Saturday, January 27, 2007

Funny how I always have the urge to blog when absolutely nothing's been going on. Now for a change I actually have news to share, which was supposed to be the purpose of this blog, as opposed to being a place to ruminate when I'd finished the internet! So here's a juicy (well - as far as my life goes) update.

We got a puppy!!
We've been talking about it for a while but I kept resisting because I thought it would be way too much work. A few weeks ago, though, my officemate N got a little Puggle and things seemed to be going really well. Her husband is a consultant, so they also have wonky hours, but with the assistance of a puppy-visiting service, they make it work. So...we were at the pet store last week getting Olivia groomed and just "happened" (nice work there, Josh) to be there when they brought in the puppies for the Adoption Hour. We fell in love with a 10 week old little guy, who they told us was a Shepherd mix, but on further examination now looks kind of like a Boxer/Lab mix.

Anyway, without further ado, here's Fergus!

You'll see why we can't "make" him for any particular breed. Apparently he's going to be big, though, because of the size of his paws. He's got a ton of energy - he's really sweet and loving and playful - and pretty smart, too. He's been hitting the pee pad about 80% of the time. There's a weird New York City thing about how dogs can't go outside until they've had all of their shots because they could catch an airborne disease, so he's being potty trained inside the house. We have a puppy visitor who comes every day at around 1:30 to play with him for half an hour. Eventually he'll start going out for a two hour walk every day. Right now he and the cat seem to have come to an uneasy truce. Poor guy - he just wants to play and stalks her (playfully) all over the apartment - and she's having none of it.

I got a raise!
Well...I personally didn't. But salaries at the New York law firms just went up! The way it works is that one firm will raise, and then all the rest have to match. Squeee for capitalism and golden handcuffs!

Okay in all seriousness though - my whole sense of money is going to be skewed for life. Going from scrounging for dollars while waiting tables to almost $200K USD for my first job?? $15K raises that drop out of the sky?? I should be thrilled - and I am, really - but it's making me almost more paranoid than ever. Isn't that weird? It's my naturally suspicious and pessimistic nature. It's like - this can't last! And it can't, of course, there's no way I could do this job for years upon years, which is why I've put us on such an aggressive saving schedule. We're putting away $31,000 (the IRS's maximum for tax free contributions) away for retirement and then $3000 per month into investments for a down payment on a property. But you know what's disgusting?? It's not enough! A decent 2-bedroom condo in Brooklyn is going to run us around $700,000, so even if we somehow manage to scare up $100,000 for a down payment, taking out a $600,000 mortgage makes me sick to my stomach. Even at a decent interest rate that's like $5000 a month, not including general costs of upkeep!

Honestly, I don't know how people do it nowadays. My next big dream is moving to California in a couple of years. I'd always sort of assumed I'd work at this firm for two years and then move on to something more manageable for the long-term, start having kids, etc. A cursory look at properties in the San Francisco area - $700,000ish again for tiny little detached homes. It's unbelievable - how do people live in these places?? I mean this is supposed to be a starter home for us. Why does anything decent cost a million dollars? And it's disgusting to be complaining because financially I can hardly complain. We're already in a better place than most of our friends in Canada (note: compared to our friends here in NYC, we're poor. Seriously. Almost all of my girlfriends at the firm are married or engaged to other lawyers, investment bankers, and hedge fund employees.) But whatever income level you're at it's never nice to think you can't achieve your goals in whatever arbitrary time horizons you'd set for yourself.

People who read this blog probably think I'm obsessed with money :/. Unfortunately I think I kind of am - I've made some choices along the way that probably haven't been for the best in the sense that I traded off a lot of things that are important to me for short-term gain. That's not to say it's necessarily a bad decision - too early to tell - but it's hard not to think of what could have been had I thought more about the long term when I was deciding what to do with my life. I live in this incredible city but it's just not doing anything for me. Maybe (hopefully??) it's just winter blahs and the general uncertainty about what's happening with my job (with the possible upcoming move to Houston for the Enron trial!) and what I'm going to do next. I feel like while people around me are making decisions and plans for the future I'm still waiting for my real life to begin - subjecting my poor husband to this too! Argh.

Hopefully I'll follow with more cheerful news shortly :). Saturday morning are Josh's budgeting time so usually by now I'm ready to crawl back into bed with a bottle of vodka.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The promised leisurely update...and damn, it's a long one

Could anything be nicer than waking up on a Sunday morning and not having anywhere to go immediately? I used to cringe at the word "homebody" because it just sounded so lame. Like something nerds would describe themselves as to validate the fact that they had nowhere cool to go. But honestly? I think I'm ready to own the word. At some point I must make it to the gym, the grocery store and Banana Republic so Josh can use his shiny new gift certificate, but other than that we're free agents. And to add to the deliciousness, tomorrow's a holiday as well - Martin Luther King day here in the U.S. I just asked Josh what we'll be doing and he said "Nothing." Sweet.

I should probably say something about last weekend, right? Where I took my second vacation day in the four months I've been working? It was pretty cool - my friend Lizzy came to visit from New Hampshire and we had a really relaxing three days. On Friday evening, we went for manicures, pedicures, and then dinner at our favorite local restaurant with Josh. Saturday we left the house at a respectable 10am (ish) and took a ride on the Staten Island ferry as our one concession to the NYC Tourist Experience. It's actually a commuter ferry that some really unfortunate people take every single day to get to their homes on unfortunate Staten Island. I'm really sorry if I'm offending any Islanders reading this but good god, that is one ugly ass place. Still, it was fun to see the city skyline and sail on past the Statue of Liberty, which I've never really seen up close, and the weather was absolutely insanely gorgeous, so we stood out on deck and felt positively summery.

After that we swung by Century 21, which I'm sure I've mentioned here before (discount designer store downtown) where I tantalized Lizzy with the prospect of getting to fiercely elbow tourists in there, as the place is a zoo and a half. But so weirdly - the place was completely dead! Total let-down. Anyway, we browsed a bit and caught a glimpse of the Word Trade Center site outside, as it's right across the street. Neither of us were really up to getting up close and personal with it, especially since the place is crawling with tourists taking pictures of themselves with the site. Seriously. We stopped in really briefly at this ancient Episcopalian church right by the site - St. Paul's. There were tombstones from like the early 1700's. It's always so lovely to stumble upon little pieces of your city's history so inadvertantly. The site tells me that it's the oldest public building in continuous use in Manhattan, and was home to a significant relief effort after the September 11 attacks.

We were running kind of tight on time since we needed to be back at my place by around 5 for a small party I was throwing that night. Thankfully our cleaning lady had been in the day before and I tasked Josh with the last minute clean-up before I arrived. It's harder than you'd think, trying to get food for a party ready when you're also out all day! Anyway, we went exploring the West Village for two stores in particular - Amy's Bread and Rocco's pastry shop. From the former we got a baguette, delicious rosemary bread and an olive loaf. From the latter I got what looked like and was described to me as an Oreo cheesecake. When we actually ate it later it was orange flavored. Kind of unexpected, but not bad by any means (except for my one friend - let's call her Mel - who called it "weird"...more on her later!). After that we stopped in at Crate & Barrel where I found none of the things I needed and then flew home on the subway. All in all a pretty fun night - people came at around 8 and cleared out about 1 or so. This is what I served:
  • fresh, homemade guacamole and chips
  • store bought hummus and roasted eggplant with crackers and carrot sticks
  • store bought turkey meatballs and sweet & sour sauce
  • a cheese plate (gouda, triple creme brie and goat cheese) with the breads described above
  • store bought sweet potato chips
  • nectarines and honeydew melon
  • the main dish - homemade macaroni and cheese
  • homemade cookies brought by C and that Oreo cheesecake
Everyone seemed really happy with the food, except for Mel, who planted herself in the kitchen early on in the night and proceeded to tell me what I was doing wrong, that all my ingredients were icky, that I shop at a dirty grocery store and some of my food choices creeped her out!! Even Josh was like what the hell?! She was also rude to some of my other guests by making judgey comments about "cheap" restaurants and contradicting things that they know about NYC. Unbelievable! I'm still actually pissed off and this happened a week ago.

Otherwise the party was fun, we had a ton of wine and we ate ten times as much as was good for us. The next morning we got our slightly hung over asses out of bed and visited the Frick museum for a few hours. We stopped at Central Park for a hot dog afterwards and then strolled over to the Met. Both are fabulous art museums, both in their own way. The Frick is a majestic building that was once a private residence, filled with mostly portraits. The Met is far more institutional, much larger, with a greater variety of art. Loved them both. We got back, crashed and ordered Chinese food.

Monday was nothing much to write home about. We were planning to explore mid town but there was this mysterious gas smell in the area that was causing some people to have breathing problems, which is always a bad idea for asthmatics like myself. Then my plan to head to Central Park was thwarted by bad weather. So instead we ate the leftover bread and cheese from Saturday night, went to watch The Good Shepard (three hours gone, right there!) and then ordered pizza at night. I felt super guilty for not making Lizzy do more New Yorky stuff, but writing it all out it actually seems like a fairly active weekend. She was a lovely, mannerly house guest and she brought me Veuve, so I love her.

The rest of the week was pretty crazy, as I'd alluded to before, with the 20 hour day on Wednesday. We finally got to celebrate Josh's birthday last night! I took him to Morton's (gasp, I know, would any true New Yorker go to a chain steakhouse? But I've been to other NYC steakhouse institutions and wasn't particularly impressed, so there!) which was pretty good. I do agree that it's kind of overpriced for what it is - $250 for two drinks, a bottle of wine, one appetizer, two steaks, and two sides. Still, Josh wanted to go and what the man wants for his birthday, he gets! His gifts from me were Family Guy season 4 (I think?), a Banana Republic gift certificate, a subscription to Maxim (which he loves, ew) and a new iPod. Such a princess he is. It's more than we normally spend on birthdays but his one and a half year old iPod just went on the fritz and he uses one so much that I figured he deserved it. Hope it was a good one, baby!

OK that's probably more update than anyone wanted, but thanks for reading this far if you made it! Ta!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby lawyer's first all nighter!

And seeing how I couldn't possibly do anything in a half arsed manner, it was for a Supreme Court brief and in a pro bono death penalty case. I suppose if you have to suffer that badly it may as well be for an actual client with a serious interest at stake, as opposed to Wachovia or Shell Oil or something...right? But okay, bit of an exaggeration - I wasn't there quite all night. I was home and in bed by 4:30. Still, I was feeling weak and nauseous by then from way too much coffee and bad food we had to order in at 3am. You know that whole thing about New York, city that never sleeps, you can get anything you want at any hour? Well, not so much in lower Manhattan, apparently. Wall Street is just not that happening at that hour. The choices in Midtown are so much better. We had to settle for disturbingly chewy mozarella sticks and sad french fries...from a place called Bully's, at that. Pretty sick. But this thing is out the door and hopefully I can be a normal person today. It's Josh's birthday, but I have a feeling it'll be another late night tonight because of another brief that needs to be cite checked before it's filed tomorrow...and of course the partners aren't done with their changes yet.

I noted the other day on a board that I used to post on, now mostly lurk and infrequently (for me anyway) contribute, that a few people live my "fabulous" NYC life vicariously through this blog. Hee! Too funny. Hi girls! I figured I was boring the crap out of people because all I really do is talk about work and complain about how expensive things are. The context in which this whole thing came up was when someone mentioned she would be moving to Manhattan for a couple of years and people were raining on her parade by holding forth about how they could never live here. I'm the last person to over-exaggerate how fabulous Manhattan is (I've only spent the last couple of weeks researching Anywhere Else In The World to move to) but seriously, what gives, people? Whatever happened to manners? Would anyone ever be like "Wow, you're moving to the Prairies? Holy shit it's boring there. How could you live with all those hicks, in that cold?" Well, I guess some people would say stuff like that, because they're rude.

Anyway - being at work until 4 in the morning does not give you a free pass for the next day, at least as a Manhattan lawyer (!) so I'd better eventually shower and stuff. More update soon, I hope.