Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of my choosing

On Saturday morning, I wanted to be chosen.
Hundreds of other people wanted to be chosen, too.

As a group, we were given lengthy instructions about the process, our options, and how the day would unfold.  

We chanted and cheered while marching for the cameras, repeating our performance five or six times until we had mastered spontaneously swarming the building in boisterous good spirits.   

I got to shake Gordon Ramsey's hand.

Then everyone waited in an orderly mass on the sidewalk, passing the time with chit chat and texting and reading the paper and comparing notes on our food.  Periodically, a cluster of people, containers in hand, would be called to report for their tryout.

After several hours, my group filed into a room with an assigned place to set out our dish.  Each of us had to say really brightly on camera, "Am I the next Master Chef?"*  The (extremely gracious and kind) casting team came around, tasting and testing, asking questions, and making notes on clipboards.

My challah bread and homemade butter had devoted fans among the crew and my fellow aspirants.  But I talked a little too much about my job, my family and our pets, and not enough about what I would do if given a sheep's heart to make dinner with**.

I was not chosen.
I felt a little disappointed, but not surprised.  I also felt hungry***. 

When the giant cardboard judge bobble heads came out, I realized definitively that I was completely out of my comfort zone.  I literally ran and hid.

On Tuesday morning, I wanted not to be chosen.
Hundreds of other people wanted not to be chosen, either.

As a group, we passed through the metal detectors, found chairs in the jury assembly room, and were given lengthy instructions about the process, our options, and how the day would unfold.

Then everyone waited in an orderly mass on the 11th floor of the Superior Court building, passing the time with chit chat and texting, reading the paper and comparing notes on the inconvenience of being in here.  Periodically, a group would be called to report for a trial.

I got lots of work done because they had free wi-fi.  I walked to lunch a a cool restaurant and ate outside at the bar.
I didn't shake anyone's hand.

After several hours, a voice came on the PA system, not to enpanel another group, but to tell us we were done for the day.

I was not chosen.
I felt lucky, and a little surprised****.

On Tuesday evening, I did the choosing.
Millions of other people were choosing, too.

Right after leaving the courthouse, I got in my car and drove 45 minutes through traffic to my polling place.  It was growing dark outside, and my heart was thumping as I inked my ballot.

I put on my sticker, and hoped.

Then I waited at home in a state of nervous anxiety, passing the time by making fried chicken, homemade applesauce and cheesy scallion bread for dinner, obsessively checking returns online and watching NBC news with the kind of rapt attention usually demonstrated by my dog when we pick up his leash*****.

After several hours, the state of Ohio turned blue.

He was chosen.  
We, collectively, had done it.

I felt elated and shocked and relieved and grateful and awed and amazed, all at once. It was incredible.

My kids then elected not to enjoy the chicken, because I had chosen to fry wings instead of boneless chicken tenders.

People make choices all the time.  Sometimes, having the power to choose seems inconsequential.  But this week, choosing made all the difference.  

* I knew right then that I wasn't the next Master Chef, but I said it anyway.  If I learned nothing else that day, I learned that I am definitively NOT an on-camera person.
** I should have replied:  "I'd cut it into cubes, marinate in garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and a splash of balsamic, then grill it on rosemary skewers and serve as an appetizer." What I actually said: "I'd put in into a ragu and hide it. Otherwise no one in my family would touch it."
*** We waited straight through lunch, and there was a lot of amazing looking food around that audition table.  
**** Well over two-thirds of the people who'd started the day with me had been called into courtrooms before lunch.
***** There I go again with the irrelevant pet references!


  1. what a marvelous post! i'm so envious that you got to come face-to-face with gordon! and i won't lie--i got goosebumps reading your take on the election. i'm right there with ya. :)

    1. It was way cool to meet him...he was so gracious and genuinely seemed to enjoy talking to everyone. Very class act all around!