The Oven Glove gets a little crazy

It’s been some time since I’ve written at all, let alone about my workplace.  Part of that is my extreme, frantic, pace of life recently, what with going back to school and moving across the country.  The other part is no longer working, and therefore not having a workplace to write about.  My workplace is the universe?

In the past, however, I’ve been part of my share of workplace cranks and fun ridiculousness.    There’s the covering an entire workstation in saran-wrap gag, or the hanging various objects from the ceiling surprise.  But the most classic of all is the ‘your office doesn’t exist’ gaff, or the slightly-less-used ‘your office is something else’ bit.

My former workplace does these well, probably because there are frequent changes in the office layout and because we have a good working relationship with the management company.  This time the theme is ‘the necessary’.  See below:

It's cozy!

This was an office of considerable size at one time, rather than a 3×3 space to sit and contemplate.  I have no idea what a certain individual is going to do when he/she ‘returns to work’.  I look forward to finding out though, through the grapevine, though no longer up-close and personal.

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Pam Karlan is my hero

It’s the little things in life that really make it all worthwhile.  Sure, I’m doing a ridiculous amount of work which I pay others an exorbitant amount of money for the privilege of being allowed to so.  Sure I have no social life in an entirely new city that is simply begging to be explored.  Sure, I have stress levels close to my all-time highs of self doubt and depression.

But there are rewards, if few and far between. Free hors d’oeuvres and wine at local smoozy lawyer events put on by the college is one.  Getting to try Moose Drool with a Montana friend is another (it’s a beer, I’m not that desperate to view the moose).  Drinking Spanish coffee from a ‘dark’ owl mug because I’m African so I get the dark one is another.  Talking about the foolish things I do, like cutting my hand opening a bottle of Scotch, is a fourth.  Somehow these have all so far involved alcohol, but I promise, parents, sisters, and other family, that my liver and kidneys are fine and I’m being moderate.

A final reward is the speakers and panelists we get to hear from that the law school brings.  Some of them are long winded and unaccustomed to giving speeches, even though they all know their stuff.  However, all of them are interesting, and some are really good, really informative, and really funny.   Tonight’s was just such a one.

You must understand I’ve been in something of a funk.  I’m stressed about school and getting things done, especially my appellate brief.  I’m stressed about finding a job.  I’m especially stressed about networking, because I hate it.  I’m a klutz, and somewhat proud of it.  I have very little dignity and only a modicum of shame, which allows me to enjoy myself but really doesn’t give me the elegance you might expect from a higher-level professional lawyer.  I’d rather wear my boots.  This evening changed that to a certain extent, or at least broke me out of my funk.  Sure, it was a very professional speech, very well presented, and accurate and informed and interesting.  But the stuff I covered my hand with in red ink was the jokes.

The first joke involved an old Louisiana case about nepotism in steamboat pilot licensing.  Ok, actually there was lots of joking about big-headed terms used, but how it was ok as they were French and it’s Louisiana.  Anyway, the first snortable was her comment on the court’s decision, which basically upheld the Louisiana statue by saying it wasn’t nepotism, it was a romanticized, Mark Twain style life on the river – in direct contrast to a decision that licensing should be based on some other determinative, like ‘merit’ or … ‘random’.  Random is my favorite way to decide the legality of issues.

Next, she mentioned in passing a speaker we’d had on campus the previous day, Paul Smith, who evidently went to her elementary school.   Of course we got the funny anecdote about primary education.  In this case it involved his sister and herself in a Halloween costume competition rivalry, in which she “beat his sister like a drum”.  Snorfle.

In concluding, I realize that even though I have to finish writing this crummy, boring, and poorly designed appellate brief, that doesn’t mean I have to lose my sense of self.  The ridiculous will always be there for my amusement, inside the court system and without.  I am free to remain unrefined, direct, and possibly abrasive without losing my chances to be someone great who gets schmoozed to by lawyerly kind.  And now that I’ve spent way too much time musing on how great my life is, I’m off to sink a few more hours into the boring kind of writing before bed.

Dreamland

Sometimes I have vivid dreams.  Sometimes I have dreams I can remember very clearly.  Sometimes I have entire cinematic episodes in my head, conscious or unconscious.  Perhaps this means I should be a movie director, or a fortune teller, or street bum who talks to herself.

Regardless, the most recent epic is about me, from the future, coming back in time to relive my life and rethink my decisions.  You see, in the future, I was working for a big old corporation that was up to no good.  There were some natives who had some stuff they wanted (the same old story) and they were determined to get it.  I was sent in as some kind of consultant to try and get said natives out of our way.  Of course, it didn’t work, and of course the mean old corporation was going to push them out by whatever means necessary.

In this case, ‘whatever means necessary’ involved a highly sophisticated device that looked just like a vacuum cleaner.  There was some sort of related vacuum-type air suck portion to the machine, that would selectively blow natives away from the goods we wanted without damaging the items themselves.  However, the visual similarity with more mundane devices meant that you could stick a vacuum brush on one of the nozzles and completely blend in with office cleaners anonymous.

That’s how I stole the thing the first time.  I decided it wasn’t right to blow away the natives (literally) and I was going to do something about it.  With my newfound vigilantism however, I made the world bad for everybody.  I used the device on corporate headquarters, and it ended up taking out the whole office building, as well as a sizable amount of the city around it.  Economies collapsed – anarchy broke out, and gray and dusty and dreary holocaustic times set in.  But I had a chance to go back and make things right, to try to find a better solution.

Of course, my return involved romance.  That’s what second chances are all about, right?  So I tried to talk to someone in the corporation’s hierarchy about how what we were doing to the natives was wrong, and this time I actually had some time to get someone to listen.  The younger son of the corporation owner in fact listened, fell for me and I for him, and I told him the whole story.  I told him what had happened last time, how horrible it was for everyone, how driven I’d felt at the time to do something, anything to get someone to listen.  I told him about all the damage I indirectly caused, and about my second chance.  And he talked to his dad, and got me the opportunity to talk to the old man myself.

The old man, of course, was exactly what you’d expect – crotchety, generally dissatisfied with both me and the world, and hard of hearing when it suited him.  I told him my whole story, everything that I’d confided to my love interest in secret.  I told him what could happen and what I didn’t want to happen again.  I tried not to make threats.  I appealed to his superior wisdom.  I told him reminded him how the whole thing was like Dances with Wolves, but that he had the chance to change the ending.  In my dream this made sense, but it’s really been too long for my conscious mind to understand how the dream is like the movie.

But in the end, the old man was unmoved.  For whatever reason, stockholders or inflexibility or the color of shoes I wore, he wasn’t buying it.  “That’s not even similar to Dances with Wolves” he said.  So he basically told me to get out and leave him alone, in the most barking way he could to his son’s love interest without endangering their relationship.  And then I was left with what to do, yet again.

I couldn’t stand still.  I found that even though I knew the results of my actions, I had to do something.  And there was really only one thing to do – I stole the bomb that was a vacuum lookalike, again.

You’d think the second time around they would’ve learned their lesson.  And they did have some security – an armored car for the device itself, and plenty of armed guards walking the car to corporate headquarters.  But still, a woman in a  cleaning uniform is eternally overlooked.  Once again I just stuck a brush on and walked off with the thing.

Of course my love interest found me.  And when he found me, so did the old man.  But then I not only had a bomb in the office, but two really important hostages.  I wanted to cave, I just wanted to get out of the situation without hurting anyone, native or not, but I didn’t know how.  I talked to my love interest, and told him the whole thing, even though I was holding the man by force.  He motioned to his dad as I spoke, talking about how I didn’t want to go through with it.

“You don’t have to,” the old man said.  “I went to see them, the natives, and you’re right.  It IS just like Dances with Wolves.  I understand now.  You don’t have to hurt anyone – we’ll find a better way to come to an agreement with them without using the device.”

And that was that.  No holocaust, no bombs or forcible removal, no need for a weapon at all.  The vacuum stays a vacuum, albeit an unusually powerful one.

Dating.

In some ways, it’s unfortunate that myself and others in my closest friend circle remain single.  However, there are benefits in the choices we make, the freedoms we have, the adventures we can choose to embark on (or not), and most importantly, the stories we are later able to share.

Among the diverse dating hypotheticals that could come up in singledom, the one that’s caught my fancy for the moment is Captain Hook.  If we’re true to the musical of course, Hook stole Wendy to be his and his crew’s mother, rather than to get a date.  However, if Wendy were a little older, things could’ve been very different.  I mean, how hard is it for a hook-handed man to get a date even, let alone maintain a serious relationship?  Sure, he’s good for a back scratch, but what about a foot massage?  Have you ever received a one-handed foot massage?  Not the most pleasant.  And what if you’re double hooked?  Or what if you’re just a stumper, with no cutlery at all?  Or what if you have extras, like that girl with six fingers and no thumbs?  How does this impinge on your datablility?

Sure, we’re in a highly technological society.  Protheses are no longer limited to metal implements and peg-legs.  But birth defects and injuries still happen, and the solutions to such problems are still reactions, rather than complete preventative measures.  Somebody still has to cope with not being able to physically do what other people can do.  And yet, genetically and otherwise physically a person could be totally ‘normal’.  What does this mean?

I guess that although I haven’t come out on top on the dating scene yet, I also still have all my limbs.  So that’s a positive.

The Great Escape

DISCLAIMER: There will be nothing about WWII in this post, though a certain kind of airman might be mentioned.  Sorry, wrong great escape.

There are certain stories that we relegate to the kiddie library without really thinking what we’re doing.  There are the typical toned-down Grimm’s tales that were made by adults for adults to contextualize their worlds.  There are the Roald Dahl stories with only slight undertones of his creepier adult fiction.  There are the much-edited mini-versions of classic tales: Frankenstein, Oliver Twist, Macbeth.  One of the key ingredients to the acceptability of such stories for children is their unreality, whether or not they are based on actual events or could be.

One of the authors that directly disturbs this illusion of fantasy is Jules Verne.  Ok, so we haven’t made it to the center of the Earth and discovered a whole new world full of weirdo people and strange dangers.  But a submarine?  We live on ’em.  Around the world in 80 days?  Way less, probably about 3.  I’m guessing here though, and using commercial flights.  Evidently his Paris in the Twentieth Century was fantastically accurate, but I haven’t read it.  In fact, other than the three I’ve mentioned, I haven’t read any of his 55 ‘known’ full-length works.  I couldn’t tell you what they’re about.  But probably they give a  depressingly accurate of the way our own advancement has trapped us in closer contact with each other and the broad world. We can’t downplay these as fantastical, and it’s hard to ignore the gloom and doom  attitude even the most positive versions show.

Of course the most clear example is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Nemo is the bad guy of the tale in many ways, mostly because he’s living his dream, away from the tainted world of man.  We identify with this.  We want this, in a world that seems to press in against our personal freedoms and allows us few choices.  Why else do so many intelligent young people switch professions or linger in higher education, seeking fulfilment?  Why else are there so many wanderers across the now highly connected globe, seeking something else in a different place just over the horizon?  Why the lust for adventure, for danger, for some montain-climbing, river-riding rush?  We are looking for our measure, which is hard to find in a world with no barren places, no hidden corners to really explore.

As Verne struggled with this, as he struggled with the idea of the scientific mind as a means and a tool for such escape, I wonder if he actually came to any conclusions.  Nemo dies, his dream failing.  Fogg and Lindenbrock both achieve their goals, get some acclaim, and supposedly live happily ever after, but who really buys into that?  As a scholar noted at a recent speech, “Verne is not intent on saving the world, but on creating a secondary world where he’s in command.”  Isn’t that hat all writers do?  It is enough?

The Elephant box.

Being home for Christmas has been somewhat unnerving.  True, there have been all the comforts of coming home to rest – not having to cook for yourself, an endless supply of toilet paper, and an easy recognition of your personal preferences and habits.  But there are also all the flaws as well.  Family are always the people who know how to really twist the knife deepest, no matter how far you grow beyond your childhood, or how far away you may currently live.  But there are other more subtle flaws that can come upon you unawares that are very unsettling.  Certain objects of everyday use that have resided in a particular drawer or cupboard for 20 years will no longer be stored in the same place.  Routines of getting the mail, bathroom use, and bedtimes are disrupted.  No longer is it just your roommates hogging the shower, but it’s a whole host of obligations and behaviors you had set aside.  Finally, there comes that time when some central place to your former life no longer smells right because you haven’t been using it.  There’s no identifiable ‘bad’ smell, the place just no longer smells like home.  It can be unsettling to confront the idea that the place you came from no longer exists.  It unbalances your ability to look forward.

I came to law school in the fall eager to DO Something, though I wasn’t sure what.  I did realize what I was getting myself into.  The work was actually not as strenuous as I’d thought, but I haven’t been exploring all the options I thought I would be.  This three year period is supposed to be discovery time for me, and so far, I’ve discovered very little.  Not that I haven’t been living, mind you.  I have accomplished certain social goals to keep myself from studying too hard, and I’ve managed to make Portland a little bit more of a familiar place for myself.  Still, I’m worried about the recurring theme I hear when I bring up my dissatisfaction to others.  There’s this idea that I’m doing all the right things, and working hard but not too hard, and that law school is something I need to get through, a challenge to be met that I am so far rising to.

It’s the wrong idea.  Law school isn’t something I just need to get through.  I want to live my life, not just ‘get through’ it.  So I need to be very aware of how it’s shaping the person I am.  Am I becoming more of who I want to be through what I’m doing now, or am I fading in some way?  What are the things that I will choose to integrate into my life and what will they say about me?  Do they count for more in the pressured environment of law school, or are they merely the things I should have been giving time to all along?

There is an idea that the truly great among us are defined by how they stretch and expand despite the confines of the environment.  Like a tree that grows around and eventually encases a fence, or the tomato that grows over its little box, there is something compelling about the idea.  We all want to stretch a little, to break the bounds we feel upon us.  Often we don’t through fear or sloth or even the rationalized concern over shattered bits of environment we might propel in our stretching.  And fear and rationalization and sometimes even sloth are legitimate.  After all, the slow growth into and around your personal fences can be painful.  Personally I’d rather be in an elephant box than a tomato box, with space to grow and the opportunity for mild but continual change, but so far I have been unable to find one of my own.  We can hope law will be such a box, but somehow I think not.  Ah well.

Quotes

Now that I’m in the eye of the law school storm, it’s update the blog time.  Hooray!!!  So for your not-quite tasteful sampling pleasure, here’s the best of the professorial quotes from this fall.  Please keep in mind that some of these are merely slips of the tongue, and all of them have been taken out of context.  Enjoy!

Legal elements:

“tune of canna” (can of tuna)

“that’s not why plaintiff loses”  (no idea why this is funny, but I thought it was at the time)

“Congresspeople were doing things with mistresses…and masters.”

“bullshit detector for judges”

“debauchery meaning really crazy nutty stuff”

“I can see you don’t set out to sea very often.  Neither do I, right?”

“They kept making their own law.  Damn them.”

“I’d cross town to save 4 bucks on gin.”

“Nine even rather elderly gentlemen move faster than Congress.”

“This one splits the baby a little bit.”

Civil Procedure:

“Wigglesworth – It’s the best case in the book!”

“gen-u-ine”

“That’s not a privy…” (privity)

“Foursome…that’s a GOLF term.”

“It seems like skullduggery is afoot.”

“She’s ‘E’…for ‘Emily'”

“What do you do with International Shoe?”

“Oh shit, McShara.”

“They don’t want people falling off their motor-sickle and dying.”

“gad-about busybody SOB”

“FR3P…R2D2 doesn’t say anything about it.”

Contracts:

“…thrust upon him like some roving band of excavators.”

“If you reacted reasonably, you could’ve stopped the bleeding.”

“…old English feudal land law that still wanders around and messes up things today”

“Even the trial judge went off on some crazy stuff.”

“…crud you can buy in the bookstore.”

“The proceeds went into his arm or up his nose or some appropriate place.”

Torts:

“As we all know, motor vehicles result in death…or can.”

“Ran out of time, but…splurt.”

“person number ’13′” (yeah, not sure why this one was funny either)

“Would a court expect you to expose yourself to dead…death?”

“We’re talking about a drunk guy.  He’s not Spiderman.”

“struck the budgy…buggy”

“Sorry sister (wagging finger) – He’s not something you get to recover for.”

“At the point that the employee pulls into the parking lot, he’s on the frolic.”

“It’s a pro-cow kind of law – the cow, in effect, has the right of way.”

TEAL – back to awesome.

As I’ve been preparing for WriMo, legal memos, law school finals, and a variety of language and grammer intensive projects, I’ve been feeling a little lost.  It could be the new career seeping into my head and confusing the stuff already there, or the settling into a new locale, or trying to establish new writerly contacts way out West.  Or perhaps it’s been a different loss.  Perhaps it’s been something to do with the stagnation and year of TEAL deprivation that I’ve really been feeling the effects of.  No longer.  The website is back up, the year of no national parks has passed, and the BOOK is well on its way to reality.  Or so I hear through the grapevine.  No word on the website as yet….

I wish I were going to India…

It’s odd the way I spend too much time on the internet when I really should be working on my Civ. Pro. outline. Alas, I have a problem and I can’t help myself. SO instead I’ve been spending my time cyber stalking…myself. In particular I checked out my remodeling company (SLS Remodel & Additions) because their trucks have awesome logos and I keep seeing them around. Unfortunately their website is considerably more cheesy than I want myself to be. Ever. Despite my genetic heritage (thanks, Dad).

Otherwise, I’m evidently a British Graphic Designer. Who has been recently unable to support herself with graphic design work before she heads off to India and is working in a factory in the meantime. Why? Because she can weld and it’s money. Where’s my ability to weld? Where’s my India? Where’s my awesome mini graphic design projects? Somewhere, in another life, I was myself as a Brit and said things like ‘petal face’ and ‘bits and bobs’. But for the current incarnation, that’s nto quite the real me. Maybe next game.

MOOSE! The neverending saga.

When I was living in Boston I had high hopes of seeing a moose.  Maine was not really that far away.  I had friends I visited up there.  I passed by extensive moose habitat going to Montreal and Quebec City.  I was up early in the morning in mooseland for skiing and hiking and other outdoor activities.  It seemed inevitable that I would see a moose if I only kept my eyes open.  According to the local populations of various moose-inhabited regions, they were all over the place.  Alas, it was not to be.

Instead, I made the comment to several people that I really wanted to see a moose, would they help me look for a moose and where have all the moose gone, anyway?  So that started a spate of unhelpful comments.  “Look, a moose!” (pointing at an embroidered blanket of a woodland scene in a gift shop).  “Moose!  Over there!” (hand-waving at various hearth tongs and pokers with moosehead handles at a friend’s home).  “No really, it’s a real moose!”  (indication of mounted moosehead in the rafters at a Maine restaurant).  I know you all think it’s funny that I get excited every time and that I really am that gullible.  But seriously.  Enough is enough.

Evidently, even moving to the other coast is not enough.  So far, I have received in the mail 1) a ‘brake for moose’ window decal for the car I dont’ have, 2) a moose-covered potholder, and 3) moose-themed postcards.  But the one that really takes the cake is the departure gift from my old office in Boston, MA that was hand delivered to me here in Portland, OR late yesterday.  Let me just give you the visual image:

1010091109

Yes, it IS a stuffed animal moose handbag.  It really zips open so you can store your goods in the moose’s insides.  It really is one of the most awkward looking things I’ve seen in awhile, including myself when I wake up on a Gene Wilder hair day.  And it’s all mine.

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