Sunday, January 30, 2005

It's the goddamn weekend.

Hello to all. It's Sunday afternoon. My husband is in his office working. I am in the dining room (a nook, really- really just a big table near the apartment's entrance, but we're pleased to refer to it as a "room") supposedly working, but I'm not. My husband's job seems ever so much more interesting than mine. He's currently on the phone with two young directors convincing them to be happy about the unbelievable amount of money they're about to start making.
"Seriously. Guys. No one has made this kind of money in [subset of entertainment industry] in 10 years.... I know you wanted more but c'mon. You're 33. ... Guys. Seriously."
Greedy bastards.
I am obsessed with my new teapot. I am also obsessed with the wide variety of loose teas available at Whole Foods. I am also obsessed with Whole Foods. Indeed. I have, as I am fond of saying, and not without some self-deprecation, the heart of a socialist, but the taste of a capitalist. I astound myself anew with the accuracy of that statement.

This morning we watched Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky." Magnificent. Beautiful. I can't wait to get it for my kids. Not that I have kids yet, but this is the kind of stuff I want to raise them on, you know? Not the preachy black-and-white morality of disney movies.

Check this out. This guy is a friend of ours, and every bit as talented and funny and intelligent as the article suggests.

That's really all I have to say to you. Enjoy your Sundays.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Poetry Day

Poetry! Bam!

Wislawa Szymborska
Yeats 1
Yeats 2
Pablo Neruda
e. e. cummings
Alan Ginsburg (sorry about the pop-ups, only version of this I could find)
Diane di Prima (this is a long one) (sorry, more pop-ups)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Iran in the news update.

Because my personal blog is the heart and soul of journalistic integrity, I need to amend my earlier ranting about how no one ever reads the New Yorker except pinko lefties like yours truly. (But see, the thing is, I assumed that my favorite magazine's audience must be limited to people like me- the NYer broke the Abu Ghraib scandal- Seymour Hersh again, I might add- and if you had read that article, or even a watered-down version, there would be NO WAY that you could in good conscience vote for an administration that condoned that kind of treatment of prisoners, or "created an atmosphere where torture was acceptable," or whatever. And yet they won a second term. Do you see what I mean?)... But last night watching the news, it became apparent that everyone from Rumsfeld to Ayatollah (Kumeni? Katani? Ketani?) knew of Hersh's article and had reactions to it (Cheney: "That's totally untrue. We want to avoid war in the Middle East, if we can." - umm.... Mr. Vice President, I hate to tell you, but... Bush: "I think we should trust what the Pentagon says about this issue, not some journalist." Umm... right. Trust the Pentagon when it denies that it is usurping power from the CIA etc? Over the reporting and fact-checking of a well regarded journalist? Ok. Ayatollah: "We will come down on the infidel with a firestorm of death." umm... Mr. Ayatollah, I feel your anger, but that might not be quite the appropriate diplomatic language, given the circumstances...)-

My husband who works in the entertainment industry, which is like the next office down from the "media industry," apparently, explained to me how these things work:
Noisette: "Whee! Yaay! I'm so glad people are reading the New Yorker! Who knew that the Ayatollah himself had a subscription?"
Husband: "Don't you know how these things work?"
Noisette: "....?"
Husband: "well, when a magazine like the New Yorker is about to break something, some big piece of news, they send to all the major news outlets sort of like a press release, explaining that they are about to break a story on such and such a date, and that the other news vehicles should do follow up reporting. That way, the story gets out, and the New Yorker gets credit, more people buy the New Yorker, and everybody wins."

Huh. So there you have it. Bush, Cheney and the Ayatollah are not New Yorker subscribers. The major newspapers and networks, however, are- or at least follow up dutifully on the press releases. Whatever- as long as some version of it gets out.

In other news (this just in!)- I'm currently avoiding revising my asylum brief. I try not to think about what will happen if I lose this case- but sometimes, like this morning, I can't avoid such thoughts. Let's see- what should I do if I lose my asylum case, and my client gets deported to his war-torn African country, to face god knows what (god DOES know what, and I know what too):
  1. Become a nun. (super easy for a half-Jewish atheist).
  2. Join the peace corps.
  3. Go work for an asylum clinic full time and try desperately to redeem myself.
  4. Become my client's bodyguard and protect him from the dangers he faces upon his return to his native land.
  5. Find a job that requires intense, hard manual labor, so that I can come home every night physically spent and not have to think about what happened because of me.
  6. Die.

Seriously, I am working as hard as I can on this (the present 20 minutes notwithstanding). And of course if I lose in immigration court I will appeal this sucker all the way up. But our judge has one of the worst records in the country for granting asylum- he only grants 20% of them, or something. Them ain't good odds. If this were the racetrack, I wouldn't bet on me. So there is a chance, a decent one, that we might lose. Oh god. I can't believe I'm the only thing standing between this man and deportation.

Don't get me wrong, I went to school for all those years and accumulated upwards of $150k of debt (seriously, folks) exactly because I wanted to do this sort of thing, have this sort of responsibility, have skills that can really help people. But sometimes, like this morning, I wish I could curl up on the floor and only have myself to worry about, y'know?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The funniest blog in christendom

Ok, I'm new to all of this, but in my professional opinion, the "Bloggies" are a crock. These are the apparent Oscars of weblogs (although I think it's their first year of existence)- but if you take a look at their nominees, it's blatantly obvious that this is just a bunch of cute girls nominating their friends. How else can you explain how This Fish is up for weblog of the year (precious, self-conscious, self-congratulatory nonsense at its best) and Veiled Conceit, which is consistently hysterical and has me falling out of my chair on a daily basis, is nowhere to be found? And don't even get me started on Stephanie Klein , who thinks highly enough of herself without being nominated for "Best Weblog Writing" or whatever it is. Ah me, the injustice of this world continually astounds.
I'm expecting to be tackled for criticizing these adorable girls, who are just living such incredible lives in NYC, but a few weeks of doing this has taught me that there is MUCH better stuff out there. Just take a look at Veiled Conceit before you yell at me.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Can I do something really, really dumb?

Can I? Thanks. I am bored stiff here and suddenly started listing in my mind those well-known people in whose company I have spent more than 5 minutes. And I thought, hey- why not list them on my blog? So that countless others can see to what silly, narcissistic topics my mind wanders? So here goes, in no particular order (and feel free to comment on how utterly silly this is):
  • Steven Weber
  • Hal Holbrooke
  • Lisi Goranson (the original "Becky" on Roseanne)
  • Edward Albee
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Tim O'Brien
  • Danny DeVito
  • Isabella Rosselini
  • Barak Obama
  • C. Everett Coop (Reagan's Surgeon General- tee hee)
  • Bill Clinton (sort of, I didn't really meet him but stood near him for at least 5min)
  • Dick Durbin
  • John Kerry's sister (Ha! For real!)
  • H. Ross Perot
  • Mike Newdow
  • Justice Kennedy
  • Scott Turow (see blog entry from earlier this month)
  • Gwyneth Paltrow (I can't believe I forgot her!)

Of the above, the Danny DeVito and Steven Weber acquaintances are my favorites. Danny DeVito sat across from me in The Coffee Shop at Union Square one night and asked me such questions as "where you from" and "have you ever been to Morocco?" He was also wearing at least three watches. Steven Weber was my charge as intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland my senior year of high school. My job was basically to drive him around the city to interviews. His knuckles turned white on many an occasion as he grasped the door handle in a vain attempt to shield himself from the horrors of my driving. I did not kill him, though, and he went on to fame and fortune in such splendid vehicles as "Single White Female" and the crap version of "The Shining."

Goodbye, Mr. Safire

A fitting self-send-off from a man who has both inspired and enraged me.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Seymour Hersh and the consolidation of power

If you have not read Seymour Hersh's article in this week's New Yorker, you have to. Again, Hersh takes us collectively aback with his meticulously researched piece- this time, much like the last, revealing the Bush administration's- and particularly the Pentagon's- relentless consolidation of power. Bref- the CIA is being phased out, the military is assuming the covert operations of that ever-more irrelevant agency (because the CIA's covert ops are subject to pesky controls like congressional oversight) and the Pentagon, under one smarmy Donald Rumsfeld, is invading Iran. IS invading Iran. Slowly, carefully, but explosively because, as Hersh emphasizes, the military cannot go undercover with the careful cultural understanding and the ability to "blend in" that the CIA has made a mainstay of its overseas operations for so many years. And these groups of military men, trained not to think creatively but to obey orders and to "kill when necessary," are attempting to circumvent the diplomatic efforts of the rest of the western world and take out Iran's nuclear program. This is happening NOW. Of course, the traditional war hasn't started yet- these guys are just "preparing the battlefield." And there are no checks on these actions, no balances. Just Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Bush, who seems to want to leave as a legacy the total westernization of the middle east.
Now I'm no expert. I'm just a New Yorker reading, lefty girl- but I know what will happen and is probably already happening- just like in Iraq, the Iranians are not going to throw flowers at the feet of our courageous boys-in-arms when they destroy Iran's nuclear technology and its hopes for being a modern, important nation. Yes, there are the mullahs and yes, most of the people hate them, but I will bet you now that they'll hate us more.
What bugs me about reading this amazing stuff, much like reading Krugman's op-eds in the Times- is that these news vehicles, popular though they are, are preaching almost exclusively to the choir- we readers are the half of the country (still enough to give a magazine quite an impressive circulation) who tried to stop this from happening in the first place. And now our concerns are almost completely ignored by an administration who think that their slim victory in November proves America's complete approval of everything that they have done and will do (low approval ratings and high anti-war poll numbers completely notwithstanding). This is what you saps who don't want to pay taxes, who don't like the idea of your neighbor getting it up the ass from his boyfriend and having it sanctioned by the state, who believe in "moral values" have given us- the probable tipping of that delicate and eroding balance which is us vs. the middle east, leading to ever more anger, more hatred, more terrorism. Thanks a fucking, fucking lot.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Like love we often weep

Like love I say.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Shameless celebrity name dropping... or IS IT???

In last week's Economist, "Lexington" chastised dems for apologizing, again, for defeat. In quoting some prominent members of the left, the article criticizes Scott Turow for "point[ing] out that the Republicans owed their gains in the House entirely to redistricting in Texas." They point out in turn the faults in this remark- that although the gerrymandering did help, the GOP held on to 90% of seats they already had, thereby entrenching themselves further in a legislature with no term limits.
All this is true. Now, oh loyal readers, you assume that I will craft a carefully thought-out critique of the all-too-libertarian Economist, defending my hero Dems against those market whores who shame and blame us from their outre mer vantage point. But no, nothing of the sort will follow- for all this was a desperately obvious segue to my telling you about how I spent election day with Scott Turow.
I really did. Well, sort of. I joined the square-shouldered, focused ranks of with fellow left-leaning Superfirm employees (we could even BILL our time spent poll-watching that day. Absolutely no sacrifice on our part). We poll-watched in Milwaukee, and the election eve training featured among its typically verbose attorney audience the terse, quiet Scott Turow. By the way, Scott Turow looks like John Malkovitch, a little. And he's really short. Alex and I ventured up to him, shaking hands and murmuring timid complements and "Oh, I hope all goes well tomorrow, god knows where we'll be if it doesn't... blah blah.. police state... blah" and then retired to our mediocre hotels to await the morrow.
Mr. Turow ("Call me Scott." "Umm... Ok... Scott... wow") was one of the roving field attorneys, going from poll station to poll station, handing out water bottles and making sure no rules had been broken. Turns out he does this EVERY election, not just this high profile one like we silly groupies. What a trooper.
Of course, it was too bad that I hadn't read a one of his books, not even 1L, required reading for anyone stupid enough to attempt law school, so I couldn't be like 'omigod I LOVE your work"- or perhaps it's better that I wasn't tempted to make such a stupid remark. But as we watched the crowds of people, young and old, all poor to lower-middle class, many voting for the first time, ex-cons and old women in wheelchairs etc, Scott and I had a lovely discussion about the importance of this, the importance of democracy, how finally the underprivileged were beginning to understand the, well, the privileges of the franchise, mainly vote and things will change, that sort of thing. All this was rose-colored, mind you, by the reports coming in over the blackberries that exit polls had Kerry ahead. I didn't see him again after the ominous reporting began- "Bush has won North Carolina, Bush has won Nevada, Bush has won Florida," When all of us, especially us Ohioans who knew that any election decided by our state would pull right- so I didn't get a chance to see any change of expression on his grim face. A lady from the Democratic Party whispered to me "I hope your heart isn't broken tomorrow," And I stubbornly, vainly cried back "Ma'am, I'm not sure there's any reason yet to count my heart broken" but we all knew that we were fucked. Thing is, the people voting in that polling station were of course much more fucked than we upper middle class (and MUCH more fucked than Scott Turow, who must pull down millions in royalties plus his partner position at wherever he is). But we were all speechless, stunned. We watched the votes being counted, of course Kerry won the ward 90 to 10, or something, which only made our loss more poignant.
And all that drivel. I guess I finished the part about Scott Turow a while ago. Nothing more to say about him, really. I wrote him an email a few weeks after, referencing our musings on the process and hoping for a response (maybe an invitation to lunch? Me, having lunch with Scott Turow? Middle American tourists pointing and asking for his autograph and looking at me in envy? Of course, who am I kidding? Middle Americans wouldn't recognize him, grocery store check-out fare though he is). No response forthcoming from Scott. Oh well.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The romantic lie in the brain...

This is my favorite poem. I also like this one, for something a little less predictable.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mommies? Good lord.

Maureen Dowd's op-ed today made me realize how FUCKING lucky I am to have a husband who has always loved me because I am irascible, witty, and damn smart (as is he, of course, but more to the point-)- who are all these men? I went to a funny little college with fewer men than women, such that the men, or the straight ones anyway, had to adapt or cut out- because of the demographics, it was harder for women to get into the school than men, meaning that generally, we were smarter. And hot. So they dealt, and loved us. At law school, the men were tools and I paid little attention to them as sexual beings. Here at Superfirm, they're more or less older versions of their toolish law school counterparts.
What else in my realm of experience? In France, they were at once more appreciative and 20 years behind us in women's rights (I'll tell you my sexual harassment story some other time). They LOVED smart women, but it was understood (by everyone but me) that eventually, you as the wife should leave your clever career behind and concentrate on childbirth and the preparation of long Sunday lunches.
I have officially over-generalized in every one of the above categories. But you get the idea. At any rate, my husband is my counterpart, my partner in crime, my equal in everything. Something of a sapphire in the rough, apparently.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Quick moment between document distributions

The paper chase is an incredibly apt name for what we do. Copies of documents, signature pages, versions of contracts- we burn trees over here. And keep Terre Haute smelly. I just got back from my therapist, and my happy mood is not due to her careful dismantling of my psyche but to the skim mocha I am indulging in at the moment. Yaaay! Happy caffeine high! I love helping the rich get richer!
In other news, I have not heard back from my asylum client. I think he is mad at me, or maybe skipped town. What to do?
In yet other news, cabinet appointees are being confirmed without so much as a by your leave. When Dick Durbin quipped to Gonzalez, "I love you, but you're being elusive," I thought about stabbing myself in that squishy place between my thumb and forefinger. "I love you???" Dick! I love you, Dick Durbin, your guy next door affability, your straight-Nathan-Lane chubby good looks. But why such an obsequious remark? We all know you're going to confirm the man who called the Geneva Conventions "quaint," but must you do it so ignominiously? Sigh.

Morning sickness

Ha! No, I'm kidding. I'm, like, totally NOT pregnant. I am, however, sick, and it is morning. Things pile up and pile up, and every day serves as a thrumming reminder that this job and I are not made for each other. Ah well. I have to keep reminding myself why Superfirm deserves the first tentative, sensitive years of my post-law school career.
I am too irreverent for this place. I do not adopt the subservient attitude necessary for proper relationships with partners. I don't sit there and take it when clients yell at me because I'm the only lawyer they can get on the phone. Well, actually, I do. But then I complain about it afterwards to whomever happens to be within a small distance of my office. Yeah, I'm real pleasant to be around.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


This is my letter I wrote to William Safire the day before the elections:

Dear Mr. Safire,
Two comments in your column today reflect the facile, lazy, Coulter-inspired Republican pseudo-logic in which you have indulged quite a bit of late. First, Bin Laden's comment about Bush's 7 minute delay in responding to the news that the nation was under attack was not a reference to Michael Moore's movie, and I find your drawing that conclusion patently offensive. Bush's inexplicable delay, and his absorption in a child's book while the Trade Center fell victim to Al Qaeda, was a event that was known and discussed in this country long before Moore's movie. Moreover, your insinuation that Michael Moore somehow aided and abetted Bin Laden by simply pointing out the President's incompetence is idiotic and doesn't help your cause. Do you really imagine that Bin Laden watched and/or took pointers from Moore's movie? Bin Laden hates us indiscriminately- I think his terrorist actions have made that clear. What does he care for our partisan bickering? He will continue to be a danger during the upcoming Kerry administration (although I have little doubt that Kerry will handle him much more effectively than Bush has).
Second, your comment that Bin Laden was using Kerry's logic to attack Bush is more offensive still. Mr. Safire, John Kerry is challenging George Bush in the presidential election! What he is doing goes to the root and the object of the democratic process! You start to sound a bit like Zell Miller when you imply that Kerry's criticisms of Bush, made during a legitimate political race, are aiding the enemy. How dare you make the comment, implicit or otherwise, that giving voice to dissent makes us somehow unamerican? Have YOU no sense of decency, Mr. Safire?
Chicago, Illinois

And here's his automated response:

Dear Reader:
As you can imagine, I've been swamped with e-mails responding to my column in recent months. I read them all, most assuredly, including yours. But I cannot begin to answer them individually or I would have no time left to write a column that delights, illuminates, stimulates or infuriates.
Ergo this automated response. (Curious how "automated" has replaced "automatic." And why do I use "ergo" when "therefore" will do? )
Don't take offense, and don't stop writing. I'll keep reading what you send me.
William Safire

Look at how sure I was that Kerry was going to win! And how passionately mad I was at Safire! (honestly, I had used to like him, conservative though he was, but his election-era columns were really getting on my nerves)- now I am a Jane Austen-retreating, sad and apathetic version of my former fiery self.

Now Voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find.

I searched for other bloggers who like the movie Now Voyager, and we're ALL women. I suppose because we all identify with the sophisticated, psychologically messy Bette Davis. But that movie was so great, so well written, so nuanced! And the hero to Bette's tragic heroine, Paul Henried, gets to cheat on his wife, yet still receives emotional and intellectual approval from Bette, the moral center of the movie! You'd think more men would find him intriguing.

The aching tomato

I happened to get caught in the elevator with a partner who was, prior to his current stint at SuperFirm, special counsel to that former Vice President who was a particularly dull tool in a not particularly sharp shed. You know who I mean. This partner is, surprise surprise, a raging conservative who would routinely quote passages from "Unfit for Command" to anyone within earshot before November 2nd silenced all, pros and cons. At any rate, I don't mind him as much as you'd think- he's actually kind of funny. On the long elevator ride we searched for conversation and he lamented that his back was hurting from shovelling snow. "Ah," I said, "you ought to get a massage." Of course the typical Alpha male response to this would be "Yeah, umm... I'm not really into that." But this guy was, in fact, on his way to Urban Oasis, perhaps the poshest, meterosexual-est spa in all Chicagoland. "Can't let this thing fester. Got to get it taken care of now," He said, overly-clinically, I thought, for a man en route to a place where they serve verbena tisane and play digeridoo music.
"It's funny," he continued, "my masseuse says that the vast majority of her clients are lawyers." Of course we are. Chair-bound (ergonomic or otherwise), stressed-out, UCC-spouting fools be we denziens of the Bar. But at least we can afford to go to pretty, strange-smelling places where we can pretend to calm down while we get the shit pummeled out of us.


I got here late this morning so this will be brief. I indulged my deep-seated, overwhelming urge for a starbucks skim latte with Splenda(it's made from sugar so it tastes like sugar! Hurrah!)- so I waited 10 minutes in line in the basement of my building with everyone under 30 who works in this tower of power. Thank god, thank god thank god for coffee. My combining diet is working, I think-rapture- I put on my pants this morning and they weren't tight (mind you, these are my fat pants)- but I must, must cheat with coffee. I don't know what crack Suzanne Somers is smoking if she thinks neurotic, desk bound saps like me would give up coffee for anything. Isn't it supposed to be our consolation? We can't have sweets, can't have alcohol (although frankly I'm not sticking to that one either)- but most diets encourage coffee. Still, I think I am losing girth, if not weight. Soon, soon I will progress from this desultory 135 pounds to my sparkling ideal, 123, a weight I sported not 4 months ago at my wedding. I know, I know it's insanity to stress so much about it, but alas, that is me. I am that.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

My hands are tied

My client's master calendar hearing was this morning. I felt, in travelling to court and waiting to be called, like I was cramming for an exam, scrambling through all of my documents to find the right answers- "When the judge asks this, I answer no, when he asks if we plead to the charges, I say yes..." I twittered about my client in my back-of-the-throat French to put us both at ease. I think my attempts to dispel tension come off to him as a lack of professionalism. It also doesn't help that I look about 18 years old on a good day. This morning, in my conservative suit, I might have passed for 20 in poor light.
Asylum seekers and their attorneys circled about us as we waited. I went up to the receptionist 3 times to make sure I had done everything correctly. When the clerk called us, I stood at a podium and spoke, waveringly, into a microphone. The judge was laconic and brisk. He asked NONE of the questions that I was told to prepare for. He asked if we'd need an interpreter for the merits hearing, if I was my client's counsel, if we understood the status of the case. Yes, yes, yes.
Then he dropped the bombshell- after denying the expedited hearing (which I've been told to do 100 times), he shuffled through papers, informed us that he'd have to put us at the end of his docket, and set our trial date for May. 2006.
Over a year from now. I had promised my client time and again that he'd have to wait 6 months, 8 months at most, to get out of limbo and get on with his life. So I was wrong. Although his ever-unreadable face did not register disappointment, he refused to come back to my office for food and discussion, which I take as his way of showing how unhappy he was. And rightly so- he can't work (probably), he can't make permanent plans- his daughter will be a teenager by the time he gets her over here.
But what could I do? Should I have been more contentious with the judge? No, of course not. Should I have asked for an expedited hearing? Maybe, but what if he'd given us a date 3-4 weeks from now? How in fuck's name would I get a case together by then?
We're damned if we do, etc. If only I didn't feel like I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT I'M DOING, maybe I'd be more confident. I got my attorney registration card the other day, and I felt like it was a joke. What is the Supreme Court of Illinois thinking, making ME an attorney? Don't they know I am absolutely ignorant, and undeserving of this public trust. Do they KNOW I basically turned my law degree into my own master's in international studies? Do they CARE that it's a fucking miracle that I passed the bar?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Self-promoting hubris

Or hubristic self-promotion? I know everyone is dying to read about MY life, what I am, all about my ever-so-exciting days, my plans for the future, my ruminations on the past. But right now I am plugging through eight(8) documents that I have to (re) do for a partner who thinks I am jest a little daft, and am already running behind. What can one do. Not much, just go along.

Napoleonic plunge

This is the first time I've done this. So blah. We'll see what happens.