Thursday, June 26, 2008

Friends don't let friends seek this

Here's another one for the archive that made us laugh today:

The parties decided that Karen would bear the child, because Carol suffers from hypertension. Karen obtained sperm from a friend, which Carol inseminated into Karen. Despite four cycles of insemination, Karen did not become pregnant. And, because Carol did not like the idea of involving a third person in the conception of the parties' child, they did not again seek sperm from a friend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

legal style


I work all day in a public interest law office specializing in LGBT issues. Right now we are compiling a 50-state database of custody cases relevant to LGBT parenting and adoption issues. Reading these, it becomes immediately apparent how awkward is the juxtaposition of legal comportment, reserve, and dignity with sex and the language of sexuality. The following are my favorites of today, for your enjoyment. They are quoted verbatim from actual cases:

Silas and Beale had known each other for about one year and they had engaged in sexual intercourse approximately nine months before C. was born. Theirs was a dating relationship.

Appellant and respondent are women who were partners in a personal relationship from 1993 to 1997. In 1996, they paid a friend, Marcus B., $1,000 to impregnate respondent. He did so.

With technological advances, same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples who were previously unable to conceive children can now plan the conception of a child with increasing ease.

"The moving parties use "alternative," rather than "artificial," insemination to describe the process by which Vivian Ryan was conceived. Alternative insemination is a simple procedure using a squirting device (e.g. a syringe without a needle) to introduce semen into a woman's vaginal canal for the purpose of achieving pregnancy.... [T]he phrase is considered less offensive and more descriptive than the more common phrase "artificial insemination," which often connotes a sinister unnaturalness in religious contexts."

Plaintiff argues the circuit court erred in dismissing count I of his complaint for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claims defendant's conduct was "extreme and outrageous," when she lied about being unable to engage in intercourse or to conceive due to her menses and agreed to prevent conception of children prior to marriage, but then intentionally engaged in oral sex so she could harvest his semen to artificially inseminate herself.

I just want to say here that I love this use of "harvest."

Friday, June 20, 2008



I meant to say in that last post that part of what I am struck by every day is the beauty of routines. Routines at their best can anchor us and at their worst make us feel chained to sensation, sustenance, and brute welfare. I wonder if you have a routine you love, or hate. When i was in high school i used to ride the bus to school everyday for an hour each way. i had horses to feed, so I had to get up at 5:30 or 6 every morning to feed them, eat, dress, pack, and start walking the half mile to the bus by 6:40 or 6:45. The bus came at 7:10, so usually i ran, clarinet or saxaphone in hand, down the dirt road that smelled of winter, or spring mud, or moldy fall leaves. The sun often rose as i walked, in a rosy glow over the horse field. Every morning I ran, and cursed the dawn and the earliness an the far distance. but in my heart I loved it--loved the routine of the world I shared, and the morning.

In a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance who works in a law firm downtown, he complained to me about his routine. he told me he had done it for five years--gone down to the Loop every day, and had his Starbucks. But that's what woking in the Loop is, I thought. It's going down, and drinking a Starbucks (or Diet Coke). He confessed he felt trapped by the money he was making, but I think something else trapped him, though I wasn't sure what.

I wonder if you love the routine you have, or hate it, and whether it frees your mind, or anchors you, or binds you, or sets you free to drift in the rhythms of the world.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

to work


I've never worked a 9 to 5 job before. This summer, for 10 weeks, I get up early and lurch off to the train, always late, to try to make it to work before 930. It takes me 18 minutes to walk to the train--an unusually long walk to public transportation, but then that's where I happen to live right now. I don't mind the walk--I could take a bus to the train but I enjoy the mornings in this weather--but I'm usually running late, and I usually end up running, sort of, in my sandals and office casual clothes. Running and puffing gets me there in closer to 15 minutes. I don't run, really--more like a run-walk shuffle glide. Even that sounds more graceful than it is. I arrive at the train stop with a glistening forehead. I swipe my card and take the stairs in twos, trying to shave just one more minute.

I stand on the platform and the wind cools my skin. The morning sun is warm, but not yet hot. Other passengers space themselves on the platform. The boards under our feet rumble as the train approaches us.

I look at my phone when the train comes to estimate when I'll get downtown. The doors open and I push into a free seat, sitting closest to the window. The seats are contoured, with a raised lip that divides them. I am a wide person with big shoulders that feel smashed against the cool metal of the train wall. Still, the cool metal feels nice against my shirt. I take out whichever book I'm into this week and read.

Sometimes someone will come through the car, asking for money. A couple of days a go a wild-eyed woman screaming expletives in a rapid narrative stream came through the car yelling at people to give her money. Everyone who could looked down to stay out of her way. She ranted and raged, then eventually moved on. Today a well-spoken man came through politely inquiring whether anyone had spare change. Some people gave him money, which I haven't seen happen often. Apparently if you ask nicely, people are more receptive.

The train clatters along the elevated tracks, then dives underground into dark, urine-smelling tunnels as it nears the center of the city. I am no longer confused when I get off at my stop; now i know which way to turn and which escalator to take to my street. The first escalator leads to a station with ticket machines and gates. There is a Dunkin' Doughnuts stand there, and every morning I think about going to it. But I go on to the second escalator, which rises up from the darkness towards a glass canopy on the street, and the morning breaks open upon my head as I emerge in the center of town. I think about Eliot's Unreal City, but this doesn't feel menacing, or sad, to me. Just busy, and scheduled.

There is a newspaper man on the corner named John I say hello to every morning. He always asks me how I am. John has an ex-wife and three children living in another state, and he says he'll go be with them some day if he can get his ex-wife to take him back.

The morning doorman in my building is quirky. I try to catch his eye and greet him, but sometimes he just pointedly stares, or looks away, or pretends to be doing something else. Sometimes he responds to my good morning with a good morning of his own. You never can tell what he will do, and I steel myself when i enter the building. I'm always relieved if he is busy. The other interns at my job say he treats them the same way.

My elevator goes to the tenth floor. I step off down a hall of windowless doors, like the corridor in the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Our offices are at the end of the hall. I go in, sit down at my desk, which faces a wall in the middle of the room, and say hello to the person who sits next to me. He and I are the only people in the entire office without a cubicle or a semblance of privacy, but we don't mind. I check my email, log onto Westlaw, and spend the next 7 1/2 hours looking up cases, reading them, and entering them into a database or annotating them for a project. It is extremely boring work, but at least it's gay. If I was looking up, say, contracts or something, I can't imagine how i would survive.

Some days we have meetings. One morning a week I work at the Help Desk, taking calls from people with problems looking for information.

We are expected to stay till 5 every day, including Fridays. Technically we have an hour for lunch, but only the paid staff take an hour. We generally bring something back and eat at our desks, even though we aren't getting paid. It's not as if it is relaxing to sit in a crowded Subway or Chipolte alone anyway.

At 4:55 I run to the bathroom, bring the key back, pack up my stuff, and get on the elevator. i get on the train before it gets crowded, so I usually have a seat, but I always have to make room for someone, and end up smashed against the wall for the 35-minute ride back.

Sometimes I go to the gym when i get back, but that means not getting home until 730 or 830. I can run on the beach a little in the evening while it is still cool outside. It feels nice to see the sun, even for the last minutes of the day.

At work we have interesting discussions about advancing the cause of gay marriage, or gay custody, or employment anti-discrimination, and all of that is really important and really interesting. Mostly, though, it's a routine. When I get on the train, I open my book for 30 minutes of narrative, and for a while I am not on the train at all, but somewhere else, in a realm of dreams, and stories, and plots that turn on hidden motivations, and characters with unknown powers that will eventually emerge. When the train gets near my stop I blink, sometimes dazed, and can't remember where I am, just for a minute, before the afternoon falls gently on my head again, and I feel the time of day and the time of my life, and the sensation of something carrying me in its arms to a place I don't yet know.