Big wheel (of justice) keeps on turning

You’ll be pleased to know there is still some justice in this world. And, obviously, you have me to thank.

Here’s how my jury duty experience went down.

I arrived to the court house around 10:00 a.m. as requested. (One bonus to jury duty: getting to sleep in a smidge.)

My fellow jurors and I waited for the bailiff to escort us into the court room. You’ll be pleased to know that the courtroom looked pretty much exactly like you think it would. (AKA, what it looks like on Law & Order.)

My fellow mock trial nerds will also be extremely pleased to know that real court is pretty much EXACTLY like mock trial court. (Minus the extremely colorful characters and 16-year-old attorneys.) There was even a visual aid mounted on a foam core board. I mean, I was having severe flashbacks.

The trial itself went fairly quickly (we were only deciding liability). The plaintiff testified; the defendant testified. There were opening and closing arguments. One thing that I wasn’t expecting was that the judge gave us a breakdown of the laws relevant to the case.

After the arguments, we retired to our jury chambers (ok, it was a room on the floor above the courtroom) to deliberate and make our ruling.

Yes, I did feel a tiny thrill of power. So sue me. (GET IT?)

After we delivered our verdict, the judge thanked us for our time and then (and this was a surprise) the attorneys asked us to wait around a bit so they could ask us some questions. Then they basically asked us to rate their lawyer-ing. Which was awkward. But hopefully helpful for them?

So anyway. I’m now free from jury duty for the next four years, which is nice. And the case itself was probably as easy as it could have been.

Although, it has to be said, all those times our mock trial judges told us that we were better prepared than most attorneys they’ve seen? I get it now. These guys seemed like they were just winging it. But I digress.

Anyway. That’s how I kept the justice system intact. You’re welcome.

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What to wear to jury duty

I’m starting to think me saying I’m bored is the kiss of death. I mean, the last time I thought “I haven’t had a good New York moment in a while,” I was almost hit by a car. So…I should stop whining.

Mere hours after I posted this a couple of days ago, I found out that I was, in fact, going to experience something new — I got called in for jury duty.

All together now: WHOMP, whahhhhhmp.

It was the first time this had ever happened to me, and I’m honestly not sure how it happened at all. I still haven’t updated my driver’s license to my Queens address (whoops). Yet somehow, it happened.

The day was pretty boring — I arrived at the courthouse bright and early to wait in line with my fellow citizens, then waited in a room through “orientation,” then waited some more until I was called in for interviews around 3 p.m.

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 6.02.12 PMLike most people, I had planned on trying to get out of it. Saying something crazy, like how I could usually tell if people were guilty just by looking at them, had crossed my mind.

But by the time I actually got in the little room, I was tired. The case presented (a liability trial determining fault in a minor car accident) was so innocuous, I couldn’t even work up a fake emotion about it. Plus, the attorneys assured us the trial wouldn’t even last a full day, making it “not the worst case you could get stuck on.” (Their actual words.)

And, honestly, they spent more time asking me about my employer than anything else.

So I guess by default I came across as fairly level-headed. Or, you know, just not crazy.

I was the last juror they picked. I may have said, “Seriously?” out loud when it happened.┬áBecause, really, when was the last time you heard about someone actually sitting on a jury?

Anyway. I have to go back tomorrow for “my case.” The lessons I learned from my first time around?

Here’s what to wear (and bring) to jury duty:

What to wear to jury duty.

Bring a jacket because the rooms are cold. Bring snacks because they will NOT be provided. (This should probably have been obvious to me, but I thought there would at LEAST be a snack machine.) Bring a book because using the Kindle app on your phone will drain the life out of it. And bring a charger because inevitably you will drain the life out of your phone answering work emails. Also, a notebook and bottle of water because, dude, it’s like an 8-hour thing and you’re going to get bored.

So I hope you all think of me fondly tomorrow while I’m upholding justice. It’s a tough job, but someone has got to do it.

Stuck.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m in a little bit of a holding pattern.

I mean, everything is good. There’s just not that much going on.

Work is fine. Everything with Joey and me is good. Life is pretty much business as usual.

So why aren’t I completely at peace with that?

I’ve mentioned before how I have problems being content. I’m an achiever, so if I’m not striving toward some goal, I think I feel a little lost. Like I don’t have a direction. I’ve never been very good at coasting.

Which is why (I assume) whenever I get too comfortable with anything, or feel like it’s not that much of a challenge anymore, I get a little restless.

And goodness knows I don’t have much to blog about when I’m overly content. Meaning you guys are the real victims here. (Right, guys?)

Fortunately, I think we’re just in a bit of a slow patch. In the next couple of months, I have a half marathon (my first in over a year!), I might be doing a tough mudder (more on that later), and I’m heading home to Iowa for the Thanksgiving break (could NOT be more excited). Hopefully those adventures will bring about a few interesting stories.

Maybe this is just a seasonal transition. Anyone else feeling a bit stuck-in-a-rut?

Season of want

I don’t believe in overly restricting oneself. I’m a moderation kind of gal.

Which is why it might surprise you to know that September has been a season of restrictions.

It started in mid-August. I have recently been delving back into running after an almost year hiatus due to an injury (more on that later). As a result, I noticed my body changing back into how it used to be (AKA, more fit), but there were some things that weren’t changing quite as quickly as I would have liked.

I’m looking at you, bulge of fat around my bellybutton. You’re not fooling anyone.

I mean, I know I’m 26, also known as the year when your body turns on you if you’re female. But come on. I work out almost every day. I eat reasonably well. I feel like that means I’ve earned the right to swimsuit shop with wild abandon.

Alas, that has not been the case.

That got me thinking — was my diet really as healthy as I thought it was? Human beings are chronic underestimators when it comes to their daily calorie intake. Was it possible I was just deluding myself?

Then I started paying more attention to what I was eating. At work, there’s an abundance of snack foods and an even bigger abundance of stress driving us all to consume said snack foods. And part of my mission to enjoy living in the city more has meant a lot more dinner out, almost always accompanied by a drink or two. While I used to only drink one weekends (and usually only one day at that), I realized I was now drinking up to four times a week. Doubling the amount of alcohol calories is kind of a tough thing to exercise away.

So while I wasn’t exactly packing on the pounds, I wouldn’t mind losing a few that I had gained while I couldn’t run. Which got me thinking about cutting a few things out completely for the month.

Around that time, my friend Diana told me she was doing a dry month in September. Another coworker/friend, Courtney, had also suggested we both give up sugar for a month at some point.

No time like the present to cut everything out, right?

Which leads me to today. For the last 16 days (we started on the 3rd), I haven’t drank or eaten sweets (minus a single glass of wine last weekend…Diana went to a wedding and I went to the Long Island wineries, so we each had a glass at our respective events).

I’m not sure what it says about me, but the not drinking has actually been harder than the not eating sweets. I mean, I can avoid sugar if I want to. We don’t really keep any in our apartment. But drinking is much more prevalent. You have a few extra hours on the weekend? Let’s grab a drink! You want to catch up with a friend but don’t have time for dinner? Let’s grab a drink!

Obviously, I’ve realized that this can also mean I order a seltzer and can still have just as good of a time. But I do hate when someone else feels pressured not to order what they want just because I can’t. (So if we go out this month, PLEASE get the wine if you want it.)

While I’m proud of my discipline, part of me still hates the idea of cutting anything out entirely. I’m worried I’ll rubberband back come October. Guess we’ll see.

Have any of my readers done anything like this? I’m curious how you felt about it.

What I’ve been reading, September 2013

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm. (A title I actually wear proudly…I never understood being embarrassed about being a bit of a nerd. Nerds win every time.)

When I was younger, I would actually read constantly, even as I was getting ready for school or walking down the sidewalk. My mom would get irritated as I appeared to dawdle, forever telling me to “put down the book and come on.”

Sassy child that I was, I would usually snap back something like, “Do you know how many parents would love to have a child they had to tell to stop reading?!”

My name is Justine, and I’ve been a sassafras since 1987.

Today, I read an average of a book a week. Two if I’m reading something particularly fluffy. I’m constantly on the hunt for what to read next (my Kindle and Amazon’s endless supply of easy-to-download material has been a blessing and a curse), so I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve read recently in case anyone else is in the market.

In no particular order…

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
This one was on my list for a while. I’d loved Bossypants by Tina Fey, and everyone said this book had a similar feel. Plus, I’m always on board for a humorous memoir by a sort-of awkward gal I admire.

I thought this one was funny, but not quite the laugh-out-loud riot that Bossypants was. It’s also an insanely quick read, so don’t count on it to get you through more than a handful of subway rides. Still, I recommend it for something light.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
I hadn’t seen the movie, but after all the fuss about this story line at the Oscars, I was curious. After reading it, I honestly can’t believe the movie will be better than the book. The characters are so vividly drawn, and the plot is both hilarious and heartrending at times. Highly recommend this one.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This came as a recommendation from my friend Erin, a fellow lover of young adult lit. They’re making it into a movie next year, so I recommend getting it on your radar before then. Erin cites this as one of her favorite books, and while I didn’t have quite the same reaction to it, it is lovely and tragic in a way only YA can be (two teens with cancer meet in a support group and fall in love…the ending isn’t altogether unpredictable, but it’s also not corny in any way). Plus, I think it’s rare to find a male author who can capture the angst of being a teen girl well, and John really nails it.

The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyI hate playing favorites, but this is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. (And, like I said, I’ve read a lot.) It will appeal to the Hunger Games crowd (most of the story is told from the perspective of teens during an alien invasion that has devastated the planet), but it’s a smarter science fiction that readers who think themselves above the HG crowd will also appreciate (it’s a little more Ender’s Game, actually). The biggest selling point, though, is that it’s almost entirely unpredictable. I’m really difficult to shock in books (I mean, there are only so many plot lines out there, right?), and I genuinely did not know what to expect for most of this book. It’s just really, really enjoyable. It’s also going to be a trilogy — albeit the second book doesn’t even have a release date yet — so you’d be super cool to get in on this now.

The Ender’s Game Quintet by Orson Scott Card
Speaking of Ender’s Game, I also read this quintet this year. I’ve since discovered that there’s an almost inexhaustible amount of subsequent books exploring every facet of the series, but I feel pretty satisfied with the plot after reading these four books. The first one will always be my favorite, but if you’re a commit-er like me, you’ll want to read all four. Warning: If you don’t like science fiction, you won’t like these. No matter what anyone tells you, they are not really like Hunger Games at all except the first book has children waging a war.

The Selection/The Elite by Kiera Cass
Just so you don’t get the wrong idea that all I read is fancy-schmance science fiction books (and in the interest of honest, total disclosure), I feel it’s only fair to mention that I’ve also gotten into this soon-to-be trilogy. It’s basically a mix of The Hunger Games (sensing a pattern here?) and The Bachelor. Seriously. It’s not really a book series I brag about reading, but it was perfect for reading by the pool in Florida. If you want something mindless but entertaining, pick it up. The third book is out next year as well.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Finally, let’s add a little mystery to my recommendations. I read this book because it was recommended by the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, on (I think) Glamour.com. It’s about a serial killer who is able to travel through time (you have to read to find out how), making it nearly impossible to catch him. One of his would-be victims survives, though, and becomes obsessed with catching her killer. The book is good, but it didn’t get my heart racing as much as I thought it would. An interesting take on an otherwise overdone plot, though.

I’m currently reading Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (another Flynn rec on Glamour), but I don’t really want to say anything until I’ve finished. I’ll keep ya posted.

So what has everyone else been reading? Lord knows I need a few more download ideas.