The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Experience at Jury Duty

***This post does not include names or other details about any person involved and only about my experience witnessing the judicial process and jury selection.***

I've been summoned before, only this time I actually got called into a courtroom as a potential juror for a trial. Admittedly, I was curious and excited at the chance to see more of what goes on in a courtroom. There were 20 of us; each with a number used for identification. My number was 12. The number only has to do with the order in which you sit in the room and has no impact on whether or not you will be selected as a juror.

In the courtroom there was a judge, a defendant, prosecutors and defense lawyers. Roles I had only ever seen on TV and in the movies but now was seeing with my own two eyes. The courtroom was small. Way smaller then probably any courtroom you have ever seen on TV. The jury box had room for six plus an alternate. Fun fact: some trials only have six jurors.

First, the judge asks many questions ranging from do you know the defendant to have you any experience with the alleged crime to whether or not you'd be biased. Meanwhile, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers are all taking notes. Second, the prosecution has ten minutes to question everyone followed by the defense. In summary, every question is geared to figure out if you would be unbiased and impartial, fully able to adhere to the law. This seems simple and you're probably thinking that you would of course be unbiased and able to leave your personal emotions and thoughts out of the case and judge the case solely on the evidence and the law. However, listening to people answer the questions made me realize how much we as a people have so many different experiences, ideas and thoughts on life. I'm left wondering though, if everyone stated they felt that they could probably be unbiased despite personal thoughts, what exactly is the ideal answer? Or the ideal juror? Surely, everyone carries around their personal beliefs and surely most individuals can factually compare evidence to the given definition of a crime impartially. There are so many hypothetical questions asked during the juror questioning session that it was obvious many of us in the room found it hard to give a definitive answer. The lawyers cannot talk about the details of the alleged crime during this session so it's all a little gray.

I could feel my heart thumping out of my chest during most of this process. To be fair, I had a lot on my plate personally and I wasn't in the best mental place. When the defense called my number, 12, I panicked. I literally have no idea what he said. I squeaked out an answer only to have the other defense lawyer ask me to speak up. "I'm sorry, I'm nervous", I quickly blurted out. My voice was shaky. He drilled for more details. I could feel my eyes start to water up as they darted across the room looking for a way out. What in the heck is wrong with me, I thought!

Literally, I was the only one questioned who could barely speak. It is comical to think back on. Apparently, without even really knowing it, I have a fear of public speaking. Especially in front of a room full of strangers and especially regarding a criminal case in an official courtroom. Ah, woe is me. Sometimes I really hate myself.

After the questioning, all of the jurors, except the one person who was excused due to the fact that she already knew the defendant, were taken to the Jury Room. There was barely room for us all as we sat around the table. The feeling was much more relaxed. Maybe 10 minutes had passed, if even. The bailiff returned to escort us back to the courtroom. In a school yard pick starting with the prosecutors, juror members were picked out of the jury box one by one. Each one that was picked out, left the room immediately and was replaced by another. Soon my number had to move into the box but just as quickly as I sat down I was asked to leave.

I'll never know which of my fellow juror members were officially on the jury that day but I did see number 16 walking on the sidewalk outside so I know the lawyers were making their way through the options. There were 20 total.

It was a pleasure acting out my civic duty to our country in service to the judicial system. It is our right in the 6th amendment to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. Remember everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On the Importance of Changing Up Routines

By happy accident or unlucky mishap the kids and I left the house at 6:32pm. A time when on any other evening, the house would be chaotic with the bewitching energy of any house with small kids just before bedtime. A time that is usually my least favorite part of the day. And why is it so? Because it is the last thing I have to get through before I can have my time; my uninterrupted time without children.

We raced out the door headed downtown to get to the tech repair before closing. We made it. Phase 2, get to the electronics store 13 miles away in hopes of finding the right part. Found it. Phase 3, get the kids dinner. Done. It's now 8:30. It's now 1 hour after the normal bedtime. And what are we doing? We're laughing in the car. We're watching a gang of motorcyclists speed down the roadway, four of which were popping wheelies. The glow of the setting sun warms our faces as we head North towards home.

At the end of it all I feel more refreshed than I have all week at least.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Conflict of Interests: Second-hand Goods

Our dumps around the globe are full. A single person truly can make a difference even if it's just by the ripple effect alone. I long to be a better steward of our planet and a better steward of my belongings in general. Part of being a good steward to me means not buying so many things.

Whenever it makes sense, I try to buy second-hand. This generally matches more of my aesthetic anyway (one could argue, any aesthetic could manage with finding the right second-hand fit). Second-hand is often cheaper when looking at the right comps.

Second-hand does have certain draw backs that I have a hard time overcoming. First of which being smell. If you've ever walked into any Value Village or Goodwill store then you know exactly what I mean. The stench in those stores seeps into every single object found. It really is gross and is enough to make me never want to shop there (even though I know there are treasures to be found). The way I overcome this is by shopping second hand on Craigslist, eBay, ETSY or second-hand stores that are more collected and less dumped. eBay and ETSY can be risky though because you don't know for sure if the item(s) will smell but depending on what you're purchasing that may not apply. In the past I've messaged the seller to ask if the item smells.

I've gotten quite good at buying used furniture. Maybe it's the season of life with young kids that has inspired me so. Quality furniture does not need to be bought brand new. In fact, one is probably more likely to find affordable quality furniture used as most brand new furniture these days is disposable, low quality. They really don't make things the way they used to. Things used to be made to last.

Here's where the conflict of interest arises. I want books. I want to buy used books because they are 1)cheaper and 2)environmentally friendly. Certainly, I don't need to buy a brand new copy when there are hundreds of perfectly good used copies floating around. Half Price Books would be a great place to shop (mostly stench free) but there isn't close by. I check Value Village and getting the smell out of books from that place seems an impossible feat. So, I come home, I look on Amazon. Problem: I don't want to buy a gross, smelly old book. Used books that are in "like-new" condition would be ideal but they are usually priced very similar to brand new and for fifty cents, I'm thinking, I might as well have a beautiful, fresh, crisp new version of the book. Before you know it I've just contributed to the mass production of goods and the mass filling of the land-fills in our country and around the world!

Second conflict: used clothing. This to me can be gross. Hand me downs are one thing but buying used clothing from someone I don't know tends to gross me out. Last year, I bought a used shirt on eBay. Overall I would say it was a success. The only drawback being that I use unscented detergent to wash my own clothing so when I come across clothing that is washed with scented detergent the smell is powerful and usually gives me a headache and contributes to the grossness factor. Walking about in a shirt that doesn't smell like me is not comfortable. Needless to say, that shirt was a fail and I resold it on eBay. This year, I bought a used pair of shorts on eBay and this was victorious! I love them and am so very happy that I finally bought a used piece of clothing that works!

Second-hand objects. You win some, you lose some. Ultimately I do my best to make intentional decisions about what I buy and hope that I continue to do as best I can until I can do better. I guess I can't beat myself up about buying a few new books but the principle remains and leaves me feeling like I can do more to make Earth conscious decisions.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Playlist: Summer Mix '18

Here's to driving down the road, windows rolled down, music playing. Here's to after hours BBQs, swimming in the lake and chilling by the campfire.

This playlist is built to last with songs that stand the test of time; a mix of old and some new. This is definitely the list you'll be singing out loud to. I've been listening to this mix almost every time I get in the car. The kids even request it by name! I'm planning on taking a road trip down some old country roads, hanging my hand out the window and listening with a giant grin smeared across my face. I hope this playlist gives you the feel good vibes of summer you've been missing.

Note: not all the songs are playable in the sample below. Press the Spotify symbol in the upper right hand of the playlist to open in Spotify and then click "Save To Your Library" to take the playlist with you on the go. OR you can click here to go directly to the playlist and follow along.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Beginning of Summer

Summer is officially here and with it came my motivation and inspiration to take more pictures, write more blog posts and try to live life the way I've always wanted. This entails decorating for the holidays, enjoying the weather, spending time outdoors and being with family and friends. In a world with no limits, it would also involve a lot of Pottery Barn because their catalogs are perfection. That and Martha Stewart whose been inspiring me since high school. Who doesn't want to throw a well decorated summer soiree complete with twinkling lights and a fire for toasting marshmallows.

For me summer is about good times outside. It's about s'mores forever, red white and blue, lakes/oceans/rivers, shorts, flowers, dining al fresco and road trip adventures.
Summer is warm.
Schools out for summer.

What does summer mean to you?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

About Saving Money

It's recently come to my attention that I need to be saving for known future expenses.

This humors me and here's why: in my family I'm the money kid. The one who was always finding ways to make money, count money and save money. It's an interest of mine I would say; money is.

I digress. It has recently come to my attention that I need to be saving money for known future expenses.

Known future expenses include things like auto insurance, vacations, season tickets to sporting events, auto expenses, medical/dental procedures etc. While auto insurance can be paid in monthly payments throughout the year, you can usually save a few bucks by paying in one or two lump sums. So right now I'm putting X amount of dollars into a separate "Auto" savings account. In this account I'm also putting X more dollars into this account for the future cost of car maintenance and the eventual buying of a new car. Cars require maintenance, this I know, so it makes sense to put some money aside so that when my auto maintenance minder turns on I don't have to make a big "unexpected" payment. I can go about my usual business and keep spending my discretionary funds on what I want instead of an oil change or new tires. Someone reading this is thinking 'duh!' among other things but this idea was ground breaking for me.

The same is true for vacations. It has been Matt and I's habit to use Christmas bonuses and tax returns to fund our annual SoCal trip. This year we'll be better able to enjoy that bonus because every month we set aside X dollars into a savings account called "Vacation - Entertainment". Mind blowing, I know. This account is also used for season tickets to the Sounders. And in the hypothetical future, could be used for expensive furniture or tech items. (Or really whatever I want because I make up the rules).

I have four savings accounts right now. Each with a different name. Every time I log on to my bank, I can see exactly where my money is at and where it's going as opposed to having a single savings account with no real meaning. There's a save to save account, save for car, save for house and save for entertainment. This also helps me from overspending in certain areas when I would normally pay no mind. For example, right now mid-June, I'm not buying clothing. I'm already capped on random shopping and I know if I spend more it means I can't put that money into one of my savings accounts. Let’s be honest here though, if I overspend on shopping, my vacation fund is never sacrificed. Never.

Creating and maintaining budgets is something of a hobby for me and now I'll just add creating savings accounts for known future expenses to that list. I'd love to talk money organization strategies with anyone needing advice - send me a message if you'd like.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Year, New Routine

Truthfully, this has nothing to do with the fact that it's a new year and everything to do with the fact that I visited my doctor in mid-December. I learned nothing new at the visit, as usual. It's always the same old things and I know exactly what I need to do.
I just never end up doing it.

My doctor told me her number one recommendation was exercise. For more energy and more positive vibes, exercise.

Well, it wasn't anything I didn't know that I needed to be doing but it was just the push I needed to make a change. I had been trying to incorporate more exercise into my life for the past two years. Ever since I started working from home and moved to a neighborhood with a lower walk score, my physical activity plummeted. Before it was just a part of how I lived my life. I walked everywhere I went, up hill, down hill, hilltop. Work, grocery store, parks. I literally didn't drive my car unless I was visiting my family on the weekends. It was the most ideal...but...I digress, my life looks different now.

The reason I made the check-up appointment in the first place was because I was tired of feeling down and out. Losing weight alone wasn't enough of a motivator for me to start exercising BUTTTTTTTTTTT feeling positive, healthy and inspired has been working like a charm so far.

Now, when I tell you what I do to exercise, you may laugh. I certainly do every day. And every lap. That I make running around the inside of my little home. That's right, I jog for 20 minutes inside of my 1000 sqft, lower level of a house, apartment. I have way too many excuses (some good and some bad) as to why I can't at least go outside, run around the lake, or join a gym and for the life of me, I cannot keep up the habit of YouTube exercise videos.

So I jog inside. To shake things up a bit, every ten minutes I do some laps jogging with high knees. As I acclimate more and more, I'm sure I will add in more activity to challenge myself whilst jogging inside. I have no excuse to not run inside. The interior of my home is circular so I just keep going in circles. I wear whatever I'm wearing at the time, including jeans, sometimes slippers or just plain, ol' bare feet. Admittedly and inevitably I end up unbuttoning the jeans for better movement.

It's been almost 3 weeks; I'm keeping the momentum going every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I'm feeling quite happy about it. Using what I have with where I'm at and working it well.

Any tips on fancy tricks to add in while I'm running (in circles around my house 😜)?