Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday OverThink #7, courtesy of Floyd Landis

The 32nd Joe Martin Stage Race is nearly upon us. For you non-locals, it’s a professional cycling event held right here in Fayetteville; look for it May 7-10. Some cycling enthusiasts are all aflutter over the news that Floyd Landis will be here to participate in the upcoming event.

In this news story, the race director claims that Landis is, next to the vaunted Lance Armstrong, the most well known American cyclist. I argue that distinction should go to George Hincapie. Not only is he an amazing athlete, he is a strangely cool guy. Hincapie married a Podium Girl,* launched his own sportswear line, and lives in South Carolina where he's building a "professional training village" for cyclists. Talk about living the dream. By contrast, Landis has been off the scene for years, what with that whole getting banned from professional cycling for doping thing.

I guess you could say Landis is more memorable. He was a soft-cell feature story: a former Mennonite who bucked family and religion to follow his dream of cycling and won the biggest bike race in the world. Until the routine blood-test results came back. After being found guilty of doping, even after appeal, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, fired from his cycling team, divorced, and banned from professional cycling through January 2009, Landis is back. He will be racing in Fayetteville as a member of Team OUCH. How appropriate.

I don’t wonder at his gall in returning to professional cycling. The dude has staggering mortgages and legal fees to pay. Apart from those electric Amish fireplaces, I don’t know what else Mr. Landis is qualified to do. However, I disagree with celebrating a cheater coming to town.

*Podium Girls are the hot chicks who pose with and smooch the race winners post-event and hand out the prizes.

Things that are good this morning

Freshly sliced mango for breakfast

Brand new windshield wipers in a Spring rain

Just-woken toddler stumbling to me, heavy-lidded, for a hug

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report, April 1, 2009

The newspaper website has done something screwy with my local Police Calls. I still haven’t figured out where they are now, but I found some real treasures in the Benton County Daily Record, which is the county north of mine. Read on and you’ll agree that these will do in a pinch.

Bella Vista incidents

· At 5:58 a.m. Friday, the Benton County Sheriff's Office requested help finding two donkeys just outside the city limits near the Boys and Girls Club on Arkansas Highway 279.

· At 8:24 p.m. Friday, a woman on Enfield Drive was reported missing, and her name was entered into the National Crime Information Center's missing-persons database. She was found a few hours later in Rogers.

· At 2:50 a.m. Saturday, a woman reported that her brother was causing problems. He had been drinking and smoking pot. He left before the police arrived.

· At 5:15 a.m. Saturday, a suspicious man wearing heavy clothing was reported going in and out of the restroom on Blowing Springs Road.

· At 11:51 a.m. Sunday, a caller on Kingsland and Lambeth Drive said it looked as though two men in a pickup truck were trying to steal a trailer carrying fiber-optic cable. Everything was OK; the men worked there.

· At 12:05 p.m. Sunday, a woman called to report that her sister wouldn't leave the house.

· At 12:34 p.m. Sunday, a woman reported that her husband was at her house and wouldn't leave.

· At 12:01 a.m. Monday, someone at Mercy Medical Center in Rogers called to report giving a patient morphine and telling him not to drive, but the patient left anyway and was heading north on U.S. Highway 71.

· At 1:35 p.m. Monday, a caller reported receiving a note from a stranger who claimed the caller damaged a vehicle in a parking lot at 1801 Forest Hills Blvd.

· At 2:40 p.m. Monday, a caller on Littrell Drive reported finding a syringe and a substance in a used car he had just purchased.

· At 6:57 p.m. Monday, a verbal argument was reported between a man on Evesham Lane and his neighbor. The man said the neighbor's son pulled a BB gun and pointed it at him. An officer reported the son's weapon was a Nerf-type gun.

Farewell, cruel legal world

It's official. I've accepted a job elsewhere, and it is not a law firm. In fact, it is in the art world. Let me tell you how good it feels to leave the legal world after ten years. It feels hot-chocolate-with-marshmallows, foot-rub-with-lotion, freshly-bathed-baby-neck good.

I took a job as a legal secretary to put myself through my Master's program in California. And then I moved to Arkansas, where the opportunity to use my degree was nonexistent. I fell back on law firms, and it chafed because I knew I was just as educated and intelligent as the people I supported. More often than you want to know if you've ever paid an attorney's fees, I was much smarter and more capable. I believed my time in the South was temporary, but then life happened, kids happened, and this town felt more and more like home. Bad news for the career I wanted, the chance I never had.

Then one day the mountain came to Mohammed. An amazing institution, destined to be world class, is under construction about 30 miles north of here. And I've just been hired to work there. Maybe you enjoy your job; I hope you do. Maybe it fulfills you and makes you proud to contribute to a greater good. I don't know what that's like, but I'm about to find out how it feels to make a living doing work that matters to me.

My last day at the firm is tomorrow, and I'm trying to act like I'll miss the place although, in truth, I will not. I hold no illusions that my new job will be anything but another reincarnation of Office Space. However, my new eight bosses will not be lawyers, and that is a significant improvement.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ictalurus punctatus

Sam did the grocery shopping on Monday, and I asked him to pick up some pollock at the seafood market so I could make fish sticks for the boys. On the drive home he was suspiciously reticent about his purchase until he finally admitted the store had been out of pollock. "That's okay, so you got haddock?" "Mmm, no." "Cod then?" "Well, no." He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye like he fully expected what he revealed next to have me throwing my wedding ring at his head. "I got catfish." "You. Got. WHAT?" Sam went on to explain the unauthorized substitution, toggling between apologetic and defiant. He knows I won’t eat that nasty, bottom-feeding river dog. I grew up in South Florida, and people who live there DO NOT EAT CATFISH. It’s like offering Spam to Nebraskans. Yes, it’s a regional prejudice, but I have actually tasted catfish, and it tastes like dirt.

I have another reason not to like catfish. After the birth of our first son, with whom I labored eighteen hours, Sam went out to a fantastic Cajun restaurant for a celebratory dinner with his parents and my mother. Me, I was stuck in the hospital, with a tar-pooping newborn, eating cafeteria food. After their two-hour feast, Sam brought me a doggie bag from the restaurant, consisting of cold fries and chicken fingers. After downing a couple of bites of really strange-tasting chicken, Sam confessed it wasn’t chicken at all, it was CATFISH! HA-HA-HA! See how good it is? No, in fact, I did not. Some women get expensive jewelry after giving birth. I got leftover deep-fried catfish in a greasy bag.

And last night, thanks to my husband, I got to touch it and feed it to my children. I actually feel guilty that I fed that swimming sewage to my sons. Proving how much he takes after Sam, Gianluca inhaled his fish sticks without noticing a thing. Paolo, who takes after me, choked down two pieces and asked if he could be done with his fish sticks because, for some reason, they just weren’t very good tonight. My precious boy.

Eat me. Mmmm.