Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bits and blurbs: Welcome back, blogger edition

  • Yeah, yeah, it's been a while. I have no excuse for myself other than using the computer requires me to get off the couch and sit upright at a desk. I don't do that much outside of work hours these days.

  • This past weekend, I spent most of my time cleaning up around the outside of our house. The 80-ish year old man we bought from (we'll call him Vernon) left us all kinds of "treasures," mostly in the garage and back yard, that no one has bothered to clean up yet. This year is the first time since we moved in that I'm not pregnant or on the verge of killing myself, so I actually have some desire to do something about the disaster that is our house.

  • Saturday, I hauled out all of the metal things that were in the back yard. I filled B's entire truck bed and it was heaped up high enough that I couldn't use the rear-view mirror. I wish I would have taken a picture of how much shit this man left us (and there is SO. MUCH. MORE. in the garage that B hasn't done anything about...I mean, we have a four-car garage (two wide, two deep) that we can barely park one car in, and even that's only been since about January. This is why you don't buy a house from a hoarder, kids). No one can even really tell the difference because it was mostly in this little fence alcove thingy where I think Vernon kept his compost, but I feel so much better now that all of it's gone. The scrap yard was sort of terrifying, but all that metal stuff is gone.

  • I spent Sunday pulling out bushes. There were seven or eight evergreen-type shrubs around the front of our house, and I've hated them since we moved in. Again, no one bothered to do anything about them for the first 2.5 years, but I got the bug up my butt this weekend and took care of them all. I used a chainsaw for the first time ever to do it! It was hard work, but very satisfying. Now that the metal is out of the truck, I have to load up the shrubbery to take it all to the yard waste site. Maybe next weekend.

  • I also eventually have to figure out how I want to landscape this place. I figure it's too late in the summer to plant anything (and if it's not, I don't want to hear it), so I'll wait 'til this fall to plant some bulbs and call it a day. I don't do gardening, so I want stuff that is going to require little to no effort on my part. Perennials are definitely my thing.

  • In health news, my ass still hurts. Still. It's only been eight months since big deal. I had another MRI to make sure there weren't any fractures or anything in there, and, of course, there weren't. My orthopedist doesn't know why it's still hurting. He basically said to suck it up, and it should be better by a year post-surgery. He didn't have me schedule another follow-up appointment or anything. So that's awesome. I love that something that was supposed to make me feel better in four to six weeks is now maybe, if I'm really lucky, going to make me feel better in a year.

  • I took my last antidepressant yesterday. I've been weaning myself off of everything for the past six or so weeks, and I feel fantastic. I did it on my own (hush!). I know that was probably a bad idea. But I did a ton of research on it before I did it, and was very careful with myself. I had a couple of days where I felt really sick and had to go back to my full doses, but I reconfigured my plans, and it seems to be working really well. Luckily, my withdrawal symptoms have generally been mild, so it hasn't been an awful process. My goal when I started was to be off of everything by my next psychiatrist appointment, which is next Tuesday. And I did it! I'm ridiculously proud of myself for this, and how good I've been feeling tells me I did the right thing.

  • Related to all that, I went to see a naturopathic doctor recently. She gave me some supplement recommendations (they should be here by the end of the week), and wants me to start transitioning to a whole foods diet. It's been 24 hours and I can already tell I'm going to miss my sweet, delicious refined sugars and handy convenience foods. *Sigh* But if it helps, I'll give it a shot (with minimal grumbling). She also wants me to start exercising, but at my initial visit I hadn't yet been cleared for that by the orthopedist. He didn't exactly clear me when I saw him last week, either, but I'm assuming I'm allowed to do some stuff now? Nothing I do for my butt makes any difference, anyway, so I figure exercising can't hurt.

  • Diet related:  I'm still allowed Diet Coke. She told me I'm allowed a couple of vices and she wouldn't take that away from me. Smart lady. I might have stabbed her with my pen (or just laughed very loudly at her in my head) if she had.

  • My sister-in-law gets married in a month. This is petty, but I really want to come up with something bitchy to do at her wedding. At our wedding, she wore cowboy boots. I told the bridesmaids I wanted silver shoes, but didn't put any stipulations on them. So my SIL bought and wore silver cowboy boots because she thought it would piss me off. I didn't care at the time, but now I really want to be able to get back at her (told you it was petty). She has completely shut me out of this wedding, however (I know nothing about it - no idea what the colors are, what her dress looks like, what the bridesmaids dresses look like; don't know when it starts; don't know when or where the rehearsal is; don't even know if I'm invited to the rehearsal; etc. The only time she ever talked to me about anything was to get information from me - the addresses from our guest list, sites in the area, who we used for a DJ, etc.), so I'm not sure how this could work. My only thought was that I can sugar up W before the wedding so he's a pain in the ass during the ceremony. But I'm going to be the one in charge of him during the ceremony, so that would really only be hurting me.

  • I'm also a bit concerned about SIL's expectations of W. He doesn't do well with crowds or lots of noise. I can't recall the last time we were somewhere with lots of people when he didn't flip the fuck out. I keep telling B that he needs to explain this to SIL and manage her expectations of W's behavior at the wedding. If the kid's bawling and refusing to walk down the aisle, he won't be walking down the aisle. Simple as that. But B seems to think that W will be fine and we don't need to worry about it. I don't know what kid he's talking about, but whatever. I just know that I'm going to get the blame if I don't make W walk down the aisle, so I would like to do some advanced preparation of the bride just in case it comes to that. W could surprise me and be a complete angel that day. But I'm not willing to put money on it.

  • My super-awesome BFF has decided that she's taking me somewhere for my 30th birthday this year. We don't know where yet, but if you seen any super-cheap deals to super-fantastic locations, send them my way. For reference, I've never been to New York or Vegas, never been further north than Niagara Falls (er, maybe Michigan's Upper Peninsula is further north...but that's still on US soil), never been further west than St. Louis, have been to Mexico (Riviera Maya for our honeymoon), New Orleans (when I was 18 and on a youth group trip), and Orlando (Disney trip for law school spring break! Woo!) once each, and have never been to any other countries. So I've probably never been wherever you might suggest and I'll think it's fabulous, even if it would be a boring trip for normal people. My BFF is much more well-traveled than I, but she doesn't care where we go as long as I like it. We don't have any real stipulations on when we can go, but I don't have a passport, so we can't pick up and go anywhere outside the US without some advanced notice.

  • I've got some more to ramble about, but I'll stop for now. This got long. Next time I'll try to blog more frequently than once a month so my posts might be a bit more manageable.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The last one (Alternately titled: So many parentheses, woman!)

B's grandma died Sunday. The funeral was today, the visitation yesterday. She was old, she'd had a stroke in January, and it was more or less expected. Even so, it's been a rough week around these parts.

This is the first and only grandparent B and his sisters have lost since they've been old enough to know what's going on. This is my fifth and - thankfully - last.* I've had enough of the dead grandparent thing (and we're just going to ignore the "my parents/in-laws are going to die someday, too" thing for now).

Even with an abundance of grandparent loss experience (the most recent was my grandpa, who died on Christmas Day right after I turned 21), I don't feel that I've done a very good job of supporting B in his grief. If you've ever read this blog or you follow me on Twitter, you've probably gotten the impression that things aren't great with he and I right now. They're not. I think that's part of the reason I'm having a hard time being there for him - I don't feel like much of a wife and don't play the role well at the moment. Playing a happily married couple in public this week was surprisingly difficult. Another part of it is the fact that he bottles all of his emotions and doesn't talk about anything or let anyone help him. And the third part of the problem is, as always, me. It's sort of difficult to help another person through their grief when you're more or less emotionally dead inside.

I loved B's grandma. She was a stubborn old bat who gave up on keeping her opinions to herself years ago. She always liked me, which I'm told was no small feat. I'm theoretically sad that she's gone. But I can't feel it. I don't feel anything (if you don't count the frustration and annoyance I felt regarding my lack of time off and all of the funeral-related stuff I was obliged to attend). Luckily, I'm still attuned enough to social cues that I cried at appropriate times and didn't do anything too crass or offensive. I hugged and I chatted and I carried flower arrangements to the car. I was a good granddaughter-in-law. But it was all just a show. I'm sure this doesn't make any sense, but lately I feel like my body knows the emotions I'm feeling, but my brain and heart don't. Take right now, for example. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face, but I just feel...bored? Apathetic? Meh? Something like that. Yet another lovely bump in the road of my recovery.

Beyond me being a heartless ass, everything went as well as it could have. B wanted me to bring the boys to the visitation for a bit so all the cousins we never seen could see (i.e. meet) them. I was not excited about this because W doesn't do well with crowds and noise, and Grandma's sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses alone total more than 50 people. And R is two. But they actually did very well. My mom went with me so she could take them back to her house when they'd had enough, and between her, me, and everyone in B's immediate family, we kept them quiet and under control (with the exception of one little incident when my brother-in-law scared the hell out of W). The service was nice, she looked great, B got to see eight of his nine cousins for the first time in several years, yadda, yadda, yadda. I think we're all glad it's over.

I feel really badly for my younger sister-in-law, though. She was the closest to Grandma of all the grandkids. SIL is getting married at the end of June, and wanted nothing more than for Grandma to make it to the wedding. She lives far, far out of state, so she hadn't seen Grandma since Christmas (before she really went downhill). She's coming home for her showers next weekend, and she was really looking forward to seeing Grandma one more time. She's taking this hard.

On a happier and unrelated note, I scored a kick ass deal on a set of bunk beds the other day. Someone in our hometown (where B just happened to be) listed a set of solid oak bunk beds with mattresses and several sets of sheets for $100. I saw the ad not long after it was posted and called right away. As $100 is far, far cheaper than we could possibly buy all that stuff new (and I haven't had any luck finding used ones), I told them we'd give them the asking price, and could pick them up that night. Luckily, I was the first to respond. And now we have the bunk beds we've been wanting for the boys' room when they finally move in together. The bed has a couple of places that look a bit rough, and could use a couple of coats of varnish if nothing else, but they're in pretty good shape. I'm trying to decide if I want to strip and re-stain them, or if I'm not going to be that motivated this summer. Regardless of that, yay for good, cheap furniture!

* I guess, technically, my dad's mom is still alive, but we haven't seen or heard from her in the past 15 or so years, so I'm guessing I'm not going to make the trip to Florida (if that's even where she still lives...she might be in Georgia now. I don't remember) for her funeral when the time comes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Law and commas

The Oxford comma and its use in legal writing is a subject near and dear to my heart. It's popped up in my reading world twice this week, so I thought I would share.

First, I got an e-mail from LawProse, the company through which Bryan Garner - editor of Black's Law Dictionary and author of two major language-usage books - teaches seminars. (I took one of his writing seminars a couple of years ago and ADORED it. I want to go again, as it looks like he's changed the format and content a bit, but he's not going to be anywhere close this summer.) The e-mail contained a couple of brief legal lessons. One of them read:
What's the most frequent punctuation error that transactional lawyers make?

Answer: Failing to use the serial comma (aka the "Oxford comma"). Its omission is a mistake in legal instruments because litigable ambiguities often result.
I may have squealed "OMG, yes!" when I read this. This probably sounds completely asinine to most of you reading, but I've written decisions that turned on the use or non-use of a serial comma. I remember writing what was essentially a grammar lesson into my judgment entry, trying to explain why one side's interpretation of an indemnity clause was completely ridiculous. I cited Strunk and White. I would have gone to GMAU, but I don't yet own a copy (and have been lusting after one for years. Hint, hint family who may have happened upon the bloggy-blog. Mother's Day is coming up. Nothing says, "I love you, Mom!" like a tome on proper language usage. At least not to this mom.)

Because I'm nothing if not a giver, here's a brief example of a contract provision with and without the serial comma.
  • The parties agree to lease an office, buy computers and paint.
Reading that sentence, without a comma after "computers" makes you think that the parties are agreeing to lease an office, buy computers, and buy paint. It could also be interpreted as agreeing to lease an office, buy computers, and paint the walls of the office. When these two parties have a falling out because one thinks the term should be read the first way, and the other thinks the terms should be read the second way, a court has to step in to resolve that ambiguity.

But, if the term looks like this:
  • The parties agree to lease an office, buy computers, and paint.
The ambiguity is gone. The only reasonable interpretation of that term is that the parties agree to lease an office, buy computers, and paint the walls of the office. One little comma can save the time and money that goes into litigating the interpretation of a contract.

The day after the LawProse tip popped up in my inbox, I saw this article mentioned on Above the Law. A judge in Pennsylvania signed an order declaring his court "Oxford comma friendly," noting that those who fail to use it "shall be met with displeasure, disfavor, and derision." He sounds like my kind of judge.

If you made it this far, you're clearly as much of a grammar nerd as I (or you were just really, really bored). I have a love of Oxford commas, and I want to spread my love to the internet.

Law and Grammar Nerd, out.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bits and blurbs

I think I'm officially calling these I-haven't-blogged-in-far-longer-than-is-prudent-and-now-you-get-a-bunch-of-random-shit posts "bits and blurbs." I like it. And it will let you know that you're in for a bunch of random crap, in case you want to bail. So without further ado...
  • I've been a Desperate Housewives watcher since the beginning. Even though it got dumb a while back, I've stayed with it. And I'm actually a little sad that it's ending next week.

  • I'm having bizarre-o dreams again. And a lot of them involve bloggers and twitterers who I've never met or spoken to, which makes me feel a bit creepy when I wake up. Like I'm stalking these people in my dreams. Last night it was Shalini (real-world Shalini, not Hal). I was was trying to take a shower at her house so I could go to work. Her house was like a fancy camp cabin with a bunch of different people living there and numerous bathrooms. We argued about whose turn it was to shower. And then I walked off and woke up. Strange.*

  • I've got my CDP exchange package ready to send out tomorrow. Secret Recipient, be ready for a package in the next couple of days.

  • I have to give a report at my bar association meeting tomorrow, and I hope pray think it's going to be my last report as chair of the stupid committee I chair that I hate and have wanted off of for years. Whee! I still have to order clearanced post-event merchandise for the poor sap lucky person who gets to take over next year, but that's easy. And shopping. I like both.

  • My latest harebrained health scheme is visiting a naturopathic doctor. Conventional medicine isn't working particularly well, so going to hippie medicine can't hurt, right? I mean, even though she's not licensed in Ohio (OH doesn't license them), she's still got doctor training that mostly mirrors normal doctor training. And if she can give me voodoo medicine that fixes my depression and cures my ass pain, I'll take it.

  • Speaking of my ass (I feel like I do so little of that any more), today marks seven months, and things are holding stagnant.

  • I've got a home improvement bug up my butt right now. I'm hoping to tackle at least some of these projects this summer:

  • I want to rip out all of the ugly bushes in front of the house, and the rest of the vegetation, too. I think we've got some tulips and irises that are in weird clumps, and we definitely have a wandering jew that has wandered far further than I like, and there's some other vine-y, spreading plant that needs to be gone. I don't know what I want to replace all of this with, but I do know I want a fresh start. And I know that I want to put rocks along the side of the house with the weird wall that stick out a couple of feet further than the rest.

  • I have no idea how to garden or how to clear landscaping so I can start over.

  • I want to paint my room and the bathroom, at least.

  • I have no idea how to remove wallpaper or install the vent fan I'm lusting over.

  • I want to move R to his toddler bed, then decorate W's room, which the boys will share, move R into the boys' room, repaint R's current "bedroom," and turn R's room into a play room.

  • I suck at decorating. Big time.

  • I need to brutally reduce the boys' toy stash. We still have a bunch of toys that both are too old to play with hanging out in the living room. I need a weekend where all three boys go away so I can get this done.

  • I can NEVER seem to get rid of them all at the same time.

  • The screens on our front and back doors need to be replaced. I saw a roll of screening in the garage the other day, so now I just need to get on youtube and figure out how to install said screening. This is one of those projects that's been sitting around since we moved in. I think that means I'm officially allowed to take it over and do it without B's knowledge or permission.

  • Same goes for rebuilding our little back porch/stoop thing. It's gone from a problem to a safety hazard. I'm on it this summer.

  • Assuming I learn some carpentry and perhaps a little concrete pouring.

  • I predict that my house's value will fall somewhere in the range of 26-92%, based on the likelihood of successful completion of any of these projects. 
* Shalini, I promise I'm not stalking you. I just have weird dreams about you (and others) sometimes. But totally not in a creepy way! I'm not that kind of creeper! I think I'm going to stop typing before you have me arrested...