Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Courtship is Over, and Other Stories

Oh, state of Virginia, looking back, it was all very silly, wasn’t it?

For four years, you’ve pursued me with the persistence of a school boy in deep puppy love. You’ve sent me letters. Initiated phone communications. You even sent one of your own, uniformed finest to my door with a Special Invitation. You went so far as to set aside two full weeks in hopes for my full attention, when I would be at your beck and call.

What happened? I phoned in like you requested. I checked my computer daily for your messages, but found only curt rebuffs instead of details about all the dates I anticipated. And then, this morning—what was that? A computerized message that its over between us, just like that? Didn’t see that coming.

Whatever will I do now, with what is left of my winter break? I’ll have to make my own plans, without consideration of when or where you may need me to come to sit in your courts. I won’t have your messages to wait for each day. When my friends call, I’ll actually have to make independent decisions about how to spend my time.
Although it’s clear we weren’t right for each other—I have to ask—Why you couldn’t have done this 10 days ago? Was it a cheap thrill, stringing me along day to day? If so, that would make one of us who found it amusing.

But it’s OK, Virginia District Court, I wasn’t really interested anyway. And even though I’ve complained heartily about your imposition on my winter break and your subsequent Daily Dissing, I’ve rather managed to enjoy myself anyway, quietly continuing the various threads of my life even without the ability to plan more than 12 hours out.

No, I haven’t been blogging much (sorry Readers!) or commenting on other blogs (sorry, fellow Bloggers), but I did do a little writing, in the form of a functional piece of online journalism. And I’ve been gearing up to crank out some mosaic pieces—and by gearing up, I basically mean sketching and buying materials. As of this writing, I am seriously considering following through on a recent invitation I received to start showing at a local gallery. I waffled on the whole thing for a few days, because, looking the whole thing over, I don’t think I stand to turn over much of a profit—but my husband thinks the exposure might be good, because I would love to do some custom work for clients I currently don’t have. But if I ever print up the business cards I blogged about way back in September, I’d slap one of those on each piece at the gallery and potentially meet some clients.

A few of you might remember this strange wooden piece I snagged at a thrift store last fall, the one my daughter thought looked like a spindly manger,but my friend, Lori, identified as a butler something-or-other? It had a close brush with becoming a planter for my sister, who may either be disappointed or relieved when she reads this report, but it turns out, though, that it’s a cat bed. The plan right now is for mosaic work around the four sides and legs painted in patterns replicating my own kitties. There are some other possible features, but I’ll save those for the reveal when it’s done. Right now, it’s in the initial prepping phase.

I’ve also been going to my art classes: one on mixed media, and the other a portraiture class where we sketch live models. Meet Eegore:

When my daughter saw Eegore, she suggested that my next job should be as a court sketch artist. But, Virginia District Court, you and I both know that that isn't likely to happen.

I’ve also had time to work on my experimental oil painting (which is still in the Work in Progress category):

I’ve also had a lot of time to work out. My new passport arrived today, and I am heading to the Bahamas in three weeks. I was horrified to discover that my summer clothes were tight. So thanks to you, Virginia District Court, I haven’t been off gallivanting on some East Coast Tour, visiting my sister in Pennsylvania or Lori, in Maryland. I’ve been here, running intervals on my treadmill. Biking. Doing floor exercises with the wii Fit trainers, who say I’ve lost 2.2 pounds. And gained a bit of muscle, too, I dare say. So it’s all good, State of Virginia. Just so long as I don’t hear from you again for a good, long, time. Remember, you had your chance. And tomorrow? That’s all mine….

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Jury Is Out, Part 2

So we’re at Friday, which happens to mark the conclusion week 1 of my Forced Participation in the Legal System, and I’ve yet to darken the door of the courthouse.

A week ago this evening, I made my first call to the Jury Action Hotline only to hear the voice on the other in inform that I was not selected to participate on Monday, in a sort of apologetic tone that implied that I might file this news in the Hard to Take Category. I was actually elated, as the news actually translated into a Free Day Off, as my school happened to be closed on Monday. I enjoyed my day, but figured the freebie made it all the more likely that I’d get summoned on Tuesday, when my school was open, and I would spend a long, boring day in court instead of printing and painting with my students.

I called the number at the appointed time Monday evening to learn my status, only to discover that the Action Line, was well, Inactive. With school administration waiting to hear whether or not I was going to be a no-show the next day, I spent a frantic half hour wondering if I’d be jailed if I turned out to be scheduled but was never able to find out. I reread my materials and discovered that I could check in online. I was, happily, not scheduled to report.

Nor was I scheduled Wednesday, Thursday, or today, which may seem to mean that the current standings are Me, 5, Virginia Court System ,0. I say may, because I am not sure this is the case at all.

See, it occurred to me long about Wednesday afternoon, better known as Day 3 of Not Being Able to Make Any Plans, that it might just be better to get the whole thing over with, especially after a second rereading of the literature revealed that once you work a trial (which tend to run 1-3 days) you’re excused from whatever remains of your two week service. At that point, anything short of a worst case scenario—a 3+ day trial, would get me out of this before the advent of the coming week, when my school is closed for the full week. (Yes, I notice the theme of excessive school closures. But it’s an Independent School, and they play by their own rules.)

The thought of a Winter Break when I could actually make plans was so appealing that I actually wished fervently to be called in. I realized that I’d rather spend two days in court and have a free week than to limp along day by day—even if I never get called in at all.

But it was not to be. We’re currently at T-2 hours until my next check-in. I don’t know what to hope for, really. I don’t want to go, but what I’m really afraid of is getting called in on the last day and having to serve Extra Time, which, I’m told, can happen. So really, no one is winning right now. Not me, and not the courts who so eagerly courted me. At least not yet. How this ends is anyone’s guess—the jury is still solidly out.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Not Wanted, After All

Feliz Baba went missing late last week, causing quite a stir in my environs.

The news came out, quite by accident, one recent late afternoon right after my kids were admiring a crumpled wanted poster they had salvaged from a shipment of Florida oranges and displayed over the country map in the kitchen, because, as I was told,
“These guys could be anywhere, Mom.”

I’m going to pause here, just to say that although many of you may know my kids’ ages from other posts, or Real Life, I’m not going to highlight that information in this particular post, because, frankly, it would be a little embarrassing.

A phone call soon interrupted the conversation and my son darted phoneward, an event that invariably induces cringing from any family members who happen to be home.

This is a kid who thrives on chatting up anyone who happens to be on the other end of the line. We’ve overhead him saying things like, “Well, all I really know about health care is that I go see my doctor every year;” or “I’d love to help you, but we’re getting ready for a Christmas party right now. Could you call back later?” Recently, a researcher phoned the home actually looking for kids his age (which, you may recall, I am not revealing at this time) to question about various issues. We heard him explaining that he loved church and school and is generally in bed by 9 PM, but when asked to choose between the two, he said that he considers himself more street smart than book smart. He quite possibly used words like “ergo” and “syllogism” during the discussion.

On this particular day, we heard him engage in a lengthy discourse wherein he expressed deep regret about his inability to offer assistance. He finally hung up the phone and reentered the kitchen. “I really feel bad for that lady, Mom,” he said. “Her English wasn’t very good, and she seems really sad that she can’t find her friend. “

“Who is she looking for, Buddy?”

“Feliz Baba,” he said.

“Feliz Baba?” his sister scoffed.

“Yeah. It’s like she really expected he would be here, and I had to tell her she had the wrong number.”

His sister whipped out a sheet of notebook paper and began to assemble an ad hoc addendum to the roster of wanted folks. “Who knows? We may see him around,” she said, retrieving the caller’s phone number and city of origin from the caller ID and adding it to the poster.

Over the next hour, much talk ensued over the possible identity of Feliz Baba, what his connection might be to the foreign woman, and, most importantly, why was he was thought to be here, in our home? It wasn’t long before the phone rang again, amid general excitement which reached a boiling point when the number on the caller ID was crosschecked with the poster, and it was determined that the foreign woman was calling back.

I grabbed the receiver, deciding it was time to get to the bottom of the whole affair.

“Mees-sees Da-bis? “

Ah-ha. Mrs. Davis….the puzzle went together in my mind, even as the woman prattled on about the Time Share Special she was hocking. Mrs. Davis sounds exactly like Feliz Baba, at least to my son. Not a great listener even in the best of conditions, the boy heard his own personal interpretation in the routine sales pitch. Mystery solved.

As my daughter--who I will identify as the older of the siblings--and I shared a hearty laugh, my son (who had wandered off during the proceedings) came running down the stairs.

"Feliz Baba has been found!" his sister announced, "and is in this very house."

A look of shock washed over the boy. "Is it me?" he asked, in amazement.

No such luck, kid. I’m Feliz Baba. Feliz Baba! Such an urbane, cultured ring to my new moniker, yes?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The "Our Reach" Challenge

In general, I’m a pretty big fan of typos, grammatical gaffes, and other rifts between native speakers and the Mother Tongue. As a freelance writer and a non-practicing English teacher, I view these breaches in convention as readily available sources of entertainment, not unlike sports bloopers or film outtakes.

Most of us are familiar with those church bulletin faux pas that get passed around via email—you know, the ones informing the congregation of the need for new choir robes due to the recent addition of new members and the deterioration of some older ones, or those announcing that the ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon. One announcement stated the need for attendees of the Weight Watchers meeting to enter through the large double doors at the back of the building. Every now and then, though, I happen across slip of the keyboard that is just, well, perfect.

A serendipitous typo in my own church bulletin on Sunday doubled as a one word sermon summary for me. It could have passed easily as the well-considered material from a large publishing house, but it wasn’t. It was, simply, an omitted letter “t,” an oversight in the notes for the sermon entitled the Outreach Challenge, which now read as the “Oureach” Challenge. Our Reach. What could be a more perfect moniker for a lesson all about the little pieces of big puzzles, the small gestures and simple kindnesses that are within our grasp? The things we can do to alleviate problems even if we can’t solve them. The acts that may seem insignificant by themselves, but represent our unique contribution to an equation that will otherwise remain unsolved; the hearts, the lives, the souls behind the needs right within Our Reach.

None of us can do everything. In fact, sometimes what we have to offer—physically, emotionally, or financially—seems a small contribution in comparison with the need. Last week felt like that, for me. I had friends, just within my grasp who were dealing with trouble of all kinds. Sudden loss. Disappointment. Sickness. The stories aren’t mine to tell, and my part in them was small—very small. But doing something seemed better than nothing, and small though my responses were, they were the ones within my reach.

So, in conclusion….Let’s meat the needs in front of us that are as plane as the nose on our faces. And let’s watch are grammer and spelling, to. There’s a lot of bad examples out their.


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