April 21, 2012

Jury Duty.

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I had jury duty on Wednesday. Despite Alex's belief that a court-ordered summons to report for jury selection is "optional," I dutifully joined the other potential jurors in Room 1125 of the Supreme Court of Manhattan on Wednesday morning.

The room caused me a bit of anxiety considering it was the same room where I sued Alex's landlord last year and was subsequently berated by the landlord's defense attorney "Larry," who accused me of being a "fake lawyer."  But, that's beside the point.

The morning started like any other morning where you're shoved in a room with a hundred other people. Every one sat every-other-chair and rolled their eyes at the old woman up front who asked, yet again, how to fill out the three question questionnaire. Sitting in silence, we were then led like sheep to another courtroom, escorted by a policeman John who whistled as he walked.

Now sitting crunched side-by-side, someone went over the procedure in a monotone voice. Twelve names were then called to sit in the Juror Box. Despite the fact that no one wants to actually serve on the jury, I felt victorious when my name was called. YES! I almost squealed, pounding my fist in victory when they pronounced my name wrong, and turning to gloat at the 38 other people before realizing that being selected for a 2 week medical malpractice suit may not be a "win."  Regardless, I sauntered to my seat in the front row of the box and awaited till ten more names were called.

Then the "voire dire" started, which is a fancy word for "telling strangers about what you do and why you're a bigot with bigoted opinions."

The first question was a trick question, so I had to answer carefully. "And what do you do Ms. Doshhertiii?" the plaintiff's attorney asked inquisitively.

"Like now? Or like before?" I asked slowly, weighing my words carefully.

"Before what?" the attorney responded confusedly.

"Before I did what I do now?" I asked.

"Well I don't know what you did before you did what you do now, so what do you do now?"

The onset of an identity crisis was brewing.

"I'm a mindfulness coach..." I said quietly. Then blurted, "I mean a lawyer! I'm a lawyer!"

The attorney looked flustered. Impatient really. "Well, those are quite different fields Ms. Doshhhertiii. Do you, in fact, do litigation or meditation?"

He was annoyed. He obviously needed a mindful mentor. "I'll give you my card?" I suggested, then I winked.

Well, I actually didn't wink or give him my card. Instead I confessed that I identified as both. He made a note and moved on.

In the next two hours, the eleven strangers surrounding me soon began to be, well, not strangers. I learned about their professions, their children, their former lawsuits, their medical conditions. I learned their habits of falling asleep after lunch, how they thought that doctors shouldn't be sued, or that they'd be too sad to hear testimony about the patient that died because they just lost their father-in-law.

At lunch time, I ate falafel with potential-Juror #3; a girl my age named Laura, who was a nurse, and who inspiringly and openly shared about overcoming her eating disorder, confiding how anorexia had shaped her decision to enter into medicine.

Returning to our seats as fast friends, we then talked Hunger Games with Miko (Juror number 7) and encouraged Nancy (Juror number 9), that her narcolepsy may not prevent her from serving. This may be my family for the next two and a half weeks, I thought to myself,  knowing it could be with them that we decided the outcome of a serious and tragic matter.

And then, suddenly, I was excused from the case. I grabbed Laura's hand. "No," I said firmly, as the lawyer waited for me to get up. "We were supposed to go through this together!" I exclaimed frantically.

"Come on, Kerry," Mr. Stonehill, the 70-year old man who invested in liability insurance said slowly, touching my sleeve gently. "We're free now."

The five of us--the excused jurors--left the courtroom in silence. I looked over my shoulder one last time to see Laura, still stationed in Juror Seat 3, looking at me with wide eyes. "Write me!" I mouthed as the heavy emblemed "In God We Trust" door shut behind us. The rest of us proceeded to the elevator. Once crammed in, we instantly started to share our feelings--relief, disappointment, annoyance, noting how that one attorney was like so confrontational and didn't the other lawyer kind of badger Ms. Chung?

The elevator door opened. We were free. We walked out of the courtroom to go our separate directions. No longer strangers.

April 16, 2012

Though I'm Not Sure What This Means

I think of Robert Creeley. The first poet I ever knew.
His books signed under the Christmas tree.

Reading his pamphlets of poems in bed late at night
on the sliver of my mattress unencumbered by stuffed animals,
I would pause at the end of a verse,
thinking I like the way this sounds
though I'm not sure what it means,
I'm pretty sure it is holy.

It was my first introduction to interpreting the unknowns in this world
and when i cant quite figure out what's going on
I close my eyes and think
                                                            though I'm not sure what this means,
                                                            I'm pretty sure it is holy.
Each voice which was asked
spoke its words, and heard
more than that, the fair question,
the onerous burden of the asking.
And so the hero, the
hero! stepped that gracefully
into his redemption, losing
or gaining life thereby.

--Robert Creeley

April 8, 2012


Alex donated his kidney on Wednesday.

Anyway, back to me.

Oh I know, I'm terrible. Totally self-consumed, but welcome to the story of my life. Isn't it kinda always about us even when we pretend it's not?

Alex gently shed light on this fact at 4am this morning as we sat in the hotel lobby in a lame attempt to distract him from his pain and insomnia post-surgery. After sipping chamomile tea and talking to Paul--the late night receptionist who shared with us the inner workings of the hospitality business--we slowly walked back to the elevator, Alex walking at the speed of a 95 year old grandmother. Suffering from a bit of vertigo as he walked, I compassionately inquired whether he felt like he was going to pass out. "I just need to know," I whispered, "because you'd be a lot of dead weight to drag back upstairs."

Alex suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked at me bewilderedly. Then he started shaking and for a second I thought he was sobbing. He wasn't. He was hysterically laughing. At me.

"You are freaking unbelievable," he mustered out as he gasped for breath, obviously high from sleep deprivation.  Then he slowly recounted the past four days.

There was the first night after surgery when I woke up with him and held his hand as he slowly walked around the hospital floor every two hours. The next morning, as he grimaced in pain and stared at the ceiling restlessly, I talked about how exhausted I was considering I didn't get my usual consecutive 8 hours of sleep. Al encouraged me to go back to the hotel to take a nap.

The next day, I graciously stayed the night in the hospital with him again. However, due to my self-diagnosed "heavy sleep disorder," I failed to get up with him each hour when he woke up and painstakingly dragged himself to the bathroom. At one point, he was unable to get back in bed and had to call a nurse, who assisted him as I slept angelically on the cot amidst stolen plush hotel blankets. When I awoke in the morning, I yawned and held my back, noting how many knots I had gotten from the plastic mattress. "Oh man, I think I need a massage," I groaned. And then I assured him that I would get him his breakfast soon, "just after I have my cup of coffee first." "Of course," Alex stated understandingly.

The day Alex was discharged from the hospital, he walked in on me sitting in a bubble bath crying in the bathroom telling my mom how tired and overwhelmed I was. When I got out, I grabbed a box of tissues, sat in my robe, and blubbered all over Alex as he rubbed my back and soothed, "there, there Kerbear," while ensuring that the four puncture wounds in his belly didn't pop open. After he gave me a pep-talk, I felt much better.

Now, I'll give myself some credit in playing nurse. But if I'm going to admit how nurturing I can be, I need to admit how terribly self-consumed I am as well. It doesn't mean I have to hate that part of me, because, well, self-absorption is a part of who I am. I'm working on it. But just as Alex can laugh me, I have to laugh at myself. Because if I didn't laugh, I'd certainly cry.

Anyway, back to Al's kidney donation . . . .

April 2, 2012

A Good Investment.

Alex is donating his kidney this week. Meaning the left kidney resting cozily in his body is going to be sucked out and put into a body that needs it. It was supposed to go to his dear friend and colleague Art, but after learning that Art would be better off with a closer match, Alex had the option of donating his kidney to a “bank.” Basically, if Alex donated his kidney to the bank and a chain of people donated their kidneys to the bank, there was a better chance that each person along the way could receive a kidney that was a perfect match.

It worked. On early Wednesday morning, in hospitals around the country, there are 8 people who will be giving or receiving their kidney.  Alex’s kidney will be on a jet to Virginia, and Art will be receiving one from Pennsylvania later that day.

It’s been a year in the making, months of testing and phone calls and delays and anticipations and more delays.

Alex, in his ever-endearing nonchalance, doesn’t think it’s a big deal. His usual response amounts to, “I have two kidneys. I only need one. Someone else needs one, so I’ll give mine away.”

I mean, duh?

Sure, there are consequences to the surgery for Alex. He has to inhale some laughing gas for a few hours, eat hospital jello for three days, endure the pain that most women feel after a C-section (perhaps something all men should go through?), sit on the couch for two weeks while playing on his mom’s ipad, and bear the at-times exhausting and painful effects of one kidney taking on a two-kidney job. But there have been worse things.  

The irony is that Al’s kidney donation has not seemed sacrificial. Rather, it’s been a huge gift in our lives. We have formed intimate relationships with Art and his family. We have been moved to tears at their strength and gratitude. We have looked forward to this day as a day of celebration of thanksgiving.

That’s the irony about giving. Just when you think you’re giving something up, you realize you’re getting something more in return. If that’s not a good investment, I don’t know what is.

I don't know much about the stock market. But I do know that investing in giving guarantees huge returns.