Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Have Y'all Finished Harry Potter Yet?

I want to blog about it, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I thought I'd wait awhile. I'll obviously put spoiler warnings on it, but since this is the very last book, I don't want to ruin anyone's fun.


Monday, July 23, 2007

To the person who came here by googling jerk boyfriend bar exam:

If your boyfriend is being a jerk and is about to take the bar exam, cut him some slack. It's incredibly stressful. He'll go back to normal somewhere around Thursday or Friday of this week.

If you're taking the bar exam and your boyfriend is being a jerk to you, dump him. He ought to be a little more understanding about how incredibly stressful it is.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Caveat Piaculum

Thank you for all the well wishes, both in comments and in email. It really helped those first couple of days when everything was so overwhelming.

At my follow up visit with the doctor, I was diagnosed with a sprained back. The sprain is causing swelling, which in turn is putting pressure on the spinal cord. It's not the kind of pressure that would, say, cause you to become a parapalegic, but because there are so many nerves, it is causing a lot of pain.* So now I am in physical therapy, which is supposed to help reduce the tension, control some of the inflammation in conjunction with the 800 mg ibuprofen horse pills I've been swallowing, and hopefully help the muscles to heal correctly so that there won't be any lingering problems. It seems like I was lucky and the joints were not affected, just the muscles. The general consensus seems to be that it will be a good month before I'll be back to something like normal.

Unfortunately, things are NOT going so swimmingly with the Other Driver's insurance company. I feel like I've done nothing all week but fight with the various people working on each tiny piece of my claim, and it's pissing me off royally. I bore NO FAULT whatsoever in this accident, and I bore the brunt of the injury, both physically and financially. I am not unreasonable, but I want to be put back into the position I was in before Little Miss I-Speed-And-Don't-Pay-Attention-To-The-Traffic came into my life.

Actually, what I want, what I really want is to transfer my suffering onto her. I want her to wake up every morning in pain, I want her to be unable to carry a basket full of laundry to the basement, I want her to be unable to sit or stand or lay in any position comfortably. And I want her car to be destroyed. Then I want her to have to deal with the jackassery of her insurance company while juggling work, doctor's appointments, and the search for a replacement car, all while being exhausted from being in pain all the time. Oh, and I want her to find that she will be unable to replace her vehicle for anything like the money the insurance company claims her car is worth on the open market.

The best part of the week-- and by "best", I mean "the part that nearly made me lose my shit"-- was when I went to the body shop where they towed the wreckage of my car so that I could get the rest of my personal items out of it before they haul it off to be junked, and the stupid cow who caused the accident was standing there on the steps, talking on her cellphone, bitching to someone about how the insurance company was taking away her rental car, but her SUV wouldn't be finished for two more days, boo freaking hoo. She saw me and fell silent, watching me walk past. I did not acknowledge her in any way, but I wanted to punch her stupid face in. Especially because her insurance company had also ordered me to return my rental car on the basis that they'd determined the value of my car, so...

The second best part of the week was when I got to yell my way up the chain of command about that. I guess I'm just not understanding how it is that I am deprived of my means of transportation due to the negligent action of Stupid Cow-- the means for me to get to work and to the doctor's appointments that are necessary thanks to that selfsame negligence on Stupid Cow's part, not to mention the means by which I would be able to conduct the search for a replacement for the car that she destroyed, but it's not her (or, by extension, her insurance company's) responsibility to provide me with a replacement for the duration of the time that it takes to resolve this situation. It was only after I moved through five different people that I was able to get a temporary reprieve-- a three day extension. I still have to turn my rental car in tomorrow. Now ask me if I've received a check for the car. That would be a big negatory, good buddy! So how am I supposed to replace it? Well, Erie Insurance sure doesn't give a rat's big fat patootie! That's MY PROBLEM to resolve! Screw the fact that STUPID COW WAS AT FAULT, NOT ME.

Then there's the method they used to value my car. I guess I should be grateful that they weren't using the blue book value. Instead, I was told that they would use a database of actual cars listed for sale by dealers and private sellers and pull a list of 1999 Toyota Corolla CE with mileage within the 77,000 that was on mine at the time of the accident. They would then calculate two averages, one national and one local market, and pay the average of those averages. Seems fair enough on the surface. Except when I actually got my copy of the valuation, the fourteen cars listed on it included a) the lesser version of the Corolla (the VE), which cost quite a lot less at the time I bought my car, but which included significantly less in equipment and features, b) several cars with well over 100,000 miles on them, and c) several cars with no mileage specified in the ads whatsoever.

When I performed a manual search of about seven big online classified listings like, I found a grand total of ten 1999 Corolla CEs with between 71,000 and 82,000 miles on them in the entire country. One had damage on the driver's side door and was selling for $5,800. The others all ranged between $6,495 and $9,599. The average price worked out to something like $7,900. The insurance company's average figure? $5,400. The amount they bumped that for the brand new, just installed in January tires? $10-- $5 for the rear tires and $5 for the front.** We argued. Long and loud. They are doing a second search. I hope that it reveals a much better result, but obviously I'm not holding my breath.

Look, I understand that it's their job to settle my claim for as little money as possible, but that really shouldn't mean acting unfairly. Yes, please do an accurate inspection of my car and please also do a proper valuation based on the actual value of the car, not just what I think it's worth. I'm not asking for them to buy me a brand new Prius*** or pay off my law school loans. In the words of Sally, All I want is what I have coming to me".

Tomorrow is another day. Full of arguing with the insurance company. If I'd wanted to do this sort of thing, I would have sought a job as a personal injury attorney. I'm really starting to wonder if I need to seek out the services of just such a person.

*I probably just mangled that explanation. But we're not in court, so meh, close enough.

**I really,
really want to know where they buy these tires that cost $2.50 each. That could totally come in handy down the road!

*** That would totally be sweet, though.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Silver Lining

Vicodin + Hot Wax = Easiest, Least Painful Hair Removal Ever

Saturday, July 14, 2007


It's hard to decide how to start this blog post. Do I write a narrative, starting with the mundane, building suspense to the point of the crash, then show what happened after as denouement, leaving catharsis for a later post once I acheive such state myself? Do I begin with the terrible crash and the horrific moment of flying forward, smacking into another car? Do I go for humor, talk about how the other driver sure picked the wrong car to demolish, what with being owned by a lawyer engaged to a soon-to-be lawyer?

The important thing is that I walked away. Not unharmed, but I walked away, and so did everyone else in the accident. I know this, and I haven't lost sight of that, but I'm still pissed as hell.

I was stopped at a traffic light, waiting for red to turn green, talking to a coworker with whom I've formed an occasional carpool. She-- the other driver, that is-- claims that she never saw us, never saw the light, doesn't remember the accident at all, she just knows that her airbags went off. I call bullshit. I bet the stupid cow was talking on her cellphone. She never touched her brakes-- not only did I not hear a squeal of brakes in the moment before the crash, we drove past the accident scene the next morning on the way to try and get my personal belongings from what's left of my car, and there is not a single skid mark.

My car, my poor, wonderful, well-cared for car, did its job. It crumpled. There is nothing left of the back end, really, and what's left of it is sitting up in the back seat. In fact, the first thing I thought when I saw the car the next day was, If we'd had children in the back seat of the car, they'd be dead. The first thought I had when I got out of my car in the immediate aftermath, glass everywhere, the smell of smoke in the air (I guess from her airbags), the sound of sirens coming toward us, was I can't believe I'm not dead right now. The front end is crumpled from being forced into the car in front of me.

The accident happened right in front of a police station, just a couple of miles from a hospital, and the police and ambulance were there within minutes. The EMT took one look at the wreckage, identified me as the driver, and strapped me to a backboard. I've never been claustrophobic, but the first few minutes strapped down like that, utterly immobilized, were extremely frightening. I started to gasp for air, feeling panicked. They gave me some oxygen and the feeling of panic lessened as I got over the initial shock of being unable to move even a little. I could feel something scraping at my back, and everything else felt like I'd been kicked by a horse. I heard the EMT call in our ambulance MVA, 31 year old female restrained driver, possible spinal injuries, and the ambulance lurched to a start. No sirens, though, so I pushed back the terrible thought that I might find myself unable to walk or worse. The EMT made a joke with me about how I should make sure to call the local TV Personal Injury Lawyer because the woman in the SUV was so clearly at fault, and I started to laugh, because it popped into my head for the first time that I am, you know, a lawyer.

Ash came to the hospital and met me in the emergency room. I cannot begin to describe how distressing it was to know that people were coming and going, talking to me and about me, but I couldn't see them. All I could see were the ceiling tiles, which, because the pediatric room was the only open room when I arrived, were covered with little paw prints. Ash stood next to the bed, talking to me so that I could tell where he was. After a physical exam, I was unstrapped from the backboard, but the neck restraints were left in place and I was instructed to lay still while we waited for a pregnancy test to come back-- and boy, was it fun to use a bedpan! I think I'll go out and buy one for recreational purposes!-- and then they wheeled me off for an extensive set of xrays. The doctors and nurses who took care of me were very kind and reassuring in what was really a frightening situation for me. Finally, it was confirmed that nothing was broken. Official diagnosis: soft tissue damage. I've also got scrapes and bruises from my seat belt (thank you seat belt, for keeping me safe) and my shins are bruised from, I think, hitting the edge of the console. I've picked some glass out of my scalp, and there's a spot on my back that I think may have a small piece of glass in it still.

But I walked away. And if you could see the remains of my car, you'd be amazed by that.

Today, three days after the accident, I am still in a good deal of pain. I missed two days of work so far, but I am hopeful that I will be able to go back on Monday. Thursday was bad, Friday was worse, and today was better than either Thursday or Friday. My back hurts a lot. It feels like my spine is being compressed when I walk. I'll be following up with my physician later this week sometime. I must admit that I am very, very scared about the possibility that the pain won't stop, that I'll join the millions of people who have chronic back pain, and it's pissing me off. The careless action of some idiot driver is causing me physical pain, financial loss, and no small degree of inconvenience and stress in dealing with insurance. And my wedding shower, which was scheduled for today, had to be cancelled because I can't travel such a long distance just yet.

I might not be quite so angry about all of this if it weren't for the fact that she's not taking responsibility for what she's done. Maybe she's very remorseful and I just don't know it. Maybe she hasn't been able to sleep for worry about the damage she caused. But her statement to the police was the biggest piece of bullshit I've ever seen. And just to add insult to injury, when Ash and I went to get my things from the car, we saw hers: it has a dent in the front and the airbags deployed. That's it. Her insurance will pay to have that fixed and her life will go on. My car is obliterated. And they probably aren't going to pay me enough to have it replaced.

You've probably noticed that I didn't mention the driver of the car in front of me. I habitually stop a good distance back from the car in front of me for precisely this reason-- you never know what the person behind you might do. I still hit him, but the damage to his car was pretty minimal-- it looks like I knocked his back bumper off and that was it. Thankfully, the police report specified that I had "no contributing action" in the accident, so even his damages will go back to the SUV driver with no question.

We all walked away from the accident. That's the most important thing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Memo to My Boss

To: Angela
From: Katze
Re: Your speakerphone


We value the loose and collegial atmosphere in our department and realize that your very sincere open door policy is partly responsible for that. You are very approachable for a Department Head. From the very bottom of our work hearts, thank you for that. However, your use of the speakerphone is becoming problematic, and we need to address that.

It is patently unfair that you did not get a "real" office when the floor was reconfigured. I don't know what they were thinking. The wall that stops three feet from the ceiling and the little sliding door are not an entirely effective acoustic barrier, especially given the fact that you long ago mastered the art of projecting your voice and ennunciating clearly. Still, they do help somewhat, and as such, we respectfully ask that you start using them. No one will take it as a sign that you are revoking the open door policy, and if anyone from outside the team approaches and seems to be hesitant, the two of us who sit directly in front of your walled-off alcove will be sure to set them straight. In fact, they are already used to asking us for updates on your whereabouts and your expected ETA from whatever meeting you happen to be in at that point in time, so they'll probably just flat out ask us.

But what would really, really help us to be able to concentrate on our work and have our own phone conversations with customers is this: stop using your speakerphone. There is really no reason why you can't just pick up the receiver and hold it to your ear like the rest of us do. Also, if you must hold a conference call, thereby necessitating the use of the speakerphone, please, please try to book one of the conference rooms.

The two of us who sit right next to your alcove bear the brunt of the auditory onslaught, but we have heard from the people in the next row over that they, too, are disturbed by the noise levels. We know you are capable of doing this for us, since you manage to shut your door and lower your voice when you are dealing with personal matters (though obviously, this is imperfect, since the two of us sitting right next to you know that you're discussing personal matters. However, we are willing to do our part and turn up the volume on the discman/ipod/internet radio station so that we're not eavesdropping on you. We're happy to expand this to all conversations and as people who work in the noisy cubicle environment, we also employ the "willful deafness" necessary to surviving the work day. All we ask of you is that you meet us halfway.

Thanks so much for your attention to this important matter!