Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Functional Adult's Real Life Is Not the Stuff of TV

When I was fifteen years old, I decided to become a lawyer. Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch---when I was fifteen, my parents informed me that I should become a lawyer because “If you’re going to argue all day, you might as well get paid for it.” To my ears, it was the first reasonable thing they had said in a solid two years. And I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to do anything more than argue. I felt a strong and constant need to vocalize my discontent with approximately everything. 

In college, being a lawyer continued to seem like a good idea. A pretentious boyfriend made it sound very elite, which comported with the certain knowledge I possessed (from television) that all lawyers are intellectual and rich and important. This all sounded fantastic to someone who was not particularly any of the above. Even if I wasn’t intellectual, I was smart and had an only child’s habit of getting what I wanted.

As soon as the law school acceptance letters started rolling in, I had my future life perfectly imagined.

In all vignettes below: hair is twice as long, voluminous, and shiny. Suit made by a designer I haven’t year heard of, but would have by then. No, suit custom made by a secret designer only celebrities have heard of. Very high heels that are somehow comfortable.

Future life scene #1:

A wood-paneled courtroom. Hushed tension. Twelve jurors leaning forward, wide-eyed. I am standing before them all, arm sympathetically stretched toward a handsome brunette man sitting at a table.

Liz: ...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the finally piece of proof that definitively proves what you already know to be true, deep down in your hearts - this man is absolutely innocent.

Handsome Brunette Man: [nods sadly, serious look in his eyes]

Judge: Jurors, you must now deliberate.

The jury looks at each other, each nodding with conviction.

Jury foreman: That’s okay, your honor, we all already agree. Our verdict is: NOT GUILTY.

The courtroom erupts in cheers! A sour-faced prosecutor angrily grabs his ugly briefcase.

HBM: Liz, you’ve saved my life! How can I thank you?

Liz: [With a wink] How about you let me take you to a celebratory dinner?

Future life scene #2:

Liz, standing amidst a bunch of be-suited businessmen.

Liz: And that’s when I said to him, haven’t you ever been to Taipei before?

The entire group laughs raucously.

Businessman 1: [wheezing] That’s the funniest story I’ve ever heard!

Businessman 2: I don’t think we need to hear any more. Liz: we want you to handle ALL of our cases from now on.

Suddenly there is champagne:

Businessman 3: Let’s toast!

Liz: [In Mandarin] To knowing your way around a courtroom: and Asia!

Everyone laughs uproariously again while clinking glasses.

Future Life Scene #3:

Liz: ... and that's the main takeaway your viewers should take away from this piece of legislation.

Anchor: Thanks SO much, Liz. As always, it's been a complete pleasure having you on our show. Ladies and gentlemen, renowned legal scholar and philanthropist, Liz.


My real life does not look like that.

Real scene from my actual life #1:

Liz, in a wrinkled dress shirt, pants, and black flats that are showing wear is hunched over in a desk chair, staring at a computer. The desk is covered in piles of paper. There is a dirty plate on top of one pile with the crumbs of a poptart. Fifteen empty cans of Diet Dr. Pepper also festoon the area. A plant is dead.

Liz is slowly clicking a mouse, once every few seconds or so, without changing position.

Liz: Huh.

Real scene from my actual life #2:

Liz is sitting at an airport. Behind her, a woman is loudly complaining to a Visa representative on the phone about a problem with her credit card. A toddler runs through the terminal, stops abruptly, and starts screaming as his mother rushes over. Two women sit down next to Liz and one starts loudly teaching the older one how to use an enormous smartphone, or so it seems because they are speaking Chinese. A watch starts beeping and no one turns it off. The mother removes the toddler to be near other toddlers, but his screaming sets them off as well.

Liz: [muttering] Why can’t I get wifi here?

Airline agent : Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you headed to Phoenix, we want to announce that there’s been another delay. We do have a pilot now, but due to weather concerns en route we’ll be delayed another hour. Thank you for your patience!

Real scene from my actual life #3:

Liz is finally on the plane in a tiny seat. She pulls out her laptop to try to work on the small tray table. she then awkwardly reaches below it to try to get a manila file folder with a stack of papers in it.

The guy in front of her leans his seat back so far he hits her in the knees and pushes her laptop half shut.

The flight attendant comes by and dumps a glass of water on her arm.

Flight attendant [trilling]: Oops, sorry!

The same toddler starts screaming.

The differences between my imagined glamorous life as a lawyer and my actual life as a lawyer are, shall we say, rather stark. I’ve only ever met one client in person. Not my client, the client of a partner older than my dad. The client of a partner who then shuttled me away after I just awkwardly said, “Hello.” I haven’t been in a courtroom since I started working.

What I have done is gained several repetitive stress injuries. I have also spent long days reading literally thousand of documents until my brain can’t remember why I’m reading them. The big ol’ salary that looked so enticing to College Liz is consumed by paying for the law degree that earned it, as well as an absurd dry cleaning bill because it is important that all of my work clothes be both crappy and non-machine-washable.

It's enough to make you think that the TV shows about lawyers aren't accurate, somehow.  Dear career-impressionable teenaged readers: consider yourself forewarned.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Functional Adult Too Easily Forgets

It's probably healthy to forget about things in life from time to time.  As my dear friend Sherlock observed, brain space is finite: 
“I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. . . . Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
- A Study in Scarlet
This erudite point particularly applies, I imagine, to negative experiences: often unhelpful and likely to drive one insane, we ought to forget them.

But forgetting comes with dangers.  As those who ignore history are bound to repeat it, so are those of us who ignore our mistakes bound to repeat them.

In my case, the mistake was swimsuit shopping.

I went swimsuit shopping the other day because I hadn’t bought one in awhile and I was going on vacation.  I was, on the whole, excited about going - I like shopping and it was the end of the summer, so I knew all the swimsuits would be on sale and I’d get a good deal.  Plus, buying a new swimsuit is the technical beginning of vacation and the excuse to check out mentally up until actual departure.
What I realized as soon as I got to the store was that nearly a half-decade of relying on old swimsuits meant I had forgotten how degrading swimsuit shopping is.  I can’t buy one pieces because the ratio of my person is somehow different than whoever they make swimsuits for and they never. ever. fit.  
So a two-piece it was, which meant that, while everything was half off, everything was also half off the racks: as in lying everywhere on the floor due to some mad rush I had missed or an extremely localized tornado.  If I found a cute top, there were simply no matching bottoms.  If I found some bottoms, they only had the top in a different color.  But I braved through every single rack in a quest to find a good one.
I remembered enough to know that I needed to try on a LOT of swimsuits because most probably wouldn’t work.  So I grabbed approximately 40 or so halves of swimsuits and, in defiance of the six-items-per-dressing-room fiat broadcast by a lethargic sign, threw them all on the floor of the dressing room.  (That’s a generous word for it; it’s a stall at best.)
I had barely started at this point.
And then I remembered the wonder of trying on swimsuits.  First, there is the inherent bunchiness of trying on a garment that is pretty much underwear over your existing underwear for sanity reasons.  But the real joy of trying on a two-piece swimsuit is the stark reminder of how much I am not the right sizes.  Because you can get two different sizes per piece, the suit is just mocking you: “Hey!  Society says you should be large on top and small on the bottom, not the other way around.  Man, you should stay away from fluorescent lighting!”  
It wasn’t helped by the fact that the picked-over remaining swimsuits available in any size approaching mine were... strange.  It made me desperate: I willing tried on a suit with rainbow-sherbet colored fringe hanging off the top, telling myself, “Maybe it’s cute on?” 
Yep.  This happened.
I generously reinterpreted what size I was.  I tried to tell myself that maybe I didn’t hate ruffles after all.  Maybe Jessica Simpson can design a good swimsuit, despite the otherwise serious gaps in her understanding of aquatic life.  Maybe I didn’t mind wearing a yellow top with pink bottoms, or one with Minnie Mouse polkadots.  Maybe a swimsuit should have glitter.
I should have known when I saw all of these
left from the previous occupant.
After flinging them almost all of them on the ground in disgust, I came out of there with two swimsuits: one, indeed, at least nominally designed by our dear Ms. Simpson, and the other one with some baffling straps that are very confusing to tie but look okay once you get there.  I hope they work out, because I don't think I'll be able to move this memory out of my brain attic for awhile. And here's hoping they are more durable than my ability to recall how much I hate swimsuit shopping, or else I'm in trouble.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Functional Adult: EMPLOYED.

Here’s the thing about pretending to be a functional adult: eventually, it catches up to you.  Like how back in the 9th grade, I was really good friends with this girl Anaheim, and I used to say “Oh my gosh” pretty frequently, and Anaheim started saying it too to make fun of me, but she said it so many times that she stopped saying it mockingly and was just saying it seriously.  See also everything hipsters have done, ever.  (Low hanging fruit, people: one must grab it before a bird eats it.)

So… that kind of happened to me.  Like one fine day I was just writing a blog about how I was occasionally trying to be a real grownup, not quite sarcastically, but more as a joke, like if you handed your toddler a briefcase and put a fedora on him, how that would be pretty funny?  Especially if you really had a toddler and perhaps would be a little low on regular adult conversation?  That was me, being an adult.  Really just a toddler with a briefcase.

Except somehow… I actually use a briefcase now.  Okay, it’s a big purse that husband gave me for Christmas and it smells AMAZING like the most succulent of cowskins, but I still put a laptop in it and pads of paper with notes on it and business cards and pens that say Marriott on them.

Yeah.  I have a Real Job.  It happened awhile ago.  Maybe you noticed the steady decline of words in this blog.

Here are the gains and losses I have experienced thus far of said Real Job:

·         Income
·         An office
·         Business cards with my name on it
·         A big computer monitor, though I had to buy it myself *eye roll*
·         A  coffee habit
·         An online shopping habit
·         A fear of my blog being read by my coworkers

·         Time
·         My immune system
·         Invitations to hang out with my name on them
·         Eyesight quality
·         Sleep
·         Time to wear all the shoes I keep ordering
·         Time to write my blog

So on net…. Something?  Something?  Mostly I have lost all conversational topics that are not, Hey, My Work is Boring In This Particular Direction Today, Man Amiright.  Which is okay when talking to my coworkers, who definitely get it,  but less so when talking to civilians who just stare at me and wonder aloud why I am holding my eyes open so wide.

So the new task is to find a way to make it all more interesting.  So far, the only thing I have come up with is extreme gossiping, but it’s working really poorly given that all of my coworkers are just nice normal people who are neither romancing each other nor carrying Deep Terrible Secrets.  They all just go to work, and then afterwards sort of hang out and watch TV in the evenings.  Which gives me nothing, because if I wanted to gossip about THAT I could very well TALK ABOUT MYSELF.

So I’m open to suggestions here.  How do I undo the fact that I may have accidentally become some sort of adult?