April 9, 2008
Alright, I know a lot of you know that I have serious commitment issues.But I promise, what follows is not about my inability to see something through to the end or my need to get out when it starts going really well because I am scared about what will come next. It’s not because Philebrity said they liked me and if someone likes me that must mean there is something wrong with that person and so I should run for the hills (or the arms of an ex), even though I know that in a couple of years when I see that person out with another girl and we start talking and I see how happy he is with her I’ll kick myself for being such an a-hole.
I swear this is not about you. For that matter it’s not about me either. It’s about them.
The powers that be – who in this analogy will be playing the part of our parents to my fair-haired maiden Juliet and your (my readers) love-struck Romeo. Well, except for the haters, they will be playing the part of the emotionally abusive Romeo. Not many folks know it, but in earlier drafts of the Bard’s play, Romeo was a bit of a jerk as he tried to persuade Juliet to give it up.
Yes, just like the adults in that tale of woe that kept Juliet from her Romeo, the powers that be would like it if I didn’t write this blog for you to read.
So, is this it? Good-bye forever? Off to Mantua with you and a life of serving Paris for me? Who’s to say? Maybe I will deny my father and refuse my name. Of course that would leave me broke – with the Capulet names goes the Capulet trust fund. And it is not as if you can support us with the sporadic work you are finding; it’s not as if folks are lining up to hire an exile. Then there are bills to pay, eventually we will want children and they will need braces and we will need money for private schools because Mantua public school are absolutely terrible.
Alright, maybe the starving artist route isn’t for me, err us. After all, I really like pocketbooks and you are not that hip-hip on reading about my personal life – you much prefer to read about my work life. So, while I investigate whether or not a rose by any other name really does smell as sweet, you all don’t lose hope that the only way this ends is a suicide pact. It has been more than 500 years since Shakespeare penned that tragedy. Certainly other options are available to us.
February 28, 2008
I have a deep, dark, ugly secret. Sometimes, on the weekends, – come a little closer.
I cater waitress.
I know what you are going to say. What is a smart, well-educated, well-employed (don’t forget pretty) person like me doing catering on the weekends? Well, sometimes I do it because the company needs me to, but mostly I do it to justify spending $300 on a pair of sunglasses.
And never did I think there was anything wrong with this dirty little habit of mine until I ran into a vendor on the other side of the dim sum station.
There I was standing over a steaming wicker basket filled with shrimp dumplings, wearing a tuxedo shirt and tie and there was Super Guy II, wearing a tuxedo shirt and tie (and jacket) and somehow his shirt and tie and my shirt and tie, while almost identical, were worlds apart.
As is almost always my reaction when something like this happens, I wanted to duck beneath the station until he went away. Recognizing that wasn’t an option, I crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t recognize me.
Of course all hope that he wouldn’t remember me vanished when a startled look of comprehension crossed his face. I fake-smiled (which you all know was not pretty), “Oh my gosh, Super Guy II. What are you doing here?”
“Hey there Devil? How are you?”
“I’m fine. Shrimp Dumpling?”
“No, actually I’m just looking for the bar.”
“Oh, it’s right behind you.” I may have cocked my head a bit as I said this last part as I am a big fan of cocking my head when I am faking confidence or enthusiasm.
“Great, well, see you tomorrow.”
Crap, I thought with my fake smile still firmly planted across my face. I had a meeting with him tomorrow.
I turned to my sister, who was also manning the dim sum station because she needs help justifying her purchases of way overpriced jeans, and asked, “Was that awkward?”
“Yes.” She shook her head plainly. Sometimes I wish my family wasn’t so frank.
The next day I had to tell New Boss as he would be in the meeting with Super Guy II.
“Oh my god, well did you explain to him that you were filling in for someone that got sick?”
At first I thought New Boss’s reaction was a bit disproportionate to what I was telling him. Okay, Super Guy II saw me wearing a tuxedo shirt and a bowtie and next to no make-up serving hors d’oeuvres to his family and friends. It could have been a lot worse; I could have been attending the party as a paid escort to one of Super Guy II’s married uncles.
Still, I was embarrassed when it happened, and I knew enough that I had to tell New Boss about the chance meeting before our scheduled, afternoon meeting. So clearly there is something dirty about me catering and not just the part at the end of the night when we have to clean up. I wasn’t ready for this ancillary benefit of taking a higher profile position at a bigger law firm.
So, I gave it up. I don’t cater on the weekends anymore and I hate it. Partly because it reeks of elitism, but mostly because I had my eyes on a really nice pair of black, oversized Chanel’s.
February 8, 2008
Have you ever been sitting in front of the TV with the remote in your hand, when you nod off, drop the remote and are awakened by the sounds of a television show wholly unfamiliar to you.
Or maybe you are like my dad, and you fall asleep in your recliner and then your wife pries the channel changer out of your grip and you wake up exclaiming, “Hey, I was watching that.”
Or maybe you have gotten so fat from holiday eating and not sticking with your new year’s resolutions that you don’t even feel it when you are sitting on the remote. Then, when you lean forward to get a handful of popcorn or chocolate or some other tasty television-watching snack, your shifting weight changes the channel for you.
Regardless, you are sitting there, watching one thing and then suddenly you aren’t. And the switch is never a subtle one. You are never watching, Rock of Love II, for example, and then suddenly watching The Girls Next Door. That sort of switch one might not even notice until the program comes back from commercial.
No, typically the switch is quite severe. One minute you are catching the E! True Hollywood Story of Eighties Child Stars and the next you are watching a History Channel biopic on the real Oscar Schindler.
Well, imagine that feeling of complete confusion and multiply it by 1000 and then you may begin to comprehend what it is like sitting through a meeting with New Boss and the Oracle (formerly known as one half of the tag-team duo His Two Bosses).
Now, you know, I am pretty good at tuning out during meetings, but still being able to take away all the important and necessary details. Well, the secret to this parlor trick is training your brain to mostly listen for key trigger words when others are talking off topic. For example, when the group starts talking about the formerly undefeated New England Patriots, I tune out and start thinking about, oh, I don’t know, what Jerkface is doing at that very moment, all the while listening for someone to say, “but back to the point,” which is when I will turn my full attention back to the meeting.
But New Boss and the Oracle aren’t so kind as to provide transitions from their off-topic tangents. No. Just like when I lean forward to grab my glass of wine and then suddenly I am no longer watching a Law & Order re-run, one minute I will be writing out a grocery list the very next minute everyone will be staring at me waiting for my opinion.
There we were, discussing relevant, important topics to the firm and without a moment’s hesitation, we were talking about the Oracle’s sons. Then, almost as if he didn’t hear the Oracle, New Boss continued on with the discussion at hand. And, as if the Oracle had never broken in with the off-topic comment, he responded back.
I blinked rapidly a few times. Was I the only one that could hear the off-topic banter? I tried to catch someone else’s eyes to shoot the what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-the-Oracle-look, but no one was obliging.
Then it happened again. This tangent was a bit longer, with more people involved. But then just as quickly and without any transition, it was back to the reason we had called this meeting. They hadn’t even finished the tangent topic. Nor was there a pause in conversation. One minute someone is telling a story about a guy in New Jersey that wrote the “F-word” word on a parking ticket, the very next sentence is a question about end of the year billables.
I left the meeting feeling nauseated and the beginnings of a migraine. But mostly I just felt sad that I would no longer get to spend those meetings drafting new blogs; I couldn’t keep up when I was paying attention. There is no way I can fake note take here.
January 28, 2008
At my new office there is a department that is made up of only the finest and prettiest lawyers this city has to offer. Well, no, that is not fair. I am sure there are prettier men in this city. And I can’t be sure the whole department looks like they just stepped out of a high-end, alcoholic-beverage advertisement. There could be women in this department, there could even be old, stodgy men in this department. I just know every time I am in the elevator with a particularly pretty gentleman I notice he gets off the elevator on the very same floor.And by a particularly pretty gentleman, I mean I think we are up to six now. Six men with striped shirts and printed ties, clean-shaven faces (except for the one that can pull off the scruffy look while still looking perfectly groomed in a way I only thought a Ken doll could), corporate faux-hawks and manicured eyebrows all working in the same department.
In my head, on this floor, when no one is around, I imagine these boys all gather in one office playing video golf and discussing the winter sale at Boyds, the latest moisturizers available at Kiehl’s and, of course, the new girl’s rack. I wonder if billables take a sharp decline the day after GQ, Esquire and Details are delivered to subscribers’ homes. I also wonder if everyone in the department subscribes to all three magazines or if they each subscribe to only one and then pass them around when they are done devouring the issue.
But what I really can’t understand is why this department. The law they practice does not require them to be well-coifed or even well-dressed, or at least not that well-coifed or well-dressed. Is it because like attracts like, so way back when, one metrosexual was hired and others heard the news and started applying to openings in this department? Or maybe the practice of this particular law doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort, leaving these guys plenty of time to read up on their fantasy picks and workout at the gym. Or maybe they were all normal, okay looking guys before coming to work here, and then through a combination of peer-pressure and secretly liking the way their hands looked after a manicure, they all became pretty.
I may need to go all Jane Goodall on this firm and move my stuff to their floor, live amongst them for awhile. Even if I can’t figure out why this particular practice attracts all the very pretty boys, maybe I will be able to learn where they get their eyebrows waxed.
January 18, 2008
I don’t like to be touched.
Something I don’t like even more than touching is the threat of touching, which is the number one reason why I hate elevators.
While Emily Post has never officially deemed it so, I believe there is a proper order to getting into an elevator. My building’s current elevators comfortably hold eight individuals in what I like to call the 3-2-3 model. Three people in the back, one in each corner and one in the middle, two in the next row standing between the three in the back and then three in the front following the same pattern as the back row. This leaves lots of breathing room and room to maneuver just in case the woman in the back corner needs to get out first.
And sure there are times, for instance at 8:59 in the morning or when an elevator is down, that more people need to crowd into the space, but this particular morning was not one of them. There were only six of us in the car. I was in the middle back position when this crazy coworker stepped in and stood just to the right and only slightly in front of me.
She was so close I could taste her hair.
Worse, there was no where I could go. She just stood there, almost brushing my coat with her coat staring up at the TV in the elevator that flashes celebrity birthdays, stock updates, news, weather, travel weather and fun new words.
Two more people got on, giving her plenty of room to adjust, but she didn’t. She just stood there, reading what someone in Tuscaloosa had to say in response to the viewer’s poll.
I was so tempted to whisper in her ear, “You know the NY Times online has all of this information and more.” but refrained just in case she had a blog of her own. I wouldn’t want to be known as the creepy coworker that suggestively whispers in people’s ears.
Instead, I just held my breath, as breathing heavily in a coworker’s ear is equally as creepy.
When I finally got to my floor I ran right into New Boss’s office to vent my frustration at people’s poor elevator etiquette. He then started in on how much he hates when he goes to get off an elevator and the doors open and there is someone standing right there. Worse is when the person makes a move to get on before he has had a chance to get off.
He added that he noticed it is only women that do this. My face colored a bit, but I wasn’t going to start a fight. Particularly since I have never noticed this particular phenomenon before and therefore couldn’t come up with any concrete examples of men that do it too. For all I knew, it was something only women do.
Later that day, when I was going down to get an un-environmentally friendly bottle of water, I had the whole elevator to myself. I breathed in deep and thanked the elevator gods for such a nice gift. I read all the day’s top stories and learned what celebrities were older than me and as the elevator neared the lobby level, I prepared myself for departure. The doors opened and there, standing in my way was Jerkface (the attorney formerly known only as Lawyer In Question). I rolled my eyes and pushed past him. As soon as the doors closed I pushed the up bottom, so excited to confront New Boss with a real live male example of someone doing just what he said only women do that I forgot all about my bottle of water.
Oh, and I settled on Jerkface because when I described another recent transaction with my office crush, Lauren asked, “When are you going to stop flirting like a fourth grader.”
I just stared back at her blankly. Is there another way to flirt?
January 4, 2008
Last year at this time, I took the opportunity to share with you my resolutions for the new year. And while my intention was to share with you just how hard it was to live a dual life, telling the legal community the changes I wanted to make had unexpected consequences of actually having to keep my resolutions, less one of my readers caught me sneaking a butt.
And because I am selfish and entitled and this is my blog, I think I am going to share with you my resolutions again, hoping it has the same effect. With any luck, this time next year I will be writing this blog to you sitting on a size two behind.
A few weeks back, New Boss and I were talking about nothing really when the topic turned to wine and he asked me if I had ever been to Napa Valley. I answered honestly, No.
A couple minutes later, he asked me if I was ever in Ireland.
Later, still talking about traveling, he asked me if I had ever been to France.
Yeah, oh no.
He smiled and asked me where I had been.
Truth be told, not very many places. In fact, the only time I was ever out of the United States was in college when I visited Tijuana, Mexico. Thus, new year resolution number one was born; and, actually this may be more a new life resolution — travel more. Even if they are just mini-breaks like the ones taken by Favorite Associate, who used to hop across the pond like some of my friends take trips to NYC.
Of course, one thing I learned from Favorite Associate was that knowing an extra language is helpful when traveling abroad. That is why new year resolution number two is to finally learn French.
I bet a lot of you are wondering how you will be able to track how I am doing on these two resolutions if you see me out at a bar. It’s not as if you could walk by Public House and I will be wearing a beret and a pin that says: “Ask me about my latest trip abroad.” Okay, you might see me outside wearing a beret, but not the button. Still, you can ask me about my latest adventures in French, and if I respond in English that I haven’t had any yet, you can hit me on the side of my head.
I would love to write that my third is to stop judging others, but why set myself up to fail. Besides, if god didn’t want me to judge others, he wouldn’t have made me perfect (haters, you are welcome for that freebie).
I would like to start reading The New York Times everyday, or at least most of the NYT everyday, (of course I will be doing it online in keeping with my resolution to be more environmentally friendly). It may shock even some of my closest friends to learn that I don’t currently read the NYT everyday. That is because I often start conversations with, “Did anyone read that story in the Times today about . . .”
My friends have yet to respond, “oh yeah. . .” Which is why I can then go on to give the synopsis that someone else gave me earlier in the day.
Even as I start the conversation I feel bad about myself and how phony I am. And, much like last year and quitting smoking and starting running, instead of just coming clean, I am going to modify my behavior to make me the person I want to be.
Along that same line, I would also like to start waking up in the morning to give myself enough time to eat breakfast and read a paper. I would like to stop negotiating portions of my morning routine in order to sleep an additional seven minutes at a time.
So, did any of my readers or haters make any resolutions? Care to share?
December 20, 2007
So, I had a big grand plan to not drink at the firm’s holiday party. A practice I have stuck by since my first party back when I was still a wee project assistant. How does the old saying go – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
In all fairness, it was a pretty bad day. Not that I drink every time I have a bad day; just some bad days. And I don’t drink to get drunk, just to unwind. Man, it is starting to sound like I might have a drinking problem. But I wonder if it means that because I can recognize that it sounds like I have a problem I obviously don’t have a problem; may need to check in with a friend of Bill W on that one.
Back to the topic at hand. I had to sit through a meeting with A-hole. Worse, when I came in he gave me a look like he knew me and so I sat there afraid that if I looked in that direction we would make eye contact and he would nod or something. Then what? Would I have to nod back? Smile? Pretend that I didn’t do a celebratory dance around my cubicle when I thought he was homeless and living in Suburban Station?
Now the meeting itself didn’t make my day bad, and maybe I should stop saying I was having a bad day. It was more like I was on edge and the meeting didn’t help. I still had a lot of shopping to do, I was wearing a skirt that was cutting into my rib cage, it was Imelda’s last week for a while and I had just written a column promising to socialize at the very holiday party that was looming.
So when Double Tall Espresso (so named for her always perked personality) asked if I wanted something from the bar, I said yes, hoping one glass of wine would help take the edge off.
And before I knew it, I had more than one glass of wine, had only met one new co-worker and had agreed to go to the after party.
Fortunately at the after party I made the switch to light beer which is really like drinking water, except without water’s hydrating qualities. Still I did manage to find myself in a conversation with a male partner about men who stare at women’s chests (while Angel stood back and laughed on the inside); a place Sober Sarah would have never gone. If she did go, she would have been better, more articulate about it.
Then there was the moment when I lost all internal dialogue when a lawyer I never met addressed me and my response (out loud) was, “that’s weird.” Yes, I find it odd that people I don’t know, know me; especially when you consider that people I have met half a dozen times don’t remember my name. Still, I would have rather kept that exclamation on the inside or at least just on my face.
Despite that I did wake up the next morning with my wallet, my cell phone and most importantly almost all of my dignity.
And the night wasn’t a complete loss; there was one Festivus miracle. Angel and I decided that we are essentially the same person but different (something I realized the day I came in wearing white wide leg pants and a black turtleneck and she was wearing black wide leg pants and a cream turtleneck) which would make her more my bizarro as opposed to my nemesis. And just like in the comic books when the hero and the bizarro team up for good (or in this case most probably evil), I think Angel and I are going to try the ally route for a while.
Now, if I could just stop thinking improper thoughts about a lawyer I really shouldn’t be thinking about at all, 2008 could turn out to be my best year yet.
December 5, 2007
I work with a pretty busty group of women. A fact that if I were still 13 and desperately waiting to “fill-out” might have me seething with jealousy, but now that I have had 16 years to get used to the idea that they aren’t getting any bigger I am pretty okay being surrounded by the buxom.
So the one day, we are sitting around Imelda’s desk talking about which attorneys won’t talk to you on principle and which attorneys will only talk to your chest.
“Really?” I asked. I mean, I have met lawyers that didn’t think I could possible understand anything they were saying simply because “esquire” didn’t follow my name, but talking to your chest, I thought that was a workplace legend told to keep young assistants in frumpy looking frocks.
Imelda, bless her heart, asked in all earnestness “You haven’t noticed?”
I laughed, pointed at the place where my chest should be and said, “They don’t get a whole lotta talking to.”
So my question is, why? Why when talking to a well endowed female do you (and by you and don’t mean all of you all of the time but rather all of you some of the time and/or some of you all of the time) talk to her chest?
Do you think it is flattering?
Because it’s not; from what I have been told, getting catcalls from construction workers seems more endearing.
Do you think she doesn’t notice?
Because I am here writing to you that she does. Sure, she might not say anything to you, and thus you feel like you are getting away with it. But believe me she is telling all of her friends and co-workers.
Do you think she is asking for it?
Okay, I might give you this one given the right set of circumstances. For instance, since learning that this actually happens in the real world and not just on sitcom television, I have been wearing increasingly tighter and lower cuts shirts hoping someone will look down to talk to me.
Now, if I don’t hear from anyone I will be left to assume that this phenomenon is purely instinctual and that you are unaware that while holding a conversation you are not looking at her face but staring at her sweater muffins.
In which case, practice looking up, boys. Her eyes are a good eight to twelve inches higher.
November 14, 2007
My dad loves college football. So for his birthday I got him tickets to the Penn State-Temple game. I knew it wouldn’t be a good game to watch, but I knew it was one Penn State would win; and my dad would get a kick out of watching Penn State win.
What I had not counted on was being surrounded by a bunch of drunken students and alumni, maybe because the last time I was at a college football game I was a drunken college kid. Now, I have been around enough drunken guys to know not to expect them to clean up their mouths on my behalf. However, I could smack an eleven-year old girl on the back of the head from where I was sitting so you would think they would have refrained from dropping the c-word or the b-word or even the f-word on her behalf. No such luck.
There was another girl sitting immediately next to me, but as her husband and the gentlemen behind us started to detail all the things they would like to do to the hootin-honeys on the sidelines, to my horror she joined them.
I closed my eyes and hoped that my dad didn’t hear what I was hearing.
The girl next to me then elbowed me. “So what do you do?”
Not wanting to engage the scary girl with the ugly pocketbook but not wanting to enrage her either I tried to keep my answers short and sweet. “I work for a law firm.”
Her husband then started in on what hateful, awful, not-quite-human-beings all lawyers were.
I know many of you reading this would expect me to have join him. But I didn’t. First, my sister is a lawyer and she is none of things this guy was claiming all lawyers are. Second, a lot of my friends are lawyers and they aren’t awful human beings either. Finally, I didn’t like this guy so there was just no way I was going to agree with anything he said.
He ended his vitriol with a really lame, really old lawyer joke.
I didn’t laugh. Instead I responded back, “Do you know why lawyer jokes don’t work? Because lawyers don’t think they are funny and the rest of the world doesn’t think they’re jokes.” No, I didn’t make up this witty comeback; I heard a lawyer-friend say it once.
Bad Pocketbook turned to her husband. “I knew it. I knew as soon as you started that she was going to turn out to be a lawyer.”
While part of me wanted to correct her, after all, what if something happened in the next couple of minutes and someone from the crowd shouted, “we need a lawyer down here immediately.” and she turned to me. What would I do then?
But the part of me that wanted to use my fake outrage at her husband’s outburst won out and so I turned away from them with feigned disgust.
“Have you ever had to deal with another lawyer personally?” She just wouldn’t go away.
Define personally. “All the time,” I rolled my eyes.
“No I mean, did you ever need a lawyer?”
“Have you ever been in a car accident or needed a lawyer to work for you?”
Something in her eyes told me she had, and that the result wasn’t a good one. I shook my head.
“Well, You’re lucky. Once you have been on the other side, like you are in a car accident or something, I think you will understand better.”
Her husband then chimed in, “hey, would you let me date her?”
I kept my eyes glued to the field as if Temple really had a shot at converting on that third down. I was too afraid he was pointing or some other way indicating that “her” was me.
BP turned to her husband, “What? No. I said you could hook up with other girls, but you can’t go out with someone else.”
Sadly, I see more bad experiences with lawyers in this happy couple’s future.
October 26, 2007
So, there I was, sitting in a teambuilding retreat, listening to thinly-veiled insults fly around our safe harbor. In front of us, the moderator desperately tried to keep us on task. Maybe it was the “thinking outside the box” theme or maybe I just have a lot of pent up aggression, but while my co-workers brainstormed about our core values, I wondered if a single elimination, Royal Rumble style brawl, wouldn’t be a more efficient use of our time.
And because I am quite possibly the most competitive person in the world, I started to wonder how I would fare in such a fight.
Among my co-workers, we have a few moms, and let me tell you: moms are tough. In particular, we have one mom whose son is a hockey player and her husband is a marine. Looking across at her, I was pretty sure that unless she tapped out early, not wanting to spend an afternoon in the ER and miss picking her son up at the hospital, she could kick my butt.
Maybe instead of an all out brawl, it would make more sense to have teams, our office versus another office. This would put One Tough Mother, along with many of the other mothers on my team, and help us work out the inter-officer rivalries that seemed to be brewing.
Sitting near One Tough Mother was my office archrival/bizzaro/nemesis, Angel. Of the people in the room, I think we could use this opportunity to fight the most. Unfortunately, if we broke it down by offices, we would be on a team together. This is when it occurred to me that Angel and I could be an undercard fight to the main event – New Boss versus the tag-team duo, His Two Bosses. And we could sell admission and the proceeds could go to charity or maybe we could buy a frozen yogurt machine for the break room.
I wondered if after Angel and I fought we would become our own tag team duo, like the way enemies often become friends on the WWE. Maybe at this fight she would break a chair over my back, but at the next firm fight, I would slide her a wooden chair to break over someone else’s.
It occurred to me, as I doodled costumes for Angel and I, contemplating whether or not we should go with knee high boots, that there could be a real market for my anti-teambuilding retreat program. What if, instead of sitting in a room saying, “I don’t feel appreciated enough,” you could just pop the boss that didn’t give you a big enough bonus in the gut? Instead of whining about a lack of respect, punch in the throat the partner that always calls at 4:50 on a Friday night.
Sure, I may have to take some precautions, like padded rooms, or those puffed-up, Sumo costumes, to reduce the number of injuries. It may also be hard to get insurance for this start-up, but it has to be more effective than sitting there not saying what you are really feeling.
At the very end of the day, after the hugs the tears and the Kumbaya circle, our moderator asked that we all announce what we will take away from the day. A lot of people promised to be better communicators. Angel said she was going to respect her co-workers (and then turned to me and mouthed “except you.”) When it was my turn, without hesitation I let everyone know that I am only pretty sure that in a fair fight, one-on-one, I could take on anyone in the room.
What, she said there were no wrong answers.