I am sitting here, rather in a fog and wondering how I can take all the many items that ought to be on my to-do list (if I had one) and get them in order. I’m not exactly sure if that is because there are a lot of things coming up, or there have been so many things going on.
Let’s see… I’ll begin a week ago today. After a long day at work, my mother, one brother and I left around 9 p.m. for a six-hour drive to see my grandmother in West Texas, who has been in and out of the hospital since Christmas with pneumonia. We arrived about 3:00, dropped into bed, got up in the morning, visited with aunt, uncle, cousins, cousin’s delightful babies, and grandma, got back in the car after dinner, and arrived home about 1:30 Sunday morning. I was able to do all the driving on the home trip– a first for me, although the combination of sweet tea, satelite radio, sleeping co-travellers and an extremely bright moon on the landscape worked wonders for keeping me awake. I did a lot of thinking, although I don’t remember what all about.
Monday I was feeling the effects of exhaustion, I think… tiredness, headache, an unhappy tummy… and took the opportunity to spend as much time at work huddled behind the counter with the little heater and Wives and Daughters (by Elizabeth Gaskell) as I could. What better companions when one feels icky and ugly and sluggish than dear Molly, Cynthia, Roger and the Miss Browning’s? I forgot to mention, brother and I made a trip across the street Saturday afternoon to the Goodwill store where I purchased a nice stack of books, including W&D, to bring home with me. I read an e-text of North and South last year, as I couldn’t find a hard copy anywhere around, and enjoyed it immensely. I am about halfway done right now with W&D, which means 348 of 688 pages. Gaskell just hooks you with the first sentence and reeeeeels you in! The movie was good, but the book is even better.
Tuesday I had a totally new and much-anticipated adventure. That’s right, you guessed it: jury selection! I had somehow not lost the white-and-yellow card that had come in the mail a few weeks before, filled out all the applicable blanks, and gotten it and me to the right place on the second floor of our beautiful old county courthouse on the right day at the right time. Or so it would seem, judging by the large group of other bewildered-looking folks holding their own summons and heading for the double wood-and-glass doors of the large period-restored courtroom. The chatty, nay, verbose judge, along with his clerk, got all the people with sufficient excuses out the door, the rest of us (120 or so) seating in order, and then gave as a break wherein we were allowed to do anything we could do or go anywhere we could go in 20 minutes, as long as we were back in our seats in order at the proper time. I ran down to the shop, sat in our little cafe chatting with the cook, and ate the last half of my breakfast. Then it was back again, until lunchtime, listening to the judge lecture us at length about the law and the duty of the juror. The unpadded wooden stadium-seats were torturous, but I actually enjoyed listening to him.
Lunch was a little over an hour, which gave me the opportunity to scarf down a salad and return the occasional glances of other possible-jurors across the restaurant. Back again, this time for voire dire, which means both lawyers questioning the pool, as a group and individually, to assess which ones would be more or less likely to give them a fair verdict (or perhaps, one wonders, one tilted their own way). Four juries would be picked, but the prosecutor on the first case assured us she would take the most time. They focused on the first four rows, and as I was fifth in the second row, I had a feeling I might be in for some action. While some people were questioned quite closely (those with prior experiences and strong feeling about the issue dealt with in the first trial), I guess I was uninteresting; a few hours later we took another bathroom break, and returned to find out the makeup of the first jury. It was mid-afternoon, and I was tired. I half hoped I would make it onto this jury, rather than have to sit through any more of the process.
Well, I did. The judge called out names (stumbling over and over my first, unusual name, then emphatically abbreviating it to “MISS —-“), one by one we rose, crawled over neighbors, and made our way to the jury box. The judge admonished us not to talk about the case or let others talk to us about it, and he sent us home to return some two weeks later for a likely two-day trial.
So that was it. I was still rather awed by the whole proceeding, not least for the feeling of grave responsibility that I felt and was evidently shared by many others in the courtroom. I am looking forward to the trial– gladly not a life-or-death matter– and wonder just what it will be like. I guess I will find out.
Wednesday was a roller-coaster of intense family drama. Before lunch I had to cancel my cleaning job, go home and gather myself back together before picking up brother from school. A long talk with a good friend, lunch, a few chores and a nap in the sun on the living room floor did wonders for my phsyche, and the most pressing parts of the issue at stake were wrapped up by the end of the day, although as always is true, the consequences, small or great, remain.
Yesterday I took care of the rescheduled cleaning, then had lunch and a long chat with my good friend just home from college. I got to see her pictures from the last semester when she lived abroad and visited Greece, Italy, Israel, and Egypt, and hear about her plans for the future.
Today, due to the cold weather and his school’s less than ample heating, brother came to work with me, and we huddled together behind the counter with the space heater. It was a long, dull day, and I think he is feeling a bit sickish. Late in the day, my newly engaged friend came by on her way home from work. She pulled out a picture of “her” wedding dress (her to-be-mother-in-law is making the actual gown), since she keeps forgetting to show me. I had picked up a few wedding planning/ettiquette books at the library yesterday, which I passed on to her. An older lady, there working on her booth, caught wind of our conversation and asked a variation of the question several have asked in my presence to my chagrin of late: “So, who’s going to be your maid of honor?” Usually they are a bit less direct, more along the lines of, “how many bridesmaids” or “the wedding party”, and I try to act like I didn’t hear. All my surrogate mothers, aunts and grandmothers at the shop have been positive I would be in my friend’s wedding. She hadn’t asked me, though, and would always reply that she and her fiance hadn’t talked it over yet. I wasn’t sure she would ask me, and I didn’t want her to think I was expecting to be.
“Well… I was going to ask Jeanne if she would,” she said. I looked at her. My brother said, “You’re really red, Jeanne,” which I already knew from the burning sensation from my neck up. When I am touched, I don’t cry, I turn red and purse my lips and act stupid. Which I did.
So there you have it. Or part of it. Of course there are the never-ending things like dishes, laundry, litter-boxes and bathtubs all calling out for attention. There are two family birthdays in the next week. There are long-overdue letters to pen-pals and family members to be written. There is an extra-long weekend work-day tomorrow. And there is always that voice, calling my focus back from all the distraction. Perhaps that’s the real point: not so much arranging my tasks and tidying up my emotions, but putting the right Person on the top of my to-do list every day.