Sunday, December 31, 2006

Taking Stock, 2006 Edition

More money or less?
Well, last year I earned a respectable sum over four months, and this year I also earned a respectable sum over four months. I worked a lot harder to get that money this year, but I think it was basically the same as last year, quantitywise. However, I am much further in debt this year... so I guess the answer is "less", yet another year in a row. However, I am confident that next year will be the year that I finally get to answer this question "more", if for no other reason than I won't be adding to my student loan debt for the first time in several years. Well, that and the fact that I expect to work the whole year instead of just a few months out of the year. I hope.

Biggest way to waste time?
Snuggling with Ash, falling asleep on the couch with Ash, hitting the snooze alarm four or five or ten times in a row...

Best use of time?

Every moment that I spent with Ash. Well, jeezum crow, y'all, didn't you see that one coming?? But no, seriously, I think I'd have to say learning to swim properly. It felt so amazing and empowering to take control and conquer one of my fears that way.

Best movie?
I've seen a lot more movies this year than I have in a long while, most of them with Ash. "Munich" was heartbreaking and gruesome. I thoroughly enjoyed "Thank You For Smoking". I laughed the entire way through "Borat", even the parts when I was thinking to myself "God, this is terrible! I can't believe I'm laughing at this!". I bet I also re-watched "Amelie" three or four times-- I love how it always makes me feel so optimistic and in love with life. But I think the best movie I saw this year was "Casablanca". What a magical evening that was!

Listened to?
All kinds of crazy stuff on Ash's iPod. Lots and lots of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. Luneray sent me the Arctic Monkeys CD, and I really loved it. It was on my mp3 player this summer, and whenever I hear anything from that album, it reminds me of running in the summer heat.


Lots and lots of bar review crap. Way too much of it was on Civil Procedure, a topic which was not tested at all. After the bar, I read a whole bunch of stuff with no substance to it whatsoever-- comics, magazines, some of my favorite children's books. Ash loaned me a collection of stories by Robert Heinlein, which I liked more than I expected to. Bouyed by the pleasure of that, I also agreed to read a couple of books by Dan Simmons, and both times I got really into the stories, staying up late to keep reading... and then got to the end and was enormously pissed at how half-hearted and unsatisfying the endings were. Most recently, I read Into Thin Air and Garlic and Sapphires, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I had a go at Fast Food Nation, but I'm finding it very pretentious and boring, so I doubt I'll bother to finish it. What I have not read yet, but intend to soon, is the final book in the Lemony Snicket series.

Fatter or Thinner?
Slighly fatter, since I did gain some weight while studying for the bar. I imagine it will start to go away again now that I've started working out in the company gym on a regular basis.

Smarter or stupider?
If Ash were here, he'd say "Definitely stupider-- you agreed to marry me!".

In a more serious vein (if answering a question like this can be said to be "serious", that is), I would have to say "smarter", if only by experience. This year was definitely one for re-evaulating myself and my life and the things that happened to me over the past several years, and I think I learned a healthy bit, some of it painful, some of it liberating, and I like how I've grown through that process. So, smarter.

Best buy?

My sweater shaver. I can't believe I've lived without one for this long. My favorite black sweater looks just as fabulous as when I first got it-- and I was totally thinking of getting rid of it because it just looked so old and worn.

Best bargain?

My new shower curtain. I love how it makes the whole room so warm and cozy.

Stupidest purchase?


Drank the most?
Blue Moon. Man, I drank a lot of Blue Moon this summer. That, of course, is because Blue Moon is a) mass-produced and domestic, so you can find it at a lot of places, b) cheaper than "real" Belgian beer, and c) very good. I was really disappointed that we never managed to try the Blue Moon pumpkin ale before it was gone.

Best drink?
Corsendonk, yum yum! And I love that I can get it on tap! And I also love that I can try all kinds of other wonderful (Belgian, mostly) beers right here in my very own neighborhood! No, wait! Those martinis that I had when I went out with N. before she left for California were really great. The little Thai restaurant we were at infuses its own flavored vodkas and the Asian Pear Martini was soooo good without being cloyingly sweet. And I cannot even begin to do justice to the Chocolate Martini.

Ate the most?
Cheese. I ate so much cheese. I mean, this is true every year, really, but it seems like I really went on a cheese binge this year. At one point recently, I had almost 5 lbs. of cheese in my refrigerator. And I live alone.

Worst food eaten?
Hmmmm. I can't think of anything I had this year that was truly atrocious. Though that one time that we went out with Ash's judge and the other clerks, the buffet was kind of grody. But they did have a few things that were pretty good, so I guess it wasn't terrible.

Best food eaten?
My 30th birthday dinner with Ash. I honestly couldn't tell you which part of the several courses was my favorite, but I can tell you how vividly I remember the mouth feel of the palate cleansing sorbet. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

New friends found?
This year, I was very lucky to get to know the very dear and funny Krista. I am sad that we never get to see each other anymore now that I'm not in law school anymore!

Old friends lost?

Yes, but, much like last year, I've come to realize that it was no great loss.

Resolutions not kept?
I don't think I made resolutions last year. I was so busy being in the flush of falling in love and all that, I wasn't really thinking "self-improvement".

Missed chances?

Failing the bar... and then it happened, and it turned out not to be all that big of a deal. Also, I am still terrified of spiders.

Biggest success?
You know, the best thing that happened to me this year was getting engaged to Ash, but I'm not certain that I feel comfortable calling it a "success". It's not like I purposely set out to "snag him" or something. It just sort of... happened, you know?

Biggest failure?

Surprisingly enough, not the bar. I think my biggest failure this year was not running a 5K. I really wanted to do it, and I just let a thousand little things get in the way of it. Maybe that should be my resolution this year.

Heathier or Sicker?

Healthier, overall. I'm thrilled to announce that, unless I come down with it in the next five hours, I have officially gone two whole calendar years without catching pneumonia!

Best spontaneous fun?

Visiting the carillion players in Beaumont Tower.

Learned the most?
About myself. I like the person I've been rediscovering and I want to be the kind of person I know she is capable of being.

What I definitely don’t want to see in the next year?

The bills for our wedding. Dear Lord, this crap is expensive.

TV puke?
Now that I don't have TV at home, I just can't get worked up about most things. Ash subjects me to a fair amount of crap on the Sci-Fi channel, and recently he made me watch some movie about dragons that eat people or something. I complained about it a little, then shut up because I love him and he seemed to really want to watch this movie. Sometime later, I mentioned the horrible dragon movie in passing, and he said "Oh, yeah. That movie was terrible, wasn't it."
"Well", say I, "Why did you make me watch it then?"
"I thought I might like it."


Right now, I'm loving "Everest: Beyond the Limit". It is train-wreck fascinating, and is, in fact, the reason why I decided to read Into Thin Air ten years after the fact.

Biggest change?

Moving into the working world. It's been a strange sort of transition, and was harder than I expected, especially once I started working a regular day job instead of the waitressing and tutoring I'd been doing. It's not like this is the first time I've had a regular, full-time "real" job before, so I don't know why it's been so difficult to get into a good routine that doesn't leave me feeling like I have no time to do anything except sleep and go to work. I miss having time to cook and talk to my friends and blog, and I know there's got to be a way to fit this stuff in. But somehow, it seems like I get home from work, slap something to eat together, and it's already time to go to bed, you know? I don't remember feeling this way when I was working full time between college and law school.

Biggest loss for mankind?

Another year of horrible decision making by Bush and Co. I cannot wait until 2009. The continuing crises in Africa. The ever-widening gap between the rich and poor.

Biggest Disappointment?
Another year has gone by and neither I nor anyone close to me has won the lottery. No, really. That's the biggest disappointment I can come up with. This has been one of the best, happiest years of my life. I feel good about everything, and I feel like more goodness is just around the corner.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

May you have a wonderful holiday filled with peace and love.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What is Art?

This is the most beautiful piece of vandalism I've ever seen. Intellectually, I understand that this is terrible and has caused a huge loss for this family and their farm. But I simply can't stop thinking that the swooping arcs look like art.


Modern Times

At the mall on my lunch break, totally booking it so that I can get to Bath and Body Works, pick out gifts for at least two people, and make it back to the office in less than 75 minutes*... and I come to a dead halt to gape at something I've never, ever seen before:

A Neutrogena vending machine.

Yes, just plug your nickel (and at least one Abe and a few Georges) into the slot, and out pops a sunblock, or a lip gloss, or a powder! How very convenient for those long Friday nights at the mall when you realize you forgot to moisturize before you left! Instead of choosing between running around all dehydrated or leaving the glittery consumerism for your dreary-by-comparison home, you can just slap on a little Healthy Defense and keep on keepin' on! Brilliant!

*Not that I normally get such a long lunch hour, but I had dispensation to take the longer break so long as I stayed a little later to make it up. Which I did.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Every Day, I Hate Her a Little More

Ethel is, as I'm sure you will all be shocked to learn, single. She lives in a condo, where she apparently spends a lot of time worrying about what her neighbors do and calling the Condo Association to complain. She also has an elderly mother who she spends at least an hour a day on the phone with, discussing medications, her problems with the neighbors, and her diet, mostly.
But today, she called her mother for the sole purpose of reminding her that it was exactly one year ago today that Rich died, and boy, is she glad that jerk got what was coming to him. She thought maybe her mother would like to "mark the day".

In an utterly unrelated conversation, she lamented the fact that she's unlikely to meet someone now, at her age. Myrtle consoled her, "Well now that you're losing all that weight, you never know."

Now, they do spend a large portion of every day discussing how many "points" different food items have in them. However, no matter how much weight Ethel loses, it won't change her hideous personality. Who would want to be with a edging-out-of-middle-aged woman who finds the death of another person to be cause for celebration? Now, lest you think that perhaps Ethel is justified in her hatred of the late Rich-- perhaps he has committed some horrible crime, raped or murdered someone she loves-- it comes out in the course of the multiple retellings that are de rigeur for her that Rich has drawn her ire because he divorced her sister and married another woman.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Artistic Verisimilitude

Like many other companies, my company has a train display in the lobby as part of our Christmas decorations. Unlike most other companies (I think), ours has roadkill in it. Right there in the middle, a car has swerved into one of the little green hills and a deer is draped across the hood.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't Flatter Yourselves

One of the adminstrative assistants on the floor passed by the Loud Ladies' cubicles and jingled the bells hanging on the wall, saying "Ho Ho Ho!" as she passed. In unison, as though they have rehearsed it, Ethel and Myrtle shout, "Who are you calling a ho?"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Car Talk

Doing my own car maintenance makes me feel like a total badass. I'm not hard core, or anything, but I'll do any of the little stuff like changing the air filter or checking the oil level, and I'll even make a go of slightly more complicated things like installing a new headlight. If the Toyota owner's manual gives directions and I can buy the parts at K-Mart or Target or Wal-Mart, I'm pretty game. There's something so pleasingly empowering about knowing which of the grime-encrusted pieces to pull out, push in, or rotate. I especially love when you finish and you get to drop the hood back down with a satisfying thonk, wiping the grunge from your hands with a rag as you walk away.

This weekend, though, I had to take the car in for a few more involved treatments. My tires were getting pretty bald, and I've been meaning to replace them for several weeks now. Last week's nasty ice and snow storm brought a new sense of urgency to the matter, so I had four new Goodyears with lovely deep tread installed, and replaced the battery while I was at it. To the best of my knowledge, the battery has not been replaced since I've owned the car-- eight years. I figured I was just living on borrowed time there. And tomorrow I'm taking it in to have my beloved mechanic figure out why it's running so loudly all of a sudden. Oh, and to have the only piece of simple routine maintenance that I won't even attempt taken care of: I need an oil change.

I hate to drive, I really do. But I love my car. It's nothing special, and it's not even paid for yet. But I've been all over the place in that car, and I know all of its little quirks, right down to the cappucino stains on the passenger seat, souvenir of a hurried morning running later than usual for work on an icy day in Buffalo, and the wonky vent that either points straight up at the ceiling or straight down at the floor, and just refuses to hold any position in between. If you know where to look, there's even a small dent in the ceiling where a perfect stranger smashed a spider with a rolled up paper, making it possible for me to finish driving home without having an accident either on the road or in my pants. Every once in a while, I borrow someone else's car and feel vaguely dissatisfied with my little four cylinder buggy, but it always wears off after a couple of days back behind the familiar wheel. It's dependable and remarkably cheap to run and maintain. I plan to drive it until it falls apart. Given the fact that my last Toyota was still going strong at 168,000 miles and 14 years when I totalled it (effing deer!), I've got reason to believe that our history together is just begun.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cubicle Physics

Ethel, one of the loud ladies, mused aloud to Myrtle, the other:

"Well, the light barrier hasn't been broken yet. The sound barrier, yes, but not the light barrier."

A thoughtful pause...

"Of course, if you broke the light barrier, you'd just disappear."


Friday, December 08, 2006

Lawyering at Its Finest

This afternoon, I had the distinct displeasure of working on what may actually be the sloppiest piece of legal work I've ever seen. It's full of incomplete sentences, disconnected phrases that break off into nothingness, often just at the crucial point. Sentences that make no sense: one part contradicts the next, or vital pieces such as a verb are missing. In other places, we find poor proofreading and just plain bad grammar. It is painful to read, and just opens the door wide for litigation over unclear terms and conditions. One example, with the identifying details removed, but all of the poor grammar left intact, right down to the lack of punctuation:

"Charges for increased utility rates shall not be passed through to Tenant which if submetered billed separately by the utility company and Tenant agrees to separate metering at Tenant's sole expense."

Ah, what the hey. Here's another one for that thrilling biting-on-tinfoil feeling:

"Tenant's failure to pay utility charges shall be deterred to be a failure of pay rent as required herein."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ho Ho Homicide

The lovely ladies in the next set of cubicles over have added another layer to their mystique: they've hung a large set of jingle bells from the shared cubicle wall. This occasioned a half hour or so of jokes about people touching their "big red balls", gigglegigglegiggle. And everytime one of them passes by, she jingles the bells. Every. Time.

Monday, December 04, 2006

So Much For Putting Those Counterfeit Krugerrands To Use

A document I reviewed today included a clause specifying that the fees contemplated in the contract are "$X payable in lawful money of the United States of America". I immediately had a mental image of some company lawyer insisting that this clause be included because "The last time, the jerks tried to pay in Confederate dollars. Better just close the loophole this time."

I think my imagination is getting away from me.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Passing the Torch

It was always a small point of pride for me that my blog held the number one spot when you google "I hate Nancy Grace." I see I've long since lost that honor, thanks to the many, many bloggers who ranted about the whole Nancy Grace Guest Commits Suicide thing. I miss TV sometimes, but I have to say, the whole "never accidentally running across the abomination that is Nancy Grace which flipping through the channels" thing is almost compensation enough for my severely curtailed access to the delights of A&E and TLC.