Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Over Active Imagination

Raj reminded me of something that happened the other night at 4:30 am and now I can't stop giggling about it. I woke up from having a nightmare that involved someone forcing me to be stripper, and a bridge in the middle of the jungle with lots of children on it scattering and running for their lives to jump into too few vans that were supposed to take them back to safety to Grand Central. I woke with the sense that I was in danger lingering in my mind. Raj woke up when I did, and then closed his eyes again.

I had to pee, as I usually do when I wake up in the middle of the night, so I made my way down the hall to the bathroom. When I left the bathroom, I was still spooked and I was looking around the room carefully just to make sure there was no one in the apartment other than Raj and I. On edge, I walked back through the darkness, looking at the room that was lit up only by the bits of moonlight seeping through the pale curtains.

When I got to our bedroom door - a door that has a large hanging mirror on it - I quickly pushed the door open with my left hand while still looking over my right shoulder at the room to make sure everything was still. Can you imagine the terror I felt when a pale shape the size of a crouched adult shot out from behind the sofa and dove behind the chair?

My heart in my throat, I darted into the bedroom and shut the door behind me, only to see the shape race out from behind the chair back behind the sofa. I leapt onto the bed and screamed bloody murder.

This is the best part, the part that keeps making me laugh. As I was mid-leap and mid-scream, it occurred to me that the pale shape whizzing across the room was connected to me opening and shutting the door with the mirror on it, and that what I had seen was not the crouched shape of an intruder, but the reflection of moonlight that I had made dance across the room. Of course, by the time I had that realization, I had already landed on the bed and let out a piercing scream. Raj, who had expected me to go to the bathroom and quietly get into bed, jumped up in bed reaching for me, yelling "SWEETIE!!!!" in this raw voice.

Instantly, I was telling him it was ok and trying to explain my foolishness. I peeked my head out and checked my theory and sure enough, I confirmed that the shape was nothing but shifting moonlight. That did not take away the shock I had given him.

I know I shouldn't laugh, but it's a natural reaction to laugh when you've been terrified and realized there was nothing to be alarmed about. It was also endearing how Raj leapt up in bed and how afraid he seemed on my behalf. Of particular significance is the fact that he yelled, "sweetie" and jumped towards me instead of just screaming for himself. This really shouldn't be making me laugh like this.

After it was all explained, and he we were breathing easier, I lay on his chest and tried to go back to sleep. Each time I thought about my terror and him sitting up in bed screaming "sweetie," I started to giggle. He let it go a few times, then said, "stop it" rather sternly, but not in a mean way.

He asked me to do my best to keep the night terrors to a minimum last night. As it was our anniversary, I did my best to oblige.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iris Anniversary

Six months ago, on November 30, 2005, after a difficult year apart but not apart, Raj and I got back together again. He met me at my apartment and brought me irises, then we walked to a small Thai restaurant near my old apartment, Lemongrass Grill, and had dinner. I didn't know that night that we would get back together. I didn't know what was going to happen. I just knew that I was looking forward to seeing him again.

Looking across the table at each other, we spoke like we were just meeting for the first time. Pretending and serious at the same time, we asked each other questions that we knew the answers to, and danced around the issue of our relationship and how the first time around it had not worked out. He looked handsome and his smile was the same. I was nervous and on my guard, afraid that I might be hurt, but knowing that things between us were not resolved. At dinner, I felt the same sparks that I have always felt with him. I wanted to be close to him. He said that he had been in a relationship where he took his girlfriend for granted. I said that I had sometimes overreacted in my last relationship. It seemed to me that we had both been doing some serious thinking, and I remember thinking that maybe there was a chance this time that things would work. I was hopeful and vulnerable, but excited.

After dinner, we walked to the movies. I forget what we saw, but I remember walking with him down the street, my arm in his, looking up at him and the two of us smiling, feeling like I was in love with him. Still.

Since that night, we have been together. Both of us have been working hard on our issues. Our personal ones that affect the relationship, and our relationship ones that crop up because of the combination of our two personalities. After three months, we decided to move in together. At the time, the decision seemed a practical one, and I downplayed to myself the significance of the two of us actually moving in together. Immediately after we moved in together, however, I knew that things had changed between us. The ante had been upped a notch, and it was a little scary. The first month was challenging, the second month was wonderful.

Now, on our six-month anniversary, I find that I'm happy. I'm happy about where we are in our relationship, and I'm happy about where I'm at as well. These six months feel so different than the first six months that we were together back in 2003. The first time around, six months marked the mid-point of what would be our 1 year period together. By six months the first time, we had started to see problematic patterns arising between us. We couldn't resolve them, and so after a year, when I moved to New York, and Raj stayed in Detroit, we decided to break up. I was sad that our relationship had not become what I had hoped it would be. I was sad that I did not feel cared for the way I cared about him.

For the next year - our year apart - we spoke almost every other week. Raj was never far from my thoughts, and he was often at the forefront, particularly during the fall of 2005, when I spent months analyzing our relationship and realizing that my feelings for him had not changed. I still thought about him all the time. I missed him.

This time the six-month point, instead of marking a pinnacle, feels like it marks the very beginning of something much larger that the two of us are creating together. Whereas six months the first time seemed significant because it marked what seemed a significant length of time together, this time, six months seems like hardly any time at all, and there is no pinnacle with a downward slope on the other side in sight.

I love him, and despite, or because of, the challenges we have faced this time around, these last six months have been wonderful.

Happy Anniversary Raj.

Super Baby Born

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Mine was very nice. Nothing extravagant, just a good mixture of friends, relaxation, productivity, and being outside in the sunshine. On Saturday, my friend Artemis from D.C. was in town and the two of us caught up over glasses of wine and a cheese plate in the West Village. It was wonderful to see her and spend a whole evening girl-talking.

On Sunday, I made Raj breakfast - scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and goat cheese, coffee, and chicken sausage (the last, only for him) - and then the two of us eased into the day by watching some episodes of Entourage Season II. We started two weeks ago, and I'm now completely hooked. After Entourage, we headed for the Park. It was gorgeous! We strolled around throughout he paths, hung out in Sheep's Meadow, and then strolled some more. Next week, I want to take the subway all the way up to the 100s and explore the top half of the Park, since I've really only made it to the areas between 59th and 80th.

During the rest of the weekend, I saw X-Men (and Women) III, did pilates, hung out on Raj's brother's roof deck in the Meat Packing district, got some work done on my Middle Eastern asylum case, and finished Season II of Entourage. It was leisurely and relaxing. You gotta love three-day weekends. Raj aptly described Entourage as a guy's "Sex in the City." For many of the same reasons, it's pretty addictive. My favorite character is Ari. He's insane, openly manipulative, offensive and abrasive, and a complete spaz. But somehow, he's also endearing and compelling. I also enjoy watching Vince and the rest of the boys. Entourage Season III starts in two weeks!! HBO ROCKS!

I was off the computer for most of the weekend so I missed that Angelina gave birth to Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Watch out world, the super-baby has been born. I kind of like the name "Shiloh," and I love that their baby was a girl. I also really like Brad and Angelina. How could you not? I would work for her in a heartbeat, how cool would that be? I'm thinking more along the lines of her U.N. activities rather than her movie star life.

Now, I'm off to begin the week. Hallelujah, it's a Four Day Week! Yippee!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Morning Goddess: Gayatri


According to this test, I am the hindu goddess, Gayatri, "the many-headed symbol of Devi, or the divine feminine...She is closely associated with the lotus and with feminine beauty. She is a wise and good goddess and carries the weapons and items carried by other gods in her many arms. She is a reasonably good goddess and intellectually inclined, as she can see in all directions from the eyes on her heads."

Which hindu goddess are you?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sprinting To Acupuncture

...should not happen. You are not supposed to turn into a massive stressball trying to make it to acupuncture, yet that is exactly what happened on Tuesday when I found myself rushing across the city in high heels trying to make it to my appointment on time.

Why, you ask? Because I had been in a meeting with Dragon Lady that went an half hour late while I tensely watched the minutes tick by. We are in the middle of expert discovery, and to put it simply, it sucks ass. Big time. I'm one of the few members of my team left who worked on certain transactions, so I have become the de facto team member to assist with the accounting expert depositions - the de facto team member to work with Dragon Lady. Worse than the subject matter, it turns out that the paralegals f-ed up years ago and never wrote down what they sent my expert. Dragon Lady recently discovered this and has been on a bloodthirsty rampage.

She told me to fix the problem, I did it, but then it turned out that she wanted it done a different way and she bitched me out as if I was the stupidest creature on the planet.

But guess what? It's her fault that it wasn't done the way she wanted it to be done because she is a Great Big Bi-atch. If she could have a conversation like a normal human being without spitting out her words like nails, then perhaps she could have made her directions more clear, and perhaps I would have been inspired to discuss the project in greater depth with her. As it happened though, Dragon Lady raged and muttered about that fact that we did not know what documents my expert had and that we had to identify every single piece of paper. Thus, it seemed logical to bates stamp all of the expert's materials after collecting them. Alas, I was wrong.

In the midst of this mess I had to go to her office for the meeting, which was actually a conference call with our expert. I arrived at her office and she started sputtering and raging at me, at the case, and at everything else in the world. She is a very unhappy human being.

Do you know what I did? I sat there and took it. I didn't get angry. I didn't get defensive or upset. I said, "Dragon Lady, if there was a miscommunication, I apologize. I was just trying to do what I thought you wanted me to do." Period. The end.

What I wanted to say was: You are the biggest fucking bitch that I have ever met in my whole entire life. You are a nasty human being and maybe if you weren't such a fucking bitch I would have tried to talk to you about this more. But you are a fucking bitch and I hate you, so FUCK YOU. Here's my two weeks notice you nasty, toxic bitch.

I gritted my teeth and I held all of that in. God, do I hate taking bullshit. I know that it was the right, mature, and professional thing to do, but I was seething inside. I was also so pissed that instead of being on my way to acupuncture, I was sitting in her office listening to her and the expert rattle off about all of this shit that I DON'T CARE ABOUT.

When I finally reached acupuncture and they treated me even though I was 15 minutes late, it made all of my sprinting worth it. At least I didn't let Dragon Lady destroy my entire evening, and I did something good for me. I took care of myself.

I have adopted a new deadpan face with her. I show no emotion, and though I rant about her being a f-ing bi-atch, I don't let her negativity touch my core. Like right now, I'm actively thinking about what a nasty bi-atch she is, but I'm staying calm and balanced inside. I think this is because yesterday I realized that my job can not get worse. More importantly, I realized that I can take it at its worst. I can stick this out for however long I decide to. There's something freeing about that.

I do detest Dragon Lady though. I detest her with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 burning suns.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wildlife: Beauty, Strength, and Danger

Living up in the mountains, I tend to see alot of wildlife. For the most part I keep my distance but it is nice to see animals close up. Last June, Tex and I moved into our first house. We absolutely love it and are more than spoiled with it. The house came on a good-sized piece of land that we have for the most part left untouched and wild like the surrounding mountainside. We have seen alot of deer, potguts, mice, and even a few badgers. Sometimes deer will come right to the dining room window but usually they stay on the "tree-line," keeping at least a 10 foot distance from the house.

Monday May 22, 2006 6:30pm: Tex and I went for our soon-to-be "daily routine,"we went running/jogging/walking at the park down the road with Hazard. As we began our first lap we noticed something rummaging in the brush so we went a bit closer to get a good look. It was a Skunk! A fat one at that and it starting waddling around. We quickly stepped back and watched where our "Pepe Le pu" was heading. Pepe decided to head in a different direction down a hill so we quickly ran past with Hazard. We ended up doing 4 laps and saw Pepe only one more time from afar. Thank goodness because I didn't want to get skunked and definitely didn't want a skunked husband or dog on my hands for the next few days.

Tuesday May 23, 2006 10:00pm: I decided early in the day that I was going to Target to buy a cheap pair of shoes. So I did my research online, I picked out 8 possible pairs, and looked up directions on mapquest. Tex wanted to come (only to get food) and since he had a meeting, I agreed to wait for him. I successfully went through the store and only bought 3 pairs of shoes. I love them except for one pair that I am "iffy" on but hell yeah!! 3 new pairs of shoes! So far the night was good.

We grabbed food and headed up the canyon. We exited the highway and got on a 2 lane main road, speed limit 65 mph. There was a car in front of me a good distance so I got into the slow lane and being as curteous as usual I turned my brights off. It is harder to see with my brights off in the pitch black of the night, but do-able. No more than 2 minutes passed when I see this enormous sillouhette 4 feet from my vehichle (approaching rapidly) and within 3 seconds, my lights finally reflect this beastly creature 1 foot away from my driver's side door and windshield...a huge moose! Right in that second, I see the moose step back away from my car, if hit the bottom of its belly would just brush the top of my hood had we collided...meaning the belly would have come straight through my window/windshield if he moved and its head would be on top on my car.

I was motionless, I couldn't do anything, I didn't even hit my breaks, all I could do was look at this animal outside my window inches away. I screamed and I think my scream said it all to Tex. Perhaps the moose heard the fear and helplessness in my voice, because the moose had stepped back in that split second and distanced his head a few more inches from the vehicle. I think the first thing that came out of my mouth after the scream was "Holy shit Tex! We could have died, I am not driving anymore, I'm shaking, look at me!" His response was similar, "Wheeeeeww...That scared me to death! Glad I am not driving." Yes...he is always supportive ;). Fortunately we must have an angel looking out for us because I don't know any other reason we were spared by this huge animal that could have killed us. So that was my night with wildlife, A LOT OF LUCK (definitely no skill at driving exhibited in this near death experience) and a bit more dangerous, being a near death experience for me, than the usual deer in the yard or skunk in the park. It freaked me out and I was shaking the whole way home. It was a perfect moment for a cigarette but unfortunately we both quit, so we had a piece of nicorette gum. It's not the best but it'll do.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Astrosmash For The Masses

Every morning I have to walk a long way through Penn Station's labyrinthine corridors to get to the 1-2-3 subway which takes me up to Times Square. I walk down the stairs into a large underground hall, pass the soldiers standing guard on my right and the cinnabuns shop on my left, then turn down another long passageway that takes me to another set of stairs that takes me farther down into the bowels of the station. I walk down those stairs, moving briskly, pass the starbucks that is always far too crowded with tense commuters to think about stopping there to get a coffee and the bookshops and snack places, all the while deftly avoiding bumping into any of the hundreds of people zipping around in all directions.

I approach the entrance to the subway, a series of turnstiles situated in a line next to the machines where you can by subway tickets and the information booth at which you can ask for directions. This month is the first month that I have purchased an unlimited metro pass that allows me to use the subway as often as I want for 30 days. Because I have this pass all I need to do to get on the subway is to swipe my card through the slot next to a turnstile, wait for the computer screen to flash "go," and then walk through the turnstile, and up some more stairs until I reach the platform where I can catch the train to Times Square.

At Times Square I get off the subway car and rush up the stairs that spit me out into the crowded chaos of the people rushing about to and from the shuttle that travels between Times Square and Grand Central. In the space where people wait for the shuttle, in addition to the crowds of passengers, there are bands of people playing instruments and singing with tip jars in front of them, people selling black market DVDs arranged on hastily spread blankets, and homeless people begging for change. Everyone is walking at the same time in a thousand directions, and it takes skill to avoid head on collisions. It's like a virtual game of astrosmash where the people are the meteors and your objective is avoidance instead of destruction.

I rush through the crowds and the randomly places columns that hold up the ceiling and jump onto the shuttle, always feeling as if I've caught it just in time. The shuttle is a quick ride to Grand Central with no stops, and once I reach Grand Central I'm almost at work and at the end of my journey. At Grand Central I leave the subway car and head for the direction of the 4-5-6 trains, following the green circles that will lead me to the 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue exits. I reach another line of turnstiles, go through them, and walk up the escalators which dump me out on the street level of Grand Central. From there it's a quick left hand turn for the doors, I pass through them and am suddenly out on the street, still in the midst of a boiling crowd of people, but feeling like I can breathe easier because I'm outside in the open and have emerged from the caverns below the streets.

I turn left and head for my office, already picturing the ride in the elevator, the stop to grab my cup of coffee, walking up the stairs to my floor, dropping my bags and coffee on my desk, wincing at the mess, and making my way down the hall to fill up the 1 liter bottle of water that I try to empty each day. Almost to my office I start hoping that the red light on my phone is not lit up this morning, and that when I turn on my outlook I will find a blessed lack of messages.

* * *
This journey from home to work is the same each day. Though I've only been doing it now for about a month and a half, I've realized recently that I've started doing it almost on autopilot. My feet carry me largely of their own volition up the stairs, down the corridors, onto the trains, and through the throngs of people. My body hustles and weaves on its own while my mind goes off thinking of things unrelated to my morning commute.

This morning, as I raced down the first set of stairs in Penn Station I was thinking that Raj looked handsome this morning and that his body felt warm and solid when he hugged me goodbye before we parted, me to head towards the 1-2-3 and him for the A-C-E. He smells amazing all the time, like no other person I have ever met. I was also thinking about my asylum clients and about all of the work that I have to do over the course of the next two weeks. This made me think of my other asylum client and the meeting we had last night with a Tibetan expert that told us that my client was unable to demonstrate convincingly that she was in Tibet as recently as she says she was. I'm concerned, but I still believe her. She has never wavered in her story and I have never doubted her credibility, but it raises a host of questions to have an expert decide that he can not say with certainty that she is from Tibet, as opposed to a Tibetan community in Nepal or India.

All these thoughts were rushing through my head as I approached the entrance to the 1-2-3 and the line of turnstiles. Like usual I headed for the nearest turnstile and made as if to walk through it.


I slammed into the metal bar and was brought up short. I let out a little cry, and then looked around quickly, feeling embarrassed, to see how many people had witnessed me smash into the turnstile. So engrossed had I been with my thoughts, that I had neglected to swipe my card, or even to pause to take my card out of my wallet, before attempting to walk through the turnstile. It didn't hurt, but it was a bit of a shock. Still feeling embarrassed, I backed out of the turnstile and away from the offending metal bar and dug around in my purse for my wallet and metro card. Then summing my dignity, and reminding myself that New Yorkers are far too busy with their own problems to bother about my little embarrassments, I swiped my card, waited for the glowing green "go," and walked through as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

The turnstile let me through without any problem and I continued on my way just as before, though at a slightly slower pace, and with more attention to where my feet were taking me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Towards A Clone Revolution

I had a wonderful weekend, and because work is nutzo at the moment, I'm going to write about that.

The weekend started Friday night at 6 pm - the latest any weekend should start - when I left my office and went to a firm happy hour in the building. My attendance at such events is a rare occasion, because as a rule I like to spend no more time than I absolutely have to at my firm. My time is valuable (despite what the firm thinks) and I like to spend it on things that I care about, and meaningless social interactions and small talk about billable hours is not one of those things.

After my glass of chardonnay on the firm, I met Raj downstairs in the lobby where he was "picking me up" (i.e. walking with me to the subway) to take me out to dinner. We went to Lure in Soho and had a delicious seafood feast complete with oysters, chilled lobster, nori-encrusted tuna on a bed of mashed edamame (awesome!), and a delectable molten chocolate cake for dessert. Dinner was wonderful. Raj and I talked, flirted, ate good food, and gave each other our undivided attention, which is something I really needed and appreciated. He was very sweet to take me out.

After Lure we headed to Grotto to have drinks with his friend Ernest and Raj's brother. My tummy was upset, but I learned a marvelous trick from the bartender at Grotto. I asked him for bitters to settle my stomach thinking that he would pour some into a glass of ginger ale. Instead, the bartender brought me four bottles of Italian liquors - all of which apparently moonlight as alcoholic digestive aids - and had me choose which one I liked. I chose the sweetest of the bitter concoctions and he served it to me on the rocks with a generous slice of lemon rind. Amazingly, it worked.

Saturday, Raj and I cleaned, shopped, and ran some errands. Late in the afternoon, we did my favorite activity of the weekend. We went to Central Park, something I think about every weekend but almost always fail to follow through on. It was a bit chilly on Saturday afternoon, but I convinced Raj to come with me despite the weather. When we arrived, we walked for a while on the paths and then found a large rock to lie down on under the trees. It was so relaxing lying with the solid weight of the cool rock underneath me, staring up into the leaf covered branches. I love how the air in the Park always feels fresher and cooler than in other parts of the City. One more reason to save the trees.

Saturday night was fun as well. Raj and I both had events to go to. First, we went to the departure party of one of the paralegals from my firm at Sweet & viscous. Despite my loathing of all things firm-related, I had a great time. The group of people I knew there were all paras and one attorney from my Case-From-Hell that I genuinely like, so it was nice to see them and trade war stories. The Dragon Lady came up a lot, as she always does whenever two or more attorneys from my firm get together and start talking shop. It was nice that Raj got to be a part of that. I liked having him there with me.

From Sweet & viscous, we went to Heathers for Ernest's birthday celebration. Ernest was in rare form, meaning that there was a lot of navel, ab, and chest showings, interspersed with drink spilling and accidental glass smashing. It was all very entertaining, and everyone had fun. Everyone, except for yours truly, had their digital cameras out and were taking mad pictures of each other. I still use disposable cameras. (Don't shun me!) I am starting to want a digital camera badly. I'm almost ready to drop some cash on one. I just need to do some research.

I taught the bartenders at Heathers my current favorite drink: a French Martini. Technically, I didn't teach them the drink. I just asked very nicely and encouraged them to look up the recipe on google when they did not know how to make it. The drink was a smashing success. All of the bartenders made extra for themselves and seemed pleased that they had learned a new drink. Raj's friends were intrigued and they soon started ordering French Martinis as well. The whole thing was such a hit that I decided to share the recipe with all of you, just in case you happen to find yourself in a bar with a bartender that doesn't know the recipe.
French Martini:
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/4 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
1/4 oz fresh pineapple juice
1 twist lemon peel
Pour each of the above into a tall bar glass. Shake with ice, pour into a cocktail or martini glass, and serve.
Sunday, we woke up at a decent hour, despite the French Martinis and beer that we had imbibed the night before. We went to brunch at a local creperie, and then Raj watched basketball with the boys while I went to Brooklyn for my book club meeting where we discussed Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I was so proud of myself because I got to Brooklyn all by myself! Yeah me. That's the second time in 19 months that I've gone to Brooklyn. As you can see, it is not an everyday event. The discussion was great, especially because I got to spend time with another paralegal from my firm who is also leaving this week for bigger and better things. She's on her way to Italy, and then to graduate school at the University of Michigan.
One of the aspects of Never Let Me Go that we talked about was how disturbing it was that none of the clones, upon realizing the horror of their existence and the meaninglessness of their lives, took any action to rebel against their fates. None of the clones even thought about revolting. They didn't even question their fates. We decided that the clones had been so thoroughly indoctrinated from their early childhood that they were incapable of questioning the social order. Instead the clones threw themselves into their work - taking care of the clones that were "donating" their organs, before becoming "donors" themselves - and ran themselves ragged worrying about the daily minutiae of their meaningless lives.
Does this sound familiar?
Never Let Me Go is actually about my firm, and the meaningless of my life as an associate there!! The parallels are unmistakable. Like the powers that be in NLMG, the partners at my firm want to keep associates alive only so long as they can suck out every ounce of productive energy. Our lives mean nothing to them. They see us as the "other," a group inferior to them whose sole purpose is to do their bidding. They do not want our lives to be our own, and as long as we are at the firm, they aren't. Like the clones in NLMG, the associates scramble around each day, stressing about insignificant details and making themselves sick with anxiety. The associates rarely slow down to ponder what all their running around is actually accomplishing (that would be nothing).
Like the clones, associates are willing slaves to the system. At least associates bitch and complain. The clones accepted it all without so muh as whimper of protest.
It's so sad to see yourself as a clone, even a complaining clone. So sad.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Morning Goddess: Al-Uzza

Art found here

The Goddess Al-Uzza, whose name means "Powerful One," and "The Most Mighty," was a pre-Islamic Arabic Goddess. She was a virgin warrior, and Goddess of the Morning Star. Big cats were sacred to her, and the Acacia Tree is associated with her. Al-Uzza was worshipped by the Koreshites, The Prophet Mohammed's tribe, and was believed to have been the founding mother of the tribe. There is shrine to Al-Uzza along the path to Mecca. There is also a temple dedicated to her in the ancient city of Petra (of modern day Jordan).
Al-Uzza is a member of the Arabic Goddess triad which also includes the Goddesses Menat and Al-Lat. Much controversy surrounds this Arabic Goddess triad because there is evidence in the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, that Al-Uzza, Menat, and Al-Lat were believed to be the three daughters of the God Allah.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kiss My Citizens

I was a bad girl today and skipped out for a few hours to go jeans shopping with Raj's little sister. Not terribly bad because she is leaving the city and this was her last chance to go jeans shopping for some time. In addition, she really needed them, she's a sweetheart and I really like her, and she asked me to help her. Plus, I'm kind of an expert in this area. How could I refuse to share my expertise?

We went to Pookie & Sebastian in midtown, a place where I've often had good luck with jeans shopping. It's so much better than the nightmarish, but enthralling, chaos of Bloomies. It turned out that the ones that she liked best were also a pair that I had had my eye on for some time, the Laetitia Wide Leg Flare - ass pictured above - from Citizens of Humanity (I love COH). The same pair, coincidentally, that my friend Wood also bought a few months ago. They're super flattering, with just a hint of stretch to maximize your curves comfortably, they're long, and they were on SALE! So, I got a pair too. Yeah! I love good shopping days.

After jeans shopping, I had to get back to work because I had an appointment with my asylum clients at 2:00 pm. Raj's sister however, now that she has finished school, had the entire afternoon blissfully free. She headed off to Bloomies to go to Kiehl's, another secret I've shared with her. I discovered Kiehl's when I moved to New York, and I love them. (I'm seeing a theme here). When I first moved here, my skin started breaking out a bit, I think because of the change, and the grime, and the stress. But Kiehl's put everything right with the world (at least with respect to my skin). Their "Foaming Non-Detergent Cleanser" for combination skin is awesome, as is their "Ultra-Moisturizer with SPF."

Kiehl's is a great company because they don't test on animals, support the environment, and appear to have the genuine belief that a good business must be about more than making a profit; a good business must contribute to the community in some way. I like that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mischa Siting

Leaving the Grand Central subway station today at noon, headed back to the office after a master calendar hearing for my Tibetan asylum client, I saw Mischa Barton and who I assume where her handlers milling about outside of the Lexington Avenue entrance to Grand Central.

Mischa had three young women with her. She was dressed all in white, with a transparent top with sparkly detailing over a tighter white camisole. I was surprised how tall she was, and she looked very pretty.

I followed her group for a minute into the Grand Central terminal, but nothing exciting happened. I heard her OC voice, got another confirmatory glimpse, and then turned back to go to work.

Evil Incarnate

At yesterday's deposition just as we broke for lunch:

Me: We have all of the copies of the exhibits that you need, right?

Dragon Lady: Yeah. (Scowling). But we've got to fix this computer, and figure out how they're labeling exhibits. (As if I screwed up our live feed, and as if I mislabeled the other parties' exhibits).

Me: Ok. (Trying to be a duck and let it all roll off of my back, like Prue). Did you want me to get you a sandwich now, or right before it starts again? (Thinking that maybe she would act like a normal human being and tell me to bring one back for her after I had eaten since I have to eat too. Plus I was meeting Raj).

Dragon Lady: NOW. (Scowls and walks off. No please. No thank you).

At the end of the deposition:

Me: I can take the computer back to the office and arrange for someone to bring it back over here tomorrow morning for you.

Dragon Lady: (Nods). All of these can go into this box, and the box can stay here. (Motioning for me to pack up everything). I've got to go.

Me: (Stares at Dragon Lady's back as she turns, picks up her coat and bag, and walks off. No thank you, no good night, no bye, no parting smile. Nothing).

The joys of this job are endless.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Indian Film Favorites

On Sunday, I went to see Deepa Mehta's "Water" at the Angelika Film Center. The movie was beautiful,but very sad. It is set in India along the Ganges River, in the 1930s, on the eve of Indian independence. The movie begins with a young girl, Chuyia, probably no older than 7 years, who replies "no" when she is asked whether she remembers her wedding. The child is then told that her husband is dead, and that she is now a widow. Her father takes Chuyia to compound where widows go to live. The compound is filled with mostly older women, all clothed in white saris. Chuyia pleads with her father not to leave her, but he does.

In the compound, Chuyia befriends a young and beautiful widow, Kalyani, who lives in a small room with a small black puppy that she keeps in secret. Later we find out that one of the older widows prostitutes Kalyani out to rich men across the river. One day while Chuyia and Kalyani are out walking, they meet a young man, Narayan, who has just finished his law studies. Narayan is a progressive thinker and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. When they meet, Narayan and Kalyani are immediately attracted to one another, and Narayan starts trying to find a way to meet Kalyani again. I won't give anything else away, because I don't want to ruin the story.

According to the film, 34 million widows currently live in India, many in situations of deprivation and inequality, as depicted in the film.

Water is the third film in a trilogy that explores themes of gender, religion, and the movement for Indian Independence. The trilogy also includes "Fire" and "Earth." All of the films have been marked by controversy, mainly as a result of fundamentalist hindu protests against the films. I saw Fire, and thought that it was an incredible film. It's the story of a young girl in New Dehli who enters a loveless arranged marriage, but then forms a friendship with her sister-in-law. I have yet to see Earth, but it's in my Netflix Queue.

Since I'm on the subject of Indian movies, two others that I have seen and loved are "Monsoon Wedding" and "Bride and Prejudice." Monsoon Wedding explores serious themes, such as adultery, arranged marriages, love, class, and incest, against the backdrop of extravagant preparations for a wedding in North India. It's a story about a family and there love for their daughters, which is always a beautiful thing to see. Bride and Prejudice, as you can probably guess, is "Pride and Prejudice" Indian-style in the spirit of Bollywood. It's a fun, entertaining movie. Bride and Prejudice stars Aishwarya Rai, one of the most stunningly gorgeous women I've ever seen.

Go see them all. They're wonderful.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Little Girls

After a party at BLVD, one French martini, two kir royals, three games of pool, and hours of dancing with and without blue glowsticks (we were emulating the x-ed out people, not partaking), I found myself at an afterhours party down in Tribeca in the early hours of Sunday morning. When we arrived, I volunteered to get drinks for our group of three, so Ernest and Raj had a seat on a couch while I went up to the bar. While I was waiting to get the bartender's attention, a girl came up to the bar and edged in next to me, also to get some drinks.

Standing side by side, both of us waiting for the bartender, the girl said to me, "Try hypnotic on the rocks. It's so good." I looked at her and found a pretty young girl with long brown hair, smiling at me with her eyes sparkling as if she was letting me in on a secret. I asked, "Hypnotic?" She replied, "Yeah, most bars don't have it, so we're lucky," and flashed me another warm, mischievous smile.

At that moment the bartender came over, and the girl ordered two hypnotics. She said, "You'll see, you're going to love it." I wasn't sure if she was ordering two for her, or if one of the drinks was for me. I glanced back and Raj and Ernest. They seemed to be doing fine, so I turned back to the bar. A man had come up behind my new friend. She was clearly acquainted with him, because she snuggled up against him. It was dark, and he had a hat pulled down low over his eyes, so I didn't get a clear look at his face. He seemed several years older than my friend.

The bartender came back with two plastic cups filled with turquoise liquid on the rocks. The girl took one, and passed one to me. As she did so, she turned to face me fully, away from the man behind her, and said, again with a smile, "Don't worry it's on Javiar's tab." And then with a small nod toward the man behind her, she mouthed, "He's so hot," and started giggling. She then told me that her name was KC.

I was intrigued by KC, and her dynamic with Javiar, but also conscious that Raj and Ernest were by now probably waiting on their drinks, wondering what was taking so long. I motioned in their direction - they were only about 15 feet away - and said to the KC, "I have to get them a beer and a water. They're going to be wondering what's happened to me." She asked, "Oh, is that your man?" And I replied, "Yes." I asked her what the deal was with Javiar, and she told me that she had met Javiar at a party like the one we were at, and that he had been crashing at her place for the last week. She also said that the party was Javiar's. Some of Javiar's friends came up to the bar, and one of them started talking to me. I politely pushed him off, and then waved past him at Raj who was looking at KC and I.

The bartender came back towards us and before I could place my order, KC told her to get us a beer and a water. As the drinks were coming back to us, Javiar, who had paid us both very little attention up until now, leaned in and said to KC and I, "Just tip her our out, and you're all set." I thought to myself, of course. Tipping the bartender out was the least I could do after getting free drinks on Javiar's tab. I started rummaging in my purse for dollars. KC tried to say something nice to the bartender, and the bartender gave her attitude, so then KC told her to get us two more hypnotics. By then, my first drink was almost all gone.

I realized I only had a five dollar bill, and held it up to KC, thinking that it would not be enough to tip out the bartender, attitude or not. I said, "This is all I have, but I'll put the drinks on my card." KC looked in her purse and started counting out bills, smiling and telling me not to worry. I said, "KC, that is so sweet, but you really don't have to do that. I'll just put the drinks on my card." KC looked at me and said, "It's ok, we're both in the same boat here, right?" As if to say that we both had to look out for one another. I immediately felt like she was right. How rare is that, to find a genuine feeling of sisterhood in an afterhours party over blue hypnotics?

We continued chatting, and I eventually went back to the boys and brought them their drinks and sat down. KC talked to Javiar for a bit up at the bar, and then came and sat down next to me. Now it was the four of us sitting on the couch in the middle of the floor of the party. The place was getting more and more crowded. Javiar was moving through the party from group to group, not paying a whole lot of attention to KC. KC was sitting next to me watching Javiar. She said to me, "He's on coke. He offered some to me but I don't do that shit." I said, "That's good. You should stay away from that stuff." I then asked her a bit more about herself and Javiar. She told me that she was a freshman at John Jay college, and that she was from Maine. It was becoming clear to me that Javiar was bad news, and that KC was far to sweet to be with him. We were both a little giddy. Me from the night, the hypnotics, dancing and flirting with Raj earlier, and now this interaction with KC.

We had only been sitting down for a few minutes, and KC said, "Let's make Javiar jealous. Can I kiss you?" I remember giggling, and I must have looked at her uncertainly because she said, indicating Raj, who was sitting beside me and watching this exchange closely, "He won't mind. This is every guy's fantasy." I was thinking that that was probably true, but said, "You'll have to ask him." (Mad points for me). KC leaned across me and said to Raj, "Come on, I can kiss her right?" We were both staring at him smiling. He didn't say anything, but he nodded his head and kept watching. Then KC and I kissed. I was aware that Ernest, by that point, had quietly gotten up off of his end of the couch and walked around so that he could see better what was happening between KC and I. We kissed a few times, then paused. Then kissed again. I was aware that the night had taken a crazy, rather delicious twist. I was wondering what Raj was thinking.

Soon after, KC got up to follow Javiar off into the crowd. Raj, Ernest, and I stayed a little while longer, finishing our drinks and talking. I think both of the boys were a bit dazed, as was I. Ernest wanted to know if there had been tongue involved, and I said no and explained the obvious, that girls don't like having tongues shoved down their throats. Ernest said, "What do you mean? You don't like kissing with tongue?" He seemed genuinely curious, so I explained that sometimes tongue is nice, mainly when you are in the heat of it, but not all the time. Ipromptu kissing lesson.

Then, we stumbled outside to find the sky already glowing a pale morning blue. It was 6 am.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chocolate For Your Soul

"What are you going to do to take care of yourself?" my therapist asked me during the last five minutes of our session last night.

I had been surprisingly emotional. Surprising not because I was emotional, but because of what I had been emotional about. I had been planning to talk about work and my fears for the future, but instead I ended up talking about my relationship with my family.

As I was about to start gathering up my things, CG asked me what I was going to do to take care of myself after I left her office. I looked at her and said, "I feel like having some chocolate," and then added, "but I know that wouldn't be good for me." CG said, "What are you going to do to be nice to yourself?," meaning that eating chocolate, which would inevitably make me feel guilty and probably give me a stomach ache, was not the epitome of "being nice" to myself. She then asked whether I enjoyed getting 10-minute massages at nail places. Who doesn't?

At her suggestion, I ended up going to get a manicure after my session. Nail places are very hit or miss in NY, but I was lucky last night. The manicurist did an excellent job, and then I splurged and paid $13 dollars extra for a 10-minute massage. A young Korean guy named Jay did the massage honors and he was awesome. He had strong hands, used the perfect amount of pressure, and basically turned all of the stress that I had been carrying around in my back into liquid. I felt like warm, worked-over putty by the time that I got up from the chair. It was so awesome. Prior to the massage, I wasn't going to tip him because I had rationalized that I was already paying $13 extra. However, by the end of the massage I was so filled with gratitude that I decided to give him a tip. He truly was amazing. I'm going back for sure.

CG had a good idea. She said that weekly rituals where you take time for yourself can be "self-soothing" (which is another stress-busting concept we're working on together) and another type of coping strategy. Not that life should be all about coping, but rather that you should be equipped with different strategies to cope with stress and to keep yourself happy and balanced. You should make time to take care of yourself, to do things that act like chocolate for your soul. How divine does that sound?

Weekly manicures + massage are a great treat, but at $25 a pop they could get somewhat expensive. Especially for a girl looking to ditch her corporate existence and bank account. Weekly, and sometimes every-other-day, bubble baths, are an excellent ritual that I used to practice religiously in my old apartment, but I've run into some snags in my new abode.

Another idea I've had, but have yet to implement, is making a concerted effort to get out into nature at least once a week, or at least a couple times a month. I've always known that being out among the trees, or on the water, is good for me. It does the job of a 90 minute massage in about five minutes. Being out among the greenery was one reason Connecticut was such a wonderful experience. That's something Simone reminded of me during our last phone conversation.

So, so far my tentative list of self-soothing rituals that I am trying to incorporate into my life includes the following (notice that shopping, chocolate, wine, and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, though they work damn well sometimes, are not on my aspirational list):

1) Manicure + mini-massages
2) Spending time outside among the trees or on the water
3) Bubble baths
4) Yoga
5) Reading a good book (I'm just about to finish "Never Let me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro, it's great).
6) Meditation (aspirational)
7) Acupuncture
8) Journal Writing regularly
9) All things lavender (such as oil, satiny eye packs, soap, etc.)

All of these have in common being internally still, which is something I've always known that I need for my sense of well-being. I've found this through art in the past, and may need to put that on the list in some way. Maybe a painting class?

I need to be silent and still, and to give myself time to think. It's how I recharge and re-energize. It's amazingly hard though, especially in New York, and particularly in this job, to find time to be still (and not racked by guilt). So often it seems like I'm either working (or of late willfully not working) or trying to have fun. There's no in between. (I was just thinking I bet moms reading this are rolling their eyes in disbelief. I'm childless. I have only me to worry about, but look at all the issues I have just handling that! Good Lord.).

What do you do to take care of yourself?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

LOST Redux

This is a spoiler, so read at your own risk.
The episode opened with Echo having a dream in which Ana-Lucia comes to him on the beach and tells him that he must help John. As she tells him this, blood appears trickling from her mouth and on her chest. Still dreaming, Echo enters the hatch where he finds his brother, Yemi. Yemi tells Echo that good work is happening in the hatch that is more important than Echo knows. Yemi tells Echo that he must help John find the question mark, and that if John refuses, Echo must force him. John has lost his way, and Echo should bring his axe.
Back at the hatch in real time, Sawyer, Jack, Kate, and John discover Michael just outside of the hatch. Michael claims that he heard gunshots, and then a man (Imposter Henry Gale) shot him in the arm. They find Ana-Lucia dead, but Libby, as predicted, is alive. Libby coughs up blood, but remains unconscious. John and Echo, who arrived at the hatch after his dream, go off into the woods to find Henry Gale's trail.
Jack, glaring at Sawyer, says, regarding Libby, that it doesn't look good and that all he can do is make her comfortable. When Sawyer asks Jack why he's glaring at him, Jack says, "the heroine." Sawyer gets up to get the heroine from his stash and Jack tells Kate to go with him to discover the location of the guns. As the only other option is to let Libby suffer, Sawyer stalks off and says, "Let's go Freckles." Sawyer leads Kate to the hut where he sleeps. All this time, Sawyer's stash has been hidden in a hole underneath his bedding. Sawyer gives Kate one of the Madonna statues filled with heroine. As they turn to go back to the hatch, Hurley approaches them and asks if they have seen Libby. Kate sadly tells him what has happened.
Off in the woods, Echo tells John that he must take Echo to the question mark. Locke refuses, and Echo head butts him so that he falls to the ground unconscious. Later, when John wakes up, Echo tells him again that he must take him to the question mark. John shows Echo the drawing he made of the map that he saw on the hatch door during the time when John's leg was trapped under the door. He gives it to Echo and tells him that he can have it. Together, they go off into the woods in search of the question mark.
After some time, they come across the place where Locke and Boone found the plane used by the heroine smugglers, and the site of Boone's untimely death. About that, Locke says that it was a "sacrifice" demanded by the island. When Echo questions him, Locke says it was nothing. Echo says they will make camp and wait for the next sign.
They make camp, and that night Locke has a dream. In the dream, Locke is Echo, and Echo wakes to Yemi speaking to him in the jungle. Yemi tells Echo (who is actually Locke dreaming) that he must follow him, and he leads Echo to climb up a large tree on the edge of Echo and Locke's camp. Just as Echo gets to the top of the tree, he finds himself staring face to face with Yemi in a wheelchair. Yemi says, "wake up Locke," as Echo falls to the ground.
Suddenly, in real time, Locke wakes with a gasp, and Echo asks him what happened. He says, you had dream didn't you, and asks whether there was a man in it. Echo tells John that the man in his dream was his brother, and that this is the way they are going to find the question mark.
Echo asks whether Yemi told John anything, and John tells Echo that Yemi told him to follow him and looks up at the tree standing on the edge of their campsite. Just as it was depicted in John's dream, Echo uses his axe to climb to the top of the tree. On the top, he looks out at the jungle and then down at the camp. He sees Locke standing next to the plane, which looks like a large arrow, and just past the plane he sees a large half circle etched into the ground. He realizes the plane is lying on top of another hatch: the site of Locke's question mark.
Locke and Echo push aside the plane and find underneath it another hatch. With the help of Echo's axe, they pull open the door to the hatch and expose another dark hole boring down into the earth. They climb down and find themselves in a different type of hatch, a monitoring station that looks like it has been long since abandoned. The lights work, as do several TV monitors that Locke flicks on. Some show a field of white TV fuzz, but one shows the Castaway's hatch, and Jack moving around inside it. In the monitoring hatch, Echo finds an Orientation Manual and Tape 5 (of 6).
On the tape is the same man we saw on the first tape. The man explains that the viewers will stay for 3 weeks within the monitoring hatch. During that time they will observe the inhabitants of another hatch and they will record every single detail, however slight, of the inhabitants' movements. The viewers are told that the inhabitants of the other hatch believe that they are doing something of the utmost importance, but no further details are given. The viewers are supposed to record the details in the notebooks that have been provided. Once a notebook is completed, the viewers are supposed to roll up the notebook and place it into a shoot where it is whisked away to the Dharma people. The man ends the video by saying, "Namaste," which in Hindi means, "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me." Incidentally, while Locke and Echo are down in the hatch exploring, Locke places the piece of paper with his sketch on it into the shoot and it is immediately whisked away.
Echo gathers the papers together, and Lockes looks at him and asks why he is bothering to take the papers. Echo replies that the papers could be important to the work going on in the hatch, to which Locke replies that pushing the button in the hatch is just as meaningless as his whole life has been. Echo responds by telling Locke how he betrayed his brother Yemi, how Yemi's body was loaded onto a smuggler's plane that crashed on the island, how Echo's plane crashed on the very same island, and how Echo was reunited with his dead brother on the very site of this hatch. He asks how Locke can say there is no meaning in all of that, and says that if Locke is not going to push the button anymore, Echo will do it because he believes it is of the utmost importance. They set off back for the hatch.
Back at the hatch, Hurley sits mournfully as Libby lies unconscious. Hurley says to Michael that he and Libby were going to go on their first date. He also tells Michael that he's happy Michael's ok. Michael looked a little surprised, and perhaps a touch guilty. Later, Hurely goes to Libby's bedside to talk with her. He tells her twice that he's so sorry he forgot the blanket, which was rather heartbreaking. Suddenly, Libby's eyes open and Hurley and Jack move to her side. Libby tries to speak, and finally manages to say, "Michael." Jack attempts to reassure her by telling her that Michael made it, and Libby starts twisting and moaning and looks terrified, although I'm not sure that Jack and Hurley notice her terror. Then she dies.
Kate sits in a corner crying and Sawyer comes over to her and takes her in his arms. That, incidentally is why we all love Sawyer. He's a tough guy who we all suspect is good underneath, he is strong, and he comes through when he is needed. Same with Sayid. Sayid's even better because Sayid has shown the capacity to love and even to cry. But I digress.
As Sawyer comforts Kate, we see Michael standing in the shadows of Henry Gale's abandoned cell holding his wounded arm. He looks evil. Where is the loving father we once knew?
* * *
Scenes From look awesome. Sawyer has a shot gun, Michael seems to have been captured by the others, and Clair is involved somehow. Sayid tells Jack that he thinks Michael has been "compromised." Sayid is so smart. It looks like mayhem is breaking out. OMG.
Questions and Comments:
1) WTF is going on with Michael? What is wrong with him. I am still leaning towards the idea that he was brainwashed by the Others.
2) Poor Ana-Lucia! I'm so sad. She was totally bad-ass, and now she is gone, and right after having sex with Sawyer! Hello!?
3) Libby's dead too? Perhaps the producers of Lost were really pissed about the two drunk driving incidents. Does this mean we never find out Libby's story?
4) What the hell is going on in the hatch? Why would that so-called "work" be important, and how could the island have pulled all these people together and why? We still have no answers.
5) Namaste? Another clue?
6) I tried to get onto the website that they showed in the commercial but was unable to. I'm not sure I got the correct spelling. Was it Subliminal what? Another clue.
7) Non-Lost question: Does anyone know how to make sure spaces between paragraphs pop up in posts? I've had problems lately with this, hence all the space-saving periods.
Kick-ass episode!

Forget Cleavage, Pants Drive Men Wild

I have a job interview today. It is with an excellent organization that does women's rights work, including litigation, in the areas of employment discrimination, violence against women, and criminal law issues for both adults and juveniles. I'm nervous for many reasons. I don't know if I want to work for them because I don't think the job is my "ideal" job. My ideal job would allow me to work - doing actually litigation, and not just policy work - on anti-trafficking, asylum, and/or reproductive rights issues in an international context. Even if I decide that I do want to work for them, I don't know whether they'll like me. Interviews are like the bar exams: crap shoots. One never knows.

I dressed carefully this morning in a dark navy blue suit with tiny white pinstripes. The suit, from Club Monaco, sounds far more conservative based upon my description than it looks. It has a cute cut, the pants are slim fitting but flare out just enough to be flattering, the jacket is nicely tailored and shows a little bit of my curves while being completely professional. I'm wearing a white shell underneath with a single strand pearl necklace and simple pearl earrings. I'm slightly worried the pearls are too conservative, too law-firm, but on the other hand I love pearls. They are simple, professional, and beautiful, so I went with them.

I went with a pant-suit, instead of a skirt-suit for two main reasons. First, pant suits are more "feminist" in my mind, more progressive and sassy, than the uber formal conservative skirt suits that the law firm favors. Skirt suits, though I am rather partial to them because it's so damn hard to find pants that fit nice, feel more corporate to me. Second, the Dragon Lady hates pant suits. Yes, the uber bitch female law firm partner that I work for hates pant suits. I have heard stories of her telling off female associates for wearing pant suits. She thinks skirt suits are more formal. The anti-feminist bitch. It's not really that I'm wearing pants because of her, but more that her dislike of pant suits confirms in my mind how feminist pant suits actually are. Plus, I have a meeting with her today, and I'm relishing the idea of walking into her office all done up and in my 2 1/2 inch heels. I'll be taller than her.

Speaking of heels, I blame the attention that I got this morning in part on them. That and the fact that men have an uncomfortable propensity to act like dogs in heat. Outside my building there is a construction site and each day I need to walk past approximately 5-10 construction workers. I'm aware, and largely immune to their looks. I've perfected the art of ignoring unwanted male attention. It's one of woman's most basic survival skills. Not that I'm saying there aren't times when it's necessary to tell men off for their borderline harassment. But it's a tricky issue. Men are more easy to control, and it's more easy to keep your body safe, when the men aren't roused to anger and when you can keep them at a distance. I'm simplifying here, because the way to deal with street harassment is not the main point of this story.

Usually I get looks from the construction workers and men in general. In my opinion, this isn't because I'm particularly beautiful. In fact, it's not about me at all, but about the men. Men in our society have this sense of entitlement that makes them think that they can eye every woman that walks by them like they are pieces of succulent meat roasting on a spit. Despite all the talk over the last fifteen years about sexual harassment, and street harassment in particular, men also appear to still be operating under the painful delusion that women will be flattered by their unwanted attention. Wrong, boys.

For example, yesterday as I was coming back from acupuncture treatment, I stopped on the corner of 86th and Amsterdam and waited for the light to change so that I could cross the street. While I was waiting, I suddenly heard a voice right behind me and to my left say, "I'm only going to ask one thing." The voice was so close, I knew the comment was directed at me, so I inclined my head slightly to the left to see what kind of lunatic had approached me. It was a white man in his late 50s, balding, dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. He met my glance with a look of rapt appreciation and said, "How tall are you?" He didn't appear threatening, I don't like to be rude as a general matter, and I was on a public street in the middle of the day surrounded by at least 200 people, so I said, "5' 10." He said, shaking his head in admiration and roving his eyes up and down my body, "It's a wonderful thing."

I ever so slightly curved my lips into the briefest of smiles (far more than he deserved, I know!), and looked away to wait for the light. Harmless and Creep, I thought to myself. I knew that he had obviously checked out my ass, because he had come up behind me. I had also seen him openly eye me up and down, and then act as if he was flattering me. On the other hand, what he said was not so blatantly offensive as to warrant a public dressing down. So I let it pass and ignored him until the light changed. Pig. I'm sure he was married. This kind of thing happens all the time, and it wasn't worth it for me to engage with him.

As I left my house this morning, I was trying hard to walk straight in my heels. I'm partial to kitten heels (about 1 1/2 inches), and haven't worn 2 1/2 inch heels for months. I only wore the tall ones today because my kitten heels are trashed and I didn't want to look scruffy at the interview. I was a little wobbly. I shut the door tight behind me and started down the sidewalk. Not fifteen feet ahead of me was the construction crew. I couldn't help but notice them because they were directly in my line of sight. Two were shoveling rubble to the left of the sidewalk, and five or six were to the right of the sidewalk, one in the back of a truck, and the others on the street loading debris into the truck and unloading supplies. Apparently, they noticed me as well.

Coming up even with the construction crew I opted to glance to the left and say good morning to one guy, while looking for the most part straight ahead. There is always this dilemma. Do you say good morning, or do you just ignore them all and look straight ahead? If I wasn't certain that they would be looking at me, I wouldn't think twice about saying good morning, but I don't like meeting the stares when they're checking me out. It's awkward, it runs the risk of making them think you are interested in them (remember men are delusional), and it creates a second dilemma: whether to let their stares and comments pass, or whether to chew them out?

When I glanced at the guy on my left to say good morning to him, I found him already staring dumbly straight at me. Shit, now he thought I was paying attention to him. Gross. To get away from that awkwardness, I glanced to my right and saw that all of the men on my right had just stopped working and were staring openly at me. The guy in the back of the truck had stood up from his stooped position, and was leaning on his shovel checking me out. It was like a bad diet coke commercial in reverse.

I focused my eyes again straight ahead of me and continued on past them without saying anything more. When I was about 5 feet away, I heard one of them say, "Beautiful," and a few others murmur in agreement. They said it loud enough so that I was sure they wanted me to hear it. For "beautiful," I couldn't really chew them out, but my god, why do men have to act so often like they are sex-crazed dogs that have just been let out of their cages?

I walked to the end of the street and turned to my left towards the Penn Station subway stop. I thought that I had received my allotment of street harassment for the day but I was wrong. A cabbie whistled loudly out his window at me. I felt a glimmer self-consciousness, and then reminded myself that that was ridiculous. I most certainly am not going to blame myself because so many men find it difficult to control themselves.

Not that I appreciate the comments of the construction workers or the cabbie, but I did find myself thinking that it would work to my advantage if my interviewers thought that I looked as smashing as my morning admirers apparently did. Hopefully they will also be impressed with my brains, experience, credentials, and commitment to women's rights. The things street harassers never see because they're too busy salivating and straining at their bits.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I See Naked People

This springtime, along with other appointments I have made, the cats go to the vet, I get my 6 month cleaning, I also made an appointment to see a dermatologist. I have been getting some red bumps on my neck and face (doesn't look like acne) and I have had some new growths since the last time I have been (7 years ago). 1st off I have been fortunate with my skin, I tan pretty easily, I get some acne, but for the most part, my skin is fair and pretty clear of acne. 2nd, I have never had some scary growths that could be cancerous, so I am very grateful for that...and cross my fingers I never do.

So I arrive at my appointment ready to go with a copy of my insurance card, and forms already filled out with co-pay in hand. The receptionist was impressed. She directs me into the back where the nurse leads me to "the room." I am shy but knowing the doctor will check my body for strange things, I know I must be an adult and get into the robe. I do this leaving my panties and bra on and I elect to keep my shoes and socks on too. (I looked way cuter than this dude over here.)

The doctor comes into the room and begins asking me questions, I tell him I have a wierd "mole" looking growth on my bikini line and of course he wants to see it, so I carefully peel back the robe so he can only see that area above my undies. (Chest with bra of course on and underwear area still intact and covered by my robe). He was a cute doctor, you could tell he kind of laughed/smiled at my shyness. He then says to me, "Dont worry I see many people naked." At that point I didn't know really what to do. I could hide or be mature and let him look around for himself. So, with me still holding my robe in place he scoped out my body for other strange things.

I showed him my other main concern which was a mole that is in the middle of my boobs but dropped down about 1 inch. This "thing" is the reason why I went to the dermatologist 7 years ago, they had sliced it off and it had grown back. Gross, I know. He freeze dried my age spot, and freeze dried 3 more areas, and proceeded to look over my back and my legs to tell me well, "there are some that we will save for your next visit, but why don't we go ahead and numb you up. That one that grew back is bothering me so we are going to punch that one out." (I would have brought Tex to squeeze his hand had I known what they were going to do next).

The nurse injected my "grow-back-mole-reject" with some anestethia a few times. I gritted my teeth and clenched both hands. Then, the doctor re-enters with what looks like one of those cool long eraser things that everyone had when you were in middle schoool. Well, the doctor missed out, he didn't have an eraser, he had a punch thing that he so kindly came over to my chest and punched out my mole. I WASNT NUMB YET. At this point I gritted my teeth more, and I think I said "Holy Shit. Whew, I wasn't ready for that one." He seemed concerned and asked "did you feel that?" And I replied "yes, but if you need to stitch that please hurry, I don't like this." He did as I wished...5 stitches (I didn't wish these but they had to be done)...I gritted my teeth and hung in there while I felt each stitch being made. It hurt. I was very happy that it was over. This was friday, the next two days, I couldn't wear a bra, if I did, it would rub the stitches and hurt badly. But nothing could have prepared me for Monday.

Also, while at the dermatologist, he said the bumps on my neck and face were acne and he had a simple solution for that. He prescribed me "Tetracycline" which is an anti-biotic for pill in the morning and one in the night. [ON BOTTLE: TAKE ON EMPTY STOMACH, DO NOT DRINK DAIRY]. I like starting medication on a monday so I get into a schedule of taking it in the morning and evening. So, monday morning, I woke up, took a pill, avoided my glass of milk that I love deeply, and continued getting ready for work.

As I blew dry my hair, from my waist down, my legs became numb, I became nauseated, I couldn't keep my eyes open, and my stomach had a piercing pain. I tried to ignore it, so I got in my car and began to drive away to work. I made it to the bottom of my dirt road and began to cry, I couldn't see very well, and the numbness and pain intesified. My chest started to tighten and breathing was becoming hard. I called my husband and he hurried down to me.

Long story short...I couldn't go to work yesterday, monday, my husband called the doctor's office and the receptionist didn't know what to do, so Tex called the pharmacist who confirmed that I was having an allergic reaction to the medication and to stop taking it immediately. Now, the small amount of acne I do have, you can not see, but because I had an allergic reaction I got a rash last night all over the left side of my face. So, if don't have bad acne, don't try for better skin with medicaiton you really don't need, and if you need answers quickly, don't call the doctor's office, call the pharmacist. Remember: Today is a Good Day.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Odd Couple

This is what I used to be afraid of looking like when I was in Sixth Grade and taller than all the boys because they had not yet hit puberty and their much awaited growth spurts:
Courtesy of the Green Straw
No, this is not a picture of Tom Cruise posing with a Giant Drag Queen. This painfully awkward picture is Katie Holmes hunching her post pregnant body over Tom Cruise's in a futile effort to make him appear like less of a midget. If she's going to hunch over like that, why wear heels? On the other hand, she may just be exhausted at having just given birth and annoyed at Tommy Boy for forcing her to parade around all dolled up on the red carpet.
Katie is going to have some serious posture and back problems, if she keeps this up. Why doesn't she just force Tom to undergo leg extension surgery? Maybe that's banned by scientology. On another note, how can Katie enjoy sex with Tom Cruise? Her thigh is almost twice as long as his. He is a koala bear to her gazelle. It would be like making out with a deranged puppet. Call me a traditionalist, but there's nothing erotic to me about making out with a man you're afraid to break.
They are the weirdest celebrity couple ever.

Technically Challenged

Buttercup: This mouse won't work. [Shaking the mouse and pressing all of it's buttons, trying to make the cursor move on my laptop's screen]. What's wrong with your computer?

Raj: [Focused on watching TV]. Why are you breaking my computer?

Buttercup: It won't work. What's wrong with it? [Becoming frustrated. Shaking and now hitting mouse lightly against the desk to see if it would magically click back to life]. Isn't the light supposed to be on on the bottom?

Raj: Seriously, what did you do to the computer? [Becoming concerned, Raj comes over to the desk where I've been sitting working on my laptop infront of the larger desktop computer, and starts checking all the connections to the desktop. Meanwhile, I continue to click and swivel the mouse, but nothing happens on my computer screen. I'm starting to get concerned that I broke the mouse to Raj's desktop].

Buttercup: [Suddenly, and sheepishly] Oh.

Raj: [Still bent down checking the connections]. What?

Buttercup: I'm working on my laptop. [Realizing that of course the mouse to Raj's desktop would not be capable of moving the cursor on my laptop's screen].

Raj: I can't believe you. [Smiling].

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Two Chill May Days

A relaxing weekend at last. Hallelujah.

Yesterday, I stayed in bed late with Raj, and then the two of us went for a run down along the Hudson River Park. We started at 30th street, ran west towards the river, and then continued South all the way down to Battery Park until we could see the Statue of Liberty. How cool is that? It was a gorgeous day, and hundreds of people were out lazing around on the grassy areas between the piers, and walking, roller-blading, and bike-riding on the trail that runs along the river. In the beginning of the run I thought I was going to die - it was so hot and I was so tired - but I managed to press on and got in a decent work-out.

Here's a list of my Top 12 Running Songs:

1) I Need A Hero - Bonnie Tyler
2) Numb - Linkin Park
3) Run Rabbit Run - Eminem
4) Take It Off - The Donnas
5) Are You Out There - Dar Williams
6) Dammit - Blink 182
7) You Can Hate Me Now - Nas
8) In Da Club - 50 Cent
9) Lady Killer - Lush
10) Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
11) I'm A Survivor - Destiny's Child
12) Fighter - Christina Aguilera

I challenge anyone to turn these on and not go running. You won't be able to help yourself. Those are the ones that are in my ipod work-out mix at the moment. Do share if you have others to add.

After the run, I watched the end of Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, which was nothing like I had expected it to be, but a good movie nonetheless. I expected to see a precocious, highly sexual temptress, and disturbing love scenes between a young girl and an older man. The scenes were disturbing, but not for the reasons I had expected. The man who plays her lover was disturbing because he was a pathetic, controlling lecher. He basically spirits Lolita away after her mother dies, and pursues a highly inappropriate sexual relationship with her. Later, he forbids her from going on dates, doing extracurricular activities, or spending time like a normal teenager because he wants her all to himself, isolated from others her age so that he can keep her trapped in a relationship with him. It was rather revolting. How could he have thought that she loved him, or wanted to be with him? He was at least 30 years older than her.

Lolita herself was no innocent, and she exercised a great deal of control over her relationship with the lecher, but she did nothing blameworthy. While she stayed with him, he fawned over her, bought her whatever she wanted, and took her where ever she wanted to go. She "cheated" on him with several other men, and created elaborate lies to keep him her dedicated servant while she was out satisfying her desires. For duping the lecher, Lolita has been vilified as a temptress. But that vilification is completely misplaced because the lecher had no business being with her in the first place.

It's crazy that from this movie has endured an image of a precocious female temptress. What should have endured is the image of a pathetic lecher. Clearly, our society is more disturbed, fascinated, and titilated by young girls as sexual beings, than it is revolted by lecherous males praying upon them. By the way, the actress who played Lolita was fantastic.

After Lolita, Raj and I met a friend for a drink at a bar called Heathers. It's a chill place in the East Village, located behind an unmarked door on 13th street between A and B. I like discovering hidden bars and restaurants. It gives me the illusion of being in the know. So far I've "discovered" (i.e., my friends have taken me there) Heathers in the East Village, APT in the Meatpacking District (at 419 West 13th Street), and Passer By, also in the Meatpacking District (at West 15th near 10th). APT is a great place to go if you want to observe the New York scene over wine and cheese. Passer By is a tiny bar with a disco floor made up of lighted colored tiles, where T-shirts and jeans reign supreme, and the bartenders make a mean French Martini.

Speaking of bars, I also recently went to Grotto down in the Lower East Side. It's at 100 Forsyth Street in a narrow basement space. They have awesome cocktails, including a raspberry mojito made with fresh raspberries. Yum.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fighting The Tide

The shit is hitting the fan today at work. Last night, I got an email from a partner requesting my assistance on a matter that would require approximately 50% of my time for the next 3-6 months. My reaction to the email was "shit," along with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It would be impossible to do 50% more work, while continuing to do all of my pro bono cases, and doing all the positive life things I have been trying to do (i.e. therapy, acupuncture, yoga, the gym, blogging, writing, reading, hanging out with Raj, socializing, etc.). In other words, it would seriously cut in to my efforts to have a life. Yes it's true, I am a law firm associate, but I want a life. Is that so wrong?

This morning, I responded by committing the cardinal sin for associates. I said "no." Politely, of course. But I still said "no." It didn't go over so well. The partner wrote me a stern email in response which included, among other things: (1) a reminder that while pro bono work is encouraged, it should never take precedence over work for paying clients; (2) a summary of my billable hours pointing out that I had only spent approximately 1/4 of my time on paying clients during the last few months, and 3/4 of it on my pro bono work, and that my billables were "below the average" for the department (that one stung); and (3) an admonition that the amount of time I was spending on pro bono work was unacceptable, and that I would need to get assistance with my pro bono work so that I could take on more work for paying clients. In other words, the message was: cut down your pro bono work, and take on additional work from paying clients.

Stab me in the heart. Nothing in the email was a surprise, nor even unreasonable, considering that I'm working for a firm that likes to make money. It was a bit unreasonable in light of the fact that I billed over 3,000 hours on my large case from hell last year, but partners don't care about that. While the billing is good, the partners don't care. They don't care that I bleed myself dry last year. They only care now, when they see my hours are down, and that the hours that I am putting in are 75% for pro bono work. (I actually didn't know it was so high for pro bono. Yikes. On the other hand, that's what I actually want to do, so perhaps I should be pleased.)

A few days ago, Wordnerd left me the following comment: "I wonder why you feel that your success as a person is tied to this firm....a firm you don't even like...I just wonder why you've put so much importance on making THIS place work when there are so many other places to work." It's a good question, and this morning I started thinking about it again. The quick answer is that I don't want to be a "bad associate." I don't want to be a person who doesn't do well, and when a partner tells you that your hours are not up to par you feel like a loser. Or at least I do. At least initially. I like succeeding, not being a loser.

Six months into this job, I had a breakthrough in understanding why I hated working in this law firm so much while talking with Valley-Bee, a woman who co-clerked with me for my Judge my first year out of law school. She told me that it's not that I'm a failure, it's that my law firm and I are operating on different standards. My standard is merit-based. I want to do my best work, and I want to be appreciated for that work. I also want to work on things that I care about that make a difference. My law firm, however, doesn't give a shit about associates doing their best work. They want associates to do good enough work, and a lot of it. They want to see hours, and they want to see the cash rolling in from their paying clients. They don't care - not really - about pro bono work because pro bono work has nothing to do with their bottom line. And they don't care about associates having enough time to do their best work, because that gets in the way of associates flipping from project to project, churning out as much work as possible for as many paying clients as possible.

Talking with Valley-Bee almost thirteen months ago (holy shit the time has flown!), I finally felt like I "got it." I'm a perfectionist. I can work quickly and I can multi-task, but my version of multi-tasking is not doing two things, or nine things, at the exact same time. Who can do that really? My version of multi-tasking is having a long view of what needs to get done and when, and organizing and dividing my time so that I can get everything that needs to get done, done. Here, at the law firm, they don't like associates planning their own schedules. They don't like perfectionists who draw boundaries. They like to micro-manage, and when they tell an associate to jump, they expect that an associate will ask "how high." I did that for the first year. But now, not only have I stopped asking "how high," I've stopped jumping. They don't like it. Not one bit.

They don't like associates following their own standards of excellence or meaning. They want their associates to follow their standard, which is putting in a lot of hours for work that pays. I want quality and significance. They want quantity and money.

Even though I know this intellectually, my partner's email made me feel, emotionally, like a failure because he told me that my billables were below where they should be. He told ME that I was "below average." I've never ever been below average in anything that I have ever done. Never.

The over-achiever in me started jumping up an down, yelling, "I can do it! I can suck it up! I want to do good work! I want you all to think I'm a stellar associate! I want to be powerful! I want to get to the top! Give me more assignments! Give me more work!." The over-achiever has been running the show since I was 12 (or earlier), and it's hard for the softer side of me - the one who knows what's really important in life - to fight her sometimes. It's so easy to get swept up in her confidence, strength, and ambition. She doesn't know that what she seeks actually hurts me. "Success" in this firm, the way they define success, has only brought me unhappiness.

(The over-achiever wants me to remind you all that success has also brought me a ton of practical skills, a loaded resume, the ability to do my pro bono work, money, and has toughened me up. Thank you over-achiever for sharing that. Now please sit down.)

Wordnerd is right. I can't let them make me care that I am not living up to their standards. I can't let them manipulate my desire to want to achieve and do well. My desire to be seen as a success. As long as I am living up to my standards, I am not a failure. Far from it.

My amazing powers of diplomacy bought me a little more time, but another assignment is just around the corner. I can feel it coming. Probably next week. In addition to that dismal prospect, the Dragon Lady continues to terrorize my days of late. I had to go to the She-Beast's office yesterday. I diligently pressed my ear, but it had little effect. Perhaps I need a larger needle?

I'm fighting the tide so that I can do the work that I need to do for the clients that I care about. The ones that actually need me. My clients who don't want to go back to the Middle East to be sold into prostitution or sold into a marriage they don't want, my Tibetan mother of 3 who hasn't seen or heard from her husband and children since she fled Tibet 3 years ago, and my client who is trying to get a divorce from a horrible man who beat her throughout the 8 years that she lived with him. Yes, law firm, by your standards I am doing too much pro bono work. I admit it. You found me out. But it's not too much for me. It's the one thing at this firm that consistently brings me a feeling of joy and fulfillment.

My partner told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to cut back on my pro bono work. I can tell you all that that is the last thing that is going to happen. If I have to take on a new case, fine. The next few months will suck, but I will do what is necessary to keep doing the work that I want to do. And then I will leave, triumphantly.

That will be glorious.