Monday, January 31, 2005

Knit One, Purl Two

Loud protestations to the contrary, I think I’m going to start a new Harry Potter scarf. This one is going to be for me, and I’m rationalizing it by pointing up the fact that it will be in Ravenclaw colors, not Gryffindor. I figure if I start it now, I can pace it in between working on my “real” projects (Julio’s Snoopy scarf and sweater and fixing my Sweden sweater) and finish it just in time for the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. My big decision here is whether to use acrylic (as I used for the Gryffindor scarves) or wool. I’m leaning toward acrylic because it’s more washable and I have a bad habit of getting lipstick on my scarves. But then, a nice wool would be so warm and fluffy. Plus I’m doing a lot of work in acrylic right now and it’s getting boring.

I’m considering scrapping the Sweden sweater altogether. I just don’t like the way the yarn is working up with the sweater pattern. Plus I’m using a yarn that I bought on the clearance shelf and apparently there isn’t enough of it, which is strange because it’s actually far more than the pattern instructions call for. I’m planning to “fix” the problem by adding some color blocks in, but now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just rip the whole thing apart and try a different project. However, I have some hesitation because the silly sentimental side of me likes the idea of being able to wear a sweater that I (mostly) knitted during my epic Nordic Trek (plus Estonia and Germany). It’s like every time I see the sweater, it would trigger the memory of sitting in those low slung chairs, smelling the reindeer pelt on the floor and chatting with Luneray. But then, unfinished sleeves aside, the sweater is turning out so ugly that I can’t see myself actually wearing it.

Working On The Cure For Monolinguism

My current favorite Swedish phrase is “bada batsu”. I just like the way it sounds. “Bada batsu.” It sounds like a character from Hello Kitty.

Little Lotte Let Her Mind Wander

Julio and I saw The Phantom of the Opera yesterday. I really liked it—but then, I am a fan of musicals in general and I always loved The Phantom of the Opera in particular. Perhaps this is because I loved the book first, perhaps because it was at the height of its popularity during the time period when I was most involved in my dance and vocal training. When the movie was first announced, I was simply appalled. Most film versions of musicals are... not very good, at least in comparison to the stage production. I suppose this is only natural, for much the same reason that books are difficult to turn into an effective movie.

The movie was beautiful and the costumes were simply stunning. So many times I would see a dress or a swath of fabric or a curtain and I would think to myself “Oooo, I want some of that!”. (Of course, I thought the same thing every time Raul was on the screen...) The effects were good without being over the top. There were a few tweaks to the original score and libretto, but I thought they were well-conceived and nicely done. I really only have two beefs with the whole project—one major, one minor.

The first is the use of black-and-white “flashforward” scenes. The opening of The Phantom of the Opera is an auction of relics from the Opera Populaire, set some time in the future from the events of the story about to be told. Raul buys a music box and sings a few enigmatic lines about how the music box is exactly as “she” said it would be, then the auctioneer calls for Lot 666 (oooooo,spooky! Devil Number!): a chandelier in pieces that is rumored to be connected to the mysterious Phantom of the Opera, cue super-loud, overly electricized ALW overture.

The movie presents this scene in grainy black-and-white and I was all “Wow, what a cool staging of this scene”. When the overture begins, the movie slowly starts to morph to color and as the scene changes to color, the opera house morphs from broken down and cobwebby to opulent, glorious gold and velvet and marble. It’s incredibly cheesy, but so well-done and cool that you kind of have to love it anyway.

If they’d left it at that, I would have been well pleased. But no, Joel Schumacher has to keep coming back to it, sprinkling in several fairly confusing (and utterly useless)black and white scenes of Raul putting around Paris in his car looking tragically sad and lonely. And then he caps the movie with another of these scenes, which I suppose is supposed to be touching, but frankly made me giggle because it was the equivalent of the zombie hand shooting up out of the ground and made Julio whisper “Curses! Foiled again!” Never know when to leave well enough alone, do you Joel?

That was my minor beef. The major beef was the casting of the Phantom. He can’t sing, he’s too pretty, and he can’t act. The role calls for some serious tenor acrobatics and ol’ Gerard just doesn’t have the range. They kept changing the music to a lower key whenever he had to sing, which irritated the holy crap out of me. Julio said she didn’t notice it, so maybe this is not obvious to anyone who isn’t a veteran of a decade of strict voice teachers. And he’s totally good looking, to the point where, when he’s finally unmasked, you kind of think to yourself, “Well, that’s not so bad. I mean, yeah, it’s not great, but you really don’t need the mask. If people don’t love you for who you are, forget them.” It’s certainly not enough to cause the panic and mayhem the mere sight of his visage is supposed to inspire.

However, to counter that, Emmy Rossum is a divine Christine. Wonderful, expressive soprano voice. I heart her singing. Insanely gorgeous girl, too, which Joel takes full advantage of, eventually crossing the line with one too many lingering close-ups. But I’d rather have Emmy Rossum than Sarah Brightman any day, bar none. And Raul is so delicious you have to keep checking your chin for drool. Minnie Driver’s La Carlotta is hysterical and perfectly campy (in a good way).

I’ve been walking about since we left the theatre singing “Hear Romans now and tremble!”.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Just Like Dr. Dave

This guy didn't get admitted to any of the US medical schools, so he's going to St. George's University School of Medicine. This caught my eye not out of any ill-placed Schadenfreude, but because Julio and I used to joke with each other that we were going to ditch our "career plans" (such as they are) and apply to school here-- just so that we could run away to the tropics together while maintaining the facade of persuing a career. Our parents could proudly tell people "My daughter's in medical school" while we could really be sipping piña coladas on the beach. I realize that this is not likely to be the case for the real world attendees of the school, but it certainly provided a good escapist fantasy on those days when you went to school for seven hours, then straight to work for a ten hour shift, and came home knowing that you had less than seven hours to eat, do homework, and get some sleep before starting over again the next day.

I wonder what the law school equivalent of St. George's is? St. Thomas School of Law? University of Hawaii at Manoa? ABA accreditation is not available to any law school outside the US, and almost every state denies admission to the bar to people who have not attended an ABA accredited law school, so there isn't really a direct equivalent.

So, Luneray...

...What say we go to Iceland together this summer? My credit card issuer just raised my credit limit almost enough to pay for this...

Friday, January 28, 2005


Otherwise entitled "How I Wasted My Day (And Will Regret It Later)"

I hit the snooze alarm so many times that it stopped going off. This means that I went back to sleep and only got up at 10 because I had to go to the bathroom. Despite the later-than-expected start, I still had ambitious plans for the day. These included finishing the last of the dishes from the orgy of cooking that I indulged in on Tuesday night, continuation of my giant Clean Out The Closet project, reading of Copyright Law (seeing as I didn't do any of it this week), and shopping. I need a bunch of stupid little items: a can opener, a bottle brush, scrub pads, milk, hydrogen peroxide, pepto bismol, throat lozenges, lettuce, tomatoes, and a Valentine's Day card for Finbar. I also need to return one last item that I bought for a Christmas present and then changed my mind about, look for new sheets that cost less than $40 (and did I mention that I insist on a 300 thread count minimum?), and find the perfect black pumps.

I ate breakfast and drank my coffee at a leisurely pace, then I took a shower and got dressed. Then I thought to myself, "Meh. You don't have to have this stuff today." So I took my clothes off, put my PJs back on, and got a book-- notably, not one pertaining to my legal studies, curled up on the couch, and pulled a blanket over my legs. Later, I napped for an hour. Then I puttered around in the kitchen for a while. I cleaned out the fridge, but I did not do the dishes in the sink.

I also have not left the house. I didn't even go to the mailbox to get the mail because I could not bear the thought of leaving my nice warm binky to go out in that very cold wind for any reason short of a fire. And it would have had to be a very fierce fire.

In summary, I did NOTHING productive today. In fact, I went backwards-- I created more dishes that haven't been washed and I'm now another day further behind in my homework. You know, I used to be a highly-motivated person. In the immortal words of Adam Sandler, "What the hell happened to me?"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Another Cool Site

Found Photos

These are all pictures that people found somewhere (on the street, in a bus, between the pages of a used book, etc.). You can't help but wonder at the story behind some of them.

Ummm, Why Don't You Get A Room?

No, I'm not talking about PDA.

There's a new student group trying to get up and running here, which is cool. What is not cool is that they insist on having their meetings in the lounge section of the library. And then the leader gets his knickers all in a twist (didja like that little Britisicm, War?) because he wants to sit on the couches and there are people already sitting there.

Today, it was me. I have my laptop plugged in, my dinner and coffee on the table in front of me, and I'm happy. Here comes Norm (as I've just decided to call the leader of the group), and he's clearly unhappy to see me there. He comes up and tells me, "We're going to be crowding in here in a minute, so...", and pauses to let me say "Oh, sure, let me just get out of your way". But I'm not in the mood for this crap and there are no other open plugs in this part of the library, so I said, "So... you'll have to have your meeting around me. I'm plugged in here and not moving." He blinked a few times and then said "OK", because really, what else could he say?

There are so many other options for him to hold his little meeting. He could use one of the group study rooms. He could do what all of the other student organizations do and book a room through Facilities Management. At 4:30 on a Wednesday, I'm sure there's at least one open. Or, if he's dead-set on having it in the library lounge for whatever reason, HE COULD JUST MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM, where there are lots of open chairs (but no plugs, which is why I didn't just move over there).

This is the second week in a row they've come in here and disturbed me. Last week, I moved. As far as I'm concerned, there will be no further moving involved. He can just move his stupid meeting to a more appropriate venue.


I just randomly surfed onto my own blog via the "Next Blog" button. It weirded me out.

Soulless, Evil Goblin

I hear you talking, but all I hear is gobbledygook.

This Is More Like It

This is one of the things that I think make Professor Marbury such a great professor. We’re talking about the originality requirement for copyright and he’s using “Dogs Playing Poker” and a lawsuit involving a rap artist using the phrase “Back that Ass Up” (as opposed to “Back that Azz Up”—Apparently the first artist is OK with not having his works sold at Wal-Mart).

It takes what might otherwise be a very dry set of material and makes it entertaining. More importantly, he shows us how this is applicable in real life and in future legal practice from the very first class. Even when we’re talking about theory, he sprinkles in small examples of that theory in action.

I wish all of my professors were like him.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

And When They Got Home, There Was a Hook In The Door!

In Swedish, we're doing a unit on myths and legends. We've been reading a book called "När djävulen hoppade från kyrktornet" ("When the Devil Jumped From the Church Steeple"), which is very obviously aimed at the 13-15 year old set. Lots of jokes about urination and sex, but slightly (although only slightly-- this is, after all, Scandinavia)) veiled. I've actually really enjoyed reading these stories despite the urination and sex (I'm gunning for a huge number of hits on my blog. I figure a constant repetition of the phrase "urination and sex" will mislead a lot of people in here), because the stories are written in a very informal tone. I like having the chance to get a better feel for the way Swedes might talk at the dinner table (although I assume they aren't talking about urination and sex. But I suppose I don't really know.).

Today our assignment was to tell each other urban legends (vandringshistorier) in Swedish. It was like being back in Girl Scout camp, telling stories about Three-Fingered Willie. It's interesting how many of these stories are essentially the same from culture to culture.

My American readers will surely remember the Alvin Schwartz collections "Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark". These were some of my favorite books as a youngster. I loved the creepy drawings and the explanatory sections sprinkled in, giving a cursory explanation of the origins of certain legends. I think I'm going to bring my Swedish teacher my copies to borrow. She told us that she loves urban legends and has several books discussing them.

How Embarrassing

I just discovered an errant apostrophe. In my very own blog. Oh, the infamy!

Just Call Me Betty

As in "Crocker".

I have baked 3 dozen brownies and four dozen cookies tonight. The brownies are going to be phenomenal-- when I licked the beaters after everything was in the oven, the batter was screw-dinner-I'm-sticking-with-this good.

The cookies... I'm not so sure about.

The baked goods are for tomorrow's faculty luncheon, hosted by the public interest society in a blatant attempt to bribe the professors to give generously to the cause (i.e., our annual fundraising auction). A lot of people signed up to bring cookies and brownies. I figured that, trends being what they are, there will be at least one professor on some variant of the Atkins diet. Therefore, I bought low-carb cookie mix. Now, I have no experience whatsoever with low-carb cooking. I don't do diets, especially any diet that forbids entire classes of food.

When I went to bake, I found that the low-carb thing is accomplished by using almond flour instead of wheat flour. Therefore, I can't use my usual MO, which involves "jazzing up" mixes with different flavorings and spices. I made three batches of about 18 cookies each. The first was white, the second, red, and the third, green-- in keeping with the hawaiian luau (is there any other kind of luau?) theme for the auction. The first batch came out fine, judging soley on the appearance. the second was... okay. The third was horrible. The cookies fell apart as I tried to remove them from the baking sheets. I think I salvaged only a third to half of the batch.

The thing that has been insanely frustrating in working on this auction is the number of people who can't be bothered to lift a finger for the tiniest thing. This auction is our major fundraiser. This has been explained in painful detail to everyone in the public interest society. In fact, the main purpose of the group is to raise money to fund summer grants for students that accept unpaid public interest work. If we don't raise money, we don't fund grants. It's that simple. Adding even more incentive (at least, you'd think so) is the fact that the grants are given to the students at Our Law School with preference given to people who were active in the public interest society. In fact, most people join the group just to earn "brownie points" toward getting a grant.

There is very little asked of any individual member. We run a snack table and everyone is asked to sit at the table to sell the stuff 1 hour per week. It's not open at the end of the semester when everyone needs the time to study and write papers. This is not a major imposition, if you ask me. We also ask people to help stage the auction. This would be a major job if one person had to do everything herself, but if you spread the work among 30-40 members, it shouldn't be too onerous on any one person.

With that in mind, our sponsor list of over three hundred businesses was divided into lists of about 10 names each. LaPresidente, Masshole, and I set up, printed, assembled, and mailed all of the letters ourselves over winter break. We asked that every person in teh group take a list and call the people on it to follow up on the letters we sent out. Not hard. In fact, last year, we had a committee that did all of the follow up work, and I was on it. I called 40 or so people ALL BY MYSELF. It is truly not a lot to ask for someone to call 10 people. It shouldn't take more than 2 hours all together, even if you can't get some people right away. If you don't ask people, they conveniently "forget" or "lose" your letter and you don't get anything donated. Again, we didn't wait for people to figure this out on their own, we spelled it all out for them.

No one seems to be doing their calls. Scratch that: the usual couple of people who are working their asses off all the time are doing the work and the lazy ass people who got summer grants last year and are trying to weasel out of fulfulling the reciprocal obligation imposed by their acceptance of the grant are not making their calls. Donations are NOT coming in at the pace you might like. Last year, we received $4000 monetary donations from local law firms. This year, I think we've got $500.

And then there's the luncheon. There were three sign up lists at the last member meeting: one for coming to the luncheon to chat up the professors, one to bring 2 bottles of soda to the lunch, and one to bring some sort of dessert to the lunch. Everything else is being taken care of either by University Catering or by LaPresidente. On Monday, I took each list and sent emails to the people on that list as a reminder. And immediately started getting whiny emails from more weasels... I mean from fellow students. "I didn't sign up to do that" (uh, then why did you sign your name and email on the list?) "I don't want to bring the thing I signed up for" Well, then why did you put your name on the list? And my personal favorite, one of the aforementioned previous grant recipients, who does NOT do her table shift BTW, who finds it too onerous to bring the 2 bottles of soda she signed up for. When I emailed her back to tell her that we really, really needed her to bring it, she replied that IF she brought soda, she could only bring ONE bottle. What is that? There are, within a two block radius of Our Law School at least four places that I can think of where a person can take a nip over a short break to pick up two bottles of soda.

And you know that these are the people who will be first up when it comes time to apply for grants, all full of pure bovine excrement about their "sincere commitment to public interest work". As long as it is no inconvenience or trouble to their busy, busy schedule, I suppose.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I Love It

"Plant something good. Nurture it."

OK, I haven't read more than a few posts back, but I like what I see so far. But then, any blogger who says "Jesus didn't die on the cross so that I could be a dumbass." is all right by me.

I Have A New Goal In Life

So, instead of doing my homework like a good little law student, I watched a special about Niagara Falls on Travel Channel. There's something a little... odd about seeing a place with which you are very familiar on TV. The first couple episodes of The Amazing Race did this to me, especially the Berlin one. I've been to Niagara Falls more times than you can shake a stick at. In fact, I've been there so many times that we occasionally go just to shop or eat at a restaurant without ever going to the Falls themselves.

There were the usual segments about the Maid of the Mist boat tour (an absolute Must when you visit Niagara Falls), people going over the Falls in a barrel, and Niagara Falls as the honeymoon capital of the world. But I learned something new and very cool:

At night, the Falls are lit by colored lights (I knew this). The lights are not computerized (as I assumed they are). They are operated by a sort of keyboard. AND (and this is the really cool part), if you know the right people, you can get the chance to operate the lights! You pick the colors, you pick the order they go in, you press one button and POOF! the Bridal Veil Falls are blue! Press another and they turn purple and pink! Can you imagine how utterly fantastically awesome that would be?

The keyboard has a large warning sign above it that says:"WARNING! Do Not Look Directly Into Lights or Make Hand Signals!" The first part is good advice. Each individual light has the same light power (That's the technical term, you know) as the sun-- 65,000 whatever units. You would probably cause serious damage to your sight if you looked directly into the light. But the second part cracks me up. I immediately got this mental image of the MacKenzie Brothers making bunnies and doggies on the American Falls. "Take off, you hoser! That doesn't look like a dog, eh? This looks like a dog." "No way, that looks more like a... like a cruller. Yeah, a cruller that someone sat on!"

If I Might Be Serious For a Moment

This post is inspired by the comments to this post. And it’s going to be wishy-washy. I’m not likely to come to a proper conclusion. But it’s an interesting topic.

I remember when this referendum came up in Matt’s former home state. At that point, I was vehemently against it. You see, the secrecy requirement goes both ways. There are a number of birth parents whose parental rights were terminated for cause and others whose rights would have been terminated for cause had they not voluntarily surrendered those rights. And my birthmother is one of them.

How do I know this, what with all the secrecy and everything? Well, my sister is also my biological sister. And she tracked down our birthmother. There is a whole separate post possible for this topic, but the Cliff Notes version is that it was very traumatic for me in a way that I didn’t expect. You see, for me, my parents are the people who raised me. Period. I feel no particular tie to the people who contributed my DNA. I didn’t really care to meet either of them or find anything specific. I guess it’s because I never really felt like I was missing anything. Like I said, my parents are my parents. Period, end of story. Except that it’s not, when your sister is your sister is also your biological sister, and she feels like she’s missing something.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand adoptees who feel the way my sister did. And my (our) parents understood this, too. They never made us feel that searching for our biological parents would be a betrayal of our real parents. In fact, they were very open with us about being adopted and the always told us that, when the time came, they would do anything they could to help us search if we wanted to. So, it wasn’t a fear of hurting my parents that made me not want to meet my birth parents.

What upset me so much about the fact that my sister tracked down her (our) birthmother was that it took away my choice. By meeting my sister, she got to find out about me, whether I wanted her to or not. I felt so incredibly violated. Even now, 6 or 7 years later, I can remember the feeling of powerlessness so clearly that it makes my stomach roil. I had nightmares and anxiety attacks for months before and after the meeting (in which I did not take part. I still have not met our birthmother and do not plan to do so.).

And so, I think to myself, if I (who had nothing to “hide”) was so traumatized by being forced to meet my birthmother, however vicariously the meeting occurred, how horrible is it to expect a woman who gave up a baby for adoption, expecting to have her identity and location kept secret for whatever reason, to just up and reveal herself?

“But Katze!”, I hear you say, “What about getting your medical information? Surely this is so important that it justifies the invasion of the birth parents’ privacy!”

Well... I don’t know. Maybe.

I know that my PCP has a special sticker on my file, indicating that no family history is known and extra testing/screening is indicated. Knowing my genetic history might help to focus or even eliminate this extra screening. However, it might not. Forcing birth parents to file a medical history if the child they gave birth to requests it is not a very sensible solution, though. Putting aside issues of psychological damage or invasion of privacy, there are several downsides. There is no guarantee that the histories are accurate—and an inaccurate or incomplete medical history is just a useless as a blank one. The administration of the requirement would be burdensome on someone, probably the state. Who is going to pay for the costs of enforcement? Who will pay for the services of an investigator to find those biological parents who have moved or even left the state? What about people who give their baby up in a state that does not have such a requirement and then the child moves to a state that does have such a requirement? Can you imagine the number of court cases that would arise under such legislation? And guess who the burden of paying for the cost of those cases would fall to... that’s right, the state. Attorney fees aside, the state would need to pay the costs of maintaining the docket, paying the judges, the clerks, the bailiffs, the stenographers, etc., etc. And I think that it’s likely that, if the issue were pushed, the courts would eventually hold that, as in proceedings regarding the termination of parental rights, there is a right to court appointed (and state-paid) counsel.

And just in case anyone needs this to be pointed out, “the state” means “you” in the form of the taxes you pay.

Given the developments in technology, perhaps some kind of genetic testing would be preferable. Perhaps a test is (or will soon be) available that would be performed on the adoptee to see if there is a pre-disposition to certain diseases. Perhaps a test (such as is already performed on some parents whose families have a history of certain genetic diseases) would be done on the birthparents at the time of adoption (or at the time of the birth, just in case the birth parents decide not to show up for any future proceedings) and attached to the files at the adoption agency or to the birth certificate retained on record by the clerk of courts.

In our case, we were each given a 8 ½ x 11 page with a short summary of the known medical history at the time of our birth (“Your maternal grandmother was 61 years old at the time of your birth. She was diabetic, but otherwise healthy...” etc, etc). In my case, there was not much information because everyone was still quite young when I was born. In my sister’s case, there was a little more information on the maternal side, but nothing at all on the paternal side. As a child, my sister had numerous medical and mental health problems that defied diagnosis. We spent hours and hours in hospitals and doctors’ offices. There were psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors galore. Nothing seemed to help and no one seemed to be able to pinpoint a cause for her problems. My mother contacted the adoption agency that we came from (heh. Like the stork, but different...) to request an updated medical history and was shot down because she had no standing to make such a request. How crazy is that?

When my sister and parents started searching for our birthmother, they turned to just such a dual key registry as Matt proposes in his comment. My sister registered her name. If the birthmother also registered her name, the registry would notify both of them and they could be put in contact with each other. My parents also requested an updated medical history minus any identifying factors, should the birthmother not want to meet her or be contacted.

In meeting my(our) birthmother, we discovered almost nothing about family medical history, except that the birthmother had some problems verrrry similar to those my sister had. It turned out that between me and my sister, there was another sister who the birthmother kept. She came along for the visit (I have not met her either, but might consider it in the future, for reasons that I’ll come to in a moment). My sister met with the sister a few times after that and we learned some interesting things about the birthmother, including the fact that the birthmother eventually abandoned the other sister to be raised by her grandmother. We also learned that she tried to keep my sister, too, but was unable to care for her properly and eventually gave her up. There is some drama involving domestic violence and alcohol (or possibly drug use). In short, this woman’s parental rights would probably have been terminated eventually. I do not desire to have a relationship with her... so why should I have to?

And if I have a choice, why shouldn’t she?

You know how, at the end of a horror movie, you have the exhausted and bloodied heroes limping off into the sunrise after vanquishing the horrible monster to the pits of hell... and then the camera pans over to a shot of the hand of the supposedly vanquished monster breaking through the dirt on its grave, signaling that a sequel is in the offing?

Well, a few months after all of this happened, we got a call from the adoption agency. It seems that another “sibling” had contacted them, looking for information about his birth family and would we be willing to let him contact us? My sister agreed immediately, as did my parents (although he probably could have cared less about meeting them). My first reaction was to say no, for the same reasons that I didn’t want to meet the birthmother and the other sister. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the situations were not at all the same. This kid had no more choice about all of this than I. And if I’m going to stand here and say that I understand why other adoptees want to find their birth families, then I have to realize that it would be unnecessarily cruel to deny him the chance. So I agreed, on the conditions that a) he understand that I did not meet the birthmother, didn’t want to, and would not want to hear about her (should he meet her first) and b) we meet separately from my sister. I wanted him to meet me, not me and my family. I am very different from my family in some important ways and I wanted to make that clear.

One of the most common explanations that adoptees give for wanting to find their birth families is: “I just wanted to see someone who looks like me”. People who are not adopted generally take this for granted. You have your mother’s eyes or your father’s nose. Some people look eerily like a younger version of one parent or another. Or maybe you look like your grandmother did when she was your age. I never really felt this need. Maybe I’m strange or something, but there you have it. I don’t look like either of my parents, but I don’t look really dissimilar, either. If you didn’t know that I am adopted, you might think that I have my dad’s hair color and my mom’s body type. The eye color and skin tone might come from my mom’s dad.

Prior to meeting my “brother”, if I were forced to guess, I would have said that I probably look a lot like my birthmother. My sister and I have some very similar characteristics (although different hair, skin, and eye colors make us look more dissimilar than you might think), and we have different birth fathers. Plus, I know my birth father was blonde and had blue eyes, which is about as different from me as you can get. When I opened the front door to my apartment that night, I was floored. He looks exactly like me—except a lot taller. We have the same eyes—same shape, same color, same set. We have the same skin and hair color (ahem. That is, if I still had my natural hair color. Which I think I actually had at the time, for a change.) In taking that evening, it came out that we have similar medical issues with asthma and allergies. It was very, very strange for me to sit across the table from someone who looks exactly like me.

I disagree entirely with the premise that re-uniting adopted children and their birth families is desirable. It works in some cases. But in many cases, especially now, where the vast majority of domestic adoptions are older children—many of whom were involuntarily removed from the birthparents-- there are reasons why the birth parents were removed from the picture to begin with. And even beyond that, what happens to people who meet with differing expectations for the future? At the end of the evening, I told the “brother” that I didn’t expect us to start behaving like brother and sister, but that if he wanted to contact me again, I would like that, and if he never wanted to talk to me again, I would understand and would not be offended. But what if all I wanted was to meet once and he wanted to be my brother—with all that entails? What if, after being told “no”, he refused to take “no” for an answer?

It is my opinion that the current system, which in most states is one variant or another of the dual key system, while not perfect, is the best. This allows all parties to maintain their privacy if they so desire. After meeting with the “brother”, I allowed my name to be entered into the registry, but only for other siblings who had been adopted. We know that there is at least one more, but my mother suspects three more (based on her conversations with the other sister and the grandmother who raised her). So far, I haven’t been contacted by anyone else. I’m comfortable with being in the registry because I got to choose who could contact me and because I’ll be asked again if and when someone asks to contact me to see if I’m still willing to be contacted.

But, as with most of life, I may change my mind.


Friday, January 21, 2005

Things Change

Finbar just sent me this article. I want to cry.

You see, this is one of the only places left from our old haunts. The coffee shop where we met? Moved and changed so much that it may as well be gone. The restuarant where we had our first date? Technically still there, but also changed so substantially (and not for the better) that it may as well be gone. Vienna Cafe, where we went after dinner on our first date, where we shared one of the most romantic kisses of my life, where we went almost every weekend, where we used to sit on the patio to look at the stars-- shut down years ago. The pasta restaurant we used to walk to from the house he shared with SGD and Buddha? Replaced by a tacky sushi bar.

We can't walk down memory lane when we go back to visit my family because memory lane is gone. We used to go to Kaldi's late on Saturday nights to drink Irish Coffees and read the trashy vintage paperbacks on the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. No more...


Dragonbreath is graduating in May!!!!!

Or leaving. I don't know (or care)which. I overheard him telling someone else that he won't be here anymore after this semester.

Let the joyous news be spread!

Weapon of Mass Stupidity

The appearance of a white powdery substance throws this city into a raving panic. And no, I'm not talking about an envelope full of anthrax.

Whenever it snows, people here turn stoopid-- that's even stupider than just plain "stupid", just so you know. Wednesday morning, it started to snow during morning rush hour. Now, we're not talking about heavy lake-effect style snow. We're talking about flurries. Slightly heavy flurries, but flurries nonetheless. It quite literally brought the city to a standstill. I got the bus not long after the snow started and it must have been just in time. While my 15 minute commute turned into 35 minutes, there were several people who came in on the next bus and took more than an hour. I came skidding into class three or four minutes late, but it was okay because the professor wasn't there yet. And didn't show up at all. 30 minutes into the hour, the Dean Happy came in to let us know that class was cancelled. We were all like "Yeah, no duh. We're all only sitting here because we're plugged into the Ethernet connections. You didn't think we were still waiting for the professor, did you? Bwahhahahahahahaha!". Later that day, the professor sent us a letter to apologize for flaking out on us-- his commute in took two and a half hours. I can drive 2/3 of the way to The City of Light in that much time.

And it's not just that people can't drive in the snow. They also can't park. It's like they lose all ability to judge spatial relationships. How hard is it to park your car when you can still see the painted lines through the dusting of snow? I was ready to scream at the number of parking spaces that were unparkable because some moron pulled his SUV into a neighboring spot too crookedly and encroached on the second spot. In a city that has some of the fewest and most expensive parking spots per capita in this region of the country, this ought to be a criminal offense with some sort of horrible punishment attached.

The grand total snowfall for Wednesday came to a little more than 1/4 inch. 3-6 inches are forecast for this weekend. What will people do?? I'm going grocery shopping in a few minutes because I'm almost out of coffee and I don't want to deal with the crazies after work.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I Hope No One Ever Asks For a List of My Library Books

I'm currently reading "Stiff" by Mary Roach. This book got a lot of attention back when it came out and it sounded very good. I was, however, in the throes of my 1L year, so reading was the farthest thing from my mind-- even if I had had free time, I wasn't inclined to engage my brain during it. Yesterday I was talking to someone in front of the Commons Collection. The Commons Collection is a collection of "real" books kept in the Law School Library for the students to check out for leisure reading. This kind of cracks me up because frankly, we don't have a heck of a lot of free time. Plus the choices of books in the collection are a little bit...eclectic. "Stiff" was on the shelf with a biography of Lindbergh and a John Grisham novel (which, to me, is the funniest choice EVER. Grisham lost his charm for me ages ago because of the repetitive nature of his books, but now that I'm in law school, I absolutely CANNOT STAND to read him. I spend, like, 100 hours a week here. I don't need to go there in my reading, too.).

Anyway, "Stiff" is good, but not great. The author is clever, most of the time. The problem is that she thinks she's clever all of the time. And she occasionally veers a little over the line to be a little disrespectful, despite her constant assurances that she has nothing but the greatest respect for the people whose bodies she's talking about. However, the subject matter is fascinating. I'm currently reading a chapter on organ and tissue donation, in which she spends a great deal of time talkign about the centuries old debate over where the human soul is to be found. Her research is a little sloppy feeling, but the issues raised are food for good thought.

I've always told the people who would be responsible for making such a decision (my parents and soon, I guess, Finbar) after my death that I very strongly desire my organs and tissues to be donated. Take it all. Use as much as you can. I certainly won't be needing it anymore and I could care less what happens to it. If I can save a life or significantly improve the quality of someone's life, so much the better. Now, reading this book, I think I would expand that a little further to say that if my organs and tissues can't be dontated for whatever reason, give my body to anyone-- ANYONE-- who could put it to good use. Research labs, Medical Schools, The Body Farm, even the automotive industry-- anyone who could learn something by experimenting with the mortal flesh that I'm no longer living in that might, however indirectly, save a life later. I also support legislation, such as that recently proposed in Ohio, that would allow you to sign a donor card (revocable at any time during your life) that would be binding on your survivors. I've never understood why, if I during my life express a desire to donate my organs, going so far as to sign the donor card at the DMV and get it put on my license, my family can override that choice at the decisive moment. So much emphasis is placed on the need to make important decisions deliberately, yet we ask people in the throes of grief to make the choice. Isn't it better if I, in the calm of health, make that decision after deliberation?

It's Things Like This...

... that make me want to become a trial lawyer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Sometimes, I'm not too smart

I had some of the girls over for tea last night (aka, Gossipfest '05). We ate an insane amount of calories in very delicious and high fat forms and drank a LOT of tea. I bet I had two pots all by myself. I always forget that black tea has even more caffeine than coffee. And so, between trips to the bathroom and my irregular heartbeat, I hardly slept at all last night. Will I never learn???

Hey, Dami

You might like this blog:

A Canadian Gyopo's Diary

Remedial Potty Training

As regular readers know, I have a major pet peeve regarding the public toilets here at Our Law School. Today, following my personal philosophy, I was forced to dish out a little remedial potty training after I entered a bathroom stall immediately after another woman, only to find the seat drenched in urine. I immediately turned back and demanded that she "Come back here and clean up this mess." Sure enough, she turned bright red, but quickly wiped up her mess and flushed the toilet.

Well done, Grasshopper. Well done.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It’s cold. Oh my God, it is COLD. I’m not a very winter-y person to begin with. I don’t like snow and ice. And I especially hate this kind of cold. It’s insanely cold—the kind where you put on a thick wool sweater, your wool winter coat, a nice fluffy fleece hat, triple layer fleece gloves, the world’s warmest scarf (hand knit to be extra long in double layer from a nice wool/acrylic blend to make it washable), and thick soled shoes, and yet within 2 minutes of leaving your home, you’re frozen to the core. You clean off your car and let it warm up, yet the windshield immediately freezes over when you get in and start to drive, even though your defroster is going full blast.

The only good part of cold weather is that you get to wear a hat. I love hats and mourn the fact that we no longer wear hats as a matter of course. It just looks so much more elegant and polished. The proper hat can frame and flatter your face like nothing else. Fashion dictates aside, hats protect you from cold and from sun, the latter being especially important. I don’t know about you guys, but I never leave the house without sunscreen. Wearing a hat gives you even more protection, giving you the advantage of not only avoiding melanoma (and the attendant bothersome treatments and risk of dying), but also wrinkles and other blemishes derived from sun damage. I am convinced that one of the major reasons why I’m still getting carded nearly a decade after becoming “of age” is because I take very good care of my skin.[/public service lecture]

Anyway, the fact is that you generally only find cute hats for winter. I have several in differing styles. I’m not particularly concerned with making sure that everything (scarf, hat, gloves) is all matchy-matchy. Close totally counts. One of my hats is black with purple, blue, and white threads twisted around the edges, ending in a puff of the same fine threads. Another is a very dark indigo rolled brim hat. Julio tells me that I look British in it. Death tells me that I look like I’m off to a garden society party. But by far my favorite hat is what War calls my “joker hat”. It’s square, so when you put it on, it makes two little ear-like points. Each of those points ends in a short multi-colored tassel. Small flowers in the same colors as the tassels are embroidered across the part of the brim that hits your forehead. Finbar hates this hat, but everyone else I know loves it.

But let me tell you, when it gets this cold, wearing a cute hat is NOT compensation enough for crawling out from under the very warm feather bed this morning. I need to become independently wealthy so that I can just stay in bed on cold days like this. I guess the bright side (heh. no pun intended.) is that the sun has been shining all day long. I'm sitting facing the windows in the library to enjoy it as long as possible. Spring, come quickly! I can't wait to see you again!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Tool Time

I am not a handy person. Let that be clear from the start. But this weekend I:
1) set up and assembled a cordless drill
2) taught myself how to safely perform basic drilling
3) located and purchased a special set of masonry bit for the drill
4) taught myself how to insert said masonry bit
5) used the drill to attach a set of hooks to the brick wall of my solarium-- after my boyfriend was unable to do so.
6) hung my coats and jackets on the hooks. It works!

Next weekend, I think I'll learn how to use a circular saw.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Were You Raised In A Barn?

There are some people at Our Law School who I suspect of having an extra chromosome or two. Or perhaps they’re missing a couple, I don’t know. I’m just looking around the lunchroom and I’m here to tell you, not everyone here acts like they were part of one of the most selective group of applicants to be accepted at the school. They sure as heck don’t act like students at a first tier law school. So, here are a few tips:
- Don’t chew with your mouth open. There are maybe a hundred other people eating lunch here and I would wager that NOT ONE of them wants to see your lunch being masticated.
- If you walk through a door immediately before someone else, HOLD THE DOOR for them.
- The stairwells here are very narrow. Don’t try to walk up or down them two (or three) abreast, especially during the between class rush. You’re gumming up the works.
- It’s a library, not a social club. Be quiet. If you can’t be quiet, go outside.
- Flush the toilets. Don’t make me tell you again.
- If, when your class ends, the students from the next class come in and are waiting for your seat, that is not your cue to sit and have a leisurely chat. Pack your stuff and go. There are only ten minutes between classes and your professor already stole 3 or 4 of them from all of us by starting late. Many of us would like to put our stuff down and go to the bathroom before class begins. Others would simply like to have time to sit down, set up the laptop, and find their place in the case book before the lecture begins.
- Try, hard though it might be, to say “excuse me” if you bowl into someone in your rush to get to the refrigerator.
- Oh, and by the way, your momma don’t work here, so clean up after yourself, mkay?

Back to the Daily Grind

And we’re back into the swing of things already.

The new semester began two days ago. I’m here to tell you, I was N.O.T. ready to go back.

Back in the day, I was unemployed for several months. And I do mean unemployed—I couldn’t even get work waitressing. At first, having just left college after five years of working full-time (plus overtime, usually) while going to classes full-time, I was thrilled with the free time. It was like Heaven to sleep as late as I liked, watch TV or read for hours on end, go to the mall in the middle of the day, wear my PJs all day, and generally have no responsibility. For about a month, that is.

Money was part of the concern, but only part. I had saved a lot of money for the express purpose of making the interstate move that precipitated my unemployment. I knew that it might take awhile to find work—although I did NOT expect it to take three months—and had tried to prepare. The real problem here was that I was so bored I wanted to die. I taught myself to knit. I got a library card. I spent hours on end job hunting. But it simply wasn’t enough. By the time I finally did find work as a waitress (not, by the way, what I thought I would do with my degree), I was thrilled to death just to have something to do with my time. Of course, that exhilaration wore off somewhere around the time that my new boss spent 20 minutes screaming at me because I put the applesauce on the plate I was about to carry out of the kitchen before I picked the tray up from the window...

I am not at that point yet. I could use another week or two of sloth.

But here I am, dragging my sorry self out of bed by 6:30 (boo) and slogging my way through way more caselaw than I ever really wanted to read (boo). On the upside, this semester looks far more promising than last semester. I’ve had at least one class in each subject except my languages.

Copyright is looking good. The professor is just as good as I remember him from last year. His motto for our class is “We Rock.” This is because he likes to bring in movie and music clips for our examination.

Family Law is looking promising. LaPresidente says the professor is “cute”. Not as in hottie, as in pinch his little cheeks. He wears bowties and tells funny anecdotes. I’m withholding judgment until I decide if he’s funny or annoying. But I think it’ll be OK.

International Dispute Resolution, now that’s in a league all its own. It’s “hands-on”. There is a lot of role-playing involved. I’m not a huge fan of role-playing in class. But it could be good, I suppose. We did an exercise in negotiation that involved finding a win-win situation for two separate researchers, who need the same crop of fruit for major save-the-world-from-destruction projects. I had a great partner and we had a lot of fun with it, using crazy accents and inventing backstories for our characters. And we found the win-win solution, too (BONUS!), so that was successful. The problem is that there are an inordinate number of people in the class who I cannot stand. Including Skippy and International Law Girl. And there will be an insane about of group work. I’m verrrrry nervous about this.

Adoption Law will be very hard, both emotionally and academically. It’s taught by a professor I had last semester. I liked her very much, but would absolutely describe her as “One Tough Broad” (in the best possible sense of the phrase). When I got her exam, I wasn’t sure whether I should frame it as a work of are or cry because I could tell it was not going to go my way. And it totally didn’t—hello second “C” of my life!—but I absolutely earned that C. Mad Dog said about the exam that it was written in such a way that it showed an immense respect for both the subject matter and the students’ intellect. But damn, it was hard.

Anyway, Adoption Law is a seminar course, limited to 12 students and requiring the writing of a seminar paper. I need to come up with a topic for that pretty soon and am very worried about it. International adoption is out, because there is someone else in the class who already works in a firm doing that kind of work. There are lots of interesting areas, but most of it sounds like things that are going to be very difficult.

Readings and discussions are going to get my blood boiling almost every week. I have a very personal connection to these issues and I disagree with current case law in several respects. We began with readings on birth father rights, including the case of Baby Richard. I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, the fact that the birth father was absent through no fault of his own (and it really wasn’t his fault—the birth mother basically defrauded him and hid the kid from him) becomes irrelevant once the poor kid was placed with an adoptive family and allowed to bond with them. The trauma to the poor thing must have been immense. Can you imagine being four years old and being taken away from the only family you’ve ever known? No matter how much the person raising you after that loves you, no matter how many times they tell you it wasn’t your fault, it must leave deep scars. But it’s definitely going to be interesting.

The only courses that I have left are the languages. Yes, that’s plural. Because as of yesterday, I am enrolled in Spanish For Lawyers! On top of that, I’ve got another semester of Swedish (which I am totally stoked about, of course). Both courses meet on Thursday and I have no other classes that day. I imagine it’s going to feel like going back to undergrad for a day: nothing taught in English, and classes where my hard work spawns both a sense of accomplishment AND actual improvement. I see good grades in my future...

Lab Rat

I participated in a research study today. Like students everywhere, my finances are a wreck and the study paid $15 for less than ½ hour of work. There were no medications or medical treatments involved, though. The research study was being conducted by a Ph.D. student at Another Local University. He is studying how second and third year law students make legal decisions.

The study involved a hypothetical constitutional challenge. The claim, the evidence, the stautes involved, and the pleadings were given to you step by step, along with legislative history for the amendments at issue. As each piece of information was laid out for you, you were asked to answer questions like: “Based solely on intuition, which side do you think will prevail?”, “What are your thoughts on the relevance of Fake Case v. Made Up Evidence”, “Which piece of evidence weighed the strongest in your decision”, and “Dividing 100 points between the two parties, indicate the strength of each argument.”

It was actually kind of fun, in a sick law-school way. Like solving a puzzle. And for this, I got paid. It’s quite a racket, I tell you. The guy running the study told me that he is really struggling to get enough students to do the study. So, for those of you who are fellow inmates, I mean students, at Our Law School, take some time on Thursday to swing into Room 118 around midday, help out a hard working Ph.D student, and earn the easiest $15 you’ll ever get your hot little hands on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where's My Handbasket?

God forgive me, but “Tsunami Aid” sounds like the latest high sugar “sport drink” on the market.

Friday, January 07, 2005

P.S.-- Luneray

The IKEA shirt inspired so much jealousy over Christmas, I wasn't sure it would make it home with me. I think it's my new "travelling PJs".

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Post Holiday Lull

I hope all of you had good holidays. I spent mine with Finbar and his family and didn't check email or phone anyone for almost two weeks. Talk about a break from the everyday.

Anyway, I have stuff to post and it will be going up over the next few days. Most of it was written while slacking in the City of Light. Dial-up is a huge pain, so I may wait until I get back to school.

Product Warning Labels

I love the warning label on one of my Christmas gifts. It’s the “Boyfriend Replacement Chocolate Recovery Bath” and contains candles, soap,and bubble bath all scented like chocolate. The side of the box says:
The enclosed bath products, although chocolate-scented, are NOT food and cannot be ingested. DO NOT EAT.

I love that it uses the phrase “although chocolate-scented” in such a delicious way. And then, just in case you’re too stupid to either know what “ingest” means or look it up in the dictionary—and let’s face it, if you need the warning label, you probably ARE that stupid, it tells you in plain English “DO NOT EAT”.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Taking Stock

More money or less?
Less. A lot less. I’ve never had trouble paying my rent before.
Biggest way to waste time?
You’re reading it. Although there’s been a lot of reading stuff that didn’t exactly relate to my studies.
Best use of time?
UISS. Yeah, yeah, my Swedish improved and it was a great adventure. But more importantly, I met Luneray, which was well worth the 7,000 miles journey.
Best movie?
I’m not sure, but I think I didn’t see anything besides Harry Potter. Well, in the theater, anyway. But we did rent Dirty Pretty Things, which I loved (I think I’m about to develop an Audrey Tatou thing).
Listened to?
My usual (lots of what is sometimes called folk, sometimes called adult contemporary—see for more information, plus a healthy dose of classic rock), although I went on a Blood Sweat and Tears tear right after I got to Sweden, so that now every time I hear “God Bless the Child”, I am immediately transported to Uppsala in the rain.
Harry Potter in Swedish and German. More law books than you can shake a stick with. Comics (Mutts, Baby Blues, and Get Fuzzy), trashy Maeve Binchy novels, and a lot of other stuff with no redeeming value. Once I get through my assignments, I don’t want to engage my brain in any way. I haven’t read any “real” literature in ages.
Fatter or thinner?
Fatter. A lot fatter. Leading to my first ever New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Or at least get back into shape. I hate getting winded from a flight of stairs.
Smarter or stupider?
I don’t know. I feel stupider most of the time. But every once in a while, things click and I feel smart again. This is the real reason I’m taking Swedish. It makes me feel smart.
Best buy?
My curry-scented couches. Thanks, Craigslist!
Best bargain?
The dress from Filene’s. It’s the only thing I own that still makes me feel sexy despite my ever-growing arsch. And it cost $10.
Stupidest purchase?
The International Law textbook. I don’t think I ever actually opened it. What a waste of $96..
Drank the most?
Previous entry notwithstanding, coffee. Oh, sweet elixir of life!
Best drink?
The cheap coffee from the vending machine at the youth hostel in Reykjavík. I’m still having sensuous dreams about Alan Rickman serving me cups of that ambrosia.
Ate the most?
It was the year of the Brie.
Worst food eaten?
The horse lunch meat that I accidentally bought in Sweden. I don’t have a philosophical problem with eating horse—I figure if you eat meat, you can’t get picky about which animals it’s “OK” to slaughter for food—but it was very, very nasty tasting. If it had tasted good, I probably never would have figured out that it was horsemeat, seeing as it was called “Hamburger Kött”, leading me to believe it was beef when I bought it. I only discovered its origin because I was trying to figure out what part of a cow could taste so horrible.
Best food eaten?
I can’t decide! There was the poppyseed pastries in Munich, the pumpkin crème brulee, the goat cheese omlette at LaPresidente’s birthday brunch, the Vaniljdrömmar I scarfed in Uppsala, the cinnamon ice cream, Mrs. C’s lasagna... No wonder I’m so fat. I did nothing but eat all year.
New friends found?
Yes! The best part of the year—Luneray, LaPresidente, Masshole, Death, and the Naughty Nurse all entered my life in a meaningful way in 2004.
Old friends lost?
No, I don’t think so.
Resolutions not kept?
Yes. I still procrastinate like a mofo and get into a lot of trouble that way.
Missed chances?
Yes. I should have pursued that internship in Iceland. See previous answer for the underlying problem.
Failure. That’s not new, though.
Biggest success?
I kept my scholarships.
Biggest failure?
Civil Procedure.
Heathier or Sicker?
Despite a few health scares, mostly healthier. My asthma is under control, my allergies are under control, my TMJ is under control, my foot went back to its normal size... things are looking pretty good.
Best spontaneous fun?
Estonia. Talinn was more than I ever might have dreamed and who gets the chance to go to Estonia, anyway? OH! The answer to the “Best food eaten” question just came to me! It was the blueberry torte at Tristan & Isolde in Talinn!
Learned the most?
How very little I know and how not special my intellect is in the grand scheme of things. This is not a bad thing..
What I definitely don’t want to see in the next year?
Another set of courses and professors like this past semester.
TV puke?
Wow, so much to choose from! But anything from the reality TV genre fits the bill pretty well.
“Airline” and “Family Plots”. I love A&E.
Biggest change?
My attitude toward school and the future.
Biggest loss for mankind?
W’s re-election and the “War on Terror”.
Biggest Disappointment?
See above.