My Day In Court

By the time we arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 AM, I had already been up for four hours. And thanks to my new NO COFFEE diet, I was also tired as hell. I still managed to dress well, shower, comb my hair and apply some decent color to my face.

Now, based on my experience of binge-watching The People’s Court and the multiple times I’ve been called to Jury Duty, I know there are two kinds of people that go to court: Those Who Dress Professionally and Those Who Don’t. Today there were more people in the Those Who Don’t category… which, based on my aforementioned experience, seems to generally be the case.

Why was I at court? Well, it wasn’t for Jury Duty this time. No, on this occasion I was standing in line waiting to enter the metal detectors of the rectangular, boring-as-watching-cement-dry building as moral support for my friend during her custody case.

It is the first hearing for my friend in what has been a long and agonizing two years of single parenthood. She’s been working two full time jobs to survive and provide. She is educated, talented (gifted in the performing arts), and a really good person. She is smartly dressed for court in freshly pressed, khaki colored slacks and a bright blue button down that makes her skin glow softly and disguises the sleepiness under her eyes. Her hair is swept back into a neat bun and her lips are gently glossed. Her look is put together, smart, and approachable – the woman you would ask for assistance if you needed it, and she is an example to everyone on HOW TO DRESS FOR COURT.

Sure, I’m being a little funny regarding how we present ourselves because there is an abundant amount of truth that we are prone to making snap decisions based on appearances. I’m being 100% honest and I will tell you why:

 

My friend, I will call her Eve, is outwardly calm, but her insides are a mess. A mixture of anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger are twisted in so many knots that to distinguish one feeling from the other is nearly impossible, and so she has learned to push them down and smile with false calmness and a bit of self-deprecation to help her and me laugh at an otherwise appalling situation. As Eve would say, “I am thirty-something years old and smack dab in the middle of an episode of Sixteen and Pregnant.”

It’s funny, but the truth is even at an age when we have our shit together and we’re in a tenured relationship, we can end up with a father that, “wasn’t ready,” and “doesn’t love us anymore,” and feels that, “ever since the pregnancy you’ve been a Bitch,” and my personal favorite, “you made me cheat on you.”

I guess when I saw him, Eve’s Ex, show up to court in his new weekend casual sneakers (they were pretty great and I want a pair, but are too expensive and not court appropriate), his easy going polo, and his Los Angeles standard-issued-denim (jeans) I knew I, too, was smack dab in the middle of Sixteen and Pregnant. He definitely presented that he was indeed not ready to be a father, however, he did make sure to be escorted into court by a well-dressed attorney.

Well, if you’ve never been to court for a custody hearing, let me give you a brief run down on the flow. First, the Bailiff checks you in and every body else that’s showed up for a court hearing. And Family Court takes place in Civil Court, so you sit and wait and listen to all the folks wearing their F*ck Off graphic tanks and acid washed jeans rant about the “bullshit” restraining order against him/her. You listen when the young woman in her ill-fitting, years old Homecoming dress tells the Bailiff she’s innocent and shouldn’t be there. You eavesdrop on the planned lying between middle-aged sisters against a landlord. And you tear up and worry a little when you look over at your friend, Eve, and see that she’s praying for this to not be happening to her.

At the end of eight hours of mediation, no agreement was reached. Throughout the entire day Eve asked on three separate occasions for a continuance, which the mediator, an Accident and Injury Attorney in this case, denied. The Mediator sent Eve out to sit in the courtroom while he spoke alone to the Ex and his Attorney.

When the Mediator returned to Eve he looked her straight in the face and told her, “Either you give him what he wants or you’ll end up with the cops at your door. You wouldn’t want the police to show up to your home would you? Nobody likes the cops called on them.”

I know this is exactly what he said because I was sitting right beside Eve when he said it. This officer of the court, a court-appointed Mediator.

The Mediator threatened Eve with a call to the police because she asked for a continuance so that she could employ her own legal counsel. She had been blindsided by the appearance of her Ex’s attorney and she had been blindsided when her Ex, who has not seen his child in over a year – electively­, asked for sole custody so he could leave California and raise the child in Michigan.

Let me say this – all the under-dressed, unkempt, orally dysfunctional (did I make this word up? You get it), white people that filled the courtroom were treated with respect and never threatened with a call to the police, even though I’m pretty sure with the lies, multiple false allegations, and domestic abuse, there probably should have been some mention of police involvement, but no.

Eve is black. And no, it is not a coincidence. 

It’s The Little Things, Ya Know?

IMG_6817I can’t drink coffee anymore.

I love coffee. The rich, intoxicating aroma leads me into a calm, serene state of mind. The purposeful measured “splash” of cream that caramelizes its hue brings a smile to my face. A single sugar cube to sweeten the roast for my tongue is my greatest pleasure in the morning. It’s my ritual, my every morning, and my friend-date go-to.

I worked at a coffee shop. I loved pulling shots of freshly ground, espresso. I loved the smiles and thanks I received when I handed someone their drink. I loved the smell of my clothes that permanently wore the scent of roasting beans. I loved the false bravado of the customer who set-up her/his laptop for a long afternoon of staring at a blank screen.

Coffee can perk you up when you’re down or feeling sluggish, and it will be your muse when you lack inspiration. It’s a treat and I rewarded myself daily.

Now, the Doctor says I cannot drink coffee.

“You should consider yourself allergic,” she rationalized.

Two months ago today was my last mug of the good stuff. Had I known it would be my last cup, I would have cherished it more. I would have sat down, with delicious biscotti, and I would have closed my eyes and thanked it for the lifetime we’d spent together. I wouldn’t have let it get cold sitting on the counter while I changed a poopy diaper, dressed a screaming toddler, and dropped him off at daycare only to come home and resent my coffee’s stale bitterness from being nuked in the microwave.

I’ve been savoring the rich dark roast since the age of nine. My parents allowed me a cup of their Folgers every weekend. If I visited my parents today, surely I would find a large, plastic, red tub of Folgers precariously shoved into the top cupboard of their 1986 galley kitchen with its light blue wallpaper that’s been peeling at the corners since 1989. It would go without saying that coffee would be made and a large blue tin of Danish butter cookies would be served.

I miss my coffee.

A couple of weeks ago I tried decaf. While the smell that wafted from the hot cardboard was familiar the taste – was off. The warm drink minus the caffeine made me drowsy. I tried to convince myself that the decaf espresso would be better than stale diner coffee, it isn’t. It’s not the same. There’s no reward to drinking decaf, no high, no rush, no momentum.

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I wandered sluggishly down the baking aisle and followed my nose to the coffee beans. I smelled every bag, I lingered at the bean grinder, I stuck my face into the shoot it was still warm and oily from the last grind. It smelled amazing.

I picked up a bag of Breakfast Blend and headed to the express lane. I forgot to pick-up dinner, but we could just order in. I rushed into the house as fast as I could, running to the corner of the kitchen counter I ripped open the coffee grinds ready to pour them into the filter and I couldn’t find the coffee machine. Here, on the white Caesarstone, coffee stained counter there was no coffee machine.

“JASON!” I shouted, not caring if the toddler was sleeping.

“Yeah, Babe?” came his calm, measured response.

“Where’s the coffee pot?”

“I sold it.”

************************************************************************************

My heart is racing and my eye is twitching and my leg keeps bouncing, but I am happy. I am across the street at the Coffee Haus writing to you, sipping my café au lait made with fully caffeinated, dark roast coffee. Don’t let anyone tell you, ‘you can’t,’ because I am proof you can.

Where On Earth Have I Been?

I’m writing about where I’ve been.

It feels like I may be tempting fate and risking another One just by writing about Them.

I fear everything right now is a trigger.

But if They’re going to keep happening, I might as well write about Them.

It’s been one week and two days without One, but somehow I know They can hear me, read me, know that I’m talking about Them.

Panic Attacks.

 

It’s been five weeks and four days since the first one gripped my chest so tight I thought, someone help me!

And then I thought I’m not going to make it. Then a stream of thought consumed me:

I can’t breath. My chest is pinched. It’s collapsing. My lungs – air.

 My throat is closing up.

Why am I shaking so violently?

My head repeats I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to make it.

 I’m outside, so is the dog, fuck, “GET INSIDE, DOG, NOW!”

I was surprised any sound made it out of me at all.

I locked the door. I walked to the neighbor’s house, quickly. I pounded on the thin strip of metal that is the screen doorframe until someone heard me.

Her husband answered, why is her husband home and mine is not.

“Is Ruth here?” I asked, shaking, eyes wide and frightened, I must have been a sight.

“She’s sleep—“ he stopped the thought, “yeah one second, come in.”

I spilled the glass of water I’d forgotten I was holding.

Breathe Jaime, breathe. I can’t. You can. I can’t. You can. I can’t. You can.

He’s back, “Ruth will be right out, do you want some coffee?”

“I think I’m having a panic attack,” I may have yelled it. I may have cried it. I was definitely pleading for help when I said it.

 

 

It’s five weeks and four days later.

I finally feel like myself again, which only just happened two days ago. But for the first time in five weeks and four days, I’m not sitting waiting for an attack to happen and that feels like the best gift ever.

I didn’t have just one panic attack – I had one to five attacks per day for a month. It was unbearable. Debilitating. Scary-as-hell. Nothing I’d ever wish on anyone.

I couldn’t be alone for those weeks. I went on jobs with Jason. I dragged Jack to Jason’s basketball games and piano lessons – the ones I didn’t make him cancel, and I dropped the baby off at daycare full-time. I cried in public more times than I can count. I couldn’t drive because I didn’t know when I’d have one or how bad it would be. I couldn’t stay in the house; not alone, not at all.

I’m here, I never left, but I did lose the month of June. I likened it to a really long stomach-flu, but it wasn’t. It was much worse emotionally and physically, not that I want the stomach flu again to compare.

I’m still me. I’m working on getting rid of the attacks. I’m practicing more self-care. And I’m writing. Every experience helps with character development, right? Right.

Every time I tell someone I feel a little stronger, a little less alone, a little more like everybody else. Because I’m not alone and neither are you.

Unsolicited Advice

Let’s Rant.

What is it about unsolicited advice that gets me so worked up? There are multiple scenarios within reason I can admit I’m guilty of “advising” in… for example friends/people/strangers that may have just wanted an ear to vent to and there I go giving advice. I am specifically not talking about those times. Because unless you specify at the top of the conversation, “I am going to vent a lot to you right now and I do not want you to tell me what to do or give me your insight or thoughts AT ALL,” then, you’re screwed, because whatever, we (meaning me) want to express our opinion or perhaps, unsolicited advice, because it is human nature.

No, I am not talking about that brand of unsolicited advice, rather, I am talking about the advice a certain generation (Generation Baby Boomer) writes out on old receipts found in the trash or at the bottom of a salty purse for Jason and I to find brazenly atop the pillows after they’ve checked out of the AirBnBeeber.  That’s right, those crazy nuts that also go by the name Grandma and Grandpa, just cannot help themselves and need to let us know what we’ve done wrong.

For some reason the current Grandma and Grandpa generation just cannot enjoy an experience without sharing their important unsolicited advice that I have “coined” as criticism. 

For example, there was recently a note left behind, two-sided, front and back, that expressed how we could have, “made their stay nicer,” if we would have, “installed a larger refrigerator and a microwave oven.”

This was so important to the guests that they both texted and emailed us to let us know they left said note for us in case we missed it or thought it was trash, since it was written on a piece of trash.

It was hard to miss the red, bold, Sharpie pen ink.

If you are not feeling what I am emoting it is heavy silence. My face has become hard and my eyes are shooting daggers into an imaginary target.

Preposterous.

Then there was the sixty-nine year old hippie that needed, needed, us to immediately return our sink and vanity to IKEA and purchase a larger, wider and deeper unit like the ones at Crate and Barrel (this from a legit hippie) or take the overhead matching cabinet off the wall and install it two feet higher so he didn’t feel like he was going to bump his head while brushing his teeth.

He also wanted to show us how he had rearranged the room and thought it worked better with the murphy bed raised…in raising it himself without the know how he busted the mounted reading lights, broke the bed’s feet off, and could have maimed himself from his own stupidity had he not called us in to complain about our bathroom vanity.

I’m laughing. Truly, I’m laughing. What an asshole. 

Preposterous.

Then there was the lovely woman traveling alone (right-on!), that also left us a long, two-sided note of all the things we should add to the unit to make it nicer:

Lemon Tea

Chamomile Tea

Mint Tea

Herbal Tea

Lavender Tea

Chai Tea

Rose Water Tea

Jasmine Tea

Oolong Tea

Sleepy-Time Tea

Tension Tamer Tea

Green Tea

 

I’m confused, additional tea options? Could have just said that. Or gone to the market across the street and picked up the flavor you like. 

Preposterous.

And finally, for now, we will come to the one couple that left us a note regarding money. They wanted to let us know how nice our studio is, but that we are just not the best value because we’re not…wait for it… a hotel. Maybe if we added a pool or hot tub we could compete with the better hotels around Los Angeles… let’s get one thing straight we cost a fraction of what the Best Western up the way charges, so it cannot be the nightly charge, right?

So, wait, WHAT?

Preposterous.

The teenager in me wants to talk back and tell them how stupid they sound, but there’s a little fear I may be grounded and not heard. AmIRight? 

 

 

The Best

Okay gang, it’s Mother’s Day and I have 4 blog posts written. I will sporadically upload them for your laughing pleasure, shortly.

First, I have a list of things that have made me absolutely happy as a human being, woman, and mom. Basically, what I’m telling you, is no matter who you are, I have a great, tested, and happy link for you.

  1. Yoga with Adriene FREE on Youtube. She is AWESOME, funny, relatable, and makes yoga not only accessible, but fun. If you’ve put it off, but want some yoga in your life – try Yoga with Adriene, seriously. There are five minute wake-up with yoga videos, 30 minute videos, and programs and I promise she makes yoga AMAZING. http://yogawithadriene.com/
  2. ApotheKELLY Wellness! Who knew I didn’t know it all? Hahaha, don’t be ridiculous. Seriously, Kelly breaks down and gives so much information on nutrition and how the things we eat benefit or hurt or bodies. Nutrition and Wellness with an easy approach. Unassuming, supportive, and full of good tips and information. A thought out and educated approach with compassion. I’ve just really felt a part of this group which is not an easy feat for me. You can find ApotheKelly Wellness on FB! 
  3. And for prenatal/post-natal Moms and really just anyone who wants a great home workout, I LOVE Moms Into Fitness (but seriously this is for everyone). Lindsay Brin packs so much into her videos, breaks down all the important bits for all those important milestones and focuses on pre/post natal issues. Two years later and I’m still working out to these videos. There’s always something new and a new monthly challenges! Never boring and really burns! http://www.MomsIntoFitness.com

Okay, these are my favorite things, OH! and rebounding – thank you ApotheKelly! I recently learned the benefits of rebounding (from ApotheKelly Wellness) and I am loving bouncing! Checking them all out or don’t, but on this Mother’s Day I thought I would give my mommy recommendations. Happy Sunday, friends!

Birthdays

Well it happened. Best laid plans. Foiled. It’s been a whirlwind, surprise weekend for my birthday. Surprises started Thursday & just kept coming and it happened! I forgot to write last week’s blog post and now it’s Sunday. Oops. 

That’s okay, because writing did happen all week in a different form – book form. 

On my way to Disneyland, but I’ll be back to a blog post soon.

Woohoo, Mickey!

Until Next Week

I’ve written three posts for the blog this week, but have not shared them or published them because they’re not done.

The words are written. Sentences are formed. Paragraphs are neatly prepared and are moderately decently structured, but my thoughts are muddy and ill formed and just not complete in any of them.

What am I trying to say? Exactly. That’s what I don’t know. Not here or in the other three that I’ve written and won’t post… yet.

Anyway, it’s my birthday on Friday and I’ll be spending everyday beginning tomorrow on my own personal writing retreat in my backyard – otherwise known as the AirbnBeeber. All other jobs and work will be turned off and tuned out…mostly.

I’m hoping that with an uninterrupted (and my fingers are crossed that they are a full uninterrupted 8 hours) a day I’ll be able to form all those thoughts completely, wholly, and honestly.

Obstacles continue to present themselves. Plans keep altering. Commitments need to be honored. Dishes need to be cleaned. Toddlers need tucking in. Second jobs need attention and I could go on, but you get it so there’s no need.

We’ll catch up next week, I promise. And when we do I will be one year older and wiser. Until then, goodnight.

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