Monday, December 20, 2010

The Name Game

When D was a little girl, she decided she was no longer into her given name. Well, actually, she had it in her head that if she changed her name, she could change her family. So, at the tender age of four, she demanded that she be known as "Vanessa" and adopted my uncle's last name. Apparently, she was not satisfied with me as an older sister and wanted a baby sister: my uncle's newborn daughter to be exact. For months, if you called her by name, she wouldn't answer. This caused no small amount of consternation to dance teachers, teachers, parents of friends, and especially my father. "What's wrong with that kid?" He would ask (oh-so-subtley in front of "that kid"). But not to Mama Lo, who found the entire situation hilarious. "Kid says her name's Vanessa," she would say, "call her Vanessa. She'll get over it."

As usual, my mother was right, and "Vanessa" learned that you can't change your identity by insisting that everyone called you by a different name. And she embraced her original life, and learned to play the hand she was dealt. She came to grips with having an older sister and a baby cousin, though I maintain that her discovery of what happens in those diapers is mostly to thank. I guess having a sister who was potty-trained and didn't drool all over her toys had its charms, even to a toddler. But the point is that she was a small child when she had this odd little identity crisis. And by the time she was an adult, she'd grown out of such insanity (and into all new types of crazy).

We should all be so lucky.

As people who know me in real-life already know, and the rest of you are about to find out, I have a crazy cousin (well, I have several, big family and all that, but this one is the definitive nut job). The stories are legend: ultimatums, temper tantrums and grand delusions. This is a woman who gave her boyfriend a proposal ultimatum. And when the deadline passed, she went out, took a loan, bought herself a ring, brought it home, and told him to give it to her when he felt like it. And then called everyone to tell them she was engaged. And then called us all months later to tell us when she was "officially engaged." Unfortunately, she called me during finals, with the mistaken belief that I gave a shit (I don't). I didn't recognize the number, or I wouldn't have answered, and my response was "Uh, didn't you get engaged months ago? Well, enjoy . I gotta go. I have a test to study for. " Somehow, over the past 26 years or so, she has somehow missed the fact that we're not close. Never have been. The older we get, the more I realize I just don't like the vapid, manipulative, shallow, lazy bitch. The delusional harpy thinks we're friends. Honestly, I don't know how ANYONE could fail to realize I don't like them.

That dear readers, was about three years ago. No movement on the wedding front. Until D got engaged. CrazyCousin tried to pull off a shotgun wedding. FatherTime, her ancient fiance, would have none of it. Then, CrazyC's little sister got engaged. All. Hell. Broke. Loose. We were treated to a rant about how everyone is "conspiring" against her and trying to "steal her thunder." "Next thing you know, it'll be Lola!" First off, bitch, let's not act like that's one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Second of all, what thunder?

Then, there was her Christmas card. Aside from the Derek Zoolander-esque photo she selected, there was the fact that she signed her fiance's last name, despite the fact that everyone receiving a card knows that she is not, in fact, married.

Which brings me back to my original point. I thought it odd that she thinks that just by signing a different last name, her life would magically change and she'd have what she wants. Nevermind that anyone could go to shutterfly, pick a picture of themselves with a current or ex-boyfriend and sign his last name and accomplish precisely what she did: look completely unbalanced.

But I totally underestimated the absolute level of crazy this woman has achieved. She sent D a card signed, not, her legal name, Crazy Rose Lawless, but her "new name:" Zarea Marie K******. Apparently, she now insists that we call her by this ridiculous new name, much as my sister did at the tender age of 4. Whatever. At 4 it was kinda cute. Once you're over 25, not so much. I refuse to indulge in this absurdity. I will refer to her as Crazy until we die. And when she calls me on it, I'll just say "I'm sorry. I forgot. It's just such a stupid name."
Telling Jay this, he replies, "Maybe she has mental stability issues."
"Oh, I think it's pretty clear that she has mental stability issues."

Stash Our Trash

There's a running joke at the office. Actually, there are several running jokes around the office, most notably about the employee named "Not Me." "Not me" is an insanely busy employee, which is why he/she can never be found. But, he/she is always up to something, por ejemplo:

Q: Who's supposed to run this report?

A: Not Me.

Q: Who do I talk to about getting this information?

A: Not me.

Q: Who's in charge of this?

A: Not me.

It goes on. My irritation level varies with how badly I need the information or need something done. But that is not the point of this (very belated) post.

I was sitting in my office in a Santa hat (yes, a Santa hat. We all had to work a shift at the open house because our office hosts it. I was told to wear something "festive" to serve hor d'ourves. I ended up with terrible hat hair, so I left the hat on. I thought maybe it made me look festive. Probably I just looked derranged. My office is ridiculously hot and humid and so my hair, like the Grinch's heart, grew three sizes that day) when housekeeping waltzed in, absurdly, yet not entirely surprisingly, wearing reindeer antlers. Now, my branch fails at many things; just ask the national office, but what cannot be denied is that our garbage cans are always impeccably maintained. Why? We wonder (frequently aloud) is it that we're so good at this? Why are so many things so difficult for us to achieve, yet I can't even leave a used post-it in my garbage without it being speedily whisked away by the house keeping staff. In fact, for a while when I first started, two of the housekeepers used to come around one right after the other.

So, there I was, looking like a derranged escapee from a psych ward holiday party, eatingg my salad and watching Rudolph the red-nosed custodian empty a granola bar wrapper and a crumpled sheet of paper from my waste basket. When she inexplicably leaves me an extra bag.

"I'll leave you this extra bag, so when you're done with your salad, you can throw it away without messing up your trash."

Um. I wasn't aware that we were concerned about "messing up" the garbage cans. I was always under the impression that the garbage cans were there for us to...well...throw garbage in.

Nonetheless, ten minutes later I found myself holding open the loose bag to toss the remains of my gigantic salad in. What I'm going to do with this bag full of soggy lettuce, I'm no entirely sure, but I think that this place has finally gotten to me. No sooner do I shrug and toss the container than it rips through the bottom of the bag and salad goes flying all over my floor.

I'm sure glad I didn't mess up my garbage can.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

To Market, to Market

I took a train that is 5 minutes later than my normal train. Hilarity and hijinks ensued. For reasons unknown, this train is incredibly crowded. So crowded I can't even get close enough to a bar to hold onto, so I plant the 3-inch heels of my boots firmly and trying to look hardcore.

The teenage girl next to me moves closer to her boyfriend. How nice, this way I can hold on to the bar.

Or, I can just catch the oral herpes from her practically mounting him on the subway car.

It's only been two blocks and already I've decided that their parents don't allow Romeo and Juliet here to see one another and the train ride to school is the only time they can let their forbidden romance blossom. Either that, or this chick is just mauling random dudes she met on the subway.

She gets off 3 blocks later. I need a shower and a cigarette.

Mass exodus. I dive for a seat.

A stop later, a very pregnant woman gets on. I vacate my seat. A burly construction worker takes it. Everyone else opens their books. Seriously, Philadelphia? No one wants to let the little pregnant girl sit down? Weaksauce.

5 minutes later, I'm sitting on my trolley, wondering why it smells like pee. I look across the aisle and see the person in the nearest seat. Oh, that's why.

I'm trying to find a non-obvious way to hide my nose in my scarf so I can breathe and notice the odd shiny spot on the floor. Please let that not be pee, please let that not be pee.

Oh, good. It's coffee. Coffee from the empty cup the angelic-looking little girl in front of me is playing with. Also, playing, not with her Disney Princess backpack, but with an empty Dunkin' Donuts bag. Oh good lord. Please tell me her father isn't just letting her get god-knows-what from playing with random trash.

He tells her to make sure she throws out her cup, too. Oh thank God. It's her trash. HEY! WHY ARE YOU THROWING YOUR TRASH ON THE SEPTA LITTLE GIRL?

I think the Metro summed it up best when discussing the massive marketing campaign for "The Walking Dead:" Good thing they're not doing the zombie thing in Philadelphia, we have enough people riding the SEPTA covered in blood.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Days of Our Lives

Just a typical day for Hurricane Lola:

8am: Double-check the email to make sure nothing has changed before my 8:15 meeting. Debate the merits of having my coffee mug in the board room to keep me warm and awake versus possibly offending the new head honcho; who, despite being my immediate superior, will probably not decide to meet with me individually for at least a month, if ever.

8:10am: Walk across the hall to board room.

8:11am: Back quickly into hallway so as not to interrupt the meeting that is clearly in session.

8:13 am: Learn from eavesdropping that my meeting has been canceled.

8:14 am: Growl at email inbox, which contains no notice of this.

9:00 am: Productive meeting lasting less than a half an hour. Note the date and circle it victoriously.

9:30 am: Read up on some exciting (read: mind-numbingly dull) literature on programs and risk assessment for the coming fiscal year.

10:00 am: Email my "mentor" to set up emergency telephone session to discuss the rather disturbing meeting I had yesterday regarding just what constitutes a "promise" made to one by their employer.

10:05-11:00 am: Actual, concrete, helpful work. Redrafting some truly terrible questions.

11:05 am: Reflect that I probably did not need my J.D. for that.

11:07 am: Briefly fantasize about a job where I do need my J.D.

11:08 am: Remember the friends who are currently using their J.D.'s to work at Starbucks. Attempt to quit whining.

11:30 am: A sign canceling my 8:15 am meeting is now on the board room door. WTF?

11:59 am: Unexpected visit from Lily, who is about to kill her temporary office visitor.

12:30 pm: Lunch with Lily, her temporary office visitor, and Cheese. Bitching ensues.

1:15 pm: I get my mentors voice mail.

1:30 pm: Attempt to make a plan for my truly evil project. Eat M & Ms instead.

2:00 pm: Nasty-gram from the Illinois State Bar regarding employers. And how some of them, including my FREAKIN' LAW SCHOOL, haven't returned references.

2:02 pm: Briefly ponder how it's possible that my law school has not returned this reference. Wonder if I'm the first person they've ever employed that has later taken the Illinois Bar. Doubt it.
2:04 pm: Frantic phone calls and emails.

2:30 pm: Not much headway on evil project. Gnash my teeth.

2:45 pm: Mentor's voicemail again.

3:00 pm: Email from woman I met with last week regarding a part of the project. Without giving too much away, it essentially says "Yeah, when we started looking at this, we realized we weren't being paid for a lot of this. And we just kinda leave it at that." WHA?

3:01 pm: I think I just had a stroke.

3:02 pm: Contemplate suicide.

3:03 pm: Decide to work on other parts of project plan until I can grasp exactly what I'm supposed to do with that answer.

3:15 pm: Robo-call from the Mayor.

3:17 pm: Call from Mercy Hospital back in ThirdTierVille. "Following Up" on another bill from an encounter I'm pretty sure I already paid for.

3:30 pm: Contemplate homicide.

3:45 pm: Eat a TastyKake instead.

3:50 pm: Talk to Sue about project. Encourage her to temporarily ignore email. Or at least eat a TastyKake.

4:06 pm: "Stress Walk" to Lily's office. Bitching ensues.

5:30 pm: Free cocktails at Gallery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Do I call everyone "hookers" too much?

The Streets of Philadelphia

To celebrate a friend's passing the Pennsylvania bar (and a belated celebration that I passed a bar exam in a state where I sadly, will not be living/practicing for at least a few years), we took to the streets of Philly lookin' for trouble.

Too bad it was the wrong street. Rose's friend texted us the wrong cross-streets, so we wandered for a few minutes, before we asked a cop in mid-arrest for directions (as you do). The streets were also not so friendly. When we originally passed this group of Philadelphia's finest, they were engaged in a slight word-skirmish with some kid, probably about 19 years old. From what we got out of it, the boys in blue were just patrolling the street and wanted to see the kid's ID for some reason. Being a kid, he seemed to have asked why. And then said that he'd show them his ID if they'd tell him why. Then, Quickdraw pulled his cuffs. We walked down the block trying to find the bar, but really, trying to puzzle out why the kid was being arrested. Other than a smart mouth and bored cops.

I encouraged Rose, as a newly-minted officer of the Pennsylvania courts, to stick up for the kid and ask the officers why they were arresting him. In a good life decision, she said this instead, earning my eternal admiration:
"Excuse me officer, I see that you're kinda in the middle of something, but could you tell us where THEYUPPIEBAR is?"

In hindsight, it was probably a better idea than my suggested opening line: "Excuse me officer, but where's your reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed?" We're fresh out of law school, and don't have bail money. I didn't need to take the chance that Trigger would get all cuff-happy on me.

The cop, incidentally, gave us the correct directions. Thanks!

We had pre-gamed. Can ya tell? Incidentally, I wonder if my friends and I, being in our mid-twenties to early thirties, are just a leetle too old to "pregame." I can try to dress it up by saying that we met at my house and had cocktails before we left, but seriously, everyone knows that we were pre-gaming. For right now I'm broke and can't afford to drink exclusively at THEYUPPIEBAR and its ilk, so get over it, hookers.

The night was full of good life decisions, such as Rose preventing me from peeing in an alley after the bar randomly closed its bathroom. 'Splain that one to me.

Other than almost peeing in a cab on my way back to the Nunnery, the night was a complete success, complete with a 3:00 am showing of "Hocus Pocus" with some new friends.

How have you all been celebrating/mourning the bar results?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taking the Plunge

There's truly something to be said for living alone. My house is never messed up. And if it is, I know exactly who did it and I can decide when I will fix it up.

I was feeling a little blue the other day about being all alone with no one to watch goofy Halloween movies with me and to help me eat my produce before it goes bad. And then I talked to my sister, the football widow. If she's not waiting for him to get home from coaching, or going to his games, she's watching football on t.v. Alone I may be, but I don't watch a god damned thing on t.v. that I don't want to watch.

There is a downside, however; cooking for yourself sucks. As does doing all of the work yourself. I was in no angelic mood upon my return to the city of brotherly love this week, as every elevator along the EL line seemed to be out of order and I dragged my overweight suitcase halfway across center city only to find that my toilet was backed up. And I don't have a plunger. And on Sundays, the maintenance crew will not come over to unstick your toilet.

I did not think much of this. There are several small markets within four blocks from my house (as an aside: I need a name for my home. I am considering "The Nunnery," as it is an old, converted convent; but I feel that I should name it something "acre." Perhaps "Blueacre," because the door is blue).

I was not discouraged when the first small market was out of plungers.

But, three unsuccessful stops later, I was wondering what grudge the merchants of Philadelphia had against the noble toilet plunger, a fairly ubiquitous household item. I tried three small markets on my way further west. No joy. Does noone have plumbing problems in this city? I mean, it's bad enough that my toitey was out of order, but having to ask roughly 300,000 shop owners where they keep the plungers is just adding insult to injury. Worse, though, is having to explain what you're looking for to the ones who clearly don't grasp english all that well. I literally had to make hand gestures to accompany my explanation to one gentleman. Who did not stock the wretched things.

In the end, I took a twenty minute walk to the national chain drug store. Which, thankfully, was not too proud for plungers. Though they euphemistically called it a "force cup." I had to laugh at that, dish-gloved to my elbows and plunging away. "Force cup," indeed. I am a plumbing wizard.