Monday, January 30, 2006


We had a housewarming party on Saturday night! It was fantastic. There were a lot of people there - the main room was full, and there were people sitting on the bed, and others hanging out in the study and in the kitchen. 36 bottles of beer and 12 bottles of wine. I was running around answering the door, throwing coats into the kitchen, and getting drinks - basically being a waiter, which I love to do. I made an ass-kicking music mix that got a few complements, and I think everybody had a good time. It was weird to have everyone in the same room: our good friends, my friends from law school, friends from undergrad, people from my old work, L's work friends, her church friends, our neighbors, our old neighbors.... I ended up drinking a lot and making Hamas jokes at the end of the night. That may have been offensive, I don't know. Nice going, Palestinians.

We invited the neighbors who live around our apartment both to promote neighborly goodwill and as a buffer to prevent indignant complaints about excessive noise. A couple of them came, and the people who live behind us turned out to be a demographic match for us: engaged couple, pretty young, fun and funny. They both work in the beverage industy. [Thoughtful nodding.]

And the kicker is, our neighbor from downstairs, the one who plays the music and the one I'm sort of afraid of, knocked on our door the next day to... give us a housewarming gift. So we are back on the level. I had such a warm feeling at that moment, although since I was still kind of drunk, it could have just been the booze.

Wow, drinking sure is a theme of the last few posts. Not sure how I'm feeling about that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I went to class drunk

On Tuesdays I have a four-hour break between Civil Procedure and Legal Writing, so I went up to Mama Mexico to celebrate the birthday of Tara, my friend and former colleague. A couple margaritas and a homemade bowl of guacamole later, I am careening back into law school. I had a coke and some cookies to sober up before class, but, shockingly, this didn't work. I wasn't obnoxiously drunk, just a little flushed and easily amused.

Once we're all seated in the seminar room (the class is only 18 people, natch) our teacher, Ross, starts telling us about our oral argument exercise. We were supposed to face off with another class and argue against them, but those plans were canceled. I was bummed. "We would've destroyed them," I muttered.

"What was that, Mike?" Ross said.

"We were gonna destroy them!" I said loudly. People started laughing. Ross said something about how I was in a competitive mood, and maybe somebody else would volunteer to go against me.

"I'll take any a y'all!" I said, pointing around the room. For a moment I slipped into some kind of ghetto persona. I hope my neck didn't swerve. My face was turning red, and in the deepest corner of my mind, the pre-margarita lobe, I thought: why are you talking? Be quiet!

Everyone laughed some more, and Ross said something else about how excited I was for the arguments. "I'm free tonight!" I yelled. They were all amused and some were looking at me strangely - that was not completely out of character, but definitely not my standard in-class outburst. The ones who knew I had been drinking enjoyed it the most.

The rest of the class went smoothly, as I sat quietly, trying to avoid attention and trying to return my face to its normal skin tone. It could have gone a lot worse, but I don't think I should make it a habit.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Movie review: "Cache"

This is a French thriller about a fancypants Parisian couple who start receiving mysterious video tapes in the mail - surveillance videos of their house, hours long, which arrive at their doorstep with crude, sinister drawings and no other explanations. Wound deep within the marrow-like cells of the videotapes are secrets - old, sinister secrets of Le Husband's past, which unlock a frenzy of violence, horror, mediocre parenting, and pretension. Snappy publications I usually trust all rave about this movie as being chilling, exciting, unexpected, gripping, and spine-tingling.

But L and I actually saw this movie the other day, and all I know is, "Cache" is apparently French for "Don't bother." It was horrible. Boring. There was no music in the film and the characters were unsympathetic. There were scenes of really shocking violence: a boy cutting off a chicken's head, and the body careening around the barnyard (which you know they could not film in the US, thanks to our paint-bucket-toting friends at PETA) and a man slitting his own throat on screen. I was fortunate to look away in time to avoid seeing the actual act, but I can tell you that I have never heard a theatre audience make the kind of noise that they made when they saw him kill himself- shock, anguish, confusion.

So basically the movie was incredibly boring and dull, punctuated by horrific violence. There was no real resolution to the story and most questions were left unanswered. The only neat trick was that as a viewer, you were never sure if you were watching the movie or a surveillance tape. But even dipping into the lives of these upper-crusty Parisians - their meals, conversations, homes - did not make up for the wretchedness of the flick. In sum: Don't waste your time.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I joined the gym

To celebrate the new year and maintain my sex appeal and overall level of health, I joined the gym for new year's. I've been pretty good about going, spurred on by L's frenzied addiction to fitness and a healthy sense of competition, in the form of making sure she can't beat me up. Besides the tv's posted above all the treadmills, the best thing about the gym is the classes one can attend. And a good thing about going to a gym in the West Village is that I don't feel the need to be a rugged macho Marlboro man in a headband when many of the dudes are gay there anyhow (although they are the kind of he-man gays who are extremely jacked up and attentive to skincare). So I am free to take classes that would otherwise be potentially embarassing, if I were, say, anywhere else. After a week and a half, here is an update:

Boxing - Correction: there are burly guys in the West Village, and they all gather here, in this class, to kick my ass. I was the only person without handwraps. The teacher was this gnarled, angry muscle with a face, and he yelled the entire time. Amid the punching, running, abwork, and "bear crawls," I adopted that sad face you see on people who exercise, the face that's two-thirds misery and one-third orgasm, the face that is really unattractive. But afterwards he said I did well and I promised to come back (but I didn't because of a class conflict. So I look like a punk).

Total Body Conditioning #1 - Pretty good, fairly hardcore. No cardio work, all muscle. I need the structure of a class to make sure I get a balanced workout and this did the trick. I had three sets of weights, a mat, a bench, and something called a "body bar" that I jabbed into myself intermittently through the session. But it was what I wanted.

Total Body Conditioning #2 - Like the last class, but way gayer. The teacher had apparently just gotten off the trolley from Fire Island. He played this Elton John techno megamix, so we were pumping out to "Your Song" and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." It did the trick, though. But this class was a bunch of lumberjacks armwrestling compared to...

Step - Ok, I was asking for it. But I was curious. This class was honestly pretty fun, although it was the least strenuous. We learned these complicated moves and routines, and it turns out there's a whole lot more to step than stepping - we were mamboing, shimmying around the benches, going in front of and behind them, spinning around. It was fun the way line dances are fun. I laughed when the instructor started barking, "Arabesque! Arabesque!" But there was another guy in the class, and he had been there before, and I did better than him, so that was rewarding. And, the instructor said I did really well for a first-timer. I thought about challenging him to a danceoff then and there, to establish alpha-male status in the step studio, you know, but I declined.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I went to a reception last night hosted by one of the big law firms here in the city. They invited 1L's to come by and say hello and begin the recruitment process for summer jobs. It was really weird. Strutting up Park Avenue in my suit, looking purposeful, I felt like a fraud. When I finally made it into the conference room where the reception was taking place, there were only about ten other people there. The students had nametags with green writing, and the lawyers had nametags with red writing. So you spent a lot of time craning your neck to see who you should bother talking to, because what's the point of sharing that funny anecdote from Torts class with some schlub from Cardozo? It was like a frat party where the girls hadn't arrived yet. So some girl came and talked to me who recognized me from undergrad and we hung around for a bit.

It was really bizarre. The same awkward conversation repeated twelve times over, or spinning some conversational gold out of nothing. Awkward silence, then "how do you like law school?," countered by "how long have you been at the firm?" And then you're off to the races. There were attendants passing around gorgeous hors d'oeuvres, little flaky pastries and kabobs and these juicy lamb chops, but who would eat a lamb chop at a professional mixer like this? I had one beer and after 90 minutes had hit my saturation point.

As I was walking back I thought about how this life of wealth and comfort seems pretty darn close, in a way. And also how these firms are like the Cheneys of the legal world. Product liability cases, when a medicine makes people sick and they die? The firms defend the pharmaceutical companies, and they win. Environmental cases? The firms defend the polluting industries, and they win. I don't know if I can do that.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Defending the castle

Fifteen minutes past seven this morning. L and I are in bed denying the existence of the alarm, the somber NPR people depressingly offering the news. Then, like clockwork, it starts: the music comes rumbling up from the guy downstairs. I clearly hear Shakira's "Whenever, Wherever" as well as that wretched "I'm blue, dabba dee dabble die." Later, he plays Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love (Babe)." This happened yesterday, too - he played music nearly the whole day and I heard it muffled through the apartment floor. One bad thing about the new place: thin walls.

I am getting angrier and angrier as I lie in bed. At 8:15 I pull on shorts and a tee shirt and head downstairs. In passing I notice that I look like hell - bed head, mouth crust - but hopefully this will illustrate my point. Downstairs I knock on his door: no answer. The music still plays. I return upstairs.

Sometimes he plays mellow jazz, which is nice. Then he plays a club anthem, which sends me back downstairs for the second time. This noise is incessant, beginning at 7:15 am, and this from a man who clobbered at his ceiling to get us to quiet down from assembling the bed at 11:30 pm.

When I knock a second time, I have brushed my teeth, but I still look like a wreck. He answers - a short, slightly rotund but trim gay man. Good posture. His face is expressionless. He is too old for this kind of music.

I smile charmingly. "Hi, my name is Michael, we just moved upstairs, and I was wondering if you could turn down your music a bit in the early morning."

"Ok." He pauses. "If you stop stomping around upstairs."

"Oh, I didn't realize it was a problem. Will do. Thanks."

A curt nod, and the door closes. The music is turned down. But he was kind of a prick - he didn't even apologize, he didn't say anything nice. I tried to be really friendly and nonconfrontational and neighborly, and he just tried to be a dick. I want to have good relations in the building, but his music was really loud and obnoxious, and I think it's better to go downstairs politely and say something face to face, rather than bang on the floor or just run a cordless drill arhythmically from 11 pm - 2 am, screwing things into the floor just so hopefully he will be unable to sleep. Because that is my next step. Don't mess with my home.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The first morning of the new year

You know what it took to make this new apartment into our home? Drunken New Year's eve dancing. Enjoying our favorite songs of the year as well as Mariah Carey's Fembot-boob-powered performance in Times Square, clutching a bottle of champagne, and all of a sudden this new place fits exactly right. Sure, Mariah had a great 2005, but she needs to stop eating paint chips and dress more appropriately for the cold weather. I was praying for a wardrobe malfunction, but no such luck. Surely a bittersweet beginning for this awesome new year.

Not everyone is cool enough to be at home on New Year's eve, but I was, and after a survey of the major Times Square broadcasts (NBC with dork-laugher Carson Daly, ABC with poor Dick Clark and the insufferable Ryan Seacrest, Fox with the disoriented Regis, and MTV with a gaggle of drunk twentysomethings) I can say that they all stink. Lip-synched performances, soggy banter, bad transitions, boring interviews with two 300-pounders from Illinois enchanted by standing for twelve hours in Times Square surviving on Sbarro's and Roxy sandwiches. Someone at some point remarked that they were suprised that 85% of the lunatics waiting in the cold in Times Square for the ball to drop or to be targeted by terrorists or whatever are actually not from New York. Of course they're not.