From the Desk of Steven N. Peskind

Monthly Memo #7

What's New at Work

Well, the world has reopened, and the predicted surge in new divorce filings has come true. New cases are pouring in. A good problem to have for a divorce lawyer.

While we continued to work our cases remotely during the lockdown, many lawyers viewed the lockdown as an extended vacation. Now they need to play catch up because their impatient clients are clawing at them to get to the finish line TODAY!

These sleepers are trying to squeeze three months of inactivity into three weeks, leading to long days for all of us.

Our family court judges have done a great job embracing the brave new world of COVID justice, but things are still somewhat anarchic. "Is that hearing at court or on Zoom?" "Where's the invite for the Zoom?" "What's the new protocol for scheduling?" etc.

For many lawyers, nerves are fraying, and chronic crabbiness is the result. Ugh! I need to keep meditating.

Procedural confusion, combined with broad cultural stress and uncertainty, makes for interesting times. I am ready for some boring normalcy, but I don't see that coming any time soon.

Non-Work Stuff

What I've been listening to nonstop.

I can't remember the last time I found myself listening to an album ceaselessly — maybe not since high school. In the last few weeks, I've had that experience again, with Bob Dylan's new album, "Rough and Rowdy Ways." It just always seems to be on—at home, on my way into the office, even while training. I've found myself steadily turning to it.

At 79, Dylan hasn't missed a beat. I've been thinking about creative inspiration a lot, and that causes me to marvel even more at how much he has produced over his career. Creative excellence clearly need not wither with age. Bob proves that.

The rhythm, the pacing, and the vibe are just great. He's almost rapping throughout the album, reminiscent in some ways of the early folky Bob. In particular, I like his songs "Black Rider" and "I Contain Multitudes" (tip of the hat to Walt Whitman). Listen to the album and let me know if you agree.

I am also listening to a jazz singer I just stumbled upon. The poet Billy Collins (another poet I admire) does a live daily Facebook reading and mini-lecture. There he turned me onto a singer by the name of Blossom Dearie. Her smooth style is a great contrast to Bob's gravel and growl.

Contrast always makes life interesting!

Writing

I continue to write daily. My new book is coming along, and I hope to have my first draft done by Labor Day. I also continue to work on blog posts and have resumed writing poetry. 

My Top Gun project is "zooming" along as well. Watch my interview of the great trial lawyer Anita Ventrelli, and read my blog about her illustrious career. She has been my friend and guru for years. 

Last month, I started working with writing teacher Ellen Fishbein. Ellen and I meet weekly, and I'm excited to work with such an accomplished writer. She is helping me improve both my writing and thinking. She is a poet and professional writer, as well as a teacher. Check her out here. Let me know if you notice a difference in my style over the next couple of months.

What I'm Reading

I am enjoying Ward Farnsworth's "Classic English Style." Mr. Farnsworth is the Dean of the University of Texas Law School, and this book is the third in his series on communication. His two prior books were on Metaphor and Rhetoric. Great resources. 

In this third installment of his trilogy, Farnsworth features Lincoln, Churchill, and other historical figures as models of good writing. Topics include the selection of words, the arrangement of a sentence, and the creation of a cadence. 

This book is interesting and informative and not a stuffy academic treatise. Four stars.

I'm also reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I knew very little about her until I listened to Tim Ferris' podcast interview of her.

I became smitten immediately. She is insightful, funny, and extremely bright. 

How do you find your creative inspiration? It's as simple as inviting it into your life, Gilbert advises. Making an earnest commitment opens the door to your muse. 

I just finished Mary Karr's book "The Art of Memoir." She is another of my literary crushes. Her prose is direct, fresh, and compelling. Her use of metaphor is amazing. 

Even if you're not inclined to write a memoir, this book is worth your time. Karr weaves her personal story throughout the book and uses it to illustrate the art of memoir. She is an accomplished memoirist and poet (and a hell of a writer). 

Next on the horizon: After reading Donna Tartt's article in the Sunday NY Times book review on Charles Portis, I ordered his most famous book, True Grit (yes, the source of the movie). I'll report next month. Read the Tartt article here.

Reflections

If you run away from something and it catches up to you, it will be 10x worse than if you just faced it head on from the start.” — Ed Latimore

We're at the very start of a long and poorly lit road. Accept the road, accept its length, and bring illumination. Fix the road as you go. Help those stranded by the roadside. Be patient with others -- and go easy on yourself. You're here for a reason.” — Jordan Furlong

Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” — Bruce Lee

Ok, that's it for me. Stay strong, everyone. I hope you have a great summer and stay safe. Reach out if you have a chance. I hope to hear from you. 

snpeskind@gmail.com • (630)444-0701