parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

law students
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  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007
    Warranting an Update
    I found out last week (or was it the week before?) that I passed the bar exam.

    It was a relief, and a joy.

    I'm not sworn in yet, but I can taste it!
    posted by Zuska @ 7:35 PM   2 comments
    Friday, August 24, 2007
    The End.
    Looks like I've pretty much switched over. Law school's over, the bar exam is over - I'm no longer a student, and ready to move on.

    See ya at the new place.
    posted by Zuska @ 3:38 PM   0 comments
    Tuesday, August 14, 2007
    I'm Taking a Collection
    Please e-mail me at "zuska[zero]4 at gee mail dot com" if you would like the address to my new blog. I've been working on getting it ready for the public, and it's almost there. I'll probably straddle the 2 for a little while, with some cross-posting and tweaking.

    Complete change over will be taking place within the next couple of weeks.

    This blog will remain available to the public (subject to change).


    posted by Zuska @ 11:32 PM   1 comments
    Monday, August 13, 2007
    Teeth and Insurance and Out-of-Pocket Expenses, I suppose.
    Approximately 6 weeks ago, our insurance company denied J's orthodontic work. She needs braces to move a tooth out of the way, because it blocking another tooth, which is, apparently, rotting in her gums right this very minute. Because it should have come down EIGHTEEN MONTHS ago, but did not, due to the other, blocking tooth. Because the braces are medically necessary, the orthodontist felt that insurance would cover it as a medical treatment, rather than an (uncovered) orthodontic one.

    As I complained about 6 weeks ago, the claim was denied. The reason being that the administrator at the dentist's office somehow submitted the claim under E's name. Which was dumb. Because E's never been there.

    I left angry voice mail messages, and after the weekend received a call saying that they'd resubmitted the paperwork under the proper child's name. There was little else to be done at that point, b/c J was 1/2 out the door to X's house in the Middle of the Country. I assumed this meant that things would get approved (or not, but at least on the substance of the claim, and not because of administrative ineptitude) while she was gone, and we could get it taken care of upon her arrival back home.

    Today, I went and picked up our mail from the post office that had been held during our trip to Europe.

    Guess what was in it?

    A denial. From the insurance company.

    Guess why?

    Administrative ineptitude. Not under E's name this time - just some other fuck up with the paperwork.

    I didn't get as angry as last time.

    I also just don't know what to do. This cannot be something that I have to just accept. We first went to the dentist in February to get this issue taken care of. The x-rays showed a clear problem. This is not a cosmetic issue. This is a question of her tooth being trapped in the gum, and potentially breaking down. An adult tooth. Her fucking FRONT tooth. The orthodontist and the dentist both were struck by the unusual nature of the problem, and both talked about how we would take care of it "right away" - but b/c of administrative and insurance screw ups, it's 6 months later, and we don't even have an appointment set up.

    I have made phone calls attempting to go up the chain both with the administrative department, and with the orthodontist himself. I am going to see if contacting the orthodontist directly (which I would have done in June, if J wasn't on her way out of town for 5 weeks) will work get a fire lit under the admin people faster. OR - if I can work out an alternative payment plan.

    I'll pay for the braces myself. I don't care. I need it taken care of. But without talking directly to the orthodontist, the office won't let me do that. They say it needs to run its course. The course they keep fucking with.

    My other option is to just go to another dentist, and that's very appealing. Since this one has so royally screwed up twice.

    But there are insurance issues. I have new insurance as of 9/24, and I'm afraid to switch this close to the insurance change over. If I go to another dentist, planning to just pay out of pocket, will my new insurance cover it once the change over happens? Or will it be a 'pre-existing condition' that won't be grandfathered in?

    I also am worried, b/c it's likely that she'll need surgery. I can't pay for surgery out of pocket. Braces I can, and most people do. But not surgery. If I go to a new dentist, and it turns out that surgery is now immediately necessary, I can't do it - and if it's seen as a pre-existing condition once new insurance starts up - then maybe it won't ever be covered?

    This is why, despite my anger and their ineptitude, I am trying to force the issue with the current dentist, where the x-rays and the chart and the file and the info already exists. I want to make this happen sooner, rather than later. If she needs braces, and possibly surgery, I'd rather it happen before I start work in 6 weeks. If I have to start anew with a new provider, then it won't happen.

    Woe is me. Woe is J. Woe is us.

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    posted by Zuska @ 4:57 PM   2 comments
    I have 4 daughters
    I do not understand it. When the girls were at X's house, he and I talked a total of one time about how the girls were doing. During that conversation, he made the comment, "They don't read very much ..." to which I balked.

    In this house, they are reading fiends. Sometimes, a book a day. They are both well above their reading level, and are constantly asking for new books. It really helps that Beloved is in the children's literature field, b/c he is able to constantly provide them with new and appropriate reading material.

    I don't know why they didn't read there.

    Today, J read an entire book (Tiger Rising, by Kate Dicamillo), and is now reading a second. E has been reading constantly, and was very upset on several occasions today when I made her put her book down to do chores or math homework. We spent TWO HOURS in a cafe today, and I got antsy and was done reading before them. I said, "you guys ready to go?" They both said no - once they shook their heads to clear them from the books they were immersed in. We then spent another TWO HOURS at the library.

    They have never been to the library in the Middle of the Country. I kid you not.

    When they're here, they watch no t.v., and don't ask to. We all enjoy family movie nights (Fridays), and sometimes we check out DVDs of different series (Star Trek (the original), Brady Bunch and Gilligan, to name a few - uh, maybe all). But we don't "watch t.v." They don't complain. When they have the freedom to, they flip once through the channels, and turn it off.

    When they're there, they know every Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network show, what time it's on, and have favorites and daily shows. Then they come home, and they just don't care.

    It also appears that when they're there, they don't fight or bicker.

    But when they're here ....

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    posted by Zuska @ 4:45 PM   0 comments
    Sunday, August 12, 2007
    I am not really a romantic person, as the term is generally understood. If Beloved wrote me poems, I would be uncomfortable and squirmy, and it would be too intense for me. I would run away or giggle and generally react badly. I don't think diamonds are a good gift idea. I don't feel that I need flowers, or cutesy notes around the house.

    However. When we returned from Europe, and I spent a little time reflecting on our time together, I decided - that was a romantic trip.

    It was just the two of us. We had nothing pressing on either of us. We enjoyed each other's company, we had plentiful and enjoyable conversations. We explored new places together, we were flexible together, and we were tired together. We had a few moments where we sniped at one another, but we quickly returned with apologies. I know we both were very conscious of the other's needs and quirks and weaknesses. We sat in cafes, sipping coffee, or wine, or nibbling on crepes. We visited some funky coffeeshops, and sipped cokes and fresh squeezed orange juices, and giggled our asses off. We made plans for our future - our future trips, our future homes, our future lives, our kids' futures.

    We had a blast.

    Coming home and being back in our apartment, in our town - the bubble shrunk, if it didn't pop quite yet. The empty fridge that needed filling, the cats that needed feeding, the air conditioners that wouldn't turn on, the mail that (still) hadn't been delivered, the girls' impending arrival -- all of that came in on us pretty quickly, and already, there was a wee bit less forgiveness, flexibility, tolerance. I tried hard to hold onto it. I wanted our vacation selves to stick around.

    Now the girls are home, and man, the bubble is popped. It's just hard. We can't focus on each other the same. There's the girls to focus on. It's their needs that we both dance around and accommodate, rather than our own or each other's. I miss it. I think, Europe or not, I miss it every year. I will find solace in knowing it's there, waiting for us, and will be there for the rest of our lives, ready to come out when the opportunity arises.

    And geez ... X has clearly never heard of a bedtime. These girls won't go to bed before midnight, and Beloved and I are trying to get up at 8 and get to the gym in the mornings - how the hell can we have sex if we fall asleep before the kids?

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    posted by Zuska @ 10:27 PM   0 comments
    My Evil* Foot
    Does anyone remember my pre-bar-exam, pre-Europe whining about my damned feet? That I'd fallen down some stairs (clutz) back in 2002 or 2003 or something, and hurt myself to the point that I can no longer wear cool shoes?

    I ended up buying the new sandals that I was considering, and they were great for my feet the whole time in Europe. There was one day where we walked so much that at the end of the day, my feet started to swell, which caused a slight sore spot on the top of my foot. But it went away, and I was fine. Structurally, the shoes were fantastic, and my feet were not an issue.

    Then we came home, and I was so excited to put on a crappy, "my foot is naked" pair of shoes, I wore flip flops for 2 days. Just around town.

    Then, last night, we came home with the girls, and I went into their room to put their clean sheets on the bed. I was between their beds, which are very close to each other. (As pictured here.) Guess what I did? While maneuvering between the two beds?

    I fell.

    Like the freaking clutz that I am.

    I am really not sure what happened. But I landed at the foot of the two beds, and with my toe feeling like it had turned to dust inside my skin. I yelled. It hurt. Beloved came running in and said .... I don't know. Something. Something like, "oh, don't get up, let's make sure you're okay." How did I respond?



    It just hurt so much! I couldn't believe how bad my foot and my legs (a cut on one, and rug burn on the other) were hurting. He left, and made the girls leave (yeah, they were around). I writhed about on the bed for a minute, and then forced myself to limp, or rather drag myself, out into the living room to apologize to Beloved. Purposefully in front of the children. I told him that he was very nice to offer me help, and that I was not angry at all at him, and that it just HURT SO MUCH, that I yelled. And I'm sorry.

    Then I told him that I broke my toe. And my foot. And that my foot was going to explode. And the that the powder that my toe bone had become was going to get caught in my heart, and make me die.

    He made me an ice pack.

    I did not, in fact, break my toe. I knew this once the initial ridiculous insane nauseating pain went away, and I causally twisted my toe in odd positions to see the cut on the underside of it. I also realized, though, that it was not just the toe itself that I hurt, but that at the base of all the toes, there were pulled muscles (!!!) and a lot of soreness.

    Today, it's only the base of the toes that hurts. It hurts a good bit right now, at 10:19 p.m. Approximately 28 hours after the incident.

    I skipped out on the gym this a.m., partly b/c it was hurting. I went swimming this afternoon, though, and it was okay.

    Why do I do these things to myself? I don't understand it. I am not happy about it.

    I suck.

    *One of the girls' latest words is "evil." Everyone that bothers them, or anything that bugs them is "Evil." I actually don't like it. I think "evil" should be reserved for the truly awful, and that when it's used casually or without thought, it's a bad thing. Honestly - the word makes me think only one thing: George W. Bush. Whether it's because I think he is evil (I do), or because of how much I hate his casual throwing out of the word, as "harmless" rhetoric, and how truly harmful I think it is. It's harmful. So, I'm not really thrilled with them using it, and I am using it tongue in cheek, above.


    posted by Zuska @ 9:55 PM   1 comments
    This is my life?
    How surreal.

    When the girls left, I was struggling to get work done in between spending time with them. I sent them off to the town pool on their own for Open Swim many days just so I could get more study time in.

    Now, they're home, and I've got nothin'. Not a thing. (Which meant today that I could swim, too!)

    Last year, and the year before, and the year before, I started school on or about August 28th. They don't start until on or about September 7th or 8th. Beloved and my parents cobbled together the gap in there, because for at least 2 of the 3 years of law school, the start of my year was very intense. First year was ... well, first year. With orientation and freaking out. Second year, I taught a class, which required my participation in orientation, and about 176x the time commitment that 1st year had required. Last year was finally more mellow, and so we didn't ship the kids off to my parents' for a week, and instead Beloved stayed home with them.

    This year? It's me! I get to hang out and spend copious amounts of time with them.

    This week, we have very little planned. Tomorrow is a bunch of small things. Tuesday, my parents are coming up for the day, and leaving us their car as they fly to Western Canada for 10+ days. We may go to the beach on Weds (I haven't decided yet). The only other thing we've got is dinner plans with friends on Friday night, to watch High School Musical 2.

    On Sunday, we are going camping in Vermont for 3 nights. This, I must admit, feels daunting right now. As I feel like I've said 10,000 times lately, we're a little low on cash, and a trip feels ... wrong. But it shouldn't be. We have all the gear we need. All we need is food, and we buy that whether we're home or camping. We don't even have to pay for a zipcar, thanks to my parents' car at our disposal. We paid for the site months ago. I need to just let go, and do this fun thing with the kids.

    Last year, we went to a friend's summer home for a few days, and it was a nice way to break up the last few weeks of the summer. I think camping will be a good thing. The campground is on a river, and there is a good bit of hiking in the area. We also will be a short drive away from an alpine slide which we've been talking about for a year or so. There's a dam up the road with a beach, and generally plenty to do. Despite my financial trepidation, I will make this happen, and we will have a good time.

    For the last week in August, the girls are doing yet another acting thing. It's through the same organization they participate in all year long, but it's a little different. E did it last year and loved it, and now J is old enough, too. So for the whole week (and a little bit of the next), I'll be able to drop them off at either 8:30 or 9 a.m., and not pick them up again until noon or so.

    I have NOTHING TO DO while they are there! Nothing!


    I will go to the gym. I will sit in a cafe, perhaps with a book. Perhaps I will bring a notebook, and write. (!!!)


    They start school!!! I have two full weeks (plus a couple other days) where they're in school from 8 a.m. until 2 (plus after-school care) and I have (again) NOTHING TO DO!!

    Except stress about the New Job.


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    posted by Zuska @ 9:36 PM   0 comments
    The girls are home!
    We picked the girls up yesterday at around 5 p.m. It is great to see them - they look healthy and beautiful.

    They had a good summer, and so were a little sad to be away from X, but also ready to be home. Makes for a tough transition day. More of a tough transition night. It's when bedtime rolls around that their unsettledness comes out. J ends up afraid that the world is going to get struck by a meteor or something while she sleeps, and E just says, "I miss daddy, and I'm also afraid that we'll never have such a good summer again." We did our best to calm them both down - I tried to convince E that it's okay to be sad when you miss someone, and not to expect it to go away instantly. And maybe that it's good to feel sad, sometimes. Beloved helped J to think about positive possibilities, and to try to train her mind to go in that direction, instead of the calamitous.

    Today, we've had a relatively smooth day. I felt like since school let out in June, the girls had been getting along with one another pretty well - especially in the Middle of the Country. Not today. Bickering started pretty early. They also weren't happy with me for enforcing my declaration that we would not stay in transition for a week, i.e., they had to unpack, and straighten their room. I didn't even push it too hard (their room is far from perfect), but they reacted strongly to the bit I did require.

    Eventually, we got out the door to the pool. We had a nice time there. E is really quick to be upset. I know there's a transition happening - but she's seeming to be a little spoiled. She is upset mostly when she doesn't get her way. When the pool changed the rules so she couldn't dive off the side of the pool; when I didn't want to play a 4th game of Uno or a 2nd game of Clue; when I said "not right now" to reading her script with her, b/c we'd just finished 4 games of Uno and 2 games of Clue, and it's 9:30, and I'm tired.

    When I know they're struggling with transitions, I feel like I need to bend over backward to help. That I need to say yes to all the games and other activities. But I don't like her reactions today. She's not being really all that obnoxious - it's more of a quiet (tragic) sulking.

    We'll work through it, I'm sure. For all I know it's something that she found worked with X, and is trying it here. They seem to have found a way to spend much more time with him this trip, even though he was teaching a class every day, and perhaps this was the key there. Sulking. It's not a key here. Sure, I followed her into her room a couple times to see if she was okay, but then I just enforced the things I had previously said to her.

    I know things will even out. They always do after a few rocky days.

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    posted by Zuska @ 9:01 AM   0 comments
    Friday, August 10, 2007
    Beloved is Stylin'!
    I did not really come home with new stuff. I got a cool bag, which is my new gym bag. But I bought it because I needed a carry on to carry the stuff I bought for others.

    This is fine. I am starting work in a little while, and I need a LOT of stuff, and I'm going to get a LOT of stuff. Expensive stuff. Suits. Watches (perhaps singular, but doubtful), jewelry, manicures, etc.

    But Beloved .... he isn't about to start a new job.

    Let's also say that last summer, I had a fun job that paid me obnoxious amounts of money, and I bought a lot of stuff. Clothes. Jewelry. Well, not really lots, but compared to Beloved, who had an "internship" for the summer ... lots. I think I likely treated him to goodies, and I know we enjoyed weekend (and longer) trips galore, and many dinners out. But I don't remember buying him clothes like I bought myself.

    On this trip?

    Beloved got outfitted.

    Shirts, Pants, and a new wedding band.

    Remember, I recently wrecked my wedding band, and had to get a new one? I have just loved it. I think that when the income starts, and we are into our new routines, and lifestyle, I may actually see what I can do to get a new one made in Platinum or Titanium, I love it so much.

    The center of the ring (click on the link above to see a photo) is a spinning inset. The flowers SPIN. It seemed very unique to me, but I have since learned that, really, it's not so special. Spinning rings exist. Not only on my finger.

    But I love mine.

    When we were in Paris, in some area with fun shops on the way to the Picasso Museum (which I believe means we were near to, if not in, the Bastille?), we came across what I call an "indian shop" (as in India), but I think that's a narrow categorization. Men's rings were displayed in the window, and we entered.

    Beloved found a ring:
    Beloved bought the ring. Beloved wears the ring. Guess what?

    The ring spins!!

    It's his new wedding band.

    Later, in Amsterdam, I bought a hippy-girl shirt at a flea market. It was 5 Euros (so I guess I did get something). Beloved later thought, "it would be fun to buy clothes here - perhaps clothes I don't typically wear" (because despite our California origins, we're relatively conservative peoples).

    The hunt began.

    In Haarlem, a small village outside of Amsterdam, we found low prices on European clothing.

    Beloved bought 5 shirts.

    Then, back in Amsterdam, where prices weren't too much higher, we found some ... well, shorts? capris? Which look so great on him! They are long shorts. One pair is normal cargo shorts that go just past the knee. The other is a very cool (just conservative enough) plaid (!!!) which is a little longer, but looks so great on him.

    This required a second carry-on bag purchase, but it doesn't hurt for Beloved to have a gym bag, too ....


    Who cares. He looks hot.

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    posted by Zuska @ 10:05 PM   0 comments
    Why I Hate Iceland Air
    This is all of the negativity from the entire trip - wrapped into two days of travel. I promise, this was not a negative trip. We had a blast. Except for the following two days: July 28/29th (departure) and August 9th (homecoming).

    Not all of the unhappy things that happened on Iceland Air were Iceland Air's fault. Only about 90% of the things.

    We left our house at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 28th. Beloved had confirmed our flight, and it was all "on time" they said. On time meant 9:30 p.m.

    We arrived at the airport and checked in. The woman lazily and without much tone to her voice told us, "your flight is delayed until 11:45." As if she was telling me I had something stuck in my teeth, or something. I said, "what does that mean for our connection?" She said (same voice) "We do not anticipate any missed connections." and then she removed something from her teeth. Or perhaps killed a bug as it crawled across the counter. She really didn't give a shit about what she was saying to us ... that much is certain.

    We then went to an airport bar/grill place, and got the world's shittiest burgers. (See? Not Iceland Air's Fault!!)

    I started to feel on edge. It was 9 p.m., and I thought we'd be boarding. Instead, we were stuck in a tiny, crappy terminal with about 300 other international passengers going to various places. There had been major thunderstorms earlier in the day, so it didn't seem so preposterous that there was a backlog due to earlier delays. But it wasn't fun.

    I did all the math in my head, and figured that she was probably right. We wouldn't miss our connection, because first of all, they could go faster. Planes can always go faster. Second of all, if we were going to miss our connection, it would be by approximately 10 minutes - it seemed clear that many people on the Boston-Iceland flight were then going to be continuing on to Paris on the same airline, so they would likely hold the 7:30 a.m. flight to Paris in order to allow all of us onto the plane.

    Finally, we got on the plane, and took off at close to midnight. I spent some time listening to "40 minute French" and learned pretty much nothing. Then I (surprisingly) slept.

    We landed in Reykjavík at 7:40 a.m., which was the time that our plane was due to take off. We flew through the passport checkpoint, and up the stairs. I saw a monitor that said the flight to Paris was delayed until 8 a.m. - I thought that meant they were waiting for us. We went to the gate.

    The door was closed and locked. The gate was dark. There was no plane.

    It was 8:01 a.m.

    Reykjavík is the only airport on an island in the middle of the northern Atlantic. Iceland Air seems to be the only airline servicing the airport.

    So when we were told that no, there were no other flights to Paris that day, it was a little ....

    fucking infuriating.

    No. not yet. Then, it was just scary. What were we going to do? The woman at that desk (who also, I think, had something much more pressing than helping the 400 people who were coming off the flight from Boston to find that their flights had left without them to tend to - like a strand of hair that kept escaping from under her hat or something) told us that it would be some time before they could figure out "whether they could find us alternate arrangements."

    That's when I was fucking infuriated. There was a question? An open question as to whether or not she was going to get us off her flat, ugly, rocky, island?

    Beloved was expending all of his energy toward calming me down at this point. He was rubbing my neck, and saying soft soothing words into my ear. He didn't want me on edge and bitchy already. We weren't sure what would be happening throughout the day, and I probably didn't need to blow a gasket at that moment.

    So I decided that her choice of words (whether it was "if" or "whether" - I can't remember) was due to a language barrier, and sat down and closed my eyes.

    10 minutes later, we were given a new itinerary, along with the news that we were going to Gothenberg, Sweden. From there, we would be put on an Air France flight to Paris. We were now due to arrive in Paris at 7:30 p.m. local time, rather than 1:05 p.m. local time.

    Of course, the flight to Sweden was also delayed.

    In Sweden, things were sticky again, as the airline switch meant we had to exit the ticketed passenger portion of the airport, and get in line at the ticketing desk, just as if we had just been dropped off at the curb. There was much question and disagreement as to whether we needed to get our bags first. One official-person told us yes, another told us no. I told Beloved we should NOT get them until after we got our ticket processed, because if we stood around waiting for the incompetent Iceland Air folks to unload our bags, we could miss the flight (again) and end up having to spend the night in Sweden. I didn't want to spend the night in Sweden.

    The Air France counter in Gothenberg was very lightly staffed. There were two people manning it, who often had to consult with each other at length before picking grit out of their eyes, let alone process a passenger's ticket. One of the American boys who had been put through the same nonsense that we had since Boston started to get quite agitated as the Air France women would sit with binoculars looking for Business Class customers who they could whisk to the front of the line in front of those of us who had been waiting for 45 minutes and were about to pee our pants in fear that we were going to miss another flight. He actually started to yell ---

    Oddly, he started to yell about something about his mother's dead body which was sitting in a morgue in Paris.

    I have no doubt that his mother is alive and well somewhere in New Jersey.

    Along with his weird idea that visions of a body rotting in a morgue would get these women to move faster, he had this concept of himself as a father-hen, or something, that needed to spread its wings over all of those who were stuck in freaking Sweden with him when they were supposed to be going from Boston to Paris, and so he hovered a bit.

    This made me uncomfortable, since his ranting about his mother's dead body had the tendency to attract armed police officers to the balcony above the ticketing counter for the entire time he was in line. Right in front of us. Talking to us! Stop talking to us! They think you're some kind of dead-body-loving terrorist! I want to go to Paris!

    We ended up on the plane to Paris. It was fine. Air France gives tasty and interesting snacks on planes. There were dried apricots, apples and prunes on a stick. (Yeah, on a stick. I don't think they used the stick to cook them, b/c they weren't cooked, but they were on a stick.) There were cheeses. I think perhaps chocolate, too.

    I'm not fully certain, because something that stupid Iceland Air fed me had caused a good bit of discontent in my intestines, and I spent the flight running to and from the bathroom.

    Oh, joy and rapture.


    Yesterday's complaints were much less severe.

    Iceland Air seems to think that the other airlines are silly, and have tossed out the pointless conventions of air travel. Such as, oh, tiered boarding of planes. Why should they, will someone please explain, force the passengers seated in the front of the plane to be the last to board? It would definitely be much smarter - MUCH smarter, to have the people in row 10 board alongside those in row 40. That way, the people in Row 10 can spend time putting their bags up, and getting their kids in order while the people in Row 40 wait in the aisle next to row 6, along with those in row 20, and row 30. Makes perfect sense.

    I mean, really? Why have any organization at all? What, exactly, is the benefit to loading a plane in a timely manner?

    And another good idea. Let's have people line up to board, and then let them into a "staging area." We can attract them from their seats in the terminal with the illusion of getting on the plane, take their boarding passes, and then lock them into a corral of sorts, where there are no seats, and where there is room for about 30 people less than actually are standing there! Then, let's keep them there for, oh, perhaps 30 more minutes? Then when we let them on the plane pell mell roly poly, they'll be all sweaty and grouchy and confused. That'll show those stupid "flight attendants" who think they're so special just because they get to fly all day. HA!

    Also, their seats weren't exactly bolted to the floor of the plane. Isn't that weird? Perhaps, maybe, a little illegal? We had a couple of frat boys in the row in front of us (who had a penchant for fish sandwiches), and every time they hoisted their asses off their seats to yank their thong out of their butt crack, their entire row of seats threatened to crush the bones in our legs.

    Iceland was still flat, ugly and rocky. And rainy. I'm sure it has some positive attributes. But it isn't Paris, Amsterdam or Boston, and therefore, was not somewhere I wanted to be.

    I did see a movie in the past year which was partly set in Reykjavík, and at the time, I thought the city looked relatively interesting. That thought is gone. Lost. permanently.

    I would also like to use this travel rant to make a proposal. I propose that all people who buy an airline ticket be required to take a few measurements prior to being sold their ticket. If their shoulders, ass, gut or thighs exceed, in inches, the breadth of the seat, they will be charged for two seats. They can even HAVE both seats.

    Because it's just not FAIR that when a professional wrestler lumbers down the aisle and sits down in our row so that we are then forced to sit with our legs intertwined in a non-romantic fashion, b/c wrestler-guy needs to put his damned legs somewhere - and that somewhere is up against Beloved's tray table. Then Beloved needs to put his damned legs somewhere, and that ends up being up against MY tray table. Then my legs are against the wall, and I can't stretch them or anything. And Wrestler-dude has shoulders that go into the aisle by like 6 inches, so every time a "flight attendant" comes by, he leans even further into Beloved's seat, so Beloved is practically on my lap.

    I just - HATE - Iceland Air.

    And their seats were broken. One seat up the aisle a bit had packing tape wrapped around the tray table and the seat in front of it.

    My air conditioning nozzle was broken off, and someone had stuffed a plastic baggie into the hole. I took it out (once I realized it wasn't part of the a/c), but I still couldn't get any cool air to save my life.

    And the landing sucked. The pilot actually slammed on the brakes, and made the tires screech. On an airplane!!!

    Next time: Non Stop, on Virgin Atlantic. Or some other airline that treats passengers nicely and not like sheep being shoved from one field to another.

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    posted by Zuska @ 5:17 PM   3 comments
    Zuska the Dork, v4
    I think we're only up to 4.

    On Wednesday, while Beloved was in the shower, I rifled through his bags to find our trip itinerary. I wanted to know what time we were leaving and clearly could not wait the 2.3 minutes until he emerged from the shower (mmm, yummy ... Beloved fresh from shower).

    I saw the time: 3:10.

    Good, I thought. We have a good chunk of the day to play in Amsterdam, still. We had decided to get a shuttle to the airport, rather than take the train, on account of the extra bags we acquired, filled to the rim with souveniers and goodies, and did the math to figure out what time to make a reservation for. We made the reservation for 12:45, which would get us to the airport at 1:15, approximately 2 hours before the flight, as "required" for international flights.

    We woke earlier than usual on our departure day (Thursday .... god, only YESTERDAY?), and checked out of the hotel by 9 or so. We then walked down the Leidseplein* to a pancake house (sports bar by night) next to what seemed the most commercial of "coffeeshops" - the Bull Dog (which we had not visited). We nibbled happily on pancakes and went for our final (and 50th?) stroll of the streets and canals of the city. We bought chocolate. We discussed what food to bring on the plane. Then Beloved said:
    I know you said the flight was at 3, and I didn't check for myself, do you know if it was right at 3? Or 3:30? Or what?
    Hmm. I thought 3.

    Then I started to freak out. I couldn't picture the itinerary in my head. When I looked, it was for a general sense of things, not to really confirm the time. Not all official and stuff. What if I got it wrong? What if it was the time we were landing in Iceland (fucking Iceland)? My heart started to race, and I told Beloved, "we need to go back to the hotel now."

    The itinerary was in the luggage room, in his carry on case. We pulled it out.

    Guess what time our plane was taking off?

    Not 3:10.

    It was landing at 3:10. In Iceland.

    It was taking off at 2 p.m.

    So really, 12:45 would not be the death of us, we would just be there 45 minutes early instead of 2 hours.

    We had the desk clerk call the shuttle company, and she was only able to bump us up by 30 minutes. We ended up spending that 30 minutes sitting nervously in the hotel lobby, instead of casually strolling along the streets of Amsterdam.

    In the end, it all worked out fine.

    Despite the fact that I'm the world's biggest dork.

    AND! guess what?

    We had been saying for weeks that the girls are coming home at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

    I just pulled up their itinerary.

    They land at 5.

    Will I ever grow up? Ever?

    *I'm so proud - I spelled it right on my first try!!


    posted by Zuska @ 5:06 PM   2 comments
    1.a final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force.
    2.a final proposal or statement of conditions.

    Yeah, I'm not really sure the people who came up with the title (whether it be for the book or the movie) really understood what the word meant. No demands were made. There was, in fact, much force, but on account of the rejection of demands. And the relations were already severed at the start of the movie. Or even the start of the trilogy.


    Beloved woke up at around 7:30 this morning (NOT a natural occurrence!) to find me still awake, blogging my fool heart out. I told him I was toying with going back to bed, since I got up at ***5***, but he said no, we should go to the gym.

    Frizzum frazzum.

    We went to the gym.

    We were home by 10, caffeinated and exercised. We checked the movie times, and went to see the Bourne Ultimatum. I loved it. I am soooo easily entertained, of course I loved it. I love almost any movie. Except comedies. The vast majority of comedies annoy the shit out of me. But if you have pretty people on the screen, and exciting explosions and car chases (or, better yet, tidal waves and other freak natural occurrences), I'm entertained, and I'm happy.

    I promise, despite my lack of cinematic standards, I'm a very intelligent girl.

    Why we saw a movie today:
    • I felt a little out of it, from the travel
    • The girls come home tomorrow, and we will not have a chance, without paying a sitter, to see a movie in some time
    • We had free passes, from the time we tried to see The Departed, but instead saw the very excellent Pan's Labyrinth. Yeah, it looks like that had been in JANUARY. But the passes didn't expire.
    • We had been thinking of seeing a movie in either Paris or Amsterdam, but just never had the time. Imagine. On vacation in Europe, and we didn't have the time for a movie.
    Then we went for a delicious shawarma, which was very different from the ones we had in Amsterdam, but fantastic in its own right. Then we went to Trader Joe's, so I could stock up on wine, and we could fill the cupboards for the return of our parenthood tomorrow.

    So, welcome back to America!

    I sort of miss Europe.

    Did I mention? Spain is next. Only this time, it's with the kids.

    Well, unless, of course, we run off to Amsterdam over the holidays while the girls are with their father, for a little frolic of holiday shopping and floaty romance.

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    posted by Zuska @ 4:46 PM   0 comments
    The Youth on the Train
    We took a train from Paris to Amsterdam.

    I liked the train. It was over 4 hours, but felt like 2 (unlike the stupid nasty wretched awful Iceland Air flight). We had packed some food to eat, and enjoyed nibbling on cheeses and meats and little wafer cookies with milk chocolate sexy zodiac figures stamped onto them. I spent the time looking through Amsterdam travel guides (I didn't have time before the trip, due to that pesky test that consumed my life), and reading my novel (which is outstanding).

    Across the aisle from us were some American hippy-kids. They were probably 20. The girl said that she had just spent a month in Turkey, and the boy mentioned having been in Prague. I eavesdropped a lot, I will admit. They were a foot and a half away from me, so it would have been hard not to. I wondered where they were from, and didn't detect any accents, but based upon their free-spirit attire and behavior, I guessed Northern California.

    I was struck by just how young they were.

    When I was young, I did not travel. I went to a very small-world college, where foreign things were feared and demonized. The farthest I traveled was from Lynchburg, VA to Washington, D.C. And so in my mind, the people who spend time during college, or even high school, traveling are wise people. They are mature beyond their years. Their experiences and exposures make them exude a peacefulness and understanding. Right?

    I think I've seen that in my friends who I know to have traveled in their youth, but I see it in their 30 and 40-something selves. Not their college-age free spirit selves. Because I didn't know them then.

    So it was slightly surprising to me that these well-traveled independent kids were kids. They were 20. Everything they said, everything they did, screamed: I am very young! I do not understand the world yet! I think that this boyfriend who I hooked up with on my trip to Turkey is my soul mate!

    And I realized that just because they're traveling now, on their own, while young - does not mean they get to just skip over the growing up part. This is one of their experiences that will feed into their adulthood, and once they reach that point, they may (or may not) have that wise and well-traveled bearing that I foolishly expected from kids in their position right now.

    To be fair, though, they reminded me so much of my friends from CA who did hook up on a post-college trip to Eastern Europe, and who now have 3 children together, their oldest being E's age. Even though they were undoubtedly young on their train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, while staring into each other's eyes declaring each other soul mates.

    Turns out, toward the end of the ride, the girl saw that I was reading Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish author, and therefore found me relatively approachable. They asked me if they could see our Amsterdam books, which I gladly shared. While they leafed through, an identifying bookmark that my local independent bookstore sticks into each book they sell fell out. The kids handed the books back with the bookmark on top, and said, "That's a great bookstore. We're from Boston." I said, "oh yeah?" and told them where we live. They said, "Yeah, we go to [undergrad of the school I just graduated from]." Holy shit! We all got a good laugh out of that one.

    On a train, in Europe, we're sitting across from people who live around the corner from us!


    posted by Zuska @ 7:31 AM   0 comments
    Lessons Learned
    Next time we go to Europe (hopefully very soon), I will first consult my new list --
    1. Non-stop flights ONLY. Since we're on the east coast, we can make this happen. As I will likely detail in a later post, we missed our connection on the way to Paris. It was no fault of ours, and honestly, it shouldn't have happened, but it resulted in a good bit of inconvenience (and new countries traveled to), and if we'd gone direct, it wouldn't have happened. We could not afford the direct flights this time, so we are less kicking ourselves for this time, and working to focus instead on next time. see separate post as to which airline we WILL NOT fly next time.
    2. Bring a cell phone. If it means I upgrade my cell phone so it works on the Other Side, then that's what it means (honestly, I never checked if mine does). But the travel books (ooooh, another number on the list!) made it sound like getting "a phone card" and using it "at any phone" was going to be a piece of cake. HA! We only called the girls twice, but the second time, we stuffed at least 12 Euros into a phone, b/c it was the only way we could do it, despite a handful of phone cards and credit cards.
    3. Bring my laptop. Internet cafes are not nearly as convenient to get to or to spend time in as I'd imagined. I didn't need much - but we did find out three days later that our cat-sitter locked herself out of the house, since e-mail was the only way she could contact us and we hadn't made it to a cafe in a few days. The girls also would have likely enjoyed a little more contact (but next time, they're coming with us! So it won't matter!)
    4. No Shopping in Paris. Not that we did this time. But still, it's freaking expensive there. And I saw very little that wasn't just marked up because it was in Paris. There was one art gallery that we raised our eyebrows at as a place to return to if we ever have our own house to decorate. I think that's it. Actually -
    5. No Going to Paris Unless Money is No Object. Which with house-buying and kids' college in our future will likely mean NEVER. It's just really hard for me, a girl with no job, to sit in a cafe and look at the menu to find that your cup of coffee will cost 6.50 in Euros, which translates to approximately 10 US Dollars! I am a Starbucks person! I am accustomed to giving an eyeball a day for a cup of coffee, but still, this was too much for me. Too much.
    6. Do not rely on travel books. They are wrong. A lot. This was not such a big deal, but there was at least one time where our disappointment warranted several later references. We went to Haarlem, just outside of Amsterdam for the day on Monday. At that point, one of the items on our "to do" list was to eat Indonesian food. When looking through Time Out's narrative (small) on Haarlem, one thing that popped out at us was that there was an Indonesian restaurant that was the best on the planet right there in the center of the town. On the planet? (or maybe it was the country, but still, Amsterdam's known for its Indonesian, too, so it was still a big deal.) Definitely a two birds with one stone opportunity! But alas. As we found the address, and saw the sign for the restaurant on the street, we were immediately confronted with a sign on the door, scrawled in pen, saying something that must be Dutch for, "Ha! We fooled you, fuckers! No Indonesian food for you!" It was closed. Permanently.
      • This was by far not the only instance where something was closed. We knew that one of our books was published in 2005, and so we forgave it its inconsistencies (but if a restaurant is the best on the planet --- why does it close?) There were also pricing differences and such. As I said, though, this wasn't such a big deal. We were familiar enough with travel and Beloved was already familiar with Amsterdam, that it didn't cause even a hiccup, but it's a lesson.
    7. Learn to Speak French.
    8. Buy Art in Amsterdam. And Clothes. They have cool stuff. Their prices are nowhere near as high as in Paris.
    9. If the Dollar Ever Gets a Backbone - Go to Europe!!!
    I think that's it.

    Things I already miss:
    1. Canals
    2. 10 p.m. sunsets
    3. bicycles
    4. the music of foreign languages on the train
    5. rows of cafes with outdoor seating where servers don't rush you out as soon as they see you wipe your mouth with a napkin
    6. wondering what's around the next corner
    7. the excitement of figuring a new city out, realizing that you understand the layout, even if just a little bit.

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    posted by Zuska @ 7:12 AM   0 comments
    Jet Lag
    We woke up in Amsterdam yesterday at 8 a.m. I hadn't slept so well for 2 nights, because our hotel was on a busy street, and while the sound as fine for the first few nights, a head cold descended upon me this past Monday, and it made me sleep less soundly, and the noise became bothersome.

    We then got on the plane at 2 p.m., landing in Iceland (fucking Iceland) at 3:10 their time, getting back on a plane at 5 p.m. their time, which was 1 p.m. Boston time.

    We landed in Boston, crossing our fingers that our checked luggage wouldn't be sopping wet and leaking gin, at 6:30 Boston time, which was 12:30 a.m. Amsterdam time.

    We got home at 7:30.

    We left for dinner at 8:30 (keeping track, that was 2:30 a.m., Amsterdam time). We got home at 9:30. The girls called at 10:30.

    I passed out, finally, at 5 a.m., Amsterdam time.

    But yet, I woke up at 5 a.m., Boston time.

    What the hell?

    Where's my tiredness? I want it back!!!

    during my sleep, I dreamed I was still here -

    Or perhaps in some American version, which was less responsible, less quaint, and a lot more excessive. Not really in a good way.


    posted by Zuska @ 7:01 AM   1 comments
    Too Daunting of a Task?
    I remembered during our (long, horrible, nasty, wretched airline) flight yesterday that I have every intention to do something different about this blogging business now that law school is over.

    I don't know what to do.

    I know I won't blog about work.

    I think that I still have a lot of blogging left in me.

    I think, mostly b/c of work, and also just because everybody googles everybody, I won't be using my "real name."

    I'd like to share photos of my kids, but I think they're getting too old for that.

    I'm bored of this place.

    I'll be spending part of the next 6 weeks figuring it all out. I'm pretty sure this one will stay up, and I will offer links to a new place soon.


    posted by Zuska @ 6:56 AM   0 comments
    Thursday, August 09, 2007
    3 a.m.
    We're home! We have a ton of pictures, and had a FANTASTIC time. I'm very fortunate, because my husband is a great travel buddy.

    Now we have to deal with getting airplane grime off of ourselves, figuring out why the a/c won't turn on, and then going out to forage for food.

    Good times,

    [Girls are home in less than 48 hours! Holy Crap! Where did the summer go???]

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    posted by Zuska @ 7:47 PM   2 comments
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