You can do it…

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doubt butts into life

and tricks us into sorry

paralyzation

JSmith 09/28/2017

 

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Duty calls…

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“An adventure a day” has been our marriage mantra from the beginning – any time we find ourselves up against a plot twist, we have to figure out how to turn it into something fun, interesting, challenging, or in some other way memorable. Easy-peasy most days, as it turns out, and we have some great little stories to show for our efforts.

We’ve also each carried a desire, over the years, to belong somewhere. Kim’s been looking for it since his growing-up years in SoCal, and I spent a lot of years wishing to feel at home the way I did on the family farm where I grew up, as I felt forever the outsider on my married-into one.

Lawrence is proving to be that safe space for both of us – the vibe, the weather, the manageable scope of our surroundings, the sense-of-new that’s in the air we breathe. Being seated on a jury this past week only added to the knowledge that I’m a real citizen here.

Physically and psychically it was a challenge (aka adventure). Having been a jury member twice now, both criminal cases, it’s my heartfelt opinion that sitting in judgement of a fellow human is the heaviest responsibility this side of bringing home a new baby.

The charge was Criminal DUI, the charged a young Hispanic man. Young white prosecutor, older Hispanic defense attorney. Young white highway patrolman, phlebotomist, and KBI expert. All-white jury pool. All-white jurors, five women, one man. (We learned that misdemeanor offenses require a six-person jury and felonies twelve.) I think I could be an effective jury consultant after watching the attorneys narrow the pool by dismissing every male the approximate age of the defendant and keeping all of us who looked like sisters, moms, and grandmothers.

The charges…

1.) Operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner

2.) Driving 92mph on a 75mph interstate

3.) Driving under the influence of alcohol

4.) Refusing a breathalyzer and a blood test

The highway patrolman’s testimony was articulate and the evidence of speeding was solid. The KBI’s toxicology reports were quite conclusive and delivered in a succinct manner by a young woman who clearly reached her level of expertise by virtue of knowing things. The phlebotomist from the hospital demonstrated serious credibility and provided key testimony about the chain of evidence. In the only nebulous part of the evidence presented, the grainy dashcam video shot at 2am was helpful but not conclusive as to the charge of unsafe driving.

We were the typically assorted crew, and although we exchanged very little personal information during off moments, our personalities were coming out by deliberation time. Our lone guy struck me as neutral, right down the middle, just the facts, please, all in a day’s work. Of the five of us women, one was a no-nonsense Fox News conservative (her words) and not interested in nor affected by any discussion of potentially mitigating circumstances; another was an educator, probably in her 40s, who engaged us in discussing various scenarios and possibilities; there was an adorbs sorority girl from The Hill who seemed to be most concerned about making all the numbers add up so as not to wrongly convict the defendant; then you have me, the eldest in the room, focused on all my unanswered questions; and finally, a young woman not too long out of college and involved in a career. She volunteered to serve as foreman, which surprised me until I saw her in action.

Foreman Woman efficiently and dispassionately took us through each of the charges one by one and we discussed them until we felt ready to vote. We voted GUILTY on three of the four charges, the only logical thing to do in view of the evidence. Even as we filed back into the courtroom, my brain was still trying to work out why the defendant had requested a jury trial for a DUI, and how a conviction was going to affect his mother, who was in the courtroom both days. Nonetheless, it was done, over.

Afterward, the judge came to the deliberation room and talked to us, and in answering our questions she provided two key pieces of information that have allowed me to let it all go:

1.) Sometimes people request jury trials on the outside chance that a jury might have enough doubt or sympathy to exonerate them.

2.) This was his second DUI offense.

Okay, I’m sorry, nice-looking young man, go do your time and learn some things about life.

And I’m sorry, mister well-trained professional law enforcement officer, that I entertained the slightest possibility of not taking a proven menace off the highways. Wow, he looked so clean and earnest and hopeful, too.

When I met Kim for lunch I realized that I was shaking all over, mostly from relief that all of us together had managed to do the right thing. The heavy sense of responsibility stayed with me into the evening and I found myself crying over silly things on TV.

Alexander Hamilton, et.al., placed a lot of trust in the jury concept – that Americans through the years would retain enough personal integrity to make life and death decisions as concerning their fellow man. This one was fairly easy to own because the solid truth of the body of evidence was overwhelming – we were presented with established facts from credible witnesses. And yet when you walk into the deliberation room you’re hit with the sense of accountability you owe to the entire process, and that’s good – it should never be an easy assignment.

I’m relieved and gratified to say that heritage didn’t show up in any way as a topic for consideration – we discussed only the facts and the evidence supporting them as they related to the charges. Each of my fellow humans on the jury surprised me in happy ways and each one taught me something. Thank you, our beloved forebears, for entrusting this important task to simple citizens – we truly are all in this together.

This, for whatever reasons, has been a hard post to write – I’ve been trying to find the words since last Thursday and now I’ve written a whole LOT of them and this has grown long. I keep thinking of what the educator in the room said: “If any one of us were to find ourselves in trouble in a court of law, we would hope for an honest, serious jury who would consider nothing but the facts of our case.” Amen. It matters.

 

 

 

 

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…and a red umbrella…

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rain makes me happy

when the sky cries i feel joy

am i damaged goods?

JSmith 09/18/2017

 

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Blue-gray Saturdays…

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gray flannel morning

melancholy permeates

in here and out there

JSmith 09/16/2017

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Creative escapism…

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These are strange times, so strange that every day brings something we haven’t had to deal with in quite this way before.

I’ve been thinking about the “feel-goods” we latch onto when life turns tentative, like when a horse named Seabiscuit raised the spirits of the whole nation by winning against all odds.

Reading and writing are always my first means of escape, but I’m gung-ho about the sportsing, too. I’m awkward, I have no depth perception, and no athletic abilities whatsoever, so I sign up to clap and cheer because I genuinely love most all of it. It’s soothing to watch the fluidity of trained athletes using their bodies to full effect, smoothly doing the things I can’t, winning and losing battles that aren’t life and death but feel somehow meaningful.

PGA tournaments are wonderful for watching and sometimes napping, but there’s also major league baseball, college basketball, and professional tennis, my favs. I have a love/hate relationship with boxing and football, both of them damaging but also full of spectacle, ability, and sheer bravado. I’m not sufficiently motivated to figure out how soccer, rugby, and their cousins work, so I tend to space those off. Ice hockey is sanctioned brutality, and bowling on TV is out of the question – I’ve never been that bored, no offense to bowlers. Olympic years are like dessert, the best saved for last.

What’s your preferred method of escape? I’m always looking for new ways to win at life, and running away from it is how I relax. 😇

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Um…what was I saying?

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Good morning, friends. I woke up to sunshine and a stack of birthday greetings, so I’m currently fortifying my brain and bones with coffee and preparing to meet myself at age 70 before the day’s over. It feels odd to own that milestone, but my primary emotion is thankfulness – I’ve outlived my mother by three years now, and I like not dying yet, so here we go…

Kim’s playing PickleBall for a couple of hours in NoLaw, and when he’s home and showered we’ll walk through the alley to The Roost so I can have potato pancakes like my mom made. This evening will be dinner at Basil Leaf, with serious fasting between the two birthday meals. Some industrial-strength healing is in order as well – over the weekend Kim narrowly missed getting slammed by a bronchial event, and yesterday I picked up where he left off. It’s been years, I have no idea how many, since I’ve had a cold or flu, but this thing is trying to kick my butt. Razor-blade throat, cough that won’t quit, head full of gack. My stubborn intention is to feed it, drown it in good coffee, sleep it off this afternoon, and otherwise ignore it to every extent possible.

I have projects to finish and about a million books to read, so Job One is to stick around and do life right. There are people to meet, family to embrace, music to cry over, beauty to fully appreciate, and love to hand out like candy, so I hope I get to stay here with all y’all a good long while.

Experience is worth everything and I happily own the lessons it’s taught me – I’m genuinely liking this part of life from 65 to whatevs. Things have kind of smushed together by now and squeezed out the excess baggage, so I mostly deal with only what really matters, and that works super nice.

Hey, I’m feeling better already. An excellent week to all, and come talk to me. 💋

 

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