Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Killa" and Rabbit

I'm not quite sure what to blog about right now. Well, I realize through this blog, that much of my entertainment comes from Tex and Hazard...but with laughter and good entertainment also comes (sometimes) not so funny and pretty raunchy stuff to deal with. Now I know that with animals comes responsibilities, but when the temperature hits the lower teens, actually "walking a dog" also leaves my mind. I figure...screw it...the dog is going out and he can freeze by himself. Though we have two other pets, and Hazard is friendly with them, I guess he is just friendly so he doesn't get in trouble.

We have many animals that roam the property...deer, badgers, rabbits, birds, etc. Now how in the hell Hazard got close to a bunny I have no idea, they are fast little creatures. But Hazard got a hold of it and like a toy, shook it and played with it to death. That is correct, "To death" is not just figuratively speaking, I have a "Killa" on my hand. He ripped that bunny rabbit apart. Though I have a killer on my hands, there is another issue at hand. Sorry Buttercup, I know it is really repulsive, but here's the serious issue. Imagine...this cute puppy dog coming up to you after the fact and licking your face or hands prior to you realizing what he had just done... I felt like I should wash my face, then put a mask on my face to suck out anything I may have missed, and then wash my face again. What a cute damn puppy dog, but what a pain in the ass.

The Thirty Day Countdown to Apartment Liberation Begins

I just took a huge step forward today and gave my thirty days notice to my apartment management company. This is not as great as giving notice to the firm would be by any stretch of the imagination but it's one step closer to extricating myself from Law Firm Life ("LFL"), which is my # 1 goal. Currently, I'm in a beautiful, though not extravagant, alcove studio in Midtown East Manhattan that costs $2,000. Pretty hilarious or frightening that after one year and a half in New York I can now refer to paying $2,000 for rent as "not extravagant." Everything's relative. Don't get me wrong, when I stop to really ponder the tidal wave of dollars crashing through my fingers going to the Jack Parker Management Company I want to start retching.

That's why, a few months after I moved in I simply stopped thinking about my exorbitant rent (which was $1,350 MORE than I had paid for a bigger apartment in Michigan!). There was nothing I could do then, short of breaking my lease and eating $4,000 in security payments, so there was no point in torturing myself. Though I am unquestionaby an "over-thinker" even I know that there are some times when you need to wall yourself off as much as possible from negative realities you can't change. And the reality is that it was not until recently that I could handle the pressures of even thinking about moving.

Last year, there was simply no time because of the Firm. No time to make dinner, or go to they gym, let alone uproot my whole life, and spend hours apartment hunting and packing, and then unpacking. At the time, I could not imagine trading my 7 minute walk to work for a subway commute that I was positive would have forced me to give up at least 1 or 2 hours of sacred and much coveted sleep each night. I did not want to be living the life I was living, but mentally, just the idea of making a change like moving seemed too exhausting and too much too bear. And I think at that time it was. I was a bit depressed back then, and I'm still struggling with that, but I'm getting better.

Instead of changing and instead of berating myself for living my LFL (complete with fancy apartment), I decided to enjoy it while I had it. An excellent decision in retrospect. With some initial reticence, I hired a housekeeper and had my first experience feeling the delicious and calming joy of coming home to an utterly immaculate apartment. Those days were glorious. There is nothing better then walking into a pristine space where everything is arranged just so with care. I would feel like I was walking into a room in a hotel for the first time and delightedly look around for all of the little surprises the room held. It was so much fun.

In those first few moments coming home and appreciating how peaceful the space felt now that everything was tidied up and tucked away, I would swear to keep everything organized until the next time my housekeeper was to arrive. I would promise myself that I would do the dishes each day, that I would hang up all my clothes after taking them off at the end of the day, and that I would absolutely not allow days of junk mail and bills to pile up on my kitchen table. But alas. All too often, within just a day or so, I would somehow single-handedly destroy the beauty of the place as I fell into the weekly grind and got lazy. But I still appreciated even those brief moments, because I knew that everything I was going through last year would have been so much worse if I had been living somewhere else. Somewhere less pretty, less calming, farther away, with a smaller kitchen and smaller floor space, where I wouldn't have had even the possibility of being able to do pilates and yoga or to cook a nice meal to motivate me.

But now things have changed. Or I should say, they are starting to change. Or better yet, I am starting to change them. In large part due to therapy, I've been getting my shit together and I've started to make positive changes in my life. I've been going to the gym, not quite regularly yet, but just a bit more than before. I've started doing yoga again, now and then (I'm building up to creating a regular work-out schedule -- one of my life aspirations which has so far proved elusive), which is pretty much essential for me. It's one of the few things that without fail calms me down and leaves me with this feeling of inner peace. I've been applying to jobs, and I've been getting my emotional life in order. And now, in part because of all the work I've been doing, and in part because I have more sources of support in my life, I have reached the point where I'm ready to uproot my little existence and give up the one thing that kept me sane and consistently comforted me last year -- my over-priced but beautiful, spacious, alcove studio with a whole wall of windows that look out onto Midtown Manhattan and give me a perfect view of the Empire State Building.

It's scary, but it's progress. It's a sign of emotional progress and it's also practical progress towards putting myself in a position where I can leave my job and ultimately de-stress my life. I guess that's the ultimate goal: to create a happy life which is as de-stressed as possible, that is filled with happiness and contentment, things that build you up instead of wearing you down. I guess this is scary in part because I know I'm giving up the one thing that has been a de-stressor this past year (though the money I was spending on it was of course a larger stressor, so it's a mixed bag), and I hope that in giving it up I am making a smart decision that will ultimately create a more de-stressed existence for myself. I think that's that case, and I'm crossing my fingers.

March is going to be a doozy. What with packing and sorting, sending stuff to goodwill, selling stuff on Craig's List. Yikes. And then of course I need to chose a Storage Place, potentially hire movers, and do all manner of things that I can't even think about right now. If anyone has moving tips, send them my way. For now, I'm just going to be psyched that I took this one step forward in my life, and towards getting the hell out of this job. I'm actually looking forward to living life non-lawyer-New-York-style. Crowded and Cozy.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Bean and I are both Swedish-American. I was born in Lund, Sweden, and she was born over here to our Swedish father and American mother. As a general rule, without question we vote for the Swedes over the U.S. in any kind of sporting activity. In fact, that's one of the few times when I actually watch sports, when it's time to stand up for my father's countrymen and women. You can imagine how psyched I was today when Sweden kicked everyone's a** today to win Olympic gold. I'm sure my cousins over there are still celebrating. Also a shout out to the Detroit Red Wings superstars (Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, and Niklas Lindstrom) that helped Sweden kick butt. Go Swedes!!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Beware of Big Dogs on Little Sidewalks

Sunday night, Raj and I were walking down 94th street in search of a cab heading downtown. We were pleasantly full, having just enjoyed a very relaxing evening of shrimp and grits, homemade chocolate pudding, and the documentary "Murderball," with his sister and her boyfriend. It was chilly and I felt energized by the good company and good food (and since Raj was a touch too full to run) I decided to run ahead to the corner to try to hold a cab for us.

I had run and skipped halfway down the block
when I looked ahead and suddenly saw a woman with two extremely large dogs on leashes about 20 feet away heading towards me on the sidewalk. The dogs had noticed me too. They were big and black, maybe a Rottweilers, each of them approximately 120 lbs, and they were frozen up ahead staring at me.

Interested in my own self-preservation, and very conscious of that fact that all 4 of us were going to share the same 4 feet of sidewalk in just a few moments and observing that the woman was not holding the leashes taught -- in fact there was a whole lot of slack on each of them -- I too froze, and then pressed myself up against the side of the building on the edge of the sidewalk to give the woman and her dogs as much room as possible. I suppose I could have chosen to walk cross the street immediately, instead of staying on the sidewalk, but at the time I thought the woman holding the leashes was a rational, considerate human being. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed (1) that she would be able to control these two gigantic dogs (because otherwise she had no business being out on the street with them) and (2) that she would use that control to pull the dogs towards her over to the far side of the sidewalk and let the two of us pass each other without incident. Foolish.

Instead, the woman kept coming towards me taking up most of the sidewalk with her dogs, who by this point were growling viciously at me and straining at their loosely held leashes. The woman swore at them a few times and jerked on their leashes, but the dogs continued to growl. They were about 10 feet away, and I was acutely aware of that fact that if they decided to use the slack in their leashes to lunge at me, I would have no where to run because my back was pressed up against the side of the building. I had no faith in the woman because it was clear she lacked an ability to control them, and other than jerking at their leashes she was making no effort to pull the dogs aside to let me pass safely.

I decided to make a quick exit and darted across the street to safety, mildly shaken after seeing visions of the two dogs ripping out my throat race across my mind. Raj was about 15 feet behind me at that point, having caught up while I was pressed against the building. As I darted across the street I motioned for him to follow me and, indicating the woman struggling with the two dogs who were continuing to growl viciously, I said in warning, "Watch out, those dogs are rabid." Raj took a look at the dogs and started following me across the street. He was smiling at me and laughingly joked to me, "What did you do, make a face at them?"

I was about to answer, when the woman, heretofore to be known as the biatch-with-the-dogs-on-94th-and-2nd, who was now at least 20 feet away from me because I had given up my right to the sidewalk and wisely crossed the street because of her inconsiderate and potentially dangerous inability to control her animals, said, "yeah," and then snapped "You don't run at dogs." Excuse me Bi-atch? You're dogs almost brutally attack me, and I save you from the certain lawsuit that would have resulted which would have left you penniless and alone with two dead dogs, and you decide to tell me that I was wrong for using a sidewalk that I have every right to use?? Incredulous at her snappishness, I shouted back something to that effect, to which she responded, "Fuck you!" What? That seemed a bit uncalled for. Raj, catching the tailend of this altercation, gallantly came to my defense at that moment and yelled, "Shut the fuck up!" which she completely deserved because I literally had done nothing except for use the sidewalk just like everyone else in New York is allowed to do.

To my shock, she then escalated the exchange up another notch by yelling, "Why don't you come back here and I'll let the dogs loose on you!" Clearly, in addition to lacking any semblance of good manners, she has no understanding of the law. Threatening to let your two giant ferociously-growling dogs loose on another person is threatening assault. Assault carries series legal penalties, including fines and jail time. And threatening to use your dogs as lethal weapons could be grounds for having them removed from your care. Not a smart thing if you actually care about your dogs and want to spend any more time with them.

After my life was threatened, I was understandably momentarily enraged and wanted to call her all manner of nasty names, but I refrained. Mainly because the whole episode was ridiculous. And partially because I was genuinely upset and felt just a tiny bit like I was going to cry. It seemed so unfair. To be happily running down the street, only to be brought up short by meanness and viciousness. Probably she was just having a bad day and decided to take it out on me. Raj theorized that the dogs weren't even hers -- that she was walking them for her boyfriend and was probably pissed at him about having to walk to giant ferocious dogs that she clearly could not control. I suspect she probably reacted so strongly because she was even more scared than I was that the dogs were going to attack me, and she knew she couldn't control them. Instead of taking responsibility for her lack of control and being polite and humble, she opted to try to bitch me out once she and the dogs were past me and blame her inability on me.

Maybe there was just something in the air yesterday, because earlier in the day I witnessed a cab driver screaming at another driver that he should "Give this [his middle finger] to your mother." Or maybe it's just what's to be expected in a huge city like New York, where millions of strangers pass each other every day, usually peacefully without incident, but occasionally where they smack into one another -- ala the film "Crash" -- and take out their personal frustrations, fears and fury on each other, whether deserved or not.

Once inside the cab with Raj, I started to feel better. It's like everything in life: I don't care what people do or what people believe as long as they don't impose it upon me. You don't believe in abortion? Fine. Just don't try to make me believe that or tell me that I can't have one. You believe that you will be damned for drawing negative images of the Prophet Mohammed? Fine. Just don't try to make me believe that I will be damned if I do the same thing or threaten to chop off my head if I draw pictures you don't like. You believe you should be able to keep two vicious giant dogs chained up in your house and fail to properly train them? Fine. No problem. But when you bring them outside where you and they will have to react with the rest of humanity, don't expect others to give up their rights of movement for your idiocy and incompetence.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Problem # 1: A Smooth Resignation

This is what it's like to have my job, I have a "space in the office" but no real private space and really no paper work to deal with. As well, I have bosses who tell me things 20 times over and over again. It starts to annoy the hell out of me after a while.Last night, by the time I got home, a migraine came over me like a tidal wave. I could feel the throbbing pain piercing my head. Instead of forcing myself to stay active and try to beat it, I laid on the couch and passed out. Gratefully Tex carried me to bed and didn't wake me. As I woke today, my head was still pounding...reason...handing in my resignation for a job. One word: Anxiety.

First and foremost, I know, some people can hand in a resignation with no problem, some people don't even give notice; they just stop showing up. Me...I can feel my belly hollow out as the stiffness and pain in my neck intesifies balling up into thousands little knots. My legs and arms start to feel numbness and begin to tingle while my mouth fills with saliva. Though, all these physiological issues came up, after 4 attempts to go near the manger, consumption of tylenol, and a large cup of cheap coffee from Maverik, I SUCCEEDED. I walked in to the office, and said "Here is my letter of resignation". That is about it. I handed over my letter and said this isn't working out for me. She appreciated the fact that I am taking a stance in my life and looking out for my future by resigning. WHAT A FREAKING RELIEF...suddenly my headache subsided and the tightness stuck in my body just floated away. I wanted to celebrate and go out right away to have a beer and play some pool. Two hours later, I am still stuck at this desk that I have grown to despise although, now there is a deadline, next friday I will never have to be at this desk again. I will be rid of corporate policy and this desk where I usually (always) find things to spend money on when in actuality I don't have money to spend and I really don't need what I am buying in the first place. Yes, this is the life of me, Bean, a multitasker with no specific qualifications to meet a job description and an addict to spend money even though I don't have it. Sweet! I quit my job, I'm still breathing, and I'm still broke!

Law Firm Life: The Absurdity of Post-Its

At my firm, we have a committee that meets to discuss ostensibly important matters of concern to associates. When I first heard about the existence of this committee I thought that it was a positive sign signifying that the firm considers its associates valuable and cares about our professional development (associates, please refrain from gaffawing too loudly at your desks at that bit of naivete). I imagined serious discussions about hours, assignment rotation, and training.

In my first year at the the firm, I billed a few thousand hours. This is insane. I had many weeks where I would wake up Monday morning, go into the office, grab the necessary cup of caffeine, sit at my desk for 15 hours broken up only by trips to the bathroom and out for a soggy tunafish sandwich (with chips on particularly horrid days), leave the office, get home, crawl directly into bed, sleep for a few hours, then wake up groggy with a minor headache and do the same thing again on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. During those weeks it was like I ceased to exist because my entire life was work. I had no time nor energy to contemplate anything else, or any kind of semblance of a social life for that matter. So hours are a serious matter for associates, especially when they are exacerbated by artificial deadlines and b.s. projects (topics for another post).

Assignment rotation is something you take for granted until it is unceremoniously ripped away from you when you are told that you have been staffed on a large litigation case that will consume 100% of your time, that involves billions of documents that yours truly needs to look through, and that has no hope of ending until at least 2012. I challenge anyone to do two weeks straight of document review where you find only two relevant hits (not "hot", just relevant) after reviewing 7,000 documents, not to feel like they are completely bereft of all meaning in their professional existence. That kind of pointless monotony sucks the soul right out of you and leaves you an empty shell with an inordinately exercized index finger.

Add to this picture an endless series of "firedrills" where you are constantly in triage mode, and its sink or swim each day, any thought of training goes out the window. Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot my first year at the firm and I'm thankful for all of the opportunities I had to sink or swim where I swam. But that's due only in small part to the firm's efforts to actually train me.

Hours, assignment rotation, and lack of training are just a few of the important issues that deeply affect the lives of associates in my firm. A small change in just one of them could have a profound impact on improving both my professional and non-professional life. Do you think that the committee discussed any of those things? Nope.

Instead, the committee decided that the highest topic of concern that they could tackle was, you guessed it, post-it notes. The kind Michele claimed she had invented in order to impress her snotty highschool classmates in "Romy and Michele's Highschool Reunion." It seems that post-it notes have been a contentious issue for some time now here at the firm and had caused some amount of angst among associates. The problem is that we have large post-it notes and small post-it notes but no medium-sized post-it notes. Horrors of horrors. To be fair, this had actually annoyed me a time or two, and it did seem rather odd that we have one set of post-it notes slightly larger than a post-it flag, too small to write on and in boring paper yellow, and one set that's too large and unweildy for most purposes, and not the one size that's "just right."

To tackle this Goldilock's problem, the committee took swift action. Within days of their meeting, an email went out to all members of the firm announcing that as a step towards improving the daily lives of all associates, medium-sized post-its would now be available for everyone in the firm, proving once again that squeaky wheels - if they're not squeaking about hours, assignment rotation, training or anything else of significance - will get greased. Oh, happy day.