Monday, May 28, 2007

N.O.t Pun II: N.O.t Working Yet

I promise, this will be the last of the N.O.t-pun series. But, as is suggested by this N.O.t.-pun, I haven't started work yet. I start on Thursday. There will be an orientation and then, as one of my supervisors said, we'll "hit the ground running."

In the meantime, I've been busy alligator hunting and listening to CCR. Those are both lies, but I did get a snowball which is like a New Orleans snow cone. The difference is that snowballs are good and not only sold at the circus (is that a false childhood memory?).

My house and neighborhood rocks. Within a few blocks there are lots of independent businesses, bars, coffeehouses, dry cleaners, antique shops, and an inordinate number of chiropractors. But, being that I live in kind of a yuppy area (the Garden District, I think, though I'm not sure where the neighborhood borders lie), I'm sure the contrast between some of the areas PD clientèle live in and my neighborhood will be daunting. My neighborhood, to my knowledge, was not damaged by Katrina. This doesn't mean I feel guilty for living in the area I do. I find such guilt to generally be a neurotic way for people to feel like they are doing something when they aren't - like somehow the guilt itself contributes to society. That being said, when the contrast between my neighborhood and other neighborhoods becomes more apparent to me, some guilt may set in; hopefully guilt of the productive variety.

As time tends to do, it will tell.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

N.O.t. there yet

Hello readers and Student Hurricane Network supporters. And hello pro-hurricane spies. My name is Eric Sirota. I am the Vice President of the University of Illinois Law School’s Student Hurricane Network. I will be working for the New Orleans Public Defender this summer and keeping those who are interested posted through this blog.

I haven’t moved down to New Orleans yet, and I don’t know most of the details of my working situation. I know I’ll be shadowing an attorney. I know I’ll be working with other interns from around the country. I am looking forward to the task at hand, but I am a little apprehensive. One reason I am apprehensive is that I am scared that the system is too broken for me to be helpful. A second reason I am apprehensive is that, despite my strong liberal leanings, I sometimes have a bit of a ‘law and order’ mentality and may feel morally conflicted about my work with the PD. Another reason is more personal – I don’t really want to be a public defender for my career and am worried that going to New Orleans was an impractical life choice. Perhaps I should have tried to fulfill a more genuine aspiration this summer – perhaps by training to be a professional baseball player or by going to astronaut camp.

Apprehension aside, I am excited for the challenge that awaits and motivated to take it head on. Even though I have little interest in becoming a public defender, I decided to take the internship in New Orleans because I feel that, in the wake of hurricane Katrina (yes, this much later is still the wake, unfortunately), they need as much help as they can get. I went to New Orleans for a Student Hurricane Network thing through U of I last winter break, and it inspired me to want to help out more. In fact, it inspired me so much that I turned down two paying jobs to volunteer in New Orleans. I’m not saying that just to toot my own horn. Just kidding. I am saying that to toot my own horn.

But, having spent the last several years engaging in public interest jobs, I have realized that pride alone motivates me to go into public interest but does not help me be good at it. I was a teacher after college, largely priding myself on my desire to better the situation of the disadvantaged. However, pride made me become a teacher, but I was a bad teacher. Hopefully, I will be a better intern. Time will tell.

I will be living with another intern in the Garden District, near Tulane. I will be driving down to New Orleans in the next few days with Adam, my cousin and close friend. Adam wants to see Bourbon Street. Hopefully, he will be able to amuse himself there while I partake in the equally exciting task of shopping for linens…AND THINGS!

Cool. That’s all for now. I’ll keep ya’ll posted. Tune in.