Tag Archives: writing

Cleo

When I think back to my first serious attempts at writing, I wasn’t sitting down and writing a poem because I thought that I would get published; I was doing it because of that abstract, inexplicable urge to create, and the urge to find self-expression in this act of creation. Writing was the outlet that I would return to again and again to explain my life to myself, to take the maelstrom of ideas and emotions and create something ordered and tangible.

This freshly pressed post from Anna Spanos is great. I only just discovered her blog and my thoughts here are my own interpretations–they might be totally inaccurate. But then, I believe readers should be empowered to draw their own lessons, regardless of author intent, so I will forge blindly ahead.

For Spanos, the forced prioritization of busy mother/wife/middle-management-hood has had a counterintuitively freeing effect on her writing. As she eloquently puts it, she has by necessity eliminated the time she spent on less important things. She is no longer “handcuffed” to the time and effort spent considering the critical reception of her work. She has, at least momentarily, escaped the egoism that weighed down her art back when her art was the thing that defined her most.

Spanos’ post illuminates a tension in my own blogging project. An essential part of starting this blog was the desire to anchor myself back into my creativity. I started writing when I was in junior high and kept writing, prolifically, and all for the “inexplicable urge to create,” for years. Law school stopped all that. I like being an attorney and I find legal research and writing fulfilling in a way that many of my peers find bizarre, but it is the antithesis of the creativity I engaged in before law school. Law school was an oyster that treated my creative urges like a grain of sand. I know they are still there, they are still beautiful, but they are encased in an impenetrable shell at the moment.

Black pearl and its shell

Black pearl and its shell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first post-law-school blog was an attempt to dive back into my creativity, but it sputtered and died within a few weeks. It felt alternately too preachy and too frivolous. In this second endeavor, I’ve tried to craft an experiment with more structure and deeper roots. There are real, positive goals that I hope to accomplish here, goals that have nothing to do with anyone but myself. Goals that have a lot to do with “tak[ing] the maelstrom of ideas and emotions and creat[ing] something ordered and tangible.” Yet writing to get in touch with my own voice feels peurile. Like my disastrously melodramatic college Xanga account. So I hope that someone out there will find value and insight in my posts, if only to  ameliorate all the navel-gazing I do here. It’s a tension between self-conscious creation to help myself or others, and the purer, painful joy of creating because there is simply nothing else I can do.

For now, I hope that practice makes more perfect. I am the converse of Cleopatra–instead of dropping my pearl in vinegar, I’m dripping vinegar, post by post, onto my pearl, in an effort to methodically dissolve the shell of four years of exclusively professional writing.

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Wish on a Full Moon

Tonight I was driving home and noticed a huge full moon hanging low in the sky. I always try to take pictures of natural phenomena like this with my cell phone, and am always wholly dissatisfied with the result. Tonight I decided to take a few moments and bring my “real” camera out in an attempt to get a better record. By the time I made it out a few miles past the city lights, the moon had shrunk, but I still managed the shot below. As I sat on the hood of my car taking photographs and messing with the settings on my camera I began thinking about poetry. I used to write a lot of poetry; I miss it. Recently Natasha Tretheway, the U.S. Poet Laureate, had an interview on NPR and it reminded me how much. I came home and composed the verse below. Image and poem copyrighted by me, please ask permission before use.

Full Moon 01-27-13 8:00 PM

Wish on a Full Moon

Suddenly I recognize:

I don’t know the moon at all.

A wan reflected pall is the only face I’ve seen.

Was she understood by those who walked, in Teflon, on her skin?

Or shrouded still in mirrored shine that never entered in?

For uncounted generations, how like her we were.

Seen from space only by the absence or echo of other light.

But mankind remade the Earth, electrified and

independently visible through our fearless invention.

And as I come now into my own progress,

I hope for courage

to practice singularity over semblance,

to pass through this world showing only my own face.

 

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Dunkelbaaaaad.

This is the first of what I hope will be a growing number of posts on this site: brief analysis on current points of law. The topic in question here is the retrospective application of newly enacted statutes to cases begun prior to the effective date of those statutes. The jurisdiction is Oklahoma.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma, in an as-yet-unpublished opinion (Williams Companies Inc. v. Dunkelgood, 2012 OK 96), held that applying 85 O.S. sec. 340(D) (eff. 8/26/11) to a case accruing before the effective date “would allow the unconstitutional abrogation of an accrued right.” Williams Companies Inc., 2012 OK 96, par. 18. The accrued right at issue is the standard of review. The Court explained that “[g]enerally, a statute or its amendments will have only prospective effect unless it clearly provides otherwise.” Id. But the Court ignores the explicit language in 85 O.S. sec. 340(D), which renders the provision applicable “regardless of the date of injury.” If that language does not “clearly provide otherwise,” I’m not sure what does.

The Court explains “the standard of review…is determined as of the date of injury and is a substantive right which remains unaffected by later-enacted legislation, despite statutory language to the contrary.” Williams Companies Inc., 2012 OK 96, par. 18. The Court proclaims the standard of review a substantive right without explaining why this might be so. Moreover, the Court appears to have ignored relevant case law on this account: “Because section 3.6(C) is an amendment ‘in the nature of a directive’ to the appellate courts rather than an amendment affecting ‘the substance’ of a workers’ compensation claim, we find it is a change in the ‘mode of procedure’ subject to retrospective application.'” Mobile Mini, Inc. v. Dugger, 2011 OK CIV APP 31, par. 25. Mobile Mini is a Court of Appeals case and is not bindingly precedential, but it is persuasive and directly on point.  It is also directly contradicted by the Williams Companies opinion and to my mind WiIliams Companies ought to explicitly overrule it.

Could it be that no one brought Mobile Mini to the Court’s attention? It seems doubtful, but Williams Companies cites plenary other case law on the subject of retrospective application of workers’ compensation statutes (in Oklahoma we reform workers’ compensation a lot–something like five comprehensive overhauls in ten years). Why leave Mobile Mini out?

The procedural/substantive distinction is extremely significant in my line of work, where I argue for or against retrospective application of the most current statute every other day. I wish the Supreme Court of Oklahoma hadn’t played so fast and loose with declaring the standard of review “substantive.” I am virtually certain to be haunted by the lack of explanation here in the near future. I also wish the Supreme Court had tied up the loose end of Mobile Mini. It simply isn’t very persuasive to argue that a case has been overruled by not being mentioned when directly on point–but if it hasn’t been overruled, what is its status?