30 November 2014

[30] boulder

I signed up for a rock-climbing event yesterday. Okay, I signed up for three things yesterday: the coffee shop writing, a board/card games event, and the rock climbing event. And I am one of those people who does not say that I'm going unless I am really, actually going. I may rsvp at the last minute, but that is only because I refuse to rsvp yes and then not show up. 

I have wanted to go rock-climbing for a while. I signed up to go once before, but that event got canceled. Considering that I am one of those people who wants to climb whatever I see in front of me, I figured it was probably my sort of thing.

The rock-climbing was actually bouldering, which means that the walls don't go up high enough that you need to wear a harness and have someone keep you from falling. You just slap some chalk on your hands and start up the wall. If you fall, you fall. (The ground is padded underneath the walls. I suspect falling could still hurt - it is padded to about the thickness of the extra pad we used to do takedowns in my fighting class in Universe City, and we all know that I fall badly - but hopefully death would not be imminent.)

I really like climbing things. If I had money and non-gimpy arms, I might take this up on a serious level. Of course, you are not supposed to depend on your arms, as I found out after they started feeling shaky. You are supposed to do most of the work with your legs. Unfortunately, being tall, I have a tendency to just grab as high up as I can and hoist myself up the wall. I had to give that up when I started to think my gimpy arms were going to lose the ability to hang on.

True confessions: I can only handle approximately the lowest level (a beginner or a zero). I have no idea how people do this rock-climbing thing once there is no grip to the hand holds. But it's pretty amazingly fun. I expect I will do more of it.

As soon as my gimpy arms stop hurting.

29 November 2014

[29] decaf

I showed up at a coffee shop for a writing meetup, but no one is obviously here for the writing meetup except maybe an old guy pouring over a sheaf of papers or a girl with headphones in her ears and stickers all over her macbook. Useless.

Without that incentive to write, I am spending less time writing and more time reading a book that is excellent and also due back at the library today. I tried to renew it, but someone has a hold on it. And they are brutal about the fines at the library in Gone West. 25 cents a day, and no grace period. Which is fine if I had this one book and would finish it tomorrow, but I have four books due today, I think, so I have to go to the library anyway.

The guy at the counter made me a pretty little decaf cappuccino. Actually, first he made me a less pretty regular cappuccino, and then instead of handing it across the counter, he just stared at it. 

"Is that decaf?" I asked.

"No," he said. "I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn't figure out what."

So he made it again, and not only was it decaf, but it was prettier the second time, too.

28 November 2014

[28] mingle

I fully intended to go in to the office and work there, even though no one else would be there. 

Only, well. It's raining out there, and I would have drag my computer back and forth (even though it is lighter now, it does not tolerate rain well), and somehow I have actually gotten work done at home, so the office isn't necessary.

Pretty soon, though, I am going to leave the house and brave the rain to go downtown and mingle amongst the crowds. 



I did, in fact, leave the house and brave the rain to go downtown and mingle amongst the crowds. The rain took some braving, though, and I made the mistake of wearing jeans. (Wet. Also cold.)

I wandered through a couple of stores, just to see what was on offer, and I sat for a long time in the bucks of Star, drinking a chai. It was raining pretty hard while I was in there, which is why I lingered for so long. 

People streamed by on the sidewalk. 

A little girl pulled back on her dad's hand, trying to slow him down. 

A woman in stiletto booties with cutouts stalked by (the teenage girls sitting next to me remarked on how cold and wet her feet must be). 

A group of police officers collected in front of the window as they do for major downtown events, then they separated and went about their various activities. At one point, I noticed that every time the train stopped, two police officers and a police dog got on the train, moved all the way along it, and then got off before the train started up again. Bomb-sniffing dog, I guessed, and that was confirmed when I saw that the truck with Police Dog written on the back was from the airport police.

I wandered through a couple more stores - I tried on an amazing skirt but reminded myself that stores are lovely museums for me now, where beautiful textiles are available to be touched and tried on, but they cannot come home with you - and when I came out, the big tree in the main square had been illuminated. I took a couple of pictures, in the middle of which my phone froze, and the older man standing next to me took selfies of himself with his hand pinched as if he was holding the star at the top of the tree. Then he taught a 20 year old how to do it.

27 November 2014

[27] dinner

I grew up with 1 p.m. Thanksgiving dinners, and the idea of having Thanksgiving dinner in the evening is a little strange to me. But 5 p.m. Thanksgiving dinners are How It's Done Out Here, at least among the people who have hosted my last three Thanksgivings. (None of whom are from here, come to think of it.) 

Maybe this has something to do with football schedules? I do not really pay attention to football, so I do not know.

I am a little thrown off by the 5 p.m. Thanksgiving dinner. There is no time for a walk afterward. And what if you have to work the next day? Also, what are you supposed to do all day?

There is an increasing trend of Turkey Trots, so there is that.

I did not sign up for a Turkey Trot, but I did get out and attempt one of the run/walk sessions that I did all summer.

I got out of the habit when I moved to the K.s' house for a month, and it's cold now - my lungs hate cold air - so it was tough going. I managed, though. Then 3/4 of the way through my run/walk, it started raining on me. I should expect that in Gone West in November, but for some reason I was surprised. I got out of my house before noon to run! Why would you do this to me, sky?

Now the house is filling with the smell of corn pudding. I am wearing sweatpants and reading a good book, and my ride picks me up in an hour. 

I guess I could get used to late Thanksgiving dinners.

26 November 2014

[26] cheese

I managed, by some feat of sheer happenstance, to miss the Thanksgiving traffic and grocery mob entirely today. I was far to the northeast of town at 4:45 pm, but I took back roads home that seemed exactly as busy as they would have been on a normal weekday. 

I walked straight up to the register - no line - at Trader Joe's, where I bought sparkling blood orange juice and club soda for tomorrow's beverage.

I walked straight up to the register - no line - at the regular grocery store, where I bought cheese. For eating. For nothing to do with Thanksgiving and everything to do with the fact that I pretty much live on cheese, and I like it. 

Every now and again someone talks about being vegan, and it's a lovely theory, really it is. I am sure it is probably better for the earth (although I hear that almonds are thirsty little nuts). But cheese and milk are my combined Waterloo.  I probably get 3/4 of my daily protein from dairy. Cashew cheese is not going to cut it.

We are Dutch, you know. Cheese is what got the Dutch through those long, cold, dreary winters. Cheese and milk and vla, all the good things in life. 

Come to think of it, I would probably be healthier if I existed solely on cheese and milk and ice cream. Maybe I'll give it a try.

25 November 2014

[25] and also to live as a person of color

I can hear the helicopters hovering over the city, watching over the protests downtown. 

I should write some impassioned post about racism and justice, but it's too much. On top of everything else, it's too much. 

Then I try to imagine what it would be like to have everything else, all the pain and heartache and stress in this life, and also live in this country as a person of color.

I worry about my clients. 

So many people in this country worry about their children. Their children, who are the kid I saw today staring up in wonder at a living statue who was juggling balls. Their children, who are the teenagers jostling each other good-naturedly on the train. Their children, who are the student coming home and demanding that his mom buy bottled water because he doesn't trust the tap water after what he learned in one of his college classes.

None of that matters if they slip up for one split second. There is no room for error if you are a young black man in this country. There is no room for one second of making a stupid teenage mistake. There is no room for being in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

It's no wonder people of color are less healthy than white people in this country: to live with the weight of that additional fear and stress, on top of everything else life can throw at you? It can only wear away at your soul and body, when it doesn't kill you outright. 

Jon Stewart said it, months ago, to the Fox-type pundits: 

“Do you not understand that life in this country is inherently different for white people and black people? I guarantee you that every person of color in this country has faced an indignity, from the ridiculous, to the grotesque, to the sometimes fatal, at some point in their … I’m gonna say last couple of hours, because of their skin color.” 

“Race is there and it is a constant. You’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.”

24 November 2014

[24] transport

When I got on the bus this morning, a man offered me his seat. I thanked him but said no, partly because I was standing in the well in front of the rear door, which allows one to lean back and practically sit on the bar along the wall behind the lower section of the bus. It's downright comfy.

I put in my earphones. Then suddenly I looked over at the guy who had offered me a seat. 

Keeping in mind that I am the worst judge of age ever, he was probably about my parents' age. Now, I appreciate a chivalrous gesture. It's very considerate, and I like considerate. But when the person offering me a seat is almost at an age that I would offer him a seat? 

Battle of the manners on the bus.


I've taken to walking home. 

I could get on the bus, and I did when I was carrying my old computer, and I do when I have to take files home. It is just too much weight on my shoulder. But now I have a new, light computer, and I am not currently taking files back and forth. 

And so I walk. 

I walk in sprinkles of rain, like today. I walk in bitter cold. I walk in biting wind across the water. I have my phone in my pocket so that I can whip it out and take photos when things are pretty, but by the time I walk across the bridge at the end of the day, it's usually almost dark.

If I had a good camera, I could take a picture of the cars on the highway, all melding together into long lines of light.

But I don't. So I take pictures when I can, and when I can't, I put in my headphones and walk into the rain and wind, headed home.

23 November 2014

[23] putter

I slept too deeply last night, the kind of dead-to-the-world that happens when you are overly exhausted or getting sick or maybe both. When I first woke up, it was sunny outside, and I reached over from under the covers to open one set of blinds and let the light stream in.

But then by the time I got up, it was raining. Not just Pacific Northwest sprinkling, but really raining. It got very dark outside. There may have even been thunder, which is really unusual here, but I can't be certain because I was in the shower and there was noise of water.

I have pretty much settled my mind that I will do nothing today. My throat feels scratchy. It's almost Thanksgiving. It rained most of the day. That seems like excuse enough to do nothing but putter: clean my room, do the dishes, put the fabric shower curtain back up after my roommate washed it yesterday. 

So that is nice.


Last night, I came home from walking to the store, and my roommate's friend was in the kitchen making ice before they left for a party. She spilled some water on the floor as she put the ice cube tray back in the freezer. "Oops!" she said. She took a towel, threw it on the floor, and rubbed it around with her shoe. 

Then she folded it and set it back on the counter.

"Did you just use that towel on the floor and then put it back where we might use it?" I asked. "What if I dry a dish with that?"

"It'll be fine once it dries," she said.

That is... not my opinion of the situation at all. 

We finally persuaded her to drop it over there on the floor so that the next time one of us does laundry, we can throw it in. 

[22] choices

It always surprises me to go to events with law students and find that they have questions and I have answers. It feels like just yesterday that I was in law school. But suddenly when I describe my experience, it spans almost seven years. Seven years is positively respectable to be in a given field. 

Even stranger is when I think about the fact that it's been almost seven years since I've been to Africa.  That seems impossible. This is the longest I've gone without a trip to the continent since my dad and brother and I returned to Liberia in 2000. 

I guess I didn't realize, when I decided to try practicing law in the US, how trapped you become. Between the hours and the pay (neither of which I've ever managed to arrange in the proper manner, namely manageable hours combined with a reasonable salary), I have barely left the country since I started working as a real lawyer. And going to Africa, which is now an extra four hours of flying further than it was from the Midwest, is even more prohibitive. 

What they don't tell you is that a real lawyer job of the save-the-world type means that every time you take a day of vacation, there is someone panicking because they can't reach you and their life is on the line.

When I first started this work, I used to take real vacations: I didn't check my email. I didn't check my messages. 

By year 3, I had figured out that things are a million times worse when you come back if the email has gone unchecked. I haven't been completely free of it since. 

And many have been the weeks when I worked over 40 hours between Sunday and Wednesday so that I could take Thursday-Tuesday off, only to come back and work more than 40 hours from Wednesday to Saturday. 

Saving the world is a lot of work, and it turns out that it never ends. 

It also keeps you from seeing the world. There is a whole world out there, and I'm not seeing it. I was once on track to get my countries-visited numbers up near my age, but I've fallen behind. 

It's that very adult discovery: you can't have everything. I can't be an accomplished, experienced lawyer in this field while also being a world traveler. I have to choose. We always have to choose.

21 November 2014

[21] nighttime in the rainy city

Nighttime in the rainy city: the buses only come every half an hour, and the signboards for the express buses say things like 6:44 am or Monday 6:10 am for the next scheduled arrival. 

Instead of waiting, I walk through the drizzle. I skirt the big puddle that collects on a central corner when it rains hard. No matter how accustomed we are supposed to be to rain in Gone West, the drainage is never good enough. There is a car coming through the puddle, and I think it's going to splash me, but the light turns amber and it stops just before the spray gets to me.

Everything is yellow lights reflecting on wet pavement, except the white lights of the gas station and the neon outside the strip club. 

I am tempted to walk all the way home, but there is a long expanse of bridge in between that I don't want to walk alone this late. 

Instead, I wait for the bus in a bus stop with a homeless woman on one set of seats and a cardboard pizza box on the other. A few minutes in, a city worker in a vest comes by and asks if the pizza box is mine. When I say no, he picks it up and throws it away. 

The bus that comes says "Garage" on the light up board on the front, but when it stops, there are people on it, the little board by the door starts with the right number, and the driver calls out the number I need. 

20 November 2014

[20] lift

I was walking to the post office the other day when I saw a guy in a motorized wheelchair who could not get up enough momentum to make off the street and onto the sidewalk in a place where an old road and weird angle made the approach particularly steep. 

I had my hands full, but I stopped and tried to find a solid piece on the back of the chair where I could help push. 

I was useless.

There was a couple coming the other way, past middle-aged and a little bedraggled. It's a common corner for people who are house-less, and they probably were. 

The man motioned me out of the way and physically lifted the chair onto the sidewalk, motor and all. 

19 November 2014

[19] upgrade

Does anyone really understand how a hard drive works? I don't. I like to imagine it as a little cd in there, whirring away, writing information in little arcs that are not contiguous, and then when you defragment the disc, it re-writes all the information as one long spiral. 

But I have no idea, really.

This is relevant only because I bought a new computer that has flash memory, which apparently never needs defragmenting.

I know. The immediate reaction of all concerned is, "Aren't you broke? How did you afford a new computer?" and the answer is that, at some point, not having a functional computer was costing me more than using some of the money in my work account that I've been saving for taxes, and replenishing it when I get paid for the Major Work Event I just did.

It took me half an hour to boot up my old computer this morning. I stepped away for a second before it was fully functional (it was at the try to open a program, computer freezes, walk away to get a glass of water, come back, computer is still frozen stage), and it restarted itself, meaning another half hour of waiting.

I have to make a living, guys. This can't go on.

Besides corrupting all my files and refusing to allow quicktime to exist and crashing every time I opened an adobe document longer than five pages (i.e. all the time) and being so slow and freezy that I wanted to throw it sometimes, my old computer also had a non-functional shift key on the left side. I was forced to use only my right hand to capitalize things. Which is unfortunate, because that is my golf elbow/nerve problems hand. My ring and pinky fingers have been numb for weeks. 

It also didn't help that the enter key was dying. I had to hit it hard, repeatedly, with the same golf elbowed hand. 

So I bought a new computer. 

This, right here? This typing that I am doing right now? This is delightful. 

I am having to re-train my brain to use both shift keys, though. Right now I somehow have started using the left shift key for letters typed with my left hand and the right shift key for letters typed with my right hand. (I think I may have been using only the left shift key before it broke, to spare my tingling right hand fingers?)

18 November 2014

[18] utensils

Whenever my roommate happens to be home while I am preparing my sweet potato for microwaving, he shudders to see me holding the potato cupped in my hand while I stab at it with a knife so the steam can escape. 

My real problem, though, is not the knife. It takes so little pressure to puncture a sweet potato that even if the knife slips - and it has - I do not damage my hand.

No, the real danger is the cheese grater. 

I used to grate a hole in the knuckle on my right thumb every time I grated cheese onto a salad, which was every day the first time I lived in Gone West. I finally figured out how to hold the cheese so as not to grate the knuckle on my right thumb sometime after this post, so approximately 3-4 years after I bought that cheese grater. I have a permanent scar on the knuckle of my right thumb from years of grating off the skin.

I mostly manage not to grate a hole in the knuckle of my right hand these days, but I did it yesterday. It's been bothering me all day.

Tonight I used a different cheese grater because my usual one was dirty and, now that I live in a place where the prior roommate left without taking her stuff, there are four cheese graters at my disposal. Somehow, I managed to well and truly slice open the base of my thumb with a grater that is sharpened in both directions - i.e., I can push the cheese across it and then pull it back, grating in both directions.

It's fine-ish. I managed to salvage the flap of skin that I grated, and it's protecting my flesh right now. 

I need to watch out for the kitchen utensils, though.

PS. It is 10:35 pm, and someone in the apartment below me is practicing the electric guitar. Not cool, neighbor. Not cool.

17 November 2014

[17] suit

I am forbidden to shop, my sister tells me. (I can't afford it anyway.)

But there was a niche in my clothing that needed to be filled. Despite the fact that I have a job that requires the wearing of professional attire on a daily basis, there is a difference between professional and professional, if you know what I mean.

Maybe you don't know what I mean. 

What I mean is this: I wear dresses most days, and when the occasion calls for it, I put on a jacket over my dress and ta-dah! Professional.

This is significantly different from wearing an entire suit.

Back when I used to wear full suits, they were mostly trouser suits, I think (although maybe I only ever really owned one or two?). Now I am not a trouser fan. Now I am a skirt girl.

So there was a significant gap there: no full suits (except one whose trouser hems have fallen out, rendering it too long. I need to hem them or get them hemmed).

In between, I moved a number of times, and in the process I got rid of a lot of clothes. Some of the things I got rid of were the shells that I used to wear under suit jackets before I discovered dresses. They were mostly a little small, it seemed, because I gained some weight (see: stress, heartache). I am not one of those people who is going to keep too-small clothes on the chance that they someday fit again.

Only now I have lost some weight (see: stress, heartache), and I could have used those shells. 

But! They are gone. And I had rewards certificates for b@n@n@ repub1ic, so I got myself a black skirt that alllllmost matches my suit jacket, and a shell in a neutral color. In total, they cost me $5, thanks to sales and discounts and rewards. 

Now I can walk confidently into the situations that really do require a full suit. I am hoping and expecting that there will be a number of them, soon, and I am ready.

16 November 2014

[16] the cold

Last night, I had one of those nights where my feet just never got warm. I don't know how this is possible, because theoretically the blood flowing through my body and into my feet should be warm, and I was covered with one synthetic comforter, one down comforter, one down throw, one fleece throw, and one cotton blanket from Ethiopia. Also, I was wearing wool socks. 

I woke up in the middle of the night with freezing feet - so cold they were painful - and I had to pee. I laid there for a minute deciding whether it was worth getting up, getting colder, and trying to find my flax seed pillow that I heat to warm up my feet. I decided that it was.

That is how I ended up flailing around my apartment at 4:28 am. 

I finally found the flax seed pillow after a round of looking, giving up and going to the bathroom, and then, as I got back into bed, thinking of one more place it could be. I stood blearily freezing in front of the microwave for three minutes while it heated. 

My feet were cold again by morning. Sometimes I do not understand how the human body works.

My mom and dad were confused about how it can possibly be so cold in my apartment, and the answer is that Gone West is unprepared for temperatures below freezing, and so the apartment has individual electric heaters in each room. It has been down to 25 degrees at night, lately, and we have yet to turn the heat on in any room but the bedrooms and the heated bathroom floor. We just leave the rest at whatever temperature it gets from using the stove, heat drifting up from downstairs, and the sun, should it appear, warming it through the windows. 

I only turn the heat on in my bedroom when I am here, and when I go to bed, it goes off again. Thus, when the temperature drops into the 20s, it gets cold in here.

15 November 2014

[15] home

In September, when I was living with the K.s again, for approximately the third stint this year, a friend texted me and asked if I was still looking for a place to live. I was, but I didn't really answer right away, because I wanted to live alone, and I assumed he was asking for a friend, and the thought of meeting someone's friend and then not liking the person and having to say no and alienating a friend of mine was not very pleasant.

The next day, J. pestered me some more, and it turned out that he had broken up with his girlfriend and moved into a new place, and the roommate in his new place, who had lived there for six years, found out that she was pregnant right after J. moved in. She decided to move in with her boyfriend, leaving J. alone in the apartment. 

I went over to see the place, and I was instantly charmed. The apartment is the upper floor of a house near where I lived for the summer. The floor is wood and the walls are painted real colors. There are big windows (the ones in my bedroom face south). There are two huge closets off my room, each with its own little diamond-shaped window. The kitchen feels like you are standing at the front of a ship, with windows on three sides of the sink. The bathroom has built-in drawers and cupboards, and also a clawfoot tub. There is a glass door at the top of the stairs. Sold.

I moved in at the end of September. Thanks to the Major Work Event, I am still not fully unpacked. There are empty boxes in the hallway and the kitchen. 

Thanks to being broke, I have not purchased some things that would really help fill the place up. I could really use a rug for my bedroom, to keep the heat in. 

But it's coming along. 

It is lovely to wake up in the same cozy bed every day, and to know that it is my bed, and I will get to wake up in that same bed for the foreseeable future. I don't ever want to move again.

14 November 2014

[14] boots

I was walking by a homeless guy today, who was sitting against a light pole yelling loudly. I didn't catch all of it, because I had headphones on and there was a lot of other noise, but I did catch, as I walked by, "... and while you were doing that, I was in the jungle, being blown up."

Then, just as I passed him, he stopped yelling and said to me, in a normal voice, "Nice boots, by the way," and went back to his general yelling.

13 November 2014


So much for going about my business: the training I was supposed to attend today was canceled, thanks to what turned out to be a little bit of sleet, a bunch of rain, some of which froze on cars, and various slick roads that didn't become slick until much later in the day.

Instead, I worked at one of the tea shops again, and then I came home for lunch.

It's almost as cold inside this house as it is outside. I know I sound obsessed, and that's because I'm obsessed. It's so cold in here. 

In the Mitten, the routine is to turn the heat to 68 degrees or even, gasp, 72. I would be surprised if it's even 50 degrees in this house, in the living room, which is fine as long as I have a down jacket on all the time, but it's not fine for things like using the toilet. Two words: cold butt.

Every time I turn on the tap to wash my hands, my hands end up numb.

Also, is this jacket going to start smelling bad? For how many days can I wear it every waking minute before we have a problem here?

12 November 2014

[12]b - cold

I was talking to a man from West Africa today about how cold it is in the Mitten, and how they are expecting snow there (this was before I knew that we were expecting snow here). 

He asked how cold it was in the Mitten, and I looked on my phone. "32 degrees," I said.

"Freezing!" he said. "So it's just as cold here as it is there."

I can see why it feels that way, when you come from the tropics. 

It was 39 degrees here, and the sun was shining. I took off a layer because I got hot, walking.

It's almost like I'm used to this cold weather nonsense.

[12] impending doom

The wind is still howling. Everyone is gearing up for potential snow oh no impending doom close the schools and workplaces before we even know if snow shall fall.

I am making normal plans for tomorrow, snow or no, because what is the point of learning to drive in a place with frequent snow storms if you can't go about your business when it snows in more moderate climates? 

I still have yet to use - despite purchasing them and then driving across the country in February - chains on my tires. Somehow I managed to sail through five winter storms in three days in the mountains of five states without ever actually needing to put chains on my tires. The big trucks did use them. (Side note: it was not until that drive that I realized that those chains that dangle down on the side of semi trailers? Those are for the tires. Also, they sometimes shred as the trucks drive, which is why you see pieces of chain in the middle of the highway on occasion. I had no idea.)

So yes, I plan to go about my day, albeit wearing my down sweater inside all day long (the PNW does not believe in such things as heating houses to a reasonable temperature), and, in fact, driving more than usual. Because I can. Because I know how to drive in snow, even though I will be surrounded by drivers who do not. 

Come to think of it, maybe I should stay home.

11 November 2014

[11] wind

The wind is blowing so hard that it feels like it might blow the house down, like the big bad wolf. The weather reports that gusts can be up to 65 mph, which is about what I drove through on my way to and from the Mitten earlier this year. I got pretty good, out in Wyoming, at holding my steering wheel at just the right angle to steer into the 60 mph wind coming at my car from about a 22 degree angle.

I bundled up in my winter dress coat today, with gloves. I should have worn a hat, because my hair whipped around my face, blinding me. 

At one point, I walked to a bus stop and stopped to look at the screen for when the next bus was coming. It was 8 minutes away, so I decided to walk up to the next bus stop rather than stand still in the cold. 

I turned, and a guy ran into me (I guess he expected me to stand still). "Oh, sorry," he said.

I took a step forward, unable to see anything, hair completely covering my face thanks to the wind, and tripped over the suitcase he was pulling. Oops.

10 November 2014

[10] humanity

I don't generally write about the work I do because, well, there are lots of rules about such things when you are a lawyer, and I prefer to continue to be able to practice as a lawyer. 

If you know me at all, you presumably know that I have never chosen the easy kind of law. I don't do the kind of law that fights over money between companies that can handle the price either way. I do the kind of law where individual people's futures are at risk.

The thing about doing this kind of law is that, at the beginning, there isn't much at stake because you are new and no one trusts you with much. As time goes on, though, there is more and more risk to every decision you or your client makes, and many of those decisions were made before you ever met your client. 

And sometimes, there is nothing you can do, and you stand next to a person, a person who you have come to know pretty well, while a very large chunk of his or her life is taken away. 

It should never be easy, because that would mean that you have lost some of your humanity.

It isn't easy.

09 November 2014

[9] backup

I really am not in the best frame of mind for blogging right now.

All of my technology is teetering on the edge of the abyss. My iphone has no memory for updates or backups. My computer takes half an hour to start, and it crashes when I open too many documents.

Today, my flash drive bit it. 

I have had this flash drive since 2006, in Liberia, when my prior flash drive disappeared at work one day (read: it was stolen) and my work gave me a new one to replace it. So I probably should have expected the thing to die sooner or later, and the error messages when I opened documents from it lately should have told me that the death would be sooner.

I ignored that, obviously, since here I am, spending my evening trying to retrieve the documents that once lived on that flash drive.

The one good thing is that the part of the flash drive that seems to have survived intact is the part that contains random things I wrote, just to remember them. 

The other good thing is that I backed up my work documents to another flash drive just last week.

The very very bad thing is that I have written many cover letters that I saved to that flash drive, and my usual method of writing a new cover letter is to start by looking at the old ones, which now are no more. I am starting from scratch again. Well, scratch and the tedious search through emails and job search websites where I may find copies of my old ones.

Note to self: when a flash drive starts giving you error messages when you try to open Word documents? 


Sheesh. It's like I was born yesterday.

08 November 2014

[8] saturday

I slept in deliciously late today, and then I got up and had breakfast and read the internet, and then I took a nap.

It was sunny, and the sunshine fanned across my floor while I napped.

When I got up for good, I rearranged my room, trying to figure out where to place the bookshelves and dressers so that 1. the heater isn't blocked, and 2. the room doesn't look so empty (it is really big). 

Then I went for a long walk, with my phone, to take photos and pick up some books at the library. I took lots of pretty photos, between the sunlight and the autumn leaves.

I was on the phone with T. while I was checking out my books at the library, passing them over the screen that scans them. A likely-homeless guy walked up and said, "Hey, you got here fast. You were just down the street."

Sometimes it is a great relief to be able to motion apologetically at the phone.

That reminded me of last night, when I was in the parking lot of the grocery store and a homeless guy on the other side of my car cheerfully said, "Hi! How are you?" and then sort of backed off, but I kept an eye on him as I loaded my car, and finally I rolled down my window and said, "Is everything okay?" 

He said that he was trying to get money for a bus pass to get downtown, but that he thought he scared me earlier, so he left me alone.

I keep a couple of dollars in my console just for this type of occasion. (Not visible, obviously. I already drive the most stolen type of car. I don't need to add visible things to steal.) I also had one bus pass left.

"I have a bus pass," I said, holding it out to him.

Then I saw his expression. "Or would you rather have a dollar?"

He took the dollar.

07 November 2014

[7] magic light

When I worked in an office full-time, I kept my happy light on my desk and turned it on whenever I was sitting there. Yes, in July when the sun was shining outside. Yes, at 10:00 at night. 

This year, I work from home some of the time. I work in an office some of the time. I work in another office some of the time. I was out of any office at the Major Work Event for three weeks. 

The happy light isn't happening. 

I finally brought it home from Office #1, and I am attempting to use it pursuant to the instructions, not every second of every day like I usually do. That is, in the morning, when my alarm goes off, I turn on the happy light. I lie there in its glow for nine minutes until the alarm goes off again. 

While I put in my contacts, it is to the light of the happy light. While I apply my various magic skin creams, it is with the happy light shining into my eyes. While I eat my breakfast, I am staring into the happy light. 

It's supposed to wake you up and set your circadian rhythm that way. It might be working. It's hard to tell. Give me until the end of November, and I'll let you know.

06 November 2014

[6] pom

I wandered over to C0stc0 tonight with two goals in mind: 1. to pick up my contacts, which had arrived, and 2. to get some moisturizer. Also I happened to be doing a work thing right nearby, so it was convenient.

I wandered around trying their samples (pumpkin pie almonds: strangely delicious; pulled pork: did not bother), and then I discovered that they were selling boxes of extremely large pomegranates for cheaper than I've seen them anywhere else (per pomegranate, by size). They came six to a box. 

I dithered over them for a while (again, hypoglycemia), and then I picked six that looked good and carried them around the store. (I had neglected to get a cart because I was only there for the contacts and moisturizer, of course.)

The internet told me, when consulted for tips, that pomegranates last well in the fridge. I put them all in there, and then when my roommate came home I suggested that he take a look at the second shelf of the fridge for pure amusement value, which was high: six huge pomegranates. I have take some mockery lately for my love of pomegranates.

In addition to the sweet potatoes, I've been on a little bit of a pomegranate kick. I eat them on the daily. They litter the counter pretty regularly. And they take a lot of work.

The best way to separate the pith from the seeds is supposedly to do it under water. I don't usually bother, but I am getting tired of having a kitchen floor spattered with red juice that looks like someone's been dripping blood, so I segmented the pomegranates and teased them apart in a big bowl of water. 

After about 30 minutes of work, I have a big container of seeds in the fridge (although I ate more than a few of them) and there are still four huge pomegranates in the fridge.

It is possible that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, but I doubt it. One should never question my ability to consume ridiculous amounts of pomegranate.

05 November 2014

[5] nom nom nom

I made the crucial mistake tonight of deciding to run a couple of errands before eating dinner. Look, I thought it would be easier, because I didn't have a sweet potato readily available at home, so I had to go out anyway, and I wanted to be back in time to make lentils and rice for lunch tomorrow.

I really should know better. 

By the time I drove through traffic to one store, walked a few blocks to another store, waited half an hour for a prescription that the pharmacy turned out not to have, waited in line to buy milk, walked back to my car, drove to another store with better produce, bought two sweet potatoes, got home, and started microwaving a sweet potato, I was dizzy and blind. I hope I didn't hit any of those cars parked along the street on the way home, not that I would remember if I had.*

But! It was a very good sweet potato, and the pomegranate that I ate about a third of afterward was stellar as well. 

I remember in law school once telling a health professional that I was not very good at eating, and she very carefully said, "What do you mean by that?" in the way that tells you that she is asking if you have an eating disorder, but what I really meant was that I tend not to feel hungry until I am RAGINGLY HUNGRY GIVE ME ALL THE FOOD NOM NOM NOM, which is sort of a problem when you are studying in the library until all hours and then suddenly you are too hungry to either 1. see the page, or 2. determine how and what to eat to get rid of the low blood sugar, especially when all stores in the immediate vicinity turn out to be closed because it is the middle of the night, weird, you haven't been outside in daylight hours in ages thanks to exams. It results in a lot of vending machine food.

I think the health professional suggested almonds, but have you tried eating almonds lately when your blood sugar is super low? It doesn't exactly pop it back up right away.

I've gotten a lot better about eating healthy food at regular intervals, never fear. 

The sweet potato did just fine. All is now well.

* (Kidding. Obviously)

04 November 2014

[4] the vote

I love voting.  It's so satisfying to have a tiny little SAY in what happens. It is so satisfying to fill in those little bubbles and drop the ballot in the box.

Oh, you have to wait in line and pull levers? 

Sorry, ya. Not here. We get our ballots in the mail, weeks in advance, and we fill them out wherever we please, with an extensive voter's guide by our side, which also comes in the mail weeks in advance and includes submissions from various groups supporting and opposing the ballot measures. Then we plop them in the mail, if we vote in time, or drop them off at libraries and other locations until 8 pm on election day.

The line for the drive-through official elections office ballot box is always long. I dropped mine off at 6 pm at the library near my house, where there was a constant stream of people in and out of the building, carrying ballots in their hand as they went in, empty-handed as they came out.

The beauty of this method is that everyone who wants to vote can vote, as long as you registered at the right address. None of that nonsense about closed polling stations and turning people away and keeping black people from voting.

A friend and I were discussing earlier today how it is a sad, sad state of affairs when one party pins its election hopes on people not voting. You have to have something that draws people, not just a goal of keeping some of them down.

03 November 2014

[3] business

I will freely admit that there are plenty of people in this world who love running their own business or for whom the upsides (flexibility on when you work, e.g.) outweigh the downsides (accounting, e.g.). 

I am not one of those people. 

I really admire those people, but I am not one of them, and I do not want to be one of them. 
Running a business makes me feel like the world is falling down around me. I do not want to run a business, I have never wanted to run a business, and I hate running a business. 

Periodically people who run a business try to convince me of how great it is. 

"You get to set your own hours!" they say. "You don't have a boss! You can make more money in the long run! You just have to sell yourself!"

I have to tell them to stop. I can't listen to this. 

They tend to push the issue, these business-running people. They want everyone to love it as much as they do.

I finally have to tell them that if they continue to push the issue, I am going to either leave or cry, because I hate running a business. The downsides far, far outweigh the upsides for me. I would rather be part of a team than have flexible working hours. I would rather make a steady salary than make a fortune. I would rather use my skills than sell them for money. I do not, in fact, like money very much. I don't want to have to think about it.

I really, truly hate running a business. It is a source of incredible stress. I have more admiration than ever for people who do it and do it well, but for me? It's probably the worst thing about my life right now (or a close second), and that is saying a lot.

02 November 2014

[2] clothes

Last year, working too many hours, I spent a lot of time shopping. I bought a ridiculous amount of clothing. It was all cheap. I am nothing if not a clearance rack shopper - the rest of the store does not exist to me, except maybe as a window into what might be available on the clearance rack in a couple of months. Still, I bought a lot of clothes. 

When I began to pack to move to the Mitten, I had over 125 pieces of clothing on hangers in my closet, which included pretty much just shirts and dresses. The rest (sweaters, pants, skirts) were in drawers and on shelves. It was a little horrifying, even to me.

I read recently that shopping tends to be a way that extroverted people deal with stress. I think that happened to me. Last year, I shopped because it was social but it only took a few minutes, whereas trying to schedule an actual thing with an actual friend took much longer.

I'm not shopping anymore, by necessity, and I don't really miss it. There are plenty of other things to do in life.

The one thing I keep contemplating is a new pair of jeans, but my sister has forbidden me from bringing any additional clothing into my closet, despite the fact that I only have one pair of blue jeans in actual rotation. 

(Is that weird? Dozens of skirts and dresses, one pair of blue jeans. Hmmm.) 

I will have to wear these jeans out first, I suppose. She can hardly protest the purchase of new jeans if these have holes in them.

01 November 2014

[1] tea

I always get variations on the same thing at the tea place, to the point where when I walk up to the counter, most of the staff say things like, "Are you still getting that with the #57?" and I say, "No, I'm doing the #49 right now," where #57 is the Vanilla Spice Chai and #49 is the Masala Chai, and I get both of them as a latte with roasted coconut steeped into it, sometimes hot and sometimes cold. 

Today I got the #57, hot. They used to bring it in a glass teapot with a candle underneath, like the one my Momma brought me from the Netherlands, but they have switched to metal teapots with no candle to keep the tea warm. 

Did too many of the glass ones break, I wonder? Were the candles a fire code violation?

I could ask, and maybe I will ask someday, but for now I have headphones in and work to do, so I will drink my lukewarm chai and wonder.