Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"I like to move it, move it!"--Not really

While I am happy as a lark that we are moving forward with our purchase of a beautiful new home in a great neighborhood, this moving stuff is for the birds. I am realizing just how much crap we have. I mean, absolute crap. Hubby keeps saying that everything he owns can fit in 2 boxes and that everything else is stuff I irrationally hold on to. I guess he thinks that one's home should be decorated with only a gigantic TV.

Anyway, I will admit that I now have about 15 trash bags of trash and give away stuff. Way too much of that was clothes--stuff I can't wear anymore, stuff I don't want to wear anymore, stuff that isn't fit to wear anymore, stuff that the children can't wear but I keep pretending they can still use. But, in my mind, if things aren't broken, they are still good for use. Doesn't matter that I'm not actually using it. Maybe I will. One day.

And speaking of broken things: the flippin' oven door decided to fall off! We are moving in 4 days, with renters coming, and the door is on the floor. Let me tell you, it was not a good look. I'm hoping the parts that Hubby ordered will be a quick fix. I mean, really. Do we have time for this? NO!

And I'm getting 60 composition essays this week. And we have to live in my uncle's basement for a week while we wait on the closing date (a fact about which I will no longer complain because we almost ended up in the basement for a month). And Hubby just told me that he mysteriously has a business trip the week after we move in. (Note here that he has gone on a business trip every single time we moved, leaving me to deal with the crap work aftermath. Not cool).

But I'm not complaining. I'm just making observations. This year March is certainly coming in like a lion. Let's hope it goes out like a lamb.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Civic Duty

A few weeks ago I was called to perform my civic duty and show up for the jury pool. This was not the first time I had to do jury duty, but the last time was in a different state so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was not, however, looking forward to doing this. I know it is my responsibility as a citizen and I have family members who have benefited from jury trials and blah blah blah, but I had some misgivings (which I will discuss later) and due to factors outside of my control, I am almost a week behind in the classroom. I didn't need to be absent for another week throwing us even further behind on the syllabus.

When I got to the courtroom at 9 am, there was a crowd of people and I had to sit at the front of the room on the platform where the lawyers and judge sit which was okay by me because I could see everything that was happening. After waiting for far longer than I wanted, the judge came in and explained the full procedure to us. Then he called out the disqualifying categories for jurors and proceeded to dismiss half the courtroom! Okay, so you have to be a certain age and you can't be a felon. But then, the categories went on to include: if you are ill, if you are over 65, if you are illiterate, if you have a doctor's letter excusing you (so the first category was for colds?), if jury duty will create a financial hardship, if you take care of someone during the day, if you have to see a man about a dog. . . That last one wasn't really true, but it might as well have been. One man went up to the judge's bench three times! Finally, the judge excused him from duty. Probably in the category of Sheer Perseverance.

I suppose I could have used The Popcorn as an excuse as she does have numerous doctors' appointments that I must take her to in a given month, but I just felt like I would have to lie in some way or stretch the truth and I was just not comfortable doing that. One of my colleagues told me that I teach and that's reason enough, but I don't think they allow you to use that as an excuse anymore.

So, since I, as one character in a courtroom drama said, wasn't smart enough to get out of jury duty, I spent the day sitting in a fairly uncomfortable chair waiting for my group to be called into the courtroom.

I tried to think of this as a positive experience although I did not want to be there. When I did jury duty in another city, it was during the time I was planning for my wedding and I met my reasonably-priced wedding photographer who was also in the pool of potential jurors. This day wasn't quite as fortuitous, but it wasn't a total waste of time because I took care of some things I might not have had I not been there. I had lunch at a popular restaurant downtown that I have been meaning to check out for about 2 years, but never took the time to do; I learned some weight loss tips that may prove beneficial (we'll see); and most importantly, I completed two poems that I am trying to submit for publication and I started on a short story that I think will end up pretty nice. I'm really pleased about those poems. One of them I have been working on for quite a while.

When my number finally came up, we all piled into the court room to be questioned by the judge and the lawyers. I was hoping this would be a civil trial, but it was a criminal case and a murder case, to boot. The same judge from the morning came again with various categories for which we could be excused: can you all see? can you all hear? do you know any of the lawyers, defendant, witnesses, victims? Doggone it if I didn't still qualify! But I was praying to God that I would not be chosen.

As I said before, I had misgivings. The prosecution asked us if we had religious values that would prohibit us from sitting in judgment of anyone. Technically, I don't. I think my faith allows me to serve as a juror, but in my person, I just don't feel comfortable making such a significant decision about some stranger's life. What if I voted "guilty" and I was wrong? This poor man would be sitting in jail for the rest of his life because I made a decision based on viewing a snapshot of his life.

The prosecution also asked us if we could apply the law even if we did not agree with the law. Apparently in this case, although the defendant was being charged with murder, he was not the actual trigger man. He drove the trigger man to the victim's home and according to the prosecution, he was an instigator in the incident. I mean, the law is the law, but I don't think it's right for someone who didn't actually commit the murder to be charged with murder. Yeah, he should be punished, but imprisonment for murder? Unless he put events in motion that would not have otherwise led to the shooting, I just don't see him as culpable to that degree.

And then, as I looked as this poor young man--clean-cut, nicely dressed, fairly attractive (though his status as defendant mitigated his attractiveness for me), I wanted to cry. He could have been one of my students (and I mean that literally as I have had students arrested for murder). What happened in his life that made him go in that direction instead of in the right one? Did he just get caught up by life? I'm telling you, I was fighting back tears. I did not want to be the one to send him to jail.

But, if he was indeed a killer, I didn't want my sentimentality to allow me to put him back on the streets. You see, I did not want that responsibility.

Well, at the end of the day--and it was the end of the day (6:00 and the courthouse was closed; the guard had to unlock the door for us), the Lord was merciful and I was not chosen! And since it was so late, we were able to call in to the system from the courthouse and found out we did not have to return the next day. I almost danced a jig to my car, I was so happy.

I know jury duty is important (as the court officers kept reiterating) and that juries need thoughtful and fair citizens to serve on them, but I am just glad that I didn't have to serve this time.

Quick note: DH looked up the trial results. Apparently the shooting incident was pretty well-known in Biblebelt City--it had it's own media moniker and everything. The selected jurors found the guy guilty. If I had been the lone hold-out, those jurors would have been so mad at me . . . . As one of my friends says, "God is the best knower."

Friday, February 19, 2010


When I was in 7th grade, my geography teacher had us do a unit on the Olympics. I loved it. It was fabulous and weird. We learned all about the luge and slalom and ice skating. It was the year that Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt were battling it out. And Bonnie Blair got me all excited about speed skating. It was fascinating and I loved that teacher. For those reasons, the Winter Olympics always makes me a little excited.

Watching it this year, though, reminds me that I'm too old to do exciting stuff like that. Of course, one of those skiers is 35 years old. But I don't know how she drags her old self down that mountain. I tried to ski once and nearly broke my legs. Little kids were flying by me with their hands making an X; they were trying to tell me how to arrange my skis so that I could stop. It was sad.

So, now I'm too old to be on "The Real World" and too old to be in the Olympics. Ahhh, the death of illogical dreams.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love-ly . . . ?

This could easily be the least romantic Valentine's Day of my life. Well, aside from the ones I spent totally depressed and alone. I have to read a novel for class tomorrow and it's taking 900 years to figure out the mess students have made of sending their papers electronically (soooo annoying!) and I've been a grading fool all weekend. Nobody, except for me, was excited about the heart-shaped banana pancakes I got up early to make before church. Plus, the restaurant where we had dinner was inexplicably out of peach cobbler (is this the south or what?).

Here's what saved it: 1) the strawberry shortcake I was forced to order was totally fabulous; 2) The Baby Boy actually announced that he had to use the potty before he wet himself; 3) The Babydoll insisted on having Hubby take her to the store to get a "heart (shaped) box of chocolate" for me. Remember that she hates chocolate? But she knows that I adore it. I promise to recall this moment in a decade or so when I want to strangle her for being a defiant, annoying teenager.

All in all, what do I have to complain about? It's a lovely day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Manic Monday

After I spent the entire weekend grading the enormous stack of papers that seems to keep multiplying, I walk into class today and NOT ONE of these sorry, so-called students has read! It was a quick sample of letters to the editor that would have taken 5 seconds to go over and they didn't do it. This, after I sent an email last week explaining where to find it electronically and which selections to read for which day. "Well, I didn't know which day the letters were for, " one of them whined. So you decide it's best to read NOTHING? I seriously could have spit on them.

I remember distinctly when something like this happened when I was an undergrad and the professor just walked out. We sat there for a few minutes and then declared class over and skipped off to our now free afternoon. So I knew better than to just walk out, as badly as I wanted to. I went and made copies of the reading and made them write out answers to boring questions for each reading and turn them in. Do I need to say that I will not actually be reading what they wrote? Plus, we were supposed to write our own sort of ranting letters in class, which I thought would be kinda fun, but now they are adding that to their homework for next class.

These are generally good students, certainly some of the most promising I've had since I've been teaching, and I'm very glad to have a job at all (I just had the anniversary of the masscre, after all), but they better be glad I didn't have pepper spray on me. Arrrggg!

Seriously?! First class of the day--no reading. Last class of the day--no reading. I'm going home. Nothing for me to do here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Words, Words, Words

Clearly words matter and they have a premium attached!

I am appalled that the NFL thinks it owns the rights to the phrase "Who Dat." Who is dat?

I'm nobody's football fan and quite frankly, this weekend, Mickey Mouse could emerge the champion and I would be just as happy or sad, but it is wrong for some behemoth corporation to lay claim to a phrase that people have been using for years and years. How do you just get to own it? Because you say so?
Apparently, the NFL has backtracked since they first sent out cease-and-desist letters to store owners who were selling products with "Who Dat" on it and now they say you cannot sell the phrase in conjunction with trademarked Saints logo. Whatever. I believe they clearly thought they would be able to bully people into thinking they owned those words.
And this, my dear students, is why giving people credit for their words/works is so important.