Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I Found the Sheep, Are the Rest of You Goats?

Sorting out the stack of grant applications is hard. There are not quite 30 of them. I’m supposed to rank them in order of preference on a scale of 1-5. Then, together with the rankings of the other committee members, the group will be narrowed to about 18 people who will be interviewed. So, my choices aren’t actually decisive or determinitive just yet, though they do have an impact.

The biggest relief for me is that I don’t know most of the people who applied that aren’t members of the public interest society, or at least I only know them by name. That makes it a bit easier to be impartial—and it means that I won’t have to feel guilty if a friend didn’t get a grant.

There were a group of 8 or so that were really good. I had some difficulty assigning rankings within the group, but it was clear that these were the top of the lot. Then there were four or five that were clearly the bottom of the lot—a couple where the proposed project isn’t public interest work, a couple where the applicant obviously spent less than 20 minutes on the application and didn’t make a very good case for getting a chunk of money from us, and one memorable one where the person is already getting paid a decent wage (or at least, a liveable wage) by the organization. That leaves me with a whole, whole bunch that are all about the same level of mediocre.

I’ve been evaluating these applications by relying heavily on the part of the application explaining why the proposed work is in the public interest. That’s gotten me as far as three groupings: Mother Theresa, Volunteering at a Soup Kitchen, and Writing a Check to the Local Women’s Shelter. All worthwhile endeavors, but involving differing levels of impact and commitment. Now I have to figure out how to rank within these groups. Preference is supposed to go to those who have been active in the public interest society and to 1Ls, so I’ll have to try and find some method along those lines.

The thing that really got my goat is that one of the applicants claimed credit in her statement of involvement in the public interest sociey and general volunteer work for a lot of things that I did. I mean, really! How retarded do you have to be to claim credit for something that a member of the committee did—you’re going to be found out as soon as the person reads your statement! Or maybe I should just plain be insulted—obviously, she must think I’m so stupid that I won’t notice. If I had my druthers, I would disqualify her from consideration immediately. I guess I’ll have to settle for ranking her near the bottom of the list.


This morning, I was getting dressed. I had not yet put my contact lenses in and had taken my glasses off to pull my shirt on, so my vision was not exactly 20/20. That's why I leaned in to see what the little yellow blob floating in front of my face was.

You know winter is almost over when the spiders start coming out.

So,I think it's time to haul out the Florida spider story. Two summers ago, three of my friends and I rented a car and spent almost a month driving down the East Coast from New York State to Orlando, Florida (chosen semi-randomly as the final stop because of a good, cheap flight back to Buffalo).

We spent three days or so in St. Augustine, Florida. We arrived at the hotel at maybe 10 o'clock or so after a full day of driving and two of the girls wandered off to "get ice" (read: "find cute guys") and the other girl and I collapsed on the floral bedspreads to soak in the AC. We were chatting away about something or other and I glanced over at her in the middle of a sentence, the way you do when you're having a lazy, slumber-party kind of conversation. That's when I saw it: the Biggest Spider Ever.

Now, I know, Australia gets lots of nasty horrible spiders that kill you in nasty ways. But I'm telling you, this was the star of a Mystery Science Theater episode where the featured film was titled "The Monster Spider That Ate Manhattan" or something. It was black and very hairy and larger than my hand.
Both friend and I are MAJOR arachniphobes. I jumped up, and quietly told her to "Get up and come over to this side of the room RIGHT NOW". Seeing the object of my terror once she arrived on my side of the room reduced her to frightened tears.
Now, we are both college educated women who at that point in time each lived alone in an apartment in the center of a larger city (I was in the process of moving to Buffalo when the trip started). We've killed roaches, dealt with would-be muggers, etc, as any woman living alone would. But there was no way either of us was about to do anything about THIS.

After a few minutes of "I'll give you $100.00 to kill it" "No, you kill it" "You know, if you kill it, you will be able to face anything that comes your way for the rest of your life-- think of it as a learning experience ", we decided to call the front desk.

The girl at the front desk almost peed her pants laughing at us, but offered to bring us a can of bug spray. Bug spray?? Is she kidding? This thing would survive a nuclear holocaust! Raid is soooo not going to cut it. Nonetheless, we accepted the offer, because frankly, we didn't have any better ideas. It took both of us at least 15 minutes of courage-gathering and pep-talking before one of us (and I honestly can't remember who) finally depressed the button, emitting a timid little psssssst of poison in the general direction of the spider.

This, of course, sent the spider into an eight-legged panic. It started running toward the opposite wall (incidentally, the wall with the door in it), we started squealing and trying to will our bodies to pass through the wall into the adjoining, presumably-spider-free hotel room. The freakish thing ran over the door and disappeared behind the sagging wallpaper border at the top of the wall. Behind it, I tell you!

We were standing there, unsure what to do, clutching the Raid like a horror movie heroine clutches the kitchen knife that she thinks is going to save her from the lunatic killer when the other girls walked through the door, unsuccessful in their quest to "get ice". At the sight of us in the corner, they froze in the doorway and we started screaming "No, don't stand there! Get over here! Get over here!" Did I mention that these two girls were German? They had NO CLUE what we were yelling about, as by this point, we were hardly making sense to ourselves, but they ran over to us. So now there were four twenty-somethings huddled together in the corner of a Days Inn, armed with a little red can of Raid, two of whom were crying hysterically.

We eventually got the point across to the other girls about what was happening, but none of us was brave enough to go and peek under the border to see where the spider had gone. We assumed there was a hole hidden under the paper and we convinced ourselves that that hole was not like a little cave where the Monster Spider That Ate Manhattan was lurking, waiting for us to walk out the door for a day at the beach only to jump out, falling upon us with terrible poisonous fangs, but rather that the little hole lead outside and that he'd gone outside where the people don't have cans of Raid to annoy him (because, really, we all know that Raid wasn't any real threat to the MSTAM, just a minor annoyance, like a truck belching diesel fumes in front of you on the highway).

When we returned the can of Raid to the front desk, the clerk grinned and said "Welcome to Florida!".

Just Deserts

Honesty is the best policy. Oh, and caveat emptor.

Be sure to read the follow up entries to get the full story on how it all went down. I have zero sympathy for Ms. Pahl. She's a liar and a cheat-- and a thief, too, since she never paid and doesn't seem to have had any intention of paying-- and I would have shown no mercy, had I been in Nate's place. In fact, I would have been in contact with the dean of the college immediately and followed through to make sure that the matter was dealt with. I'm sorry, but as a third year student, you should know better. I don't for a minute believe that she's just a "dumb kid who made a dumb mistake". It's people like this who make my college degree worth less with every passing day. If you're in college and you can't cut the work, YOU SHOULD NOT BE THERE.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sheep From the Goats

Apparently one of my duties as the incoming 3L President of the pubic interest society is to assist in the selection process for grants for this academic year. We’ve had a great deal of interest this year, far more than last year (and I think more than the year before that, but I wasn’t here, so I don’t know for sure). So first we’ll have to pare the applicants down for interviews. Sometime today, I’m supposed to get a packet of all applications for the grants to read through and evaluate.

I can hardly wait to read a bunch of essays from people who say things like “I think the public interest society is a great group. I really wish that I could help out, but I just have too much studying to do.” It won’t land on very sympathetic ears—I’m busy too, and so is every other member of the public interest society. There are people in the group who have jobs, who are married or who have children, plus manage to fit both studying and work in the public interest society into their schedule. Especially given the fact that there are lots of opportunities to give just a couple of hours of time to the group. And then there are the people who say things like “I am soooo dedicated to working in public interest law”, but have done zero volunteer work to back this up (including working with the public interest society, which, again, allows for people to give just a little bit of time).

I hope (and I would think, based on the amazing group of 1Ls who worked so hard with the public interest society this year) that there are going to be a sufficient number of good applicants with worthwhile projects to make the awarding of grants meaningful. I don’t think we should give out money just because we have money. I’d rather set some of it aside for funding an LRAP program or even just saving to award next year.

In the past, I was on the selection committee for a scholarship to study abroad. Every year, I was amazed at the quality of the applicants. Usually, there were 8 or 10 kids vying for 2 or 3 slots. One or two of them would normally be clearly not the right choice, and occasionally there would be one applicant who was far and away the best of the group. But one year, we had the opposite situation. Applications were down that year and the resulting pool for the interview was definitely sub-par. The deliberations at the end of the day were painful. There was only one student a majority of the committee felt comfortable awarding the scholarship. It was a great relief to learn that we were permitted to return the funds for the other two slots to the “pot. Because the scholarship was nationwide, but each state was responsible for selecting its own awardees, that meant that another deserving student would get the chance to participate in the program who would otherwise have been excluded for the bad luck of living in a state with better applicants.

This is how I think things should be. I guess we’ll find out how things are.

Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...

There is little in the world that is worse than the feeling of waking up in the night with a fever and a sore throat.

It came on quite suddenly. I felt fine all day yesterday, right up until later in the evening, when my sinuses were bothering me, but nothing too bad. I figured it was just the change in weather. It’s not the change in weather. My throat feels like it’s on fire, much worse than the usual “I’m-about-to-have-a-cold” sore throat. My head is pounding and every muscle in my back hurts. So why am I here instead of home in bed?

Because Our Law School has instituted an attendance policy. Each professor must pass an attendance sheet to be signed. If you miss more than 20% of your classes, you certify out, which means no grade, no credit, and a black mark on your transcript. And you can’t repeat the class later. OK, fine, you ‘re saying, this is a good reason to use your 20% and stay home. And you would be right. However, there is a hook: two of my classes meet fewer than 15 times. One meets 8 times, another 11. And both meet on Tuesday. And I’ve already missed one of each the last time I was sick. I could technically miss the second one more time (20% = 2.2 classes), but it meets immediately following the first, in which I have no further absences (20% = 1.6 classes). There is no distinction made for “excused” or “unexcused” absences, so it’s not like I could go to the student health center and get an excuse from the doctor.

This is a perfect example of why the attendance policy and it’s method of enforcement are ill-conceived.

Frankly, if you can skip classes and still pass the exam, then the professor is the one who should face consequences. And there are some classes here where attendance is nothing more than a formality. It’s a waste of my time and an insult to my intelligence. And for the rest of the classes, I would drag my butt in for class no matter how crappy I felt, just to be sure that I didn’t miss anything important. And I have, in fact, done this: last year, I came to class with pneumonia for two weeks before literally collapsing in the tub one morning. I would think that most of my classmates are similarly motivated—after all, this is a Tier 1 law school.

Furthermore, this is not high school or even undergraduate university/ college, it’s professional school. Mommy and daddy should not be looking over your shoulder to make sure you do what you’re supposed to do. If you can’t make it to class because you’re hung over on a regular basis, you’re not going to do well in class. And even if your law school decided that they wanted to pass you anyway, you are not going to get any such consideration when you take the bar exam. And given the fact that the legal profession carries an immense amount of responsibility—to yourself, to you clients, to society as a whole--- and is largely self-policing, I would think that the school would want to foster a sense of personal responsibility. I’m not convinced that this attendance policy serves that goal, and in fact, probably serves the opposite purpose by developing the habit of only showing up when someone makes you show up.

I am an adult. I wish to be treated as such. I’ve supported myself completely for a decade now, including paying for my entire undergraduate education and law school thus far. No one made me show up for class as an undergraduate—I did it because I cared about my education and because it was the best way to get full value for the thousands of dollars I spent on tuition and books. It seems odd to me that a higher level of personal responsibility was assumed and assigned for the years that I was an undergraduate student—one of several thousand on campus—than is currently allowed as a law student.

I would like to see a corollary requirement implemented that would require the professors to actually put something useful into their classes or be penalized. If more than 20% of your classes are poorly prepared, impart little to no information outside the reading, consist of unguided Socratic method (defined here as asking questions and letting the students ramble on for the full 50 minutes with no input as to which answers and opinions are on point or valid in the context of the lesson purported to be on the day’s plan), are almost entirely filled with your “war stories” instead of actual information, fail to conform to the syllabus (with allowance for reasonable and pre-announced adjustments to fit the pace of the students in the class—but no allowance for adjustments due to the failure of the professor to structure his lectures properly), or otherwise waste the students’ time, you will face sanctions. These could vary from remarks in your personnel file to loss of seniority, or even loss of tenure (for extreme and intractable offenders—a.k.a. Professor MacPherson). I could also get behind a proposal for disincentives to assign a casebook solely because you are one of the authors, especially if you are in the process of major revisions that will result in a new edition for the following semester, preventing students from being able to re-sell their (just released as a “new edition” at the beginning of the semester) casebooks—this means you, Professor Feedback!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bob Vila in the House?

Anyone here know anything about fixing a hole in drywall? A friend of mine accidentally knocked a hole in a bedroom wall and would like to fix it before the owner of the place finds out about it. The hole is probably about four or five inches across and three or four inches tall and irregularly shaped. It’s also right in the middle of the line of sight when you walk into the room, but very close to a window (and thank god it wasn’t three or four inches to the left!), so the resultant patch cannot be hidden with a picture or anything.

Hard Habit to Break

I am developing a terrible habit of chewing the inside of my bottom lip. I can’t seem to stop, no matter what I do. It’s clearly a stress-induced tic.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Update on the Health of the VAIO

It turns out that the VAIO was missing a vital organ necessary for proper recovery from its upcoming surgery. I had to order a set of recovery disks for the VAIO system direct from Sony—a set of disks that should have come with the laptop to begin with, but somehow did not end up in the box. This has delayed the surgery by a week.

The experience thus far has been quite frustrating. We began with DHL delivering the box from the Computer ICU (in which I am to ship the VAIO back for treatment) to an apartment building down the block, and marking the delivery as being “left at front door” of a house number that does not exist. If I had not had the brainstorm to check the only other multiunit apartment building on the street, I would probably still be waiting for the box to arrive. The buildings—especially and including mine—are very clearly marked over the doors with the street number in large black numbers, so there should have been no reason for confusion. This made me slightly squicky about allowing DHL to take custody of the laptop for fear that they would leave it “at front door” of some random address, gifting one of the neighborhood youth or some dishonest neighbor with a laptop.

Then I discovered that the proper paperwork had not been included with the box. When I called to request that paperwork be mailed to me, the representative suggested that I just send it back without the papers. Nice try, but I want the carbon copy for my records, you know, just in case the laptop goes missing and you idiots try to tell me that you never received it for repair.

Then I find out the about the missing disks. In addition to the financial outlay (which was not entirely cheap and galled me on principle), I had to wait for the stupid disks. In order to avoid using UPS (a.k.a. The Devil’s Delivery Service), I paid extra for expedited delivery. Lo and Behold, it was given to DHL. Given the fact that I was planning to be in the City of Light for the holiday and the fact that a signature would be required, I requested that it be delivered to Finbar’s place. The nice thing about paying the extra expedited delivery is that delivery was guaranteed by noon. That meant that I could wait to sign for the package and still have the whole afternoon for trawling the racks of the excellent Goodwill and AmVets in the City of Light for additions to my “professional wardrobe” (‘cause I’m going to work in D.C. this summer!!).


I sat through both ER re-runs on TNT and called Sony to find out what happened to the package. Sony informed me that the package was “left at front door”. Leaving aside the fact that it was supposed to be signature required, I was fairly certain that it wasn’t true, as I had been sitting facing the picture window facing out on the street and would most likely have noticed the approach of a large delivery truck. But just to be certain, I opened the front door. Nothing.

So I got the tracking number and the 800 number for DHL and called to see what they had to say about this little discrepancy. Well, was I sure that the package wasn’t left? Yes, I was, but here, let’s look again. Hmm… nothing in between the storm door and the front door, nothing in the bushes next to the door, nothing on the front steps, nothing hung on the doorknob, nothing in the mailbox (not that DHL should be delivering to a mailbox, anyway)… I’d say the package isn’t here. OK, we’ll radio the driver and have him pick the package back up from wherever he delivered it and bring it to the door for you.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Four times.

Finally, shortly before the clocks chimed three, DHL snuck in and left the package. Sony was nice enough to refund my extra fee for expediting and I hope they’ll be taking it up with DHL. But the thing is, now I am REALLY squicky about the fact that I am going to be entrusting these morons with my precious laptop. One mistake was human error (although a particularly stupid one), but two in the space of four days in two separate cities makes me wonder about the institutional practices of DHL as a carrier. I wish, more than anything, that I could change to Fed Ex. Unfortunately, I don’t get a say in the matter.

I might miss the daily phone calls to one or another of the four entities now involved in this process when the VAIO is finally returned to me, hopefully better than new. But I doubt it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Hail to the Chief

I was “elected” 3L President of the public interest society at Our Law School. “Elected” is in quotes because I ran unopposed and no actual balloting occurred. I’m thinking of it as practice for my ultimate career goal of becoming dictator of a small Latin American country (I considered France, but they have a history of doing nasty things to their dictators, whereas Latin American countries apparently venerate them and name currencies after them or allow geeky Brits to write musicals about them).

The elections for the other four offices were much more heated. There were numerous candidates for each office, which was phenomenal. It’s a good sign that so many of the current 1Ls care enough about the group that they would be willing to act as officers. And with one very notable exception, every one of the candidates was an excellent choice. Really, we could not have gone wrong, regardless of how the results had turned out. In the end, the people I’d secretly hoped for (and in fact, voted for) won by good margins. There was enough diversity of opinion to know that people took the elections seriously enough, but I was also relieved to see that the actual margins of victory were quite clear, such that the voting can’t be disputed. If we were part of the current administration, we would be declaring a “mandate”.

I’m very VERY excited about the fact that Miss Daisy Burpee will no longer be involved beyond the possibility that she might be a member of the society next year. Somehow, though, I doubt it. She could barely be bothered as an officer and there’s no chance that she could apply for a grant next year, so there’s no reason for her to pretend that she actually cares.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Professor Louis

I’ve said on numerous occasions of one professor or another at Our Law School, that he/she is a good person, but a terrible professor. This semester, I’ve had the distinct displeasure of experiencing the opposite: Professor Louis. A typical remark of his? “Divorce is expensive because it’s worth it.” Or how about “You must develop more devious minds”. And this is the man who not only teaches us Family Law, but also runs one of our clinics. He yells and has a very harsh speaking voice—very reminiscent of the old school tent revival preacher. Yes, the room is large and full of people, but there are microphones available for your use—nice, wireless ones. These will allow you to project your voice without needing to resort to this unpleasant vocal technique. But that’s not what gives me conniptions about him.

Professor Louis doesn’t like poor people.

It took me awhile to put a finger on this, but there it is. He makes small remarks in class on a continuous basis about money and how people spend it that are, taken individually, mildly annoying. Taken as a whole, they’re really quite offensive. It seems to me that he blames the poor for being poor. After all, they should just pull themselves up by their boot straps and get on with it, right? I wish that I had realized what exactly it was that was causing me such pain in his lectures earlier in the semester, so that I might have collected some specific examples of this.

I also hate that he tells stories and tries to act like they’re news items, gospel truth. Almost every class begins with me trying to suppress the urge to yell “Cite, please!” at him as he regales us with such gems as “A duck’s quack doesn’t echo”. He whines endlessly about how far behind we’ve gotten in the syllabus and keeps us late after every class. It makes me want to scream “If you would stick to the matter at hand, we wouldn’t BE this far behind!”

Music Induced Nostalgia

Today, Professor Marbury played several clips of music as examples in class today, all very entertaining. We heard the Destiny’s Child classic “Smells Like Teen Booty” and Eurotrash hit “Barbie Girl”, along with the always popular “Ice Ice Baby” (lamentably, class discussion did not touch on the infamous VH1 Behind the Music interview in which Vanilla attempts to deny the similarity between his song and David Bowie’s). Not all of it was painful, though: he also played the perfectly catchy JXL (I think that’s the right name) remake of the Elvis B-side “A Little Less Conversation” (which, incidentally, always reminds me of Lilo and Stitch even though I know perfectly well that it was on the Ocean’s Eleven soundtrack) and one of Finbar’s favorites, Cake’s remake of woman-scorned classic “I Will Survive”.

Whenever I hear Cake, I think of Finbar. It doesn’t matter which song it is—although some songs call up specific memories—anything by Cake makes me smile involuntarily. It’s a specific smile that one might call the “Finbar Smile”: a little bit softer than usual, more blush than usual in my cheeks, and a slight relaxation across my shoulders. It’s an expression that led my host mom to crow “Du glühst!” when I brought him “home” to meet them several years ago.

Finbar is an inveterate car dancer. One of our very first dates began with a wild freestyle interpretation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Luckily, I’m a car singer—too lazy for car dancing most of the time, but I can and do belt out everything from opera to Nirvana. If I show up at your doorstep with a hoarse voice after a long car ride, you can bet that I’ve probably got Patty Griffin or showtunes in the car. I don’t care if the windows are down and Finbar doesn’t car if it’s broad daylight, so we’re well-matched.

Cake seems to bring out the master car dancer in him.

Just a few notes and my mind’s eye is filled with the visual of Finbar, dark sunglasses and hair, singing “He’s going the distance! He’s going for speeeeed!” And then there’s the time we were on our way back to Fatboy’s house after a hot Kroger date and it was dark and humid, the sun finally dipping below the horizon after a long summer day and the dark notes of “Sheep Go to Heaven” filled my car, sitting there at the red light, waiting to take off down the road. Even for those songs with no specific memory attached, the sound of John McCrea's voice immediately calls to mind the mischievous grin Finbar gets when he’s about to break into an especially wild bit of car dancing. Perhaps there’s something a little bit odd about me, but I find this particularly charming.

Proper Car Maintenance 101

If one of your headlights burns out, turning on your brights is not an acceptable substitute.

I’ve never seen so many people do this as in Our Fair City. Is there something in the air here that renders one headlight incapable of performance in at least 30% of the cars on the road? And something in the water that makes people think that blinding their fellow drivers is the ingenious solution to this problem? I mean, yeah, turning on your brights makes a light come on in the “broken” headlight. But it makes the normally-functioning headlight strong enough to generate heat, blinding the oncoming drivers as well as the cars unfortunate enough to be in front of you. A new headlight costs maybe $10 or $15, and it’s so simple to install that I’ve done it myself with no tools other than a couple of screwdrivers. Get thee to Auto Zone or Walmart—open 24 hours out here on the east side of town!—and fix your headlight! Stop endangering others on the road just because you’re lazy and/ or inconsiderate. If you’re on your way to fix the disobedient headlight, don’t bother to turn on your brights unless it would be appropriate to use your brights on an independent basis (that is, if both headlights were operating normally and you would turn on your brights, have at it). If you are on a city street, especially one well-travelled by others, you will have sufficient light to find your way to Autozone or Walmart or wherever, and your single functioning headlight plus the orange foglights will be sufficient to alert others to your presence. No need to be an inconsiderate git.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Let The Light Shine In

You should drop everything and read Andrew Sullivan's column in this week's issue of Time. Regardless of how you feel about Rich Warren and his book, this column offers a surprisingly touching view of the Brian Nichols drama. But it is the Leonard Cohen quote at the end that was my undoing-- and maybe just the medicine the Doctor would order for me, drowning as I am lately in things that are going wrong or that are just plain hard-going:

"Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
It's how the light gets in"



The computer lab I'm sitting in right now smells very strongly of that white powdered soap they used to have in public restrooms. I wonder why?

For Your Easter Enjoyment

Peeps Re-enact Famous Scenes In Rock-and-Roll I especially like Sgt. Peepers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Woodstock (Three Days of Peeps and Music).

Learn all about the medical and social issues of Peeps

Peep Fighting, in which Peeps engage in gang fights AND jousting. Sick and demented, in the best possible sense!

Peeps in Space!

Peep Haiku

Fellowship of the Peep

And last, but not least: Where's the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch when you need it?

Interesting Fact

Sweden has the highest per capita rate of intercountry adoptions in the world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


"I can't watch the Ten Commandments anymore because whenever I see Charlton Heston, I think 'gun-toting Moses'"

Heh. Gun-toting Moses.

As Entertaining As It Is listen to this long, rambling anecdote-- which you are presenting as gospel fact, when it sounds suspiciously like an urban legend to me-- and listen to you laugh at your own cleverness in telling it, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FAMILY LAW??? If you can't stick to the subject at hand, then please, for the love of all that is holy, don't keep the class late to ensure that you cover the material.

Chock Full of Surprises

That's me:
Apparently, I am 100% Orthodox Quaker.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Now If Only I Knew What The Reason For THIS Is

The motherboard on my dear, beloved laptop is wonky. It must go into the Sony ICU for emergency surgery. It is expected to make a good recovery, but will likely suffer a complete and irreversible amnesia.

In other words, my entire semester's work is G.O.N.E.

Blogging will likely be either a) very sparse as I no longer have access to Internet during class, especially Family Law (a.k.a. Please Kill Me Now) or b) much more prolific than usual, as I no longer have access to Internet during class.

Finbar is letting me borrow his old laptop. It's about 9 years old, I believe. It weighs about 80 lbs and runs Windows 95. I tried to update the IE version and I can't because Microsoft no longer supports Windows 95. So I tried to download Firefox, but I can't because there isn't enough memory. It's better than no laptop at all and I can get dial up on it at home (which is excruciatingly slow, given the processor speed and all), so I've got back up, at least. But I cannot WAIT forthe VAIO to be released from the hospital and come home to mama.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Things Happen For a Reason

I came in this morning a little early to work on some things. Because I have to much to carry, I didn't bring my coffee with me. I planned to buy the Big Gulp version at one of the on campus vendors and carry it to the nearest worktable. Usually, if I buy coffee (which doesn't happen often), I go up and buy it from the coffee cart in the library. The woman who runs the coffee cart is like the law school mama. She fusses over us and takes care of us like a mother hen. There are some days when you go to the coffee cart just to get a little love. But today, I decided to stop elsewhere-- the coffee cart inside the dorm to be exact.

Not that I live in the dorms. The lobby area is more of a thouroughfare. The Law School is on a one way street and these dorms are bordered on the east by that one way street and on the west by another one way street running in the opposite direction. My bus lets off on this street in the morning, so I always walk through the lobby of the dorms to cross the street for the law school. There is a little coffee cart just to the side of the lobby doors and it's usually staffed by people who are too busy having a conversation about where they went drinking last night to take your order.

Today, however, while waiting for the young man behind the counter to pour my coffee, I noticed that the book from which he had been reading prior to my arrival was in German. So of course, I had to start: "Lernst du Deutsch?" (Are you studying/learning German?). He did the double take. Finbar and Julia know what I mean. And so we launched into conversation. His German was really quite good-- great grammar and a passable accent. People wouldn't be distracted by the "amercian-ness" of it, although they wouldn't be fooled into thinking he's German, either. It was really nice to have a chance to stretch my long un-used German muscles.

Of course, it didn't occur to me to, you know, see if he'd be interested in meeting for coffee and conversation, either. Or to ask if there's a "German Club" on campus that I just don't know about. If I get time later, maybe I'll go back over and see if he's still there. And even if he's not down with a little Deutschstunde, at least I got a fun start to my morning. It's always good to be reminded of something that you're competent in-- makes a nice contrast to law school.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Maybe He Reads My Blog

For the first time all year, Nascar Boy did not wear GOP gear to class. He wore—and I swear I am not making this up!—a Nascar t-shirt.

Yes, a Nascar shirt.

Remember when Crayola came out with fluorescent crayons in the 80’s? They came in little boxes with six colors: neon green, chartreuse, electric blue, fluorescent orange, a magenta-ish color and fluorescent red. His shirt was entirely composed of fluorescent red and fluorescent orange with some black shadowing. And flames. Lots of flames. A thing of the most extreme class and beauty. I think they should make it the new Law School uniform.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Joys of Apartment Living

The woman who lives on the first floor of my building came home last night around midnight and proceeded to get into a screaming fight with her boyfriend in the hallway. It was obvious that she was very drunk. In fact, this is not the first time that she's treated the other tenants to a bout of drunk screaming in the halls, but usually it's her and her girlfriends traisping in and out to smoke on the stoop. They get locked out and instead of ringing her bell, they pound on the door until one of the other drunks notices them, then when they get let in, they have a 10 minute conversation (at the top of their lungs, because they're drunk and can't tell they're yelling) about how they can't believe they got locked out, giggle giggle.

Last night, however, she was NOT a happy drunk. She alternated between sobbing hysterically and screaming in fury, while the boyfriend argued back and tried to comfort her at the same time (also at the top of his lungs). The gist of the argument? He must have taken her to task in the car on the way home from wherever they'd been for getting drunk and dropping the f-bomb in front of his grandparents numerous times. She did not see this as a problem. Plus, HE MAKES HER FEEL SAD. She's NEVER been so MISERABLE as she is when she's with him. She doesn't LIKE him. It went on like this for maybe 20 minutes. Frankly, I was surprised that none of the other tenants had popped their heads out to say "Shut up!". I was busy trawling Craigslist for an apartment in Bethesda (no luck yet), so I couldn't be bothered at first. When I opened my door as a prelude to politely requesting them to take their domestic dispute behind closed doors, they went into her apartment and I couldn't hear them anymore.

I just came back from grocery shopping and there was a gigantic bouquet of yellow roses in front of her door.

Personally, I would have dumped her drunk butt, not sent her an "apology" of expensive flowers. Of course, we can never know what happens between another couple, so maybe my judgment is a little too hasty. But I am here to tell you: when your girlfriend repeatedly gets stupid drunk and doesn't see that there's a problem with dropping the f-bomb in front of your grandparents at what sounded like some posh family gathering (like an anniversary party or a wedding reception, I couldn't tell which), then tells you that YOU AREN'T EVEN A NICE MAN, that's your sign to re-evaluate your relationship and its future.

I can't wait to own my own home.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Old Maid

I am not exactly a fan of the reality TV genre. I was living abroad when Survivor first started and never got swept up in that whole thing. I don't enjoy watching people be mean to each other or stab each other in the back. I don't like watching someone humiliate themselves. However, I did love "The Mole" when it was on, and I occasionally watch "The Amazing Race" (although usually only when they're going to a country I'm interested in).

The "Bachelor"/ "Bachelorette" series is, to me, a perfect example of what is wrong with Reality TV. People cannot possibly hope to have a relationship with each other based on the superficial mating ritual that takes place in front of the camera. And women, we do not need to be cruel to each other just to have some guy pick us over someone else. Nor do we need to whore ourselves-- quite literally (Have you no self respect??) in some cases-- to ensure that some guy doesn't choose someone else; if a guy is picking and choosing on that basis, he doesn't seem to be much of a catch to me. The world is not going to come to a crashing halt because you aren't married by 30.

So I was tickled to read in Time this week that the latest Bachelorette chose no one. Turned down every one of the bachelor boys. Apparently she is being excoriated for this on the internet. Even the New York times apparently called her "curdled" and "deranged".

What, because she refused to accept less than Mr. Right? Because she dared to say "I'm not that desperate"? Because she decided that it was better to be single than to "get engaged" (or whatever it is that happens at the end of "The Bachelorette"-- isn't there a ring involved somewhere?) to someone who just wasn't the right person for her?

What is wrong with being a single woman? Maybe I have no right to talk on this subject. After all, I am very happy with Finbar; I'm not single now, haven't been single in over eight years now, and I certainly don't plan to be single any time in the near future. But what it comes down to is this: I am a person complete in myself and so are you. If you aren't, then you shouldn't be dating anyway until you find whatever is missing in you to become a complete person in yourself.

A dear friend of mine desperately needs this advice. She's much younger than I am-- in fact, she is my youngest friend, even younger than War. When she is between boyfriends, she is an intelligent and funny person with drive and ambition to spare. When she gets seriously involved with a guy, she saves those traits for the time that she spends with him. He can do no wrong. His interests become her interests. When he's not around, she spends all of her time on IM and can't be bothered to go out with the girls or to just sit and have a good heart-to-heart. Her whole identity becomes wrapped up in being "Eric's Girlfriend" or whoever the current paramour is.

I used to write it off as immaturity; after all, she's not even finished with college yet. But instead of learning better (as I know I did) than to let your relationships define you, she's gotten worse and worse. Paradoxically, I suspect that this is partially because all of her friends are so much older than she is. Many or most of them are married or in serious relationships, settling down. It's almost like she feels like she needs the same level of intensity in her relationship as they have in theirs, but instead of letting that develop naturally, she forces it. And another part of it is because she is actually quite insecure about her abilities. She doesn't see herself as "smart" or "intellectual". And then she shoots herself in the foot because she stands around, hands in her pockets, twisting the toe of her shoe in the sand in anguish instead of pushing her way to the front of the line when her number is called.

I love her dearly, but I want to grab her, shake her by her collar and scream "WAKE UP! YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!!" And somewhere in the back of my mind, I've started to worry that by continuing in this vein, she is going to prove that she actually isn't better than that.

Maybe she should have been watching this season of "The Bachelorette". Maybe seeing a living, breathing example of a woman content to keep looking for her Mr. Right instead of taking whatever offers himself to her would drive home the point that a woman doesn't need to have a man to be complete.


If I had two months longer, I don't think I could write this paper for Adoption Law. I simply don't understand the topic I chose well enough to be intellegent about it. And I really like this professor, so I actually care what she thinks about me. And that's not even talking about the effect on my GPA when I fail this course because I can't write a stupid paper.

Not Quite The Intended Effect, Perhaps

After reading this post on one of my favorite blogs, I was compelled to make Jello. Raspberry Jello, to be exact. It is yummy and I just deny, flat-out refuse to admit that it is made from hide trimmings. Jello is made from magic.

Maybe I'll make orange Jello this weekend to go with my breakfast.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Idle Query

Do you think I will ever be able to ride the Metro in DC without singing about it in my head?

Is a Little Warning Too Much To Ask?

For the second time in less than a week, I have no running water in the apartment.

There is something so maddening about turning the knob on the faucet and hearing that sucking, hissing sound instead of the gurgle of running water. Especially when the reason that you're up and turning the knob on the faucet instead of turning over in your sleep is that the workmen are banging on the walls (or, as it turns out, the pipes in the walls) at 8:30 a.m.

The realization that you won't even be able to ease the pain of the early and rude wake-up with a cup of coffee is even worse.

Now, I understand that things happen and I'm not upset about being inconvenienced by not having any water. I'm angry about the fact that I wasn't given any notice of this shut-off so that I could hoard some water and take care of whatever needed to be done before the shut-off. What if I needed to get to work?

So I called the landlord and pitched a fit. His shady answer was that it was an emergency, that he didn't have any warning himself. If true, that would be fair enough. And it could possibly be true today. But last week, I know it wasn't true because I was here. The water was shut off for a repair to a valve on the radiators. This is something that you have to figure they knew about at least a few minutes before shutting the water off, if not a few days. I pointed this out and he claimed that it wasn't true, that the incident last week was due to a broken pipe. Yeah, right. Again, I WAS HERE! I KNOW what happened! Don't lie to me!

The best part of the whole story is that the state in which I live-- a state with a long history of pandering to big industry and the robber barons at the head, a state with little to no protection for its tenants-- actually requires that the landlord give the tenants 24 hours notice before shutting off the water. I'm not even asking for the whole 24 hours that I have a right to by law. All I want is a few minutes to fill a few containers with water to take care of myself until the repairs are completed.

Are There Speech Therapists For Machines?

Julio gave me a new answering machine for my birthday. This was a great birthday present, as my old one finally gave up the ghost after eight years of mostly dedicated service. I was not sad to see it go: it was one of the early digital recorders (look Ma, no tape!) and dropped messages quite often. It also had no capability to forward or rewind to a specific message or to pause playback (to grab a pen, for example). Plus the white plastic casing quickly became yellowed by exposure to the sun, making it look nasty. On the plus side, I paid $14.68 for it in the Target clearance section.

Anyway, Julio knew that I'd stolen Finbar's machine from his apartment (I mean, it's not like he was using it just then), so she found a cute little phone/ answering machine combo with all of the capabilities that the old one did not have.

It also has a speech impediment.

I plugged it in and let it charge "for at least twelve hours", as per the set up instructions. Then I started the set up process. This phone is a miracle of modern technology. It guides you step by step through the process of setting the time, recording the message, picking a ringtone, etc. via a series of yes/no questions and instructions to "Push Button X on the right side of the phone". As in, it tells you to do this in a semi-robotic female voice.

When I set the time, the voice told me to press the "hour" key until it reached the right hour. "Twelve a.m., one a.m., two a.m., three a.m." And then it happened:

"Foh-w p.m."

You know how a toddler says "free" instead of "three"? Well, my phone says "foh-w" instead of "four". I think this is hysterical. I kept pressing the time button to make it say "foh-w". I currently have three old messages, and I won't erase them because I want to come home and hear my machine tell me that I have "foh-w" messages.

Too bad it doesn't lisp, too.

Stupid Local News

The teaser for tonight's local news was "Mt. St. Helens erupts!" accompanied by an impressive-looking still photo of billowing smoke and ash. As you may remember, I have a thing for Mt. St. Helens, so this caught my attention. Unwilling to wait for the commercial break between Judging Amy and the Really Bad Local Newscast, I flipped to CNN. Nothing. Headline News? Just Annoying Nancy Grace (who should be bansished from television forever for being whiny and not knowing how to use her Indoor Voice. You have a mic, honey! There's no need to yell!). Even *shudder* Fox News didn't have anything. Now, I'm figuring if Mt. St. Helens blew her top, that's going to be on the ticker at the very least. gives the straight dope. A little seismic activity and a small belch of smoke and ash. Sheesh. "Mt. St. Helens erupts!" is hardly an accurate assesment of the situtaion. Morons.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

We Toasted With Luksusowa

I am back in Our Fair City two days earlier than expected. This is very good news-- they offered me the job after only one day!

I got in on Sunday evening after an uneventful drive. A VERY uneventful drive: there is a whole lot of nothing between Here and There. I pulled up in front of the hotel and was immediately met by Oscar Madison, who is the senior partner at the firm. I had spoken to him earlier that afternoon and he told me that he wanted me to meet him at 7 pm so that we could go to dinner with one of his clients. This little tidbit sent me into a small tizzy over wardrobe. He said to be "casual"-- god, I HATE that term-- but if he's asking me to meet one of his clients, surely jeans would be inappropriate. And I needed to be comfortable for the drive in. I ended up in khakis and a nice Fair Isle sweater with my new cute boots, and it was a good guess.

I checked in and went up to my room to drop off my bags before leaving for dinner. As I stood in front of the door, I realized that I had no idea where my room key was. After several hours in the car, I was a little frazzled with the nervousness and the effort to project an outward calm, but still, how could I lose the key between the lobby and the second floor? I stood in front of the door, thinking "How can I get out of this situation without having to go back down and ask for a new key in front of the man I want to hire me for a job with a lot of reponsibility?". I quickly came to the stomach-sinking realization that there was no such solution. sigh

So after showing the senior partner that I am not to be trusted with a hotel key, we met up in the lobby. And by "we", I mean me, the senior partner, the client, and one of the other attorneys in the firm. The senior partner is getting close to retirement age. The three of us remaining in the party were all in our late 20's/ early 30's and all women. I thought that was pretty funny. Of course, my sense of humor is strange. Anyway, one of them is from the Phillipines and the other is from Argentina, so it was an international evening. We had a nice long conversation, which is to say that we listened to Oscar's war stories and made appropriately appreciative comments. Not that it wasn't interesting-- it was, very much so. But toward the end of the night, he said "You haven't said much, I'm doing all the talking" a couple of times. I just didn't know how to respond to that. First of all, how could I? Second, I'm not stupid. If you think I'm going to start sharing my life story before I get the lay of the land, you're sadly mistaken. Third, what on earth do you want to know? Ask me, I'll tell you. Fourth, I am freaking exhausted from the drive and the emotional rollercoaster, throw me a bone here.

Back at the hotel room, I slept fitfully, terrified that I would somehow manage to oversleep despite the wake up call and bedside alarm clock.

Minutes after I finally sank into a truly deep sleep, the alarm blared in my ear. In those first seconds, I was incredibly confused because it sounded so different from my alarm clock at home and I couldn't place the sound. As I got enough lucidity to grope for the off button, the phone started ringing. What a start to the morning. After a shower and a trip to the breakfast buffet, I took great pains with my appearance, actually blowdrying my hair straight and fussing over whether to wear the tweed skirt or the black pants. And I was ready and waiting when Oscar pulled up in front of the hotel to take me to an immigration hearing with him.

And I do mean I was ready. I had agonized over how to handle the "not saying anything" question and decided that I have every right to keep things close to the vest. After all, this is all about whether or not I want to uproot and come to work for them. I refuse to be intimidated. (Wow, doesn't that sound brave? I'm almost impressed with myself.)

We picked up the client-- a woman from Sierra Leone-- and a paralegal from the firm. The paralegal is a lovely japanese woman, sharp as a tack, but as sweet natured as they come in personality. The two of us were denied admission to the actual hearing at Immigration, so we spent a lovely morning talking about the firm and the work they do and about life in general. She had met Oscar when she was waitressing in the town where Oscar and his wife own a summer home. He liked her so much, he asked her to come to work for him. She did, and she really likes working there. I felt like we really hit it off on a personal level, too. We ended up in this long philosophical discussion about coincidence and chance in life.

Eventually, Oscar and the client came back out. The hearing didn't end with the outcome they'd hoped for, but the good thing was that the request wasn't denied, rather they asked for additional documentation. Then we tried to sneak into the immigration court upstairs, but were quickly booted, as it was a closed asylum hearing. Oh well.

Back to the office where it was time to meet Felix Unger, the Other Partner. You know, the one who doesn't want to hire a summer student. Nothing personal against me, you understand. Now, EVERYONE that I've met thus far has giggled when Felix's name is uttered. I know that he doesn't want to hire me or anyone else, thank you very much. I also know that Oscar, depsite his assurances of two weeks ago, has NOT told him that I am coming. I am, one might say, a great big piece of serendipity. A nervous piece of serendipity.

Oscar concocts this insane cover story and introduces me to Felix as "a journalist here to do a story on the success of our firm". Felix shakes my hand and goes about his work, blissfully unaware for a few moments longer that his lack of enthusiasm for hiring summer associates is about to be sorely tested. Oscar deposits me with the Argentinian lawyer and another paralegal and takes Felix out to lunch.

In the interim, I go around and meet most of the other people in the office (one girl is at work) and get to read a few examples of the work I'll be doing in the main. It's actually not too bad. Basically, I have to organize the documents into a coherent set of evidence and write a memo telling BCIS why the person in question fulfills the requirements for whatever visa. The memos are basically fill-in-the-blank: you plug in the appropriate details and names, cull descriptions of the typically impenetrably esoteric work they do and it's relevance/ importance to allowing them to remain in the US from a personal statement that the client writes to make it clear to BCIS exactly what it is they do. No problemo.

That's inbetween working on all of Oscar's pet projects of course. If we do half of what he has in mind, I will be able to list conference organization and published authorship on my resume by graduation. Oscar is a bit of a visionary. It's kind of cool.

I mean, the man used to work for Big Law and quit because he was digusted by it and never wanted to practice law again. Yet here he is, practicing in his own firm, and he really seems to love what he does. He takes on cases just because they sound like fun or because they tug his heartstrings. I like that. I appreciate that.

After returning from lunch, Oscar handed me a bunch of papers from a file and asked me to draft a response to a request from BCIS, using only what he gave me. This is what he does instead of asking for a writing sample that you might have polished for hours. I started plowing through the papers. And every few minutes, Oscar interrupted to ask me to do this or that or to sit in with this client or meet this person. Two hours later, I was trying to finish the response while listening to a woman from Ethiopia talk about bringing her elderly parents to the US. Finally, the office was almost empty. Only Oscar, Yours Truly, and two paralegals remained. Oscar read my reponse slowly. Then he yelled for one of the paralegals.

"Do we have any booze in the house?"

"Well, actually, yes..."

And so, on the afternoon of the first day, we drank potato vodka out of Dixie Cups (with Disney characters on them!) to celebrate.

I went out with the other paralegal last night. We went to Dupont Circle and ate with the pretty people. It was fun and I really liked her. She seems like someone that I would hang out with. We ordered wine and talked until I was falling asleep on my feet, then I took the Metro back to the hotel. I love the Metro. I love DC.

After the day, I wanted the job more than ever. It seems like such an amazing match. I felt comfortable there and the work looks like a lot of fun. And this morning, I came into the office, expecting to do some more work to prove myself worthy of an offer. I told Oscar that whatever he needed me to do to convince Felix, I would do it. Instead, we shot the breeze for a couple of hours and suddenly I had an offer for summer employment.

No, scratch that. I had been added to the family. And that's exactly what the firm felt like to me. Like any family, it has its quirks and I'm sure that there will be conflicts, but they seem to really like each other. There is a certain ease in the air between them.

I start immediately after exams. I am so excited about this. I want to open a bottle of champagne and celebrate, but everyone is out of town. So, this is my little self-celebration.


Oh, and P.S. Oscar called me this evening to tell me that the guy who normally administers the writing sample "test" said that my response letter was the best he'd ever read. WOO HOO!!!

But You Can Call Me "Queen of Everything"

My royal title is "The Chamberlin, Her Noble Splendor, Duchess Katze, The Adroit Silencer of Idiocy".

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Rule Applies To You, Too!

One of my neighbors let someone move in with her... I think her father. Now, considering that she also has two children, and the basement apartments are very, very small one bedrooms, I think this is getting to be excessive. But, so long as I don't hear or see them, I guess I don't care. Well, actually, I do care, when I think about it. At a certain point, four people in less than 1000 sq. ft. is kind of a health hazard, isn't it?

What I do care about is the fact that Mr. New Tenant is apparently a cab driver and seems to think that it's okay to park his cab on the street in front of the apartment. Which bothers be because a) parking is already tight and we'll now have two cars instead of one from that apartment, b)if he intends to park like he did last night, his car will consistently take up more than one spot (which really burns my bisciut-- learn how to parallel park, you inconsiderate jackass!), and c) the neighborhood is zoned "No Commercial Vehicle Parking" after 8 pm. He parked DIRECTLY in front of the sign notifying the public of said rule.

I know I'm being slightly unreasonable, but I want him to move his stupid cab. If he needs to take the bus to and from the cab depot, so be it. If he can't leave the cab at the depot, then he needs to pay the extra money and rent a garage. Or-- and this is the most reasonable option-- he can drive his car around the corner and park on the street where commercial vehicle parking is not restricted.

I HATE it when people think that the rules don't apply to them because it's inconvenient to them. Well, guess what? Your cab is a commercial vehicle. They were zoned out of the neighborhood for a reason. Either move it yourself, or I'll sic the local PD on you. As strapped for cash as they are, I'm sure they'll be happy to start collecting parking fines from you on as regular a basis as necessary to teach you that the rule applies to you, too!

I Am A Whore

So I'm providing this link to Adagio Teas, as part of this marketing campaign.

I do likes me teas, and I am not a fan of Lipton or Herbal Seasonings (or whatever the stupid tea with the bear is). Perhaps I will like these people enough to actually start ordering from them.

There's nothing quite as relaxing as a hot cup of tea while reading a book. Double relaxation points if it's snowing or raining-- especially a cold rain-- and you're sitting near a window where you can see the snow/ rain. Triple relaxation points if you were supposed to venture out into the elements and decided not to.

I've been on a Lady Grey kick lately. Once I went on a record Darjeeling tear; I think I went through a good three pounds of it in a few months. That was six or seven years ago and I haven't been able to enjoy Darjeeling since. Over the summer, Luneray found a tea at a little tea shop in Uppsala that was phenomenal. I wish I'd had the foresight to write it down, but noooo, in my blind faith in my own abilities, I just thought I'd remember it. I mean, it was really good tea. I like tea. Therefore, I'll remember this tea.

I'm not nearly the tea snob that I am a coffee snob. I don't necessarily have a problem with tea in bags, although I do like loose tea better. You'd never catch me drinking instant coffee, though, except in a true emergency. And by that I mean a The-Sky-Is-Falling kind of emergency, a la The Stand. I suppose instant is OK if you're hoofing it across the country to Boulder to fight for the side of good. But even when camping, I prefer my little funnel brewer. I don't know what these are called, but they are quite common in Germany. You place the little plastic funnel-shaped contraption on top of a mug, place a filter and some coffee grounds in it, then slowly pour boiling water over it. Not as good as coffee made with a good machine, but it'll certainly do.

Anyway, click the ol' link to Adagio Teas and check them out.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In Like A Lion, Out Like a Lamb

I certainly hope that the old saying is true this year. This had better be the last blast of winter for this season. I’d like a nice long Spring this year to make up for the crappy Fall last year.


There’s this kid in my class whose entire wardrobe seems to consist of Republican party t-shirts and caps. He wears a minimum of three items with prominent GOP logos every single day. Truth be told, he looks like a NASCAR driver sponsored by the GOP. And the very sight of him annoys me.

A friend of mine has a wardrobe consisting almost entirely of t-shirts with sarcastic/snarky slogans on them. Personally, I think most of them are pretty funny, but if I’m entirely honest, I can see how some people might find them off-putting. Nonetheless, I’m not in any way annoyed by them. So at first, I wrote my annoyance with NASCAR boy off as disagreement with his political viewpoint. But the more I see him, the more I think it’s the heinousness of his appearance that bothers me. If he were wearing “Hillary 08!” or “Dean for Party Chair!” or “No Blood For Oil!”, I would be equally annoyed. (Note—I don’t necessarily agree with any of those statements, but they were the most obviously DNC t-shirt slogans I could think of on short notice.) I think it’s the combination of the perpetually smug expression on his face and the obnoxiousness of the logos (not the message, the logos themselves) that sets my teeth on edge. Mostly the smirk.

Does this make me a hypocrite? I would never walk up to him and say “Your shirt is stupid. You shouldn’t wear it.” anymore than I would walk up to Eep and tell him that I think a certain shirt isn’t funny (and no, Eep, I don’t have a specific one in mind, but it’s within the realm of possibility that you own at least one that doesn’t strike me as funny). If he likes it, that’s all that really matters, right? It’s not like they’re offensive. So long as there’s no particular hate expressed in the logos, the choice of whether or not to wear a logo falls under the category of “freedom of choice”. Has my opinion of the GOP sunk so low that I equate the mere display of a Republican Convention 2004 t-shirt with an expression of hate? I’ve always thought of myself as being more open-minded than that.

Milena ist da!

That was the title of an email in my yahoo account yesterday. The Sender's name, Mirko Leitner, didn't ring a bell for a moment... then *click* I realized that it was from Bettina's husband!

Bettina was my host sister waaaay back on my very first trip to Germany on a three-week high school exchange. I was fifteen, she was seventeen, and we'd neither met nor exchanged a letter or a call before she came to the Munich airport to pick me up. In fact, I didn't even know if she and her family knew I was coming-- the whole thing had been arranged at the last minute. The spot had opened only due to some parent's nervousness about travel abroad in the wake of the first Gulf War. The girl who had originally been slated to stay with Bettina and her family was no longer planning to do so, but the family still wanted to host, so... my German teacher invited me to join the group.

It would be difficult to find a kinder, more generous, more loving host family than
the one I found myself in. Depsite my abysmal (that is, basically non-existent) German skills, we had a grand time getting to know each other. They were so patient with me, explaining why they ate or said or did certain things. And they kept me involved with their daily life, so that I never felt isolated, even when Bettina-- the only one in the family with any English skills-- wasn't there to translate for us. I was so in love with Germany after living with them for those three weeks that I came home and started searching for an exchange program so that I could go back and live there for a longer time.

When I came to visit them during my exchange year, we were all thrilled to discover that we liked each other just as much when we could actually talk to each other as when we could imagine only the nicest things coming out of our mouths. And I was so happy to finally get to share with them and to talk about my thoughts and to understand theirs. And on top of that, Bettina's mom is The Best Cook Ever. And she always goes all out when I visit them. After more than 10 years, she still remembers my favorite foods from my three week sojourn with them.

And whenever I visit, my former lack of fluency is discussed (usually together with much laughing remeniscence about the time I told them that I was completely drunk-- when what I meant was that I'd had enough to eat-- and the time that my host mom asked if I wanted more, but I thought she was asking if I'd had enough, so I answered "Yes" and was shocked when she dumped a huge ladleful of food on my plate: "Du hättest dein Gesicht sehen sollen! Da hast du weder ein noch aus gewusst!" you should have seen your face, you didn't know which way was up!. They think it is just too precious for words that I'm fluent now and back then I couldn't even tell someone my name, ach unsere liebe Katze. Schön, dass du wieder da bist.

And now Milena ist da-- my first honorary German niece. We've been planning for years that Bettina would send her children to Tante Katze to learn English every summer-- and so that I can spoil them silly and send them back to Germany, where they'll whine about how much better it is in America-- a thought that amuses me to no end, as I spent a lot of my youth whining about how much better it is in Germany.

Milena, schön, dass du endlich da bist. Ich freue mich darauf, dich kennenzulernen. Du hast immer bei mir ein zweites Zuhause.

Fashion Update

So I spent Saturday crawling through the clearance racks and scouring Goodwill for business casual clothes. It was exhausting. I mean, remember the old stereotype gag in a sitcom where the Spoiled Little Rich Girl comes in from shopping, toting an armload of paper bags (the kind that no store actually gives out) and hatboxes, and flops into the nearest cushy armchair (or couch) with a great heaving sigh? Well, I'm here to tell you, shopping all day is hard!

I'm pleased with the start of my business casual wardrobe. I found three or four pairs of pants, a lovely merino wool sweater, three skirts (a tweed and two floral-- all hitting just at or just below the knee), three button up shirts, a sleeveless turtleneck, and a three piece pantsuit. Together with the blazer from one of my interview suits and the nicer sweaters I already own, that should get me started. In fact, by happy serendipity,the blazer from my brown suit is a perfect match to both floral skirts. All I need is some sort of shirt to go underneath. I'll pick up a few more pieces at AmVets or Goodwill the next time I get up to the City of Light.

Now I have to shoe shop. I know LaPresidente is thinking to herself "That's no chore; it's a reward!". Dami is probably thinking similar thoughts. But the same complaints remain as before-- I just don't want to go shopping for the shoes! Maybe I'll get motivated Friday morning before Finbar comes in.