Sunday, June 30, 2002

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

Friday night, I headed out to The West End, a cheesy meat market of a club down in Santa Monica. It's the type of place that, at the mention of it's name, your friends all say with a bit of disgust "Is that place still there?" Bad lighting, noisy as hell, not condusive to conversation whatsoever, but surprisingly good cover bands. My goal of the night was to just get trashed and wash away the whole stink of going back to the law. My buddy, on the other hand, was trying to get me to "go out there and talk to some women fer godsakes." On a purely theoretical level, he had a point 'cuz the likelihood of some leggy blonde into Massive Attack chatting me up while I'm in gigantous mope-a-suaros mode at the back of the bar with the rest of the mouth-breathers is slim to none.

But, for the first hour, I was just trying to decompress. I had a fine time observing others and making mental notes confirming what not to do. For example, there's the sidling gambit: You see a couple of chicks dancing and having a good time, so, being the sneaky clever guy that you are, you start moving close to them, moving closer and closer hoping that one of the chicks will notice you out of the corner of her eye, and then she'll see your moves and make eye contact and then look ma, you're dancing! You're dancing! But see, here's the rub. You're not being sneaky, nor are you being clever. You're just being creepy as hell. Why is it creepy? Look at it from her point of view--she's just had some random guy who doesn't have the cajones to say hi rubbing his crotch (or at least trying to) against her ass. See, etiquette requires at least an introduction before you do something like that.

Another fine observation I made was that there were guys who were better looking than me by half just drinking their drinks lounging by the wall and not doing shit even though the women on the dance floor were clearly looking in their direction. If the DJ started playing some Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, it'd be an awkward junior high dance. (My buddy, trying to pump me up, made a good point: "These are guys who couldn't get into Hollywood clubs." Maybe explains the whole 7th grade vibe coming from the bar). This made me feel a lot better.

Anyway, after that first hour, I was still content to just chill. My mental effort had been totally spent dealing with the law, so I didn't have it in me to go up and start chatting up chicks randomly. And just then, young Marty Stark fell in love, cue Blondie's "Atomic" (sorry, Trainspotting flashback).

A whole gaggle of women came in, which is usually no good in these outings. They start dancing together in a circle, and form a "Ring of Death" no man can break. Seriously, go ahead and try. Even if you're with a buddy, you and your buddy will feel eight pairs of eyes staring at you. By the time you're within three steps, that pressure is so overwhelming, you find yourself walking back to the bar getting a refill on your drinks which are already 3/4s full. If you have the actually chutzpah of getting within tapping distance of your intended, everyone in the Ring of Death will have their eyes on you, giving you the glare.

I couldn't get a bead on what type of women they were. A couple of them looked like academics ('specially the chunky blonde in glasses who shamed her honky brethren by furthering the white people can't dance stereotype--move butt down, one two three four, move butt down, one two three four). I got the impression they knew each other from work,as opposed to being a tight knit knew each other from school group, because they did break off into cliques (the academics, the help, etc.). And yet despite the whole Ring of Death potential, someone caught my eye.

She was a slender brunette with a slight smile, her hair cut chin length with one side tucked behind an ear. She had legs from here to ya-ya. Unlike most attractive women in L.A., she was totally un-selfconscious about her figure. She moved almost as if she didn't realize she was slender and utterly, heartbreakingly adorable. And she appeared to be the odd person out of the group. She stood behind her main group when she walked in, and her friend (slavic looking, brunette with blue eyes) looked like she was trying to get her to talk to other men (she kept pointing out clusters of guys, which included, according to my buddy, yours truly). My buddy thought she might be the geek of the group, and I agreed. But what really got me was she danced. While all her friends were at the edge of the dance floor watching people dance, she was dancing, swaying her hips to the music (and in rhythm too!) Then I lost sight of her. Her group of friends went off to the bar, but I couldn't see her. There was a good reason for that: She went onto the dancefloor on her own, without her buddies.

I looked at the guys in mouth-breather wallflower mode. I looked at her friends who were busy preening themselves in hopes of getting the guys to notice them. I looked at her dancing and not caring where her friends were. And I knew if I didn't make a move now, I'd deserve to be a miserable sod in a cruddy beige suit coming home to cats and porn.

I made my way through the dancefloor, and did one song's worth of recon. She was cute. She was un-selfconscious. She knew how to move. As soon as the band (70s funk cover band) started into cheesy banter mode, I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "You're a great dancer. Do you wanna dance?" She said, "What?" (OK, not the response I was hoping for). So I repeated myself, and she said, "What?" Finally, I said, "Do you want to dance?" Her slight smile became a big grin, and she said, "OK." I introduced myself, and she said her name was Nadia (I think it was Nadia--it was loud and she had a foreign accent--foreign accent, could she be even more adorable?)

Now, a lot of times, when a guy asks a girl if she wants to dance, she says sure, but in a "I have nothing better to do" sort of way and never makes eye contact. For two songs, Nadia kept looking at me and giving me a big grin. Then her friends, the Ring of Death, made their way to the dance floor. She touched my arm and said, "Thank you for the dance," in that foreign accent of hers (either Eastern European or Middle Eastern).

I wish I could say I ended up with her phone number that night (Oh God do I wish I ended up with her phone number that night) but alas, I didn't. She returned to the circle of death. Eventually, she went outside with a couple of friends, and I saw some guys trying to chat them up (but Nadia had her arms crossed in the universal sign of don't talk to me). When my buddy and I decided to leave, she was still with her friends in the outside version of the Ring of Death, but I swear her smile widened when I passed by. In a moment of self-doubt, I didn't say hi as I walked out (plus my buddy saying "C'mon, talk to her, talk to her" just as we passed her probably wasn't that conducive to me chatting her up).

But, at least I know that I can make an adorable, slender brunette with a foreign accent smile.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Sing Me To Sleep

OK, you know something is wrong when lyrics from a Smith's song are bang on with your life, and not in an ironic way. "I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I'm miserable now." The sad thing is that I've just been doing things at the new firm that I could've done with my eyes closed on a tightrope juggling a chainsaw, a flamethrower, and a really gassy monkey just a year ago, yet I'm tired and moody and emotional, sniff sniff. How emotional? That a non-response and a no-reply from two chicks are making me go all panicky and weepy that, in less than a year, I'll be a miserable sod in a cruddy beige suit chasing ambulances and coming home to an apartment empty save for 20 cats and boxes of porn. Boxes and boxes of porn. (OK, the whole boxes of porn thing maybe isn't so bad.)

Monday, June 24, 2002

Sharp Dressed Man

One of the weird things about the law these days is that the more formally dressed a lawyer you see walking down the street, the more likely that lawyer belongs to a lower tier / smaller firm. (No, I'm not going to go into the whole messy issue of whether small firms are necessarily lesser quality firms, etc.)

See, back during the big dot-com boom, almost all of the BigLaw gave into business casual. You look like a chump trying to court the black t-shirt and jeans start up crowd in a conservative navy blue Brooks Brothers suit. So, lawyers (mostly transactional) started adopted a more relaxed look to fit in with the clients. BigLaw caved, and instituted a firm-wide relaxation in dress code which has yet to be repealed even after the big bust.

SmallLaw, on the other hand, their bread and butter were clients outside the tech or emerging companies sector. Their typical client assumed lawyers were going to wear the suit and tie. So, sitting in the Century City Shopping Center food center, that twenty-something dude in the Gap khakis and denim button up is probably making $40K more than that twenty-something dude in the $700 black suit, $70 white shirt and $80 burgundy tie.

I guess this is a roundabout way that the firm for which I've started working today requires suit and tie.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Damn Civilians

Now that I'm heading back the whole law-talking deal, I've begun thinking about the parts that I couldn't stand about the law. Sheesh, not exactly the can-do plucky thoughts I should be having at the start of a new job. So, in the spirit of getting things off my chest, I think I'll list "don't I wish" scenarios. Couple of disclaimers: 1) Obviously, the scenarios are fictional--I don't want to be breaking the whole attorney-client privilege thing and have my ass disbarred; 2) also, if I actually said any of this stuff, I probably wouldn't have been disbarred but I would've been kicked out of the profession of law anyway. So here we go with one of many (OK, maybe just one depending how sick I get of the law) scenarios.

One of the things I couldn't stand about the law were clients--more specifically, the middle-management employees of clients who knew way less than they thought they did but were given an inordinate amount of day to day power. We'd get requests for documents to which the opposing party was perfectly entitled, and being the junior associate, I was the poor schmuck who had to convey the request to the client, or more specifically, the Joe/Jane Schmo who handled the docs. The larger institutional clients had whole departments that handled document production and retention, and those clients were a godsend--got back little lip, and received the docs for review a couple of weeks later. But the smaller ones (tech companies that used Chapter 11 as an adjective in the big bust) had true mouth-breathers handling docs.

Shoot, as my creative writing instructor in college said: "Show, not tell." So, here's an example of the typical conversation, and what I wish I could've said:

"Hey Joe Schmo, it's Marty Stark. Did you get the document request I faxed you?"
"Yeah. We're not gonna give 'em any of this shit. We're not on trial here."
"Uh, technically, since ConglomoTech is the defendant, it would be on trial if the matter doesn't settle."
"Sure, whatever. Look, these docs aren't relevant anyway."
"Hmm, not relevant."
"Yeah, and they're trade secret."
"Well, maybe I should take a look at the documents for relevance and confidentiality, just to be safe."
"No, you're not going to take a look. I told you they're non-relevant and they're trade secrets."
"OK. Hey, everybody who went to law school, raise their hand. Hmmmm, let's see, I have my hand in the air. Do you? No, I didn't think so."
"Hey asshole, you work for us."
"Hey dumbshit, I don't work for you. I work for ConglomoTech, and one of my responsibilities is making sure that ConglomoTech doesn't do any stupid shit. You know what I mean by stupid shit? I mean refusing to produce documents to which TechCorp is entitled, like, oh, documents relevant to the case. And by relevant, I mean relevant according to the California Code of Civil Procedure and the California Code of Evidence, which I can assure you is not equivalent to relevant according to some asshole with only two years worth of junior college under his cheap ass K-Mart brand faux-leather belt. And since I know what relevance is under the applicable California law, what with my 3 fucking years of law school and my 3 fucking years of practicing law, I get to review those documents for relevance. 'Cuz you know what happens if I listen to you on what's relevant and what's not? (And the word is irrelevant you chicken-fucking hick, not non-relevant.) Well, TechCorp brings a motion to compel production of documents, which we'll lose if we say 'We don't have to produce it because Chicken-fucking Joe Schmo says it's not relevant', and the Court says ConglomoTech has to produce the docs and they have to pay a shitload of money for wasting the Court's time. Or, if the Court is pissed enough, it can say, 'ConglomoTech, that is such a piss-poor excuse that I'm gonna say TechCorp wins.' And as much as I'd love to see your poultry-buggering ass twisting in the wind when the hammer of ConglomoTech comes ahuntin' for the dipshit that said 'These docs aren't relevant,' I'd rather not have ConglomoTech suing me for malpractice for letting you act like a ignorant junior college shit that you are. So, slugger, the bottom line is that you will let me review those documents for relevance and confidentiality."

Ahhhh, man that felt good, I tell you what. Hmmmm, had I actually said that, I wouldn't be bellyaching about going back to the law.

Not a big shock there (not the whole "Freedom, Youth, blah blah blah"--just that I tend to shop there).

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Old Moon Fades Into The New

It's looking less and less likely that I'll find anyone through Like in the real world, it's really the chicks who decide who they'll hook up with. simply accelarates the selection so that two years worth of dating for women can be compressed into two months--speed-dating I've heard it called. These chicks get approximately 50 e-mails a day via if they have a photo up. If they don't find a guy attractive, they simply ignore his e-mail as opposed to a brush off in the regular bar scene sitch (helluva lot easier on the ego, so yeah, guys too benifit from Anyway, anytime I send out an e-mail to a female member, I'm competing with at least 49 other dudes. Chances are one or two of these dudes are GQ model types who can actually come across like a human being in their profile. Assuming that a female member goes out with each one of the one or two daily hunk a burnin' luv (that's 7 a week on a conservative estimate) during a month membership (that's 30 or, ah, you can do the math), chances are that she'll end up having a long term relationship with one of those dudes. That leaves the 49 or so dudes plus some change times, well, you know what I mean, completely SOL. Now, I'm not exactly an ugmo, but I do know I don't turn heads while walking down the street. What exacerbates this for me is that I'm a yellow brutha who likes the round-eye, but unfortunately, there aren't that many round-eye sistas that be givin' the yellow bruthas their props. But still, it's one of several tools in my belt and plus it's cheap.

Anyway, the whole sitch reinforces that old adage about love coming when you're not looking for it (major suckage for me since almost every waking second is devoted to thinking about it--and even worse, the only times I've really hit it off were when I truly wasn't looking). In order to get this outta my system so I can start thinking about other things, like what color ties goes with a suit that isn't quite gray, more of a criss-crossing black interspersed with white to create the illusion of gray, here are the characteristics of my absolute dream woman:

Slim and slender, with legs from here to ya-ya (yeah I'm starting with physical characteristics, just call me shallow);
Green-eyes but almost Asian in shape, straight blonde hair cut chin length (think Gretchen Mol, crap, should've just said, "looks like Gretchen Mol");
Can talk about music for hours;
Knows the lyrics to Zero 7's "Destiny" and isn't afraid to sing them;
Still likes to slow dance, both arms draped over the neck way;
Did I already say can talk about music for hours?;
and loves me like the dickens. While we're at it, I'd like peace in the world and for all the little children to have chocolate.

I Fought The Law And The Law Won

So it looks like I'm going back to the 9 to 7 if you're lucky 180 billable hours a month one weekend day off every other weekend life of a law talking guy. The independent contracting gig came through, and, on the positive side, there are a lot of BigLaw refugees at the firm--at least two took more time off than I did and look to become permanent members of this SmallLaw. Given that this is still a horrible market, there are a lot of lawyers still scrambling to find any gig, and those lawyers don't have over $90K in their checking account, I know I'm rather fortunate. Still, there's a part of me that can't fucking stand the idea of going back to the law.

I mean, think about it this way. Remember those shots they gave you back in elementary school? They'd line up your second grade class in front of the nurse's office. Yeah, your teacher and your nurse are telling you that the shot is good for you because it'll stop you from getting sick later on. You know it's a good thing, and you know you're going to feel a little pinch and discomfort. But no matter how hard you tried, you'd still get sick from anticipation. Then it's your turn, and the nurse starts rubbing alcohol on your left shoulder. She gives you the heads up that the needle is about to go in. No matter how hard you steel yourself, no matter how many times you hear that the shot is good for you, it still smarts like a mofo. You still wince, and you still hate going through it.

So yeah, I know getting a steady cashish is good and that I'm lucky, but I'm still going to hate it.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Everything, Everything

Yeah, I've been a bit remiss on the whole blog thing. Unfortunately, I fell back into bad nerdly habits, specifically, the deadly addiction of computer games (even more specifically, Dungeon Siege--I know it's bad for me but I want more!). Luckily, I think I've beat the addiction, and am ready to lead a fulfilling productive life (plus, a friend of mine reminded me that "the only chicks who are interested in the game are bi and fat").

So, life was progressing at a steady rate last week, although at a much slower rate than my first few weeks back in Lalaland. I finally joined the great mobile masses of the 21st century and got myself a cell phone. The fact that in less than a month I've had people irate that they got my home voice mail instead of yours truly sealed the deal. I decided to go with a Nokia phone with AT&T Wireless. I was tempted to buy a Motorola, but those suckers don't have programmable ringtones (you can take the boy outta nerdsville, but you can't take the nerd outta the boy). I've already downloaded four ringtones for my phone--"Buddy Holly" by Weezer, "Without Me" by Eminem, "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes and "Take On Me" by A-ha.

I also did the whole going out thing on Thursday night, but whoo boy, let me tell you, Jack & Cokes and a big ass Japanese dinner do not mix. The result is fertilizing plants in a Santa Monica parking lot with a projectile mixture of bile and rice. I also had a false positive on A TV chick responded to my first e-mail (we both like dayquil, yay) but she has not responded to my second e-mail. Gotta remember not to turn on the whole Marty Stark quirkiness too early next time (for your information, I didn't say anything like "It's destiny, we should get married now" or "yur rahly purty, hurh, hurh").

Oh, and the whole job thing--I'm 95% sure I got the independent contracting gig. However, we're still haggling about compensation. Obviously, there's a part of me that's thinking that it'll be nice to get some regular cashish. But, that part of me realizes that I'm not that happy about it. I don't want to go back to the law. I fucking hate the law. I like writing. I like setting my own schedule. Yeah, I know, you can't always get what you want (but if you try sometimes, you get what you need, whoo whoo--sorry, couldn't help the random excursion into the Rolling Stones). Doesn't mean I have to put on a happy face, spit on my food and call it frosting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Back Where We Started, Here We Go 'Round Again

So I'm on the cusp of heading back into the law (though in a much smaller firm). The whole archaeologist chick thing is over (she left a message on my machine that was cut off, but the phrase "I hope you don't think this is too awful leaving this on the machine" generally doesn't translate to "I want your hunky yellow bod"--all for the best really considering I wasn't attracted to her). I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now--ambivalence? Hunger? Maybe I'll go get a burrito.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

He'd Rather Be Alone Than Pretend

I'm sure there's a cheesy ABC afterschool special message somewhere in here. So, she's nerdier than I am, she enjoys my company, all my friends would say she's a keeper. Plus, ya gotta win the soapbox derby before you race in the Indy 500. But, I had this horrendous realization after our second date on Friday night that I didn't find her attractive. Whatsoever. Could be she sorta reminds me of a partner I used to work for. Could be she turned into the stereotypical loud ugly American after a conversation about cats. Could be she can't do an impersonation to save her life. Anyway, I called her, left her a message tonight about getting together if she wants because the one more chance thing couldn't hurt, but she hasn't called back which might be for the best. Oh well. At least I've gained some self-confidence back.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

You are Spike Spiegel
A laid back bounty hunter with a mysteriously tragic past. You have a cool sense of humor and would do much for people you love.
Which Cowboy Bebop Character Are You?

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Lust for Life

I had an interview for a contract attorney position this afternoon. I have a second date with archeologist chick this Friday. I have two chapters of the next novel written. I've been going out every weekend. All this, and I haven't been in Lalaland a month. Sheesh. If things keep progressing at this rate, I might actually have a life.

Move Any Mountain

I've had about a dream a week featuring mountains. There was that weird feng shui master dream a week ago, and Monday night, I dreamt an evil land developer was buying up land to block public access to the surrounding mountain range--huge, imposing grey mountains capped by a dusting of snow. I owned a hotel at the foot of one of the mountains, and realized the way to block aforementioned developer was to be a white knight. I was going to buy the surrounding land myself.

Monday, June 03, 2002

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

OK, I think I'm sufficiently recovered from the weekend. The girlfriend of a buddy of mine and her roommates had a bbq down at their apartment on Balboa Island (think Martha's Vineyard with it's quaint and narrow streets, daytrippers visiting craft shops, 'cept, well, sunny year round). When I arrived around 7pm, the guy to girl ratio was very Silicon Valley which sucked cuz that was one reason I left Silicon Valley (at least they didn't head to the computers for some network gaming). There was one stunning single woman there, we'll call her OC Chick, who looked a lot like a very young Marg Helgenberger. I asked my buddy about her, and he told me that, alas, she wasn't interested in Asian guys and plus she was really picky (which probably accounts for her being single). Also, she mentioned to my buddy that she wasn't intersted in any of the guys who showed up (which included yours truly at the time). I figured she was out of my league anyway, so I didn't feel that self-conscious when I talked to her.

Anyway, she was very low key and a guy's type of girl--loves sports and bought the new Eminem CD that day to support a fellow Detroiter. At least two other guys were trying to hit on her, oddly both named Matt. One was a tall ex-jockish Aryan of a fella, and the other was a small guy who looked a shade over fourteen. Neither of them were that successful. Aryan Jock went for the hard press approach, which apparently annoyed OC Chick. Small Fry went for the conversation about relationships approach (Gawsh darn it's so hard to find a nice girl, I can't believe that you're still single, gee willickers) though with a subtle bait and switch gambit -- he mentioned how he fell in love for like five minutes with a girl he was talking to earlier that night, aw shucks, look how sweet I am don't you want to jump my bones now approach. Subtle, but ineffective.

Me? I didn't try, knowing what I knew. Plus, at the beginning of the night, the body language was totally "Don't friggin talk to me"--her arms were crossed, she was leaning back in the chair away from everyone. When I did talk to her, it was mainly because she looked a bit bored and I was just makin' conversation.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I'm slightly tipsy. OK, I'm drunk. Other women have shown up, but they're yellow sistas who be dissin' da yellow bruthas and one cute round-eye but with a three year old daughter. Now, I have a strange thing I do when I get drunk. Some people get belligerant. Some people get maudlin. Me, I breakdance. My buddy said he didn't believe me. My buddy's girlfriend said she didn't believe me. OC Chick heard this, and became really excited. She started touching my arm and begging me to breakdance. "Well, I'm not that drunk yet." "Do you want a shot? Any shot. I'll take a shot with you." "Hmmm, maybe a shot wouldn't be a good idea, you know, with me moving around a lot."

My buddy slipped in the Cruel Intentions soundtrack with Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" cued up. Next thing I know, the floor clears and everyone is looking at me. Hell, so I start doing the worm, a back flip, then spinning on the carpet. OC Chick gave me a big grin and said, "Your friend told me you were fun, but I didn't believe him." Fast forward half an hour, Small Fry was making his play for OC Chick and I was playing cool again. My buddy had to leave. His girlfriend, OC Chick and the few people left decided to go to The Village Pub--the cheese factor there was on Velveeta level. A balding sixty-something guy on the keyboards belting out Jimmy Buffet tunes with a balding sixty-something guy on sax accompanying him.

I sat at the same two seater table with her, but Small Fry sat in the seat next to her. My buddy's girlfriend sat next to me and asked, "So, are you making conversation or what?" I had to give her the negatory answer since Small Fry was still pulling the whole earnest shtick on her (any belief that I had playing the overly nice guy card when meeting women totally evaporated that night). We all had fun requesting Neil Diamond tunes until closing time. And OC Chick kept giving me random looks with goofy grins for the rest of the night (which I returned). She begged me to request "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," but unfortunately last call intervened.

Now, do I have any illusion that she was interested? Nah. I did the whole keeping slightly out of pace with the rest of the group thing to see if she followed, but she kept her own pace. When we got back to my buddy's girlfriend's pad, the rest of the guys started to leave--Small Fry got a small hug outta' OC Chick. Unfortunately, OC Chick decided to go to sleep before I could say goodbye. Like many other nights, I left sans digits. But on the hour drive back to Westwood (got back around 3 in the morning), I felt content. Aryan Jock guy got nothing from her. Small Fry got a cheap hug. I received full on eye to eye looks (not glances, but looks) combined with wide friendly smiles. I fell asleep happy.