Sunday, March 5, 2006
Do students sometimes show up in your office with tales of woe that almost (or do) bring tears to your eyes? Dollars to donuts you haven't heard a story quite like this one . . .
"Reclaiming a Dream" is the name of the article on the last page of the March 2006 issue of California Lawyer. I guess I read it because of the author's unlikely first name.
This Cupcake is rather special, I discovered. Who is she? Well, during much of her life, these appellations were appropriate: "Dope fiend, gangsta, prostitute, crook, high schoold dropout, drunk."
You've heard the expression, "She had it all." Cupcake Brown had none of it.
What a life. According to a New York Times review of her recent book, "Ms. Brown describes discovering her mother's dead body as an 8-year-old. She traces every terrible thing that later happened back to this catastrophic loss. The man she called Daddy turned out not to be her biological father, and so he lost custody of Cupcake. The man she called Sperm Donor handed her over to foster care in California. Bounced from place to place, she was abused not only by Cinderella's wicked stepmother but by yet another father figure, a man who took her to the parking lot of a Kmart for sexual assignations at 12. She never made it to cheerleading practice."
After 14 years of working the streets, "You could see the imprint of my ribs — I was a size 1. I had no shoes. My hair was sticking up like Buckwheat. My lips were cracked and burnt from the crack pipe," Ms.Brown, 40, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was then that I realized that I was dying, and I didn't want to die like that."
Now, Cupcake Brown is referred to by her clients and judges before whom she appears as "counsel." As an antitrust litigator with one of the largest law firms in the country, Ms. Brown, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law, is not only a busy lawyer, but also a busy speaker.
Her memoir, A Piece of Cake, was published last month.
Cupcake? According to Oprah Winfrey's web site Ms. Brown's unlikely first name is the result of a nurse's misunderstanding of her mother's post-delivery request for a snack.
In the California Lawyer article, Ms. Brown writes, "The journey was well worth it. I tell my story openly on the chance that others will find hope and inspiration in it." Maybe some of your students will. (djt)