't do the work and now I feel even worse for knowing how much more urgent and costly it is (costly for being late and firm covering late fees).

Line free... appointment made for Thursday.


Well, I finished up the draft application I was working on (more-or-less). It's not complete but I'm done for today. I really don't know what's wrong. Wish I did. I just know something isn't right and it's definitely interfering with work (and probably has been for a long, long time). And I can't keep on like this. Hopefully Thursday will yield some ideas or at least get us started on finding some.

(Incidentally, I may redact the entirety of this post sometime in the future. I know posting this on my blog is probably not in my best interests. Even so, it is here. For now.)