Exact Approximations

Monday, February 28, 2005

Pricing a Pet's Life and Other Moral Considerations

This weekend, I experienced the life-changing emotional rollercoaster better known as the Emergency Visit to the Veterinarian. Apparently, these visits can be costly. Unless your pet needs only shots or a one-way ticket to barrenville, you find yourself faced with the inevitable moral question: do I pay for this or put the animal down?

My cat started rollin' around with a ghetto stroll late last week. He put no weight at all on his left front leg and was hopping around very sadly. I called the vet, and they had me bring him in. Initially, my kitty was too freaked out (read: pissed off and ready to scratch) to get thoroughly looked at, so I had to leave him there overnight, to get put under anesthesia and x-rayed. Before we knew what the problem was, the vet and I discussed worst case scenario. Apparently, worst case scenario was about $2500 for a fracture requiring surgery. I gasped at this estimate. I don't have $2500. Like, at all. I had gone to the vet prepared to dish out up to $700 - the amount I have left in my budget after rent and using all available free space on my credit cards. Of course, I knew that if it came down to it, I would probably ask around and try to borrow the money from anyone I could...

On the surface, this may seem nice and the good pet owner thing to do. However, my motivations were not at all centered on caring about the well-being of my cat. Frankly, my cat pisses me off, he is snobby and lazy. He will wake me at 3 in the morning if his water hasn't been changed in the past six hours. I find him to have the worst traits of males and females: he is too proud, too winy, too dramatic, too self-centered. On the whole, he's a little bitch and I would have been glad to have lost him in the divorce. The thing is, my daughter loves this cat - and she would have been devastated if I told her we would have to get him put down. Furthermore, she senses that I am not too fond of him, and would have thought I couldn't care that he was put to sleep. Fact is, she's kinda right, I couldn't have cared too much if he got put to sleep, except the resulting belief my daughter would have that I was a cruel cat killer. And so, he was going to live, even if this required amputating the leg and renaming him Tripod.

But I knew, just knew, that if it weren't for my concerns for my daughter, I would have rather had the cat put down than spend $2500 on him. How awful is that? Is it ok because, relatively speaking, the cost would constitute 150% of my available finances? In those numbers, it sounds reasonable... Does it mean that I am an irresponsible pet owner for not having kitty health insurance? For getting a pet I couldn't afford pricey surgeries for?

I used to believe I had a strong, set system of morals. Apparently, my moral hierarchy is more fluid and situational than I thought. Ironic because that was one of my largest complaints with my ex-husband. If my daughter needed a $250,000 surgery, I would rob old women and make a deal with the devil, or even George Bush. Nothing short of my own death would be capable of deterring me. I would probably go about a quarter of those lengths if the lives of my brothers or sister were in question. I would probably put a dollar in a bucket at the grocery store to fund some nearly-dead three year old's bone marrow transplant. If a spider were limping like my cat, I would run and tell my daughter to get her bug vacuum so she could make observations with her magnifying glass before putting it out of its insectual misery. Is it wrong to make such distinctions in the value of life, based on my own personal emotional and physical relationships to the person/animal/noun involved? Does it speak negatively to my character that the value I placed on my cat's life was wholly relative to the sadness his death would cause my daughter?

I don't have the answers, but, wow, what an eye-opener.

In hindsight, I have the freedom to speak about these things honestly. Turns out the cat is fine, he probably sprung something or has some type of muscular injury. He's on pain meds, anti-inflammatories and house arrest. No big deal, he's just a cry ass. If he were in need of a 10k surgery I couldn't afford, and had to be put down, I would probably engage in some type of cognitive dissonance, convincing myself it was the only decision and not at all something to speak to my character. That would have been self-preserving bullshit, just another example of my own relativity.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

You know your friend has been in law school for too long when...

You note to her in passing that you recently got served, and she immediately assumes you are involved in a lawsuit.

Cheese and rice, now she's the total dork.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Die Already.

So the Pope is back in the hospital. The Pope represents the last major symbol of a religion I was surrounded by in my youth. He was a figure that was larger than life, spectacular and Godly. Now he just seems like a feeble old man and I'm aching to get him out of here. Take some of my remaining groundless guilt with you my friend. I hope you feel peace as you take your last Pope-mobile trip up to meet the Big Guy. Maybe that bullet-proof material will make the atmosphere changes more bearable. Let's hope you get in buddy. Think maybe God is a little pissed about this whole "Abortion = Holocaust" thing? Suppose the Catholics got it wrong, and you’ve been propagating this shit as your life’s purpose…? Risky man. Risky. I respect risk-takers though, oh Pontiff, so I hope it works out for you. It’s just, you know, I realize you’re old and practically walking around dead already, but you sure have been sick a lot in the face of publishing your new book… Just sayin…

Everyone on my father's side of the family is Catholic. They live in a really small Midwestern town, go to church regularly, shop at Wal-Mart and seemingly believe that wasting a few hours a week at a mass earns them a license to not care about what happens in the rest of the world. Major life events always involved the church and loony Father Ted. If you needed to be born, baptized, confessing, married or dead - Father Ted was your man. In hindsight of the molestation controversies, I wonder if he was anyone else’s man… He always was a little off, but the whole parish just assumed he was an alcoholic.

After my father's body was blessed by Father Ted and buried when I was 13, I largely abandoned religion. I will never forget the day I sat on the edge of the ocean and begged God to strike me down at that very instant. I screamed that I would rather have a moment of belief and knowledge of something bigger, than to live a long life of skepticism and lack of faith. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. I mean, when you challenge God to strike you down, he really should. At least every once in awhile, in a well-publicized way, just for good, keep-em-in-line measure. Didn’t he used to show up all the time? Man, what were the people doing that century that made them so worthy of God visits…? Anyhow, I stood up and walked away, feeling a lightness quite unlike any I had known prior. When I retell this story to others, the response is always “Of course God wouldn’t strike you down… faith and blah blah blah.” The point was that I had finally gathered the courage to confront God, and could tell him to take his non-existence to some other planet and ruin their ability to have a reasonable, peaceful society.

Since then, the freedom from the schizophrenic notion of an overseeing wrathful God has been great. My victimless sins are some of the best times of my life. But, at times, I still randomly feel guilty about stuff I am in no way responsible for, like running over the tail of an already dead road-kill squirrel. I always tell myself "come on, he's already dead," but no avail. Hi - My name is Lex, and I'm a Recovering Catholic. Like Hunter Thompson (r.i.p.) had The Fear, I suffer from The Guilt. So, die already, Pope, and take it all with you.

Another Crazy Dream

via last night's Stage 5 REM:

I wake up, early in the morning, and walk into the living rooom. Same as every day. Heading to the kitchen, I notice a small pool of water gathering at the foot of my front door. Slight annoyance. I bend down and squish the carpet with my index finger, a little frustrated that my carpet is soaking wet. How did that happen? Wait... the carpet is getting wetter and wetter. I look at the crack between the floor and the front door and notice a stream, pushing it's way through. At this second, I realize there is a huge force of powerful water behind that door. And I know, just know, that if I open it, water will flood in and destroy everything.

Then, I woke up.

Monday, February 21, 2005

You know you've been in law school for too long when...

You swear you overhear "I want to know more about case law" in a commercial that interupts a VH1 pop culture show. Of course, this grabs your attention in the sick, addictive way that hearing legal terms outside of law school always catches your attention.

Once I focused on the commercial, I realized it was for beer. What they had actually said was "I want to know more about taste loss."

Cheese and rice. This makes me feel like a total dork.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Last Night's Dreams

Last night, I had a couple of weird dreams. The first was that I was on the show Survivor and somehow managed to sleep, on night two, at the crew's camp. Needless to say my tribe was pissed. Had I kept up with that dream, I probably would have been the first one voted off. But, I would also have some pretty sweet dirt on the production crew, which I would have sold to the first Survivor fan group willing to huck up a few dollars.

More importantly was Dream #2. I dreamt I was old, on my deathbed. I know I was old because I saw my hands; they were wrinkled and shrunken and, well, old. On the plus side, I had all my fingers, so at least in my dream my clumsiness hadn't cost me any body parts (well, not arm-related anyhow, that's all I saw). I must have been sick. Or really old. Either way I knew I was about to die. I was ok with it mostly, I wasn't panicky or wishing I weren't about to die... Furthermore, I hadn't "found" religion all of the sudden (I always wonder whether my atheism would wane if faced with death, that seems to happen a lot). I had wonderful, peaceful thoughts about my daughter, so I assume that in my dream life I hadn't messed her up too much, she had grown up well and made me proud. This was all quite peaceful save one little detail...

I had recurring thoughts of a man. A man I love with great depth and intensity. There was regret, and I distinctly remember wishing we had worked things out, that I had spent the rest of my life trying to find happiness like I had in that relationship... He was the greatest romantic love of my life and I had walked away.

I'm not sure what to make of the dream. I don't know if this is temporary loneliness, romantic remembrances or what... it's beyond me at this point. Freaky though.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Welcome to Parenthood, You've Been Served.

Walking my daughter and her friend home from school today, we saw another girl their age playing on the sidewalk. After we passed, my daughter's friend asked why the girl no longer went to their schoool. My daughter informed her that the girl was home-schooled. When her friend asked why, my daughter honestly responded that the girl had problems with bullies. Immediately I turned my head, telling my daughter not to gossip.

"But, Mom, she told me so herself, I'm not starting rumors. And, I told you, and you weren't upset then. So isn't it kind of the same thing? What's the difference?"

Hm. That was true. I pondered this for a moment, uncertain whether there was a difference, and whether this constituted gossiping. Was it my daughter's business to tell anyone else? Was it gossiping when she told me? Was I fostering negative perceptions of home-schooled girl by being so defensive? At a loss, I told her I didn't want to talk about it anymore right then.

"That's because you just got served."


I got served.

By an 8 year old.

Monday, February 14, 2005

In All Seriousness. Seriously.

So I go to law school at a large public university that also has tens of thousands of undergrads. I went to the University Health Center today for a check-up, and requested a full STD screening. Not that I have any reason to believe I may have contracted a STD, but it seemed like a good post-marriage thing to do. A relationship exit-interview if you will.

Anyhow, much to my surprise, the University Health Center no longer offers HIV tests. That's right, frat-central, college-curious, birth-control offering Health Center does not "offer" HIV testing. Instead, interested students are referred to one of two public health clinics, both of which are somewhat distant from the University itself. Furthermore, these public health clinics have noticeable homeless populations hanging around at all times in an area that some may not want to visit. This doesn't bother me, personally. I know homeless folks, and have spent lots of time in places that people wouldn't want to visit. But, I think we have to be realistic in noting that this could deter some students from getting tested.

It's bullshit, and it pissed me off, and I said so. I doubt things will change, but I'll email someone too, just in case. I think it's just terrible.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Top Ten Random Sunday Night Thoughts

10. I have a paper due Wednesday... a "Thought Piece." I haven't even decided what I think about that yet. Wait, maybe I think that "Thought Pieces" are cake and I need not think about it again until Tuesday, 8:30p.m.

9. San Francisco recently celebrated the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom ordering the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One afternoon last spring, I went to City Hall and watched some ceremonies. Beautiful. There was acceptance, equality, recognition of the importance of it all. You could feel it. Breathe it. That day I realized there can never be equality in domestic partnerships, civil unions, or whatever separate but equal term anyone wants to use. It's a civil rights issue and it needs to be addressed.

8. It's bullshit that I have to pay almost $400 to have the State Bar decide whether my moral character is suitable to lawyering. I mean, come on. If I did something illegal, and got caught - I paid my price, did my time. I still got through college and law school. If I didn't get caught, well, you didn't catch me. I got away with it. You lose; I win. No second chances.*

7. Speaking of meeting moral requirements, I have to take the MPRE in March (some exam I have to pass, but at least this is applying "ethical" rules of lawyering, not judging me in particular, as in #8). Anyhow, the Bar Review course I am paying a grip of money to has yet to send me a book or anything for this... I barely passed my professional responsibility course. I need to call about this stat.

6. Apparently, Ray Charles is the coolest dead guy ever. Consider me schooled.

5. My sister got her lip pierced. She's 18 and on a mission to prove it. I would normally find this kinda neat, but she defended it to her parents as something she just wants to do "while she's young" and "not starting her career" or "getting serious." She basically agreed with them that it was lame but justified it with her youth. I dunno, maybe this was serious insight on her part, but it struck me as a stupid concession in the argument. I thought she should stand by her independence and put the smack down She is not nearly as bullheaded as I was at 18.

4. I am stoked Zach Braff got a Grammy for the Garden State soundtrack. I was disappointed he didn't get an Oscar nod for the screenplay, but at least the music is getting love. Some of the best of the best on the soundtrack: "Let Go" Frou Frou; "Only Living Boy in New York" Simon & Garfunkel; "New Slang" The Shins; "Fair" Remy Zero.

3. Oral sex with pop-rocks is largely overrated.

2.My best Rubik's Cube time is 4 minutes, 32 seconds. I had a good starting set-up though. Mean time is more like 8.

And the number one random thought on a Sunday night...

Desperate Housewives is shamefully awesome!!! Zach is Dana and Mike is his/their dad. Just my prediction.

*This in no way means that I would ever, ever consider withholding such information from any committee of bar examiners. I'll abide by your wack process honestly, with forthright humiliation and fear.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"What Would They Call it if You Ran the World?"

That's a toughie, and I'm not quite sure what the answer would be if I took the question seriously. Since time constraints were involved, I opted for an attempt at humor:

"A benevolent matriarchal dictatorship. Only I would take the dick out of dictatorship."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Post-Graduation Employment of a Rubik's Cube Superstar

I finally beat my Rubik's Cube today. I had to resort to detailed online instructions before I came to understand the complexities involved. I can now manipulate the crap out of it and make it look brand-spanking new in under 10 minutes. BooYah. I should have been reading up on the 100+ pages of reading my overzealous professor assigns every week for my Sex-Based Discrimination class, but, I'm a third year law student. So whatever. Besides, the only party trick I currently know is how to make an origami dog. Now I can beat a Rubik's Cube. The only problem I foresee is that cubes don't seem to be laying around like they used to. I remember when I was a kid, every one of my friends had a messed up, incorrectly oriented Rubik's Cube. Usually, these ended up in our toy inventory only after our cokehead 80's parents gave up and tossed them in our rooom. This reduction in the availability of cubes threatens the probabitility that I will ever be able to show off my new party trick, but hope springs eternal.

I got a phone call from a fellow classmate a few days ago. She is super freaked out about not having a job secured for after the summerlong revival of purgatory known as Barbri. I'm in the same boat, having decided on a very limited spectrum of jobs I would be willing to take. Basically, I've eliminated most firms that actually put effort into getting law students to work for them. I'm left charting my own course, which is theoretically cool, but in practice my course is somewhat stagnant. The biggest problem I see is that part of me doesn't want to have a job secured yet. First of all, I have always, always hated the way you have to do everything 6-9 months ahead of time during the course of your legal education. Why we looked for 2L summer jobs in September of the year before was just beyond me. I said in a few OCI interviews that I was extremely interested in the firm, excited about the work and absolutely certain that I would be bigger, better and cooler by the time we actually got this WestLaw and wine-tasting party started. I dropped that line in at least one interview which resulted in a callback. No offer though.

Anyhow, that diatribe aside, there is a much more important reason why I am not so stoked about finding a post-graduation job. Once I finish school, and start Job X, that's it. No more being unsure where I'll be in a year, no more getting through a crappy job by remembering the temporary nature of it all... no more. All gone. My life is all unknown youthful opportunity right now, and I have to trade that in soon for a career. I would prefer not to work, but I've received a great deal of correspondence from the folks over at Direct Loans, just to remind me that the government owns my soul. My soul apparently goes for about $150k.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Pygmy: Disability or South American Tribal People?

I've never taken my formal education very seriously. I skip a lot of reading, ditch a lot of classes and quickly forget crammed details. Resultingly, my information base is limited. An example is found in this recent conversation with my soon to be ex-husband:

"Pygmies. Aren't they, you know, Amazon people?" We had been drinking, and he said it while laughing, but it was a serious question.

"Amazon people?" I wondered what exactly it means to be an Amazon person. Thought about all the tall, thick girls I'd ever referred to as Amazon Woman. This made me feel wrong, and I decided I shouldn't label Amazon Women anymore. If I were having this conversation with anyone else, I would be freaked out thinking I would say something wrong and getting myself protested. But, since it was him, I welcomed the opportunity to get things straight and prevent future offensive pygmy mistakes. Might as well get all of the inappropriate questions and politically incorrect assumptions out of the way, he's divorcing my ass anyhow.

"Yeah, pygmies, you know, from that Amazon tribe. Right?"

"That Amazon tribe? Isn't pigmy just a name for short people, the kind that's always portrayed as slaves in movies? 'Hey pygmy, engage in some sort of cliche tribal duty, climb a tree or something.' Like that! It's a disability, not a tribal affiliation. Can't you picture that one movie in your head, with the pygmy running around with a purse tied around his waist? Fuck, what was the name of that movie..." Lost in my own head, I knew I'd seen that in a movie. It wasn't The Gods Must Be Crazy...

"A fanny pack? You're seriously clowning on me? Based on some nameless movie about tribal people wearing fanny packs? I don't think that counts. And since when is shortness a disability?" He's a little on the short-side himself, so it's a touchy subject. I conceded.

"Damn, that's true. I can't believe we're taking this all so lightly. Watch what you say at work, you wouldn't want that short woman to get offended when you talk about pygmies. Say it twice and you've created yourself a hostile work environment. Grab her ass again and you're going down the yellow brick road to sexual harassmentville."

"You say it twice, and what about that guy you worked with last summer whose ass you were always checking out, who felt your breasts when you 'accidently' bumped into him in the elevator!? Twice!?! Now who is going to get sued for sexual harassment?" He had managed to bring up old stuff, and was just plain taunting me. Weakly.

"Psht. I'm not gonna get sued for a sexual harassment, I'm a girl." It's a legal angle I am not so happy about, but I was willing to capitalize on gender inequality if it meant winning an argument with him. Besides, I hoped he would call me out on it. He didn't. My post-Amazon Woman realization guilt came back and I felt the need to begin a long conversation about gender stereotypes and the law. But, like I said, we had been drinking. I settled for something simple. "You're a moron."

"Whatever. You're a pygmy, the Amazon kind."

"Whatever. You're a pygmy, the disabled kind."

For anyone willing to bank on the results of my 5-minute google-fu: Pygmy is a term primarily associated with
shortness. Furthermore, while pygmy is used to describe people from equatorial regions, it is not limited to South American folk. Also, there are lots of pygmy animals.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

First Post and Signs from The Clapper

It was New Year's Eve and I was reading a blog. Drunk with a silly streamer from my "Welcome 2005" party glasses tickling my eye. During this moment of absolute clarity I decided "Hey, I should blog. I would totally rock." Next day I realized I shouldn't, and wouldn't.

I sometimes bring myself down after recognizing how awesome I am. Starting a blog now might be perceived as somewhat lame; I might not be old school enough. I'm not sure about the blogging culture, or how *it* feels about newbies... Maybe I'll be taken in with open arms like a mentally handicapped amputee in fourth grade. On the other hand, I may be rejected like... well, like a mentally handicapped amputee in fourth grade. You just never know which way these things will go. Please everyone, milk my ever present female vanity and accept me.

I made the final decision today after receiving a sign from The Clapper. That's right folks, The Clapper. I bought one a couple of months ago, for my bedroom. I have the oldest, most archaic television set and my universal remote won't turn it off. It also won't adjust the volume, but that's something else entirely. Anyhow, late one night I was watching tv (had no choice really, it was either that or stand up and turn it off) and I heard the "clap on, clap off" jingle. It worked, stuck in my head, and I was at the drug store first thing in the morning asking the temporary-holiday employee where The Clapper was. Oh yeah, and those white sars-masks that were "so last year." And Andes Mints. He looked at me like I was joking, so I told him it was a gag gift for a friend. I'm certain his opinion of me instantly transformed from loathing an annoying customer to crushing on my eccentric cuteness. That guy totally wants me. I can tell every time I go in and he pretends to not recognize me.

So I was laying in bed this morning listening to local news. There was some silly Lifestyle Segment on, which I am fairly certain simply means they had to rely on stock fluff material since the Pope didn't die last night and they have to hold off on the Catholic interviewees. They were talking about people blogging the Iraqi elections, which turned into a larger blog discussion, which turned into a large, large woman using her outside voice to explain why blogs are the way of the future. Large lady believes blogs will become an increasing source of information and that everyone should jump around the blogosphere and see what's out there. Maybe even start your own. She then laughed loud. Real loud. Loud enough for my clapper to turn my t.v. off. I took it as a sign and here I am. I'm not superstitious though.

So the idea is to have a place to ramble, mostly about my life. Not even necessarily how my life actually is, as much as about how I would like it to be. Those moments where I wish I had done things differently, said something a little slicker, done my make up a little better or walked away when they waived all that cash in my face. Things like that.

All abored.