Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bad Day, Worse Day

Bad Day: Spilling water on your suit pants while ironing them and having to spend extra time steaming them dry.

Worse Day: Realizing when you sit down in the car that your pants are not totally dry and now your undergarments are slightly damp as well.

Bad Day: Realizing that, while the cotton shirt you were planning on wearing is iron-safe, the delicate lace trim around the neck is not and when you try to iron it, it melts onto the iron and partially comes off of the shirt.

Worse Day: Trying to fix the shirt (because it may be the only clean shirt that matches this suit) by attempting to iron off the remainder of the lace trim and discovering the rest of the lace trim prefers to melt onto the shirt instead of coming off the shirt.

Bad Day: Dropping your keys in the garbage can on your way to work while throwing away a bag of dirty diapers.

Worse Day: Realizing the last thing you put in the garbage can was a not-completely-closed bag of dirty cat litter.

My day can only get better, right?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't They Keep a Spare Head?

One of my favorite cities in the world is Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the symbols of Copenhagen is the statue of "The Little Mermaid," as invisioned by Hans Christian Andersen, not by Disney. Unfortunately, the statue has had a rough life, similar to the girl she portrays. In 1964, her head was completely sawn off and never found. It was replaced and remained intact until 1990, when another attempt to cut it off failed but resulted in a huge cut in her neck. In 1998, she was not so lucky and vandals again took off her her head. It was returned a few days later.

The little statue (she is only 1.25 meters tall, which is a little more than 4 feet) has been vandalized in many other ways, including being covered with graffiti, shrouded in a Muslim head scarf, and blasted off of her rock with dynamite. Earlier this month, she was painted red.

I have always wondered why political groups and vandals target this particular statue, rather than a larger statue of a real person without the sad fictional story. Part of the reason may be that the statue has always stood right on the shoreline of the Copenhagen harbor. Tourists (and vandals) can walk right up to it (sometimes she is surrounded by a couple inches of water). After this last vandalism, officials announced they may consider moving her further out in the harbor. It seems sad to punish the thousands of innocent tourists and Danes for the acts of a few heartless vandals.

Anyway, I was discussing the latest violation with my dad, who also has a fondness for the statue, when my mom walked in. I said, "The Little Mermaid was vandalized again." My mom, who is not nearly as sentimental as my dad and I, said, "What, did they cut off her head again? That's not a big deal, they keep a spare head just in case that happens."

My dad and I exchanged a look that is often reserved for the times my mother says something completely off the wall, usually stating as fact something she has made up. I searched the internet but I could not find any references to a spare head. Considering it has only been removed twice in approximately 100 years, I sincerely doubt they keep a spare. But you never know . . . the original may still be out there somewhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Overheard at my Parents' House

Mom: Oh, I got an email from Olivia today about dinner on Friday. She said she loves sweetbreads, so the menu is OK with her.

Dad: Really, she likes sweetbreads? Maybe she is just being nice by not telling us she doesn't like something on our menu.

Mom: Well, she's stuck eating them now. You would have to be really brave to lie about loving sweetbreads - it would be really hard to fake your way through the course if you didn't like them.

The moral of the story? Honesty is always the best policy if you are having dinner with my parents.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tick Tock Tick Tock

My father loves clocks. We have always had a lot of clocks in the house, including an antique mantel clock that donged every half hour. Or it was supposed to dong every half hour. The only day it was ever on time was Monday because my father wound it on Sunday nights. The rest of the week, it would slowly get off time. I never actually used this clock to tell time. Because I grew up hearing this clock every half hour, it never bothered me. However, guests always complain about the clock because it keeps them up at night.

In the last few years, the clock obsession has become more serious. There are at least two clocks in each room, not including the digital clocks that come with items such as the microwave, the DVD player, or the telephones. There are two mantel clocks now, one upstairs and one downstairs, which never agree on which time it is, but both dong every half hour. The only room that does not have any clocks is the dining room because it is poor form to remind your guests how long they have been enjoying their meals. My mother has limited his clock collection in most rooms, so the remainder of his new purchases line the wall in his bathroom. The bathroom has seven clocks, most of which have pendulums. It is a little dizzying trying to put on my makeup with seven clock pendulums swinging in front of my eyes.

So, needless to say, I was not surprised when I heard a new clock upon entering their house on Thursday night. This one is another mantel clock, but because there are no mantels left, it sits in the TV room. It's a nice looking clock but it is set on Westminster Quarters. Basically, it dongs every 15 minutes, with additional dongs at the top of the hour to signify the actual time. The conflict between this clock and the mantel clock is highlighted because they are less than 20 feet from each other, albeit in separate rooms. It is really hard to watch TV in my parents' house.

On Friday morning, my dad said to me, "What do you think of my new clock?" I said it looked great, just to avoid the repeated conversation about having too many clocks. I added, "It goes off every 15 minutes. Isn't that overkill?" My dad said, "It doesn't go off, it chimes the Westminster Quarters. I can set it to chime Ave Maria, if you like."

No, really, that's OK.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Blogging from Home

No, not my home, my parents' home. I am taking a long weekend away from Peoria and enjoying the good life at my parents' house. Unlike some people, I really like hanging out with my parents and this is a real vacation for me. A paid vacation, since they always pay for everything, except gas money to get here (which was significant, I must say.)

The three main benefits of my parents house? First, good food. My mother is a very good cook, so there is no need for restaurants. In addition, I have been invited to attend their very exclusive gourmet dinner club as a guest. Every month, a bunch of couples get together and choose a menu from and each make at least one dish. Yum! Although, I have the suspicion that I am only allowed to come as a single because this is a set up. My parents never give up.

Second, good wine. My parents live by the motto, "Life's too short to drink cheap wine." No problem.

Third, child care by Gran. Aside from the midnight bottle, my mom does most child care. Ahh . . . almost heaven!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is News?

I usually have the morning news on from about 6:30 to 8:00 so I can hear the weather and get up to date on what is going on in the world. I usually watch NBC, mostly out of habit. The Today Show always has its "hard-hitting" news on during the first half hour, if not the full first hour, depending on the day. But this morning, apparently there is nothing serious happening in the world because, after the lead story of more troop deaths in Iraq, the next three stories were (1) the winner of American Idol - Jordin Sparks; (2) the fight between Rosie O'Donnell and the dumb blonde on The View; and (3) a continued interview with Angelina Jolie.

This qualifies as news? In a week where Congress and the president are battling over Iraq funding, more soldiers are killed in a senseless "war," the Justice Department is slowly imploding, Hillary Clinton has been urged to bypass Iowa (not good, Hillary, not good), and gas prices continue to rise while oil companies continue to reap the rewards, NBC leads with news from two other networks and a movie star??

Don't get me wrong. I like Jordin Sparks, the girl can really sing. I love Rosie O'Donnell and her politics and I wish she would have just bitch-slapped the dumb blonde and then sat on her to shut her up. I think Angelina Jolie is somewhat irritating, but I think she has done some incredible things in the last few years. All good stories, but not hard-hitting, national news items.

I think my time would have been better spent watching Sesame Street. At least then I would know what the letter of the day was.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I've Been Tagged - Why I Blog

Jennifer has thoughtfully tagged the new girl to answer the question, "Why I Blog." I feel so special! And I was always the last one picked to play dodgeball - my, how the world has changed. So, why do I blog?

First, I blog because I feel that I have something to say and not enough people captive to listen to me on a daily basis. This is probably why I have a cat and a dog and a baby. They are all pretty good listeners, particularly when they are asleep, but not very good conversationalists.

Second, I blog because I think bloggers are hilarious. I started reading blogs a couple of years ago, but they were just professional/law blogs. Then I was introduced to Eyebrows McGee. Her blog has become a daily habit of mine because her insightful and amusing style is contagious. And she is a fellow lawyer, so I can relate, although she uses many more $5 words than I do and thinks WAY more about her yard than I ever will.

Third, I blog because I like to write and my professional writing does not always satisfy the creative urge.

Fourth, I blog because it makes me feel like more a part of the Peoria community. Since I didn't grow up here and don't have family here, I don't always feel like I totally "get" Peoria. By exchanging ideas over blogs, I feel like a part of the community and I am starting to understand Peoria. Or a particularly odd subsection of it.

Fifth, I blog because Peoria Illinoisan made me do it. He may seem like a nice guy, but he can be very pushy.

So, there it is. As far as tagging other people, I am sure I am going to tag someone who has already been "it" so, if you are reading this, and you're a blogger and you haven't been tagged (or haven't responded to a tag), consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reason # 37 Why I am not a Member of the Illinois State Bar Association

As the title implies, I have many reasons for not belonging to the Illinois State Bar Association. To detail all of them would be very time consuming and probably just piss me off even further. But here is Reason # 37.

I have written articles for various publications for the ISBA, at their request. Every time I do so, someone at the organization finds out I am not a member and starts sending me junk mail. Most recently, I received a letter giving me a six month "trial membership." I do not know why ISBA thinks they know more about my professional life than I do and what I need to advance my career. I am an educated, intelligent, vastly experienced lawyer who has a very specialized practice. I think I am perfectly capable of deciding which organizations would benefit me and which would not.

Anyway, Reason # 37. ISBA wastes paper, time, and money. Now, I realize lawyers are the worst offenders when it comes to unnecessary paper usage. But this is ridiculous. Every morning, I come into my office and look through my mail. Every day during my six month "trial membership," I have received a flyer (a large, two-color, multi-fold, fancy-sealed flyer) advising me of some upcoming CLE class, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with my practice area. As I said, I have written articles for these people - the topics I write about should provide a clue. In addition, the type of law I practice is abundantly clear from the name of my office, which is printed underneath my name on each one of these flyers. Another clue. Or, they could get the message by the fact that I have NEVER joined their organization and have NEVER attended one of their CLEs.

Here is a list of the flyers I have received just in the last two weeks:
- Drafting and Negotiating Commerical Contracts for Larger Corporations: An Insiders and Outsiders View
- From Legal Practice to What's Next: The Boomer-Lawyer's Guide to a Smooth Transition (ummm . . . HELLO? I am in my 30s. They could figure that out by my bar admission date or my birthdate. I am not a baby boomer.)
- Back to Basics: The Fundamentals of Starting a Business
- Education for Attorneys in Child Custody Matters
- 2007 Labor and Employment Update: Recent and Proposed Amendments and Case Law
- Civil Practice Update
- 2006/2007 Developments in State and Local Tax
- Fundamental Estate Planning for Modest Estates
- Effective Legal Writing
- 42nd Annual Illinois Traffic Court Conference (yuck, yuck, yuck, and yuck.)
- Probate GAL Training
- Nuts and Bolts: Representing Your Client in Driver's Licensing Issues at SOS
- What Every Lawyer Should Know about Intellectual Property
- Family Law Update
- Civil Practice and Procedure Update
- Uninsured/Underinsured: The Necessary Basics
- Tort Law Update
- Ethics and Professionalism for Government Attorneys
- Mediation for Illinois Family Courts
- Overview of the Pension Protection Act of 2006: Its Impact on Defined Benefit Plans

Out of these 20 flyers, there are maybe two that apply to be, and those only in the most general sense. I am sure each one of these is absolutely perfect for a number of lawyers in Illinois. But sending flyers to each lawyer in Illinois for each CLE class is simply a waste of paper, money, time, and energy. There is no lawyer that would possibly be interested in attending every one of these classes. Even the American Bar Association, in their never-ending spending and glossy magazine wastefulness, asks each lawyer to choose three practice areas and only sends information about those areas to interested attorneys.

Come on ISBA, get your act together. Stop killing trees. Maybe you should put some of that flyer money into Legal Aid funds or law school scholarships. Keep in mind, you will never receive any of my money to further your wasteful efforts. If I want to take one of your CLEs, I'll call you, don't call me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hello Kitty is My Homegirl

I like to wear T-Shirts with funny, thought-provoking, or political statements on them. I have quite a few of these T-Shirts, but sometimes I have to be careful where I wear them. For example, the one that says, "I'm Just One Big Fucking Ray of Sunshine" does not get worn as often because it is probably inappropriate to wear when dropping my son off at daycare. As an aside, my dad bought me that shirt because I am not always the most cheerful person.

The problem with wearing funny T-Shirts is that I always forget I have them on about 10 minutes after I put it on. When I walk around in public, I start to wonder why everyone is staring at my chest, so I look down because I think I have spilled something on myself. Then I remember which T-Shirt I have on and chuckle a little.

Today, my T-Shirt of choice has a picture of Hello Kitty on it and it says, "Hello Kitty is My Homegirl." I love this T-Shirt because I love Hello Kitty and it always gets a lot of second glances. Cool people my age, who remember the Hello Kitty of the 1970s, always smile when they see the shirt. Older people have a very confused look on their faces. Kids think its funny that an "old" person, such as myself, would wear a Hello Kitty T-Shirt. Most other people try not to react, as if reacting would be uncool or immature. This is how most of the other parents dropping off kids at daycare were this morning. Get over yourselves, people! Being a parent is the best excuse for doing and wearing funny things.

I only got one comment on the shirt today. I went to Home Depot and asked a 23-year-old salesman for some help. I saw him looking at my chest and then he said, "That shirt is AWESOME!!" I think he really meant it . . . it didn't sound like he was trying to cover the fact he had been staring at my chest.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

All Natural Cheetos

I was at the grocery store very early this morning. I am one of those kinds of mothers who runs out of formula at 6 am and has to go to the store before the next feeding. Of course, I put it off as long as I could so my son was on the edge of mild hunger when we entered the store. So, there I was, trying to get in and out in five minutes when something caught my eye in the organic food aisle. NATURAL CHEETOS.

I think to myself, there is no way they could make Cheetos natural. Cheetos are about the most unnatural food imaginable. But, there it is - "No Preservatives, No Artificial Flavors, No Artificial Colors." Now, I do not usually purchase Cheetos - I have never been a salty snack kind of person. However, I just had to buy a bag of Natural Cheetos - for research purposes. What's the verdict? They aren't bad, if you like mild cheese flavored packing peanuts. The ingredients are not too bad: Organic Corn Meal, Sunflower Oil, Whey, Cheddar Cheese, Maltodextrin, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors (again, what is a natural Cheeto flavor? I am sure it does not occur in nature), Disodium Phosphate, Sour Cream, Yeast, Lactic Acid, and Citric Acid. I don't think I will buy them again. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I will take them to my office this week to share - those guys will eat anything.

A few other oddities in the store this morning. There was a guy with a long ponytail in the cereal aisle holding a huge box of Fruit Loops. He was standing in front of the tape display, contemplating tape. For at least 5 minutes. I pretty sure he was stoned. Or, he really likes tape.

The other weirdo was the guy taking advantage of the Pepsi sale. In addition to all of his Pepsi products, he wanted to purchase a bag of cherries. He had an argument with the check-out lady because he thought it was $1.39 per bag, not a $1.39 per pound. After he paid, he decided he didn't want the cherries and made the lady give him his money back. And then they took the cherries back and put them out again for someone else to purchase. Yuck. I am going to wash my produce extra hard from now on.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Drag Racing Nuns

The other morning, I was up unusually early to go to the hospital for some tests. For me, it is highly unusual to be up, showered, dressed, and driving downtown at 6:30 in the morning. While driving to daycare on one of the streets downtown, my daughter was in the back seat talking up a storm, as usual. (Apparently, the early morning does not stunt her speech as it does mine.) At a stoplight, I hear her start saying, "Hi! Hi! Hi!! Hi!! Hi!!!" to the car next to us. This is also fairly normal. She waves and says hi to everyone when we are driving, including some really questionable truck drivers.

I looked back and saw that she was waving to a car full of nuns in full habits. The nuns are grinning at her and waving back, so she is thrilled. I smiled and giggled a little bit because the situation was clearly making everyone's morning much happier. As the light turns green, I start through the intersection. The nuns, in their 10 year old Honda, pull ahead of me, fast. I speed up a little, thinking I must be moving very slowly if these nuns are beating me. As I speed up, the nuns speed up. I look at my speedometer and realize I am currently going five miles over the speed limit and the nuns are still beating me.

I think I must be hallucinating. We meet again at the next stop light. The nuns and my daughter go through the waving and giggling thing again, and then they take off at the green light. We do this three times before I have to turn to go to daycare and the nuns speed off to where ever drag racing nuns go at 6:30 in the morning.

I guess even nuns have the need for speed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Touch-Up Painting is a 12-Man Job

My office is having some remodeling done and, this month, they have been working on touching up the paint on the walls. Our walls are a relatively dark color, so everytime there is a hole or dent in the wall, the white drywall underneath is exposed. Needless to say, our walls have taken a beating. In my office alone, there are 16 places that need to be touched up.

A few weeks ago, the spackling guys came around. Yes, guys, as in plural. One guy followed one of the secretaries around while she pointed out spots that needed to be spackled. Another guy followed the first guy around with the spackle and the spackle-tool. When the secretary pointed at the spot, the first guy would point at the spot and say, "right there" to the spackle guy. The spackle guy would then spackle the hole.

Silly me, I assumed they would be back the next day to paint (isn't that what you do after you spackle?), so I removed all of my pictures from the walls and moved my furniture away from the walls.

It is now two weeks later. We finally have progress. Today, the sanding guys came around. Yes, guys, as in plural. The first guy walked around and pointed to the white spackle on the dark walls and said, "right there" to the other guy. The other guy sanded the spackle spot. At least they didn't need a personal escort this time.

Silly me, I assumed these were the painters and asked them if they would be back tomorrow to paint. "Nope" the first guy said, "That's somebody else's job." So, my furniture is still in the middle of the room, but now it is covered with spackle dust, awaiting the "painter guys" who might arrive some time this summer.

I don't know about you, but I could have had this done in a weekend. By myself, no pointer-person necessary. And I don't even know the name for the spackle-tool.

The really scary thing? We are having the carpet replaced too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Missouri - An Exotic Location?

I overheard this conversation in the elevator last night between two older men dressed in suits, most likely lawyers.

Man #1: (Getting on the elevator) Where has Bob been lately?

Man #2: (Following) Well, you know his dad died recently.

Man #1: No, I didn't know that. When?

Man #2: A couple of weeks ago, right before Mikey died.

Man #1: Oh. His dad was living down in Missouri, right?

Man #2: Yeah, I think, or some other exotic location like that.

Man #1: Yeah, somewhere down there.

Man #2: But, he died in Pekin, so . . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Broke My Heating/Cooling Rule

Ever since I started paying for my own costs of heating and cooling, I made two very strict rules. First, no air conditioning usage until after June 1st. Second, no furnace usage until after October 1st. I have stuck by these rules, even if it meant sleeping naked with an ice pack on my neck or wearing two pairs of pajamas to bed. I don't know how much money it has saved me, but it feels like my own little way to beat the energy companies.

A couple of nights ago, I broke the first rule. I have an older brick home that retains heat very well. Therefore, the upstairs is always hotter on warm days. I noticed it was stuffy when I put my son to bed, but thought the breeze from the windows and ceiling fans would cool it off enough. I was wrong. When I checked on him before I went to bed, he was essentially sleeping in a puddle of his own sweat. I felt so bad, I went right back downstairs and turned on the air conditioner. Needless to say, we all slept much better that night.

Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kudos to OSF Medical Center

In the past month, I have had the unlucky opportunity to take my son to have outpatient tests done at OSF Medical Center twice. I am not a big fan of hospitals, as I have had some really bad experiences with other family members and worked in one for a few years. However, I was very surprised to actually enjoy my time at OSF, helped in large part by the free valet parking.

Yes, that is FREE Valet Parking. You pull into the garage and pull up to the drop off area and there are some very nice men who kindly help you get your kid, stroller, diaper bag, briefcase, coffee, and other paraphernalia out of your car and then kindly park it. For FREE. I am not aware of any other hospital that does this, but I am a big fan.

When I informed one of the doctors of how much I liked it, he said, "I think that is a service meant for old people." (Nice bedside manner.) Oh well, I think crazed mother at 6:30 a.m. qualifies for a little help. And, it's not like I took advantage of the golf-cart shuttles to admitting - I walked all by myself.

I will also say that everyone else was very helpful as well, particularly the personal escort from the waiting room to the examination room. The last time I was in a hospital, the crabby lady at admitting pointed generally to the left and said, "It's on 6."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

Someone told me recently that, when asked what women want for Mother's Day, the responses of men and women are very different. Most men believe what women really want for Mother's Day is to spend time with their children. What most women say they really want is to spend time without their children.

I am splitting the difference - I am spending some of the day with my son and some of the day without him. I haven't decided what I will do with the alone time, but I am really looking forward to it. However, he is at an age that spending time with him is not that hard. He is on his second nap of the day, therefore allowing me time to blog. During the first nap, he allowed me time to run to Starbucks for some coffee and catch up on my New Yorker reading. Not a bad Mother's Day at all.

I bet that if you were to ask the same question about what men really want for Father's Day, the answers from both genders would be, in general, to spend time without the children.

The other Mother's Day topic that struck me today was an article in the Opinion section of the Journal Star entlted, "Working Moms Still Treated Poorly." As if that is breaking news. Being a working mother myself, and the daughter and granddaughter of working mothers, I thought this article was very interesting. I will let you all read it for yourselves, but the essential conclusion was "On Mother's Day 2007 there is still a deep-seated bias that puts the image of a 'good mother' at odds with that of an 'ideal worker.'"

In general, I would agree with this, although I am sure there are exceptions. But in the traditional professions (such as the practice of law), it is still difficult to be respected as a professional and a mother. Most working mothers that I know balance the two fairly well. However, most do it by essentially leaving their motherhood at the office door.

I wonder if it is easier now than when my mother had me more than 30 years ago and went back to work full-time. Or, when my grandmother re-entered the work place when her children were still in school. I will have to ask my mother when I call her today.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pointlessly Hypertechnical

So, I have been thinking about starting this for some time now, but have been hesitant for several reasons. Then, I found myself writing down descriptions about funny or irritating things that happened to me and thought, "This is silly, just start the damn thing."

Then, I got a sign, a nudge, and a push. A judge recently called one of my legal arguments "pointlessly hypertechnical" in a written opinion. It made me laugh and has become my own personal motto ever since. (I'm thinking about having T-Shirts made.) It is a true comment on my personality - I have a tendency to be hypertechnical. Some people would call it more than a tendency, but since this isn't their blog, it doesn't really matter what they think. And I am willing to concede that, sometimes, my hypertechnicality can border on pointless. In the moment, however, I always believe I am being hypertechnical for a good reason.

Who knows what shape or form this blog will take in the coming months. Life can be pretty unpredictable. I am sure there will be funny posts, pissy posts, sentimental posts, complaint posts, goofy posts, and, of course, pointlessly hypertechnical posts.

So, thank you, Your Honor. While I do not think you meant the phrase "pointlessly hypertechnical" as an insult, I am pretty sure you didn't mean it as a compliment. In the end, you gave me so much more than a loss in one case.

By the way, I am appealing that decision.