Friday, September 30, 2005

Something is making me uneasy this week. Something that I probably should have considered earlier.

So, Law. What is Law about?

(Pause for reflection)

Clearly, there are many possible answers to this question.

But one answer is: Law is about things that could go wrong. Further, the practice of law is to some extent about anticipating things that could go wrong, predicting their consequences, and attempting to head them off via various maneuvers.

In other words, Law is about worrying.

Those of you who know me know that a tremendous amount of my psychic energy over the last few years has gone into resisting, unraveling, and generally just trying to get the fuck over my anxiety, part of which is probably a hard-wired thing about how I respond to stimulus in the world, a lot of which comes from my mom and the ways she chose to use me as a vessel into which to pour her own historical and personal trauma (by way of teaching me how to "survive" in a hostile world). Despite the fact that I've been dealt a pretty damn good hand in this life (smarts, general good health, economic stability, humor, and some degree of charm), I have spent far too many years of my life seeing the world as a dangerous place where it's best to trust no one and you have to fight to survive.

Ringing any bells?

I'm good at this, but it is also going to be hard to play.

Shingles at last, shingles at last, thank God almighty....

(Apologies to Martin Luther King.)

The pre-stained #1 rejoined and rebutted western red cedar sidewall shingles are finally here!

This presents me with a number of issues:

#1 Getting them into the basement, because each box says "keep dry until installed." Luckily, the nice guy from the freight company, seeing that working alone I would have to schlep each box over to the basement door, hop down into the basement, pick up the box, put it down, climb back out of the basement, and repeat the whole thing, helped me tremendously by schlepping the boxes over while I stayed in the basement and stacked. This plan was almost nixed by Miz Biz (now known, in true 1L style, as "my little tortious liability") and her desire to attack. I whisked her into the basement where she could do no harm to the plaintiff.

#2 The shingles are stained with an oil-based stain, which is still curing, thus they stink. They're piled right below my bedroom. I can smell the fumes inside. This is the kind of thing that gives me a migraine.

#3 The shingles cannot be installed until we get a few dry days.

#4 Because there's only one coat of stain on the shingles, they're a bit blotchy. (See picture 2.) Ideally, I would throw an additional coat of stain on them immediately after installation, but that means I need at least two sequential weekends of dry weather.

So, my prediction is: barring a very nice October, no shingling until next spring.

But October's often nice, right? Right??

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Accident prone

Does everyone else go through phases where they're abnormally accident prone? This week has been a doozy for me.

First, Sunday night I nearly lobotomized myself on the corner of a kitchen cabinet door. I still have a sore spot right above my forehead, in my part.

Then, Tuesday night, while walking back to my car after having had 1.5 beers at the Elysian, I caught one of my goddam Dansko clogs on a piece of uneven sidewalk and fell right down. I think injury was prevented only because the large amount of carbon dioxide expelled by my swearing created a kind of air cushion, slowing my descent. (Plausible, right?)

Then, Wednesday morning while putting my book bag into my carpool buddy's car, I bonked my forehead on the protruding end of his snowboard rack. It still hurts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

OK, this is also weird and annoying.

I got this email today from our LexisNexis rep:
To celebrate the start of a new school year, Lexis is going to have a September point blowout. Every student who emails me at [email address] their search history by Friday, showing me 30 cases pulled up this month will receive

200 points!

If you are unsure how to access your history page, let me know, otherwise, good luck!

Some background: I get free LexisNexis and Westlaw through the skool. (Free = paid for by my tuition, I suppose.) LexisNexis has some kind of reward points program for law students where the more you use LexisNexis, the more points you get. Points are redeemable for things like Starbucks cards, iPods, and liquor. (OK, not liquor: study guides. Damn.) I guess the point is to encourage you to use LexisNexis rather that Westlaw, and to get you used to using LexisNexis a lot, so that when you get a job and you're no longer at the unlimited LexisNexis buffet that is law school, you'll PAY a lot.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this points offer is geared toward folks at schools NOT on the quarter system, who have been in class more than three days at this point.

And the question is: as a crabby law student, should I email my LexisNexis rep to whine that it's just not fair?

Not likely.


Ugh. Darkness.

There's a winter storm blowing in tonight. In a few weeks we'll go back on Standard time, stealing an hour of the dwindling light from the evening and slapping it on the morning, the better to drag our asses to work. Like that'll do us a damn bit of good.

Every summer I somehow forget how awful this is. I've already started using the light box. I've already started burning candles. Ugh.

The Uniform Commercial Code is evil, and I predict that sooner or later it will make me cry.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

In which several loose ends are wrapped up.

Yoga Floozies.
The week after I wrote about the yoga floozies, they were miraculously replaced by three individuals EVEN MORE old and decrepit than the usual class members. It was like the loaves and the fishes or the water and the wine or something. There was a skinny old guy with a knee brace, an even older guy with a quite remarkable gut*, and a woman with some kind of back injury. Weird.

*In yoga, the gut is a disability. Even such a girl gut as I have is troublesome, as it gets in the way and prevents you from bending and twisting as you might otherwise wish.

The Endocrinologist: Rocks.
Early readers of my blog (yeah, cause there's like three of you) may recall my traumatic visit to the GP regarding my thyroid medication, during which she referred me to the endocrinologist, but not until September 23.

So last Friday I went to the endocrinologist, who, in a word, rocks. I had started going to this particular clinic in hopes of eventually getting referred to this same endocrinologist, who is widely praised on the Internets as a thyroid doctor who actually wants you to feel better and is willing to pay attention to your symptoms and adjust your medication until you feel better. (As opposed to a thyroid doctor who wants you to go the fuck away once your thyroid levels get into the barely normal range, because you're all depressed and whiny and it's a huge pain in his ass. That was my previous endocrinologist. The one who I fired last February. I actually gave him "the hand." (You know, the hand? Like "talk to the hand"??) (Yes, I did come of age in the early 90s. What's your point?))

So anyway, although my T3 thyroid medication is available again now, he actually wants to increase my T4 dosage another notch to see if that does better for me. He was also really optimistic, communicated that he GOT IT that I need to have my medication working ("Yeah, law school's not going to work if you're in a state where you read a page and none of it sticks."), and also seemed to realize that when you've been "treated" by doctors who dismiss the seriousness of your symptoms, that kind of reassurance is in itself a big help.

He also seemed to share my perspective on the whole thyroid situation, which is: it's not rocket science, it's not like I'm asking for Oxycontin, it's not like the drugs are superdangerous, and it's not expensive or complicated to monitor, so exactly WHAT is the big fucking obstacle to optimizing the dosage??

Yay. Whew. He also gave me an extra prescription so I can create a small stockpile of the T3 medication in case the supply goes haywire again. Or in the event of World Economic Collapse (WEC).

Giant Spiders.
...are still running around my house. I saw the supergiant one a few days ago. However, I did kill one Sunday night. It was small enough to maybe be a Hobo. I flung my datebook at it and got lucky.

We are going to pick up the pace, yes?

So here's my new policy for the softball participation questions in lecture: I shoot my hand up, I answer the question, and we move the fuck on. Can we do that please? Thank you.

Torts: Love it. Love the subject matter, love the prof's digressions on the development of tort law as a means of consolidating the state's monopoly on violence, love it.

Civil Procedure: Does anybody really get excited about Civ Pro? Luckily, this is taught by a really funny, personable appellate trial lawyer. Why is this good? Two reasons: a) Since he's made a good chunk of his living from appealing procedural issues, he's really in touch with why you would care about this crap. b) He do the police in different voices (apologies to TS Eliot).

Contracts: Oh dear. Well, the subject matter is kind of dull, and the prof is really...maternalistic. Condescending, but in a "for your own good, poor baby, I'll water this down" kind of way. Lots of really dumb hypotheticals. This will be difficult for me.

Here's my new policy on getting to campus two to three hours before my first class due to my carpool schedule: I do have to work during this time, but I can go to a Greek diner or something rather than burrowing into the underground library.

Here's my new policy on the stressed-out girl who can't seem to go 12 seconds without mentioning her many, many attorney relatives: I avoid her. Narrow choice between this and bragging to her that my nephew is a process server. ("He's like Erin Brockovich with a mullet!")

And my tiny but expensive new RED computer? Love it. Have totally bonded. Not bothered by the tiny screen and font (it's very clear). Love the tiny keyboard, because I don't have to move my hands at all when I type--just wiggle my fingers. AND I got a 180-day academic trial of the highly addictive Microsoft OneNote.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The unbearable dullness of the first day of the first year of law school.

Today was the first day of classes, and I have this to report: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

I believe the first term curriculum is the same everywhere: Contracts, Civil Procedure, Torts, and Basic Legal Skills (writing and research). As far as I'm concerned, Torts is the only one of these with any inherent interest (because it's about poor humans trying to put some kind of logic on all of the awful things that can happen in life, and that's both touching and absurd), but they try to make Basic Legal Skills more interesting by tarting it up with controversial cases and deep debates. So far, the "ripped from the headlines" quality is just annoying me.

However, I think my biggest problem right now is that it just feels kind of weird and gross (for genuine lack of better words) to be part of a large institution again. I'm still trying to sort out where that's coming from. It also makes me cringe to be "taught." That's a little easier to figure out--teaching is a power dynamic, teaching can be fundamentally dishonest, many teachers at all levels infantilize their students, etc. All these things I know. From teaching.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The mystery of the 4th bone.

In the time that Miz Biz has been living with me, I have purchased her three pressed rawhide bones from the PCC:
  1. A bone chewed to a nub by Miz Biz, which I then spirited away to the trash because I was afraid she might choke on it when I left the house.
  2. A bone devoured in its entirety by Miz Biz.
  3. A new bone that is still fully intact because, for whatever reason, Miz Biz doesn't seem to like it as well as the others.
At no time have I purchased Miz Biz a fourth bone.

Late last week, I noticed that Miz Biz was rooting around in the pile of pillows and afghans at the end of the couch. Shortly, she emerged with a full rawhide bone, already chewed into two large pieces.

Lo, the fourth bone!

Where did the fourth bone come from? Was the fourth bone one of Miz Bailey's old bones? Had she hidden it in a pillowcase?

Well, yes and no.

On Halloween 2003, I bought a rawhide bone to sit on my dresser on top of the box containing Miz Bailey's ashes, as a kind of offering to the dead. That bone is no longer on the box. From this I infer that on Tuesday or Wednesday evening when she was shut in the bedroom, Miz Biz used one of the open dresser drawers as a bridge from the bed to the dresser and absconded with Miz Bailey's posthumous bone. She then chewed the bone during the day on Wednesday and/or Thursday, hiding it among the pillows when I arrived home.

I must now reconcile myself to the fact that I'm living with a creature who not only seizes every possible opportunity to roll in seagull poop, but would also stoop so low as to steal from the dead and then lie about it.

Good thing she's cute.

Burly Ms. S

Here's Ms. S, being all burly on the ladder on Friday. This was an experiment to see if we could paint the gutters with a brush. The experiment was successful in that we figured out an answer, but the answer was "No." I will be renting a sprayer to finish this job.

Friday, September 23, 2005

No snappy headline, but I have been oriented.

I have endured and mostly recovered from my three-day law school orientation. I'm currently listening to Patti Smith's "Space Monkey," reimagining it as "stress monkey," and thinking not-so-fondly of certain of my future classmates.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. All the faculty and administrators were quite calming. "Look to your left. Now look to your right. All of you are going to graduate." We heard that at least four times on the first day. Most of the stressed-out 22-year-olds were calmer on days 2 and 3. Honestly, our 2L and 3L "peer mentors" were far worse. I had an "Inside Voice" moment on Tuesday when one of them was talking about how during her 1L year, she used to go to bed worrying that someone else was still up studying. My comment: "Um, did you get some help for that?" (Yes, I said it out loud.)

My other Tourette's-like episode happened during the interminable Myers-Briggs presentation late on the afternoon of day 3. The question: "If you're a J, what kinds of situations are really upsetting for you?" My answer: "When you're working with someone, and they're hemming and hawing and they just can't seem to get their shit together, and you just want to strangle them." I did get laughs.

There's a special student group for decrepit old law students. I'm not sure what this group does. Perhaps go out for beers with no pressure to stay past 9pm because, you know, we'll all be getting drowsy.

So, that was orientation. Now evidently I'm going to go buy 85 billion color-coded office products and disappear for a year. This highlighting-in-four-colors thing that everyone recommends seems ugly and painful. And like you'd really be spending half your reading time capping and uncapping pens. Maybe that's the point.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yoga floozies.

My Monday night yoga class has been invaded by what I can only floozies. Four young women who decided to take the class together, air-kiss each other when they arrive, wear different cute yoga fashions each week, gossip before class, titter during the asanas, and flirt with the instructor.

([Pause.] Do I sound like John Roberts? I really hope I don't sound like John Roberts.)

It's annoying to me, because I very much enjoyed the mix of folks we had before, which was basically, OK, not a mix at all, but a bunch of crabby middle-aged folks who wear the same scruffy clothes every week.

I suppose I can just consider this fodder for detachment...

So much for citronella.

So, little Mittsy (yes, we've reverted to her name of origin...but I'm trying to shorten it to "Mitts," which sounds much tougher) barks quite a bit, maybe a little more than the average dog. When I told the dog adoption agency lady I was going to work on this, she recommended trying a citronella collar, which sprays the dog with a little blast of citronella each time she barks. I decided that if some basic training attempts didn't work, I'd try that.

Well, as it turns out, it's good I didn't. I called Mitts's previous owners today to let them know how she was doing. I said I thought she was doing better on the barking with a combo of positive ("good dog, you're not barking") and negative ("no, no barking") reinforcement. The previous owner said, "I'm glad to hear that. We had a really hard time with her. We even tried one of those citronella collars, but she liked the citronella, so she'd bark more just to get it to squirt her."


Parental Dialogue

Mom, at the Hometown Buffet, mashing a napkin over half a piece of leftover cake:
"We should hide this so they won't know we're wasting food."

At home:
Me: "Does Dad gargle?"
Mom: "I don't know. Why?"
Me: "Well, he's making a horrible gargling noise in there."
Mom: "Maybe you'd better go check on him."

Dad does gargle.

This visit was not concretely bad. Mom was objectively well-behaved. But I still came home, sat down, and two hours later needed to crawl into bed and cry.

I find this whole thing especially frustrating because it's hard to explain to other people. My mother's craziness rarely lends itself to straightforward anecdotes--everything is a just a couple of jots off, which is, of course, the problem. It's both insidious (probably especially so for me) and exhausting to be around.

Monday, September 05, 2005

House of Bondo

OK, it's not actually Bondo. It's "FILL-IT Epoxy Filler" from Smith, purchased from the Rot Doctor. I'm a bit sheepish about patronizing "The Rot Doctor," but so be it. I am extremely pleased, but not surprised, by my freakish accuracy in estimation: I had exactly the right amount of epoxy for what I needed to do, which was fill the two large dry-rotted areas entirely (first picture) and patch all the miscellaneous knots and cracks (second picture). All of the exposed wood has been treated with the liquid epoxy, which is why it's so dark.

Notice that I've also put the highly attractive flashing on top of that trim board, and added thicker trim around one window.

Yesterday's project: the flashing
This morning's project: the trim, sanding the epoxy patches.
Noon project: Hose the sanding dust off the house.
Project to start this evening: trim the flashing, special primer on the flashing, caulk the flashing, maybe start primer on the bare wood areas of the wall.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Terrier Fetch

Here's how to play fetch with a terrier:
  • Get two beloved items, like maybe a rawhide bone and a Kong.
  • Give one to the dog, throw the other one.
  • Dog will chase the thrown item and drop the first one.
  • Pick up the dropped item.
  • When the dog returns with the thrown item, throw the dropped item. Dog will drop the thrown item.
  • Continue until one of you becomes tired.
I tried fetch the old fashioned way, but that required getting the rawhide bone (and/or Kong) away from the dog, an occasion for much guttural snarling, wrinkling of nose, laying back of ears, and baring of teeth. And then, because I'm the human and therefore can't be seen to lose, there's the ginger prying of the slimy toy out of the clenched and snarling jaws of the little dog.

The thing is, she actually enjoys fetch, once you get her going. She just doesn't understand that in order to fetch an item, one must first let it go.

Epoxymania! (or: Wow, I am really high on fumes. Like, really high.)

So, this afternoon I treated all the weathered and rotty areas of my siding with Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (, and I'm feeling a bit giddy about the whole thing, probably because I'm high from the solvent fumes (but the back windows are closed--perhaps the fumes are penetrating the very walls of my house?), maybe because I've finally reached the stage of this painting project that involves ADDING coatings to the house rather than scraping/sanding/prying/washing them off. (A stage reached only with the help of Ms. S, who spent about three hours with the sander on Friday, enabling me to get up on the ladder with a bucket of TSP and a mop and wash down the house yesterday.)

Is TSP still legal?

Wow. I just took the trash out, and you can smell the fumes from my house about halfway down the alley.

I suppose we'll see in about 18-24 months whether this stuff actually helps firm up the weathered wood and make it a better substrate for paint. For now, I do have some advice for anyone considering using a liquid epoxy anytime soon: REMEMBER TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CLEAN-UP SOLVENT ON HAND. I had a close call. See, I'm kind of cavalier about wearing gloves (they make it hard to feel what you're doing with the brush), and after doing the interior of my house with alkyd paint in some rooms and that badass Zinsser white shellac stuff everywhere, I've also become kind of cavalier about cleaning my hands. Most paints aren't that unpleasant. They'll wear off eventually, and if you get really sick of them, Goop or olive oil or any greasy anything will mostly take 'em off.

This will not work for epoxy. As everyone with a penis probably knows from their model airplane days, epoxy does not "dry," it "cures." Random greases and oils really don't interrupt this process. I did coat my hands with Goop to prevent my hands from sticking to the brush, but that wasn't really helping once the residue on my hands started to cure. So I ended up gingerly typing "wood epoxy clean up" into Google and learning that lacquer thinner is the right solvent. Did I have lacquer thinner? Barely. There was half a can in the basement on the "shelf of crap the previous owner left behind." Then the plastic child safety thing was messed up, and I had to pry it off before I could unscrew the lid, my hands becoming stiffer and gummier by the second. Eventually, I got the the can open, got some thinner onto a rag, and wiped down my hands before they fused into useless flippers.

Ah, fingers. Sweet, independently wiggly fingers. Wiggle wiggle. Wiggle wiggle.

Assuming the current rain doesn't delay the epoxy cure too much, tomorrow we patch, and build out the window trim.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dog update.

Little Walter Mitty is adapting well to life in retirement. Just now I went into the bedroom to get my laptop off the floor, and she followed, getting her rawhide bone off the bed. So now we're sitting on the couch, each pursuing our own obsessive activities. (I let her take the rawhide bone onto the bed because she seems to understand that "lights out" = "stop chewing." Old Miz Bailey couldn't get that. The desire to chew was just too strong.)

Walter Mitty does know "sit," "stay," "c'mon," and "dance" (which causes her to pirouette on her hind legs). No "lay down," though. We're working on "lay down." However, she has not yet learned another important skill for the 21st-century dog: how not to walk on the laptop. And she still barks a little too much, although each time she does it now she looks at me like "I know. I'm not supposed to do that. Sorry."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.