February 28, 2006

When she gets a boyfriend

Last night, after a visit to my father in the hospital and a long discussion with my siblings about the things family must discuss when a family member is gravely ill, I decided to forgo the drive back to the bay area in the rain and wait 'til this morning to drive straight to school.

My brother invited me to stay the night at his house. I happily agreed. When I arrived, my niece yelled from her room -- she didn't know I was coming over, but now that I was there, she wanted a story. I was more than happy to provide her with one. Then, I got to be the excuse for her to get out of bed and hang out with the adults for an extra half an hour. She loves it when I visit.

I've got a strong maternal response to my niece. When she has nightmares and I stay the night, I find myself in her room before I'm completely awake. When she makes noise in the night, I wake to realize that I've already evaluated the safety of what she is doing. This morning, she woke me at 7:30 with a tearful cry of "mama." I was out of bed and halfway to her room when she let out a second tearful cry of "[insert childish pronunciation of BT's name]."

Groggy, I walked into her room to find my brother telling me that I didn't need to get up, because he was ready to help her. But, she'd just said my name. Blindly (for I truly am blind without my glasses or contacts) I reached out for her and picked her up to confort her between her sobs. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew I wanted to help. She wrapped her legs around my waist and hugged me tight before she said,

I peed the bed.

Yeah. Thanks kid.

Turns out, I figured it out from the warm wetness on my shirt. My brother was in the middle of trying to explain it to me as I picked her up, so after she told me what had happened, he tried valiantly not to laugh at me. He succeeded temporarily, but I laughed all day, and this evening's phone conversation assured me that he found the combination of my maternal instinct and blindness to be too funny for words.

Needless to say, I didn't just tuck her back in and go back to sleep 'til my alarm rang (the original plan). Instead, I headed for the shower and took my niece with me for good measure. Clearly, we both needed to be cleaned up. There was no need to make her parents get up just yet.

After the shower, we watched some "little mermaid" and my neice dressed herself in the most eclectic outfit I've seen in a while: pink beanie, red and black plaid skirt, red-white-and-blue sweater, green capris, and black ankle boots.

Like I said, she loves it when I come over. Stay up late. Dress yourself. How fun? And when she's older and dating, she's really going to love it more when I show up to tell this story to the lucky new boyfriend. I can't wait.

February 26, 2006

I told E I wasn't going to blog

See, I've got a lot of law school reading to do. I swear I'm going to do it. I'm here, alone in my sister and dad's house.

I've eaten. I've done all the wedding things I can do from afar (including attending my lovely bridal shower at my mother's today). I've got no distractions except wireless.

And yet still, I feel compelled to write this very boring post instead of diving straight into community property reading.

This, my friends, is the reality of the third year of law school. Motivation? What's that?

February 25, 2006


I got one of those calls you never want to receive on Thursday AM. Stupidly, I followed my norm and left my cell phone in the car when I went to the gym. So, somewhere after mile 2, the loudspeaker beckoned me to the front desk for a call.

E was on the line, and he simple said:

Your sister called. She said it's bad.

I told him I was on my way home and immediately ran to my car. I tossed myself into clean clothes, threw an odd assortment of necessities into a backpack and hopped in the car. I fought traffic and found a new way to my hometown to avoid the commuter traffic.

I made it in more than enough time.

In fact, my dad's a trooper. He's doing much better. We had a very serious scare and he almost died, but now, he's back in this world and amazed at the time he lost to the fog. I'm so thankful. I'm also so overwhelmed at the support of family & friends.

But the funniest thing I learned from this experience is that debugging is debugging. The ICU is a great place if you've got someone sick you are worried about. They are hooked up to all sorts of monitors and you can just watch the screen. You can have instantaneous information about their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen perfusion, heart beating pattern, breathing pressure and rate, and central venous pressure.

Imagine my surprise when the central venous pressure measurement came back unsatisfactory and the nurse tapped the plastic joint a few times with her hand and hit the reboot button on the monitor. The reading was still ludicrous. She didn't believe the measurement and with the intuition of one who has done this before, she walked the line with her hands and tapped each joint, turned each valve on and off and did all of the binary debugging techniques that one employes in software, mechanical and electrical debugging. It was somewhat disconcerting, since this is my dad's life on the line. But, since he was obviously doing better, it was also amusing. Ins and Outs, black box testing, white box testing. Rudimentary as it may seem, it's what they do with the human body too.


February 22, 2006

The Blind Leading the Blind

I spent the long weekend in Palm Springs to celebrating the end of my single life with my bridesmaids and a few other close friends. It was one of the most wonderful gifts anyone has ever given me -- I felt so loved and happy. We ate good food, drank wine, talked, sat in the hot tub, went for a run, went shopping, and relaxed. Plus, I got gifts! E went to vegas with his guy friends and had a much less relaxing time for his bachelor party -- no gifts (except drinks), little to no sleep, hilarious escapades, and lots of poker -- I was jealous that he got to play poker; He was jealous that I was able to sleep and hang out in a hot tub.

My contribution to the bachelorette weekend was a blind tasting to choose the sparkling to be served at the wedding. I had received a wine tasting kit from my aunt a couple of years prior and this was the perfect opportunity to use it. So, I tossed the kit of papers, a roll of aluminum foil, some tape, and 7 bottles of sparkling wine packed into styrofoam shipping boxes into a checked bag (talk about extra luggage) and was pleasantly surprised when they all made it intact to the fridge in Palm Springs.

6 of the bottles were sparklings for the wedding reception -- a selection of various options all under $10 a bottle. The 7th was the K&L recommendation to my future in-laws for the champagne to be served at the Rehearsal dinner. Real champagne. From champagne. The clerk told me, "Many people think this champagne is a great alternative to Veuve Clicquot because it's a lesser known champagne that is in the same price range. But they are wrong, Veuve wouldn't be caught dead in the same room as this champagne. Veuve just can't compete with the density and complexity of this wine."

I was excited. I love the great widow and her wines. Anything that can make her sit out was most certainly going to be something I enjoyed.

I had originally been worried that with one really good bottle of champagne in the mix someone might be embarrassed if they didn't pick it out (read: me) or worse, that it would be so great that everything else would taste terrible. But, my deliberations to leave it out were squashed by my haste to get the bottles in foil and labeled with numbers -- I forgot to pull it out of the mix, so the tasting was truly blind.

After the pours (into plastic champagne glasses), we all tasted silently, observing the color and bubbles, sniffing, sipping, smelling, and taking notes. We started at the bottom of the barrel (so to speak) by voting on our least favorite. 6 of the 8 of us agreed that #2 was terrible and deserved the lowest ranking. Funky nose, odd lingering taste on the tongue, partially flat. Just terrible. (After the final votes were tallied, it was the only wine that garnered no votes for any top 3 places.)

I peeled back the foil and was shocked to see the maroon lettering on the foil proclaiming the Aspasie Brut Prestige from Ariston Fils. I couldn't believe it. It most likely was a bad bottle because the K&L people have never led me so far astray.

But, when I told E's dad of the results and asked if he'd like me to get them to provide us with another bottle to taste, he responded with the sage advice:

Never buy a pig in a poke. Unless you have time to spare, I'll just go with Veuve.

Right. By that logic, it's a good thing E & I lived together before marriage. Also, it turns out, I don't really have any time to spare (despite what the fact that I'm blogging right now might imply). 17 days and a billion things to do before the wedding.

Oh, and I'll share the fruits of our labor. The clear winner of the value sparkling tasting (favorite of 6 of 8, in the top 3 of everyone, those who ranked it lower tended to like sweeter sparklings--I like 'em more dry): the sparkling selection for the wedding is the Domaine J. Laurens Blanc de Blanc Brut Cremant de Limoux. Creamy nose, clean mineral body with a hint of lemon, and an unbeatable value at $9.99.

February 16, 2006


I hate shopping.

Okay, hate is a strong word. But I really don't enjoy the process of being in malls or stores. There are a few exceptions, like grocery stores and small independent boutiques where I don't feel overwhelmed by all the stuff and people. This isn't to say I don't like getting new things. When I want something, I sincerely enjoy getting it. I just don't like finding new things more than I dislike dealing with stores and people in them.

So, Internet shopping was made for me. I've been an Amazon addict since long before the bubble burst. I started buying shoes at Zappos long before it was popular with the general public. I ordered my bridesmaids' shoes & my shoes from an online vendor and despite the troubles I had with them, I found it MUCH more pleasant than going to stores and dealing with the physical reality of shopping. I picked out my bridesmaids' dresses from one of my favorite online clothing vendors. Last night, after going to David's Bridal and being shocked at the price one can pay for a piece of mesh-on-a-comb, I decided to buy my veil online. A couple of weeks ago, I saved at least 40% over the physical vendor by purchasing my bridal petticoat online.

The one bummer about shopping online, from a regular's perspective, is the difficulty of returns & exchanges. After several false starts, I've found that it's best to frequent online stores that allow you to do returns in their physical stores if something you order online doesn't work for some reason. Walking straight to the counter to deal with a human is much more enjoyable than sitting in a phone queue to speak with a consultant in order to learn just how much of a pain and how expensive it's going to be to pack up the stuff they sent you and send it back.

Some vendors have figured this out, lately. My last order from Victoria's Secret came with a pre-printed shipping label for returns and exchanges. When the pants don't fit, fill out the exchange information, slap the label on the box they came in and drop it off at UPS. Nice.

But the best online return experience I've ever had was last night. L.L. Bean is the maker of the rolling bag I've been using for school since my last bag broke in October of '04. A few days ago, the retractable handle detached from my bag. After two days of carrying my billion pound bag on my shoulder, I gave in. So, last night, I called L. L. Bean, prepared to hear any number of messages about when I could call during business hours or how long the wait was. I was shocked when a human answered the phone after no ring at 10:30 PM. I was even more shocked to learn that they will send me a new bag and a shipping label to send back the old back. I'm out the cost of the new bag, but only until they receive the broken one when I send it back in the box they use for the new one.

16 months after purchase, my trusty bag spontaneously failed. Had it lasted 'til the end of school (19 months) I would have been completely satisfied. But now, after personal service with no wait on my time schedule, from the comfort of my own home, and a brand new bag is on its way for what will ultimately be no charge... Well, I'm more than satisfied. Consequently, I couldn't help but poke around their website to make plans to fill whatever needs I may have in the future from their site.

Man, I love the Internet.

February 15, 2006

Blogger sucks these days & I'm overwhelmed

Every time in the last few days I try to post, blogger is down.

Anecdotally, I've heard that Google has trouble keeping engineers employed on the blogger project... looks like the stories may be true with the amount of downtime and gross error messages I've been getting.

In other news, there are 22 days 'til the wedding, and I've got a million marriage things to do, finals to schedule, graduation stuff to figure out, my dad, and a little thing called law school.

No wonder I had insomnia at 3 AM this morning. I'm sure the inability to sleep had nothing to do with my fear of returning to the horrid dream from which I woke where I was alone in a room, because everyone else had already finished, but I was racing to finish a hand-written law school exam. The exam was a cream-colored form that looked like the moral character application and the wedding license application combined and for every page I finished two more would magically appear attached to the bottom of the pile.

Now. To clear a few items off the old checklist and hope for better sleep tonight...

February 11, 2006

The Restaurant Dream

I suffer from too much ambition. I am never bored. I want to do more things than my life will allow. One of those things I think I'd like to try, much like owning and working in my own hair salon, is owning a restaurant and working as the chef.

But, secretly, I feared that the magic of cooking would disappear when the portions became too big. I told myself that what I loved about cooking -- the fact that each time is subtly different creativity (because the ingredients are always in different stages of freshness, amounts, etc.), the fact that cooking is so primordially sense oriented (smell, taste, touch, feel), the fact that cooking is intuitively a combination of every time you've ever cooked before -- I told myself that those things would always be there, regardless of whether the cooking was for money or vanity.

Tonight, I did it for responsibility. My sister is living with my father and doing the majority of the hard-core legwork to take care of my dad. But I'm here on the weekends and he needs meals that are heavy in protein. Today, I decided one thing I could do to help would be to prepare meals that fit into his prescribed diet so my sister or father could just toss 'em in the oven and enjoy.

I made two pots worth of bolognese. I made 5 pans full of lasagna.

The repetitive nature of the large lot cooking didn't affect me negatively. It was still enjoyable. In fact, one of the odd things about cooking for me, the meditative aspect, was magnified by making multiple meals in one preparation.

Perhaps that restaurant dream should get moved up on the priority list...It seems like I'd really enjoy it.

P.S. about law school. Yeah, I'm on it... I took out my community property book last night and read at least 6 pages because I couldn't sleep (but then, I could.) Seriously, though. I'm slowly crawling out of my hole. I was caught up in Con law as of Thursday AM, but by Thursday PM that fleeting glory had passed. I'm still behind in all of my classes, but less so than two weeks ago. I hope to be caught up by the end of next week (as long as no cooking opportunities arise to distract me.)

February 9, 2006

Break me outa here!

The other day, when E and I went to go get our marriage license, I had to list the number of years I've been in school since grade 1.

20 years.

More than 2/3 of my life.

No wonder I have senioritis.

February 8, 2006

'Nuff Said

biting tongue --


A deadly strain of projectiile vomit

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Link thanks to magic cookie.

February 7, 2006

Spinach-mushroom cornbread casserole

It's that time again. Yeah, that's right, instead of finishing my Moral Character Application for the Bar, like a good law kid, I'm cooking.

Anyways, this one turned out pretty damn awesome. It started as an idea for spinach quiche to kill the large number of eggs in the fridge. Then, after we had eggs for breakfast on Sunday, but I'd already promised Spinach casserole to E ('cause real men don't each quiche, as a former roommate once informed me by giving me a much appreciated book), I had to do some quick thinking. So, I did what I could with the list that I'd already sent E to the store with, which involved 1 pound of spinach, a couple of handfulls of mushrooms and well... I figured I'd wing it from there.

And I did!

Try this recipe on for size if you've got similar ingredients (feel free to improvise, you know I did...note the lack of crust, the low number of eggs and the creative use of pantry extras.)

1. Chop 1/4 white onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Throw into large saucepan and turn heat to medium. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

2. Think about adding olive oil to sauce pan. Realize you have 1/2 cup unused sun-dried tomatoes in oil, add them instead. Sautee 'til onions are clear.

3. Add 2-3 handfulls of sliced mushrooms, realize the oil from the tomatoes is insufficient to cook them.

4. Add 1/2 stick of butter. Sautee mushrooms, onions, garlic. When S/O comments on wonderful smell, smile knowingly -- you planned this all along, remember?

5. After mushrooms are covered in butter and have absorbed all possible grease (which isn't a ton, in all fairness) add 3/4 lb of fresh spinach. Sautee 'til wilted throughout. Turn off burner.

6. Beat 3 remaining eggs and the last tidbits of the coffee half-and-half pint in a metal bowl (approx 1 Tablespoon). Add 1 box cornbread mix that's been sitting in your pantry for at least one year (less aging time will probably be okay, although it'll lose some of the subtle qualities that make this meal really shine).

7. Crumble any crumbling cheese you can find into the egg/cornbread batter (I used approx 2 T of cotija). Fold cheese into batter.

8. Fold spinach/mushroom/butter/onion/garlic/spinach-water-dripping mix into egg/cheese/cornbread batter.

9. Butter a 9X12 baking pan. Pour batter/spinach mixture into pan. Cover with grated cheddar (1-2 T left in a sorry-looking rectangular prism in the fridge) and parmigiano (stop when you have 1/2 an inch covering every visible square centimeter).

10. Top with a liberal sprinkling of ground white pepper (no doubt any pepper will do).

10. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

11. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Serve immediately by cutting into squares. (Note: it should dish from the pan easily in one structurally sound unit. If not, something went wrong. I take no responsibility.)

So far this week, I've paid bills, done my taxes and cleared up a million little things for the wedding.

My big goal is to get the Moral Character application finished for the California Bar Exam. Yeah, I'm late. I know. I've also got monitoring of my dad via phone and more wedding chores.

Needless to say, this puts reading somewhere near the bottom of my priority list. Which is too bad. Because yesterday I went to Con Law after having done the reading and realized... oh, right, lecture is really just an overview when you've done the reading. It's so much easier to take notes when you know how to do things like spell the case name.

So far this semester, I've done the following (I should really list it in terms of what I haven't done, many more 100% that way):

1. About 75% of the Con Law reading.
2. None of the community property reading.
3. About 15% of the IP reading.
4. None of the corporations reading. (by design, I intend to use only my notes and an outline for this course, but I've also missed quite a bit of class)

Perhaps this weekend will be the one where I catch up...(after finishing the moral character application, of course.) Perhaps not.

February 4, 2006

His dream wedding

[BT & E looking at the wedding checklist]

E: Wedding insurance? Do we have to get that?

BT: Yes.

E: [looks confused]

BT: We are required to get a policy to cover $1,000,000 worth of damage/liability for the wedding. It's on the to do list for this week. I've got to call the homeowner's insurance agent, and if they won't cover it, get a policy through one of the independent vendors.

E: So, what you are saying is, we are fully covered if this thing blows into a full-fledged riot?

BT: No.

E: And by no, you mean awesome, right?
Almost Back

My two days to support the fam expanded and combined with last weekend's move of my sister and dad turned into me spending 7 of the last 9 nights in my hometown. Thankfully, if all goes well this morning (which it looked like it would as of last night), my dad will be released from the hospital today and welcomed into his new home (which he still hasn't seen, now that it is furnished).

I have learned the following useful facts:

1. Hospitals are a great place to study. No distractions if you can find a quiet place, like the "activity room" for visitors.

2. With the help of hospital vending, I can extend the life of a 12-pack of diet coke to 4 days.

3. There is no substitute for having family or friends with you while you are in the hospital.

4. The wrong pain medication can make a patient seem MUCH sicker than they actually are.

5. Time is dilated in the hospital. It feels like I cut a billion days of school and I'm never going to catch up. But in reality, it was 3 days. I have missed more for lesser priorities like moot court and OCI. I will be fine.

Here's to going home to E and my normal life!