bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The most stressful trip of my life

As you can see by the clever title above, our weekend trip to Portland was the most stressful trip of my life. I'm pretty sure Ian would say the same thing. Here are the highlights:

What was supposed to happen:

  • The first day, we meet up with our Seattle-based friends who have a brother living in Portland, gather him up too, and they show us around the city to help us find neighborhoods to live in.
  • The second day, we rent a car and explore the city some more.
  • Ian falls gently for the charms of the city, like I did on my first visit; we are assured that this is a good move.
  • We find some neighborhoods that we could definitely live in comfortably and happily.
  • Ideally, we actually secure an apartment.

What did happen:
  • First day, our friends had the impression that this was a hang-out trip, and not a help-Sra-and-Ian be productive trip; friends have terribly dominant personalities compared to our own; we explore the Portland Saturday Market, have some pizza and sit in the Pioneer Court Plaza waiting for some boring bands to play. Ian gets to see some things, but nothing that I haven't seen and nothing we couldn't do later, when we actually live there. Nothing productive gets done.
  • Second day, we walk over to Hertz to rent a car. No reservation was made because we thought you could just go up to a rental counter and request a rental. We are denied without a reservation unless we want to pay for 5 days (in other words, line the rental agent's pockets handsomely). We say no thanks, walk over to Avis, and are snottily told that no cars are available. We are beginning to think we are being judged or the agents are just effing lazy. No cars? on a Sunday? come on. We resign ourselves to foot exploration. Buses were considered, but we thought trying to coordinate schedules would be a hassle. So we hoofed it.
  • Nearly everybody we have asked about where they recommend living says, "Oh, I just love SE, anywhere from Hawthorne down to Division, or even Powell." Well, maybe we didn't make it to the to-die-for area, since we only got to 30th Ave before we simply couldn't walk anymore, but we absolutely loathed this neighborhood. It felt like Magna or South Salt Lake. I would rather die. Or at least stay in Salt Lake. I might even prefer Sacramento to that neighborhood, and I was violently opposed to moving there. What the hell is wrong with all these people who love Hawthorne? Is this some joke in which locals who don't want new people moving in recommend the most ghetto neighborhood in order to deter newcomers? Or are we really that different from everyone?
  • We were filled with utter dread. Ian kept saying, "what are we doing? what have we gotten ourselves into?" I kept thinking, "Ian hates me, he's going to leave me, if this is the coolest area to live, I really don't want to come here." We have several cocktails back at our hotel and then lay on our bed and hold each other, each trying to comfort the other when we are both feeling the same sick feeling in our stomachs.
  • Desperate, we decide to try to book a rental car for the following morning before our flight later that afternoon. We go with Enterprise, because those Hertz and Avis people are bitches. Book the car for 8:AM, then manage to fall asleep for exhaustion in spite of our terror. Wake around 6:AM, 1 hour before our alarm, and are unable to fall back asleep, because worry starts seeping in again.
  • 7:AM, Pack up the hotel, check out, take the Streetcar to Burnside and find the Enterprise agency. Get our rental car from some very friendly and helpful agents. Agents recommend several neighborhoods, none of which is Hawthorne.
  • Decide to start our journey at Lewis & Clark Law School, since I know that's a beautiful area, and I want to show Ian where I will be spending all my time neglecting him. Only a 10 minute drive to L&C, and already Ian is feeling better. I am too - I wasn't crazy, this town is classy and beautiful and hip, you just have to know the right neighborhoods. We fall for Multnomah Village, Lake Oswego, John's Landing in SW, and even Sellwood on the East Side. It's going to be ok, we can live here. But we are still traumatized by this weekend. Why did everybody lie to us? we wonder.
  • No housing secured, but some leads have been found. Should have a place soon.
  • At the end of the weekend, we did accomplish what we needed to do, but the emotional and mental stress was something I would not like to ever repeat. I think law school will be cake now.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dear Michael Jackson,

You were a world icon. A tormented, disturbed, haunted genius.

Your music is a legacy that will live on even as you are laid to rest.

Sweet dreams, Moonwalker, you will always be bad. You know it.

Your fan,

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A few things

  • I hate the term "cold call." Don't know why. The other secy uses that phrase when she forwards a new caller to an attorney. I just say "new caller." I think my way is better.
  • This morning as I waited at a traffic light in my car, a man on a bicycle pulled up next to me in the bike lane. He was riding a purple glittery girl's bike. The best explanation is that he's a bike thief. I'm not sure I would even steal a bike like that, if I were the thieving sort. I have standards, you know. But the point is, yes, I judge people, and you do too.
  • I've given up on asking for room for cream from Starbucks. I'm pretty sure no barista there understands the meaning of that phrase. Well, if they want to carry liquid-filled garbage bags out at closing time, that's their business.
  • I think I'm developing a fear of flying. When I was a kid, I enjoyed flying. After 9/11, when Security Theater took over the show, I became annoyed at the hassle of getting through the long lines at security. After having some expensive and possibly explosive hair product stolen from me, I felt robbed. Now that the SLC International Airport has those full body scanners that show off your naughty bits to the Security Theater stage hands, I feel violated. And these days it seems like hearing about plane crashes is nothing new. I know the statistics are still in your favor when flying, but I can't help but be affected by all these headlines. I'm not sure if there just seems to be so many crashes because good news doesn't sell, or if there really are more crashes than usual because airlines are cheaping out about actual safety in exchange for the illusion of security.
  • Despite the fact that a couple flights will be involved, I'm looking forward to mine and Ian's trip to Portland this weekend to go apartment hunting. Not so much looking forward to all the packing that remains when we come back.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Friday, June 19, 2009

The messes around with word order language

Sometimes I feel slightly ashamed that I'm not more proficient in German than I am. I did major in German, after all, and so you might expect me to be fluent, but I'm really more conversational than anything else. I can get by in Germany. I can order a Doener Kabab, mit allem, zum Mitnehmen (which really is all you need to know). I can read relatively simple writing with no problem. I can watch German movies, but subtitles are still helpful for more colloquial speech. If you speak to me in German, I will probably understand you, but I'll also probably answer back in English. But when someone learns that you majored in German, or any other language, they get this idea that you know everything about the language.

Not so. I am a mere novice.

You see, majoring in a foreign language is like majoring in English: it is more about literature than the language itself. Obviously you need a basic understanding of the language to survive, but you don't have to be a language expert to get a baccalaureate in German. Actually, the focus on literature as opposed to language itself is what prompted me to add a second major in linguistics (the study of language, to those of you who confuse this word with "cunnilingus". Although there are plenty of people who could stand a little instruction in that area, alas it is not taught in college [at least not in the classroom].)

Over the years at my job, I've been asked to translate a few German language patents into English, which is really cool, I like a challenge. But, man, it is difficult enough trying to understand patents in your native tongue, let alone your less-than-fluent second tongue. The language of a patent is very technical and legalese-ish, and sentences frequently run on to paragraph lengths. The syntax is very difficult to parse if you aren't paying close attention, and complex, abstract verbiage is preferred over simple plain language. I think this is because lawyers like to obfuscate, so that they create wiggle room in which to argue should the meaning of a phrase become a point of interest in potential patent litigation. If it's completely clear what something says, then they are stuck with that meaning, and to a lawyer, that is not generally a good thing.

Germans like to write run on sentences the length of paragraphs anyway, and it abounds in German lit, but it gets even worse in patents. The kicker is that verbs in German often appear at the end of a clause, and if you have other clauses nested within the main clause, you may have to search to the end of the paragraph-length sentence past several other verbs in order to find the verb that goes with the subject of the main clause. I sometimes have to draw diagrams for really complex sentences. I have no idea how Germans parse this stuff in their heads on the fly.

Even worse, Germans like to use a lot of adjectival phrases. In English, we use simple one or two word adjectives to precede nouns, and anything more complex generally comes after the noun in a relative clause, thus:

Those noisy kids that live in the apartment across the way are making a ruckus again.
Whereas the wording in German would read something like this:
Those noisy in the apartment across the way living kids are again a ruckus making.
Weird, no? I was having a hard time with these adjectival phrases, particularly ones that start with an article, so that there are two articles next to each other, thus:
The the blue car neighboring red car its parking space leaving is.
Or, as you might say in English syntax:
The red car neighboring the blue car is leaving its parking space.
For the first few patent translations, I was completely stupefied by sentences like this, until one day when I had a Eureka moment and my brain suddenly understood how to parse these jumbled sentences properly. It was like magic. Now I know what to look for when parsing sentences with adjectival phrases, but to me these are still the most difficult thing when translating German to English.

And now that you've seen what some of German syntax looks like, maybe you'll understand when I tell you I'm not completely fluent in the language in which I majored.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell

The following exchange is a relatively frequent occurrence in our household:

Sra (leaning in to Ian): Do I have a fever?
Ian (feeling forehead): No, you don't have a fever.
Sra (leaning back, pensively): I think I have a fever.
Ian: You don't have a fever.
Sra: Are you sure? Feel again.
Ian: Your forehead is actually quite cool.
Sra: I definitely have a fever.
I'm not a hypochondriac in the least (although Ian might disagree), but I am a very temperature-sensitive person. I get cold at 70 degrees, and I keep a blanket in my office which I wear around like a cape during the winter months and over-air-conditioned summer days. You would think my plentiful layers of fat would keep me warm, but I think deep down I'm actually a cold-blooded creature who needs to bake on a sunny rock in order to keep warm.

So the thing is, I can detect even the slightest change in my body's temperature.

And I have a fever, goddamnit!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Friday, June 12, 2009


Don't forget to hook up your digital converter boxes or scrap your old analog TVs for newer models today, folks!

We wouldn't want the cable companies and networks to lose valuable viewer-number-based earnings today. Gotta bail out the man!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Dollar Signs in Their Pupils

So I thought this whole swine flu thing was well behind us now. Hadn't heard about it for a few weeks, until yesterday, when I saw a headline on Yahoo! (I can't really say Yahoo! without hearing Erasure in my head), saying that the World Health Org has declared the swine flu a pandemic. Is this not old news? I thought they had already declared it such (and undeservedly so, in my opinion) weeks ago. Did they not?

Later, at home, I watched BBC news tell the story in a rather alarmist fashion unbecoming of the BBC*. 141 people have died so far worldwide, they said. Oh, really? Because there were about 250 aboard the Air France flight that went down in the Atlantic Ocean. Now THAT is a tragedy, THAT is newsworthy. 141 people die from a strain of flu, and not necessarily from the flu itself, but from complications caused by the flu, and we need to have a grave news story about it. I bet more people than that died in car accidents yesterday. What is with all the commotion?

And then this morning I see the following Yahoo! headline:

Ah ha! Therein lies the rub. This bringing up of the non-story that is the swine flu once more is all just a ruse to rouse up irrational fear in the masses again, so that this time we can all run out and get vaccinated. And if everyone gets vaccinated, the drug companies make millions.

Well I'm not going to be one of those suckers who buys into this vaccine thing. I don't need it, and you don't either, unless perhaps you are elderly, youngerly, or lacking an immune system**. Those are really the only people who may be at risk of death with contraction of any flu or common cold virus, swine or otherwise.


*They also told a story about how the increase in gas prices over the past couple months has spurred people to go out and buy more stuff. Huh? How does that follow? BBC, I am ashamed of you.

**Of course, now that I think about it, since vaccines work by giving your immune system a weakened or dead virus to attack so it can create antibodies, I suppose a vaccine won't do you any good if you don't have an immune system anyway. So instead, stay away from sick people and practice good hygiene, but then you should all be doing this anyway.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ready, Set,

There are less than two months left until Ian and I move to Portland, and we are both excited with anticipation, and frightened with scenarios of not being able to find a place to live or a job for Ian. We are trying to remain positive and tell ourselves that everything will work out, even if we have to stay a week or so in an extended stay hotel at first until we can get an apartment, or if Ian has to get a job at Burger King (Bonus: free crack coffee for me).

We are trying to make this move as painless as possible by tackling the cleaning, sorting, and packing of our apartment a little bit each day. You never realize how much meaningless stuff you have accumulated until you try to estimate how many boxes you're going to have to put it all in. We also have to deal with the business of selling things that we aren't taking with us that still have value. (If you are a Utah local interested in buying a complete set of fetching bamboo-patterned China called Yamaka Mandarin, please let me know. It's a valuable set, very charming, and I will cut a great deal.)

Been checking lots of things off the To-Do list:

  • My car passed its inspections, after initially failing for the gas cap. Phew! I was worried they would fail my brakes. Much rather buy an $8 gas cap than $500 brake work.
  • Ordered a new wristwatch. I've gone a year and a half without wearing one, and I've actually gotten fairly good at estimating the time, but in law school I will need to be a bit more precise. I like this model because it has both analog and digital, plus date. I can be a little slow at reading analog faces, but they are still useful if you want to do a visual on 15 minutes of time, say. I also like that the analog only shows even numbers. An old watch of mine was like this, and I somehow found it easier to read.
  • Got an updated eye prescription (-.50 change in each eye since last year - Zoinks!), and ordered some cheap but handsome new frames from Zenni Optical.
  • Decided to purchase a new 13" MacBook Pro for school (but will wait until we move to Portland, so as to partake of the lack of sales tax in the great state of Oregon). I decided that it would be beneficial, at the least, to be fluent in both PC and Mac, so I'm making the crossover. Plus, with the student discount, I will be able to get the 13" for $1,100, and will get a free iPod Touch as well, which is great because Ian's iPod seems to have walked off, and he needs a new one.
  • Finally got a haircut that is funky and choppy and well-shaped and makes me feel like me again. No one ever seems to understand what I try to tell them to do, but this one I can work with. And I don't feel like a soccer mom or news lady, which is always a bonus. Plus, did you know there is such a thing as a spray wax hair product? Dream come true, this.

In checking all these things off the list, I feel so excited for the rest of this time to go by, but I also realize that there are a lot of people I care about that I'm going to be leaving behind, some of whom I may never see again, some of whom I truly wish to maintain contact with, but I'm realistic about the fact that physical distance can lend itself to emotional distance.

Still, I am eager to get on with this exciting adventure. I'm eager to get my brain moving again. Funny how quickly mental prowess atrophies without proper stimulation. I look forward to this new challenge.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Go check out my guest post at Claire De Lunacy!

I've written a guest post for Claire De Lunacy's one-year blogiversary celebration. It's called What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding Transgenderism? Go check it out and leave comments if desired. I'll be reading them.

Stay tuned to CDL for the rest of the weeklong celebration, which goes from today until next Wednesday. Claire's got some other guest bloggers lined up, along with some of her own short fiction, and maybe even some other surprises. Who knows?

If you haven't added Claire to your regular reading list yet, I highly recommend doing so, and now's the right time to do it!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Monday, June 1, 2009

I really would never eat some crusty hamburger out of a garbage can

I had a very unusual and unpleasant dream early this morning. In my dream, I was the first person to arrive at my office, which has only happened a handful of times in reality, because mornings and I do not particularly get along. After working for a few hours all alone, I decided to call my office manager and find out why no one else was at the office. She sleepily answered the phone, and I explained that I was at work alone, and wondered where everyone was, then I noticed that the clock read only 7:30. "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I thought it was 11:30! I didn't mean to wake you."

We hung up, and I decided I might as well get back to work (seriously, how unrealistic is this dream?). At some point, I became hungry, and I rooted around in the kitchen for something to eat. Coming up empty, I noticed a hamburger with only one side of the bun on top of the garbage can. Funny, I hadn't seen that there before. I shrugged, picked it up, and began munching on it. Then I noticed that some other things around the office weren't quite how they were when I arrived, like an accordion door that partitioned off one room from another was slightly ajar where it had been closed minutes before, I was sure of it. So I got up to investigate and did a walk around of the office. I opened a door that led into the garage (our real office doesn't have a garage, but the office in my dream was actually my mother's house), and I saw that the garage door had been bent and torn as if someone had broken in.

At this point, I'm pretty sure one of those dun-dun-dun type of sounds played, so that all the viewers at home know that something serious and scary has just happened. I decided I didn't want to be in the office alone with an intruder, so I fled immediately through the hole in the garage door. Then I pulled out my cell and tried my office manager again, but it didn't go through. I suspected that my phone had been hacked, but, being characteristically stupid like you are in dreams, I dialed 411 and asked them to connect me to my boss. She answered, and I told her that I needed her help. I guess I could have just told her that someone had broken into the office right then and there, but I felt like we needed to have this discussion in person, so she told me she was at a conference at the train station and I could meet her there. I could have also called the police at this point, but once again: stupid.

I made my way to the train station and met some guy who seemed to know what was going on, and was sympathetic to helping me out. We went to the group that was gathered for the conference, and I saw my boss in the crowd. I waved at her and motioned for her to join us, a look of urgency on my face. She came over and I told her that someone had broken into the office, left a half-eaten hamburger in the garbage can, and hacked my phone.

Then we were in another place somewhere in the train station. Maybe something happened in between our meeting at the conference and our appearing in this room, but I don't remember. The guy was with us, and someone else was with us too. It occurred to me that this was the dramatic irony part of the dream/movie where the audience knows that these two guys are the ones who broke into the office, and that we were now in their nefarious hands, oblivious to it all. Except that I wasn't really oblivious, just helpless to do anything about it, for fear of upsetting the movie formula. Having this realization scared the shit out of me, and I forced myself to open my eyes.

I kept them open for several seconds, trying to let the dream fade out of mind so I wouldn't lapse back into it once I closed my eyes again. My eyes fell and the images of the room and the men and me and my boss began to appear again, so I forced them open once more. My body felt heavy and stiff, like the dream paralysis still remained. So I inhaled deeply, releasing the paralysis, and rolled over, free to dream something new.

Preferably not a dream about work.

Subscribe to Bunsnip