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satyridae Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "satyridae" journal:

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October 22nd, 2010
06:49 pm


It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
This blog is moribund. I hang out here to read my friends' journals, but if you want to know what I'm up to, you'll have to come here to see:

Salamander House Blog

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April 9th, 2010
10:03 pm


My Jury Duty Story
The morning of jury duty I was herded through security but pulled out of line due to the suspicious epi-pens in my purse. I explained them to the satisfaction of the gendarmes and was allowed to enter the courthouse. I checked in and headed directly for the comfortable couch. It's interesting to me that every time I've gone to the jury pool, the majority of people choose to sit in the uncomfortable seats in rows while only two or three grab couches or tables at the back. Everyone was there by 8 am. At about 9:30, a judge came in and droned on in the most uninspiring fashion about juries and our duty to the country. Then they showed us the world's lamest film about what juries are and why. It was middle-school level at best, and I was stunned to see that they thought we were that clueless, and further stunned to see my fellow potential jurors watching with interest. After a while, they started calling people randomly to go up to be selected for the first trial. They called 30 people, and I was thrilled to be one of them.

We got up into the courtroom, and the judge welcomed us warmly. I was surprised to see that the defendant was sitting there watching us. They seated us in numerical order, and the Voir Dire process began. We passed a microphone throughout the jury pool and introduced ourselves, said what we did for a living, what our education levels were, what our hobbies were, if we lived with anyone, what our cohabitors did for a living, did we drive, and did we have any experience with domestic abuse. The questions were standard, then became much more pointed, mostly centered around sexual assault and abuse. I said I was an art-school drop-out, which got a laugh. People began whining about how they had pressing engagements and couldn't possibly serve another day. Most of them were dismissed. Then there were people who said anyone accused of any sort of sexual assault was by definition guilty. Those folks were also dismissed. After what seemed like an hour of questions, we were sent into the jury room while the judge & lawyers picked their 12 out of the 20-odd who were left.

When we were called back in, they called us in order. I was selected to be Juror #10. I was both elated and a little annoyed. I mean, I've always wanted to be on a jury, but being picked is a little less fun in real life. Because there you are, in charge of someone's life, more or less. It's a feeling that settles almost immediately around one's shoulders, and it's not a bit light.

We were sworn in and almost immediately sent out of the room. When we were called back in, the proceedings began. Allow me to digress for just a second and show my age- I was thrilled beyond words to look around the courtroom and see that the clerk, the bailiff, the judge and both attorneys were women. I know it's no big deal today, but there are times in my lifetime when it would have been. And I appreciate that it was normal.

The case was a criminal one, the state of Oregon versus the accused. The accusations were a count of attempted rape, a count of assault in the fourth degree, a count of menacing, a count of coercion, and a count of interfering with a call to 911. The defendant had an interpreter, as English was not his first language. We listened to testimony from the alleged victim, who was the estranged wife of the defendant. They have been married for 18 years, and she recently found a new love. The two of them have two children.

I won't drag you through all the details, but we heard a lot of conflicting testimony, a lot of stories with holes so big you could drive a truck through 'em, and then we were shown a video of the defendant being interrogated by some detectives who, it was plain to me, had an agenda. A list of charges to tick off on their clipboards, whereupon they could bundle this guy away to jail and close the files. The fact that he clearly didn't understand the questions didn't stand in their way for a second. It was scary, almost like watching all of your bad dreams come true. I have a pretty healthy distrust of authority to begin with, but seeing that tape made me feel like I am way too trusting, too credulous and too naive when it comes to The Law. Watching that tape made me want to cry. After the tape, there was some more testimony and then it got to be five-ish, and we were dismissed and told to return upon the morrow.

We got back on time, assembled in the jury room- and waited for about an hour and a half. Which was okay for me, I had books. But people were restive. Then we got called in and heard more testimony, including testimony by the defendant, through two interpreters, only one of whom seemed really good. The attorneys gave closing arguments and this went on for hours- long boring hours of repetition, dead horse flogging, and pedantic asides. By the time they were finished, it was well after six, so we had to come back for deliberations in the morning.

Few of us were on time. The courtroom had been moved to the attic, and the jury room was tiny and low and dark and windowless. One of the jurors was claustrophobic. The fluorescent lights flickered. It smelled funny. It was a miserable room. We spent a few hours there, but mercifully were moved to another room later. We agreed in pretty short order that the guy was guilty of the lesser charges- interfering, menacing, and coercion. We also agreed easily that he was not guilty of assault. Then we addressed the alleged attempted rape- and nine of us were certain there was reasonable doubt and three of us were certain that he was totally guilty. To those of us in the majority, it seemed perfectly clear that there just wasn't enough evidence to send this guy down the river for an alleged attempted rape -not to mention the clearly unreliable witness who had plenty of motive to want him out of her life entirely. To those in the minority, it seemed perfectly clear that any sort of discussion about sex after one party has said NO constitutes attempted rape. (Okay, that's total simplification, but it's also how I walked away feeling.) Also, the 3 who felt he was guilty saw no badgering or misconduct on the part of the interrogators, while the rest of us felt very strongly that the detectives had a quota to fill. This was perhaps the most interesting facet of my service, discussing how differently we each saw the same film. Mind-boggling, actually.

We argued and discussed and importuned for about 5 hours, to no avail. Finally we called the clerk in for instructions, and she told us to write down our conundrum and submit it to the judge, which we did. We were summoned back to the courtroom, where the judge asked each of us if we were quite certain that we would not change our minds. We each agreed that we would not. She then announced our verdicts on the other charges, and declared a mistrial on the one count.

She thanked us for our service, told us she'd come down to the jury room shortly for debriefing, and dismissed us. Most of us waited for her to arrive and asked all sorts of questions once she did. She told us that we were under no obligation to tell the attorneys how our vote was split on the attempted rape count, but that we could tell if we wanted. By acclaim, we decided to tell. Then she said that both attorneys were quite new and would appreciate any feedback we might have- so about 8 of us trooped back to the courtroom and told the lawyers what we thought worked, what didn't work, and how we reasoned our way to the various verdicts.

That part was hands-down my favorite part. I loved the majesty of the courthouse, I loved the shine on the brass finials at the newel posts on the stair corners from decades of hands caressing them. I loved the brave and original art I saw everywhere. I loved the fact I finally got chosen. I loved the fact that the 12 of us felt so strongly about the charges that we gave up 3 days in order to argue about this one man's fate.

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January 1st, 2010
02:30 pm


2009 Reading Recap
I read 298 books in 2009.
37 of them earned my highest rating.
Of those 37, 15 were first-time reads.
My 15 favorite new reads of 2009 were (in no particular order):

  • Awkward and Definition by Ariel Schrag
  • Potential by Ariel Schrag
  • One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
  • Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
  • How I Paid For College:A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater by Marc Acito
  • Wall and Piece by Banksy
  • Woodchuck Nation by Mark Saltzman
  • The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
  • My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • Cheek By Jowl by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • For Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre by Tim Decker
  • The Poet's Corner edited by John Lithgow
  • Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
  • The Voice of the Poet: Randall Jarrell

Reviewed behind the cut. ReviewsCollapse )

Rating breakdown:
56 re-reads, 22 of those rated 5.

37 books got 5 stars
109 books got 4 stars
96 books got 3 stars
33 books got 2 stars
20 books got 1 star
3 books got 0 stars

Genre breakdown:
114 Nonfiction
98 Young Adult
47 Fiction
30 Juvenile
6 Graphic Novels
3 Poetry

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December 27th, 2009
02:48 pm


She Opened Up A Book...
I have been thinking about the books I read and re-read- most notably the Betsy-Tacy series, of course, but also the Kushieline saga, the Lord of the Rings, and various others. I think that part of what draws me back time and again is the way my friends who live in the books are always just where I left them, no older, no feebler- but always the same.

The world I can go to, re-reading, is one full of comfort and warmth.

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December 5th, 2009
03:59 pm


While we're on the subject of words I love, here's a wonderful poem:


Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?
A childlike sun grows warm.
A grandson and a great-grandson are born.
You are led by the hand once again.

The names of the rivers remain with you.
How endless those rivers seem!
Your fields lie fallow,
The city towers are not as they were.
You stand at the threshold mute.

Czeslaw Milosz

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December 4th, 2009
10:49 pm


Only In Silence The Word
"This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss."

Le Guin, of course.

What's truer than this? Le Guin, who I come back to again and again, is full of joy, full of beauty at the same time she's fully aware of the gaping black hole beneath it all.

"And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content."

Both snippets are from _The Farthest Shore_ which deservedly won the National Book Award in 1973.

I find I come back to Le Guin again and again. Tonight is no exception.

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November 11th, 2009
09:47 am


Poem for Veteran's Day

I did not lose my heart in summer's even,
When roses to the moonrise burst apart:
When plumes were under heel and lead was flying,
In blood and smoke and flame I lost my heart.

I lost it to a soldier and a foeman,
A chap that did not kill me, but he tried;
That took the sabre straight, and took it striking
And laughed and kissed his hand to me and died.

A.E. Housman

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November 1st, 2009
02:02 am


Owen, Samhain

Originally uploaded by satyridae
Samhain is a day to pay one's respects to those who have gone down to death before one. It's also Hallowe'en these days. Owen came to me tonight in search of a cowboy costume, and I offered up my Uncle Dug's shirt. Which inexplicably fit The Lad. I couldn't look at him and keep from crying, I just couldn't. He's a beautiful boy all on his own, without the ancestral weight on his shoulders- but for my money, donning the ancestral shirt adds a certain gravitas, and somehow pays some debt I hardly knew I owed.

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October 6th, 2009
09:52 am


I Know Your Story

Same As It Ever Was...
Originally uploaded by satyridae
1970. The summer my brother died. The summer the Beatles broke up. What was I doing? Why, reading, of course! I've always been reading, but this is the only time I got to be famous for it.

I found this newspaper clipping in one of my grandmother's photo albums when I was back in Toledo. It makes me smile, but now when I smile I have two front teeth.

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October 5th, 2009
01:36 am


And Babe, I'll Do It All Over you.

Originally uploaded by satyridae
Here's a shot of the mural in Laurel's basement. That's Laurel, me, and Allison from left. One hopes the next owners think it's cool- as it's the only bit left.

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