Here is where I was last week and here is where I'll be this week.
I've been asked if it is an interesting trial. A couple of interesting things have happened, but I'm not allowed to talk about them... yet. I've been asked what the jury talks about before final deliberations begin--since we can't talk about the testimony until all the evidence is presented.
I'm on a jury of 12 women and 3 men. (Three alternates.) Mostly, the discussion has been about shoes. Comparing what the plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses are wearing, where they bought them and if they are painful to wear, etc.
Most of the testimony is repetitive. Facts. Figures. Timeline photos. Interesting? Well, it's a little like watching grass grow during a drought. Next time I'm summoned I think I'll schedule an appendectomy or something...
Have you done your civic duty and served on a Jury? Was it an interesting trial? Did it last two weeks or longer? Were you sequestered?
What Should a Ninety-Year-Old Take to a Nursing Home?
A couple of years ago I was getting my hair cut when an elderly woman came into the salon with her caretaker. After a shampoo, the pensioner eased into the chair at the station next to mine with a loud sigh.
"Happy Birthday, Mrs. Jane Doe!" The young stylist chirped in her most fake-cheerful voice. "How does it feel to be treated to a day of pampering for your special day? Do you have any advice on life for us 20-somethings?"
The elderly woman clamped her lips in a tight line, narrowed her eyes, and glared in the large mirror at her stylist.
"Well, girly," she said, "let me tell you how it feels. It feels like hell! I have bladder problems, arthritis, a bad ticker, and--if you believe my good-for-nothing, money-grubbing relatives--dementia. My husband and close friends are dead. My house and everything in it, things I spent a lifetime collecting, have been sold. I'm living in a nursing home with a bunch of old people. How do you think I feel?"
The salon was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Her stylist was poised with a brush in one hand and a hair dryer in the other; speechless.
"Advice?" she said. "My advice to young whippersnappers like you is to forget about buying a bunch of stuff and filling your world with things. Instead, you should collect all the memories you can."
Mrs. Doe gave me a sidelong glance and winked as if we senior citizens had a secret that isn't revealed until after you reach a certain age.
"Memories," she repeated as she held my gaze. "Make a lot of them. No one can take those away from you."
I smiled at her and dipped my head in a brief nod of agreement. It's true, so many people don't realize what is most important as they travel life's road to old age. It's only after they arrive that it becomes so very clear.
If you were given $5,000 and told you couldn't keep the money, you had to spend it on something frivolous (not bills or appliances) within the year, what would you do with it? Would you buy something tangible or would you take a trip with someone you love and build some memories?
The Insecure Writers Support Group posts the first Wednesday of the month. It is a place where writers can write about their insecurities without feeling threatened. If you're reading this as a writer and have any insecurities about your writing, join us. Every month we have a new question to answer. This month's question is:
HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO WRITE IN YOUR BUSY DAY?
For as long as I can remember I have been in a race with time. Starting with high school activities, on to college and part-time work, and finally a full-time job and family. I used a pocket calendar to schedule my time until I discovered the helpful features of a Day-Timer. Later, I moved on to an electronic calendar. Those scheduling tools helped keep me on track through the busiest years of my life. When I left the workforce, I gave up keeping track of every minute of my day. I had plenty of extra time so why would I need a schedule? If I didn't get around to doing something I had planned to do, no problem. I'd just do it tomorrow. I blinked and suddenly another year had passed. For decades I had been too busy with life to write. I'd finally found the time and let the opportunity slip from my grasp. All those stories I had planned to write when I had the time were still unwritten. If I were allowed a do-over, I would write something every day. But all is not lost. What is it they say? The best time to plant an Oak tree was twenty years ago; the second best time is today. The past few months I've developed a routine. I get up, grab a cup of coffee and settle down to write for at least an hour every morning. Sometimes that hour turns into two or three. Occasionally I'll miss a day, but not very often. It takes most people about 21 days to form a new habit. Now that mine is established, my day doesn't feel right unless I write something. For me, the secret was not trying to find the time to write--it was taking or making the time to write. Even if it is only a paragraph; even if it is only a sentence; I am planting my "Oak trees" and sentence-by-sentence, day-by-day, I watch them grow.
Reposted from “My First Kiss” Blog Contest (Please forgive me for using a short story/blog I posted a couple of years ago. It's been a hectic week.)
MY FIRST KISS
By Valerie Capps
Time flies by in a blur of days, months, and years, but sometimes the world around me slows until time seems to stand still. Today it is the scent of burning leaves that bridges time and space to catapult me back to a long-ago October day.
I close my eyes and find myself in the small school cafeteria where I spent hundreds of hours choking down bland food and laughing with my friends. If I understood Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and could travel faster than the speed of light, I might have found Karl sitting there joking with his buddies and casting furtive glances at me across an invisible line that ran down the middle of the room. Instead, I visit the day in my memories and discover that, in some ways, it is more real to me now than the day it happened....
Teachers are posted at each end of the imaginary line used to separate the sexes. I am sitting with some of my friends at the “girl’s” table on the opposite side of the lunch room from the boys when my best girlfriend, Donna, nudges my ankle with her foot and whispers, “He’s looking at you again!”
I turn my head in his direction, and he smiles. My heart plummets to my stomach, and I choke on the dry hamburger that has attached itself to the roof of my mouth. I lower my gaze and swallow three times before the lump of meat finally scrapes down my throat. As I take a long drink of milk, Donna kicks me again. I lift my chin and send a shy smile across the invisible boundary line back to him.
A brisk autumn breeze laden with the pungent scent of burning leaves drifts through an open window, flips a wisp of his hair across his forehead and then floats across the room to me. As he brushes the hair from his eyes, sunlight bounces off the dark strands and they glint with a touch of cinnamon that reminds me of the unusual color I’ve seen reflected in his brown eyes. I continue to stare at him. His smile widens and he winks at me. I giggle and lower my gaze.
The bell rings and as we climb the stairs to our second-floor classroom a couple of Karl’s friends push ahead of the other boys and begin to roughhouse their way to the middle of the crowd of girls. The girls giggle and screech with a mixture of excitement and alarm as Karl nudges a path through them toward me. The lunchroom teachers are focused on breaking apart the rowdy boys, so Karl reaches out, grabs my hand, and runs up the steps tugging me along behind him.
He pulls me into the second-floor alcove outside the custodian’s closet then turns toward me, clasps both of my hands in his, and stares down at my mouth. His eyes sparkle and his lips curve into a mischievous smile. I hold my breath as he moves closer and when his lips touch mine, I think my rubbery knees will give out. All I can think is: We’re going to get caught! We’re going to be in so-o-o much trouble!
The kiss is wet and sloppy. Karl makes a loud smacking sound, similar to the noise my Grammy makes when she kisses me on the mouth, and then he backs away. He grins in triumph and lets go of my right hand but keeps a tight grip on my left hand as we turn and skip down the hall to our third-grade classroom.
Donna peeks under the bottom rail that surrounds the stairs to the lunchroom, covers her mouth, and giggles as we pass. We can hear the teachers in the stairwell below her, as they scolded Karl’s friends and threatened them with a trip to the principal’s office.
Our classmates slowly file into the classroom, but we barely notice. Karl and I are on a natural high. We fold our hands on our desks and stare at the blackboard as we struggle to conceal our excitement over the wicked thing we have done.