I think I finally struck a decent balance between trying to make a living and working on my writing. My friends have been sending me contract work as well as cases to handle on my own. The contract work does not pay very much, although it is a generous sum for what I am doing (i.e., brainless work). On the other hand, the cases pay quite well. On an hourly basis, I'm making more than double what I was paid as an associate. At the same time, the clients are paying far less than what they would for the same time were I at a big law firm. We're all happy.
I limit my legal work to part time and spend the rest of it interviewing, writing, and attending classes. I used to feel guilty signing up for a $500 class at Berkeley Extension, but now, I can pay for it with what I earn. One hand feeds the other. It's perfect. I am also so grateful to have the flexibility. This pregnancy has seriously slowed me down, and I feel relieved that I can take breaks when I feel overwhelmingly exhausted or nauseous.
This week so far has been fascinating. Over the weekend, I had a chance to interview Bobby Seale, who founded the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton. I went out to his house right off of MLK Way in Oakland, and he let me ask him questions non-stop. At first, he seemed suspicious and didn't make much eye contact. Within 30 minutes of the interview, he was up and about, gesticulating, re-enacting some of his memorable moments, and nudging me when he was making important points. What a charismatic man. An hour and a half later, I walked out with three books on the Black Panther Party.
Yesterday, I met with Yul Kwon, who won Survivor: Cook Island in 2006. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed him briefly for an article I was doing for KoreAm on an anthology of Asian American superheroes called Secret Identities (coming out in April). I thought it would be fun to talk to him more to find out what he's been up to since the show and blog about it on Kimchi Mamas. We met at Red Mango, a frozen yogurt franchise that he has invested in with two of his friends. He now has four stores in the Bay Area. We talked about his current life (he's getting married next month, and has been active in many non-profits and political events), parental expectations (his parents were mortified when he decided to do Survivor. His dad said, "What have I done to you? Why are you embarrassing the family?"), and what he's done with the prize money (not much. He hasn't bought himself anything except a car with over 100K miles on it. The most expensive thing he has bought since is the engagement ring).
I feel that every time I interview someone, I learn so much. On the whole, they have been so thoughtful about what they are doing with their lives, how they are spending their time, what kind of an impact they want to make. Talking to them takes me out of my way of thinking - and makes me question a lot of the assumptions I have come to accept as the norm. I have a lot of crusty beliefs to flake off.