Promposterous Monkey Business, DINK-in-danger faces the drawbacks of that JD, and Perfect Rice!

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Cohabitation: Having washed the taste of tainted dates and salty water from her palate, our heroine (oh yes she's always known she was!) charged forward into a weekend extravaganza memorializing +Andrew Wright's magnificent thirty-something transcendence. And, like the clockwork that won the Welding Rodeo, Andrew ticked-ticked-tocked right into 32 with great fanfare and little rest for the weary.  Iron was melted, steel smelt, baby-buggies tested on speedways, food devoured, and tango danced with a smattering of elan and eclat. Coming up: Max the Office Monkey protects us all during our lock-down, promposals are made without the harming of a single child or puppy, no attorneys were harmed in the making of this post (although many might have drunken themselves into despondent drowse), and - finally - the perfect rice is cooked to the merry strains of Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star.

Max the Office Monkey Is Ready for His Close-up - This is Max. He is, as the eponymous title and/or previous sentence may imply, an office monkey. He wasn't always an office-monkey. My first encounter with Max was several years back. At that time, he blissfully rode along the side of a very fluffy pair of socks. How proud he was in those days, floating above the ground atop a rainbow of fluff. His charismatic head in its magnitude never saw the inside of a boot of the dirty hem of denim. Slightly pampered, he saw only the brims of slippers, over which his grin pertly scintillated. Nothing could dissuade him from a certain muted benevolence. Loyally as Lassie, he stayed close at heel in my evening reveries, proud of his place in the world and the responsibilities he imagined he bore. 

The socks lacked his resilience. They lapsed into solemn desuetude over years of heavy wear and heavier wash-cycles. The bright rainbow nap grew worn and gray. Toes burst forth like baby chicks pecking through shells. The days where such socks connoted an instant whimsical warmth were long the things of legend. At best, they susurrated nostalgic idylls of pleasures past, made all the more distinct for their dilapidated present. Through all the holes, Max kept smiling, forestalling eternally that inevitable moment where socks are laid to rest. How could I possibly part ways with Mr. Max, the Merry?

It was only after the socks underwent a bit of a gruesome transformation - de-soled and pinned over dance shoes for a costume that never quite made it to the big time - that Max was emancipated. But what was to become of him? He'd always been a part of the slipper socks, lived exclusively in the realm of domestic repose. Were I an abler crafstwoman, perhaps he'd have found his way onto a new project. Were I richer and even more eccentric, I imagine I could have sent him off to a nice Ivy League and/or European trip somewhere eastward, so that he could find himself. Instead, he shadowed me from a perch in my purse for a while, before alighting at the office. 

The office has proven to be a wonderful retirement home and second life for Mr. Max. Although he was initially reticent, he's warmed considerably to my mother's desk-menagerie of happy figurines and paperweights. Someday, he may be repurposed into a Christmas ornament, so that he can again hang on display in a place of cozy prominence. But Christmas is a long ways away.

Until then, he is happy to greet me as I return from my busy weekend, and to give me the news from the office. So far, the biggest chatter here is that the cleaner came again. She's gotten less drastic in her creative re-decorating, but things are still marginally awry. Earnestine the turtle is literally inches from her proper home (that's a long way for a desk turtle), and Dodo is uncertain about his new view of my graduation picture.

Aside from these minor cavils,  the office is serene and unruffled. A perfect place to recover from the bustle of the weekend and warm into the week... at least for the next hour or so, before the circus arrives. It promises to be a busy day with certain projects finally culminating in one answer or another. And, we may or may not have a trial tomorrow. The joys of uncertain settlement talks. We are not exactly well prepared for trial, due to the fact that this case is 90% likely to settle beforehand and that neither party has much money to justify extensive preparations in this context. The issues are simple, but trial always requires a certain formulaic pomp and circumstance that will necessitate a lot of scamper if settlement falls through. In the meantime, however, Max and I will click and clack through some menial tasks, sipping our coffee (his is imaginary, as real coffee tends to stain his rainbow) and catching up from a very eventful weekend. 

Lock-Down, The Perils of Being a Lawyer versus the Horrors of Promposal 

Being a lawyer is a perilous endeavor. There are the initial hazards - lawschool (and that "lawschol thirty" I've personally coined to describe the alternating emaciation or embiggening of all my classmates), and The Bar Exam. These both have been known to take keen tolls on one's psychological and physical health.

Then there's that middling "lawschool bubble" ensuring that all that hard work, lost love, and seared finances may have been better spent at benders and bonfires of lucre. You know *the bubble*: that thing about how lawschools inflated their employment statistics a bit just at a time when the legal field was restructuring and the securities once held by a prior generation no longer... yadda yadda yadda. I'm lucky to have gone into the field with less ambitious stirrings and fewer expectations. Oh and then, there's also the significantly higher rate of depression and alcoholism among lawyers. The fact that we, as a group, tend to be some of the most dangerous drivers... 

And then yet again... well, how did Shakespeare put it "first thing, let's kill all the lawyers"?? All of them, mind you. Not just "that sleaze bag who clearly coerced my ex-wife to get a restraining order against me and made it so I can never see my children (until after I get treatment for that thing the evil lawyer bribed the evil clinical psychologist to diagnose me with)."  It's funny, really: legal shows, legal thrillers, John Grisham, and real life legal trials are hugely popular. We all know the tropes about the idealistic lawyer who changes the world (TO Kill a Mockingbird, anyone?) but The Lawyer is still something of the Shylock of our modern day world. If you prick us, do we not bleed? When we bleed is it not mostly vodka and a refreshing sip of lemon? 

While the career may  be generally vilified, it's the more specific "sleaze who clearly coerced my ex wife..." kind of antagonism that might pique one's spidey-sense. My chosen kumbaya-group-hug-ADRish sort of family law doesn't invite that sort of reaction quite so often. It will definitely invite awkward family dinners and tango events in which vague-acquaintances corner me and tell me about the above sleaze bag lawyer who defecated on their previously blissful marriage, all done with a mercenary desire to screw things up that's almost as pure as those polluters-for-the-sake-of-which type villains on Captain Planet. But my death threat quotient is fairly low and mostly comes from my own inability to navigate spaces when I'm not in dance shoes moving to a beat. 

My mom, however, is the specialist in DV in our community. Her first job as an attorney was specifically to handle temporary orders for indigent clients trying to get out of domestically violent marriages. At the time, she worked in an office with bullet-proof glass in the reception area, and took pains to keep her personal information very personal. To many in the community of the drinking and cussing type, she may have been referred to as "that Pam Englett..." in a similar tone one may have used to refer to that Stalin (or how anyone today may refer to anyone else of a different party affiliation these days).

In her private practice, the ratios of violent to just-plain-pissed have swung a bit in favor of the latter (we even sometimes have clients that can and do choose to pay us). But we still have our handful of people who may just get triggered. The number of psych evals that waft through our office have given me far too glib a way with Axis-2 diagnoses, but we definitely encounter several diagnosable disorders of a fairly creepy and unpredictable ilk. Hopefully, and often, they are not our clients' disorders, but this is never guaranteed. 

Yesterday was one of those exciting days where we did something pretty big involving an opposing party who is triggerable and historically capable of violence. From what we know of him, the chances he would actually come to the office and perpetuate an assault are not nearly as high as a number of other gruesome scenarios. Nonetheless, it was something big that will fit perfectly into the story he has been nursing from the beginning, in which he is a victim of carefully crafted malicious machinations from without.

Criminal and civil fields of law tend to mix like oil and vinegar. It is dauntingly difficult - should somebody not care about abstract financial penalties - to actually enforce civil orders (which, like the gold standard, rely on some simulacrum of faith in that standard). There are a few places and times where civil and criminal intersect, but it requires a flying leap into the abyss to find their juncture. We've been dealing with such a caper over a month now. Yesterday culminated in law enforcement and warrants. Not an every day occurrence over here. 

Needless to say, we may have revisited those yearly seminars on office safety and wondered if we really should have an open, unlocked door that leads into the office. And do we actually remember our emergency 911 protocols? I am less worried about my personal safety, but rather enjoyed the rapidly popular suggestion of locking the door for the day. I think that until this all blows over (about two weeks for the follow up hearing), keeping the door locked is fine by me. No sobbing strangers wandering in demanding an attorney immediately, for instance. This happens sporadically, as our building is a hive of attorney's offices, and desperate people often surf from office to office until somebody will see them. No solicitous office-supply salespeople stopping in for a chat... Being on lock-down isn't half bad. 

But enough about police, let's talk about firemen - SO apparently prom is now a bigger deal than my wedding was. I'm not sure I really grok the whole thing, but I guess the promnormal (you say promposal, I say promperous promposity!!) is this: you spend the same amount of time and cash planning, dressing, orchestrating and otherwise freaking out about this one event to go to a dance where you don't dance much with somebody you asked so long ago, you probably don't even really like them anymore if you ever did, and... then you maybe get married later, and do it all over again except with slightly more booze and hopefully with somebody you like. 

Promposals, of course, are just the most recent of flummoxing similarities to all that is unsavory about getting hitched with none of the parts I rather enjoy. Leslie's son and his girlfriend are going to prom. They both already know this and have tickets. She has already forwarded him several mark-ups of her hairdo for the evening and vetoed a few tuxedos. I'd say that they're fairly locked in on the prom issue. But they can't just plan to go and go. Oh no, he had to prompose to her. In a grand fashion. He didn't want to. But he had to. It's highschool law or something now. 

So yesterday, a friend of a friend of a friend drove him to Bellingham high school in an antique fire truck. The idea was that the sirens would blare, another planted friend would get everyone to run out and see what was happening. The dashing promposer would then leap from the fire truck holding a sign saying Rescue Me: Go to Prom With Me or something of that nature. People would clap and cheer... cue music... roll credits. 

Leslie, being a mother, spent much of the morning fretting over the potential things that could go awry and ruin this beautiful event. I charitably withheld my fecund imaginative capacity to add to her list (because just think, the firetruck could run over a herd of puppies and little children after the fireman had a sudden heart-attack and veered straight into the promposee's classroom). I instead suggested that if things didn't go well, it would grant them the enduring gift of a great story. I'm not sure she took that suggestion as succor, but it certainly piqued my interest in the whole affair (EXPLODING PUPPIES!!). Since we can see the school from our office, she may have spent much of the morning sitting in the corner, gazing out our windows and knitting her brow. 

As it turns out, not many kids came out because the siren was not very noticeable. But the girlfriend did. There are pictures. I'm sure Facebook is lapping up the milk of human exhibitionism as we speak. I'm pretty sure she "accepted" and they are prompengaged now. 

If we're going to now have promposals, perhaps more invitations need to begin with an elaborately pointless stunt meant to put the askee and askor on display. Like the next time I want my friends over to dinner, I should hire a troop of men in kilts carrying logs with"come to dinner with me?" carved into them (the logs, not the men, although...). I envision the kilted men hurling these logs through my friends' office lobbies. Could get expensive, but this is the price we pay for proper etiquette. 

But let's end with some shoes shoes - it's a gray and rainy day out and I need something to add a little pep to my step after a draining day and long weekend. Maybe with a little spike in case we need to turn this office into an action film upon arrival of any disgruntled exes and/or promposers with fire hoses. I love the color of the 21st, but am really not much of  a wedge-gal again. I'd like the 20th heels in the 21st color, really. Just so long as I can run appropriately, I think any old pair will do me just fine. 

The Little Zoji That Couldcouldcould... Cook Rice - Last night we took our maiden voyage on the SS DINKY Magic-Riceamajig, also known as Zojirushi (Zoji to its friends). Sure, we've had the thing since Saturday (well since earlier this month, but it's officially been unwrapped and gifted since Saturday). But it takes an awful lot of gumption to move the darned thing off the dining room table, verify the instructions are really what they appear to be (Japanese haiku about empty porridge bowls!! whoops, wrong page), clarify whether it is white rice/brown/cake that Andrew's planning to have with his can of chili, and then take that final plunge with the plugging in and programming. 

Oh it was a red-letter (kanji, with smatterings of hiragana) day, I assure you. Due to the aforementioned bustle of our adjoining weekend, we had designated Tuesday as "errand night" on our google calendars. This was mostly is code for "Andrew is out of eggs, and Adella loves going to the grocery store night"... Since in the interim, Andrew's brake light also broke, it was serendipitous timing.

Speaking of timing (and given my obsession with schedules, timeliness and efficiency, when am I not?), my plan was that we'd start the rice before our errands and return to nearly cooked rice. We kind of did this. As one of its more promising features, Zoji has a timer function, allowing you to tell Zoji what time it ought to have your rice ready. Not only do you get to tell Zoji your yen, but Zoji promises to happily comply with your proposed chronology. This means that Andrew could set up the rice in the morning, and return to fluffy and fresh rice at dinner time. If he really wanted to go for broke, the microwave also has a timer feature, so we could set up the chili in the microwave and the rice in the rice cooker!! The convenience!! But this is a bit of an overstep. Besides, the microwave appears to be my domain and rice-and-canned chili is more of Andrew's ouevre. 

 Buttons were pushed. Cups were filled. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star chirped merrily, and some numbers flashed across the screen. Seemed promising enough that we went off on our quest to Fred Meyer's for a good half hour or so. I am happy to report that the brake light situation was resolved after only ten hours of research and tense negotiations with unruly and reticent packaging. And the great Egg-blight of 2013 has been resolved. 

Upon our return, Zoji was still merrily flashing the same "6:00" and "rice 1" that it had been touting when we left. Since the time was 6:30, this seemed a bit odd. Andrew futzed a bit before setting it to start immediately. It was about then that I recalled that when Andrew had set the clock, it looked like he'd set it to "17:34"and not "5:30" From this, we realized  the timer feature had simply been primed for some delicious brown-rice juevos rancheros the next morning. I guess Andrew decided he'd rather have dinner than a very ricey breakfast. To each his own.

Of course, given this error in timing, and the fact that Zoji's virtues lean towards patience and consistency (and a lovely little singing voice) over haste and  expediency, that set dinner back by approximately an hour and change.

Having suffered one minor misfire, we naturally spent the entire hour watching that non-boiling non-pot. With about 10 minutes to spare, the rice cooker gives a count-down, an event we avariciously anticipated, stomachs arumble (ok, not mine: as is my typical pattern, I ruminated on several small repasts through the evening; still, Andrew's roared loudly enough for two!)

Just as I was ending my slight stall for my dinner #22, the timer clicked into count-down. This meant either that rice would soon be done, or Zoji had accidentally been set on BOMB mode and we'd all soon die in a fiery inferno to the strains of Ring Around the Rosie. Either way, it seemed like progress from the agonizing limbo of the preceding hour. Our rice-ship having come in, I screamed AHOY - or words to that effect - and Andrew leapt - or rather slowly transitioned after finishing whatever thread he was reading on his bike forum - into chili heating action. I finished preparing my dinner #47 with a minute to go on the rice. This actually worked out well, since Andrew was hungry enough by the time that even with the head start, I lagged in final dining time by a considerable margin. A second song - Amarylis, according to the manual - had heralded Zoji's final mooring. I love that our rice cooker sings. It's like being in a Disney movie. Now, to teach it The Ride of the Valkyries!

It may have taken a while to make it, but I have it on good report that the rice was just right. This means that we succeeded in not accidentally making cheesecake, which was not guaranteed from the beginning. And I say we, but really I mean Andrew. I watched closely and with exuberant inquisitiveness, but let him do the honors. It is his new kitchen pet, after all, and I have more than enough of my own (although, with the exception of my avocado immersion blender, none of mine are nearly so adorable). 

I think Zoji will fit in just fine, and I've definitely sensed some warm feelings between it and the coffee maker. They have a lot in common, really, particularly their love of burbling and steaming!
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