Monday, September 24, 2007

metro monday: the sleepy-head edition

only one of the three sleeping men this morning on the train was particularly interesting - the other two just looked like really weary travelers that had taken red eyes into dulles. this third fellow, though, he was quality. there was the snoring, which was great, and the sighs one expects to hear from a 2-year-old who has just started to fall asleep after an afternoon of hard play. there was the smacking of the lips as he started to come around - like i do when i wake up after having eaten an especially garlicky meal the night before, and the taste in my mouth the next morning is shocking.

for some reason the sound of the doors opening at courthouse shook him from his sleep, and he grabbed his duffle bag and bolted for the door. and i obviously took his seat, because that's how i roll. i guess courthouse wasn't his stop though, because he turned around, saw me in his seat, and sighed. i could see it in b's eyes: you took the sleeper's seat! but what was i supposed to do - ask him if he'd like it back to continue his nap? sorry charlie.

i admired his drive though. sleeper didn't need the seat. he nodded off again between rosslyn and foggy bottom, his head bobbing, brushing slightly against the shoulder of the taller man next to him. awkward.

i was tempted not to talk about this guy, despite the fact that the image of someone falling asleep standing up on the train (in a corduroy hawaiian shirt. did i not mention this? it was quality) is funny, right? but then, after we both detrained at foggy bottom, i saw him walk across the platform and get on a blue line train in the opposite direction. i'm not sure if he was riding the train to sleep (in which case i'm a total bitch) or if he just missed his transfer at rosslyn.

'm telling myself it was the latter.

an open letter to one-year-from-now s

dear s,

i hear that first year associates find themselves doing a number of fairly menial tasks: days of document review, maybe researching contract law in minnesota (again), and of course the document review. maybe you're in the middle of some massive document review right now, maybe you've just finished your third red bull, and maybe your head hurts and your fingers are covered in papercuts. maybe your blackberry won't stop buzzing.

i just wanted to take the time to remind you, future s, that back when you still answered phones and made copies to work your way through school, you couldn't wait to do those things. this s can't wait to have a little ounce of responsibility. this s can't wait to be able to take more than 30 minutes and 15 seconds for lunch, and not have to call ahead and apologize if public transportation is going to deliver her to the office at 9:03. this s can't wait to not share a cubicle and to be able to answer her personal cell between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

but most of all, this s can't wait to never, ever again be assigned the urgent, high priority task of unstapling seven small packets of paper and returning them to her supervisor.

although to be fair, future s, you and i both know how satisfying the supervisor's stomp was after he realized that the used staples from the urgently needed-to-be-unstapled packets were all piled neatly on top of those papers in his inbox.

there's something delicious about passive aggressiveness, and you just might miss it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

marble and wine (and private parts)

of all the cabs i took this summer, i managed to never find myself in one during rush hour. i'm not sure how that's possible, but sitting in the cab last night in rush hour, in a suit, en route to an event with a couple of lawyers at my firm - instead of sitting in class - i didn't mind the stop-and-go one bit. it gave me a great chance to observe the mass of humanity pouring from their buildings at 6pm. a man was sprinting down h street in a suit, his briefcase in one hand, his hair and suit coat catching the september breeze. he switched abruptly to a walk as he rounded 14th, and i couldn't help but look around to see if there was a film crew nearby. people don't seem to leave their offices alone. and there are a lot more porsches in this city than i realized.

the women's bar association event i was attending was in the lobby of some office building near metro center - and i can tell you with all certainty that it was a touch more magnificent than the tired lobby of my campus office building. the voices of a couple hundred female attorneys bounced around the stories of cool marble and the resulting rumble greeted me as i followed a pair of young, heeled attorneys through the revolving door. i'd barely found my nametag when i heard my name and saw a familiar partner waving me over. i fumbled with my nametag and shaking hands, and the gentleman with the crisp white wine stood next to me for a few seconds before i realized the glass was mine. as i was shuttled around from and introduced (a couple times, the partner slipped: this is s. she's one of our associates. gosh, i mean, she will be one of our associates next fall. then to me: i keep forgetting you're not already a lawyer!) to one group of smart, successful, smiling women to another - i could feel the grime of cubicles and micromanagement falling away.

the roar quieted as speeches began from a podium situated on a landing a story above the main lobby floor, perfectly blue tiffany bags casually strewn about, holding the awards. and at first i didn't really notice the statue just to the left of where the group of female judges were honored. but at some point, i really took a good look.

and that's when i noticed the penis.

three things:

1. at least it was pointing in the other direction;
2. i kept imagining this conversation, as one event organizer rushed into the office of another: oh my god! i just realized the statue in that lobby has a huge penis!; and
3. what exactly should i think about the fact that at an event where the female legal community was gathered to celebrate our collective advancements as a gender, a huge penis was lording over us all? because i kinda think it's hilarious.

Monday, September 17, 2007

metro monday: the It's September For God's Sake edition

i'm not going to lie. though i giggled a little when the woman got on the train this morning with the winter coat, i was not surprised. i've been here through enough falls to know that people overreact. only one winter coat on the first really-feels-like-fall morning is expected. overall, my fellow commuters, you were dressed very appropriately. it seems i'm not the only one who has been jonesing to pull cute blazers out from the back of my closet. i saw no fewer than 6 blazers that i nearly broke the commuter code of silence for, to inquire as to their stores of origin.

but my friends, what the hell is it with the white purses. still? really?! please stop.

the past two weeks, i have seen many of you wandering around with your white pants and white sandals (which, frankly, i don't think is really ever a good idea) and linen and white purses ... but it's been hot. so maybe, i kept thinking as i bit my tongue and refrained from glaring, you've all just forgotten that labor day has passed. maybe the heat got to your brains or something. but today, the grace period ends. today is a crisp fall day. you are wearing blazers and closed toe heels. i saw velvet and i saw corduroy.

and i saw them mixed with white purses.

this is not ok.

i implore of you, good citizens, to obey this - the simplest of all fashion rules. Do Not Wear White After Labor Day. and purses count.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

live blog: my first interaction with the dc dmv

4:40 call general information number. english. option 1. listen to fairly short intro.

4:40 some random announcement about the website. did you know we have a website?! gasp! read: go to our fucking website you idiot. why are you even calling?

4:42 chipper fellow talking about registration requirements for living in the city. ok, got it. then tells me to return to the website for information. again. i get it. there's a website.

4:43 registration menu. i guess this is my first registration? got it. inspection. sure. has to pass. check. if it's leased yada yada. if you inherited from a dead person. blah blah. military. got it.

perhaps i should explain why i'm on the phone w/ dmv when we aren't moving for almost 2 months. i'm concerned that we'll pile up shitloads of -

4:46 they hung up on me. somehow i knew liveblogging would be a good idea.

4:46 call back. didn't press option 1 fast enough. hung up on me again. the problem with liveblogging.

4:47 spanish speaking people can't pay with credit cards over the phone? really? why is that? curious.

i'm going to see if i can get a person by not pressing any buttons.

while i'm waiting, i'm afraid that if we move and i have an out-of-state plate, we'll get a shitload of tickets.

4:48 pressed zero to get a human being. they're busy, however, and now i'm listening to pachabel's canon. i fucking hate pachabel's canon. for serious.

i'm hoping that if we can -

4:49 OH! oh. still busy. but i'm sure the next available agent will be with me as soon as possible.

i'm hoping that if we can get registration on the car before we move or right when we move, i can avoid tickets. or even a temporary permit, which they must have, would be great. however, my extensive -

4:50 still assisting other customers. next available. promise.

my extensive exploration of the dmv's website has uncovered no info about such temporary permit.

4:52 still busy. new music. i think it's vivaldi. thank god. the only thing worse than being on hold to talk to someone at the dmv is being on hold at the dmv and listening to pachabel. seriously. most annoying piece of classical music ever.

4:53 still assisting those other customers. who else could possibly be dumb enough to call the dmv and expect to speak to a human being?

4:54 just realized that they probably close at 5:00. OH! nope. still assisting other customers. there was a cruel, extra pause between the break in the trumpet concerto and the too-chipper announcement that no one is going to talk to me.

4:57 still nothing. tropical storm humberto, eh? that's a nice name for a storm. i like it.

4:59 i just realized i missed oprah on the one day of the week i get to watch. sure, i could dvr it, but that's not the same. it's the joy of being at home at 4:00 in the afternoon on a weekday that makes oprah so fulfilling. also, just cracked open a bottle of bell's oberon. have i mentioned you can get it on tap at the liberty tavern? you can. i love the liberty tavern. please go. for me.

5:03 zahara might have to have surgery? oh that poor girl. ps my mom never bought me a matching valentino (was it valentino?) purse when i was a kid. clearly, i was not loved. also, good thing my mom doesn't read this blog.

5:04 do you think if they stop taking calls at 5 they'll tell me? or will i just be stuck here listening to vivaldi?

5:07 i'm going back to the dmv website to see if i can figure this out.

5:11 still. on. hold. and i can't find anything on the website. hm. am beginning to think i might have to actually go to the dmv. which sucks, but i suspect will provide some pretty good material.

5:15 half through the oberon. i think i should always have a beer when i'm going to be on hold for a long time.

5:18 man this is a long trumpet concerto. i think they may have looped it to play twice. just noticed a typo in the original headline, which i have changed.

5:20 for some reason it seems like i heard a different woman's voice tell me to please hold. is that possible? now i'm wondering if someone at the dmv is just taking me off of hold, saying please hold blah blah blah, and then putting me back on hold.

5:24 going outside for a cigarette. apparently, being on hold with the dmv has become an excuse to pretend 5pm on a wednesday is actually 11pm on a saturday.

5:32 still on hold. have decided i'm only waiting 8 more minutes. one hour on hold is kinda my limit. even with the beer and cigarette. in the meantime, i think i need some chips and dip to get through the last few minutes.

5:43 ok that's it. i'm done. i'm out of beer, there is not very much (lite) french onion dip left anyway, holding my cell phone on my shoulder for this long is starting to hurt my neck, and i'm quite certain there isn't even anyone left at the dmv. or maybe they are there, staring at the blinking line, laughing at me. bastards.

so let me ask: does anyone know what happens when you move to the city and have to park on the street? can you get a temporary permit until your plates and tags arrive? surely i am not the first person from the commonwealth to venture across the potomac? jesus.


the following announcement, or some variation thereof, has appeared at least a half dozen times since i started law school in 2005.

Law Association for Women Bake Sale - Wednesday!

a bake sale. the women lawyers association is having a bake sale.

apparently i go to law school in the 1950s.

Monday, September 10, 2007

mega metro monday

i was a little sad, standing in the long line this morning waiting to get through the one turnstile not being blocked by the tourists trying to shove their little metro cards into the slot where the card comes out. it occurred to me that in a few weeks, when i really become s in the city, my commute won't be peppered by these little gems of tourist frustration. i've seen a lot of tourist misadventures on the train - though never quite this situation - and once i start riding the bus, i might miss those. i mean, i might. a little. and really only for metro monday material. the rest of the time i'll just purse my lips and glare.

the train was, not shockingly, totally packed this morning. crammed in tightly next to b, i looked up and noticed one single gray hair in the wash of black on his head. you have a gray hair! i mouthed. seriously!? sweet. this is big news. b has been saying for a while that he wants gray hair. he thinks it's distinguished, and will make him look older and maybe garnish more respect from the people he interacts with at work. we've been joking about looking for a just for men gray - so he can just comb in a little gray around the edges, increasing it ever so slightly every few months.

speaking of just for men, has anyone else noticed osama's new and improved beard? is he trying to look younger? portray youthful optimism? show us he'll be around for a few more decades? two points on this: 1. of all the personal things osama should be working on, his graying hair should be much lower on the list. maybe he should examine why he feels the need to coordinate mass murder, or take care of those pesky kidney issues. frankly, it seems a little vain. and where is he getting that dye? is it some american brand imported from china - do they make hair dye in pakistan? and if it is just for men, this brings me to point #2. homeland security should really consider tracking all shipments of just for men to the middle east. i mean, that man has quite a beard. i bet he touches it up with some regularity. exploit this weakness, dear homeland security.

sorry. back to metro monday. b and i had to switch trains at rosslyn this morning. apparently after labor day, metro turns the heat on in some of the trains. and b is cranky cranky when we're on a hot train, so we decided to transfer to a blue line at rosslyn. oh, also, this girl was totally picking her nails and even gave them a couple of bites right next to b. hearing someone picking their nails is basically as bad as hearing someone run those nails down a chalkboard for b, so we really had no option. he was ready to blow. but just as we're getting off, someone cranked their ipod, and we were both in stitches as we shoved our way off the train. this is the conversation that ensued on the rosslyn platform:

s: did you HEAR that?
b: did i hear that? of course i heard that. the conductor heard that. i thought my sister was on the train.
s: i love it! he was just sitting there, looking all nerdy with his glasses and then ...
b: no, that's not who it was.
s: really? who was it?
b: the kid in the polo shirt.
s: was his collar popped?
b: no.
s: that's important you know.
b: i know.
s: who was that, anyway?
b: celine dion and bocelli. it's my sister's favorite song ever.
s: hilarious. i think i'll blog this conversation.
b: this is a good metro monday, s.
s: totally. it's like a mega metro monday.
b: nice.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

this is fucked up

my mom has this unfortunate habit of leaving me the following voicemail:

s. it's your mom. i need you to call me as soon as you get this message.

after calling her back in a tizzy, i learn that she has recently discovered my old cheerleading shorts or that hotplate i took with me to college and she needs to know if she should keep it.

i have never gotten one of these voicemails from my dad, though. not until today.

with my dad it's different. he usually doesn't even leave a message, comfortable that i'll see his missed call and just call him back. but today he left me this message:

s. it's dad. you need to call me when you get this message. you really need to call me when you get this message. um, yeah. call me.

this is a voicemail i never want to get again from my father. and the fact that i then called him four times in a row with no answer did not help. no one answered at home either. finally, i got my mom on her cell. she asked me if i'd tried to call my dad first, and then she told me to sit down.

it took a few minutes for my brain to wrap around the news. it was a little like she started speaking in pig latin and i had to decipher every word individually - and not until my dad got on the phone and told me i could google my great aunt and uncle's hometown and the words murder suicide to find the story did i actually attach that phrase to the news.

i wasn't terribly close with these particular family members - in fact, my most distinct memory of them is hearing my great uncle tell my parents they were wasting their money on music lessons because i wasn't going to make anything of myself. not the warmest of people. so i'm not sad for myself, not mourning for a close family member whose absence is going to impact my quality of life. but my grandmother, she is another story. she's crazy and judgmental, it's true. but she's my grandma, and i love her, and she loves me. and now she has lost her brother when she didn't have to. i've heard her cry plenty in my lifetime, but this was different. this was full-on weeping. it was from the gut, not crying to make anyone feel guilty or because she thought crying was the thing to do crying. this was sobbing, it was raw, and it was hard to take. she told me about the last time she talked to her brother, how he'd promised her he was going to look into getting help taking care of his wife, and how he spontaneously started crying and then pulled himself together just as quickly. i could tell she was already wondering if she could have stopped him.

later, on the phone with my brother, he said he had just emailed me a news article that included a photograph of the two. i don't know about him, but this 15 year old picture was exactly how i remembered them from childhood. even knowing they'd grown old since my childhood, i still pictured them at that age - around 65, old, but newly old. we just sat there, my brother and i, silent, both staring at the photograph from our computer screens hundred miles apart, shaking our heads. when he finally said softly, are you there sis? that's when it really hit me ... what my grandma must be going through. through the fog of a couple of decades i could remember my grandma being called sis by her brother, too. all the time.

i can't imagine what it must be like to lose a brother. and i certainly can't imagine the depth of that pain or what part of one's heart losing a brother like that must tear at.

i need brownies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

when I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened/i'm waiting for my real life to begin

forgive me, colin hay, if you do not approve of the wandering musings i've attached to your lyrics.

i'm not sure why the impending move into the city has my stomach tied in knots. it's not the apartment (which is great) nor the location (which could not be better) nor the price (not a steal, of course, but for dc pretty good). it's not that i cannot commit to live in this place for at least a year. it's not the bitch that moving is - that will be largely alleviated by the movers.

i think it might be that i've grown comfortable in this holding pattern in which we've found ourselves the past two years. don't get me wrong, we've spent a lot of time thinking about what next spring will mean for us, and longing for it to hurry up already. we've spent a few afternoons sitting at the belgian place soon to be just around the corner longing for a time when it would be ... just around the corner.

a lot of mornings for a few years, i've awoken to nothing happening. not nothing, really. lots of stuff has happened, lots of things that needed to happen for my real life to begin. you know, the one where i'm not in school, where i have a real job, where we live in the city instead of the 'burbs. that real life.

a few weeks ago, rk scolded me for being so eager for that real life to begin. at the time, i thought she was right ... but also that i wasn't going to stop being eager. now i'm wondering if i'm eager at all. because from here, from the 'burbs, from the safety of school, with none of my real life yet used up, everything is just as i want it to be. it's all out there to be explored, the whole thing. it's like that last harry potter for which i've been clamoring for years - and that has been sitting a third-read on my coffee table since the end of july. or that hour between 6am and 7am on christmas morning when my brother and i were kids - when we'd sit silently on the couch staring at the presents under the tree before we could wake up our parents, imagining all the glorious things that were waiting right in front of us, savoring the not knowing. i love harry potter, i love christmas presents, and i'm sure i'll love that real life once it begins. but i also love the anticipation, those hot summer afternoons spent with b in a neighborhood where we don't - but would love to - live, tossing the idealized version of what it must be like to live there back and forth over duvels or hoegardens. i love that.

moving into the district has long been a touchstone for that real life we've been waiting to begin. and i'm not really sure what to do with that, now that an address and a landlord and a date have been attached.