NYC Jury Duty

I am 42 years old, and at my first ever jury duty. My only idea of how jury duty goes was from the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie has to report for jury duty and the man next to her keeps bringing weird fruits in his briefcase.

So far, it’s been uneventful. We had to do a security check to get in the building (got to keep my shoes on, woo hoo!) by a cute security guy. When we got to the room, we were greeted by Larry the jury clerk. I was expecting a gruff civil servant but Larry was so relaxed and calm he really set the tone for if not a pleasant, then a tolerable experience. He answered a bunch of questions but then stated, “ask your questions now, because I won’t field them later. If you came in late, or tuned me out to read your newspaper, you can ask them later, but I will smile passively-aggressively at you.”

This is what happens:

  • You sit in a “jury pool” room for two days. This is your tour of duty. If during that time there aren’t any cases that need jurors, then you have fulfilled your duty, and are exempt from jury service for another six years.
  • But, what is intended to happen is that a judge will call for jurors for a case. You and 99 of your new jury duty friends get called to a courtroom, where the judge/lawyers will start to question the jurors to get the kind of jury he/she wants. They only need 12-14 jurors, so most of you will go back to the jury pool waiting room to see if you get selected by another judge.
  • This continues until the two days are up, or you are selected for a jury.
  • If you are selected as a juror, you then report for that case until it’s done. This is where people get scared. Would the trial go on for weeks or months? Larry seemed to express that a month-long case is a rarity. It seems that jury duty for a few days is more the norm.

So, I’m stuck here in downtown New York for today and tomorrow. I found a plug and wi-fi, so it’s not too much different than working from a coffee shop, except without the coffee and no scary homeless people.

We are allowed lunch from 1-2, and we get released between 3:15 and 5.

My friend Jon says that he got excluded by “being difficult” (i.e. having your own mind) and that he said “I believe in karma” to the judge in a medical malpractice case. These are all criminal cases. I am fascinated by the process. And would love to see how it actually works. But sadly I’m only compensated $40 per day while in a trial, and I don’t have an employer to cover me.

[END OF DAY REPORT]

Well, that was interesting. At 10 am, me and 99 other people were called in for a an armed robbery case. As soon as they said “robbery” I sudden had a twinge when I remembered the two times my car was broken into, and my home invasion in Minneapolis. I was thinking this sort of issue would exclude me from duty.

Turns out, 75% of the people that were questioned on the jury panel had experienced some sort of robbery, assault, mugging or pickpocketing. It was really sad.

What happened first is the judge asked a few basic questions:

Have any of you been convicted of a crime (or have a close friend or relative who has?) they had to form a line and talk to the judge, the rest of us sat and read books.

Do any of you have trouble understanding English? After he repeated it a few times, a chinese woman raised her hand and stood up. He asked her, “so you have trouble understanding English?” She said, “yes.” He asked, “how long have you lived in the United States?” She answered (in heavily accented English), “fifteen years.” Then the judge did something not cool. He said incredulously, “You’ve lived in New York for 15 years and still have trouble with English?” An uncomfortable ripple went through the courtroom. Does he not live in NYC? Does he not know there are sections of the city in which you can live for decades without speaking a lick of English? So great, racist (or just ignorant judge).

Then it was time for first round juror picks. 14 people were chosen at random, and had to answer from a list of questions, including things like:

  • Where they live in Manhattan
  • occupation/employment status
  • marital status
  • do they have any mental/physical problems that would prevent being on the jury
  • whether they have anyone else in the household
  • whether they know anyone in law enforcement or legal system
  • whether they’ve been a victim of robbery/assault etc.
  • whether they think they would have any prejudice towards the defendant in this case

I wish I could have heard them speaking better, it was fascinating to find out details about strangers like this. It surprised me that most jurors had a college degress, around a third of them were unemployed, and nearly all had experienced some sort of robbery or assault in their lives.

 

The whole kids thing

I was  younger when I first saw this piece of art. I was young enough to have kids then. I saw the humor in it, but it wasn’t yet relevant to me.

I saw it again recently and now it means something.

I’m 42 years old.

My eggs (the ones that are left) are drying up rapidly. Well, that’s the colloquial version. The science of it is that my viable and chromosomally solid eggs were shed in my twenties, when i was staunchly protecting myself against the terror of pregnancy. What’s left now are the damaged rejects. If I tried to get pregnant, the chances are a lot smaller that I could have a healthy baby, or even get pregnant at all.

Science aside, I’m not even at an emotional or financial or relationshippy place where I could have children. I’m not seeing anyone I’d consider having kids with. I’m not even sure how long I’ll even stay in New York, where I currently live. I’m currently going through a career change/crisis. But while all that is being sorted out, the eggs are being flushed away monthly.

I’d never heard a biological clock, really. I’d had friends who had it all planned out: they’d be married by 25, kids by 30, and have the kids out of the house in time for some fun and travel before they retired. My twenties came and went. I had a serious boyfriend  I could have married (had I been older, 27 just seemed too young to get married). I was with another man for six years in my thirties. He too wanted to marry me, and have a house and kids and life and the whole shebang. I wasn’t compelled to have children. And since I knew without a doubt that’s what he wanted, I had to give let him go to find someone who wanted it too. Also, I wasn’t ready for marriage.

There are different reasons people have children. In the midwest where I’m from, sometimes I think there’s not thought given to it, it’s just what you do. You get married and have kids. Some people say, “who’s going to take care of you when you get older if you dont’ have kids?” Those people obviously don’t entertain the possibility that their kids could be ASSHOLES.

Still others say that they want to leave a legacy, that they want to leave part of themselves behind.

Lately I’ve just been wondering if having kids is a primal part of being human. Also, if it’s something that keeps you creative and developing as you start to get old and set in your ways. It keeps you from taking things too seriously.

I remember a barista telling me once that he could tell when a customer had kids or not. The childless would take an exorbitant amount of time ordering their precise drink, but the parent, happy to have a reprieve, would just say GIVE ME A COFFEE PLEASE.

The first time I remember having an inkling that maybe kids weren’t out of the question was on a visit to New York before I moved here. I was sitting outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Families were streaming out and I could pick up bits of their conversations. A little girl about three and her mom were talking about something. The girl asked the mom about something that had happened and the mom replied, “well honey that was the time before you could talk, so you couldn’t tell me […] yet.” And the way she spoke so intelligently to her obviously smart child made me realize that THAT was the kind of mother I’d be. And suddenly my mind (and heart) opened to the possibilities. That was 2007 and I was already old.

But i have the say the main reason I have been lamenting not having kids lately have been my friends with amazing kids. Like my friend Betsy, who regularly posts the clever and silly things her kids Davis and Karissa say. (I keep telling her she should have a tumblr called The Daily Karissa but she says she’s saving it all up for a book).

My friend Doug also tells me the cute things his kids say. Like his daughter Regan. He had picked her up from school one day, and he told her they had to drive straight home. “You mean we can’t make any curves?” she asked in all seriousness.

 

Accidental Book Acknowledgment, how about that?

So I was bored tonight and decided, like most bored people, to google myself. After the usual spate of linked in, facebook, and twitter links, I started seeing more obscure stuff. Sites I did one-off posts on, sites that were blog post aggregators.

Then suddenly a book acknowledgment for the book “Tarot for Writers” by Corrine Kenner. What? I have been acknowledged in a book, but the authors told me it was happening. But here I was, acknowledge for something I did long ago. Way back when I lived in Minneapolis (second time), I took a “Tarot For Writers” course from Corrine Kenner. I was in a phase where I was flexing my fiction muscles (that’s still a tough thing to do for a business head like me) and this intersected my love of the intuitive with my love of writing. Well Corrine made a book out of the course and thanked her class (including me!) How lovely! I hope her book does well!

 

How domain names are born

If any of you know me you know that I do a plethora of different things, and I have a hell of a time describing it to well-meaning conversationers at parties, so much so that when the inevitable eye-glazing starts when I rattle on too long, I throw in, “AND I make homeade marshmallows dipped in chocolate.” This is true, and something I’m proud of, but not what I’m trying to get across. So I’ve done some brainstorming and figured out the core commonality in everything I do. I make things better. …