Thursday, May 16, 2013


Everyone has certain ways of describing other people, and everyone has a personality trait that dominates to be the most likely candidate for description.  I have friends that I would describe a number of different ways, but overall they have similar personalities because that's obviously why we're all friends.

I've heard many descriptions of myself, from sarcastic to smart, funny to lazy.  I'd say all of those hit the mark to some degree, even the negative ones.  However, there's always one word that freaks me the hell out when someone uses it to describe me, because I honestly cannot see where it comes from: sweet.  I've had a very small number of people in the past few years, generally people I don't know very well, tell me that I'm sweet.  This isn't your grandmother telling me I'm sweet, this is a fellow student or coworker close to my own age.  I'm baffled.

The few times someone has called me sweet I've actually looked at them like they had just grown a sparkly unicorn horn right in front of my eyes.  I search my brain for anything that could possibly have led to this conclusion by this person.  I'm confident that all these people had a strong grip on the English language and were very aware of the connotation of the word sweet, versus nice or friendly.  "Sweet?" I usually repeat, in a way that's asking if they're sure that's the word they meant to use. 

"Yep, you're really sweet," they usually reply.  I likely haven't erased the look off my face when I honestly tell them "I don't really get that a lot..." to which they think I'm just being modest.  No.  I'm not.  I'm not a sweet person.  I may do sweet things, as may many other people whom you wouldn't describe as sweet.  Just because someone does a sweet thing for her grandma one day out of three years doesn't change her general personality description.

I'm a nice person.  I'll take nice.  I'm polite.  I'm a good friend.  Yes, even though I find your dog highly irritating I would run into traffic to save it because I care about YOU and want to keep you from suffering.  I could also take "friendly," but not in the way of being a social butterfly with strangers, just able to engage others in pleasant conversation.  I'm thoughtful, I will say that.  I frequently think of friends and family when I see something in a store, or I might send a funny card when someone isn't having a great month.  I'm the kind of girlfriend that, if I was somewhere and saw a tshirt my boyfriend would find hilarious, I'd just buy it for him for no occasion.

But sweet really conjures up an unpleasant image of pink sparkly ruffles and hugs and bubbles, things that are whimsical (another word I strongly dislike).  Sweet to me is a cupcake with pink icing and sprinkles that makes your stomach hurt.  Sweet is someone who tries too hard and waits on you hand and foot - and literally would tie your shoes if you asked.  Sweet is, honestly, likely someone I find highly annoying while still understanding that they're coming from a good place.  I don't want to hang out with sweet.  Sweet is boring.

I actually consider myself somewhat of a dick.  Why "dick" and not "bitch," you ask?  "Bitch," while being the general go-to word for a mean female, infers cattiness.  A bitch is a person who would start something, or cause a scene to get what they want.  Bitches are the girls in high school who think it's fun to make other people feel bad about themselves.  I've worked with bitches.  Even into their 30s, they still want to make people feel bad about themselves. 

I, however, simply have a very low tolerance for stupidity and annoyances, and frequently respond to such situations with a smartass retort or, my personal favorite, an eloquent but condescending comment.  I'm a dick because I find offensive things funny.  I enjoy 13-year-old boy toilet humor. 

Every time someone says a comment such as "I ate crab legs last night," no matter how innocuous, my brain desperately wants to respond "Your mom ate crab legs last night."  Every.  Single.  Time.  Yes, this happened in court, if you were wondering.  I never said it, obviously, but I had to hold back many "Your mom only had two beers" and "Your mom didn't know that weed was in your pocket" statements.  It was torturous sometimes.

If I think something's stupid, you'll know.  If I think you're stupid, you'll know - that is unless you really are stupid, in which case you probably won't know and it makes my douchebaggery even more relevant.  See, a bitch confronts a situation head-on - if she doesn't like someone, she'll go right up and tell them.  A dick will generally avoid being around you, and when they can't avoid it, any conversation they have with that person will be a veritable cornucopia of sarcasm and patronizing remarks.  And then when they're done, they'll be highly amused with themselves, telling their other dick friends about it and having a good laugh.  Often times the stupid person won't even be aware that anything humorous took place at all.  A bitch would make you very aware you were being mocked; a dick, however, enjoys covertly taking advantage of people.  To them, it's just as funny if the person doesn't notice and you keep a straight face until you walk out the door.  A bitch wants a reaction.

So for reference, someone who is a dick cannot also be sweet.  The two are incompatible.  I'm a dick.  I'm sometimes a nice dick, a funny dick, a smart dick, or a lazy dick.  I'm not a sweet dick.  Say the words "sweet dick."  Right now I'm laughing because I'm picturing you actually saying those words and realizing what you're saying.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes me a dick.

Friday, May 10, 2013


First of all, this post is highly ironic seeing as I'm a licensed attorney working for $10/hr in the USC law library, and I get this.  I am in no position to judge (nor am I usually), but alas, we all do it.  And sometimes it's just too easy.

Having gone to law school I recognize the "types."  There are the people who are pretty reasonable human beings and come to the library frequently during finals (now).  There are the people who have a specific study group and always show up with the same people, and sometimes they ask for the same room, responding with an overzealous sigh when I tell them it's taken.  There are the people who come in alone, sit  alone, and stay until the library closes - every single time I'm there.  I assume these people have no friends, since they're in the library at 11pm on a Friday night EVERY Friday night.

I have a couple of favorites though.  Sitting in my ivory tower at the front desk, it's reasonably easy to tell someone's personality, especially if they're there every single time I work (note: I only work closing shifts).  The "I think I'm better than you because I'm on law review" students are highly amusing.  They always have a smug look on their face, and check out about 15 giant law books at a time, making sure they throw out that they're on law review at least once during the check-out process. 

You know what?  It's a good thing you impressed ME, the student worker at the law library, by telling me how smart you are that you're on law review.  I'm a very important person.  And congratulations on doing something you probably actively hate but feel you need to get a decent job.  Congratulations for being in the library at 10pm on a weekend!  This is obviously fantastic for you and I can see the joy in your eyes. 

The very very best was one night, about 20 minutes before closing, a law review girl came into the library wanting a certain book.  Well, guess what?  Some of our books are for library use only - so no, you can't take it home with you.  Apparently this didn't sit well with her, because she instantly put on her pompous "I'm a law student and I feel this gives me power over you" voice to explain that she was on law review and her article was due on Monday and she was going out of town.

Looks like someone didn't learn any time-management skills from being such a Smarty McGee on law review.  Waiting until right before closing the Friday before you go out of town to try and get a book?  Excellent idea.  I'm sure your future employer will love you for this work ethic.  But of course, she tries, rudely, to get us to make an exception.  For ten minutes.  Finally (and arguably rightfully so, the way we were being spoken to) my coworker, a smartass undergrad boy, told her "Well maybe you should have thought of this before the last minute."  I wanted to high five him, but she had to yell at us more first.

"I'm going to report you to your supervisor!"

Calmly (and ever so slightly condescendingly) I said, "You're going to report us to our supervisor for not letting you take a book out of the library that is not ALLOWED out of the library and then not making an exception for you because you're on law review or because you won't be able to come use it in the library this weekend due to circumstances that have nothing to do with us?  I'm sure she'll be very upset with us."

At this point, she'd been TOLD by an undergrad and her "authority" had been undermined by someone using logical reasoning, so she huffed out of the library and back to the miserable life that she leads.  She glares at me every time she comes in.  I just smile and think "She's miserable AND homely, what a terrible combination."

And finally there's the study couple.  They are here literally every day, and I see them either enter or exit during every shift I work, even when I sub at a random time.  The guy seems down-to-earth, but in a defeated way, because it's very obvious that his girlfriend wears the pants in their relationship.  That and their loving togetherness time is spent studying and outlining and based on the girl's face, freaking out unnecessarily.  I wonder if they've ever been on a date outside the library.  Likely they would talk about the same things they talk about IN the library, so why change the setting?

The girl has the look.  A combination of "I'm a ginormous bitch" and "I really hate my life."  She's never said more than two words to me so I cannot actually confirm either of these things, but suffice it to say that her body language, facial expression, and tone of voice when talking make me pretty damn certain I'm right.  I can tell they're the couple that the rest of the law students hate.  I mean, I hate them and I've only seen them in 30 second increments.  Every day.  Same couple.  Same study room.  Hours and hours and hours.  I wonder what the guy would be doing if he wasn't dating this overly serious emo bitch?  Probably making friends, going out with people from class, perhaps having FUN?  Clearly these are things he's not allowed to do.

I find these people all so amusing because I never saw them when I was in law school.  I didn't go to the library except to kill time between classes playing on the internet.  I sure as hell wasn't friends with these people, seeing as my friends would smile on occasion and leave their homes for "fun."  I just love it when someone lives out the stereotype of 24/7 studying no life stress freak this-was-the-worst-decision-ever law student.  And the self-importance is hilarious to me, since they have no authority to do anything and because their first job will slap them back into the reality that they're the newbies and do what everyone else tells them to do.  Enjoy that, jerks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Tonight I was reminded of another thing that led to the spiral recently.  It was really back to back to back when I look at how the last five months have progressed.

I've seen nearly every episode of Law and Order SVU, and never miss a new one.  I just now finished tonight's episode.  They're always "ripped from the headlines" but many times they're pretty obvious about what specific headline (Michael Jackson with kids, Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc).  Tonight's wasn't that obvious - snipers shooting at people that Ice T's character seemed to know.  Then about 15 minutes until the end I found the connection: Christopher Dorner.  It was a young cop who had been discharged for psychiatric reasons with a military background who was taking revenge on the NYPD for things that had happened to her family.  Spoilers aside, it ended in a manhunt and a standoff in a house.  But as soon as my brain made the connection, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the episode, when I finally just let it out.

Obviously the Dorner case made national headlines, but it was in my backyard.  One of the officers killed was a USC DPS officer (not on campus, thankfully).  I was fascinated by the story just because I love a good crime thriller, real or fiction.  There was some crazy man on the loose that was targeting police officers and he himself was an ex-cop.  A day or so into the manhunt, a news site published his "manifesto" in full on the internet.  I read the whole, long story.  I had the same reaction I had to the article about my former employer - I lost it.  I sat there for a long time, reading this story and just crying.

I cried because I didn't see a crazy sociopath cop-killer who deserved to die.  I saw me.  Other people who read his letter thought he was just some crazy asshole.  I read it and felt terrible, because these things happened to me.  Being bullied by superiors, reporting things that were covered over or actively told I was lying about, getting blamed for things I didn't do.  No one else understood that this really happens, and honestly I wasn't too far from being where he was at that point.  The pictures they always showed were him smiling and people who knew him said he was very friendly and a good guy.  What pictures would they show of me?  I'd be smiling too.  I'd be with my friends.  People would say I was friendly and fun, not violent.

I checked the date on the email my friend sent with the article about my old job - January 19.  Two weeks later, Christopher Dorner happened.  I hadn't recovered from the first before the second blew up nearly in my face.  I remember walking around campus, driving around town, hearing updates or seeing a DPS officer who looked more concerned than normal.  I thought what I was feeling was wrong.  How could I defend someone who was killing cops?  Killing anyone for that matter?  What kind of person was I that I was somewhat on his side?  I didn't like to hear people talk about it.  I didn't want them to say bad things about him.  They didn't know.  They hadn't experienced it.  They probably didn't even believe it happened.  Part of me wanted to give him a hug and just cry, and another part of me knew that in these circumstances, he wasn't going to live to tell his side of the story, even if it was from prison.

His problems cost him his life.  They cost other people their lives.  I wondered honestly how far away I was from that point.  It scared me how something like this hit so close to home.  Like really scared me.  Of all the stories in the news, from elementary school kids getting shot to bombings of innocent people, this was the one that brought the tears, and the pain, and the anger.

I've always been someone who is very able to detach herself emotionally from situations that don't involve me.  It's how I successfully prosecuted sex crimes without having it haunt my dreams, why I don't cry at most movies, and how I can see something like a school shooting, understand how awful it is and why people are so devastated, but not let those feelings get ahold of me.  Apparently this is where the line is drawn.

*I'm writing all of this mostly for my own memory.  As I mentioned, I can't remember many details from my time at that job.  I'll forget easily why something upset me significantly a couple of days before, even though I remember feeling upset.  I didn't remember this part of the progression until I saw this episode tonight - it reminded me that there were so many things recently that led up to all of this, and they're details I want to be able to relay to my doctor.  If I don't write it down, by next week, I won't remember.


I, like many, hate feeling out of control of situations.  Any situation.  While I don't necessarily need to orchestrate every action, I like the feeling that I can settle anything should shit hit the fan for any reason.

Welcome to my life, which is the complete opposite of anything under control.  I suppose most people can say this about their lives to some degree, but in the past few months, even years, I felt like mine was flying off into some outer region of weird. 

I've been officially "crazy" for 13 years.  Crazy meaning medicated so I don't cry all the time crazy.  But when I really look back on it, only a few short instances following the initial diagnosis and subsequent transferring of schools were anything of any substance.  Most of the time, for about 8 years, I was on the lowest dose of one antidepressant, just because I had a tendency towards depression and we wanted to just lock all the doors on it.  I go to college, I graduate, I go to law school, I pass two bar exams, I have serious relationships (that are healthy and normal) with three guys.  All of this on a minimal dose of antidepressants, and with minimal breakthroughs that lasted perhaps 3-5 days max.

I took the BAR EXAM.  Anyone who remembers me during that time would say that I was probably more calm than anyone else in the same situation.  Even though I hadn't taken 50% of the classes that would be on the test, I wasn't worried.  I set up a schedule, hid myself in a sunny, unoccupied corner of the undergrad library, and learned the shit out of the law.  I never once flipped out, I never once had a panic attack, and I never once cried about the bar.  In fact, I was happy to have something to do, since once school ended I couldn't stand staying idle.  I was TEN MINUTES LATE to the last day of the test.  TEN.  MINUTES.  LATE.  After approximately 12 minutes of insane freakout realizing I had woken up five minutes before the test began, I calmed down and realized I left the test 20 minutes early every day.  I didn't need those ten minutes.  I had 99 problems, but a bar ain't one.

2008, as I may have mentioned many a time, was the year that I've worked actively to forget.  Within 72 hours I had gotten my first job, gotten dumped by the person I thought I was going to marry, and moved to another city, alone.  Crisis, yes.  Reason to flip out, yes.  Probably didn't help that I was starting my brand new job in this mental state?  Yes.

Anyone reading this knows about "the job."  I worked there for almost exactly one year, which would have been less if my parents had been able to offer asylum in Missouri earlier than Christmas when I finally left.  I have had recurring dreams about this job as recently as four months ago.  I not only don't keep in contact with anyone from there, I actively eliminated them from my life by defriending on Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever.  I have not set foot in the state of Texas in three years.  The last time I did, I was with great friends and we had great fun, but my anxiety was so bad that after about 8 hours I was itching to get on a plane back to LA.  I literally did not relax until I was sitting in the airplane seat and the plane pulled back from the gate.  I want to see them again badly, but not unless they come to me.

While my stint in Missouri didn't go badly, it was very obviously a stepping stone to where I am right now.  A necessary one, but a stepping stone nonetheless.  I went into the job looking normal and professional on the outside, but inside I was an anxious, broken person.  I thought I could conquer that, and to some extent I did, with my trial wins and work with the sex crimes unit.  But towards the end, I was isolating, locking myself in my office where the door once was always open, sometimes crying at my desk for reasons I can't remember.  It had to end, and it did, more mutually than my boss originally thought when he walked into my office that day.  And when I walked out, instead of fear or sadness, I felt relief.

To be fair, the road I chose wasn't the easiest, and the last few years have been difficult financially and career-wise despite being the greatest choice I've ever made.  But I reacted differently to things when they'd happen.  I was constantly anxious about money, irritable to the point of bitchiness, and generally discontent.

A few months ago, my best friend sent me an article about the county I worked for in Texas, and the national scandal that they had gotten into for hiding evidence and putting an innocent man in prison for 25 years.  It was probably 15 pages of online text, and I sat there and read the whole thing at once.  And I lost it.  I sobbed uncontrollably while I read it and afterwards for a week when I'd think of it.  I was so angry.  SO angry.  I wanted everyone to know how horrible this place was.  I reposted the article on my Facebook and Twitter, then subsequently followed up with any updates, not able to control the rage I felt.  Why isn't everyone this angry about this?  Why is no one shouting?  Why is your only response "That's so sad"?  It IS sad, but you should be ANGRY.

I had my first panic attack about accounting.  A miniscule part of my grade in my business class that I couldn't seem to get, even with help, caused me to have to miss class because I wasn't sure if I was going to cry, vomit, break something, or all of the above.  I had two more in the span of a month.  One caused me to quit my internship.  I wasn't sure why I was so anxious, but I knew that I was angry.  Constantly angry, at whatever or whomever may have crossed my path that day.  For weeks, all I wanted was to lock myself in a closet and not see a human.  There was nowhere I could go that I didn't see people.  I literally wanted to be in a sensory deprivation chamber.  Daily.

I changed medications almost weekly, and nothing was working.  This in itself frustrated me.  Not knowing how to fix this problem made me even angrier.  And last week I broke.  Small things in one day piled up into an endless leaning tower of rage and it all came crashing down on my living room floor on the fetal position, sobbing and wanting so desperately to take some dishes outside and just break them on the pavement to hear the sound.  Why, after seven years of relative sanity and minimal medication, was there a now highly medicated and seriously insane person on the floor considering voluntarily committing herself at the hospital?

After crying to my dad and my mom about the inane things that brought about this breakdown, I phoned my shrink and begged him for the first available appointment.  Instead of just medication, I wanted a full hour of therapy.  He needed to know what was going on.  My irregular appointments for refills and checkups were only about my physical symptoms, my moods, how I was feeling day in and day out.  He didn't know my life history, just my medical history.  On Monday he finally got it, as much as I could spew, in the 55 minutes I had to save my own sanity.

He looked as if he had an epiphany.  It all suddenly made sense.  He knew why the other medications he had given me didn't work.  And he suddenly knew that this was something that together, with therapy and meds, we could actually fix.  PTSD.  I never knew it was a condition outside of military personnel, why would I think of it?  But it explained things.  Why I could lay by the pool with a margarita while everyone else flipped out about the bar exam, but five years later why I started having panic attacks about a one page math homework.  Likely why I have such an intense aversion, perhaps fear, of working in the real world after graduation.  Why I isolated myself when I couldn't handle things.  And why, when asked, I can't remember details about a place I worked for a year save some vague incidents when I know it was daily hell.  I've forgotten people's names.  I really don't remember much more than my office and the courtroom, while I remember many details from my Missouri job.

I left his office that day calmer than I've been in probably years.  I wasn't suffering from some undiagnosable mental ailment that kept getting worse and requiring more medication.  This wasn't my brain wiring, unfortunate genetics or a weakness.  This wasn't my fault.  This was done TO me.  We have a plan.  We have a direction.  And we have, finally, some control over a situation that has been out of control for five and a half years.  I'm not better yet, but I regained control of my life - and that fact in itself has changed my outlook in the span of a day.  I'm going to be okay.