Living for the Citay: Jury Duty Baltimore Style

I performed my civic duty today. You get one guess? Yes, that’s right JURY DUTY! Don’t I sound excited? Well I’m not, but something in my spirit whispers to me to appreciate this process, after all, jury duty is an important part of what allows defendants to have a chance at a fair hearing. I should feel a sense of duty but I don’t. I should be excited to have a day off from work and a chance to have some kind of Law and Order fantasy where the judge turns to me and says ‘Madame forewoman, what say you?’ ,  calmly looking at the written verdict in my hand-although I already know the outcome- I proclaim ‘Guilty! Your Honor. Well that’s not how it goes down, jury duty is not an episode of Law and Order, it’s a day spent waiting. Since I had nothing else to do I people watched, read, caught snippets of movies and people watched some more.

For seven hours I sat in a dusty room, with filthy faded purple carpeting, outdated plastic chairs upholstered with faded rough brown material, backlit by the sun beaming through several large foggy windows on the back wall. The bland décor and dusty overlay numbed my senses, instantly making me feel tired.  So what did I do for 8 hours? I people watched, read Tithe by Holly Black, texted, and watched movies…not in that particular order. Here’s my timeline:

·         7:45am-8: Go through metal detector unscathed since I paid attention to directions and   cleared my backpack of non-essential items.  

·         8-9am: Began the process of checking in which included receiving $15 in cash for our services. After I checked in, I watched everyone else do the same, planting myself directly across from the information desk.  I noticed some Baltimore trends: most of the white dudes wore khaki pants and button downs, while the black dudes wore jeans and tennis shoes, younger women (twenties) of all races shapes and sizes rocked skinny jeans with knee high boots, older women across the board wore mostly black slacks. I wore an all black ensemble with my rain boots since I walked to the courthouse under a winter weather advisory that never came to fruition.

·         9-11:30: The Jury Commissioner introduced herself at 9am, admonishing us not to dare sneak out during lunch. We were threatened with fines of $1000 and/or up to 90 days in the clinker. The threats worked; I stayed put. After her little speech I read a little, sent two text messages, checked email and scrolled through Tumblr while occasionally glancing up at the first movie, It’s Complicated starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.

·         11:30-12:30: Right on the heels of the first movie, the next one, Maid in Manhattan (a J-Lo classic)began. Before the movie had a chance to get started, the first round of jurors was called up; I breathed a sigh of relief when I wasn’t one of them.

·         12:30-1:45: LUNCH TIME! I wandered outside happy to gulp some fresh air, move around and have some freedom.  I was so drunk off the fresh air and freedom that I began walking toward the Harbor but realized my food choices would be restaurants and McDonald’s, so I turned around and headed in the opposite direction. I eventually settled for a quiet Subway where I sat with my turkey sandwich and book.

·         1:45-3: Back from lunch, I decide to switch seats moving closer to the restrooms and a better television. Maid in Manhattan resumes and I have a brief moment of reflection for the loss of actress Natasha Richardson who was in this movie.  By this time I’ve stopped people watching and have slipped into counting down the time. Last time I had jury duty we were all released at 2:30 so I’m hopeful that I’ll have a repeat performance.

·         3-3:28pm: Next movie, Radio, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. begins. I’m starting to feel like I’m out of the danger zone when the movie is interrupted and more jurors are called. For a minute I was like, ‘Shit, now I could be here after 5pm!’ I was lucky though, my number wasn’t called so with great relief I settled in to watch the movie.

·         3:28-4pm: I actually pay attention to Radio since unlike the other two movies I’d never seen this one. One of the men behind me remarks that this should have been the first movie. I can’t help but understand how he feels since the other two movies were romcoms. Finally at 4pm we are released back from whence we came. I jump up; gather my coat and backpack and head for home, a 5 minute walk uphill from the courthouse.

I was lucky because I never got called to a court room mercifully avoiding having to be available for a trial. So did I get anything out of this situation? I suppose I did:  a day off work, $15, and a lengthy to-do list when I get to work tomorrow.  The upside is tomorrow’s Friday and this Sunday the Ravens face the Patriots for a shot at the Super Bowl!!!!

Check out these gorgeous twisted tangled Tim Burton-esque branches I saw while walking to the courthouse for jury duty this morning! The juxtaposition of the branches in the foreground and the barred window in the background attracted me as well. Doesn’t that window look like a prison cell?

Holiday Break = Fun Times or Does it?


Pic: Festive lights on my block; they make me happy!

I’ve been a grossly negligent blogger! I’ve been off ‘the scene’ since late November and totally preoccupied with my life. I spent the beginning of December wrapping up my first semester of my MFA program, which of course kept me busy. Then the holidays were upon us in a swirl of glittering lights, cold weather, and good cheer and then ‘life happened’ and shifted the family dynamic once again. I’m champing at the bit to ‘tell’ what changed, buuuut I’m in the outer orbit of this situation and would rather not speak on something that is not my specific story…

Lately I’ve been reveling in my time-off from school. I absolutely enjoyed my first semester and am even looking forward to my second semester but that does not dampen the appreciation I have for this month long break. I’ll be back in class the week after next so it’s imperative I get all my reading and incessant tv watching in now (can’t wait for Shameless). You see how I didn’t say ‘go dancing’ or ‘take a trip’…well that wasn’t an accident; my money is tied up in maintaining my ‘lifestyle’ plus I’m low-energy and can’t drink like I used to…

In my fantasies I’m charged up and ready to hit the streets. I step out in a wine-red jersey wrap dress with just the right touch of gold accented accessories. It’s cold, so of course I’m rocking my ever-present black tights with sexy (and comfortable) low-heeled black booties. I end up ensconced at a candle-lit lounge reminiscent of SUR (if you watch reality tv you know what I’m talking about), that feels like it’s in DC although it’s in Baltimore. Who wants to drive 45 minutes back to Baltimore on 295 after a raucous night of partying? Not this girl.

I imagine myself rosy, compliments of a cutting edge cocktail, or my new obsession, anything sparkling with the exception of that pink shit! The DJ would be someone imaginative, with an eclectic music collection. I love hip hop but I can rock it out to pop, alternative and dance music you’d expect to hear in a club scene in that sci-fi gem Misfits. I want a DJ whose music drags my ass to the dance floor by the nape of my neck and forces me to dance even when my feet hurt, not from uncomfortable shoes, but because of how long I’ve been on the dance floor.  Musically I’m ‘trapped in the nineties…’ like Nas says in “Loco-Motive”, a song on his Life is Good album, so a DJ with a developed nineties collection will always get my vote. The energy in the room would be electric, reminiscent of the scene in Biggie’s "Big Poppa"  video.





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…Here’s the reality of going out in Baltimore these days? The DJs tend to cling desperately to radio jams, with the exception of my current favorite DJ PHAZE. The crowds tend to be segregated into the following categories: preppy college, preppy adult, wino/dive, black professional and street life/hood. Venues are short-lived because classy spots end up being invaded by the street life so a fight or shooting inevitably happens and then the joint is shut down. If there’s not a fight going down, then its gorgeous bartenders (mercifully mixologist is not a word that has entered the Baltimore lexicon) with no skills whatsoever, forcing you to order a vodka cranberry, wine or beer when you’d rather have a Bellini. Shady owners lure you in, suggesting their venue is the stuff of fantasies and once they gotcha, begin  watering down drinks, eliminating amenities, and walking around the bar after you’ve been there for a couple of hours collecting a cover for an event scheduled later that evening (true story).

So what do I do? I stay home…a lot! I’m now at the stage that I’d rather be comfortable and have good conversation or cackle over some b.s. on the tube. I buy my prosecco or cava and post up on somebody’s couch. Occasionally I’ll break out my equipment and get together the ingredients to make a dirty martini, with big fat Spanish olives. If I go out, it’s to see a movie, attend a play, go to an art opening, but what’s a girl to do if she likes to dance? I crank up the music and dance while I clean my apartment…that is if my man’s not home…our space is too ‘cozy’ for me to go hard, kicking up my heels.

Ok, let me snap back to reality! Two weeks from now I’ll be back in class with barely any time to hang out. I see no nights like the aforementioned fantasy sequence in my near future, so I’ll opt for going to dinner and being sure to catch Django next weekend. Happy New Year!

Homemade fettuccine alfredo recipe courtesy of Elaine’s a legendary restaurant and former literary epicenter in NYC ran by Elaine Kaufman.This recipe was published in the March 28, 2004 edition of The New York Times Magazine. The alfredo is simple and delicious, although I use 3 more cloves of garlic. I just looked up the restaurant and discovered that Elaine passed in Dec 2010 and her restaurant closed the following spring 2011. Although I never became part of that special group of folks who darkened her doorstep, I’ve had the pleasure of using a recipe of her creation. This recipe has sated me for tonight. Wishing everyone a New Year filled with new opportunities!