Thursday, May 29, 2014

For My Consideration

Earlier today I was asked by a four-time loser in the marriage game if my husband had changed after we got married.  Had his behavior altered significantly from his dating persona to his spousal persona?  After a brief consideration, I said no.

I thought about that question for the rest of rest of the day.  I realized I was wrong. 

When we were dating, he gave me roses.  Now he gives me rose bushes.

Make of that what you will.  

Monday, May 05, 2014

Just a quickie...

Do you remember Angela, the Taco Lady from my last post?  The one who stabbed her boyfriend because he couldn't produce the promised comestibles?  Or so she said, although it turned out to be more about him refusing to participate in a threesome with her and the neighbor lady, rather than a dearth of Mexican food.

Angela came to see me today.

Believe it or not, she is unemployed.  I began to question her about looking for work.  She receives disability for "mental issues", but can still work part time.  Paying for probation and paying off her bail bond, in addition to keeping a roof over her head, is going to take some doing.  She's going to need a part-time job.

When I presented her with that fact, her eyes widened with simulated horror.

"I can't!  I just can't do that!" she said, gasping for a panicky breath.  

"What's stopping you?"

"I have agoraphobia!  I can't be around people - I don't do crowds!"

As God is my copilot, so to speak, I did not say the first thing that popped into my head:  'Since when is three NOT a crowd?!'

Monday, April 28, 2014

Menu Boards Make Me Blush

I just realized why Randy refused to cook tacos for dinner tonight.

Last week I spent most of my time either in court or driving to counties where we were having court.  Court hearings are, as you've no doubt noticed, my favorite part of the job.  Monday morning was completely consumed with hearings and waiting for hearings.  I got several new probationers out of the deal and one of the newbies was Angela.

Angela is not from around here.  She and her son came to Texas from the Pacific Northwest at the behest of her boyfriend several years ago.  They assimilated quickly and the son is currently a long-term guest of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice due to his propensity unauthorized house sitting.

Despite promising beginnings, things didn't work out for Angela and her paramour.  They have been "on and off" for the last couple of years.  It's a shame really.  They made a handsome couple - she with her neck tattoo and he with his uncanny resemblance to an ugly Danny Trejo. Love did not conquer much, and Angela was in court on Monday to plead guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  She got 10 years probation for knifing UDT.

Angela came to my office after lunch to begin the probation process. After gathering some data and explaining the rules and regulations, I asked her how it came to be that she stabbed Ugly Danny Trejo.

According to Angela, UDT called her on the afternoon in question and requested that she come over so they could talk.  He had amends to make and wanted to see her.  And he was making tacos.

Angela, who admits she'd been drinking, accepted his offer and went over to his house.

At this point, Angela paused in her narrative.   Her gaze faltered and she looked down, fingering the paperwork in her lap.

"Well?" I asked.  "What happened?  Why did you stab him?"

Angela's eyes hardened as she looked up from beneath bushy brows and answered, her voice grave.

"He didn't have any tacos."

 The End.

Well, it should be the end.   But it's not.

I managed to contain my laughter at Angela's highly serious comment and finished the interview.  She left with a fairly complete understanding of the terms and conditions of her release.  It was a busy afternoon, with several such interviews and when they were finished, I leaned back in my chair to relax for a moment.  I picked up the District Attorney's file on Angela's case which sat atop a precarious pile on the corner of my desk.

The DA is good enough to give me her files when we finish a hearing so I can go through it and copy anything that might be helpful to my supervision.  I knew there was something interesting in this file from the wicked smile that turned up a corner of her mouth as she slid the it across the counsel table to me at the end of the plea.  She never said a word.

Barely glancing at the letters back and forth between DA and defense attorney, as well as the bills from the hospital detailing the amount of restitution due for medical care, I kept turning pages until I found what I was looking for - the offense report.

I skimmed the officer's narrative and was looking for witness statements when I found it.  Fourteen pages of full color photographs of Angela's cell phone screen showing a long progression of text messages.

It turns out, that shortly after her arrival at Ugly Danny Trejo's house, Angela began texting the next door neighbor.  The gist of the texts were as follows:

Angela: Hey, you wanna come over and have a threesome?

Neighbor Lady: With who?  You and your ex?

A: Yeah.

N:  I don't know.  Your ex-husband?  That's kind of weird.

A:  Come on over!

N:  I've never done a threesome before.


N:  Well, only with two guys.  Not with another woman.

A: Come on - you know you want to!

N: Do you have dope?

A: No dope. (That was the most surprising bit of the entire exchange.)

N: I'm nervous.  Do you have alcohol?

A: Yeah - we've got lots of alcohol.

N:  I don't know.  Still nervous.  Will you hold my hand?




N:  Hello?

A:  He's really still, but I think he's still breathing. 

N:  What?!  What are you talking about?

A:  There's a lot of blood.  And he's really still...

N:  What is going on?!  What have you done?!


N: Angela?  What is going on?!


N:  Where are you?

N: Angela...?

N:  Should I still come over?

I sat up straight, dropping my feet from the edge of the desk and flipped furiously back to the witness statements.  Turns out, UDT was not only not interested in menage a trois, but he wasn't interested in any kind of sex with Angela, at all.  He just wanted to thank her for 'being there' for him during a recent emotional upheaval and he'd hoped they could bury the hatchet.

Angela seemed to be all for the hatchet burying part.  She got pissy and stabbed him in the gut and the hand.

I've told this story a couple of times this week.  The clean version, which ends with "He didn't make any tacos", is chuckle worthy.  The 'trois' version illicits a different level of response.  Men and women definitely react to it differently.  The women laugh out loud.  The men laugh but seem to be weighing their options in case they are confronted by a similar situation.  I reacted with the snarky, which proved to be a mistake when I got blindsided by unexpected snark from another quarter.  I'll probably never be able to look at the beer store menu board again without blushing.

And all of that is why Randy wouldn't cook tacos for dinner tonight - dinner with Katie's boyfriend who was meeting us for the first time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hamilton Burger Would Not Approve

I like to wait.


I like to wait when I am waiting for court to start.  Only then. 

Today, the Judge, DA, court reporter, bailiff, an interpreter and I cooled our heels for an hour while an over-zealous attorney made sure his client understood not only the plea bargain but the underlying statutes governing the decision, the constitutional supports behind it, the intentions of the original framers of same and the general dyspepsia of the whole Magna Carta assemblage.

The clerk from the tax assessor's office who was going to be acting as the defendant's in-court interpreter (the family functioned in this roll while the defendant met with his attorney) had never been in court before.  She sat silently in a chair at the front of the bar, more apprehensive than any of the defendants.  After about half an hour of free-gratis entertainment courtesy of the judicial floor show, the DA balanced her chair on it's back legs, hooked her high heels on the bottom of the counsel table and grinned at the clerk from over her shoulder.  She apologized for the delay and told the woman, "We really do work around here.  There's just nothing we can do until the defense attorney gets ready."

The clerk looked a little shell-shocked, but tried to smile and remained silent as we returned to a spirited discussion of the cultural significance of Dazed and Confused and Matthew McConnaughey's Oscar acceptance speech.

At long last, Mr. Holland and his Opus entered the courtroom prepared to face the seat of Justice.  We proceeded rather painfully slow through that hearing, as the attorney was apparently being paid by the word.  Despite the verbosity, the Judge remained sympathetic to the plight of the illegal alien he was about to send careening intro the open and welcoming arms of the Texas prison system.

He let the man testify, via the highly nervous translator, to all manner of merriment.  The defendant told the Court he was having health issues, then said something that caused the interpreter to do a double take.  The attorney caught the man's meaning and said dubiously, "He wants to show you his problem."

I knew this had to be good and I whirled in my chair to face the defendant full-on, not wanting to miss the show.  The DA, still balanced on the back two legs of her chair, rolled her eyes and stared up at the ceiling.  The Judge, comprehending what was about to happen, threw up his hands and said, "No!  Really!  I don't need to see!"

But, in the immortal words of Ray Stevens, it was too late.  He'd done been incensed.

The defendant whipped his shirt up over his head, revealing the most distended gut I've seen this side of a Sally Struthers commercial, complete with a deeply angry and inflamed colon surgery scar.

The Judge sent him to prison.  But not before promising to do what he could to expedite medical treatment for the defendant.  He obviously wasn't malingering.

That was just the first case.  The next case was a per-trial hearing for a defendant famous for bawling through all of his previous court appearances.  His attorney, Mr. Slightly-Sleazy addressed the court and explained that he and his client had talked on several occasions since the last hearing and the client no longer wished to fire the attorney. 

However, during their most recent talk, held in a witness room while the previous case was being heard, the defendant made his attorney privy to information which Mr. Slightly-Sleazy was going to be forced to investigate, requiring the attorney to request more time before the case was set for trial.

This information, most notably Code 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 - at this point all heads snapped up and questioning eyes turned towards the attorney - if verified, would significantly change the direction of their defense.  If Code 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 was not verified the attorney would be making some "other motions".

At this point I sat on the edge of my seat, thoroughly flummoxed, wondering what the hell was going on.

Simultaneously, the Judge leaned on his elbow, forehead  propped on his palm, and peered at the attorney around the side of his hand, one Vulcan-esque eyebrow disappearing into his hairline.  "Counselor, you have completely lost the Court.  What is Code 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9?"

"Well, it's something I'm going to have to investigate, Your Honor.  I need to talk to some phone comapnies to see if it's even possible.  And, depending on what I find out, I may have to file some 'other' motions."

The Judge stared at the attorney for a moment longer, no less confused than before.  At length he sighed, straightened in his chair and granted the continuance.    Once the attorney and the client left the courtroom, we looked at one another, looking for some sign that someone, anyone, knew what had just happened.

"What the hell is Code 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9?!" the Judge demanded.

The red-headed deputy with the Borg/Bluetooth device permanently attached to his earlobe, who was acting as bailiff for the day, got up from his post by the door and proceeded to explain.

"It's supposedly a code that, when punched into a cell phone, will put you in touch with the FBI agent who evidently gave the defendant permission to drive down the highway at over 100 miles an hour, waiving papers out the window while fleeing from police, as well as authorizing the use of all the meth the guy smoked, as a part of their 'ongoing investigation'."

"Ohhhhh," everyone said.  The Judge nodded jurisprudently.  "Well.  I guess now we know what the 'other' motion is going to be," he said.  "I'll go ahead and schedule this case for a competency hearing."

As the Judge reached for his calendar, the attorney and defendant for the third case came in and settled at the defense table.  The defendant made a good-natured show of greeting the players in his own personal courtroom drama.  He was the absolute epitome of the George Martin character from the first Police Academy movie.

There was a brief wait while paperwork was procured.  During the lull, the DA teased the young attorney about not wanting to take his case to trial. 

"I want to go to trial here," Mr. GQ said.  "But you never give me any cases that I could win!"

"Do you know why that is?" the DA asked with mock gravity, lowering her chair to all fours.  "It's because Barber County Grand Juries take their job seriously!"

The defendant looked up from contemplation of his shackled hands and feet and said in a plaintive voice "They sure do!"

It was one of those serendipitous moments of perfect timing and the courtroom erupted into laughter.  Once the congregation regained some semblance of decorum, the Judge called the case and proceeded with the hearing.  He followed the usual formula of questioning the defendant about his plea and whether or not it was free, voluntary and made for the sole reason that the defendant was guilty and for no other reason.  The DA and I sat quietly at our table, doodling on legal pads and listening to the soft schik, schik, schik of the court reporter's keys as she typed out the spoken words.  After questioning the defendant, the Court spoke to the attorney and began a standard litany, starting with "Do you have any reason to believe the defendant is not competent to stand trial?"

"No, Your Honor, I believe the defendant is competent."

Before the Court could ask the next question, the defendant snickered audibly and stage whispered "Show's what you know!"  His timing and delivery was scary good and the courtroom again dissolved into laughter.

Later in the hearing the defense attorney requested that the judge waive certain surcharges for the defendant, given his low income.  The Judge contemplated the defendant for a moment or two before turning to the court reporter. 

"We're going off the record."

She nodded and removed her hands from the keys.

The Judge leaned over the bench and looked down at the shackled defendant.  "I've never granted a request for waiving surcharges," he said.  "But I've also never had a defendant who made me laugh out loud during a hearing.  So, I'm going to grant your request." 

The defendant replied with a huge grin and the Judge directed the reporter to begin the record again.  He formally waived the surcharges and adjourned the hearing.  We were done for the day.

If we had court more often, I'd be thinner.  That kind of laughing is really good for your abs. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

And now I'm hungry...

This week's prompt:  Spectacular

Other than the kid's pitching prowess in a couple of softball games, I haven't had a lot of contact with the spectacular this week.  It hasn't been bad, though.  Sometimes good enough is just that.  

I had some good lunches this week.  The first was with my former co-workers in Fake Cow County.  We attended a joint training with Catherine the Cocaine Whore, whom we've all know of yore. Even though she thinks we're all hopelessly country, Catherine is good at her job and she's also got a corporate expense account, which meant lunch was on her.  It was good to see everyone and learn what has changed and what has not.  It felt like slipping into an old pair of tennis shoes. 

The second lunch involved me standing in line at Subway with my current co-workers.  Co-workers who forgot to tell me they were ditching our normal Wednesday lunch plans in favor of industrial sandwiches.  The only way I discovered this was that I, too, ditched the usual plan and showed up at the sandwich shop only to find them there ahead of me.  While we waited on our flatbreads and cold cuts, they introduced me to two very cute gray-haired ladies, obviously long-time lunch buddies who never needed to finish a sentence to be completely understood by each other. 

I was introduced by name and as the "probation chief".  Both ladies expressed their pleasure at making my acquaintance and then one asked "Where are your crutches?  I heard you were on crutches."

Yep.  I'd never seen either of these two before in my life.  This is life in a small town.  It's the same everywhere, right?  (No more crutches, just another week or so with a knee brace.)

The third lunch was a going-away potluck for the County Treasurer's assistant.  Just like in seventh grade, we all gravitated into our usual groups and cliques for the meal.  I snagged at seat at the most isolated table and bullied the sweet young thang who is Sushi's replacement into joining me.  She's nice and inexperienced and no match for obnoxious older women.  She came quietly.  I told her I was declaring this the cool kids table, and sure enough, within a few minutes we were joined by the Judge, the DA's assistant and the County Attorney's assistant, all of whom are equally obnoxious and even older than I, although they're not all women.  

This was my first chance to spend any time with young Barbie.  I like her.  She seems to be a genuinely good person.  She's beautiful and apparently fairly intelligent.  And, for the time being, shy. 

I like shy.  Shy is a good thing in my book.  I'm hoping it means she's got depth.  We didn't really get to know each other any better over lunch, mostly because everyone else is a pushy story-teller, and she isn't one to butt in, but this was a good start and I hope I can pull bits and pieces of her personality out into the open over the next few months. 

As for the pushy-story tellers, they made me laugh.  Out loud.  They reminded me of an article I read this week about advice to Japanese travelers who are visiting the U.S. for the first time.  The Asian tourist was warned that American women laugh loud and long and in your face.  American women do not hide their wide smiles behind a demure hand or turn away so that no one is made uncomfortable by their quiet giggles. American men are guilty of the same sort of behavior, not caring who sees or hears their guffaws. 

The Judge told us about the first week of his marriage which involved him being totally enthralled with the wonders of his inaugural experience with satellite television, involving a NASA-esque dish covering an entire corner of the back yard and a remote control of Tolstoy complexities.  All this while his wife was calling for help from the suds-engulfed bathroom where the whirlpool tub was completely out of control.  She kept shouting for "Bill!  Bill!", but all he heard was Lucy Ricardo screeching for "Ricky! Ricky!". 

Then there was the story of the flaming toilet paper roll.  Followed by a comparison of septic system experiences, which we all contributed to, having lived in the country at one time or another.  This went on and on and on.

There was a discussion of the correct septic system toilet paper choice protocol.  And various toilet paper chaff factors.  And the number of squares that is appropriate for each personal experience.  And then the discussion of the tragedy of the courthouse toilet paper that doesn't even have squares, making accurate measurement an exercise in tissuey futility. 

Finally I tossed the remnants of my dinner roll into a puddle of tomato sauce and looked around the table.  "Good Lord, people!  Y'all have put WAY more thought into toilet paper than I have EVER considered possible."

Barbie laughed.  I think she's got potential. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Look at those Gun(n)s!

Everyone needs a winter break, so last week I took a few days off to visit Janet at Camp Runamok in Athens. (Texas.) Normally this means traipsing all over the East Texas countryside in search of interesting dead people and other fun things.  Last year we found Mrs. Nugent.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature is conspiring against us all.  Tuesday morning, as I was leaving the gym, I discovered that the dangers of black ice extend to pedestrians, not just motorists.  Now I'm on crutches.

I've never used crutches before in my entire life.  What an upper body workout!  Damn!  My traipsing is seriously curtailed, but I made the trip anyway, only to discover that East Texas is about as cold and snowy as West Texas.  Thoroughly unfair, but still fun. 

Janet and I spent an afternoon in an artisan shop and an art gallery in the official "Coolest Small Town in Texas".  And yes, I will be going back for the live music and food in the warmer months.  The next afternoon we took a trip to Navarro College in Corsicana, where we perused some of their  thousands of bits of Civil War correspondence and artifacts and hundreds of impressive Western paintings. 

Even if Janet and I are doing nothing more than sitting around comparing Facebook postings or bidding Jay Leno adieu and evaluating Jimmy Fallon's chances, (good, we say) we still have a lot of fun. 

This was the first - and hopefully only - trip to Athens that passed without me taking a single photo.  Cripping around on crutches saps one's creative energy and makes photography a chore.  It also makes you acutely aware of how minimal and pathetic your upper body strength is.  I am pretty sure I'm going to be all buff and six-packy by the time I'm done with these sticks. My arms are gonna be ripped!  (Out of the sockets, possibly.)

I slipped, I fell, I crutched, but I had fun!

As I was making the drive east on Wednesday, I took a break from my audiobook to listen to some NPR.  Fresh Air was on and I caught the very beginning of an interview with Tim Gunn.  I've never watched any of his television shows, but his various commercials and such make me think he's a dapper, genuinely nice man with a beautiful voice.  Within moments the interview had my full attention.  Tim Gunn is a seriously amazing person.  I was not surprised that he is as classy a man as I'd assumed, but I was surprised to learn that Gunn's father is responsible for making me the person I am today. 

(Gunn's mother was the first librarian for the CIA.  That has nothing to do with anything, but isn't that cool?) 

Tim's father worked for the FBI.   He worked his way up through the agency, eventually becoming J. Edgar Hoover's right hand man.  He was Hoover's ghost-writer; writing his memos, his speeches...and his books.  Anyone know where this is going

He wrote Hoover's books.  Tim Gunn's father must have written the book.  The book that I checked out, over and over again, from the church library in that small, dirty, desolate town where I spent several of my formative years. 

The book that convinced me I could and should grow up to be a G-man, which became my life's goal.  Except for the 'man' bit.  I read that book numerous times, and I held that dream fast until I was about halfway through college, when I realized I would find a better fit in a different arm of law enforcement.  But that one book - a silly, propaganda-heavy book about how the FBI needed smart, ethical young men - evidently written by Tim Gunn's father, set the direction for my entire life.

And still does. 

And it's fun. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

You are getting veerrrry sleeepyyy...

This week's prompt is selfie.  Here are some things that you would maybe want to know:

1.  I have not been smoking pot.  I'd just come back from getting my hair permed when I took this photo.  Some of the chemicals got in my eyes.  Fer reals.

2.  My hair naturally looks like Jan Brady's.  Straight as a board.  Except for the grey stuff.  Those hairs are kinky and curly.

3 Do the reading glasses make me look smarter?  I think they aren't that big in real life.  I am hoping that is just a function of the weirdness that is selfie-angle.

4.  I really am wearing a shirt under that jacket.

5. At present I am about to starve.  We have no breakfast food in the house.  (That is perhaps a bit of an over-statement, but nothing I want to eat.  And no milk.  Or biscuits.)  I am torn between an all-consuming desire for breakfast burritos and a quart of good hot sauce to start the reaming out process on my tortured sinuses and the quiet, less demanding desire to let Jackson sleep because he felt really, really horrible last night and probably did not sleep much until the wee hours of the morning.  It's 9:30.  Perhaps I can nurture the milk of human kindness for another half hour.  Maybe.

6.  I am taking a bit of a vacation next week.  I have so much on my plate at work right now that I find myself stressing about taking the time off.  This is perhaps a sure sign that I need to get the hell out of Dodge for a bit.

7.  Work is still very enjoyable, all things considered.  I was reminded of this a couple of days ago.  We were "out in the District", and had a full morning's worth of hearings in the Court Barn.  Once everything was done, we shuffled our papers and packed away our files as the Judge stood and unzipped his robe. He tossed the robe in the general direction of the hat rack and said "I'll see y'all at the beer store." 

 And in a very few minutes we gathered around a plastic-covered table, devouring plates of delectable beer store bbq, and laughing a lot.

8.   You know, I thought I'd have all kinds of things to say in this post.  Selfie?  Who doesn't love talking about themselves?  Normally not me, but I can't think of a single interesting thing to tell you.  Perhaps it's the lack of food.  Yeah, that's probably it.  I'm outta here in favor of foraging.  Have a good week!