Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Can I Put It On My Resume Anyway?

Yet another meeting of the International Law Society begins shortly and I am only going because of the free food. I was very eager to join when I started here at Our Law School, especially because this is one of the areas that I thought I might like to practice in. First year, I left the meeting excited about the things that were planned, and kept an eagle eye peeled for information about these events in my email and in the school bulletin, only to be utterly disappointed. Nothing happened. Second year, same as the first, just a little more talk and one or two events that didn't quite happen.

I expect it to be the same this time: lots of talk about all the opportunities you have to get involved, little detail because everything is "to be announced", they'll pass around sign up sheets for different things, including people who want to form language tables where students can eat lunch together while speaking the foreign language of their choice, and then you hear nothing more until the end of the year when officers are mysteriously elected. I suppose I'm going for the food and for the eternal optimist in me that hopes maybe, just maybe, I'll be proven wrong and this will be the year that something happens. I would be happy just to have a language table get off the ground, preferably in German, though I would be happy enough with Spanish.


The elevator is always crowded at the top of the hour, when people are changing classes or going to or coming from the library. We squeeze in like sardines, backpacks and all. Today, a 1L got into the elevator at the same time as me and ended up standing directly in front of me. He's tall, so I was about at his shoulder, and he smelled so good, I almost commented on it. I thought that might be a little on the "scare the little 1L" side, so I bit my tongue. But, man, he smelled heavenly.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I’m watching coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while cleaning my living room. The cable news networks are running story after story about looting in the affected areas, complete with footage of people in the act. The anchors are narrating in proper tones of horrified outrage. And justifiably so: anyone who would take advantage of this terrible situation deserves to be lined up against the proverbial wall and shot. The fear of looters is what drives many people to ignore evacuation orders, hoping to protect their homes or livelihoods from unnecessary destruction at the hands of despicable morons with no conscience or morals.


A great deal of the footage that I’ve seen (though not, by any means, all of it) shows people carting away armloads of food and other similar items. One man was pushing a cartful of PUR water filtering pitchers. Call me crazy, but given the extreme level of destruction and the inability of the authorities to reach everyone right away, combined with the fact that there’s no way for people to get out of some of the areas, I’m thinking that’s not really looting. I’m not sure that I would be inclined to prosecute or even condemn people who break into a store under these circumstances to provide their families or neighbors with the things that are necessary for life.

The governor of one state (Mississippi?) held a press conference in which he warned that looters would be dealt with “ruthlessly”. Good. They should be. I hope that the law enforcement officials and district attorneys of those areas understand the difference between looting and breaking a window to steal a loaf of bread.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Oh My God, I Like Totally Can't Believe I Just Paid With My Very Own Credit Card!

Target on Freshman Move-In Day is just as bad—maybe even worse—as Christmas Eve. The place was stuffed to the gills with freshly “independent” Freshmen pushing carts loaded with dorm stuff and convenience foods, heady with the excitement of shopping without mom and dad. Whole groups of girls, obviously brand new roommates, all clinging to the same overloaded cart and giggling over which kind of mac and cheese to buy, picking out matching accessories for their rooms, all certain that they will be friends forever. Ah, the heady optimism of your first day at college.

Science Is Cool

Why the paintings of the Italian Renaissance are so luminous.

Pass the Coffee

I am not a fan of early morning anything. I think it should be illegal to transact business or have classes before 10 a.m. unless all parties involved mutually consent to earlier hours. (How lawyerly of me. This is my way of showing understanding for you freaks of nature, uh, I mean morning people.) I can see right now that I am going to struggle with this whole getting up and into school for an 8 a.m. class, especially once it gets cold and I really don’t want to get out from under the warm covers.

It doesn’t help that I am utterly uninterested in the actual topic. I am hopeful, however, that the professor will make it bearable. He’s something of a legend around school. Cocky and fairly self-centered, but very funny and relates well to the students, as well as being a good teacher. I met him last year while working on the Public Interest Society auction, in which he was an auctioneer. He would come into the office late in the evening on his way out the door after teaching a late class and hassle us good-naturedly. At the auction itself, he whipped the crowd into such a frenzy that he got people to bid against themselves on several occasions. It was like watching an old-school revivalist, working the congregation until the village ladies faint and Uncle Bob stands on his chair, speaking in tongues.

Professor Marx is not a professor by career. He is, in fact a partner at one of the big firms downtown. He is sharp. In our first class, he made us all introduce ourselves, telling where we’re from, where we went to college, what we majored in, and so on. I’m told that he will remember these things about all 134 of us. I am hoping this also means that we will not wallow in jurisprudence this semester, but rather that he will take a practical approach to the material. There are plenty of classes in law school that are corpulent with high-minded philosophical bloviation with little or no application in real-life practice—I suppose this is the inevitable result when the vast majority of law professors are not practicioners or former practicioners, but rather the straight-A students who then did not leave the law school, just changed which side of the podium they stand on. It’s like getting lessons on sexual techniques from a Catholic priest. Theory can only take you so far.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

That's Me: Hot, Bitter, Strong, and Expensive

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

No More Insane Than Usual

Kitty did much better than expected. My method of operation this time was to do the exact opposite of what seems like the right thing to do. I didn’t restrict her food or water intake. I didn’t line the carrier with one of my worn t-shirts. I didn’t place the carrier in the backseat where she couldn’t see me. Instead, I moved the front passenger seat up as far as it would go and belted the carrier in there.

We started off the trip with the usual yowling, including the very, very funny ones that sound like she’s screaming “HelLO! HelLO! HelLO!” at the top of her little kitty lungs. But that only lasted for the first forty-five minutes or so. Then she settled down to muttering pathetic little meows under her breath. Eventually, she went to sleep and fell into a pattern of fifteen or twenty minutes of sleep, followed by five or ten minutes of pathetic meowing, but no yowling. She seemed to be reassured by being able to see that I was right there next to her, though a particularly loud semi freaked her out enough to set off a few minutes of inconsolable yowling.

The trip was topped off with a bath as soon as we arrived home. Kitty was so traumatized that she hid under the bed until the next evening. However, given that she’s spent every night since sleeping pasted to my chest, I think she’s forgiven me for the whole experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I May Be Insane By This Time Tomorrow

The cat does not travel well.

She never has. In fact, she doesn't much care for outdoors, period. I could leave my front door wide open and never worry about losing the cat because she won't go outside-- the very definition of "fraidy-cat". My parents live a solid drive away. It doesn't take all day to get there, but it does take a good chunk of it. This means that tomorrow, when I stuff the cat into her carrier and wedge her into the car, I begin the World's Longest Journey to the accompaniment of desperate, heart rending yowling. The grande finale includes a bath for kitty and the joy of cleaning a soiled cat carrier for me. With a little luck, I can make it in and take care of all of this before my neighbors get home from work.

Then I get to go to school for an officers' meeting. Frankly, I would be just as glad to put off seeing the inside (or outside, for that matter) of Our Law School a few days longer. It is my understanding that we are still missing keys to the office, the bank account has not yet been turned over to the new officers, and we are no closer to a new computer than when I left in May. Hopefully, these will all be quickly and easily remedied. See how optimistic I always am when I start a new school year?


The coffee was good this morning. Too good. I am shaking like a leaf and my heart is beating an irregular tatoo fit for a Bix Beiderbeck performance. The inevitable crash will be epic.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Now I Feel Like a Fool

My parents are having a new deck put on their house. They've been talking about it all summer and my mother has brought it up many times during our phone conversations. I've heard about how the original plans, which would have recreated the original deck, only sturdier and without the access to the (now dismantled) swimming pool, were scuttled when it was discovered that the steps were 1/2 inch higher than allowed in the building code. Then I heard about how they couldn't find a good contractor to do the work at a price they could afford. At one point, my mother was randomly knocking on doors in the neighborhood when she saw a deck that she liked to ask who did the work. She mentioned one man in particular on several occasions. He had done the work himself, but was reluctant to contract to do my parents' deck, as he is a retired contractor and, I presume, would like to enjoy his retirement.

Monday morning, my mother called several times to see if "Jim" had shown up to start work on the deck. And eventually, a guy pulled up in a big truck and started ripping out the old deck, so I called her to tell her that Jim had, indeed, arrived. She asked me to give him her work number before I left the house to meet someone for lunch, just in case there were any problems. So I jotted the number on a piece of paper and wrote my mother's name at the top of the page-- first and last name, just in case he didn't know it off the top of his head-- and took the note out to Jim. He looked at me a little weirdly, but I just figured it was because I was leaving the house with my hair still wet.

That evening at the dinner table, my dad asked me if I'd recognized Jim. "Nooo... should I have?" Turns out Jim is Jim Early, my cousin. Jim and his brother John are the oldest children of my oldest aunt. They were in high school when I was born. I can barely remember their younger sister, Leanne. Our extended family never was particularly close, especially on my dad's side. Add that to the fact that the Early family lived in another state and Jim in particular had moved even further away while I was still in high school, and you have a series of events that mean I haven't actually laid eyes on Jim (or John) in at least 15 or 20 years. Of course I didn't recognize him! And you'd think someone would have thought to mention at some point that a)Jim had moved back to the area and b)we'd decided to hire him to build the deck, not just some contractor who happens to be named Jim.

I felt a little better when he called my dad that night to ask if the person who brought him the telephone number was his daughter. He hadn't recognized me, either. When he showed up today to start work, we smiled at each other sheepishly.

Nobody tells me anything important around here!

Monday, August 22, 2005

In Which I Think to Myself: I'm a Citizen, I Don't Need A Visa

Thursday, a client brought me flowers. Friday, my second-least-favorite client spent the morning with me. We hadn't seen hide nor hair of him in a good month. His last visit started with a fight when he and Felix disagreed on how to proceed with his case (which sort of flabbergasted me; why hire an attorney if not to tell you how best to proceed?) and ended with the decision that we were going to file a different kind of visa than originally agreed on (and which, by the way, I had already done 70% of the work for). Grammar Boy was supposed to bring us two pieces of needed documentation so that we could prepare the new visa.

That was the last we heard of him until I decided to finish as much of the Petition and Memorandum as possible so that someone else wouldn't get stuck doing it from scratch after I leave. You know the expression "Speak of the Devil and he is bound to appear"? Grammar Boy called this Monday and asked to make an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. I set up a 3:30 appointment for him and then spent the rest of the day and most of the next morning busting my butt to get his materials finished (except for the parts dealing with those two missing pieces of documentation, of course). I even set up and formatted the two missing sections. 3:30 came and went and no sign of Grammar Boy. That wasn't too shocking because he always shows up a minimum of an hour after his scheduled appointment. This is, by the way, mostly par for the course with our clients. I don't know if that's because of cultural differences or because they've figured out that our office isn't exactly big on formalities, including strict adherence to appointment times. However, Grammar Boy takes it to a whole new level. And on this particular Tuesday, he outdid himself-- we closed the office at 6 p.m. having seen not a hint of Grammar Boy.

Wednesday, there was a lot of joking about his no show for the appointment, and I moved on to other projects. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up on my clients and the last thing I wanted to do was to hand the Senior Paralegal a stack of files, each with just one more thing to be done, first of all, because I didn't want to leave that kind of impression and second of all, because I like my coworkers and wouldn't want to stick them with that kind of work. So I spent Wednesday trying to finish an E-visa, filling out Adjustment of Status forms for two clients whose I-140s are still pending, and starting a summary of case status for each of my clients. Well, at least that's what I had planned to do, until Grammar Boy and his faithful girlfriend, Grammar Girl waltzed in the door at 4 p.m. that afternoon.

Twenty-five hours late for his appointment, a new record, ladies and gentlemen!

They proceeded to get into a minor imbroglio with Felix over the fact that his Petition had not been filed. Completely ignoring, of course, the fact that he still had not supplied us with the needed documents, nor had he been in touch with us at all for a month. Felix was having none of it. I, for my part, made myself scarce, being busy and unwilling to get sucked into the drama. It ended with the agreement that Grammar Girl was going to come in on Thursday morning and go through the eight or ten inches of papers to cull the appropriate material (armed with a list we drew up) in exchange for a discount on the legal fee, while Grammar Boy would sit with me and draft the two missing sections of the memo, then we would fill out the forms and he would take the whole thing to the appropriate person at his place of employment for signatures, then bring it back to us and we would file it on Friday.

Except that neither of them showed up.

Oh, Grammar Boy called me to let me know they were running late-- at 10, at 12, again at 3:30-- and then he wanted to reschedule for Friday. I told him that if he came on Friday, he had to be there at 9 am on the dot because our office was closing at 1 pm. He seemed shocked at that, but agreed.

Friday morning dawned grey and rainy, a desolate pouring kind of rain that left a distinct chill in the air. At 9:30, Grammar Boy came rushing in breathless and full of apology for being late. Another first ladies and gentlemen! We took his files down to the annex office and spent the better part of the next hour picking over everything piece by piece. He fretted over whether the letter from Government Official #1 should go before or after Government Official #2 and I could barely restrain myself from yelling "WHO CARES? They aren't going to bother to read them anyway! And both letters suck!" Superhuman self-restraint, my friends.

As it turned out, Grammar Boy had shown up without the missing documents AND utterly unprepared to fill out the forms for immigration, which are extremely detailed. Felix hit the roof. I scuttled away to my office, hoping to avoid the worst of it (I mean, people, it's my last day!), but they drifted into my office as the argument progressed. Finally, Felix told Grammar Boy to get out of the office and not come back until he had the missing documents and the information on the forms. Grammar Boy, as one might expect, did not take it well. However, Felix can be stubborn when he wants to and stood his ground, letting Grammar Boy know that he had wasted his golden opportunity to have me finish his application, that he was running the very real risk that he will end up out of status and that our law firm is not a babysitting service. Grammar Boy left the office in a snit.

But that wasn't the last of him. Oh, no. He called me two more times, not to say goodbye or thanks for the work on his case, but to ask me to do him just one more favor-- that is, to do some extra work on his case. I politely refused, telling him that I had other clients who needed my attention before I left and reminding him that I had cleared Thursday for his case. He meekly accepted my mild scolding and hung up.

Goodbye, Grammar Boy. I sure hope your green card gets approved because I take pride in the work I do. And I did a heck of a lot of work on your case. Your credentials are not stellar and if you do get approved, it will be because I rock. You, of course, being endowed with an outsized ego, will never recognize or admit this. Oh, well... at least I can console myself with the knowledge that I made more as a summer intern than you do working at your fancy think tank.


I have been on dial-up since my very first connection to the Internet. I've always, except for the time I was living in the City of Light, had free dial-up through my school, so I could never see the reason in paying for a quicker connection, given the fact that I am reliant on my own not-very-deep pockets for support. I've been satisfied with it for the most part, though the occasional problems logging into the remote access server at Our Law School crop up. There are some things, like downloading an update for Mozilla, that just take too long on dialup. I just wait and take care of them at school, where the library has high speed Wireless. No problem.

This summer, I lived in a house with wireless. When Grace first told me that rent included Wireless, I saw that as a kind of bonus, the sort of thing where you wouldn't seek it out, but once you find it available, you think "Ooo, that's nice!". Now, having spent 15 weeks surfing the web from any old place I want, including the living room couch and my comfy bed, no page too large, no picture too slow to download. I am now horrified by dial-up. In fact, I am at my parents' house right now and they have DSL and frankly, I'm horrified at the fact that I have to be downstairs in the computer room to connect to the internet instead of being able to take the ol' VAIO upstairs and blog while I wait for my coffee to brew. How will I ever survive? [/melodrama]

Calamity Jane

In the latest installment of misadventure to befall my life, the muffler fell off my car as I was tooling along a remote stretch of I-70 at 80 mph. In a section which had very recently been under construction and for which the medians had not been recreated. The sudden onset of a terrible noise like the grating of the gates of Hell scared the crap out of me. My first thought was that I had blow a tire, just like that time 10 years ago, but the car was handling fine, so I knew that couldn't be the case. I coasted to the first spot I could find that seemed safe to pull over in and got out to see what on Earth could possibly be making a sound like that but seemingly not affect the handling of the car.

Now, I pay a lot of money to get the AAA-Plus instead of plain old AAA for precisely this reason. I don't drive a lot in the city itself, and most of the 60,000 miles on my car are highway miles on my way to see my parents or to see Finbar over the past seven years. So I wasn't too concerned with getting help from someone, though I wasn't sure exactly what I would do if it turned out that the car needed immediate and serious attention and could not be driven until that happened. I got out the Super Secret Emergency Cell Phone and pressed "On". No signal. Because, I suppose, it was too rural, too far from the nearest tower. Of course.

And so began my long wait. There was nowhere for me to sit down safely and the sun was shining unmercilessly. I considered walking to the next exit for help, but I really didn't know where the next exit might be and in this stretch of I-70, the distance could well be measured in double digits. I surveyed the field behind me, wondering if I could hike across it to a farmhouse. But I couldn't see a house anywhere in sight, so it seemed better not to set off across a strange field that might have any one of many dangerous features in this the day of modern agribusiness.

Eventually, the driver of a flatbed tow truck pulled over. We rummaged through my trunk for material, but unfortunately, I had cleaned it out to move my stuff in. The only thing I could come up with was a hoop made of some stout wire that I think may have come off of my hubcap several years back. You know, Hulio: the same wire hoop that you took out of my car on Saturday, thinking it was part of my luggage (because, I suppose, it would be entirely in-character for me to have brought a wire hoop as a souvenir of my travels?). I am really, really, really glad that you asked me about it before bringing it inside. There wasn't time to go through all those boxes and put it all away before I left. The truck driver got a big ol' toolbox from his cab and deftly broke the hoop into pieces, then used the pieces to reattach the muffler to the body of the car so that I could make it home. And he wouldn't accept my money or my AAA card, just told me to have a good day. In fact, I saw him pull over about 10 miles up the road and watch to make sure that I passed by, just checking to make sure I was okay. Amazing.

Now I just need a good mechanic.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Who Do You Think You're Fooling?

There is a special extra-toasty seat reserved in the innermost circle of Hell for the person who designed Verizon's customer service. I went from calm to screaming obcenities at the phone in less than 39 seconds. First, I HATE systems that force you to go through more than one layer of choices. In fact, I'm not a real fan of systems that make you listen to more than three choices on the first layer. I do recognize the potential usefulness to both consumer and provider that an automated system offers. However, in my ideal version, the first layer would be "If you would like to use our automated system for information like account balance and amount due, change of address, or payment address, press 1 now. If you would like to speak to a customer service representative, please press 2 now." If you choose to go to the automated system, you should have no more than four choices per level and each level should include the option to get a live representative on the line. If you have a request that can't be handled by the automated system, you should be able to bypass the annoying voice and get in the queue for a live agent. I especially hate it when the system refuses to transfer you to a live representative and just hangs up if you don't input information that it likes. I double especially hate it when the system requires you to input multiple pieces of personal information (account number, last four digits of your Social Security Number, etc), and then when you finally get through to a live representative, none of that information has been transmitted to him or her so that you have to give it all over again. I know full well that it's possible for this information to be transmitted to the agent's computer screen simultaneously with your call being transmitted to his telephone headset because I worked in a call center and saw that very system work for 45 or 50 hours a week for two years running.

Anyway, Verizon's system is particularly odious. First of all, it's got very loud music and very soft voices. This means that you either go deaf or miss instructions. Second, each time you pass into a new layer of automated choices, it starts with the same announcement about using for your customer services needs. Ummmm, yeah... my problem is that I can't get a dial tone, so that means I can't use Hence, I am calling you. Believe me, if there was any way that I could resolve this without calling you, I would have availed myself of it-- anything to avoid this automated system of the devil! Point #2.5, which my more astute readers will already have deduced, is that the Verizon customer service system has multiple layers of choices. Third of all, it's one of those dual voice/ touch tone systems. I don't know how to explain how much these things annoy me, mostly because they seem to still have major problems with actually recognizing responses.

However, the thing that really put me over the edge was the Voice. It's so irritating! It sounds like a woman who thinks she's Carrie Bradshaw and if it were a real person, she would probably have a maxed out credit card full of charges for hideous designer clothes and botox. As it "guides" you through the multiple layers of choices, it continually tells you that it's "sorry" but it "couldn't understand what you were trying to tell" it. Eventually, it promised to transfer me to a live agent, but then it added (in the prissiest little voice) "You should know that we are having a very heavy call volume, so you'll probably have to wait a while." Hey, great. Thanks for sharing. Of course, if your stupid system would have just let me choose "Speak to a live agent" right off the bat, I would already have five or ten minutes of waiting behind me, so I can't say that I'm really feeling like your concern for me and my valuable time is sincere. Then, while I was on hold, it would interrupt me every 30 seconds or so. "I've been looking for someone to take your call, but everyone is busy. Oh, and by the way, you can also get information by going to". By the way? As if the Voice suddenly remembered to tell you something? Puh-leeze.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Story of My Life

I drove back to my "real" apartment today. Each time I made the trip this summer, when I was anxious to get there because I knew Finbar would be there waiting for me, there was some snafu or another that stretched the trip out by an hour or more. Today, when not even the cat would be there to greet me, I made it in less time than Mapquest claims you need-- something I'd never accomplished.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Busy Little Blogger

Wow, I am sure blogging a lot tonight, huh?

Let me tell you a secret: it's because I don't want to pack.

Asako says "When the test is tomorrow, our desks get cleaned." Yes, we understand each other well, we fellow procrastinators.

I have way more stuff here than I thought I did. I hope I can get it all back into my car. I keep telling myself that if I brought it down in one load, I can take it back in one load. Problem is, of course, that I brought this and that back with me from my various trips back home this summer. I'm hoping that I maintained a good balance by taking things back as well.

I'm also dreading unpacking. There won't be much (any) time between arriving back home and starting school, especially since I've got to make a detour to see my parents and pick up the cat before really getting home. I'll be going through my closets again to sell some of my clothes, which will also be a time consuming pain (though necessary, given the fact that I have so little storage space). It's so unsettling to have things stirred up like that.

I am, however, looking greatly forward to being in my own four walls again. I have not by any means been unhappy with my roommates or my living situation-- in fact, I feel very fortunate to have ended up here and to have found such wonderful friendship, especially Will. Still, I miss my (formerly) curry scented couches, my bookshelves, and my kitchen full of gadgets. I'm excited about the opportunity to take a bubble bath every single day if I feel like it. I'm hoping that my own bed and a purring cat will help relieve my insomnia.

Of course, first I have to pack. And I just don't *want* to do that!

I Knew There Was A Reason Why I Love the German Language

Today I learned that "errant apostrophe" in German is "Deppenapostroph"-- literally, "idiot's apostrophe".

Mmmm...Hamsters *drool*

Reward For A Job Well Done

Today, one of my clients brought me flowers to thank me for all the hard work I had done on her case. I was touched and very happy. This job has been very rewarding for me, despite the very frustrating downsides, but it was so nice to have someone come and express sincere gratitude for the work I did (usually *ahem* the attorney gets all the credit. Not that I expected it to be any different).

I sure hope her visa gets approved.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Want to Believe

I've been touched by His Noodly Appendage

Be sure to read the email section, too. I TOTALLY want this t-shirt. YARRRR!!!

P.S. Thanks to Hulio for the link. I laughed much harder at this tonight than I did last time. "Noodly Appendage"

Oh, And A Copy of "The Rules"

This article popped up on MSN today and I was bored at work, waiting on hold for Immigration, so I read it (even though I normally avoid articles like this like the plague). I was disgusted. Buy CDs you don't listen to so that he'll think you're cool! And make sure you don't listen to too much of that Lillith Fair crap or he'll think you're a lesbo. Don't wear comfortable shoes, make sure you're wearing heels-- you may get hammertoes, but at least you'll look sexy! Buy magazines you don't like and don't read and keep them in your bathroom so he'll be happy when he's launching the Spanish Armada in your bathroom! Keep fancy microbrews in your fridge, even if you prefer wine or don't drink at all! You're not a real woman if you don't do these things and you will DIE ALONE IN A HOUSE FULL OF CATS!

Look, if you would do these things anyway, then fine, whatever, if it makes you happy. But I fail to see how pretending to be something that you aren't is a good dating strategy. Sure, I wouldn't fart on a first date, but neither am I going to put on a personality that isn't mine. You can't keep that kind of charade up for long after all. It seems to me that the point of dating is to meet people and try them on, so to speak, for compatibility. Hopefully you have a lot of fun along the way... and I don't know how you can have fun when you're pretending to be something you aren't.

But then, I guess I never was a Cosmo Girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Fitting Farewell

The firm held a goodbye luncheon for me today. It was slightly... nontraditional. Just like everything else about this firm. I learned a lot about immigration law this summer, but I don't think I learned anything at all about what it's like to really be a lawyer. Many (most? all?) firms take their summer associates out for a goodbye fete of some sort, I think. Or maybe I've read too many John Grisham novels. Not my firm. Oh, no.

My goodbye luncheon was catered by an Ethiopian woman Felix met at a flea market on Saturday.

No, really. Please, if you don't believe me, re-read that sentence again:

My goodbye luncheon was catered by an Ethiopian woman Felix met at a flea market on Saturday.

Now, don't get me wrong. I didn't expect to be taken to the most exlusive restaurant in Washington or anything. I wasn't insulted or upset. I was, however, wildly amused. The meal was served in our annex office-- extra space we've recently rented on another floor of the same office in an attempt to alleviate the overcrowding in our current office until a larger suite or some continguous space comes available-- four days before my actual departure. Felix made sure to tell me at least forty times that he brought the tablecloths in especially for me, to make my lunch nice. Oscar rolled his eyes at me behind Felix's back several times. I solemly avoided giggling.

The food was wonderful. I'd never had Ethiopian food before, so I was excited to have this opportunity. I would love to find a recipe for the chicken and eggs in some sort of spicy red sauce. Felix opened a bottle of sparkling Ukrainian wine (semi-dry my foot, it was like carbonated Welch's) and made a strange toast, then we all sat around and ate, little conversation going because frankly, the main topic of conversation in our office the past couple of weeks has been how crazy Felix has been acting. So Felix held forth at length about numerous topics, including why old men marry young women.

It was just so very typical of everything that has happened this summer. Strange, but tasty.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm Still Alive

Apologies for the broadcast silence... I've had some very painful personal things to deal with in Real Life. There are times when blogging is very therapeutic and helps to work through the anger or the pain in a way that writing in a journal can't, perhaps because blogging combines the contemplative process of writing with the solace of human contact, just knowing that someone out there is reading-- like having a good listener when you have a problem. Advice not necessary, just a willing ear.

This is not one of those times.

But I am getting my feet back underneath me. I'm ready to blog about the other things in my life and just be me again. See you soon.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tips For Job Candidates

Based on my experience as an observer of the first round of interviews for a receptionist in our office:

1. A t-shirt (even a nice one!) and parachute pants are not appropriate attire for a job interview in a law office.

2. If you call to reschedule your interview once, that's no big deal. Emergencies come up in everyone's life. If you call to reschedule twice, you've probably just relocated your resume to the wastebasket, especially if your reason for rescheduling is "I just can't make it".

3. You might want to consider running a brush through your hair before the interview.

4. Your first interview is not the appropriate time or place to talk about a weekend drinking party with your buddies.

5. Subject-verb agreement is important. So is the ability to speak clearly, especially given that you are interviewing for the position of "Receptionist"-- that is, the person who forms the first impression of our firm for clients.

6. If you've had seventeen jobs in the past three years, you might consider working for a temp agency. It would certainly look better on your resume than seventeen jobs that "didn't work out".

7. Remember that you have no idea who will be interviewing you. It is therefore in your best interest to be friendly to everyone. That means you, girl who gave me a dirty look when I passed her in the hallway while you were on your cellphone. You too, girl who snapped at me when, returning from lunch to find her sitting in the reception area and no one at the front desk, I asked you if you had an appointment. I had no way of knowing whether or not anyone knew you were out front and was merely trying to be friendly and helpful to you. You had no way of knowing that I wasn't going to be the interviewer and could have blown your chance at the job with that snotty attitude. If I had been the interviewer, I likely would have sent you packing immediately.

8. If we give you directions to the office telling you to take the Metro to Stop X and go into the building immediately next door to the exit, don't get off at Stop Y, several stops down the line, and get upset when we can't tell you exactly how to walk from Stop Y to our building. First of all, you are not impressing anyone with your intellect, seeing as you were given specific and simple directions to our building and couldn't seem to follow them. Second of all, see Tip #7.

Persistence of Time

I suppose it’s one of the great eternal questions, of course: why do the good times fly by in great gulps of minutes while the bad times drip tortuously past in stretched-out seconds?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Trying to Keep Perspective

Sometimes blogging is therapeutic for me. I'm frustrated about something or angry and I can blog about it. In the process, as I'm choosing words and trying out the phrasing, playing with the language I'm crafting the experience in, some part of the anger and frustration gets siphoned away by the creative process. It's something akin to the Law of Conservation of Matter, only more metaphysical than physical. I keep a sporadic journal as well and if someone were to read that journal, they would think I spent my whole life depressed or anxious or furious, when really, it's just that those are the times that I needed to write, to get the poison onto the page where it can't hurt as much as it does in your veins, to tell someone the things that I don't dare say out loud to anyone else in the whole world.

But then there are the things in life that make you feel as though the rug has been pulled out from underneath your feet. You question your sanity because suddenly, the order of the world is utterly different from the order you've been forced to recognize suddenly. How do you bring your life back into perspective? How do you make yourself feel secure and grounded in reality again? How do you solve the puzzle when you realize that the pieces have a different shape than you thought they did?

With the distance of a decade and change, I've come to realize that a lot of adolescence is spent in this very state. It's why, as John Ciardi said, "You don't need to suffer to be a poet, adolescence is enough suffering for anyone". And for this very reason, I've come to really enjoy working with teenagers. I love seeing them working through the hormonal haze and forming the first outlines of the adults they will become, putting out those first tendrils of empathy and understanding that others are suffering in the same way as they are, that we're all lonely souls at heart, at least some of the time. It's one reason why my volunteer work with YFU has been so satisfying for me.

How, then, does an adult properly come to terms with this kind of tumult? I got up this morning and I did what I had to do. There were many moments throughout the day when all I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed and stay there, but I know that would be a huge mistake. So, instead I met Asako for coffee. I went grocery shopping with Will. I made it through today. Tomorrow is waiting for me and I'm trying to remember that if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I'll make it through tomorrow and then the day after that and the day after that.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Given my ever-dwindling time in D.C. and my tight schedule in the few days between ending my job and starting the new semester, I am trying to overcome my natural tendency to procrastinate and get a start on my packing. I brought my stuff down here in an assortment of plastic bags and cardboard boxes, which I promptly threw away because there wasn't really anywhere to store them and the idea of living with cardboard boxes piled up in my room all summer made me feel claustrophobic.

Luckily, things have a way of working out in life. A new company moved into the empty suite on our floor of the office building this week. They've left sturdy packing boxes-- the expensive professional kind with handles!-- outside their door each night and I've nicked one every night and dragged it home on the Metro. These boxes are sweet. The first couple of times I moved, I flirted with the dairy manager at the neighborhood Kroger's and sweet talked him into putting aside the egg boxes after the next shipment. These boxes were great because they were thick and sturdy, had handles, and were just the right size: big enough to hold almost any household item, but small enough that they didn't get heavy. Then the dairy manager quit or got fired or moved to another department, who knows, and the new manager was not quite as susceptible to my charms.

Luckily, things have a way of working out in life. Hulio had started working for a grocery store and snagged boxes from the health and beauty section of the store for me. Good thing I'd outgrown that teenage embarassment over anything to do with menstruation, since a good many of these boxes had "ALWAYS" or "TAMPAX" on the sides, often in bright pink letters. The best part of the grocery store boxes is that they came in all sorts of sizes, so you could use smaller boxes for books and larger boxes for clothes and still larger boxes for pot and pans. The worst part of the grocery boxes is that none of them had handles and they all had to be re-taped along the bottom as well as the top, resulting in the use of far greater quantities of packing tape. But eventually Hulio quit that job to try and make it in the "Real World" and my supply of moving boxes dried up.

Luckily, things have a way of working out in life. I had been waitressing and when I mentioned to the bartender that I was worried about finding enough boxes to pack in, she left a note to the bar staff, and the next thing you know, I was leaving after every shift with an armload of liquor boxes. These boxes are good and sturdy, which is important, because by this point, I was already in the neighborhood of 500 books or so and they are heavy. The downside, as with the grocery store boxes is that they don't have handles, but as a general rule, the boxes are shaped for easy carrying, so it's not so bad. The funny side, of course, is that your neighbors could very well get the wrong idea about someone who carries box after box up the stairs marked "ABSOLUT" and "BUD LIGHT". However, I left waitressing behind for a more genteel occupation while I was living in that particular place and didn't really know anyone personally who was still working retail and lived in the same city as me.

Luckily, things have a way of working out in life. Finbar and I drove around to the local liquor stores and begged boxes from anyone we thought would give us even one or two. Occasionally, we would be turned away with the excuse that they needed the boxes for the paying customers. But most of the time, we would either be told that we could take a few (say five or six) or that we could have all we wanted if we drove around to the loading dock. So I once again moved into a new place carrying liquor boxes past my new neighbors and snickering over what they must have thought. Twelve miserable months later, I suppose they were thinking "suckers.", but I had no way of knowing what horrors the term of that lease would bring. The last couple of moves I made, I used the same technique and got tons of boxes reading "CUTTY SARK" and "MIDORI". Some of them come with little cardboard dividers that are perfect for packing glassware. Some were glued shut with industrial strength epoxy second only in sticking power to oatmeal left to sit overnight in the kitchen sink.

So I have a handful of these excellent professional moving boxes in my possession now and the ingrained habit born of moving eight times in ten years makes me feel like I have to get a friend and drive back to the office so that we can stuff every possible inch of my car with collapsed boxes, especially since these boxes are so perfectly sweet. I think I'll actually have trouble putting these boxes out to the trash when I'm finished and back in Our Fair City.


I am the last person in the Western Hemisphere to start eBaying, I know. And I probably wouldn't have started if I didn't need a cheap version of the ethics textbook so badly. It's not available on OR, but there *was* one on eBay. So I marked the auction and kept an eye on it for the next few days. I already have a username and account because I sell my old textbooks on, so all I really had to do was set up a Paypal account, which I did, and read the sections on how to bid.

There were two bidders on the book who were bidding each other up in increments of $1 or so. I figured I'd try to "snipe" the auction and spent well over an hour checking the auction and trying to figure out the best strategy. I decided to put in a bid in the last minute or so at $10 higher than the current-at-that-time bid, hoping that would put me ahead of any maximum bid by proxy. Alas, I was too cheap. Another bidder bid $30 more and walked away with a copy of the textbook for less than $50. I was totally bummed out.

Today, I learned through a message board I occasionally read and post to that "sniping" is considered by some to be unethical. This makes no sense to me. If you are at a real world auction, there is nothing to stop you from bidding in the last minutes, is there? I don't see how sniping is any different. In fact, sounds like sour grapes to me. I really wanted that textbook and I'm disappointed that I didn't get it, but someone bid more than I did and that's that. I'll be keeping my eyes out for another auction, and if one should be posted, I'll bid on that one, too. Otherwise, I'll head to the bookstore and pay full price for the new text. There's no constitutional right to win an eBay auction, after all.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Why is it that, when you are most exhausted, that is exactly when you get the worst insomnia? If I could stay home from work tomorrow, I would sleep until 2 p.m. and be back in bed before 8 p.m. Right now, at midnight, I can't get my mind to shut down and go to sleep. Will I have enough money to pay rent and buy groceries through the school year? Should I drop Chinese for Lawyers? Why do I have so much crap? Why do I still want more crap when I already have too much of it? Why is my stomach rumbling when I just ate dinner four or five hours ago? Why can't I get myself to start exercising, if not so that I can lose some of the pudge around my hips and middle, then at least because I should take care of my heart and lungs a little better than I have been. What if I don't get any interviews for jobs? What if I can't get a job, even if I get interviews? What if that bug on my ceiling crawls on me after I fall asleep? What if it bites me? What if it crawls in my mouth and I accidentally swallow it?

Counting sheep is not cutting it tonight.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This Is Why He's Dog the Bounty Hunter and Not Dog the History Professor

Dog and the crew are headed up into the back hills of Hawaii to chase a fugitive. Dog mugs for the camera:

"If she's hidden out up here, she's hidden out good. Nobody's been up here since Lewis and Clark."

Then a minute or two later, he says "We're not dumb like you're making us out to be."

Hee hee.