The Rural Juror

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This week, I finally lost my jury duty virginity. It was just as magical as I had imagined it would be, and so much more because it was real.

Parts of the experience were disappointing; some of it was scary-exciting (armed guards!); none of it was as painful as I’d heard it would be, except for the beginning – getting up at 6:30am. Sure, it was all over way too fast (they released us for the day at lunch time), and ultimately the whole thing was a bit underwhelming, but what can you expect from your first time?

I definitely plan to do it again, and maybe next time I’ll even get to finish (a trial – what did you think I meant? Perv.)

All sexual innuendo aside for a moment (just a moment, I promise), I really was excited to get to experience jury duty after all this time. Nineteen-and-a-half years after becoming a registered voter, to be exact. (Which makes the whole thing extra special, since nineteen-and-a-half is also the number of years I was a human before losing my more literal virginity.)

New Hampshire never called me to serve (and as far as I can remember, never even called anyone I knew), nor did Connecticut, and I was starting to think California would snub me too. My heart went all aflutter when the summons finally appeared in my mailbox last month. I’m a real citizen now!

Yes, I realize this joy makes me weird. But you know what’s sad? That it makes me weird. The ladies who ran the jury room – bless them, they have to do that every day and they have it down to a finely-tuned vaudeville routine – had quite a few bits about how NOT to get out of jury duty:

Don’t claim your boss won’t pay you (that form you filled out already says he will); don’t say you can’t understand English (if you passed your citizenship test, you do); don’t report for duty and then hide in the bathroom…you get the idea. They have clearly seen every trick in the book – which means people regularly try to pull them.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a small town girl with a fondness for civic duty, but I simply do not understand wanting to get out of jury duty. (That last sentence is my attempt to justify the title of this piece, because I really wanted to make the 30 Rock tribute happen.)

Wouldn’t it be great if we actually thought about jury duty the way we think about sex?

Sure, it’s not something for every day, or we’d never get our work done, but when the time comes, it’s special. That summons appears in the mail – date night, baby! We get a little dressed up (no ironic “guilty” tees or costumes), show up on time, and prepare ourselves for anything (I could not believe how many people brought nothing to pass the hours of waiting).

Not every outing will end in a connection. Sometimes, we go home disappointed. Other times, we make a match (to a jury pool), but it isn’t a match made in heaven (dismissed). And every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we end up finding a long-term partner.

Maybe it’s a short trial; maybe a really long one. Some pairings will be awful, some fascinating but ultimately pointless, and sometimes – some very rare times – we will be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and it will be important.

The best part is, just like with love, we never know which one it’s going to be. Jury duty = sex? Motion sustained!

Think Outside the Box

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[Warning: this is the one where I talk about “naughty bits” using words more direct and mature than “naughty bits”. If you are not comfortable with words that describe female anatomy, I suggest you either stop reading, grow up, or read the chapter in What’s Happening to My Body that lists every possible slang term for girl and boy parts – which my parents had me do when I was ten. Not only will that chapter “get it out of your system,” it is also comedy gold.]

Ever since I lost my virginity on the night of my nineteen-and-a-half birthday (to an uber-polite Canadian – I highly recommend you lose your virginity to one if it isn’t too late), I have known enough to appreciate a man who pays attention to my vagina. However, as any girl who makes it past the first time also knows, there is minimal pleasure to be gained from a lover who becomes singularly focused. My boobs are up here, dude. And so is the rest of me. Take a breath.

As I indulge in too much political news during these days leading up to the midterm elections, I cannot help but notice that the same principle applies to our political leaders. Politicians in general – and conservatives in specific – are way too focused on my vagina and not paying nearly enough attention to the rest of me.

There is all kinds of concern about what can go into my vagina, whether it be a hormonal birth control, no birth control, insurance-covered birth control, or the wand of a vaginal ultrasound device. This may be the “do nothing” Congress, but there is no shortage of state-level attempts – and successes – to legislate that nothing but a fully-gestated product of God-intended reproduction (consensual or otherwise) comes out through my vagina (or that, once out, said reproductive product not be an “anchor baby”). They are even still fighting about who can enjoy my vagina within the bond of legal wedlock.

With Reince Priebus and the Republican Party searching for ways to become more relatable to women, I offer them the same advice I would give to any inexperienced or ineffective lover: try focusing on something else for a while. Women are built with speed bumps for a reason – to slow down the journey from above to below. (Breasts. I was talking about breasts in that last sentence, in case it wasn’t clear.) Take a cue from nature and focus on the whole body.

Care about whether, should my body get sick, I can take it to the doctor without having to declare bankruptcy. Make an effort to ensure that my body can live in a world without rising seas, a dying food chain, or toxic drinking water. Worry about the things that go into my mouth instead of my vagina – like hormone-filled food and added sugar.

Try making sure that when my brain is employed in the workforce, it gets compensated at the same level as a man’s brain – or even just at a livable minimum wage. How about improving the system, so that after I give birth to that God-intended child I can raise it while still pursuing my career (with a partner or without) and educate it in a strong public school system?

All of these things are more important than who or what goes into my vagina. And unlike my personal reproductive choices, they actually require communal dialogue and consensus. So please, all you current and aspiring leaders out there, for the sake of our society and the well-being of every woman, take a step back; see the big picture; think outside my box.