My favorite three messages of the evening have to do with inspiration. What inspires you? What inspiration do you draw from others? From yourself? What inspiration did Justice Sotomayor have to make her want to be a lawyer? And fight for fairness?
Were you the kind of kid who hid under the bed covers with a flashlight and read the Nancy Drew (or Hardy Boys) mysteries? I was. Jusice Sotomayor was. And interestingly enough so were Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and Laura Bush. Sotomayor loved Nancy Drew. She wanted to be a detective and solve crimes and save people just like Nancy Drew. Most of all she wanted to drive a hot little convertible like the little blue one Nancy drove so deftly.
One of my favorite stories of the night was Justice Sotomayor telling about the time she was driving her newly purchased convertible to upstate New York and got stopped and given a ticket. Her judicial colleagues were stunned to find out that she had not told the police officer that she was a judge. She said she would have been embarrassed to do that.
Her second inspiration came from Perry Mason. She discovered him when she was about 10. When she discovered she couldn’t be a detective like Nancy Drew (more on that later), she discovered that Perry Mason was like a detective, but he acted in the courtroom and that he solved crime after crime or elicited confession after confession from the “real” criminal. At 10 she decided that if she couldn’t be a detective, she would be a lawyer.
These two inspirations for her can be summed up by a facebook quote from Grace: ”Judge Sotomayor loved Nancy Drew books as a child…and watched Perry Mason. So turn that Disney princess stuff off already…” I Love it!
My favorite inspiration of the evening came early on in the speech but has staying power nonetheless. It can be summed up as – “you have to figure out how to give yourself a shot (figuratively and literally). Sotomayor discovered she had juvenile diabetes when she was seven and a half. Her father was an alcoholic and had a tremor; he gave her the first shot. You can only imagine what that must have been like watching a trembling hand holding a syringe full of insulin ready to plunge into your arm, while you are looking at it the whole time. The next morning her mother gave her the shot. Now her mother was a nurse, you’d think this was going to go better than the shot the night before. But that wasn’t the case. It was worse, far worse! Think arm raised like in a move out of the Hitchcock movie, Psycho; syringe raised with an outstretched arm, overhead and then plunging that syringe into your seven year old’s arm. You get the picture, and it isn’t pretty.
The part Sotomayor had to figure out and realize, then and there, at the age of seven and a half was that her parents weren’t capable of giving this shot on a daily basis to their child. She was going to have to take control of the situation, take responsibility for her management of the medicine. She had to learn how to give herself a shot of insulin every day for the rest of her life. As she said her mom would repeat later – “you were in control as far back as I can remember.” She managed to study, learn things, keep things going despite a disease that could derail or end your life. She learned early on that she needed her own inspiration and the she needed to learn how to give herself that daily shot of insulin, even if it did entail boiling water each time to sterilize the syringe. She was very adamant about the old adage that a watched pot never boils! She said she learned to get ready in the morning and come back to the pot when it was boiling. A good metaphor for a lot of things in life!
One of the most tragic things to come out of that diagnosis and treatment was a little pamphlet of information about diabetes – things you could do and things you couldn’t do. At the top of the things that you couldn’t do with diabetes was be a detective. Can you imagine the reaction of a seven year old child reading this? She was crushed. Her hopes trampled. She wanted to be like Nancy Drew, she had her heart set on becoming a detective. Now what? Enter Perry Mason a few years later and imagine how inspirational that would be at 10 to realize that you could be LIKE a detective even if you couldn’t actually BE a detective. That ambition stuck, she went to law school and became a lawyer – and some lawyer. One who sits on the Supreme Court. One who wants you to understand her reasoning even if you don’t agree with the outcome.
One last tidbit, Justice Sotomayor’s biggest worry in taking this appointment and standing for confirmation was that she would lose herself. She didn’t want to lose herself in the job as a justice. I don’t think she’s in danger of that, at all!
The audience was very reactive to the questions and the dialogue, breaking out into spontaneous cheering in many parts of the evening. I felt almost like I was back in Indiana at a Baptist revival. It was quite the experience. One I would highly recommend if you have the chance. I’m very grateful to my best friend Grace and her friend Stephanie for having secured me a ticket to this sold-out event, which housed the largest audience ever at the Fox Theater! I can see why, it was very inspirational!!!
Check out Part 1 for more information on the evening with Justice Sonia Sotomayor!
Check out Part 2 for more information on justice and meeting Justice Sonia Sotomayor!
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- Meeting a Supreme Court Justice - PractiGal on Meeting a Supreme Court Justice – Part 2
- Meeting a Supreme Court Justice - Part 2 - PractiGal on Meeting a Supreme Court Justice – Part 3
- Meeting a Supreme Court Justice - Part 3 - PractiGal on Meeting a Supreme Court Justice – Part 2
- Meeting a Supreme Court Justice - Part 3 - PractiGal on Meeting a Supreme Court Justice
- Meeting a Supreme Court Justice - Part 2 - PractiGal on Meeting a Supreme Court Justice