Good Will To All

Yes, I know it’s been almost four years.  And yes, I know I said I would continue to write.  And yes, I said I would continue to blog.  But, (spoiler alert) I didn’t.  Requisite excuses and mea culpas to come in a future post.

Fast forward to November of 2016 and writing is the last thing on my mind.  But over lunch one day, my dear husband turns to me and says, “I know what I want for Christmas… I want you to write a blog.”

Err, excuse me?  While I was fully prepared to Amazon his gift of choice with just a few taps of my nimble fingers, I was not prepared for this.  What do I write about?  How do I even start?  When do I have the time?!?!  It was the start of the Christmas season and don’t laugh, you legitimately employed readers, my busiest time of the year!  There are cookies to be baked, gifts to be bought, presents to be mailed, cards to be addressed, donations to be given, kids activities to volunteer for, parties to attend, friends to host…and don’t get me started on that damn elf!  Yes, I know…I can barely write this with a straight face.  I never said I was trying to send a man to the moon.  I’m a housewife, people.  This is what I do.

Then, as if the gods could hear my frantic inner monologue, what appears in my mailbox but a jury summons?  For the two weeks in December leading up to Christmas, I would be forced to sit in a room full of strangers who had also “won” a civic lottery of sorts with absolutely nothing to do.  No running last-minute errands, no post office trips at the eleventh hour, and no cursing like a drunk sailor while wrapping Christmas gifts when the girls are in school.  Instead, I’d have to compress all of my tasks and finish by the 9th. The 9th!!!  I needed smelling salts just thinking about it.

While I bemoaned my fate, I received tons of advice on how to escape jury duty.  My favorite was from my well-meaning aunt in Dallas given over pre-Thanksgiving drinks:  pretend I don’t speak English.  I won’t lie; I did entertain the idea for half a second.  But when I realized the only things I could spout in Korean were restaurant menu items (Kimchi!  Galbi!  Bibimbop!), I put on my Star Spangled Banner big girl panties and reported to dungeon-like basement of the Hennepin County Government Center on December 12th to fulfill my civic duty.

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of sitting on my butt, minute after excruciating minute, waiting to see if I would be needed to serve.  Because if I did, it would look something like this:

9:23AM- Threw away old receipts from my wallet and spent 20 seconds in silent shame reflecting on my horrid fast food addiction

9:26AM- Tried not to judge the man sitting next to me who was precariously close to invading my personal space because he was falling asleep

9:27AM- Ate a KIND bar

You get the picture.  My only real source of entertainment was sending my dear husband texts throughout the day informing him of various chores that he needed to do for me.  He was not amused, but me?  I felt drunk with power!  I finally knew what it was like to have my very own housewife!

By the end of the first day, I was almost delirious with boredom.  Just when I thought the hallucinations would start, I heard my name called.  They needed a group of 24 to be interviewed for a criminal case.  Our group was whisked away to one of the many courtrooms in the government center.  Please note: when I say “whisked”, I mean with all the rapidity of any government agency.  This involved a glacial TSA-like security check, a slow crawl up a rickety freight elevator to the 7th floor, and yet another mind-numbing 32 minute wait in the hallway of the courtroom.  The wheels of justice are anything but swift.

In the courtroom, our group was interviewed by the judge and attorneys on everything from our employment history to criminal records.  The interview lasted into the following day and well, I didn’t make the cut.  Despite not having a criminal history and not having served in law enforcement myself (apparently, being sheriff of my house doesn’t count), I was let go.  And while I could write a whole ‘nother blog about my feelings of rejection and unworthiness (ha ha), I’ll leave you with this.  The group interview process was an unexpected gift.  It was a reminder to me that 1) I am a lucky woman and 2) to be kind and respectful to your fellow human beings with an open and understanding heart.

With no electronics to distract me and no way to multitask, I heard the stories of 23 other people who like me, were randomly selected for jury duty.  Within this microcosm of our population, I listened as women admitted to being sexually assaulted or abused and others confessed to having been homeless.  Many talked of their own struggle with drug addiction and some admitted to having served jail time.  One shared that family members had been shot and killed while another told of how her father was currently serving life for murder.  They also talked about their children, relatives, and other loved ones and while we might have been from varying backrgrounds, we all had the capacity to love, forgive, and endure.  In the age of soundbites and Twitter, you forget that there is a whole life history behind each person that can’t be summarized in 140 characters or less.  Sitting in that courtroom, all I could do was listen, feel, be thankful, and promise myself to do more to help my fellow men and women.  What more can you ask for from Christmas?

As I said, I wasn’t selected for this particular case and spent another day in the “pit” waiting to see if I would be needed for another.  I started this post that day out of a combination of boredom and inspiration.  And at the end of the third day, the county released all jurors and I found myself with a second gift: a calendar that was now completely clear for the one and half weeks leading up to Christmas. So thank you, Hennepin County, for the gift of time and the gift of heart.  Merry Christmas, everyone and Merry Christmas, honey!  Thanks for making me do this.

Material Girl

I’m a girl of the 80s.  Sky high bangs, the heady scent of Aquanet, and over-sized Coca-Cola sweatshirts all hold a special little place in my neon pink heart.  Everything about that time seems airy and sugar-coated.  Yes, I know we still had the Cold War and nuclear annihilation as real threats during most of those years but they almost seem quaint in the face of today’s war on terrorism, global warming, and Honey Boo Boo.  The movies, the tv shows, the clothes…it was just all so fun.  And of course, there was the music.  I can’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday but I can recite the lyrics to George Michael’s Faith almost verbatim. So when I heard the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna, was coming to St Paul after a 25 year absence from the Minnesota tour circuit, I knew I had to get tickets.

In anticipation of what I was sure would be an epic event, my girlfriends and I booked a hotel room in St Paul so that we wouldn’t have to worry about driving home that evening in a less than completely sober state (read: tequila shots!).  We joined forces with other friends attending the concert and made dinner reservations at a restaurant in downtown St Paul.  We texted, emailed, and re-texted each other over what to wear.  I spent the week prior to the show listening to Madonna on my iPod.  I did everything short of donning a Boy Toy belt buckle and a cone bra to prepare for the big night.

The concert was this past Saturday night and although the tickets stated an 8pm start time, we knew she wouldn’t come on till later.  We enjoyed a very leisurely dinner where I mixed alcoholic beverages (martinis! wines! beers!) with careless abandon.  Buzzed and happy, we headed over to the arena around 9:30, where we amused ourselves with some excellent people watching:

9:30 turned to 10pm.  And 10pm turned to 10:30pm.  Still no Madge.  10:45, the lights finally dimmed and while the tipsy-trying-to-recapture-my-youth-Jane was excited for the concert to start, the 37-year-old-mother-of-two-curmudgeon was a tad bit annoyed by the overly late start.  My annoyance turned into shock though when one of Madonna’s first numbers, “Gang Bang,” featured her in a “motel” onstage in all her leather-clad glory shooting her male dancers with a gun, complete with larger than life blood splatters on the video screen behind her.  Hmmm…talk about a buzz kill.  What happened to the happy, peppy songs like “Cherish” or “Holiday?”  This may not be the concert I had anticipated in my head.

And it was not.  Madonna “sang” a disproportionate amount of songs from her latest album, MDNA, which to me all sounded like garbled, synthesized noise.  And yes, I completely acknowledge that this last statement makes me sound like a disgruntled senior citizen without enough fiber in her diet.  I was hoping for at least a good chunk of songs from her glory days….Material Girl, Papa Don’t Preach, Crazy for You, Into the Groove, Borderline.  I even would have been happy with her later 90s stuff where she reinvented herself as some Mother Earth Yoga goddess dressed inexplicably in a kimono.  Instead, she sang a handful of her older material but never in their entirety or in their original format.  Her slow, cabaret version of “Like a Virgin” elicited a polite golf clap from most of the people around us.  And when she was writhing slowly on the stage floor, licking her mike in a pantomimed act of fellatio,  I wanted to yell out, “You’re 54 for goodness sakes! Have some dignity!”  Yup, I know– I’m adding Metamucil to my grocery list…right…now.

When it became apparent that this wouldn’t be the dance-a-thon that I was hoping for, I sat down in my seat and began to check my emails.  Then, as the night grew later, I found myself  trying not to fall asleep.  Lest you think I was the sole lame-o in the arena, the 6 gay guys in our row also spent a majority of the concert sitting down.  Gay men! Seated! At a Madonna concert! Sad but true.

So the concert, was for me, a big let down.  Sure there were some positive points….I did marvel at the fact that she danced her ass off for 2 hours at 54 years of age.  But I certainly didn’t spend $190 on my ticket to ooh and ahh over her stamina.  And sure, I understand that as an artist, she wanted to showcase her newer songs instead of living in the past.  Maybe if I had been younger and didn’t have so many emotional ties to her music, I would have appreciated that more.  But I didn’t and I don’t think I was the only one that felt that way.  Because if she had taken a look at her audience, she would have seen that the vast majority of people there were like me…men and women who came of age in the 80s and early 90s, desperately seeking their youth.

Even this show of lights wasn’t enough to keep me awake!

Happy Halloween!

Chris came back into town last night after 4 evenings away on a golf/gambling/alcohol/food binge to Las Vegas…but alas, no vasectomy. So he has the pleasure of escorting our daughters as they demand candy from our neighbors in our balmy 40 degree weather. I am taking the night off and plan to hand out candy with one hand while drinking red wine from the other. Because that’s what moms do: we multi-task. Happy Halloween everyone!