Tag Archives: work

Notes To Myself.


I discovered the last vestiges of my most recent law firm job. I was cleaning and organizing the house today, and I came upon this box. It sort of made me sad. The rubber finger thingy, especially. I feel like I’ve misspent much of my work life doing stuff I didn’t want to do. I’m certain I’m not alone in this feeling, but I feel really duped. Mad at myself, mostly. Why did I have to wait to get laid off and get a federal grant to go to school for free to change careers? Seems like cheating, somewhat. Naw, not really; I earned this! desk

I am what you might call a late bloomer.



It means “women who can take care of themselves,” and it’s the name of the organization for whom I will be interning beginning next week! Isuroon (isuroon.org) is a three-year-old nonprofit which advocates for Somalian women’s healthcare issues, but also educational, societal, and cultural issues unique to Somalian women in our community. The organization is well-known throughout our large Somalian population here in the Twin Cities; I will be focused on helping to get the word out to other parts of our society and ensure that Isuroon becomes familiar to all.

I’m super excited to get started on this new venture. Bonus – their office is only a few blocks from my house – I can walk or ride my bicycle to work.

There’s Been A Development


 Pee-Wee Herman: Tequila  Oh yeah I’m doing the happy dance, minus the Tequila. I got the Big Brothers Big Sisters internship. I will start on March 25 in their Communications and External Relations Department. I am pretty jazzed about it. I’ll get to do a lot of writing and interviewing matches (I’ve been a Big Sister) and, well, this is truly a step in the right direction for me. So no, not breaking out the alcohol, just the platform shoes. p'shoes

Gosh and another job interview (one which pays money!) on Friday and it’s above 20-degrees and the sun is shining? Please don’t tell me that the universe isn’t frowning upon me – what the what?

School Some More


I start another Takoda course tomorrow – Advanced Social Media on Saturday mornings. I know, I know, I just got out of school, but I want to learn more. I’m now the student I should have been when I was 13 through 17. It’s Dorkfest City at my house – I do homework immediately, I study like a banshee (if banshees study, that is – oh, maybe they don’t – but you catch my drift), I put my name on all assignments in the upper left-hand corner with the date and class name. I’m a regular Poindexter.

What I’m excited about is that I’ve had the instructor for this class, Elise, for three other classes in the program I just finished, and I just love her. Very inspirational and encouraging, but very realistic and knowledgeable. I think I’ll get a lot out of this class, because in Social Media 101 there just wasn’t enough time to go over everything. Plus we had a guy in class who didn’t believe in Social Media and used to have 7-9 minute debates with the instructor, sucking time away from the class. Well, he was just nuts anyways….

But here’s the big thing – this class is FREE! And you can’t beat that!

So all I’ll need is my laptop tomorrow, but why do I still feel like I need to get some Ticonderoga No. 2’s sharpened, and a new lunch box?

Dear Winter, It’s Not Funny Anymore.


Dearest Winter:

winterI know, I know, I probably have NO RIGHT to complain. I live here in Minnesota by choice. I love living here. But Pfizer doesn’t make enough antidepressants to get us through winters like the one being dished out this year. Maybe I need to get one of those S.A.D. lights – I’ve heard those work. Naw, I’d still know it was winter, and it wouldn’t change the fact that we’ve had something like 40+ days with highs in the sub-zeros. I don’t get out and walk the doggies on those days, and so I’m not getting enough exercise and fresh air – the stuff that sort of keeps you sane. Most winters I’m at work and usually belong to a health club – I go swimming and scoff at the arctic temps – but not this year. Job hunting and budget restraints – probably making me feel much more cooped up and cabin-feverish.

The dogs are obnoxious. “Come on lady, let us out!” 32 seconds go by. “Oh it’s too cold, lady, let us in, NOW!!!” Then the same routine, 20 minutes later. And someone is forgetting that they are potty trained. Someone is peeing on the floor in the basement, and it isn’t me.

It isn’t funny anymore, boys.snowdogs



egor1 iggy1

My employment and career counselors, Egor and Iggy, whose sound advice and encouragement help keep my spirits up during this rough and tumble job-hunt. They really do enable me to put things into perspective sometimes.

I will attend a job fair tomorrow. Washing and ironing a nice white blouse to wear with my new suit – yeah – new suit!!! Ok, well, I got it at Savers…it’s new to me, anyway. I will try and remember to brush my teeth before I put my suit on – god, that was dumb the last time when I dribbled toothpaste onto my lapel.

Also, will wear non-dangling earrings – made that mistake last time as well. Do NOT look like you’ve got any personality – I think that’s the message here.

I’m Balanced



Oh this is so unbelievably excellent. I’ve landed a job interview tomorrow with a place I really, REALLY want to work at. So so excited! I had a very good recommendation to this job and I have an extremely good chance of nailing it. It’s a job that has meaning and purpose. I have, for so many years, just toiled away, justifying what I did for a living was just a paycheck — I could never actually do my real “life’s” work and earn a decent living from something that is actually worthwhile.



Oh, I need to calm down and not seem too anxious. What if I seem too anxious? Oh, no, how do I appear confident and not nervous? I’m so nervous. Geez, what is wrong with me? Now I don’t want to appear overconfident, either, that’s not cool. Aw, what’s the use? I won’t get it. Nothing good ever happens to me.

Professionally Unprofessional


Over the years I have confused and confounded some of my coworkers at the law firms I’ve worked at. I’ve been employed by some very conservative firms while also hosting late-night punk rock radio shows and I was even in a punk band in the early 90s. “How can you go from one world to another, Patti?” has been a question I’ve been asked on more than a few occasions. I’ve not always had a great answer to that question, I’ve usually just responded, “I don’t know, I just DO….” and “I take naps!” But in recent years I’ve come to a conclusion – I’m a chameleon. I have learned to adapt to just about every situation I’ve ever been thrown into, either by choice or necessity.

 The law firm thing was necessity. I’ve always had to work and pay that rent! My first legal job in Houston, Texas, was with a solo practitioner named Fred. He was a closeted elderly gay lawyer who was missing an eye, had a terrible drinking problem and was dying of AIDS. He hired me because I knew how to type and did not have any legal background. He wanted to train me his own way. So I refer to my legal training as “The Fred School.” Fred paid me very well, and it gave me the experience I needed to jump into more legal secretary jobs. I miss Fred.

 The Fred School launched my career into other legal jobs when I moved up here to Minneapolis from Houston, and the money just got better and better. Even though I’ve always had a rock and roll attitude, I’ve also been on my own since I was 17 and have been accustomed to taking care of myself.

I wasn’t necessarily “into” being a legal assistant or secretary, but it was the highest paying occupation I could do in the administrative field. I got better and better at it. I constantly refreshed my grammar and technical skills and learned legal terminology. I learned what many people go to college or business school to learn, and earned the respect of several attorneys whom I still use as personal references.

 I’ve always had my own look and style I suppose, and even though I’ve gone to rock shows since I was 12 and have been sort of a freak (where I’m from “freak” is good, as in “freak of the week”), I’ve never felt the need to look terribly outrageous. My hair has always been the subject of conversations and I’ve never had to do anything to it to look weird. I’ve been able to adapt my style for offices that has somehow always “fit in” and been appropriate while being myself at the same time. Chameleon. Buy one nice suit for interviews – you don’t need to wear them all the time – that’s my credo.

 In law firms, one thing I learned but I guess maybe I just inherently knew was that client service is the top priority. I had previously been a bank teller and mortgage service representative when I first got out of high school, and that experience helped immensely. Although sometimes in the legal secretary world it seemed like pleasing lawyers was the main goal, the bottom line was taking care of the clients’ needs, whether it was in business law or litigation. The client comes first.

 Early in my legal career I worked at a small family law firm. We handled some extremely difficult divorce cases where there were child custody battles going on and many instances of domestic abuse. I spent a lot of time on the phone and in person with women who had never been alone before, and although we were swamped with work and quite honestly I didn’t always have the time, I let our clients talk for as long as they needed to. I found that I was able to summon up a lot of compassion, and I think that went a long way towards serving our clients.

 After being in a couple of very small firms, I eventually went to work at larger downtown Minneapolis law firms where there was better money. Better money, but more stress perhaps. I must say that the more attorneys in the firm, the more opportunities for lawyer craziness. I came very, very close to losing my cool with many an attorney when they would come to me at 4:30 p.m. and tell me, “Oh, this needs to go out today.” I would just want to scream. Ok, so maybe I did scream on a couple of occasions, but I’d wait until I got into the restroom, and no one heard me. Most of the time I kept my cool though, taking deep breaths, and getting the job done. I’d mostly save the crying for when I got home. And a whole lot of swearing. Lots and lots of swearing.

Professionalism requires that differences between coworkers be worked out in a mature manner – it’s not always easy. I have found it best to try and be as direct as possible, if at all possible, and to not to let issues “fester.” I have found, though, that I haven’t always been able to control little whispering campaigns that get started in some of the offices I’ve worked at. Gossip is just evil and although I know I’ve been guilty of it, it’s highly unprofessional. I’ve been on the receiving end of gossip – it’s often hurtful and really has no place in the professional world.

Professionalism doesn’t require one to be uptight, unfriendly, and serious. It’s a balance of giving excellent customer service, fostering good relationships with coworkers, and doing the best work possible. Rock and roll, on the other hand, requires one to be professionally unprofessional, and that is the topic of another essay.