Friday, December 31, 2004

Global Warming and Ghosts from the Past

I biked home from work in a tanktop on December 30, 2005. Fantastic--this BikeWinter is easier than I expected. I love to feel the air on my skin and my hair moving across my back so this is a welcome treat for me. I was in a super good mood because of the warm weather and considered how amazing it was. I tried to recall how cold it normally is around New Years when I remembered my experience two years ago today.

On the eve of New Years Eve 2002, I was similarly excited about the warm weather and my upcoming plans. The next day I would drive to WI to spend NYE with two of my best friends, Steph and Shalan. In preparation I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for brownies and lemon bars. Walking home from the store, canvas sack jostling against my hip I marveled at how warm it was. I wished my thick wool sweater was along with my mittens in my bag, my headband was pulled down around my neck I wore running shoes instead of my warm steel-toed boots and I was delightfully happy. So happy, that I completely failed to anything around me but the puddles, dripping icicles and other signs of our December heat wave. My attention shifted to more important matters when I realized that a man followed me into the alley leading to my back gate.

My delightful day took an unpleasant turn as this man tried to force me into an alcove at knifepoint. That I didn't allow to happen--[I have a weird sense of self-preservation/fear that prevents my body from doing certain dangerous activities by just overriding my conscious commands. In regular life this keeps me from doing fun things like mountain biking, and feels as useless and clumsy as a guard on a familiar piece of machinery] and just outright refused to follow his command. It's good to know that this stubborness/fear considers being trapped in an alcove with a man holding a knife on me just as dangerous as crossing over while ice skating.

My whole experience of being mugged was extremely odd. My mind was absolutely racing during the incident. I tried to assess all of the risks and dangers of fighting back or getting away:

  • a lame turtle can outsprint me, so just breaking free and running wasn't an option,
  • I was keenly aware of my unarmed feet,
  • I felt that I was pretty well protected against slashing sorts of cuts because I was wearing a turtleneck and my thick headband was also bunched around my throat and additionally I thought that unless his blade was extremely sharp, my bulky wool sweater probably would protect me, however
  • I also knew that wool wouldn't do a damn thing against a knife that was stabbing instead of slashing, additionally
  • I feared getting my face cut--I guess when push come to shove I am vain.

Based on this analysis I didn't fight back, but kept my eyes trained on his kitchen knife at most times--I can still perfectly identify it today: light wood handle with the finish worn off so it has that slight grayish hue that barnboard and driftwood gets, enclosed tang, 5" blade--sharpened concave like a boning knife instead of convex like a chef knife.

We had a quite lengthy conversation that took us each through several emotions and arguments. My problems with him was that he was threatening to cut me and wanted to rob me. His problem with me was that I didn't have anything of value for him to rob and I didn't cooperate with him. Conflict ensued.

First he wasn't happy with the single dollar bill and chapstick that I offered from my pockets, although he wasn't too dissappointed with the ATM and credit card. He seemed confused when I asked him for my driver's license back, but then handed it back when I explained that it would be a huge hassle for me to replace it. I told him that I never carry much cash (I did bite my tongue and refrained from mentioning that the current scenario is one reason for my cashless lifestyle). We even reviewed my grocery receipt to prove that I paid with plastic. Next he wasn't satisfied with the contents of my canvas grocery bag and complained, "there's nothing in here but food." I felt that even ignoring the fact that I was carrying a bag printed "Co-op Markets: a love affair with food," the review of my grocery receipt should have prepared him for the contents of the bag. He pawed through it bitching about the eggs, butter, chocolate and lemons. Apparently he hoped I stopped off at the ruby and diamond store after grocery shopping.

Spilling my groceries in the alley, he focused his attention back onto my bank cards and demanded my PIN number. Once again, I leashed my tongue and refrained from correcting his error. I gave him the bogus number 2601 and pleaded that it was the correct number throughout his knife-waving inquiry. Then he asked for a pen to write down the number and didn't believe that I didn't have one. This just seemed too ridiculous and my attitude got even more cheeky and annoyed as I argued that I didn't have a pen.

At this point his attitude changed and he seemed quite angry with me and he seemed more dangerous. He demanded my driver's license back to 'come back and cut you if you lie to me'. I noticed as I handed my license back to him that my hand shook. He seemed to notice this too, and calmed down dramatically. That is when I definitely realized that he was much less volatile when he seemed in control and I seemed scared. I began playing the role of terrified girl, teared my eyes and made my lip quiver--and damn did he respond. He lost his bravado and started to fidget, at one point saying "please don't cry...just don't start crying on me." He reconfirmed the bogus PIN, told me not to call the cops or do anything stupid now and started walking away. After a few steps he waived my ID and reminded me that he knew where I lived and would come back to cut me if I lied to him or canceled my cards. I almost smiled as he waived my WI ID with my parents' address at me as proof that he knew where I lived. Once he was out of sight I abandoned my groceries and took a wiggling route through neighbors' lawns to run to my front door.

Obviously I canceled my bank cards and called the cops immeadiately--both of these organizations' responses were improper or insufficient, but those are two other stories. I was giggling when I got into the house because the whole thing was just too bizarre for me to process. This caused me to be more cautious and reavaluate some of my behavior. Several of my friends were glad I was mugged, because they hoped it was prevent me from being attacked in a much worse manner later on by causing me to be more cautious and aware. This lesson has dimmed and again I am less cautious about my safety. However, as I biked in the warm weather on the two year anniversary of my mugging, I felt dread mixed with delight. I knew I was just getting irrationally spooked, but couldn't shake it none the less. So I felt like I was biking with a shadow, cast not by the street lights but by an event from my past.

For the most part biking has freed me from a lot of safety concerns, because I am simply not as vulnerable as I was before, walking and waiting for CTA. This is a pretty fantastic benefit of biking in Chicago--I am not restricted or immobilized by fear, and yet I can still be autonomous and do what I want to without worrying.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sibling Revelry

Me and my bros. Instead of our usual acidic sarcasm and flippant remarks this is the easiest way to deal with other relatives.

This gem was found in my mom's scrapbook--it was taken this September at my grandmother's 80th birthday party. I only vaguely remember doing this--the rest of the family must think we are all absolutely weird.

Generally my brothers and I are pretty anti-social around the rest of the family and instead spend most of the time with each other at family events. This seems to work out the best for everyone--my relatives can't relate to my life and I'm not all that interested in most of theirs. They would freak out if Jess or I ever jerry-rigged a holiday table into a make-shift soapbox to exhort our personal politics and condemn most of their lifestyles and values. Instead, we roll our eyes, grit our teeth and bear the conversations praising Walmart and demonstrating a sheep-like existence--and then we run away. Besides vast political differences, our lives are just radically different than theirs. We are all single professionals who live in cities. Most of my relatives are married, parents and live in single-family homes with large lawns. The majority are not college educated and work as laborers in factories. They watch TV and seem to aspire to owning more instead of less stuff. They go to church weekly while we brazenly remain silent and motionless during the dinner prayer.

The main political difference is that both Jess and I act as though our individual behavior effects the rest of society. Most of my family can easily bitch about factory jobs or family farms disappearing, but then shop for cheap foreign-made junk at Walmart and crappy, processed foods at the supermarket. They either don't see the connection between their actions and purchases and the society around them, or they simply refuse to honor that relationship. While basically good people, I also think that they are lazy and selfish in their choices. As our society and environment continue to suffer a tragedy of the commons they rush headlong over the cliff blindly doing their share. I certainly have my faults and don't claim to act in the most virtuous way, but at least I have the decency to think about the effects of my actions, try to behave responsibly and feel shame when I don't live up to my ideals.

Besides these basic demographic and political differences, my relatives just aren't silly or fun enough. Much of holiday gatherings seems to be spent bitching about work, shopping, neighbors or other minor conflicts. For some reason this is the preferred way to relate with each other. Screw that. Give me irreverent comments and hilarious sarcasm. I like to laugh and my brothers deliver. Sure, our smiles may be closer to smirks than grins--but our eyes twinkle regardless. So many pictures of my brothers and me capture us secretly being naughty. On their face these pictures just show a happy set of siblings, but knowing us, a closer examination reveals childlike mischief. Our smiles are actually trapped giggles trying to bubble out as we valiently attempt to contain them because we are covertly tickling one another or sharing a private joke. So there we are: professional, urban adults who oftentimes act more silly than our relatives' young children. I think it's absolutely delightful of us, but I can also imagine that our behavior is considered rude or disturbingly immature to bystanders.

What in the world do the relatives think of me and my brothers? I think my grandparents are quite fond of us, but what about the rest? Do they pity our parents for raising such seemingly bizarre children? Is our family a stereotype of the red state/blue state, urban/rural divide trumpeted by the media during and after this election? Do they talk about us when we are gone and shake their heads in confusion and sadness? Might they think we are crazy? At least they probably consider us very immature and hope that we will grow out of this phase. What did they think of the ArtCars when Frick and l owned and drove them? Did they understand the joy and whimsy in that expression? Did they recognize the snub, the underlying mocking of the automobile fetish even as the colors drew more attention to the car and driver? Could they articulate that sentiment, or were they simply discomforted because it was odd? Are they more comfortable now that I don't have a car--or is my biking an even more bizarre development to them? Certainly I don't think they are losing sleep pondering our lives, but I am curious as to what their opinions are. Maybe they just accept us for who we have become and are concerned only with our happiness and well-being.

Luckily the holiday season is over, so I don't expect to be back home for quite a while to see relatives. I do hope that the boys and I get together in the next few months to hang out, though. Visiting Frick out in CA for a weekend in February certainly doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Another bikey day

Last night I stayed out too late with Ethan and woke up at 8:00 this morning. This is by far the latest that I awoke on a work day, and I didn't appreciate being denied the choice to nap a bit more before actually getting up.

It was warmer today, so I just biked to work in yoga pants. I much prefer biking in fewer, less restrictive clothes--so this felt really nice. Last week I busted out my heavy steel-toed boots because they make perfect biking footgear. The boots are almost a size too big, so I wear them with athletic socks and a pair of thick wool socks--so far this combination has kept my feet nice and toasty. They have 10 pair of eyelets, which makes them pretty tall, so my ankles don't get cold/drafty and I don't have to worry about snow or water sliding down my pants and then getting funnelled into my boots. Most importantly, even though they are extremely comfortable, I am constantly aware that I have little weapons on each foot. Knowing that I am armed (footed? legged?) puts me in a kicking mood and both pedestrians and cars that misbehave tempt me to kick them. I have never acted on these temptations, but expect I will eventually. These little chunks of metal give me confidence and attitude far out of proportion to the protection and threat they actually provide.

Even as much as I love these boots, I am already anticipating the days that I will be able to ride with sandles and a sundress on. No gloves, pants, jackets, gaitors or boots. Unhindered and completely free is how I long to bike around Chicago, with the wind warmly embracing my skin and the sun lighting my way home from work. Oh well, I don't expect this to actually happen until March, so I bought some biking clothes last night. I got the IllumiNight jacket last night for less than 50 bucks and I also bought a balaclava--so even though I may be hindered and weighed down, I at least won't be cold.

While biking home, I ran into Todd G. at an intersection. He was meeting his brother at a bar, so I rode with him for a while. i very much enjoy running into bikey people unexpectedly. He invited me to have a drink or two with him, but I declined. Upon reaching home, I had to wonder why I didn't take him up on his offer, it certainly would have been more fun than hanging out at the Den of Awkwardness. Todd is really cool and I am sure his brother is too. Spending more time with bikey people only confirms that I need to spend more time with them and solidify some of these friendships. Later this week I will get to play more with bikey people--Thursday is the Derailleur (2005 Calendeur edition)assembly at Alex's place, and Friday is the New Year's Eve Critical Mass followed by John's NYE party. Yippee!

The steep descent into slackerdom

Work is making me itchy and antsy lately. Unrelated forces collided to crush my productivity while my motivation seeps through the gaps.
  • I am not under a heavy deadline, so I don't have the additional adrenaline boost created by fear and panic to push me along.
  • My new office is in a much more populated area, so there are a lot more distractions,
  • The holidays have stolen a lot of structure--people are on vacation, we have lunch events, the weeks are shorter, offices are closed and people I need to speak with are gone,
  • I am assigned to a hydra of a research project. The issues are actually interesting, but the more I research the more questions I have, and my sword becomes heavy and duller as the battle wages, and
  • Sadly, since I was given my bonus and raise, the incentive to be a productive, team-playing, worker bee has completely disappeared.
I wish I was enjoying this lazy descent, but it feels crappy. My days seem to last forever instead of speeding by in a blur, and I can't quell the nagging guilt that I feel for being so unproductive. Blech. Friday is New Year's Eve--so my week is half gone and apparently the office will be empty on Thursday. I fully expect that I will continue to slack for the rest of the week/month/year--and hopefully hit the ground running again in 2005. These past two workdays have exhausted me and I really don't want to do the next two. I am seriously considering taking a long 'lunch' by going to the gym midday--just to feel somewhat productive and kill time. It is damn near useless for me to be at work when I have this little motivation.

Sweet Home Chicago

All is clear in Chicago on the biking front, a.k.a. the congested street.

First, after walking out of Union Station I saw my bicycle patiently waiting for me--with both wheels and all brakepads present and ready to ride--with ice puddled in the grove of the seat. My parents (along with my older brother's help) got me an amazing present that I suggested to them, but didn't think they would actually get me--a bike rack garment bag! I have been lusting after this functional bag for over two years and was eager to strap it onto my bike for the ride home. [Oh yeah, I stopped at the office, thinking I would do some work, but actually just caught up with messages and such--luckily, my boss was there. My presence only reinforced his impression that I am a grinder--I wonder how long it will take for him to recognize my slacker tendencies?]

Today I had a nice ride into work and was just about to lock up my bike, when I heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Hui Hwa, who has been in New Zealand for over a month. I brought her up into my office to give her truffles and catch up a bit--an absolutely delightful beginning to a Monday following a holiday weekend. She is super-cool and nice. Additionally, she is also recently single and was happy to hear that I am too. (Mike really didn't impress any of my friends). I foresee some fun nights ahead when we are both free to shamelessly flirt with boys we meet.

Later in the day I was truly sick of working and looked on the Performance website to learn where the Chicago store was. To my surprise the InvisiLite jacket I desire was even cheaper than in the catalog--only $55! I called the Chicago store to see if they had a blue one in my size in stock. Yup, but for only $44! This decided my evening for me--I was going to leave work earlier than planned to buy the jacket.

I logged some more time and was just getting ready to leave when my phone started ringing. I stared at it for a while, deciding whether to risk picking it up. I gave in and it was my friend Ethan! We are both on the CBF membership and marketing committee and both received CBF volunteer of the year awards. He wanted to see if I could meet him for drinks and exchange Christmas gifts (truffles, of course). I suggested dinner instead.

So I merrily biked up to Halsted and Diversy to the Performance store and bought the jacket and a balaklava and then pedaled back to Wicker Park. During this ride I saw many bicyclists--including a man biking alongside a boy of about ten years old! It was only 23 degrees and dark out on a busy street, so I was impressed and surprised to see a child riding. On the way home I started hearing a rhythmic metallic clinking eminating from somewhere on my bike. I kicked both of the fenders and peaked at the garment bag, but couldn't place the noise. At an intersection near my house I realized that one of my fenders stays was loose and bouncing against my rear gears. oops--I guess I should do something about that.

Ethan and I arranged to meet at Filter. While waiting I saw a kid/man who looked familiar. I asked him if he rode a fixie and lived in Hyde Park this summer. Affirmative. We met twice, once when we both stopped to help a woman fix her bicycle and then later that night at the Late Ride. Weird. I have no idea how old/young this guy is. I think he may have worked as a messenger last summer and seems to act like an adult, but he is really short and looks to be younger than 15.

Filter was nice. We exchanged gifts and talked about our new jobs, CBF, bikey stuff, the New Year's party, and just general life. His present to me was an Illinois First CD by our mutual friend, John Greenfield. Eventually we moved onto his favorite bar, the Beachwood. I now smell like a chainsmoker's ashtray and my throat is raw. Smoking is so gross--I don't know how people can do that.

Ethan works in Forest Park and has a 8-9 mile commute each way. During the bitter cold of last week he biked there every day. Damn. He used to be a messenger though, so I guess he has been through worse. It's weird--his girlfriend doesn't bike at all, and he is really involved with it. I've never met her, but I think I want to get her on a bike more than he does. I offered to let them bikesit my hybrid when I get a road bike and he seems to think that may be a good plan.

Wow--what a babbling bunch of nothing. But it certainly is a delight to be a part of the Chicago bikey family.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Minneapolis hates me


I lived in Minneapolis for two delightful summers, and would move back there pretty quickly if a job presented itself. However, I don't think the city is all that interested in wooing me. First it didn't offer me a permanent position, and it tries to frighten me with the horror of its winters. I've only been there twice in the wintertime and both times it was really cold nasty winter weather. Additionally, both times I ended up experiencing nasty traffic. I'd like to think the city is just playing hard to get, but I am realistic enough to recognize that it is actively trying to piss me off.

Needless to say, my brother and I didn't do any of our planned outdoor activities. On our way to the gym we damn near froze our faces off--it was less than 1/2 mile away. Brrrr.

Later that night we went to a poolhall and met up with two of his friends. It was fun and for a few shots I was in my zone and was able to cut some nice shots. Then I just got sloppy because I am a total lightweight. Even though Minneapolis is giving me the bitterly cold shoulder, it was a very nice visit with my brother and a good use of my vacation days.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Gettin' out of Dodge


On Tuesday I slipped sneakily out of work and into my holiday vacation. I had a whole slew of stuff that I wanted to do before I caught my train to Jesse's place.
Very few of these things actually got done.

I am starting to cancel things that I had planned on doing and it feels pretty good. This is going to be an important aspect of functioning as an attorney--Knowing when to say no--not only to others, but more importantly to myself. So instead of rushing around on Tuesday night, I had a lovely time lying around reading and chatting with Isaac. It was a nice start to vacation.

Contrary to my plans, these are all of the things I didn't do before I laid down for bed:
  • shower and wash my hair
  • pack
  • clean the apartment
  • Pack
  • pay my bills online
  • PACK
  • do laundry
  • PACK
  • bundle up truffles
  • PACK

I had lofty goals of working out, delivering truffles and picking out glasses frames before my 10:00AM eye-doctor appointment. Even as I went to bed without doing the above list, I still thought I could get all of this done and fell asleep expecting to get up early and hit the ground running.

Nope. The first morning of my vacation continued the laziness thread. I woke up with enough time, but no ambition to complete all of these tasks. So instead I laid in bed drifting in and out of sleep as I mentally crossed items off of my list that were no longer possible. Finally I actually got up and started moving. By now, all I expected to do on Wednesday was pack, go to my eye Dr. , lunch with friends and catch my train to Minneapolis.

Packing was complicated, because I was going home for Christmas and it was cold outside. I needed to bring all of my gifts, clothes to work out in, dress-up clothes, reading material and cold weather clothes. I was riding my bike, so I also had to try to pack light and in a bike-transportable fashion. Grrr.

I was late to my eye doctor appointment--fuck, I was on vacation and it was cold and windy and I had a lot of crap with me. I spent a long time there getting my exam and picking out glasses. Apparently I am blinder than I thought: 20/2200, 20/2400. Sweet--SSI here I come!! I dropped some serious cash on my glasses and contacts and had to rush to lunch before my glasses were done.

After I put my name on the list for tables, I went into the lobbyish area of the building to wait. I changed most of my clothes there to the apparent amusement of several people. I came in looking like a messenger and steadily changed until I looked almost professional. tehehe.

Lunch with my friends was very nice. Tara, Diane and Isaac came. Afterwards I rushed back across the loop to pick up my glasses and then back to Union Station to catch my train. When I walked in, burdened down by bags and still sporting my helmet, it was 2:03--my train was scheduled to depart at 2:10. All I needed to do was walk through the station, get my ticket, find my gate and board my train. Since this was the holidays, the station was of course filled with slow-moving tourists intent on blocking my path and risking my ire. Ticket in hand I charged toward the boarding area and went up to several Amtrak attendants to bark, "Empire Builder--Minneapolis. Where do I go?" This train leaves the same time every day and they immeadiately realized how little time I had and directed me to the correct gate. I rushed outside to the train to discover a long, unmoving line of people--for some unknown reason, nobody was boarding the train, but instead we were waiting in the cold.

On the train I had an interesting chat with a 15 year old boy and the eight hour trip went pretty quickly. My big brother Jesse was waiting for me at the station and whisked me away to his condo. He stated that he was going straight to bed, but we ended up talking for several hours. Yeh--brothers!

Sunday, December 19, 2004


Jill And Tana's holiday party was last night and I want to babble about some of the developments:

1. Will Lee appeared. Will is one of my favorite classmates from law school, but he has been working crazy hours since graduation and hasn't been social. It was great to see him and hope to see more of him in the future because discovery on his major case closes on 1/1/2005 so he will have freedom then. Yah!!
2. Adam Schaeffer. I haven't seen Schaeffer in many, many months. I heard that he lost a lot of weight, so it was great to see him svelte and happy with his girlfriend. We decided that we need to start going to shows again. I like that boy--and Courtney seems really cool, too.
3. Roberto and Karen. I was friendly with these two in law school, but not really friends. Lately I have been seeing each of them more often, and I like it. Karen is just a sweetheart and really down to earth--plus she dances as if she has no choice--she seems to have music and rhythm as part of her DNA. Roberto is a very handsome, smooth man--he gives some of the best compliments and I usually feel pretty and girly when I am around him. He must get so much tail because he certainly knows how to talk to women.
4. Gabe. He was fucked up before the party even started and ended up passing out pretty early. Jill didn't seem very happy with him--I know I wouldn't be if I was her. I hope Gabe is OK and sometimes develops a stronger relationship with sobriety. I know I am a prude on this matter, but I just can't imagine having all of those substances in my body as often as he does. Letting the monkey take the wheel every once in a while is one thing, but outside of working hours, I fear the monkeys wears Gabe's pants. Gabe is so cool and sweet--I hope this doesn't become a major problem in his life.
5. Tana. She set out to hook up w/ Patrick, Goitia's 19 year old, hot brother. By the end of the night it looked like she might be successful. Goitia seemed bothered by this, but Tana was on a mission. In many ways I have to give the girl credit for just setting her sights and grabbing what she wants. Still--a 19 year-old frattish boy. Not my thing.
6. Steffens (MS). I haven't seen him for a while either. He just recently started a new job at a firm, so he was in pretty good spirits. We had some pretty good conversations and given his law school, Bell Boyd and recent experiences he didn't seem nearly as bitter as he could be.
7. Linda. This girl is cool. This was the first night that I really was able to speak with her, and I was surprised by how cool she is. I think (because I am an insecure bitch) that I assumed she was shallow and/or bitchy because she is so cute and skinny. This is a bad habit that I have and I have to stop automatically attributing negative character traits to attractive women. It is mean, unfair, petty and only says bad things about me.
8. Isaac afterwards. Isaac and I had some interesting, candid, conversations back at our apartment. Unfortunately the alcohol that loosened our tongues also made me basically pass out mid-converation. He has been very sad lately, and I feel helpless in his presence. I really wish he would find work. Unfortunately his depression seems to be crippling his motivation. It seems like he is caught up in a downward spiral of despair and depression, and I don't know how to snap him out of it. Sigh. We went to Filter today and had a nice, hang-over breakfast experience together. I just wish we could finish last night's conversation.

Oh well--JAT II was a good time--I need to make more of an effort to see my cooler law school friends after we return from the holidays.

Oliver James

My best friend in high school, Kim, had her baby--Oliver James on Tuesday December 14, 2004. I am so happy for her and Brian and can't wait to see her on Christmas. Congratulations! Welcome to the world little Oliver--I am sure you are the best holiday present Kim and Brian have ever received.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Matt's Birthday

Background: Matt is my ex-boyfriend, and recently I have developed a wee crush on him. I dated him last winter between Mike Round I and Round II. I adored Matt and I still do. We have only seen each other a handful of times since we broke up, and when we do, we have a strong connection, chemistry and usually end up spending most of the evening speaking exclusively to one another. Several times our friends assumed that we hooked up because we were still deep in conversation when they left. Some of these friends don't understand why we broke up and why we don't date again. To be honest neither do I. We had a sort of weird weekend together in several ways: he rode on Critical Mass with me, putting him outside of his comfort zone and we had a serious discussion about my job search and where I want my life to go. Then on Monday he called and said that he didn't think we could fall in love so was breaking it off. He thought that this might be a big mistake, but couldn't imagine how worse it would be a year or so later. He said that I was one of the coolest people he ever met and that he liked me more than any other woman he dated. Agggghhh!

So yes, I still adore this boy and would love to have a second shot with him because we seemed to be so amazingly compatible with one another. Intellectually we are about equals, our politics are pretty similar--but different enought to make our discussions intense and challenging, we laughed all of the time, he is beautiful (to me at least) and it just worked.

I saw him again a few weeks ago and he was really pleased that I was working and seemed to somehow view me differently. It wasn't as if he ever lacked respect for me about this when we were dating, but I felt like he viewed me with more respect after hearing me talk about working. Last night his friend Lisa planned a birthday outing for him. I wasn't on the list, but he requested that a mutual friend invite me. I went to the blues bar and we spent a lot of time speaking to each other. Once when we were talking, with Lisa behind me, I noticed that he winked at her. It was also obvious that he had been having conversations about me with some of our mutual friends. I told him about my raise and he said he wasn't surprised at all because he understood my difficulty obtaining a job, but had no doubts that I would excel at any job I did. I had a really great time and adore him all the more.

So anyway--that is Matt. My ex who I have a lot of respect for along with a silly little crush.

I just don't know what to do about all of this though. I want to spend more time with him, but I don't quite trust my motivations. I hate the thought of being the pathetic girl mooning over her ex. At the same time, I really think we could be great friends and I miss our conversations. The more time I spend with my bikey friends, the more left-leaning & radical I become. M is the best person I have found to discuss social/economic issues because he is crazy-smart and rational. Dumber people let me crush them in this type of discussion because they lack the analytical skills to catch weaknesses in my arguments. He is sharp and economic in his reasoning and doesn't let me get away with wussy bullshit arguments. Regular discussions with him would force me to scrutinize my opinions more and hopefully lead to better opinions and solutions. Basically he is one of my favorite people to discuss important issues with because he is smart, reasonable, realistic and good. He cares about social issues and isn't racist but is completely pragmatic--a rarity it often seems. This makes him the perfect counterpart to me by tempering my pollyannaish tendencies and keeping me from being a lazy-liberal by forcing me to answer tough questions that my other lefty friends would never ask.

If there was any ever doubt before, this resolves that I am a true dork. I have a crush on a boy because we had fantastic socio-economic discussions. What ever is more romantic than whispers of free markets and the exteralization of cost? Since this is honestly what I miss the most from our relationship, there is no reason I can't get it from being friends with the boy. It would be a lot easier if he didn't remain so adorable and make memories of wrestling and cuddling pop up unwanted in my mind.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Matt. You are as adorable at 27 as you were at 26. I hope my recent crush on you fades quickly so we can friends without any lingering weirdness.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


I received a $25,000 raise today. I was hoping for/expecting $10,000 so this was quite a nice surprise. My bonus was also more than double than I expected--actually in the exact same proportion as my raise. Obviously I feel like a rock star.

What makes this even more beautiful is that my boss came into my office and sat down in the chair across from my desk--right on top of the clothes I biked in. I had to stifle giggles--somehow I found it incredibly funny that my boss was sitting on my dirty clothes while giving me $30,000. I must say that I am feeling much better about the firm after this gesture--although this still doesn't seem like much when I consider that many of my friends are earning almost double what I do. Sigh.

My financial outlook is still much rosier than it was before and I am totally stoked about this. I will now probably be able to pay off my credit card debt by the end of the year instead of in March. Plus now I have no qualms whatsoever about getting dropping $1000 on Kim's baby's educational savings account. And I am practically salivating at the idea of getting a nice road bike. I was planning on getting a new bike after my credit card debt was paid off--I haven't really splurged on anything since I got the job because I wanted to exercise discipline first and stabalize my finances. Yippee! It will still take quite a while to become a homeowner, but I feel like I am on my way.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Quit Humping my Leg

Tana arranged a dance excursion tonight at 'The Apartment.' It boasted a crowed dance floor and generic hip-hop music. Not really my thing, but I do like to dance (poorly). The boys on the dance floor really piss me off. Where do they get the idea that they should go up behind a girl dancing with her friends and grind their crotches against her ass? I don't mean to be a prude, but I find it really gross and creepy. Even assuming this is appropriate behavior--what is the deal with continuing to dance with a woman when she has made it clear that she isn't interested? This stuff really frustrates me because it is so rude--and yet so commonplace. I don't think I can count the number of times tonight that I felt a strange man's crotch against my ass, or hands from behind grabbing my hips. These are men who I haven't even seen their faces, much less made eye contact with. Plus there are all of the other guys who at least try to dance with you face to face, but don't get the hint when women move away. Oh yeah--I also don't understand the way that a guy, after being blatantly rejected by several women in a group will continue to try to dance with the group or other individual women--get a clue or some pride, preferably both.

I feel strong urges to become physically violent when I feel like a man is disrespecting me. I have fantasies of actually spilling blood on the dance floor: punching a guy in the face, slamming my elbow into his nose, bending his finger back to make him kneel and beg, violently pushing a guy away and hopefully making him fall are all deliciously appealing thoughts. However, since I don't want to get arrested or sued, I refrain from acting on these tantalizing, satisfying ideas. Instead several times I grabbed mens' hands from my hips and firmly removed them while giving them a dirty look. Sometimes this worked, and other times it didn't. If I wanted to get my leg humped I'd get a dog or ride the El--paying cover isn't necessary.

The lawyer in me does have to wonder if I struck a man for intimately touching me, how would the law react? Would a battery charge be upheld? What about a civil suit? Obviously my defense would be that I was protecting myself from further sexual assault (unwanted sexual contact--genitals to ass. I think the technical term is frotteurism. Even though I definitely feel women would be justified in striking back--I don't know that a court would agree (especially a male judge). Evidence about the typical behavior in clubs would be introduced, and basically a version of blaming rape on the victim's suggestive clothes would be developed. "you were wearing tight pants, heels and a skimpy top while moving your body suggestively?--well then, what did you expect?" "that basic decency and bodily integrity not be sacrificed because dancing is fun." Oh well, maybe I will do a Lexis search at work next week.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Who stole my brakepads?

Yup. Someone stole the front brakepads off of my bicycle.

I don't really know what the purpose of that act was--I can't imagine brakepads with 3000-4000 miles on them have great resale value.

Basically I think it is funny--no close calls riding home tonight. I probably won't have time to get them fixed until the weekend, so tomorrow's commute and then my bar-time riding will be a little crazy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Why can't hairstylists cut my hair the way that I ask? I have wanted to get my hair cut for few weeks and today I finally did it. I have been very disappointed in the last several haircuts I have received. My hair is very straight and the cut I want is simple but not common, so I explained in detail what I wanted--and even the method of cutting it this way.

She still didn't do what I wanted. I told her after the first few snips that she was approaching it incorrectly and then she followed my directions (which were exactly the same as the first time I told her). A different stylist a few months ago didn't understand what I requested either, but still proceded to cut away, giving me the wrong look. Normally I would think that my description/directions were to blame, but I have sucessfully explained this look to several friends--including clueless guys who have quickly grasped the concept.

So anyway, eventually she got it mostly right. However, she cut one of my braids! I wear two micro-braids on each side of my center part, and I like them to hang past the rest of my hair by about two inches. Normally there is a bead at the bottom of the braid to finish the look. It sounds weird, but actually looks pretty cool. The stylist asked me to remove the beads because she thought they would get in the way, and I obliged. She wasn't paying attention and cut one to almost the length of the rest of my hair. Grrrr.

This procedure took almost a full hour (no billing!) of my day, was very frustrating and will be two/three months before my braid is at the minimum length that I want.

I really don't understand why the stylists don't listen better--and if they don't understand what I want, why don't they ask for clarification before picking up the scissors? Of my last four haircuts, three were blatantly different from what I requested and the other one was just a shoddy job. Grrrr. At least I didn't have these problems when my hair was past my ass.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Am I a bitch or is she stupid?

This weekend I visited my friends up in Milwaukee because it was Peter's 30th birthday party. The party was quite fun, but I am going to rant just a bit about an incident that is annoying me.

Andy, one of the Milwaukee Crew and I often have interesting social/political discussions. Saturday night was not an exception. However, Jill--Kyle's new girlfriend, joined our discussion. This girl was the liberal people love to hate. She wasn't the slightest bit concerned about the cost or reality of social programs; she was completely wrong about many facts; she became hysterical several times, and; often admitted that she didn't have a solution, but that "something needs to be done."

So our discussion became quite heated at times. Both Andy and I tried to calm her down several times. Admittedly, some of my techniques to get her to calm down were probably condescending ('you are trying to argue with volume rather than facts', 'why do you keep yelling', and the simple 'calm down, calm down'). However, there were several times that she was blatantly wrong and wouldn't admit it: "the majority of Americans don't have health insurance", "the majority of Americans are Catholics", "the majority of Americans are unemployed." NO--these are all plain wrong: about 42 million of the country's 280 million people lack health insurance (still way too many), the largest religious group is protestant and unemployment--even during 2002, 2003 was only around 6%.

Andy and I pointed out these facts and she simply refused to accept them, but instead asserted that what she 'knew' was correct. Andy is going to grad school for sociology and I was a sociology/social science major, pscyhology/philosophy minor before going to law school. Together we have a pretty good grasp of basic demographics and theory of social programs. I don't know what her background is (or how much her presentation may have been affected by alcohol) but she certainly couldn't argue. She took the conversation way too personally, constantly yelled and interrupted and didn't listen. Finally I left and went into the basement because I was frustrated and not having any fun.

In poor form, I muttered "that girl is not smart" when I went into the basement. The next morning, Shalan chastized me for being mean (and implicitly elitist) to Jill. True, my comment was uncharitable and out of line. However, I feel like Jill was more ill-behaved than I was. She entered a conversation uninvited and turned it sour. She was the one who was yelling and interrupting. (When it was only Andy and me, it was an interesting, but very friendly discussion). I was the one who finally walked way--not her.

Unlike basically everbody that I know, Shalan is the only person who accuses me of being a snob. This is very weird for me because previously Shalan used to be quite critical towards people who didn't or weren't going to college. This was a sore point that eventually destroyed some of her friendships. She is much better now, but I feel like she still has a bit of disdain for people without college degrees. So I get rather cranked out of shape when she implies that I am being a snob. At the same time, I wonder if she is right.

I am very spoiled when it comes to having smart people in my life. My housemates and friends from law school are all extremely intelligent, the men I date are always intelligent, my former co-op residents were PhD students and super-smart, my brothers are smart and thoughtful and so are Shalan, Steph, Peter, Steve and many of their friends in Milwaukee. I am very used to being around people who can think critically and discuss topics calmly and intelligently. Most of the people I know are also extremely good arguers.

Am I completely out of line to value these traits? I hope not, but at the same time, there are many interesting, kind people who lack this skill and are certainly valuable people and friends. What does it say about me that the ability to argue well ranks so high when I evaluate people? The boy who I adore the most from my past is the boy with whom I spent hours discussing and arguing about economic and social policy (free market v. socialism, in a nutshell), and it is these conversations that I miss the most. Is this normal?

So maybe the answer to these questions is that maybe I am a bitch and she is stupid--there is no reason that both or neither are not true.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Nice Ass!"

Today was Ed's last day, so all of the attorneys at the firm went out to lunch to wish him well (the lucky bastard). I will miss the boy, because he is amazingly nice and we have worked on many cases together. Lunch was nice, and then Don asked how the workshop went yesterday--so I told the "keep your apples up" story. People were flabbergasted, and agreed with my instincts--and also agreed that I do not usually look pissed off. However, for the rest of the day (and probably quite a long time) the fun office phrase involves keeping apples up! Later when I was speaking with Phil and he said it to me, I plastered on a fake smile, slathered my voice in honey and worked my dimple. The office bust out laughing, but then Phil said, "you know--I think that woman was right and you could go far with that attitude." Sad but true. I still plan to stick to impressing people with my brains instead of charming them with an act (of course, the dimples and smile will bust out when needed!).

One good thing about Ed leaving is that I will get a new office! Yippee! Besides, just being nicer I will no longer have to walk far to speak with Don, go to the bathroom or get more water. Unfortunately, I will be around more people, so it will probably be harder to get work done. Oh well, life always has trade-offs.

Tonight I had dinner with Dee, my former housemate--she is such a sweetie. I miss the co-op and really need to get back down there more often. Too bad that I am busy every weekend until after the holidays.

As I was biking through downtown after meeting with Dee, a man on the sidewalk loudlyyelled "nice ass!" First of all, I think he said it before he could even see my butt. Second, since it got colder these comments have decreased dramatically, because people drive with their windows up, I am more bundled up and the cold just seems to calm people down. I didn't realize how nice it was riding without this type of comment. Just another good thing about Chicago bike winter. Finally, I still don't understand why men yell this sort of thing. Are they trying to be assholes? Do they think they are cool? Do they want to make me feel self-conscious and slightly less safe? Do they actually think it is a compliment? Might they expect that this could lead to a date of some sort? It is very peculiar behavior--and I think when it increases in spring I will probably get super-confrontational and bitchy about it. It may not be the best strategy, but it usually feels damn good.

I baked a cake for Peter's B-day party in WI tomorrow. It is quite simple--just a chocolate roll that I will fill with ice cream and drizzle with hot fudge. I was planning on doing something elaborate, but I am glad that I went with a simple cake instead. I have lots of work reading to do on the train tomorrow--so that will be nice to be able to bill instead of just wasting time in travel. God--I am totally turning into a lawyer. But working well in the next week or two is very important because bonuses and raises are coming up in less than two weeks, and I want to continue looking like a legal rock star at until then.

Yeah, this was not the most interesting post, but I feel like I had a very full day and wanted to blab.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Look Ma!

I was just mounting my bicycle after the workshop (rocking a horrible style: work pants rolled-up, sleek boots, windbreaker jacket and bike helmet--sexy!) when I thought a man on the sidewalk was pointing and looking at me. I decided that I was paranoid and that he was probably pointing at something else, since I wasn't that interesting-looking. A few seconds later I realized that he was looking at me when I saw him point and say, "Look Ma, that there girl has a parascope on her head!"

This guy apparently was auditioning for a part as 'stereotypical hick tourist' or 'country bumpkin visits the big city.' If only he would have been chewing on a piece of straw and wearing overalls with one strap undone he would have been a perfect charactiture.

Oh yeah, the 'parascope' on top of my head was the light mounted atop my bike helmet. Yes Mr. Bumpkin, I am actually a spy on leave from a submarine stationed off the shore of downtown Chicago in lake Michigan. Really I am--please don't blow my cover.

I giggled all the way back to the office....."Look Ma!"

Keep Your Apples Up!

I attended a workshop titled something like, "Powerful Communications Skills for Women Attorneys: How to gain respect and Power." All of the research that I have read about women in the business world says that women are too submissive and pleasing for many people to take seriously--we smile too much and have gestures, attitudes and postures that convey weakness. Therefore I expected this workshop to identify these weak actions and learn more powerful substitutions. Damn, was I ever wrong.

The presenter's main point was to "keep our apples up." This means always having a near smile on our faces (which raise the 'apples' of our cheeks) and generally appearing open and receptive. WTF!?! This sounded like a load of horseshit to me and I felt myself wearing a mild version of my "I'm not buying what you are trying to sell me" face. This face is super-disturbing to men and I have had professors and speakers tell me that I am the most disturbing audience member that they have ever encountered--they don't want to make eye contact with me, but can't seem to help it. While it is rare that I wear this face, I am actually quite pleased with it and take these comments as an odd form of compliment.

After the presentation I asked the speaker how I could make use of this expression to my advantage. She agreed that I was a very disturbing audience member because I am so hard to read. She also said that I especially need to "keep my apples up" because apparently my natural face position looks "very pissed off". Nice. Going on, I was told to 'work my dimples' to my advantage. Seriously. I went to this workshop expecting to learn how to interact professionally--not how to flirt and smile to get my way. That has never been my style and I don't respect women who use these tactics. Besides, I smile a lot because I am generally a happy person, so I rarely wear my pissed off face. I wonder if it occurred to her that maybe I looked pissed off because of what she was saying? Hmmmm.....probably not.

So anyway-"keep your apples up" as a key to business success.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Brainy Scalp?

Today in the lobby of my building was a man with a scalp that looked like a brain. His head was shaved, but instead of the typical 1-2 horizontal creases at the base of his skull, he had a whole network of squiggly lines up to the top of his head. I was fascinated and creeped out at the same time. I hope he works in my building so I can see him often.

On a totally different subject, I had to meet with my investigators for one of my cases this morning. They haven't been doing the work that I have been giving them, and instead just make empty promises. Today I layed the smack down and didn't take their excuses. The guys are ex-FBI and probably didn't appreciate getting upbraided by a 20-something girl. Afterwards my colleagues were amazed that I could be so stern, because normally I 'seem so nice'. Duh--blowhards aren't respected and frequent outbursts dilute their power. I didn't loose my temper or act bitchy at all, but instead just didn't take any excuses and made myself very clear. It's weird that my colleagues didn't "think I had that in me" and "saw a side of me they'd never seen before" because I felt I was very polite and restrained. Hopefully it will make the paralegal working with me on this case toe the line I set for her.

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