Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Another late good evening from New York.

Jury duty has now been completed, and I am assured that I will not be called to the courthouse again for six years. When I consider how much older I will be, by adding 6 to my current age, this is an alarming notion. I will be way past the outskirts of middle age by then. May no longer be in New York for that matter.

Do I feel nostalgia for this possible valedictory visit to the criminal court house. Possibly. As I sat during the many hours of waiting for a name, my name, to be called as a potential juror required to report to a designated courtroom, I was able to read the entire "Diary of an Ordinary Woman," by Margaret Forster. Reading that book, quickly, in such circumstances, had a profound effect on me.

Ms. Forster's ordinary woman is like me, never married, and like me, the possessor of more dramatic history that would appear from her surface. Like me, she wonders as the years of her diary writing go on, about life, purpose, beliefs, faith, family, truth, fate and so much more.

As regular readers of my blog know, I work very hard nowadays, and wish that I did not, but right now do now quite know how to change the channel, so to speak. I have had the luxury of almost two days at the courthouse to be quiet and to think.

Also while at the courthouse, my name was called, and I was called to a courtroom to hear a judge (female, possibly my contemporary) and a prosecutor, who resembled Mr. Bean, and defense attorney who had another attorney on his team who looked like the famous photo of O. Wilde, attempt to assemble an impartial jury to serve on a murder trial.


Well, possibly in self defense, so reduced to manslaughter. Victim, a priest. Knifed to death. Defendant claiming that he was sexually attacked. What amazed even me during the voir dire process of jury selection was the matter of fact way in which these facts were presented. Also, the matter of fact way in which various potential jurors answered the questions posed to them by the judge, and two attorneys. Laid many extremely personal facts before everyone in the courtroom.

This aspect of contemporary life disturbs me. A young man in a neat shirt and tie sat at the defense table. He may have killed someone. Around him circled words, technique, and some sort of anesthesia that may come from television and other modern improvements. A potential juror actually was an actress who has played various bit parts on the "Law and Order" show. She was worried that her emotions would get in the way of her evaluating the evidence, saying it is different when she reads from a script. Indeed.

I am thankful that fate did not require that I be one of those required to answer the various questions. I got a reprieve. I got to leave the courthouse today at 1 p.m.

I treated myself to another lunch in a favorite restaurant and returned uptown. I returned the now fully read "Diary" to my library, went grocery shopping, came home, dusted and vacuumed my dusty apartment. Briefly considered e-mails regarding the shop. Fearing lots of potential difficulties. Ignored them until tomorrow. Wrote up, on the computer, my notes from the five staff reviews that I have so far completed. This took two hours. Three more reviews to schedule, including that of the staff member who is on leave due to domestic abuse. (Her boyfriend could one day be a defendant, but I do hope that all stops before that point.) Called my brother and left him a happy birthday message. Called my assistant manager, the new mom, and spoke to her husband and learned that the baby is fine, and that my colleague's health is improving gradually ... she can now take clear liquids.

You can see that I am in what Jane ex might call a pensive mood. What is the meaning of all of this? For now I can see the importance of doing good, not harm, and the wisdom of chosing happiness.

Last night, after jury duty, I did return to the shop to be a responsible manager, and to catch up on the day's events. All was not well. More complications had arisen during the day, some involving additional staff health (broken tooth, nail in foot.) One cannot make this up.

Today, I refrained from checking in. I just know that tomorrow I will find all sorts of tangles, but have given myself the afternoon and night off.

Just to lighten this a bit, I do have to report that I detected not a single Prince Charming amongst anyone that I encountered at the court house. My hopes live on. Fashion note, far too many women wearing camisoles and shorts, men wearing tee shirts and shorts. Lots of people brought their laptops with them. There was a brief electrical power failure this morning that plunged part of the building into warming temperature and a dimness lit only by windows. In this city, that sort of thing can still trigger alarm. But the lights and air conditioning were restored within a half hour.

Pleasant dreams to all as we prepare for mid-summer nights.


  1. Oh Frances - I had high hopes for you in the man department - perhaps a nice Judge/QC type - loads of money, comfortable life - you would know where he was in the daytime. No worries about affording an apartment - Super blog.
    Same here with people so casual these days. I dont do casual very well and dress up even to go shopping. Just how we were brought up - not an age thing as always been like this. Hate being scruffy, just only in the garden.

  2. Jury service always sounds very exciting. I don't think I'd be called though as I used to work in the Crown Courts. Many many moons ago! So perhaps I might be called at some stage.
    Hope not though, I'd miss out reading all these blogs!

  3. I'm glad you've had some quiet time (of sorts!) and space to think. I hope there are not too many tangles for you tomorrow.

  4. I'm so glad you managed to get some time for you and a nice lunch.....xx shorts in court the mind boggles.

  5. Lots of time to think, no wonder you're pensive. i loved that book too. You described the courthouse scene well - I'm obviously old enough to be shocked that people were dressed so casually. I loved what you said about choosing happiness, choosing to do good. Happy Midsummer's Eve.

  6. What an interesting blog Frances.
    Thank you for sharing it with us. I can imagine it must have been very 'draining'.

    warm wishes

  7. I did Jury Service many years ago. It was an assault charge. I found it quite interesting. Can't remember the verdict now.
    Don't work too hard.

  8. It amazes me every day at my work in the Courts to see just how casual people will be! Bare midriffs, shorts, more cleavage than Page 3. Our Ushers have instructions and offer cardigans because HHJ does tend to 'go off on one' at bare flesh in Court

  9. Hallo Frances, I never understand why it is that people in New York can do twice as much in a day as people here. Maybe that's why they seem always to be rushing. When I was there (on holiday)I managed to write a whole film synopsis in a week (but as it never saw the light of day I suppose that's not saying much) But you seem wonderfully relaxed and that was a really interesting blog, though it seems to confirm the increasing gulf between Europe and the States. Two countries divided by a common language.

  10. Wonderfully interesting blog Dear Frances. Have you ever thought about writing a book, and have your paintings accompanied with it, you have a terrific sense of prose. I think I can identify how you must be feeling, I have spent many years nursing, after I had been mainly in the fashion world, two very different careers I know, but as I have got older I have had regrets that I did not pursue journalism, or the media. When do you have your summer vacation from the shop Frances, perhaps this will enable you to have some more quality time for yourself. Constant rain here at the moment, how is the weather in New York? Thank you for comments and your concern Frances.

  11. Good evening Frances. I've just had a chance to do some reading and have caught up on your blog posting. You do sound very tired, so I hope there will be some time off for you very soon. I hear the fatigue when you describe how very hard you work - I don't hear complaining, just that I'm-near-the-end-of-my-rope bone weariness. I am sure things are even more difficult because of your deep sense of responsibility for your staff and the store.
    Will you take some time and leave the city for a break? I've just read that over 75% of managers polled admitted to making themselves availabe to staff while away on holidays. I hope don't do that!
    You asked me to remind you to write about your brother who lived in here's the reminder!
    Love and hopes for a restful night.