civic duty

[before beginning]

so i am sitting in the fancy juror assembly room in the civil court of san francisco. so far my engagement with the system has consisted of watching a movie that started out: “california: the greatest state in the union.”

i laughed too loudly. the girl next to me looked over.

luckily i got a two hour lunch break so i went home and got my bike and my computer. this internet is only costing me, oh, six dollars.

for real.

also i am wearing my new turquoise liquid eyeliner, exactly the same turquoise liquid eyeliner my friend claremarie has (because i am reverting to age thirteen) and it is making me all teary. i feel like the way i am wearing it, while it looks awesome, may be bad for my eye health. plus i think the physical fact of me being teary is making me feel emotionally like i am teary. weird. it could also be that i woke up feeling sort of guilty for some reason. maybe a dream i don’t remember. maybe my terrible academy awards post yesterday. recently i am often overcome with feelings of vague guilt. i’m not really sure why but i usually feel like i am on the verge of getting in trouble. yes, it is strange and i think it might be related to my living situation somehow, which reminds me in a way of working at the picture frame shop in portland or living in south africa or being in preschool. you know how there are certain situations that just seem like wild cards? like completely random areas where anything could happen? not like the logical place, home for example, where your actions have a specific and logical reactions. hit your brother, for example, and you will have some big people acting pretty disappointed in your behavior. wash the dishes, they will be happy. but in preschool, as i remember it, at least in ymca preschool in eugene (a very different place than my original preschool: bernie’s place in madison), i was never sure what was going to get me in trouble. i remember one time i was doggy-digging in the sandbox and i got some sand in a kid’s eye accidentally and a teacher put me on time-out and i cried so hard i peed my pants. i almost want to cry thinking about it. it was so unfair! and the teacher thought i was lying that it was a mistake and she thought i was somehow a bad kid. that was the worst part i think. like in africa my host sister and i came home early from a family trip and it was just the two of us in the house and everything was great: i was hanging out with my school friend kim and her family and puleng was hanging out with her boyfriend and her friend lebo. i thought everything was so awesome that week, no school, making chocolate chips cookies for kim and swimming in her pool and making jokes with her dad (who is dead now, if you are looking for reasons to cry), and then the rest of the family got back from the trip and puleng told them that i was being lazy and refusing to do any house work or cook dinner and i was leaving early in the morning and being mean to her. i was so confused! i thought we were having a great time! and both of us were doing chores but not as much as when everyone was around because why would we clean the bathrooms every day if they were barely getting used? and why would i wash puleng’s dishes when i went out to dinner with kim and nicole? and even though logically i know that the whole thing was related to the fact that my friends were white and a lot more affluent than my host family and puleng’s reaction had to do with all kinds of things i had nothing to do with, the fact that i thought the whole family thought i was lazy and mean and selfish made me so freaking upset. i cried so much that day. sobbed. though, i didn’t pee my pants.

or at the picture frame shop, when i was never sure what i would get praised for or what i would get in trouble for. i mean, i could NEVER TELL if i cut a mat right, the whole time i was there, unless it was blatantly terrible. i never knew which frame kisa would be calling julie to complain about or what mistake would be the thing that just sent julie over the edge. i hated that place. i’ve always hated that feeling, i mean everyone must hate it, the uncertainty about what will set some one off who is in a position of power over you.

maybe it is related growing up without a tv. my friend roop says it basically made me a foreign kid. he was a real foreign kid so he should know. it’s kind of true, i mean tv is what has created culture for most of the people in america and since i wasn’t exposed to it in the same all-encompassing way most everyone else was, my culture is different. not that i am not pretty good at getting the way other people operate. and not that it is THAT different. i know lots of people raised with television who have a strong sense of internal logic, which is mainly what i am talking about now. but i think sometimes certain people who should have the same cultural understanding about things i do turn out to be just as confusing as my african host family.

maybe it isn’t related to tv. or maybe tv is only peripheral. maybe it is like one of those drugs that sets off schizophrenia. it is interesting to think about why some people are so completely different than me but it also doesn’t matter too much.

i doubt i can change them over to the light side. (i’m trying this new thing where my opinions are actually right.) (ha it isn’t new.)

this seems pretty incoherent, especially since i started many hours have passed and i have developed a crush on the district attorney’s prosecutor. but i think what i am trying to say is: i have a general sense of discomfort when i am in situations where a person who has authority over me has a pattern of behavior that is not logical to me. in fact, this is a major thing that makes me take action: pee my pants, scrub the bathroom floors every day, quit my job.

the other thing is boys.

so maybe things will change soon. we’ll see how long i have to feel guilty and worried before i get myself moving.

for now i am prospective juror number 6. oh i hope it lasts. the prosecutor is so adorable and everything is like a scene from arrested development. sort of. i report back tomorrow at 10. so don’t worry, you’ll know.

[after ending]