A Few Words About Thankfulness

Before we get too deep into December, I wanted to say a few words about November & thankfulness.

Unlike many of my Facebook friends and acquaintances, I did not spend the days of November enumerating the the blessings in my life or the things for which I am thankful. Of course I am thankful for my friends, my family (the one I was born into and the one I have dated into the last 3.5 years), the people I love, my health, my fur-babies, the fact that I am employed, etcetera. Why didn’t I spend the month of November sharing with the masses 30 things for which I am grateful? Because the masses don’t give a rat’s rear about my gratitude any more than I give one about theirs.

I’m sorry, was that harsh? Too bad.

I spend an inordinate amount of time rolling my eyes at posts on Facebook as it is. Some people apparently thrive on drama and attention-seeking behavior. Why do I read their chatter? Look, I have as hard a time looking away from a train wreck as the next person. On the other hand, I don’t care so much to have everyone I know up in every aspect of my life. November was a month that increased the eye-rolling exponentially. Seriously. It is a wonder I could even see where I was going for much of the month since my eyes spent so much more time rolled into the back of my head than looking forward.

I’m not saying don’t be thankful for the good things in your life, but seriously? When you are posting about absolutely ludicrous things — free powerball tickets? Online Black Friday shopping? Leftover Halloween Candy? Friday? That the season of cheesy Christmas sweaters has arrived??? — perhaps it’s time to stop posting. You, my friend, have effectively reached the bottom of the barrel. Please stop scraping.

I am not saying I don’t appreciate a cup of coffee from Starbucks, or that I don’t rejoice when the number on my scale decreases by a few pounds (or when the weight on the barbell I’m lifting increases by a few pounds), or that I am not happy as a little dead pig lying in the sunshine when I liberate my feet from a pair of particularly uncomfortable shoes at the end of a long day in court. And honestly, I am not saying I am not somewhat self-centered, shallow and superficial. But there is enough going on below the surface that I don’t think those are the sorts if things the pilgrims sat around expressing gratitude for, nor do I think those are the “blessings” Thanksgiving is supposed to be about.

That’s just my opinion. (And I am “thankful” that I have both a platform & the ability to share it.)

With that said, I am extra thankful that November is over and I don’t have to read “Thirty Days of Gratitude” posts again for another year.

My Black Friday Shopping Ban

Everywhere I’ve gone this weekend, people have asked if I went shopping on Black Friday.  My response this weekend is the same as it has been in years past: There is nothing I need or want badly enough to go shopping on Black Friday. 

Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you.  After all, there all those “bargains” in the ads in Thursday’s paper, right?  Yeah, whatever.  You’ve heard the phrase, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”, right?  What about this one: “You get what you pay for.”  Having worked in retail during college, I believe both of these phrases.  I also believe having worked in the jewelry department of a now-defunct catalog showroom scarred me for life when it comes to Black Friday.

See, here’s the thing: my college years were during the height of the “pink ice” phenomenon.  I will never forget standing in the middle of the jewelry department when the store manager opened the doors at 6:00 a.m.  (Clearly I am dating myself; everyone knows that midnight is the new 6:00 a.m.)  We went from having no one around the counter, to having people lined up 10-deep around the counter in less than sixty seconds, and it seemed as if every. single. one. of them was shouting out something about pink ice.  The ones who weren’t were hot to trot over the gold herringbone necklace we had on sale for $20.  Let me just tell you, twenty dollars does not get you a whole lot of gold necklace.  Rap star thick it was not.  But you’d be surprised at the number of people who apparently anticipated it would be identical to their favorite rap mogul’s chain, and who got cranky when they realized that something more in line with their way of thinking was priced significantly higher than twenty bucks.   

But back to the pink ice.  Do you know how many times I heard the question, “Do y’all got any more of them little ol’ pank ice rings?”  Yes, I typed “pank”, and I typed “pank” on purpose.  Just as I typed that grammatically horrifying sentence on purpose.  We oftentimes were not dealing with the best or the brightest.  I still hear that question in the back of my mind.  I think the second most popular question about the dreadful little pink ice ring (that sold for $18.88 on Black Friday, by the way), was “Is this real pink ice?”  Um, folks, you do realize that nonsense was nothing more than a colored cubic zirconia, right?  So yeah, it was “real”, and by “real”, I mean as “real” as a man-made stone can be.  [Insert eye-roll here.]  You can just imagine the thickness of the 10K band the “little pank ice ring” sported, for the vast sum of $18.88, right?  And of course, that lovely little bauble came in a standard size 6.  Needless to say, a large number of the people purchasing these rings did not have standard sized fingers.  Astoundingly, they thought the store should size those ridiculous little rings for free.  Right then.  While they waited.  It was dreadful.  It was so traumatic that even now, three years of law school and thirteen years of practicing law later, I still shudder from the vivid memories.

Lucky for me, I was really quick on the cash register, so after a couple of years of Black Friday duty, I was assigned the task of standing at one of the two registers in the jewelry department ringing up other people’s sales.  This rocked for a couple of reasons.  First, at Christmas the store hired lots of temporary help.  The temporary help usually hadn’t logged enough register time to become very speedy, so they often slowed down progress at a time we really needed to be ringing sales rapidly.  Assigning people to the registers helped move things along at a faster clip.  And of course, being one of the people assigned to the register meant I didn’t have to wait on customers during the initial rush that morning.  SCORE!!

I worked at that job for five consecutive Black Fridays.  When I graduated from college (and from my job in retail), there was nothing in me that said, “Ooh! You don’t have to go to work before daylight; why don’t you get up and go shopping instead?” when Black Friday rolled around.  Rather, I was inspired to sleep — which is exactly what I have done every year since.  

Whatever money I might save by lining up in the cold in the pre-dawn hours and fighting hoards of frenzied shoppers to obtain my target item is simply not worth it to me.  Let me say this another way: I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination — believe me; I am intimately familiar with the figure on my paycheck and how far it doesn’t go — but preserving my sanity is worth more to me than the few extra dollars I might save by shopping on Black Friday.  Said still another way, I really don’t like people, so shopping with scads of them on the busiest shopping day of the year does not excite me.  In fact, as mouthy as I tend to be, it’s likely I’d end up the subject of a story on the evening news — and not in a good way.

So, to answer your question, no, I did not go shopping on Black Friday.  I never have, and I hope to die a very old woman still able to say that.  To those of you who did shop on Friday, good for you.  I’m sure you have lots of fabulous stories as a result that will make me envious in a blog-fodder-envy sort of way, but to me, it’s still not worth it.  

Another Day, Another Docket

Sitting in court on a Wednesday afternoon. This is one of my favorite dockets to cover. It is unlike anywhere else I go, and is easily the most fun. What follows is an example of why:

1:04 PM — IF YOU HAVE TO ASK…

Judge: Do you have any thought process issues?

Defendant: Well, I fell from 12 feet and landed on my head. At first they thought I would have brain damage, but I don’t.

1:18 PM. BACK TO THE FUTURE. Marty McFly, 30 years later. (Special thanks to J.W. who spotted this gem, and to L.M. Who provided the caption.)

1:36 PM — SELECTIVE HEARING.

Defendant, a young woman, is signing a consent judgment at the bench.

Judge (speaking to me): Boy, it sure is a beautiful day today.

Jenn (speaking to Judge): It is really pretty.

Defendant: Thank you.

[Awkward pause.]

Defendant (blushing): Were you taking to me?

Judge: We were talking about what a pretty day it is.

Defendant: Oh.

2:00 PM. CAR ENVY. Judge is talking to another female attorney about cars. It seems said attorney has recently purchased a new Mercedes. As did her husband. As they discuss models and features, it comes out the the female attorney purchased an SLK model prior to whatever model she has now, but after driving it a few weeks, felt it was too little.

Judge: There’s no back seat is there?

Female Attorney: No.

Judge: Can you even fit a rolled-up newspaper back there?

Female Attorney: No. I couldn’t even turn around. I felt like a fat girl in a little coat from that movie “Tommy Boy”.

And with that, the courtroom is now empty.

Cute

Back when I was a kid, going through the awkward and (seriously) ugly duckling years, I remember being jealous of the girls everyone described as being “cute”. In an attempt to make me feel better about my not-so-attractive self, I remember my mother telling me that “cute” was for puppies and kittens, and that while some of those girls were cute, cute would not last. (She was dead accurate about at least one of those girls; she grew up to be the furthest thing from cute, both in her appearance, and more importantly, in her personality. Just saying.) That conversation stuck with me, and to this day, I still bristle a little when someone calls me cute. (Parents, if you think the things you say to your kids now won’t have a lasting effect on them, I submit to you that you are wrong.)

Today I went to court and as I sat down to discuss a case with a Defendant who appeared representing himself, he looked at me and said, “You ARE cute!” Um, okay? Is that really what you say to opposing counsel? He went on to say he had had a free consultation with a local attorney who, when asked who the defendant should talk with at court, told him to “just look for the cute one — and he was right!” Nice. Under the philosophy that a compliment is a compliment, I said thank you and redirected his attention to his case, which we agreed to continue.

While in the courtroom waiting to call his case, I lined up with the other attorneys at the front of the room. Mr. Defendant was seated in the front row of the courtroom seating. He apparently was not blessed with much of an “inside voice”, because from several feet away, I heard him say, “I get to go up there with the cute attorney.” I did not hear what his conversational parter had to say, as I was trying to stifle a giggle & not let on that I had heard.

For fear that he would persist in declaring my alleged cuteness to all who would listen, when it was my turn to call cases, I called his first in an attempt to get him on his way. All went well as Mr. Defendant approached the bench. The judged asked him if he was, in fact, the defendant identified in the case. Mr. Defendant verified that he was, then looked squarely at the judge and said, “I get the cute attorney”. The judge, as if he wasn’t sure what he’s heard — and maybe he wasn’t; Mr. Defendant was a little difficult to understand — replied, “I beg your pardon?”, and Mr. Defendant repeated himself. I am pretty sure I heard giggled from the peanut gallery at that point. The judge, rather impressively, did not bat an eyelash, and I somehow managed to refrain from cracking up right then and there. Not because I like being called “cute”, but because it was freaking hilarious, and because I was already plotting the “cute” story it would make on my blog…

Based on some of the history with the attorney who planted the “cute” seed in Mr. Defendant’s head — things like trying to intimidate me by telling me he and the judge are friends from way back, to standing close enough to invade my personal space while picking up my key necklace and ogling it, among others — I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit peeved. A compliment is a compliment, though, and I appreciate the sentiment. I just wonder how “cute” Mr. Attorney will think I am when I kick his tail in court!

The Guys Have It

The guys have it. Well, they have it if “it” you mean Sunday’s Worst Dressed Award. 

Look, I am a far cry from a men’s fashion expert. Let’s be honest, men’s fashions aren’t incredibly exciting to me. You have casual wear, business attire, and formalwear, and then some gray areas in between. Some things look better than others, but as far as I am concerned, the variety is kind of lacking. Given that, you would think it would be harder for men to screw up wardrobe-wise. Sadly (for them), that just is not the case. 

Sunday morning after CrossFit, I had the rather unfortunate task of making a Walmart run. I’d put it off as long as I could, and at that point, it was plainly and simply a necessary evil. Always the first to tell off on myself, I will allow that I might well have made someone else’s snarky blog, as I was in a running skirt, knee-high socks, and a CrossFit t-shirt. I looked less than stylish, but at least I was dressed that way for a reason. I don’t just head to the store attired in that manner on a rest day, for example. Whether that makes it better or worse, I don’t know (or care); I am just sayin’. 

As I hopped out of my vehicle and headed into the store, I was fortunate enough to encounter & capture a photo of this guy. 

Granted, I disapprove of the pajamas- in-public phenomenon whether the wearer is male or female; this time, the offender just happened to be male. They are pajamas, for crying out loud. Nightclothes. Sleepwear. Bedclothes. All of those terms imply that they are not intended to be worn in public. I know some vendors have marketed them as “lounge pants” — Gap & Old Navy, I am looking at you — and I can even accept that. Here’s the thing about “lounge pants”, though: “lounging” implies that a person is relaxing, and sitting around AT HOME. It does not imply that you are shoving a cart through the congested aisles of your local Walmart. Really?! Is it that hard to put on a pair of pants before imposing yourself upon the eyes of the public?

Despite my obviously, um, strong feelings about pajamas in public, I would almost welcome that if given a choice between that and what I saw exiting the store.

He was a couple of registers closer to the door than I was, and his cashier was a little faster than mine, so I had to all but sprint to be sure I didn’t lose him before I got a photo. (I’m sure it was comical to watch.) I am still not sure what the pattern is on his shorts. I AM sure, however, that those shorts should have never been worn outside his house. I’m pretty certain they shouldn’t be worn in the house, either, but that is between him and his significant other. (She was with him, by the way. I can’t believe she allowed him out of the house, or was willing to be seen with him wearing those shorts, but maybe that is just me.) Those shorts can’t possibly have been comfortable. Just look at how they are bunching up. (I know; it hurt my eyes, too.)

Guys, really? I’ll ask again: Does it take that long to put on a pair of pants? The answer to that is no. I know this, because it doesn’t take me that long to put on a pair. So next time, take a few extra seconds to put on a pair and leave the pajamas at home, okay? (Oh, and next time you are stricken with the urge to buy those shorts, don’t. Really. Don’t.)

It Takes All Kinds

Some days I go to court and I don’t encounter anything that makes me grab my phone and angle for a covert photograph or enter notes on something I simply must remember to write about later.  Other days, it is a veritable smorgasbord of blog fodder with blog-worthy items all but throwing themselves at my feet.  Yesterday?  Well, yesterday was the latter.
My day began with a single case in an upstairs division, followed by a hefty docket in my regular division.  Because of that, my first stop, after getting through courthouse security and chatting with one of the deputies (with Arkansas ties) about the Hogs’ (surprising) success over the weekend, was the elevator.  I may have mentioned it before, but the elevator in that particular courthouse is one of the slowest ones I’ve ever had the displeasure of riding.  I am serious when I say it would be absolutely zero fun for a small child who enjoys riding the elevator up and down.  It moves at a positively geriatric pace.  This fact was particularly unfortunate yesterday since the two individuals with whom I shared the elevator car apparently didn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on personal hygiene that morning.  By that I mean soap and deodorant were clearly not in use.  And clearly hadn’t been for some time.  What was it the assistant band director at my high school told an especially odious smelling band member one day?  Oh, yes, it was, “Soap and water are cheap; use some”.  The gentleman (who, for anyone who cares, arrived for court in baggie basketball shorts, a t-shirt and untied high-top athletic shoes) and his female companion (whose attire I could tell you absolutely nothing about other than she was wearing flip-flops) could have stood to follow that advice. 
Coming downstairs, my morning docket went pretty well.  It was not until I was at the front of the room visiting with the court clerk about a file I needed for the afternoon that I saw it.  It was eye-catching, and I knew immediately that photographs were necessary.  It was what I have retroactively named the “Bad Hair Bench”.  There were maybe 8 to 10 people in the courtroom when I saw it, and three of those people were on the back row.  Two of them had some seriously questionable hair.  I can’t even say they were having a bad hair day.  They were having bad hair lives, bless their hearts, and someone with more style sense than a colorblind turtle needs to take these gals to a salon where a stylist whose sensibilities are offended by these cuts can straighten out this mess.  There are other simple, easy-to-fix styles that would be far more flattering.  I offer exhibits A and B as evidence of the atrocities I witnessed.

The level of enthusiasm on the faces of these ladies is priceless, isn’t it?  They were not present for any of my cases, and for that I am thankful, mostly because I had begun mentally referring to them as “Mullet” and “Mop”.  I fear that, had I been required to interact with them in some way, I might have accidentally referred to them by the names I had so appropriately, yet not so kindly, given them, and that would have been, um, awkward.  For them, I mean.  
After snapping photos of those occupying the Bad Hair Bench, I departed the scene and went to grab a bite to eat before the afternoon docket.  I returned to the courthouse a little early and got a primo parking spot, directly in front of the building with an outstanding view of the doors.  I consider that a spectacular vantage point from which to engage the sport of people-watching, and yesterday did not disappoint.  First, I saw a gentleman walking down the sidewalk in front of the building wearing a sombrero.  Yes, a sombrero.  It was raining when I snapped the photo, so I apologize for the poor, rain-drop riddled, quality of the picture. 
His companion went with a more traditional approach of a hooded rain jacket, while he went with a sombrero.  And what appears to be a bandanna.  Truly, I have no words.  (I do wonder if his companion attempted to talk him into or out of wearing the sombrero, though…)
And if I found myself lacking for words with respect to Mr. Sombrero, well, you can just imagine what happened when I saw this…
If you are thinking that his face and head are one gigantic tattoo, you would be correct.  I saw this gentleman from afar and to be perfectly honest, I was a little frightened.  Don’t lie; you’d be scared, too.  He may be the nicest guy in the world, but the reality is, he looks a little (read: a lot) like something out of a horror movie.  It was a cloudy, overcast, and, at times, drizzly day, and then, this emerged from the fog.  I regret that I wasn’t able to get a better photo, but WOW.  I am not anti-tattoo, provided the tattoo means something to the tattoo-ee.  For the life of me, however, I just can’t imagine what would inspire one to tattoo one’s entire face and head, or what that could possibly mean to the tattoo-ee.  But who am I to judge.  Oh, wait…
And last but not least, upon entering the courthouse for the afternoon docket, I watched an elegantly dressed lady come through security and head down the hallway — in her fur coat.  Look, I know it isn’t politically correct to wear fur.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Blah, blah, blah.  I invited everyone to calmly step down from their animal activist high-horses, as the point of this post has nothing to do with animal cruelty.  Let’s evaluate: temperatures were in the low 50’s, it was raining, and she was wearing a fur coat.  And not just any fur coat.  It was a full-length fur coat, suitable for a high-society evening out.  (See below.)
I don’t know if she bought it at an end-of-the-season fur sale last year and had waited all summer, and just could. not. wait. another day to break out her new coat or what.  Although it was pretty — yes, I said that — it just really didn’t seem like the day for it.  I remember when rabbit coats were all the rage when I was a kid, and consequently, I can’t imagine that the day’s rain showers were especially healthy for her coat (or her coat’s fragrance).  Odd.
So all in one place, I observed basketball shorts & flip-flops, Mullets & Mops, sombreros, tattooed faces, and fur coats.  Wow.  I’ve always heard it takes all kinds (and I often wonder why), and yesterday I saw evidence of that in a big way.  Admit it; you’re jealous.

Judged by Jenn News

Recently, Tracey, over at The Ambiguous Fairy Tale, invited me to be a guest-blogger on her page. I was completely flattered to be asked — someone likes what I’m writing! — and after checking out her blog, I knew saying yes was a must. It is safe to say that we share a lot of the snark and sharp-tongued wit that Judged by Jenn fans expect and find humorous, and frankly, she cracks me up. It is with that in mind that I encourage you to trek over to The Ambiguous Fairy Tale to check out Tracey’s blog — and of course, to read my first-ever guest post. (Here is the link to my post, so you don’t miss it:Judged by Jenn Guest Post ). Thank you again, Tracey for inviting me to your blog! 

Be sure to stay tuned for more commentary & surreptitious courtroom photos of those Judged by Jenn. 

Twice as Nice!

Yes, it is my second post of the day. Why? Because one post on Halloween just wasn’t enough — especially when this lady opted to wear THIS hat to her hearing today.

I’m suspect the Bailiff “suggested” that she remove it since she was no longer wearing it when I looked around a few minutes after this photo was taken. (A great reminder to snap those pictures when the moments present themselves!) I am pretty sure she was NOT in “costume” for today’s holiday. I am equally sure that this was a bad fashion call for the courthouse.

Happy Halloween

The scary thing in this photo is not the hideous, next to no one looks good in that color, mustard yellow henley this lady is wearing, although that is certainly frightening enough. The really scary thing is the large black thing in the pendant she is wearing. That? Is a spider. Nothing says Happy Halloween like a large arachnid around the neck (although to be fair, I snapped the photo a couple of weeks ago.) I hope this is not a look that catches on.

Jenn – 1, Weasel – 0

I just love when defendants appear in court and think they are going to pull one over on me and I turn it around on them.  Yesterday in court, a Defendant with whom I’d spoken at a previous court appearance — and whom I found to be exceedingly unpleasant, mostly because of his really bad attitude — approached me.  Usually that is not the way it works; usually the bailiff gives me the files of the defendants who are present, and I call them out into the hallway to discusses their respective cases, one at a time.  This guy attempted to skip the line by coming up to me directly as the chaos of the afternoon docket was just beginning. 
The courtroom door had just been unlocked, and there were way too many people standing in line and jockeying for position to check in with the bailiff.  At the front of the courtroom, defense attorneys rushed the various plaintiffs’ attorneys, in a hurry to get back to their offices to rack up more billable hours.  (Sorry, does that sound jaded?)  I was at the counsel table juggling defense attorneys and putting my orders with the appropriate files when the Defendant, whom I shall call “Weasel” due to his unsavory demeanor, walked up and said, “Hey! My attorney can’t be here today, so I am supposed to ask for a continuance.”  (No, there is nothing inherently wrong with what he said; just remember, it isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it!)   What weasel apparently failed to realize was I prepared my docket for court, so I was aware that he was, at least at that moment, still unrepresented.  The exchange that followed went like this:
“And who is your attorney?” 
“[Name of Attorney]”
That was where I became more amused than annoyed, because the attorney in question was standing maybe an arm’s length away from me with his back to Weasel.
“Oh, really?  That’s him standing right there.”
Needless to say, Weasel became very flustered, as the attorney turned around, asked Weasel his name, and indicated he had not ever met with Weasel.  Now, I think they did go out into the hallway where they had a little chat that probably resulted in the attorney accepting representation of Weasel, but still.  I got to have my fun.  Yes, I know it’s a shame that that is all it takes to amuse me, but at that moment, ruffling Weasel’s feathers was all it took, because, really?  I am not usually that difficult to get along with in court.  If a Defendant tells me they need more time to hire an attorney, I am probably going to agree to it unless the case has been dragging on for an unreasonable period of time.  Lying to me is really not necessary.
Oh, well.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures from yesterday’s court experience…

Nothing says, “attitude” like a mohawk and facial tattoos.  The coat he was carrying was oddly fuzzy/furry.  I’m not sure what that was all about, but it really didn’t go with the rest of his look.
I’ve had dark hair and red highlights before.  Currently I have ombre’ hair that is dark in the roots and slightly auburn at the ends.  With that said, I walked into the courtroom and was pretty shocked by this ‘do.  Trust me when I say this photo doesn’t do this red and black combo justice.  I know it is Halloween week, but something tells me this hair was not the result of a costume-gone-bad. 

This is a little hard to see — my fault; I waited too long to snap the photo — but these were some seriously painted-on leggings and a way-too-short-for-those-leggings top with silver sequined boots.  I am so sad that I didn’t snap the picture in time to get the full effect.  It is not a look I recommend.  For anyone.  This outfit is beyond acceptable limits for a quick trip to the grocery store at midnight when the store is empty, but for court?  Completely inappropriate.  You may be supposed to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, but we don’t need to see the whole truth about every bump, bulge, and dimple.  Just saying.