Friday, May 30, 2003

I'll Be The Corpse In Your Bathtub

OK, it's a Friday night, and here I am sitting in Casa De Stark listening to acoustic sad mopey bastard music. Warm air rises, my bedroom / loft is a hothouse -- you can grow orchids in it. It won't begin to cool well into the dawn as the air outside cools and the hot air flows away out the window. My face feels like it's encased in paraffin. I'm consoling myself for blogging on a Friday night instead of out carousing and hittin' on the fine chiquas by telling myself that last weekend was action-packed, that I'm taking a bit of a breather. Yet there's this part of me that feels a bit morose knowing that there are folks out there getting their groove on.

I have to admit that I miss driving to Bees Knees on Friday nights, even though it was a two hour trek in crawling traffic down to OC -- it was the anticipation of being with someone who was happy being with me. I miss having someone snuggle against me while watching TV, and knowing that I made someone smile with a kiss. But attached to all that were problems I couldn't solve and jags of heartache that left me tired and empty.

It's the part that's doing all the missing that makes me go onto and keep looking. It's the part that remembers the problems that makes me bored and tired of all the profiles I see, that's a little scared of writing to them. So before I get too mopey, I might as well list of what makes guys run shrieking away from a female profile like a five-year-old kid away from dad with a two-by-four in no particular order:

1. The use of the term "soulmate";

2. Photos with the ex or some other dude;

3. Photos that include an Adam's Apple;

4. Profiles that are less than two sentences long ("Hi, I'm an attractive intelligent woman looking for a fun time" doesn't really give the guys much to work with);

5. Photos in costume (being as slinky as a cat is sexy, dressing up as one isn't);

6. The use of "Christian" and / or "Jesus";

7. Photos that look like they're taken from graduation (OK, this is mainly addressed to the Asian chiquas - do you really want to attract FOBs with clunky glasses, bad dental hygiene and clothes from the the dollar bin at the Salvation Army? And before you start calling me racist, I'll have you know some of my best friends are Asian, like my mom, my dad, my sis . . .);

8. Misspelling (I might be looking for a fine Asian woman, I'm not exactly sure what a Fione Asian woman is though);

9. Overly posed photos (I think it's that stick up her ass that's causing that horrible rictus - oh wait, that's supposed to be a smile);

10. And there are others, but 10 is a good number to stop at, so Too Much Makeup (I think she might have a pretty face, but right now she looks like Jimbo the Psychotic Clown did her face).

Hmmmm, do I feel better? Not really, but at least this killed some time. Off to downstairs where the air is 10 degrees cooler and the beer is in the fridge!

Cut Off At The Knees

Uh oh, Blogger is doing that annoying partial text thing I've seen happen on other blogs. And here I was going to write something dee

What A Great Life This Must Seem . . .

Stupid neurochemistry. So even though I've been getting up when I want and sleeping as much as I need, I still need that cup o' joe to face the day. (Oh, and what tough days those are, catching up on the news, surfing the net, reading, but that's a different rant). Anyway, I read somewhere that caffeine increases intelligence, albeit briefly. This is why I scarfed down three cups of coffee within the first working hour at all the firms I worked -- best to be able to put together simple subject-verb-object sentences when the partner comes a barrellin' down the hall asking for status / insight / strategy on the cases you're working on.

Anyway, so I've been drinkin' the coffee, but without the (unwanted) stimulation of needing to draft a persuasive much less coherent motion or bracing myself for a screaming argument with other lawyers, my mind is all dressed up with nowhere to go. I know I should start on the novel and various side projects I have in my head, but even though the analytical part of my head is raring to go, the creative part of my mind is still just getting out of bed, bags under its eyes and scratching its ass. The best way to get the creative part going is to read, but my body is still jittery from the caffeine (increases the level of dopamine in the brain, though I can't remember if that's due to blocking the parts of the neurons that intake the dopamine, leaving excess dopamine coursing through the brain, or if instead caffeine is a building block of dopamine provided the brain with additional materials for dopamine - OK, so I still have some caffeine flowing through me now). So I feed the creative part some stories from an anthology of po-mo lit, but my body refuses to be still. I go through about an hours worth of reading, but the body wants to check e-mail to see if those chiquas from have written back.

By the time I've finished surfing the net, there's enough dopamine coursing through me that my heart is still beating at a techno beat yet my body and the analytical part of me are exhausted. In other words, I'm jittery and tired. So I take a brief nap full of dread, and awake refreshed yet cranky. By then, the creative part of my mind is pissed at being left alone, so I read some more. It's now late afternoon, early evening. I decide to have some dinner, and maybe a beer. A beer then turns into two. Then three. The creative part of my mind is like, "I love you man. I love you. So, here's an idea, you'll love it. How about you write a story, and it turns out the narrator is dead! Or something about, you know, angels and the mafia! No, wait, that's stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. I suck. I really suck. We're gonna end up poor and living on the streets and (heavy snoring begins)." By then, I might was well kill some more brain cells and watch the Family Guy on Cartoon Network.

When I awake, my muscles are sludge, my tongue feels heavy and my mind is full of rusted gears. So I go get some coffee.

Pphhhhht. Stupid neurochemistry.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Up With People (Zero 7 Mix)

Yikes, that last entry ended a bit more bitterly than I intended. Don't worry. I'm not sulking around in Casa de Stark mumbling "Kill SmallLaw, big yellow brain banana" to myself while picking at my hair orangutan-style and moths fly around my hole-ridden Thievery Corporation t-shirt. Except for the fun but tiring Memorial Day weekend (two of my best friends from law school got married - groom is Vietnamese and bride is Jewish, basically a three-day affair of food, booze, traditional ethnic ceremonies and breakdancing), I've been trying to decompress and relax.

So far it's been going well. I mean, there are much worse things than having a cup o' joe at noon while listening to brit import compilations and having a cat purr contentedly on your lap. There was some backsliding -- I've had a couple of law-related dreams last week, tiring dreams about getting a mediation brief out or doing discovery. But those dreams have been slowly disappearing, being replaced by back-to-school dreams.

I realized that what I should have been doing since I left SmallLaw was to read every single day as well as write. I have over twenty books that I bought during my stint at SmallLaw what I haven't touched. I've almost forgotten the flow of prose. So, for the next three days, the goal is to finish reading at least one novel and one non-fiction before I really get crackin'.

I still torn between reworking the first novel from a snarky novel about Silicon Valley to a snarky novel about lawyering (a legal version of Scrubs), or working on the second novel tentatively entitled "Angry Yellow." Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Yes There Comes A Booming Sound

I have to admit I do miss something about having a regular gig (OK, I miss the steady cashish too). That something is socializing. Whenever I got bored or pissed or stuck in a rut, I could just go down that hall and kvetch with other associates who were just as bored or pissed or stuck in a rut. There's just something therapeutic about hashing it out with another person. Maybe it's the sum greater than its parts which leaves both people in the conversation feeling better, or maybe it's because talking to yourself is the first step in yelling at string on the corner while smelling like a cheesesteak hogie left in the sun.

I do e-mail, IM, or phone friends - so it's not like I'm barefoot in a swamp shack with just me and a shotgun named Lurleen. Yet that's not the same as just hangin' out with your buds. Sheesh. Before I get too maudlin, being alone during the day is a step up from the legal version of "Marty, you're a worthless whore who can't do anything right. Now fix me a chicken pot pie you bitch."

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ooooh, What's That Smell . . .

After living in L.A. for four years (not consecutively - 3 years in law school, a year since I moved back down from Silicon Valley), I figured I might as well try the "World Famous Oki Dog." Oh my God, big mistake. Two mediocre hot dogs, government grade American cheese, leather-like pastrami wrapped in a waxy tortilla. The only decent thing was the chili. 'Nuff said. Oooooogh.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

For I've Never Known Completeness . . .

"Well," sighs Louise, "I'd rather feel things to the full even if I'm going to be upset the very next minute, because it's either that or living a half-life at half-intensity'. Too many people are scared to leap in headfirst and enjoy that feeling to the maximum. That's what 'Gorecki' is about. And that's the feeling I'm determined never to lose." Interview of Lamb from NME, March 8, 1997

Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard

If you want to be underemployed, Lalaland is the place to be. Well, it is compared to Silicon Valley, sheesh. I don't feel like so much of a schmuck out here at 2:00 p.m. with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It has everything to do with the proverbial company you keep.

The typical underemployed male in Silicon Valley was most likely a dot-commer, has clunky square frame glasses, bad sneakers and considers Izod polo shirts formal wear. He's involuntarily underemployed, and has no other skills than code-writing and an immense knowledge of Babylon 5. He may have a girlfriend (probably a bit chunky, also wears glasses, may have her own loom -- but if they love each other, then more power to them). But, given the heinous ratio of men to women (if there's a 2:1 ratio at the local bar in Sunnyvale, begin kissing the feet of whatever goddess that hath provided), he probably doesn't. He may spend Tuesday afternoon at the local Kinko's faxing out his resume with his fellow underemployed males (by the by, next to the Los Angeles Superior Court - Stanley Mosk Courthouse and East Palo Alto laundromats, the Sunnyvale Kinko's on a Tuesday afternoon is the most depressing place to be).

The typical underemployed male in Lalaland is, well, actually, there's no real typical underemployed male in Lalaland. But even odds on the underemployment being somewhat voluntary. I mean, the typical underemployed male in Lalaland wasn't pushed out by a right-sizing. In all likelihood, he's underemployed because he's chasing a dream and that dream hasn't quite panned out yet - he wants to be an actor, a screenwriter, a photographer, a musician, a filmmaker. He may not be totally happy, but at least he's pursuing what he wants to do (unlike the Silicon Valley guys who, I'm sorry, but I don't know a single guy who thinks coding and server processing is "the dream"). Oh, and the typical underemployed male in Lalaland tends to have better fashion sense.

Bit of snobbery on my part. Well d'uh. But I don't feel like so much of a jackhole out and about at 2:00 p.m. running errands knowing there are plenty of folks doing the exact same thing. Oh, plus the eye candy at 2:00 p.m. in Lalaland is of a much higher quality than that of Silicon Valley. Helloooooooo Nurse!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

But I Ain't Ever Going Back . . .

So I had an interview for this contracting gig which further confirmed that the lot of a full-time lawyer is a stress-filled tiresome one. The partner with whom I interviewed was a young dood, well, young from the the point of view of lawyers - he graduated law school three years before me, which puts him in his early thirties. The offices were decent - not the dentist office decor of my prior SmallLaw, but rather bright white lighting and walls contrasting with dark wooden desks and black ergonomic chairs. This firm, although also a SmallLaw, was a step above prior SmallLaw (hmmmm, I guess I need new names before it gets confusing - I guess I'll call interviewing SmallLaw the Trial Boutique and the other SmallLaw Phuqued Firm).

Tired Young Partner seemed stressed and out of it. There was no social chit chat - it was straight to the "what I need" and "what can you do" portion of the interview. The reason why he was interviewing was because he had too many balls in the air to deal with the day to day minutiae, which was perfectly understandable. A captain of a ship can't attend to the rusty gears in the engines, the delivery of the mail, and the vegatables in the stew while at the same time making sure the ship travels from Paris to New York - there's just not enough time in the day. What they needed was someone who wouldn't need training (not enough time), and do what needed to be done to get the case moving forward - research, law and motion, maybe some depos, getting everything prepared for trial.

So I can forgive Tired Young Partner his lack of social chit chat, and I'd rather have directness rather than 30 minutes worth of forcing myself to smile and gettin' bupkiss. Then the Big Red Flag appeared. There was a knock on the door halfway through the interview. An equally tired but really pissed looking secretary came in. She was a slender, petite Latina woman with a fistfull of pleadings in her hands and a big ol' scowl on her face.

"Hmmm, can we get this in Word?" Tired Young Partner said.

"It would change the format," Pissed Secretary replied in a very terse manner.

"Well, she says she can't open it by e-mail. How can we send it to her so that everything is the same format?"

"We would have to retype everything," she said through gritted teeth.

"Fax? Can we fax? But then how can we deal with revisions."

"Why don't you just leave blanks for her to fill in."

"OK. I'll do that."

Pissed Secretary leaves without a word.

I've been around to recognize that terseness of the voice -- this wasn't a one-off bad day Pissed Secretary was having. No, that terseness, that scowl, it comes from years and years of too much work, too much stress, too many fire drills. It was taking all of Pissed Secretary's effort not to reach over and throttle Tired Young Partner.

OK, lawyers stressed out - par for the course. The support staff, who every lawyer worth his salt knows is the backbone of the operation, who you have to keep happy or else you're going to be doing all the phone calls, copying, faxing yourself in addition to the law and motion, discovery, trial work, if the support staff is pissed - whoooooo boy. Now this isn't to say that if they offer me the gig that I won't take it, but I won't be losing sleep if I they pass on me.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Groove Is On

I was trying to think of something pithy and deep to say about my first day of freedom, but, fuggit, I just came back from a greasy lunch of a hamburger topped with a fried egg over at Dee's Diner in Santa Monica and some consumer spending. I haven't felt this human in a long while. However, just I'm catching my breath from the long spring at SmallLaw, I get a call for a contract gig at another SmallLaw - indeterminate lenght, just law and motion stuff, 35 hours a week. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

So I was really thinking about writing something on May 15th, my year anniversary of returning to L.A., no really. But that was the second-to-last-day at SmallLaw so I'd figured I'd wait until the 16th. The 16th passes without much hullaballoo plus I was out that night to see Matrix:Reloaded ("Neo, you've already made a choice - now you have to figure out why you made the choice" - oh puh-lease, if I wanted to hear this dialogue, I would've stuck it out in the college epistimology course, bleah). Certain Someone was out sick, which seemed apropos. And Transactional Associate gave notice. In the "When it rains it pours" category, Minnesota Chick from wrote back to me for a second time and Bee's Knees left me a message at home (unfortunately, I've heard from neither since then, sigh).

Why didn't I write anything during the weekend? Because I was tired, so pppphhhhhhtt!

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Apres Moi . . .

"Show, don't tell." That was the numero uno rule from every creative writing class I took, whether it was the high school creative writing class most students took because it was the easy A, or the ones at Duke which only accepted 15 students out of 300 applications (yes, I'm tootin' my own horn there - wanna make sumthin' of it?).

So, instead of saying "SmallLaw is so fucked," I'll show:

SmallLaw has twelve attorneys including yours truly. For the past three years, SmallLaw has gone through eight attorneys, mostly in litigation. The week I started in SmallLaw almost a year ago was the last week for another litigation associate. Three months later, an associate joined, only to see another associate leave - see the pattern?

I gave notice on May 5th, the same day Newbie started (I was told not to speak with her, but I'll save that for a later entry).

There's another associate who'll be leaving by the end of the month -- SmallLaw has had problems with her hours and reliability, which is somewhat understandable (for a while, she'd e-mail she'd be in the office late morning but never show up), but at the same time, SmallLaw made her life a living hell -- everything was a fire drill, she had to drop projects to work on pressing ones, only to have the projects she dropped turn into fire drills too.

And yesterday, I found out that the transactional associate might be giving notice in the next week.

That's 3 associates leaving a 12-attorney firm in a single month.

Now, 2 associates joined SmallLaw in the last four weeks - but the one who started a month ago already hates it there, and the other received just a taste of Mr. Profanity on her first day, giving her a glimpse of the path to hell she shall tread if she chooses to stay.

"Instant Karma's gonna getcha . . . "

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Up in Smoke and Gone

I just deleted bee's knees number from my cell. Weeeeeeeee.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

I Miss The Way You Lie

I have to remember that she did hurt me, and that if we kept it going, all we'd do is hurt each other. I'd like to think I learned an ABC Afterschool Special moral out of this (that there's a difference between wanting to be with someone, and whether or not it's good for you - hell, I'm sure a smackhead wants his next fix, but it ain't gonna do much for his complexion). I'd like to think I was a turning point in her life, but I was disheartened to find out that maybe I wasn't, and all she'll do is hit the same wall over and over again. I still think that she's the bee's knees, but I can't do anymore for her.

And I have to remember that all this has done is made me write really maudlin sentimental crap. Sheesh.

OK, season finale is May 16th. Hopefully, the writers will get back to basics and retool for next season.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Everything Is Alright

I finally gave notice to that soul-sucking vortex of misery of a SmallLaw, and boy does it feel right. The turning point was a couple of weeks ago, when a friend of mine who was always the pragmatic "just go in, do your work and find yourself a new job because a paycheck is a paycheck" sort of person, finally said, "Marty, you need to quit that place." For the next several days, all the dreams I could remember were ones of me traveling somewhere, a beach or a new home. When that 90% of the brain you don't use is telling you to escape, what choice does the 10% that you do use have?

As soon as I gave notice, the new associate starting today came into the partner's office. I felt like breaking out into "Circle of Life" in my giddiness, but I kept it in check.

So I lose the girl and I lose the job, and though I still miss the girl, everything finally is fine.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Catch the Sun

So Marty Stark is going through a bit of a redo right now. The network executives think that Marty has been going through a bit of a rut lately, and lost sight of the original programming. The network executives have axed the potential new love interest (though I know if you read the rags, her agents will say it was mutual) and have told the writers to get him outta the law gig.