Friday, August 29, 2008
I feel like I have my life back. In the past week, I’ve met Alex for drinks, WTG for dinner, and attended two parties for non-law school people. I daresay I’m meeting more people now than I did in law school, something I was worried about with graduating. When the end of law school I approached I had this huge fear of being placed in a new routine with new goals. HA! I may not be gainfully employed yet, but this is great.
Update: In the span of three minutes, two different people just called me to meet up for drinks. This is like the high school experience I never had.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"Hey, Ana. I was a dumbass to not get your number the other day..."
It was the guy from Saturday night, and I'm assuming he eventually acquired my number from the girl who threw the party. In the message he asked me to attend an event this weekend.
Once again I find myself in uncharted territory.
Do I call back? Ignore it? If I do call back, what do I say? Love to? Thanks, but no thanks? I've tried it before and believe me, it won't work? I mean, is he calling because he found my conversation interesting or because he liked me in bed? The surrounding circumstances just aren't the best set-up, ya know?
Really, why do guys keep interfering with my perfect one-night stand plan?
But the thing is...I might...could maybe...potentially...be interested.
Truth be told, I'm kind of scared to call him back.
Monday, August 25, 2008
And yet, it’s so silly. You can’t go back. You can’t do it over, and you can’t fix it. No matter how hard you try in the aftermath, you can’t make things right.
When I was undergoing my conversion process to Judaism, I had to pick out a Hebrew name, and you know what I wanted? Teshuvah.
The most common form of sin in Hebrew is cheit which translated means ‘to miss the mark.’ Amazing how in four thousand years missing the mark has turned into to burning in hell, isn't it? We're not horrible people. We just screw up sometimes.
In modern Judaism teshuvah is often associated with repentance and apologizing for your sins during Rosh Hashanah, but the literal translation of teshuvah means 'to return.' How does return equate to repentance? Well, the idea is that you can never actually redo anything. Feeling bad about your acts is fine, but it’s not repentance. Repentance is when in the future you face a similar situation and make a different choice. You return to where you were, and this time you do the right thing.
One night two years ago I missed the mark, and during the time in between I’ve paid for it emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I tried to repair things even though I knew I couldn’t, and the longer I held on, the worse it got. I’m speaking of course about the execution of a one night stand. (Come on. If there was ever a girl to combine a scholarly discussion of religion with casual sex...)
I’d never had one (meaning a one night stand as opposed to a discussion of religion), got this crazy idea that I would go through with it when the opportunity presented itself, and ultimately was thrown for a loop when faced with situations that I had neither the knowledge nor experience to handle. While there were several mistakes, my main one was to accept the guy’s phone number the next day with extreme reservations. My one night stand dragged into a six month affair, more twisted and entwined with each meeting, and it was my own fault because I CALLED HIM.
It’s not that repeated sexual encounters with people create a false sense of intimacy; it is a real intimacy. After six months, you can know someone and in a way, love them on a certain level. It’s just not a whole intimacy. Sexual and verbal compatibility does not mean that you are well-suited to a long-term relationship or that you get along with their friends or still love them despite their repeated gobs of toothpaste left in the sink for you to scrape off. At the same time, you do share a closeness not found in your other friendships. Over the long haul it is confusing, damaging, and painful. Friday night I ran into him, and even after so much time had passed, I was overwhelmed with a sense of ambivalence.
And then came Saturday...
I was at a party when a guy appeared under what I would later realize were almost the same circumstances, an introduction by a friend of a friend. I know what you’re concluding. I had the opportunity to go home with someone and didn’t. Pshaw! When you only meet people you find sexually attractive once every two years, you do not look a gift horse in the mouth!
He was like the first guy in many respects: nearly ten years younger than me, amazingly pretty with long strawberry-blond hair that curled, same undergrad, a casual demeanor that might be indicative of a pothead. Maybe he differed in that not only had he heard of Camus, he had read him in the original French and shared my favorite story. (Then again, I never asked the other guy about Camus, so who knows?) He definitely differed in his utter lack of self-absorption or pretentiousness. (In retrospect, he was probably a great guy.) The evening played out much like the first time, right down to the next morning where he stood viewing my books and commented on my McMurtry collection, but again, in contrast, he made his best attempts to befriend my spastic dog, and when he noticed me making the bed, ran over to help.
With the knowledge of hindsight, I changed a few things. Upon awaking the next morning to find him lying in my bed, I didn’t berate myself over the remembrance of my night before. Instead I acknowledged that I needed something like this, and appreciated it for what it was to the point where I repeated portions of the prior evening (because, ohmigosh, I love morning sex, and seriously, why deny yourself at that point). I didn’t push him out the door, but let the morning play out until I needed to meet a friend for brunch. When I dropped him back at his car, he looked a little bewildered at my failure to ask for a phone number or even a last name. Instead, I offered only a smile.
I realize of course that I will never find true intimacy in these types of situations, but that wasn’t the point of the evening. I wrapped up a loose end, and now I’m free to continue on with the rest of my life.
It feels good.
And my Hebrew name? Well, the rabbi insisted that I couldn’t take Teshuvah because most Jews wouldn’t understand it and would think it was weird. After much debate and discussion, she agreed that I could use it as my ‘middle’ Hebrew name. For my first name I chose Tirzah, one of the first women in the bible to fight for equality of the sexes. I think both are appropriate.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Detox. No beer, wine, or liquor for two weeks (with the exception of this Friday when we meet up at the Other-University Grad Student bar).
Hmm, well it DEFINITELY WOULD get my mind off of other things…and it’s probably a good idea insofar as during the bar I got in the ridiculous habit of drinking wine EVERY night…and because of that lovely little habit, I could save myself about $60 over the two-week period.
So yes, I agreed to try it. Had he proposed that we go meatless, all bets would have been off. You know all those articles available on the horrible conditions of animals, the cost to the environment, the health effects? Yeah, I totally don’t read those. Ignorance is bliss, my friends, and I love turkey burgers.
Today is day four and with my newfound sobriety I’ve had the chance to
Yesterday, I was sitting at the desk of my (temporary?) job thinking how nice they were to let me come back and work full-time after the bar. How awesome was it that I was receiving health insurance and got to work in a place where flip-flops were standard attire? (And they just started offering insurance to domestic partners!) How many places can you come into work a little late without hassle, take advantage of the in-house masseuse, and work no more than 40 hours a week? Such a great place! What wonderful people!
However, I was also a little bored as I was not distracted by a hangover, lack of sleep, or even the teensiest bit of dehydration. Because my task did not require my full mental capacity, my mind drifted. If only this job paid a little bit more, I would stay here forever, even if a little bit more still wouldn’t equal what I was making before I came to law school. Then I wondered where exactly this particular job fell salary-wise in relation to my former jobs. Maybe not the last job, but did it pay as much as the job before that? No. Before that? No.
Sitting there in stone cold sobriety I came to the conclusion that right now I am making the same amount as I did ten years ago, right after I graduated from college…when I was WORKING AS A MANAGER AT THE MALL! This is without any adjustment for inflation. And those wonderful health benefits? Yeah, I had those too ten years ago. Now granted, Abercrappie & Bitch didn’t have an in-house masseuse, but I didn’t have a law degree and wasn’t doing legal work for them either. And oh yeah, they let me wear flip-flops to work too. (Do we see a pattern?)
Oh. Dear. God.
I ran outside to smoke a cigarette, hoping that my cancer sticks, my one beautiful drug left, might accidentally be laced with hallucinogens. Puffing away in the parking lot, I told myself that it was ok. No one at this company made any money. They were investing the profits back into growth. Management had totally explained this to me. This was a great place.
As this occurred during the lunch hour, people were coming and going, and I noticed one of the guys in the company pull into the lot…in his BMW, and then another long-time member, in his BMW. This meant one of two things – either the higher-ups in my company were making enough to feed their families or they were inherently stupid. Either way, it didn’t bode well for me.
(And I'm not being greedy here. I realize that others have worked there longer than me and handle much more complex tasks. I'm not asking for a salary that would float a luxury car payment. I'm just trying to make enough to pay my rent and my loans - which wouldn't happen if I took a salaried position at this place.)
My sense of idealism destroyed, I slogged through the rest of the day and came home determined to find a job…like now. I checked a few websites, but I remember painstakingly writing cover letters and resumes years ago for submission online, only to never get a response of any kind from anyone. Looking back, most of my good jobs, and the good jobs of my friends came through connections. Someone knew someone who knew about a job. That was it!
I started to construct a mental rolodex.
My close friends from law school?
I had four.
One took a job on the West Coast so that couldn’t help me.
One is currently working part-time for the city because he worked there all through law school, loves it, but the office doesn’t have any open positions.
The other two?
Um, yeah, they didn’t even bother to take the bar. One just moved to L.A. for a television job. The other’s trying to decide what she wants to do with her life.
No problem. I have other friends. And really, I don’t even need to practice law. I came to law school in order to make more money (and when I say more money, I mean make enough to buy a small house over time). If my law degree helps me find a semi-lucrative corporate-type job, that’s fine too. I’m in one of the largest cities in the U.S. There are tons of large corporations here. No sweat.
My closest non-law friend is Alex. Alex doesn’t work at a corporation. He brews beer for a living. Before that he worked at a furnishings store with a sustainable living angle for the South American artists that provided the goods. Before that, he was in AmeriCorps.
No big deal! Alex went to Other-University which is teeming with little smarties and has great recruiting. I’m friends with most of his friends. We’ll go from there.
Alex’s old roommate? Getting his doctorate in violin performance. The roommate’s girlfriend? Getting her master’s at Juilliard. Ah! Alex has another former roommate who used to do consulting! And he’s a Republican. And we’re friends! He could help me out…except that he quit his job, packed up all his stuff, and moved to Buenos Aires a few months ago. Alex’s current roommates? A waitress and a teacher. Oh, but our friend across the street with the degree in microbiology? Did non-profit work for awhile and just moved back in with her parents because she couldn’t afford her rent.
Wait, wait, wait. I’m friends with Wine-Time-Girl’s boyfriend and know all of his friends who also happen to work with him! I'm in, I'm in! What do you think are the odds of my getting a job as a medical research scientist...in neuroscience? We could just bypass that whole fellowship application stuff, right?
Oh, there’s that girl that graduated a year ahead of me and Wine-Time…and just took a job with the local NFL team.
Guess what guys? I don’t have a single friend in this town with a ‘normal’ 8 to 5, Monday through Friday job.
How exactly is that possible?!!?
My friends are wonderful, interesting people and a night spent in with them cooking a meal is more rewarding than anything outside the house, but holy cow, I’m screwed. My social life is rich. My bank account is po’. How will I ever attract my wonderful stay-at-home husband if I can’t even bring home the grocery store’s bacon?
Back at work today, I tried to stay positive. I mean, not only does this job look great on my resume, but I can also list it under volunteerism! Alex called a little later, wanting to lift the ban. I’m going to stick with it in the hopes that the extra brain cells come up with a glorious idea, a glorious idea that pays the rent, the loans, and leaves a little left over for beer.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Why do I think this? People I knew in high school and college are starting to join. First, let’s get past the fact that I barely remember any of them and am quite confused that they recognize me. Fifteen years ago I grabbed my high school diploma and fled the great state of God, grits, and social conservatism, never to return. College was better, but I still somehow managed to take a path different than that of most of my friends.
I’ve stayed in touch with the select few who aren’t appalled to know that I vote Democrat, support gay marriage, am violently opposed to the government regulating my body in any way, don’t aspire to live in a million dollar home one day, don’t consider marriage to be a prerequisite to sex or children, and don’t think that being a grown-up automatically commands a certain type of behavior.
Apparently, no one from high school or college realizes this because they're tracking me down and sending the friend requests liberally.
At first I though it would be cool to get back in touch, but my how the years divide.
Gone are the days of status messages that read:
Bob woke up this morning in an alley and couldn’t find his pants.
Jennifer’s paper was accepted for publish!
Sally decided to spring for the stilettos.
Jake is in Kuala Lampur.
Geraldine has two boys with ear infections. :-(
Sara hopes little Bobby’s surgery goes well and he doesn’t end up with a colostomy bag. Pray for us.
Susie found two seconds alone and is watching
Jenny had the most inspirational church service this morning.
Dude, I don’t need to know every tiny little detail of your child’s health. Martha is the most important thing in my life, but I do not feel the need to inform people via my status message every time she barfs – which believe me, is more frequent than I’d like. And to all of you who want to tell me that a kid is different, all I can say is, if Martha and one of my loved ones were about to get hit by a moving car, and I only had enough time to push one out of the way, I’d be hard-pressed to make a decision. She may just be a dog, but she’s this (wo)man’s best friend, sitting patiently by my side during many hours of bar studying, always happy to see me when I come home, and the first to lick my face when I cry.
You can guess what the albums are like, not a single photo of my friends, but billions of pictures of their kids. And I’m not knocking having kids, but do you maybe have any interests outside of them? You know, like, stuff you like to do that has nothing to do with your spouse? I believe it’s called an identity.
As for the groups…
I’m in the silly ones like:
Hey law school, high school called. They want their drama back.
People from High School and College?
Post-Partum Depression is Real
Save families; Protect Traditional Marriage
[My HS Choir Teacher] is My Hero
Junior League of Austin (Houston, Dallas, Topeka, Phoenix)
I hated my HS choir teacher. To tell the truth, I was offended when asked to join the club. And Junior League? Seriously, they’ve got Junior League groups on Facebook? What is this world coming to? I know a ton of my friends joined Junior League after college, and that’s cool if that’s your boat, but really, Facebook is not the platform for such.
Traditional Marriage? Dude, if you don't believe in gay marriage, don't get one. And please, don't couch bigotry in the name of religion. It's really easy to exclude people and pass judgment when it doesn't affect you personally, but seriously, who someone else chooses to love is none of your business. Come spend some time in my neighborhood. I understand your position, but I vehemently disagree with you, and I really don't want to log onto facebook during my lunch break and see that shit. Facebook is supposed to be fun.
Traditional Marriage? Dude, if you don't believe in gay marriage, don't get one. And please, don't couch bigotry in the name of religion. It's really easy to exclude people and pass judgment when it doesn't affect you personally, but seriously, who someone else chooses to love is none of your business. Come spend some time in my neighborhood. I understand your position, but I vehemently disagree with you, and I really don't want to log onto facebook during my lunch break and see that shit. Facebook is supposed to be fun.
Here’s the deal guys. Facebook is a bastion of immaturity. It’s the place where people post the pictures that get you fired from your first job. It also has the nice quality of serving as an address book. It is NOT the site where you inform people of deaths in the family and pesky urinary tract infections.
And my god, WHEN DID EVERYONE GET SO FREAKIN’ OLD LOOKING? One of my friends from high school looks like she’s fifty. Really, what do you write on their wall? “Wow! Do you need a drink or have you just had too many?” Perhaps the reason that I keep getting friended by people from high school and college is because I am the only person they come across who still looks the same and is identifiable by their picture.
I thought it would be neat to reconnect with people from my past, but all these friendings seem to do is remind me of my own mortality and make me that much more fearful of marriage and children. To tell the truth, it kind of makes me want to go out, get drunk, and have sex with a nameless twenty-two-year-old.
I have nothing in common with these people anymore, and I wonder if I ever did. It feels strange, and I'm surprised that I have such a negative reaction to it. Who knows?
I do know tonight I got friended by a girl I hadn’t seen in years, and I have one single memory of her. I was the (sorority) pledge trainer and she was one of my pledges in college. My senior year she ran into me at a bar on
“Very nice to meet you,” I said politely, shook his hand, and then leaned over and puked at his feet.
And twelve years later we’re friends on Facebook.
Remember the Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed and Confused? "I keep getting older and they stay the same age."
I think I'm the reverse.
They keep getting older and I stay the same age.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go remove as much high school and college information as possible in the hopes that no one else will track me down because I find it freakishly depressing.
PS - This whining does not expressly apply to people who are married with children. I know plenty of people with both who are interesting and cool. It's the group that can't talk about anything but to the point that they almost confuse the first and third person - like, they are their spouse, child, etc.
Waiting around for the job is a risk. At the same time, many employers don’t hire until after bar results come back. Therefore, I’m not missing out on too much. In addition, I can be a little proactive and check for other potential jobs. If something looks promising, then I think I’ll go ahead and apply for it.
Though I’m not making a ton of cash right now, I do have some type of income. I have health insurance, I love my temporary position, and I can stay there for as long as I need. Should I not have found something full-time by November when loans come due, I remembered that I still have some savings which could pay my loans for a little less than a year. So, even though I’m loathe to spend my emergency cash, at least it’s there. This situation is not perfect, but it's definitely not tragic.
I don’t want to leave my house, but if I have to, then I have to. I’ve always managed to find something decent in the past, so hopefully I can do it again. Moving will be a HUGE pain, but what can I do? In the meantime, my lease goes through the end of February, so again, I’ve got a cushion period there to figure things out.
Okay, I can handle this.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I don’t think I can write about guys anymore. I bit my tongue (bit my keyboard?) about ten times last night because I wanted to write snark and make it funny. But I didn’t because a) god forbid someone tell my friend about it after she was trying to be nice and set me up and b) it wasn't as if the guy was a jerk. He signed up for a set-up, not a tongue in cheek critique of the evening that would be read the next morning by hundreds of people.
I have a tendency to separate myself from the situation when I write and think of the actual people as different from the story. Then I’m like, “I don’t really feel that way! That’s just what I wrote!” The post from last night was lame, so I took it down. It didn’t say what I was trying to say, it wasn’t funny, and worse, just by having it up, I was talking about other people.
Sigh. I think I’ve always viewed dating as some form of entertainment (and little more), and that’s heavily affected how I act and who I go out with. Worse yet, despite this, I still end up emotionally involved at times and it gets messy. Maybe if I stop thinking of my dating life as a story to be told…I will meet the guy who totally gets it and encourages me to tell the story of wine flying out his nose on our first date. In the meantime, I’ll behave myself – ya know, until I change my mind. ;-) (Trust me though; if I go on a date with a complete douche-bag, y'all will be the first to know.)
Sorry the blog is so boring as of late. I’m blaming work. Give me a little while to find my groove in this new chapter, and the good ones will come back.
Uh, no. I am still stuck in that clean-out/organization mode. Last night I ran home giddy with glee at the thought of reorganizing the bathroom. Around 8 pm, I moved into the kitchen and cleaned out all of the lower cabinets and the area under the sink. Remember my bookshelves? I organized them…again. Finally giving in and heading to bed, I stared at the ceiling for at least an hour wondering what else I could possibly trash. Tonight I’m taking a break – after redoing the upper kitchen cabinets and spending several hours at work today reorganizing my desk, creating research links on my favorites list, and re-tabbing my employee manual. Send the men in the white coats…but wait a few weeks because I want to do a second sweep-through of my clothes closet.
I’m so happy to be back at work. Although I’m not making much money, I am making something, and for every hour that moves by I think, “I just earned 2 packs of cigarettes and a bottle of wine!”
Don’t judge, it could be worse. I could be viewing the amount in boxes of condoms. Speaking of, during the great clean-up, I had to throw a bunch out because they had expired! Do you know how long those things are good for? Um, several years. And I think the last time I bought them was when I lived in Austin. (Cue the violins, and pass me the razor blades.) I now have one lone condom remaining in the house, left by the gymnast from my 1L year. It’s got about twelve months to go, and if I’d been smart, I would have thrown it in the shredder the moment sentimentality set in. But no, it’s back in the top dresser drawer, a memento from years ago: My head went to crazy-town, and all I got was this lousy condom.
How was the set-up on Sunday? Well first, it really turned out to be a set-up because after dinner, my friends suggested that we all meet up at a dessert place around the corner…and guess what, the married couple conveniently DID NOT SHOW. Seriously, if you want me to spend some time alone with the guy, you can just tell me…and if you don’t think you can tell me because I won’t go, doesn’t that say something?
So the guy…
He was very nice, very conversant, top ten law school, almost as impressive undergrad. I sat there wondering what it was I didn’t like about this guy…
Not edgy enough?
Hrm, does anyone seem edgy once you’ve dated a drug dealer?
[Don’t ask, it was a twenties rebellion thing that ended when I refused to meet his mother. I mean, he didn’t really think this was serious, right?]
Not hot enough?
I know I’ve said this before, but after sleeping with someone whose butt is so hard that you could slice tomatoes on it with a butter knife, pretty much every guy afterwards resembles the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Not intellectual enough?
Hrm, well not as much as the editor of the political magazine…a mutual split after one night when I’d had a bad day and wanted to curl up on the couch, he insisted on attending a gubernatorial election night party. (In my defense, he wasn’t covering the event AND everyone knew the candidate was going to lose…AND I HAD A ROUGH DAY!)
Not dorky-smart enough?
Too many to count here.
I mean really, what do I want in a guy?
I’ve gone on dates with: rich guy(s), poor guy(s), Ivy Leaguer(s), GED, rags to riches, riches to rags, Christian(s), Jew(s), Muslim(s), research scientist(s), a journalist, lawyer(s), professor(s), an architect, a documentary filmmaker, unemployable(s), a poet (he actually made a living at it!), a hippie raised on Venice Beach with black-painted fingernails (who now works in BigLAW!), an aspiring politician, engineer(s), a mutual fund manager, a college student body president, druggie(s), squeaky-clean(), blond(s), brunette(s), black-haired, American citizen(s), foreigner(s), white, Latino, Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani.
(No, the gymnast doesn’t count as that was six months of sex, conversation and NO dates. Then again, if we’re considering the non-dates, throw in a couple of make-out sessions with band members during several years of SXSW.)
Seriously! What do I want!!! (I mean, besides variety.) Have I dated too many people to have a firm grip on reality?
I suppose I can offer some feedback. During the conversation (with the set-up guy) the topic of writing came up, and I mentioned that I just like to do it, but don’t have any great desire to publish. He earnestly countered, asking what compelled someone to do something that didn’t bring a monetary reward. For him, an innocent question; for me, a sea of disconnect. I talked about how I loved observing people and wondering what their lives were like. He asked if I did this at Starbucks. Starbucks? Haven’t been there in years. I offered an example of a people-watching location and he said something to the effect of, “I know what you’re talking about. I’ve never gone in there, but I can see how you could be into a grungy place like that.” Yes, it’s not the cleanest place in town, but if you can get beyond the dirt, you’ll find some fascinating people.
….And in other news…
On a smoke-break today with a friend, she mentioned that the Olympics were like soft-p*o*r*n. I was sad to realize, that yes, it kind of was – even if she was lusting after the synchronized divers as I favored the well, you know. At some point in the conversation she mentioned that her dad worked with the dad of one of the (male) gymnasts. Thank goodness it wasn’t the cutie on the pommel horse, because otherwise I might have made an idiot of myself angling for an invitation to the company picnic.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Looks like I'll be checking back in another four years.
It's good to have dreams.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
So, what to do with my remaining summer days?
Sit at my desk, lost in thought, drowning in a pool of narcissism?
Sounds like fun, but perhaps not the healthiest option.
Continue to read the memoir of the woman with a mental health disorder in order to feel better about myself?
Yeah, except that every ten pages or so, I’m like, “Oh honey, I can totally TOP that story.”
Shop around for a therapist to help me deal with what is clearly a chemical imbalance?
Dude, why would I want to pay someone to make me normal?
Sounds good. I mean, I really NEED a mustache necklace.
E. McPan displayed this on her blog, but I’m kinda not into the gold chains.
Not Martha pointed to this one, but omigosh, it was $48 and I couldn’t tell if it was made out of the same material as the necklaces you used to get at the carnival with your name electronically engraved.
I mean, doesn’t someone make a cute mustache necklace that you can wear with going-out attire, but costs less than $5?
So, free time, no money?
That’s right! I made my own.
It’ very easy.
First, call all your friends to come join you in the project.
Second, pop on your favorite geek movie.
"Samwise! That girl is making a mustache necklace. I want one!"
Or, I guess you could go for a chick-flick.
"I only loved Aragorn for his mustache, but now I can have my own?!? Oh, liberty!"
Find your beads…
Next, make a concept drawing.
Pick your colors, and you’re ready to go!
Come on, you know you think it’s hot.
Goes perfect with BCBG, sort of.
(How come whenever you take a self-portrait, it's so close-up that you look like a cow?)
And the great thing, who knows that it’s a mustache necklace unless you tell them? If you find yourself hanging out with people lacking a sense of humor, it’s easy as pie. If they’re West Coasters, tell them it’s a necklace you picked up last winter in Taos. East Coasters? Duh, you got it from this awesome gallery in Brooklyn, and it’s made by an artist whose name you just can’t remember right now.
I know what you're thinking.
It's hard to believe I'm single, right?
Yeah, I can't believe it either.
I might need to get a life.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Remember how I waited for an hour and the cops never showed up?
Remember how I went to the police station, waited forever, and the cops made me pick one of the two license plate numbers that I thought was the car?
Turns out, it was all worth it. The police sent out a letter to the owner of the number I picked, and after much back and forth, the claim has apparently been paid, and today, my insurance company sent me a check for $500 to cover the cost of my deductible.
Five hundred bucks I thought was gone from life. Yippee-skippee.
And the guy that hit me? Turns out he was an out-patient at a mental institution. How exactly is one an 'out-patient' at a mental institution? Nice.
Of course the extra money is needed, but I think my main reason for heading back so soon after the bar is boredom. The exam has left me tired to where all I want to do is lie on the couch and read books. If I'm not going to use the time for anything more fun or productive, I figure I might as well be working.
I think I might save the bar trip for after the results are announced. (Then I'll really know that I can celebrate!) Still trying to decide whether or not to head off to California and also thinking about a sibling meet-up in Vegas.
And I have to decide what to do with this blog. I think if it keeps going, it needs a makeover. I haven't been writing in the Ana character's voice for the last few months. Hmm... And then there's the Ana in the fantasy series who is similar but different from myself and the original character from these pages...but everybody's named Ana!
I’m standing just outside the side door of a brand-new mini-van as husband works intently on the interior in an attempt to disengage the backseat TV.
“Do you think this is really necessary?” I ask as he digs through a pile of tools.
“Television will rot their brains,” he answers with sweat rolling down his temples.
Husband’s been at this for nearly half an hour, convinced that if we just push the small button on the console that overrides backseat control, the kids will figure it out. We could acknowledge this and tell the kids to suck it, but husband thinks it will be easier if the kids think the tv is broken. We are after all, about to engage on a rather long car trip. The van is a rental, and I’m convinced that Husband will cut something or pull something or create some other type of damage leaving us with additional charges. I hate mini-vans, but we were concerned that the VW van would break down (because it’s happened before) and additionally, the VW gets the worst gas mileage in the world.
“Maybe you should check the manual?” I inquire as gently as possible.
“Not necessary,” Husband insists.
He’s dripping all over the upholstery and I sense a cleaning fee is in our future.
“Got it!” he says finally, very pleased with himself.
I, on the other hand am staring at the collection of wires splaying from the ceiling. Husband looks at me expectantly.
“Oh. Great job! Awesome work, babe,” and for added measure, I offer the thumbs up.
“You’re right,” he says despairingly, “You could have done it faster.”
Could have, but wouldn’t have, because I think it’s a dumb idea to begin with. I don’t say such however. Instead I offer, “No way, babe. It’s great. You’re saving our children’s lives, so scrupulous in your care of them. I would have never thought to do that. You’re an awesome dad, and I’m lucky to have you.”
The last part is sincere and earns me a kiss, my upper-lip tickled by the recent appearance of a mustache that husband claims is the beginning of a Fu Manchu. We walk inside to get the kids. In the living room, Maddie’s got Gabe and Jakob lined up against the wall in a game which appears to be, “Guess who’s the boss of you.”
“Who wants to go to Grammy and Grampy’s House!” Husband shouts.
Three small faces look up at us in silence.
“Grammy and Grampy in Colorado?” asks Jakob.
“No, Grammy and Grampy in Washington!” Husband says.
“Oh,” says Jakob pausing a moment before he asks, “Will we be stopping to see Grammy and Grampy in Colorado?”
“No,” Hubby replies.
“My sentiments exactly,” I say in response, kicking a suitcase.
“Oh come on you guys! Where’s your adventurous spirit? It’s going to be fun! It’s so hot here in Austin and the weather is great in Seattle!” Hubby continues.
Hubby looks at me with an assignment of guilt.
“Hey, you’re the one who decided to procreate with a lawyer,” I say defensively, raising my hands.
Hubby walks back to the bedroom and returns wearing his ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ t-shirt, apparently emboldened by my words. If only we weren’t sharing sleeping quarters with the kids, I’d be getting laid tonight. I gave it to him on Maddie’s first birthday, and it’s a little bit too tight, but strangely, I’m turned on by the sight of him in it. Being Daddy is his job, and he does it so proudly. He thinks he’s the one who got the sweet end of the deal, and I’m the poor sap stuck with the office job. Every so often, he offers to make a sacrifice and trade places with me, concerned that I am missing out on the kids’ growth. He insists that once you get past the diapers, the teething, the crying, and their irrational minds, the kids are the most amazing thing in the world. They comment on life with a bare innocence and frankness that could embarrass an academic. They are curious to a fault, and their uniqueness is beyond comparison. Watching them grow and form, he says, is something every person should be able to witness.
Not only that, but once all of them are in grade school, I could start writing again. I would have the time, he promises. Personally, I think I’d spend those extra hours scrubbing the shower grout with a toothbrush, but who knows. There are many nights when I come home to find that someone has learned to count, walk, say their abc’s. It would be dishonest to say that I am without jealousy or resentment at these wonderful events that happen without my presence or contribution. However, I never feel guilt. I never think that I am a bad mother. No, husband has a confidence and patience that far exceeds my own. I could never let the comments of other parents roll off my back the way he does. I am, in fact, ensuring their well-being by limiting my role in their upbringing.
Speaking of an inability to let comments go unnoticed, I survey my crew. Gabe’s face is full of snot, a victim of his mother’s allergies. Maddie is going through a phase where she insists on doing her own hair, and I don’t even want to tell you what it looks like. Jakob is wearing one Croc and one Birkenstock, having already learned the term ‘personal expression’ from his father. We’re so motley. I’m toast.
“It’s going to be fine,” Husband says, grabbing my shoulders from behind and shaking them, sensing my anxiety.
It was so much easier when it was just me. Now there are five independently operating individuals with whom my mother can find fault and trace back to me. I can’t do this. I need wine. In order to distract the thought, I begin to collect our bags.
“Mommy,” says Jakob walking towards me, “Let’s dance.”
“No Jake,” I answer, “We need to go. We need to get on the road.”
“Mommy,” Husband interjects, “I think little man’s got a good idea there.”
Why must he do this? Why must he interfere with my authority? We’re co-parents, right? But I give in; I always do and extend my hand to Jakob. He wraps his little arms around my legs and begins to sway.
“It’ll be okay,” he assures me, “Your mommy loves you, just like you love me.”
My four-year-old is now providing his adult mother with therapy. What kind of parent am I?
“She loves you, too,” I say to Jake.
“Grammy’s mean,” interjects Maddie, tortured with the same blunt sense of honesty as her mother.
“No she’s not, and if you say that in front of her, I will hurt you,” I yell commandingly.
“Ana!” interrupts Husband.
“I’m not kidding,” I reiterate to Maddie, followed by, “She’ll think it’s coming from me,” to Husband.
“Alright, everybody in the car,” Husband says defeated.
We haul the kids outside single-file, and their feet drag in slow syncopation as if in step with an offbeat funeral march. While I fight with Gabe to buckle him safely in the car seat, Husband loads the last of the gear, including Martha. At twelve years old, we really should board her, but I can’t stand to leave her. Not only that, but my mother loves her.
Ten years ago, I agonized over their meeting, Martha the over-excited neurotic, and yes, part-Pitt Bull dog, and my mother, the cool as a cucumber, instant judger of character who loved the kind Labradors and Old English Sheepdogs of my youth. Their introduction was intense. Martha jumped all over her, shredding my mother’s paper-thin skin. I thought for sure that Martha was a goner, forever banished to the realm of ill-behaved child, but strangely my mother loved her, almost to the point where I felt left out. Martha received treats and tummy rubs. Mother chastised that I didn’t feed her enough and let Martha sit proudly in her lap. In every email and phone call, she asked after Martha’s well-being and told me to take care of her. One day I finally got up the nerve to ask, why was it that my mother loved about Martha so much?
“Martha would kill for you,” she said. “I don’t worry as much knowing that she’s around. That is one Good dog you’ve got there.”
Martha’s now so old that Husband has to lift her into the car carrier, but I remember the old days back in Rosemont when Martha awoke me with her barking after the electricity had been cut, how she snarled when I looked out the window to see the man with the duffel bag, and her infuriation so intense when I opened the door for the police that I had to lock her in her crate for fear she might hurt someone. Good dog, indeed. [Coincidentally, the prior event actually happened, and Martha, the obsessive licker who loves everyman, does in fact turn into Cujo when she senses fear in her owner. To call her a good dog might actually be an understatement.]
After Martha is curled in her crate, I flinch as I watch Husband happily add the family tent to our pile of belongings. During our three day journey we will not be staying in hotels; we will be ‘roughing it.’ This is partially because we can’t afford otherwise and partially because, I, in my gauzy blind-sided days of passion, made the drastic mistake of marrying a man who loves to camp.
As he hops in the passenger seat, he turns to me with brimming enthusiasm and says, “I can’t wait to test out that new solar-powered Coleman lamp.”
I do not dare ask how something that operates in the dark is powered by the sun. I suppose it’s better than having a flame that’s powered by wind. I try not to think of the mosquitoes and centipedes and allergies that await me. I try to block from my mind the idea that if I’d married one of the self-absorbed professors from my youth, I could be sunning myself on the beach of Rio right now, showing off a stomach absent of stretch marks, as he worked away on some kind of archeological dig or toiled in the library translating ancient texts. Our lack of children wouldn’t bother me. Our lives would be so full we wouldn’t need children, at least that’s what he’d say. It wouldn’t be until he left me for some pert research assistant, his pert PREGNANT research assistant, blaming my lack of emotional support for the failure of our marriage, that I’d even begin to understand the error of my life decisions, left to console myself for willingly putting aside my career and my dreams by gazing at that beautiful, flat stomach.
“OH! A TEE VEE!” shouts Jakob.
“A TEE VEE?” the rest of the group shouts with enthusiasm.
“Um, I think it’s broken,” says Hubby with a look that reveals he’s questioning his earlier decision. “Sorry little man.”
“oh,” says Jakob.
Yeah, this is going to be such a fun trip. I try not to give Hubby the look of death as we back out of the driveway. All of the kids already appear infinitely bored except for Maddie who is bent on completing Little Women during the journey. I’ve told her that I didn’t master the book until age nine, but the little punk is determined to beat me. I warn her about reading in the car, but she casts off my concerns with a wave, convinced I am fearful of her triumph. Once on the highway, Husband occupies the children with “100 bottles of beer on the wall” while I refrain from banging my head against the steering wheel. We are just past San Marcos when we stop the car to let out Maddie to puke.
“I told you!” I call after her as she races past the shoulder into an abandoned field. Stupid, obstinate child. Didn’t she realize I was just trying to help her? Why won’t she listen? I was just trying to protect her. Sometimes she makes me SO angry.
Husband darts out of the car and grabs Madeleine.
“It’s okay sweet potato, it’s okay,” he assures her, rubbing her back as she retches in the dirt and cries.
Still in the car, I begin to cry as well. I’ve messed up. I know it. She’s a child. She’s six. Husband will hate me. Jakob, hearing my sniffles, unbuckles himself from his car seat and leans forward on the passenger chair.
“It okay, Mommy,” he says, patting my shoulder. “Maddie’s sick, but she’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.”
My hand reaches back and grabs his curly hair. Was his father’s hair this soft as a child? I’m saddened not to have known. Jakob crawls into my lap and I hold him tightly.
“You, Mr. Man, are my sunshine,” I say as I rock him back and forth.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Somewhere in there is the whole Well-now-you-go-out-and-practice-law-thing, but as this is not an overriding purpose in my life, it’s almost an afterthought. Yeah, I’ll do it to make ends meet, but after those ends are met, what do I really want to do?
Wine Country Law Mom made a list of things she wants to do in the next five years or so. I’m hesitant to sit down and do such. One, how disappointed will I feel if I don’t accomplish those things? What of the things I want that are seemingly beyond my control? Second, I don’t know what I want to do, and it’s kind of frightening to truly look inward, beyond the surface and determine what drives me.
Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps if I figure out what truly makes me happy, I will feel regret at all the time I’ve wasted thus far. Or maybe I’ll just be concerned that my true loves don’t coincide with my general plan for the future.
The conflicts? Here they are –
I moved to this city three years ago. Despite having concerns about leaving Austin after twelve years, I thought I needed a change. Having a new ambiance worked well. I love this city. It’s more diverse than Austin, has better museums than Austin. And Austin, after so many years of laid-back goodness, had turned slightly douche-baggy by the time I left. It was the ‘cool’ city, and around 1999 or so, tons of outsiders began to infiltrate it in the search of such coolness. It got a little cliquey. An artist was no longer someone who had an inspiring drive. A ‘real’ artist was someone who didn’t have health insurance, worked at a crummy service job, dressed a certain way, and lived in a specific part of town. The art part was kind of irrelevant.
The gentle hippies were replaced by the yuppie granolas, people who worked at tech start-up companies, shopped at Whole Foods because their body was a temple, ran ten miles a day to stay in shape and put off mortality. The influx of money made everything more expensive. Beloved restaurants and coffee shops could no longer afford the rent and went out of business. The casual hippie could no longer afford the rent on their house and moved away. West Austin used to have these beautiful rolling green hills. Now they're all encumbered with fake Italian villas. The Money moved in and inadvertently drove out all the people who made Austin ‘cool’ to begin with. Irony?
Big City is a great place. No one moves here because it’s cool; it’s the anti-cool. The lack of pretentiousness in this city as a whole is just kinda awesome. And it’s huge. Austin was so small that at times you felt as if you knew everyone. On the other hand, the existence here can feel somewhat plastic. Last night, Fairy-God-Brother and I stood outside of a restaurant, our friends on the inside waiting for a table. We couldn’t get in because the restaurant was filled to capacity and police guarded the door. Across the street another restaurant stood empty. People shuffled on the street, and I noticed that not only was I the only woman in flip-flops, I was the only woman not in heels. I felt under-dressed compared to the crowd, but not for where we were going. It was a Tex-Mex place for crying out loud, and when we finally got inside I laughed that everyone was dying to get in there so that they could pay $13 for a margarita and $20 for tacos. Could it be that even in the truly uncool places of the world people still chase the coolness factor?
And my dating life since I moved here? Non-existent. It’s one of the biggest cities in the U.S. Surely there’s got to be someone here with whom I’m compatible, right? But, uh, even though I don’t look any different than I used to, I’m just not as attractive here. The bare-faced, untamed wavy hair with tank top, flip-flops, and jeans just doesn’t pull them in like it did in Austin. And when it does? Well, here’s a conversation I had a few months ago with a guy who wore sockless loafers and had close-clipped hair.
“So, what made you become an anesthesiologist?”
“I really want to help people. Surgery is a frightening time for many, and I want to be that person who comforts them before they go under.”
I laughed. It was rude, but I did. To me, it came across as a line used to pick up chicks. Because, you know, if I was truly a salt of the earth type my first career choice would be anesthesiology. Dude, I would have respected him so much more if he said that he did it for the dough and the ability to make a living. The guy also thought Into the Wild was an earth-shattering movie and had never heard of Camus. Yes, I threw the Camus question in there just to be bitchy. None of these things make for a bad person, but what strikes me as so strange in the guys I meet here is that few seem to have a whole lot under the surface. Even the ones who appear at first to be interesting are just in fact trying to be interesting for the sake of interest. I don’t know if I’m being a conceited jerk or if this is just the way it is. Lots of people in Austin seemed to have some other side. They worked, but maybe they also wanted to develop a new strain of tomatoes, worked on some strange gadgetry in their garage, or had some type of outside interest or distant dream. There was always some strange thing they did just for the love of doing it. (But yes, there were a few of the the I'm-trying-to-be-cool-with-my-music/film/art-connections.)
Also, the music SUCKS in this town. I’ve been spoiled. I miss walking into the coffee shop, bar, grocery store, you name it, and seeing some dude in the corner playing a guitar. I miss every single radio station – KGSR, KLBJ, KUT, KMFA. The music here, with the exception of maybe a few Spanish language stations, is a joke. I realized the other day that I haven’t bought a single CD in this city. In Austin, I used to run down to Waterloo at least once a month and I never got out of there for less than a hundred bucks.
And despite being such a huge town, the film here is crummy as well. Almost every theater in Austin counts as an arthouse because even the large chains play independent films. When I moved to Big City there were only two arthouse-like movie theaters. One has closed, and the second is likely to lose its lease in the coming years. It’s the oldest theater in the city, and the owners plan to tear it down in order to build a large shopping center with a Barnes and Noble as the anchor store. Such a proposal would never fly in Austin. It’s been tried. Here, the people just shrug and move on. They don't care enough to make a fuss and preserve the things in this city that make it unique.
And NO ONE recycles here! WTF?
And they work for the energy companies and don't even feel like a traitor! Hello? Get a bike and DEMAND alternative energy sources, people!
I think I want to go home. I miss my home.
So what’s keeping me from moving back? Hmm, well, as I mentioned, Austin is more expensive. The job prospects are much more limited. As a big city, this place does have all of the wonderful things a big city has to offer. And, I’m not sure if the home that I miss still exists. In the last three years Austin has no doubt continued to grow and change. Maybe the Austin that I miss is just a happy memory. And if I go, it’s likely that I’ll miss many things here, the museums, the opera, the symphony, other-university. And I love the friends that I’ve made here, but like when I lived in Austin, people will just up and move and leave you for no reason! I said goodbye to two different people last night. I hate that. I’m all for people living their lives, but why must everyone be so mobile? Goodness gracious, people! I’m slow to make friends, but when I do I become easily emotionally attached. Stop leaving me!
I came to law school because for the last eight years, I'd floated from dead-end job to dead-end job, (all non-profit, by the way). I watched my peers make money, find spouses, start families, and yet, I was still stuck in some kind of early post-college mode, simply enjoying life as housing prices rose out of my reach. I decided at the age of thirty that I needed to grow up, so I did the responsible thing and applied to law school.
What did I do during my first year at law school? I wrote a controversial dating column for the school paper.
After my first year, did I seek a summer clerkship at a court? Heavens no! I decided to do a study abroad. Who knew if I'd ever again have the opportunity? Once I got there, did I maintain a professional demeanor and focus on my studies like a good little Sorbonne student? Dear god people, it was Paris. You'd have to be an idiot to do that. No, no. I took advantage of the wonderful wine and was tipsy by 3 pm everyday. I kissed boys on the street because such behavior was perfectly acceptable. I jumped up on the stage at a Ste. Germain bar and sang jazz with the band.
Second year? Yeah, I took the clerkship at the firm. The first few days I thought, "Isn't this great? I can afford a dog-walker! I can afford to get my shirts and suits dry-cleaned!" I was getting paid more than ever before. Only problem was, I'd rather walk my own dog. I'd rather be able to get a little bit of exercise, spend time with her, and feel the sun hit my face during the day. What was the point in being able to afford dry-cleaning when you didn't like the clothes you had to wear to work to begin with? My co-workers were nice, but boring, tired, bitter, defeated, and lonely. The pettiness of litigation drove me mad. I quashed my personality, fearful that I might be 'too out there.' The clerkship lasted only six weeks, but it took everything I had to finish it out.
If growing up means taking a job I can't stand in order to pay the mortgage, moving to a generic suburb so the kids can attend good schools, repressing expression in order to appear "professional," or in any other way letting go of my dreams or the things that make me me, then with all due respect, I proudly raise my middle finger in response to the concept of "growing up." Life is too short. And you know what? I think I just might be able to support myself, have a family, and enjoy life without killing my soul. Maybe it took going to law school for me to fully realize such.
So here are my goals for the next
1. I want to pass the bar.
2. I want to find a legal job that works well with my personality.
(I know one's out there, and I think I might already have found it.)
3. I miss singing. I want to find a group of people to perform with – even if it’s at backyard BBQ’s. (Oh, didn’t you realize, Husband in the fantasy story was my ideal SELF?)
4. I want to write a novel, just to see if I can do it. I don’t care if it sells. And I don’t want to write some deep thought-provoking critical masterpiece. I want to write something simple that makes people smile.
5. I want to find a partner, not because I think I truly need a spouse, but rather because I want to be friends with someone who will be around for the long haul, who won’t suddenly up and move away. I don’t care what he does or if he makes any money. I just want someone of similar intellect, with a pure heart, a fair amount of curiosity, and some kind of hobby that makes them happy.
6. I want to own a little old house with a front porch where I can drink beer.
7. I might want to move back to Austin.
8. I want to find an old VW bus and refurbish the heck out of it. (I promise to only drive it on the weekends.)
I want, I want, I want. Here's hoping...
And to my dear friends who are planning to move to the South Bronx next year and want me to come with you: I love you guys, but um, er, no. Too cold!
Friday, August 01, 2008
Wanted to post last night, but had an email from Blogger in my inbox telling me that my account was frozen until they could verify that my blog was not spam. Yes, spam. I think it's because of this post as it often comes up in searches for p . o . r . n.
Anyway, I've been cleared and I'm back!
The essay portion went really well. On one of the twelve essays, I truly had no idea, like no clue. I'm hoping that the one essay combined with my queasy feeling about the MBE doesn't equal curtains. There were several essays however where I really felt like I nailed it, so cross your fingers that a few extra points will make up for the few lost points, or the possibility that I might have done much better on the MBE than I felt. (Please god, please god.)
The rest of the day was a shared bottle of wine with friends on the front patio, followed by dinner and a bottle of champagne (again, shared).
Today I'm just trying to get organized, clean the house, and figure out what I want to do in the coming months. Talked to my brother earlier, and he wants me to take some time off, fly out to LA, and spend a few days sitting on Venice Beach slowly sipping beer. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. In the meantime, it turns out the my brother has the boxed set of remastered studio recordings by Zeppelin. He's putting together a post-bar care package for me that will include an assortment of memory sticks full of music from the late 60's - early 70's. (Yes! I am so happy!)
Good luck to everyone awaiting their scores and congratulations on getting through it!