The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance in Reconstruction

  • Oct. 3, 2020, 4:12 p.m.
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Just… Two Face Quote. Starting with “You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time.” Which frankly… I felt a kinship with Two Face as early as 1992… but that comment in today’s world sings to me right now. I’ve tried really hard to be a decent man. An ethical man. A man that puts kindness, compassion, hard work, and patience into the world. And chance wins every time. So here. below, is the novella I shared with my therapist today.

The last few days have been rather mad but brilliant as far as assessing my head space. Thus, thank you for reading and apologizing in advance for what is certain to be long and possibly rambling.

First, we should talk about trial prep. Oi. Did not realize how something like that would strike me emotionally. Granted, Nancy and I were married before law school… so literally everything I’ve learned or done in relation to my legal career, she was with me. So from a logical place, I should have anticipated certain feelings coming up during Jury Trial Prep. The fact that I did not anticipate that means I either (a) believe I am better than I am; or (b) have a hard time processing emotions in a logical manner. Or both.

How this played out in a practical sense? I reviewed the case file initially for five hours. The more I looked through what my boss’ case theory was and the more I compared it to the law and the judge’s rulings… the more it seemed QUITE CLEAR that… The State had zero case. Nothing. Nada. No evidence, no testimony, no facts that would make this case arguable let alone WINNABLE. But, I assured myself, that was clearly my emotions getting the better of me. There was no way my boss would have prepped an unwinnable case, demanded it go to Jury Trial, and then given it to me. That doesn’t seem logical. That doesn’t seem right. CLEARLY, I’m just feeling defeated because of my emotions. So I kept working. Kept reviewing the file. Went over every deposition, every photograph, every statement. But time after time, it seemed obvious: A crime had been committed and the Defendant was not the criminal. Don’t get me wrong. The defendant IS a criminal. He IS a drug dealer. But the crime with which he was charged? The day it was charged? The facts? His son had sold drugs while he was asleep. Even the arresting officer had stated the evidence convicted the son but didn’t implicate the father. BUT, I kept thinking, there was no way my boss would have prepped an unwinnable case, demanded it go to Jury Trial, and then given it to me. I figured I’d go to sleep, clear my head, and speak to the witnesses before they testified to see what I was missing.

We selected a jury, we did the administrative portion, I gave my opening… a difficult feat when you consider what I had… essentially, I had to convince a jury in my opening arguments of something I wasn’t convinced of. And I truly hate that. If I believe in a case, I want to fight as hard as I can for it. If everything about the case seems… wrong… it is really tough for me to be persuasive. But I do the opening, I do my job. Later, I speak with the three witnesses my boss called in. Police Officer… “How does the defendant tie in to this?” It was his house. “OK, but if your son breaks the law in your house, you aren’t responsible for his actions. What ties the Defendant to the charge?” Nothing. Confidential Informant… “How does the defendant tie in to this?” It was his house. “OK, but if your son breaks the law in your house, you aren’t responsible for his actions. What ties the Defendant to the charge?” He was asleep and his son made sure we didn’t interrupt his sleep or go into his room. As far as I know, he wasn’t involved. Defendant’s Son’s Girlfriend: “How does the defendant tie in to this?” It was his house. “OK, but if your son breaks the law in your house, you aren’t responsible for his actions. What ties the Defendant to the charge?” I don’t think anything does. I mean, I know we got meth from Defendant before, but as to the date charged… I think he wasn’t even aware we were home at the time!
SO… shit. My instincts were correct. It wasn’t just “feeling down” but an actual “I’m a professional attorney and know my crap.” WHICH, when that results in a win… hooray. Being good at my job is a good thing. In a situation like this?? NOT SO MUCH! In a situation like this, being good at my job is a TERRIBLE thing because I now have to put on evidence that I know proves that the case should never have gotten to Jury Trial. If it had been my case, instead of my boss’, I would have moved to dismiss the charges IMMEDIATELY after speaking with the witnesses. But I couldn’t. So I put on what was likely the most ridiculous, farcical, pointless State’s Prosecution in the history of our county. The motion to acquit was expected! And still? Some good. The judge repeatedly apologized to me commenting on how I had made persuasive enough argument for him to consider handing it to the jury; but despite the argument… the facts simply didn’t exist to justify allowing the jury to consider the case. Even Defense Counsel approached me afterwards and said, “Chris, you’re a good lawyer. Compassionate. Intelligent. Passionate. This isn’t your fault. I’ve never seen substitute counsel get such an empty hand before.”

So… at least I’m respected in my profession by the people who know me, my time in private practice not withstanding. But the implications of all of this just… mess me up a bit. Because this was a jury trial. I was in 1 room with 54 people. Considering CDC guidelines would suggest NOT being indoors in the same room with more than TEN people… I consider that experience to be a potential “super spreader” moment. So I am social quarantining for the next 9 days to see if symptoms emerge. IN OTHER WORDS… because of a jury case that was literally unwinnable but forced by my boss… I have to forgo seeing friends, family, having children come over to play with Nala… conversing with adults other than Attorneys and Criminals… because of an absolutely terrible and amateurish case- my life is upended for the next 9 days. No cuddling, no hugging, no kissing, no sex, no physical contact with another soul! Not. Happy.

So that’s the jury trial. The night after all of that went down, I came home and was… surprised… that, though I’d set my In Home Temp at 68 degrees, the house read 65. I have a weird radiant heat system so I figured it just needed time to boot up.

THIS is the point in a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BOOK where you’d be offered a choice. (A) To hear about the nightmare caused by low temperatures turn to page 321; (B) To hear about the Radiant Heating Failure, turn to page 15. As this isn’t set up for that, I’ll finish the radiant heat element than discuss the dream.

I woke up and I felt FREEZING! Considering I have a not-that-small section of friends that call me Mr. Freeze due to how I do FAR better in cold than hot… that is TRULY alarming. Normal humans are “rather cold” at the temperature I typically set my house for my comfort… if I am cold, something is fatally wrong. I checked the thermostat… ten degrees below setting and falling. A CLEAR issue. I called for repair; wrapped myself in all of my blankets and long sleeve items/sweatpants… and laughed a little. Nancy knew me better than most people and was always perplexed why I would own anything long sleeved. After all, only extended periods of being outdoors would require me to feel cold and I had plenty of coats that could deal with that. THIS, then, is an excellent example of the differences between us. I always think “Consider the worst outcome, prepare to best it. Have back up plans. Survive and remain victorious.” Whereas she was far more the “Consider the status quo, prepare to preserve it. Cling to it. Survive by remaining in a relative level of comfort.” After many cold, cold hours, it was repaired but… BBRRRR.

So to the dream. According to my research, nightmares are more common in colder temperatures so there is every reason to simply ignore whatever dreams may have happened EXCEPT this was a variation on a recurring dream which suggests it a little more important.
The Recurring Dream was one that happened almost constantly prior to law school. I would be whatever age I actually was (25, 26, 27) but was required to re-take all of High School. At some point, the dream would spark massive panic and become a nightmare.
THIS version of the dream is similar but different enough that I interpret it as “similar inspiration, different meaning.” This time I was 36, with my law degree and career history, but I was back in college attempting to get a degree that would “actually help me.” The dream continued normally enough; making friends, developing crushes, going to class. Until towards the end of the dream, the women I had befriended all became vampires and attempted to take over the school and kill everyone.
Processing everything? It seems that this would be a “Starting over without Nancy means going back to College. That’s where you met, after all. But trying to make College Aged friends at your age? That’s a recipe for disaster. Hell, meeting people at ALL for you is a recipe for disaster considering how violent, manipulative, and downright destructive all of your past relationships have been!” At least, that’s my interpretation.

Lastly, I feel like I’ve been holding back a bit on something that is worth discussing and frankly, planted at the end of a longer concept seems a fair enough place to do so. I have loved having Victoria and Reums and their children visit. They have been a powerful and necessary reminder of friendship and humanity in these trying times. Recently, they have begun to bring their friend Essen and her three children over as well. And I find Essen to be incredibly intellectually stimulating; one of the most intelligent people I’ve met since law school. A fascinating individual with a lot on her mind and the education and intelligence to back it up. And yet? I have the distinct impression that Remus and Victoria have brought her over with designs (on some level) of her and I developing a relationship. And… I’m actually not conflicted about this. I have a lot of ME work to do still. Essen has a physically violent ex-husband and is going through a divorce of a mentally unbalanced and extremely emotionally abusive husband at present. She also has three children ages 3, 5, and 7. The fact that I don’t want to rush into this as a relationship tells me that I’m doing better with co-dependency. Because if anyone needed me, it would be this woman but… simply being needed and intellectually stimulated isn’t quite enough for me to consider romantic opportunities right now. This feels… healthy. So of course I find myself questioning it. Not whether I want it or whether it is healthy… but simply questioning myself. I want to be a father. I want to be with someone intelligent. Both of those would be checked off here. AND YET… I also want something more. Not just sexually attracted and not just emotionally connected and not just emotionally healthy. I want… more. I want a relationship that deeply matters to me that doesn’t rely (at the start, middle, or anywhere) on being needed, I’m reminded of something I would say often in High School when people saw that I wanted a girlfriend and would point girls out to me. “I want to be wanted, not needed.” And so… here I am. 36. Honestly wanting to be a dad someday… fascinated intellectually by this new friend… but certain that we shouldn’t be romantically involved. And it feels… odd. Like… who am I to want to be in a relationship and a Dad and yet reject this woman? And that thought process exposes a LOT about where I’ve been and where I am in relationships. This idea that, “If someone wants to be with you; or people think you should be together… you should give it a shot. Because it’s better than nothing.” That’s where I’ve been. But I clearly see me growing into “I don’t need to be like that. I don’t need to accept whatever comes along. I should trust myself.”

AND YET… there are dozens of people in my life that vehemently disagree with this perspective. Because they see it as either (a) me being too shallow and requiring a certain “level of beauty” that is “irrational and judgmental”; or (b) me being too picky in a time where I’m already feeling down about dating app failures; or (c) me succumbing to fear and finding convenient excuses to not put myself out there again. And then… take all of that… and add in some other things I’m hearing?? So… what I ultimately want at some point is an intelligent, emotionally healthy, attractive woman that would want to have a child with me. That… on paper… doesn’t seem impossible. But when you compare to my local area? That seems, apparently, bloody herculean. So some people that care about me are encouraging me to look into moving. If I can’t find what I want where I am, that’s motivation to go somewhere else. And yet… I’m the guy that moves for a job. You want to provide the means to care for myself, own a house, feed myself…, that is a reason to move. And even then ONLY in state as my law license is only good for Iowa. Moving in an attempt to better my chances of finding a romantic partner? That seems… like a risk not worth taking. Because… why move away from a support network, paying job, and home ownership in an effort to maybe, possibly, potentially, hopefully find a person that might be compatible and interested in me? But that feeds my whole.... thing. Like… there is what I want (a healthy relationship that leads to marriage and having a child together) … and what I’m willing to do to get it (work hard at my job, earn money, and try to see what I can find or experience). And if the current area is (and it is) very much “have all your babies before 30”… that… rather enhances my worries that… I’ll honestly just… never find what I’m looking for.

Rivercity October 03, 2020

Randomly speaking as someone who lived in Iowa City between '83 and '85--I don't think you have to leave Iowa to find a relationship. A city with a flagship university will always attract a whole lot of interesting and vibrant people. Des Moines will also. My thought (as an elderly rando) is that you should expand your online profile to include these large cities, if you haven't. I'm picturing you living somewhere around Pella, which I've visited often (because my mom is from there), and I'm sure there are many fun and intelligent people there, but, you know, maybe the ones you meet are all married, etc. I think you need to be prepared to drive to larger cities. Okay, I know, you didn't ask. Also, I appreciate very much hearing about the hard and important work you do.

caramelchicken October 03, 2020

What a shitshow that case you had to present was. I'm glad you're at least thst well respected for the defence to know you would never have put that to trial if it'd been yours from the start. Very odd of your boss to give that one to you.

Re Essen, or any woman who might be a potential to date. You do NOT need to justify why you don't want to date someone. A person could tick all your boxes on paper, but still not have that spark that attracts you to them romantically. And that's perfectly okay, there doesn't need to be anything 'wrong' with a person for you to decide you're not interested. With Essen specifically, it sounds like at the very least she'll need significant time to heal before she's ready for a healthy, reciprocal relationship of the kind you desire. You're not being shallow to not want to pursue things with her, you're being smart and pragmatic. She went from one abusive relationship to another, which indicates she has some significant self-work to do to ensure she can break that pattern. Similar to the self-work you've been doing. You're putting in the hard yards so you can be in an emotionally healthy space for a relationship, so you deserve the same in a partner.

And, well done for having made such progress re trusting yourself and not just jumping into the first opportunity that comes along! 💖

Always Laughing October 03, 2020

I fear I may never find what I'm looking for but have come to know it doesn't mean I should settle. Settling doesn't make you happy. I've figured that out. So don't concern yourself with how others judge your dating choices, they aren't walking in your shoes and don't know what will make you happy.
I can't believe your boss set that case up like that. At least it was recognized that you were substitute counsel.

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