October 2007


In honor of Halloween, the toilet in my office building has become possessed.  As in, it will not stop flushing if there is anyone in the stall.  It is one of those auto-flush jobs that is supposed to sense when you are finished and flush then, but it’s on super mega hyper overdrive and whenever you’re in the stall at all, it just goes berserk with all the flushing.

It was a hot topic in the office today.   At one point, someone said without a trace of irony, “the building is really getting into the spirit of Halloween this year, I guess.”

In addition to the possessed toilet, the old-enough-to-be-my-mother woman in the office next to mine wore BRIGHT ORANGE pointy patent leather knee high boots to work today.   Halloween in corporate America, folks.

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Through a series of odd coincidences, my dad happened to be involved in the management of a restaurant that recently closed after many years of operation.  Closing a restaurant is an odd business, a secretive affair, conducted in the middle of the night so when the next day’s waitstaff and kitchen crew show up- oops! Just kidding! No restaurant here anymore!   (They do it this way, apparently, because it’s the only way to do it.  If word gets out that you’re closing, suppliers won’t fill orders and staff start slacking or, worse, taking things from the restaurant, and you just sort of fizzle out.  You have to just pull off the bandaid and furtively hang up a “thanks for 8 wonderful years!” sign in the dead of night.)

After a restaurant closes, there is the issue of what to do with all the stuff *in* the restaurant.  Unopened liquor and cases of wine can go back to the distributor, but open bottles of liquor and broken cases of wine are unreturnable and cannot legally be resold.  Fixtures furniture and major kitchen appliances get auctioned off, but the best you can hope for from the pots and sheet pans and creme brulee dishes is pennies on the dollar at a liquidator.

Because my dad and the other people involved in this restaurant are not that interested in breaking the law to get a few bucks back on liquor, and not all that interested in quibbling with a liquidator  over whether that whisk should be worth 3 or 4 cents, they decided that to invite family and close friends (including us!  US!) to come to the restaurant and “see if there is anything you guys want there.”

Oh. My. God.  We weren’t the first people to have a go at this stuff, so some of the prime items- like the brand! new! All Clad frying pans were already gone.  But all was not lost, oh no.  It was definitely worth the trip out there.  We made out like bandits in the liquor closet- 3 cases of wine, an unopened bottle of Johnnie Walker black, and TWO bottles of Patron.  That was pretty cool and all, but the best part was the kitchenware.  Huge storeroom, stacked high with 12-inch skillets and full sheet pans and souflee dishes and dozens and dozens of spring loaded tongs, and all of it stuff we could take.  I tried to exercise some restraint- after all, space in our kitchen is not unlimited- but I still came away with a beautifully banged-up All Clad saucepan, some ramekins, a whisk, ladles, tongs and more tongs, and a cool shaker thing for powdered sugar.  I was really sad I could not take the deep fat fryer home with me, but that was, in retrospect, probably a good choice.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out what to do with 2000 bamboo skewers.

Almost exactly a year ago, I bought John a new sleeping bag for his birthday.  We had been talking about going camping, oh, since we moved to Chicago.
This weekend, we finally used the sleeping bag for the first time.  (We talk a big game, but apparently aren’t very good at the actual planning part.)

Camping in the fall is awesome.  It gets crisp and cold at night, so the fire feels useful instead of just scenic, and you roast marshmallows and are all set to make delicious smores until you realize that oops!  You forgot the graham crackers.  Fortunately the campsite next to you has extra, and is willing to share in exchange for some beers out of your cooler.

After watching the fire die for an hour you start to wonder why the fire isn’t dead already, and it’s getting kind of late, and you’re tired, and it’s dead enough that it’s not really keeping you warm anymore but not dead enough for you to feel comfortable just letting it be and going to bed.  So you open the car door and find one of your jugs of water and use it to extinguish the fire, except oops! You forgot to close the car door and the wind is blowing directly into the car and all that yummy-smelling campfire smoke has not done a comically thorough job of hotboxing your car.  (This is the only hotboxing this car has ever experienced, much to the disappointment of the police officer who searched it VERY thoroughly in a Motel 6 parking lot in East St. Louis Illinois some years ago, who was convinced I was running drugs from New Orleans to Chicago.  Remind me to tell you that story sometime!)

After making your borrowed smores and hotboxing your car (note: campfire smell is an excellent way to finally be rid of new car smell!) you are ready for bed, and it is cold and crisp, and you are so pleased to bundle up and feel all snug as a bug in a rug in your tent.   That is, until it starts pouring at 2:30 a.m. and the rain flap on your very old, very small backpacking tent is not quite up to the challenge and you get a little damp.  Details, details.

Nonetheless, we had a lovely day of hiking and looking at pretty scenery and just generally enjoying the fact that we were not in the city but were in the country! Where it is pretty!  I would show you pictures except someone forgot to check the camera battery before leaving home and it was dead!  Ahem.

P.S. To the poor college kid down on one knee, proposing to his girlfriend at the top of a very popular hike, in a spot right around a blind bend in the trail where you didn’t see them until whoops, you were right there with them on that little ledge- sorry for ruining your moment, kiddo.  Maybe next time you ought to choose a slightly more secluded spot, mmm?

1. Running into a kid who you went to school with from kindergarten through high school, and have not thought of since, on the train on the way home from work.  Five minutes to catch up? Perfect.  An hour-long, excruciatingly slow, crammed like sardines into a subway car commute? TOO LONG.  Especially when he makes fun of the way you stand on a crowded train (apparently I have a weird stance?  Wherein I curl my toes a little for balance?  Thanks for pointing that out, random dude from my past!)

2. Running into a girl you went to college with, who was in a play with you, but whose last name you have forgotten, and having a rather long conversation on the stoop outside the bar that has closed for the night while she rattles off some rather specific details about your life, including the fact that she knows you got married, and to whom, and what you’re doing for a living these days, and where, and all the time you’re thinking “crap crap crap what is her last name crap crap crap.”  I thought of it two days later.  Of course.

3. Running into your boss as she is on her way back from the restroom and realizing that not just her bra strap but a rather sizable portion of her actual bra is peeking out of her scoop neck top and being paralyzed as you wonder (a) how do you tell your boss you can see an alarmingly large portion of her undergarments and (b) what in the hell was she doing in the bathroom, anyway?  How did this happen?

So I passed the bar. Whee!

I actually found out on Monday, sort of.  But that was just an online list of the seat numbers of people who passed, so it didn’t quite feel real yet.

Then, on Wednesday, I got the letter in the mail saying I had passed.  Except the letter also said that I had not passed the character and fitness evaluation yet, so I was not yet cleared for admission and maybe I should call this number to sort that out?  So it didn’t quite feel real yet.

Finally, yesterday, a letter came in the mail informing me that I had cleared character and fitness and I had now officially satisfied all requirements for admission to the bar.

And yet somehow, it doesn’t quite feel real.  Maybe because my boss, when I said “hey! I’m a lawyer now!” said to me “you graduated law school and passed the bar, but that doesn’t make you a lawyer.  You’re not a lawyer.  Talk to me in ten years.  Maybe then you’ll have the experience to be called a lawyer.”

I say eff that.  From now on, I respectfully request that you address all correspondence to Pseudostoops, Esq.