Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Real life is hard!

Which is why this will be a short post.

Thus far I don't have much actual work, and I therefore haven't been billing very many actual hours. I am, however, at the office/away from home for what seems like endless amounts of time (this, inevitably, will only get worse as the days get shorter and the workload gets heavier). In addition, "next year's" billing cycle starts on Saturday (meaning, for all practical purposes, Monday), so I have to start working a lot more, very soon, unless I want to give up numerous weekends and/or vacation time. Which I really kind of don't.

I really like my firm, though, which is good. They ended up not putting me in the office I want, which was a bummer, but I'm still happy where I am -- and there's always the possibility of moving to the other office, down the road. The toughest thing is getting to bed before midnight. I'm really not used to these hours. I mean, I can do them -- it's just taking some getting used to.

This weekend will hopefully see me finally completing my straightening-up work of the apartment. Perhaps once it's neat and tidy I'll feel more relaxed when I come home, which will make [falling asleep in front of the TV that much less guilt-inducing.] it easier to then go out and tutor needy children while building homes with Habitat for Humanity. And then perhaps I'll clear my head enough to write some substantive posts that involve more than a rote log entry of my unexciting-as-of-late life.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

New computer: double-plus good

I have a new computer!

I was going to wait on it, particularly considering that my Visa is completely maxed out (literally -- I have about 34 dollars left), but then I found that my Discover card has two thousand dollars on it. It was like free money, landing right there in my lap. And I was browsing the computers at Best Buy (I was there to buy power cords and phone cables, wheee!) because I've been thinking for a while now that after I moved I would buy a new computer. I'm so sick of my old POS laptop. And I found one that looked fantastic, like too good to be true. So I got it. Which means I better not get a hankering for expensive food in the next month or so, because instead of food I now have a computer :)

Moving in went pretty smoothly. I ended up having to fly out to Los Angeles at the early end of my visit home, since the movers decided that they wanted to bring my stuff over as early as they could, and I didn't want to cut short my visit with Mommy and Daddy and sibbies. Who ever has this problem? So I flew out to Los Angeles for a day, spent the night with wonderful friend Sarah and got just drunk enough to have fun but not enough to leave me hungover the nest day, and met the movers at my new apartment. Fast-forward three weeks, and I'm moved in except for the three or four boxes of just plain crap that I didn't know what to do with at my old place, and that I don't know what to do with now. Add to that all my law books. I'm feeling really stupid now for keeping them. JCA always warned me: "what are you gonna do with them? It's not like you can use them for research." And yet I stubbornly refused to sell them back. Man, that was stupid. Now the boxes are piled against one of my walls, taking up space and making it ugly.

After a number of annoying and difficult wait-around-for-the-utilities-guy days and frustrating installations, I'm now set up with a landline, DSL and TiVo. I can't remember how life worked before TiVo. It's a magical little box that makes my days happier and easier. It also enables my TV addiction even though I'm now working as a lawyer. Between firm life and catching up on my favorite TV shows, I won't have much of a life.

I've also got California license plates now. My car has had my old Colorado plates since I bought it, so I've never tried screwing them off before. The back screws had rusted. The first one came off with a little bit of effort, but the second one was stubborn. It took me a half hour of desperately trying to turn the screw -- which only resulted in grinding off the rusted insides so there was nothing for the screwdriver to grip -- before my landlord walked outside, saw me struggling, and offered to help. With his drill and new screws, we were able to remove my old plate and put on the new ones. Hooray!

All that's left is to find a gym. Today I have an appointment to meet a membership rep from a snazzy expensive one, Sports Club/LA. I'm prepping for the hard sell, but it does look like a pretty cool gym regardless. So we'll see.

I do still intend to do the cool things with my blog that I promised I would -- it's just taking me a little longer to get settled than I thought.

And now, to run some errands.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Playtime's over

Man. Growing up has some incidental perks, like being allowed to smoke and drink and not having to hide your birth control pills from your parents, but overall I'm not so sure it's worth it.

Like, paying bills. Paying bills just sucks. Like, even if you have the money and it's not a struggle, you still have to remember to turn everything in on time, balance your checkbook (ummm... yeah... thank GOD for online account balances and Check 21!), etc. Sure, you can set up automated bill pay for most internet and phone services, cable, and some electric companies, but that doesn't take care of credit cards, car payments, insurance, loans, or rent. That's one hell of a lot to keep track of. Especially when certain companies don't bother even sending you your statements and then sic collection agencies on you to recover their whole sixty dollars, which has now ballooned into 130 dollars after late fees and interest charges.

Or, obviously, work. I mean, you can't pay those bills without an income. Sometimes work can be interesting or even, in a way, fun, but a lot of the time it's just work. And, most frightening of all, it means no more three-week Christmas vacations, no more spring break, and no more summer vacation. I don't know if I'll be able to deal with just two to three weeks of vacation a year.

And, something that doesn't always go hand in hand with growing up, but often does: getting older. The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who's a few years older than I am. I've always been The Young One in my group of friends since I skipped a grade in high school and went straight from college to law school. This particular friend has often teased me for my youth -- things along the lines of "that must have been before your time." She's always made a point of being of being The Older One. But in this particular conversation she said to me "I can say it now: WE'RE so old!" I immediately ran to the mirror, horrified, and searched my eyes for lines. Sure enough, they're starting to form. Thank God I color my hair, or else I'd be worried about grays.

To add to it, Dad turned 50 yesterday. I know 50 isn't all that old for parents, since I'm the oldest and my parents had kids on the young side, but still, to me it's another sign that my parents -- and therefore I -- are aging. Making matters worse, his father, who's been suffering from liver cancer, passed away yesterday afternoon. And I heard my dad cry. For what well may be the first time in my life. I think it's one of the scariest sounds I've ever heard.

So Dad has to go be a grown-up for his mom. Mom has to be a grown-up so Dad can deal. Now that half my grandparents are gone my parents inch closer and closer to being the oldest living generation in my family, which would make me one old kid. That won't happen, though, since in a couple of weeks, I never get to be a kid again. I'm gonna miss it.

Screw it -- I'm buying myself a year-long Disneyland pass. And a five-dollar churro.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fun with search engines

I haven't been getting many hits lately -- my fault, for going on mega-vacation (from my blog, from life, etc.). But I did find an interesting recent referral: nude mom gets fucked, via MSN Search in Canada. Those crazy Canucks.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day (It's a Holiday)

Ahhh, Puritanical Americana!

This weekend my brother and I planned to see a movie. The evening went like this: dinner with Mom at a Japanese restaurant, an hour or so of chilling out at home, and a quick drop-by at a bowling alley, where our sister was having a get-together with some friends from school. At the bowling alley, I had a beer. Gasp! After saying our goodbyes, my brother and I hop in the car, movie theater-bound. Closing in on the theater's intersection, the road goes down to two lanes, then to one. A lighted sign informs us that we've hit a sobriety checkpoint roadblock. Great. Somehow in the last three years I've spent in Chicago I'd managed to forget how uptight the Colorado Springs police force is. It being the Labor Day weekend and all, they've decided it's a good expenditure of time and taxpayer money to quiz every person who happens to drive by a certain part of town -- one that's actually fairly remote. Did I mention the checkpoint only stops drivers headed north, but not south?

I groan and glance at my watch. 9:55. The movie starts at 10:15. We're literally four blocks from the theater. I'm thinking to myself that we can probably make it to the movie on time, or even just miss the commercials beforehand (anyone else irritated that now they have commercials before the previews? Maybe I should write a post on that sometime). For those of you who have never had the good fortune of being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in Middle America, it goes something like this: the lanes are whittled down to one, possibly to prevent the possibility of escape(?). When you hit the start of the checkpoint, you're blinded by overhead lights that could put an outdoor movie set to shame. Before you're actually stopped, you're waved along by officers standing near the orange cones. I'm not sure why they get paid for this job. They literally just stand there, waving their orange flashlights like a bunch of retired runway traffic workers. Because, you know, if they weren't there to direct us to keep going in the same direction, we might decide to jump the ten-foot-wide cement median and go the other way, in spite of the fact that we need to get to the north part of town. By the time you finally get to an officer who appears to be doing something marginally useful, you're directed into one of the three lanes the road actually accommodates. In each lane, a wall of officers eagerly awaits the chance to hope that a driver travelling at 3 mph will give some indication of his inability to operate his vehicle in a safe manner, perhaps by weaving and hitting one of the precariously perched officers. Not that an irritated sober person would ever think to do that.

We get to the checkpoint, where an officer directs us into the middle lane of traffic. No choice of lines here. I'm not sure if that means I should be more or less irritated when it turns out that the middle lane is the slowest moving of the three lanes of checkpoint "traffic." Finally, we're invited by yet more retired runway workers to pull forward until three officers bear down on my vehicle, which I take as an indication that I should probably stop, as much as my brain reminds me that if there's no vehicle with lights on, I'm not technically being pulled over, and that these officers standing in the middle of a busy road are jaywalking, or something. But -- damn my parents for raising me so goody-two-shoes -- I acquiesce and lower my window. My eyes are greeted by a blinding flashlight that eventually softens into a face with -- get this -- an honest-to-god sheriff's hat that makes me want to chirp, "only YOU can prevent forest fires!" Sheriff Smokey launches into something that sounds suspiciously like lawyer-speak, informing me that this checkpoint is part of a multi-jurisdictional cooperative effort to prevent drunk driving. He tells me about 17 times throughout the course of our encounter that everything I do or say is "completely voluntary." The law student part of my brain wants to argue that actions taken under duress don't count as voluntary from a legal standpoint (and the threat of arrest almost certainly qualifies as "duress"), but the part of me that wants to get to the movie theater in time wins over, and I just smile and nod instead.

Then comes the fun part.

"Ma'am," (MOTHER*#^$ER!) "have you consumed any alcoholic beverages this evening?"

I have to interject here that I'm physically incapable of lying. Say what you will about lawyers, I'm just not a dishonest person. As much as I might wish I was, as hard as I might try, it's like the lie can never form in my mouth. I'll start to lie, and then somehow the truth ends up coming out instead. Dammit.

And, so... here it comes...

(shrug) "Yeah, I had a beer a little while ago."

"How long ago?"

"I dunno. An hour? Hour and a half?"

Sheriff Smokey shares a Look with the four other officers who are needed to ensure that my car is stopped -- not pulled over, mind you -- and pieces of brightly colored paper appear out of nowhere. One of them winds up on my windshield.

"Ma'am," (AGAIN! I hate Colorado Springs) "can I see your driver's license, please?"

I hand him my license.

"Is this your current address?"

What am I supposed to say to that? I've had the same driver's license since my twenty-first birthday (literally, the DAY, since in Colorado you have under-21 and over-21 licenses, and when I went to buy liquor the morning of my birthday, the clerk informed me that, in spite of the fact that my actual birthday qualified me to purchase the alcohol, my license itself said I was under 21 and, therefore, not allowed to buy it. Um?). I had planned to change it when I moved to Chicago, but every time I went to the DMV something prevented me from doing it ("we need a copy of your lease to prove your address" was one visit; another day it was randomly closed). So I kept my Colorado license and registration, since as a full-time student you're never required to have a local license and registration anyway. At this point, I don't really have an address. I guess my new place in Los Angeles is my address now, but I'm not actually living there for another week or so. So you can imagine the confusion with which I approach the officer's question.

"Well," I say, again quite honestly, "it's my parents' address. But I'm moving to Los Angeles."

My brother blames this particular exchange for ruining our evening, though I personally think we were screwed when I admitted to drinking my single beer. Next time, he gets to drive.

"Ma'am, will you please put your car in park?" (grrr)

I put the car in park.

"Would you step outside the vehicle please?"

Now I'm a little bit confused.

"Do you want me to turn the car off?"

Sheriff Smokey shakes his head. "That's not necessary."

I don't worry about it because my brother is sitting in the car, and I trust him to watch my things. Such as the car itself and my purse, which contains my money, my credit cards, my cell phone, my apartment keys -- basically, most of the ingredients someone would need to steal my identity. So I get out of the car and notice right away that it's freezing cold. Great, I think, I'm gonna be shaking like a leaf.

Sheriff Smokey then starts delivering a series of instructions, reminding me several times that this is all "voluntary." Seriously, most sober people would have trouble following this guy, so I'm not sure how his little tests are supposed to demonstrate sobriety. Thank God I do yoga. After his sadistic balancing games, he tells me we're going to do a "voluntary" Breathalyzer test. At first I'm worried that I'm going to breathe into some machine that's been who-knows-where, but to my relief he pulls out a sealed plastic bag with a clean mouthpiece in it. He then tears the bag open with his teeth. Yup. Gotta keep his other hand free to keep shining his flashlight in my face, you know.

After I blow into the creepy white tube, he checks the screen and closes the Breathlyzer device, motioning for me to walk over to a table with him. I look at him funny and ask him what the screen said. "Triple zeros. Just like a thought." Which begs the question: if I'm clearly sober, why waste my time and taxpayers' money just to prove it?

When I'm finally released, I see that they haven't even bothered writing my full name on the papers they're using to keep track of everything they do -- only my last name and a shortened version of my first name. I think, anyway. Most of whatever they wrote was less legible than a doctor's note. Nice to know this is a job worth doing thoroughly. I find, to my distress, that my car has been moved and left, unlocked, with my purse and entire life inside of it, on the side of a street nearby, and that my brother has been forced out of the car, unable to guard my purse, which contains my entire life, let alone my car. But, hell, at least dangerous criminals like me are kept from killing children who run into one of the busiest main roads in the city at ten o'clock at night -- or, at least, kept from killing them while drunk.

And of course now everyone I know takes great pleasure in teasing me that I got "stopped" to do a roadside sobriety test, ignoring the fact that the sole factor in my being "stopped" was that I was driving at all. My, but my friends are clever.

That's the last time I tell the truth to a freakin' cop. Missed the damn movie and everything.

Happy Labor Day!