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What happened, you mooks.

Oh, there were circumstances. (There are always circumstances.) There was that holiday. (I made my usual goyishe challah and a black bean and chocolate chili.) I’ve been so distracted from other writing tasks that I can’t work up the gumption to procrastinate those by tossing off something here. (They ought to come first, which means this usually does, unless I’m over some other rainbow entirely.) I’m going through another one of those periods where my normally fecund outrage lies fallow; overwhelmed by the effort to keep my head above this river of shit, for some perspective, I’ve instead curled up in a little ball and sunk to the bottom, where at least it’s cool and dim and quiet—pleasant, really, as long as you don’t try to breathe. (It’s a heartsickness. I read the news and I sigh and shrug and turn away to burrow deep within the flannel sheets we just bought and I turn out the light.) We lost a cat we never really got to know all that well. (She reached out for something as the shot went home, the most she’d moved in hours, and then she stopped breathing. We got a paw print and a clip of fur in the mail from the clinic and I suddenly found it hard to speak. Chris ’shopped a silly composite image from these silly snaps that Jenn took, and now I have a mental image of Kitty Heaven that’s going to be hard to shake. But at least it makes me laugh.) And of course, there’s the day job—

I don’t talk much about the day job, do I?

I work in litigation support, basically, a field I never even knew existed until Aaron, the Demented Lawyer, snagged me a part-time job here. When the freelance writing and graphic design market started drying up, I stepped up to full time; now, I’m a Project Manager, with a corner office and everything. —Basically, when two companies hate each other very much, they come together in a lawsuit. And the lawyers for each side want to see all the pieces of paper the other side has in its filing cabinets and desk drawers and bankers’ boxes stashed away in the unused office space on the sixth floor, memos and financials and correspondence and telephone messages and test results and printouts of every half-baked Excel spreadsheet and ill-conceived Power Point presentation stuffed onto the harddrive of that laptop Bob hasn’t used since the ill-fated trip to Nova Scotia. And they argue back and forth about what’s pertinent and what’s privileged, but in the end all this paperwork is boxed up and dropped off at our offices, where we scan it all in, number every page in sequence, print (“blow back,” in the parlance) a fresh, numbered set, break that up into discrete documents, code the particulars of each document into a database, and then hand the whole shebang back, neatly boxed up and easily and quickly searchable in any of a number of ways. —We sort haystacks, in other words, so that needles—howsomever defined—might more easily be found. And on the one hand, this is cool: if a lawyer is getting ready to depose Bob about that trip to Nova Scotia, and she wants to see every memo he wrote before he went, she doesn’t have to send her paralegal scurrying down to the sixth floor office to search all those bankers’ boxes for any memo that he might have written before the date of the trip; instead, the harried paralegal can scurry over to the computer, run a simple database search, and print out all the corresponding documents. Time and money are saved! The invisible hand of commerce lubricates the exceeding fine if slowly grinding mills of justice! Huzzah!

On the other hand, you also have clients who get a mite peevish when you try to tell them it’s a wee bit difficult to print 60,000 pages in chronological order in 12 hours.

I think I’m figuring out why I don’t talk about the day job much. —Oh, there’s something new to learn with every project, and there’s scads of fun terminology (blowbacks, Bates numbers, redwelds, bankers’ boxes [which, thanks to my days in comics retail, I can assemble with alacrity], etc. etc.), and I get to see all sorts of juicy behind-the-scenes stuff, going through other companies’ dirty laundry every day, but since I sign a non-disclosure agreement with most of the projects I take on, well.

So: day job. We work for lawyers; there’s the concomitant stress level that that entails. —November was a month, in other words; still, peevish clients and appalling actions taken in my name and good food with friends I haven’t seen in years notwithstanding, I’m most rattled here on the other side by the death of a cat I knew, what, two months? Less?

Stupid death. It’s a really dumb way to run things, you know? —Oh, sure, “They will come back—come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls. He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Why should He squander souls?” If it floats your boat, I guess. But rake my yard, first. Then talk to me about squandering.

  1. TalkLeft    Dec 2, 06:19 PM    #
    Kip, what an accurate description of what you do. Great attitude, too--instead of making it sound boring you made it sound like it's important you get it right. You sound really good at it-- wish you had a double in Denver!

  2. --k.    Dec 2, 08:46 PM    #
    As an utter coincidence, I recently spent an idle moment crunching the numbers on one of our current projects: if laid end-to-end, the pages we've coded would reach from here to Denver, where the incomparable TalkLeft hangs her hat.

    (Y'know, Jeralyn: we do handle out-of-town clients...)

  3. Ampersand    Dec 3, 05:03 AM    #
    "...when two companies hate each other very much, they come together in a lawsuit."

    This really cracked me up, for some reason. Anyhow, nice post.

  4. Chris    Dec 3, 06:32 AM    #
    Your desciprion was all to accurate, it still gives me shivers.

    And yeah, boy, you're damned good at your job (if not simply looking like you are)

  5. language hat    Dec 4, 05:52 AM    #
    Like they say, a clear and impassioned description of what you do. And I'm very sorry about your cat. They may be small creatures without much importance in the Scheme of Things, but it's amazing what a big hole they can leave.

  6. Scott DiBerardino    Dec 4, 12:13 PM    #
    I work for a translation company, one of the ilk that are like to receive said boxes of numbered documents, in our case for translation. Ahh, Bates numbers. I am somewhat amused that Kip and I are both project managers (excuse me, Project Managers) at opposite middles of the litigation process. I also find it fascinating that they call it Discovery, like it's a wonderful and fruitful Tradition. Sigh.

    Back to work.

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