Thursday, March 31, 2011

Got several hours to kill?

Tomorrow, April 1st, go here.  You can actually go there today if you want to decide whether or not it's worth your time.

Every year, the U of U law school puts on a counter-terrorism simulation, and it gets bigger and badder every year.

It's like really nerdy, live-action 24.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How childhood lessons on racism accidentally made me racist

When I was a second-grader, we had a substitute teacher who changed my life.  Not in a good way.

My eight-year-old memories are a bit foggy, but as I recall, this substitute teacher was with us for about a week, and determined to impress on our little second-grade brains The History of Racism in America.  I'm not an educator--didn't take a single teaching class in college--but I'm going to go out on a limb and say seven-going-on-eight might be a bit young for that.

On one day, she had us draw slips of paper out of a bag.  Half the slips were black, the other half were white.  If you got a white slip, you could spend the rest of the day treating all the kids with black slips like crap with impunity.  (I got a white slip, and spent the day being relieved I wasn't being tormented.)

But that wasn't really the worst part.  No, the worst part was when she told us that if you're white, you're secretly racist. 

Now, you may not know this, but Kaysville, Utah is not exactly known as a bastion of racial diversity. Add to that the fact that my elementary school was on the small side, and in my particular second grade class there was exactly one Hispanic kid.  (I wonder how he felt about this lesson?)  The rest of us were white.  There may have been a couple Asians, African-Americans, Polynesians or Native Americans in other classes, but there wasn't in mine. 

So at the age of eight, my experiences with people of different races was pretty limited.  Namely, that one Hispanic kid (who was a boy, and therefore icky for totally unrelated reasons) and my dad's Hispanic friend from high school and his daughters, who we hung out with maybe once a year when we visited Arizona or they visited Utah.  

Which is why when the substitute informed us that all of us secretly harbored racist thoughts by virtue of our whiteness, I believed her.  I mean, I had never really met an African-American to feel not-racist, so how did I know that I wouldn't feel racist?

Now, I'm going to assume this wasn't her intention (jeez, I hope so), but my logical eight-year-old brain made this leap: If I'm racist because I'm white, and I can't not be white, then I must be racist no matter what I do. And since I'm so obviously white, anyone who ISN'T white can just look at me and know that I'm racist.  And since racist is the worst thing a person can be--remember the slips of paper! remember that scary picture of the slave ship!--I'm awful and everyone is going to know it!

I think that was the first time my little eight-year-old brain ever thought, "Oh shit."

I spent the rest of my childhood avoiding eye-contact with anyone who wasn't white, lest they stare into my eyes, plumb the depths of my soul, and discover my racist secret.

I'm not sure why I never asked my parents about this whole racism thing.  Probably because they were old, and therefore from a "different time," and therefore even more awfully racist than I was.  Yes, it was best to protect them from the truth since they wouldn't be able to change, either.

I grew out of this phase around junior high, where I started over-compensating for my secret racism by being SUPER NICE to everyone who wasn't white, all the while secretly wondering, "Can they tell I'm being too nice because I'm trying so hard to not let them find out I'm secretly racist?  Is that racist?  Should I go back to avoiding eye-contact?"  This even happened when talking to people I was friends with, but to a  lesser degree.  I imagine if they could have plumbed the depths of my soul at that point, they would have just found a crazy person.   

Around high school I grew out of that phase as well, and now feel confident now in my abilities to be a totally normal white person 99.5% of the time. But every once in awhile -- even at the age of 27 -- I find myself walking by an African-American and having a brain spasm while I internally debate:

No eye-contact?

Yes, eye-contact.

Is that smile too big and fake?  Shit, yes it is.

Friendly nod?  Yes, friendly nod.  PHEW.

A song no one would expect me to love: "Saturday Night's Alright," Nickelback.  Don't hate.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Rick: So what ever happened with you and that guy?

Me: Oh, you know.  I cared about him, loved him, blah blah blah, the end.

Rick: And they say women are too emotional to be president.

A song that is a guilty pleasure: "I Would Do Anything For Love," Meatloaf

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mad skills

About a month ago, I applied to be a part-time tutor.  As a part of the interview, I had to teach someone to do something bakey/crafty via Skype.  Thanks to Skippy Mom, I made key lime pie.

So you know, the pie was easy to make and turned out delicious.  But at some point in the interview, I decided to go "off message," if you will.  I had gotten sticky stuff on my sweater and a gomer was asking me why I -- a high school, college, and law school graduate -- was qualified to tutor high schoolers on algebra and grammar.  I had just spent $20 on pie ingredients and I while I wanted to bake the pie, I didn't want to rush it on someone whose most incisive question was, "Do you have access to reliable transportation?"

So I pretended that I was putting all the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  (Don't worry if you get eggshells in the bowl, it's really easy to get them out!)

I pretended I was stirring the pie filling.  (The great thing about this recipe is that it gives you a really creamy consistency!)

I pretended that I was pouring the filling in the pie crust.  (Now it's important to pour the filling evenly so it doesn't leak through the graham cracker crust!)

I pretended to put the pie into the oven.  (Now obviously this pie won't be done in time, but I'll email you to let you know how it turned out!)

At the end of my interview, the interviewer asked me whether I had any questions.

At this point, I figured I either had the job in the bag, or I had nothing to lose -- and since I was so annoyed that I had to bake to prove my competence at a subject totally unrelated to baking, I said, "So what is the deal with asking me to bake or craft?"

The interviewer got a really smug look on his face and said, "Well Ru, after doing literally hundreds of these interviews, I have to say that by forcing someone outside their comfort zone, I learn a lot about them.  I figure out how they will react under pressure.  I've gotten really good at reading people."

Outside, I said, "Oh, okay."

Inside, I said, "Well, you didn't notice I didn't really make a pie.  So who's fooling who right now?"

And yes, I was offered the job.  

(Which I later had to turn down, since their mandatory training session took place during working hours.)

A song from a band you hate: "Daughters," John Mayer.  (Yes, I know he's not a band.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oz the Gweat and Tewwible

I submit that the scariest book ever written is Pet Sematary.

Don't watch the movie.  (In fact, never watch a movie based on a Stephen King book or novella unless it's called Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption, or The Green Mile.  No, The Mist does not make the cut.)

Just read the book. 

If you have kids, read the book during the day.

Maybe even if you don't, read the book during the day.

A song that makes me fall asleep: These Are The Days, Van Morrison

A song from my favorite band: All These Things That I've Done, The Killers (Not sure if they're really my "favorite band," but they're in the rather fluid top 5.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

A list

A movie I need to see: Hobo With A Shotgun.

A book I need to read: Sweet Valley Confidential.

(Don't judge me!  I read all these books as a kid, including the weird ones where they go to college, and Elizabeth and her psychotic sister Jessica are finally 27!  Plus, I hear a Wakefield is turning out gay in this one, and I've got $50 on Steven.  Though the dad is also a tempting choice ...)

A place I need to visit: Costa Rica.

A set of DVDs I really need to finish: The Wire.  Oh for the love, will they ever stop staring at me from atop their Netflix pile?

And a song that I can dance to: "Dixieland Delight," Alabama.  You haven't lived until you've hoe-downed with a bunch of sorority girls.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Realism = over-rated

Can anyone out there name a movie that accurately describes their profession?

I'm not saying a movie that portrays you and yours positively -- because as much as I love To Kill a Mockingbird, I know that the likelihood my career will ever resemble Atticus Finch's is basically zero, and not just because I don't live in the segregated south.  I mean a movie that sorta-kinda gets it "right."  Philadelphia, The Pelican Brief, Liar Liar, A Civil Action, The Rainmaker, The People Versus Larry Flynt?  Not so much.  They may be good,  bad, ludicrous, inspiring, whatever, but not one of them is realistic.

How about the teachers in the house?  We have Dead Poet's Society, Mr. Holland's Opus, Mean Girls, Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver -- which of those would you ladies and gents say is your life on the silver screen?

It's safe to say that if you asked any given priest, very few would say their lives resemble Father Karras in The Exorcist

Computer programmers have The Social Network and The Net, doctors have Patch Adams and Cider House Rules, cops have SWAT and Bad Boys, writers have Misery, firefighters have Backdraft and Ladder 49, and Barack Obama has Air Force One. Yet as far as I know,  few doctors cure their patients with pools of spaghetti. If President Obama is fighting off terrorists at 35,000 feet, I suppose that's being kept as closely under wraps as his Kenyan birth certificate.  (Oh snap!)

So how about we all give it a rest on the "realism" argument?  Sure, it's fun to laugh at Demi Moore "strenuously objecting" in A Few Good Men.  But while I find my job enjoyable in the day-to-day, I imagine a lot of people would not.  And because of that, they DO need to put Jack Nicholson on the stand, even though they have no earthly idea what he might say.

The Tudors is not historically accurate.  The guys in The Hurt Locker?  Probably would have been court martialed.  And I hate to break it to the people at The Vampire Diaries, but vampires sparkle.  Duh.

But if entertainment were exactly like real life, it wouldn't be quite as entertaining, now would it?

A song I know all the words to: "The Bad Touch," Bloodhound Gang

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Protecting democracy, one overreaction at a time

Many months ago, I was involved with a pro bono project at work.  (I decided to post this later for various reasons.)  My firm volunteered to assist a non-partisan group that I will not name run a call center on election day to assist voters and poll workers.

I knew from the very beginning that our primary purpose was going to be to help people too dumb to find their polling location.  If, however, anything big went down--election fraud, voter intimidation, etc.--we were there to use our Lawyer Powers to Save! America!

(Lawyer Powers ... kind of like this.  But with suits.)

Over the course of the month it took to plan for this call center, the person in charge of this endeavor -- or who put herself in charge, anyway -- was not satisfied with my efforts, nor the efforts of Sam, my fellow first year associate.  Her many obnoxious character traits (combined with all the obnoxious emails, conference calls, and threats to our livelihoods) earned her the nickname CrazyPants among several of our colleagues.

"What's wrong?  You look stressed.  Oh, is it CrazyPants again?"
- Direct quote

And it always was.

But somehow, Sam and I muddled through until Election Day, where we thought that CrazyPants would finally take it down a notch, if only to save face in front of all the lawyers and law students we had recruited from around Fake Austin to participate as volunteers.  

No.  Not at all.

CrazyPants really outdid herself that day.  She was openly rude to several volunteers, particularly the law students.  She was pompous.  She used nonsense military jargon, like boots on the ground and deploy and elevate this through the chain of command.  She claimed to have spoken with the Secretary of State  when what she meant was "spoke to someone who worked at their office."  She invited news crews to come tape the command center and interview her, even as she expressed shock utter shock at their presence -- "I don't even know how they knew we were here!"  

(And knew how to ask for you by name at reception?)

As we sat at our computers in the call station, the lawyers from my firm who had agreed to help me and Sam that day would stew in silence and email each other on our Blackberries about how very much we all detested CrazyPants.  

Now, obviously, we all have to work with the CrazyPantses of life.  So what made this girl so very special, and meritorious of a blog post?  

Well, here's the problem.  One goal of this non-partisan project was to collect statistical data on what kind of voters had issues on election day, what those issues were, where they occurred, and whether they were easily resolvable. We were there to ensure election laws were being follow, not to benefit any particular party. 

But CrazyPants and her cohorts were True Believers.  Not just in this pro bono project.  They believed that people (and specifically Republicans) are out to get minority voters, trick young voters, stuff ballot boxes and twirl mustaches.

Because, you know.  Republicans love felonies and hate democracy.

I have no idea if this attitude permeates the entire organization, which is why I won't say which one it was. But it was extremely clear to all of us that in this call center, according to CrazyPants and her immediate homies, Lucifer votes Republican.

So every ... single ... little ... bizarre complaint that day was, for some reason, taken seriously.  Someone called in to report that their brother saw guys with earpieces watching a polling location.  (Or, you know, Bluetooth headsets.)  (Or, you know, you're on crack.)  So a volunteer was sent to check it out.  (And reported finding nothing suspicious.)      

A polling location was reported as closing early.  The County had already sent officials out to make sure that wasn't the case, but CrazyPants forced two law students to drive out there as well.  (And, I don't know, start recording votes grassroots-style?)  Of course the polling location did not actually close, and if it had, it would have been the County's job to make sure the problem was resolved.  But CrazyPants proceeded to inform her higher-ups that, "A polling location closed early, but we got it reopened." 

Read: "A polling location never closed, and we wasted people's time."

A voter called to complain that her polling location did not have a Spanish interpreter available.  Now, in case you wondering (and I doubt you were), the law in my imaginary state requires that the County provide ballots and instructions in English and Spanish.  Voters are entitled to have anyone of their choosing accompany them into the voting booth to interpret and explain the ballot.

THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE COUNTY PROVIDE INTERPRETERS.  But you can be damn sure CrazyPants wanted to send someone out there to Rectify! This! Situation!  

While Sam tried to explain to her that there was nothing wrong with the lack of a Spanish interpreter - 

(CrazyPants, dramatically as possible: But what is even the point of having the Spanish instructions if the voter can't understand them!!  

Sam, as frustrated as possible: That's not really the point, because because that's not really the law.

Everyone else, in elitist silence: Perhaps we shouldn't encourage the illiterate voter who apparently doesn't even have one literate friend to vote.)

- I met Molly's eyes from across the room.  Molly is a Senior Associate at my firm, and I know for a fact that she speaks Spanish.  In that look, Molly and I came to a silent agreement.  Under no circumstances were we going to let CrazyPants find about Molly's bilingual bona fides.

Is that wrong?  Sure.  Do I care?  Nope.

A voter called to complain thirty minutes from the polls closing that his boss had given him an assignment that was going to prevent him from leaving work to go vote.

A voter complained that because she had, you know, failed to register to vote that she was not allowed to vote.

CrazyPants herself had two problems when she left to go vote - first, an elderly poll worker inaccurately explained a conditional ballot to her, and second, the Republican observer* present at the polling location took her side, but in her words, was "intimidating to the poll worker."  

A voter called to complain that Hispanic voters in a heavily Hispanic area were being asked for two forms of ID.  (There was also a lot of histrionics about how "they" are always trying to intimidate "Mexicanos" from voting.)  Kitty, my mentor associate attorney, and I were assigned to drive out to BFE.

We complained loudly and colorfully for the entire drive.  Sample dialogue will not be provided.

When we arrived at the polling location, we were greeted by three female Hispanic poll workers, all of whom were able to accurately describe ID requirements for voting.  One of them even mentioned that one potential voter about an hour earlier had been annoyed that he was not able to use his Costco card as proof of identification.  (I mean, jeez, it has a picture.) 

I called Sam to report our findings, and when he told CrazyPants, she said, "Well, of course they told them the right information when they were asked!"

As if Kitty and I were simply woefully naive, and the three cheery female Hispanic poll workers we had met were actually three nefarious, white, Republican men wearing rubber Mission: Impossible masks.  

There were more bogus calls throughout the day, and every time someone investigated further, it became abundantly clear that nothing dastardly was going on.  The vast majority of people were, as I predicted, simply confused about their polling location.  (It certainly didn't help that CrazyPants gave them incorrect legal information regarding their right to vote at their appropriate location after a move.)  For the most part, it was a very mellow election day, with only one potentially serious problem occurring in the entire state, and it didn't even happen in our region.  A success by any account, right?

And yet, when CrazyPants was interviewed by local media about our results later that week, she informed them that there were 8 reported incidents of voter intimidation throughout the state.

Sam and I consulted our spreadsheet, and in order to get to the number 8, CrazyPants had to count every bogus call we got.  

Go team.  

* Each polling location is entitled to have one representative from each major party on the ballot present to observe.  This means there will almost always be someone from the Democratic and Republican parties there to watch out for the same problems we were trying to look out for and record.  

Of course, the evil Republicans must have incapacitated the Democrats, because we didn't hear from any Democrat observers in our region that their locations were having problems, and obviously a lot of bad crap went down, between the earpieces guys, the boss who gives his employees stuff to do, and the Hispanic poll workers attempting to disenfranchise Hispanics.  Tsk tsk.

A song that reminds me of a certain event: "I Hope You Dance," LeeAnn Womack, junior prom.  Not because it was the theme -- I don't actually remember the theme -- but because it came on as my prom group and I were tiredly sitting on benches regretting our choices in footwear at that point in the evening.  

That's right.  We sat through "I Hope You Dance."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is my sorority showing?

If I am ever on The Daily Show,* my goal will not be to keep up with Jon Stewart intellectually or on a jokey level, but to remember that the MAN IS WEARING A SUIT. 

Don't show up to an interview with a man in a suit wearing jeans and an ill-fitting cardigan or t-shirt.  Jeez people. 

* Given my current career trajectory, I'd like that appearance to be related to publication of my Truly Awesome Novel, but it will probably be after I've become a politician-mistress.  Good thing I'm visiting Charlie this summer when he interns in D.C.

A song that reminds me of somewhere: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy" - Atlantic City

Monday, March 21, 2011

For better or worse

When I was 14, I learned the most important relationship lesson of my life.  (Weird, right?  But it happens.)

I was in Sunday School and our teacher was telling us a story.  Now, not to rip on my old Sunday School teacher too badly, but she was kind of a trip.  The phrase "cool mom" never meant more than with this woman. She had the trendy haircut and elaborate highlights, a better tan than any of us teenage girls (with our stern parents keeping us out of tanning beds, those jerks), a wardrobe that she shared with her high school aged daughters, and a seemingly endless supply of those platform wedge sandals and flip flops that were so cool circa 1999.

And on this Sunday, she told us a story about her marriage.

(Sidenote: Do I feel bad sharing someone else's personal information on the Internet, even if it is anonymously?  I don't know.  Kinda, I guess.  But it definitely helps that she shared her marital problems with a dozen ninth graders, so her expectation of privacy is rather low.)

When Cool Sunday School Teacher was preggo with her youngest child, her husband came to her and told her he had serious doubts about the LDS church.  He had lost his faith and no longer wished to attend church or anything else that goes along with being Mormon.

Cool Sunday School Teacher told us that although it broke her heart, her response was to kick her husband and father of four children (including one in utero) out of the house until he regained his testimony, which -- surprise, surprise -- he did within a matter of months.

No doubt Cool Sunday School Teacher meant to impress upon us the importance of devotion to God (her response), or the fact that trials lead to deepening faith (her husband's alleged response).  Maybe it worked on the other kids, I don't know. 

But for me, all it did was reinforce the idea that finding someone who agrees with you is less important than finding someone who is loyal to you.

Did Brother Cool Sunday School Teacher really have the change of heart he told his pregnant wife about?  I'm going to fight my natural cynicism and say, "Maybe."  

But the real issue is, can Cool Sunday School Teacher answer that question?  If she's honest, the answer is no.  No, she doesn't know whether her husband experienced a religious re-awakening or whether he lied to get his wife and children back.  She never will, because when he had a trial of his faith, her response was to kick him to the curb and feel righteous about it.  Ironically, this also means that if her husband did have the religious experience he claimed, she doesn't really get as much joy out of it because on some level she will have to wonder if the whole thing was fabricated.

Because realistically, when presented with the choice to push aside feelings of doubt and disbelief (which aren't fun to begin with) so you can regain your family, most people choose the easy lying route, and I say this with no judgment.  And it's been (gulp) over a decade years since she told us that story, making it a full 20 years since the original marital estrangement of Brother and Sister Cool Sunday School Teacher.

Maybe he did lie, but since then he's found spiritual peace.  Or maybe he's still as miserable as he must have been when he first approached his wife about his feelings.  Maybe he just doesn't think about any of it anymore. Your guess is as good as mine.

Even more painfully obvious is the fact that Brother Cool Sunday School Teacher will never be able to honestly share his feelings about religion and spirituality with his wife, unless she has subsequently apologized for breaking her own marriage vows by not accepting and supporting him at the moment he needed her most.  Real religious experience or not, he knows now that his wife will only support him in good times -- which in a way, even makes the good times less sweet.

Don't get me wrong, I think if you have a certain list of "dealbreakers," then that's all there is to it.  But in my opinion, dealbreakers are for dating.  Once you're in a real, grown-up, big-girl-pants relationship, it's pretty immature to say, "I will only love you if X, Y, and Z."

To throw in some unnecessary lawyer speak at the end of this post, it's the difference between run-of-the-mill breach and material breach in a contract.  Married people probably breach (ie, little breach) their contract all the time.  It happens, much like real estate agents and mortgage companies will never successfully close a real estate deal on time.  You may get flowers or a reduction in closing costs to compensate you for the breach, and you may even get nothing at all.  (Such is life.)

But material breach (the biggies) are hopefully rare.  Material breaches are the ones that can end the contract.  But even in the case of material breach, it's the non-breaching party's duty to attempt to mitigate his or her damages. 

Yes, some breaches are unforgivable, at which point you must release the divorce lawyers like Zeus released the Kraken oh-so-long ago.  (Mwahahahahaha!  We're going to take your money AND your dignity! - Cordially Yours, The Divorce Lawyers.)  But the thing that most people forget about is that when you react to a little breach by attempting to get out of the contract altogether, you are the one in material breach -- the big no-no, in other words.  You are the one who is in the wrong, you are the one who owes damages.

Cool Sunday School Teacher was not wrong to feel hurt or lost by her husband's confession of doubt, but like the person who tried to get out of buying a house as soon as she found out the pipes were stamped with the wrong brand name, she screwed the pooch when she forgot she promised him eternal loyalty before he ever promised her to never change his mind.

A song that reminds me of someone: "Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide" - reminds me of my grandmother.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thoughts from the Lady Gaga concert

Thought process during the Opening Act:
  • Who are the Scissor Sisters?  
  • Oh, they've acknowledged that no one who isn't British or gay knows who they are.  Maybe I like them.
  • Oh my goodness, that man just lost his pants.  I bet that mom who brought her kids regrets it now.
Lady Gaga:
  • Every song was pretty much amazing, but as Lady Gaga delivered her third lecture on positive self-esteem, Kate said, "Do you feel like you're at an assembly right now?"  Christy said, "I get the feeling that there are sad people out there in this audience, and this is really touching them.  But now I'm sad that a Lady Gaga concert was what touched them."
  • Oh I might throw up -- why is there a gif of her eating raw meat with blood pouring down her face on the screen?
  • Oh, her poor boobs.  Why is she doing that to them?  Doesn't she know that they, just like her fans, just want to express themselves?  Boobs were not meant to be taped up and squished down under transparent plastic, Lady Gaga.  I suggest you re-listen to your self-esteem speeches.
  • "Born This Way" - definitely not my favorite Lady Gaga song,* but wow, can she sing.  She played a stripped down, bluesy version while playing the piano, and it was so much prettier.
  • That girl has good abs.  I mean, I know she's admitted that she doesn't really eat in interviews--she even announced she was hungry at the concert--but it was worth it.  Penciling in my diet now.
  • To all the people who got up to leave after "Paparazzi" was over and she ran off stage saying, "Good night, Salt Lake City!" --- have ya'll never been to a concert?  Do you not know how this works?  She hasn't even sung BAD ROMANCE, for the love, sit back down.

* It's the end that gets me -- the whispered, "Same DNA ... but born this way" refrain.  BAAA, I get it.  And while I know you think it's deep, it's not technically true.  Watch CSI.

A song that makes me happy: "Stand Out" from A Goofy Movie (don't act like you didn't love it, too.)

A song that makes me sad: the ironically titled "Cowgirls Don't Cry," Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba  McEntire.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Light Friday reading

If you like Jersey Shore, and especially if you don't, you should be reading Entertainment Weekly's episode recaps.  My favorite, posted today, is found here

Least Favorite Song: Christmas Shoes, by NewSong.  But you all already knew that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jumping on the chain bandwagon: 30 songs in 30 days

While I normally don't love the "do this thing for X number of days" thing that bloggers do, Diego tagged me in a facebook note that I enjoy.

The idea is to share a little bit about yourself by choosing one song a day for 30 days. I will post the new song every day for the next month.

Day 1 – Your favorite song
Day 2 – Your least favorite song
Day 3 – A song that makes you happy
Day 4 – A song that makes you sad
Day 5 – A song that reminds you of someone
Day 6 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 7 – A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 8 – A song that you know all the words to
Day 9 – A song that you can dance to
Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 11 – A song from your favorite band
Day 12 – A song from a band you hate
Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 15 – A song that describes you
Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate
Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio
Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Day 19 – A song from your favorite album
Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry
Day 21 – A song that you listen to when you’re happy
Day 22 – A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Day 23 – A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 24 – A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh
Day 26 – A song that you can play on an instrument
Day 27 – A song that you wish you could play
Day 28 – A song that makes you feel guilty
Day 29 – A song from your childhood
Day 30 – Your favorite song at this time last year

First entry - Day 1, Favorite Song: "It Just Comes Natural," George Strait.

Feel free to share yours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bitch, bitch, bitch

ALL RIGHT, I know I used to complain a lot about being a lawyer.  And I know I claim to have the beef to back it all up.

But now I'm beginning to think that I have laid the mystery on too thick, and am starting to sound like a liar, or worse, a tease.

So I have to decided to relate one of my tales of woe.

One of my more important jobs back at Firm (keep in mind, I said "more important") was to collect news articles on our high-profile client every morning and email them out to the team.  (Given that this is more important than what I usually do, I think you can surmise how most of my days were spent.)  I did this for a few months, ever since the old press clips person jumped ship to a different job.

One day, an actual development occurred.  Kind of a big deal one, too.  One of the head partners on the case emailed everyone about it that night.  And the next day, the news was filled with details of this development.

I sorted through these articles, picked the best one (Honestly, who wants to read 8 articles recounting the same information?)  (Better question - who wants to pay for a team of dozens of lawyers to read 8 articles recounting the same information?)  (Don't ask that last question, the entire law firm system breaks down) and emailed out the press clips.

Less than an hour goes by.  A senior associate on the case forwards me an angry email from Big Deal Partner Guy who can't believe that I am so dumb to have missed 7 other articles.

I quickly respond and tell them I have the articles, I can send them out right away.  Senior Associate tells me not to worry about it, he will take care of it.

Now, you may be thinking, "OK, that's not that terrible."

That's not the end of the story.

Thinking that I had learned my lesson, I meekly sent out the press clips the next day with literally every news story on our client, the case, and any tangential players packed into one email.

Five minutes go by.  The senior associate emails me, asking me to visit him in his office.

With an "Oh shit" chorus ringing in my head, I go knock on the senior associate's door.  He asks me in, and then informs me that going forward, I need to get (1) get all the information possible into the press clips and (2) rank the articles in the email according to the prestige of the publication.

Pretty sure I blinked.  "Excuse me?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," the senior associate says impatiently.  "Like, The Wall Street Journal first, then The New York Times, then (other newspapers I will decline to mention), and wire service last, followed by any reputable blogs."

I pause.  "What if another article is better?" I ask, thinking, Surely there are no stupid questions, otherwise why would I have gotten that motivational Post-It Pad during training?

But the Post-Its lied.  Senior Associate looks at me like he is wondering if I had a hearing disability.  "The Wall Street Journal goes first," he repeats.

Then, softening up (because Senior Associate actually is a pretty nice guy, and I'm sure he just thought he was doing me a favor by shielding me from the wrath of Big Deal Partner), Senior Associate tells me that, in the future, I am to email him the press clips first, he will evaluate them, and then he will send them out to the team if they are acceptable.

Just in case I ever forget again that The Wall Street Journal goes first.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I don't get some people

Whenever someone says he or she can't be a feminist because feminists support abortion rights and they can't align themselves with that, I wonder why it's never occurred to them that I can't NOT be a feminist because non-feminists include rapists and sex traffickers. 

Oh right, because that would be a ridiculous argument. 

Step right up

Should you read it?

Yes you should.

I know I'm way behind on this bandwagon, especially considering the movie is coming out this month, but hey.  Better late than never, right?

Water for Elephants skips back and forth between the narrator's time as a 23-year-old vet school drop out working in a circus to his present day existence in an assisted living facility.  Unlike most books with two separate story lines, I didn't find myself skipping the "B-plot."  (Prime example is Sword of Shannara, which we had to read in seventh grade.  Who honestly doesn't skip the chapters where Shea is looking for the damn sword to so you can move on to the battle scenes?  I rest my case.)  But the circus versus nursing home tension worked perfectly here, which is why I'm assuming they're making it into a movie.

Speaking of which, I am actually excited for the first time ever for a Robert Pattinson movie--who knew?  But I think he's going to make a great vet school dropout.  Oddly enough, the casting I'm not terribly into is Reese Witherspoon, who I normally love.

Folks who have also read the book (or seen the trailer), thoughts, feelings, blind assertion of opinion?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Can Butler beat Utah State? CAN THEY??

I never knew filling out an NCAA bracket could be so mentally taxing. 

Do you use a math-based system where the high seeds win and hope that statistics are on your side?

How much does loyalty play into this?  Will I feel like an idiot later if I don't pick Mountain West teams now and then they triumph over adversity and higher ranked teams?  Will blind faith in UNLV, despite having never watched a UNLV game, be rewarded somehow?  And as far as my home state goes, I want Utah State to go as far as they can, but at what point does that get unrealistic?  Should I just substitute my Ute love for Aggie love on principle and ride that team out to the Championship?  (Answer: No.)

BYU ... oh, what to do with BYU ... I feel like Jimmer alone gets them past Round 2, but BYU is famous for crumbling under high expectations.  And really, nothing can compel me to put BYU in the Final Four, but at what point do I knock them out?

Does Cincinnati beat Connecticut just because it's more fun to say "Cincy?"  DO THEY?

I can't even imagine how people who know stuff about college basketball handle this.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't underestimate immaturity

So remember the boy who challenged me on the proper pronunciation of "Rumbi"? 

He has texted me six times since our date.

I have not responded.

But every morning, I get, "How are you?"  "How is work going?"  "What's up?" (Again, the genericness leads me to believe these are mass texts.)

Normally in this situation, I don't feel like I would need to respond.  The fade out is only inappropriate after multiple dates.  If you've gone on one date and it didn't go well, it is perfectly fine to just sort of disappear rather than tell someone, "No, that date was sooooo bad I'm not willing to go another round."

But because this guy is so obviously clueless, I feel the need to just write him a little, "Hey, you seem like a nice guy, but I'm just not that into you."  Or lie - "My dog died!"  "Just started dating someone else!"  "Got back together with my ex!"  "I'm a lesbian!"  "Moving to Canada!"  Yeah, honestly, I'd probably lie. 

The only thing that stops me is this: it's been almost a week, and I have done nothing to encourage this.  Who repeatedly sends, "How are you doing this morning?" texts knowing that the one from yesterday is still unresponded to?

I conclude that he's trying to spite me.  "Teach her not to like me, rumble rumble, send her a bunch of annoying texts, rumble..."

So I decide that I am going to spite him by continuing to not respond.  (So I will win.  Because the goal of dating is winning.)

But then he ups the ante and calls me and leaves me a voicemail.

Now I feel like I have no choice but to (1) continue to ignore and be a huge jerk, (2) call back and tell the truth, which is that he has, is, and most likely always will annoy the bajeebers out of me, or (3) make a declaration of lesbianism.

Decisions, decisions ...

(And despite all this, I still maintain the belief that someday I'll get married.  Though I'm sure on some level, I'll also be doing that out of spite.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Puppet on a string

It's always nice when the people who have the ability put you permanently on edge pop back into your life.

I had forgotten what it was like to experience 7 hours straight hours of anxiety.

It's like vomity nostalgia.

I'm Steve Nash and I approved this message

On my first day in law school, all the 1Ls were gathered in the moot court room and the assistant dean told us that some of us were going to fail.

Actually, she didn't say "fail."  (People in law school rarely fail.)  She said, "Get B's and Cs."  But to a group of people who had always "succeeded" (ie, gotten "As"), it was basically the same thing.

Law school takes a group of successful people and forces some of them to be average -- and by extension, below-average.  It's the mandatory grading curve that guarantees a few will get As, most will get Bs, some will get Cs. 

It sucks, but as the assistant dean pointed out, it's life.  The important thing to remember is that we were still the same people we were when we began law school -- smart, talented, successful, interesting people that had been chosen for admission for a reason.

Of course, I'm sure everyone in my class looked at the bell curve on the overhead projector and thought, "Well, that's fine, but I'm going to get As."

It's human nature that when you're good at something -- and you know you're good at it -- that you expect to be rewarded for it.  It's not a sense of entitlement, it's a sense of confidence.  Just like Steve Nash* knows he will almost certainly make his free throws, when you're good, you know you're good.

The problem inevitably comes when people who are good are put into a situation with a bunch of other people who are good and by definition, some (if not most...if not all) will fail.  The trick then, I suppose, is to imagine that you're Shaq--a terrible free thrower, sure, but still in the NBA and sleeping on piles of gold.

There are a lot of areas in my life where I will probably end up failing.

I'm a good writer.  I know I am because (like Steve Nash) I just know.  I know because other people--including objective people--have told me so.**  And I know I will most likely not get published.

That's the way life is.  There are people who make great girlfriends or boyfriends who won't get married just because the odds aren't good.  (I'm looking at you, Ted Moseby, because despite the title of your show, I'm starting to have my doubts.)  There are people I know from high school who are amazing athletes or actresses, but they aren't getting drafted or cast in movies.  But they're still the cat's pajamas.

It's not false modesty, it's factual.  I know there are a lot of hopeful people out there who think, "If I'm good and tenacious, some day it will work out!"  And that's great for them, but my lawyer brain can't handle all the logical gaps in that thinking.  Call it cynicism if you will, but at least it's happy cynicism. 

I went into law school with a group of smart people and I graduated with that group of smart people.  And some of the people who were at the bottom of our class are still some of the smartest, best lawyers I know.  But they still aren't going to be hired by Douchebag & A-hole, LLC*** because that is not how the law works.  The six-figure salary does not really happen for most lawyers.  (And in all honesty, is not entirely worth it, but that's a topic for another day.) 

But as the assistant dean law school told us once upon a time, that's life.  There are things that I am good at that I will never bring me success.  (This fact doesn't stop me from briefly shooting the assistant dean a hateful death glare, but I never said I was perfect.)

The thing is, though, that I don't do them for success, or even always because I love them.  (Any lawyers out there love reviewing emails for privilege?  Didn't think so.)  I do them because I'm good at them, and when you're good at something, that's what you want to do. 

When you find your sweet spot, you stick with it, even if you won't ever be Roger Federer.  (OK, I need to stop with these sports analogies.)  Make that, "At the end of the day, we're all characters in a Samuel Beckett play."  (Oooh, literary analogy!  Way to class it up, Blog Girl.) 

* Boo hiss, I know I should have thought of a Jazz player who consistently makes his free throws ... but I can't think of any off the top of my head, can you? 

Didn't think so. 

** I know this blog is not always proof of the good writing thing, but seriously. 

*** My firm was not Douchebag & A-hole, LLC.  I liked my firm even if I like my new job better.  I just don't want to name drop a real firm. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not a political statement

If you have an opinion regarding illegal immigration -- for or against, I could not care less -- I am going to have to ask you to please learn to spell "illegal immigration" correctly.

I-L-L-E-G-A-L      I-M-M-I-G-R-A-T-I-O-N.

Thank you.

March's mantra

I do not need new jeans, I do not need new jeans, I do not need new jeans ...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Here's a random update

Querying Unnamed Project*?  Officially over.  Not sure when I made that decision - sometime between my zillionth rejection, realizing the agent who told me to touch base with her about a partial request after a few weeks probably didn't mean it so much, and yesterday, when I figured out something about New Book that's been bugging me for awhile now. 

Don't worry, Unnamed Project, I still love you.  And perhaps one day we will dust you off and re-tool your query letter, but for now, I think you need the break too.

And in a way, it's good news.  New Book is on!  (And in case you didn't know, I don't use !s lightly.)

* Sure, it has a name in my noggin and on my query letter.  I'm just an odd duck who likes to share stories about her shirt buttons coming undone but not the details of my secret shameful writing obsessions.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A litmus test

Sometimes when I try to tell people that my family is semi-white trash, they don't believe me.

The story I always offer as proof of this assertion is that one winter when my dad wasn't getting around so well due to a sprained ankle, our basement started flooding because a broken gutter was pouring all the runoff from our roof directly into the window well.

 My dad considered his options.  Climb a ladder mid-winter with his bad ankle?  Dangle out a window and hope to reach it?  Call someone for help?


Clearly, the thing to do was to get a shotgun and shoot the offensive gutter off our house. 

(Which was actually a total success, so no judging.) 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Low brow

I'm not really a fine-dining kind of girl.  I'm not even a Yelp kind of girl.  I'm a chain food kind of girl.  I love mass production.  Arbys, TGIFridays, Noodles and Company, Cafe Rio.  These places make me happy.

Frankly, if I had to, I could survive off Wingers sticky fingers for a week.  They come with celery, people!  I don't even like celery but I somehow consider that a bonus.  

So before I even finished the thought, "Self, we have to buy a whole bunch of food for a party this weekend, so where should we go?"  I immediately interrupted myself with, "BUCKETS OF STICKY FINGERS!"

But even I have my limits.  Having downloaded the Wingers "Party-to-Go" menu, I must say, as a matter of common sense, not everything should come in a bucket.  Specifically, chicken alfredo should not be bucketed.    

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So a walrus and a banana go on a date ...

Awhile back, I was set up on a blind date. (Feel free to judge.) At the time, it seemed like a good idea.  Really cute, grad school, likes football, etc. and so forth.  But (as you've probably guessed, given that I'm blogging about it) I was so, so wrong.

First, he texted me 172 times within a week of me giving him my number.  (That's not an exaggeration.  That's the number.)  I don't like texting in general, but that is way too much by anyone's estimation.  And it's all crap, like, "Good morning, how is your day today?"  (UH, super busy.  Same as yesterday when you texted me the exact same damn thing.  Thanks for asking again.)  Also, the phrase, "Hey good looking"?  Icky.

He also came across as a bit of a psycho in these texts.  In one, he "joked" about us going out every day this week.  Then he "joked" about us getting married.  Then he "joked" about renting a tux and limo for our first date.  As you can imagine, I didn't find these jokes particularly amusing, no matter how many winky-face emoticons there were.

We were supposed to go out two weeks ago, but I was busy with work and not feeling super hot, so I asked if we could postpone.  After that, he asked me EVERY SINGLE DAY how I was feeling.  And then when the blessed day finally arrives and we're on our date, he says, "Oh my gosh, I haven't asked you how you're feeling yet!"

When I replied, "Uh, yeah you have," he just looked all confused, as if he didn't realize that asking me Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-AND THAT MORNING how I was feeling in text counted as appropriate concern for my ailments. 

(Why did I even go out with him?  I don't know, I felt like I couldn't bail twice.)

I asked how his day had been, and he said, "Oh it's a funny story.  It involves a walrus and a banana."  When I stared at him with my best Are you serious face, he says, "Not really," and laughs like that his HILARIOUS.

He then proceeds to ask me all those first date questions anyone past the age of 13 knows are annoying.  How many brothers and sisters?  What are your hobbies?  What do you like best about New Denver?  (Seriously.  What do you like best about the town you chose to live in?)  What music do you like?  A little automatic machine gun of questions, that one.  I should have printed up a dating resume and just handed it to him. 

He then makes it clear he doesn't remember ANYTHING from our phone conversation, because he asks me when I went to law school, what other places I have lived, how long I have worked at my new job -- about a dozen things he had already asked me a few days before.  And then within 20 minutes, he had forgotten the answers AGAIN, because he says something about me being at my job for three years.

(Yes, I know this is a major sign he has mixed me up with a different girl.  Moving right along ...)

And he had no sense for social cues. For example, I had just been at work for 12 hours, and he wanted to talk about it.  Did you not hear the part about me being at work for TWELVE HOURS? Who wants to talk about work after being there for twelve hours? Ladies and gents, I don't have a poker face.  When I don't like something, you can pretty much tell just by looking at me -- unless you're my date, apparently.

Then he tells me how New Denver people are weird, and I just wanted to say, "Or you're incredibly pushy and our laid-back mountain people ways can't handle it."

The thing is, I think someone must have told him once that he's pushy, because when he asked me out, he asked me if he was being too forward.  I had to seriously resist saying, "Not really.  That's what you're supposed to do with a girl's phone number."  As I walked to my car, I kind of wanted to give him a date review card that said, "Asking a girl out is not forward.  Texting her ten million times when she has never initiated a text to you is.  Joking about getting married is.  And for the record, gesturing to your admittedly handsome face and asking, 'So is this what you were expecting?' may not be forward, but it is a little douchey."

He finally seems to get that this is not going super well, so he says, "I'm really nervous."  And I (feeling bad) say, "Oh, sorry." And then he laughs again - "Not really, hahahahahaha" -- the banana and walrus thing all over again. 

My favorite moment of the evening came when he asked me whether it's pronounced, "Rumbee or Rumb-eye."  I tell him it's "Rumbee" and he goes (in maximum Mormon cheese voice) "How do you know?  How do you know it's not Rumb-eye?"*

What I should have said:  Because the girl at the front said, "Welcome to Rumbis" when we got to the counter.  Because there's actually a pronunciation guide on the dessert menu that's right in front of your face.  Because I know that's how it's pronounced, and if you didn't want to know you shouldn't have even asked me. 

But what I really said, in my best silly Mormon voice, "Oh, I don't know!"

Because really, I was probably not being my nicest anyway, we were definitely not going out again, and you have to throw a kid a bone now and then.

* I know I've said it before, but I really do blame Jack Weyland for this phenomenon where a Mormon boy thinks that by challenging you on something silly or random, he becomes charming.  It's not charming.  It's so annoying I don't even know where to begin.  Yet I constantly run into boys who repeatedly try to talk me out of what food I order or what movie I pick in the name of so-called spontaneity, try to convince me to pretend that we're engaged when we're not because it will supposedly be "hilarious," and act like they don't believe me when I inform them not-all-that-important facts.

("Are you sure your birthday is in March, haha?"  YES, you ass.  NO, my parents did not lie to me as a child.  Even if they did, it would not be "hilarious."  It would be psychotic.  Why do you think everything is hilarious?)

Mormon Boys.  JUST STOP.  And yes, it is just you.  I have never--NEVER--gone out with a non-Mormon boy who did ANY of this.**  It's the square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not always a square rule: of course not every Mormon boy is a giant contrarian cheesemonster of douchiness, but a giant contrarian cheesemonster of douchiness is inevitably a Mormon boy.

(And yes, I know very few Mormon boys ever read Jack Weyland, so really, I blame the psychotic Mormon girls who read him, and then encouraged psychotic Mormon boys to use his tactics.  If you want to get all technical about it.)

**  (Of course, they do other irritating things, but that's a topic for another day.)***

*** AND yes, I know Mormon girls can be equally irritating.  I never said otherwise.  See above explanation re: psychotic Mormon girls.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Success Rate 100%. Do the math.

I really want a Vatican Assassin Warlock jersey.

Any of you know how to make that happen?

Yay literacy!

My literacy, that is.  Yeah yeah, I know I should be concerned about the underprivileged and their reading access,but we know me.  I'm a selfish one.

Anyway, I haven't really been reading much lately, which is sad, because I used to read a lot.  (Cough understatement cough.)  So as part of my New Denver New Life Plan (yeah, that's a thing) I've decided to make a consistent effort to read one book a week.

Yesterday, I finished My Fair Godmother, a witty young adult novel by Janette Rallison.  Am I too old to be reading young adult?  Baaaah, what's in a number?

Funny?  Check.  Unpredictable?  Semi-check.  (Sure, I guessed a lot of things that were going to happen, but I never managed to guess how they were going to happen, and that's the more important issue, in my opinion.)  

Best of all?  This book avoids that awful, "Oh, I'm so betrayed by this plot contrivance!" moment.  You know what I'm talking about.  Our heroine has (seemingly unnecessarily)* kept a secret from her hero.  Do you totally buy that she would need to keep this secret?  Almost, not quite.  But then (miracle of miracles, and completely redeeming us from the unnecessary secret issue) when the secret is inevitably revealed, it's quick, painless, and without teen angst.  No false drama.  No, "Why oh why didn't I just tell him the truth from the beginning!" histrionics.  Just BAM - moving the plot right along.  

And even better than best of all?  (Oooh, someone didn't organize her review ...)  The characters are all likeably flawed.  Over-protective guy?  Sure, but there isn't any stalking or piggy back riding.  Slightly shallow teenage girl?  Yes, but she's still kind, still talented, and self-aware enough to realize she still has areas of improvement.  Two semi-villains that you like-dislike-like again over the course of the novel?  Bingo. 

Go forth, my friends, and enjoy.

* How's THAT for an overuse of adjectives?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What can I do?

I've got a problem, and that problem is a lack of visual talent. 

I have a job interview this week (trying to supplement the old BigLaw-to-Job-of-Happiness financial transition) and they want me to demonstrate something.  Preferably something "tasty" or "crafty."

My problem is, despite four years of sewing lessons and one year of cooking classes (thanks, Mom and Dad), I am neither knitty nor bakey.  OK, sure, I can display a certain amount of competence around a hem, crock pot or glue gun (the true marks of my people), but these are not really visual acts.  I learned to do a tiny amount of arty frosting -- I can paint a hibiscus flower and create a rose or daisy out of buttercream frosting and do some really cute squiggling.

The problem here is that I know myself, and as soon as the rose gets lopsided or the squiggling gets out of control, which is inevitable, I will either stab my cupcake or start muttering curse words to myself. 

I imagine this is the sort of behavior my potential part-time employers are trying to screen for.  

I can ... sort of ... rock climb.

I can ... sort of ... paint.

I can ... sort of ... edit photographs. 

I can ... sort of ... program my TV.

I can ... sort of ... play video games.  (And that "sort of" is stretching it.  Like, I can play Duck Hunt.)

(Oooh, I can load a gun!  That wouldn't be totally weird and disturbing, would it?) 

Do you see where I am going with this?  The things I am really good at--laundry! typing! cleaning the oven!  shopping! reading! grammar!--are not things I can really PRESENT, as in Cecil B. DeMille PRESENTS

I keep thinking about the scene in Pride and Prejudice when Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy are discussing what it takes to be an accomplished woman--painting, singing, needle point, a "thorough knowledge of the modern languages" (no, I haven't watched all versions of that movie a lot), piano, reading, and "something in her air and manner of walking."  Well, at least I know I am good at walking--10 out of 10 homeless dudes who hit on me agree!

Do you think I could just show them how cute I walk?