THE SECOND CHANCE (or: Sorry, no co-workers allowed)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
It's Your Civic Duty
Today, after months of avoiding it, I made my way downtown to show up for court-appointed Jury Duty.

I seriously don't mind the notion of what Jury Duty stands for -- I've been a case in my time, but it's the timing that always gets things so screwed up. This week happens to be actually OK for me, so I kept the appointment and showed up at 7:45 am...although I have to admit, I had no idea I'd be making a long walk from the Juror Parking Structure to the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles.

But the biggest perk of them all?

I'm writing to you from a DSL-equipped computer at the back of the jury pool room. Someone suggested they put in a bunch of computers and internet access for the people who were stuck in a room, sitting and waiting (as I am right now...)...and voila! Here I be.

I wish I hadn't rushed and written my Sudoku post so early this morning. If I had known I would've had time to write it from here...I would have something interesting to say.

Well, this will have to suffice: During the lunch break, I walked to the Mall That Time Forgot, also known as the Los Angeles Mall, just steps from the Criminal Courts building on Temple.

The lines were too long for the food places (including a brand-new Quiznos -- obviously keeping jurors and district attorneys satiated into their work days!), so I decided to go to B Dalton's, the same bookstore where I purchased the then-new hardcover of HANNIBAL from Thomas Harris on my LAST full-term jury duty service.

I casually looked at the games section to see if they had any Sudoku books...knowing they probably would -- and was kind of disheartened when there were none to be seen.

But on my last look as I walked out of the shop, I saw a full display with FOUR books.


I bought two of them. And now I'm going to play them.

My obsession lives on.

Sudoku Fever!
I hate trendy things.

If it's trendy, you can almost definitely count me out.

Fortunately for me, Jerry tends to feel the same way.

We incessantly mock those around us who wear the Lance Armstrong yellow wristbands -- sneering at them as we laugh at the comparisons to those jelly bracelets Madonna made so fashionable back in 1985.

Guys with man purses? Well, except for Other Drew, who looks good in a 'murse,' we tend to scoff.

But this past week we got caught up in the latest trend to hit your local newspaper -- SUDOKU!

Sudoku is an insidious little puzzle game that is now on most newspaper crossword pages. It takes a 9x9 grid, broken into 9 smaller grids of 3x3 and poses a simple challenge: to solve the puzzle, each row, column and box has to contain each of the numbers 1 through 9. It starts off easily enough -- kind of like those old fill-in-the-blanks crossword puzzles, but very quickly, you get pulled in...and then it becomes an obligation to try to finish it...almost an obsession.

And if there's one thing Jerry and I like, it's a challenge. So, this past week we decided to start joining the nation -- let's Sodoku, baby!

But last night, after one miserably long, after-work evening with one of the easiest of the Sudoku puzzles (the ones labeled GENTLE, almost mockingly so...), I think our love affair with Sudoku is over.

After 3 long hours of trying to fill in the blanks and crack its almost ingenious code, Jerry and I both tumbled into bed as broken men, doomed to hours of Tetris-like hallucinations...trying to put numbers into boxes instead of twist shapes that fall from the top of a video game screen. It was the moment we realized we were both obsessed...and beaten.

This, my friends, is why I hate trends.

(PS: I have to admit in a moment of honesty -- Jerry actually completed his Sodoku. I was close, but then realized one row had two 3's in it...meaning I had failed miserably, and I had no way of knowing how to fix it. So, I was the failure. But my failure impacted Jerry, as I couldn't put the stupid thing down.)

Saturday, August 06, 2005
You Know You're Getting Old When...
* ...You finally make it back to the gym and nearly die after only 30 minutes on the treadmill -- and not even running the whole time!

* ...Your shrink decides to try another anti-depressant to couple with your current one to help with a recent onslaught of anxiety! Welcome to the wonderful world of Zoloft, I say! (Or, as Jerry calls it, Vitamin Z.)

* ...Your barber (or haircutter, whatever it is one should call the person who cuts your hair) confirms your fear -- that yes, indeed, there are a few gray hairs poking through in there.

* Your barber watches his tip decrease when one makes a self-deprecating remark about one's hair being thin, and he smiles and nods, adding, "Well, long hair is not going to be your friend anymore. It makes your thin hair look stringy."

*...The worst piece of mail you receive is from the Homeowners' Association, announcing that they've determined the puddles of water existing in the shared garage are actually the remnants of a leak coming from...YOUR BATHTUB/SHOWER! Fix it, ASAP. (That one seriously shut me down for days.)

*...The greatest Friday night you can ever imagine is coming straight home from work, eating Papa John's leftover pizza and watching TEACHERS on BBC America with the greatest boyfriend in the world. (And then going to sleep at 10:30 pm.)

*...The best thing that aforementioned greatest boyfriend in the world can do is to figure out how to configure the two Tivos in the condo and link them up so that we can watch a bunch of pointless reality shows in EITHER ROOM...ANYTIME WE WANT TO!!!

*...The fear that Eric/Cappy will make it back into the Big Brother house over Kaysar can keep you awake at night.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
My Little Sister
My little sister is going through a very rough time.

She's the strongest, smartest, brightest, funniest, most talented girl in the world, and she doesn't deserve an ounce of the pain she's suffering through right now.

Everytime I think about my aggravation with the new condo, upset over a work problem, discomfort from a summer cold, I'm going to think about Susie, and how she's doing.

I love you, Susie. I wish there were something more that I could do.


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