to win and to lose

Since I was a little girl, my dad taught me how to play tennis. I have fond memories of hitting the ball back and forth with my dad, mom, and older brother. As I got older, my parents enrolled me in various tennis camps, and I slowly improved. I wasn’t always the best player on the court, but I held my own — plus, I had a mean back-hand.

Photo by Ben O’Sullivan on Unsplash

So when I entered high school in 2003, I decided to try out for the girl’s tennis team. I had been training hard the summer before, with the help of a local tennis academy. To pick the new members of the team, the high school coach had each girl play two matches, each one against a different girl. Happily, I won my first match. Then, I managed to win my second match. Yes! I was so excited.

I ran up to the coach and reported the score from my second match. Later, he approached me and said, “I’m sorry, Jane, but you didn’t make it on the team this year.”

I blinked, thinking it must be a mistake. “But, I beat Monica — two zero.”

“I know, but she is recovering from a sprained wrist, so we need to give her a break.” He shrugged his shoulders and smiled apologetically. My head nodded, but my mind didn’t follow.

I honestly don’t remember what went on in my mind when he said those words. All I know is that I didn’t challenge it. I didn’t even tell my parents what happened. I did tell my coach at the local tennis academy, who shook his head disapprovingly. I didn’t try out again the following year. To this day, I’m not sure why I so passively accepted such unfair treatment — treatment that I would find unacceptable today.

Fifteen years later, my best explanation is culture. My Korean immigrant parents had raised me to be very deferential to authority figures, even when I thought they were wrong. Keep your head down, follow instructions, don’t question me — nae nae nae. So by the time I encountered such blatant unfairness from an authority figure in high school, all I could do was accept his bullshit rationale and angrily blink back my tears as I watched pretty blonde Monica celebrate her new place on the Davis High School tennis team.

During college, whenever I remembered this experience, I asked myself why I hadn’t tried out for the tennis team the following year. I used to blame myself for not trying again. Maybe I would have gotten on the second time. You gave up too quickly. That’s your fault. But now, eight years past college, I have more sympathy for my high school self. I think I understand better the sentiment of folks who experience an unjust system and respond, “What’s the fucking point?” I think that was what went on in my mind back then. And among the many things Davis High School taught me, one lesson was that some people in this world were going to judge me by factors other than merit — and if they were in a politically correct area, they weren’t going to have the self-respect to do it honestly.


ChronicBabe: 5 Reasons Why Leaving My Job and Working From Home Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

Wear, Tear, & Care

Check out my guest post for Jenni Grover Prokopy’s site, ChronicBabe!

5 Reasons why Leaving My Job and Working From Home Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

Hi! My name is Jen, and I’m a 29-year-old attorney, editor, writer, and patient advocate. I have spinal fractures from two car accidents that required two cervical fusions. The jury’s out on whether I’ll need more surgery.

I worked in an office for three and a half years after law school. At that point I was dealing with the fallout from my first car accident, which happened in 2004 and decimated my thoracic spine. Law school happened, and then my job, and then… another accident. That second accident became a barrier to a normal life.

Eventually I decided to leave my job and work from home. Here are the reasons why it was the best decision I ever made.

My health comes first now.

I was living the dream: I had a legal job that started at 8 am…

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Everybody Has Something Wrong With Them

“Our attention is split in half. One half is focused on our regular lives, our jobs, and our families. The other half is focused inward, caught in a storm of such great strength that it pulls the breath from our bodies. So if we seem distracted or forget what you’re talking about, that’s why.”

Wear, Tear, & Care

everybodyEverybody has something wrong with them.

I don’t care who you are or how many marathons you’ve run or how loud you are about it, but literally everybody on this planet, no matter how young or old, has something inside that is actively working against them. That young boy bicycling to school has Type I diabetes. The teacher shepherding students into the classroom has arthritis. The school bus driver has sciatica that runs down her right leg. The mailman has a limp because his hip gave out after twenty years of walking his route. The old woman shuffling down the sidewalk has cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin cancer from the days of tanning with baby oil.

If something isn’t wrong with us when we’re born, something will go wrong. As soon as we are born we start to die, and little chips of us are broken away year after year…

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‘How Do I Break the Cycle of Pain and Feel Better?’ by J.W. Kain

In my head, my pain takes the form of a skinny meth-head-looking man who molds himself to my frame, his hands clasped so he can piggy-back me. His mouth is by my ear and he screams without end. I have to navigate my life — appear as a normal human being, talk to people, engage in activities — with this man hanging from my neck, choking me, clinging to my back, and screaming one long, high, unyielding note into my ear. He never takes a breath. He doesn’t have to. He hasn’t stopped screaming for almost twelve years.


Gone Girl

Nick and Amy will be gone, but then we never really existed. Nick loved a girl I was pretending to be. “Cool girl”. Men always use that, don’t they? As their defining compliment: “She’s a cool girl”. Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. She only smiles in a chagrined, loving manner. And then presents her mouth for fucking. She likes what he likes, so evidently he’s a vinyl hipster who loves fetish Manga. If he likes girls gone wild, she’s a mall babe who talks for football and endures buffalo wings at Hooters. When I met Nick Dunne I knew he wanted “Cool girl”. And for him, I’ll admit: I was willing to try. I wax-strippe my pussy raw. I drank canned beer watching Adam Sandler movies. I ate cold pizza and remained a size two. I blew him, semi-regularly. I lived in the moment. I was fucking girl blue

The Ralph Nader Reader

From Ralph Nader, “Law Schools and Law Firms,” New Republic (1969)

“Thus was launched a process of engineering the law student into corridor thinking and largely non-normative evaluation. It was a three-year excursus through legal minutiae, embraced by wooden logic and impervious to what Oliver Wendell Holmes once called the ‘felt necessities of our times.’ It is not easy to take the very bright young minds of a nation, envelop them in conceptual cocoons and condition their expectations of practice to the demands of the corporate law firm. But this is what Harvard Law School did for over half a century to all but a resistant few of the forty thousand graduates. The Harvard Law pattern – honed to a perfection of brilliant myopia and superfluous rigor – became early in the century the Olympian object of mimicry for law schools throughout the country.” (388)

“For decades, the law school curriculum reflected with remarkable fidelity the commercial demands of law firm practice. Law firm determinants of the content of courses nurtured a colossal distortion in priorities both as to the type of subject matter and the dimension of its treatment. What determined the curriculum was the legal interest that came with retainers.” (390)

“Thus the great legal challenges of access to large governmental and corporate institutions, the control of environmental pollution, the requisites of international justice suffered from the inattention of mechanized minds. There was little appreciation of how highly demanding an intellectual task it was to develop constructs of justice and injustice within Holmes’ wise dictum that ‘the life of the law is not logic, it is experience.’ Great questions went unasked, and therefore unanswered.” (391)

nader reader 391

“As the law becomes more and more a determinative force in public and private affairs, the lawyer must carry the responsibility of his specialized knowledge, and formulate ideas as well as advocate them. In a society where law is a primary force, the lawyer must be a primary, not a secondary, being.” (Professor Reich, Yale Law School)

“The absence of remedy is tantamount to an absence of right. The engineer of remedies for exercising rights is the lawyer.”(395)

“The yearning of more and more young lawyers and law students is to find careers as public-interest lawyers who, independent of government and industry, will work on these two major institutions to further the creative rule of law. The law, suffering recurrent and deepening breakdowns, paralysis and obsolescence, should no longer tolerate a retainer astigmatism which allocates brilliant minds to trivial or harmful interests.” (396)