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last five entries

endings are the new beginnings - 2015-06-22
who cares valerian - 2014-11-10
she said / they said - 2013-12-10
hindsight is perfect - 2013-11-12
Stella - 2013-11-04

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she said / they said

2013-12-10 -

I had to report to the courthouse for jury duty recently, because eventually they�ll catch up with you, even if you�re convinced that there�s too many people in the city for you to be called. Last year when I got a notice to call in, my number never got picked so I didn�t have to show up.

I got another notice this year but this year I did have to appear at the courthouse. Which means an entire day of waiting in a big room to see if you�ll even get called for an actual trial. They do allow one postponement, so I moved the date up a few months, but they never forget, so you�re going in one way or another.

It�s really interesting how there�s no real �getting over� on the juror system. And the courts don�t care if your job pays you for the day or not. Since I moved, I�m now about 16 more miles away from downtown LA, and as it turns out, they don�t care about that either, because you have to be at least 17 miles further to be moved to another location. Parking at or near the downtown courthouse is ridiculous, so I took a cab. Besides, my report time was 7:00a and I haven�t had to drive at the crack of dawn in a while.

When I showed up, there were already about 50 people on line outside in front of the building. I took my place at the end, and right away, 10 more people magically took their place behind me. I noticed a Mexican woman directly in front of me who was just adorkable. In my household, adorkable people are also called �shmuggies�.

She was about 60, really short, really wide and wearing the cutest elastic-waisted blue jeans I�ve ever seen, with no pockets on the back. Her hair was hanging down in a greasy silver bob, and she would whip her head around and swing it back and forth, animatedly chatting with anyone who would make eye contact with her. She said she was trying to get out of jury duty and get sent home early so she could go back to sleep. She was like the queen of the ewoks, waving her little arms and announcing stuff like she was trying to start a little revolution. She looked down into the fanny pack / shmuggie-satchel on her waist, pulled out a plastic baggie of multi-colored medications and held it up to show me.

�Hee hee! See this? This is my vitamins! I�m just gonna tell the judge I�ll keeelll someone without my vitamins!�

So we were to become best friends for the day.

I regretted it deeply about 45 min later, when she was still talking incessantly without any hint of ceasing. We were already sitting next to each other in our assigned waiting room, so there was no taking space from each other. Then they announced that while we may or may not get called to a case, we wouldn�t be getting out of that room any time soon. I figured if my ears needed a break, I would have to get up and visit the processed food store located in the hallway and buy something. I had already used the bathroom and the phone excuse.

During the phone excuse, I realized the delivery guy for my dead dog�s ashes had just left me a voicemail. Apparently he was only in my neighborhood for 10 more minutes and needed to know why no one was answering the door to �receive her�.

Before I got up to go to the processed food store, I made the mistake of saying

�Willamena, you can�t take your vitamins on any empty stomach. Why don�t you eat something?�

�Well? It�s hard to eat something when you didn�t bring any money and have only 6 dollars in the bank.�

Two donuts and a coffee later, as she shuffled closely next to me and right back to our seats, I was better than her best friend - I was her sugar mama. Her caffeine confidante. And she was my special shmuggie. I really did like her, I was just kind of tired and she was making it much worse with all the amped up chatter that was as dulling as a repeated shot of novocaine to the head. She opened with her history of elementary school teaching and then somehow segued into a dissertation of her deadbeat sister who was now living with her.

At some point, I stopped responding at all, and just let her talk. She didn�t seem to mind. Then I challenged myself to write down everything she said, word for word, to keep from nodding out.

�Did you hear? Judge Judy. That guy�s a teamster! My sister is a convict. Listen to this! My granddaughter said to me,

�Grandma, how do you do that?�
�Do what, mija?�
�Know everything about eeeverything!�
�I don�t know mija, I guess I just look it up!�

And you know what else? My sister, I have her picture on my phone as wicked witch of the east! I really do.�

** Then 20 people got called to go into the judge�s chambers, but luckily we didn�t. Actually, I wouldn�t have minded if Willamena had gotten called, but I knew it was never going to happen. I texted back to the delivery guy,

�Hey it�s Stella�s ashes owner. Husband sleeping. Knock louder, we really need her.�

My new bff was still motormouthing.

�And then - my grandson is always fighting fighting fighting. Then he wanted a jumper party. A jumper, a barbeque and who knows what else party. I made balloon shapes for the party! All kinds of shapes - a sword, then animals, then clowns! They came out so good that my sister said �Willamena, now I hate you more than before!� �

**I realized a guy behind me was a doctor who was having a fascinating conversation about the advances in animal cloning. The woman sitting a few seats away from him was was having an award worthy beat-boxing session with her friend. But I was busy transcribing the mini miracles streaming live from my muse.

�Did I tell you about the time I was at court in Long Beach? An earthquake! Well I thought they�d say �please leave the building, everybody,� but oh no!
So this morning? So I took my toast, buttered it up, but the butter wasn�t quite melted. So I put it in the microwave. Guess where it is now? In the microwave! My sister is probably eating it now like, �Yum yum! Thanks sis!� �

**Someone sneezed, and it sounded infinitely more interesting. Then someone�s phone rang and the ring tone was like a beautiful symphony. I must have nodded out at some point, because the clock jumped forward a few minutes. Shockingly, when I came to, she hadn�t even noticed, and was still talking.

In desperation, I looked to my right and noticed a small framed kid with long black hair, giggling and watching videos on his iphone. Somehow I managed to wrangle him into her conversation with a couple of skillful hand gestures. Someone else needed to be on ear patrol here while I fell asleep or killed myself in the bathroom.

He was a very good sport, and nodded his head the entire time she spoke. He told us his name was Paco, and I asked him what he was doing for lunch hour. He laughed and said he wasn�t eating, because his mother made him a burrito that he accidentally left on the kitchen table. I would have done it anyway, but I felt he was doing me a huge favor so I offered to buy him lunch. I might as well have said that I was buying him a house. He kept asking me if I was sure. I remember being that broke too, although my mother didn�t make me lunch or do my laundry past age six. He was at least 18.

Willamena said she had to go to her truck to see if she had parked illegally and she would meet us in the cafeteria. When Paco and I sat down, we spotted her trying to hide from us way in the corner of the room behind a gargantuan floor plant. Apparently she had found some money in her truck and bought a huge tray of food with it. I thought it was really funny and waved to her to come and sit down with us. I didn�t discuss her betraying our new friendship so soon, and her guilt seemed to quiet her down a little, thankfully. Just in case she got chatty again, I asked Paco about his life. He told us a heartbreaking story about the last time he took the bus home (yesterday) and an old drunk woman screamed at him that he was a piss poor excuse for an American Indian. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life.

�Be a K-9 cop.�

�You should�ve definitely told her that.�

By four o� clock the announcement finally came that we could all go home and would not be needed for trial this year. Everyone clapped and cheered. Willamena asked me where I parked, but she had me so burnt out, I actually had to think about it for a minute. She offered to drive me home, and I actually thought about that for a minute too, but then decided I would go with her. Paco said he really didn�t want to take the bus. Willamena ignored him.

When we got into the parking garage, she had the biggest pickup truck I had ever seen, and it had a roof rack that could hold a grizzly bear. I watched in awe as she hopped up, hoisted herself into the driver�s seat and pumped something with her foot to start it like it was a motorcycle. I couldn�t believe she could actually work this machine. When I sat down, I saw that there were two huge plastic bottles filled with coffee sitting in the cup holders. She grabbed one and started guzzling it.

I thanked her for saving me a lot of time and taking me home. Then she let me know she only drove back roads and didn�t have a gps.

�But don�t worry, one thing I can promise is that you will get there. I just can�t say when.�

She took me on a pretty cool back tour of the Mexican landscape of the city, pointing out where the last family Quinceanera was, where she taught elementary school and where the best Mexican food was. But it seemed like there was more she wanted to talk about. She started telling me the story of how her husband of 30 years was deported back to Mexico 5 years ago and they had been trying to get him back to LA again ever since. In the meantime, the only way she could see him was on occasional weekends when she drove down to meet up with him near the border for a day or two.

She was really in pain over it, I could tell. She was talking, but not in the empty chatter I heard in the courthouse. I started feeling bad for tuning her out earlier. No wonder she was so chatty, husbands are supposed to listen to wives go on and on about nothing, and she had 5 years of nothing built up. I asked her if she was able to talk about her husband with her sister, and if she was supportive. She said no, because her sister was on drugs.

I felt like all the talking about fluff was just a way for her to keep herself busy so she didn�t have to deal with missing him so much. I thought about what a horrible thing it was for her to have to go through, after 30 years of marriage under one roof. As I listened to her, she made much more sense and spoke like a mature woman who just really, really missed her husband. And it was nice to hear her finally talk about something I didn�t have to nod out to.

Having the ex-con sister in the house also made sense now too - because talking to someone who wasn�t listening was probably better than talking to no one at all. I thought about the lyrics to �Love the One You�re With�.

We sort of made future plans to go to dinner, although when she wrote down her cell #, she admitted her phone got turned off recently, so we�d have to email until it came back on. I kind of realized that her driving me home was a good way for her to be able to talk about her life with a total stranger. And I had clearly passed the listening test earlier, so entrusting me with this info seemed like the logical next step. I had the sense that I�d never see her again, but I was still grateful for the one of a kind friendship, that everyone got what they needed, and there was no reporting back to the courthouse, at least not until next year.


And below are some of my favorite recent facebook statuses on my friends' pages:

�I have learned that when Bobby says, �Whee!�, it means he is about to jump off of something.�

�Had she listened to family she would have had this removed, but they would not have gotten the roots and the chemo / radiation would have weakened her immune system and probably have caused cancer down the line. Instead she researched herself and is using cannabis hemp oil. Mama knows best!�
�I'm about Nelson Fucking Mandela'ed out�

�Last night's soup to go with Organ Meat Monday was a Brussels Sprouts Potato Cheese. Mmmm.... We used the smoked potatoes from Sunday's dinner, and I had some smoked Gouda to make a cheese sauce. Thick and yummy. Bite me Marie Callendars.�

�Will: Are we there yet? ( 50 times)
Me: William please stop asking me that so much. I will tell you when we are there. No more, �Are we there yets�, ok?
Will: How long until we are there?�

�Some guy just told me he's a dolphin trainer. Why do I have the sneaky suspicion he's trying to endear himself to me in the hopes of getting lucky?� #wasntbornyesterday

�She cut up the clothes and the strings on the guitar. Home girl is way pissed. We long past Al Green. -Love and hip hop�

�O, Lord, Deliver us from Dickens Fest.

�Leaving the Yankees for the mets is like leaving a women to be with a man.�

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