Monday, September 28, 2009

Living Strong

Thanks for all the comments on the last blog post (and a few emails too). Seems I'm among the last to learn this whole "balance" thing. I have however started consciously working on it. Not too bad so far.

This was a a busy week at work and I've been on a bit of a writing roll--the whole memoir thing as taken on a life of it's own (up to 60 pages of that really crappy first draft so far!). But those are both good things. It feels great to be writing. Chris and I also had some enjoyable time with friends  (and their dogs) when we "had" to sample some wines for Forgotten Grapes.

So that's photo number 1 --Seamus and co-horts Harold and Bobby--in our kitchen begging for some of Chef Brein's food while their humans engaged in a little wine tasting on the patio. And yes, we know it sounds like our dogs are from some private school. And Seamus is the foreign exchange student.

I did also attend a couple of fundraisers this weekend (old habits die hard; and the tickets were already purchased). Friday night was the Riverside Humane Society's Comedy Night. Chris was my co-M.C. and he did great!! (I might be biased, but it's true anyway.) And the Riverside Fine Dining Group's Gala event kick-off for restaurant week was Sunday night. Here's the best picture I have from that event (Becky Whatley and Scott Petersen at the Omakase serving table; and how awesome is that moon??):

And then here's, sweaty, but having fun. And can you note the important thing in this photo?

Right! It's my yellow LiveStrong bracelet! That's the one that my new friend and fellow Cancer Conqueror Stephanie, she of the Bah! to Cancer blog, got for me in Dublin at the Lance Armstrong Global Cancer Summit. It traveled from Dublin to England (where Stephanie lives) all the way to California. I sent her a Survivor shirt in exchange and if you click here (on this! right here!!) you can see her blog where she's posted a pic of her in the Survivor t-shirt. Which I just find really cool. One of the  silver linings to the breast cancer odyssey is definitely the people you meet (even online in this case). Odd, but true.

Oh, okay, so in the photo you might also notice cleavage. My plan was to distract people from my ridiculously short hair.  Not bad for a breast cancer chick though, huh?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

I've been away from the blog for a little bit. Did you notice? Eight days with no blogging. There's a good reason for that. I think my late-blooming epiphany hit. And it hit kinda hard. But being thick-headed as I am, I suppose it had to hit me hard or I may not have noticed. So I've spent this last week on a sort of auto-pilot but also with spikes of what can only be described as rage. My apologies to anyone who may have gotten in the way of one of them (I don't mean Chris although that is him in the photo, exhausted on our friends boat during a writers group meeting. He's one of the only people on the planet who rarely annoys me and and even more rarely pisses me off. So I haven't been raging at him directly-- he has however had to listen to my raging about other people, things and abstractions. Thank god he has a fantastic sense of humor. And is also brave. Very, very brave. As in 'he's still coming home every night' brave.)

Basically, I have exhausted myself. And a tired, burned-out Teresa is a wicked, impatient, intolerant Teresa (oh my god I hate stupid people. No, really. Wait, I hate arrogance more. No, stupidity. No, it's definitely arrogant stupid people...that's the worst.). After launching into back to back tirades over certain aspects in my "volunteer" life, I realized that I was indeed burned out, exhausted and, um...not happy. And here was the kicker--I missed being in chemo!!! Okay, not the chemo itself, but the way I was able to run my life then. I, for once, gave myself permission to say "NO." "No, I can't do that right now--I have cancer!" and "NO, I will not be attending that event. I have cancer!" and "No, I can't solve that problem for you right now, I have cancer!" Oh, and just "NO. I have cancer." It's the perfect excuse. Nobody says, "Right, I know. You have cancer but I still need you to give me advice on x, solve y, and attend z for me." Nobody does that. So it was a huge relief. I decided right after I was diagnosed that I would have to just reduce my life down to "Fighting cancer and keeping my law practice going." This seemed like it would keep me busy enough. And everyone understood when I took a leave of absence from the 3 non-profit boards I serve on and the one civic organization, no one expected me to attend fundraisers; I didn't have a single "obligatory" event (family or otherwise), and basically, I had peace and quiet. Me, Chris, Seamus and, well, cancer. And I didn't feel guilty about it in the least. Please, it's cancer! I think when I say "it wasn't as bad as you would think" when I talk about the cancer experience--that's in part what I mean. My life was simplified and uncomplicated. Work. Heal. Repeat.

My first clue to my eventual epiphany should have been when I was looking forward to the chemo weekends. Again, not the chemo itself, but I can distinctly recall  thinking on the Wednesday before chemo would start, "Fantastic! 4 days off where I can just stay in bed if I want to." Now, it never worked out that way--Thursday chemo days took all day and on 3 out of 4 rounds I actually went into work on Sunday, but I did like the idea of it. My second clue should have been when I was at my therapy appointment and said "Luckily, cancer is a great excuse so I'm not going" when I was only just starting to feel tinges of guilt for not doing something I probably may have possibly had the energy for but didn't want to do. My therapist (yes, of course I have a therapist...have you not been reading carefully??) said "Why do you need an excuse?" I believe I ran screaming from the room at this point (note to self: make another appointment).

So this week I looked at what I'd done to myself. I finished cancer treatment (okay, so let's be clear, I no longer have cancer) on July 14th. A little more than two months ago. And then I promptly, immediately, swiftly and with no questions asked, resumed my life. Full speed ahead. Cancer's not getting me down, no sirree. I even stopped wearing wigs, hats, scarves, etc. on July 19th. And between then and now here's what my schedule has included:

4 Non-profit board meetings
1 all day strategic planning retreat
4 doctors appointments
1 veterinarian oncology appointment (which takes a 1/2 day because of where the specialist's office is)
6 fundraisers attended
7 non-profit committee meetings
3 wine tasting events (for Chris's growing biz)
1 wedding
4 parties
1 giant Survivor party
4 Writer's group meetings
2 days of jury duty
1 family visit to Missouri
1 trip to Chicago for a 3 day conference
4 speaking engagements/ seminars
1 new associate hired and training commenced
2 books read
30 blog posts (counting this one)
39 pages of a really shitty first draft memoir written
1 Breast Cancer Resource center advisory committee started and many events planned.
60+ days of practicing law full time.

And that was in the summer. You know, the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? Right. Yeah. I'm a moron. And the thing is, I'm pretty sure I didn't do any of those things well.

When I throttled back  my life to "fighting cancer and continuing my law practice" I managed to read 12 books, write 150 blog posts, still visit with friends, spend lots of time with Chris, and actually sleep. Oh, and I was never in a rage at being pulled in too many directions at once (okay, sure, there was the rage over the whole chemo-stein thing, but that passed...eventually).

So my epiphany? It's a kind of simple, stupid one...I really need to prioritize my life better. Just because I can solve a problem, doesn't mean it's mine to solve. Just because I have a blank spot on my calendar when someone asks me to do something doesn't mean I have to say yes. Just because I once upon a time said yes I'd do something doesn't mean I have to do it for the rest of my life. Just because life has been unfair to someone doesn't mean I have to step in and try to make it more fair (um, hello?).  I'm allowed time for me and hey, I might actually like that! I could read more! I could write more! I could sleep more! I could spend more time with Chris (doing all of the aforementioned)! And guess what? The world will continue to go on! Just like it did when I had cancer (and hey, that kind of hurt my feelings at first but, now I actually know  the world--and the non-profits--will continue on just fine without me! This is awesome. Thanks world, for letting me know that! How very stupid of me to think otherwise. Stupid and arrogant. And we all know how I feel about that!).

That's my epiphany. It's not the greatest one, but it's all mine. It still remains to be seen what I'll do with it. Just right after I stop thinking "hey, my epiphany is going to turn me into a quitter." 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

25,000 Clicks and 2 hands

I see by my counter on the blog that I am just about to reach 25,000 hits to this blog. That probably means a whole lot of nothing, but that just makes me giggle anyway.

In other fun news, last night Chris and I went to Massage Envy to participate in "Massage for a Cure." $35 for a one-hour massage with a part of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (nationwide Massage for a Cure raised over $35,000 yesterday!). We're such givers, we were willing to be massaged for a cure. I wore my Survivor t-shirt and commenced to fill out all the paperwork. They customize the massage so they have you list things like "Illnesses, surgeries, health concerns"--yeah, umm....I'm gonna be here awhile. Then there's the boxes you check for particular health issues or concerns. Chris leaned over to make sure I checked the box for "insomnia"--these days I'm more likely to forget to check the box for "cancer". And yes, there was such a box and that was the first time I've had to check that. Reminded me of the first time I had to check the "divorced" box...really? Me? Huh. (I'm just going to start looking for the "loser" box!!).

The massage was wonderful, and I think it even helped my foot problem (no hair massage, so I'm still on my own for that). Then post-massage they go over the membership "opportunities." Works like a health club--monthly fee charged to your card and with that you get a one hour massage each month; if you want another massage it's $39. Which is a pretty good price. So you know I signed up. Hey, I need to pay attention to my health right? Call it an epiphany! ;-) At any rate, because I was a "Survivor" and apparently the only breast cancer survivor who showed up at this particular location, the manager threw in one free massage for me! The cancer card keeps on paying!!  I'm feeling better already.

(photo is from Massage Envy website...Google is reminding me to comply with copyright laws. On the other hand, I'm sure Massage Envy doesn't mind my free advertising for them.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I meant 2 1/4 issues

While I was complaining yesterday I forgot one thing. (Don't you hate it when you forget to complain??) It's related to the hair thing, so maybe it's only 1/4 of another issue that's bugging me. My eyelashes. They grew back in but they are as wimpy as eyelashes can be while still being called eyelashes. They seemed to be doing okay, but then most of them stopped growing. 3 or 4 little super hairs on each lid kept growing. So now, with a little mascara, I have little hair horns sticking out from each eye and that's it. The other lashes as so short it's hard to catch them with the mascara wand. What's up with that?

I'm considering that Lashtese product that Brooke Shields hawks on television where she pretends to be at a birthday party with women she clearly doesn't know. But can I trust Brooke Shields? She's famous for her gigantic eyebrows so I'm thinking her lashes are also naturally pretty long. Plus, she once dated Michael Jackson. Then again, she did go to war with Tom Cruise (and won) so there's that. Mostly though, it's like $175 a tube and I hate the idea of anything in a prescription around my eyes.  I guess I'll be waiting this one out. With my toddler hair though, I'm just thinking I should have been granted those huge, long, sweeping eyelashes so many (boy) toddlers seem to have!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Still Waiting....

Two remaining issues. That's it. Pretty much. Sort of. There are two issues still lingering post BC treatment. And I don't mean to complain, because really, neither one is too bad, but I'd really rather get over them and move on. And yeah, both are side effects of chemo.

The first is, of course, my hair. As you can see in the photo, it's growing. It's dark and it's growing.  It's lightening up as I spend more time in the sun, but it's not really growing fast enough for me. I'd read that it grows about 1/2" a month. I don't think that's happening. And hey, did you know hair grows faster on the top than the sides and back? It's true. Makes perfect sense too, since the top has to catch up with the sides so we look somewhat normal. If you look at toddlers (not babies...toddlers--when their hair really starts growing) you will see it's true too. They tend to get a thatch up on top and then eventually the sides kick in. If you think about it, the other way around (or even equal growth all around) would look darn funny. So okay, the top of my head has maybe an inch of hair. There's maybe 3/4" on the sides and 1/2" in the back just at the neck. That doesn't seem like a lot of productivity when one considers that I had my last chemo 4 1/2 months ago. I haven't used a blow dryer, a brush or even a comb since March 13, 2009. That's 6 months tomorrow. Not that I miss all that time dealing with hair in the morning (I've put that time to excellent use on Facebook over another morning cup of coffee; brilliantly productive. It could have been yoga, or walking the dog, writing, or hey, getting into the office earlier, but no. I'm not that kind of gal.) So I don't miss dealing with the hair, but I'd still like to return to "me." Folks keep asking me if I'm going to keep my hair short. I guess that's nice--they must think it looks good enough that the answer could possibly be yes. (That or they are asking in the same way one spouse asks another  "is that what you're wearing?" right as the two of you are leaving for a party. Not that that has ever happened to me.) Let me just say, "No. This is not what I'm wearing to the party of life. I'm going to change just as soon as I can."

And the other issue is my feet. There has been some progress. I can now see veins on the top of my feet. They are no longer just inflated sausages with toes; my feet somewhat resemble human feet. I put my tennis shoes on the other day to walk Seamus and my feet just went right into the shoes! A miracle. Previously I was loosening the laces so much that there was hardly enough lace left to tie in a bow (let alone a double knot so the boys don't untie them when I'm playing on the monkey bars...wait, sorry, flashback there....). But they're still fairly numb in the morning (which makes getting out of bed a thrill a minute) and pretty much anytime I sit for awhile. And the ankles are sore enough to make stairs difficult. Weird. But temporary. Like the hair thing, I just have to wait it out.

In the meantime I'm hobbling around with toddler hair.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chase Away K9 Cancer

Today was Seamus's check-up day. He's now a 3 year survivor of canine cancer (mast cell tumor on his tushy--that's medical speak). Chris and I both took Seamus into Tustin to visit the fine folks at the Veterinary Cancer Group, and most particularly his wonderful oncologist Dr. Dutelle. To Seamus this is the "place with the dog cookies" because every desk, exam room, waiting area and level surface has a jar of dog treats, and not a single person is able to resist Seamus's most diabolically cute demands for said cookies. After all Seamus went through in this place (surgery, months of chemo, a weekend in doggie ICU, and many, many, many follow up check-ups that always involve poking him where he sits--and generally he tries to sit to avoid the poke), it's a tribute to the staff that he still loves going there. He will happily charge into the facility without pause. No paws planted, joints locking screeching halt when he realizes where we are. That makes things a lot easier for us as well. So that's Chris of course (doesn't his hair look great?) holding Seamus. Seamus is studying the new artwork in the facility--it's a print by Stephen Huenck (love his stuff!) that says "Chase Away K9 Cancer." Yeah, we did that.

Seamus is doing great. No signs of cancer or anything else for that matter. So we all Huntington's Dog beach. Let's call this next photo "Two Survivors" and then of course, there's the guy who Chased Cancer Away for Seamus and me both (and Stephanie, here's my blue sky to match yours) :
You gotta love a day like this.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Pink Ribbon Place

I swear, this time the post will be about the Breast Cancer Resource Center. But I'm sure you want to know what happened with my jury duty first, right?

I had to go back for a second day (hey, there's $15 I didn't have just deduct my $12 in parking fees and what do you know, I earned $3 in only about 9 hours!). The second day went much like the first minus the ignorant, selfish cops' wives. Eventually they had their panel of 12 jurors (I was not one of them) and it was 10 minutes to noon. But wait, there were no alternates left. So the judge told all 30 of us still remaining that we'd have to come back after lunch so they could pick 2 of us as alternates. Not even real jurors! Really your honor? All 30 of us? As my luck would have it I was the 3rd potential alternate called up and the first two were dismissed (one by defense counsel and one by the DA). I answered the 5 questions on the card we were all handed and with only one follow-up question from the judge (which I answered quite honestly), he smiled and said, "Thank you, and goodbye." The attorneys didn't even get to question me. I returned to my office at about 2:30 and worked until 8:30 in an effort to at least have Friday off. Sort of. I worked from home in the morning and then went in to the office from 1 to 3:30. Ah, well. Three and 1/2 days off will have to do.

Okay, okay--the Breast Cancer Resource Center! So, I volunteered to put together an Advisory Committee to help get a resource center going in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Basically, this will be a place where folks (men and women) can go when they've been diagnosed with breast cancer to get whatever non-medical help they need. And believe me, that's a lot--books, contacts, support groups, wigs, scarves, meditation sessions, a connection with someone who's been there/ done that (I'm thinking those are "Breast Friends" or maybe "Bosom Buddies"), a chance to hear from and ask questions of the professionals who treat this disease (yep, that's the doctors and nurses), you know, a Resource Center! (The Inland Agency does do screenings and raises money for mammograms as well; the resource center will supplement that work). I'm pleased to say I found many people willing and able to help, and then they found even more, and we have a committee of at least 15 people.

At our first meeting we sketched out the things we'd like to see happen at the resource center and ideas for making it happen. I love a committee that adds the practical "who and how" part to the "Ooh, we should do x and y." Our next meeting is September 11th at 4pm at the office location where the center will be located (and wine will be served; I just love this committee!) and we'll be getting a calendar of goals together so we can start organizing events, volunteers and fundraisers. I will continue to post details here and ask for help (not just donations--ideas!).

To start with, we need to come up with a name for the center. It's a program of the Inland Agency (a name which says zippo about what they do, so click on the link to find out more), not a stand alone agency, so we can be a little flexible about the name. I'm liking "The Pink Ribbon Place" because everyone knows what the pink ribbon means and it keeps it informal and welcoming. Plus, the only resource center currently in either county is called "Michelle's Place" so it's a bit of a tip of the hat to them (they're helping us set this up and before our first meeting many of us toured their really outstanding center and we're inspired greatly by their executive director). Other name suggestions were "Breast Resource Alliance" or Advocates (either of which gives us the BRA acronym). We'll finalize this on the 11th.

We already have a fundraiser scheduled as well. On October 11th Restaurant Omakase will be doing a "Brunch for Breasts"!! They only do brunches for special occasions so this will really be...well, special. Half of the proceeds will go to the resource center. And, they'll be serving pink "Cure Royales" (get it?? not a Kir Royale but a Cure Royale!! Guess who came up with that? No, really...guess!!).

And we are already beginning to collect items for the Shop to Stop Breast Cancer. More details are available through that link, but in essence all during the year we collect new items (the specialty appears to be "re-gifting"--way to make that socially acceptable!) and then folks buy "Agency Bucks" (and really, why aren't these Bosom Bucks??) at discounted rates (e.g. $100 real money gets you $125 Agency bucks). Then at the March event, the shopping begins! The items (and there's a lot!) are displayed beautifully and priced at bargains. Plus, there's wine and hors d'ouevres! All proceeds benefit the Inland Agency and The Resource Center. Did I mention I'm the honorary chair? I know, I, breast cancer, me...who would've guessed?

See that quilt up in the photo (that's program director Rosa Olaiz and Exec Director Becky Foreman holding it)? My mother made that and she's named it "Teresa's Garden." She donated it to the Shop to Stop Breast Cancer event! So that will be one of the many beautiful items for sale. See, I told you she was a talented quilter in her own right (and if you don't believe me, or even if you do, check out her blog with more of her works: Vivian Terbeek).

We're also putting together a library of books of interest to breast cancer patients. I have quite a collection myself and I'll be donating those (because I don't plan on ever being a patient again). Although, I can't part with my Cancer Vixen book! If anyone reading this has books they'd like to donate, please let me know.

Expect continuing updates over the next several months.

In other news...we're having dinner with the good and great Dr. Karam this evening (at a restaurant called Palate that I'm really looking forward to trying). Guess who'll be helping us with the resource center?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Should Have Lied

[Disclaimer: this will likely be an uncontrollable rant only tangentially related to breast cancer. I'm still angry as I type. Oh, and I might be feeling sorry for myself. Be warned.]

I believe I said my next post would be about the exciting new Breast Cancer Resource Center that is being developed and started up right now in Riverside County. And that's still true. The next post will be about that! It's just that it's an exciting thing and I'm really happy about it and therefore, given my present mood, could never do it justice. Oh, and speaking of justice....

I had jury duty today. Well, really this week. In the county I live in we have this (not so) fabulous system that could (and generally does) result in ruining your entire week because you are in essence "on call" for the whole week. You never know whether you're going in to court the next day or not until 5:30 on the prior evening. Tough when one is a sole practitioner lawyer whose clients might actually need appointments. Today was my lucky day. I had to be in the jury room at 8a.m.

A little background. Three important facts:

1) 2 years ago when I was called I sat for 3 entire days in a courtroom while hundreds of potential jurors were voir dire-d (interviewed in plain speak) by counsel to see if they were fit to serve for 3 to 4 MONTHS (yes, MONTHS) on a triple murder case. In the first day when the judge excuses folks for "hardship" reasons I was resoundingly rebuked for even daring to try being dismissed (I was in a firm of 4 partners at the time...and we had what is known as an "eat what you kill system"--in plainspeak, if I'm not working, I'm not earning. And, um, I have a mortgage too. I was near tears at the thought that I'd be unable to earn a living for 3 or 4 months.) The judge said, "I'd be run out of town on a rail if I let a lawyer off jury duty. You can work evenings and Fridays if need be. Besides, you know as well as I do they aren't likely to keep you on the jury." The end. Meaning, even though everyone in the courtroom knew I was not going to be on the jury, I had to sit there for 3 days until another 12 people were selected. A complete waste of time.

2). This year I was called for jury duty right about in the middle of my chemotherapy sessions. This time the judge deferred my jury service until a whopping 6 weeks after I was done with all cancer treatments. Cancer!!! And the deferral request was made by a friend and criminal defense attorney!!! (Thanks, Tera!). If I needed a deferral past August 31st, I'd need a doctors note. I opted not to do that for 2 reasons. 1) I have terrible, terrible luck (hold that thought), and I figured if I deferred it again it would pop up right when Chris and I were supposed to leave for Maui and they wouldn't let me out of jury service a 3rd time. Plus, the last quarter of the year is my busiest time at work, so I figured I'd better get it over with sooner rather than later; and reason #2) I'm not sick. So a doctor's note that says I'm sick and can't do jury duty would be a lie. I'm not comfortable with lying. Especially to a court. (Hold that thought.)

3) Every few years I try to take a few days off work to just be home--relaxing, catching up on projects, reading, returning to a more human status. I haven't been able to do this in about 4, maybe 5 years for a variety of reasons. I scheduled the first week of the year off for just this reason this year and, ooops, breast cancer. No relaxing days off--those days off would need to be used for surgery, chemo, white blood cell drops and spiked fevers. So (stupidly) now that that's all over, I thought I'd try again. I was going to take September 3rd and 4th off, right before the Labor Day weekend, and thus have a 5 day weekend. Hah!! Hah! OMG, HAH!!!

Off I march to jury duty today. I arrive at 8, whereupon they waste an hour or so of time having us watch videos that would bore most fifth graders to tears (and I don't care how many flags you wave, we ain't buying that you have one moment of respect for us as we pay our own parking fees, huddle like cattle, and are left in standing room only hallway on a hard floor outside a courtroom for a half hour with not so much as a peep as to why). Then at 10:30 they announce that my group isn't needed back until 1:30. I'm sure that was really convenient for the people who drove an hour to be there. I at least got to go into my office for a bit.

Back at 1:30 and oops, the clerk meant 2:30 but we may as well stay put now. At 2:30 she sends us up to the courtroom--to stand in the hallway on the hard marble like floor (there are two benches that seat, oh, call it 10 people. 10 really skinny people. None of whom live in Riverside or were called to jury duty that day). There were 70 of us. Finally at about 3;10 they herd us into the courtroom. The courtroom that seats 55. To make this less long (is that possible?) suffice it to say the judge thought he was a comedian and that somehow we'd be more interested in his routine than in, say, actually getting on with the business at hand in the hopes that the jury would be selected and the rest of us could have our lives back. Apparently he was completely unaware that a hostile crowd of 70 who had been held hostage most of the day, and had spent the last 45 minutes standing like cattle outside his door, was not likely to find him even remotely amusing.

The judge did the usual "hardship" screening. Basically, if you would suffer a financial hardship by serving on this jury (for a trial that might last 2 days), or had a vacation scheduled that was non-refundable (by which he means show him your airline ticket), or have to be in school, or have a medical reason you can't serve, this was your moment to speak. This was the moment I was shot down in flames 2 years ago. I was nonetheless all set with "I'm self-employed as a lawyer and while normally 2 days would not create a financial hardship, I've been in treatment for breast cancer all year [and probably, I would have pointed to my hairdo at this point for emphasis] and I've only just returned to practicing full time." But then, I listened to what people were saying. And there were indeed people near tears. People who only had part-time jobs on which they were feeding a family of 164 and don't get paid for jury duty; people who'd been unemployed for 6 months and had their first interview for a possible new job tomorrow; people who had 5 year-old triplets and no one else to care for them and couldn't afford day care; those sorts of stories. And they were telling the truth. It's obvious that it's just really bad out there. (And if you don't believe me, check out this article on Jury Duty. And thanks Sara in Vermont for the link!).

I thought, okay, that's hardship. He's not going to let me go. I will be suffering less than these people even if I end up serving for the next two days. Clearly, I'm never going to get time off to relax, but heck, these people are enduring tough times. And I sat there. I didn't beg to leave, I didn't lie, I didn't use the Cancer Card. And then....

And then this woman stands up and goes off about how her husband is a cop and therefore she thinks all cops are perfect and wonderful and as far as she's concerned if a cop arrested this guy, he's guilty, so she couldn't be fair. (Okay, where's the hardship here people??? Notice that "I'm a completely selfish, unreasonable bitch who thinks I"m entitled to special privileges and am willing to lie to get out of jury duty even if it means making completely ridiculous statements directly to a JUDGE in a PACKED courtroom" was not one of the hardships the judge asked to hear about? Did you notice that? Because she didn't.). The judge does a reasonable job of questioning her in a manner that makes it pretty clear that he's on to her and that, p.s., she's full of crap. But then a second woman stands up and does the same thing. Judge repeats his act, (although this woman is horrid enough to claim that she even thinks the LA Rampart cops--you know, the ones convicted of crimes--were perfect and wonderful.) The judge does not dismiss these two for hardship (duh).

Post-hardship dismissals there are probably 40 people left from the original 70--including the two lying whores and a woman whose English comprehension was so poor that there was no possible way for her to be a decent juror, bless her heart for wanting to try. 12 people are sent to the juror seats along with another 6 alternates (non-English speaking is in the jury box; two lying tramps are not). A series of questions ensue, during which we learn nothing interesting except one guy who answers whether he's married or not with "it depends on who you ask." (He's gay.) And one of the jurors has gotten about 4 tickets in the last year and thus doesn't trust cops as far as traffic violations go. The judge is still doing his routine and taking way, way more time than it should (I don't need the funny asides and neither does lady justice), and meanwhile I'm watching the clock and thinking "there goes my vacation. He won't get past these 18 and we'll alllllllllllllllllll have to be back here tomorrow."

Sure enough, they end the questioning of these 18 and it's obvious ticket-collecting guy is going home, and they may not want the not-quite-English-speaking lady. And I think, "Okay, but that still leaves 16 people; plenty for a jury for a trial that only lasts 2 days; we're good. There's hope." Judge huddles with the two lawyers (who together have a combined age of 32, I'm convinced. And that should tell you how (not) major of a case this was). After about 5 minutes of huddled whispers and at about 4:35, the judge announces that ticket-collector and....the two lying whores!!!! are excused and have completed their jury duty!! Let me be clear--the two lying whores were not in the jury box!! They hadn't even answered the voir dire questions. So basically, he rewarded them for standing up out of order, talking about things nobody asked about, lying through their teeth, not following procedures (again, what hardship????) and basically just being really bad human beings. The rest of us? All the rest of us have to report back at 9:15 tomorrow. And from what I can tell of this judge's style, I'll be lucky if I'm out of there by noon. More likely, I'll be on this jury.

And here's the thing--I realize we don't want people who are so willing to so blatantly lie serving on a jury. But we also don't (generally) want lawyers on a jury. So if I had to sit there for 3 days previously, and now a day and a half at least this time, when "we all know" I won't be selected either, then why oh why weren't these women made to sit there until they were called, questioned and excused in the ordinary fashion?? Why reward the ghastly behavior? All I can think is "I'm such an idiot for not lying!! I should have stood up and whipped out the cancer card!!"

Now I'm left wondering. It could be that the only people who actually serve jury duty are people who are too honest to lie their way out of it. Wouldn't that be nice? But this judge has now made me feel like the old adage is true. A jury is made up of 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty.