October 2006

So the internet at home is still dead, and this weekend there were at least 47 times when I was reminded just how much I have come to rely on this here network of wires and bytes and information zipping along at light speed. Sunday morning, the low point, found me and John on the floor of the gym in our building, laptops on laps, shamelessly freeloading off of some nearby resident’s wireless that we were unable to freeload off from our own apartment. Because we’re classy like that.


Though the part about the three year old using a screwdriver to facilitate his escape is pretty good, I think I would have liked this story even better if the rescue effort had involved a roll of quarters and a twelve-year-old arcade prodigy trying to grap the kid at just the right angle to pluck him out of the pile of toys.

So in addition to possibly causing disastrous health problems, the mold has gone and STOLEN MY INTERNET. Seems “cutting out the mold” also involves “cutting out the internet wires.”


For a while I was living in California in a beautiful old house rented to me and four other teachers by a very very stupid man who hadn’t quite thought through what “five adult renters” was going to mean for his lovingly-restored home. The landlord’s mother had lived in the house, and when she died he restored it, doing much of the work himself to save money.

“Charming!” we thought. “An old restored house! Our landlord knows how to restore houses! That means he will know how to fix anything that goes wrong! Perfect!”

Um, wrong. The handy landlord had decided that one of the best ways to save money on the restoration was to do all the plumbing himself. I’m no expert, but when categorizing do-it-yourself home improvement jobs, I’d place plumbing squarely in the “very advanced” category. Our landlord fell more into the “weekend dabbler” category, and as a result of this inexperience he botched the plumbing. Badly.

So it was that my roommate Heidi moved her bookcase to vacuum one day1 to discover MUSHROOMS growing out of the carpet. Turns out some valve in my shower had been installed backwards, and had released water into the wall in Heidi’s room, which had soaked into the floor, which had caused actual, real live toadstools to grow out of the carpet. Sweet.

We also once got a water bill for $500 because of a toilet that ran constantly that our landlord refused to fix. Let me tell you- THAT was a fun bill to try to divide among the housemates.

So you can imagine that I was kind of relieved to move out of that house and leave all the plumbing disasters behind me. (You can see where this is going, can’t you. I’m no good at suspense. Sigh.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A: our spare room:

Yes, that nasty-ass black stuff is mold.

Yes, it is growing two feet up the wall.

And yes, it is caused by a fucking leak in the fucking plumbing behind the fucking wall. Gross, isn’t it?

It is matched by a lovely slow leak through the bathroom wall and floor, which is forming a slowly-growing puddle on the floor and around the toilet. And I just went to unload the dishwasher and discovered a pool of water under there, too. If I were a fan of horror movies, it would be at around this point that I would become convinced that the water was going to come in at ever-increasing speeds all night, eventually drowning me in my sleep.

Or, you know, the mold may be toxic and I may asphyxiate. Which may actually be a better fate than waiting all day today for the building engineer to come in and (I’m quoting here) “cut that whole chunk of wall out and try to get back there and see what’s up.” AWESOME.

If you don’t hear from me in a few days, you can assume that the apartment got the best of me.

1 (Let’s not even go into the whole “move the bookcase to vacuum behind it” thing. I could write volumes about the cleaning idiosyncrasies of that house. Volumes.)

A friend of mine from college is a Very Fast Runner, the kind who travels hither and yon for races, and so even though she is a doctor in California she is here in Chicago today running the marathon. I decided that it would be good exercise for me to walk the two blocks from my apartment to the 25 mile point of the racecourse to cheer her on as she finished, so I carefully calculated 2 hours and 10 minutes past race start time (did I mention? Very Fast Runner?) and walked the 5 minutes over there, and sure enough, I timed it almost exactly right and within 5 minutes of my arrival she whizzed by me and I got to shout “GO MELISSA!” and then walk home again and in that 20 minutes of excruciating exertion I think I managed to get frostbite because it is, like 34 degrees outside. How she and 40,000 others are running 26.2 miles in this wind is beyond me. How she’s doing it in two and a half hours seems superhuman. Me? I’m so proud of myself for “working out” (20 Minute Jaunt in the Cold must burn more calories than Watching Tivo for Hours on End, right?) that I think I’m going to draw myself a hot bath. Hey, we all measure accomplishment in different ways.

So I did it. I will never have my first moment in front of a judge ever again.

After waiting FOUR HOURS past our appointed call time, we finally got rolling, and I cross examined my first police officer. He looked young- he probably graduated high school the same year I did- and it looked this was probably his first time testifying in court, so i was kind of an extravaganza of newness up there. As my supervising attorney put it, “you all looked like two different deer in two different sets of headlights.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not a compliment.

But anyway, I got everything I needed to know from him, and one surprise bonus tidbit of useful information, and I prevented him from running his mouth and trying to say all sorts of things that would have been damaging to our case, so I’m calling it a qualified success. Even though we had to continue the motion to finish in a few weeks because several of the cops we needed to interview didn’t show up, (side note: I now totally see how cases take freaking years to wind their way through the criminal justice system- this is only a motion and it’s taken us almost six months to finish the damn thing,) I think we’re in pretty good shape and have a good chance of winning our motion. And if we win our motion, it seems pretty likely that the state will have to dismiss its case against Client. And if that happens- well, damn, that means I will have realized a positive result on my very first case ever. I’m getting ahead of myself, I know, but hey- a girl can dream.

So I’m back from reunion, and there are some fun reunion stories to tell and also a little rant about how my stupid college football team is perhaps the worst college football team EVER, but I can’t really think about all of that right now because tomorrow?

Tomorrow I have to make my first arguments on behalf of a real client in front of a real judge.

Oh. Dear. God. Might die of panic. Will try not to. Updates forthcoming.

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