Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday Thunderstorms

When I left work around 8:00pm on Tuesday it was drizzling, and I understood why it was darker than I had expected it to be. Literally less than a block from work the drizzle morphed into a downpour and the sky began crackling with lightening and rumbling with thunder. Absolutely delightful.

The rain was slightly cool, but not cold on my warm skin and it felt fantastic. Riding up inclines, I saw the water streaming down in the opposite direction, only to try to race me when we were both headed downhill. I was smiling and giggling and having a blast – most of the people on the street and in their cars looked less than pleased with the weather.

When I got to my neighborhood the weather calmed back down to a light rain, and I extended my ride for a few extra blocks. I was drenched, but felt very refreshed and happy.

The air conditioning in my part of office didn’t work, so we sweltered all day long as the temperature rose. Besides the heat, I also found out that the project that I was given at 4:30pm on Friday, due Tuesday was all messed up. Unknown to me, their was an Amended Complaint filed in the case – but was not in our filing. I had never seen it nor known it existed. The pleadings that I were working off of were simply not correct. So all of the work that I did over the weekend was useless.

So I had to re-do lots of work and deal with my partners who couldn’t comprehend why I was so far behind on this project. I hate that the power dynamic keeps me from yelling, "You Fucked Up! You failed to file the Amended Complaint; You have had these documents in your office for three weeks, but didn’t distribute them to me when you gave me the 'now-emergency' assignment; You gave me old documents to work off of; therefore, it is You who is responsible for me not having this project done! I spent hours of my precious holiday weekend working on this stupid assignment that is now useless because of You!"

Alas, the workplace doesn’t welcome this sort of outraged honesty. So instead I worked through lunch and didn’t leave my sweltering office until 8:00pm to finish the project.

Which is why riding home in the cooling rain was the best damn part of my day.

Today I decided to take advantage of my foul attitude towards work and the sweltering office: braless in a light, gauzy dress that is so thin that my tattoos show through -- not to mention the design on my underpants. This place can kiss my ass. I hope someone dares tell me I look unprofessional.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

CCM, Boats, Yoga, BBQ, Bike the Drive, Pen Pals

What an amazing weekend.

Friday:

Critical Mass on Friday was awesome: very mellow, a great route, great weather and no hit & runs or police intervention (at least that I know of). I rode the Breeze and had an all-around fantastic time.

Jonathan and I then pedaled farther South to Hyde Park to go swing dancing. It is amazing how much I suck at everything that requires coordination. The scene was surreal. The dance was held in the old ballroom of a dorm at the U of C. A guy kept dancing past us holding his arms out as if he was dancing with a woman, instead of just emptiness. There were mirrors along lots of the walls, and he constantly watched himself dancing with air. This felt like a dream sequence in some movie that doesn't make any sense.

Everytime Jonathan and I were more than arm's length away from each other some socially awkward U of C undergrad would pounce in and ask me to dance -- including the dude who was dancing with himself. Jonathan was cracking up everytime we made eye contact during this dance with the weirdo. The dude didn't notice at all, because he was too busy studying himself in the mirror Dancing With A Real, Live Woman!!! Hilariously Freaky.

My inability to dance, along with all of the awkward dance partners I had completely destroyed my dignity. It was so nice to get back on my bike and not suck. We grabbed a bottle of wine and had dinner at Medici. It was a beautiful night, so Jonathan offered to accompany me for a while as I rode home. Sweet. The air was calm and a perfect temperature -- a little cool to keep from sweating, but not actually cold. I love riding on the path late at night on the stretch between Hyde Park and Downtown.

We ended up sleeping on the sailboat. He quipped that it sounds so much nicer than the reality of the situation -- which involved sleeping in a somewhat cramped cubby, and cuddling for warmth under a sail cover. This was my first real weekend of summer, and I considered this a great start.

Saturday:

I had to get up early to meet friends at the farmers' market at 7:30am. There were already a lot of people jogging, walking and biking for exercise along the lake. The market was fun, as always. Shortly after going home I had to go to a private yoga class that Mia arranged for her friends. It was really good and sucked all my energy away. I felt in a daze afterwards. I also learned that biking has tightened up my hamstrings too much. Never flexible muscles for me, now they do not want to stretch out At All. Time to stretch more.

After Yoga, Mia had a BBQ. Very, very fun. That girl is super cool.

Chris came over so we could prep food for our BBQ the next day. I was exhausted and wiped out by the time I finally crawled into bed.

Sunday:

I got up early because of Bike the Drive. Before Mia came to meet me, I watered and weeded some of my garden. When Mia arrived, I got on the Breeze and we rode down to start the ride. Mia doesn't ride as much as I do, so her on a road bike and me on the Breeze was pretty compatible.

It was Hot outside. Far too hot for May. Heat records were broke in Chicago this weekend.

We headed South from Downtown towards Hyde Park. So many bikes. Bike the Drive sold out this year -- 20,000 tickets were sold! Fantastic! Bikes of all types -- families with trailers, people on cruisers and roadies everywhere. Originally I planned to take the Julep out and try to whip through the full course twice. But then when Mia signed up, I decided to just ride for fun instead of speed. I was envious of the roadies when a paceline would fly past, but overall, decision was correct. Mia and I had a blast -- we talked shamelessly about boys and sex for nearly the whole ride.

After finishing the 30 mile ride, we biked back to my place and started to prepare for the BBQ. Damn was it hot outside -- the sun was blazing like crazy.

Anjanette and her husband came! They are super cool and engaging. In a very short time, they were both comfortably chatting with the group. Awesome. Power to the Bike Basket Pen Pals!!

Paul also came and we had some good conversation. Such a nice boy. He brought me pepper and tomato plants for my garden.

I crashed pretty early after the long day.

Monday:

I cleaned my room. It sounds like a lame way to spend a holiday, but it had to be done. I have never completely unpacked since moving in, so this was quite a feat. It took many, many hours of cleaning. But now, my room is completely clean and I think I am totally unpacked, too. Yippee! It is so nice to have a room that is orderly and respectable.

Now I can dive right into summer!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Cabbie Friday?

"Doing a good job cyclist!" said the cabdriver as we waited at the light. He was smiling and not a drop of sarcasm was in his voice. I had recently passed him to cut over into the left-most lane.

Weird.

A few intersections later, at another light, a different cabbie honked and I saw him smiling, nodding and giving me thumbs up.

I checked -- my skirt was in place, all of my buttons were fastened. There was no flashing going on. Apparently the cabbies (at least these two) were just happy today, too. Sweet.

Happy Friday!

Message in a Basket

Thursday evening I found a cute little card, sealed inside a ziplock bag to protect it from the impending rain:

"I might be out of town this weekend, but if not, I'd love to come to your BBQ. Thanks for the invitation! I've been enjoying our correspondence so much.
--Anj
773-xxx-xxxx"


The note makes me both happy and sad. Happy because.....well....this whole exchange is fun and it will be nice to meet her in person again. Sad because once we use the phone to communicate and meet, the note/basket method of communicating will likely die off. 'tis the way of technology.

Happy Friday folks!

Enjoy the weekend -- Summer is Here!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bike Basket Pen Pal

Two or three weeks ago I was unlocking the Breeze in front of my apartment to go to work. A woman walking on the sidewalk approached me. Despite her sleek appearance and presence, she burst into a babble, "I love your bike! it makes me so happy when I see it! I love the windchimes! It is so delightful!"

I babbled my thanks in return, saying that I had hoped my bike would bring people smiles and joy. I smiled on the ride into work.

When I left my office, tired after preparing for the trial, I noticed a note in my basket:

I complimented you on your windchimes this morning. I’m on a break between classes and decided to wander around. What a pleasant surprise to come across your bicycle again today. Just had to drop you a note, I couldn’t resist. Anyway.. Hope your day is filled with wonderful surprises.

Anjanette (I live in your neighborhood)

I was giddy with delight upon reading the note. My smile was ear to ear and I giggled to myself as I happily rode home.

On Monday, I took the Julep into work and left the Breeze behind with a reply note in her basket:


Anjanette,
Thanks for the compliment the other morning about the windchimes! Getting the surprise follow-up note when I left work completely made my day – I smiled all the way home. Glad to know there are more people delighted by whimsy – and unafraid of strangers.
Hope your classes went well.

--jojo

She replied the same day:

I was so happy to get your note today. I was on my way to an interview and I got the job. Your note seemed like my good luck charm! I have an old yellow Schwinn named Lulu
–Anj



I was damn near dancing I was so happy to see her note. This exchange is super-fun! I decided to invite her to our BBQ this Sunday:

Anjanette,
Congratulations on the new job! If you are interested, my apartment is having a grill-out this Sunday after Bike the Drive. I’ll leave more details if you indicate you might come – it would be nice to meet Lulu.

I hope she replies....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Free from Captivity: Julep, Crit, Bridges, Sunburn, Boating, Arty Weekend

(Pictures near the end)

Friday

After work, Chris and I met up with Inge for dinner before going to see her art exhibited along with some other graduating MFA students. Some of the work was very interesting – but other installations truly looked as if the contents of a "Free" box from a garage sale was just stapled to a wall.

Next we headed to opening night of "Picnic," the play that Mia is in. Very good and entertaining. We had drinks with the actors after the show, along with my roommate.

While we were biking back to the ‘hood, Chris mentioned that he wanted to speak with me alone for a bit, so we parted from John at the six corners intersection and headed to Chris’s place.

Chris tried to kiss me.

For quite a while, I’ve suspected that Chris had a crush on me, so this action wasn’t particularly surprising. It was still awkward, of course, since I’m not interested in anything more than friendship developing between Chris and I. We ended up having a long discussion about the situation. Indeed he has been crushing on me for several months, and recently he has been telling mutual friends about his desire to make out with me. Great. I tried to be clear that nothing would happen, but not hurt or embarrass him. We parted on good terms, but I expect a degree of awkwardness with Chris in the future.
________________________

Saturday

I was supposed to go on a bike-packing trip this weekend, but I bailed because there were other things in Chicago that I wanted to do. Plus, I still feel out of whack from the trial. It’s as if my internal battery has been severely depleted, and my alternator isn’t working well.

In the early morning I worked on laundry, gardening and getting the Julep ready for the road. Running late, I hopped on the Julep to ride down to Hyde Park to meet up with Jonathan to watch the Monster of the Midway bike criterium.

I have been riding the Breeze for the last three weeks, without once getting on a road bike. Several things were quickly apparent after mounting the Julep. First, I didn’t re-install the brake in the right place. When I reached for it, I grabbed air and had to scramble to find it. Second, the steering was fucked up. Not knowing what I was doing when I had removed the handlebar stem, I messed around with the headset, too. The steering feels really shaky, and once the bike is turning, it doesn’t want to straighten back out. It reminds me of driving my old car without shocks. Plus, the Julep is a fixed gear and I clip into her pedals. Additionally, my new messenger bag lacks a stabalizing strap, so it was constantly threatening to slide off of my back. Taken together, the ride felt unsafe.

But, I was running late, so I just rolled with it, and sped down to Hyde Park. Damn that bike is fast. I’ve been getting faster on the Breeze, but the Julep flies in comparison. My route took me through Pilsen, Chinatown and Bronzeville before I got to Hyde Park, rubber side down. Despite the constant danger of crashing or falling, the ride was awesome. I love the Julep.

The race was really interesting to watch. Plus it was a beautiful sunny day. What a treat after our recent cold weather and the unpleasantness of my last few weeks. Besides Jonathan, there were a few other people who I knew and chatted with. Good time.

Then I met my old housemate Dee and we caught up for a couple of hours. Dee-lightful. I need to do better at staying in touch with old friends.

The ride back to my neighborhood was fun, but tiring, because there was a massive headwind along the lake. I had looked forward to riding through one stretch of the path that is heavy with the smell of lilacs and other blossoms this time of the year. It is one of my favorite parts of the city. Unfortunately, the wind was strong here too, and neither the thick floral smell, nor the feeling of peace was present, blown away by the noisy, insistent wind. Even so, it was fun to whip past the people who were struggling to pedal into the wind. By the time I got home my back under my bag was dripping with sweat from the effort. Still, it felt good to work.
_________________

Sunday

Several bikey guys I know went in on a sailboat a few years ago, named the American Excess (which I think should be called Critical Mast, instead). Jonathan and his brother Ben are two of the owners. Sunday morning was the day they planned to take it out of winter storage, chug it up the river and into it’s summer dock in Lake Michigan. I accepted Jonathan’s invite to partake in this adventure, and got up early to be at the river dock by 7:30am.

We waited for a flotilla to join as we all sought the open water. Our bikes were either strapped to the deck, or stowed below. This is probably the first time the Julep was on a boat since she came to the States from her birth in Japan. Along the way there are many, many bridges that need to open to allow passage of the boats’ tall masts. To prevent traffic inconvenience, there are scheduled days that the bridges will be opened as the flotilla heads up the river. (Mast up!!)

This was ridiculously cool. Chicago’s drawbridges are scary for me, because they are metal grates. Riding over them with skinny road tires can feel incredibly dangerous, especially when wet. The river loops around downtown, so there are open grate bridges everywhere that need to be crossed. I go out of my way often to avoid riding on these nasty bridges when I ride the Julep. Watching them get out of our way somehow was fun in a vindictive sort of way. I also liked looking up to see the bright sky shine through their lacey pattern, instead of the bumpy blur of the murky river below.

















Out of winter storage and into the river at 18th/Canal.















The first bridge opens for us.
















And another.
















Downtown is in sight, as another bridge opens.






















The Sears Tower is much closer now.
















Nick commands that Michigan Avenue part.

















Crossing under Lake Shore Drive, the Julep sees Navy Pier.















Looking backwards from the Locks.

















Finally, we're in open water, and can see our city from an unusual view.

Watching the city float by was a beautiful experience. I hope for more invites to come out on the boat this summer. It will be even better when the sails are up and the boat is wind powered instead putting around with its motor.
The one bad thing about this experience was how friggin’ cold it was. Brrr-fucking-rrrr. I thought that it was going to be as warm as the prior day, and also imagined being in the sun for most of the trip. Not only was it a much cooler day, but being on the water was even colder.

Once we were downtown, the massive buildings blocked out most of the sun, and we tried to hide in the rare patches of sunlit warmth.
I will admit that by the end I wanted nothing more than to just get home and warm. I think I was home by 12:30 in the afternoon My face is all pink from these two days in the sun.

Later that night I went to a party Inge and her roommates threw to celebrate graduation from art school, or at least the end of the school year. From what I heard everyone there was an art student but me. I felt very much like an intruder. The party was weird for me. There was no laughter, and few smiles. Everyone was either thin to the point of emaciation, or soft and squishy looking. We watched short art films, most of which had no discernable point. After each inexplicable clip, there was no conversation about it, only nodding. Even though several of the clips were engaging and enjoyable to watch, the question that begged to be answered for all of them was, "what the fuck?"

I stayed at the party for less than two hours because I just didn’t feel comfortable. As sad as it is, I apparently am more at ease among lawyers than art students. At least on the walk to and from Inge’s loft I was able to breath in the rich smell of lilacs and feel the calm and peace that I missed on the ride the evening past.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Trial.

It’s over.

We’ll hopefully find out something about the results in the next week or so. Final results won’t be learned for 6-9 months.

In celebration, this is the shirt I picked to wear today at work. My friend Chris saw it in NY and knew I’d love it. He was right. I love it. (long, boring trial babble below pictures)




































Day One, May 17, 2006.

I am at the office by 7:00, the trial is set to begin at 9:00. E, the co-worker who is working with me on this trial was supposed to arrive at 8:00. At 8:20 I started getting seriously stressed out and tried calling one of the partners. E arrived and our cab took forever and ever to crawl through downtown. Our client was already there and we didn’t really have time to do much of what we needed to do before it began.

While the division of labor between E and I was pretty much equal, I was front-loaded: opening statement, cross-examination of three witnesses, and direct examination of our first fact witness. E was end-loaded: he had to cross-examine one opposing witness, direct examine two significant fact witnesses, including our client, and the closing argument.

To my surprise, I think I did a pretty good job. My opening went smoothly and I felt pretty comfortable cross examining witnesses. I got nearly all of the admissions I wanted from them. The witness that I presented was great and his testimony went very smoothly. The character witnesses weren’t a big deal, either. We finished for the day with only the client’s testimony and closing argument continued for the next morning. I was done.

We returned back to the office to give the report to the higher-ups. Our boss analogized our first trial to how great it was when we "got our first piece." Very PC. Wanting to remind him that I am not a guy, I quipped back, "You’re right! It was uncomfortable and painful."

When I finally walked into my office, there was a big box on my desk – an order from REI!! There is a bikepacking trip scheduled for the weekend, so I ordered a tent....and then in a rash of spending also got another messenger bag, a biking hoodie, a new seatpost bag, a new helmet and another pair of travel pants. Everything was great, except for the horrible travel pants. It was like Christmas for me!

Then I went out to Happy Hour with several of my law school friends to celebrate, while E practiced his direct examination and closing argument into the wee hours of the night. I got home around 10:00pm, completely wired. Chris agree to go for a walk with me so that I could burn off my excess energy. For two hours we traipsed around the neighborhood.
____________________
Day Two, May 18, 2006.

The second day of trial began better than the first. We weren’t really running late and, since I was done, had no reason to be worried.

E wasn’t on his game. He forgot to question our client about several key points that were brought up in opposing counsel’s closing. E’s closing divulged into a rambling, babbling mess. It was painful to hear. I just had to sit there as he went off on tangents and didn’t clearly describe our position. I hope it wasn’t as bad as it sounded to me, but instead of bringing out the strengths of our case, he dwelt on the weaker points. He should have hammered the opposing counsel’s case by sticking with our argument, but instead confused our argument. I really hope I am wrong.

This was completely unexpected, because E speaks in court a lot, and acted completely comfortable leading up to trial. He actually was excited and thought it would be 'fun.' I was totally paranoid about screwing up and was feeling physically sick from stress and nervousness. My response was to prepare and practice and revise and practice some more. I knew my stuff, so my nervousness basically disappeared once the trial got rolling. I think E was probably overconfident, and didn't prepare as much as he could have. So the exact opposite of what we both expected happened at trial: he cracked and I didn't.

After the case closed, the Chair of the Hearing Panel offered to speak with all counsel about technique and method. He wanted both sides to object more and it became obvious that the rules of evidence is one of his pet issues. The advice he gave was good and constructive. He referenced my "attempt" to impeach a witness. Crap – I thought I actually did impeach him! Guess not. He told us and the opposing counsel that we spoke far too fast, and sometimes mumbled, so that panel couldn’t hear what we said. Then he corrected himself and complimented me. I was told that I have great courtroom presence; that they could hear every word I said because my articulation and pronunciation were perfect and my command of the English language was excellent. E was miffed that I received the only compliment.

When we reported this back to my boss, he puffed up to declare again that it was further evidence that I am a born litigator. He is shocked that after doing this trial I still want to get out of litigation. I’m sure he is disappointed that he hasn’t been able to make me fall in love with litigating. We then spoke about my job search and he is writing a letter of recommendation for me.

I went out with friends at the Hbar, expecting to celebrate the end of trial all night long. Instead, by 9:00 I was damned tired. I was in bed shortly after 10:00pm, and I slept like the dead until 6:00am, when Blackie started walking all over my face.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tick Tock

My trial is on May 17-18. Gulp. Work was crazy-busy this week. Lots of new projects and assignments. I really didn't get to work very much for the trial, actually.

Wednesday was a fun day, though. I had to appear in the criminal court at 26th/California. The Julep was undergoing maintenance, so I've been riding the Breeze for the last two weeks. I pedalled down to the court pretty quickly and made my first appearance in a criminal court. It is a whole other world than the civil court system. Then I scooted back downtown on the Breeze. It was nice to get 11-12 miles of riding in before setting foot in my office. Especially since the Breeze requires a lot more effort than my road bikes do.

Later that day I had to sneak out of work early for a photo shoot for a magazine article on bike commuting. The Breeze and me in my business suit had to stand for many pictures. After the weekend of family photos, I was more than tired of smiling for cameras. Still, it will be fun to see how they turn out. The best part was that since I was home by 8:00, I went out with John for a few drinks. I've been a social recluse to prepare for this trial. I don't like declining invitations because of work.

Friday was my birthday, but I kept it on the DownLow. Since I am being a recluse, I'm going to wait to celebrate my birthday until after this stupid trial ends. [there might be a bike camping tour as part of it]. The HUB co-op had a party that I went to and had a nice time with bikey friends.

It is now Saturday and I am at work. My co-worker for the upcoming trial didn't show up, so I guess I'll have to be here tomorrow, too.

I had my first bad dream about this trial last night. A group of us were settling into a classroom-type setting and I realized that I hadn't prepared an opening statement (true in real life, too!). I tried to create an outline while the teacher/judge called us to order and I woke up as I was fervently hoping that I wasn't the first person who had to speak. So today I am working on my opening statement. I absolutely do not want to do this trial and I can't wait for it to end. I'm sick of being stressed and putting my life on hold.

Family Weekend Highlights

First of all, my grandparents:
















We spent a lot of the weekend taking family photos. Most of them will probably be boring, but these two poses with my bros were fun.

I thought that we should get some pictures of us taken wearing our suits, since we currently all have professional jobs. Odds are good that at least one of us will bail from our profession in the future. So to document it, we tried to look like hardasses:


















Or, as we quipped, "First the deer, then the world!"


















We had joked about getting pictures taken with my mom' s concrete lawn deer. Frick snagged the doe, I hopped up to sit sidesaddle atop the buck, and when big bro arrived, there was only Bambi left for him to perch upon.

As usual, time with my brothers is fun, but too short. Time with my mom is stressful and annoying. Time with my grandparents is good.

The weekend was a whirlwind and I was overbooked with friends and family. Fun, but tiring.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

60th Wedding Anniversary

My grandparents are celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary this weekend, so me and the bros are meeting up in hometown, WI.

Very fun and exciting. The idea of sharing a home and every day together for sixty years with another person is awesome to consider. Their lives have been completely interwoven for as much longer than I have existed. They worked the farm together during this time, raised their children and shared friends. They still live in the same house, with the same barn on the same land as my grandfather was born in and my grandmother lived after they wed. As a twenty-eight year old, single person, this is mind-boggling to fathom -- but in a good way. They are reaching a milestone that I do not have illusions of reaching myself.

What is even harder to recognize is that they are both becoming painfully aware of their age. Friends of theirs keep dying as their own health slowly falters. Many conversations with them are sprinkled with comments about their own mortality. As much as I hate to think about it, they are getting older and will eventually be gone. Me laughing off these comments doesn't negate the inescapable truth. Neither my grandma's spunk, nor my grandpa's piss and vinegar can hold off the inevitable.

Sixty years together. wow. The anniversary cards at the store stop at 50 years.

After sixty years of marriage, how will one of them continue to function when the other is gone? I hate thinking these thoughts, but they keep creeping into my mind.


With a twinge of bitter to tinge the sweet, their life together will be celebrated by our family. It will be good to see them and the farm this weekend.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

About Time























































I planned to make these pot racks in the Fall of 2004. Every time I started on the project I got frustrated because I didn't have the right tools, and Home Depot didn't help me.

A few weeks ago I decided to just throw money at the project to get it done: I paid my friend Steve and he created and installed these wonderful racks for me. They spin on the hubs.

Love it.
___________

My other issue with time is that I don't have enough of it. I am drowning in work because my boss keeps giving me more cases even though I am trying to prepare for my first trial that begins in two weeks. Last week I was ill and didn't bill as much as normal, plus he sent us to 1.5 days of Continuing Legal Eduction, which didn't help.

After working all weekend and until 11:00pm yesterday, I came in early to my office to find the following email from my boss:

Please meet with me to review your goal statement for the week. Over the past week, your billable time has dropped dramatically and we need to develope a better balance with billable time. Bring in a copy of your goal statement.

Livid does not begin to describe my mood.

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