April 2009

Yesterday afternoon, work had an Employee Recognition Service Awards Ceremony, which they held in my courtroom since it’s the largest courtroom in the building. (That’s why the pilot episode of “Shark” and a courtroom scene of Ray Romano’s movie “Eulogy” was filmed in here.) Luckily, my back hallway walls were repainted in time for this. Earlier in the week the wallpapers were ripped off, revealing this underneath:

That’s directly behind my courtroom’s back door which exits into the employee hallway and elevator. Here is a closeup.

That’s right, that’s what every employee, judge and commissioner read for a week when they keyed and waited for the employee elevator on our floor. Our own little piece of history. Since the building’s built in the 60s, could it be written by someone dating back to that decade? And it’s a secure back hallway; what employee was so bursting with this statement that he had to memorialize it in writing? The world may never know. (Personally, I think the handwriting looks like that of my first bailiff. Ha.)

On to the afternoon ceremony. My courtroom was decked out.

Above, you see the bar of my desk on the left, the long counsel table on the right.
Below is a shot over the bar of my desk toward the audience. People are starting to gather.

A shot from the audience. This is the supervising judge of our district, also known as my Family Law Resource Judge. He’s wonderful.

I had been dreading this day, because I was among the employees being honored for “benchmark” employment spans, i.e. 10, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years. To my own surprise when I received the memo, I’m at the 10-year point. To me, that meant I was here 7 years too long. Complacent much? The memo had with it a 4-question form that we were supposed to fill out so that something could be said about us. Things like, “What is your most embarrassing or memorable experience while working for the County?” Well, let’s see. The time when I was in an empty back hallway adjusting my pantyhose in a way that showed way too much leg and way unfeminine actions, and THEN looked to my left and up, and saw that unbeknownst to me, SECURITY CAMERAS had recently been installed shooting down the hallway? There was another time when I was walking toward the building from the parking structure and my gartered thigh-high on my right leg just folded over and fell down. I fidgeted with it unsuccessfully, trying to be discreet, then ran back into the parking structure for privacy in repairing this the way I had to. A bailiff later told me security cameras were aimed at me and they had even focused in. I no longer wear hosiery. “What are your future goals with the Courts or with your personal life?” Um. Addressing that honestly would be, to quote Chandler Bing, “Can open…worms everywhere…” “Where/what various positions have you worked while with the County?” Well, THIS one. That’s it. For the last 10 years. With this staff, and this judge. I didn’t promote from within, I came “off the streets” from college straight into the position. I can’t even remember the last question, but it doesn’t matter cuz I left the entire form blank. The administrative secretary told me if I left it blank, the supervisors would just make up stuff about me. That was fine, I told her. I had too much going on in my head to write anything inspiring, anyway. (You can tell this from the lack of inspirational posts on this very blog.) My supervisor came in last week with the blank form. “Write SOMETHING, will ya? At LEAST in your personal and professional goals and where you’ve worked, you can do THAT. I can make up stuff for the other two, but you gotta give me SOMETHING.” Fine.
Professional goal: To stay employed in this current economy.
Personal goal: To never look my age.
I gave it a second thought, knowing my supervisor, and added for his benefit: (Meaning YOUNGER than my age, Brian, not OLDER.)
Court work experience: Departments H (criminal calendar), C (civil law & motion), E (trials/long cause).

When I was called up by my supervisor for the award, he roasted me. I instantly regretted not filling out the form and letting him instead make up some bogus story about surprising me one morning when I strolled in to work an hour 20 minutes late, coming upon him after he’d finished the crossword puzzle while sitting at my desk waiting for me. “The look on her face was priceless. It was great for me, but it was quite an embarrassing moment for Cindy.” I should’ve given THIS experience as my worst court experience instead…

Earliest bad experience. I was still in training class, which was downtown so given the distance and horrific SoCal morning traffic, I had to get up very early to allow for a 2-hour commute. One morning I woke up late, and this happened to be a horrid bad hair day. I’m not used to bad hair days; my hair’s usually no-maintenance, wash-and-go, or even get-out-of-bed-and-go. I don’t even bother brushing it. The photo a few posts ago of me in the purple camisole top? Hair still damp out of the shower, did NOTHING with it. I have no idea why my hair revolted that morning, but knowing I’ve always looked normal before, what’s one day? Big freakin’ deal. So I pulled half of it back in a clip and left. It still looked crappy, but I told myself nobody notices this stuff but me. I got into class just a couple of minutes late, just as they announced that today was picture day! What picture? For our ID badges! Of course. I was right, this was the absolute worst picture I’d taken, so I just didn’t wear my badge much. And then September 11, 2001 happened. Memos went out in our public building, ORDERING us to ALWAYS have our employee badges worn in plain sight on our person. Wonderful. To this day this late bad-hair-day morning haunts me, and I have to wear it like a red badge of shame.
I’ve received comments on the picture through the last 10 years, too. Vicky once saw this badge in my car. “I don’t like this picture,” she announced. “You look much better than this in person.”
A coworker Andy said another time, “This picture makes you look like a foreign exchange student from China majoring in Math at CalTech.” That is NOT a compliment.

It wasn’t all roast yesterday, though. My boss did give me an unexpected gem of information. “You’ve been her coworker for 10 years, but there are things about her you may not know. She’s a published poet.” He went on to say that he’d attempted to obtain a copy of the poetry anthology in which something I’d written years ago had been published, but was unsuccessful, so he ended up photocopying the pages, had his gifted wife copy the poem in calligraphy, then had it framed and mounted in his home office. I had no idea, and until that point I’d forgotten I’d ever shown him the book. He used some very flattering adjectives in describing the piece. Totally made my week.

I haven’t done anything dramatically different in the past couple of weeks, but the needle’s flying up on the weight scale. You know those swimsuit photos taken, what, 2 weeks ago? Add 8 lbs to that. Yeah. Unbelievable. Since those photos, I’ve been running more, and pretty consistently hitting the weights. On the other hand, I’ve also PMSed and fallen victim to the courtroom assistant’s evil implantation of a giant jar of M&Ms in the courtroom. Other than that, I have eaten lightly, though…had a lot of sushi, as you can tell from the previous post. Maybe it’s a combination of an increase of carbs in the forms of chocolate and white sushi rice. Or maybe all the mercury from fish consumption is weighing me down.

Most likely, though, things have aligned to make sure I once again look gross in a swimsuit, since my vacation with Jordan (to be joined halfway through by James) in Orlando, Florida begins next Sunday. Our intinerary doesn’t hit Clearwater Beach until next Thursday, so I have a week and a half to make an extreme attempt at recovery, i.e.
* cutting as much carbs as I can
* doubling up on long runs
* cutting sugar
* chugging water, in case what I’m experiencing is a bloat

I’m really excited about the trip since Jordan is one of my favorite people to run amok with, cuz she’ll match me blow-for-blow in ridiculousness, goofiness, and take photographic evidence of all that, too. James is also usually game for anything. Plus, I miss my big sister. I’m excited about Clearwater Beach after reading all that Flat Coke & Flies has posted and gushed about it; I know it’s a favorite vacation spot for her and her boyfriend Bat. (I wonder if the stuff I write make people want to see specific places/restaurants for themselves, too.)

Mr. W will join me toward the end of the first week in Florida, we’ll hit up the Disney stuff, and then he and I will move on to the Dominican Republic to a resort. Read: more swimsuit time.

Wish me luck!!

Catching up on the cameraphone photos…

On April Fool’s Day, James

…visited me at the new-ish home for the first time and we had omakase at the lakeside sushi restaurant.

He said it was some of the best sushi he’s had. We unfortunately didn’t think to take photos until we were almost done.

He said it was up there with or exceeding the renouned Sushi Wasabi and it was half the price! You can read about our Sushi Wasabi experience, which I visited with James and Vanessa, here. (I just read the comment string on that post, hilarious, knowing now what has happened subsequently, and what is about to happen when JAMES AND I visit JORDAN in Florida next week.)

Continuing my sushi cravings, Mr. W and I had dinner at another Japanese restaurant days later. He made me pick dessert while refusing to give me input, so I deliberately picked something totally uncharacteristic of me: fried stuff. This is green tea ice cream made tempura-style (covered in tempura batter and deep fried).

He was kinda grossed out by the frying, so he didn’t eat much of it. I have the Asian can’t-waste-food-gene, so I ate much of it. The clever ordering totally backfired on me.

Knowing how big a fan our Tennessee girl Flat Coke & Flies is of fried stuff, however, I sent the photos to her and she enjoyed the ice cream vicariously, with the responsive comment “So there IS fried stuff in California!”

Then last Sunday, I…

met up with childhood pal Sandy for lunch. She and I had a great time laughing and bonding over stupid stuff. It’s been awhile since I hooked up with a girlfriend for shits & giggles. It felt great. After a fobby lunch in Irvine we went to the Irvine Spectrum and hung out at the outdoor patio of Dave & Buster’s for drinks, continuing our gigglefest there while people-watching.

We made jokes that I can’t make public, but it was like the good ol’ days again. =)

Of course by this time I’m craving sushi again, so when college roommie Diana got into town for a deposition she was defending, she and I met up for a raw dinner (after another workout together) last Tuesday at a sushi restaurant in Costa Mesa. We’ve been trying to go to Sushi Wasabi for awhile, but every time she’s in town it’s closed (Sundays & Mondays). This restaurant didn’t compare, but it did have a couple of interesting items. This is the “Shrimp Boat” as served…

…and after Diana doused it in Tabasco.

Good thing we’re both gym rats, and good thing we don’t have cholesterol problems. Yum! The best thing we ordered was done blind off their roll menu. “What’s the Russian Roulette Roll?” I asked our heavily-accented Japanese waitress.
I heard, “It’s a blah-blah spicy yellowtail, blah-blah, and one piece is blah-blah.”
“Oh, that sounds interesting,” I said. “We’ll have one.”
When it arrived, the six identical-looking segments of the roll were arranged in a circle on the plate, cross-section-side up, like a roulette wheel. I was just about to ask Diana what the deal was with this roll as explained by our waitress, when Diana said, “WHAT’s in this roll again? I couldn’t understand her.” Great.
“One piece has something different, was all I could gather,” I said. So we started eating. The spicy yellowtail was chopped tataki-style and not ground as spicy tuna usually is, and was delicious. We speculated what the surprise was.
“Watch, it’s something stupid, like a piece of carrot,” Diana laughed. I joked that maybe it was a penny. That got her chewing more carefully, testing for texture changes. Diana noted that the roll is spicier than she’d expected, which impressed her, and she couldn’t tell the difference between the two pieces she had. I agreed, so far both tasted the same so we must not have gotten to the “special” piece, yet. But what if we had, and didn’t notice it? Two more pieces remained on the plate, so she took one and I took the last.
“Still good, but not different,” I said with my mouth full. But Diana was pointing energetically at her own stuffed mouth now, making a slight whimpering sound. “What’s different?” I asked. She couldn’t talk. She was, however, turning colors slightly.
She finally swallowed the piece and chugged tea. “It’s TOTALLY SPICY! Oh my GAWD!” she said when she could breathe again. “I don’t know what’s in it cuz the texture never changed, but I’m thinking it was chopped up habaneros!” She stayed red for another few minutes, complaining of her burning mouth. Haha! The Russian Roulette: what a great roll!

Yesterday morning I took leave of my boy…

…and went to work as usual. In the morning, I received an email from college roommie Diana stating she’s now in town on her business trip. We finalized our after-work meeting up plans. I would hit the gym at lunchtime as usual with Gym Trainee, then meet up with Diana afterwards for a run (GREAT weather this week, high 70s F, cool breezes, clear skies) before dinner.
Unfortunately, I went for another long hilly run over the weekend and left my shoes at home. Again! I didn’t even realize this until Gym Trainee and I were almost at the gym. I was so upset coming back to work, thinking my evening running plans were foiled, too. But then I remembered my Courtroom Emergency Shoes. I had Emergency Trunk Shoes (an old pair of running shoes) before, which my mother insisted I turn into Courtroom Emergency Shoes in case the building collapses while I’m at work and I have to pick my way out of debris, gravel, and broken glass in my heels. I decided yesterday that I have more occasion to use Emergency Trunk Shoes for all the times I’ve arrived shoeless to the gym, than to use Emergency Courtroom Shoes, so that’s how that pair of shoes got its old title back.
I met up with Diana at fancy South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, where she was attempting to buy a dress.

I say “attempting” because I walked in 10 seconds before she discovered the dress she’d been eyeing for weeks and finally decided to buy could not be purchased with an American Express card, which was all she had on her. Haha! I just spotted her the purchase and she paid me back in cash later on. What are college roommates for, right?
We walked to her hotel from there, across the street, changed and got ready for our workout.

We thought we’d hit both cardio and weights, since I missed the noon workout. The hotel’s small gym was fairly decent. We did a 30-minute treadmill run and carried a full conversation the entire time. That made the time fly. Then we did some random resistance training.

I like the above photo for several reasons. One, it’s a fun angle. Two, Diana and I are both in it. Three, I got to secretly include the woman who came in to work out in JUST HER BRA. See her reflection in the mirror on the treadmill.
On the way out from the gym section, we passed by the pretty outdoor pool and patio area. It was beautiful, and we wished we could’ve taken advantage of the conversation areas with more friends — the pool area had lounge chairs set up…

…the outdoors lounging area had large L-shaped outdoor couches, firepits, low tables, high barstools around pedestal tables.

And, cabanas. Ahhhh…

Hey, I just saw that I’m still wearing my workout gloves. Haha, what a geek.

After that shot, Diana and I went back to her room, showered, and went to Irvine for some Korean Soon Tofu. Yum. Of course after that we hit up Mochilato and had a giant Italian-style shaved ice. I was so full driving home that as soon as I went inside, I only had time to hand Mr. W a little gift box of four assorted mochis I’d selected for him, before crashing to bed upstairs.

I wonder what I’d be like if I weren’t crippled by earthly emotions, and could respond to the coldness of loved ones by giving them more love. If I were above the fray, I could clear-headedly evaluate a situation like someone drifting away from me and act cleverly to circumvent it or turn it around, instead of feeling hurt and drawing inward instead. The advice I give others who are lost comes from a detached and objective view, which is why the advice works. But when I’m the injured party, it becomes extremely difficult to focus outside of the pain to find the actual bullseye one-strike target. I’ve developed enough control over time to keep from firing everywhere haphazardly and desperately (which from past experience has created more irreparable harm than good), and I know it’s more effective to start with a cool-headed analysis and make the one simple and strategic hit that will resolve everything. Why am I using a battle metaphor?

Emotion is what clips our wings, makes us human. I’d love to be ethereal enough to look down at the chessboard and think, “I’m here, you’re there; you’re there because of this and that move, and the goal is to bring us together. That can happen if I stay patient, low-key, and send small, unintrusive things your way to show you and remind you how much you are loved. When you have time to remember me, you’ll come.” Instead, I hurt, I reach out, feel rejected, ball up, and wait for strength to run the other way.

A friend asked me, “You are so tactical, how do you not rule the world already?” Another fairly frequently asks, “Where do you see [yourself] going?” The answer is the same; my sight is muddy when it comes to my own life, because otherwise what’s the point of being here if I already KNOW everything? So I study the chessboard, and I make guesses — blind ones when it comes to my own life — and fight the urge to run, because I feel it’s my duty to pay attention and learn while I’m here. That’s the best I can do without my wings.

I was in my dark place this morning driving to work, as the various demises of relationships past played in my head. It seems the beginning of the end consistently had the factor of disappointment in it. By that I mean, disappointment becomes predictable, then expected, then proven true. The issues were different, of course. To oversimplify, one lied about everything, where he was, what he did, his past (issue=integrity); another always threw me aside for his friends (issue=priority); a third did a combination of the last two but took it up a level as the lies were covering up extremely hurtful things he did while with his friends (issues=integrity, priority, morality); a fourth flaked on me all the time, both in calls and activities (issues=consideration, priority).

My relationship bible for a period was Greg Behrendt’s book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I’ve quoted from it to girlfriends often, when they go through their relationship crap. “He’s just not that into you if he doesn’t call,” one chapter explained. In this world of electronic leashes, each person has various means of accessibility at virtually any given time in the day. Right now, for example, you’d get a hold of me if you comment on this blog, call my desk phone, call my cell phone, email me through my work, email me through my personal email, text message me. I’d also get automatic email notification if you write a message to me through any of three social networking websites. In this day and age, people have so much access to communication tools that their asses accidentally call other people while sitting on their cell phones. So don’t tell me you had zero time in a 4-day period to make one phone call if you gave a shit about me and meant it when you said you want a relationship to work, because all I know is that despite being accused of not trying, my efforts had been met with slaps and denials, and one tiny small effort on the other side that could have been taken, was not. It’d been previously discussed, it would’ve cost nothing, taken up almost no time, and it would have meant everything. (issues=effort, communication, connectivity)

Running off for 4 days and not calling is not the same severity as lying, cheating or even flaking but I crumpled just the same because all of these things trace back to the same state of mind. That is, I am not important enough to be afforded the courtesy of connectivity, even when things are on the brink of collapse.

And, he does not miss me.

Ich bin verloren.

Und ich frage mich, ob ich die nur ein bin, die irgendetwas vermisst.

Some weeks are so bad that all you can find for the lowest common denominator between the week and motivation to not leave heavy-duty stapler dents on a coworker’s corpulence is to learn SOMETHING from the week and hence redeem the waste of life that is what the week felt like. Was that mean? If you could read the list of f-ups I had to deal with and correct just this week alone, you’d be feeling bad for me. I actually found myself wondering if I ought to throw the hole-puncher at the giant tumor sitting at the other desk. What I learned:
* Physics: burp stench travels way across the courtroom
* Sociology: don’t take certain people’s word for anything, especially when certain people have proven rarely to deserve the benefit of the doubt
* Chemistry: combining pizza for 3 consecutive meals, 1 donut, 3-4 pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies, 2 vanilla sandwich cookies, and agitating the mixture at the gym creates massive, MASSIVE acid reflux
* Math: Transitive Property of Equality… new civil trial (a) = loss of lunches this week (b); loss of lunches (b) = loss of gymming (c); therefore new civil trial (a) = loss of gymming (c).
Algebraic Calculation…C X 5d(cookie dough + pizza + cookies) + PMS bloat = +2% body fat and +6lb scale weight. Fuck me!

Mr. W skipped town Friday morning while I was at work to hang with his family, especially his Gamer Bro, in Vegas. He’ll be back sometime Monday. I took the opportunity to go straight to the gym after work on Friday, hit the weights hard. That makes one (weak) cardio session and one strength-training session this week. That is NOT enough. The morning broke brilliantly today, and I geared up with the newly revamped iPod and hit a 5 mile very hilly run. I didn’t expect it to be a great experience, considering it’d been awhile since I hit the actual streets for a real run, and there was already direct sunlight. I normally can not run in direct sunlight, it seems to sap my energy. Turned out the morning was crisp and cold enough to still give my ears windburn (and hence a headache), and the sunrise was filtered by the hilly raise to my east. I am normally anemic around this time of month, so exertion isn’t easy and cardio would soon have me doubled over in severe cramps. This never happened today. The music triggered endorphins and adrenaline, and I powered through long uphills, never running out of breath nor feeling the need to stop. (I mean, aside from the 3 or so red lights at intersections that I *had* to stop at.) Now I know. I can push myself harder next time. Or maybe it’s just that I have decent calories in me for once, built up from my week of eating refined white sugar and carbs. This bloat sucks, though, I’ll not be doing THAT again anytime soon (high-sodium, high-sugar consumption for a week straight).

Lily had invited me to a 5K run in Seal Beach this morning, but obviously I didn’t go. (I also ran farther than that on my own.) They’re doing a barbecue afterwards, but I think it’s weird going — it sounds sort of like a couples thing — without a husband. =P Anny is around the neighborhood running household purchasing errands, and invited me to call or text her if I’m bored. Gym Trainee’s birthday is today (HIPPO BIRDIE, GYM TRAINEE!) and she had been considering inviting people over to her home for lunch, but that fell through and I spoke to her on the drive home last nite, sounds like some individual friends of hers have invited her to other things. My godson has abandoned her (his mother) to go ATVing anyway. But James is coming through! He just texted me that he’s on his way to an eye appointment and is free afterwards. I invited him over to the house since he’s never been here after we moved. I have no idea what we’ll end up doing, but I’m sure it’d involve food, cuz the guy eats ANYTHING and enjoys it!

Speaking of which, here’s where James and I went on Wednesday for an early dinner:

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Revolving sushi at Kura Sushi in Costa Mesa! The sushi wasn’t the best, but it was quick eating. The conveyor belts carry various food items around each table in the entire restaurant, and if you see something you want running by, you just grab it. Prices are tracked based on color coding of plates. Food on blue-rimmed plates are $1.75; yellow plates are $2.25, etc. It’s great for fun and variety and quick eatin’. It’s also cheap.

We sat at the bar so we could also order straight from the sushi chefs as with any sushi bar. We special-ordered a spicy tuna handroll each. I was STUFFED afterwards. Check out my plates!

Since we’re talking about James, here’s a video from back when he and Daughter collaborated on one of her songs. (I’m so glad Mr. W finally registered Daughter’s music; now I can share all this stuff.) You see James playing on his “virtual drums” to a pre-recording of Daughter’s singing and guitar. This video shows a work-in-progress where the loudest sound is, unfortunately, the metronome ticking. If you want to hear the finished version, let me know, I’ll email it. It’s TERRIFIC.

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