Petty complaints

mr. jolt travels occasionally to conferences and the like.  Aside from the logistical impact of getting the boys from one place to another and, of course, missing him, this is not usually a big deal.  A few years ago, however, he went to a conference in Berlin.  He was away for a week, and in that week we had a waterfall in the kitchen* and a spontaneously combusting mulch fire in the backyard right outside the living room.  Following these minor, but alarming events, I advised mr. jolt that he was never allowed to leave the country again (at least, not without us).

 Forward two years, and this week mr. jolt is in England at a conference, missing the boys first week of school (and LB’s first day of kindergarten).  So this morning, while  getting the boys breakfast before their first day of school,  I was startled, but not wholly surprised when the toaster caught on fire.**

 And today’s the first day he’s been gone.  It may be a loooonnngg week.


 * The outflow hose from the washer, located on the second floor, came loose spraying several inches worth of water all over the laundry room and thus through the kitchen below.

** I unplugged it, blew it out, and put the toaster outside on the patio.


I’ve decided I need to cultivate that unflappable cool demonstrated so ably by our current President. As I was remarking to a friend the other day, I am highly flappable, whereas it would be far more useful to be Unflappable.

I majorly embarrassed myself today by getting in a swearing fit with my computer (fixing auto-numbering in a legal document created by someone else that has been hodge-podged from about six other documents is a MAJOR pain in the ass). I realized I had been swearing loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the cubes adjoining mine. Now, if I had a REAL office, this would be less of an issue because presumably there would be real walls rather than cube walls that happen to reach the ceiling with little windows at the top. But I don’t have a real office, I’m in a cube with a door (oh, and a glass front).

But that said, I am old enough, aren’t I, to learn how to deal with inanimate objects that refuse to do what I am telling them to do?  How does one develop unflappability? I admire people who have it, but I’ve never figured out how to cultivate it.

My office is COLD.  It is always cold.  We have complained numerous times to the HVAC folks, to no avail.  Other floors in our building are comfortable, but we regularly have people in our office keeping their outdoor jackets on.  I keep both a cardigan and a fleece (in black, of course, for optimum coordination with suits or business casual attire).  This week has been particularly bad.  I am typing this wearing a fleece jacket and a gray fleece hat.  Yes, that’s right folks; I’ve been wearing my fuzzy grey fleece hat in the office.  Does wonders for my professional look.  But it does keep my head warm & helps the rest of me feel a bit warmer.  Now if only I could keep my fingers from turning numb while I type.


Space heaters are not permitted because of fire risk.  And they are a little touchy about fire risk in my organization because about ten years ago they actually had a fire and had to demolish the whole building and start over because the old building had asbestos that got loose during the fire and contaminated the whole building.


So, here we are in a supposedly modern building (built in 2000 or so), where we can’t open windows in the summertime (when it is also freezing), wearing so many layers that we all look like blobs as we sit and peck out letters on our remaining working fingers.


I need some of those gloves that have no fingertips.  I saw some at Target last weekend and almost got them, but they were in orange camo and it didn’t seem professional to be wearing orange camo in the office.


The weather next week is supposed to be colder.  Sigh.  At least in the summertime I can go outside at lunch and warm up for a while.  I sit like an iguana in the sun getting overheated so that I’ll stay warm through the afternoon.  Can’t do that in January.

So I got the flu shot on Tuesday morning.  And I ended up with hives.  Really, really itchy hives.

I’ve spent half my workdays surreptiously lowering my socks & raising my pant legs to scratch my lower legs and the other half with my arm up my sweater sleeve to scratch.  Thank goodness, so far, the hives are not on my face.  But they are pretty much everywhere else. 

I am NOT getting the flu shot next year.

scritch, scritch, whimper, whimper.

This is more a general business/social tip of the day, then legal, but it came up in the context of a legal lunch I was at the other day, so I’m counting it.

Anywho, the other day I went to this luncheon with about a half dozen ladies – we are all part of a mentoring group put together by this lawyer’s group I’m in.   This was our first meeting as a group.  I knew about half the people there when I got there, including one person that I knew of (she’s a judge) but who I knew would not know who I was, so I put out my hand and offered my name and the judge offered hers, which of course I already knew, but I said polite things and moved down the table, saying hello to a person I knew, introducing myself to another.

Anyway, I got to the last person that was there and not knowing who she was, again offered my hand and name, to which she said “Oh we’ve met.”

To which I stared at her for a moment thinking, ‘nice way to (a) make me feel guilty that I don’t remember you and (b) deny me the opportunity to know who the fuck you are because you haven’t simply said “hi, I’m X, you may remember me from such and such,” to which I would have said, had she said that, “oh yes of course, blah, blah.”‘

No, instead she simply said, “Oh, we’ve met.”  So after giving her a moment to add something, i.e., her NAME, I said, “I’m so sorry, I’m terrible with names, could you tell me your name.”  Which she did, but since I was so irritated I promptly forgot it.

What made the whole situation even more amusing is that later the judge, who was running the lunch meeting, was running through the list of attendees to figure out who was/wasn’t there to see if we should wait before ordering lunch.  Well, each person was id’d on her list by first initial and last name, and the judge paused because she had forgotten this woman’s first name and she looked at me and I had to give her a “sorry” look because I couldn’t remember even though it had been given to me not ten minutes earlier.  Fortunately, the judge then suggested we all go round the table, introduce ourselves, talk about where we worked, etc.  So we both now know this young woman’s name.

The woman who left me hanging on the introduction is young, one year out of law school so maybe she hasn’t dealt with a lot of business-y situations where you are seeing people you haven’t seen in a while, but the tip of the day is, if someone offers their name to you, offer yours, because they may have just saved your ass because you’d forgotten theirs so do them the courtesy of the return.

Oh, and it turned out that the place we had met was at a big party the legal group had thrown nine months earlier – she was someone’s date and apparently we had briefly sat at the same table.  Is she effing kidding me?  I mean, I know I’m charismatic as hell when I’ve had a few drinks in me (hence her apparently vivid memory of me, hahaha) but did she honestly expect me to remember her from a 15 minute conversation at a party where I’d probably already had 3 glasses of wine.  Oy.

While typing this, I’m wondering if this is yet another example of the weird insularness of the locals in this area.  mr. jolt and I have noticed, and our fellow expats have too, that too many times to mention we’ve met someone and said, “hi I’m jolt” or “hi I’m mr. jolt” and the local person says “nice to meet you.”  And they stop speaking and don’t offer their name.  And this is when you have just seen them for the first time.   Seriously, it is the weirdest thing, like they are part of some untouched tribe who thinks that if they simply offer their name they’ve given you power over them or something.  So all the time, we have to ask, “I’m sorry, what’s your name,” which is silly enough when you’ve met them and forgotten their name, but REALLY stupid if you’ve never met them before and thus have no reason to know who the hell they are.  Which half makes me wonder if this chickadee had ever in fact told me her name in the first  place.

So I live in a place that is one of the sudden foci (focuses) of the never-ending Democratic primary.  I don’t watch a lot of tv, and what I do, I tivo.  Most of my radio is NPR.  As a result, my exposure to what I assumed would be a mass influx of political ads has been relatively small.

I commented on this to mr. jolt this morning and two seconds later an ad came on the radio as we were getting ready for the day, with the promising lead in, “I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message.”  I got all excited, waiting for some oratory or something interesting (wow! I matter at last! Someone other than a siding or wireless salesman wants my attention!).

I was disappointed (ok, pissed) when the ad went on to ask/tell listeners (I’m paraphrasing) “Are you independent or Republican?  You can still register as Democrat if you would like to vote in the upcoming primary. . . .”

I have to confess my fee-fees are hurt.  Months ago, I assumed that, once again, I would have no impact on the primary and that whatever my preferences wouldn’t matter to a hill a beans.  Then when it looked like I’d have a voice I got all excited – and now I’m deflated.  Ever had the experience of seeing someone wave across the room and you recognize them and wave back excitedly and then realize they aren’t waving or looking at you? And you sheepishly join the other wallflowers?  That’s what if felt like.

Sigh.  I’m sure different ads are playing in the urban areas where there are more registered Democrats and admittedly, around here Repubs and indies predominate, but please, I’m begging both campaigns, show those of us who are still gritting their teeth at the W stickers our neighbors put on their cars four years ago some love.  We’ve been outnumbered around here for a long time, but we’re still faithful.  Just a little love? Please?

So mr. jolt swanned off today to teach his class where he’s a visiting professor; as usual he’ll stay over to teach and go to the classes he’s taking tomorrow before gallivanting off to warmer climes for a conference, leaving me with the children for 5 days.  Tonight, however, I had a professional/social meeting so I arranged the sitter.  I arrive at home at 10, thinking, hmm, maybe I can just go to bed!

Then I remembered, oh, I need to make a lunch for LB.

Then I remembered, oh, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Then I remembered, oh fffffffft, we never did cards.  So I do cards for LB’s class, hoping I can get BB to write his own classmates’ names in the morning (if not, it will take me 5 minutes).

Then I remembered, oh FFFFFFT, I never had mr. jolt sign us up to bring stuff for either class party.  Double ffffft!!  I can’t run out to the store because the kids are asleep and it’s just me.  Quick! Open the pantry- what can be there?

Let’s just hope that the kids like “butterscotch drop cookies” (found on the side of a box of cake mix, with a convenient bag of butterscotch chips perched above) with pink, purple, and red sugar on top.   I’ll let you know.

Update 1: I burned the first batch b/c I didn’t set the timer right.  This is what happens when you try to bake after a couple of beers.  Triple FFFFT!!

Update 2: Hmm, not bad.  Not as good as chocolate chip, but not bad.  Because I burned the first batch I only have enough cookies for one of the classes, so I ran downstairs to where I stash all the leftover party favors. Score!  I’ve got enough animal stencils for BB’s class and LB’s class gets the cookies.  Lesson: never throw out extra party favors – they will save your ass some cold night in February when you can’t run out to the store for cookies.

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