Tuesday, April 25, 2006

made - with jasmine

The jasmine. I would order it at the corner coffee shop between classes, after classes, Saturday mornings. In the early days, pre-boyfriend, I ordered it alone. I would sit at my table, poetry notebook thrown open in front of me, notes and napkins strewn aside. In between the great novellas I was writing then, I would occasionally look up at the walls above the Barista's station, sucking on the end of my pencil, pensively creating the next life-changing line. Burlap sacks emptied of their coffee beans hung haphazardly on the wall below the ceiling. "Costa Rica" was stamped on most of them in a dark brown or umber color, obviously fading away.

Sometimes, Cheryl would join me, vignette masterpieces in tow. Cheryl liked her jasmine with a slight taste of sugar. I drank mine untouched so the dryness of the finish remained on my tongue until the next sip. We were both music majors but dreamed of secret lives in which we would only sit in coffee shops and write. Mostly poetry and short stories, although we both fantasized about writing a novel some day.

We were Atwood fans, primarily. Ten years ago, when we first read A Handmaid's Tale, we felt we had discovered a new literary universe. The only required reading by a female author in all my high school years was Wuthering Heights. Why hadn't our AP English teachers told us about this Canadian genius? Forget Conrad. Forget Dostoevsky and Kafka. Forget Shakespeare and Forster. Why was there no Atwood?

I bought tea yesterday. Stash peppermint. Right now, I am sipping English Breakfast with a dollop of honey, which I find soothes the rough morning throat. I haven't considered jasmine in years. Perhaps my tastes have changed, or perhaps I am avoiding memory.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I can't believe I have to get up at 4am tomorrow morning.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jury Duty, Day 1: The Final Cut

Yep, I made it. The final cut. After spending an agonizing 6 hours being shuffled back and forth from the Central Jury Room to the Judge's courtroom and being questioned by 3 different attorneys for 2 1/2 of those 6 hours, I was selected to serve on the 8-person jury for a civil trial beginning Monday morning.

I don't know how I'll manage to sit through 5 days of testimony in that stuffy courtroom. It reeks of stale aftershave and cologne, with not a hint of fresh air from anywhere. Looking around the boring space, I didn't spot any air vents of any kind whatsoever. Hardly the regal, opulent type of courtroom you might see on Law & Order. But what did I expect? At least some fabric or maybe leather-covered chairs in the juror's box. Instead, I sat on a puke-linoleum-green vinyl chair for 4 hours, to which the backs of my sweaty thighs stuck the entire time. (It must have been 80 degrees in there.) At least the chair swiveled.

The entire time I was being questioned, I was thinking to myself, what can I do to get out of this? I have mixed feelings about jury duty. I've never served on a jury before and, after all those episodes of Law & Order, I think I would be good at it. I have an open mind. I'm fair and impartial. I don't think I am too quick to judge anybody, especially not by my own personal standards. So, when being questioned by the various attorneys, I answered everything as openly and honestly as I could in a room full of 58 strangers. Sometimes it got a little personal, but I got through it.

I'm now Juror #1.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the approach of Hell Week

I'm re-naming Holy Week "Hell Week". Normally the bustle of Easter-tide is no big deal, however, this year it is extra-extra-busy.

Beginning this Sunday after regular church stuff, I'm doing a joint organ recital. Then Choir practice (we're doing the Vivaldi "Gloria," complete with Baroque string ensemble). Then comes regular band practice on Wednesday, services Thursday, Friday, Saturday Bell Choir rehearsal, sunrise service at 6am on Sunday followed by the annual pancake breakfast, then another service at 10:30.

What makes all this more extreme than usual? I got called for Jury Duty. During Holy Week. The busiest time of year for those of us employed by The Church. What are they thinking???? The System waits for no one, not even the crucified/resurrected. (Silent prayer: Please, please, please let me be dismissed!)

The only relief in sight comes Friday, two weeks from tomorrow, when I get to have Crochet Night with Sue. If I don't totally break down before then from lack of sleep. I can't sleep lately, and the girl time this month is making me NAUSEOUS. Apologies if I'm cranky.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

you're the inspiration

I have a weakness for Chicago ballads. Ever since those wildly romantic Karate Kid movies started coming out, I have been in love with the Peter Cetera-era Chicago ballads. As a kid, I sung them into my hairbrush every time one came on the radio. Later, I learned that one of my very best college friends, Meg, was also a Chicago ballad junkie.

One of my fondest college memories is of Meg, Erin, Mary Ellen, and I sitting on the floor of one of our dorm rooms, hunched over a pizza, various books and papers scattered everywhere, probably during a finals week sometime. Meg may or may not have had a bottle of Boone's then, too. Anyway, Meg popped in the Greatest Hits 1982-1989 album and I think the rest of the evening was spent singing into beer bottles instead of hairbrushes.

Still another Chicago ballad memory I have is from one summer when I visited the Cape with a certain former boyfriend. One afternoon we drove to Boston, listening to the very same Hits album in the car. Honestly, I can't remember who brought this traveling music along - he or I - but it made for an interesting car ride, nonetheless.

At that time in the relationship, I knew in my heart of hearts, that things were not going to work out. That was our last vacation together and I knew it.

We rode up Route 6 in his 1993 Geo Metro Convertible ("formerly-pink-now-painted-red-because-I'm-not-gay"). I got a little teary listening to "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "You're the Inspiration." We were not soulmates afterall, and it turns out we had a pretty messy breakup when it eventually happened seven years ago. We don't speak to this day, probably because I sued him for back rent.

And now, I am in the midst of the demise of yet another relationship - a marriage coming to an end. Finally. Thank God. The irony is overwhelming. The day the divorce papers came in the mail, the first song I heard in the car on the way to practice that night was "You're the Inspiration."