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Yesterday, I had the fortunate experience of serving my city with Jury Duty.  This was my first time ever to be summoned and I’m not going to lie, I was really looking forward to it.  No work, excellent blog material, and maybe some drama.

I arrived on time, for once, and made my way to the waiting room, which was larger than any movie theater I’ve ever been in.  I’d say the room was maybe 1/4 full.  I decided to choose a seat on the outside perimeter where I’d have minimal exposure to my fellow samaritans.  Of course within 5 minutes of sitting down, a lady comes and sits two seats away.  My entire ROW was empty, and she chooses to sit two seats away.  Great.

After about an hour or two of reading for class (yes, class has started… major bummer), I heard my number called and so I made my way up to the criminal court.  We waited there in the hallway for a good 30 minutes, which gave me plenty of time to people watch since this was now a mix of criminals, lawyers and jurors (fyi it’s apparently pronounced jur-AR-s).  I noticed a young girl sitting on the bench with a t-shirt on that said, “Get This Monkey OFF MY BACK”.  I’m going to guess she was a criminal and not a juror.

Finally, they called for the 30 or so selected juror candidates to make our way into the courtroom.  We learned that the case we’d be potentially sitting in on was a DWI case.  It was at this moment in time that I started to sweat.  Not because I was about to be interrogated about drinking and driving, but because I had no idea how long we’d be in there and I really had to go.  I think I have a form of claustrophobia where I start to freak out when I don’t know when I’ll be able to go again.

The questioning went on for about an hour, and I was surprised at how many people either a) had a DWI or b) had a family member or friend that had gotten one.  We even had a veteran drinker in there who said he had gotten a DWI back in 1969.  I didn’t know they existed back then?  

I don’t know if it was because I looked like a good samaritan, because I looked smart, or because I had a look of desperation on my face, but somehow I made the final cut.  Along with 5 other characters.  One of which, in response to the question of whether or not he would refuse a field sobriety test if he were to be pulled over, answered “I’ve been pulled over so many times before, I’d have no problem taking the test”.  Excellent.

We broke for lunch, and in the cafeteria I got to watch the kid in our case, who was being tried for a DWI, eat his lunch.  I decided not to let any judgements about his table manners or food choice have any weight in my decision later that afternoon.  But, it did help that he had a big blob of ketchup on his plate.  Mmmm, ketchup.  I noticed him sitting with a group of other people, two of which I assumed were his brother and sister-in-law and the other couple, his parents.  It wasn’t until his uncle took the stand and informed us those were his parents and grandparents.  (Insert jaw dropping).  

During the trial, we got to watch the cop car video of the arrest.  My favorite part was when the kid was explaining to the cop that he wasn’t drunk, he said, “I’m not drunk, I just stopped and ate at Taco Bell”.  Does anyone that’s sober eat at Taco Bell?  I don’t think so, pal.

Somehow we weren’t able to find him guilty… it was because of that whole “beyond reasonable doubt” jazz.  There’s no doubt in my mind he had been drinking, but without him taking a breathalyzer or doing the field test, there’s no way we could be sure.  When the judge read the verdict of not guilty, he had the biggest sigh of relief on his face.  It was creepy, but at that same time we made eye contact.  Without words his eyes said to me, “Thank you for saving my life” and without words mine said to him “Watch yourself buddy, next time won’t be so easy”.

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and also the adventure of a lifetime.  Who’s lifetime?  Maybe someone named Bill who wears false teeth.  I sincerely hope it was not the adventure of my lifetime.  However, I still laughed my a$$ off this weekend.  A lot.

Courtney and Jeff tied the knot on Saturday, for which Daddy (Jay), Baby (Suz) and Step Baby (Me) made the trek from civilization down to the wonderful world of Palacios, Texas.  If only I’d have known what was in store for us this weekend, I probably would have done a more thorough pack job.  I’d have thrown in a set of sheets, a pillow, comforter, shower shoes, a vat of hand sanitizer, bug itch ointment, ghostbuster goop and possibly my bubble (ala Bubble Boy)… only if there was still room.

The weekend started off quite nicely with the three of us getting out of town early and enjoying the benefits of the HOV lane.  Once we got off of 35 in Wacko, the drive was quite scenic and we all thought we were in for a lovely weekend.  Things started to go downhill when, after donating to Jerry’s kids (Jerry’s kids), we stopped at a gas station outside of Giddings and met the author of the soon-to-be bestseller “From Slut Puppies to Whore Dogs”.  Yes, that was really the name of her book.  And yes, she worked behind the counter at the Exxon.  AND yes, her book was on display next to the cash register.  It’s really shocking she hasn’t been on Oprah yet.  But, don’t worry… she promised us she would one day.

After book club, we trekked to Columbus for dinner at Schobal’s, which is like Furr’s cafeteria on a bad day.  And nothing like Luby’s on a good day (just to set the record straight).  We enjoyed our first fried catfish of the weekend as well as arctic temperatures.  Daddy wanted some mac and cheese, but unfortunately they were fresh out.  So, after a few bathroom pics, we bolted out and headed for our final destination.  Pa-LA-cios, Texas.

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Since we knew we wouldn’t be arriving until after 10 p.m., we called the front desk at the world renowned Luther Hotel just to let them know we’d be in late.  They said just to ring the bell and someone would come out to give us our keys.  We hadn’t planned on staying there two nights, but when Mary had to drop out of the trip, we decided to go all the way and stay Friday night as well.  This seemed like an even better idea when Baby called to reserve rooms for Friday night and they were willing to give me a “tiny room” for free since it was just going to be me.  This should have been our first clue.  For some reason I was envisioning a room the size of a closet that just had a large baby crib in it.  Luckily, for me, it was a little more creepy than that. 

We pulled into town around 10, as anticipated, and when we finally found our palace, aka the Luther, we went inside to check in.  After a couple of rings on the bell, good ole Bill, the manager, walked out in a t-shirt and basketball shorts, but without his teeth.  I guess his dentures turn into pumpkins around 10.  This sight, accompanied by the musty aroma of the Luther, started to give the beets in my stomach a nervous feeling.  Which only intensified the more Bill talked, flapping his gums, and when I noticed his upper lip had the shakes.  

Buffalo Bill escorted us to our rooms, mine first, and on the way we noticed the lovely orange shag carpet, that had obviously been loved over the last 40 plus years, seeing as there were many rough patches where you could see through to the wood underneath.  The hallway on the second floor was dark and haunting.  Sorta what I envision the upstairs of Graceland to look like, dated and abandoned.  Bill opened my room’s door and I was welcomed into what I called my cabin.  Everything in there was wood.  (Insert the Full House woodpecker hand puppet character…”WOOD?”).

We then went to check out the “Magnolia Room” where Baby and Daddy were staying.  On the way up the stairs, Bill pointed out the pictures of Rita Hayworth and Shirley Temple, who had stayed at the hotel many, many moons ago.  Probably about the time they stopped cleaning rooms after each visitor.  The Magnolia was a step up from my cabin, it had a king sized bed and beautiful green carpet.  Once Bill left us, we all looked at each other in an “oh sh*t, what the eff are we gonna do” kind of way.  There was talk of driving 45 minutes to stay at a Best Western, but somehow we decided to just suck it up. 

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I had every intention of being brave and staying in my cabin alone, so Daddy escorted me back to 219 where I bid him adieu.  Quickly, I turned on the TV for a bit of normalcy, but that vanished as fast as you can say asbestos.  I made the mistake of looking under my bed for monsters and what I found was a dead roach, laying belly up.  I wondered how long he had been there?  With my Fear Factor instincts kicking in, I decided to pull back the sheets of my bed.  Just in case there were any scorpions or other bugs hanging out under there, they might make themselves present and accounted for.  Instead, what I found was a long black hair and a large stain on the sheets.  I again said to myself, “it’s ok, just take a Tylenol PM, you can do this”.  So, I went into the bathroom and after flushing the toilet, a spider jumped out from behind the handle.  That was it. 

I called Baby and Daddy and told them I had to come stay with them.  Luckily, we’re all besties and they let me share the king sized bed with them.  After about 30 minutes of our Cabo bedtime “name a disease/bodily function/disorder/anything related to the body” game creation, we fell asleep.

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Being the sentimental sap that I am, I believe in signs. The times when little things happen, that wouldn’t have significance to someone else, but they do to you… I believe they are more than just coincidences. Clearly, this isn’t the best description of signs, but trust me, I believe in them.

Earlier this week, we learned that a co-worker’s wife is pregnant. And just a few minutes ago, there was a discussion going on between him and another girl in our office, talking about the pregnancy. I was at my desk the whole time (and for once didn’t have my headphones on), so I was lightly eavesdropping on the conversation. The girl asked him when his wife was due. To which he replied, “October 26″. Not just “October” or “the end of October”, but specifically October 26.

Which was Peg’s birthday. And 5 years ago today, we lost her.

I smiled and looked up. I knew it was her saying hi. You can call me crazy, but what are the odds? In that moment, all the stars in my universe aligned to give me a gentle reminder of Peg. To the girl on the other side of my cube, she probably didn’t think twice about it. But, for me, it was a heartfelt connection to someone I’ve thought about and missed everyday for the last 5 years.

This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. A couple years ago, Erin and I travelled to Italy. The night before we left, I was packing my bags and decided to throw in this little travel journal I purchased in London on my last trip abroad. And leading up to this night, there was a picture of Peg that I had cut out of one of her Europe scrapbooks from her travels right out of college, that I had somehow misplaced over 2 years before this night. When I dug the travel book out of my book chest, I opened it to read what I had written thus far, which was nothing, and ended up finding that picture, tucked under the book cover. I again smiled and looked up. What were the odds I’d find this picture of her that I hadn’t been able to find for years, the night before I was to leave for Europe, the place she inspired me to see?

Just as she told me she would always be there, she always is. And for these little glimpses of hope, faith and love. I am thankful.

Note: Your regularly scheduled blogging sarcasm will return next week.

Sad news to report.  The name Emily has finally been overthrown from being the top baby name.  That is… after a 12 year reign.  Best of luck, Emma.

Also to note… Elvis is still in the top 1,000 names. Thank ya, thank ya very much.

Well, Hello Dolly!
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
We can tell, Dolly,
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong.

My apologies, dear readers, for whom I’ve left sitting in the dust for over two weeks.  I wish I had big news to give to explain my absence, but alas, it’s just the same old me.   The me who loves midnight strolls along the beach and talking on the phone for hours.

I typically am not one to get stage fright, but the daunting thought of writing my first entry back made me a little nervous.  I’m not gonna lie.  So, it’s going to be short and sweet.  Just a little warm-up to get the blood flowin’ again.

Recent happenings in the world of clarkyclark:
*I found a new dwelling and will be moving in T-1 week
*I’ve lined up a couple of trips for the summer: Seattle (to visit the birthplace of my beloved Friday morning coffee); New Braunfels (tubing); and hopefully NY/NJ to relive one of the funniest days of my life, spent with my favorite synchronized swimmer (Alyson).
*I also attended a wedding in Blue Bell country, which I will blog about soon when I have pictures up and running.
*I’m signed up to take two more accounting classes this summer at UTD.  Financial Statement Analysis and Planning, Control, and Performance Evaluations.  Jealous?

As you can see, nada lotta going on around these parts.  Surprisingly, I’ve been enjoying work a little lately, so perhaps that’s a reason I haven’t been blogging much.  I’ve been working.  What a concept!

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