Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Just So You Know

And in case you didn't already guess:

I'm on vacation with Finbar, visiting my 'rents. Back in a few days. Until then:

amuse yourselves

Monday, June 27, 2005


Standing in line for the ladies' room at a Starbucks; one overly tanned thirty-something walks up to another overly tanned thirty-something waiting in line ahead of me. The newcomer is holding a frappachino in her acrylic-taloned hands. She takes a sip:

"Eww! This is disgusting! It tastes like coffee!"

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Message to Finbar

...'cause I know you'll read the blog and I *don't* know if your email is fixed. Could you please bring two things along for me: 1)fajita marinade to make dinner for the family with, and 2)a cute baseball cap that I can steal when we go to ride rollercoasters. I'm going to go to Stitch and Bitch tonight, so I was worried that I wouldn't have a chance to catch you on the phone.

And for all of you who aren't named Finbar, but are reading this anyway: bet you thought this would be more interesting than a grocery list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why This Is Such a Great Job For Me, Vol. 3

Today, I had lunch with five people from three countries to discuss an international adoption case.


I have been eaten alive by mosquitos. In fact, I've never seen mosquitos as terrible as the ones here. They're a strange grey-black color and they hurt like the dickens when they bite. Then, instead of a red bump the size of a pea, they leave behind a hard white lump the size of a BB that's hot to the touch. These bites itch so bad they burn and hydrocortisone hardly touches it.

I may go insane.

What's especially irritating about the whole thing is that no amount of precautionary measures seems to prevent their vampiric attacks on any exposed flesh. Sunday late in the day I sat on the patio wearing long pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. They bit my feet. Tonight, I was sitting on the living room couch and my shirt must have ridden up a little in the back because I now have a lovely bite right at the waistline of my pants. Arms, legs, shoulders (when I was wearing a sleeveless sweater), feet, ankles, forehead (!), I've even got one on my scalp. It's sad, really, when you have to consider wearing Deep Woods Off in your house. If I make it to the end of the summer without contracting West Nile Virus or Malaria or Leprosy or something, it will be a miracle.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Pride Goeth...

It was a hot, sunny summer day and I had put on a dress. It's one of my favorites: two floaty ankle-length layers, a discrete floral print on a pale blue background, and a cut that emphasizes my best features. I put on a pair of sandals for the walk to the Metro and left the house feeling like a summer morning.

A couple of stops before the office, my spidey-sense tingled. The young hottie across the aisle from me was checking me out. He noticed me noticing him and smiled, a lovely picture. He spent the remaining minutes of the train ride flirting with me and I, rapidly approaching the age where young men don't necessarily check you out anymore, was feeling fine. My hair was cute, my dress was lovely, I was definitely flirt-worthy. And this young man, who likely had just finished his degree at Georgetown or AU, was classically handsome.

He got off at the same stop and followed me (and the rest of the morning crowd) up from the platform and through the stiles onto the escalators. The escalators in this particular station are especially steep and long. I usually walk up them in the morning, and if I make it all the way to the top without stopping to catch my breath, it makes me feel strong and invincible. I could feel his eyes following me as I took my first steps up the escalator, and I was feeling like I was all that and a bag of chips.

Then I fell flat on my face, directly in front of him.

I felt like a Grade-A Idiot. Serves me right, I suppose, letting this guy flirt with me and all. He gasped, "Are you okay?", but by that point, I had grabbed the handrail and dragged myself upright again. I blurted out something about the only wounds being to my ego and sprinted away up the escalators, anything to get away. By the time I got to the elevator lobby in the building, though, I was snickering at my own stupidity.

My foot was a little scratched up. My ego, however, was in intensive care for a couple of days.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


On the block where my boss lives there is a traffic light which has sensors that cause the light to turn red if the car approaching it is travelling over the speed limit. This afternoon, I watched a D.C. Metropolitan Police cruiser trigger the light. That amuses me to no end.

Answering The Question

So, here are my thoughts on the whole trust and forgiveness thing:

My gut reaction was "Well, duh, of course trust is part of forgiveness." It seems so logical that in order to forgive someone you have to have some measure of trust in them. But then I read Jill's comment and realized that the whole point of forgiveness has nothing to do with trust. Or, phrased differently, trust in what? Trust that the person is sorry? Someone doesn't necessarily have to be sorry for me to forgive them (although it does make it easier). Trust that they won't do it again? Again, it would make it a lot easier, but it wouldn't necessarily be impossible (difficult, very difficult, yes) to forgive someone who you suspect will continue to make the same mistake.

An excellent bit of dialogue in, of all things, a Harry Potter fanfic hits the nail on the head:

"The things I have done are unforgivable," he said through gritted teeth.

"Correct. Absolutely correct. But you don't seem to understand that that's precisely the point of forgiveness."

I'd stunned him yet again with that -- gratifying, that was, and this time I took the advantage.

Easy, Hunter. You have to put this calmly and logically, or he'll never understand. It's obviously a totally alien concept to him, no matter that he bandies the word about.

"You regret your crimes, you never want to repeat them -- you've repented, in other words. I'm not saying that you should stop making amends. I think you have an obligation to do so, in fact. The extent to which you'll go to achieve that is a matter for you and your conscience -- or your code of ethics, if you like, since I suspect you think you have no conscience.

"But the problem is that forgiveness has nothing to do with that. It's not a reward for repentance, or for paying off a debt. None of us deserve it, no matter the degree of our crimes, and it can't be earned. It can only be granted. It's an act of love on the part of the pardoner, and you have nothing at all to do with it. It's neither your decision nor your responsibility, and not one single thing you've done can alter or negate it once's it's given."

He stared at me, speechless. I took a deep breath before going on.

"Albus has been offering you forgiveness from the minute you walked back through his office door -- but you won't accept it. I don't think you'll ever find peace with yourself until you do, because as long as you insist on thinking of forgiveness as some kind of reward, you'll deny yourself it. You don't really think you can ever repay that debt, I suspect.

"Albus once told me that guilt is innate in the decent sorts of human beings, and it's true, but you refuse to accept your remorse as what it is -- a sign that you are a decent human being. I can't convince you of it. Albus has tried for years and evidently failed, and you've more reason to trust him than me. So you'll have to deal with that yourself, when you're ready. If you ever are."

(On a side note, this is from an excellent piece of writing that just happens to be a Harry Potter fanfic, called Brave New World. Read it, you will like it, especially if you're a Snape fan. I tell you, if I didn't already have a thing for Alan Rickman, this story would have made me develop one, as I can only see the Alan Rickman version of Snape in this story. Then go and read the rest of her fanfic, which is all superb and engrossing and just happens to be set in the Harry Potter universe.)

Anyway, trust is not necessarily part of forgiveness. It's helpful in some ways, as it's difficult to forgive someone who's unrepentant and unwilling to see the error of his ways. But forgiveness at its most sublime is a gift given to one who can and maybe even will hurt again. In many ways, forgiveness at its most sublime is nearly independent of the person being forgiven.

Not that I live up to this ideal. I am a woman who tends to hold grudges. It takes a lot to get me truly and righteously angry, but once I am, I find it difficult or impossible to forgive. And when I've been deeply hurt, the difficulty in forgiveness is inversely proportionate to the amount of trust that I had in the person who hurt me. What can I say: I'm falliable.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Let's Answer the Question

Someone arrived here by searching for "Is trust a part of forgiveness?"

I think this is an excellent question. So, dear friends, what do you think? Post your thoughts in comments. I'll gather mine and add them later: the dogs need to be walked first.

Currently Gracing My Nightstand

I finished The View From Saturday. What a great book! I loved the droll tone and the realistic, not sappy, yet still inspiring ending.

Luckily, I didn't have time to cast around for something new to read. When I showed up at Felix's house last night (I'm housesitting for him), he had left a copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves, a book which I have long wished to read, but not having found a cheap copy at Half Price (which should tell you a little about how good this book must be), I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet. It also cracks me up that, after only a few weeks, Felix already knows what a grammar pedant I can be.

Less than a chapter in, I can already see that Lynn Truss is a fellow soul. I love the fact that she actually protested in front of a theater when they put up the posters for Two Weeks Notice, carrying a large apostrophe on a stick. I would totally do something like that.


No Respect

The firm has been hit by the flu. By 5 p.m. on Friday, there were only three people left in the office. The guy who normally sits at the desk in the reception area left at 11 a.m., so I had to move out there to work, and I also had to answer the phone. I don't know how Mitch ever gets anything done sitting there. I had to get a memo finished. It should have taken me about two or three hours. Instead, I was struggling to get it edited at 5 p.m. after starting it the minute I sat down at my desk. I didn't even take a lunch break.

I got a call from least favorite client around 10:30 a.m. She wanted to know what time the office closed. I told her 5:30 p.m. She said that she would be in before then to sign her immigration forms-- finally.

At 5:15 p.m., she came wandering in with her boyfriend. I gave her the forms and a pen and asked her to review the information in the forms to make sure that it was accurate, then sign them once she was satisfied that the forms were accurate. The boyfriend, who we will henceforth call Kent. Kent spent the entire time lounging on the couch, making snide remarks like, "I don't see why something like this is so hard that it should take more than a month. Half of these forms are blank.". Yeah, buddy, but the point of hiring us is that we can tell which parts of the forms are supposed to be blank and we can know what is supposed to go into the parts that you have to fill out. If you know so much more, I extend to you the same invitation that I gave to your stupid girlfriend: do it yourself. Just don't come crying to me when you're ordered deported. Jackass.

Then he discovered that the name of the country where she was born was misspelled- that is, that two of the letters were transposed. An obvious typographical error. He made the remark (in the single most condescending voice I have ever been subjected to, and I waitressed in a yuppie watering hole!) that this was really poor work, especially if we're planning to give this to immigration. I'm here to tell you, the schmuck who gets this is a) probably not even going to notice it, b)not going to be able to find the country on a map or tell you anything at all about it, and c)not going to care. Even a little bit. Then he started yelling that "Everything is misspelled! There are mistakes all over the place!" I hardly think so. At first, I planned to ignore him-- he was obviously looking for attention to validate his own overblown since of self-importance. But he wouldn't let it go. So I handed him a pink highlighter and fairly brusquely informed him that I couldn't imagine that the work was that bad, so perhaps he should indicate the exact places where he believed that mistakes had been made. He tried to demur, but I was having none of it. Don't open up the can of worms if you're not ready to handle the consequences! Twenty minutes later, he hands the forms across the desk. Out of 49 pages of forms, he found two more locations where the same transposition had been made. The computer program that fills out the forms has you enter the information on one biographical information screen and automatically drops the answers into each of the forms for you-- in this case, three locations.

Now earlier in the day, another client had come in to check and sign her forms and she found one location where the name of the city where she last resided outside the United States had been misspelled. She was gracious in pointing it out, I apologized for the error and fixed it, then printed out a new page on the forms. The forms program does not have a spell check and even if it did, it probably would not have had the 15 letter name of the little Asian village where she lived in its vocabulary. This is what a transaction with a normal person is like.

It got so bad that the senior paralegal came out in an attempt to placate them-- and not incidentally, get them out, as it was now after 6 p.m. and we all wanted to go home. In fact, the other girl and I had dinner plans that we were now going to be late for by the time I got to Felix's house and walked the dogs. The could not get the hint.

6. 45. p.m.

That's when the two of them finally left. Clueless and rude. A truly bad combination. I'll FedEx her crap to USCIS on Monday and hopefully that's the end of it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Currently Gracing My Nightstand

I finished reading The Poisonwood Bible, which I enjoyed immensely. (Thanks for the recommendation, Huilo!) It was amazing how many people would come up to me in the Metro or on the street to tell me that they had read the book and loved it. The alternating viewpoints were well-done; often, such techniques are campy or hokey in the hands of a less talented writer. It also has a satisfying conclusion. My one quibble with the book, however, is that it doesn't stop at the conclusion, but dribbles on for two or three more chapters that get progressively more nonsensical and unnecessary.

On a side note, I was reading this at the height of the horrible heat wave here in D.C. Sometimes, I would be engrossed in the book, walk up the stairs out of the Metro and into the humid air and for a split second, I would feel disoriented, as through the book had crept into real life.

On another, completely unrelated side note, a number of the aforementioned strangers who came up to comment on the book mentioned how "shocking" it was. It was, indeed, deeply tragic and at times cringe-inducingly tense, as you fought the urge to yell at the characters "Don't do that! It can only lead to something bad!". However, to anyone with even a moderate grasp of post-colonial African history-- or a passing knowledge of the lyrics to We Didn't Start the Fire-- there is nothing particularly shocking about the book-- except maybe the fact that all these years later, we still haven't learned our lesson.

Anyway, now I'm reading The View From Saturday. E.L. Konigsburg has always been one of my favorite authors, ever since my fourth grade teacher gave me a beat up paperback copy of From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, telling me that I reminded her a bit of Claudia. I take that as a high compliment. E.L. Konigsburg's kids are wise and complex, but not perfect or infalliable. They don't blindly follow the adults in their lives, but neither are they precocious wunderkinder who run the lives of the adults. I am immensely enjoying "The View From Saturday". I've only got maybe 40 pages or so left, and the best thing about E.L. Konigsburg is that I truly cannot guess what the outcome is going to be.


Did You Get The Memo?

I think I found my new fax cover sheet to use at work.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

This sure does make it look like the San Andreas is gearing up for something pretty big.

Unexpected Attack

I must have accidentally ingested something to which I am allergic last night. I'm so vigilant about watching what I eat, I don't know how it could slip by. "Luckily", I was only violently ill and a little bit wheezy. I took some of my great big anti-histamines and then just suffered through the worst of it. Today, I feel like my lungs are full of fluid. I hope this doesn't last long. Thank God I didn't need to go to the ER for treatment. Being uninsured sucks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

See, I'm Not the Only One

Someone came to my blog because they don't seem to like Nancy Grace very much.

I'm strangely proud to be the number one result for "I can't stand Nancy Grace".

I've Died and Gone to Heaven

On a small shelf in the deli section of the grocery store, I saw a display of German breads, much like these. As always, I idly glanced at the ingredients on the off-chance that they might be made from some ingredient that I'm not allergic to. Wonder Bread gets sooo boring after awhile. I'm always bitterly disappointed; even when the main ingredient is wheat or sunflower seeds or linseed, there's always rye in there somewhere.

Today, I hit pay dirt. 100% organic spelt! I bought a package, which sat in my bag all day, taunting me at work. I could not stop thinking about the taste of a good, solid, dark bread with butter and cheese all afternoon. I rushed home with a singleminded haste. The door-to-door salesman who wanted to give me his spiel probably went away muttering under his breath about the rude woman in the green house. I barely took time to let the dog out and take off my shoes, then I ran into the kitchen and tore open the package.

The smell of the bread instantly transported me back to the Hoffmanns' kitchen. A melancholy wave of homesickness and longing for that moment in time when my nascent sense of self was just starting to blossom and the reality of broken dreams and missed chances hadn't tarnished any of it yet. I spread the slices with real butter (no margarine shall defile this bread) and added sliced meat on one slice, slices of cheese on another. I couldn't resist breaking off the corner for a taste before I even finished putting this simple plate together.

Oh, God.

It was better than I imagined and so satisfying. I ate three slices and then had to talk myself out of eating three more, even though my stomach was distended with good taste. Now I'm in a bread coma, and I'm still thinking about eating another slice.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh, Dear

One of our clients sent us a copy of a letter informing her that she'd won a Spanish lottery. Thank God she realized she should ask someone.

Mistaken Identity

I was very nearly arrested for assault today.

Coming up from the Metro, I saw a man coming toward me. His manner of walking, his hair, the build of his body all looked very, very familiar to me. I grinned and started to change course so that I could intercept him with a joyous hug. I was so excited to see him here unexpectedly! I wondered what brought him here from Harrisburg...

Then I realized that it wasn't Joel.

Thank God I didn't get more than a few steps toward him. I doubt that he even noticed the crazed law student heading toward him. His day continued as planned and he remained blithely unaware that he was very nearly the victim of an unwanted touching.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Big City Life

I went to a barbeque with Will last night. It was hosted by some friends of his who recently bought a rowhouse in Petworth. This is a neighborhood in the throes of gentrification. Lovingly restored and colorfully painted homes stand right next to buildings with peeling paint and overgrown yards. Will's friends are in their mid- to late 20's and this is their first home. They are slowly rehabbing it from the inside out and it's already taking shape as a work of art.

The grill stood in the small patch of yard behind their house. An alley ran behind their row of houses and the backs of the row of houses on the next street. It was a muggy night and the old home has no air conditioning. We sat flopped into chairs with a large fan vainly fighting the sticky heat. The food and conversation were good and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio goes a long way toward fighting the summer heat.

Some time after it got dark, four or five of us had adjourned to the back steps and were idly chattering over the remnants of the charcoal in the grill. The flickering beams of flashlights came down the alleyway toward us, and moments later, two policemen came into view. We waved, thinking they were just on foot patrol, and expecting a friendly "Good Evening" in response. Instead, they stopped to ask us if we'd seen someone running down the alley. We apologetically told them no. This was met with doubtful expressions and a repeated query as to whether we were sure we hadn't seen anything. One of the women told them that we'd only just gotten outside a few moments before they walked up and that even the dog (an adorable and very friendly boxer) had not barked or shown any sign that she'd heard someone in the alley behind the house. The cops moved on. A few moments later, an unmarked car drove down the alley in the same direction, and a few minutes after that, a marked car with it's lights off. I wondered briefly if we shouldn't maybe go back inside, but the others, who all live in the neighborhood (or in the very house), didn't seem at all concerned, so I decided not to worry about it. I felt a little like the country mouse visiting Cousin in the city.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Madame Defarge

I went to a meeting of the DC Stitch and Bitch group last night. I read about such groups in a knitting magazine long ago and have longingly wished for such a group in the City of Light, and later in Our Fair City. I've heard that a group exists in Our Fair City, but since it never actually meets, it might as well not exist.

Anyway, I joined their Yahoo group several weeks ago, but I haven't been able to make it to any of the meetings until now for a host of reasons. I've been interviewing the family of a woman applying for political asylum, I've been going out to dinner with the Boss and His Wife, I've been unwilling to take a Metro ride that would involve a transfer and over an hour on the train each way...You know, the usual litany of inertial excuses. So, when I read that their meeting would be in Logan's Circle, I was all over that. It's not too far from work, so it would be convenient to get there and one of the other girls at work also knits, so we decided to go together.

The only problem was that they fired her at work yesterday.

Nonetheless, we decided to meet at the Metro in Dupont Circle and walk over together. It was really strange at first. I like her a lot and I'm sorry to see her go. She, on the other hand, was relieved. She hated working at the firm and is sort of relieved not to have to come in to work anymore. She was also already looking for jobs, so she has interviews lined up for next week. That's great; I'm sure she will land on her feet.

The D.C. evening was incredibly oppresive. And let me tell you, I'm sick to death of the wise, all-knowing "Oh, summer in D.C. is worse than anywhere! The city was built on a swamp". Bull pucky. I grew up in the valley of the Ohio River where July is a stagnant, wilting month followed by 31 soul-sucking days of August. Relative humidity hits 70 or 80% in mid-June and stays there until after Labor Day. I'm no stranger to hot and humid. Last night was particularly oppresive because the air was supersaturated. It condensed on your face as you stood on the street corner waiting for the light to change and occasionally crossed the line into desultory drizzles of rain, only to stop short of the deliverance of a downpour.

There were only two people there when we arrived and conversation was quite stilted. I felt vaguely disappointed, but decided to knit for at least a half-hour and then take the Metro home. But then the other women drizzled in in pairs and one-by-one and soon there were nine or ten of us sitting around, knitting and chatting, the conversation going from one end of the table to the other, groups forming and re-forming as the topics drifted from wool to moving to finishing a project and what a pain it is to weave in ends to how to help one of the girls fix a grevious error in her sweater without resorting to ripping out the whole thing nearly to the waistline and starting over. The women ranged in age from 22 to (I estimate) 40 and came all kinds of fields. One woman is a doctor specializing in nuclear medicine. Another is a secretary.

I was gratified to note that my knitting is better than most of the others. I may be slow, but I'm good. One of the women, though, is a knitting genius. She was wearing a gorgeous tank that she knitted from a very fine cotton and working on a baby sweater that was so beautiful and well-worked that I don't think I could actually put it on a baby for fear of ruining it. Better to just frame it and admire it from a distance.

The next thing I knew, it was after 10 p.m. I was so tired that the walk from the Metro to the house seemed like a never-ending march on a treadmill with an old-fashioned movie background winding by to give the illusion of forward movement where none exists. Six and a half stripes to go before the book premiere. I think I can make it.


During an IM conversation:

"He melts the elastic on all the ladies' panties"

What great imagery!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Today, while reviewing documents for a client, I came across the following. It was printed in bold face, 16 or 18 pt font:


Unlike the Department of Homeland Security, apparently.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Return On Investment

Today, I cashed my first paycheck from my summer job. It felt better than any paycheck I've ever cashed before for the sole reason that it is the first paycheck I've ever gotten that is directly related to my degree(s).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

For Balance's Sake

I had another meeting with my very first solo client today. It's kind of cute how nervous she is about getting her business set up. She trembles a little bit at the beginning of every meeting. Usually, by the end of the appointment, she's much calmer and leaves with a careful list of things to do. She also listens to me much more closely than she listens to Felix for some reason. I like her a lot and I always want to hug her when I see her hands shaking.


I emailed a client today to ask for three small pieces of personal information that were missing from her file, so that I could finish filling out the 49 pages (literally!!) of forms for Immigration. She sent back a totally snotty email telling me that she had already sent that information in a Word document. No, no, you didn't. I have that document sitting right in front of me and IT'S NOT ON THERE. THAT'S WHY I SENT THE EMAIL!

Considering that I stand between her and a green card, you'd think she could rein in her obvious disdain for those of us lower life-forms who aren't research scientists at a major university just long enough for us to finish filing her paperwork.

I have 18 other clients needing attention right now. Your paperwork doesn't have to be filed until the day your current visa expires two months from now. Every time you call or email and treat me like something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe, I find myself wanting to drop your file further and further down my "to-do" list in favor of working on the file of a client who is both cooperative and friendly. If you're so damned smart and my work is so damned easy, maybe you should be handling this matter yourself. I'll be happy to send the blank forms to you and return your documents so that you can file your own petition. Nothing in the applicable Code says that you have to be represented by an attorney in your immigration matters. Since I obviously have the brain power of a turtle, I'm sure you and your superbrain will be more than capable of handling everything.

Broken Policy

This is a prime example of how broken our system is.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Having been tagged by the incomparable Juice (And if you haven't already read his blog, you should. I like to think that he's single-handedly responsible for Prof. Franklin's belief that I think Property Law is reeeally amusing and also for my subsequent less-than-stellar grade in Property Law.), I am now about to bare my musical soul for all the internet to see.

Total Size of Music Files on My Computer
: ummm... hem hem. 2.59 GB. All of it from my own personal CD collection, which I then used to record throw away discs to take on my Tour of Scandinavia last summer. Now I use them to record mix CDs for background music for the various social events we've hosted at my place or at Finbar's. I have no idea how to, you know, use an MP3 player. Cut me a break people, I don't even own a DVD player yet.

The Last CD I Bought Was: I think it was Björk Selmasongs, which I greedily snatched up from the clearance bin at Half Price Books. Clearly, someone on their staff is a moron.

Song Playing Right Now on my iFruit: I'm at least as lame as Juice. I don't know what it is and don't own one, anyway. The song playing right now on the CD player in my car is "Rowing Song" by Patty Griffin. I've been listening to her album, Impossible Dream CD on high rotation lately. I bought it back when it very first came out, but it took me a long time to warm up to it. Now, I'm totally in love with it. I think it's my favorite of her albums.

Top five albums?
Impossible Dream, by Patty Griffin

That was the easy one. HOW CAN I LIMIT IT TO FIVE??? OK, hang on, let me think about this.

Embraceable You, by Chet Baker
Travelling Without Moving, by Jamiroquai
Document, by R.E.M.
Debut, by Björk

Five Songs That Mean a Lot to Me (1 per artist):

1) Into the Mystic, by Van Morrison. It's longing and satisfaction, warm water lapping at the sides of a creaky old rowboat drifting across the lake in the late slanting light of a sultry August evening. It's walking through Mt. Adams on a cold night, on our way to Cafe Vienna, both of us remembering that first walk up the steep hill, that heartstopping moment under the stars.

2) You're My Home by Billy Joel. Since the day I left for my exchange year in Germany when I was 16 years old, I have never lived in the same place for longer than two years at a stretch. It's an odd paradox: I love the adventure of new places, new favorite restaurants to be discovered, new secret pockets of hidden beauty to blunder into, new roads that might lead to the place where I'm supposed to be. And at the same time, I hate the feeling of rootlessness. I want to feel like I can invest my time, my heart, myself into the place where I live without the constant shadow of moving on soon hanging over me. But in some powerful way, I have roots in Finbar. It doesn't matter much to me whether we're together in one place or in another, I just want to be together. Ewww, two mushy songs in a row.

3) Here's Where the Story Ends by the Sundays. This was the year I turned 18. Perfectly captured and sweetly sung.

4) A Sort of Homecoming, by U2. Standing on the aisle of a rickety old East German train on my way to Berlin, sun streaming in, and all I could think of was home, but I knew, even then, that I would never fit in there again. The train seemed to sway in time with this song.

5) She Went to Germany, by the Violent Femmes. Included on a mix tape made for me by my high school boyfriend, this was my gateway drug into the Dead Milkmen, the Dead Kennedys, They Might Be Giants, and my very brief flirtation with Black Flag. If only he'd known how prophetic that song would turn out to be-- change my hair? Why, yes, I think I'll cut three feet of it off. And spike the inch that's left. And maybe I'll dye it "East German Red", too.

Recent discoveries? To be honest, I just don't have the time for exploration that I used to have. The most recent addition to my list of people whose CDs I wish I could find at Half Price Books is The Mosquitos. It's like Summer In A Box!

Who's next?

I wish War had a blog, because I'd really like to pass it to her. Stupid War!

So, instead, let's make it:


aaaaand, mostly for the other Horsewomen, Finbar. I've seen his CD collection, ladies. It's scary. I'm not sure if that's in a good way or not.



I could see Turbo standing in the picture window when I was several houses away, quivering with anticipation, ears perked up. I had a difficult time getting past him so that I could get into the house and shut the door to keep a certain kitty who climbs trees from running straight up the neighbor's oak, but as I managed to eek past, I discovered what happens when you leave a greyhound alone and then get home from work later than usual.

The entire living room floor was covered with stuff. Grace's shoes were everywhere, along with a pair of shorts, a long blue strip of plastic, the shredded remains of a buffalo jerky package, crumbs of buffalo jerky, and one of those little car packs of windex wipes. That had also been chewed on, almost as though doggie logic told Turbo that since the packages were about the same size and made of similar material, they must both contain buffalo jerky. It didn't appear, though, that he'd managed to puncture the package and poison himself.

I said, "My, you were a destructive little doggie today!" and he wagged his tail in cheerful agreement.

Death Wish

We have a client who doesn't want to pay his bill and is therefore looking for things to complain about in hopes of getting out of paying for the final installment on his legal fee. Today, he tried to claim that the recommendation letter that I edited for him was "full of grammar mistakes" that the letter writer had to correct.

I'll pause for just a moment while Finbar and Hulio pick their jaws up off the floor.

I, of course, take this as a personal affront. I pulled my copy of the letter as I sent it back to him to be printed on letterhead and signed, and I compared it line-by-line with signed letter brought in to us today. There were *zero* corrections made to my grammar. Instead, the moron had changed the phrasing in three locations so that it minimzed the work done by the client. In fact, at one point, he took out he required language (that the person applying for adjustment be of "extraordinary ability") and replaced it with the Phrase of Death ("Mr. X shows great promise"). I had a brief moment of Schadenfreude, envisioning the moment when Client Cheapskate gets his denial letter from immigration because it's not enough to show "great promise" in the visa category he's applying for. Unfortunately, the letter will have to stand as it is, since we can't force someone to write something they don't want to or don't think is true. Which means that it's now my problem because I'll have to try and dance around it in my accompanying motion.

Grammar mistakes indeed.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

If Finbar Had Been a Physics Major

His lab reports would probably have read like this.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Things That Went Well For Me Today

1. The wad of paper that I tossed across the room at the wastepaper basket went straight in.

2. I made it all the way to the top of the escalator this morning without needing to stop for breath. I walk up the escalator and the ones at the exit to the office Metro stop are particularly long and steep.

3. I didn't cry in the office; I made it all the way to the bathroom and into the stall. Plus I kept my eye makeup from smearing.

4. I didn't tell that fetid pile of crap, Oscar, what I really think of him and his petty little trick. Don't think I didn't notice that you waited until Felix left the office for the morning to take your anger out on me.

5. The pants I'm wearing today, which were previously faaaaar too small, are actually a little too loose now.

6. I finished that last-minute memo with TEN MINUTES TO SPARE, despite Oscar's constant interruptions (in a thinly-veiled attempt to make sure that I couldn't complete the assignment on time, just because he didn't want it to get done and was pissed off that Felix overrode him).

7. I met with a client who was really hacked off because we'd "forgotten" to get started on her case-- the same one that the last-minute memo was for-- and went over her case with her. I showed her the memo and explained the rationale behind how we are structuring her petition. She left with a smile on her face and said many times that she felt so much better about things now.

8. I had a great talk with Asako after work. She is so nice and sweet and calming to be around, but also very funny. She reminds me a lot of Lasoe.

9. I found Pakora Khadi in a can. And it's actually incredibly good. I will be so sad when I have to go home and my supply runs out.

10. Pancho finally let me pet him tonight.

11. I made it home before 10 p.m. for the first time all week.

12. I finally got the chance to do my laundry. Clean clothes rock. Tomorrow, I'll do my sheets, unless Will or Grace needs the machine, seeing as how I've hogged it all night tonight and all. Clean, fresh sheets rock even more than clean clothes.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

But This One is Just Plain Cool

Bet you never knew I could speak Japanese!

He Must Have Been Sooo Disappointed

Just checked the stats for my blog and learned that some one came here through this search. (WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK) What makes it even funnier? Scroll down to see the snippet of my blog that appears on the list.

Why This Is Such a Great Job For Me, Part 2

I have 16 clients on my desk right now, from 15 different countries. How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Command Performance

I was informed at 1:30 this afternoon that I would be accompanying my boss, his wife, and a client, plus her "personal interest" (aka, much older boyfriend) to dinner. When I got up this morning, I could not find an outfit to wear because I need to do laundry. I ended up wearing my favorite slacks and a light, loose fitting summer sweater. Nice enough for our casual office on a warm day, but certainly not nice enough to go out to dinner with a client in. It was a hot day, I was sweaty, and overall really would have preferred to go home, change, wash my face and re-apply some eye shadow and lipstick, but I knew that would never happen.

So, instead, I went to a thrift shop around the corner on the off chance that they might have a nice shirt or sweater that I could douse in Downy Wrinkle Remover and make-do with. And, lo and behold, the gods shone favorably on me: not only did they have a sweet black sleeveless sweater, it was on sale for half price. I also picked up a lilac blouse that I will wear to work but never to socialize because it's very nice, but very "middle management". That, however, is another story. I stopped at CVS and bought some eyeshadow. Shortly before the end of the day, I slipped off to the ladies' room, where I washed my face with bathroom soap (ewww), moisturized with the hand lotion I keep in my bag (sigh), used the new eyeshadow (which I would have needed to buy soon anyway to replace my old one) and then turned my lipstick into "creme blush" (Necessity is the Mother of Invention) and used another, darker shade for my lips. Then I switched sweaters, steeled my nerves and was ready to go.

Felix drives like a lunatic. Like a lunatic who should never have been released from the asylum on a weekend pass. I was frantically pumping my passenger side air brake most of the way to his house. I don't think he noticed, though, since he was busy enlightening me on some obscure point of judaic belief and the story of a man he represented who was a falashe (I think that's how to say it).

We were greeted at the door by two enormous black dogs barking their heads off, but they were all bark and no bite at all-- once we opened the door, they pushed and shoved to get to me for petting and scratching of the ears. I am such a sucker for animals and in short order, those nice slacks were coated in black hair. Sigh.

I met Felix's wife, who seems much more down to earth than Felix is. And it's about this point in the evening that things got... I wanted to say "weird", but that would imply that it was out of the ordinary. Frankly, almost nothing that happens in connection with work or especially Felix surprises me anymore. Not that that's a bad thing-- I like the excitement and probably have some sort of sado-masochistic tendencies in seeking employment from places that are like this. So, seen in that light, I suppose the events of the evening were simply par for the course.

After meeting Felix's wife, I was then introduced to the man they are hiring to paint the house. Ex-hippie who is probably not reporting the vast majority of his income to the IRS, you know the type. Seems like a nice enough guy, though I'm not sure I would be terribly comfortable hiring him to paint my home while I'm gone on vacation. But, then, it's not really my decision, now, is it? Felix poured a glass of wine for us all-- painter included. The dogs were in hysterics over not one but TWO strangers in the house, both willing to be generous with the love. But no sign of the client who this whole thing was supposed to be in honor of. Meanwhile, Felix starts trying to push champagne on us.

An hour of loud conversation, mostly between Felix and the painter, and numerous phone calls later, the "personal interest" of the client shows up. He is obviously very anxious about the whole deal and makes much to do about a declaration of his intentions and expectations. Felix tries to soothe him. The Personal Interest keeps saying that he's convinced, but his body language says otherwise. Felix keeps bringing out autographed books written by the many scientists who are past clients of his and telling him about the near perfect record of approvals our office has. Finally, the man seems more or less convinced. He decides that, since the client was not able to join us, he shouldn't go out to dinner with us after all. All that fuss for nothing.

On a side note, during his "declaration", the personal interest mentioned several times that he expects to be named to a certain key anit-terrorism post by the end of the summer. I'll be interested to see if that turns out to be the case or if he was just blowing smoke.

So, the next thing you know, Felix and his wife are walking up the block with me to a little italian restaurant. They are friends with the owner and he was holding a table for us. He turned out to be the stereotypical Italian man, kissing everyone in sight, proclaiming loudly that he couldn't believe how beautiful I am, and so on. He sat and talked to us for a while, and I have to admit that I was quite taken with him.

We ordered a bottle of wine from the owners own vineyard back in Italy. All I can say is, wow. It was so good, smooth and dark, but not bitter at all. And there was just something so cool about the idea of drinking wine grown by the man sitting next to you at the table. I mean, I've never met Robert Mondavi, so that's just not the same, you know? Then the food came, and let me tell you, I nearly forgot about the wine. This was, without a doubt, the best Italian I've ever had.

The conversation wasn't as difficult as I had worried it might be. I've always gotten on far better with men than with other women for whatever reason-- though it's worth noting that my closest friends have nonetheless been women. But I enjoyed talking to Felix's wife quite a lot. We even managed to keep Felix from dominating the conversation, which was no small feat. It's not that he's overbearing, it's just that he's so damned enthusiastic, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise.

The restaurant was quite close to a Metro station, and I planned to simply ride the Metro back home and walk to the house, which isn't far at all. Felix would hear nothing of it, but insisted that I take a cab back at the firm's expense. Fine by me! He tried to hail a cab right in front of the restaurant, but all of the (D.C.) drivers claimed never to have heard of the (very large) Metro station I live near. Finally, it was agreed that I would take the Metro to the office and have the Concierge get me a cab to Rockville.

Did you ever read Ramona Quimby, Age 8? Ramona gets sick at school and her mother comes to pick her up in a taxi. Despite the fact that she is sick and upset, Ramona is thrilled to have the chance to ride in the taxi like a real grown up. I totally felt that way. I'd never ridden in a taxi before. It was really exciting, in a sad and demented way, to go up to the Concierge, flash a brilliant smile at him, and ask for a taxi to Rockville. Then I got in the cab and told the man where to take me, just like a real grown up. And he took off like a bat out of hell, which was exciting for about two minutes. After that, all I could think was I would have been safer walking home from the Metro!

I am having the best summer job experience ever.

Could You Be More Specific?

I answered the phone today at the office. The man on the other line asked to speak to Oscar, who was on another line. I asked if he wanted to leave a message.

"Yes, my name is Foreigner McAlien and my telephone number is 202 555 3897."

"OK, and can I tell Oscar what this is regarding?"

"Yes, it's about my immigration matters"

Ummm... yeeeeah. You and every one else who calls here!