Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

I maintain that the law college is built like a casino. Like a casino, there are almost no windows, no fresh air, and few clocks. You're not supposed to have any idea what time it is, or indeed, what day it is. This goes further, you completely lose track of what is going on outside of the little bubble. They design it that way, so you're not distracted by the fact that it's, say, half-off wine night, or your spouse's birthday.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that I didn't think twice about letting the Professor I am a T.A. for set office hours for me one Friday night. I wasn't thrilled, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to get some work done and I set off. Only to find the road closed down for, I shit you not, the Homecoming Parade.

Needless to say, when I actually arrive on campus, I'm in no angelic mood, having been diverted through the subdivisions numerous times. Also, I'm working on a Friday night. Lame. But, who am I kidding? I would be sitting around doing laundry otherwise.

I'm a T.A. for one of those classes that all 1Ls need to take, and at this time of year, they're exceptionally antsy. But I still have a hard time believing that anyone is going to come in on a Friday night. And if they do, I think I'm going to say "It's Friday night, get the fuck out of here and get a life. It's too late for me, but you can still run. RUN!"

While I'm waiting for 1Ls that never come, I do something uncharacteristically kind and help one of my staff members, we'll call him Joe, with finding sources for his assigment. I walk him through how to find the regulation he seeks and send him off into the big kids' world to print and find the other reguations in that section. This goes well for a few minutes. Until he informs me that there is no title page for this section of the C.F.R. I pause. I know that this is published by the government. I know there is a title page. I've already spent like, 20 minutes helping him do something that he should have been able to do without me, so I'm not feeling too sympathetic.

"There's no title page."

I calmly respond, "Yes, I'm sure there is. Just keep looking. Click to the table of contents."

He clicks, like two more times. "No, I don't think there's a title page." He's starting to sound petulant and frustrated.

"Oh, I bet there is."

"Prove it."

The heads of the two other guys at the table snap up immediately, eyes wide, they're looking between him and I, probably to see exactly what I'm going to do. Like I'm possibly going to rip his throat out with my teeth, or rip his sack off like a paper towel and stuff it up his nose. Let's face it, those are both threats I've used before, and I already said I was cranky. I look at him and pause, just long enough for his to widen and calmly reply "Wow, we're feeling ballsy today aren't we?" He has the grace to give a little apologetic chuckle. I'm still on my kinder, gentler, Lola kick (kinda) so I simply go on,

"I bet I can find it." It takes me under two minutes to find the title page. And I give him instructions, trying my best not to smirk. Reminds me of when I would complain to my mom that I couldn't find something in my room and she'd say "If I come in there and I can find it...."

"You're...kind of amazing..." He says.

Better write that down.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What We Have Here is Failure to Communicate

I always assumed it would be human stupidity that gave me the fatal stroke. I may have underestimated our computer friends.

On a Monday, not so very long ago, I am trying to complete the relatively simple task of printing a proof of service. The printer informs me that there is a communication error. I'm not sure what this means. I try restarting both computer and printer (my fix for everything) because, seriously, the damn thing worked FIFTEEN SECONDS AGO. No use. The junior clerk at Cafe Legalese is trying to fax something across town. Communication error. I give in, and go to Dell's LiveChat support, eager for step-by-step guidance through this problem.

Bad idea. I'm sure this person doesn't speak the English, because he cannot provide an alternate explanation for terms that must have come out of the operation manual for pros. "Ma'am," he begins, never a good thing, because I fucking hate when people call me "Ma'am" like I'm some 60 year old Southern grandma shellin' butterbeans with a bottle of moonshine. "Ma'am, please provide me with your whatsamajiggysomethingabout IP." Excuse me? How do I find that? If I knew what that was, do you think I'd be talking to YOU? I probably would have just rebuilt this thing if that were the case.

I ask him to please explain this to me like a five year old, because I am not good with computers.
"Begin at the left navigation and select the somethingincomputerspeak." Select the what with the what? Ok, we need to talk. Maybe I wasn't making myself clear. I need you to explain this to me like a five-year-old who only speaks English. "I'm sorry sir, but I really need you to explain this without any computer jargon. I don't understand what you want me to do."

Finally, either his fingers were cramping up from typing the manual verbatim, or he sensed I was about to reach through the computer screen and throttle him, because he finally just seized control of my computer and printer remotely and then informed me that I essentially needed to go to the printer settings menu and type in a little number. I spent my entire morning on this.

It's this sort of shit that makes me want to run screaming from the idea or starting my own practice after law school--what if I can't afford to pay someone to deal with this?

Another day, another computer, another burst blood vessel. I am following the step-by-step instructions on the way to compile electronically and thus save my self approximately 60% of the time I spend on compiling articles. Everything appears to have gone well, until I notice that some of the footnotes have been re-numbered. No big deal, I don't save the changes and start over again with a clean base copy. I check again. Two different footnotes have been deleted and now everything is re-numbered. Great. I mutter obscenities under my breath. Dan senses my blood pressure rising and wisely concentrates on whatever he's reading. I take a deep breath, don't save the changes and try one more time, and it looks like I've gotten it this time. Nope, yet two different footnotes have been changed. My face slams into the desk and I'm about 3 seconds from flinging Computie into the wall. Dan, sensing danger, says he's calling it a night and suggests drinking. I'm sure this is a ploy to avoid being hit by richocheting pieces of Computie, but he says the magic word (alcohol!), so I play along.

The next day, I think I've figured out how to fix this. I reject formatting changes that don't make sense. The only change that cannot be rejected is the deletion of the footnote numbers. At this point, I'm pretty sure I smell burning toast. I make a last ditch effort to have Susan explain this to me. At this point, I'm fully aware that I've spent so much time trying to find the quick way to do this that I may as well have done this by hand in the first instance. Apparently, I have done this exactly the way I was instructed to and not one other person's computer did this. It's settled, Computie has some sort of vendetta against me. At this point, even my stubborn ass has to concede the contest to Computie and buckle down to manually compile this article, knowing full well that I've already wasted enough time to have finished it already. Hours later, driving home at midnight, the speed limit changes from 45 to 35 maybe two miles from my house. I'm coasting down and I get pulled over.

What do you want God, blood?

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Call is Coming From Inside the House

A night at home with our kitten, Binx (not his real name, but it's what I would have named him, if Finn hadn't named him before we even decided to adopt him). I 'm still down for the count, and have made a concession to the various evils in my body by sleeping on the couch all day. I can't drink, I can't smoke, and I can't have sex, so I'm not entirely sure what to do with my Friday night. So, I'm drinking tea, watching movies, and cuddling with Binx.

I hear the text notification on my phone "ding!" so I pick up to see who it is. Wasn't my phone. Finn is in out of town, but it's possible he left his phone (we have the same phone, so there's a lot of "was that you or me?" in our house) at the apartment. So, too lazy to search, I text him: "Hey, did you leave your phone at home?" He replies, which means he has his phone and makes his answer totally unnecessary ("Nope."). Hm. If it wasn't my phone and it wasn't his, whose was it?

I reply, "Hm. Then we have a ghost phone in the apartment. Enjoy the party!"

I puzzle over this. Seriously, I distinctly heard the text noise. This would not be my first experience with a ghost phone. I used to hear a phone vibrating. The first time, I thought someone had left their phone at my house and was lodged in my cushions or something. No one was missing a phone, and no stray phone has ever turned up. But it has been some time since I've heard a ghost phone, and it always vibrated before. I chalk it up to a ghost with Verizon service and start flipping channels.

Phone call: It's Finn. "Hey, can you do me a favor? I'm getting really paranoid."

Lola, thinking: "Oh, it's sweet! He's worried that there's someone in the house and I'm all alone and sick! Expecting him to ask me to check the house and invite a friend over, I reply, "Of course, what do you need?"

Finn: "Can you check Binx's collar and loosen it? I'm worried it's too tight."

Lola: "Yeah, I'll loosen his collar. See you Sunday."

Seriously? Our house is haunted by a Verizon ghost, and he's worried about the cat's collar. Seriously? I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Alive and Schticking

A night at home with Lola and Finn:

I'm about to hack up a lung, a lung which feels like it's being dipped in acid. Finn is tossing a coin and catching it in the dining room, watching me white-knuckle the counter and gasp for air like the goldfish in those asthma commercials. For the sake of expediency, I will just reproduce our conversation verbatim:

Finn: So.....when you die, how long should I wait to call the ambulance before it's ruled some sort of assisted suicide or something? Like, can I just stand here doing this and watch you gasp for air and collapse?

Lola: Please call the ambulance while I'm dying and then I'd appreciate some CPR.

Finn: I don't want to catch what you've got!

Lola: Thanks, babe. . . . Ok, If I were you, I'd help me to bed while I'm dying and then pop in a movie. Wait an hour or so. Then, go into my room, make sure I'm gone and then call EMS. Tell them I went to bed because I wasn't feeling well and you could hear me coughing. Then I stopped coughing and you yelled to see if I was ok. I didn't answer, so you came in to check on me and I was already gone.

Finn: Why do I get the impression that this is exactly what you've got planned to do to me?

Lola: I would at least try to give you CPR.

Friendship. We haz it. I maintain that he wants the bigger bedroom and the walk-in closet.

Later, another attack of the Lola-can't-breathe...

Finn: Are you alive?

Lola: I believe so. Barely.

Finn: Are you ok with being alive?

Lola: I'd rather not be.

Finn: Please don't die before the next rent check is due.

In Finn's defense, he did make me hot cider because I was laying on the couch whining about wanting some. When I get better, I'll probably even let him live.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Abyss

Law school is a cesspool, a veritable breeding ground for germs and new and strange diseases. No one cares for themselves properly, because we don't have the time or the fucking will to live. We don't sleep, eat cheap take-out and gas station food from Spazzy's and binge drink on the weekends to forget about how much our lives generally suck, what with the sleep deprivation, deteriorating relationships, impending unemployment, and constant sense that you're about to be competing with your best friends. We feed off of each others' stress. One person stresses about getting turned down for a job. The rest of us flip, because not only are we worried that this awesome student can't get a job, but then we are struck with the horrifying realization that it means that you have to compete for already scarce jobs, with someone who is not only incredibly qualified, but is also your friend. People with jobs lined up can't even fucking enjoy them as they should, because they know that their friends are imagining themselves playing banjo on a street corner for money. Except most of us don't know how to play banjo, so we'd have to settle for playing Guitar Hero, and I don't think anyone would give me any money to watch me play "Hungry Like the Wolf" on "Easy."

So, we sit for hours in close, confined spaces, stressing, and gnawing through stale bagels like a trapped coyote chewing off its own leg. There's no fresh air, there's no natural light. There's no way around it. It's hard. It's supposed to be. "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." I have to tell myself this on the days when the only daylight I see is ten minutes on the way to work and five on the way to class. Because when I get to campus, I get the by-product of the price we pay for greatness: a petri dish of exotic, mutating germs. There's the typical coughing and sneezing, the sniffles. Fair enough. But no one can take time off, so we get sicker, and my cough runs into Luke's fever in the elevator, and they mate, and while we hunker down to crank out a complaint and master some sort of understanding of intestate property division on the per stirpes system, the Cough/Fever couple runs into Jenny's body ache and invite it to a threesome. And, despite the fact that we're all supposedly going to die of H1N1, no one wants to chance getting behind unless they've actually got the Hamthrax. That's Karen's sinus congestion comes across the Ache/fever/cough and now we've got a fourgy. And they must be into some kinky shit, because somehow or another, when it comes back around, it's mutated and added inner ear pain.

Everyone feels marginally better, which means it's time to drink like we're auditioning to be Bluto Blutarsky's replacement at the Delta House. On Sunday, we realize that the sore throat someone picked up from a fundergrad at the bar has joined the fun, and we've got a full-on gang-bang goin' on in our throats/heads/noses. And, we incubate. At this point, I'm less concerned with Hamthrax and more concerned that some of my classmates are going to start sprouting tentacles from their noses like some sort of "Alien" movie reject or the stand-in for Davy Jones.

Sunday is also a time to ruminate on the poor decisions made over the past 2 or 3 days. In college, we used to wander into the lounge and compare our drunk bruises (or, as E calls them, "UDI's"). Now, there is a slew of phone calls, and discussions over overpriced coffee to piece together and dissect the weekend. This is usually accomplished by looking through text messages and cameras. I have a friend who carries a camera and cell phone specifically for the purpose of retracing and reassembling the weekend's antics. Today, I'm doing it with the assistance of a "Flipping Out" marathon, and my fantasies of Jeff Lewis becoming my new gay boyfriend. He is, after all, my soulmate.

Thankfully, this was actually a pretty tame weekend for Hurricane Lola. After falling asleep sitting up on my couch (with the result that my right cheekbone is incredibly tender), Finn and I joined the P-funks for a night of killer sangria (which I managed to spill on the carpet), Rockband, and discussion of important topics such as a man nicknamed "Jimmy Horseballs" and the virtues of punctuality. He-funk and Finn are discussing the virtues and flaws of Darcy, the closet gentleman who went from normal speed, to middle-school slow, to way too much for the emotional fuckwittery that is Lola at the moment. He-funk, no doubt prefacing a derrogatory comment about Mr. Darcy's personality, leads in with this "He's a good guy. He's nice, he's polite, he's sweet. He's...punctual." It occurs to She-funk and I that if "punctual" makes the top five in a list of positive traits, it's the equivalent of saying that they have the personality of an empty pizza box. Apparently, he doesn't make eye contact. He-funk continues, "but, he's kind of douchey." Finn jumps into the fray "Is he kind of douchey? How would I know? He never makes eye contact!"

Last night, I think the worse decision I made was trying to sing "Sympathy for the Devil" on Rock Band. I greatly underestimated how many "Woohoo's!" there are at the end of that song. After "The Medium Squad" rocked it out, Finn turns to me and remarks "I'm surprised you're still lucid after that." I'm surprised by two things: 1) that I remained conscious and 2) that someone called me lucid.

And, appropos of of nothing, Keep Fucking that Chicken.