Friday, July 26, 2013

Rage Break

I am about to HAVE AN ANEURYSM at the document support staff at my firm.  They persecute me with their incompetence.

Why -- WHY!! -- is it so hard for people to do their jobs?  This firm rakes in something like $600 million every year and we have some of the top legal minds and most cutting-edge legal work in the country.  We go to great lengths to recruit incredibly smart, talented and competent lawyers (and somehow I managed to sneak in), but the support staff (with the exception of my own secretary and, like, two others who I know and like) is astonishingly bad. 

I mean, seriously, people.  My job, in theory, is to think and analyze and write things -- the firm pays me a lot of money to do that, and clients pay the firm even more to have me do it for them.  Also, in theory, there is a host of support staff on call to help me with all the other stuff that I need to be able to do my job efficiently -- secretaries, help-desk people, document support people.  Supposedly all the techie, computer-savvy people you could ever hope for.

So, for example, say you have a document that needs to be reformatted before it can be revised for the client.  Don't have a high-priced attorney who doesn't know the intricacies of word processing do it (or even if he does know), send it to the expert document support staff.  They'll whip it into shape in no time and at a fraction of the cost to the client.  That's how it works -- IN THEORY. 

IN REALITY, everyone's favorite lawyer knows he's going to be in a time crunch and working late through the weekend, and so he sends his document to the document support people LITERALLY DAYS IN ADVANCE with specific instructions on how to reformat the document.  They send something back, and it's wrong, so I return it with instructions to fix it.  They send something else back, and it looks fixed enough that I don't focus on it again until tonight at around 9:00pm, at which point I discover that not only is it still wrong, but IT's EVEN WORSE THAN BEFORE.  Sure, they fixed the one thing I mentioned in my first go-around, but in doing so they royally screwed up the rest of the document to the point that I have to go back, line by line, and fix everything myself.  And now it's 10:30 and on the substance of the document I'm no closer to where I need to be than I was an hour ago, and my heart is filled with rage and darkness toward everyone.  Hence my having an aneurysm at them. 

It's at moments like this when I wish I could just swear really loudly and not feel guilty about it (thanks, parents).

If this lawyer thing doesn't work out, I'm seriously going to get a job as a secretary or a help-desk person or a document support person or, heck, all three jobs at once, BECAUSE I WOULD BE A TOTAL ROCKSTAR.

Okay.  Now that I've gotten that off my chest.  Back to work.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Conversation at the gym

Okay, so.

Picture me.  Not huge.  You might even call me "slight of build."

Now picture a guy -- let's call him Jim -- who's probably 6'2" and around 275 lbs.  He's a big guy (a nice guy, too) and strong.  Not particularly toned, but not fat either.  Kind of what you would imagine a college or high school football player might look like by the time he's 37 year's old.

Now, finally, picture Jim and me being paired together as partners for a Crossfit workout that involves (i) running 400 meters carrying a 45-pound plate, (ii) doing 10 handstand pushups, and (iii) doing 20 pullups, all in that order, as many times as we can in 20 minutes.  We have to do the run together but can divvy the rest of the stuff up however we want between us.

Afterwards, this conversation:

Jim: Did you watch The West Wing?

Me: No.

Jim: Okay, well, in one of the last seasons there's a scene where Allison Janney (who's like, 6 feet tall) and Kristen Chenoweth (who's not even 5 feet tall) are walking down the hall together, and Allison Janney looks down at Kristen Chenoweth and says, "I can't believe we're the same species." That's all I could think about while watching you carry that 45-pound plate right now.  I mean your legs are all . . . [he gestures; I assume the word he's looking for is "twig-like"] and you have this skinny waist. And then there's me and I'm all, "HOW ARE WE EVEN THE SAME SPECIES?"

*     *     *

To which I had no good answer, because I've basically been wondering the same thing since I was twelve.  Not that I've ever wanted to be one of those huge, muscular men (though I wouldn't have been opposed to a more naturally athletic build) -- mostly I've just wondered what it would be like to go through life in such an enormous body.  I mean, it's got to be a different experience from what I have in my skinny body, right?  So strange!  It had never occurred to me that the big guys might look at me and be equally baffled.

Nor did I expect my morning workout to solve the problem of what to watch now that all my TV shows are on summer hiatus.  Double win!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave . . .

. . . the temperature's rising, it isn't surprising, she certainly can can-can.

Okay, so there's no can-can as far as I can see, but we certainly are having a heat wave. In the news it's being declared the "longest, strongest heat wave of the summer", the temperature maps for the area are all screaming red, and everyone looks wilted and a little, um, shall we say, "shiny" as they go about their daily lives melting from one air-conditioned refuge to another.

As I write this, I'm sitting on my balcony and the official weather report says it's 90 degrees Fahrenheit -- but feels like 100 degrees -- with 62% humidity. And I love it. I really do. Sure, I'm sweaty and and feel the tiniest bit claustrophobic, but what's not to love about living in a place where the air around you is such a tangible part of your life? All that muggy softness is like a fluffy damp blanket letting you know that your jasmine plant is about to bloom again.

I realalize that not everyone is going to agree with me, so I'm going to offer some helpful advice to those of you who think that "Scandinavia" and "beach vacation destination" are synonymous:  If you want to enjoy the summer in Washington DC, all you have to do is take an extended vacation to a place that has even worse weather! You might, say, spend two-and-a-half weeks running around Vietnam and Cambodia in June, both places where it's just as hot, probably more humid, and blessed with much less air conditioning. Or you might go to Morocco in July when it's 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That way, when you come back to the high summer swamp that is our nation's capital, you'll be saying, "Pshaw!  Is that all you've got?"

And now, who wants to sing along with Ella?


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Water Lilly

Little miracles daily in the garden.


I awoke early this morning with the intention of going for a long bike ride before the heat of the day set in. As I ate breakfast on the balcony, something new caught my eye.


Something that hadn't been there before.


Delighted, I put cycling plans on hold and sat awhile watching loveliness blossom before my eyes.





This was supposed to be impossible. Gardening books and nursery experts alike told me that a water lilly will not bloom in the shade. They need sun -- lots and lots of direct, blazing sun -- to thrive. With a balcony that gets, at best, only a couple of hours of direct sun per day, I planted the lilly for its lilly pads and resigned myself to never seeing any flowers. Well, mostly resigned myself. For the past year and a half I've been content with lilly pads, but over the past few weeks as we toured Vietnam and Cambodia, with their lakes and ponds and fountains full of lotuses and lillies, I secretly began to hope that I might be so lucky. (Is it coincidence that I made a contribution to the god of good luck in that pagoda in Saigon? Who knows, but I'm not going to argue...)


I knew couldn't spend all of my day perched on the edge of my barrel amongst the begonias and New Guinea impatiens. I still had that bike ride to do (now in 90+ degree heat) and all my other Saturday errands. But I'm glad I took the time to watch the lilly bloom. By the time I returned in late afternoon, the flower had already closed. I don't know whether it just sensed the coming evening and will reopen again tomorrow, or if that's all I'll get to see; some lillies, I know, bloom only for a few hours. Either way, it was wonderful.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

As if it knew I was missing Vietnam

My jasmine plant bloomed! 

Two blossoms this morning and a slew of buds getting ready to open.  This makes me all sorts of happy.  (And I give all credit to James and Chip, whose excellent watering skills kept my plants alive while I was galavanting through Southeast Asia.)
With the possible exception of gardenias, there is no floral fragrance I love more than jasmine -- and both jasmine and gardenias grew in abundance in Vietnam.  Of course, this meant that as Vanessa and I walked through towns I'd be stopping every ten feet or so to smell the flowers.  Or we'd be in a historic pagoda where everyone else would be gawking at the gilded lacquer, and I'd be all "Hey, look! JASMINE!"  Vanessa usually humored me enough to stop and smell them with me, but I'm sure everyone else was wondering who the crazy American was with his face in the bushes.  And I, of course, was wondering why don't I live in a place where I can grow jasmine and gardenias
Turns out I do.  (Yay!)