Monday, November 7, 2011

A Southern Belle for President!

I used to be crazy enough to think that I wanted to go into politics.  Of course, I’m still several cards short of a full deck, but I am completely disabused of the notion that I want to dip so much as one pinky toe into the political arena.

Why?  Well, let’s just say that I graduated from junior high school a long time ago and I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to go back.  Think about it:  Raging hormones, cliques, bullying and the rebellious refusal to do anything productive.  They are one and the same.

Pubescent Teenager:  “Moooooooooom!  I just made it to level 9,374,534 on Zombie Hooker Killers!  I’ll do my homework laaaaaaaaaaaater!” 

Pubescent Politician:  “Constitueeeeeeeeeeeeeeents!  Yes, we have soldiers dying overseas while their families starve to death at home, but Obama might have been born in Kenya, his wallet might be brown when he said it was blue and we need to investigate the use of steroids in the NFL!  Oh, and pay no attention to the girl wearing pasties and a g-string in the corner.  She’s a lobbyist for and dancing program.”

I’m a Democrat, but I didn’t accept Obama as my lord and savior like many of my brethren did in ’08.  There was too much wrong with the country that a lot of flash and very little substance couldn’t cure.  Now, many of those same brethren are very disillusioned and I’m just shaking my head.  Of course, McCain didn’t crank my tractor either.

What’s really got me frigging terrified this year is the current state of affairs in the Republican Primary.  One usually expects the Democrats to hold a three-ring circus because that’s just how we roll, but the GOP usually puts up a nearly identical row of expensive suits, starched shirts, fabulously moussed hair and blinding smiles that do nothing to warm otherwise constipated expressions.  This year, we have Mr. Godfather’s Pizza who may or may not be able to keep his pepperoni to himself, a governor who would likely legalize execution for jaywalking if given half the chance and a man named for an amphibian.  Lord have mercy.

Now, I don’t want to be one of those irritable people who bitches and moans endlessly without any solution.  Actually, I’m not going to go so far as to say that I have a solution, but I do have a thought.  Upon careful reflection, I believe that we might benefit from putting a Southern Belle in office.  Think about the main talking points in this train wreck we call an election:  Crime and terrorism, the economy and foreign relations.

Those of you who even have to question a Southern Belle’s ability to be tough on crime are too stupid to live and you will be taken out by the tenets of Darwinism in short order anyway.  As for the rest of you, I’m going to tell you two stories:

(1)   Once upon a time, there was a Southern Belle who stayed at home and ran the plantation while her husband traveled to the capital to serve his elected post in the Senate.  The husband enjoyed himself tremendously while he was away and that enjoyment included many a rendezvous with more than one woman.  Of course, word of her husband’s debauchery got back to our Southern Belle and, by the time her puffed up peacock of a husband returned home, our Southern Belle had hired a personal militia to defend her plantation against his return.  Senator Hound Dog was forced to make permanent living arrangements in the capital city.

(2)   Once upon a time, there was a Southern Belle who was married to a tee total bastard.  He wasn’t dumb enough as to be physically abusive, but a kind word never came from his lips.  The years wore on and the Southern Belle continued to put up with the venom.  The day came when the son of a bitch had to have an operation that was going to cause him to be on his back for a very significant period of time.  The Southern Belle got the upstairs bedroom all fixed up for his sour ass and got him all tucked in when he came home from the hospital.  When he got hungry and demanded food, the Southern Belle fixed a beautiful plate and set it at the bottom of the stairs.  She then told her asshole of a husband that he could crawl down and get it and that he should get used to it because that was how his meals would be served for the foreseeable future.  (V.V., I hope I got this mostly right.)

The terrorists won’t know what hit them.

As far as the economy goes, have you ever seen a Southern Belle snap into action when extra people show up at a party?  From the moment we can manage a pot holder and a trivet, Southern Belles are trained to deal with those inevitably uncouth individuals who fail to RSVP or “tag along” to a social event.  I’ve seen parties where as many as 30 to 50 extra people show up, the Belle hostess never bats an eye and everyone is more than adequately fed and watered.  It’s like the loaves and the fishes story in The Bible.

See?  Hungry masses fed. 

Of course, jobs are the other factor in the economy.  All I have to say to that is:  Junior League.  Well, there’s also the Hospital Auxiliary, the Church Guild, Daughters of the Confederacy and all sorts of other groups.  What these groups teach the Southern Belle is the art of precision delegation.  There is a job for everyone and It.  Will.  Be.  Assigned.

Unemployment?  Tootles.

Now, what foreign relations calls for is diplomacy and diplomacy is really just international etiquette.  Who better than a Southern Belle to go global with manners?  Thank the good Lord that United States has gotten out of its chest thumping stage, but we’ve still got a long way to go in shaking all of the dirt off of our image and no one’s better than at cleaning house than a Southern Belle.  Heck, you’d be amazed at what evidencing concern for someone other than yourself and the occasional thank-you note can do.

Foreign relations?  Thankyouverymuch.

Let’s face it:  We’re in a mess.  The folks that we trusted to clean up the mess are piddling around and fighting like little junior high school cliques over less than nothing while the wolf is tearing down the door.  I think it might be time to kick ass.  It might be time for a Southern Belle.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Little Pumpkin That Could

There is no denying that holidays are social occasions.  From New Year’s to St. Pat’s to Fourth of July to Christmas—folks get together to eat and drink entirely too much.  Parties, parties, parties!  In order to throw the aforementioned “parties, parties, parties!” one’s house must be decorated to the nines for said occasion.

Not only is a Southern Belle required to rise to the challenge of any and every social event, she should delight in the opportunity.  There is a house in my neighborhood with a very large bay window and the lady that lives in the house decorates the window for every single holiday.  Every.  Single.  Holiday.  I have no doubt that, if I actually went inside the house, I would have feelings of inadequacy so crushing that I would be forced to my knees to genuflect before Oleander Estates’ very own Martha Stewart.

As you well know, I am a Southern Belle, but I have issues.  To be perfectly frank, I have more issues than National Geographic, but I muddle along as best I can.  I am an introvert and, although I may appear to be a witty conversationalist on paper, I choke in person.  I also don’t like clutter and I don’t particularly like making work for myself, so hauling out a bunch of seasonally appropriate stuff to strew across the house only to have to pack it all up a short time later is not my idea of a good time, but I have children and I do the best I can. 

I am also slack as hell as I will illustrate in this little story:

In January of this year, I was sitting in the den and coloring with the Baby Belles.  I happened to look up at the mantel and lo and behold there was a jack o’ lantern staring down at me.    It was a decorative pottery thingamajig that was about the size of a softball.  I wasn’t as surprised that I missed it when taking down Halloween decorations as I was that I missed it when putting up and taking down Christmas decorations.  I was furthermore surprised that my mechanical engineer husband—who has an attention for detail so sharp that it can completely drive me up the wall at times—missed it as well (actually, that part was a little gratifying).

Huh, I thought to myself, I’ll grab it and shove it in the closet later.  I don’t feel like messing with it right now.

In March of this year, I was sitting in the den and holding a pitifully feverish Baby Belle 2.  We were watching Barney for about the 4,637th time and I was looking around for things to either occupy myself or stab myself in the eyes.  I happened to look up at the mantel and lo and behold there was a jack o’ lantern staring down at me.

Huh, I thought to myself, well I certainly can’t get it right now.  If I get Punkin down for a nap, I’ll grab it and put it up.

In June of this year, we were getting ready to go to the beach and I was looking for my sunglasses.  When I am looking for something, it is not a small undertaking:  I have found my cell phone in the refrigerator, my car keys in the dog bed and one of a pair of extraordinarily expensive shoes in the garage (the little hands around my house can be so helpful).  I ran into the den, happened to look over at the mantel and lo and behold there was a jack o’ lantern staring down at me.

Oh for Heaven’s sake, I thought to myself, this is getting plum ridiculous, but Scott and the kids are waiting in the car and I don’t have time to mess with the damned thing right now.

I will admit that, when I got in the car to go to the beach, I mentioned our little “Pumpkin Situation” to Scott and he snorted.

In August of this year, I was sprawled out in the den sweating like a turkey before Thanksgiving.  We had actually just come back from another beach trip and I was taking a moment before hauling my butt upstairs to get in the shower.  I happened to glance up and the mantel and lo and behold there was a jack o’ lantern staring down at me. 

Christ Almighty, I thought to myself, I am the slackest person in the history of the world.  I actually moved one leg off of the ottoman as if to stand up when a thought occurred to me.  It wasn’t a thought that I am particularly proud of, but it was a thought nonetheless:  Well hell, I’ve left the thing up all year, it’s practically October now.

So there I was:  It was the end of September and I was standing with a group of moms at Baby Belle 1’s school, commiserating about the suddenness of the impending holidays.  Some of the ladies were saying that it felt as though they’d just taken their Christmas decorations down and it was nearly time to put them up already! 

I couldn’t help it.  It was terrible, but I never, ever get to be the one to say it.  I smiled (maybe a little bit smugly) and said, “At least I’m decorated for Halloween!”

Friday, September 30, 2011

Courtroom Zombies

Not so very long ago, I was desperately bored.  Accordingly, I took some random multiple choice Facebook quiz rating my chances of surviving a zombie holocaust.  I don’t remember what the questions were, but suffice it to say that my scores indicated I would be tasty zombie tidbits less than half an hour after the outbreak. 

I’ve never tested well.

You might not believe this, but I actually kinda like zombie movies.  I’m not into the squishy guts and gore at all, but they are chock full of such hilarious irony and cynicism that even the most squeamish have to appreciate them a little bit.  Zombieland is great fun and Shaun of the Dead has me rolling in laughter every single time I see it.  

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more offended I became about my “kibbles and bits” score on the zombie test.  I deal with the honest-to-God living dead nearly every single day of my life and I do a damned good job of it if I do say so myself.  If you think that the moaning, blank-faced masses shambling aimlessly day in and day out in the halls of the New Hanover County Courthouse aren’t a scene pulled directly from a George Romero movie, then you need to grow a pair and have a zombie movie marathon weekend.

First off, zombies aren’t the most coordinated folks on the planet.  They tend to lope and shuffle more than run and walk.  The hero and/or heroine in the zombie has to do a lot of tripping over tombstones or get caught amongst a crowd of the living dead in order to meet their doom. 

Lack of coordination could also be hung upon folks having their first appearances on Monday morning after their getaway weekend in the drunk tank at the County Jail.  Of course, leg shackles could make anyone do the zombie shuffle, but the bailiffs don’t do that so much anymore.  To be perfectly frank, their “guests” are so pickled that they don’t have to.  For first appearances, an inmate is brought into the courtroom from the holding cell in the back hall and is placed into the penalty box in the courtroom to wait until the judge calls their name.

When it’s their turn for first appearance, the court zombies get up and walk over to the bench with the bailiff behind them.  Do you think that the bailiff is there to keep them from taking off?  Eh, partly.  Mostly, the bailiff is there to keep them from weaving drunkenly into tables and falling down and hitting their soused noggins.

Once, a court zombie was brought in front of the bench for a first appearance and his big weekend with the pub crawls was giving him a serious problem with his equilibrium.  While the judge was talking to him about his charges and what he wanted to do about representation, the zombie kept leaning to the side.  The zombie’s legs weren’t bending or anything;  he was like a fence post that wasn’t set up right.  Every time he started to tilt, the bailiff would silently reach out, grab him and set him back up straight and the judge continued on as usual.  When the judge stopped and asked the zombie if he had any questions, the zombie said, “Your Honor, you’re making me sick.  You gotta stop and stay still.”

Can I just take a minute here and say that bailiffs are saints among men?

Anyway, another classic marker of the zombie movies is the moaning.  Oh how the zombies love to moan.  Of course, when it comes to the movies, thank God the zombies do love to moan, because they can’t exactly sneak up on you with all that caterwauling.  When it comes to the courthouse zombies...oh the things I would do to shut them up.

Unfortunately, our courthouse zombies can be just as unintelligible as Night of the Living Dead zombies.  One trick is that each attorney has a specialty when it comes to communication.  For example, I interpret “Irate Old Man” and I am often called upon by my peers to translate.  In a pinch, I can help with “Irate Old Woman,” but the cadence is fast and it can be a little tricky, plus it depends if they are wearing their teeth or not.  I typically need assistance with “Teenagers in Gangs” and “Currently Tweaking Meth Addicts.”  Yeah, CTMA’s are a doozy.

Last, but certainly not least:  Zombies—be they actual or courthouse—stink to high Heaven.  I’m sure I don’t need to go into the particulars of why actual zombies stink and I probably don’t need to delve into the washing habits (or lack thereof) of courthouse zombies, but I do have a few tales to tell. 

There once was a fellow—and I feel the need to preface that he wasn’t homeless—who was a return customer of our law firm.  This gentleman loved, I mean tee totally loved to drink.  Consequently, said gentleman would butt heads with the law frequently.  The thing was that the guy smelled horrible.  It’s hard to convey the level of badness, but it was stale drunk smell combined with new alcohol smell thrown together with “I haven’t washed since Nixon was in office” smell.  The guy would come into the office to drop off his latest citation and, even though he was only in the office for less than a few minutes, we would entertain the idea of moving every single time.  There.  Was.  Not.  Enough.  Febreeze.  In.  The.  World.

The gentlemen passed away a few years ago.  We hoped that someone got close enough to check his pulse and that they didn’t rely on the stench alone.

I was in court in Jacksonville not too terribly long ago when a lady came from the cell for a first appearance for what appeared to be one hell of a weekend.  Half of her hair was shaved and the other half of it was dyed a questionable purple and was sticking out in about nine different directions.  Those of us that work at the courthouse are used to the stale booze smell—God knows we don’t love it, but we are used to it.  This dear girl didn’t smell stale in the least.  As a matter of fact, if someone lit a match, all of us could well have been goners.  I will futhermore add that the Purple People Eater’s special scent hit several rows away.

Now, the rule is that inebriated people don’t come to court.  As a matter of fact, the enforcers of said rule are the bailiffs.  It’s one thing when the bailiff drags a drunkard out of the audience for a contempt hearing before the bench, but imagine His Honor’s consternation when the bailiff brings what appears to be a lit inmate before him.  As you can imagine, the judge had a few words to say to the bailiff about his actions and the poor fella replied, “Your Honor, I swear to you that she’s been in all weekend on a 72-hour domestic violence hold and she hasn’t had a drop to drink.”

Bring it on, Romero.  Bring.  It.  On.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Counselor Communications [Snort]

We lawyers are some weird cats.  It takes some mentally scrambled folks to willingly undergo the torture of law school and the Bar Exam just to graduate to suffer still more abuse from unappreciative clients and anyone else who feels like taking a shot at the perceived “bottom feeders of Society.” 

You’ve heard me talk plenty about how attorneys interact with their clients, but those conversations sound like little old ladies at a tea party when compared to how attorneys talk to each other. 

I’m not exactly a bra burning feminist.  I certainly believe that women should be given an equal playing field with equal reward, but I do like having a door opened for me on occasion.  Above all—as in most of my pursuits—I just try to keep a sense of humor about it.  So, when I was a fresh young attorney making my way through the courthouse, I decided not to blow my stack over this slick lawyer dude who persisted in calling me “sugar,” “baby,” “honey,” “darling,” “dear” and any variation, hyphenation or combination of the same.

No, I figured if it was good enough for me, it was good enough for him, so I started calling him “babe,” “cupcake,” “sweetie pie,” and “pet” and any variation, hyphenation or combination of the same.  Did my reciprocity shock our fair gentleman attorney and shame him into appropriate deportment? 

Are you on crack?

Ten years later, we’re still at it and it’s getting more creative by the minute.  I think at our last parting, I was the “pulse in his veins” and he was the “fire on my lips.”

Conversely, I have a tradition with a female lawyer.  Again, many, many moons ago when I was moist behind the ears, I was standing behind a lady in the line of attorneys waiting to talk to the ADA in courtroom 317.  She was talking to someone about how she had just gotten off the phone with her client and he had blown her out for the double offense of waking him up with her telephone call and expecting him to be in court for his drug charge.  She sighed in resignation and said rather sarcastically, “I guess I’m just a bitch for expecting so much from people.”

It probably won’t surprise you when I tell you that—being a somewhat sarcastic individual myself—my antennae perked up when I heard her tone.  It’s always nice to make friends with another smartass so that there’s at least one more person on the planet who gets your sense of humor.  Accordingly, I snorted and said, “Yeah, that was kind of a bitch move.”

Miss Sarcastic turned around and I saw the twinkle in her eye.  She cracked a half smile and said, “And I bet you would know, wouldn’t you?”

“As a matter of fact, I have a Ph.D. in Bitchology.”

The half smile turned in to a full smile as she held out her hand, introduced herself and added, “It’s always nice to meet a kindred spirit.”

I think our initial meeting was the last time we called each other by our given names.  Since then, when we pass in the hall, it’s:

“Hi, Bitch!”

“Hi, Bitch!”


“Howdy, Hag!”

“Whassup, Cow?

...or some variation on the same.  There are many greetings that I can’t repeat to you sensitive souls lest you collapse in fits of vapors.

Then there are the Cheesemeisters.  I really don’t know what their deal is.  These folks love to spout trite phrases or steal movie quotes.  I have yet to determine if these dingbats think that spewing this crap makes them cool or if they actually think that folks don’t know that they’re stealing material.  Some of my favorites:

1.      Spouter:  Don’t let your ego write any checks your body can’t cash!  (Um, Top Gun, anyone???)

Ashley:  That’s what credit cards are for.

2.      Spouter:  You’re about to bring a world of hurt down on yourself, little lady!

Ashley:  I have Tylenol in my purse.

3.      Spouter:  You need to step up to the plate and deliver!  (I swear to God, if I hear that on one more frigging reality show sound bite, I am going to lose what precious little sanity I have left.  I sure to hell don’t need to hear it from opposing counsel.)

Ashley:  Objection as to lack of specificity.  What “plate?”  Home plate?  A buffet plate?  Deliver what?  A bat?  A casserole?  Your statement calls for entirely too much speculation.

I should probably stop now before my eye starts twitching.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Embrace the Evil

Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room:  I’m crazy...but aren’t we all at one point or another?  To be perfectly frank, it takes a certain amount of insanity to navigate through this day and age.  The loony toons just manifest differently in different folks.

How do my crazies come out to play?  In more ways than you can shake a stick at, but the one I am to address today is Multiple Personality Ashley. 

What?  I told you I was crazy.

Believe it or not, I am a nice person.  I adore my children and my husband.  I would walk through fire for my family.  I smile and say hello to folks when I see them (but I don’t always see them because I walk around with horrible tunnel vision) and I’ve even stopped and helped a turtle across the road once or twice.  I do nice things for people without them even knowing about it. 

Although I still persist in my rose colored belief that the world of an attorney is ultimately a noble calling, there are inevitably occasions when attorneys have to do really crappy things.  How do I answer that God-awful, trite, rather rude question that I get asked at every single social function when someone discovers that I’m a lawyer? 

[Gasp!] “How do you represent someone when you know they’re guilty?”

One of these days, I’m going to snap and answer, “The same way I’d represent you even though I know God didn’t give you the sense He gave a paving brick.”

It’s the way I explained it to a friend of mine who knows me well and appreciates my inner villain:  “There are two Ashley’s.  Nice Ashley stops the car for Kitty and even takes the time to try to find his owners.  Lawyer Ashley would aim for mangy thing and toss the carcass into her neighbor’s yard with the intent to frame him for feline murder.”

The thing is that Attorney Ashley started having a really good time.  She particularly enjoyed trying District Court cases against first years and interns.  She objected to absolutely everything they said.  One of them even cried once.  MWA-HAHAHAHAHA!

I will now quit talking about myself in the third person because I have to own my actions.  I must embrace the evil.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ve gone over to the Dark Side:

1.      How do I rate folks?  Well, there is the Ashley Council Drowning Scale.  If someone I know is drowning, do I like them enough to (a) jump in and save them, (b) throw them a life ring, (c) walk away, or (d) sit down and watch?

2.      You know how most folks go to the gym and the beach and look at all of the hot bodies while thinking to themselves, “Oh my Lord, look at them!  They are so amazing!  I’ll never compare!!!”  I say, why make yourself miserable?  I go to the beach and pick out the ugliest person I can find and concentrate on them.  I find myself feeling right damned fine about myself for the rest of the day.

3.      Speaking of the beach, there was a recent incident where I rather shamefully included my innocent 7 year-old in my machinations, but—in my defense—she really enjoyed it.  We had our little camp laid out at the beach with our blanket and umbrella and let me assure you that there was more than enough room for anyone and everyone to enjoy a first row seat at the ocean.  Some buttheads came and camped right the hell in front of us and it was just such a low rent move.  When the time came for us to pack up, we had some leftover snack crackers.  Hmmm...

Who would suspect such an adorable child as Baby Belle 1?  My precious child aided us as we scattered snack cracker crumbs liberally around their camp.  The first in what surely became a legion of seagulls were starting to arrive as we scampered, giggling, off of the beach.

4.      Its road rage and it’s bad when everybody else does it, but it’s tactical maneuvering when I do it and it’s perfectly fine.

5.      I will send my insane Chihuahua (Desdemona Muffets Council) out into our front yard to yap her little ass off at window salesmen, snake oil grass repair idiots and religious zealots and I thoroughly enjoy the show.

6.      I will take the last “whatever” off of the shelf at the store because everyone else is dithering about being too polite and I. Do. Not. Dither.  Who has the time?

7.      On occasion (okay, frequently), I aim for pigeons and squirrels.

8.      I’ve acquired a bit of a reputation for scaring first offense teenagers straight.  You know those youthful indiscretions we all made at one point or another where some of us had the good luck not to get caught and some of weren’t so fortunate?  I do jail tours and I occasionally resort to opening the blinds in my little bat cave of an office to reveal the corner store and park across the street inhabited by shuffling and twitching individuals looking to score, looking to hook up or looking for a fight as they mumble incoherently to themselves and I say “LOOK UPON YOUR FUTURE YOU HAVE SET FOR YOURSELF IF YOU DO NOT CHANGE YOUR COURSE” in a very “Ghost of Christmas Future” tone.  I make them cry too.

9.      I ratted out a very bratty UNC-Weed student who was invading my personal space in the grocery line.  She was talking to her parents in a very loud tone as she lied to them that she was already home and she was getting ready to go to bed.  Accordingly, I rather loudly added, “SHE’S LYING.  SHE’S AT THE HARRIS TEETER BUYING BEER.”  Okay, so I embellished the beer part.

 Embrace the evil.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alas, Alack

Due to several calamitous and catastrophic (and all sorts of other fancy adjectives) events that have recently occured in my life, I find that I am not able to post as much as I used to.  I'm sure you've noticed my absence, but I tend to state the obvious on a regular basis.  Not to worry, I anticipate many sleepless nights ahead, so you will likely be hearing from me sooner rather than later...and, yes, that is a threat.


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Southern Belle vs. That Martha Stewart B!tch

I try to be a good mother, I really do.  I snuggle, cuddle, kiss and tickle.  I read stories and have rockin’ tea parties.  I color and draw pictures and do manicures and pedicures.  After seven years of hitting and missing and cussing, I can also do hair reasonably well.

The thing is...well...the thing is that I’m pretty challenged when it comes to the domestic arts. 

At first it was lack of interest.  Food tasted good and I certainly appreciated it, but I wasn’t overly interested in how it got to the table.  I was a klutz and ovens were hot and knives were sharp.  It was also really cool that Mom could make me a Toto costume for the Wizard of Oz play or a Cat Woman outfit for Halloween, but that was where my interest trailed off.  I am a klutz and needles are sharp, etcetera, etcetera. 

After that, it was kind of a Women’s Lib thing.  Just because I was a woman, I was expected to know how to cook and sew?  Why not slap me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?  Down with The Man, dude!

Then, the perfectionist in me held me back.  The needlepoint I labored over had a mistake and I would get frustrated and put it down.  The cookies crumbled all the hell over the place.  The Christmas pillow that was supposed to be all smooth and plump ended up looking like some sort of mutant amoeba.  No, if I couldn’t do it perfect, I didn’t have the time for it.  I had plenty of other things to do.

Then I had the Baby Belles and that’s when the prides began to feel like deficiencies.  The mommies could hem pants and sew costumes and bake nifty cookies.  They did arts and crafts and all sorts of crap.  I am still in total awe of the mom who makes her own Play-Doh.  Sweet baby Jesus.

The best costume money can buy falls woefully short to the costume made with love. 

I remember being at craft time with my kids during a vacation.  I can’t remember what activity was occurring at the craft table, but I didn’t have the skills for whatever it was.  In an attempt to do my part, I set up a set up a little side table where I did mani/pedis if any of the girls wanted them.  I heard Baby Belle 1 as Scott, “Why can’t Mama do stuff like that?”

Ever the sweet pea, Scott answered, “Honey, that’s just not her thing, but she’s doing what she does!  Look at the awesome nails!”

Bless his heart.

Well, I’m not going to deny the veritable Hindenburg of guilt that rained down on my head after overhearing the aforementioned remark.  Still, the whole mother-wife-attorney-daughter-sister-writer-evil mastermind thing put the kibosh on attaining the Martha Stewart heights to which I aspired.  (Actually, I don’t really mean that about Martha Stewart.  The woman gives me the hives.  Most cooking show/decorating show people give me the hives.)  Of course, if I’m being honest, a lot of that stuff really just isn’t my cup of tea.

For the record, I actually decided that “even I” could move the buttons on Baby Belle 1’s school uniforms last year and, after stabbing myself so many times that I could barely type on the computer for the following week, every last one of those damn buttons came off over the years.  Damn buttons.

...and then common ground presented itself...

When I first found out that I was pregnant with Baby Belle 1, I suddenly had this feeling that I needed to learn some sort of domestic craft right away.  Accordingly, I ran to the bookstore and bought Knitting for Dummies. 

I shit you not.

I read Knitting for Dummies and taught myself the rudimentary ropes of knitting.  I was nowhere near sweaters and booties and bonnets and all of that, but I did get out a blanket and a dodgy looking scarf.  I actually really enjoyed it.  The knitting was hypnotic and it was so rewarding to have something to show for my work (totally not the case in the legal arena).

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, Baby Belle 1 arrived and there wasn’t even time to shower much less knit.  The knitting needles and the yarn got put away into the deepest recesses of the storage closet. 

This summer, Baby Belle 1 learned how to finger weave from one of the camp counselors and she really got into it.  She brought some of the yarn home one day and watching her clicked a light on in my head.  I said, “You know what?  I can knit.”

My child look at me as though I’d told her that Martians disguised as penguins and were taking over the entire planet.  She said, “No way!”

Somewhat offended, but also understanding the source of her disbelief, I said, “Yes, way!  I’ll even take you to the store to get the supplies and you can watch and learn, missy!”

Accordingly, Baby Belle 1 and I went traipsing across town on Friday night to the craft store (hives!) to get needles and yarn because I had no idea in the world where my old stuff was. 

I attempted to refresh my recollection on Youtube.  I couldn’t get a row started to save my life and it nearly drove me barking mad.  My rheumatoid arthritis is pretty well controlled, but it sure was kicking up with the old needles and yarn.  As my daughter watched me avidly while finger weaving miles of rainbow colored yarn, I endeavored to keep the sailor-like cussing in my head. 

When my hands hurt, I got frustrated beyond the telling of it or I wanted to stab myself in the eye with one of the knitting needles, I put my project down and walked away for a break.  If I was gone for more than ten minutes, my little task master in pig tails found me and handed me my yarn and needles.  The poor baby was so excited that her mother might just be able to do something motherly.  “Get back to work, Mama.  You can do it!”


So, by Sunday night, I was more or less making a mass of yarn knots that could loosely be construed as knitting.  Baby Belle 1 was so excited and encouraging.  “Mama, that is so beautiful!  I’m so proud of you!  I could actually wear that.  Do you think you could make it a scarf?  Hey Daddy, Mama’s knitting me a scarf and then she’s going to do a blanket.  She can do one for you, too, if you want.”

I guess I’d better get to work...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parents in Crime

I’m hard pressed to play Go Fish and I am utterly unable to comprehend Poker.  Card games just aren’t my cup of tea and it’s just as well, I suppose.  I have been informed that I have a bit of a tell.  Yes, when I get peeved and I am trying like the devil not to explode all over the place in a Sam Kinison-esque rant (God rest his talented soul), I get a twitch in my right eye.  Trite, I know, but I’m so unusual in so many other areas of my life that you have to throw me a bone somewhere for Heaven’s sake.

As you’ve probably already deduced, my poor little eye twitches numerous times a day.  I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night because the darned thing was twitching from an apparently annoying dream. 

Of course, there are some things that make my eye twitch more than others.  In the non-attorney arena, aggressive drivers trump dumbass lost drivers.  Temper tantrums trump [most] whiners.  Clutter around my house near about trumps everything because I SWEAR TO GOD I JUST CLEANED THE FRIGGING COUNTER OFF AND NO ONE CARES OR TRIES AND I’M JUST BEFORE SETTING A TRASH BAG ON ONE END AND SWEEPING EVERY DAMN THING INTO IT STARTING AT THE OTHER END WITH THE ONE-ARM SWIPE METHOD.

Oh yeah, now it’s really twitching.

When it comes to my life in the legal world, there are a gracious plenty of irritants and I do so hate to speak it certainties (that’s one of the first things they tell you not to do in law school), but I do believe that the winner and continuing champion is...THE ANGRY PARENT!!!

The irony about the Angry Parents from Hell is that—nine times out of ten—they aren’t in Juvenile Court.  Yes, it’s the mothers and fathers whose “precious babies” have entered into court for the big boys and the big girls who go all Parental Perry Mason on me.  The oh-so-fun parents tend to break down into two subsets:  (1) The I Don’t Care What You Say, My Baby Didn’t Do Its;  and (2) The My God, It’s Not That Big a Deals! 

I can tell before a parent even opens his or her mouth if they are going to be in denial about their one-person crime wave offspring.  They have this air of injustice about them as though it’s appalling that they even have to address the baseless charges.  Of course, they don’t have to address any charges at all, but there’s no point whatsoever in reminding them of that little detail. 

Once they do open their mouths, it’s:  My baby wouldn’t do that!  My baby might have been there, but she was with her friends and they were the ones doing it, not her.  The police are targeting our family because my baby’s daddy has a warrant out for his arrest and they think they can get one of us to tell them where he is. 

The higher the evidence piles up in favor of the State, the more vehement the parent gets that their baby didn’t do what they were accused of doing.  Media has been doctored, witnesses have been paid and cops are crooked.  There is a vast, intricate and overriding conspiracy reaching up into the upper echelons of Capitol Hill and the White House and every last iota of it is directed at bringing down their precious baby. 

Naturally, I’m not doing my job because I don’t have 100% confidence in their baby’s innocence and because I can’t get the District Attorney to drop the charges while simultaneously filing a civil rights lawsuit against the police department and negotiating a multi-million dollar settlement.  Yeah, I know, I suck.

One time, I even had a kid come out and tell his mother right to her face that he did it.  He smashed the window and stole the radio.  She sat there for a minute and then launched into a theory about how the police were targeting him and following him unfairly so they were watching and waiting for him to “make a mistake” so they could bust him.  That woman probably should have considered law school.

Yes, the “My Baby Didn’t Do It’s” are a real barrel of monkeys, but the “C’mon You Must Be Kidding” parents can be some serious SOB’s: 

Daddy sends Pumpkin down here to UNC-Weed where Pumpkin proceeds to get a truly “higher” education and gets busted on possession of marijuana charges.  Daddy gets a call from the police and he is understandably irate, but not in the way you might think.  No, Daddy is irate because “it was just a little pot, for God’s sake!”

Daddy is indignant at having to take time out of his busy schedule to deal with Pumpkin’s “little pot problem.”  As a matter of fact, all of us folks here in New Hanover County are holy rolling, backwater, hillbilly morons for making such a big deal out of some weed.  Honestly, if the problem had occurred where they were from, not only would the matter have been swept under the rug, but Pumpkin would have received an invitation to join the Country Club!

P-Daddy:        This is absurd.  My wife and I have taken time off to come down here and deal with this.  I mean, who didn’t smoke a little pot when they were in college?

            Ashley:            Me.

Yep, there goes my eye again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Legal" Caterwaulers

Well, my rant about the trailer judges just set me on a roll.
Let me first say that I absolutely love a flamboyant attorney.  In the immortal words of Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”  Indeed.

Let’s face it, evidence gets tedious and witnesses talk in monotones.  Juries are human and they get bored.  An attorney almost has to jump around and holler a little bit to wake folks up and get a point across.  Plus—as I’ve said before—theatricality can sometimes be employed to distract from the fact that you have absolutely no case whatsoever. 

That being said, there is a distinct difference between a flamboyant attorney and a media whore with a law degree.    

Oops!  Did I say that out loud?  Dammit, I might just have to take remedial deportment classes.

Here’s the thing:  Flamboyant attorneys actually set foot in a courtroom.  The force of their personalities might drive you completely crazy, but they walk the walk and they talk the talk.  They might lose in the end, but they leave no room for doubt that they gave the case everything they had.  Yes, attorneys are expected to zealously represent their client and the legal loudmouths tend to get it done in spades.

Then there are the attorneys—well...we’re just supposed to take their word for it that they are or were attorneys at some point in time.  They might very well know their way around a courtroom, but who doesn’t these days after relentless airings of The Practice, The Good Wife, L.A. Law, Boston Legal, and a legion of other courtroom dramas?  Every news network keeps several of these McLawyers stocked on the shelf to pull out for statements of the obvious and other general platitudes during tacky and sensational trials.  “Yes, Bill, it was an absolutely jaw-dropping day in the courtroom and we can expect to see the same tomorrow.”

McLawyers are way down on my Love List, but there is another group that not only hit rock bottom, they kept digging when they got there.  Who are these bodaciously atrocious individuals?  To even think their names makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth, but...ew...Nancy Grace and Gloria Allred. 

Not only do these females make me ashamed to be an attorney, they near about make me ashamed to be female.

Nancy Grace.  Sweet baby Jesus...where do I start?  She was allegedly a prosecutor at one nebulous point in time, but what District Attorney was dumbass enough to hire her?  Okay, maybe she interviewed well, but a toxic personality like that couldn’t possibly have stayed hidden for long. 

I can’t imagine sitting on a jury during one of her trials.  I’m afraid that I would have such an aversion to the squawking jackass that I would vote against her rather than the existence or inexistence of reasonable doubt.  Juries are only human and imagine how many criminal defendants may have walked free based on repugnance of Nancy’s venomous presence alone.

I’ve made no secret of my dislike of people interrupting each other and Ms. Grace is one of the worst offenders that I have ever seen.  She tolerates no opinion but her own.  She is perfectly entitled to her own opinion and she has her own television show (for better or for worse) so she can spout her opinion ‘til the cows come home.  Bearing the aforementioned in mind, why in the hell does she bother having anyone else on her show who might have a differing viewpoint if she’s only going to let them get five words into a response before interrupting them with that nasally, glass-shattering, indignant, braying? 

As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even matter if the guest agrees with her, she interrupts them regardless and I feel fairly safe in saying that she is the only one enamored with the tone of her own voice. 

I remember seeing some news clip where it was mentioned that Nancy was married with twins.  Bless their hearts.  I can only imagine what life in that family is like:

            Dad:                Okay guys, time to go to bed.  Pick out a book and I’ll—


Dad:                But—


Dad:                I’ll be on the window ledge if you need me.

I know this is catty and I promise that I’ll go to church extra for saying it, but the woman also needs to stop the face lifts.  If she gets pulled back one more time, she’s going to be putting mascara on her ears.

Gloria Allred.  If you run into Scott, ask him what happens to his wife when Gloria Allred comes on the television.  That woman is positively revolting.  I’m not sure that she can pass a camera without sticking her face in the lens.  Where Nancy likes to pontificate when the pretty girls go missing, Gloria likes to jump in when the pretty ho’s get caught. 

Of course, Gloria claims to have a noble purpose for her crusade:  Women’s Rights!  It’s not hard to predict her entrance.  Any salacious news story involving the mistress, the stripper, the hooker or the nebulous “other woman” brings Allred swooping in on her broom.  Ho’s have rights, too, and Gloria’s going to see that she [mostly Gloria] is going to get as much air time as possible for her story to be told [with Gloria doing the telling].

Gloria:             Okay Diane, let’s get moving.  I’ve got more interviews set up with NBC. CBS, CNN, HLN, MSNBC, FOX, WHQR, CSNBC, C-SPAN, OMG, BTW, FYI, ROFLMAO  and ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.

Diane:              Gloria, what can you tell us about your client?

Gloria:             Well, she’s a wonderful person who is a blameless party in this matter, yet she is being exploited.

Diane:              Okay, but your client is a sex worker—

Gloria:             Actually, Diane, we prefer the term “Adult Physical Trainer.”

Diane:              Okay, your client is an adult physical trainer who took photographs of herself performing sex acts with the senator and then sent the photos to his wife in a Christmas card.
Gloria:             That was after the story already broke in the press as the result of the tabloid taking photos of the senator and my client exiting a hotel room.  My client cannot help that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She deserves vindication and I intend to see that she gets it.  She also deserves the book deal and Playboy photo spread that she contracted this morning.

By the way, “vindication” is called cold, hard cash and it is the only thing that shuts Gloria up and sends her back into her little cave until the next ho comes around. 

Has anyone ever actually seen these women in a courtroom—and I mean past the bar as attorneys, not behind the bar as observers?  Of course, you realize that both of these women will probably try to sue me just for writing this blog if for no other reason than they get more media face time.  When will the lambs stop screaming, Clarice?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank God THEY Have Rhythm

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a ridonkulous klutz.  When God formed the line for grace, I was apparently in line for seconds at the Heavenly Diet Sun Drop kiosk. 

I flunked out of tap and ballet at an early age.  To the best of my recollection, I only had about two years under my belt.  I cried a lot.  Unfortunately—even though the length of my sentence was brief—photographic evidence exists to this day of me clad in horrible 70’s costumes and striking mortifying poses.  I even remember that one of my tap routines was to the tune of “Zippity Doo Dah” and trust me when I tell you that I get a chill when I hear the tune to this very day. 

Lord have mercy.

How bad am I?  Well, have you ever watched a dance class or an aerobics class where the whole class steps to the left except for the poor clueless soul who steps to the right?  You know, the one who claps just a second after the rest of the group claps in unison?  The one who stands up when everyone else squats?  Yeah, that would be me.

Even my beloved husband, on our second date at the Peace College Spring Formal, had the nerve to tell me that I was dancing like one of the chicks from the Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” video.  The only thing that saved him was the fact that he was right.  Nonetheless, that fateful evening was the last time I ever attempted to cut a rug (slow dances notwithstanding seeing as they require no rhythm whatsoever). 

With the memories of my past debacles in the forefront of my mind, I was dubious about signing Baby Belle 1 up for dance when the time came around.  She looks so much like me and she acts so much like me that I had visions of temper tantrums and sequin studded disasters and—as those of you who have children in dance can breathlessly attest—that shit is too expensive to “take a chance” on.

Well, we dropped the money on the shoes and the tights and the leotards and the registration fees and the monthly tuition and the costume fees and the recital fees and...she liked it!  Woo hoo!  I was so in awe of the fact that I had a child who enjoyed dance—and apparently could dance—that I actually sat in on several lessons just so I could stare at her in awe. 

When recital time rolled around, I was just the biggest fool you’ve ever seen.  I sat there in the audience watching a beautiful ballerina and I couldn’t believe that she was related to me.  She actually stepped to the left when the other dancers stepped to the left and she dipped when the rest of the dancers dipped!  She had timing!  She had rhythm!  She must have gotten it from her father. 

Baby Belle 1 will be starting her fourth year of dance this fall and she’s not showing any signs of letting up.  She has mentioned adding gymnastics to her repertoire and that makes my blood run cold.  I was more sports-oriented in my youth and I would have benefitted greatly from a patient rewards card with my orthopedic surgeon. 

Now it’s time for Baby Belle 2 to take the stage.  There’s no doubt in my mind that she wants to do it, if for no other reason than it will open up a whole new world of shoes to her hot little toddler hands.  She sat in rapt attention at her sister’s dance recital this year when most of her contemporaries were running up and down the aisles in desperate bids to release pent-up energy. 

I’m not worried about rhythm and grace when it comes to Baby Belle 2.  No, the only thing that worries me about her is that she’s a maverick and she is going to do her own thing.  Yes, the rest of the dancers are stepping to the right, but that might not work for my daughter.  As a matter of fact, keeping in step with the rest of the dancers will make it harder for folks to see her.  Accordingly, if she goes to the left when the other dancers step to the right, she can stand out.  She’s not going to fall in line with The Man, dude!

I can’t even think about cotillion.