0002 Lakera 22: Court

Whenever anybody says "court," there is a certain set of images and expectations that evolve out of this. This is part and parcel of having a connotative language. Running strictly by the denotative sense, of course, "court" is really just a venue, a location where proceedings occur. However, far more than the strict physical locale comes to mind—at least to my mind; your results may vary—when someone suggests something is to happen in or at court.

So, that in mind, the experience of going to the "bankruptcy court" today was very little like what I expected it to be. This is not a complaint, really, so much as it's just something I consider noteworthy.

Now, it should be noted that over the weekend, I managed to throw off my sleep schedule somewhat. Again, no complaints in the slightest about it, so much as this is important to set the stage for things to come. I did my level best to reset things prior to Thilya morning, but it simply did not happen. At 02h00, I was still fairly wide-awake and tossing and turning in bed, unable to rest. I asked Jessie—herself suffering even worse than I for being circadian-deficient—to lie down with me for a bit, and I did eventually pass out, but when I woke up this morning at 06h00, I was quite literally unable to function. I managed to hit the snooze bar once, hoping the problem would resolve itself, and then to reset the alarm for an extra hour, but that too failed to solve the problem.

In fact, when I did finally haul my tail out of bed, it was solely because the clock said 07h25, and I knew that if I didn't start the process of getting ready, I would be late. My instructions all said to be at court promptly at 08h30, I knew I had to find parking, and I had to fight morning traffic, which all meant that I needed to be out the door at 07h30 at the absolute latest. Fortunately, I had laid out everything I needed to get myself together the night before. Unfortunately, I had left my laptop lid open from the night before and made the mistake of looking at something while I put on my socks and shoes.

I made it out the door at 07h45, scampering furiously up to Tanya's car to make a mad dash for downtown. Monday morning traffic was light, for a change, but still far thicker than I had hoped, and the whole way there I alternated between grumbling and grousing, still only a third awake and not feeling very comfortable in the only nice shirt I now own which doesn't quite fit because it—like most of my clothing—is too short. Still, I managed to get downtown in a reasonable time and I even found a parking garage across the street that promised not to cost a small fortune since I was there before 09h00 and could get in on their early-riser special.

The federal court building in downtown Seattle is quite nice, though it has the ubiquitous enless army of steps up from the street to impress upon all who go there that Serious Business occurs within, which always is a little off-putting to me. So, too, is the screening procedure through which one must go to get inside. I understand and respect the need for security, but here it was rather silly. You see, the inside of the court building is dominated by a large pond, presumably with fish in it; I didn't look that closely. Then, off to the right of this giant open space is a small walkway in which the police have set up their conveyor belt and their metal detector. Nothing actually prevents anyone from just jumping over the pond other than a desire not to get one's clothes or feet wet, and the likelihood that anyone caught trying to do that will be assumed guilty of something, even if that something is just a harmless prank.

I did think about asking the guards if anyone had ever tried it, but I was already down to five minutes and I still hadn't gotten beeped yet. Instead, I handed over my purse and my paperwork and my jacket and Tanya's keys, and then I went through the metal detector and promptly set it off because I had forgotten to remove Jessie's collar. Now, when I'm going to airports, I know I have to remove it, and I have standing permission to do so when I'm travelling, but honestly it's become such an integral part of me that I don't even really think about it. I don't take it off to sleep, or to bathe, or even apparently to get past a metal detector going into a courthouse.

Thankfully, the security guards were very understanding and let me get away with being wanded rather than having to remove the collar. They were less understanding of the can of soda I brought with me. They asked if I was waiting for a jury summons, but when I said no they told me that I couldn't keep my can and that I'd have to leave it there or throw it away. I'm not sure why a can of soda is a problem, but I'm guessing it's a bludgeoning risk or somesuch. At any rate, I couldn't keep it.

So, as usual, the bad kind of inspiration struck, and I asked if they had a trash can nearby. One of the officers said they had one behind the desk. I couldn't take the can, and I didn't want to leave it or throw it away while full, so I took the only other option: I chugged it. I will state here for the record that Black Cherry Fresca is very fizzy, as in burns-the-nose carbonated, but having already set myself up for a Bad Idea, I was going to follow through with it. The police started to applaud when I got onto the fourth and final tilt, draining the can dry in about ten seconds. One of them said with a smile, "you went to college, didn't you?" Another accepted the empty can from me and pointed me towards the bathrooms.

My lawyer called me as I was getting into the elevator to get up to the floor with the bankruptcy court. The clock said exactly 08h31.

Now, having gone through all of this to get to the courthouse on-time, I have to say that the process itself was... shockingly short. I was quite literally in and out in half an hour. The first fifteen minutes went to the attorney for the bankruptcy trustee talking about the proceedings, and then calling two names for people who weren't there. I was third on the list, and by 08h45 I was seated at a small table with my attorney, the trustee's attorney, and a clerk of the court taking notes. The trustee's attorney asked me a few quick questions about the accuracy and completeness of the paperwork, we made one quick amendment to the plan to remove a claim that Tanya's employer is paying but for which I had to co-sign, and then I was done.

I'd expected to be sitting in a courtroom pew all day waiting to get up and do the whole witness thing and see a judge and all that. The whole affair was rather... anticlimactic.

Still, I was glad for it, as it meant I could come home and curl up next to Jessie and get a nap. I'll still sleep well tonight, but I was a very tired buni still, and I was glad for the fact that I had taken the day off of work in anticipation of having to be sequestered for most of it. It gave me a chance to sequester myself when I got home, and I needed it.

Now all I have to do is... pay off the remaining debt. This is actually the easy part. At a thousand a month, I'll be free and clear in just over a year, and I can easily spare that much. I won't even really have to panic
too much over Anthrocon, though I'm going to have to engage in some fancy financing tricks to pay for the plane tickets while they cheap, since I don't have a credit card any more. That, however, is only a minor hiccough in the plans, and then we should be ready to go.

From the rooftops, shout it out.

Having been somewhat off-kilter for the last few days, Jessie and I had done more than our share of eating out over the weekend. So, we both agreed that tonight we wouldn't be going anywhere, or even ordering take-out, once we decided that it could be füd tiem nao plz. However, right after this proclamation, we noticed that, while we had many things that could be used to make food, we didn't really have anything that would qualify as food outright. We had a lot of ingredients, but no obvious combination of them that could be added up to a known meal.

Thus, it became time to prepare Emergency Food.

Emergency Food differs from Regular Food in that Regular Food starts with a known outcome, like "lasagna" or "chicken pot pie" or even "taco-don", then proceeds to the gathering or assembling of ingredients, and onto cooking and then presentation and consumption. The root of Regular Food is the meal, an end-goal around which ingredients are planned.

Emergency Food, in contrast, starts with a list of ingredients and then proceeds directly into cooking, with the hope the outcome will be some form of success. For those of you familiar with World Tree, Emergency Food is to sponting what Regular Food is to actual spells. You aren't working from a known recipe, so much as you're throwing together a bunch of stuff that you're pretty sure ought to go together in this fashion, but you've never really tried it before, or at least you've never written it down anywhere.

So, tonight's dinner ended up being Sponted Stew. Because it is sponted, you can't really have a recipe, but nevertheless I shall recreate the process by which this came about:

  1. Stare at your canned-goods shelf for a long time and hope that something eventually falls out that makes some semblance of sense. Select one can each of carrots, green beans, and peas. Consider the can of beets curiously, start to pick it up, and then put it down again.
  2. Ignore your mate's attempts at levity when she starts pulling ingredients at random off the shelves. Attempt to impart through the medium of a single wordless expression the idea that if she keeps you from cooking, she gets to eat cold cereal without any milk and maybe a can of refried beans with Triscuits for dinner.
  3. Remember that you have chicken in the freezer and cans of chicken broth on the shelf, as well as a blue cylinder of Wondra on the spice shelf and some butter in the fridge, which means you can make chicken with gravy and vegetables, which everyone in the apartment who is not a jackal with an anti-vegetable field should eat. The anti-veg jackal has already started a personal pizza in the oven and has removed herself from the Emergency Food process.
  4. Carry the cans to the counter and open them. Drain the liquid out of them and pour their contents into a glass bowl that you find under the counter.
  5. Ask your mate to come back out of her studio and get her to start making rice in the ricer. Grumble quietly when she suggest that the liquid from the canned vegetables could have been used to flavor the rice and retain some of the nutrients that got poured out. If you have Time 2 or Ruloc Tempador, send a message to yourself back on step four to save the liquid.
  6. Open the freezer to get out the frozen chicken and remember that chicken gravy really doesn't work so well; cream gravy works a lot better. Close the freezer and open the fridge to get out the milk that isn't there. If you have Correspondence 2 or Mutoc Locador, get the milk out of the dairy case at the store instead. If not, close the fridge and change your plan to the pound of beefs sitting in the door, since beef gravy works fine with beefs.
  7. Start the ground beef defrosting and get out some butter to brown it. Find a clean pot or wash one, put the butter in the pot, and then go and confirm that you actually have beef broth as well as chicken. If you have Time 4 or Ruloc Tempador, do this before starting the beefs to defrost.
  8. Once the beefs are defrosted, brown them in butter and then drain well, adding the beefs to the glass bowl and the fat to the can that you didn't throw away after pouring the vegetables out of it. If you had Forces 3 or a good amount of Creoc Pyrador, you can bypass the need for a stove here.
  9. Wash the now-empty pot in which you browned your beefs; for this, you may have to rearrange dirty dishes in the sink and wash your hands if you don't have Matter and Life each at 2, or else a good amount of Creoc Aquador or maybe some Destroc Corpador. Either way, combine butter and flour into a roux in the clean pot.
  10. Stir continuously with a utensil in one hand if you can't set up some Forces effects or else Ruloc Corprador to keep the stirring-thing moving in the pot to keep. Slowly add your beef broth to your roux and then stir some more. Did I mention to stir? Keep stirring it and add more broth, a little at a time. You may want to stir at this point. No really. If you don't keep stirring and add the liquid slowly, you will get lumps, and then you either have to go back with Time 4 or Mutoc Tempador and stir to keep them from forming or else you have to really Matter or Mutoc Corprador to get the lumps out after they've formed, and you don't want that, so keep stirring.
  11. Once your beef broth and your roux are combined into a gravy, decide that it's not thick enough and add more flour. You will need about three hands' worth of stirring at this point, and you only have two, so you're going to get lumps anyway. Deal with them as mentioned above. Add black pepper and oregano to the gravy to help convert the meal from "heavy" to "hearty."
  12. Pour your hopefully-not-too-lumpy gravy over the combined beefs and vegetables. Gently fold the ingredients together in the bowl, as you have just about filled it to capacity. Correspondence 1 or Creoc Locador can be helpful in expanding the volume of the bowl to make this step simpler.
  13. Discover that the rice is just about ready. If it's not, then you should have used Time 1 or Kennoc Tempador to figure out when you should have asked your mate to start the rice to make sure everything lines up right. Call everyone into dinner. Serves enough, with leftovers.