A Blessing and a Curse

Many things are considered both a blessing and a curse. Perhaps nothing more so than my own reserve of pop trivia.

This came to my attention recently when I attended a Coldplay concert. I know enough of their stuff to appreciate when I'm offered a ticket to a sold-out show, so my friend and I hopped in a car and drove to Las Vegas to see them in action. What I did not expect, however, was that my entire evening would involve a subtext of Gwenyth Paltrow. But it did. For the first time I found myself listening to the lyrics of their work and paying attention to Chris Martin, who had always struck me as too skinny and pale for my interest. First of all, I'd like to recant that statement- I never gave the guy enough credit. His stage charisma was incredible, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when he began what was effectively a one-man mosh pit performance, jumping up and down and all around for two hours straight.

As I listened to the lyrics and watched him perform, though, my mind kept straying to that darn reserve of pop knowledge. I thought about him and Gwenyth, how they had met. Was this song about her? Was that one? Whose idea was it to name the kids Apple and Moses? Were the names meant to be kinda funny or were they done with the dead seriousness of his pledge to support Oxfam? Does he like Madonna or does he just put up with her because she and Gwen are BFFs? Does he eat Macrobiotically like Gwenyth does? Does he get along with his mother-in-law, Blythe Danner?

And then I got philosophical and started to wonder where Gwen was. I doubted she was in Vegas, not with young children and such unhealthy food. And then I wondered how she was coping with her father (director Bruce Paltrow's) death. Was Chris supportive of her during that tough time? And when Chris practices his music at home, does she dote on him or does she get annoyed like the family of most musicians who can only take so much, no matter how good it is?

Yes, that's literally the ticker tape of babble that went through my head as he played his incredible tunes one after another. It's not to say that I didn't enjoy the show (I did), but I was amazed at how our knowledge of stars' lives rounds out our enjoyment of their work (or takes away from it, as the case may be). Celebrity Watching has become our new national pastime, but at what expense? If people had seen weekly articles of Paul McCartney being "Just Like Us!" would the Beatles have had the longevity they did, or would we have turned our backs on them? (This is a digression because I don't love the Beatles the way everyone else does and frankly don't get the mania, but that's another post for another day.)

At the same time, I can't help but continue absorbing as much pop culture as I can. It's not intentional in all cases, but once I hear it, it sticks. Tonight I blurted out that Laura Dern was dumped by Billy Bob Thornton for Angelina Jolie. So yeah, this whole pop culture knowledge thing-- it may not be a blessing, but if it's a curse it's a darn funny one.

(bonus points if when you read "Laura Dern" your first thought was "Ben Harper's wife")

And the games continue.

Humpty Dumpty

One of my favorite things about business school so far has been that the concepts discussed in the classroom have immediate, observable application in the outside world. I’ll hear about supply and demand in class, then step outside and see that Taylor Hicks’ album is in the bargain bin. Or we’ll discuss branding, or more specifically, the possibilities for expanding your brand, and I’ll step outside and see that Madonna, author of the book “SEX” and the song “Erotica” is now writing children’s books. So, I get it – what I learn in the classroom translates to everyday life.

This was never the case with law school. I never got the connection to the real world. While we sometimes (read: rarely) read interesting cases, I never quite saw the parallels to reality, and this is a large part of why I never quite found it, well, compelling. Who really cares if your fox runs across your land into your neighbor’s? I don’t. I grew up with “finders keepers”. The end.

We studied a host of theories in law school, but I’ve finally found one that makes sense in my reality.

Here you go:

Recently a girl friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend. The guy took it pretty hard. As wonderful as this girl is, his meltdown (and that’s putting it nicely) had only somewhat to do with her leaving him. I’ll leave the details at that because frankly I fear he may be a reader of this here bloggy blog blog. But suffice it to say that he took this breakup to the hilt- to a point where we had to feel there was something much bigger going on.

What she was dealing with, in legal terms, is the EGGSHELL PLAINTIFF.

The idea is that you get someone how you found them. So if you get in a car accident and you break someone’s leg, sucks for you. But if you cause an accident and that person was already in a neckbrace, tougher shit for you. You can be responsible for all of it (depending on the laws of the state; this blog is not to be taken as legal advice, just opinion and blather, la la la).

Dating is just one big darn Eggshell World. We take people as we find them. You date someone who is hypersensitive to weight comments because her last boyfriend made lots of snarky remarks on her curvature or you meet someone who completely breaks down if Celine Dion comes on the radio because that’s the last song he danced to with his ex. You take people as you find them. Which seems unfair, because, when you start dating, you date people’s representative. Psychology commonly believes that it takes 2-3 years for the “true” self to show up, for you to start revealing the little flaws that you have been perhaps subconsciously hiding. My boyfriend and I recently discussed this, trying to pre-empt the ugly revelations with confessions. I admitted that I am a little more OCD than I’ve shown him (ok, my mom -- and now sister- call me "Monica", in a reference to the anal-retentive character on Friends). Fine, and I’m an all-out car stereo hog. I told him that too. He thought really hard about it and, only after consulting his sister, came up with the fact that he eats ClifBars instead of meals. But the truth of the exercise came to me -- the whole point of that psych finding is that people don’t even REALIZE they’re hiding their annoying quirks and behaviors. Interestink.

Back to the Eggshell Plaintiff: I realize this should make more cautious daters out of all of us. But then you might be thinking that, hey, obviously you take people as they come. But why is it that we expect people to be scar-free? We expect everyone to come perfectly packaged, straight off the assembly line. (By “we”, I mean “me".) It never occurred to me that I could be responsible for adding to previous damage. It feels like you should only be responsible for the damage you cause, but wise legal minds teach us otherwise.

And if they say it, it must be true.

Ultimately I convinced my friend that it wasn’t her responsibility to make up for years of hardship and torment this guy had been through before her, and that she was just the straw, he the camel, yadda yadda. But the idea remains- and he certainly believed it.

So, in relationships, is the case “Buyer beware?”

Butter side down.

"'I have never had a slice of bread,
particularly large and wide,
that did not fall upon the floor,
and always on the buttered side.'
-Huron Reflector, 1841

One day this will be very funny.


The above can be found on a certificate my sister made me for just freaking making it through today.

You know, I thought the worst part of my day would be getting up at 8 to go to the gym. Susie and I decided to make a new start of things and get set up/trained at the gym we joined in sisterly love and avoid in sisterly procrastination. I was the first one there, even though I was a few minutes late, so I ran and threw my bag into a locker.

Fast forward to after the weight lifting, when we decided to do cardio. I reached into my bag and couldn't find my iPod. Silly me, must have left it at home.

Susie left the gym, and there I was, still reading and ellipticizing or whatever the hell you call it. I finally grabbed my bag to leave and felt around for my keys. My keys. My keys... where were my keys?

Let's fast forward through the agony (God forbid I relive it today for the zillionth time) and just say that when I reached in, there were no keys. Hoping against hope, I ran out to the parking lot to check for my car, thinking maybe I had locked the keys inside. No car. Could this be like when I lost my car in the Staples Center parking lot for 1.5 hours? Maybe, but no, I knew exactly where I had parked. I had a lucky spot right up front. Lucky my ass.

I reported it to the front desk guy at the gym and he couldn't have cared less. When I told him it was "very important" he said he'd be right with me, and went on signing up a new member. So I made sure to mention in front of this "new member" the shit that was going down.

I filed the police report and called my dad. I told him what had happened and half expected him to zip over and get me. He is semi-retired, after all! He sent my sister. Which was fine and she helped me get organized and get home, all in a daze.

This is all before noon. People who sleep in know what they're doing. Nothing good happens before noon.

As I drove with my sister I realized the heaviness of my loss. In my car were zillions of things, including but not limited to my favorite (and only) 2 artsy yoga mats, a book of my favorite cds (including a mix I stayed up til 2am making), and my UCLA Law sweatshirt. Ok, that last one wasn't a "loss", but still.

Then it sunk in further. In the trunk was a bag of material to send to clients - including checks and contracts, and...

(drumroll please)

my passport.

Not only am I type A and was renewing it way ahead of time (it's not overdue til October), but I am an immigrant's dream as far as passport photo- even the border patrol guys give me a thrice over when I come back to my home country here! I could be anything, which means my lil passport has market value!

The rest of the day was spent, as you can imagine, agonizingly putting my life (read: wallet) back together. Going to the DMV for 2 hours, no seating. And waiting no less than 4 hours for the locksmith to show up, jumping every time I heard a noise.

Add to that the burn that I had just bought a cheap but cute black purse that I loved. This purse RIP was in the trunk, just waiting to be slung over my shoulder and marched into Macy's (my Macy's coupons were in my purse too).

Other contents of my hijacking:

*My new perfume was in it. Rosy, over-expensive l'occitane stuff.
*Hand cream from l'occitane. Perhaps this brand isn't meant to be.
*My favorite lipstick.
*My new fancy-schmancy inhaler. That's right, these people are SO going to hell (just ask Kirk). They robbed an asthmatic of her inhaler!
*My new lucky red wallet. Not lucky.

I realize these are just things, but somewhere out there, some bitch is being me (it's a bitch because SHE took my keys from the locker room; all those years of watching Murder She Wrote are coming together for me). And whoever she is is also calling my friends- I got a message from someone I haven't talked to in at least a year saying he was sorry he missed my call this afternoon. What, this afternoon when I was living like it was 1988 and giving people my home number to reach me?

The shittiest part of all of this isn't the car theft, it isn't even the fact that I came home to a flooding house (oh yes- the pipes 2 floors up broke and so my paint is bubbling up and water is dripping from my sockets. Right now I'm writing with the whirr of industrial-sized fans deafening me). In my delirium this is almost fascinating, as is how quickly the plumbers ripped up my carpet this afternoon.

The shittiest part isn't any of this, it's that everyone keeps teasing me that "that's what you get for going to the gym!". Har har.

And I can't help but think they're right.

So, with a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie crumbs (contents of this evening's care package from aforementioned angel of a sister) and new resolve, I say: "f the gym".

POSTSCRIPT: 7/11- they arrested a girl with my credit cards and id today, so hopefully this is the beginning of the end of all of this!