Zetibites: Jury Duty and Judgment

courthouse frederickWelcome to October. Fittingly, like the nine of SCOTUS are this month, I’ve been called to mete out justice; jury duty. However, unlike the nine, I (thus far) have had to report to the courthouse only Monday – albeit it was not the first Monday in October, but rather, the last in September – and not only was I not robed, the only scheduled trial was pled out and we thirty in the pool were sent home.

Me, being me, I had arrived forty-five minutes early, having dressed and parked and carefully culled the contents of my bag as instructed, but not wanting to appear over-eager – and still suspicious that I really HAD NOT been called for jury duty, but that this was some trick to get me to the courthouse and throw me into prison for something (I don’t know what – I just don’t trust the man) – I planted myself in the coffee shop across the street. Frederick. Echoes. Everywhere I go.

fskThis coffee shop is on the street level of what was in my youth the storied Francis Scott Key Hotel. For many years it was the only real hotel in Frederick. Decades ago, still an expensive, chi-chi, what-passed-for-upper-echelon-society-destination, a relative from the social-climbing branch of the family had her wedding reception in its ballroom. It was my first ballroom (and her first marriage, turns out).  Since then, she’s divorced and the Francis Scott Key closed as a hotel, becoming a ridiculously expensive residential senior-living facility, in which declined a woman of whom I was quite fond who had lived near my family in Libertytown and was my first real life experience with that multiple-personality addiction model of a cross between the regal-bearing and reputation of Helen Hayes and the smuggled-snuck-bottle of booze, falling-down-lost-it-not-herself drunken-ness of Judy Garland: one never knew which one of her you would greet you. The senior living center relocated, and the building morphed into its current incarnation: a combination of pricey and limited-income apartments complex with businesses on the street level. I know – or knew – people who live there. One of them who I have known since her childhood, walked by the coffee-shop window Monday morning as I sipped my coffee and ate my yogurt, and I was struck again by how every step I take in this town is rife with echoes, or, maybe, landmines of the emotional, memory sort.

The history – my history – with many of these people, places, too personal about which to blog. Not that I care. I don’t. I would tell any of my stories. But I cannot tell – in good conscience – those stories requiring revelations of personal details about the other participants. So, leave it at, she walked by the window and I cried.

I waited until she was long gone and made my way to the courthouse. Took off my belt, made it through security without buzzing (or being thrown into a cell) and went to the jury holding room. No one held me. Alas. I was – again, as so often is the case in my life – shocked by the casual way in which people flaunted authority. So many people wore t-shirts. The instructions specifically said not to. So many people were late, wandering in between five and thirty-five minutes after the assigned time. So many people had parked in the wrong deck and so could not be validated and were testy about it; the instructions were perfectly clear both in writing and in the phone message one had to call. So many people had NOT filled out the juror questionnaire, despite the warnings on it about the dire consequences of NOT doing so. No consequences – dire, or otherwise. The clerk just asked them to fill one out then. So many people APPARENTLY do not go through their entire lives terrified they are breaking a rule and going to be punished for it.

Like I do.

A friend, listening to this surprise and shock of mine, explained to me (explained again she would say) that my foundational fear and disbelief in my own worth is the result of long years of many kinds of abuse, what she calls my “hostage-mind” – I don’t know. I just know I am always and have always been afraid that someone is going to realize I don’t deserve – to be there, to be loved, to be alive, to be liked, to be – whatever. And you know what, I’m usually right. So . . .

I didn’t mean to blog today. I’m busy editing Libertytown, and finishing a book review, and working on a short story for submission. So, I meant only to quickly share this song . . . Lady Gaga singing BangBang. I adore Cher and when I saw her in concert I cared only that she sing BangBang. Now, wow, this is definitely my favorite version EVER. The way Lady Gaga presents this as an old-school ballad is nothing short of genius, and her voice, glorious. Love it. Enjoy.

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