Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Big Hair, Law School, Mork and Mindy...Ah, the Eighties

law school grad
For me, the Eighties started as party party party, especially during my years at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. I spent my time ensuring that others would be in the top of the class while I closed down discos and enjoyed live comedy at several venues, including the late, lamented Holy City Zoo, where I saw Dana Carvey before he went on to SNL and massive fame, and Robin Williams, who was at his manic, coke-fueled best.

After I guaduated, I was lost. Having been in school continually from age five to age twenty-four, I had no idea what to do with myself except study. My law degree was my third since I left high school, and I couldn't watch my life go by while I was in school any longer. But I really didn't want to practice law, and took several other jobs: knocked on doors for Citizens for a Better Environment, didn't sell art at Bowles-Hopkins Gallery (though selling was my job I was terrible at it) and was a manager of the Wilbur Hot Springs Health Sanctuary.

After a couple of years, that palled, and I went to Sacramento to open a law practice. I focused on family law and criminal defense, and did that for a number of years.

I was into bicycling, then working out--weightlifting and the like--then martial arts.

Around me, the world was changing. Ronald Reagan gained the White House and continued his heartless policies, which resulted in economic chaos and helpless people living on the streets. I remember walking back to my office from the courthouse on a particularly bitter, windy day. An elderly lady was huddled next to a building. She'd tucked herself and her meager belongings between it and a hedge, trying desperately to find whatever shelter she could.

She was not unusual. I'm not a hater, but I hate Reagan.

Back in Sacramento, I embedded myself in the embrace of my famiy and tried to work out my issues with them. I spent most of the decade and much of the next in psychotherapy with a really nice man who sort of helped me.

What would have helped more was leaving the law, Sacramento, and my family. But I was determined to work things out. Oops. 

Those who know me are aware I have the emotional IQ of a dead salamander. Nevertheless, i continued to try to have relationships...another oops. I did have my first blindfolding and bondage experience, which was great, but the guy involved...yikes. Another wrong choice in a lifetime full of mistakes about men.

one of my mega-cute nieces,
born in the 80s
Were the eighties a good decade for me? No. They were a time of confusion, wrong turns made in life and general futility. 

But some good things happened. There were a couple of beautiful additions to our family. Though I disliked practicing law, I was good at it. I bought my first home, got a dog and a white picket fence.

Life was...okay.


  1. I think its a whole different kind of suffering to be good at something you hate-good enough to make a living at it. Family law and criminal defense has to be the worst part of the legal business-divorce, child custody, drugs and alcohol. You're perfectly in your right mind to be out of your mind. Nice that you can still see some blessing and have found a career as a writer.

  2. Funny- I know three people, members of the bar, who don't practice any more. A bartender, an antique dealer, another a social worker. They were all disgusted with the law once in practice. By the 80's Momma and I had moved from SF to Marin, so missed a lot of the scene. Not so the 70's. ;>)

    No picket fence of our own, but the next-door neighbor has one we share.

    Hope you don't mind my saying I wish I did know you back then. It would have been worth the drive. Wow--what a doll! Smart too, with three degrees under your belt @ such a young age.

  3. Yes, definitely a strange decade for most of us - times were still a-changing and sadly not improving much. Daddy! What's this with the flirting on OGG? LOL

    1. Hah! Fat chance, JP. Nobody but Momma X will have me now.

  4. I'm glad to hear that you got a degree that was supposed to make you a lot of money, and it didn't spell instant success for you. My parents made fun of me for wasting their money and my time getting an English degree. I got it because of my love for words, and my "way with kids", that allows me to make them feel valued while teaching them stuff. Unfortunately, in America we have zilch respect for thinking skills, and we only say we care about kids and their learning--we don't mean it.

    I got the degree of my passion, but without my husband I'd be sleeping in a cardboard box, living on ramen noodles, like in college. Kudos to you for making your own way, on your own terms.

  5. What a gorgeous photo, Suz. Of course I've met you in person and you're still a knock out. (And no, I am not flirting, just stating the truth!)

    I spent the first 26 years of my life in school (aside from the year and a half I was anorexic), so I definitely understand the sense of confusion when you finally finish.

    And I know many recovering lawyers...!

  6. Suz, thanks so much for this view into your life! I can understand feeling like a period of time was...okay. And I definitely understand trying to work stuff out when what I ought to do is walk away. You sound like you got up to so many interesting things, though. And even when you weren't in the right place, you were searching. I think that's admirable.

  7. It takes a certain temperament to want to be lawyer. Or maybe one of a range of temperaments, depending on what type of law one practices. My daughter-in-law interned for a judge in DC (who later officiated at her wedding) but decided she couldn't stand corporate or governmental law. Now she does state-funded appeals cases in criminal trials, involving immense amounts of research on precedents and current studies, and writes articles on forensic topics for law journals. She's even managed to get a section of law changed in Connecticut. I think she enjoys exercising her academic research talents while serving a civic purpose, but she's also getting a bit burned out. And she keeps a PO box for business mail so her clients won't know where she lives, especially since she has a young kid.

  8. You all are so wonderful and supportive. Thank you!

  9. Suz, you may have (in your words) the *emotional intelligence of a dead salamander,* but every woman I know who has dated men has blamed herself for making *mistakes,* and picking *the wrong ones.* This makes me flinch. You clearly have intelligence in the form of a high IQ (ability to acquire information) as well as real-world competence and the willpower to hold down a job or two, even in a field that was not appealing to you. Instead of being a complete fool with men, maybe you accepted invitations from guys who seemed decent enough at first meeting. Maybe you did not suspect the worst from them because you are not abusive, dishonest or lazy yourself. If your relationships with men at the time all ended badly, I doubt if that was all your fault.