Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What Is This Strange Feeling?

I do believe it's a sense of accomplishment. And not because of the bar exam. I rode that high for about three days, but now I'm on to my real life, and I have been seriously busy.

I'm officially working in my new job and it's been an interesting week. I've done something new every day. On the one hand, that's so awesome! I'm learning a ton and gaining a bunch of new skills, my days fly by, and I'm getting to know a lot of people in other departments. On the other hand, this is so stressful! I'm completely outside my comfort zone, I never quite know exactly what I'm doing, it's difficult to get a good routine going, and I'm pulled in several different directions. On the third hand (what on earth is in the drinking water here that I'm growing extra appendages?), I'm not really doing the things that I'm "supposed" to do in this job. Most of the time, I don't mind. It never hurts to get a reputation as a team player, nor does it hurt to learn skills outside your job parameters. In fact, I'd think those are two very good things. And I'm getting face time with the department head.

What's really strange to me is that there's been a subtle shift in my... status within the department. I can't really articulate it, but I overheard someone telling one of the other newbies that if they had questions, they could ask Mary, Sarah, or Katze. To understand exactly what that means, you need to know this: Mary and Sarah are two long time employees of My Company who are widely considered to be among the most knowledgeable people in the department. And suddenly I've joined their ranks?

Back when I first moved out of my parents' house and got a "real job" for the first time, I was dogged by the feeling that I was playing dress up-- that I was, if you will, a fake grown-up. Some small part of me kept an eye out over my shoulder for the people who were going to see through my disguise and call me out in front of everyone. "HEY!" they'd yell, "YOU! YOU'RE NOT AN ADULT! GO TO YOUR ROOM AND STAY THERE, YOUNG LADY! YOU'RE GROUNDED FOR IMPERSONATING A GROWN UP!" It wore off, eventually. But in the last week, I've felt echoes of that feeling once again. For example, today I took a form to my manager because it needed a company signature on it, and she told me to sign it myself. Who decided that it was a good idea to give me so much responsibility? What if I mess it up? What if they find out that I don't know what I'm doing? And of course that's ridiculous: they gave me responsibility because I can handle it, they know I don't know what I'm doing yet, but they have reason to believe that I'll be able to learn it, and if I mess up, the world won't come to a screeching halt. In fact, all evidence suggests that if I own up to my mistake, fix it or get help to fix it, and take time to figure out how to keep it from happening again, they'll be perfectly understanding. So I squelch that stupid voice whenever it pops up. Still, the vague feeling of cognitive dissonance remains.

Last night, I finished assembling the Save the Date cards for the wedding. Tonight I finished addressing all of the ones I have current addresses for-- there are about 12 or 13 that I still have to track down. Each one has been stamped and they are ready to go into the mailbox tomorrow. It feels so good to check one thing off the wedding to do list. I'm also going to order the bridesmaids' dresses either tomorrow or Friday. Next we have to schedule our engagement session, find hotels and book blocks of rooms, and pick out the men's tuxes. I'm feeling so much less overwhelmed by the whole process, but I cannot wait for the wedding to get here. I think it's going to be so much fun, and I can't wait to see all of our friends and family together. And it goes without saying that I cannot WAIT to be married to Ash. We went to look at wedding bands last weekend, and seeing the ring on his hand made it all feel so much more real, sort of like seeing myself in the wedding dress did. I just wanted to run around the mall yelling "WE'RE GETTING MARRIED". I thought my heart would swell up and burst right out of my chest I was so happy.

I've also officially started packing. The first box is full and labelled. I put my bar review materials up for sale and started a list of things that I'm going to post on craigslist before we move. I even remembered to pick up the address change cards from the post office and filled them out. I'll throw them in the mailbox tomorrow when I mail the save the date cards.

Right now, I feel so on the ball, it almost seems like I could conquer the world.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

People Are Funny

A slice of my life: One of the duties that I'm temporarily handling until a permanent person is hired to take it over is helping with the small business accounts we recently acquired. That means handling everything from a request for a W-9, to billing disputes, to handling a request for a settlement on the account for a company that's about to fold. I got a call from a woman who wanted us to send her something in writing explaining the relationship between My Company and New Subsidiary. I asked her if she'd received the "Welcome Letter", which was sent to all of New Subsidiary's customers prior to the acquisition and detailed the changes. Yes, she told me, but she needed something more. I hadn't actually seen this letter myself, so I pulled it and read it. Right there in paragraph two, an explanation was given, explicitly stating the relationship between My Company and New Subsidiary. I couldn't imagine why it wouldn't suffice. So I saved a new copy of it and renamed it "MyCompany-New Subsidiary". Then I emailed it to her with a sweet little note, asking her if something like this was what she had in mind.

A few minutes later, the reply popped up in my inbox:


Yes, that's perfect. Thank you so much for your help!"


Thursday, April 19, 2007

That's Katze, Esq., Thank You Very Much

I passed the bar exam! I can't freaking believe it, but I passed the bar exam! And if you'll all excuse me, there's a bit of Chimay waiting for me down at our favorite bar.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Time to Start Collecting Boxes Again

At least 100 phone calls and numerous viewings later, Ash and I are about to put a deposit down on an apartment. Together. I’m not sure if I know which of those two things I am most excited about.

The new place is in a fairly upscale neighborhood, though we, of course, are not in the tony part of it. In fact, we’re pretty much on the edge of it, which is fine by us. We had also looked at a lot of places in the next neighborhood over, which one might best characterize as “sort of gritty”, with emphasis on the “sort of” part. It’s not particularly unsafe or anything, but the buildings are a little more run down and the shops in the main drag are more of the greasy-Chinese-takeout and rundown-neighborhood-bar-with-filthy-windows variety. Our second choice apartment was in that neighborhood, about two blocks off of the main drag. The place we ended up taking is a block and a half off the main drag, four blocks from the train into Downtown, and about 16 miles closer to work for me. We are not particularly near any of the highways, but we’re not really far away, either. My new commute will be about 25 minutes, maybe a little less—I got lost every time I drove back to work after looking at apartments on my lunch break, so it’s hard to tell for sure.

Oh, and I love it. No, I take that back. I LUUUUUV it. It has parquet floors and big closets, and best of all, it has a DISHWASHER. I have never, in all of my adult life, had a dishwasher. As it happens, this is a very good thing because both Ash and I are, shall we say, reluctant to do the dishes. We both have very bad habits of letting them pile up and pile up, and over the years, it seems that we have each been honing our ability to turn a blind eye to a mess of dishes that would make my mother fall over in a dead faint. A dishwasher may just be the very thing that we need to help us with a smooth transition to life in the same living space.

I wonder, sometimes idly, sometimes anxiously, how we’ll manage the transition. Yes, we spend most of our non-school/work time together already. But that’s just not the same. Will we argue over whose turn it is to take out the trash? Will we be able to share the bathroom in the morning? Will we be able to fit all of our books into one apartment? I have no doubt that we’ll be able to manage it all, but I still feel a little anxious about the actual process. I’ve lived on my own for the vast majority of the past 8 years. The only times I’ve had to share my living space were the year I lived with Hulio, the summer I spent in DC and the summer I did study abroad in Sweden. I’m used to decorating as I will—how on Earth am I going to be able to live with the giant red velvet Lenin banner that Ash wants prominently displayed? And what about chores? With Luneray, and earlier with my college roommate, things just sort of worked out naturally. We were about the same level of clean, generally, and with Luneray, for example, she didn’t mind doing dishes, and I didn’t mind running the sweeper, so everything got done and no one had to do much of the thing she really dreaded to do. Ash and I seem to be about the same level of orderliness, but we have slightly different ideas of what “clean” means. There are things that bother him immensely that I could care less about, and vice versa.

I worry about making the transition from “my money” to “our money”. I’m not terribly worried about the amount of money we’ll have (or, to be more accurate, not have), I’m worried about meshing our spending habits. I don’t know what things we should be planning for, what systems we should be developing. We opened a joint checking account a couple of months ago, but so far we’ve only used it for wedding expenses. How do we divide expenses? What happens if Ash doesn’t find a job right away?

Still, when I try and find the exact, the precise word for my feelings, “anxious” or “worried” aren’t anywhere near the top of the list. Instead, I’m feeling anticipation. I’m leaving behind my life as a single woman and starting a life as Ash’s partner. That feels so amazing, I can hardly believe my good fortune. Right now, we’re nestled together in the car of a roller coaster, chugging up the first steep hill, almost to the top, almost ready for the ride to really get started, and I’m feeling the delicious shiver of anticipation, waiting for the joyous fear of the first, breathtaking drop and the rush of wind in our faces.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

2BR, Hdwd, Call For Pet Policy

Let's say you are a landlord and one of your apartments is empty or is about to be empty. Most likely, you want to find a new tenant to fill that apartment and send you rent checks every month. So you take the logical step of placing an ad somewhere-- the local paper, craigslist, a sign in the front yard of your property.

That's where I come in.

I need a place to live. I'm looking for a certain minimum size at a certain maximum rent in a certain area of the city. So I see your ad and it fits within my established criteria, so I call your number. You, however, are a busy person, and I get your voicemail. That's no big deal, I certainly don't sit by my phone all day either, not even when I'm expecting a really important phone call. So I leave a short message indicating my interest in your property and including my name and phone number. I am articulate and to the point.


Seriously, what is the deal with landlords who place ads and then don't bother to return calls about the apartment they are obstensibly trying to rent? I could understand not returning my calls if the messages I left were liberally sprinkled with random curse words, or included a request to lower the rent by half, or involve sporadic primal screams. If you've already rented the apartment, and you don't want to get any more calls, then take the sign out of the window. Temporarily change your outgoing message to say something like "You have reached 555-1234. If you are calling about the apartment, I'm sorry, but it is already rented. Good luck in your search. If you are calling for any other reason, please leave a message after the beep." Delete your post on craigslist.

I suppose I should think of it as a screening mechanism: if you're too lazy to return a phone call when the potential to make money is directly connected to returning that call, then you're probably not going to be terribly responsive when the heat doesn't come on in December or the guy across the hall blasts "Dancing Queen" on repeat at 3 a.m. So really, I suppose you're doing me a favor by failing to have the common courtesy to return a phone call on what amounts to a business matter.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hint That This Might Not Be A Reliable Seller

Looking at a dress on eBay, the seller states that it "might be NWOT". "Might" be? Weasel.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Would It Be In Bad Taste to Title This Post "AFLAC!"?

Ash really outdid himself tonight. It's almost as if the latent culinary creativity has been bottled up inside of him by the temporary hiatus of Crockpot Mondays (a collateral victim of Lent) and it all came bursting out in a delicious spurt of roasted duckling. We picked up a whole duckling downtown on Friday afternoon and spent a chunk of the weekend discussing what to do with it. In the end, Ash modified a recipe he found online. First, he salted and peppered the inside of the duck. Then he stuffed it with a mixture of apples, onions, and ginger. Next he sprinkled more salt, pepper, and some rosemary on the outside and covered the whole thing with thick sliced bacon. Then he put it into a dutch oven and added potatoes and mushrooms. He slow roasted it all afternoon, and at 7:30 tonight, this was the result:

Holy crow, y'all, it was sooo good. Duck fat makes everything delicious. Those potatoes? Crispy on the outside and soaked in delicious duck fat. I don't particularly care for potatoes, really, but I scarfed these and could easily have eaten another helping (which I declined for the sole reason that I don't need to eat so much fat if I want to still be able to fit into that dress come September). The bacon was so crisp and so yummy and I just couldn't help myself, wedding dress be damned, I just had to have some more bacon, so I slipped away into the kitchen and broke a piece of the ambrosial pork product from the still steaming duck on the cutting board. I was crunching my first mouthful and breaking off another piece when Ash called out "Are you eating bacon in there?"

BUSTED! I nearly choked, laughing at his seemingly psychic accusation. Could he hear me chomping on the bacon? Was it a sudden burst of ESP? "I just know you", he says. Either way, he wouldn't let me eat any more of the bacon. Stupid Ash.

Anyway, the duckling was amazing and I bet a certain lovely Korean national is sorry that she didn't come over for dinner tonight.