Monthly Archives: January 2015

Potential

Sunday: I call the number and enter the other numbers and press the numbers and eventually learn that I need to report for jury duty on Thursday.

Thursday: I arrive at 111 North Hill Ave to find a line of people in front of the building entrance. “Good,” I think, “they should make the criminals wait in line and watch all of us hard-working, upstanding citizens as we walk in to do our civic duty. Sadly, the line was for people with jury duty. I took my place in line and quickly grew so bored that I decided to start an Instagram account. Nobody cared.

Waiting in line for the privilege of jury duty. #first2ndhandcigoftheday #delicious

A photo posted by Petunia Insect (@allisonagarwood) on

And I also decided to keep a log…

7:34am – Hour 1 has been unpleasant but I am still strong. I waited in line for about 30 minutes. The woman behind me told a listening ear (not mine) about her many, many, many, many, many ailments. She started with a lesson on how to know when it’s time to get that tooth pulled. Next we dove into the wrist injury (“massive break”) and the resulting bone degeneration disease that left her knees knocking bone on bone (“the doctors don’t even know how I’m walking around!”). Then came the story about the car accident where she suffered “whiplash times ten.” But the whiplash-times-ten had a name that involved the word “ovarian.” At this point, she was talking so quickly, that it was easy to miss such small details. I am growing dubious. Before she could launch into another adventure, the guards have begun to file us through the metal detectors.

7:46am – I set the metal detector alarm off, yet without so much as a glance, the guard robotically motioned me to proceed … as if she secretly hopes that I do have something on my person that will put her out of her misery. When I turned to ask her for directions, she intuited my question and interrupted with a stoney “SECOND FLOOR.” What a strange place.

A day will come when one too many people ask her where to go for jury duty...

A day will come when one too many people ask her where to go for jury duty…

7:53am – The scenery here is so oppressive that it appears to have drained everyone of the ability to interact.

7:55am – I walked down the most life-depleating hallway I’ve ever seen.

The long, despairing hall/haul of juror dutydome. #everyoneissofriendly

A photo posted by Petunia Insect (@allisonagarwood) on

7:59am: I did the “Who goes left?” Shuffle with a woman who remained completely expressionless. I nervously giggled “Excuse me!!” but she remained silent and emotionless, much like a coyote I once saw negotiating a fence.

The Who Goes Left Shuffle with a lifeless shell of a woman.

The Who Goes Left Shuffle with a lifeless shell of a woman.

8:11am – When I entered “The Juror Room” a.k.a. “The Sea of Potential” (as I have renamed it), a sea of empty blue chairs looked like softly clapping waves in an ocean during a tidal change. Peaceful in appearance, but underneath you know that it will drown you if given a chance.

#seaofpotential

A photo posted by Petunia Insect (@allisonagarwood) on

8:48am – They played a video. Then a judge who must not feel heard by his loved ones talked for a long time about the honor of jury duty. He made a confusing reference to the recent terrorist massacre in Paris where extremists murdered 17 innocent people, including the execution of 3 cartoonists. The judge said the event would have been “impossible … well, unlikely” in the U.S. because of our jury by peers system. You might need to read that part again because you are so confused, but he really said it. And nobody punched him. I almost did. Obviously we could all reference a little event in the U.S. that we refer to only by it’s date. I’ve never used this shorthand before, but it’s works here: SMH

8:53am – My strength is fading. They are clever here. They use long speeches peppered with rainbow suspenders level gags to break us down. I can see my comrades weakening. I’m amazed at how quickly the bright eyes of the living are dulled by this subtle and powerful torture.

8:04am – The hour hand of the clock sags so that it is difficult to decipher the time. This must be intentional. I almost believe that we are repeating the 8 o’clock hour, but I’ll try to remember that it is really the 9 o’clock hour. Must remember. I think it is Thursday, though all the days run together here. Since it is still Day 1, I am able to keep track.

8/9:07am – My body is beginning to feel at one with the chair. My mind seems to be breaking down. I almost joined in the bizarre North Korelian applause that happens after each speech. The Commander spoke about the rules and listed the stupid questions we are not permitted to ask. The implied conclusion seems to be that we are stupid and annoying. I believe her. I am stupid and annoying. Wait! No, I am not! It’s all getting fuzzy. I remember my son. I remember my husband. And the puppy. I remember them. Must not forget.

The Captain says "I LOVE YOU!!! I LOVE YOU!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!" #captaincutiepants

A photo posted by Petunia Insect (@allisonagarwood) on

8/9:11am – I ration the last of my luke-warm tea. Lips so dry. Tongue swelling? Was this mole here yesterday? Distracted. I must remove this blasted chipped nail polish. Nail polish remover! Cupboard! Home! Memories of home! What is my family doing now? Do they miss me? How much has my son grown since I saw him last?

8/9:24am – They’ve replaced our names with dehumanizing numbers. I am now Juror 8095. Must remember my name, my humanity. I will fight for those memories. I am Allison Garwood!

8/9:29am – The sedative of boredom and ugly carpet is punctuated by bolts of terror. Will my name be called? What then?? I try to get some rest, but I can’t sleep. The silent screams of the Potentials (as I have named us) makes sleep impossible. Each time I catch the eye of a Potential I see more screams: “What if? What then?!” I try to concentrate on my family and making it back to them one day. My sweet son. Juror 8095 loves you, sweetie.

8/9:33am – They offered us a 30 minute break. A few people left. Where did they go? A break from what? How does one take a break from waiting? Is it a trap? Do they shoot the fools who leave for not appreciating the honor of serving this great country? Do they shoot the fools who stay for not needing to rest from the excitement of the potential of serving this great free country? I decide to stay.

8/9:44 – A flashback of my old life when I think I see a friend from behind. A friend from my old life. The woman turns, I realize I’m here in my new life. Keep forgetting this is where I live now.

8/9:47 – I brought some Cuties in my purse. Can I eat them? The Grammar Outlaw (yes! Juror 8095 remembers calling herself this in her old life!) wonders both: a. if eating in the Sea of Potential is allowed and b. if the starved stomach of a pitiful Potential is capable of receiving nutrition.

8/9:50 – In the name of everything that’s holy!! They are calling names right now!!! A TWENTY ONE DAY TRIAL!!! Oh the humanity!!!!

8/9:51 – My name was called.

Racial Reconciliation & Racial Fatigue

Our church Life Group is reading “More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel” by Spencer Perkins (black man) and Chris Rice (white man).

I’ve been trying for so long to wrap my head around how racism perpetuates. And who am I to speak on this issue now? The more I read, learn, and experience, the more confused I become.

Before we met last week, I thought my experience living in a black neighborhood, joining a black church, and signing my son up for sports with black teams had educated me about a portion of the black experience. I know how it feels to be surrounded buy people who look alike, but different from me. They were all so beautiful with their rich chocolate skin, magnificent curly/kinky hair, glamorous full lips and high cheekbones. And I was so pasty with my chalky caucasian skin, boring flat hair, skinny fish lips and pointy nose. I thought I understood the worry of trying to “pass” in order to fit in and keep my social standing so that my son could have black friends and grow up within black culture.

But then our group engaged in a mind-blowingly open discussion leaving me with the conclusion that I have absolutely no idea. The basic sentiment was similar to this…

When I was 15, my best friend was killed in a car accident. His mother and I found comfort in spending time together, and we grew close over time. I remember innocently, but horribly naively telling her that I thought I could understand a piece of her pain because my cat had died of cancer a few months before Trey died. She patiently explained that there was really no comparison between those losses. Now that I am a mother, I feel embarrassed that I made such a foolish comment. And, last week I felt equally foolish about thinking I could ever begin to comprehend the challenges of being a black person in a white man’s society.

In Chapter 3, Chris Rice spoke to this type of revelation and to the white person’s situation in the issue of racial reconciliation. He remembers (as I do with a cringe) thinking and saying ignorant things like: “I didn’t cause it, and I shouldn’t have to suffer for it.” And those people who don’t yet understand why that is an wrong way of thinking need to dig until they find the answer. “One of the character traits of a reconciler is a willingness to confront conflict…” and to learn how “vital it is to get everyone’s honest thoughts on the table. If they aren’t brought into the open and dealt with decisively, as (their) experience began to prove, they eventually boil over…”*

“Given the fact that white European culture is dominant in this country; given the legacy of racial discrimination that puts whites at an advantage in our society, even in the church; unless we make an intentional effort to affirm black leadership, culture and style, whiteness will always dominate.”*

“It was hard to accept the fact that if we left things as they were, with no emphasis on color, whites would eventually end up in most leadership positions. Yet we had learned that this was indeed the case.”

“Whites could go anywhere and find no doors closed. Here they needed to step aside, while blacks needed to step forward.”

I think one of the answers was stated really well by Dr. Ivory Phillips: “We will not begin to deemphasize white, we will just begin to value the qualities that blackness brings to the body.”*

“Whites often ask me, ‘How do I know when I’m really dealing with the race issue?’ ‘When you begin to feel uncomfortable.’”*

* These quotes are from “More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel” by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice. I can’t give a page number, b/c I have the Kindle version. All I know is that I read them in Chapter 3.

Black Pride

Reed was out of town last week on a business trip. Luc missed him SOOOO much. He sobbed every night and choked up every morning on the way to school. Thankfully, Reed is back. The boys are in the den wrestling (manese for “I’m glad you’re back!”). I thought the dog was asleep, but then I heard this ….

Luc: “The Captain is saying, ‘I’m rooting for this guy, so I’m gonna lick him just so he knows!'” (…followed by peals of laughter.)

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame "The Heels"

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame “The Heels”

Shortly after, a “Poop Break” was announced. Luc bounced into my office with a Lucha Libre library book. He wanted to show me how the match was going with a visual aid. He pointed to the losing wrestler on the cover of The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame’s “The Heels”: “That’s what I did to Daddy. Except that’s more horrible because he’s black.”

Me: “Wait, why is it worse for a black wrestler to get hurt?”

Luc: “Because I always root for the black guys.”

I’ve got nothing. I have no idea how to respond to that.

– – –

A few months ago, Luc and I were waiting outside of the black barbershop. We chit chatted with a few passing folks. During a lull, Luc turned to me and said with a proud smile, “Black people are a lot cooler than white people.”

Me: “Uh, helloooo.”

Luc: “What.”

Me: “You just said that to a white person. I’m white, dude.”

Luc: “Sorry Mom-Mom, but it’s true. You have to admit it.”

The voice in my head started rambling: “He’s got a point. I mean based on the black people you have come in contact with lately, and the black people you expose Luc to, it’s really no wonder he thinks that! But you can’t agree, because that would be affirming his prejudice! But you want to encourage his confidence and pride in being a cool black man, but you don’t want to push him into prejudice! Maybe a bus will swerve onto the sidewalk and take you out and you won’t have to answer this one.”

Me (finally): “I’ve met a lot of really cool black people. And I’ve met a lot of really cool white people.”

Luc: “Whatever.”

What can I say? I’m not good on my feet.

And I Didn’t Care

I’ve read articles and seen pictures, but I never thought I’d have the guts to do it. Maybe I a little bit hoped it wouldn’t get bad enough for me to want to? But this morning, I abruptly went on strike. Maybe not abruptly. Because there were signs.

negative space sketch scooter and box of junk

I sipped tea and sketched negative space.

Yesterday, I put all of the ??? from Reed’s ??? piles around the house on the dining room table. I told him that he had until trash pick up the next morning (today) to deal with the contents. After that I vowed to move it all to the curb. Indiscriminately.

I woke up this morning almost like it was any other morning. I got dressed, but didn’t repeatedly check on Luc’s progress. I walked into the kitchen 5 minutes after D.E.A.B. (Drop Everything And Breakfast: 7:00 am) and found a happy, half-dressed child dancing around the kitchen; a slightly anxious husband sorting through ??? in the dining room; and a muddy relaxed puppy lying on my rug. We all greeted each other. Then I asked if Luc had completed his morning checklist. And the morning copy-and-paste began:

Al: “Have you done your morning check list?”
Luc: “What?”
Al: “I said ‘Have you–‘ Wait. You heard me.”
Luc: “Um. Morning check list?”
Al: “Yes.”
Luc: “Let me thiiiiiinnnnnk…”
Al: “That’s a no. Go do your list.”
Luc: “Okay!” (runs out of the room happily)

Select All. Copy. Ten minutes later. Paste.

But this morning didn’t go like that.

Al: “Have you done your morning check list?”
Luc: “What?”
Al: “I said ‘Have you–‘ Wait. You heard me.”
Luc: “Um. Morning check list?”
Al: “Yes.”
Luc: “Let me thiiiiiinnnnnk…”
Al: “Never mind. You can do it however you want. I’m tired of being ignored.”

Then I left the room to get my purse, a sketchbook, and a jacket. Two sets of feet scurried up the stairs. The puppy barked to be let in … or out. I said to nobody, “I don’t care.” I tied my shoes, walked upstairs, kissed Luc and told him to have an awesome day.

Luc (concerned): “Are you going somewhere?”
Al: “Yes. I’m going out. You and Daddy won’t listen to me. So, I’m on strike.”
Luc (deeply concerned, perhaps terrified): “Okay.”
Al: “I love you. I like you. I am always your Mom. But I’m on strike from my duties for a while.”
Luc (cautiously): “Well, okay, Mom-Mom. I hope you have a very very nice day. Byyye.”
Al: “Bye!” (kiss)
Luc runs to catch me on the stairs: “Mom-Mom, I’m sorry.”
Al: “I totally forgive you, sweetie. I love you very much.”
Luc: “Are you still on strike?”
Al: “Yes.”

I breakfasted at Le Pain Quotidien and drew the negative space of the chairs. The other iCal alarms went off: D.E.A.P. (Drop Everything And Prepare-to-leave), D.E.A.T. (Drop Everything And Toyota). I just tapped “Okay” and kept drawing.

To Be Continued probably…

The Fashion Industry Is Trying To Kill Me

First, we have a ravenous model showing women how we are supposed to look in underwear. Shame on those of us who have eaten more than a cigarette and a spoonful of crack in the last month…

very thin, sick model

Death Camp Chic

This is a beautiful, healthy young woman. This what we should aspire to…

If I were a dude, I'd prefer this woman. She's beautiful!

If I were a dude, I’d prefer this woman. She’s beautiful!

The Fashion Industry Is Trying to Kill Me: Simply Chic

I found this photo on Pinterest with the title: Simply Chic.

"Simply Chic"???? She's a child!

“Simply Chic”???? She’s a child!

“Simply Chic.”??? — How old is this little girl? 12? Maybe 13? You think I’m exaggerating? Check her nose. She still has her baby nose. That is a little girl. And she was hired, dressed, and made up by adults to help define chic. It’s not chic. It’s sick.

The Fashion Industry Is Trying To Kill Me

I used to keep a blog by this title. In it I posted links to articles about 20 year old girls stepping off fashion runways and dying of heart attacks. I stopped posting for a while. But the media is still telling me that my best look is emaciated famine victim. I disagree. So I juxtapose 2 images against each other to remind myself what true feminine beauty looks like.

Today’s installment:

Erdem Wilhemina 3/4-Sleeve Floral Sheath Dress ($840 at Neiman Marcus)

Erdem Sheath ($840 at Neiman Marcus)

Neiman Marcus shows me that if I stop eating and bathing for six months, I too can be worthy of this expensive Erdem (which sounds a little like “murder” when read backwards) dress.

Or…

Fuzzi, Sizes 14-24 ($595) at Saks

Fuzzi, Sizes 14-24 ($595 at Saks)

Saks Fifth Avenue shows me that if I keep eating a healthy diet, exercise, and lay off the heroine, I can embrace my curves and look like a beautiful woman in this expensive Fuzzi dress.