Wow it’s been six months since I’ve checked in on this blog. I figured I’d give a bit of an update on what’s been going on.
Work has been very chill since May when our client decided to settle a big case. Since then I’ve been working a very manageable 30 hours a month, on average. It’s only now starting to ramp up due a new case. While the new case is still a complex case in federal court, the claims involve a new and unfamiliar practice area for me. It’s an interesting area of law (even though I got a B on the subject in law school) and I like being able to ask dumb questions and spend time learning the law, while still billing for my time.
I’m very happy with my decision to go back to part-time work. I can keep my mind busy, feel like I am solving problems, etc. while avoiding the typical hours and stress that many other lawyers must endure. Also I like that I can use my position as a disguise. To the outside world, I am an “Of Counsel” at a law firm. I don’t have to explain that I am taking a sabbatical as I had to in 2016 and 2017 or that I spend more time playing golf, working out, reading books, watching movies, or hanging out, than I do working. Or that when I do work, I am sitting on the couch in shorts from the comfort of home.
Life Outside of Work
Of course, I’ve been playing a lot of golf. When we first moved to San Diego, I was all over the place exploring different courses and areas. I have a regular rotation of courses now. We live pretty close to Torrey Pines so I play those courses pretty often, mostly out of convenience. I also play at Maderas and Mt. Woodson when I can for a change of scenery. Because I’m working, I can tell myself a round at the nicer courses only costs 0.3 or 0.4 hours of my time. If I wasn’t working, I’d probably just play at Mission Trails for $20 a round. It goes back to the abundance vs. scarcity mindset I mentioned earlier this year.
We also took a few trips this year. We’re still a little burnt out from our big trip in 2016 so nothing too crazy. We took a few trips to visit family and friends in various parts of California (as well as to attend work meetings), and went to Ireland for two weeks to attend a wedding. We’ve also hosted family and friends who visited us in San Diego.
We have both craved a little more social interaction since moving here. We should continue to make more of an effort to expand our local network in 2019. My wife has started to go to knitting/crafts meet ups. Most of my social interaction still takes place on the golf course, although I have been reaching out to former colleagues and clients who are in the area.
Personal Discipline and Motivation
One area where I feel like I’m slipping is personal discipline and motivation. I like it when I’m driven the pursue a goal, and for the past few months, everything has been going so smoothly on auto-pilot. I’m no longer in the mode of frantically and desperately trying to accumulate enough to take the leap to leave Biglaw. I end up giving myself a pass on things too easily.
A good example is physical fitness. I was pretty good in the summer when, during a typical week, I was playing three rounds of golf (walking two of them for about 5 miles a round), going to the gym once or twice, and playing tennis with my wife once or twice (for 45 minutes to an hour each time). Lately, I can’t muster the stamina to push myself at the gym. I usually prioritize golf so sometimes I’ll skip the gym if I’m walking a round the next day. Or if I manage to go, I’ll skip squats (a big weak point for me) or other intense lifts and do a lighter workout instead. As a result, I feel like I’m barely going through the motions. (Even just now, I walked out the door to go to the gym, felt a few raindrops, then turned around and settled back down on the couch to continue writing this post.) And as I’m getting older, I’m often tweaking my shoulders or knees, which makes it that much harder to keep up with a reasonable fitness regimen.
Another example is spending. I have found it easier to pull the trigger on spending lately, which is a little annoying. I still try to maintain a steady spending rate, but there’s no consequence if we spend a little more. Our spending chart looks like this: a high month, which prompts annoyance, followed by a low month, then reversion to another high month and so forth. Overall for this year, it’s probably fine.
But this will be a high-spending month. In addition to increased medical costs (see next section), I found myself succumbing to two promotions during Black Friday / Cyber Monday this year. I’ve been asking myself — am I taking advantage of these promotions or are advertisers and retailers taking advantage of me? I still don’t know, but I’m a little annoyed by how quickly I jumped on the promotions because they were available for “a limited time.” Of course, I’ve been able to justify each purchase, but it’s just so easy to buy stuff when there isn’t a greater cause that hangs in the balance.
The first purchase was a new golf bag — a $155 (after discount) Ping Traverse. I saw a 20% sale online for Cyber Monday and just pulled the trigger. I didn’t need a 14-divider cart bag. I have a two-year old 4-divider stand bag that I bought for $145 after we returned from our trip at the end of 2016. But that bag was annoying to use because my putter grip could barely fit and all the clubs sharing a slot would get tangled. I play pretty often so replacing a bag after 150 rounds isn’t a big deal. Plus, I play pretty often so dealing with an annoying bag is a big deal.
The second purchase was a new phone — the $799 Pixel 3. I’ve been using the same Nexus 5 phone for the past 5 years. It’s getting pretty old. The battery doesn’t hold a charge for a full day and it crashes every few days. Google had an offer where if you buy a phone and switch to their cellular plan, they will give you a travel rebate equal to the amount you paid for the phone, minus taxes. So I forked over $860 (IMO, a ridiculous amount for a phone) in exchange for a $799 travel rebate. I still think this is a good deal since we will definitely make full use of the rebate, but it incentivized me to go for a higher-priced phone than I normally would have purchased had there been no promotion.
I guess I’m just annoyed about spending over a grand in the span of a few days. Plus we have had a lot of medical costs due to . . .
Expected Addition to Our Family
The big news for us is that we’re expecting our first child in June! My wife just entered the second trimester so we have started telling friends and family. Because I’m posting anonymously, friends of this blog will hear about this news before many of our real-life friends whom we will see in person over the holidays. My wife had an NT ultrasound earlier this week and the doctor says the baby looks great (currently a wee 2.5 inches) with a strong heartbeat and it passed the Down Syndrome and trisomy 21 screenings.
Our insurance is of the high deductible variety so even though it allegedly covers pre-natal care, our doctor charges more than what our insurance is willing to pay, meaning we pay the difference. Plus, my wife had a rough first few weeks dealing with HG, which meant a few trips to urgent care for anti-nausea medication and rehydration. Fortunately, it seems the worst is behind us.
There also seems to be a big market for cord blood banking, genetic carrier screening, and other (in our view) extraneous and often unnecessary services that are definitely not covered by insurance. Our doctor initially tried to push these services on us, but backed off when we were pretty insistent that we weren’t interested. That was a little annoying. I’m sure doctors get kickbacks that they don’t disclose to patients.
Looking Forward to 2019
I feel like we are at the cusp of making an important transition in our lives. Due to the baby, we’ve started asking ourselves whether it’s time to stop being renters and start being owners. This simple question raises a host of psychological and financial issues. Perhaps this issue needs a post of its own to address.
Work has been getting busier lately, so it’s a good opportunity to focus on that for the next few weeks then roll through the holidays. I’ll try to post more often next year.
Until then, happy holidays to you and your families and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!