I went this Saturday with my daughter. This was my first time visiting this insane asylum. Insane due to all the people who frequented this establishment. It felt as if there was wall to wall people. Much too many people for my tastes. I could barely move from booth to booth, without slowing down and uttering, "Excuse me. Pardon me." I apologized the whole afternoon. I think that maybe next time I go, it will have to be early in the morning. Too many people is just too much for me.
What about the booths?
I liked going to some of the booths. There were so many that I know I didn't get to see all of them. The price ranges were extraordinary. I was looking for some festive sweaters and sweatshirts. I found t-shirts mostly. Most of the shops offered some cute Christmas decorations. Some were pricey and some were reasonable. What deterred me from buying more was the wait time in line, to pay the cashier. In some cases, I didn't know where the cashiers were. I bought a few things from the booths that had a clearly evident cashier and where the lines were not longer than a football field. I really wanted to buy my first Gourmet Apple. The line to wait bordered Mexico. Not worth the wait. I will buy mine on QVC or HSN, when it comes out again.
I liked the booths that allowed samples of rasberry hot chocolate, addicting toffee with dark chocolate and bundt cake on a stick. I went back to these booths later and purchased some tasty delights. Yes, I did go off of my diet to taste the samples. I didn't want to be rude after all! I had to at least try out some of the samples.
What about the convenience?
All the booths were conveniently located next to one another. I would have liked to have more chairs available to sit down and rest. Most of the chairs were in the food court area. That is fine but I would have liked to have some littered intermittently around the exhibit, so that people like me could rest a while. My feet got tired and I would have loved to chill, so I could have more energy for the remaining booths.
Parking was easy and the tram was right on time. I didn't have to wait for the tram at all. The tram dropped us off where we needed and picked us up without much wait. That was very convenient! On a scale of 1 to 10 the tram got a whopping 11!
Overall how likely will I return to the Nutcracker Market? I am a likely candidate to return to the shopper's heaven. I just wish it weren't so crowded and they provided more chairs to rest my weary feet. Maybe next year I will get there at first light. Then we can leave at a decent time, before a zillion crazy shoppers invade my peace. And then I won't have to answer my daughter's question, " Mom, why are these rich white women so stinking loud?" I hadn't noticed really. There were too many people of all races around me. I guess the loud white women got on her last nerve, as we waited for the tram. They were smoking their fancy cigarettes and drinking something that looked like orange juice in plastic champagne glasses. I heard them laughing obnoxiously, with 5 bags full of Nutcracker merchandise decorating the sidewalk. You go on with your bad self! Good for them! Just put out the cigarette please, I feel an asthma attack coming on!
I had a lovely day today. I had to fight Houston traffic on I-10, while trying to find some shade from the blaring sun. I like the Navigation App on my phone. It is comforting to hear someone tell me where to go. I rushed from the parking garage and walked to the new jury building on Congress Street. I walked down the stairs to be greeted with what felt like Houston Intercontinental Airport Security. I had to keep everything in my bulging purse. I placed it on the scanning machine. I saw everyone taking their shoes off, so I followed suit and took off my comfortable tennis shoes. I asked the security lady if I need to put my jacket through the scanners. She said no. So I walked slowly through the scanner door and was abruptly halted by another security lady who instructed me to "put my coat through the scanner." Of course I reminded her the other lady said that I didn't have to do that. She corrected me and didn't quite seem to care that I was trying to be compliant. Why don't they listen to us when we try to let them know that is an uncomfortable situation and if given the correct info, we could comply to the fullest extent? She was having none of that and let the "new"employee know that jackets had to be scanned. Letting it go seemed easy, as I was through the gauntlet and survived. Approaching a much friendlier lady, I felt calmer, as she smiled and looked at my summons and instructed me where to go next. By this time, I stepped back into my comfortable tennis shoes. Walking to room number four, I breathed a sigh of relief and wondered what other surprises awaited me.
I entered into this semi theatre looking room. It has seats lined up and as I walked past people, I saw and elevated row in the back. Not too many people were hanging out there. I noticed some screens to my right and left. One large screen was front and center. "If you don't read or write you may be exempt," a voice echoed around the room emanating from the speakers. I thought about people who were not literate and wondered what they would do with a summons. Would someone read it to them? Would they even show up? I opened a book that I was reading and began to look engrossed, even though what I wanted to do was sip some iced tea and see how I did in ESPN's Grid Iron Challenge. There was no way that would happen now. I noticed a lot people were looking at their smart phones too. I thought that these would be banned in this room or that reception would be limited. Not true. These rooms were equipped with WiFi. "Darn!" I thought. "I could be posting something on my blog!" This lady asked us to pass our summons to the right and then we waited until 8:30 to watch a video about jury service and how wonderful we were for serving. She also passed out parking discount passes. I already had picked mine up in the information windows. I thought that I would get a free pass. Not so. As it turns out, you get six dollars for serving the first day and with the discount from the Jury Service Garage, I would break even. With the great discount, I had to pay six dollars. So when I get the six dollar check, I will break even. I don't account for gas and mental duress that Houston traffic at 7 am can cause, on a Monday morning.
At about 8:45 many of the people in the theatre room were escorted to the tunnel. I wish I could have taken photos, but I wasn't sure if we were allowed. There was a Sheriff's Deputy that was escorting us through the tunnels to the court house. 24scenarios were flooding my mind. I pictured myself on one of those Jack Bauer episodes with weapons of mass destruction being placed in a closet or some killer virus becoming viral in the underground tunnels. Then after walking for a while through this maze-like hallway, we were escorted to the elevators. It was as if these elevators came out of nowhere. Up the 16th floor we went. I felt bad for anyone who might exhibit any signs of claustrophobia. I did hear some people breath in a strange and labored way. We were squished like sardines. The ride to the 16th floor felt as if it would take forever as we stopped at several lower floors. As we kept stopping I thought about a nightmare I had the other night that involved me falling several floors in an elevator down, down, down! My palms were starting to sweat and my breathing labored. Then the bell tolled for me and the doors opened. Relief finally! I was on the 16th floor with a bunch of strangers. I looked down both hallways and I could see just how high up we were. I have a little fear of heights. It was better, though, than being cramped in an elevator. I tried to not look out and not think of the heights that I had soared. I also tried not to think about what it might feel like to have a plane strike the building or have the building sway in an earthquake. I looked for the stairwells and exits, just in case. We waited for about an hour to get into the court room. People kept coming in and out of the courtroom. They kept me wondering when we would be able to sit down and start the process. My legs were getting tired and my shoulders ached from having to carry my heavy, heavy purse. Finally the Deputy came out with orders to line us up and get this party started. The stout looking deputy had a great time pronouncing everyone's names. We slowly lined up and received a juror number. When he got to me, he didn't say Ucles. He said Maureen. In the tunnel earlier, I knew he was trying to pronounce my name. He sort of stuttered with the Ules, forgetting the c in my name. Then he gave up pretty fast and said, "Maureen". I said, "Here! Here!" This time he went straight for "Maureen, Maureen!"
Number 49. I was juror number 49. Not too hard to remember. The San Francisco 49ers. I would remember it by the football team. We entered the room and sat down next to another lady a little younger than myself. The judge was nice and explained everything to us. I was going to a potential juror in a felony case. He talked to us about beyond a reasonable doubt and such. The prosecutor also asked us some questions. That took about 45 minutes. Then the defense attorney asked us lots of questions. It was about 1:30 by then and my stomach was growling something horrible. I was so hungry. The judge and the attorneys huddled and talked for about 20 minutes. Then the judge had some filler time, so he went on about lots of different topics and why it is a good to show up to jury duty. Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Someone announced who the 12 would be. When they started naming people in the 40s, I thought I might be picked but figured I wouldn't based on some of my answers. I was totally honest in my answers. I felt I would be biased in this case, being an educator and a mother. I don't want any kind of controlled substance to be around my environment. I believe that they are dangerous on many different levels. I let them know that I probably would be biased. They got to juror number 46 and that was it."Phew! That was close." I thought to myself. Being juror number forty nine made that a little too close for comfort. There were 65 of us and I didn't get picked. "Oh, well," I thought, "life goes on!" I got up, along with the neglected others and we went down the elevators to the first floor. I didn't go back to the tunnels but onto the street level. I was a little disoriented because I wasn't were I started out in the morning. I followed some people and went to my parking garage. My stomach kept growling and went into the parking garage, paid my ticket and was on my way to a less compacted I-10. What a day!
I was happy to be back into my car, driving down I-10, on a sunny November afternoon. I kept thinking about where would be the fastest place I could get me a very late lunch. A headache was lurking because I hadn't eaten since 6:50 in the morning. Overall, I was happy to get that over with but wondered when I would be called back and have the tunnel experience. I have gone to many a jury duty but have never been picked to serve on a 12 person jury. That is okay with me. One day, though, I hope it is when I am retired, I wouldn't mind going through a trial. We'll see when and if that ever happens.
I love Cynthia Rylant's book In November. I love it because it is well written and November happens to be one of my favorite months of the year. If only we had a two week vacation in November and I could go and visit my family and experience November in Southern Ohio. I absolutely love November in Ohio and but also in Texas as well.
This weekend felt like November and Autumn. Finally, after months and months of horrible, suffocating and humid heat. It gets tiring and disgusting. This week, I awoke to sweater weather and yearned for cups of warm tea and coffee. I wished that I didn't have to get up and rush to work and deal with Houston traffic. How I yearned to drink in the cool, crisp weather. This inviting weather took me by the hand and beckoned me to slow down and savor some hot tea and life. But alas, my job called me forward along with long rides to drop my daughter off at her school. I have never been a stay at home mom, but certainly desired that. The dreaded morning rush encapsulated my week and year. How I wished it were different.
November, November, November is a "just right" month. The weather is changing and some leaves are falling in Houston. This weather is not too cold and not too hot. November happens to be just right on a scale of one to ten. The sweatshirts come out and light jackets prevail, to be discarded by mid-afternoon, if you live in Houston. 60s and 70s are the norm for this month. 40s and 50s reign in my mornings. Nice weather for walking the dog and taking on outside projects. Christmas shopping enters the mind, as the commercials are so cheerful and bright. I sometimes even forget that we have a "buffer" holiday the last week in November. I love the time that Thanksgiving affords me, although I believe that it is a crime that all school district don't give a whole week for Thanksgiving. That way, you can travel and really savor November. It is a time when we educators are so thankful for a mid Autumn break and recharge for what challenges the rest of the busy year holds. November needs to be cherished because by December the wintery winds howl and I just don't want to get out in the cold. Being in Houston though, one day maybe iced over and the text day I might be tempted to turn on the AC! You just never know. November, however, is pretty even keeled.
So what am I saying? What point am I trying to make? November is meant to be cherished. It happens to be one of the best months, especially in the Fall. I causes me to take the time and pause, look around me and be thankful for the change in my life. November, November, November whether it be in the beautiful inviting rolling hills of Southern Ohio with the breathtaking potpourri of color or saving Houston from the unforgiving helacious humidity, it is just right! Simply November.
I had the pleasure yesterday to visit some classrooms throughout Pasadena ISD. I was joining a group of SBISD and other school districts to observe writing in K-12 classrooms. We collaborated and shared ideas and then went on some school visits. I had my camera ready for a 1st grade classroom. I love to see young writers in action. Here are some photos that I took in a first grade classroom.
Some words have been flying around in my brain lately. Because I am old, they left and won't return home with the cows. When I am in Houston traffic, the ideas come to me and then when I get home, they leave me alone, to ponder what could have been. What could have been- shall be? No, not really! No not today but they were so good. I think I am going to have to buy an App for my brain. I don't know if there is one available but I wish I could retrieve those words some way, some day. But alas, I must accept this lapse because the words passed by the Holstein's in the pasture and they ain't coming back...no way, no how! It just is not gonna happen! What am I to do? I find my inspiration in my car, in bumper to bumper traffic. I certainly am not going to text them. I need an old fashioned cassette player to just push a button without opening up a zillion screens and just yap, yap, yap! I dunno! I remember last week having such great things to write about. This week, they are history and so those ideas are the best that never was. Into fruition and out the door! Clock ticking, tickety tock! Feel like I can just knock on the door to short term memory! I feel like Dory from finding Nemo! Finding my words? Hardly. Wish I could! Great...this is what I shall post.