Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Other Duties As Required

I don't write a lot about work these days.  Mostly because work is uneventful, and not a whole lot happens in a small law firm to really justify the use of precious blog space.  (I mean, these inches are not cheap, people.  Why, just last year, they had to double my salary to keep me from leaving for Wordpress.)  But the last few weeks have been, at least, interesting.  We moved the office. Yep, from one place to another place (two doors down.)  In case you've never done this, moving an office is at least as much fun as moving a house.  Maybe even more fun. No, you don't have kids running around playing in boxes (well, yes you do actually; remind me to get back to that) but you do have certain grown-ups acting like kids, in the whiny, grumpy sort of way that so endears me to kids on airplanes.

(Which, when you think about it, isn't really their fault.  I mean, they're kids.  Somebody has to bring them there, put them on the airplane, mess up their schedules, keep them awake through naptime and tell them they can't play with all the new things that keep coming into their tiny frames of reference as they go from check-in to boarding gate to actual airplane.  If I were three years old, I'd start howling too.  And you see a lot of much older kids howling on airplanes.  55-year-old men, sometimes.  Flight attendants should get a big raise.)

Anyway, there were a large number of files that needed to be disposed of before we could leave.  Like, a really large number of files.  We called a shredding service and they came and hauled away (get this) 360 boxes of old files.  That is a Lot. Of. Files.  Some of them dated to the mid-1980s.  I don't think I can actually conceive of how many boxes that is, but let's just say they filled up an entire room.  That room is empty now, which is pretty cool.  I don't think the carpet's seen daylight since, well, sometime in the mid 1990s at least.

Our neighbor attorney was also cleaning out his office (the whole building was sold, so everybody had to go). His family came to help him out and one of his kids promptly disappeared into a box.  I never saw the kid again, but this box kept walking around and bumping into things.  A laugh and a little bit of levity that were very much welcome as the air conditioner failed, the heat climbed into the 90s and somebody asked me for about the fifth time was I sure I wanted to do such and such.

(And best of all, I never saw a single silverfish. I. Really. Hate. Silverfish.)

We're in the new space now and it's time to unpack it all.  Well, what's left of it. (360 boxes into the shredder, remember?)  I've locked myself out twice, gotten in trouble for leaving an office chair outside once (we were moving, okay? Sheesh) and had to talk my boss out of firing one of the helpers three times.  A coffee table disappeared, never to be seen again; stuff got left behind and had to be fetched; a big ugly dust mouse (more like a rhino, actually) formed around a Milk-Dud and made its way into one of the boxes, from which it promptly fell into my lap.  So I'm pretty tired, and I'm pretty stiff and sore, and I'm pretty much ready to be done with the whole thing. But, I got a new office chair out of the deal, I got myself a cushion so it's much more cozy, and it's possible the sore muscle in my hip will finally start to heal now that I'm not running up and down the stairs every five minutes.

But dang, those stairs were good for my knees. On some level I will really miss them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hijabs and Head Trips

I have a fascination for all things Islamic.  The art, the music, the food, the stories--all completely awesome.  I wonder if I wasn't a Muslim in a former life, because seriously, if I had nothing else to do and there was nothing good on television, I'd find some people who speak Arabic and just follow them around all day, listening to them talk.  (I might add, this wouldn't work in real life. I'm kinda obvious, and I'm sure they'd get tired of being followed around by this weird fat white chick.  But not until they'd said inshallah quite a few times.)

 I'fact, if not for the whole religion business, I think I'd have made a good Muslim.  (Again, religion; no matter how small it is, it's too big for me to swallow.)  Certainly the wardrobe wouldn't have been a problem.  If I could get away with it, I'd dress like a Muslim woman now.  (I don't think I can get away with it.  I mean I'd be the worst kind of poseur, wouldn't I?  Not to mention insulting to real Muslim women.)  But I do wear loose pants and long shirts, and I've been known to put on a hijab, especially in winter when it's cold (those little guys are great for staying warm.)  I'm extremely fond of Muslim fashion.

$2,575. Yes, really.
Oh, so you don't think there's such a thing as Muslim fashion?  Boy, are you in for a surprise.  Check out these evening gowns by designer Nzinga Knight.  I can't afford to even look at most of them, so you'll pardon me if I avert my eyes, but isn't this blue number something:

And if you don't have $2,500 to spend on an evening out, you can also check out these items from

Aren't they fabulous? I'm giving serious thought to ordering that denim dress, which is not only concealing but also has POCKETS.  What fool decided women's clothing doesn't need pockets?  He (I assume it was a he) needs to be taken out and shot.  Imagine men's pants with no pockets.  There'd be an outcry.  No one would buy them.  The designer would be shaken awake in the middle of the night by an outraged Tim Gunn, who would demand to know what on earth the guy was thinking.  And in his sleepy, half-awake state, the guy would probably say something like, "Aren't you Tim Gunn?"

 So why for Muslim fashion, you are probably wondering.  Well, I think I can answer that in a word: Security.  I have this bathing suit, see, which looks a lot like this one here.  Until I found the aquatard, it was my suit of choice for swimming outside.  Not because Buddhists are supposed to cover up in the water, but because of the darn sunlight.  I sunburn very easily, you see.  What's more, I seem to be mildly allergic to sunscreen, or the waterproofing ingredient in sunscreen, anyway.  So the less of the stuff I have to put on, the less cortisone I have to slather myself with once I get home.  Both the sunscreens I can use and cortisone are kind of pricey, so it was a cost/benefit analysis.

Plenty of people stared at me in my blue full-length swimsuit.  Well, you could hardly blame them. I looked like a refugee from the Smurf Village.  But--and here's the important thing--they weren't really staring at me.  They were staring at the suit. They couldn't stare at be because they couldn't find me.  I was in there somewhere--something had to be animating the Smurf suit--but I was, for the most part, invisible.  And as someone who's had a large number of males make eye contact with her third button for most of her life, being invisible was pretty awesome.

My friends who practice magic have told me that it's impossible to truly be invisible.  It has something to do with bending light which can't be done because of the way light passes through a void, or something. Being hard to see, though, is not only possible but easy.  It's simply a trick of convincing other persons that you are unimportant.  Something they can overlook because it's not something to waste a lot of energy noticing, like a potted plant in the room.  Do this just right and there is no door marked "Employees Only" through which you cannot sneak.  The only people who will see you are those who are actively looking for you, and even they might overlook you because you just don't register as important on their radar.

So try wearing a hijab and an abaya.  Poof, you've disappeared.  Well, no, you haven't.  Again, a lot of people will stare at you, but again they're staring at what you're wearing, not who you are.  And they won't notice your big breasts or your fat stomach or that weird thing your knees do because all that stuff is covered up.  Security, I tell you.  Safe as houses.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Final Report, and Highly Educated Ghosts

July Swim for Distance Final Report: 30,525 meters (19 miles) 
Charities Benefiting: Mercy for Animals, Detroit Water Brigade and whatever my mom picked

(Yeah, I changed charities midstream. Normally I wouldn't do that, but do you guys know what's going on in Detroit? I mean, it's unbelievable.  And while some 17,000 families and small businesses are now without water, the city hasn't even tried collecting from its larger corporate customers, like the city golf courses and other businesses, who in some cases owe millions.  This is a human-rights violation and the exact polar opposite of how a city is supposed to treat its own citizens. Why is this even happening in America, in our time?) 

Okay, I've come to the end of Swim for Distance month, and my distance was a respectable 19 miles.  I was shooting for 21, but that would have required everything to fall exactly into place in an ever so perfect way, and life is just never that uncomplicated.  If you've been following me to see how much you need to send to charity, plunk that $19 in an envelope and send it.  You can also figure it by the meter (30,525; maybe a penny a meter?  A penny for ten meters?) or the kilometer (30.5) if you want.  Thank you, your charities thank you too, and we'll do it again next year barring alien abductions or other unforeseen catastrophes.  

(And this is interesting:  Every time I get out of the pool at the end of a session, I have this brief moment of sadness that it'll be another 24 hours, or sometimes 48, before I get to jump back in again.  File that under "You know you're a swimmer when...")

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I saw a guy this morning who was wearing a pro-UT, anti-A and M t-shirt this morning and realized that I can add yet another thing to the long list of things I don't understand:  School spirit.  Okay, I understand that it's got something to do with raising children to be patriots, and the way you get them proud of their country is to make 'em proud of something smaller first so they'll grow up to be little rah-rah flag waving drones, but I don't get why anybody over the age of eight actually buys it.  I mean, there are millions of schools out there.  How in hell can yours be the best?  

Actually, let's back up a second.  I get the whole "My school is awesome!" thing.  My high school, for example, was pretty awesome.  What I don't get is the "My school is awesome and yours sucks!" thing.  I mean, there's no logical basis behind it.  Is there?  If you don't go to a school, how can you know if it sucks or not?  I know of which I speak. I went to Arizona State. Arizona State and the U of A have this rivalry thing that's, well, pretty epic.  And I won't bore you with all the stupid examples I saw during my 4 1/2 year sentence, but there were lots, okay?  And maybe I was just tired and cranky a lot (and I was; and not medicated, either), but I was always "For Christ's sake, can't we talk about something else?" whenever it came up. Because, honestly, I didn't much care who won the game of the week or got rated higher on the Playboy party schools list.  

I'fact, I got to wondering if the school spirit thing is the beginning of our culture's We vs. They.  I know, I talk about this a lot, but hey, I'm a Buddhist.  You wanna celebrate in-grouping, go find another blog.  I'm of the opinion that We vs. They is the cause of most, if not all, of humanity's problems, and if more people would figure out there is no They, it's all We, then maybe we could start solving some of them.  Let's face it, it's hard to solve problems when you're busy sorting people out into little boxes .  If They, for example, are Communists or terrorists or Aggies, then They are different from We and They can be discriminated against, shut out, killed or otherwise inc0nvenienced.  We can treat Them that way because They are not We.  The trouble is, when We single out a They and then treat Them badly, We are setting ourselves up for They to do the same thing to We.  Which inevitably leads to retaliation and another round of justifications for why They are not We and I could go on and on about this, but I'll stop now.  

In closing, an apocryphal tale:  I was at the university bookstore one evening near the end of my sentence.  A bunch of Josten's class ring people were in front of the store, passing out flyers and harassing passersby generally.  I watched one of the Josten's people come up to a weary-looking guy who was leaving the bookstore, having doubtless left all his money behind on the counter for the single book he was carrying.  Thereupon an exchange began, in which he apparently told her he was not interested and she would not take no for an answer.  At some point, she said something like, "But sir! Wouldn't you be interested in shiny chip of glass-like material that costs more than the down payment for a house to fondly remind you of your years at Arizona State?"  The guy looked at her and said, "Lady, I wanna forget I ever heard of this place."  

Now that's school spirit. Rah rah.