Tuesday, July 30, 2013


There is a little boy in my neighborhood named A.

At some point, A learned that the residents of the Casa De Diego, Hannah, and Ru are easy marks. He has knocked on our door selling coupon books and wrapping paper, and on more than one occasion has asked to walk Charlie or Spence (for a small fee, of course). A has also parked himself on our couch for an entire Sunday afternoon, watching Nashville with me and Diego, eating  a leftover cupcake from Echo's bridal shower, and using our wifi.

It's never been stated explicitly, but A has implied (repeatedly) that he lives in a state of mild want. Hence the guilt that makes it really hard to tell him "no."

Recently I made a deal with A, as I was getting tired of him hussling me out of all my spare $5 bills. A told me he'd been saving up for a pair of shoes, and I told him I would buy the shoes in return for X number of walks.

Unfortunately, the first time I bought the shoes, it turned out they were too small and I needed to exchange them. Double unfortunately, A has come back at least three times since we made that discovery.

Last night, A came by again, and again I explained I hadn't exchanged the shoes yet -- but he was more than welcome to start working off one of his X walks.

A shook his head. "I was really hoping to get cash. I didn't have breakfast today."

My jaw dropped -- it was 7 pm. "You didn't have lunch or dinner?"

A shrugged. "Well, yeah. But I still didn't have any breakfast. So can I walk Spence for cash tonight?"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things I don't get: Sex and the City edition

(I have ranted about Sex and the City before. You can see it here.)

I recently downloaded the HBOGo app for my iPad, which means I've been watching a lot of TV while cleaning, working, writing, and cooking in the last two weeks. I also read this excellent article in The New Yorker about how Sex and the City started out revolutionary, and ended up an absurd, tone deaf (Hey, remember when Carrie asked that Indian hotel staffer if it was hard being in a different country than his wife while making minimum wage? And then compared it to her life as a best-selling author married to a corporate raider?), grating, rom-com imitation of itself.

And while I don't completely agree with Nussbaum's assertion that Sex and the City was a once-great show (perhaps you just had to be there ...?), I do agree that by the end, it definitely took a turn into SuckTown.

But even before the cliched ending, Sex and the City had one big problem. And her name was Carrie Bradshaw. (For those unfamiliar with the Sex and the City oeuvre, please see EXHIBIT A. There, now you know all you need to know about Carrie Bradshaw.)

For the record, I love a good anti-hero. (Dr. House, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, Scarlett O'Hara, Dexter Morgan). I really, really dislike a bad anti-hero. (Donald Draper, seasons 3 through current).

But for me, the issue is not whether Carrie is a good anti-hero or a bad anti-hero. I frankly just don't think she qualifies as an anti-hero.

Sure, she's complex and flawed and the main character of the series--but she doesn't exactly drive the action forward. Calling Carrie Bradshaw an anti-hero is kind of like calling Jerry Seinfeld one. In a show that is mostly about nothing, does anyone get to qualify as a hero or anti-hero? (Imagine that Carrie Bradshaw typed those words in her no-way-is-that-$700-a-month apartment.)

No one likes Dr. House just because he's a jerk. They like him because, in addition to being a jerk, he's also hilarious and brilliant. If Scarlett were just the worst, instead of the-worst-who-got-Mellie-out-of-Atlanta, no one would care. 

You can't just throw a bad character on the scene and hope people like him/her for their unique badness. You have to make us like him/her in spite of her the badness. And if you can do that, then people will start to enjoy the negative, too. (Hell yeah, you're the one who knocks!)

And so, once we've dispensed with this anti-hero nonsense, we can get to the primary point -- that Carrie is annoying as hell. While many of her bad characteristics would be acceptable if she were also doing something fascinating, she isn't. She's picking fights with her boyfriends for no reason. She's over-analyzing everything. She's making puns.

Remember the time that Carrie got a book deal, and all she had to do was pick out 30 of her old columns (that she'd already written) and write a dedication (that turned out to be one sentence long), and then she made BUCKETS of money, and then literally showed the check to her boyfriend whose own book had tanked? And then we were supposed to not like the boyfriend, because he got upset and ohmygoshyouguysfeminism!!! And then she had the lady-balls to say, "I worked really hard for that money!"

No, hon, you didn't. (Remember how you just used columns that were already written and you'd already been paid for once?) But even if you had, he worked hard too, and you don't have to rub his comparative failure in his face. How about we try this on for size: TACT. "Not everything is a feminist issue." - Susan B. Anthony.

Remember the time that Carrie got a free trip to San Francisco to promote the aforementioned book, and threw a fit because people weren't ooohing and aaaaahing over her, and instead wanted to see an adorable dog from a best-selling calendar? And she told her publicist that she refused to be the dog's opening act? I mean, I'm surprised that she didn't ask her publicist to burn all the other books in the bookstore while she was at it.

Remember the time that Carrie was dating a great guy, and she cheated on him, AND THEN SHE LOST HIS DOG? And then she tried to emotionally blackmail him into forgiving her cheating, because one time he said FLAWS IN WOOD CAN BE INTERESTING?

Remember how after she got back together with the guy she cheated on, and he didn't immediately get over it, she screamed at him in the street and also for some reason thought it was a good idea to put his sick dog in a diaper instead of just letting the poor thing poop it out?

I mean, could we just briefly back up and re-emphasize the point that somehow, Carrie did not like dogs and seemed to be baffled by their very existence?

Remember how, after she and that good guy broke up because she didn't want to marry him, she kind of just thought he would give her the apartment he'd paid for, and was surprised and offended that he wanted her to either pay him back, interest-free, or sell it?

Remember how she bullied Charlotte for not offering her $30,000 for the down payment on the aforementioned apartment? Not for paying for a lunch, because she'd forgotten her purse. For $30,000 for an apartment because she only had $900 in her savings account.*

Remember how she'd smoke indoors at non-smoking establishments and get pissed off when employees would ask her not to smoke?

Remember when she tried to get married guys to flirt with her friend?

 Remember how Mr. Big actually wasn't a giant douchebag,** but somehow Carrie made all of her 30s about how Mr. Big was a giant douchebag? And then whenever one of her friends was like, "Hey, I thought you thought that guy was a douchebag?", Carrie was all, "WHY DON'T YOU TRUST MY JUDGMENT?"

And then when Mr. Big and Carrie decide to buy an apartment together, and she says they need to get married so she can have legal rights to the apartment, and inside your head you're like, "Carrie, that is gold-digger logic," but outwardly you're like, "WEDDING DRESS MONTAGE!"***


I believe that last one was actually a flaw of mine.

*Dear friends: I would never offer you $30,000, not even if I had the money. I hope you understand that this is not a reflection on the strength of our friendship, but simply because normal people do not offer each other $30,000, and yes Charlotte's dad was right, friends should not loan friends that kind of money because money is a friendship ruiner. A piece of liver, a kidney, or bone marrow, yes. Five-figures worth of money, no.

** For the record, no one should date Mr. Big long-term, unless he's the Magically Reformed Mr. Big of Season 6. Feel free to date Mr. Big casually, or become friends with Mr. Big (because who doesn't want to be friends with Mr. Big?), but don't date Mr. Big and then expect things to work out. Craziness.

*** To clarify a point of annoyance of mine -- Carrie, if you offer to sell your apartment to assist in buying the new apartment, yes, you'd have some legal rights to it even if your name was not on the deed. Also, Mr. Big could just voluntarily put your name on the deed, because this is the guy who once offered you that previously mentioned $30,000 and he'd probably be fine with that.

If you want to get married, by all means get married, but don't straight up tell someone that you want to get married so you will have a legal stake to all his financial interests (that you had nothing to do with) in the event of your breakup. GAH.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gotta be honest, you're not charring my tree*

Little known fact to the rest of the western world: Utah celebrates "Pioneer Day," the anniversary of Mormon settlers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, on the 24th of July.

Which means this last week, I had a day off in the middle of the week. Which kind of made Tuesday feel like a Friday and yesterday feel like a Monday--all in all, not a great combination.

I thought I would accomplish a lot this week. But alas, aside from baking a pie, nothing on my to-do-list got now-done'd.

Sometimes I feel like it's a good thing when you don't get anything done. I have long subscribed to the day-dreamer school of thought. Basically, when I find my mind wandering, I let it wander. When I finally arrive back on topic, I'm usually a lot more focused. (I'm sure there is some pop psychology out there somewhere to back this up, but I'm too lazy to google it.)

So when I'm lawyerin, and feel the urge to search the web or stare out my window, I do. And more often than not, within about fifteen minutes, I realize what it was that I needed to figure out.

This method works less well when it comes to writing--though there is still some value to it.

But this week, my lack of progress on any front didn't feel so much like a mental cleanser as it did like a roofie circle. (NAME THE REFERENCE!)*

Oh well. Onward and upward, right? Time to find the moment where the drop hits the pond!*

* Hint: it's all the same reference.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

And we're off!

The book drive for Utah International is up and running, thanks to a few awesome friends who have already dropped off their books. Thanks, guys!

I am going to keep a running tally of the books we currently have for donation. I will update the list as I receive (or break down and order) more books.

Thanks everyone! And please email me if you'd like to help.

Avi: Crispin; The Cross of Lead
Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl
Barry Denenberg: Dear America: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? (The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson)
R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus
Lois Lowry: The Giver
Brandon Mull: Fablehaven
Robert C. O'Brien: The Secret of NIMH
R.J. Palacio: Wonder (Spanish)
Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson Series (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian)
Louis Sachar: Holes
Neal Shusterman: The Shadow Club
Sarah Weeks: So B. It

 Jay Asher: 13 Reasons Why
Ann Brashares: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Gayle Forman: If I Stay
John Green: Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars (Spanish)
Robert Gormier: The Chocolate War
E. Lockhart: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book 
Christopher Pike: Until The End
Louise Rennison: Away Laughing on a Fast Camel
Jerry Spinelli: Stargirl (Spanish)

Brodi Ashton: Everneath
Rachel Caine: Ghost Town
Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Mockingjay
Em Garner: Contaminated
Carrie Harris: Bad Taste in Boys
Martin Leicht and Isla Neal: Mothership
Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn
Veronica Roth: Divergent
JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Kiersten White: Mind Games

Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book
Melanie Jacobsen: Twitterpated
Krista Lynne Jensen: The Orchard
William Shakespeare: King Lear
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Nicholas Sparks: A Walk To Remember
Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Irving Stone: Men to Match My Mountains

Sean Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Jonathan Kozol: Amazing Grace
Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope
Wm. Paul Young: The Shack 

Neal Zawacki: How to Be A Villain, The Villain's Guide to Better Living

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Calling all awesome people!

Utah International, a charter school for refugees and recent immigrants, is looking to build its library and I am trying to help.

The school is in need of young adult fiction, appropriate adult fiction, graphic novels, current science and other non-fiction works, dictionaries, high-quality literature in Spanish, Arabic, and other languages.

If you have any new or GENTLY used books you could donate to this cause, please email me at theadventuresoflawyergirl (at) gmail. If I get enough responses, I'll host a giveaway. The more awesome the responses, the more awesome the prizes. :)

In the meantime, if you had to pick a book to buy for these kids, what book would you pick and why?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Revenge of the Homeless

On Saturday, Diego and I went to Pizzeria Limone for lunch. (It's delicious, in case you were wondering.) I got the pera pizza and Diego got the limone. We both ate about half of our pizzas and boxed the rest to go.

Not ten steps outside the restaurant, a homeless guy around our age demanded, "Do you guys have money? I am starving to death."

(Normally, I am pretty homeless-supportive. However, a rude homeless person can go fly a kite, as far as I am concerned, and especially a homeless guy who is about 30, able-bodied, and free of the more obvious mental illnesses.)

"Sorry, I don't have any cash," I said.

"Me neither," Diego added.

Instead of nodding in disappointment, the homeless guy scowled at us. "Can you go buy me some bread? I'm literally hypoglycemic. I'm literally dying!"

At this point, he was yelling, and I was in no mood to take either of his "literallys" seriously. I was briefly shocked into silence by his rudeness, but after about a three second delay, I was ready to tell him to go ask the food bank or the emergency room for help if his life was so endangered--but before I could say anything, Diego said, "Do you want a slice of pizza?"

He opened his to-go box to show the homeless guy his pizza. The homeless guy came over and took the entire box, without so much as a "thanks."

Then Diego and I watched as the homeless guy walked up the sidewalk, picking ingredients off the pizza and throwing them at cars.

Diego's jaw dropped as we watched the homeless guy take about three bites of the pizza and throw the rest on the ground. "Seriously? That pizza was really good!" He was forlorn. I was furious.

This is a life lesson, folks. Homeless people are to be helped. Rude homeless people are to be lectured.

The best part was when I got to my car and found lemon rind on my rear windshield.

You owe my friend half a gourmet pizza, homeless guy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

That is grim

A friend forwarded me this flyer for mid-singles LDS conference in Washington state -- the idea being that if you shove enough single Mormons into the same vicinity, some of them will pair off, get married, and make Mormon babies.

Which always reminds me of this exchange from Keeping The Faith:

Anna (to Rabbi Jake): So what's your chick situation?

Father Brian: Oh, don't ask, it's not a good story.

Anna: Why?

Father Brian: Because his whole congregation is trying to set him up and it makes him very uncomfortable.

Anna: What's wrong with that?

Rabbi Jake: There's a reason pandas don't mate in captivity.

Anyway, take a good look at that flier, and please note that in addition to the fine print warning that "All divorces must be final," your choice of breakout classes include spiritual enlightenment, financial planning, or self-defense.

Self. Defense.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Won't you be my neighbor? Part 3

This part of the story requires some background information. This background information will probably kill the punchline to the joke, but what are you going to do?

Background Info Subpart A: Hannah has this friend we will call Mountain Dave. Many moons ago, Hannah and Mountain Dave began an inside joke where they would randomly text each other as if they were Native Americans. (By way of defending the inevitable criticism ... Isn't white people mocking white people who misappropriate the cultures of others in it's own way not racist? Wrap your head around that one.)

For example, Hannah will randomly receive a text that says:

Anyway, just wanted to make sure you're going to be at the next pow wow. The theme is "Heritage of our fathers, Hope of our children." Oh, and bring your own buffalo but if you don't have one there will be plenty to go around after the heritage hunt...aka shooting arrows into a chained up buffalo.

Background Info Subpart B: I complained to a co-worker, Violet, about the letter the city had sent me about my lawn and the giant pain it had been to weed the front and sides of my house. I was dreading doing the backyard with our environmentally friendly (but wildly inefficient) hand-push lawn mower.

"My husband can come over and do it!" Violet offered immediately.

Now, my first impulse was to say no. That's a big favor to ask, first of all. But my second impulse was, "Yes! That would be so awesome! I will barbecue for you and everything!"

(To be fair, the second impulse was only expressed after I protested, and Violet assured me that her husband loves projects. He would load up his lawn mower in his truck, mow the lawn real fast, and then their kid could play with Spencer.)

Background Info Subpart C: Hannah's boyfriend S.Will (standing for "Straight Will," as opposed to Diego's boyfriend, G.Will, or "Gay Will") has, shall we say, a certain ... suspicion of cops. So when Violet offered her police officer husband's services, I immediately texted Diego and Hannah the good news, with an extra warning to prompt S.Will (just in case) that no cop talk would be tolerated at our Post-Lawn Care Celebratory Barbeque.

Background Info Subpart D: Hannah, who is in all respects an excellent roommate (thoughtful friend, good cook, sharer of books, and always quick with a solid joke), does have a teeny, tiny habit of leaving the last step of a task ... undone.

She puts all the leftovers away! (But forgets the lids...)

She feeds the dogs peanut butter! (But leaves the peanut buttery spit spoon on the counter ...)

She spills coffee and wipes off the counters! (But doesn't notice it dripped down the cupboards...)

This habit has lead to another joke: THERE'S NO TIME!

Whenever Diego or I want to tease Hannah about something, we yell, "There's no time!" like characters on ER or 24. (Regardless of whether running late actually was the cause of not noticing the coffee spilling onto the floor, it seems like as good an excuse as any.) Now even Hannah yells, "There's no time!" to explain why, for example, wet, smelly towels get left on the bathroom floor after a Charlie bath.

And because there is frequently NO TIME in the mornings before work, Hannah will take Charlie out to the backyard to poop and leave the poop there to bake in the sun, instead of taking him for a walk down the street and bagging the poop to be deposited in the trash.

The poops are usually all collected and removed on the weekends, but as I said ... it's been a crazy month for all of us.

Got all that?


So the day before Violet, her husband, and their kid came over to help us with our yardwork, Hannah remembered all the Charlie poops and went out to the yard to clean them up and throw them away. And then she texted me about it.

Hannah: If our backyard had an Indian reservation name, it would be Land of Many Poops and Weeds. Great Sadness.

Me: There will be a mighty powwow tomorrow. We shall cleanse the earth and celebrate with roasted meats and maize, and then dance under the blue corn moon.

Hannah: Only the white law man can restore honor to our forgotten lands.

Me: As the son of the white law man plays with the dogs and blesses the nightlands with his child's laughter. (There was some Game of Thrones mixed in with that one.)

Hannah: I noticed. Please blog about this later.

Done and done.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Won't you be my neighbor? Part 2

A day after I received the certified letter from the city, Hannah and I were out working on the yard. One of our few Good Neighbors (TM -- trademarked because they are so very rare) popped over to explain, apologetically, that he had seen a car with a city seal taking pictures of the yard, and did we want any help? We said we were good, but thanks.

In order to offset the bad karma we were about to receive by unleashing dog urine on Bad Neighbor's parking strip, and parking in front of her house whenever possible (yes, INCLUDING when spots closer to our own house are available), I decided that we should probably bake Good Neighbor some cookies.

Sunday night, around 8:30pm, Diego and I walked Spencer over to Good Neighbor's house and rang the doorbell. Spence was off-leash, as I am trying to teach him (in small doses) that he is to stand by me on walks and not run off after every butterfly that catches his eye.

After waiting a few minutes, we decided they must not be home, so we turned back. As we reached the sidewalk, the door opened to reveal Mr. Good Neighbor standing there in his robe.

"Oh hey, I brought you cookies to thank you for ... ya know, being so nice and everything," I blurted out, running back up the steps and shoving the plate of cookies at him. "Sorry to wake you!"

(Here's where my brain automatically wanted to add ... Or interrupt you. Rawr. Because, come on, it was 8:30pm.)

"Oh, umm, thanks," he replied, seeming very uncomfortable. I don't know if it was the robe, but he was definitely not glad to see me and Diego standing there.

So of course Spencer chose that moment to run into the neighbor's house.

I froze, looking at Mr. Good Neighbor. He looked at me. And then I made a split-second decision, and perhaps it was not the right decision.

I followed Spencer into the house, hissing, "Spencer!" as loudly as I could--because for all I knew, Mrs. Good Neighbor was inside sleeping.

Of course he didn't listen to me. A new environment is like puppy crack -- so many smells! The dog who normally would have run over to me if I'd raised my eyebrows in our house was waaaaaay too busy investigating Casa De Good Neighbor.

After running through three different rooms (and yes, my panic grew larger every time I crossed another threshold, I finally caught Spencer and we ran out of the house as quickly as we could. Mr. Good Neighbor waved half-heartedly as Diego and I quick-stepped it back to our house.

The worst part of the story is coming up in Part 3: Ru realizes Mean Neighbor might be innocent ... but hey, still kinda mean.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Won't you be my neighbor? Part 1

Things have not been going so smoothly around the Casa De Diego, Hannah, and Ru lately.

For the last 3 - 4 weeks, the weeds in our yard have gotten out of control. I don't wish to downplay this in any way -- we've honestly joked about them becoming sentient, overrunning the house, and killing us for our worldly goods.

I don't know exactly what happened. We spent one weekend meticulously caring for the yard and it looked (briefly) awesome.

And then all three of us got crazy busy at work.

And then Diego left for a week-long vacation.

And then Hannah did, too.

And I spent a few days taking off work to write.

And the next thing you knew, the weeds were the size of a kindergartener. It was the worst it has ever been - they literally sprang up over EVERY SQUARE FOOT of lawn, killing every other plant and rising up like a botanical horde ready to invade Russia.

So Diego and I made plans to attack the yard during the long July 4th weekend. We knew it was going to be ugly, but we also knew it had to be done.

On July 3rd, Diego weeded half the yard while I was at work.

On July 5th, I was putting on my own yard-workin clothes when I got a knock at the door from the postman -- certified mail. 

One of my neighbors (you may remember her from this story) had reported us to the city for violating the weed ordinance. We had seven days to remove all the weeds or be fined several hundred dollars, and that one letter would be our only warning of the calendar year. If the weeds ever grow over 6 inches between now and December 31st, the city will swoop in, cut that weed down for us, and send us a bill for their services, plus a fine.

To say that I blew a gasket would be understating things.

I raged to Diego about how I didn't want to give our neighbor the satisfaction of watching us weed -- I would weed in the dark of the night, damnit! I would wake up at 7 AM every Saturday and Sunday to weed-wack, edge, and mow, just for the satisfaction of depriving her of sleeping in!

Because while I acknowledge that my yard was, yes, truly hideous for almost a month, I just don't see why someone would leap straight to informing the authorities.

Although, considering the source, I suppose it does make sense.

This particular neighbor is a grade-A busybody, and I have tried for nearly two years to please her. She doesn't like Hannah and I walking our dogs by her house. (She lives two doors down, which means we have to walk across the street then back across the street to get home.) She doesn't want the dogs peeing on the parking strip near her house -- which, to be clear, is not part of her property. She doesn't like anyone parking in front of her house, even though she has a carport. She will put her trashcans out two days early to prevent people from being able to get a spot. She spies on her neighbors and then brags about it. She has told Hannah that our neighborhood used to be a nice neighborhood, but it's really gone to hell in the last few years. (The only people to move in during the last few years are ... us.)

This woman has yelled at me, Diego, Hannah, Hannah's boyfriend, and various other friends who visit our house at least a dozen times. And each time, I try to find a way to accommodate her craziness.

No more. You know how Spencer has to pee between 6 and 8 times a day?

Guess where he's going to be doing it from now until the end of time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

I am watching John Adams with Diego and Spence and wishing I had a pool.

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore. 

 - John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1776

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sharing books

(After picking Diego up from the airport ...)

Me: Did you finish The Fault in Our Stars while you were away?

Diego: Yes.

Me: Did you love it?

Diego: Yes. But it was also one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I was on a flight with a high school volleyball team, sitting next to some 18 year old kid and his butch dad, sniffling and gasping quietly for three hours from Vegas to New Orleans.

Me: Didn't you just tell them how awesome the book was?

Diego: I could barely talk through the tears!


Hannah and I recommended The Fault in Our Stars to Diego after the universe recommended it to us. I would also recommend the following to you:

For lovers of horror and all things quirky: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy

For lovers of horror and grim, misanthropic views of humanity: Under the Dome by Stephen King

For the young at heart: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

For the young at heart with a creepy twist: Mind Games by Kiersten White

For the political junkie: Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

Any recommendations for me? C'mon, that list is gold!