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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Girl Walks into a Bar. . .

Or she just passes it.

I was pretty sure this morning that today was going to suck until about 6pm. First of all, I knew I was going to have to check a bag on my flight home. Second of all, our White House tour got delayed by two hours, which meant I was missing it so I could catch a plane.

I was not feeling much better when I missed the 12:20 MARC train to BWI or when the 1:05 Amtrak I caught stopped in the middle of Maryland so they could inspect the motor. Myself, I would have preferred they check the motor, you know, BEFORE several hundred people boarded the train. But, hey, to each their own. I do not have a good track record with BWI and tonight is D's bachelorette party. I had to get on this plane. I made it, and was looking forward to some down time and an inflight cocktail to rearrange my head.

As I boarded the plane, Olivia called me to inform me that Illinois bar exam results were in. I had a nightmare the other night that the results came in, but my computer kept crashing before the website loaded. My subconscious has a pretty good handle on how shit goes down in my life. I made the snap decision to pay for the overpriced Wi-fi, even after paying way-too-much to check a bag. Computie boots up nicely, I enter my CC info through gritted teeth, say a quick prayer and log on to iBaby to see....

My results are not yet posted.

I blink. I know that Stephy got his results. His last name is later in the alphabet than Lawless.

I try googling it. I get re-directed to iBaby. No results.

Just when I'm cursing the Illinois State Bar and Delta Airlines wi-fi, I refresh iBaby and a notification pops up. Cursing the flight attendants for being so slow with the cocktail I need to steady my nerves, I click it.

"Dear Ms. Lawless:
We are pleased to advise that you have passed the July 2010 Illinois bar examination."

As I type, I milking that $4.95 in interwebs charges and sippin' a G&T.

So, Congrats to all the new Illinois Lawyers!!!!!!

And to close:
"Karen, I'm a laywer. Which means I, unlike you, have actually passed a bar."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Don't Give a Damn 'Bout My Bad Reputation

Law students are already back to the grind (well, most of them are, I suppose). While suffering through a disastrous Wednesday evening, I thought about a bit of advice given to all first year law students, usually at their orientation: your reputation as a lawyer begins now. Most students begin studiously ignoring that advice at the open-bar social event at the end of their orientation.

It's good advice for anyone, really: your reputation as a professional begins now. As I sat across a table from a 30-year-old man who made increasingly obnoxious comments about getting me into bed and then pouting when I politely turned him down, I realized that I would go out of my way to avoid working with him. Ever. And I would discreetly encourage every woman I know to do the same.

It should be obvious that I'm no prude. But, making graphic sexual inquiries to a co-worker that you just met is over the line. Also, I never gave any sign that I was interested in so much as harmless flirting. And when I politely (me! polite!) declined his advances, he kept at it. Did I mention I'm a c0-worker? Seriously, asshat, the response to "I just thought this was a friendly outing. I'd like to just be friends" is not "Well, what about letting me go down on you? Or giving me a back rub in your underwear?"

EXCUSE ME? Now, typically, this is where the vodka and glass starts to fly. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option, so I glared, and managed to keep my voice even as I replied.

"When I said I wasn't going to go to bed with you, I meant it. I'm sorry that I offended you, but you asked me to give you a straight answer. I can't explain why and I don't have to." When he attempted to give me a hug and a cheek-kiss at the end of the evening, I shouted "off!" like I was talking to a dog. Actually, it was exactly the way I give a command to my dog. (Most people reacted to this story with indignation. Barney kinda--shrugged. Like he wouldn't have done something like that, but he still found it mildly amusing. Until further notice, I'm no longer speaking to you, B.)

People, take heed: This is absolutely inexcusable behavior. I will never see his name on an email without thinking of this incident. And that's not good. (Update: Jackass had the nerve to call me and email me today. Whiskey, tango, foxtrot?)

I know this behavior is egregious, but honestly, it's not just extreme behavior like this that reflects poorly on you. There are people I went to school with that I decided I would never work with by the end of our first week. Some people took a little longer. You all know who I'm talking about: the one who couldn't tell you what class they were in, much less the rule of law in the case they were presenting; the one who was sweating vodka every Tuesday morning by 10; the one who couldn't find a shower with a map and a tour guide; the smarmy bastard so utterly convinced of his own cleverness that the professor couldn't get through calling on the first student without a "helpful" comment from Mr. Smarty-pants.

The gunners, so desperate to be regarded as intelligent contributors to the class that they come up with questions that are so far removed from reality that they no longer have anything to do with the subject (Q: What if a meteor drops on D after he pulls out the gun, but before he shoots Vic? A: We don't prosecute smoking craters in this country. No, not for attempt. Not for anything.).

Mr. Racist/Sexist/Homophobic. Just shut up. By now, you should recognize the groaning sound that sweeps through a 100 person lecture hall every time you open your mouth (My favorite: If you don't like the schools in the inner-city because they're so bad, why don't you just move?)

The person who uses scare tactics and/or underhanded dealings to "get ahead." Dude, if the only way you can get ahead is by checking out ALL of the study aids on a topic, you've got a problem. Trying to screw with other people doesn't make you smarter.

The lazy one who never pulls their weight on a class group project or in the student organization.

The whiny one who complains constantly about the unfairness/workload of a student organization they competed to get into. On a public forum. (We seriously had a person write a piece about the fact that Law Review was "A lot of work. And the assignments aren't fun." No kidding. We never marketed ourselves as a social organization. We publish a scholarly journal. We don't organize sorority mixers. It's a lot of hard work.

And the person, who, just couldn't deal with other people. You don't have to be a slacker to screw up a team. You can be malicious. You can be overbearing. You can be inflexible. You can be so insecure that you spend all of your energy trying to put on a show so you'll be liked. If you spent half as much time just doing your work as you do spreading rumors, bullying other people, or trying to be someone you think everyone wants you to be; you'd be a pleasure to work with. And people wouldn't peg you as being a bitch/bully/phony right off the bat.

Seriously, I know I can be cranky, and I say "fuck" way too much, but I also know that I go out of my way to treat my colleagues with respect. And yes, I'm aware that no one can be perfect all the time (God knows I'm not) but please, do yourselves a favor: do not make these habits. Don't be that person. It may seem like common sense, but I had at least one actual person in mind for each of the above. Be the person that others want to go into business with. Not the one that people move out of state to get away from.

Small Victories

Office Space Update:
Wednesdays are the days Cocky Cowboy usually rides into town. Last week, he didn't ride into my office.


Let's see if we can make it two weeks?

Ice, Ice Baby

To quote the ever-amazing "1776," "It's hot as hell in Philadelphia." On a side note, I will soon (yay!) live within a few blocks of Independence Hall--the site portrayed in that fabulous movie (which I totally watched this weekend). Envy me. I so want to stage a flash-musical rendition of "But Mr. Adams" one night while I'm there. Let me know if you want in.

Hot as it is, it is a wonderful feeling to walk into my air-conditioned office every morning. And it remains a great feeling--for about 10 minutes. Then, it's like sitting in a walk-in freezer. My first day in the office the maintenance staff was "fixing" my a/c. Allegedly, they were correcting a problem with the thermostat. If "correcting" means "setting the a/c to randomly start pumping out freezing air and 8:00 no matter where the thermostat is set," then I guess it's been corrected.

I'm aware that I am alaways cold, but when my office-mate has a parka on in August, I feel confident saying that it's not just me. Yesterday, I wore wool pants and a sweater over my top. I felt like an idiot. Then I looked at my fingernails and they were turning blue. I got up and went down the hall to Sue's office, obstensibly to talk about a project, but really because I got very tired and relaxed and I assumed it was because my heartrate was slowing and I was about to enter hibernation. I defrosted in Sue's office. She has the opposite problem--her a/c duct isn't connected to anything. She does have a funny little mobile unit, which I have lovingly nicknamed "R2."

Unable to procrastinate any longer, I returned to my office and checked the thermostat--it claimed to be 74. My teeth were chattering within 5 minutes. 74 my ass.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wild, Wild West

Office Space Update: I've decided to...experiment this week. I'm not a passive-aggressive person by nature. Typically, I'm just flat-out aggressive. I'm not very fond of being passive-aggressive and I hate it when people act that way with me. If there's a problem, tell me, or even yell at me inapprorpriately. I can handle that. We can either talk rationally or have an argument. Either way, we express our feelings, get the problem out in the open, and most of the time, resolve the problem. Passive-aggression (I think I made up a word. Get over it.) usually just leads to a build-up of ever-pissier feelings until there's a complete breakdown of communication or an all-out brawl.

However, on Wednesdays, Cocky Cowboy comes to town. And so I've got to be prepared for our little showdown. In the only language he seems to understand: truly passive-aggressive and borderline immature gestures. I stuck my To-Do list to the computer monitor instead of the desk, left my notepad and some (non-sensitive) forms splayed across the surface. I also left the sweater I keep at the office to combat the arctic blast coming from our A/C draped over my chair. And, most annoying of all, instead of logging off my computer, I left it locked onto my user name. Which means that he'd have to know my network password to even use the workstation to type an email (he doesn't).

This is the part where I blow the smoke from my gun.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Blind Side

I no longer believe in Murphy's law. I believe in Lola's law. Anything stupid and irritating will happen to me. I hadn't been in the city for a week and on my way to work, I missed my turn-off. No big deal. I took the next exit and turned around. Oh yeah, and while I was finishing my detour, I got into a car accident. At possibly the most screwed up intersection I've ever seen. I don't even know if the cop wrote the other guy a ticket (I know he didn't write me one).

So, there I was. Alone, in a strange city with no car and three dollars cash in my pocket. I have never been more glad that I pay extra for rental coverage (In passing, I note that most law students and lawyers I know have really good car insurance. Trust me, it's a good idea, especially if you live in a no-fault state. Like Pennsylvnia). Of course, I was not so happy when I had issues with my car at the Enterprise. Like, right as they were giving me the keys to the rental. Well, I couldn't get to the bank to figure out the issue. So, I had to find another way to work. Swell. Not like I could just call a friend and have them drive me, now is it? I managed it, waiting all the time for that magic moment when I'd be able to cry into my beer with a friend, maybe someone who had known me longer than 5 days. Texts and calls to various friends yield no results. I break down and accept that Barney is my best shot. At least he always has booze in the house.

"Hey, B. It's Lola. Are you around tonight? I'm in serious need of beer and bar food."
"Sorry! I'm out of town. Anything good going on tonight?"
"Not really. It's my first week of work and I got into a car accident this morning. I just really need to get out."
Being the concerned friend he is, he cuts right to the chase, "Why didn't you just take the SEPTA?"
Dude. Your concern is overwhelming.

Office Space

I work in a pretty nice environment. My co-workers are friendly, helpful and seem genuinely happy. I credit this to the fact that most of them are not lawyers. I find myself being happier and more friendly than normal when I am at work. I know, it's weird. I am, almost by definition, cynical, demanding, and prickly. Yet, when I go to work, I find myself smiling and upbeat. Like I said, it's weird.

But there's an exception to this rule of happy. The dark side of the happy halls of my office space. The office space. We're undergoing construction and, since we're a major hub,we frequently have people coming in from satellite offices for meetings or to staff projects. This means that space is at a premium. People find out who's out of town training or on a project, or just relocating and squat in their office. Mostly by getting there early in the morning, signing on to the computer, and locking it whenever they have to walk down the hallway. Seriously, it's like the Wild, Wild West. You have to get there early and stake your claim. Lay your briefcase down on the desk, and make damn sure you sign on to the computer and leave it locked rather than logging out whenever you have a meeting. It brings out the dark and twisty in our corporate culture. I got to work at my normal time the other day, about 7:45. And, I thought I walked into the wrong office. There was a guy sitting at my desk, as though he'd always been sitting there. I said hello and walked back out to check the plate. Cocky Cowboy gives me a withering stare. And then, the smirky sumbitch asks me what I'm looking for.
"My desk. This is office X, isn't it?" I say, pointedly, looking at the desk. Where I stupidly left only a few generic papers, insufficient to mark my territory. "I'm Lola, by the way. I'm working in the vaguely legal department." He condescended to introduce himself to me and then recline in my desk chair. I just stared at him for a moment, waiting for him to deduce that he was sitting in my space, and you know, maybe give it up and sit in one of the TWO OTHER empty workspaces, instead of the one I was clearly trying to get to. "Well, do you mind using the other desk?" He continued.
Knowing that I couldn't access my computer anyway and that all I had to do that day was some reading and prepping that I could do anywhere, I decided to take the high road, agreed, and sat down at my office mate's desk. I figured it was best not to make waves.

And then my phone rang. I could see from the caller I.D. that it was my supervisor. And he got all huffy when I asked him to please hand me the phone. And then he continued to passive-aggressively make faces and noises when people came into the office to meet with me or drop things off. He was even shirty with Bosslady. Bosslady was pissed. Bosslady is awesome.

Oh, hell no. I really don't know what it is about me that makes some men think they can treat me like they're some ditzy, vaguely irritating, caricature of an Eisenhower-era secretary. Maybe I smiled too much when I walked in, maybe my ponytail was too high, maybe it was a mistake to wear a dress with a floral pattern. Whatever. It won't happen again. Next time he is in my office, he will not sit at my desk, especially since once I get everything settled in I'll have sensitive information there. I made a trip to the little store and bought some stuff for my desk and resolved to get there even earlier the next day to stake my claim. In our little Western, he's the vaguely weak and evil cowboy who wears black and is missing teeth. I am the woman who runs the saloon and keeps a rifle under the bar and a tiny pistol in her cleavage. It's on, Cowboy. This office ain't big enough for the both of us. Give me back my office, or I'll shoot your ass off.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Always Sunny

Fun fact: I am incredibly indecisive about really minor shit. I am incredibly decisive about the big stuff. I can (and have) spent a half an hour debating between a Panera sandwich or take-out sushi for dinner. Meanwhile, a few months ago,I got a phone call and decided, at 2:00 on a Friday afternoon, "What the hell? I'll move to Philadelphia."

Actually, the move went pretty much the same way. I was staying with my sister in Panther Country, also known as East Jesus, USA, so my internet access (and contact with other people) was limited, to say the least. Seriously, my future brother-in-law was warned that he had to move his lawn tractor quickly to avoid being ticketed. Which begs two questions: 1) You can be ticketed for that? and 2) How often are tractors ticketed in front of your store that that's the first thing you say, woman?

Back to the point, I kinda blew out of town without any fanfare. It's not that I intended to get the hell out of Dodge like I was running out on my rent (even though it probably seemed that way). It's just that I was pressed for time and strapped for cash. Oh, and good-byes make me crazy. I always really want to see people before we leave, but sometimes making the big production feels forced, or, worse, final. And then I freak out. Which is silly, because I know to the date and approximate time the next time I will see a lot of people I had to say "good-bye" to. But, I'm kind of an emotional fuckwit about these things and making plans for "one last hurrah" totally freaks me out because that means I would have to acknowledge that I will not be able to spontaneously meet my favorite people for coffee, drinks, or cider mill runs. I have had exactly two moments of real clarity about this decision, and both were brief. Let's face it: I know like, four people here, two of whom I haven't seen in years and one who is Barney, and skilled as he is in the ways of convincing me to drink on week nights, he is about as equipped to handle my eventual crushing bout of homesickness as a jellyfish is to perform open heart surgery. The burden is going to fall overwhelmingly onto Thelma, and she lives on the other side of town.

It doesn't help that when I was driving into town, it started raining just as I entered the city limits. And then last night, a storm knocked out my hotel's satellite (and totally ruined my attempt to catch up on True Blood). Turns out, it's not always sunny in Philadelphia. After spending my morning locked out of my office and getting a blister from my favorite snakeskin heels (oh, like you couldn't predict that I would wear impractical, yet killer heels to work) there was no better time for me to stop driving around with my suitcases in my car like a nomad and discover the bottle of vodka tucked lovingly into a bag of my unmentionables (Eh, I'll mention them: thongs!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

10:38 p.m. Central Time.

It's go time.

I arrived in Chicago last night, at the home of the amazing Amie Kus Curie, who had battened the hatches for the arrival of Hurricane Lola. This meant stocking the Homestead (which is fabulous by the way, townhouse, near public transportation with central air, four flours, two decks, a garage, 3 bathrooms, a huge kitchen with granite countertops and a washer dryer. Please take a moment and feel what I think Amie wants you to feel: jealous. Jealous of her kick-ass house and awesome life.) with supplies for her crazed bar examinee: bacon, toaster struedels, and vodka.

Amie well knows the insanity that is the bar, and so, her sacrifice is not to be diminished. Pete, who probably heaved a big ol' sigh of relief after Amie's bar hell was complete and never imagined he'd have to deal with it again, has displayed incredible fortitude in agreeing to walk through the valley of the shadow of bat-shit crazy by hosting me. Apparently, upon arriving home today, he saw that the door to the guest bedroom was closed and retired to another room to do something else, anything other than risk a run in with the Hurricane. Pete is wise. And he brought us pizza. Yummy!

As it transpired, I was watching the essay lecture, which I realized I never saw. Mostly because I was drugged and drooling on my couch the day it aired, and because the notes seemed to be pretty basic (The bar exam consists of two days? Shit, I better write that down!) But, I thought, "better safe than sorry. Maybe I'll pick up some tips." And maybe I did. But I also picked up some misinformation. Por ejemplo, she informed us that we would be provided with writing utensils for both days, so we couldn't bring any. WRONG. We will be provided with pencils on Wednesday when we sit the MBE (Aside: special thanks to the ass-goblin who found a way to cheat by bringing in his or her own pencils. Now, we all suffer because of you. Well done, dickwad. With all that time you spent figuring out what must be a ridiculously complicated method of cheating, you could have just, you know, studied.). I cannot imagine the rage of all the poor souls who listened to her when they show up tomorrow and find that writing utensils will not be provided for the essay exam. On the other hand, I judge them heavily for trusting anything not handed down from IBABY.

I did my dry-run this morning, as suggested and found a lunch place, a back-up lunch place, and a back-up for the back-up. Upon my arrival at my building, I noticed that the law school is hosting some sort of "Law Preview."

Dear God. WHY? Why in heavens name would you allow prospective students/tuition checks in the same building as people who are about to take the bar exam? My family has studiously avoided me except for text messages, because I can't yell over text messages (yet). In the past month, I have gone from getting carded constantly, to never getting carded at all. I look like a zombie. I sound like a schizophrenic person in the throes of the active stage. I alternate between stress-starving and scavenging through the fridge/pantry like a raccoon in a garbage can. I simmer so close to the surface that I almost cried last week when my iPod froze. And then almost cried again when I found out how to reset it. Those kids will go running. And you, fancy-pants law school will not get their money or the souls you need to power your building of doom. Fail.

I ran into someone clearly administering some program as I wandered the halls looking for my testing room. "Oh, are you here for the Law Preview?" he asked. Um. Not even close. But I'm flattered that I still looked human enough for you to assume I hadn't yet been to law school.

"Oh, no," I replied, "just doing my dry run for the bar tomorrow."

"Oh my God!" He exclaimed, clearly terrified (I'm surprised he didn't cross himself). "Good luck with that!"

It was like I had announed to him that I was getting a lethal injection tomorrow. I appreciate his sympathy, but so not helpful.

I'm actually not doing too bad (I don't think. I showered. Which is probably better than some people. George's stinky friend, I'm looking at you.). I had pizza (new Domino's is surprisingly tasty) and smokey treats and Madonna wine. I'm hoping that my new policy of not thinking about what I'm actually doing and just trying to write each esssay as it comes will work.

And as Nikki pointed out, what I do today is not that important (I mostly watched "Flipping Out," so, that's a good thing). It's what I did over the past three years and two months. I've worked my ass off, and so have most of the people I know taking this thing tomorrow.

So, to them I say, it's time to kick ass and take names. I'll see you on the otherside.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Pep Talk

I'm up to it in Equity, Contracts, and Real Property. At this point, I'm going to be lucky to get through the rest of my outlines and do a few more practice problems, let alone staying on my PACED Program. My diet of coffee, nicotine, and toaster struedels is eating through my stomach lining. And I'm neurotic. I'm absolutely terrified that I will fail this exam. But, I don't really have the heart/time/brain power to write a proper post. So, I will take an actual AIM conversation (yes, some people still have those) between myself and the Amazing Amie Kus Curie, Esq., in the hopes that it will bring peace of mind to some of my fellow bar-takers (Amie, incidentally, is boarding me for my bar exam sojourn. She should be canonized as a saint. She knows what I'm like under normal stress and is still willing to let me into her home under bar exam stress and is buying me toaster struedels on top of it.). So, with proper credit to Ms. Curie, I present, a pep talk:


Lola: I am so in the weeds as far as bar review

Amie: psht. you are not

Lola: I'm behind. Not sleeping and being doped up on pain meds has not been helpful

Amie: psht. do you need a pep talk? because I can totally give one

you're lola fucking lawless.

you are not behind.

barbri is full of shit.

their schedule is a damn joke.

it is only mid-june.

you're smarter than most of the people taking the bar.

multiple choice? bitch, please. just practice them over and over and over and you'll be fine.

and the multi-state practice thingy or whatever the fuck it is - EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD. worth twice as much as an essay. just follow the rules. I literally didn't practice any of them, and thought it was so easy.

and, because it bears repeating, you're lola fucking lawless.

you don't drop the ball.

Lola: except when it's an actual ball. I'm terrible at sports

Amie: you have crazy hair and carry lots of books and make yourself sick and power through it and fucking turn around after the most devastating breakup ever to get published and graduate summa and utterly destroy the competition.

shut up. I'm talking. you're listening.

and you do it all while having fun and making friends and slaying men.

so to sum up: you're lola fucking lawless. it's early. you're not behind.

your crazy mind might make you THINK you're behind, but your behind is other people's keeping up or being ahead.

Lola: you give awesome pep talks

Amie: your behind is getting the second best grade in a class.

your behind is graduating summa cum laude.

your behind makes men drool.

(see what I did there?)

Lola: I did. it was awesome. a triumph of word play.

Amie: thanks.

so- shut up. you're not behind. you're lola fucking lawless. you will work hard, you will hate it, you will take the test, you will hate it, you will wait, you will hate it, and you will pass, whereupon you will stop hating it.

Lola: sounds do-able. Now I am pumped to destroy practice essays

Amie: marvelous. do it rockapella.

Lola: And now I have the Carmen Sandiego theme song stuck in my head. Which is even more awesome.

very motivating. I shall look it up on Youtube.

this is so awesome

ahhhhh, how can you not want to be smarter when you think about the awesomeness of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Amie: it's true.

Lola: did you ever play the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego computer game?

Amie: OF COURSE I DID. second only to the oregon trail!

Lola: YES! I have the overwhelming desire to play all of those games now. Who cares about my crim law drill?

Amie: damnit woman! you're lola fucking lawless.

Lola: that's right. I will find a way to do both.

So, get out there, fellow bar-takers, and let's kick some ass!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rise of the Machine

Everyone knows that Computie and I have a complicated relationship. Sure, we've been together through thick and thin; Computie even bounced back after that time I accidentally dumped a cup of coffee onto her 1L year. Sure, she makes it a point to update when the Exam Software is trying to reboot for a test, but I know that it's all in good fun. Sure, she occasionally makes screechy noises out of nowhere, causing people in a 10 foot radius to jump back in shock and shout, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" and then look scared and pitying when I explain that it is just my computie. But, she has also safeguarded all my outlines, papers, articles (even though our Macro continuously froze her), and pictures. She and I have journeyed into the most pointless realms of the World Wide Web together. And she has (inadvertently) shared snacks with me. We're a team, dammit!

I got Computie as a bribe (ok, part of my scholarship package) from ThirdTier Law. Computie came fully loaded with all sorts of software necessary to the study of law and the avoidance of the study of law by dicking around on the interwebs. Computie used to run fast and amaze me with all the nifty little perks of my new operating system. Like the way-cool Google Toolbar that I had such fun customizing until its mysterious disappearance midway through my first year.

Computie is feeling her oats. I had to replace her power supply (well, my warranty did that), her keyboard (my fault, after the whole coffee incident), and her battery (which I had to pay for. Boo.) No matter how many times I clear off her disk space, I get a message 10 minutes later that I have low disk space. She freezes for no reason at all, and has started blocking "start up programs" (whatever those may be). Also, my Anti-virus subscription mysteriously expired almost immediately upon my graduation from ThirdTier Law (thanks, you cheapos).

But sometimes Computie does things that simply cannot be attributed to her age or my somewhat negligent computer ownership (I used to constantly put her to "sleep" and then forget she was in my backpack. She retaliated by burning my hands when I yanked her out). Some times, she just doesn't feel like doing something. No matter how hard I beg. Most of these things are just a matter of simply inconvenience or my annoyance (Google Toolbar=gone, baby, gone; and she never would do that cool thing where you switch between windows by looking at a stack of mini-windows). Some of these things, however, are really, really important.

I am behind in my bar review, between the move and apartment hunting, and so desired to watch my BarBri lectures at 1.5X speed. It shaves off about an hour from a three hour lecture. E, who has the same computer-bribe, informed me of the process. We have the same computer, same operating system, same softwear, same default factory settings. Her computer will allow her this amazing time saving technique (it also forces your concentration. Even if a lecturer is on a tangent, it doesn't last long, so you can't zone out). Computie, no matter how exactly I follow the directions, or try some of the tricks to make it work, will not comply. She'll run the lecture at 1.5X speed--but with NO SOUND. Or, I get a slow-ass lecture with sound. Sigh. I guess Computie believes that revenge is a dish best served cold and I'm finally getting my comeuppance.

She is in a state of revolt against me. And, if I'm ever found dead with mysterious electrical burns or a power cord wrapped around my throat, you'll know who did it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MBE Preview: They're Ba-ack!

Ok, I'm about 3 weeks into my substantive review. I have notes for blog posts about all the lecturers written. They will be posted. They may not be in the most edited format, but they will be posted. I am still deciding if I want to wait to post until the lecturer has done all of his or her subjects. I probably will be that lazy. So, stay tuned, I will organize and post. I will also take this time to rant about the fact that I am about 3 weeks into my substantive review, and I am yet to have a female lecturer. Um, what? Are the women-folk not good enough to tell stale jokes and throw out lame neumonics about a subject for three and a half hours? Screw you, Illinois. Grr...

And, without further ado, I give you: MBE Preview: Con Law and Evidence.

Con Law. Great. Crazy Torts Lady is Back.

She still has volume moderation problems. "Let's talk about the commerce clause. This is important. At my law school, we split up Con Law into ConLaw I and ConLaw II." Um, what? How is that important?

On The Marriage Ref: "I think it has Matthew Broderick." Or--JERRY SEINFELD? Please, I haven't even seen this stupid sow and I know that Matthew Broderick is nont involved. I get that she's trying to relate to current events, but she loses points for being wrong and loses extra points for sullying the good name of an 80's icon (Inspector Gadget notwithstanding). I judge her for that comment almost as much as I judged her for whining about memorizing the multiplication tables. Bottom line: according to her, ConLaw is going to be the easiest MBE subject. Which is a damn good thing, because I got zilch out of that lecture.

Oh, my crim law buddy is back! I like him because he gives an overview of how many questions will likely be tested and some general tips up front.
On character evidence: "Oh yeah, he's violent. But he's incredibly honest! He is honest in his violence!"
Ok, his "MIMIC" voice is a bit much for me, but oh well. He does a nice, simple review.
On the most ridiculous M.O. ever conceived by the national board of bar examiners: "I'll admit, this guy took it too far. I've got some personal experience, and the duck call really attracts the ladies." I actually laughed out loud at this. I know I'mwatching a video, but I just got an image of this nerdy guy yanking out a duck call and playing it seductively. I need a moment again.
His Lost tie-in was far superior to The Marriage Ref. Not because it was more on point. But because he had his facts straight and because Lost is so far superior to The Marriage Ref that it's not even far to mention to two in the same blog post. Bottom line: nice review. I won't be seeing you anymore buddy, so, fare thee well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Taking an idea from Amie, who got it from Laura, this one is about my grandmother.
Unlike Laura, I knew my grandmother very well when she was still alive. She and my grandfather took my mother, sister, and I in after my father left. My mom had to work when we were young (still does, actually), so my grandparents helped raise D and I. My grandma was the one who picked us up from school and embarassed us by doing it in her hair rollers. She was the one who made us dinner before dance class and broke up our arguments.

She died two weeks before Christmas when I was 15. It's a sad story, and one that I won't get into here. But the point is, I knew my grandma. Very well. But she didn't live to see me graduate from high school, much less law school. Theoretically, I have no idea how she would have felt about my becoming a lawyer.

Laura and Amie, according to their blog posts, had very conservative German Lutheran Grandmothers. And, here's where we differ. My Grandma was neither German nor Lutheran. Grandma wasn't born in Italy, but she was younger than most of her sibling (she was one of ten). Also, inexplicably, their family was Protestant---which denomination, I'm not sure, but she never went to church anyway, so I don't think it matters. She did convert to Catholocism after my Grandfather passed away, just in case, though Lord knows she found the entire religion bewildering. Whenever she came to mass with us (my Grandpa's family was the more typical Catholic Italian variety). She was bemused by the constant standing and kneeling, "What is this? An aerobics class?" she'd grumble. She soberly informed me that all priests are alcoholics (all that communion wine) and, thank to her vivid mental picutres about what I could catch from sharing the wine cup, I haven not taken communion wine, ever. Ever. In over 15 years. No wine. Me. Passing up free booze. That's power.

She was a powerful woman. Not in the conventional sense that you'd think of. She wasn't leading the charge into the workforce, busting the glass ceiling with a red powersuit and a briefcase. But she was ahead of her time. She was a stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and raised the kids, but for anyone who met her and my mild-mannered grandpa, there was no doubt who really called the shots. She was a fiesty, outspoken little fireball who encouraged our independence, ruled her roost, and yelled at telemarketers, annoying neighbors, and any kids who messed with her grandkids.

Meeting her would probably explain a lot about me. We have similar sense of humor, thought it must be admitted she probably didn't joke about sex as much or say "fuck" quite as much as I do. And, her political views were not fiercely conservative (a note about my family: political views take sides rather than generations; my father's family= conservative, mother's family=liberal. I bet you can all guess what side I take after) . She always (probably facetiously) said that she voted for whoever was best looking. For eight years, that meant Bill Clinton.

She was not afraid or disapproving of strong women and she never expected us to shrink into the woodwork. In a lot of ways, I wasn't a typical little girl. A lot of little girls want to be nurses, teachers, or ballerinas. I wanted to be a lawyer. Early on, I was more comfortable with adults than I was with most kids my own age. As anyone who knew me can attest, I was a strange kid. She got me, her special little snowflake, and was unfailingly supportive. Though we never expressly discussed whether she was proud of my chosen career path, I knew she was always proud of my academic aptitude and ambition. Every time I (or any of the other kids) had some little success at school, she'd talk about it to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen--usually family members having coffee and cake on Sunday mornings.

The idea thatI was going into a "man's field" didn't seem to have occurred to her; or, if it did, it certainly didn't faze her. She was so proud of her granddaughter who was smarter than a lot of the boys she competed against. She loved her family, but I get the impression that if she'd been born 40 or 50 years later, things may have been different. I can only imagine her raising hell in a "man's world."

Grandma died before I got my driver's license. She did not see me graduate from high school. She didn't see me graduate from college. She didn't get to see me graduate from law school. But I don't have to wonder. She would be proud of me. So proud of her special, weird, little snowflake. She would be full-to-bursting with pride, smug-as-hell, driving her brother and sister nuts over coffee proud.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Deal

I always thought I'd hit the height of meanness, hatefulness, and deadness in the eyes some time in the middle of my third year of law school.
And then I yelled at my mother for suggesting I bring home a piece of paper.
In my defense, I started the conversation by telling her how overwhelmed I was and her idea of being helpful was to remind me of all of these other things I should be doing and telling me to do things I had already done (looking up the address on the piece of paper being one of them).
I swear, my poor mother probably thinks I have a brain tumor. Before law school, I had a pretty long fuse. Once I hit my limit, of course, I was, to use a friend's phrase, "fucking terrifying," but those moments were pretty few and far between.
And then I went to law school. And the weirdest stuff started to set me off. I'd be on the phone with my mother, yelling at the person driving the Honda minivan in front of me with the "Thank your mother for not choosing abortion" bumper sticker (I wish her mother had), who was driving too slowly through the roundabout and I just knew she was wondering what the hell happened to her calm, rational daughter.
I'll tell you. She went to law school. And we thought that was bad. And then, she started studying for the bar.
I'll refer you all to the excellent post by my dear friend Amie Kus Curie, giving excellent suggestions for how to deal when someone you know is taking the bar. As I am actually studying for the bar right now, I lack the energy to do it as well as she does. But, I'll give you the short version in case you're feeling lazy. The following is a list of Do's and Don'ts.

DON'T say "You'll be fine. You're smart." Yeah, I am smart. Smart people fail this test every year. There are "pass" rates for every law school in this country. Ever heard of a little school called Harvard? Their passage rate for the 2007 New York bar was 97%. Which is damn impressive. Guess what? It means that 3% of the Harvard grads who took the New York Bar Exam failed it. HARVARD GRADS. Understand why "you're smart," doesn't mean shit?

DO steer clear of your little BarBri drone if possible. Unless they are calling you. If you don't pick up your phone when they know you are just sitting around having a beer after work, it may just push them over the edge. They are only calling to talk and maybe blow off a little steam.

DON'T get all butthurt when your BarBri prisoner can't come to your birthday party/movie marathon/grocery shopping trip. Trust me, we'd all rather be watching you open an envelope than watching a man who resembles Vizzini from The Princess Bride on PCP scream about Federal Jurisdiction. Enjoy the fact that you have a life. Please let us study products liability without the additional guilt of missing out on the inagural run of your Popcorn maker.

DO try to laugh at their stupid bar-related jokes or impressions of the BarBri lecturers. It's all we've got. Please don't take it away from us.

DON'T ask when we'll find out if we passed. Imagine you were waiting for the results of a test that would tell you if the strange mass on your liver was made of cancer or gold bullion. Now imagine everyone you know asking you when you'd find out the results every time they see you.

DO take your soul-less Bar zombie up on their infrequent offers to relax for a little while. Take them to dinner. Or for coffee. Ok, maybe not coffee, maybe ice cream.

DON'T compare trying to pick paint colors for your guest bedroom or trying to find the best price on a part for your car or a nastily worded memo from your H.R. department to studying for the bar. I know that those things can be stressful. You get no sympathy from someone who spent three years and $150 grand on an education that simply did not prepare them to take the exam that will determine whether they can actually use their degree.

DO be flexible. Please.

DON'T say "It's just a test." Please. Just. Don't. We might pass the bar. But then we'll probably have a hard time passing Character and Fitness due to the brutal murder we've just committed.

DO keep that skin thick and be prepared for anything. Hang in there, this too will pass.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bar Review: MBE Preview Day 1: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut


It's started. I officially have to start studying for the bar. Well, sort of. MBE Preview is pretty tame so far. No assignments, no reading; we just take a multiple choice quiz in the morning followed by a mini-lecture analyzing the questions. We take a lunch break and then repeat. I'm sure it's a trap, designed to lull us into a false sense of security. Many people tell me I'm paranoid. This isn't paranoia. This is experience. Three years of law school taught me this: if something seems easy, you're about to get jacked in the face by the brass knuckles of law school. When people tell me I am overly suspicious, I refer them to this short story: Once, while battling a sore throat and upper-respiratory illness, Dan recommended his mother's home remedy: a shot of vodka chased by a tablespoon of honey (I make absolutely no judgments about Mama Dan's parenting. But I bet her kids slept well). When I hesitated, and asked if he was sure he wasn't just recommending this to see what would happen if I actually did it, he responded: "You're very suspicious." I replied "I'm suspicious because I'm about to take a vodka shot with a honey back." Sometimes, suspicion is warranted. That's your better judgment helping you out and telling you to pay attention.

But, back to MBE Preview. I'll try to make these brief. Because lord knows the lecturers are not troubling themselves to do so. Our first subject is Torts, with lecturer Lisa McElroy (hereinafter Crazy Torts Lady). The first thing I notice is her sever volume control issues. Also, her plugs about how BarBri is the greatest thing since sliced bread and how if we follow the Paced Program, not only will we pass the bar, but we'll win a castle and a pony and win the Nobel Prize and have bluebirds sing to us in our baths. For the sake of expediency (and a troubling glimpse into my mind), I will reproduce the notes I made:

Torts with Crazy Torts Lady

Ok, enough about how BarBri is the bestest bar prep in the world. Give me the goddamn answer. Hey! I got this one right. It took me a while to even figure out what question she was talking about. (Some comment she made about law students being compulsive). Compulsive? Law students? Law students who graduated? Shut the front door!

She goes on a lot of tangents. I understand that she's trying to break this up and make things easier. Which would totally work—if any of her stories were funny or interesting. They are not. Now she's telling some story about how her daughters didn't want to learn the multiplication tables because there's no creativity in it. Lady, nobody here cares that your daughters' creativity was stifled by memorizing the multiplication tables. We're J.D.s, we had our souls crushed in a vise and pulled out of our noses first year and we all learned our multiplication tables in the third grade, without our mothers complaining that straight memorization crushed our butterfly souls. And we're going to be lawyers; if we need to do math, we pull out a calculator. So, please, just explain the products liability question again.

It's not even 11 a.m. We started at 9. I'm already bored to tears (as evidenced by my blog posts). Points for referencing the "Miracle on the Hudson" in a question about landing a plane on a freeway (Lola's note: How psyched were the bar examiners when something like that actually happened?). Though I do not believe for a second that she doesn't know Sully's name.

Bottom line: At the end of this 50 minute lecture, I fervently hoped that she wouldn't be lecturing ever again. On to the afternoon session! Again, this is mostly a transcription of my notes. I have preserved it in this form to allow you to see the evolution of my opinion of the lecturer.


Criminal Law and Procedure with Douglas Moll:

Ok, another "BarBri is awesome" plug. But he did break down what crimes would be on the exam and how many questions would be dedicated to each type of offense. He's a little dry but gets points for his commitment to saying "BARRK" with a long drawling "R" sound. (Note: this is a neumonic device for remembering which dangerous felonies count towards a felony murder charge. For your edification: Burglary, Arson, Rape, Robbery, and Kidnapping (and according to Professor Madden, Sodomy)).

Also, he does voices and impressions. And he just described a murder method as "delightfully absurd." And he pretended to stab an invisible person (Note: he was starting to grow on me). He doesn't scream into the mike as often as Crazy Torts Lady did. Fewer jarring journeys into the realm of inappropriate volume.


Also, fewer stupid anecdotes about his kids learning the multiplication tables (Lola's note: um, clearly her story had a great impact on me. I originally wrote my "butterfly soul" rant in this section of my notes. And this is not my last mention of that comment. Here is the original note-version of that rant: "No one here care if your child's creativity is stifled by memorizing the 10 times table. We're J.D.s. Our souls were squeezed out through our noses over the course of 3 years. We all learned our multiplication tables without our moms whining about our butterfly souls getting crushed. And really, how often do I multiply?")

He gets points for knowing what MadDog is and using it correctly in a hypothetical. (Apparently, according to Professor Moll, mothers are not impressed when you have MadDog in your wine rack). "Mugged my ass" (in response to a hypo defendant).

And, one of my favorite quotes: "A good, old-fashioned pistol-whipping."

Bottom line: He grew on me over the course of 50 minutes. I appreciate his commitment to recreating the hypos. Much better than Crazy Torts Lady.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I have been a negligent blogger lately. Mea culpa. The following is a story whereby I hope to explain my radio silence despite having a week off(!).

We'll start with Saturday. I went to my aunt and uncle's for cake and ice cream for my cousin's 18th birthday. I noticed him texting and asked him if he was going out with his friends later to celebrate. "Nah," he responded, "I'm going to bed. I have to work early tomorrow."

At this point, I had to re-evaluate my life. My 18-year-old cousin, a high school senior, was staying in on the Saturday night before his birthday. I was going to a kegger for a 28-year-old man with a job and a mortgage.

I redeemed myself (sort of) by going to a bridal shower on Sunday and conducting myself like a grown-ass person should. I then drove home. I was looking forward to a bubble bath with my new orange-ginger bubble bath and a glass of Bordeaux. I got to enjoy it for about ten minutes. At which point my lower abdomen started to hurt. Really, really badly. I did what any rational adult would do: I ignored it, hoping it would go away. That didn't work. Especially since the pain was directly over my right hip, also known as "where your appendix lives." Mama Lo informed me I would know if it was my appendix because I wouldn't be able to bend my knee and pull it to my chest. Yeah, my knee moved about two inches and I started screaming. I gave up and called Olivia to see if she wanted to take me to the E.R. (she brought me a book to read, for which I love her).

I'll give you the short version: I spent 4 out of 4 days seeking medical treatment. I spent 3 out of those 4 nights in the E.R. I had 2 C.T.s, 5 I.V. attempts, 3 successful I.V.s, 2 additional needle sticks for blood tests, 2 urine tests, 2 pelvic exams, an x-ray, 4 doses of morphine, 2 prescriptions for painkillers, and countless painful prods in the abdomen.

Doctors: (jabbing me in the stomach, I grimace and make a sound I didn't know I could make). Damn, it sure seems like it's your appendix!
Lola: Swell.
Doctors: But it's not showing up on the C.T. Take the Vicodin. Come back if you're not better in 12 hours. It still may be your appendix, we don't want that thing to rupture!
Lola: (gulp!)

And I still have no diagnosis. On Wednesday, really cute PA-C guy (more on him later) announced that surgery was coming down to talk to me. I wasn't thrilled about the idea of bing cut open, but I figured "hey, at least they know what's wrong!"
About that.
Two of them came in, jabbed me in the stomach some more and then shrugged. "Could be kidney stones. But, you know, 25% of the time when someone comes in with lower abdominal pain, we never figure out what it is. Take the vicodin. Come back if you start running a fever."
Lola: Are you absolutely sure you passed your medical boards?

A word on really cute P.A.-C guy (hereinafter PACMAN). He was...distractingly cute. I'm not positive about anything that happens under the influence of morphine (I hate morphine. Even after the pounding in my chest and heaviness in my limbs subsides, I still say stupid things. Like, I can hear how stupid I sound, but I am powerless to stop it), but I am 95% sure I made an ass of myself in front of him. Like, kept grinning like an idiot when he'd ask me questions or we'd make eye contact. Now, Grey's Anatomy implies that having a hot medical treater is like winning the lottery. Which may be true for most people, I am not most people. The following exchanges, reproduced for your benefit, occurred:
PACMAN: Any nausea?
Lola: Yes.
PACMAN: Vomiting?
Lola: Nope.
PACMAN: Loss of appetite?
Lola: Yes.
PACMAN: What about diarrhea?
Lola: (mortified whisper) yes.

Sometime later...
PACMAN: Well, no ovarian cysts showed up on the C.T., but just to be sure, I have to do a manual exam. So, if you haven't taken your underwear off yet, go ahead and do that, and I'll be back with a nurse.
Lola: You need me to take off my underwear? (under any other circumstances, hearing that sentence from his mouth would have been the highlight of my week. Except he was about to do a pelvic exam. And I hadn't shaved my legs. I swear that the was the first thought I had. Life is cruel.)
PACMAN: Yep, I'll be back in a minute.
Olivia: ...I'll just step outside too....
Lola: Thanks for that.
A minute later...
PACMAN: So any pain? Any discomfort?
Lola: (bites tongue): Not from the exam.
PACMAN: So, the exam doesn't make it worse? Just the pain you've been having? And the discomfort is just....the normal....
Lola: (stares at ceiling in abject horror) Yeah, just the pain on the right side. No additional discomfort.
PACMAN: Good. Well, everything looks good--seems fine down there.
Lola: thanks.
Olivia: (re-entering): So, how'd it go?
Lola: Excuse me, I have to go die now.

The worst part is, I think in my drugged-up state (damn you, morphine!) I confided to my lady-doctor, a bubbly, sympathetic woman, that I thought PACMAN was hot. I think she told him. I say this only because when PACMAN was going over my discharge stuff, he kept asking "so, anything else for me?" and giving me this funny look even after Olivia and I asked him a dozen questions and said we didn't have anymore. Well, that was a lie. I had two more questions: 1) Are you single? 2) Wanna take me out sometime? But, I had had enough humiliation for one night, so I left with another pain med prescription and a laughing Olivia.
Bottom line: I have spent the past three weeks alternately in pain or drugged up. It doesn't do much for me. I hate Vicodin maybe more than morphine because it makes me nauseous. But, hilarity did ensue. I was waiting for she-funk to pick me up to get food one day, and I decided to check my phone. Which had died during the night, while I was Vicodin'd out. I found several panicked voicemails/texts.

Voicemail (and text): J-man: Are you ok? What are they doing for you? Do you need someone to come up there?
Voicemail: D: Hey, are you alright? Dad wants me to come down to check on you? I called Olivia. I didn't leave a message. Tell her it was me.

So, I call back:
Phone call, J-man: Are you ok?
Lola: I'm fine. I took my pain meds and my phone died. I've been napping and doing laundry.
J-man: Do you need your sister to come up there?
Lola: No. . .
J-man: Better call her then!
Lola: (eyeroll)

Phone call:
Lola: D, it's me
D: Oh my God, are you ok?
Lola: yes, Jabba just overreacted. My phone died and I didn't know it because I was drugged and asleep.
D: Ahhh, good. Tell Olivia I was the one who called her.
Lola: For the record, if something really bad happened, the hospital, the police, or one of my crazy friends will probably contact you guys. Simmer down. If anyone had bothered to check facebook, they would have realized I was safe and sound and doing laundry.
D: good point.

Phone call: Mama Lo.
Lola: Mercy Hospital!
Lola: See? You're the only one who thought that was funny!

I get the impression most mothers would not have been as amused.
So, there you have it. The combination of drugs, searing pain, and Barbri have conspired to make me very cranky. And a negligent blogger. So much for my summer vacation.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pompous and Circumstance: A Law School Graduation Story

Well, I finished the damn paper. It was a long road, made longer by my numerous false starts and general loathing of my topic. Believe it or not, I finished writing it in the chair at the salon as I got my hair highlighted (I had to be pretty for graduation). I missed out on fun with Olivia, the P-Funks, and the Hardy Boys because I was working on the damn thing. A word about the Hardy Boys: so named in honor of the ridiculous, yet mostly harmless situations they seem to get themselves into. There are two of them, Frank and Joe, and when I join them on adventures (does this make me Nancy Drew in a rare cross-over novel?), the experience is invariably bookended with me shaking my head and muttering "I can't believe I'm about to do this" or "I hate them both" before, and shaking my fists at the sky and wondering "Why do I let the Goddamn Hardy Boys talk me into this shit?" afterwards. For all my bitching and exasperation, I usually have fun and get a great story out of it (I think the funniest involved an all-night diner, a lot of vodka, and a minor viral video sensation. The best one's title involves the phrase "Mexican Standoff," so it is best not discussed here.). Thus, it's fair to say that most of my protest is pure posturing. Even though the night usually involves so much eye-rolling that I sometimes fear they will get stuck in the "up" position. The point is, I missed out on what could have been either a) a night of hilarity, or at least amusement or b) a chance to test new and exciting curses on my friends.

Two days after I hit "send" on my final paper, it was time to graduate. As soon as I was officially done, I tried on my snazzy law school graduation robes. This would be better with a visual. You're not going to get it, because I don't know how to blur faces out on Photoshop. I will, however, transcribe the following exchange between Finn and myself as I walked into the hallway in full regalia:

Lola: Well, I guess this is how they're trying to keep us humble…

Finn: What? By dressing you up as a character from Harry Potter?

Lola: The hood's not staying where it's supposed to! I need—

Finn: A wand?

For those who've never seen it, J.D.s graduate in doctoral robes. Which, have long (though, not nearly as long as master's degree robes), bell-shaped sleeves with velvet bands on the sleeves. And velvet on the front. Lots of velvet for May. And then, there's a "hood" (which is a misnomer; it's more like a really weird collar. It hangs around your neck, looking kinda like a normal collar, but then it hangs down your back in a giant loopy-tail thing. With two colors in satin representing your school's colors and then a band made of, you guessed it, velvet, which denotes your degree. Law is purple. We were fabulous.). But, the cherry on this sundae is the hat. It is made of, wait for it—velvet!—and looks, in the bag, like a normal four-cornered mortar-board. HA! It is bigger than your standard mortar-board, and, most importantly—floppy. It was like a graduation beret. Topped with a purple tassel of course. Not even being dressed up like Albus Dumbledore could dampen my joy at this momentous event; I was going to walk across the stage and graduate from law school summa cum laude (I may have numerous personal faults, but I'm pretty good at school. Yeah, I'm kinda bragging a bit, no, it's not particularly attractive, but I worked my ass (and two boyfriends) off, and I'm pretty pumped about it. So, get over it); something that, despite my continuous complaints about law school, has been my dream for the better part of my life. So great was my joy that I even agreed to meet the J-man and family for breakfast the morning. We agreed to meet at my apartment between 8 and 8:30 a.m.

Those of you who've had the dubious pleasure of dealing with me before 10 a.m. and a cup of coffee, you know I'm not a morning person and can probably see where this is going. My father (and the older of my two younger sisters, actually) is always a few minutes late for family stuff. His favored tip-off is calling five minutes after he was supposed to arrive and saying "I'm just down the road." It is purposely vague. We have come to understand that "just down the road" means "approaching the interstate exit," which is a good 15-20 minutes from his house. D has been about an hour late for my birthday dinner for the past two years running. As she lives an hour away, I think it's fair to say that she's been leaving her house at the start time of dinner. Needless to say, I was pretty sure I had until 8:15 at the very earliest. I woke up around 7:25 and started getting ready. Slowly, groggily. Cursing myself for the poor decision to forego setting my automatic timer. At 7:30, my door buzzer rang. WHA? As I scrambled into a robe, and to the door, I realized that D was not on time, but early. I quickly got my coffee-maker ready and gave D instructions for working it. The J-man calls:

J-man: Are you almost ready?

Lola: I just need to get dressed and put on some make-up (ok, I had to shower too, but I didn't have to blow-dry my hair)

J-man: How's that going?

Lola: It will go much faster if I'm not talking about it on the phone. . .

J-man: Good deal, we'll be there soon. I'm just down the road.

I was thinking this gave me at least 15 minutes, so I hopped in the shower. And got out, less than 10 minutes later, to see my father and his family had been let in. I squeaked out "be just a few minutes and scrambled to put on clothes and make-up. But, I was ready by 8:05, so it's all good. And I was even early to my check-in at ThirdTier (yep, my dear friend Amie and I graduated from the same law school). I'll be honest, I was excited for graduation, but also dreading the ceremony. She-funk graduated from her master's program the week before me, and their ceremony was over three hours. Three hours in a heavy robe draped with velvet with no air conditioning promised brutality (a fitting end to law school). Especially since we had a special guest speaker, a faculty speaker and a student speaker. Lawyers love to hear themselves talk. I was anticipating a Gone With the Wind length epic. After our traditional walk to the building, ThirdTier President started speaking. Really slowly. I groaned inwardly and mentally girded my loins.

I was pleasantly surprised. We literally spent as long milling around the Law College as we did at the ceremony. We were finished in an hour and a half. I'm still kind of waiting for it to sink in. Even after I saw my terrible professional shots. I won't be ordering them. I do plan on printing the picture, taken at ThirdTier with my favorite people, the people who made it possible to survive three years of this hell and still have fond memories. WAY better than a picture of me shaking hands with the President of ThirdTier, who I spoke to for the first time as he handed me my fake diploma (a poster of Dean Asshat's inane "inspirational" saying. Which he repeated when we lined up. We all booed.)

So, for a minute, I'd like to give a shout-out: to my law school family. You are the people who made this possible. Through three years of late-night studying, marriages, deaths, breakdowns, break-ups, babies, baby-scares, baby-quiche, ridiculous adventures, ridiculous bad luck, job-hunting in a terrible economy and a million little successes and failures, you made it possible to keep a sense of humor about all this. We made it through and did it with style (and surprisingly few hangovers). So, for being the family that ThirdTier made, thank you, I love you, and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One Page at a Time

2:18 a.m.

5,108 words.

5 pages to go.

My last all-nighter of law school. Hopefully, ever.

I've had so much caffeine I think I'm going out of my mind. I have 13 hours to finish this. I'm really doubting my ability to do it.

I may still be sane in 13 hours, but I doubt it. If nothing else, I'll be free.

5 pages and approximately 1,900 words to go.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keep on Rockin', Sisyphus

4,572 words. I am starting to seriously doubt that I will ever finish this paper. I feel like I'm rocking out, committing my astute (read: obvious) and insightful (read: banal and completely pointless) observations and suggestions about the law to paper. And then I look at the page count. 9 pages to go. 8 pages to go. 7 pages to go. Go, Lola, GO!

And then I look at the word count.

Fuck it anyway, two people will read this: Kapes and Professor Lawr. Well, four if you count Olivia who I cooked dinner for and Dan who I bribed with a bottle of wine to proofread. I sincerely doubt that anyone gives a shit about what a narcissistic, self-absorbed, arrogant 3L (is there any other kind?) says about anything.

I sure don't, and I'm writing the paper.

As anyone who has ever met me in real-life can attest, I'm completely neurotic about grades. Especially where Kapes is concerned. She has a very high estimation of my academic abilities (probably higher than I really deserve). I have this mortal dread of disappointing her.

On the other hand, the final exams period of your final law school semester is an experience that is soul-sucking on a level that I didn't previously know existed. You're just flat worn-out. Completely apathetic. You've been through the drill, outline, study, review, yadda-yadda-yadda, and you just can't help but think: what's the point? I've given three years, countless hours, a dress size, my stomach lining, healthy lung tissue, two gray hairs and 150 grand to this place. I don't care about issue-spotting anymore. Just let me out! I want to see sunlight!

Even the knowledge that without this paper I will not graduate is not enough to spur me into a rockstar speed-writing session. Every sentence is like pulling teeth. I feel like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill. I push and I push and I push, and I still have 2,500 words to go. This grade-neurosis combined with my lack of motivation is a lethal combination. Back to the grind.

Keep on rockin', Sisyphus.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Excuses: The Fight to the Finish

Paper update: 3,865 words out of the required 7,000. So, I'm over halfway done. And actually on a respectable writing roll (4.5 hours of reasonably constant writing). And, I'm fairly confident that at least 2,500 of those words don't suck. And my footnotes look like real footnotes (E texted me for the express purpose of reminding me that I am anal and turn on the formatting to make sure that there are two spaces in between sentences. She was eerily right. I had just turned on my show formatting for that very reason).

Real-time update: my sadistic little computer checked the box that includes footnotes in my word count. Little fucker. It tricked me. I lost approximately 1,200 words. On the upside, I have 1,200 words worth of footnotes. Which means that if they don't actually expand on and illuminate my topic, it will look like they do.

Real-time update: Ranting now about a weird little tort concept in my home state. I know that Kapes finds State Supreme Court's interpretation of this doctrine every bit as stupid as I do. Actually enjoying writing this section of the paper. Mostly because I get to make snarky comments that I know will make my favorite professor giggle. And I get to sound erudite while being snarky. And, I get to say "erudite," which is a fun word even though it sounds dirty. And, I get to say it's scholarly. Which makes me happy.

Real-time update: Olivia is sitting with me while I write this paper, but she does get to watch "Julie and Julia." Plans for the summer: making lobster for dinner. Starting with live lobster. I will sing "Lobster Killer." 3,562 words.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Common Law: The Fatal Disease Common to all 3Ls

I have been staring at my utter travesty of a final paper for just over a week now. I have added about a paragraph. And some snappy subsection titles.

E calculated what I needed to get on my finals to preserve my graduation honors for my final transcript. Considering I only have 4 graded credits this semester, my performance need not be stellar. Just how much I can phone it in, she elected not to tell me. For which I am exceedingly grateful, and give her, as a token of my appreciation, this handsome shout-out.

3L-itis has settled in. Full force. I need to turn in a good 25-pager to Kapes, lest I ruin my perfect record of only being awarded As by her. My grade neurosis, when combined with the utter lack of motivation that accompanies 3L-itis, is a dangerous combination. I obssess about wanting to do well, but cannot do anything proactive about it. I can feel the all-nighter coming tonight.

My senior year of college, this would have been no problem. The Circa 2006 incarnation of Lola once wrote a 25 page comprehensive exam in one night, with a broken arm, after a trip to the emergency room. 22-year-old Lola was awesome. (Mutebutton typed it for me. Once upon a time, Mutebutton was also awesome). I'm a little less certain about my chances now. Technically, I only need to write 16 pages tonight. And then I get time to edit it. But, still, there's no all-night cafe I can drink muddy coffee and chain-smoke at.

Z: Can't you just crank out a piece of shit?
Lola: Believe me, I'm in the process of doing just that.

I took my last in-class final last Thursday. With the most aggressive proctor ever ("Write your phone numbers on the check-out sheet, YOU LITTLE SHITS!"Ok, he didn't actually say that, but E and I swear he stopped just shy of saying "fucking phone numbers").

All that's standing between me and graduation is a take-home final that I'm taking pass/fail and this paper. This should be inspiring, but I still can't get it up.

The other contributing factor to my utter lack of healthy fear?

Ready for this?

I got a JOB! A real-life, big-kid, includes benefits, job. As Finn said, "I guess this is God extending the olive branch." (The day before I got the job saw me at the health center, sick as hell, getting my car towed. We're not exaggerating God's "playful ribbing" of me)

Look out, Big City, Hurricane Lola is set to make landfall this summer.

Assuming I finish that stupid paper.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Up in the Air

What I'm about to say will probably shock most of you: I am allowed to leave the state. At least, I'm pretty sure I am. And to shock all of you: I actually care about my career and professional opportunities. These two things only become relevant when a special event occurs, an event both eagerly anticipated and deeply loathed by law students: the out-of-state job fair. I say "eagerly anticipated" because there are employers, captive, all in one place, who are actually hiring. When this job fair is by invite-only (say what you want about my moral failings, but I'm actually not failing out of law school), it seems like the Holy Grail: they want to talk specifically to you! Why the deep loathing you ask? Unlike some career opportunities, this one does not come with a gratis flight at stay at a swanky hotel. This one, you foot the bill for.

Oh, sure. I'm absolutely not considering commandeering a walk-in pantry's worth of Finn's empties to buy groceries. I'll just take a week off work and a vacay to boot. I'm debating which kidney to sell to finance this trip, when the Gods (finally) smile upon me. I mention this excursion, and Jabba offers to pick up the tab. Like, without of my sneaky machinations. My face. It is surprised-looking.

The trip down went well enough, until I landed in Baltimore. A word about airports: there's not a lot of middle ground. Some cities, apparently averse to new traffic, like, maybe BALTIMORE, use their airport to convince you that you don't want to stay a moment past the time your flight connects. On the other hand, some cities really try to out-do themselves on the airport front. Take for example, Detroit, Michigan. If you're only hanging out in the Detroit airport, you'd think that Detroit is a truly delightful place, full of culture, and bars and shopping; the kind of place you'd like to be. London Heathrow, or at least the Heathrow of my memory, is another such place. I'm also pretty partial to Chicago Midway. Except, Chicago really is the kind of place I want to be. My point is, Baltimore is not trying to impress me, with its airport or its weather. It's pissing rain and the shuttle service doesn't have my reservation. Neither does Orbitz. I politely (or as polite as one can be through gritted teeth) inquire as to how the reservation is in Orbitz's system for the purpose of charging my credit card and sending me a confirmation, but not for the purposes of my trip voucher. A few minutes later, my travel voucher is in my hot little hands.

Grateful to be in D.C. at last, I hop out of the shuttle and stroll up to check-in, having double-checked my reservation after the shuttle debacle. "I'm sorry, Ms. Lawless, we don't seem to have a room for you." I stare blankly, not even really surprised. Undeterred, I present a confirmation number with the smug assurance of one who fails to learn her lessons about how badly a travel site can really fuck up your stay. Yeah, my reservation is for the hotel's other (identically named, might I add) property across town. My shuttle is gone, and so is my patience.

Now, here's where I have to plug the Renaissance Hotel on M street. If you ever find yourself in the D.C. area and are looking for quality accommodations, I highly recommend it. While it's true that the accommodations themselves are pretty par for the course for an urban, upscale hotel (trendy d├ęcor, bar, restaurant, dry cleaning service, large glass stall showers) it was the customer service that really set this place apart: I asked for directions to the nearest copy shop and instead, the awesome duo of Patrick and Noel (names have not been changed to brag about the fabulous) hunted up some nice paper, printed my resume for me, and brought it to my room; I came in one day looking tired and they changed the access code on my key to let me into the "concierge lounge" where I could recline on comfy chairs and eat their free food.

Because I had job-hunting to do, I actually behaved myself on this trip and, aside from walking for an eternity through the hood in my suit and 3-inch heels over uneven brick pavers, nothing really noteworthy happened: I saw some friends from law school and attended my interviews like a good person. Everything ran smoothly until it was time to leave.

The SuperShuttle was back for Round 2. And this time, it was out for blood. I said nothing about it being 20 minutes late (and by nothing, I mean I called the service twice to make sure they hadn't gone to the side entrance of the hotel). About 15 minutes after I got into the cab, I realized I had to pee. But, it's not a long ride into Baltimore, so I figured being a grown-up person, I could handle another 35 minutes.

Yeah, about that 35 minutes? Try over TWO HOURS. Marley, our crazed Caribbean driver, managed to take the most bass-ackwards trip around D.C. ever. And maneuvered us through traffic in a manner I usually associate with a game of Frogger. I arrived at Baltimore airport 30 minutes before my flight was to leave and I was informed that I would have to gate-check my bag by the electronic kiosk. I did not think much of this, and went to the ticket counter. Now, I had been nervous about flying U.S. Airways since an ill-fated trip that Boss (not to be confused with Chief, who I actually saw while in D.C.), #2, the Kid, and NewB took a couple of weeks ago which involved delayed flights, lost luggage, and tears. I was not disappointed. I was informed that neither I nor my bag would be boarding the flight. And that there were no other flights to my final destination that night. Srsly? Fuck you, U.S. Airways. Fuck you. I still hadn't peed. Things were reaching critical mass. I manage to jump a flight through Charlotte and ran like hell to get to a bathroom.

All I wanted at that point was delicious, delicious vodka. Luckily, I met a cute soldier who directed me to the nearest bar. Unluckily, the bar was packed, so I had to settle for coffee gelato instead. I was so excited to find gelato at the airport. And then I paid 3 bucks for it. And I got this:

(I took a picture next to a box of cigarettes to give an idea of size.) So, I settled for eating my comically small gelato and chatting up the cute soldier. We bonded over I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.

When I landed in Charlotte, my hopes were not high. I saw not one, but two stock-car themed bars in the B concourse alone. But it was ok, there was the "Taste of Charlotte" bar. Apparently, Charlotte tastes like a double Goose and tonic. I waved good-bye to cute soldier and I was on my way. And no, we did not fly friendly in the skies. It seems to me that I should have, it would have been the patriotic thing to do. The sad thing is, I didn't even think about mile-highing it until I'd we'd already landed. What is going on here? Maybe my soul is growing back.