Browsing Archives for January 2009

My Day in Court by CDW

January 8th, 2009

My appointment with the municipal judge was scheduled for five-o-clock in the afternoon.  Right around four, I started to get jittery.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find my tag receipt which was my only proof of having paid for my expired tag.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the ticket the officer had given me which I needed to give to the judge.  I worried that I had the wrong time and kept checking and re-checking the e-mail that the clerk had sent to me with the new time and date.  I made a cup of tea to calm myself down and then left the house with plenty of time to find the municipal court.  Never having been accused of a crime before, I wasn’t sure where it was.

Note to readers – we live in a small town.  Our municipal court is located in our police station which used to be the library which moved across the street to a building that used to be a bank.  The bank moved out to the highway across the road from the new hardware store which used to be downtown, but got torn down to make a larger parking lot for the Methodist church. 
When I arrived at the police station/court/former library – the entrance hallway was crowded with several people.  I quickly located the small courtroom and sat down.  Three other people were already in the room.
“Is this the only courtroom?”  I asked a lady that was already seated when I arrived.
“Yes,” she paused a minute and then added, “they usually start right on time.”
“Oh good.” I said wondering what kind of hardened criminal gets to be so experienced about court start times and why such an unsavory character was wearing a nurse’s scrub uniform.
Five-o-clock came and went.  More people filed into the room and took seats.  A thin man with impressive horn rims and a tie came in and sat at a long table in front of the judge’s bench.   He turned out to be an attorney.   
The judge came in at about ten after five.  He sat down and immediately began to rattle off courtroom factoids about pleas, arraignments, representation, remaining silent, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  
The judge called the first person forward.  
It wasn’t me.
That’s when I realized that everyone in the room was going to be on trial together.  We all had the same five-o-clock appointment.  The judge read off the crimes of which the person standing in front of him was accused.  This person stood awkwardly in front of the judge balancing on one foot and then the other, trying to find a place for his hands.  The judge asked the person for a plea and the person said, “guilty”.  
I had read (on the internet) that you should never admit guilt in a courtroom.  Even if you are guilty, you should say “no contest”.  I was a little concerned about that person admitting guilt to the judge, but I reserved my right to remain silent.
Several more people got up before the judge and had their crimes read publicly and then plead either guilty or not guilty.  No one said “no contest”.  I started to get a little nervous about my courtroom strategy.
Finally, my name was called.  I got up before the judge.  He cited the violation for which I had been accused which was operating a motor vehicle with an expired tag.  He stated that the maximum penalty for my crime was either thirty days in the county jail or twenty five hundred dollars.  I started to sweat profusely at that point.  
I handed my tag receipt and my ticket to the attorney.  The judge asked me how I wanted to plea.  
“No contest.” I said.
“No contest?” the judge asked.
“Yes… no contest.”  I repeated.  I did not mention that I had learned this answer from the internet.
“If this case were to go to trial, do you think you would be found guilty?”
“I… well… I don’t know…” I said.
“Do you think the county has a clear case against you?” he asked again.
“Well…I… um… I really don’t know Your Honor…”
I wanted to say, “Do you have a crystal ball?  Can I whip out my tarot cards?  Do you mind if I conduct a seance to find out?”   I mean heck… the County Treasurer sent the renewal to our old address, but managed to send renewals for the truck as well as outrageous real estate valuations to our new address.  Is it my fault they don’t cross check these things?  Is it my fault that I don’t sit around chewing my nails every year until my tag renewal shows up in the mail? It’s not like I don’t have anything else to do!  There are walls at which to stare! There are ceiling fans that need me! 
The Judge said, “I need a yes or a no.”
“What…?” I asked.
“I need to either enter a yes or no to my question,” he stated, “Do you think a trial would result in a guilty verdict?”
“Oh” I said, “um… well… I guess.”
“Okay,” the judge sighed, “I will take an ‘I guess’ for a yes.”   
He bent over his desk to write something down, probably:  this defendant is a complete moron, while the attorney looked over my receipt.  
After a few seconds the attorney looked at the judge and said, “The city moves to dismiss the charges against the defendant.”
I didn’t even have to cry or beg or rent my clothes or scrape my boils in a pit of ashes or… or.. or anything!
The judge then asked me why I had not paid my tags on time.
“Well your honor, we moved…  and the notice did not come to our house… we got the truck notice…  but we bought the truck after we moved…  so I guess it is registered under our new address…  and I just didn’t think about the van…” I stammered.
He then looked me over and said, “weren’t you supposed to be here a few weeks ago?”
My face turned bright red and I stuttered, “Uh… yes… I just got the uh… the wrong date in my head… and uh… well… I am easily flustered.
I have no idea why I said I am easily flustered.  Maybe I should have just said… I am easily an idiot… but I think the judge already knew that.
The judge went on to explain that the reason the penalties for expired tags are so high in our county is because the same statute that covers an expired tag also covers a blah blah blah bl

ah blah…

“Oh… um… well… yes… okay… thanks…” I said wondering when the hell I could leave.
The judge grew silent.  
I smiled at him and at the attorney and said, “thanks” again.  
Then I grabbed my bag and FLED THE COURTROOM.  
What can I say … I am easily flustered.
The end.

I recently placed a huge order at Alibris, my favorite on-line used bookstore for some new book giveaways. The new books will start arriving any day forcing me to clear some space on my desk for all the new books which brings me to the reason for this post…

I know… it has a certain ring to it doesn’t it? 

Earlier this Fall, I was all hyped up to do a James Bond Giveaway. I had the books, I took the photos, I prepared a James Bond survey where readers could choose their favorite Bond, I rehearsed my speech, I chose my outfit, I brushed my hair, I groomed the cats… and then I went to see the Quantum Solace, the new James Bond movie.

It was such a disappointment to me, that I lost heart and could not bring myself to post the give-away. Then I felt like such an old fuddy duddy for not liking the new James Bond movie that I struggled with even looking at myself in the mirror for several days. Then I read several reviews that basically felt the same way that I did -that the missing gadgets, and the quirky characters, and wondering if James Bond was suffering an identity crisis and thinking he was actually Jason Bourne, that I started to feel a tiny bit better. I did appreciate the scene in Quantum Solace where Bond refused to stay in a run-down hotel and moved over to more glamorous headquarters as that’s my James! I recognized that guy! But everything else was weird and new and all cutting edge and trying too hard… and it seemed that the real James… the suave James… the cool, collected, debonair James… had disappeared into a new James… a moody James… a brooding James… and I didn’t quite know how to connect to him.

So I put the give-away on the back burner and moved on with my life.

Now that I have had sufficient time to grieve and to heal, I really need to give away these James Bond Books.

They are not just any James Bond Books. They are James Bond for kids books!

Charlie Higson, a writer for British sit-coms, is the author of the series. The books are wonderful action/adventure/thrillers that tell the stories of a young James Bond, orphaned and residing in an English boys boarding school where he manages to get himself caught up in world wide intrigue and espionage on a regular basis. I have the first three books of the series to give away today. The first book, Silver Fin is really the best one, but the others are also entertaining reads.

I also have a copy of Where the Red Fern Grows up for grabs today. The Country Doctor read this book aloud to my kids several years ago and the boys loved it. It is a great classic adventure tale of a boy and his beloved dogs.

I have two books (possibly three) that were unclaimed from previous give-aways. If you are the winner of one of these books and you would like to get the book now, you can certainly e-mail me at Otherwise, this copy of House Dreams by Hugh Howard is up for grabs again. I wrote about it here – but in quick synopsis, it is the non-fiction story of a man building a house. I have probably read it six times… but please remember, I have a slight “people building houses and writing a book about the experience” addiction problem.

Also never claimed, was this copy of S. J. Perelman’s Acres and Pains, a true classic. Acres and Pains is the hilarious story of a city man taking on country life with nothing but a ruddy handy man, a pitchfork and his sterling wit. No one does it better than S. J. Perelman. I wrote more about this author here.

I gave away a few Jeanne Marie Laskas books a while ago. Ms. Laskas is another one of those crazy people with the ability to move from a well established city life to the crazy turmoil of country life and write about it with style and humor. In this book she also writes of her attempt to start a family and the eventual arrival of her little girl.. or maybe that is the other book??? I can’t remember! Either way, Jeanne is a wonderful writer and I am pretty sure that this is a wonderful story. Oh… she likes dogs and horses and other animals too and manages to collect quite a menagerie. Something for everybody!

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
This book has come up frequently in the lists of favorites among the comments of the crazy people who read this blog. A Confederacy of Dunces is really one of those books everyone who likes to read… should read… yes… should… mostly because I would hate for any “reader” to be at a cocktail party or a backyard barbecue, or a book club meeting, or checking out at the grocery store and for this book to come up in the course of conversation and for you not to have read it and not be able to talk about it like a well versed expert.

For what would life be if one can’t occasionally be the expert?

Or at least pretend to be the expert.

There is so much to be said about this book, and I am running out of time because I am meeting a friend for lunch today and I still haven’t fixed my hair or brushed my teeth! So please – click this link here to read about the book, the Pulitzer prize it won, as well as the tragic and sad ending of the author John Kennedy Toole’s life prior to the book being published.

To enter the give-away, simply leave a comment. If comments are just too infuriating for you, you may also e-mail me at You may request one of the books in your entry, but I can’t make any guarantees. Winners will be chosen randomly. This contest will end at 9:00 am CST Thursday January 8th.

Off to lunch!


Sorrowfully and with much wringing of the hands, I must tell you that this contest is over.

Explaining Myself

January 6th, 2009
I struggle with giving people details… explanations… spelling things out… outlining.
I am completely unable to tell someone how to work something… put something together… operate a tool… give instructions.  
Because these types of conversations are boring.
At least, they are boring to me.  
And I feel like I am telling someone what to do.  
I hate to tell other people what to do.  
It makes me feel weird and bossy.
So instead I make assumptions.
Gross, outrageous, bizarre, assumptions…  that people will be able to figure things out for themselves… fill in the blanks… connect the dots… without me having to tell them.
I would be a horrible, boss, manager, CEO, head guy, Big Kahuna, overlord, whatever, because I can’t ever tell people how to do things.  
Here is an example of how I would tell someone to do something… (not).
Me – Your job will be to operate this here cash register.
Guy – How do I work it?
Me – How do you work what?
Guy – This cash register.
Me – Um… you just… um… what?
Guy -How do you work this cash register?
Me – Uh… you… well… you… uh… one time… at Panera… I put my three year old son in someone else’s van!
Guy – You did!
Me – Yes!  And another time… My husband did surgery on my son’s head in the living room!
Guy – No way!
Me – Yes he did!  Do you like to watch The Office?
Guy – I love The Office!
Me – Me too!  I have an idea!  Let’s re-enact every single episode since the beginning of the show!
Guy – Okay… but what about the cash register?
Me – You be Jim and I will be Pam!
Guy – But what if a customer comes in and I have to sell something?
Me – Okay!  You be Michael and I will be Dwight!
Guy – Uh….
Me – Do you know what the strongest bear is?
Guy – What?
Me – Did you want to be Angela instead?
Guy – I… uh… I…okay I will be Jim.
Me – Oh.. is that because you think you are all cool and everything?
Guy – Uh… I am kind of nervous that a customer might come in at any moment and I won’t know how to operate this cash register.
Me – Oh… okay… well all you do is… push these buttons and then put the money in.
Guy – What if the customer uses a credit card?
Me – Oh… Um… Do you like Jane Austen?
Guy – What?
Me – Jane Austen!  You know… Pride and PrejudiceEmmaSense and Sensibility
Guy – Uh… I think I saw the movie Pride and Prejudice.
Me – Which one?  The Colin Firth one?  Because that is really the best one.  The new one with Kiera Knighlty is okay… but you haven’t really seen a Mr. Darcy until you have seen a Colin Firth Mr. Darcy.
Guy – Who is Colin Firth?
Me – Who is Colin Firth?!?!
Guy – I’m sorry… I don’t know.. .
Me – Oh… well that’s okay… do you like Johnny Depp?
Guy – Uh… I’m a guy… I mean… I like Johnny Depp… but probably not the same way…
Me – Oh… so do you like Julia Roberts?
Guy – Not really.
Me – Oh… what about Angelina Jolie?
Guy – She’s okay… can you show me how to do the credit card thingy now?
Me – The what?
Guy – The credit card!  I need to know how to operate this machine!
Me – Oh yeah… Well you just um… you just take the card and you uh… swipe it and then push the buttons… no the other buttons… and then you… Have you ever seen Remains of the Day?
Guy – What?  No.  
Me – With Anthony Hopkins?  He is my latest favorite.
Guy – Okay…
Me – Yes, I mean I kind of didn’t realize how great he was… You know… I just associated him with that creepy Hannibal character, but then I saw Remains of the Day and then I watched 84 Charring Cross Road and now I think he is probably the greatest actor of all time.  Have you ever seen 84 Charring Cross Road?

Guy – Uh… is that part of Lord of the Rings trilogy?
Me – What?  No.  It is about a book store in London!
Guy – A bookstore?  Like in Harry Potter?
Me – No… uh… a bookstore like a bookstore.  These two people played by Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft live on opposite sides of the globe and they become friends via their love for great books and they send letters back and forth and these letters… well it is sort of like blogging in a way… Do you have a blog?
Guy – A blog?  Is that some type of gardening tool?
Me – Ha ha ha!  A gardening tool!  You are so funny!  Anyway – in 84 Charring Cross Road Anthony and Anne come to mean a great deal to each other and… it is just a wonderful story. You should rent it today.  If you love books you should really see that movie.  
Guy – I don’t really read that much.
Me – Oh…
Guy – So can you show me how to operate this machine now?
Me – Sure… do you like music?