Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jury Duty

Oh the fateful summons.
People complain so much about jury duty...present company not excluded. It seems like such a waste of time and NEVER comes at a "good time". :) I've been summoned twice before but never been selected.

This year I was not "picked" they instead call it "not being marked off the list". Joy. Make me feel even better about it.

On Monday I wanted to drive myself down instead of riding the city Metro bus (as I had the previous two times I'd been summoned), but in a quick change of mind I swung through the Park n' Ride. However, as no buses were in sight and no schedule was posted...I drove.
In doing so, I did not notice the speeding motorcycle cop. As I turned on my signal and pulled to the right to avoid construction there was a sudden blaring of sirens...right next to me. Shaken I whipped my car back into the other lane and watched as the motorcycle cop sped on his way disappearing in a minute! I have decided that policemen might not have horns...only sirens.

I made it to the downtown parking garage and hurried to the court building. Settling down into a chair in one of the large waiting rooms (they separate you with juror numbers) I opened my book and relaxed. Waiting was just going to become a normal part of life for the next several hours and I knew it. At last they made us watch the obligatory video about what an honor it is to serve on a jury and I facetiously paid attention...really I would have loved to comment on the droll voice of the narrator or the obviously staged photos with someone...but I didn't want to show any disrespect.
After some technical difficulties with the film (the sound stopped working for a couple of slides) and an obnoxious man who played dumb about parking and complained that he wasn't dressed properly for duty (um, you are told what is proper on the handout they mail you with your summons...) we finally got down to business.

I realized as I listened to that complainer and several people around me how selfish they sounded...and how selfish I was feeling. It IS a good thing to have an honest jury- I would want one if I ever got dragged to court for something! And really, along with voting, it's my duty as an American to serve in that isn't as awful as it seems. After these realizations my attitude was adjusted properly and I went back to my book.

They began to put numbers up on the screen and send groups of jurors with police officers to their various courts for the "de-selection" process. I am not sure how I missed my number being called...I think that maybe (even though I printed my summons out fresh that morning) my number was changed. As I was reading I heard a lady suddenly ask:
"Is there a Hannah (I omit the rest of my name in case you don't know it :) in here?"
I whipped my head up and timidly raised my hand. I HATE being the center of attention in a large crowd and there were a couple hundred people in that room.
To make matters worse, when she saw my hand she said:
"Ah, you belong to this gentleman."
And standing behind her was an enormous policeman.
I wanted to die on the spot. What a way to phrase it!
"I wish I belonged to someone" a person near me muttered loud enough for several people to overhear and laugh.
I did the walk of shame out the door to my group of 24 other potential jurors.
Head held high I slid into the middle of the group hoping to pretend nothing had happened. We went through the underground tunnels (I love that about Houston) and up to the 9th floor of another building in the city.

We were then filed into a freezing courtroom and given an hour lecture on what it meant to be a juror and the type of case we would be hearing about- possession of marijuana. (I am so excited that I can FINALLY talk about it! Keeping the secret for 24 hours was VERY difficult. :)
After another hour of listening to the attorneys discuss some key points with us they began the questions (so they would know who they wanted to cut.) As I was juror number 6, I knew that my chances of not being picked were slim. They start with numbers 1-6 and if they don't eliminate any of them, those are the selected jury members...unless I got eliminated I was a shoo-in. Internally I wrestled with curiosity over actually serving as a jury member and dread at having to listen to a dull case and miss work another day or two...or horrors! several more days!

I listened to more selfish people make up reasons on why they shouldn't be selected and prayed for patience and peace. Because I was in the front row and center I couldn't see the faces of those around me. I kept up a good poker face and just waited. Finally they selected 6 of us: 5 women and 1 man. We were ushered up to the juror's stand and sworn in then marched to a back room for some additional information.

We put on badges that said "Juror" in huge letters and had the judge's name listed underneath and were told we must wear these the next day. Our judge stated that the case should only take one day, and court was adjourned since it was nearing 5pm.

Freed we hurried home.

This morning, on my way to the court from the parking garage (I decided to just drive again since we didn't know how long it would take to finish the case) I watched a policeman on horseback deal with a man who was loitering and slipped by some men in handcuffs and dozens of people waiting outside of the large skyscraper where my courtroom was. I went through the detection process (shoes off and placed along with my bag on the conveyor belt to check for weapons). I normally keep a large pocket knife in my purse (I'm not really sure why or if I would ever use it) but I had had the presence of mind to remove it the day before.

All day we were treated like royalty. Everyone must rise any time the six of us jurors entered or exited the courtroom (which happened SEVERAL times). We are not to ask or answer any questions of the witnesses, lawyers or the defendant (there was no plaintiff) during the trial. We are simply observers and ONLY information heard from the witnesses while on the stand or evidence approved by the judge can be considered during our final judgement. We also were not allowed to talk to each other about the case ALL day (other than comments about how loud the judge was or how much we (I) began to hate the word "objection!")

We were treated to lunch and walked downtown a few blocks to a place called Treebeard's...all gumbo and similar spicy mouth hated me after lunch. We listened to arguments back and forth and truthfully I wanted to just be allowed to make my decision right away.

The facts:
Policeman out doing his duty as a "Traffic Violations" officer passes a car with a crack that runs vertically almost the entire length of the windshield.
Deciding to check out that crack and let the driver know that it is a hazard he pulls him over - this is NOT uncommon. Daily routine.
Officer approaches car to talk to the driver and is hit with the scent of marijuana from the open window.
Naturally all thought of a cracked windshield is put on a back burner.
Officer asks driver to step out of the car and asks him if he is in possession of marijuana (he can see stems and seeds that look like it on the driver's side.)
Driver admits "yes in the middle console".
Driver is cuffed and taken to jail- this should be settled out of court, he already owned to having the marijuana.

But NO.

Someone (him, his mother, who knows) decided that they could question the policeman's motive in pulling him over. Saying it was illegal and could put our freedom and liberty at stake.

So I and 5 other people missed work today to listen to the defensive attorney bicker at a poor policeman who was only doing his job. He didn't go to work that day intending to arrest's not his fault the young man decided to have marijuana in his car.

We had to view pictures of the windshield as the defense attorney tried to keep us from ever hearing the part about the marijuana. (I am sick of looking at cars' windshields.) All day we listened to arguments, were told to recess so the lawyers could have private arguments with the judge, re-entered for 10-15 minutes, only to be told to recess again. (You know, recess was a LOT more fun when I was 8...)

At last, we finally had reached the time where we were allowed to go and talk to each other about the case and make our decision. Yes! I thought. It's easy. They proved that the police officer had "probable cause" and was justified in pulling the car over and the possession of marijuana is undeniable- they passed the actual evidence bag through our 6 pairs of hands. No doubt in my mind, the young man was guilty- end of discussion.

4 of the other jurors were right there with me...BUT it was down to one girl. She refused to believe the officer had "probable cause". Frustrated we spent over an hour debating, arguing and reasoning with her.

This Norman Rockwell painting: The Jury Holdout is a good depiction (only ignore the smoke and make only one of the members a man...)

She finally was persuaded about the probable cause, we all agreed on the possession issue, and I got to push the special button! (They have a small button that you push 1 time if you have a question (ex. need to reread part of the testimony to refresh a memory or want to read a law being discussed, etc.) OR you push it 2 times if you have made your final decision.) The button sticks a bit so after my first push there were a couple of seconds before the second push and I'm sure sitting inside the courtroom the defendant must have been in a turmoil. I had avoided looking at him most of the case because I didn't want to show pity or have any emotions about the case. The only person I truly felt sorry for was his mother.

The judge decided we would stay to hear the punishment (much to the dismay of his lawyer who made a small scene about of many scenes she'd made that day) and we listened in astonishment as they read aloud that the same young man had been a part of a major crime not two years ago. He was told that he would be going straight to jail and I couldn't bring myself to look at his mother.

We were then told to recess a final time and waited behind the scenes for the judge. He was a very jolly Texan man (who cracked several jokes throughout our two days) and made it fun...I almost wanted to ask him to autograph my summons, ha! :)

He told us we could stay and answer questions from the lawyers and witnesses if we wanted and the six of us practically stampeded for the elevators!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Emergency Room Saga- College Part 1

If you have ever met me -especially if our acquaintance occurred at Texas A&M University- then you know where I spent most of my Friday evenings during my college years: Simpson Drill Field chasing a frisbee. (No, not playing fetch!)

Ultimate frisbee was introduced to me in college. Having been a major fan of soccer and having grown up on beaches where frisbee is a required sport, I LOVED that someone had combined the two! I was usually one of the first to show up and the last to leave- on several occasions I even played in the dark with a light-up or glow-in-the-dark frisbee...I was a huge fan.
One of my best friends, after my second trip to the ER due to a frisbee injury said, "Hannah, you have an addiction and it's killing you!"

Today I will discuss the first one: Good Friday, April 2008.
Classes were canceled for the day and students were heading home to enjoy their 3-day weekend.
I had gone and picked my sister up from her college (SHSU) the night before so that we could take just the one car home after an hour or so of frisbee and a lunch with our friends. The game was going team was winning, always proof of the "going well" statement. It was a bit warm and we were going to stop soon- just a few more points!

That is a dangerous word: ALMOST. Almost done with the game. Almost caught the frisbee. Almost made it. Almost.

Now, because I was not conscious for part of this next part of the story, I am going to be switching between my sister's version and my own.
"Here came the frisbee- Hannah was so focused on it that she didn't notice her teammate. Both were coming from opposite sides of the field and were aiming for the same spot -without realizing it. My best description: imagine a car wrapping around a telephone pole- Hannah and the guy collided...only he managed to stay standing and she crumpled to the ground."

I remember colliding with the guy and not being able to breathe. I was suddenly on the ground and I didn't know how I'd gotten there- unable to get any oxygen I passed out. I remember the sound of panicked voices and was concerned because I subconsciously knew something was wrong and wanted to help. I remember feeling someone holding my hand and saying my name. It was black, I couldn't see. Then I remember waking suddenly to friends standing around me with the thought "What are they doing in my room? What day is it? Why are they looking at me? What happened?"
Some of the guys were standing to one side cracking jokes, a girl was on her phone looking desperate and talking about someone "...she's awake now, I don't know..." It didn't occur to me that she might be talking about me.

I felt so sick, as if I wanted to throw up. I thought that I had just had the wind knocked out of me and my desire to keep playing frisbee was so strong that I stood up with my sister's help. That was a mistake because I felt very dizzy and weak. I made it over to the brick steps on the field and just sat down staring at the brick. My friends were very busy talking to each other and occasionally they glanced my way. "She just needs to eat something!" one of my friends drawled in his East Texas accent. "No" I thought, "I don't want any food right now. Sleep. That sounds good. Why did they wake me up? Why am I here?"
My sister was on the phone with my mom...she wouldn't talk to her within earshot of me.

Now, I love my friends- but I wish someone had told me to just go straight to the hospital!
Frisbee was kind of canceled a group of friends decided upon Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. We waited two hours for their food (I had declined eating anything- to this day I don't care for BW's, simply because they had poor service). I just remember one guy watching me intently and not letting me sleep, the one who'd collided with me looking very worried, and a third teasing my sister (who was furious because she was trying to text my mom).

At last my sister's food came and the check so that we could begin our drive home.
I didn't put up a fight when my sister declared that she was driving. Thankfully we had packed the car before the frisbee game and could leave directly from the restaurant. It wasn't until we were on the highway that I asked her, "What happened?"
As she told me, I began to cry- stress, exhaustion, and pain were eating me up.

You wrapped around the guy like a car would a telephone pole! Then when you sat up, you suddenly fell limp. As we came over to check on you, you had a seizure! Your eyes opened and rolled was really scary, Hannah! The guys told me not to let you fall asleep because you probably have a concussion and I didn't make you go to the hospital because I know how much you hate them! But we are going to the Memorial Hermann hospital right now and mom will meet us there!

Truthfully, I DON'T like going to the doctor- but I would have gladly gone. I called my mom -who was very upset that we were taking so long to get to the doctor- and her irritated tone only made me cry some more!
At last we reached the ER and I was admitted. After a couple of hours it was determined that I had enough internal damage to equal that of a very bad car wreck (it made sense- I felt like I was going to implode every time my mom or sister hit the brakes for the next week!). I had a CTscan and was hooked up to a heart monitor, was given pain killer, etc. I cannot remember if I had a broken rib or not. A neurologist had to see me as well as my regular doctor...I pretty much missed classes for the first half of that next week due to doctors appointments and tests. I wasn't allowed to drive for a couple of weeks either. It was a mess!

That was my first ER trip do to ultimate frisbee. :) The second will be featured another time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Romanced by a Flower

All right, I want you to stop and think about the last time you genuinely gasped or stopped what you were doing to savor a moment! Something was said or spotted that just absolutely took your breath away...

This happened to me yesterday, twice. And both items are totally unrelated...or maybe they are?

First, I had my car radio on (I admit I'm a channel surfer- classical, pop, oldies, a bit of country, and KSBJ -the local Christian radio station- are on my quick buttons). KSBJ was my station of the moment and just then Liz Jordan spoke about some stuff she'd been learning. God had perfect timing in what she said.

She talked about how she was about to have her baby girl (she's officially on maternity leave after yesterday evening, exciting!). Anyway, she spoke about how she had been frantically trying to make herself a better person and erase all her faults before her baby girl is born. She didn't realize that that was what she'd been doing until recently and it occurred to her that it was impossible. No matter what, she would not be a perfect person by the time her little girl was born- even by the time she dies she still will not be perfect.
However, she compared this struggle for perfection to our attitudes about meeting with Christ and it was dead-on with me.

Sometimes we try so hard to be perfect BEFORE we meet with God. We try to clean up our act, wait a certain amount of time since our last sin, etc. But that is ridiculous! Christ already paid for our sins- they are forgiven and NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39). I was astounded! I had been feeling uncomfortable about meeting with God (Satan was celebrating big time) this week and to get called out and hear truth in the middle of my drive filled me with such relief and incredible longing to read God's Word and spend time with Him! However I couldn't at that moment...I was headed downtown to meet with the lady whose wedding flowers I'll be doing in October.

During our meeting we visited Central Market and the Fannin flower markets! I LOVE flowers- the colors, smells, and the fun of mixing and matching them. I found some beautiful unique blooms at Central Market and bought $40 worth- hey it's still cheaper than a florist...and I haven't bought cut flowers in a while.

When we got to Fannin markets my first thought was "this is kind of slummy, I wonder if they'll have anything besides carnations and roses..." Upon walking into the cooler of flowers I almost jumped up and down with happiness! Right in the front, a flower that I have only found for sale in store one other time in my life- my FAVORITE- the PEONY. A few buckets of them. I gasped with pleasure and picking up a bundle of them asked the man running the store "How much?" $2.95 each. Smitten with their perfect petals and stunning smell I gazed at them as if they were long lost friends. I had to choose- 3 I decided would be a good number. Carefully I checked them over and selected three white buds leaving the others in the bucket. How hard! You may laugh, but I hope that you are able to find some things in life that give you as much pleasure as those flowers have given me the last 24 hours! I put a picture of them on my phone, carefully arranged them with my other flowers last night, and rearranged them again this evening. Everytime I walk by I stop to breathe deeply- sigh*

How does this flower and my earlier story about sins not keeping me from God relate...let me think on it.

In my life:
God reminded me through the radio that He was waiting for me to meet with Him- despite my human-ness and sin. I am His, molded after Him, created in His image, precious in His sight- and so are you, dear reader!
Secondly, while I was still chewing on that idea in my mind, he provided me with the opportunity to be dazzled by His creativity and passion- through a peony (or 3).

When I look at my flowers I smile- not only because they are flowers and one of my favorite things, they remind me of my Creator and Savior and God, Who is constantly drawing me to Himself despite my mistakes and imperfection. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love! This is love beyond comprehension- humans are meer reflections (and blurry ones at that) of God's perfect love. Do you know Him?

One last thing...that same night (last night) my quiet time was in Isaiah 33- which talks about sins being forgiven!
And my peony flowers...they are whiter than snow!
Such amazing detail God has!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Job Hunting 101

Job Hunting Tips from Hannah:
I am not an expert of course, but I have recently had some conversations with a few of my younger friends and feel the need to type this.
To you who are:
-about to graduate/ recently graduated from college
-searching for a job- whether it’s your first or you need a change in careers
-discouraged about work because it doesn’t offer enough hours or money to support you and your parents are helping you stay alive
-“disheartened and at a loss of what to do”
…my heart goes out to you!

Here are some tips from my past 18 months of life:

-Find a mentor to help edit your resumes and give you some interview pointers
-Get work experience (take a part-time job) while you look for your dream job
-No matter how hard your job is or how much you dislike it, ALWAYS do your best work! You need a reference letter when you leave and will feel better at the end of each day.
-Be a good listener where you work- sometimes this will give you the chance to get to know the people above you and you won’t feel like they are picking on you anymore when you see what they’re dealing with- plus you’ll earn their appreciation.
-Be patient- usually someone has to quit in order for those dream jobs to open up (that’s how I got mine!)
-Make every single interview important in your mind and act as if it was for the job you always wanted! You never know down the road if you’re going to get a call a month later (that’s what happened to me!)
-Take some questions to ask your interviewer, my favorite one: “Do you have any concerns about me being able to do the job?”- risky, but it landed me the job that same day! (Because I was able to talk to them about their concerns and tell them what I could do.)
-Be yourself during the interview (I know that you’re nervous and putting on the charm, but remember that they are going to expect the same person from the interview to be at work the next several years…so don’t act fake!)
-Be humble and apply for jobs you would’ve snubbed your nose at when you were in college- you need the experience interviewing AND you might actually LIKE one of the job offers!
-NO job is ever going to always be fun all the time…unless you work with dolphins…so plan on working hard and the occasional rough days!
-Be open to new adventures and opportunities!
-If you’re still in that part-time job, ask to do the jobs that no one else wants to do- this will get attention and give you a chance to shine!
-Ask friends and family how they got their jobs- it might give you ideas!

Oh I could go on and on, maybe you have some tips of your own? Comment!