Monday, September 29, 2008


It's 5:30 am and this girl is wide awake. I only have this experience on Monday mornings, preferring most of the time to work late rather than heed my alarm. For some reason on Mondays I snap to in a state of alertness around 4:15am and then lay there while all the little nagging doubts, fears, regrets, hurts, humiliations, and occasionally erotic fantasies creep in. It's really bewildering, and more reason to worship at the altar of Ambien.

I've been having bizarre interactions with strangers lately. I feel like my own quirkiness and nebulous sense of limits has resulted in drawing even quirkier and more nebulous persona toward me like meteors. And like meteors, not so welcome. It's like the problem I have with crazy people. They adore me. They find me in a crowd of hundreds and tell me all about their lives. Or repeat it, because they found me the week before in another crowd of hundreds.

I once was having a romantic weekend with someone in a rinky-dink New Hampshire town. We were thrilled because his car had broken down on a Sunday, and the local bed-and-breakfast guy (who was heading out on vacation) just handed us the keys to his place. We spent the evening walking around, experiencing New England small town life.

About halfway up Main Street, we spotted the local crazy wondering around with one of those fake light sabers you get from Walmart on Halloween. He had apparently just discovered that Darth Vader was his father because he was creating a massively pitched duet with the air reflective of every battle between good and evil. I tensed up immediately and crossed the street.

My companion thought that my reaction was a simple distaste for those whose brains aren't really functioning in our dimension. But I assured him that it wasn't the case. Rather, I shared with him the inestimable attraction the insane in the membrane peeps seem to have to me. His reaction? "Surely you're exaggerating."

Surely, indeed. As we sat out on the porch of our little abode, Crazy Guy started to make his way down our street, seemingly oblivious of our presence. I felt a smirk start to slide across my lovah's face. But then, as if by cue, the satanic soliloquy stopped dead and he turned deliberately around and crossed the street aimed dead at me.

But I knew the routine. I smiled cheerfully and said "Hey, how's it going?" And he smiled back. And began to tell us about the Titanic. Not the stupid James Cameron Titanic, but real facts, figures, names, dates, navigational locations. The light saber relaxed by his side. He introduced himself at the end and shook our hands. Then he walked back across the street to the exact place he had stopped, did an about face and proceeded down the street swinging the light saber and screaming at some imaginary demon.

Still, for the most part, these little escapades have never erupted into anything dangerous. Or at least nothing I couldn't quell by agreeing that the little green man is there. My main concern is that a friend who had jsut finished a rotation in the psych ward told me that the real crazies could always tell if someone was faking it, and would go out of their way to reject them. Of course, the reverse being that they welcome those of their kith with the openest of arms. Like me. The mentally insane girl.

But my brief brushes with weirdos this weekend consisted of people who didn't at first appear as if they had taken a mini-weekend from Bedlam.

One was the cashier at our local Petco, who besides making me feel guilty for buying dog food full of fillers (every once in awhile I let my dogs have the Cap'n Crunch instead of the Wheaties), then told me about how hard corn is on the digestive system. Of course, he could have just said that, but instead he decided to put it into context. Like the percentage of corn in his poop following a crawfish boil. Yum. At least I knew how to smile and nod. Thank you crazy people.

The other was a 400-pound woman in an electric scooter wheelchir who tried to run me and another person down when, after waiting patiently for several minutes, I decided to make the mistake of asking nicely if she would allow me access to the granola bins that she seemed intent on sampling. Oh, she was stirring for a fight and I was about ready to give it to her. Until I realized that yelling at someone in a wheelchair would probably not go down well in Whole Foods. They wouldn't believe it if I told them the truth. I had to just settle with the comforting thought that I am skinny. And can walk.

Okay, I'm crazy. But at least I'm not stupid. Stupidhead!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I am being pressured into learning how to dictate. No, not dictating instructions and rules for what people are supposed to do for me - I'm already good at that. I'm talking about the good old-fashioned pacing your office, speaking into a little black box so someone later can type it up and then I can go back and look at it to realize just how retarded I sound doing that.

I fully understand that dictating, particularly in the context of persuasive writing, is much less time-consuming overall and will be helpful when things really start picking up. But I fear my recorded voice, in fact my voice in general. I can't very well explain that I spent a lot of time actually retyping dicta in cases because it meant avoiding my slightly nasally (and if the device is running, slightly panicked) voice being heard by someone else saying something ridiculous like "insert citation three" or "sign off with the usual regards." Besides, I really know nothing about how to do it. For some reason, I'd probably just start sounding like a telegraph operator.

My secretary, who they probably assigned to me because she's monstrously talented and patient, has now begun a covert operation to force me to dictate. I can't figure out if she's trying to be helpful or if she's just madly bored. (I share her with a partner who spends all day sending a colleague and I editorials about Sarah Palin, and putting associates in the awkward position of having to add him as a friend on facebook.)

Anyway, her method has so far included the following:

Hovering around my office door asking me how many words I type a minute and then reminding me that she types more.

Looking at my highlighted passages and shaking her head at the fact I insist on typing them.

Acting like I am swamped under a mountain of work (so far not really the case) and stay late every single night (I usually stay late because I've spent all day goofing off with the other procrastinating young associates).

Placing my dictaphone in very conspicuous spots when I am at lunch. Like on my keyboard, on top of my drafts, and at one point hooked into my coffee mug handle.

Prelabelling dictation tapes with things she knows I'm working on.

And, my favorite:

Commenting that she's noticed that staring at a computer all day can give someone wrinkles.

Two weeks and she's already picked up on my vanity. This woman is good.

I'm going to give it a whirl this week. Maybe I'll start dictating my blog.

That's a horrible thought.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I have a minor and obnoxious quibble about my fringe benefits. Namely, parking. My parking is free, but my employer picks where I park since the waiting list to actually park in the building is about a hundred years long. My name will have been added along with all the other dead partners by then.

Anyway, the quibble is not about having to walk a couple of blocks. (Why is it people freak about that? I don't think 50 extra meters is such a big deal - unless I've decided to finally bring a plant for my office. Then it might get irritating.)

My views are that if you have legs, use 'em. God knows enough people don't. That is, use their legs, not don't have legs. Actually if anyone doesn't have legs that would be enough people. But, not the issue.

The issue is, in fact, that I was not informed that my parking is valet. And this valet parking has become the bane of my existence. Ok, maybe not that troubling. The proper comparison would probably be that the valet parking is the butt-itch of my existence. Irritating, awkward, and with no ready cure.

Pushing aside all the horror stories from my colleagues who have had their cars repeatedly creamed (although in parking garages like bomb shelters), my worry is not about my car getting wrecked. In fact, except for the annoyance of having to put my money where my mouth is and actually take the streetcar, I could probably get their insurance to pay for the nice job I did TWICE denting and scraping the passenger side. In a parking garage. There are probably specialized mechanics. Who get their business from my colleague's valets. Everyone wins (except the insurance and who cares about them anyway?).

No, my valets seem pretty trustworthy, and always know I'm the dressed up chick who drives the Black Hyundai. ('Cause I roll like dat.) The problem, they tell me, is that sometimes they forgets where they actually put my car.

I am running 15 minutes late for an important meeting. The sweat is standing out on my lip like a fascist dictator's moustache. I am wondering once again why all these anti-perspirants engage in false advertising. And yet we are still standing there while he thinks about it. Thinks. Not actually goes to look around, but thinks.

This is slightly troubling. As is the fact that when my car is found it always has the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition. I'm told the latter is actually a good thing since it airs the car out and saves the hassle of finding the keys when I'm in a hurry. It also adds to the list of potential insurance claims.

Once again, sooo typical of the things endemic to New Orleans. (Luckily so is being late. Despite the memory holdup, I was the first one at the meeting.)

A colleague gave me this article that shows just how damaging the Big Easy easiness can be. My favorite quote, from the Evidence Room clerk:

In New Orleans, clerk Spears sees little need for computerized bar coding that might help make order in the attic where he dumps evidence from old cases.

"The system is almost foolproof," he said. "I've got a photographic mind, see. I know from memory where almost everything is."

This girl = not particularly impressed.

Also, they use sticky traps. Oh, the mousity.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Pretty much my favorite quote from any hurricane story this year:

Ronnie Sharp, 65, and his terrier-mix Princess, had to be rescued from his trailer in Orange County when water reached his knees. "I was getting too many snakes in the house, otherwise I would have stayed," Sharp said. He said he lost everything in the flood but his medicine and some cigarettes.

That's awesome.

Friday, September 5, 2008


It is quite frustrating to play the part of a modern day Cassandra, sounding the alarm while everyone looks at you like some melodramatic idiot instead of someone who's pounded a lot of history books and has figured out really early on the true motivations behind most people's shades.

One of the fundamental truths I've gleaned is that it's all a goddamned conspiracy.

Hear me out. I could care less about the Kennedy assassination, the Marilyn Monroe murders and whatever happened to those aliens in Roswell (perhaps there were some at the RNC?). I care about the real stuff.

So, when I have to continuously hear about the crazy liberal blogger's attacks on Palin which set her up perfectly for a vindictive (yet totally useless) diatribe guaranteed to stir up a crowd who was already stirred up anyway, I have only this observation to make.

Those were crazy Republican bloggers.

Thank you America. You'll receive my bill in 30 days.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I had a good (and hot, but sadly now married) friend from undergrad who had the habit of romping off to random countries and sending me exotic presents in the mail accompanied with long letters written on rapidly torn-off and often beer-stained pieces of paper. He had spidery handwriting. I never knew such a thing really existed until I would get his letters.

Despite our longstanding friendship, prolific exchanges, and the exciting receipt of a ceramic yak from Central Asia, he still occasionally made statements in his letters that mystified me. (And it's probably rather revealing of my true feelings for him that I still remember these lines years later. Why is he married?)

In consecutive order:

From Cuba in 1999: "It's so sad to me that this place is not more communist. It just seems like everyone is out for themselves."

From Nepal in 2001: "I'm so tired of poor people always hassling me. Buy, buy, buy. It's like all they want is my money. It takes away from the scenery."

From Guatamala in 2003: "I'm just so sick of all these dirty people."

So then my wonderfully sensitive friend decided to go to business school and become a broker. And got married. But I might've mentioned that last bit before.

Why this change? What happened to change my darling blonde save-the-world angel into a ruthless capitalist maverick with so much disdain for the very people he had hopped airplanes across the world to see and support?

Answer: Poverty can be fucking annoying. Especially for people who actually have money.

Should I elaborate on this statement? Do I have to?

Luckily I have no money, so the poverty situation in Southeast Asia was only "mildly" as opposed to "fucking" annoying. "Mildly" because I really didn't have much of an issue buying cheap bracelets from cute little children for the price of a cup of coffee (Sally Struthers comes to mind).

But after awhile the constant solicitation does get a little old. Especially if you're like me and have a hard time saying "no" with the type of finality needed to put your followers off the scent. Result: lots of little children hanging out by your beach cot trying to get you to buy a pedicure (the thought of those dirty tools makes me wince), a necklace, or in the worst scenario a bikini line threading.

And then, the mud, the dust, the flies, the sad stares and the shacks. The gasoline poured into plastic bottles and watered down because it's all the people who cruise the pitted and unpaved highway can afford. A tugging awareness that I'm never going to get it. A nagging reproach that this is no new age poverty chosen for devotion but a strange and unfair fate that is swallowed. With bitterness or sweetness, it's impossible to discern. But fully incomprehensible and that's the hard part.

I finally understand my friend's frustrated lines. I also understand now when he talked about how much having diarrhea for 20 straight days sucks.

But I guess the poverty epiphany is more profound.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I am recovering in North Carolina from dengue hemorrhagic fever (more on that later) and catching snippets of the Gustav coverage, noting with some dread that the storm surge seems to be heading right for my apartment. Darn it.

The funny thing is after this trip I feel so incredibly at peace with everything (they're just things after all). I find I now have a strange new motive for watching the hyped hurricane coverage.

That is, having a pool on which on-site newsman will be the first to be knocked down by flying debris. I'm placing bets on ol' Anderson.

I'll feel bad if that really happens. But the grim amusement helps one cope.