Saturday, December 22, 2018

Blogging Love

By Eric Segall

Warning: More Facebooking than Blogging Ahead

I was trying to decide what my last blog post of the year would cover but everywhere I looked I saw gloom and doom. The Court, courts, Congress, our Anti-President, local politics, nothing happy to see. So, I decided to take on a happier, more personal topic. I’m sure some people reading this will justifiably find it self-indulgent muck. I’m hoping others might recognize some of the feelings expressed and feel just a tinge or mild glimmer of warmth and joy. My topic is love, big and small, obviously in ascending importance. 

I love sports. Watching a riveting NBA or NFL game takes me to my happy place. Judge Alex Kozinski (yes that guy) once lectured a bunch of us at dinner about the absurdity of fully formed adults rooting for other fully formed adults to beat other fully formed adults at silly contests. His monologue was riveting, but he failed to see what many of us feel and know. Like a good book or an excellent movie or play, the best sports events involve mini-human dramas, suspense, and twists and turns that bring out the best and the worst in the players, coaches, and yes fans.

But I also love playing sports. These days I’m limited to golf and tennis, but basketball was my true passion. I am vertically challenged with an absurdly limited jumping ability. Yet, somehow in my school and then intramural and pick-up games, rebounding was one of the things I did best, and the part of the game I loved the most. I was capable of sneaking in and around much taller and huskier folks and somehow grabbing the ball (on the way down of course). I admit I felt great pleasure when larger and stronger players would realize the ball was in my small hands and yell “Get That Little F#cker Off the Boards!”

I love sports.

I love my career, and for this, I am thankful every single day. The great John Hart Ely once said that being a law professor was an “unconscionably cushy job.” It is that, but so much more. 

I love teaching my students, writing about our non-court, Supreme Court, and being able to mix ideas with intellectual giants like Mike, while at the same time engaging with non-academic, but smart folks on radio and Twitter.

I do a lot of radio these days thanks to my dear friend Pete Dominick who gave me my start in that arena almost ten years ago. As his Court guy, as well as fairly-regular stints on other shows, I meet folks sometimes who actually tell me they are “huge fans.” I could pretend that this is not big deal, but it is. I can also honestly say that never, not one time in life, prior to about 2012, did I ever think I would have “fans.”

And then, a few days ago, a famous legal scholar tweeted favorable comments about my new book, which he said he was reading “on vacation.”

I love my job.

I love my friends. I do not have many casual friends for a host of reasons, the most important being I detest large parties and small talk. Give me a six-person dinner conversation, and I’m in heaven. The exception to this is my social media (mostly twitter) friendships/relationships. I have quite a few, they present different feelings, and I haven’t yet sorted it all out, but I do get pleasure from them.

I am truly blessed to have a small cadre of long-time intimate friends. You know who you are. They brighten my dark, support me in low times, and share my successes and joys. Since I was a teenager, I’ve known that often the best medicine for a dark day is a close friend, and mine come through.

I love my friends.

I love my children. I am the Father of/to three females (one woman, two girls) 27, 11, and 9. They provide life’s key moments. 

When my eldest was 4, and enjoying her first Halloween, even though it was 35 degrees and raining, and I was just a bit miserable, she turned to look at me through her mask and said, with all the sincerity there is in the world, “Dad, Halloween is the best day ever.” The night turned warm.

My younger daughters are growing up in a world where they get iPads at school, every movie ever made is within easy grasp, and privacy is a thing of the past. My eleven-year old regularly says things that appear to be well beyond her years. When I ask her “how do you know that,” she responds impatiently, “Dad, I read.”

A month ago, my nine-year-old threw a hissy fit about continuing piano lessons which she started recently. This happened 30 minutes before the teacher was supposed to arrive. My wife and I decided, together, that we should encourage (coerce) her to just continue through the end of the year. We were conflicted because our daughter really wanted to stop, but we also decided parenting is most of the time about tomorrow not today. She loved the lesson and hasn’t stopped practicing since. Best of all, we can tease her about this, and she gets it.

I love my children.

Most of all, I love my wife. I could throw out the normal clich├ęs about soul mates and one and onlyies, and they are true. Lynne isn’t perfect, and neither is our marriage, but she is everything I ever wanted in a partner. She is smart, kind, funny, talented, beautiful, and tough. Most of all, I get to be myself 100% of every minute of every day. Sometimes that requires sacrifice, and sometimes it requires patience, but mostly it just requires me to be me. Unlike sports, which can bring out the best and the worst in me, Lynne just brings out the best.

So, I dedicate this post to her. Even though I am my own guy, and not everything in my life runs through her, the reality is that most of what I do, as I said in my first book, is for, to, and because of Lynne.

Happy Holidays to one and all.


Unknown said...

Truly wonderful and what life is really all about - the people in our lives.

Shag from Brookline said...

While I enjoyed the entirety of this post, I would like to comment on Eric's skills in basketball as a short-statured rebounder that reflect upon his legal skills, particularly in his critiques of originalism. Over the years in my comments on his threads I have made references to originalists circling the wagons on his critiques, primarily at the Originalism Blog. Eric rebounds with even more critiques of originalism and the efforts at such circling replay, over and over. Eric continues his rebounding and as with his basketball foes I imagine the circling originalists thinking: “Get That Little F#cker Off the Boards!” I look forward to Eric's posts next year critiquing originalism.

Joe said...

Happy Holidays to all.

(clearly ES is taking a day off from being the blog curmudgeon.)

David Ricardo said...

It is difficult to respond to this post, which would lead a rational and normal person to refrain from making a response. But not being one of those persons, here goes.

One wonders if Mr. Segall is truly aware of the incredible position he finds his life in. He is not just a law professor, but the holder of an Endowed Chair. The result: unlike almost all other Americans, even the slightest bit of economic insecurity has been removed from his life. This is coupled with an income that while it may not place him in the top one tenth of one percent in the nation, certainly places him in a nearby neighborhood. His joy and optimism has a rational economic basis.

To argue that Mr. Segall's highly remunerative employment is full time is to deny reality, since in addition to his teaching he has the opportunity to engage in a substantial amount of opinionating (sic). This is not a criticism, in fact the public has huge benefits from his insight and analysis, at least the public that take the time to read him. But millions of Americans work two jobs just to make it in America, while he works maybe a half of one.

Mr. Segall, and those like him (which includes the author of this response) are completely isolated from the current problems facing the nation, and are immune from the damage the future may well bring. (Joe Queenan, writing in today's WSJ sums it up exactly, “Just because things are bad doesn't mean they can't get worse”). But they will not get worse for Mr. Segall or for those of us in similar circumstances. And no, we are not self-made men and women. Our lives are largely the result of the fantastic good luck.

So yes, Mr. Segall and those of us in similar situations have every right to feel the thoughts that he writes about because he (and we) have won the American Dream Lottery. But no one should take his post as applicable to the the huge majority of not just the U. S. but of the world, those who lead, in the words of the poet, “lives of quiet desperation”. It is hard to see, for example, how the family whose children were ripped from them at the southern border and placed in an inhumane 'child care center' or the accused beaten into confessing, or the 80 year old in a horrific unregulated nursing home, etc. would get much comfort from this post.

Eric Segall said...

Thank you whoever you are!

Eric Segall said...

Thanks Shag, you get me :)

Eric Segall said...

Totally fair and thoughtful.

Joe said...


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